Living free from job responsibilities and able to workout whenever he wants, body builder Naoto is living the high life. His daily workout is interrupted by his former photojournalist ex-girlfriend in search of the next haunted house for her latest article and she calls Naoto to inquire his father’s old, creepy home that’s now in Naoto’s possession. Accompanied by a professional psychic, the three conduct a house call to get a presence reading and take pictures of the rundown, abandoned home. They find themselves trapped inside with Naoto’s father’s darkest secret malevolently toying with them and holding them hostage with her cursed power bestowed upon her death, 30 years ago, forsaken to her by the hands of Naoto’s fahter.
In 2014, first time director Shinichi Fukazawa’s endearment for Sam Raimi’s “The Evil Dead” has encouraged the filmmaker to tribute a film that has dubbed “The Japanese Evil Dead.” With all the depictions of Raimi’s film, including from a shotgun, an axe, and even a severed sarcastic-spewing mangled demon head, “Bloody Muscle Body Builder in Hell” views just as good as the sounds. Taking his film to the next level by going back in a time warp, Fukazawa de-amplifies the image quality with a lo-fi flare that adds chaotic charm bathed in retro-VHS vision as every desaturated hue and blanket of coarse grain is a step back in time. Fukazawa implements his own sturdy brand of macabre to branch his version of “The Evil Dead.” For instance, Fukazawa removes the Necronomicon, the book of the dead, all together. Instead, the director doesn’t forth put an outright explanation behind the cause of the cursed’s murderous revenge other than holding a jealous grudge and the lack of motivation is okay because “Bloody Muscle Body Builder in Hell” is a modern day video nasty.
Shinichi Fukazawa, himself, stars as Naoto, suffering every ding, boink, and bop as our hapless hero that’s aims to strike similarities to Ashley “Ash” Williams and his gift of being the king of Three Stooges foolishness. Fukazawa plays a more conservative character in comparison, but does manage spit out memorable one-liners made genre famous by Bruce Campbell, like “groovy.” THe lead actress, Asako Nosaka, holds her own as a lovely damsel in distress who can double on a dime as a Mike Tyson speed bag puncher. The trapped pair make a convincingly distressed protagonists, especially in such a small Japanese home that’s the equivalent to a cabin in the woods. Last on the roster is Masaaki Kai filling in the psychic’s shoes and conjures an performance that’s could fit right in with the Kandarian Cheryl, Scott, Linda, and Shelley demons.
“Bloody Muscle Body Builder in Hell” is a 2014 effects driven, blood hungry roller coaster of pure mayhem entertainment. The ingeniously creative special effects, on a shoe string budget, are made of eye-popping, skull-crushing, and limb-parting goodness that every horror fan can appreciate and love. The lo-fi cinema and melancholy horror fixes to not impress those who have a taste for the CGI eye candy and won’t knock your socks off with the latest and greatest technological, animated advances in effects that attempts to mock real life, but accomplishes the opposite in the fabricated grindhouse reel with overexposures and rough edges that are more fitting for the subject matter. Fukazawa does embody Raimi’s creative editing and angle vision that makes Fukazawa’s film feel very attached to “The Evil Dead” franchise.
The well-meshed video nasty mingles Japanese culture with a loving tribute to Raimi’s “The Evil Dead” franchise and kicks off Shinichi Fukazawa’s most interesting silver screen career. Terracotta Distribution’s “Bloody Muscle Body Builder in Hell” is a tightly packed 62-minute joyride with squirrelly, demented demons with heavy emphasis on the blood and the gore. Image quality is poor and that’s a good thing! The low-tech fullscreen and unrefined quality are a tall-tell sign of a SOV gruesomeness surrounded by a fuzzy Japanese dual channel stereo. Extras includes a Graham Humprey time lapsed video of him creating his DVD artwork, a behind-the-scenes gallery, a dismemberment of scene clips, and Japanese and Terracotta trailers bringing up the tail end. “Bloody Muscle Body Builder in Hell” packs a punch, delivers the death, and gorges itself in the gore in this UK DVD from Terracotta Distribution! and is a lovely blend of comedy, horror, and praise that’s powerfully short and sweet from a freshman director who aims to make a statement while giving appreciation in his own culturally established way.
Friday night, A stranger breaks into the home of Tom and Alison. After tying up and torturing Tom, leaving him in the bathtub, he reveals a weekend long scheme that involves convincing Alison to genuinely want him by Monday morning. The stranger’s psychological game slowly breaks down Alison’s perception of her relationship with her husband through consequential threats toward a battered Tom, survival obedience, relationship morals, and untapped desires while Alison desperately attempts to squeeze away her captor’s maniacal grasp any way possible. With Alison’s husband undergoing continuous abuse throughout the weekend, the stranger persistently exhibits various versions of being the perfect husband to appease Alison’s preference in a partner, a striking contrast that begins the spiraling doubts about Tom and the life to which she’s submitting to with him.
The director who gave audiences a reason to believe in their zany childhood imaginary friend in “Drop Dead Fred” and who drove viewers through the depths of Satan’s domain on the epic retrieval of love journey that was “Highway to Hell” has resurfaced. Director Ate de Jong’s 2014 film has found a home for his British exploitation thriller eloquently entitled “Deadly Virtues: Love.Honour.Obey.” at the Philadelphian based home entertainment distributor Artsploitation Films. An intense eye-opening experience that makes couples’ therapy a cut rate rekindling process, the “Deadly Virtues” story comes from the talented, yet relatively unknown, drafter Mark Rogers whose characters contribute a fierce and engaging potency.
Characters can be written from head to toe with gargantuan electricity, but it takes the actors and actress portraying the characters to actually flip their switches on, vividly toggling their characters to shine. Edward Akrout’s puts forth a dangerously sophisticated Stranger excellently defining the term acting. Every unique touch of the binding rope used on Tom and Alison, every calculated sinister action taken against Tom, and every apt expression emits just enough information to state the Stranger’s purpose without spoiling the character’s mysterious motivations. Akrout is joined by American actress Megan Maczko with a selfless performance that pits her character Alison in a cat-and-game mouse against the Akrout’s Stranger. There are bits of unwanted sexual activity and nudity and role playing BDSM that might mistakenly place Jong’s film in the incorrect genre; instead, Akrout, Maczko, and, even Matt Barber as Tom, acutely pivots the subject matter, even with the provocative nude and bound woman graced film poster.
Not all is copacetic with “Deadly Virtues.” Some of the pacing slows down a bit where the motivation feels arguably aimless as Alison quickly becomes content and comfortable with a man who just softly raided their home and violently turned their lives upside down. Also, as a matter of character, Tom needed fine sprucing from being painfully forceful with how the character critically needed to know, to ultimately compute, trivial information at the most inappropriate moments. The story itself might have forced Tom’s inadequacies and insecurity issues to completely tell the story within the total 97 minute runtime, but in the end, the finale loses that little something something to put the final nail into an already furbished piece of work by director Ate de Jong.
Artsploitation Films’ latest release, “Deadly Virtues: Love.Honour.Obey,” surfaces deep rooted marital issues in an extreme, hostile manner, bringing to the forefront the versus struggle of adapting or fighting back, and also touches upon the beauty of the overlooked. The film’s poster, which I already remarked upon having some minor nudity, accentuates a woman’s other pleasant bodily features including the small of her back, her long neck, and her protruding deltas which Akourt’s portrayal of the Stranger similarly remarks briefly upon when more pigheaded men not noticing, or appreciating, other, less obvious, parts of women. I’m sure for most viewers, gazing at Megan Maczko strung up and suspended in an inviting position can stimulate a lot of interest. “Deadly Virtues” is currently only exclusively available in United States via VOD formats, such as Amazon, Vimeo, and GooglePlay, courtesy of Artsploitation Films.
In the sleepy town of Broken Taint, dimwitted dog catcher Bubba Blanche is the town joke amongst the rest of the moronic residents even in the eyes of former girlfriend Bobbie Jo, wrapping her needs around the naked muscle-shirt arms of a triple wide trailer owning redneck. Bubba swears that he’ll do absolutely anything to win Bobbie Jo back and his pathetic cries stretch deep to the depths of hell, reaching the ears of the The Devil himself who suddenly appears in Broken Taint. The Devil strikes a dubious agreement with Bubba to make him stronger in order to win over Bobbie Jo, but when Bubba wakes up the next morning, the dog catcher has been transformed into a big, bad, and hairy werewolf. His curse becomes a gift straight from hell as he knocks the front teeth out of triple wide, wins the heart of Bobbie Jo back, and earns the respect of the local townsfolk. That is, until Bubba’s curse starts a chain reaction of unfortunate diabolical agreements between the conniving Devil and the town simpletons. As The Devil turns Broken Taint into his own tarnation playground, Bubba must use his newfound canine powers and some of his old hidden strengths to overpower and to outwit the clever Lord of the underworld.
Comic book movies. We either love them or hate them. We judge their fantastic value on the precision of who was casted as the hero or heroine and on the accurateness toward staying true to character origins. This may be common knowledge or it might not, but “Bubba The Redneck Werewolf,” a cigar-smoking, shot-gun carrying, jean-overall wearing werewolf, has been a successful comic franchise since 1995. Created by former CRACKED magazine writer Mitch Hyman, the true success of the provincial lycanthrope stems from the classic tale of a downtrodden individual being granted a huge amount of strength to overcome fear, to unleash ambitions, and to reestablish a brick wall of confidence all the while drinking a six-pack and drive a big truck. I’m sure Mitch Hyman would also note that the hilarity of a rootin tootin redneck werewolf with a patchwork heart of good intentions appeals to the masses as well.
When Two Rubbing Nickels, LLC partners with central Florida based and spoof-specializing video production company And You Films, that’s when Bubba truly comes to life from off the vivid comic book pages to ever critical independent big screen in 2014 where director Brendan Jackson Rogers’ colorful illustration of the hairiest super hero of all time and his barroom dingbats challenge a mischievous and dastardly Devil. What’s even more interesting about this under-the-radar adapted horror-comedy being released by MVDVisual onto DVD is the writer who penned the script. None other than writer, director, producer, and president of Unearthed Films, Mr. Stephen Biro. Yes, the man who delivers spectacular acquired gory avant garde and underground horror films to see a slither of public light puts forth his mighty pen to paper and etches out a perfect blend of comedy and horror that creates a sea monkey world where “Bubba The Redneck Werewolf” radiates with rib-tickling slapstick humor aimed to be darkly unapologetic and fused with embellished illustrations of spew and blood splattering mayhem.
The ensemble cast doesn’t have one single recognizable name credited and that makes this outrageous comedy that much alluring for nothing is taken overly serious. The very title of the film should be a clear expectation without explanation. Without that thespian pressure mounting on the casts’ shoulders, Rogers was able to build an alleviated atmosphere and let the actors be kids performing on the biggest stage of their careers. Even lead actor Fred Lass, who dons the Werewolf suit, had his very detailed and comprehensive werewolf facial mold conformed to show the expressions and the contours of his face. Bubba creator Mitch Hyman even has a starring roles as the Devil, his thin physique and defined face definably pops under a lush shade of hell branding red under a crown of dual horns; his satanic performance cultivates the very worst of humanity, using their greed against them, and reveling in their agony soaked suffering. Mitch Hyman wins the best ungodly trope since Al Pacino rendition of the Devil in 1997’s “The Devil’s Advocate.” Another unique element to harp upon are the strong female characters. Though the comic routinely objectifies female characters on the front covers with being petite and scantily cladded women of the countryside positioned around the massive werewolf with a baseball cap, only Malone Thomas’ role of Bobbie Jo resembles such a booty-jort, low-cut shirt clothed character, but, at the same time, Bobbie Jo remains a fierce constant show of strength for Bubba. She knows what she wants, how she wants it, and when to take it without shame and selfishness. Sara Humbert and Gail Fleming do the same for their respective roles of the blunt bartender Jamie Sue and the clairvoyant gypsy.
MVDVisual shotguns a beer and will deliver “Bubba The Redneck Werewolf” onto a region free DVD come 2017! The comic book image quality does well with the slight rotoscope composite with interlaced moments of raw and naturally colored scenes. The darker scenes in the widescreen 1.78:1 presentation comes off unsharp and blotchy, leaving details solely toward more well lit portions. The Dolby Digital audio track clearly puts forth dialogue amongst a balance ambient track. No issues are detected and sufficiently goes beyond being just good quality. A vast batch of bonus material outshines other indie releases, beginning with a 16 minute documentary “From Page to Screen. The Making of Bubba The Redneck Werewolf. Other extras include deleted scenes, blooper reel, Werewolf and Devil Make process videos, “The Ballad of Bubba” behind-the-scenes music video by The Blast-Offs, and the official trailer. Amongst the top contenders of modern horror-comedies and werewolf films, Brendan Jackson Rogers, Mitch Hyman, Stephen Biro, and Fred Lass have, literally, created a winning combination with their monstrous furry feature.
High school classmates Pierre and Damien have just murdered a street woman inside her own apartment days before their French placement examinations. After hearing of the gruesome news, Zoe, a young optician working on the same street, recalls the two boys bumping into her, dropping a black glove on the sidewalk, and she begins to formulate her own radical theory, putting two-and-two together that the teens could be the very culprits fleeing calmly from the scene. Meanwhile, Pierre and Damien continue on with their examination studies over the Easter holiday, believing their heinous crime was not personal but of chance, making the offense not a crime at all. Zoe continues her pursuit of curiosity toward the murderers by not informing the authorities of her suspicions; instead, Zoe uses the crime to become self-aware of her fragile and stagnant relationship with her long time boyfriend while the two teens perverse over the concept of committing another murder.
Leave it to the French to make a bloodless and non-violent crime drama that’s more arthouse than conventional. Based on the Leslie Kaplan 2005 novel, “Fever” is the 2014 freshman film from writer-director Raphael Neal that dives sharply from the murderous act and into the internal struggles that lead Damien, Pierre, and Zoe into a turmoil path. Pierre and Damien think they both won’t be affected by their crime and that their moral conscious will remain clean on the philosophical notion that chance doesn’t warrant being unethical, immoral, or lawfully wrong. Damien basks in this belief more than Pierre, but still succumbs to the inevitable intrinsic battle. Yet, the two boys face separate inner warfare: Pierre’s frightened he’ll be caught by Damien’s nonchalant cockiness, looking over his shoulder constantly and fretting the off chance a witness has already spilled their dastardly secret to authorities whereas Damien fears that his chance theory is being blown to smithereens due in part of his ancestral legacy where his grandfather had cooperatively slain hundreds, if not thousands, of Jews during World War II because the Nazi’s ordered him.
Neal’s envisioning, as a director and a writer, flounders with a wishy-washy, by the waste side, telling when trying to convey the character centric story. From the beginning, Pierre and Damien’s sociopathic nature weakens from time to time with an invading moral conscience, like with in Pierre, but Damien’s difference lies with him questioning his justification of murder, but Pierre and Damien’s quiescent state about their family’s issues spots the story like a dirty window unable to view through clearly, leaving a vague and murky background and present state of mind for both characters. The twosomes’ up-and-down state of minds displays no consistence in their behaviors as they’re friends one instance, squabbling and bickering the next, then back to friends shortly after. Issues with angry and abandoning fathers, lustful mothers, and, apparently, genocidal grandfathers have deeply rooted themselves into the boys’ psyche like poisonous mushrooms kept in the dark to thrive to be eaten by mistake. Neal never relays that sense of foreboding wickedness. The same goes with Zoe as a character with really no background whose starting to go through a metamorphous, reforming her position in an unexciting relationship and developing, through subtle hints, a strangling desire after learning about to incident across from her shop. Yet, her full transformation never completes itself, placing her character, and the teens, into a volatile decline of shortcomings.
Though not too familiar with the actors themselves, their performances overshadow the film’s overall divergent plots. I was very struck by Martin Loizillon’s portrayal of Damien with the cold-heartedness that completely blankets his façade and his exerting of unorthodox spontaneity that doesn’t shy away from creating an uncomfortable scene. Pierre Moure contrasts Loizillon appropriately with a shyly frigidity, secretly yearning for more blood, Pierre Simonet. The red-headed Julie-Marie Parmentier displays the same kind of coldness reflected by the Pierre and Damien, but in actress’s own style of curiosity and intrigue with a minuscule hankering for sexual fetishes or self-morbidity. Then there’s duo lingo French singer Camille playing a role of non-fictional popular song artist Alice Snow whose hit English single, “Fever,” serves not only as the title of Neal’s film, but also symbolizes the foundation of the characters’ conflicts.
Artsploitation Films courteously distributes the Strutt Films’ production of “Fever” onto an unrated DVD with a sleek widescreen presentation with a 2.35:1 aspect ratio. The video’s clean with bright, Spring-like colors opposite the more customary, French influenced film noir that’s more common toward crime thrillers. The French 5.1 surround sound mix comes with English subtitles. While the soundtracks and the dialogue tracks are distinct and lively, there’s a slight error involving omitted subtitles, but the flaw only affects a petite portion of the dialogue, if you’re not tuned into French dialogues. “Fever” displays a mixture of psychological drama that mirrors the infamous Chicago crime of Leopold and Loeb of 1920 and Fyodor Dostoyevsky’s pathologic philosophical novel “Crime and Punishment.”
Earth has become an uninhabitable wasteland. The human race have resettled and colonized on the red planet of Mars. Years have past and the younger generation has never had the experience of living on Earth. Every year, a select few, those who pass multitudes of tests and reach the age of 30 years, will join the Revive Program and will travel through space on a seven day journey to Earth in order to aid in the planet’s rehabilitation of their once ancestry home. The journey between Mars and Earth is this story, a story of psychological perplexity between three travelers who get to go home for the first time.
“Earthrise” is the creation of writer-director-producer Glenn Payne, tackling the production limits of a space film in an independent market. Payne and his production team effectively generate the illusion of being a single speck in a vast universe without getting overly galactic (i.e. “Moon”) and widely interstellar (i.e. “Interstellar”). Yes, “Earthrise” embodies a minuscule budget that’s certainly evident, but the ambitiousness to recreate the innards of a spaceship without being too blatantly cheap gives creativity credit to the crew. The brief transitional moments outside the ship are about as good as money can afford, but still don’t quite cut the mustard with some big Hollywood blockbusters or even larger independent films.
Along with much of the crew, Payne’s experience mainly stems from a variety of short films with “Earthrise” being his latest full length feature out of a total of four. The three actors who portray the focus-centered characters also mostly come from a short film background. Meaghin Burke (“Trick or Treat” short), Casey Dillard (“Blackout” short), and Meaghin’s husband, Greg Earnest (also from “Trick or Treat”), portray the three protagonist Dawn, Vivian, and Marshall, voyaging to Earth. Within a non-linear story, their tensions cut through finely as an unexplained terror has overtaken, not only their flight to Earth, but their minds that visualize apparitions of people and creatures that shouldn’t be there. Giant spiders, man-eating alligators, alarming amounts of blood – just some of the psychological tensions testing the characters. Is it a form of space dementia? Or the inability to grasp leaving your home, your family, to live on another planet and not having the ability to contact anyone from home for a year, per the Revive Program’s policy? Or is it something else? “Earthrise” domes the answer fairly well until the end.
The sequence of events surround a near catastrophe involving a sudden meteor collision. One side of the collision tells the story prior to their insanely dangerous visions, building upon their backgrounds and delivering their soon obtained new found hope, while the other side explores their descent into madness and, eventually, the two stories meet in the middle with the major calamity. Contrasting the two sides defines, in a good light, director Glenn Payne’s editing style while still able to clearly convey the crews plight. Mise-en-scene clues were used to differentiate the catalyst, such as Marshall’s head wound or Vivian’s limp, but these details were minor enough to not pose an extravagance in order to make clear the outer edges of the story.
The 2014 sci-fi thriller is presented by Indie Rights Movies and MVD in a widescreen 2.35:1 aspect ratio. The details are richly sharp, drenched in a metal tone to create a ship’s inner hull racing through space atmosphere. The dual channel Dolby Digital mix is clear and balanced and purposefully isolating to get inside the loneliness of the great big infinite. Accompanying the 100 minute runtime, a couple extras include the film’s trailer and a commentary. Sci-fi on a budget, “Earthrise” is enjoyably subtle, sleekly structured, and soaked with heart and soul. Many will not be attracted to “Earthrise” and it’s slow-to-build momentum, leaving only true film aficionados and appreciators to find Payne’s work entertaining.