Evocation of EVIL in “The Girl In the Crawlspace” reviewed! (ITN Distribution / DVD)


Jill escapes from the grip of a kidnapping-serial killer who kept her confined in a crawlspace under the house. Her courage brings lethal justice to the captor when the local marshal shoots and kills him upon confrontation. Jill struggles to reintegrate back into her local community in the aftermath, sleeping unconfined in the outdoors and withdrawing herself for social interaction, including from her weekly role playing game with friends. When Kristen moves back into her hometown from college, she aims to set up her therapy practice to assist families impacted by the serial killer as well as Jill by special request from the marshal, but Kristen’s rocky relationship with her substance abusive, off-Hollywood screenwriting husband on the mend drags out Jill’s much needed treatment. With Jill and Kristen preoccupied, they’re oblivious to the concealed threat that plots the next terrorizing exploit of kidnapping and tormenting young, beautiful women.

From under the grubby wooden floorboards to the strategic folding table of a role playing game, “The Girl in the Crawlspace” is the Midwest direct-to-video suspense thriller that tackles post-traumatic stress and marital strife while submersed in a looming trail left by a notorious mass murderer, written and helmed by first time director John Oak Dalton. Dalton, who has penned several low-budget grindhouse titles over the last decade and half, including titles such as “Among Us,” “Sex Machine,” and “Jurassic Prey,” returns once again to the genre with the repercussions of Podunk psychopath upon small town America, filmed in Indiana and release in 2018 hitting the ground running with film festival circuits. Indie filmmaker Henrique Couto, schlock horror director of “Scarewaves” and “Marty Jenkins and the Vampire Bitches,” signs on as producer, stepping back from his usual productional duties, and letting an occasional collaborator Dalton to completely engulf himself as the omnipotent auteur. Midwest Film Ventures serves as the production company, shot in Farmland, Indiana.

Erin R. Ryan has continuously sustained a low level hover on the indie horror radar after taking her in Dustin Mill’s “Bath Salt Zombies,” based on the Miami incident based on a naked man eating someone’s face induced by being high on bath salts, and the gooey-gory body horror, “Skinless,” that’s also a Mills production. Ryan expands her portfolio outside physical horror with Jill, a traumatized recluse derived from her abduction and torture, as a subdued component that’s contrary to previous roles, but Ryan capitalizes the opportunity of a scared kitten, recoiling from public gatherings, and slowly and silently emerging back into society while recalling chilling moments as the story progresses. However, there’s difficult pinpointing the head lead as the protagonist roles are shared between Ryan and depicted married couple, a pair of more Henrique Couto casted actors, in Joni Durian and John Bradley Hambrick as Kristen and her husband, John. Between the three, chemistry clicks better than cooking meth in a chemist’s unsanctioned laboratory and offer ample contention without the attending killer’s presence hanging over the whole town’s head. Rounding out the remaining cast is Chelsi Kern (“Scarecrow Count”), Joe Kidd (“Ouija Room”), Jeff Kirkendall (“Sharkenstein”), Clifford Lowe (“Scarecrow County”), and re-introducing Tom Cherry as the good old boy town officer, Marshal Woody.

With a title like “The Girl in the Crawlspace,” I would be remiss if I didn’t say there were some expectations of bodily torture, psychological terror, and teeth-clinching tension when sitting down to watch. The hype was high considering the post-after-post amount of positivity for “The Girl in the Crawlspace” on my Twitter feed. The catchy name and optimistic comments provided real temptation, but Dalton steers in another direction, the what follows in the state of everlasting shock and the reliving of moments seared into your psyche. The direction wasn’t as expected, but that’s necessary a bad thing. “The Girl in the Crawlspace” is exposition heavy with considerable amount of movie referencing peppered with some current event topics, such as the brief mentioning of killing of migrant children, throughout and continuously wanders off point, strolling more into Kristen and John’s crumbling marriage. Jill, the supposed centerpiece of the story, feels more like an afterthought, despite being the “girl” in “The Girl in the Crawlspace.” The cantankerous marriage supposedly jeopardizes those personally involved in Jill’s well-being as John exploits Jill’s idiosyncratic experiences from being a captive by turning them into inspirational junk food for his fading screenwriting career, but the catalyst incident doesn’t stick, becoming more of a weak opening for a more pronounced return of Jill’s haunting past.

From ITN Distribution and Mill Creek Entertainment, “The Girl in the Crawlspace” lands onto a not rated DVD home video release. The single layer DVD is presented in a full frame widescreen of an 1.78:1 aspect ratio. In a framing sense, Henrique Couto’s cinematography distinctly places small town in a spectrum view that highlights the soybean fields and farms, the rustic brick infrastructures, and the simplicities of a relaxed, old-fashioned town, using some drone shots to expose the green belt greenery. For an indie feature, the agreeable bitrate has a frank, clear image despite some consistent overexposure that softens details, especially on faces in the outside scenes. The Dolby Digital stereo 2.0 mix has also agreeable dual channel output. Some of the dialogue scenes suffer through an echo, but for the majority, the lines have clarity and unobstructed by ambient layers or the soundtrack. The depth discloses some distant ambiguities, such as in a train shot that’s not rendered in the background as it should, but the amount of range is palatable. English SHD subtitles are available. The only bonus features available on the release are the theatrical trailer and an commentary with producer Henrique Couto and director John Oak Dalton regarding their history together and going through the shot techniques as well as touching upon the actors. The road to recovery is paved in nightmares, psychological terror, and Midwest psychopaths in “The Girl in the Crawlspace,” but pitches away from the principal concern that turns second fiddle to one struggling screenwriter’s difficult assimilation into rural life while simultaneously rethreading a floundering livelihood and a tattered marriage.

Own “The Girl in the Crawlspace” on DVD

Upcoming Evil! Skinless!

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Dustin Mills has become one of my favorite independent directors over the last two years with successful features such as Bath Salt Zombies (read review here), Zombie A-Hole (read review here), and Night of the Tentacles (read review here). Mills continues to course and has released a trailer for his next project – a bloody, body horror film – entitled Skinless which is full of practical, gooey effects.

Synopsis

He searched for a cure. What he found was a curse. Brilliant oncologist Peter Peel discovers a possible cure for skin cancer in the belly of an exotic parasite. When he tests the cure on himself, his world is shattered and a monster is born. Skinless is a sad tale of madness, murder, monsters, and love.

Cast favorite Brandon Salkil plays the male lead Dr. Peter Peele, which I’m guessing “Peele” goes with the whole “skinless” motif. Check out gory trailer down below.

Evil’s a Dick! Zombie A-Hole Review!

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Slowly and slowly, there has been a increase of likability toward director and writer Dustin Mills and his hugely creative and widely entertaining horror films. This might sound like a creepy man-crush, but the Kevin Smith like-a-like director has his own production company, he pulls from his own stable of actors, and his movies are not your typical, run-of-the-mill independent boringness trash. The experiences had with Dustin Mills have been in backwards motion where I’ve started Mills recent projects and have worked backwards ending with Zombie A-Hole – so far. Zombie A-Hole involves a hellbent cowboy, a psychic twin brother, and a one-eyed engineer superstar all seeking the same evil – the other twin brother who gave his soul to an evil living inside a medallion that has given the brother unlimited power and has returned him from the grave! This a-hole stalks and kills twin siblings for their brain matter to give him everlasting power making this zombie a-hole the most depraved, the most senseless, and the most hated being on this twisted earth!

What impresses me more about Dustin Mills is his use of effective special effects when compared to a $1,000 budget. The man must be good with a computer because even though I can see the slight mistakes or the slight cheapness of the prosthetics, his special effects can please even the most critical critics. Mills even uses quick editing techniques to create the illusion of twin siblings. Seven “twins” will trick your mind by having the “twins” seem to be in the same scene, but with some quick camera work and some flawless editing the same actor will only seem to be in the same scene with their twin when they’re talking to each other. If that last sentence doesn’t confuse you, then you’re special. Mills can also make Party City skeletons looks like some grade A Sam Raimi Army of Darkness skeletons by brushing them up in makeup and using filter techniques to create his own smart ass undead army.

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Two regular actors of Mills’ work turn grueling indie project into a highly entertaining horror film. Brandon Salkil portrays three characters in Zombie A-hole as the twin brothers and the zombie. Jason Eal takes on the rough and tough, zombie asskickin’ cowboy. Both actors feature in Mills’ later films such as Bath Salt Zombies (another great, based on a true story film) and both have had their own starring roles in Mills’ films as well as working behind the scenes on the production crew. Versatile and hardworking, these two actors’ on screen performances are poetic. Salkil’s animated personality homes in on a Jim Carrey while Eal tough guy schtick is well welcomed when dealing with any evil force.

Zombie A-hole markets itself as a zombies are cool and hip while being brutal and deadly. Though Salkil’s zombie is brutal and deadly, the prey could have been more lively. The “twins” are mainly alternative girls who for some reason always get the ax when they’re taking a bath or in the shower…? A pre-shower, during shower, post-shower motif I don’t completely understand. Perhaps to show some gratuitous tits or maybe to show how helpless these victims are with no fight in them when the Zombie A-Hole is cracking open their skulls, ready to eat their brains!

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Zombie A-Hole’s all out mentality will leave you with great appreciate for independent filmmaking. Thank you MVDVisual for releasing Dustin Mills work and exposing the writer and director and also his two main actors Brandon Salkil and Josh Eal. MVD’s presentation runs 108 minutes with a standard definition 16×9 widescreen ratio, but Mills purposely grains the film to give the a grindhouse film feel and the standard definition goes right out the window. There are no extras and its a bit of a shame because I would want to see the behind the scenes of Zombie A-Hole, but that shouldn’t come between man and his urges to see blood, boobs, and the zombies!

Evil Will Eat Your Face! Bath Salt Zombies review!

!!!Pre-order!!! http://www.bathsaltzombies.com/ !!!Pre-order!!!

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Almost a year ago, do you remember the real life face-eating cannibal Rudy Eugene due to, unconfirmed, street drug nicknamed “bath salts?” Eugene basically left his disabled vehicle near a Miami causeway, stripped completely butt-ass naked, and assaulted one Ronald Poppo by beating him down to the ground, stripping off his homeless man trousers, and proceeding to munch on the upper portion of his face. A real life zombie? Most likely not, but the more probably cause would be high as a kite on drugs, making him insane and almost superhuman-like. Reportedly, the attack went on for nearly 20 minutes and police even shot Eugene four times.

Not in the film, but I wanted you to have an idea of what to expect!

Not in the film, but I wanted you to have an idea of what to expect!

A year later, ambitious filmmakers came together with the “Miami Zombie” inspiration in mind and made a highly exaggerated, or was it, loosely based film about drug addicts turning into face biting zombies after smoking a bath salt resembler that is actually concocted from a highly toxic, military grade, weaponized substance that somehow mysteriously disappeared from the military’s inventory. Hot on the destructive addict’s tail is a relentless DEA agent who will stop at nothing to put an end to reign of bath salt terror!

Who are these ambitious filmmakers? And how the hell did they pull off a great fun and creative movie about the bath salt “Miami Zombie?” First off, the team of creators and actors behind that fantastic little Faustian film Night of the Tentacles were involved! Dustin Wayde Mills, whom very uncanny in looks and voice resembles Red State director Kevin Smith, directs, co-wrote, and also co-stars as the money hungry mad scientist behind the bath salt concoction. Night of the Tentacles lead man Brandon Salkil who is comically animated and has great facial features for film. Secondly, my main man Clint Weiler produced and co-wrote Bath Salt Zombies. Clint is also a head hancho over at MVD, a major home entertainment distributor for music and DVD video!

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Bath Salt Zombies combines 300 with Scott Pilgrim vs. The World. You have the epic fight scenes, done very well by the way with well done choreographs by co-star Jason Eal (DEA agent), with the Scott Pilgrim like animations that turn a cheesy premises into the next big indie cult film – the next Dead Next Door comes to mind. Now, I could be wrong, but I found that Bath Salt Zombies paid homage to a couple of other notable horror and action icons such as the first Resident Evil video game in the mini-cartoon intro at the beginning reminded me of first appearance of a zombie and the subway fight finale reminded me of Neo and Agent Smith duking it out in the first Matrix. However, Bath Salt Zombies delivers more blood and more creative style with the budget.

What I really wanted more from this film was Erin R. Ryan’s twins in the shower. Along with Ryan’s ta tas, Bath Salt Zombies offers other perks such as a fully frontal 4 minute scene of DeviantArt and Model Mayhem model Bella Demente! You also have a great punk Soundtrack to go along with the spew of blood, the elastic internal organs, the dismembered body parts, and the multiple decapitations. I highly recommend this movie to any comedy, horror, or drug addict fan because Bath Salt Zombies entertains with a blood, boobs and banter that hasn’t been this witty for a indie film in such a long, long time! Well played!


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