Police detective Eric Hughes and his pregnant American wife Katrina strive to find their own place and withdraw from Eric’s father’s home. A hot tip leads them to small, slightly rundown, midwives maternity facility just out on the rural outskirts of Crystal Springs. With help from their friends and a lot of elbow grease, Eric and Katrina rehab the structure into their dream home to settle down in hopes to raise their first born, but Katrina quickly discovers that her dream house is more like the house from hell when shadowy figures suddenly appear through the walls with an apparition of a midwife nurse bellowing, “Give me Scarlett!” – the name of Katrina’s unborn child. The Hughes turn to the Church to plead for assistance and an unorthodox demonologist, hearing their call for help, tends to their aid in hopes to cease the languishing torment, but rushing into the situation, eager to rid the supernatural forces from plaguing the Hughes, has escalated the pending doom for their unborn child.
“Out of the Shadows” is the 2017 released, ghostly-demonic horror from Australia, directed and co-written by Duncan “Dee” McLachlan along with co-writer Rena Owen (“The Last Witch Hunter”) from a story by Eric Nash. McLachlan’s atmospherics can compete with the best, toying with the shadowy figures passing behind frosted windows and door panes in a glimpse of a moment, demonic tongue ripping through the ears of the latched upon victim that is Katrina, and conjuring up vivid and haunting figures that are airy and grim. All of which is backed by sound cinematography by Viv Scanu in creating a personality, essentially giving breath, toward the Hughes home of destined damnation. Set location speaks for itself being a countryside, rundown hovel, but the innards bare an unsecured unsettling with many windows in a well ventilated structure fenced around by obscuring foliage that creates a gloomy prison for a tormented Katrina.
Kendal Rae stars as the stalked Katrina Hughes who goes from happy-go-lucky to a panicky mess in less than sixty seconds from the first inkling of trouble. Rae has a fine performance being the frightened house wife to the never-at-home husband, but that inability to transition, with time, Katrina’s slow burn into insanity or supernatural plunder is a blight on her performance. That never-at-home and naive detective husband finds an actor as the first feature film for Blake Northfield. Northfield’s has naivety down pat with Eric’s dismissive attitude and a penchant for not caring. Eric and Katrina seek the help from a renegade exorcist Linda Dee (Lisa Chappell) whose a biker relative of Father Joe Phillips (“Matrix’s” Helmut Bakaitis) with a checkered past and on thin ice with the Catholic Church for practicing unauthorized exorcisms, but that’s about how far the script takes us when delving into Linda Dee’s backstory. Jake Ryan, Jim Robison, and “Alien: Covenant’s” Goran D. Kleut, as the Hat-man Demon, round out the remaining cast.
As with the Linda Dee character, a noticeably uncomfortable underdevelopment of major roles put divots into the, what should have been, a cut and dry storyline whose only complexity would be if Katrina’s harrowing ghostly encounters are caused by either a sudden loneliness with her husband leaving her by herself for work, the fluctuation of pregnancy hormones, or an acute combination of both. Dee’s wavering stance with the Church, and also with her uncle, is hardly touched upon with brief exposition and doesn’t convey the severity of her actions that warrant being on the outs with the Catholic officials. Concurrently, Katrina suffers with a tangent subplot with unspoken tension between her and her State side mother that never gets explored, leaving the scenes left detached like an unhinged satellite orbiting the planetary story.
Umbrella Entertainment releases the Bronte Pictures produced “Out of the Shadows” onto DVD that’s presented in an 2.35:1 widescreen. Image quality has some nice outlined details without sizable DNR, especially during night sequences in the midsts of constructing a formidable shadow army. Though tinted in more of a blue and yellow hue, the overall color palette is pleasing, even if staged like a “Saw” film. The computer generated effects are where the details go awry dipping toward a softer side that perhaps exhibits the production value. The English Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack has no defining qualms with a even spread of low and high level ranges to where even the muttering demonic chanting is audible. There are no bonus material and the DVD doesn’t even have a static menu for guidance as the movie plays as soon as the opening credits roll. “Out of the Shadows” has a premise that’s been through the horror mill before, but director Dee McLachlan holds the thrilling line, maintaining a collectively strong start to finish to only stray from one or two key subplots that would wholeheartedly tie the entire film together.
In the Australian outback, a prehistoric and ginormous crocodile has surfaced in the wake of mankind’s gentrification of the wilderness land. Between ambushing crocodile poachers and snatching little Aborigine children from off the river shore, the ancient saltwater hunter has become the hunted as park ranger and crocodile preservation expert Steve Harrison has been assigned to kill the beast, but the local Aborigine tribe holds the killer croc sacred, calling it Numunwari, an ancient, spirit carrying crocodile that has embodied the bones and souls of ancestral aborigine. Together, Harrison and local tribe leader Oondabund must find a way to stop the chaos without terminating the Numunwari while combating drunken poachers and a rattled ranger chief looking to abruptly end public fear. With the enthusiastic help of Harrison’s ex-lover, Cathy Pope, the three devise a dangerous plan to sedate the massive croc and transport it to a secluded habitat before death rears it’s ugly head once again.
Arch Nicholson’s “Dark Age” is the Australian “Jaws” equivalent, introducing a massive crocodile that puts the fear of the murky rivers into the hearts of audiences much like a giant great white shark did for the ocean beaches. “Dark Age” is a raging adventure with a delicate undertone about nature fighting back against an aggressive, occupying force called man, especially the white man, who kills without cause, who plagues without consciousness, and whose power instills a reactionary fear to kill. A single, monstrous crocodile embodies and symbolizes the essence of an entire habitat, chomping through flesh and doing a death roll to make known that nothing can stop nature or as “Jurassic Park’s” Dr. Ian Malcolm so eloquently put it, “Life, uh, finds a way.” Nicholson’s film, from the novel of Grahame Webb novel Numunwari, isn’t solely a man versus nature horror despite marketed as one; instead, “Dark Age” unveils more the cruel side of human nature that’s more Machiavellian than nature running its course.
“Wolf Creek” star John Jarrett, who I better know from “The Odd Angry Shot,” stars as the conflicted park ranger and crocodile preservation expert Steve Harrison. Jarrett’s more convincing a maniac outdoors man than a crocodile conversationalist, but the iconic Aussie convinces us all that being in between two opposing sides is no easy task with this willingness to do what’s right on both sides. Nikki Coghill portrays Steve Harrison’s love interest, Cathy Pope, and Coghill is a dominating female lead by, not only being the only prominent female character, but with her striking ability to overpower Jarrett in scenes and with her also very striking beauty that comes to peak in a fleshy sex scene with Jarrett. The second most recognizable face behind Jarrett is aborigine descendant David Gulpilil. Most Stateside filmgoers may recall Gulpilil’s long locks and distinctive facial features from Crocodile Dundee in a ceremonial Aborigine dance alongside Paul Hogan. In “Dark Age,” Gulpilil plays Adjaral, son of Aborigine tribe leader Oondabund played by Burnham Burnham. “The Howling III” actor acts as a spiritual liaison between the crocodile and the white man world and Burnham Burnham’s childlike presence onscreen makes the actor very memorable and likable. Ray Meagher, Max Phipps, Jeff Ashby, Paul Bertram, and Ron Blanchard co-star.
There have been many installments and versions of crocodile leviathans. In fact, in It’s Bloggin’ Evil’s last review, Sion Sono’s Tag, there’s a dream sequence of a giant crocodile gorily snapping down upon a Japanese schoolgirl with blood spraying everywhere. While the scene is graphic, eye-catching, and notable, the croc was a mockery of reality with disproportionate jowl and a flimsy design that’s more cartoonish than substantially factual. Kuddos to the monster effects and long time visual effects artist Roger Cowland for constructing a frightening behemoth of a crocodile. Though slightly stiff in some scenes, Nicholson camera placement exhibits just enough to warrant a shortage of breath whenever the crocodile goes in for the kill or stalks a prey with the round eyes popping just above the water’s surface. This effect is masterfully executed by the late director who didn’t feel the need to be gratuitously gory with the death scenes that are modest, intense, and sheerly practical.
Yet to be on DVD or Blu-ray in the U.S.A., the good blokes over at Umbrella Entertainment release ultra-rare “Dark Age” for the first time hi-definition on Blu-ray as part of Ozploitation Classic series presented in a 1080p widescreen, 16:9 aspect ratio, format. The image looks clean without any noticeable enhancements, distortions or print damage with only some heavy noise in the darker scenes. The Dolby Digital 2.0 audio track is just as perfect with clarity in the dialogue, a pulsating synthesizing score, and fine fidelity and range. No hissing, popping, or any other noise annoyances were detected. Umbrella unleashes a slew of bonus material includes an audio Commentary with Actor John Jarratt and Executive Producer Antony I. Ginnane, a Bicentenary with Bite: Revisiting “Dark Age”, panel discussion with film historians Lee Gambin, Alexandra Heller-Nicholas, Emma Westwood and Sally Christie, and Uncut Not Quite Hollywood Interviews with John Jarratt and Antony I. Ginnane which are tremendously enlightening about the film’s birth and concluding reactions. There’s also a 1986 documentary entitled Living With Crocodiles with Grahame Webb, author of Numunwari, trailers, and an image gallery. Forget “Rogue.” Forge “Lake Placid” Lets even forget “Dinocroc!” Umbrella Entertainment’s “Dark Age” is the ultimate formidable 90-minute action-horror with trembling induced fear and adrenaline produced thrills accompanied inside a hi-definition release packed to the razor sharp teeth with extras.
Seven close friends use “Screen It” to live stream online a drug and alcohol bender while partying hard at a vacant swanky home. When Brie awakes in a quiet, dark room of the luxurious house with no sign of her friends, she believes an odd prank is being played at her expense, but when she receives a frantic call from one of her frightened friends trapped inside a wooden box, Brie becomes their only hope of survival. She realizes that her six friends were abducted and buried in wooden boxes around the city, all of which contain it’s own deadly nightmare coinciding with each teen’s personal life. To heighten the tension, their fates are live streamed on the internet for the world to witness. Brie must connect the dots, find the pattern, and save the survivors before they all perish alone.
Australian survival horror “6 Plots” capitalizes on popular teens being terrorized and murdered by a game mastering and mysterious sadist. The story, devised along with live streaming online the six teens’ fates, stems from director Leigh Sheehan and was commercially penned by the newcomer Tim C. Patterson. Alice Darling stars as Brie, the girl left untouched to save her shallowly engrained friends, along with “Wolf Creek 2” star Ryan Corr, Penelope Mitchell (“The Vampire Diaries”), Eliza Taylor, Emily Wheaton, Joey Coley-Sowry, Damien Harrison, Andrew Clarke, and PJ Lane. “6 Plots” introduces characters to face their fears, putting them up against a destined wall of death if unable to overcome challenges inspired by their own lives. Though the challenges are no where near the legacy of the “Saw” games where players have an opportunity to win their freedom themselves by sacrificing something dear to them and are constructed with their good fortune resting in the hands on one sole person, Sheehan’s race against the clock suspense thriller loses steam, never establishing momentum to strike the edge-of-your-seat nerve.
Conceptually, placing unconscious disrespectful teens claustrophobic coffin structures and strategically scattering them along a small island coastal town only to direly drown their body and minds in a game of their own primal fears sounds amusingly devious. To pull off a grand recipe of intertwining cruelty, time would be the most difficult obstacle to hurdle and the plan’s organization and successfulness was ultimately determined on whether or not Brie and her friends were having a party at some random swanky house, which was on the verge of possibly being canceled priorly stated by one of the characters. Time spatially speaking, getting all six of her friends completely setup in boxes miles a part from each other would have taken most of the night, pending on how many hands were involved, and the story indulges a, perhaps, 3 to 4 hour workable time frame from each of seven passing out unconsciously due in part of whatever their drugs were laced with to the time they wake up alone in a confinement of darkness with only an element of personal fear accompanying them. In short, and this might spoil the end for a few readers, The Flash was able to accomplish casket coordination without much hassle. Just kidding…
The biggest issue with “6 Plots” is the story never really comes to a head, never really providing that spark-lit surge of intensity at the point of apex. Instead, the course of action flounders at a lifeless flat line when a moment of clarity for Brie dawns upon her and she figures out the bedeviled jokester’s pentagram pattern, simply by hooking up to the internet and plotting lines onto charts of the island of possible casket locations. Brie made their tormentor’s Russian signal jamming plan the most elementary scheme to deconstruct and solve to date, but that’s due in part to poor character development as well. We know absolutely zilch about Brie, except for the facts that the daredevil rides a motorcycle off road, gives the local authoritative putz a run for his money, and likes to partake in drugs and alcohol. That’s basically all the information we’re given about Brie’s character and, somehow, a character who traditionally would have been nixed right about now was able to unravel a plan much too elaborate for her primitive Netgear hookup intelligence. Not even her tech savvy friend, Marty, could keep up with Brie’s uncanny genius, remarking a couple instances where Brie outthought his intellect about their predicament.
Sheehan’s directorial style hinges upon a fair amount on the horrendously oppressive alternative music soundtrack and mawkish scenes of melodramatics with an example being after witnessing the horrifying demise of one of the teens on live stream, Sheriff Gary awkwardly drops the phone and hastily crosses the room to give Brie a clutching embrace as they both sob in each others’ arms. I’ve seen less over the top performances in soap operas. Certainly a first where melodrama meets tech horror, I found the technology to be sorely obsolete, especially for a film produced only four years ago. “6 Plots” was for sure a champion for Apple products, focal pointing on MacBooks and a Safari internet browser, but, yet, iPhones are rarely used and, instead, a healthy combination of Brie’s Blackberry and Sheriff Gary’s flip phone ultimately saves the day, proving that the latest and greatest tech gear can’t save you from a casket and can’t aid you in murdering people any faster.
Lionsgate home entertainment label delivers the 87 minute Eagle I production onto DVD and Digital Video with a widescreen 2.35:1 presentation and an English 5.1 Dolby Digital audio mix. A high point of this “6 Plots” DVD is the video quality, though now fairly standard with current films in their home release formats. Image quality pops with detail and clarity bringing out the worst specifics in the poorly illustrated representation of the antagonist on ancient cell phones. Audio, again, lies in the realm of modern day conventions, albeit the down under accents are sometimes difficult to decipher. From the start, survival horror “6 Plots” quickly snuffs itself out from ever materializing into, what could have been, a gripping thriller by burying the best parts under a 6-foot deep layer of indigestible fluff that’s rudimentary right to the bone.
Charlie, the daughter of a famed pro-wrestler named Daddy Bison, witnesses the tragic and accidental decapitation death of her masked father while in the ring. Years later, Charlie labors for a video game corporation with underhanded values, but she still feels the call to wrestling, secretly competing and honoring her father’s memory in moonlight matches despite her lover’s wishes. When her corrupt employer illegal obtains Nano byte technology to engineer into their latest wrestling video game entitled ‘From Parts Unknown’ in order to financially steal from gamers, Charlie accidently becomes more involved than just being an innocent bystander. A side effect to the Nano bytes turns people into a horde of flesh hungry monsters on the cusp of being let loose and only Charlie can pile drive a stop to the infected corporate white-collar workers and vicious female wrestlers from embarking on a worldwide takeover.
It’s Bloggin’ Evil is familiar with director Daniel Armstrong’s work, reviewing the Australian born director’s 2013 roller derby slasher “MurderDrome” on the Camp Motion Picture’s home entertainment label. Armstrong’s latest horror installment, 2015 released “From Parts Unknown: Fight Like a Girl,” blends a healthy dose of wrestling into the terror folds. However, this body slamming, drop kicking horror film was produced and completed by 2009, years before “MurderDrome” hit the market, and was shelved in a period of postponement because of post-production reasons, but the Strongman Pictures team bouts with more than half a decade of delays to eventually release “From Parts Unknown: Fight Like a Girl,” a complete horror-comedy battle royal!
With a DIY façade, a talented actor pool dedicates themselves to undertake the high flying, death defying professional wrestling moves of PCW, Professional Championship Wrestling, in Australia and, I must confess, the actors looked legit. There’s an indescribable amount of pleasure and respect that goes into actors braving the chance of injury and accomplishing their own stunt work. Kudos to lead actress Jenna Dwyer for her stunt work to which in an example of her character, Charlie, is air-flung across the square ring and into a metal cage and she falls behind the ropes, landing hard on the mat below. The stunt looked fantastic. To coincide with the physical performances, Armstrong’s script uses slapstick comedy that’s heavy on the satirical undertones. Ross Ditcham’s a good character to spotlight as his role of Frank is the story’s buffoon, branded as being the best friend who doesn’t get the heroine girl of his dreams while running wildly whenever danger, or a brazen female supervisor, is hanging on his coattails.
The combination of performance and wit does hunker slightly from being overshadowed by the wonky cinematography. Every applied color of the rainbow saturates various scenes to, perhaps, wash away the dull gray and white tones of the minimalistic warehouse location or to attempt to upscale production value, but the extreme use of this method conflicts with sharp image details, leaving an opaque and blotchy picture. There’s also some odd framing from either the production or postproduction distribution that’s disrupts the clarity of the actions in the scenes. On the plus side, a solid, passable effort was put forth for the gory special effects, especially when Josh Futcher’s Misha violently implodes the head in of one of the henchwomen with a fire extinguisher, splattering upward a healthy amount of blood while Misha quoting, many times, Ash from “Army of the Darkness.” Tack on superimposed electric current superpowers, a tactical high-powered Uzi, and a little person donning a luchador mask and tights and “From Parts Unknown” tickles all the right parts of your delinquent, shameless senses.
Story wise, a loose introduction semi-torpedoes the backend of Charlie’s growth and embattlements, albeit the killer effects and various degrees of solid acting. The convoluted scenes of stealing the Nano bytes and sprinkled in segments of the Bison Daddy’s fate attempt to set up two simultaneous merging narratives that end up not meshing well or delivering the intended message. After the progression surpasses the Nano Byte mishap, the story starts to take shape, forming more coherently and appropriately to pit our lovely Charlie against an apocalyptic foe, setting up define characters, and setting the stage for an all out slobber-knocker! When Charlie and her mortal allies have the odds against them when rivaled against superhuman opponents, a clear indication that’s just more than good versus evil. Under the surface, Charlie is faced with life adversaries: her unethical boss, an advantage taking supervisor, and other female wrestlers. All of which become flesh eating maniacs and want to rip Charlie apart.
“From Parts Unknown: Fight Like a Girl” has pinned a DVD distributor with the indie label Camp Motion Pictures. The not rated DVD contains a short film “Post-Apocalyptic Chic,” “Fight Like A Girl” music video, Haunted by Humans Music Video, Demented music video, and a trailer vault. Like previously mentioned, the posterized video quality is noticeable within the confines of darker color hues and, especially, in the blacks. The LCPM 2.0 mix audio quality goes in and out with rocky levels of dialogue and ambiance. Graced with an ozploitation with great collaged cover art, Daniel Armstrong’s “From Parts Unknown” and Camp Motion Pictures are a wrestling match made in a hell in a cell! The best wrestling horror film since Mexico’s El Santo films!
Cherry Skye and her all girl roller derby team, The Alamos, find themselves gravely threatened by a summoned vengeful demon named Mamma Skate, the best and brutalist skater from the MurderDrome rink 20 years ago who was viciously murdered ritualistically by a Satanic-obsessed rival. Called back from Hell by a mystical charm necklace once in her possession, Mamma Skate rollerblades through the night, cleaving her way through the roughest of roller derby girls, and seeking to possess the soul of charm’s current owner, Cherry Skye, so she may live once again!
In 2013, Australian director Daniel Armstrong had a vision. A vision that includes skimpy-cladded, brazenly jagged roller derby girls, a resurrected she-demon wielding a butcher’s cleaver, and a helluva lot of rock-n-roll! A joint effort between Strongman Pictures and a slow drip of miscellaneous funding constructs that very exact vision, originally not conceived to have been a feature length film. Writing along side Trent Schwarz and Louise Monnington, who also had a co-starring role, Armstrong’s rockabilly ozploitation is a blood diamond in the Australian under bush with kangaroo pouches full of ocker comedy and skater mayhem. However, Armstrong’s terrorizing roller-demon imagery sat on the edge of being nonexistent and his film suffers the associated consequences of financial hardships and production problems. “MurderDrome” has a vibe more akin to a music video with interjections of storyline in between various psychobilly laid tracks that’s perhaps a pure result of the film’s financial inability to fill the void, but the style’s unique outline contends strongly in independent or abstract cinema outlets. Aside from the atypical structure, “MurderDrome,” granted, has some sloppy and choppy editing that disrupt not only the opening credits, but also waters down a death scene or two and affects character motivations.
Australian accents are thick coming from an indigenous talent of actors led by Amber Sajben, a downright heaven-sent leading lady starring as Cherry Skye. With her cutesy pig tails, high-knee fish stockings, and an acute fascination with always popping bits of food in her mouth, her contrast with the dialogue-stricken antagonist and steel, chain, and blade attired roller-demon badass Momma Skate, portrayed by Be-On The-Rocks (Yes, you read that right), redefines the old phrase a game of cat-and-mouse that doesn’t quite fit the overall artistic style. When a group of rough and tough roller derby girls who elbow check others for the fun of the sport, some fight should commence without being said; instead, the characters who proudly carry the names Cherry Skye, Psych, Thrusty, Trans Em, Princess Bitchface, and Hell Grazer option to scurry without giving a second thought to bucking up to a sole skating murderess. Armstrong subsides more toward a comedy route peppered with a resilience attitude toward the situation with co-writer Louise Monnington leading the charge in her character’s crude humor, especially having Pysch, her character, note descriptively what exactly is ‘duck butter.’ Urban Dictionary has you covered if you care to look up the term. The cast rounds out with Kat Anderson, Rachael Blackwood, Jake Brown, Anthony Cincotta, Gerry Mahoney, Max Marchione, Daisy Mastermann, Dayna Seville, and Laura Soall.
Plot integrity is flimsy at best striking influentially at the development of certain characters, most importantly with villain Momma Skate. Her conjuring doesn’t go through the comprehensive ringer as the demoness just appears without establishing a connection with the charm necklace bringing her demonic lankiness above ground. Max Marchione’s The Janitor bares some importance that whizzes like air out of a rapidly deflating balloon as we learn less-by-less about this character throughout the duration of the film. The Janitor’s key mentoring role wavers, resulting in just one more confusion aspect into the blend. Remaining character developments are fairly cut and dry sans forgetting their eclectic attire, electrifying neon makeup, radical hairstyles, and overall lifestyles, but expansions upon the roles could have been more favorable for the Aussie production.
Camp Motion Pictures and Alternative Cinema skate the “MurderDrome” DVD right onto the North American market rink, providing the film’s first region one release. Extras are abundant with music videos from The Dark Shadows and other bands, a gag-reel, and a behind-the-scenes special effects featurette. The 72-minute feature is presented in a widescreen 16×9 aspect ratio that’s a bit hazy at times on the grayscale, but adds charm to the bargain bin brimstone fire and smoke computerized effects that truly defines Armstrong’s slasher as a campy ozploitation with Italian Giallo undertones and a supernatural core. “MurderDrome” rocks, literally, with great pyschobilly tracks from The Jacks, The Sin & Tonics, and The Dark Shadows to name a few of the head banging headliners on the soundtrack in the confines of a cavity heavy plot for a film more suitable as a music video than a feature flick. In the end, “MurderDrome” provides an endearing look upon horror even with all the obvious flaws, but renders some nice moments of searing barbarity overshadowing, just slightly, some of the misfires. Lastly, if you like girls in skates, who never take them off at any point, then “MurderDrome” is right for you!