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!

Trek Through Evil and Witness the Three-Eyed Giant! “Triclops” review!

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Fighter pilot Captain Glenn Edwards goes missing in the mysterious and off-limits Amarok Crater. After a month of speculation and military red tape, Glenn’s brother, Tom Edwards, and Glenn’s fiance, Samantha, take the high risk of hiring a washed up, drunkard Carlton Denning, a pilot dumb enough to fly under the radar and into the hidden entrance of the forbidden zone to locate Glenn. The trio find themselves in the company Riley, a henchmen for Denning’s unforgiving bookie, who tags along to ensure Denning returns safe and sound to repay his debt. Their crash landing in the middle of Amarok Crater gives them no choice but to search for the lost Glenn, but as their stay prolongs, ancient carnivorous creatures, mutated from the Crater’s radioactive meteorite, emerge from the Crater’s caverns and fissures, including a three-eyed giant hellbent on obtaining a lady friend.
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B-movie director Brett Piper is back with another outrageously entertaining drive-in theater film classically titled “Triclops.” Reusing props from the director’s last film, a monstrous crustacean rampage film titled “Queen Crab,” and casting familiar faces from the movie as well, Piper conjures-to-scribe a lost world, a concocted story of various films inspired by the gilded age marvels of movie magic. Practically funded with the quarter-sized lent in their cobwebbed lined pants pockets, Piper meticulously implements the nearly forgotten practice of blending mattes and composites with the strategic use of small-to-medium sized models in order to form a world based on a mutated genesis.
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“Triclops” resembles 1966’s “One Million Years BC,” sans a stunning Raquel Welch, spliced brilliantly with the mythological appeal of Desmond Davis’s 1981 adventuring odyssey “Clash of the Titans” with a modern setting backdrop. Even though Welch is not in this particular stop-motion journey, a equally exquisite Erin Waterhouse takes center stage as the film’s protagonist Samantha whose on a quest to discover exactly what happened to her fiancé Glenn. Samantha’s determined to get to the crater, find Glenn, and get the hell out of Amarok Crater. What she didn’t plan on was her cohort, Glenn’s brother Tom, undermining her search and possible rescue for his own underlining intentions to become rich and famous off the unexplored and mysterious territory.
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Waterhouse has a range that doesn’t wane, weaving through angst and fear without ever settling on a love interest. Waterhouse opposites Matthew Crawley in his first major role, a dual role, in Tom and Glenn. Did I mention that Tom and Glenn are twins? To round off the adventurous assemblage are Ken Van Sant and Richard Lounello whom are reunited as a team from Brett Piper’s “Queen Crab.” The cast’s dynamic attempts to homage the reactions of the classics; a long moment of shock and bewilderment glazes over the characters’ eyes as they stand in awe of the creatures before them. “Triclops” isn’t a vicious creature feature where a scantily cladded woman runs through the thicket, screaming her lungs out while a snaring beast ferociously tracks her down.
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The script feels a bit loose with much of the dynamic between Glenn, Tom, and Samantha goes awkward into oblivion after many hints to outer-relationship throes. Ken Van Sant’s character, Dennings, portrays the unlikely hero. When we first meet Dennings, he’s a blackout drunk with a sarcastic pie hole who just happens to know how to fly a plane. His dealings with a money shark fizzles as badly as Samantha and Tom’s supposedly fling. Even when Riley, played by Richard Lounllo, tags along to keep an eye on Dennings, the animosity goes into flight and disappears into the lost land of Amarok Crater, or perhaps the ration from the Crater not only evolves the physical appearances, maybe their inner soul mutates into their antagonistic selves.
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“Triclops” can be discovered on DVD-R courteously of Alpha New Cinema and purchasable at Oldies.com. The region free disc contains a runtime of 80 minutes with bonus features including outtakes and bloopers and fantastic commentary track with director Brett Piper, Ken Van Sant, Erin Waterhouse and producer Anthony Polonia that’s pure water cooler comedy as well as an inside the creation of his modern day classic. The DVD-R video aliases a fair amount with some blotchiness in more darker corners of film, but the sepia coloring feels natural due to the sci-fi tribute content and the soundtrack is clear with no pops or hissing in the dialogue, which prominently sets the stage in the forefront. Brett Piper has once again brought cinematic history back to a world filled with millennials with their noses-glued to iPhones screens and Playstation consoles. “Triclops” is a 50-ft tall film on a 5-ft tall budget and worth every penny of admission.