Brought before an intergalactic sentencing, a chaos-driven cyborg faces extreme persecution for committing heinous acts across of destruction and death amongst the galaxy, but desperately escapes on a small shuttle pod aimed directly for the planet Earth. The cyborg craves massive amounts of energy to contact others of it’s species for world domination and also needs to feed off of animal flesh to sustain. The local anarchist Dylan and her friend Eddie team up with a alien enthusiast and a provincial cop to thwart human annihilation as the cyborg assimilates the townsfolk into it’s own flesh hungry minions, doing the bidding of constructing a solar system reaching power source to create a space antenna. The world’s hope relies on a pair of anarchy subversives to stop a monstrous sheborg who believes chaos will provide for planetary obliteration.
Its Bloggin’ Evil has been around the bush a few times with director Daniel Armstrong, a name known very well here by previously reviewing two of the filmmakers films under his Strongman Pictures label, the 2015 wrestling-sploitation “Fight Like A Girl” and the slasher on blades “MurderDrome” from 2013, and there has been much appreciation for the ballistic, ass-kickin’ carnage and indie horror mayhem Armstrong is so strongly passionate about in his films. The 2016 “SheBorg” is no different as the film revels in many of the same feral totalities. The Australian writer-director favors the 80s-90s science fiction and horror cultural elements for not only his earlier works but also for “SheBorg,” cherry-picked specifically for the mechanical madness. From “Star Trek,” to “Ghostbusters,” and to “Back to the Future,” “SheBorg” affectionately homages these films through the dialogue in an explicitly melee narrative that oozes with crazy, feasts on the flesh, and gorges on heartily on dismembering and assimilating all in a path to geek fandom.
Dylan lives to subvert the establishment, even if that means derailing her politically obsessed, sorry for excuse father, Mayor Jack Whiteman, and the self-indulged agitator is played by Whitney Duff alongside “MurderDrome’s” Daisy Masterman as Dylan’s best Kung Fu knowing mate Eddie. Duff and Masterman are a solid budding duo who can expel eccentricity and calmness as a single, combative unit against an seemingly unstoppable mechanism of man killing, the Sheborg. The mechanical alien is mechanically performed by another “MurderDrome” casted and “Fight Like A Girl” actress Emma-Louise Wilson. Wilon’s robotic coldness sounds actually very Russian in performance, as if the Eastern Europeans were gearing up for war with killer, flesh eating cyborgs, but Wilson’s contrast to the uncouth Duff and Masterman tagteam is comedic bliss that symbolisms freedom over tyrannical subjection. Sean McIntyre, Mark Entwistle, Louise Monnington, Jasy Holt, and Tommy Hellfire fill in the rest of the “SheBorg” cast.
Labeled as a Neo-Pulp sci-fi, horror film, “SheBorg” encapsulates the essence of a schlocky B-horror, charmed with two-bit practical and visual effects. Yellow alien blood sprays and cascades like neon Kool-Aid, the assimilated have oversized and gaudy optical lens over one eye, and there’s also some eye popping, heart ripping, and dog eating gore to appease every facet of a modern sci-fi horror. Once titled “SheBorg Prison Massacre” and then retitled to “Sheborg Puppy Farm Massacre,” Armstrong drops the ancillaries and simply presents his Daisy Duke-cladded killing machine film as “Sheborg” that continues a trend, whether intentional and ill-conceived from selective viewings on my part, of having a heroine in the lead role, such as “Fight Like a Girl” and “MurderDrome” with the latter involving an all-woman roller derby gang. Armstrong’s seemingly trademarking his films with rebellious women, whom are at odds with the world around them, and are coming out on top hauling away being more of a kick-ass warrior than before the a nemesis made the scene.
“SheBorg” is now available on Blu-ray courtesy of WildEye Releasing and MVDVisual. The 1080p resolution in a widescreen 1.85:1 presentation release has an underwhelming image quality. Details flutter sporadically in the woodsy locale in and around the puppy farm and night scenes have coagulated blotches of the unsharp nature. A few sequences turn out brilliantly poetic like when SheBorg frightfully exits through a mist-cloaked, open aired windshield of one of her three junkers turned into a makeshift solar system communicator. The 5.1 Stereo works for the budget, but while the punk rock score by KidCrusher befitted the anarchist lead, syncing with the rest of the film was far from being symbiotic. Dialogue was clear enough and ambience was fine, even if it was slightly over-exaggerated. Bonus features include a medium-length Behind the Scenes documentary that has engrained interviews with director Daniel Armstrong and selective cast; the BTS-feature is more tell all of Armstrong’s visionary mechanics and where he pulls inspiration from. There are also music videos and trailers. Resistance is futile as “SheBorg” is a must-see cybernetics battle royal in the realm of Ozploitation.
Former war veteran and hot rod enthusiast Larry and his wife, Carmel, take a weekend off from the children to vacation in Paradise, a retreat on the outskirt, rural area of Australia that includes pleasurable amenities such as fishing, swimming, and being an ideal location for a dirty weekend between two lovers, but an Earthquake triggers a major nuclear leak at Waldo, an international nuclear waste storage facility who aims to coverup to radioactive contamination. Heinrich Schmidt, an engineer who was deeply exposed to the waste flees from Waldo’s goons to reveal to anti-nuclear agencies the corporation’s dastardly concealments and warn locals of the tainted public water supply. With not much time to live and suffering from a serious head injury, Schmidt, with partial amnesia, is sheltered by an unsuspecting Larry and Carmel as they help him piece together his life while Waldo sends recovery and murderous thugs to quiet those who wish to leak information. Paradise is anything but as trouble brews between the vacationing Larry and Carmel, the witless locals, and Waldo in disclosing radioactive waste streaming through the water passage ways.
“The Chain Reaction” is the freshman film of writer-director Ian Barry released in 1980. Produced by “Mad Max’s” George Miller, “The Chain Reaction” was considered an unrelated companion piece that also starred a number of the same actors, but the action-thriller aligned more with the populistic nuclear disaster genre of the late 1970s and early 1980s. Whereas George Romero focused on accidental biological effects in his 1973 science fiction horror, “The Crazies,” Barry honed in on nuclear waste disaster and the reaction of those responsible, to what length of measures would be necessary and taken to keep exposure from happening. Caught in the middle are locals and unfortunate vacations, who actually take more a stand against tyrannical, above the law organizations. “The Chain Reaction” is packed with exciting car chases and glazed with testosterone enriched standoffs on a nuclear level.
Steve Bisley steps into the lead role of hot shot Larry Stilson working his solid strong physique with a general moral, but still bad boy composure when unravelling and thwarting the Waldo conspiracy. Bisley costars alongside the late Arna-Maria Winchester. Winchester screams screen time sauciness, but as a mother of two, Winchester’s Carmel Stilson comes off as promiscuously uncharacteristic as a mother but, to be fair, Larry doesn’t necessarily yell conventional father either. However, I’m impressed by the turncoat engineer Heinrich Schmidt played by Ross Thompson, an Australia actor who can really accent well the German language and puts into his role a languishing, broken man trying to do the right thing. Together, the Stilson’s and Heinrich are tracked down by Waldo henchman Gray, portrayed by English actor Ralph Cotterill (“Howling III”). Cotterill’s menacing, stodgy dagger eyes make him a suitable villain, but falters in the screen time department, seeing not much action as needed to take care of monumental business against possible exposure. Huge Keays-Byrne (“Mad Max: Fury Road”), Richard Moir (“The Odd Angry Shot”), Laurie Moran, Lorna Lesley (“The Survivor”), and a cameo of Mel Gibson round out of the cast.
The overall problematic crux with “The Chain Reaction” stems from that director Ian Barry is no George Miller when presenting his own version of pacing a film. The narrative is casually abrupt and edited shoddily with very rough and hard to follow sequential events that are supposed to be a fiery ball of nuclear mishandling and underhandedness fury. Though highly doubtful Umbrella Entertainment took the censorship scissors to this Ozploitation flick, there are moments of bizarre, if not expurgated, cuts that debase the illustrative graphic violence. One particular moment in the climatic third act, a shotgun was only aimed to intimidate would be attackers, but never discharged. However, a character is seemingly gunned down with a blood splattered mid-section being the only clue of his demise, but like aforementioned, the shotgun was never fired. Barry’s riveting action story plays out mostly like this, reducing the action to a meager narrative withstanding only a few good car chase sequences, some character intimacy, and laced with some shrouded mystery.
Umbrella Entertainment presents under their Ozploitation Classics’ sublabel, Ian Barry’s “The Chain Reaction” onto a full High definition, 1080, region free Blu-ray with a widescreen 1.85:1 aspect ratio. Honestly, a slightly cleaner and re-refined release was expected. Natural grain is expected, but the lossy definition and blurriness could have been tweaked for optimal results on the print. No edging enhancements nor print damage detected surrounding the fair natural coloring, skin tones, and, sometimes, vivid photography from Russell Boyd (“Picnic at Hanging Rock”), which is surprisingly rather bland overall. The DTS-HD Master Audio dual channel track is excellent with upfront and clear dialogue, ample ambient range, and a clean harrowing and resonating classic disaster scenario score composed by Andrew Thomas Wilson in his sole composure credit. Bonus features are aplenty with extended Not Quite Hollywood interviews with stars Steve Bisley and Arna-Maria Wichester, director Ian Barry, and producer Ross Matthews, a couple of featurettes entitled Thrills & Nuclear Spills and The Spark Obituary, deleted and extended scenes, an early cut with alternate title of “The Man at the Edge of the Freeway,” and media spots from theatrical release, TV, VHS trailer, and image gallery. “The Chain Reaction” is far from noxious, but the nuclear disaster piece could have been more radiant, a quality very difficult to achieve deep in the midst of so many great titles similar in the genre category; yet, the Ian Barry action thriller is an entertaining adversity excursion nonetheless.
After the untimely death of her mother, Linda returns from her university studies to reacquaint herself with the inherited Montclare, a home for the elderly her mother owned and operated through the decades as a family business. As she internally debates about whether to sell the grand, yet antiquated estate, 24-year-old Linda shuffles through her mother’s left behind things that rekindle Linda’s faded memories of her youth and add a sense of melancholy about her mother’s mental condition. A seemingly quiet, if not quirky, home for the elderly quickly becomes shrouded with mystery after the discovery of one of the residents found dead in a bathtub. Soon after, Linda feels as if she’s being watched and toyed with inside the corridors of Montclare: candles found lit, bathroom fixtures overflowing and cascading with water, mysterious figures looming from inside her room’s window, and her mother’s belongings sprawled out about the room. Paranoia sets into Linda as she suspects the resident caretaker and doctor of a lethal plot against her inside an old, foreboding manor that troubled her mother into deathly consequences and she searches for answers inside her mother’s extensive diaries that reveal the ominous dread that overwhelmed her inside an evil house.
“Next of Kin” is Australian’s answer to Dario Argento’s hauntingly apprehensive and vividly hued classic, “Suspiria.” Directed by Tony Williams and co-written with Michael Heath (“Death Warmed Over”), “Next of Kin” embodies monolithic brooding merits of a gracefully shaped horror and palpitating anxiety unlike any other Australian horror film we’ve ever seen before. In fact, Williams 1982 film doesn’t feel very Australian at all that’s set chiefly in and around Montclar, a lavishly gothic estate with expensive fountains and floral garnishes. Aside from native accent and barely a dusty road to drive down, the country of origin could be anywhere, punching home the aspect that the incident at Montclar is universal. Looking into a couple of their techniques, Williams and cinematographer Gary Hansen (“Image of Death”) utilize slow motion and interlaced scenes to convey a surreal dread that transcends from film to senses, also involving disruptive audio cues and visual jump scares, to culminate every scene, ever moment, into a well thought out result on how to effectively reach out and affect that scared little boy or girl in all of us.
Primarily a television and mini-series actress, Jacki Kerin sets foot into the main actress Linda. Kerin’s able to flip emotions from emitting a passive quality while she seemingly annoyed by her mother’s death while switching gears into a hyper-tensive defender. The small screen actress translate well onto the big screen, accompanying well versed thespians in “Picnic at Hanging Rock’s” John Jarratt, who went onto to more notably the “Wolf Creek” franchise. There’s also Alex Scott (“The Abominable Dr. Phibes”) and Tasmanian-born actress Gerda Nicholson. Scott and Nicholson do a fine job of portraying un-trust worthy snoops with underlining knowledge yet to be exposed and with Kerin, the fear goes unopposed and spreads like wild fire. the remaining cast includes Charles McCallum, Bernadette Gibson, Robert Ratti, Vince Deltito, and Debra Lawrence.
Practical effects are minimal in “Next of Kin,” but are well integrated with a meticulous purpose. Williams maintains the gore to an infancy amount, but the New Zealand born director doesn’t nickel-and-dime the macabre. Much of the death displayed comes in at post-humorous, visually positioning the cold and blue hued, more at times ripped life from, bodies to vessel the story forward toward a shocking, what-the-hell, and oh glorious climax. Then, when all the proverbial cards on the table, Linda finds herself ensnared in a cat-and-mouse game where Chris Murray’s practical effects come to the forefront. Special effects maestro, Chris Murray, had the George Miller experience while working on “Max Max” in 1979, prepping him to be the adequate effects artist to create surreal and, also, brutal Giallo-like murder.
Umbrella Entertainment presents Tony Williams’ “Next of Kin” onto a region free, full HD 1080p Blu-ray home video. An Ozploitation classic in itself, Umbrella Entertainment puts the film on a home media pedestal with a remastered 4k transfer from the original 35mm interpostive and presented in a widescreen, 1.77:1 aspect ratio. Beyond gorgeous with lush grim colors and able to keep the natural grain of the 35mm nitrate, “Next of Kin” sees one hell of an upgrade that shows no wear in the transfer and no compression issues or edging enhancements. Even with the heavy blue tint at time, the amount and the use is appropriate alongside Gary Hansen’s vision. The new English DTS-HD master audio emphasizes the heavy synthesized score by German electronic music composer Klaus Schulze that meshes fine with the creepy house ambiance. Dialogue is properly forefront and crystal clear. Special features run amok with audio commentaries with director Tony Williams, producer Tom White, and with cast members John Jarrett, Jackie Kerin, Robert Rattie. Also on the release is a “Return to Montclar – Next of Kin” shooting locations revisited, extended interviews from “Not Quite Hollywood” director Mark Hartley, deleted scenes, original and VHS trailer, German opening credits and trailer, an image gallery, and a couple of Tony Williams’ short films: “The Day We Landed on the Most Perfect Planet in the Universe” and “Getting Together.” “Next of Kin” has a brawny Italian Giallo flavor with a gritty, distinctive core of Australian horror filmmaking; sheerly beautiful and indisputably morbid, director Tony Williams has garnished a choice horror favorite that’s been sorely passed over through the years.
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!