Down in the relationship dumps, Carly and Rina struggle with sustaining the love between them. Carly recently dropped out of medical school to pursue a videography career, Rina, whose a battling bulimic, can’t secure a job, and, together, the financial strain and their respective personal issues is pushing them apart as they indolently work toward a seemingly futile plan for the future in a rundown motel recently purchased by a college friend named Wyatt. As if things can’t get any worse, an infectious pandemic turns the diseased into flesh hungry zombies and has quickly engulfed their area shortly after devouring Europe before anyone knew what hit them. With all communications down and surrounded by the infected, Carly and Rina rely on each other for survival, armed with only a couple of handheld cameras and a knife, but one Rina becomes sick, how far will Carly go to save the love of her life.
Love and zombies. Never has there been a more catalytic experience when the fate of an undead ravaged Earth becomes the tinder box for rekindling affection of a broken relationship. That’s the surmised premise of Michael Souder’s director debut, a found footage horror entitled “By Day’s End,” released onto DVD by the Philadelphian home video distributor, Breaking Glass Pictures. The LGBTQ aware zombie horror is based on Souder’s short marketing preview entitled “Hunger” that involved a man and woman couple rather than two women and was set at a motel site with Souder acting as narrator in explaining his vision. While “Hunger’s” financials didn’t gain footing through crowdfunding, Sounder was able rework his vision that incorporates a different breed of zombie that can learn at a rapid pace, shot his film in 2015, and finally hitting the retail markets in 2020. Sci-Fi-fantasy writer, Justin Calen-Chenn, co-writes the script with Sounder and serves as co-producer with the director along with another co-producer, Alicia Marie Agramonte, in her first feature produced production. Joe Wasem serves as executive producer for this complicated love story in the midst of a zombie Armageddon.
The rocky romance between Carly and Rina land praise for Lyndsey Lantz (“Lore”) and Andrea Nelson (“I Spit On Your Grave: Déjà vu”) in being a convincing complex couple with tons of baggage including relationship singeing secrets from one another and an underlying passion that has grown a little stale from a future strained of financial collapse. The chemistry between the blonde haired Carly and the dark browned Rina sizzles with tension that steams like when hot water hits a freezing cold surface. Lantz provides Carly’s bubbly optimism of a woman in love that finds climbing Rina’s colossally icy barrier a frustrating feat despite an immense amount of devout love and loyalism for her partner. The one character that isn’t very convincing is the former military turned motel host Wyatt Fremont played by Joshua Keller Katz. Katz’s rigid performance falls into the stereotype category of a bad script read, overplaying Wyatt’s previous life with a smug thinning effect on the whole zombie chaos and Wyatt sticking out of place like a giant sore thumb. Rounding out the cast is Diana Castrillion (“Godforsake”), Umberto Celisano (“First House on the Hill”), Devlin Wilder (“Grizzled”) and die-hard horror fixtures Maria Olsen (“Starry Eyes”) and Bill Oberst Jr. (“3 From Hell”) with the latter providing his voice only.
Rina’s unceasing eating disorder has staked a claim as one of the spurs affecting Carly and Rina’s declining relationship and, yet, when another eating disorder where mankind craves the taste of each other, the once quarreling lovers reignite the warmth that was once their bond in an amusing parallel of events. Character analogies are not the only nice touches provided by Souder who tweaks the zombie, extending upon George Romero’s evolutionary concept of a learning and pliant zombie while also creating a big world apocalyptic problem with small world capabilities, with the undead playing possum – how very “Resident Evil.” The 74 minute runtime offers ideal pace to not linger in exposition, which some horror love stories tend to do, balancing the backstory and the instantaneous chaos into a smooth transition of events. The camera POV style renders the same objective with also a bit of tranquility that’s like a calm before the storm rather, as some ambience is muted by security cameras. The effect results a frightening, breath holding silence which is a nice, eerie touch of cinematography and uncluttered audio.
“By Day’s End” is the motel mayhem zombie movie you’ve been hungry for and comes to you on a DVD home video being released March 17 courteously from Breaking Glass Pictures. The DVD9, region 1 release is presented in a widescreen, 1.78:1 aspect ratio, that splices together handheld camera and security cam footage. The image quality respectively shares the diverse filming tactics used to interlace a story. Handheld footage features a bright, natural appeal whereas the security footage purposefully instills as ashen approach and softer, fuzzier details with the horizontal lines created by direct light The English language 2.0 stereo mix has clean and forefront dialogue; the creature gutturals cast a more over-the-top and tawdry vocal disappointment that wasn’t fear invoking. Ambient depth and range are sizable and balanced. Special features include a behind-the-scenes, a quaint blooper reel, and Souder’s short film “Hunger.” “By Day’s End” marks the first indie horror success story of a 2020 release with a delicately modeled blend of romance and horror and a surge of lasting captivation on both of those fronts.
A bullet-riddled shootout with police left Baby Firefly, Otis Driftwood, and Captain Spaulding full lead, but not dead! The trio barely survives despite getting shelled by 20 gunshot wounds a piece and are tried and incarcerated for over a decade in maximum security prisons. After Captain Spaulding’s wears out his welcome on death row and becomes the first one executed, a merciless escape carried out by Otis’ half-brother, Winslow Foxworth Coltrane aka The Midnight Wolf, leaves a trail of blood and violence in their wake up to freeing Baby Firefly who can’t wait to play and unleash her uncontrollable crazy cyanide upon the world. However, there’s only one itsy-bitsy problem – they’re faces are about as dangerous to themselves as they are dangerous to others. The three from hell vamoose to a dumpy Mexico town to start afresh, but little do they know, no place is safe for long.
Over the span of 16 years and 14 years since “The Devil’s Rejects,” shock rock and rockabilly, metal rocker Rob Zombie returns to write and direct the third and highly anticipated sequel film in the Firefly trilogy with “3 From Hell.” The 2019 continuation of the Baby, Otis, and Captain Spaulding rejuvenates interesting in returning hellions that’ll undoubtedly wreak havoc across the midwest plains, splatter some brains, remove some flesh, and, well, you get the gist of their unholy hobbies. “3 From Hell” had to literally dig out these characters from the grave since being shot to shreds at the end of,***spoiler alert***, “The Devil’s Rejects” and Zombie was able to sell Lionsgate and Saban Films on the story divergent from the last film, much like “House of a 1000 Corpses” horror show went straight into exploitation extravaganza with “The Devil’s Rejects.” “3 From Hell” is a whole new animal, an anti-hero’s indulgent fantasy of crime, action, and still barely kickin’ to kick ass through the rampaging blood.
The three in “3 from Hell,” Baby Firefly, Otis Driftwood, and Captain Spaulding, return for one more three amigo misadventure through hell and brimstone and the original cast, respectively include Sheri Moon Zombie, Bill Moseley, and Sid Haig, suit up to be a depraved family once again. Sadly, Sid Haig’s health rapidly deteriorates in the midst of filming, leaving Zombie no other choice other than to write him quickly from the script and introduce a new character, a transgression tyrant to pass the torch to, with Winslow Coltrane played fittingly by “31’s” Richard Brake. As though like never missing a backwoods bumpkin beat, Richard Brake embraces the Midnight Wolf and breaks in the character with such ease and fortitude that the question never arises if the Midnight Wolf should be a part of the sacred Firefly pack. Sheri Moon Zombie steps out of a time machine and right into Baby Firefly, despite being a little aged around the eyes. The quirky and unpredictable Baby doesn’t reinvent the wheel, which should please the fandom, and is a wonderful sadistic mecha with Sheri Moon at the helm. The same can be said about Bill Moseley who, goes without saying, has a unique voice that’s been rebranded as Otis Driftwood. Every other movie, old or new, with Bill Moseley starring, or not starring, will forever be tainted by Otis Driftwood for when Moseley monologues or even just speaking one or two words of dialogue, the spine starts to twinge and tingle, the hairs shoots straight up, and that stepping on your grave feeling of cold desolation swallows you in an instant. The “3 From Hell,” plus Coltrane, face the world with a big knife and lots of guns and those who stand in their way are played by co-stars Danny Trejo (“Machete”), Jeff Daniel Phillips (“31”), Emilio Rivera (“Sons of Anarchy”), Richard Edson (“Super Mario Bros.”), Pancho Molar (“Candy Corn”), Dee Wallace (“Cujo”), Sean Whale (“The People Under the Stairs”), Clint Howard (“Evilspeak”) and Bill Oberst Jr. (“Dis”).
Rob Zombie has mentioned in a behind the scenes featurette that he didn’t want to recapture the magic of the previous Firefly cruelty and the rocker-filmmaker has done that just, straying away from the horror of “House of the 1000 Corpses” and the exploitation vehemence of “The Devil’s Rejects,” which the fans groveled for, and going bravely, or blindly, into crime action with the “3 From Hell” that still’s beholden to Rob Zombie’s hillbilly swank. Rob Zombie risks a new path and also gambling on more of Lionsgate’s capital with showing off more visual effects than in the former films. Bullets tearing through flesh and flying straight toward the camera lend to example of the computer imagery effects that, from a fan’s perspective, dilute Rob Zombie’s adoration for horror who takes less and less chances with this film that not only feels rather ordinary and just another piece of maize in the field, but “3 For Hell” also doesn’t feel to have substance to all the madness. Baby, Otis, and Coltrane go from point-to-point, aimlessly pondering what’s next, and just happen to fall into a barrage of bullets and blood, rather than being the epitome of evil bring vile upon mankind. Just being a Rob Zombie film that resurrects his beloved and beguiling modern iconic characters, “3 From Hell” coopers the longing with a fierce show of violence that opens the door for one more installment.
Lionsgate and Saban Films, along with Spookshow International, proudly presents Rob Zombie’s “3 From Hell” onto a R rated DVD and an unrated, 1080p Blu-ray sheathed inside a slipcover. The two disc, dual format release are both presented in a widescreen, 1.85:1 aspect ratio, and the image is about as sleek as they come with an ARRIRAW formatted 2.8k ARRI camera that shoots 48fps. Zombie reins back on the color palette and hones onto more natural coloring. The details are delineating, as aforesaid with Sheri Moon Zombie’s crows feet. The English language 7.1 Dolby TrueHD audio track is lossless with a crisp dialogue and ambient mix. The range and depth are robust with explosions and gunfire. The release comes with Spanish subtitles and English SDH subtitles. In accompaniment with the 115 runtime, bonus features include To Hell and Back: the Making of 3 From Hell which is a 4-part documentary on the Blu-ray only and both formats include an audio commentary from writer-director Rob Zombie. Also included is a digital copy to instantly stream and download onto personal devices. The horror element might be gone, but the inexplicable chaos surges through death row to desperado Mexico in Rob Zombie’s “# From Hell!”
Caleb and Addison are having a party with a small gathering of friends, and a few enemies, to enjoy a hotdog cookout in their charming garden backyard. Caleb only has one strict stipulation that all cell phones be prohibited in order for everyone attending to live in the moment. Things seem to be proceeding relative well: the beef and vegan wienies are grilled to perfection, the wine flows freely to and fro, and a love triangle arises for a possible romantic outcome for a pair of singletons. What small party doesn’t expect is a pickaxe wielding manic strolling through their backyard and crashing the festivities. With one person dead and the rest trapped inside the house, a wide range of survival hypotheses begin to kick in, squashing the idyllic soiree into panic frenzy molded by a very tall, very deranged house circling murderer.
Gregory Blair’s “Garden Party Massacre” is the 2017 horror-comedy that takes progressive comedy back a decade when material was simpler, straight forward, and where satire reigns supreme from casual conversation. Blair, who not only directed, but also penned the script, is one of those recognizable names and faces entrenched into the independent film grid with credits like 2013’s “Ooga Booga” and, directing one of Its Bloggin’ Evil’s personal favorites, “Deadly Revisions,” starring Bill Oberst Jr so this will be our second PIX/SEE Productions film coverage. “Garden Party Massacre” has been on this reviewers radar for about three years now and Blair’s sophomore feature film takes a lighter approach to horror that’s more beneficially cliché, designed to be safe in the story, and still able to provide generous humor. Just as quirky as it’s titled, “Garden Party Massacre” won’t be an aggressive avalanche of bodies and blood to consume so the highly squeamish audiences can sit and tolerate the sludge-fast bloodletting to nearly the credits with a steady amount of Gregory Blair etched absurdity to push those horror-intolerants forward.
Caleb and Addison extend beyond a couple’s normal range of quarreling. Their verbally combative relationship breaks hyperbole levels on the most mundane and trivial things couples argue over. Andy Gates (“The Blessed Ones”) and Nichole Bagby hash it out as two estranged lovers at each other’s throat that becomes a candy coated resonation of the very real reality of relationship woes. They’re each joined by a pair of friends that have previously established a relationship with them as part of their character’s background. David Leeper plays Wesley, a gay friend of the couple who also is on the Caleb’s softball team, who is perhaps the most rational character in the pack and brings another teammate to the party, Lincoln, as a possible match to his testosterone desires. Gregory Blair goes full on fool with Lincoln’s thick skull persona and the writer-director is spot on as also co-star in his role. The other established friend is Reena, a role presided by fellow “Dead Revisions” star Lisa Hart who has rash moments of exaggeration, but the timing is good for her character who serves as the odd woman out of the group. Then, “RoboWoman” herself, Dawna Lee Heising, enters the picture as Melanie, the obnoxious friend with a hankering for Lincoln’s man meat, and Heisings brings her delectable indie-horror presence to the folding table and lawn chairs! Other garden partygoers includes Matt Weinglass and Marv Blauvelt (“Snake with a Human Tail”).
“Garden Party Massacre” lampoons traditional genre tropes, highlighting the flaws and exaggerating their characteristics, and director Gregory Blair purposefully intended on constructing this fun and bubbly example of how silly the situational elements can be and, sometimes are, despite the pickaxe psycho lurking around outside and the whole neighborhood turning upside down when the sudden zombie apocalypse comes spilling into their backyard like spilt lemonade. Blair pokes fun in a homaging kind of way and that’s quite endearing. However, the character dynamic became stale faster than day old bread as scene-after-scene was nearly all about bashing the other person. Someone comes up with a plan and judgement rears an ugly head. Someone heeds a warning and, again, ridicule rolls right off the tongue. After one receives their fill of colorful raillery, Lincoln’s blockish guilelessness becomes the drug of choice and a root for character.
SGL Entertainment and MVDVisual layout the picnic for “Garden Party Massacre” onto an all region DVD presented widescreen 16:9 aspect ratio. Imagine presentation has all the digital pros and without any night shots, the digital noise has virtually no ground to flicker. Coloring and skin tones looks natural, aside from the obvious blue-ish green makeup of the zombies, and didn’t catch really any distortions to note. The English language stereo 2.0 surround sound favors the dialogue fairly well, upfront and with authority, but the ambience tracks, such as the birds chirping especially, are intrusive at times. There’s faint feedback at times during screaming moments. The runtime clocks in at 70 minutes and includes extras such as a music video to the film’s trashy-punk theme song, which is sung by “Constantine’s” Peter Stormare oddly enough, and trailers. “Garden Party Massacre” is the recipient of 9 film festival awards, including Best Comedy and Best Film, and rightfully so considering being a purposeful caricature mockup of horror well executed by Gregory Blair and crew.
Ariel Konk, A former soldier fleeing from his regrettable past, seeks refuge in an isolate cabin located deep in the forest, adjacent to a lagoon. Struggling to live off the land and coping with loneliness, the soldier marches on, exploring his new, secluded surroundings. His loneliness comes to an end when investigating the ruins of a dilapidating building structure, spotting a masked half naked female and as he pursues her, Ariel witnesses her voluntarily jump from the highest level of the opened air building. Wrought with anguish, Ariel attempts suicide only to be knocked out before he could pull the trigger on his rifle. He wakes up being chained to the wall with a mute, mask figure drugging him and extracting his blood and semen fluids as necessary nutrients for a nearby Mandrake garden. A practice that has been executed many times before Ariel’s arrival.
“DIS” is a bordering arthouse horror film from writer-director Adrian Corona (“Nariz Ioca”). A blend from a horror influenced literary poem and a mythological folkore, Corona crafts a lurid, hyperbolic story that pulls, as Cornoa describes as a prefix of sorts, from Dante Alighieri’s epic journey through hell told in Dante’s Inferno, using the City of Dis that’s described as a lower hell for sinners who’ve committed violent and fraudulent transgressions, and interlocks that inspiration with the archaic lore surrounding the Mandrake plant that involves superstitiously condemning those to hell after reaping the intensely narcotic plant with the human shaped root and that would, also superstitiously, scream when pulled. “DIS” is full of interpretative terror through the 61 minute runtime that’s virtually expressive. Corona provides little dialogue to his script, keeping most of the dialect scribal incased within flashback confines, and let his actors’ raw emotions and visceral eloquence provide the tale that’s peppered with moments of visual shock and cathartic abhorrence.
I’ve said it once and I’ll say it again, Bill Oberst Jr. is one hell of an actor. The upcoming Rob Zombie “3 from Hell” actor has become a prominent staple professional in the indie horror film circuit, tackling the bizarre, the inexplicable, and the most difficult of roles with such vigor and passion that his motivation is seemingly inhuman. Right up there with “Deadly Revisions,” “DIS’ tops or equals being one of the best performances of his career, from the perspective of this reviewers’ cache of Bill Oberst Jr films. There’s quite a bit of difficulty catching up to the man who roughly does, whether as a lead or as support, 10 films a year! As Ariel Konk, Oberst captures the essence of pain and anger that saturates the character’s own personal delirium and hell with his past mistake catching up to his self-battered soul. The faceless figure who opposites Ariel feeds off the ex-soldiers repugnant and guilt-riddled past actions in a seemingly perverse mission that’s actually mandated by the suspected demon’s Mandrake lot. The plants are held in a nursery for engendering creatures, but what kind of creatures exactly? Other demons from the seed of murdered vehement people?
Remaining cast include Peter Gonzales Falcon, “Prison Heat’s” Lori Jo Hendrix, Manuel Dominguez, and Anne Voitsekhova.
The casual viewer will inherently disavow the hour spent watching “DIS” due to a number of reasons, whether it’s Ariel wandering the forest for more than half the film, or dialogue is fairly infrequent, or the chaptered sequence of events don’t perfectly describe just what the hell is going, or, just perhaps, the motif of genital masturbation and mutilation is just too much to stomach. Either way, “DIS’s” traction will slip and only a few are willing to get dirty and push the story forward with open mindedness and artistic appreciation. Speaking of artistic appreciation, Rocco Rodriguez’s cinematography is a character upon itself. The top of a Cofre de Perote volcano in Perote, Veracruz, Mexico during principal photography has breathtaking visuals that Rodriguez captures exquisitely and becomes a backdrop against the coarse material. Outside is vivid, bright, full of life, but when in the belly of the rundown structure, the manmade confines are claustrophobic and crummy, infernally ablaze for ritual, much to the akin of Dante’s Inferno. Rodriguez, again, depicts lustrous imagery that assists in telling Corona’s nightmarish story and that’s a skill all can recognize.
MVD Visual and Unearthed Films present Adrian Corona’s enigmatic and surreal “DIS” from 1922 Films onto high definition Blu-ray. The region A release is presented in a widescreen, 1.85:1 aspect ratio, and has the near epitome of perfect with, again, Rocco Rodriguez stunning photography. The lighting really comes to the fold that upheaves the brilliancy in the textures, such as in the building’s illustrious graffiti, and dares to switch to black and white when appropriate. Skin tones are fresh looking and natural in colored scenes. Only a minor aliasing issue around Obsert flared up momentarily, but ceased going forward. The Dolby Digital 5.1 surround sound has forefront dialogue, but not a bit soft, especially with Peter Gonzales, that made following difficult. There was not enough examples of range or depth to necessarily comment as Oberst was essentially alone for much of the film. Bonus features include an explanation introduction by writer-director Adrian Corona, a behind-the-scenes featurette that exhibits three takes of two scenes, a wonky static menu Q&A formatted interview with Bill Oberst Jr., a short film entitled “Portrait,” still gallery, and Unearthed Films trailers. Bill Oberst Jr. is, basically, a one man show knitted into an Adrian Corona allegory of unknown terror through conduits of literary works and medieval folklore, making “DIS” prime real estate for viewers seeking a film as an open book toward abstract gardening.
A Hollywood screenwriter named Nicholas owns a very special household feline. Angel, his Cat, has a unique relationship with her owner Nicholas. Yet, their unbreakable bond has put a severe damper on Nicholas’s intimacy with women as Angel slaughters any and all who becomes close with her beloved human. When Nicholas finally catches wind of the reason behind his love life woes and learns that Angel is actually possessed by an obsessive and dangerous demon, he and his friends Adam, whose also his downstairs neighbor in the apartment complex, seek to exorcise Angel back to being a nice kitty, but all who’ve challenged Angel thus far have been unlucky enough to be scratched to death. A medium, two priests, and even a cat therapist haven’t seem to help Nicholas through the bombardment of weird dreams and death that surround him in his lonely and tiny one bedroom apartment.
Cat lovers beware! “Hell’s Kitty” is purring up your leg to claw you in this new horror-comedy by writer-director Nicholas Tana. If you had thought cats were already contemptible enough to begin with then sit down in your air freshening kitty litter and get a can of Friskies out because you’re about to take a 666 ride with this demon kitty. “Hell’s Kitty” is original a web series created by Tana that began all the way back from 2011 to 2015 and, since then, has been immensely popular through the inter-webs with the extra special casts of genre vets ranging from “The Hills Have Eyes'” Michael Berryman to “The Fog’s” Andrienne Barbeau. From the web series, the episodes were pieced together, forming one hairball adventure of Nicholas and his demon cat, Angel.
Aforementioned, Nicholas Tana headlines as himself because, essentially, “Hell’s Kitty” is based off true events of his turmoiled love life. Series regulars also become essential players in the film, such as Nicholas’s downstairs loafing neighbor and best friend Adam (Adam Rucho), Lisa Graves (Lisa Younger of “Cold Creepy Feelings”), and Dr. Laurie Strodes (Nina Kate of “Snake Club: Revenge of the Snake Women”). Then, there’s a slew of special guests that, at times, pay homage to the works that made them household names in horror or relating genres. Special guests that include “Children of the Corn’s” John Franklin and Courtney Gains semi-reprising their roles as Isaiah and Mordicia. Lynn Lowry (“The Crazies”), Doug Jones (“The Shape of Water”), Bill Oberst Jr. (“Coyote”), Kelli Maroney (“Night of the Comet”), Dale Midkiff (“Pet Sematary”), Lee Meriweather (Catwoman from “Batman” television series), Victoria De Mare (“Killjoy” franchise), and porn star goddess, and legend, Nina Hartley (“Pleasure Maze”)! That’s one heavy-hitting lineup! As a cherry on top, even a Killer Klown, you know, the ones from Outer Space, made an appearance!
If a viewer didn’t know of or research into “Hell’s Kitty” web series past, the thought of low-budget junk just might scroll across a judgmental mindset. Let’s be honest for a second; “Hell’s Kitty” is grade-A camp with schlocky special effects and the editing quality of a ramshackle shackled ram. Along with the unique cast being intertwined into the story, other aspects of the Frankenstein-glued together film, such as the sharp pivoting subplots, stir up Nicholas ever so chaotic life into a new and interesting fold. From his fruitless sex life with various attractive women to the friend who always makes himself welcome in Nicholas’s apartment, Nicholas only has one consistent thing in his life and that is his relationship with the cat from hell and that journey is explored from episode-to-episode that climaxes with an ultra-drag musical rendition of something out of the “Birdcage.” Another quality to watch for, and enjoy, are the homages to fan favorites like “Children of the Corn” and “Killer Klowns From Outer Space” as mentioned before, “The Exorcist,” and “Psycho.”
MVDVisual and Wild Eye Releasing presents the Smart Media LLC,. production of “Hell Kitty,” as a whole, on DVD home video that’s visually subpar when considering the quality. The low bitrate crudely displays blotchy image quality, leaving details to the waist side. The 5.1 surround sound is the best attribute to the DVD with clear dialogue and a modest soundtrack. There are no extras included aside for the film’s trailer. While technically incompetent, “Hell’s Kitty” meows murderously onto DVD in a cultivation of cult actors and hellacious comedy by writer-director Nicholas Tana that does sometimes feel rehashed or borrowed from previous films, but the quirky evil pet element gnaws on an inner layer to be enjoyed and enthralled in a day-and-a-life of one man’s skewed, if not deranged, version of events of a lackluster romantic lifestyle blamed toward one jealous feline.