EVIL is One Big Vagina Looking Stain on the Wall! “Dead Dicks” reviewed! (Artsploitation Films / Blu-ray)


Becca’s careworn life, concerning for her mentally unstable brother as well as maintaining her expenses through the up and down cashflow of a bartender’s tour, suddenly gleams with a ray of hope when a prestigious opportunity she’s earned calls for her to move across country in a matter of weeks, but when her brother, Ritchie, leaves multiple distressing messages on her phone, Becca’s continuing efforts to care for her troubled older brother forces her to abandoned the bar’s night shift duty and check on him. What Becca finds is Ritchie’s dead body strung up in the closet, and another Ritchie dead body electrocuted in the tub, and a very much alive Ritchie walking around naked. The perplexing phenomena all stems around a vaginal resembling wet stain on the bedroom wall that birth’s another copy of Ritchie after each death, but with every copy comes copious amounts of provocative questions that keep Becca from leaving Ritchie’s forlorn and tormented side or is it something much more paranormal detaining her?

Welcome back to our part two of the unofficial look at independent Canadian horror with a totally different and existential horror entitled “Dead Dicks” from the dynamic directing duo of Chris Bavota and Lee Paul Springer. Also possessing creative control of their own script, Bavota and Springer flex their filmmaking muscles by initiating themselves into the feature film market with an alternative impression on the lingering effects of mental illness and suicide, which Bavota and Springer preface the film responsibly with a public service announcement for audiences where those struggling with suicide or those who know someone struggling can reach out for information and help via a suicide prevention hotline telephone number. Believe it or not, ItsBlogginEvil has been exposed to some script work by Chris Bavota who penned the tyke-terrible, otherworldly beings in “Ghastlies,” helmed by Brett Kelly, and while I admire Kelly’s legendary practical effects ambitions on a microscopic budget and “Ghastlies” praise to the cult of small creature features villains, like “Gremlins” or “Critters,” I ultimately found the film and the screenplay to be fragmented and unflattering that doesn’t live up to honoring the retro creature ideals in a heavily slapstick and erroneous attempt. However, from 2016 to 2019, Bavota has shown to have an increased level of story maturity in his writing with, perhaps, an assist from his colleague Springer for their subject matter and execution of “Dead Dicks,” a production of Bavota and Springer’s Postal Code Films company in association with Red Clay Productions and distributed by Devilworks and Artsploitation Films.

The low-key cast brings a blanket of intimacy that’s synonymous with how suicide is often a loner’s internal battle with themselves. In this regard, Bavota and Springer needed an alleviator for the somber material with a pitch perfect front man in order to radiate the dry humor and convey the relatively taboo message of speaking up, speaking out, and speaking for suicidal tendencies. They found that man to be Heston Horwin who the filmmakers had had in mind to play the role of Ritchie. Bringing the quick wit and exact timing to Ritchie’s compromised soul, and serving also as executive producer on the film, Horwin becomes the vexed tinkerer trying to problem solve the causality of his own immortality who is stuck in a loop, a motif of in death there is life that continues to pop up, and also contorts his personality to make Ritchie a Rubik cube of anxiety, twisting and turning with tacit body language that serves as a roadblock to his frequently burdened little sister, Becca, played by newcomer Jillian Harris. The strong female role is outlined with meticulously sage from a new actress submersed for the first time credited in an existential and cosmic horror with a genitalia fascination. The duo becomes a trio when Matt Keyes enters the fold as the annoyed apartment neighbor one floor door to be jostled into Ritchie and Becca’s abundant death dilemma. Also known in character as Matt, Keyes deceives as a snarky, impatient prude masking his nice guy principles but when enough is enough, Keyes goes into angry neighbor mode whose fed up with Ritchie’s loud music and building shaking incidents.

“Dead Dicks” doesn’t boil down to simply suicide as the main theme to digest, but sharpens the graphite toward a much broader point that incorporates the lingering shockwave effects of severe mental illness while touching upon the bitter aftertaste of post-suicide. Becca’s caught in Ritchie’s woeful web that results in her always picking up the pieces left in her big brother’s wake. The act of unreciprocated love for Ritchie stems from almost losing him when they were younger, an anecdotal story brought up a couple of times between Becca and Ritchie, and the image of his lifeless body in the hospital has been forever seared in Becca’s mind and body matrix to the point she feels indebted to protect him. It took Ritchie to die, multiple times, for him to understand the inflexibilities of the loop Becca is coiled into with his own unhinged state and can’t proceed forward with her own life. Each copy of his former self slices away a layer of unstable irrationality that have become blinders detrimental to his and his sister’s life and once he’s reached the core of his true self, clarity forms around processing the chaos around him, but doesn’t ever remove the sadness and pain that has been imprinted onto him over the years from family and friends distrust and disdain and that makes his argument to die that much more logical to himself because for Becca to be free from the loop, which is represented by being trapped inside Ritchie’s apartment and objects around him that go into restart mode like the earshot cacophony of heavy rock music starting over after every death, one of them must die and the other be reborn. All of this is in encompassed with a display of in your face genitalia, a discolored wall that suspends death, and grimly funny gore that seamlessly blend computer imagery and practical effect, making “Dead Dicks” a taut downcast, dark comedy full of ostentatious and provocative symbolism from our Canadian neighbors!

The seismically cosmic “Dead Dicks” is intrinsic to the creative fluidity of the indie film culture and is now available on an Artsploitation Films’ Blu-ray release. The release is presented in in a widescreen, 2.39:1 aspect ratio, captured with an Arri Alexa camera providing a clean digital picture vivid in detail and distinct depth. The entire color package denotes warm atmospherics, more so from Ritchie’s off white and mustard yellow apartment to the hot soft pink of the vaginal canal scene, that becomes a consistent and engrossing product worked by cinematographer Nicolas Venne to still be able to find the humanizing angle of each individual character. The English language Dolby Digital 5.1 surround sound for the first half is quite wonky that perhaps stems from mismanaged discerning the vocals properly, leaving the dialogue depth obscured from background to foreground and from foreground to background. On the story’s flipside, the issues are worked out which would suggest the cluster of shots and audio takes were eventually adjusted or tweaked to sync appropriately. Julien Verschooris’ score and the introduction of Tusk and Bruiser on the soundtrack is an eclectic mix of dramatic synth and grunge rock that impeccably keeps the nearly one-location film from getting stale with a coagulating of an energizing and mellow temperment which would usually have a counter-effective result. Bonus features include commentary by directors Chris Bavota and Lee Paul Springer, four video diaries from the directors that span from pre-production to after the first week of production, a FX featurette that exhibits Matt Keyes going through a cast mold for his head and how his wonderfully gore scene was accomplished, and, lastly, four trailers from films distributed by Artsploitation Films. “Dead Dicks” is pneumatically bursting with the compressed scent of David Cronenberg; a deluxe doppelganger dark comedy bound with provoking the consequences surrounding death in a surrealistic effort to ease in and move past an inexorable acceptance.

“Dead Dicks” available on Blu-ray and DVD!

Going to the Country, Gonna Find Me Some EVIL! “Countrycide” review!


Big sister is getting married and Abby, forking over big money for a bridesmaid dress, can’t scrape together enough dough to afford a flight across country and to scratch off another option, Abby never learned how to drive a car dwindling Abby out of travel possibilities. In steps Mike, Abby’s tall and handsome close friend who does happen to know how to drive and, coincidently, has a car. Mike offers her a trip across the country as her plus one at the wedding. About 1/3 into the drive, exhaustion catches up with them, especially in Mike being behind the wheel 100% of the time, and without much money to spend on a motel room, the traveling duo think it best to set up camp in a stretch of wilderness. After speaking with a local government ranger, they set off to set up camp deep within the woods and as night approaches and the couple finally declare themselves hot for each other, Mike decides to return to the car for some supplies. Abby wakes up next morning realizing Mike has yet to return and in almost the same instance, she forgets where they parked the car. Wandering aimlessly through the thicket, a bear trap sinks its steely teeth into the fleshy siding of her ankle, leaving Abby hobbling alone through the woods with a hungry wolf on her trail to make matters worse. Miraculously, She’s saved by three men on a hunter’s retreat, but as they return with her to their isolated cabin, their suspicious behavior with an unwillingness to take the severely injured Abby straight to the hospital forces her to exit next morning while they stilled slumber and into an adjacent cabin where she discovers horror on a whole new level.

If the word homicide, or maybe even genocide, made sweet, sweet, angry love to the unwilling and scared word countryside, the abdominal “Countrycide” would be birthed into existence on this Earth and our congressional leadership would have legally prohibited it’s understandable abortion. Shepherding as a game foster parent is Canadian born, writer-director Brett Kelly and “Countrycide” will mark filmmaker’s third genre film through the criticism daycare of horror, following the cuddly-campy, Sci-Fi endearing “Ghastlies” and the diaper-shitting disaster that is the “Rise of the Black Cat.” A Gremlins-esques versus a super hero mess have come and gone to deliver “Countrycide” to our chop block that’s totally a horror-survival subgenre with a smidgen of exploitation and a complete lark even if unintentional.

Looking from an outward perspective, Abby is quite useless. Doesn’t know how to drive, doesn’t know where the car is, doesn’t know how to re-trace her steps out of the woods, and, yet, stammers into being a nucleus-downspout of magnetic chaos. Abby finds nothing but pure bad luck and Robin Hodge, inducted into her inaugural credited performance, bounces her saccharine chops off of various personas to become a disenchanted transfiguration character. Along for the ride is Joel Elliott as Abby’s quasi-boyfriend Mike whose emotional connection to Abby becomes decimated in a blink of an eye concluding no conclusive reason to care about his charming mug. He drives a car, cavalierly verbalizes his feelings for Abby, and then is erased from the pages as if a giant erasers literally came down and rubbed him out. Elliott has had roles in other Kelly films and so have these fellow co-stars that round out of the film: Peter Whittaker (“Raiders of the Lost Shark”), Andrew Galligan (“Ghastlies”), Trevor Payer (“My Fair Zombie”), and Lee Cyr (“Jesse James: Lawman”).

Kelly has a knack for campy-saturation and “Countrycide” splits the proverbial seams so much so that the film implodes into self-destruction, laughing manically at itself all the way to the end – funny, I didn’t initially categorize Kelly’s film was a horror-comedy, but therein lies the rub. Even textbook details, such as Abby sweaty and dirty in a fit of shock when a bear trap snaps onto her ankle, need to be illuminated. Another point to discuss is the overall pacing of the dialogue that drowns in over exposition of each event through the casts’ lips that often has a dubbed sensation. It’s like watching a giallo film from the 1970’s but where the synchronization designates more as a clumsy redneck slasher rather than an attractive murder mystery with a colorfully psychopathic adversary. Granted, swift gratuitous gore make the ushered in cut, a rock repeatedly bashed over a head or an giant log spear impalement, and that will please those gore hounds who sing the blood and violence anthem. As for the rough storytelling, characters, such as supposed hunters who hunt with single six-shooter revolver between the three of them, and the across the board acting by either unknowns or Brett Kelly staples, bad doesn’t quite describe “Countrycide’s” banal and bland vitality and must be watched, with a handle of Wild Turkey and a pack of smokes, to fully comprehend where the filmmaker was heading with his survival horror.

Wild Eye Releasing and MVDVisual go bumpkin hunting with “Countrycide” onto DVD home video. Presented in a widescreen format, “Countrycide’s” image condition is good, par for the course when considering other Wild Eye Releasing. Slight aliasing in more ariel shots, but the coloring is fine that’s perhaps on the denser contrast. The stereo sound mix, again, has that dub-like design that makes the actors sound like they’re in a studio recording their dialogue and thus isolates the vocals. Ambient track has foley written all over it with discernible focus on the twigs cracking and the birds chirping. Lets also no forget to mention to stock audio tracks of a wolf howl. There are no bonus features with this release. “Countrycide” woefully deserves a low end score, reeking up on an exploitation-survival horror by slapping together a poorly written script that cliche and trope-riddled, but being the Devil’s advocate enthusiast, “Countrycide” hit the next level in his carer even though that level might be still on the lower end of a split level, below grade.

Own Countrcide on DVD! Amazon.com

Bite Sized Evil With a Real Bite! “Ghastlies” review!


Four sorority sisters embark on a isolated cabin vacation for an all girls’ weekend in the quiet woods. Through all the booze and the trips to the lakeside beach, Sloane, Abby, Margot, and Lulu reap the benefits of solitude and sisterhood and just when everything seems to be going delightfully swell, even when Sloane’s perverse boyfriend and his friend show up unexpectedly, trouble brews beneath their feet, under the leaf-riddled surface, when Abby unwittingly unleashes three space originated, pint-sized ghastly ghouls. As the miniature and ferocious creatures rip through unlucky victims, nobody knows how to stop, let alone escape, their woodland carnage, especially when they’re being aided and abetted by human caretakers.

In the filmmaking fashion of Brett Piper (“Queen Crab”) or Mike Lyddon (“First Man on Mars”), Brett Kelly offers his low-rent talents in construction an 80s-esque creature feature on a pygmy scale in more ways than one. The Ontario born director has helmed a vast amount of independent b-horror prior to, including such great titled credits as “The Bonesetter,” “Attack of the Jurassic Shark,” and “Raiders of the Lost Shark.” Now, released for the very first time on any format, anywhere, is “Ghastlies,” a “Gremlines” or “Critters” creature feature that aims to rain down terror when all hell breaks loose with ankle biters running around and while the low budget production or creature value doesn’t par with the more popular Joe Dante or Stephen Herek films, the heartfelt attempt in this modern day feature accomplishes the intended effect of a 1980’s horror comedy, complete with synthesized score and era correlating attired.

“Ghastlies'” lineup consists of Brett Kelly regulars such as Jessica Huether and Kendra Summerfield from “Raiders of the Lost Shark.” Huether’s and Summerfield’s performance as the nerdy, yet overall good girl Abby and the snobby, superficially rich bitch Lulu, instilling the yin and yang personas of the group, and their joined by Julie Mainville and Kim Valentine as the unforgettably clueless Margot and the sisterhood leader in Sloane. Mainville more memorable out of the four sisters as she has spot on timing and delivery with the witless and likable Margot. John Migliore, known more for slabbing on the prosthetics and makeup to be a zombie, has a minor costarring role as a dimwitted bike cop Officer Vinnie and Migliore, whose donned zombie wear in films like “Land of the Dead” and “Ninjas vs Monsters,” filled multi-faceted shoes for the Kelly film by dappling into the spaceship special effects and providing the Ghastlies puppetry. Migliore’s Officer Vinnie is paired with another similar goofy character in Peter Whittaker as Officer Frank as well as Joel Elliott “Countrycide,” Eric Deniverville, Stephanie Moran, and Kyle Martellacci who also co-star in the zany trope-ladened homage. As his first feature credit, Chris Bavota’s script creates no real dynamic between the characters who all pertain to a self-serving purpose under a guise of slapped together dialogue that’s no more substantial than a boulder in outer space.

And there in lies the rub. “Ghastlies” inability to click together to fulfill the allusion of was what-once-was is the film’s weakness. The cartoonish hand puppets, the implausible effects, and the technical inconsistencies can all be overlooked as campy charm, passed aside to enjoy “Ghastlies” for what it’s worth, but what can’t subside is the wonky connection between the cast that doesn’t favor well that’s diluted at the end by the starkly questionable and abrupt editing, resulting in a presumed unfinished film that seeks to either be an open ended invitation for a potential sequel, defined by one of the characters standing up with a makeshift mini-gun and garbed in Rambo-like gear, or a hasty cut that provides a lukewarm, satisfactory, and budget friendly finale that actually invokes more confusion than viewership appeasement. Shortly following the live-action wrap up, a short animated comedy, illustrated by the multitalented John Migliore, in the same vain as the quirky Looney Tunes but with Ghastlies.

The lovely, cuddly, and ghoulish “Ghastlies” is released onto DVD and Blu-ray combo from Camp Motion Pictures. Image quality for the Blu-ray format is by far stunning for a low-budget feature presented in 1080p encoded MPEG-4 AVC BD 25. The coloring naturally displays and even the darks had great depth without distortion or inconsistencies. The English Dolby Digital 2.0 is another story as, unlike the image quality, the presentation is inconsistent with imbalanced levels that make a few scenes difficult to comprehend. Clarity isn’t necessarily an issue with no blights on the tracks, but the technical placements could have been smoother. The electric score score by Tomb Dragomir, the composers first score ever, manages to engross and re-illuminate the decade that inspires “Ghastlies.” Bonus material includes a special effects interview with john Migliore’s helping hand into Ghastlies’ FX, Tomb Dragomir discusses his experience scoring his first feature, “Ghastlies'” music video, the trailer and Camp Motion Pictures’ trailers, and an audio commentary with director Brett Kelly. “Ghastlies” is part “Gremlins,” part Lovecraftian, and all borderline shlock-y fun, but the loose character interactions and out of kilter editing embargo the full bodied experience.

“Ghastlies” available on Blu-ray!