Evil Isn’t Home. “Death House” review!


Top law enforcement agents, Boon and Novak, achieve special access through steep sacrifice during job assignments and are permitted to tour their upcoming placement in the highly exclusive Death House, the ultimate maximum and multi-level penitentiary home to the nastiest criminals known to society and the deadly threat to mankind in a metaphysical way. Death Houses uses virtual reality to keep inmates stimulated to the point of calm submission as well as drugging the homeless and the unwanted to supply killers with victims upon victims in an their personalized virtual surroundings, but when an outsider uses an EMP to knock out all power within the facility, the cages are open and the ruthless animals are free to overrun, beating to death the guards and staff. Boon and Novak must fight their way to the bottom level that hold the Five Evils, criminals with grotesque supernatural abilities and a wickedly grisly past, where the two agents believe the Evils are their best hope for survial against a Five Evils acolyte named Sieg and his faithful jailhouse followers.

Considered as “The Expandables” of horror, “Death House” had gained almost instant fandom solely from the long-list of horror icons in the cast. Director B. Harrison Smith (“Camp Dread”) re-writes most of Gunnar Hansen’s original “Death House” story produced by Cleopatra Entertainment and Entertainment Factory. Cleopatra Entertainment is more notably a music label that has delved into films the last few years and, in my opinion, haven’t faired positively in the horror genre, but “The Texas Chainsaw Massacre” star fought tooth and nail to try and get his script off the ground, even in the face of death. “Death House” saw release after Hansen’s death, but from interviews with the filmmakers, Smith had almost totally revamped the original treatment, leaving The Evil’s at Hansen’s request if his script was to be entirely cleaned. Shot right in this reviewer’s backyard of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania at the historic Eastern State Penitentiary, the defunct prison is an ideal location as the “Death House” due in part to John Haviland’s separate cell design and gritty appeal that was once of the home of Al Capone, but more of the focus is on the interior than exterior with green scenes and Los Angeles shots constructing the story-lined scenes.

Like aforementioned, “Death House” has been called the “The Expendables” of horror. An immense, if not soaked, cast of horror fan favorites are peppered about around the main characters of Agent Boon and Novak. “Sushi Girl” and “Zombeavers” star Courtney Palm embodies the Agent Boon character with G-man toughness, but finds difficulty leaving that b-horror mentality with shakiness in working climatic scenes. Palm’s also roped into doing an extremely gratuitous shower scene with Cody Longo (“Piranha 3D”) as Agent Novak. Novak’s a hotshot and Longo has the looks and the talent to out perform his character, but Smith’s script doesn’t do justice to either Boon or Novak’s character that blatantly underwhelms their performances with cameo star power and a shoddy narrative. Dee Wallace (“Cujo”), Barbara Crampton {“Re-Animator”), and Kane Hodder (“Jason Goes to Hell”) have prominent roles that are pertinent to the story and are enjoyable to see them in more of a supporting capacity. Andrenne Barbeau {“The Fog”), Sid Haig (“The Devil’s Rejects”), Vernon Wells (“The Road Warrior”), Bill Moseley {“The Devil’s Rejects”), Lloyd Kaufman (Mr. Troma), Michael Berryman (“The Hills Have Eyes”), Tony Todd (“Candyman”), Sean Whalen (“The People Under the Stairs”), Debbie Rochon (“Killer Rack”), Bill Oberst Jr. (“Deadly Revisions”), Felissa Rosa (“Sleepaway Camp”), Danny Trejo (“Machete”), Tiffany Shepis (“Abominable”), Brinke Stevens (“The Slumber Party Massacre”), Camille Keaton (“I Spit On Your Grave”), Gunnar Hansen (“The Texas Chainsaw Massacre), and R.A. Mihailoff (“Leatherface: Texas Chainsaw Massacre”). Whew. Rounding out the remaining cast is Lindsay Harley (“Nightmare Nurse”), Vincent M. Ward (“The Walking Dead”), and Bernhard Forcher.

While the genre star-studded ensemble cast is a wet dream for horror fans, “Death House” fails in numerous filmmaking categories with the first being the most important, the script. Smith’s re-work of Hansen’s original story requires another drastic once-over, or two, as the final result attempts to push, stuff, and cram 100 lbs of multi-subgenre elements into a 10 lb, inflexible bag, cramping the ambitious project with dis-connective storyline tissue braced together with shoddy visual effects, like the two agents free-falling down a bottomless elevator shaft and able to precisely shoot their targets on each level. The overall result of “Death House” just endures an unfinished varnish and seems slapped together with pre-schooler glue and claggy spit. Singular moments surface as diamond specks amongst cubic zirconias, like the Mortal Kombat fatality-esque practical effects, but are too far and in between to muster up an enjoyable film. The Five Evils definitely and desperately needed more presence in the story instead of just flexing the talking heads muscle; well, the only two Evils to say anything at all were Bill Moseley and Vernon Wells. The Five Evils didn’t quite have that oomph to be a force to be dealt with as Gold-described beings who philosophical interpretations on the concept of good and evil.

Cleopatra Entertainment and MVDVisual present B. Harrison Smith’s long-anticipated “Death House” onto DVD home video. The unrated, all-region DVD is presented in a widescreen format that displays some frayed flaws like contrast; there’s way too much inky black in the dark scenes and little-to-no definition in more visible sequences. The compression suffers from blotchy artefacts at times too and lacks hues, which works with the gritty tone inside the Eastern State Penitentiary’s decomposing walls of rubble and decay. Visual effects are glossy with virtually no textures to give detail or, essentially, life amongst the continuous death. Bonus features include multiple interviews with director B. Harrison Smith, Courtney Palm, and more. Also included is a behind-the-scenes feather, a gallery slideshow, and theatrical trailer. Despite being true to the title and highly anticipated since it’s inception into the public market, “Death House” ultimately disappointments as an unfurnished mess enlisted with big names in the horror domain that’ll unfairly sell the film on it’s own, but all-star cameos won’t establish “Death House” as a solidified cult favorite, being unfortunately one of the biggest release flops of 2018.

Evil Doesn’t Care for pH Levels! “Hot Tub Party Massacre” Review!


In the midst of a deranged serial killer’s escape from prison, Four Delta Omega sisters enter a school raffle to represent their sorority and end up winning an all expenses paid hotel suite complete with a luxurious hot tub. As student bodies fall in the maniac’s wake, the sisters flight toward fun times before taking notice how many of their friends and fellow students become unfortunate slashed-up victims and just when things are getting wet and carnal, the killer checks in, crashing good times, and making mince meat out of the lucky winners and their boyfriends.

Budget horror filmmaker Chris Greenaway gets his hands into the sisterhood horror genre with his 2016 written and directed tongue-and-cheek horror-comedy “Hot Tub Party Massacre.” Campy. gratuitous. Schlocky. Greenaway has covered all the bases of a satirical slasher sporting a killer wielding a small garden cultivator – “cultivator” is a good title or moniker for another campy slasher as long as you put the proverbial “the” in front of it. Instead, we get the Canadian cult no-so-classic “Hot Tub Party Massacre” because nothing says killer party than an actual killer at your party and here the party is wet and wild with an escaped maniac on the loose, ready to randomly slice and dice the unscrupulous and individualistic sisters of Delta Omega sorority.

While there’s not a sole headliner to Greenaway’s film, like a Jamie Lee Curtis to Laurie Strobe or a Neve Campbell to Scream, the sorority girls attending the bubbly hot tub affair function as a collective headlining mass of alternative women. In alphabetical order, Amanda Nickels, Erin Hyndman, Jynx Vandersteen (“Father’s Day”), and Sarah Foster each represent Delta Omega’s finest in their respective personas as popular, bookworm, party (or slut?), and goth. The quintessential tropes to any routine slasher star as surprisingly benevolent with their upbeat attitudes and gracious acceptance of all kinds of people. When Hyndman’s nerdy Bethany states she probably shouldn’t attend trip, party girl Brandi, aka Vandersteen, counteracts with you’re one of us, a Delta Omega, and only the best become Delta Omegas. Their stalker, the elusive serial killer, is played by Mark Kiazyk trying to do his best Michael Myers impersonation from the chest down, as he’s frequently screened. Kiazyk’s has the look, a face of pure hatred, and I wish that was more prevalent as it’s a face for television. Rounding out the cast are Delta Omega boyfriends Danny Warren and Ken Wright, “Rust’s” Corey Taylor as a school spirited University newscaster, “you’re all doomed” guy Nicholas MacDonald, and the indie scream queen Brinke Stevens making her bit cameo.

“Hot Tub Party Massacre” is essentially one big homage to the enshrined horror flicks and pays it’s respects to, as aforementioned, Halloween with the killer. Also gives a head nod to Friday the 13th Part II in which a couple are jointly impaled in a very similar frame-by-frame sequence. Even one of the official poster concepts is a direct take from “Slumber Party Massacre” and perhaps the Delta Omega is a sign of respect to another Brinke Stevens’ classic, “Die Delta Die!” Greenaway’s “Hot Tub Party Massacre,” by title alone, is not a serious horror film looking to ripoff the foundational slashers, but relishes in a lighthearted satire that begins in a realm of Zuckeresque that loses the visual gag steam at the tail end. The montage of gratuitous nudity of Amanda Nickela, Jynx Vandersteen, and Sarah Foster notch up the “Hot Tub’s” antics in fleshing out the skin craving viewers who can’t get enough of blood and boobs. Awarding this feature as a good film, as a pivotal staple in horror, is an extreme over exaggeration and a poor case of judgement, but consider only chocking “Hot Tub Party Massacre” up to being Chris Greenaway’s ode to the archetype slasher genre.

Ron Bonk and his Sub Rosa Studios, along with MVDVisual, proudly present “Hot Tub Party Massacre” onto DVD that absolutely belongs right in SRS’s arsenal of cheap and outrageous horror. The Full Screen 1.33:1 presentation is what it is, an unmatted sign of low resolution and blotchy, patchy image quality. The 2.0 audio track is a seesaw of fidelity where some aspects of the dialogue are barely audible and then the high pitched shrieks, and their are many shrieks, could pierce ear drums through popping static noise. There wasn’t an expectation of par level video-audio quality, but the due diligence is to publicize, not necessarily criticize, that of the DVD technical contents. The DVD cover is straight out of a photo shoot with a round, thong-cladded booty and long legs very shapely in front of an in ground hot tub. FYI – the hot tub in the movie is above ground and in a hotel. Bonus features include commentary tracks, behind-the-scenes footage (that contains more nudity, by the way), and trailers. Chris Greenaway’s “Hot Tub Party Massacre” has a premise of a short-lived concept that has been run through the kitty-grinder more than once over, but unquestionably is a honoring low-rent tributing spoof of cult classic works that obviously inspired the Canadian horror filmmaker.

Get wet with “Hot Tub Party Massacre!”

A Pair of Duo Dunces Take on Horror Homages. “Caesar and Otto’s Paranormal Halloween” review!

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The homeless twosome Caesar and his half brother Otto haphazardly take down a notorious serial killer and are awarded a fall-to-winter housesitting gig at a powerful California politician’s summer home where multiple families have been brutally murdered. Their good fortune seems ill-fated as the two encounter strange house employees, random levitating objects, and an endless supply of dead bodies. Tagging along with the brothers is their drunk and inattentive father Fred who spearheads his own agenda in a house full of secrets. When Fred ends up trapped on the other side of the spirit world, Caesar and Otto’s antics strive far and wide within their bag of tasteless tricks to not only save their hapless father, but also save their very lives and, perhaps, the entire state of California. In the middle of all the chaos, Otto is informed that his once thought dead mother is truly alive and discovers he was born with a hidden talent that’s soon to be pertinent to his current and dire situation.
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My second “Caesar and Otto” experience compares to nearly the same tomfoolery as their “X-Mas” inspired horror spoof, except that “Paranormal Halloween” is vastly more superior when considering the comedy quality. Caesar himself Dave Campfield once again stars and directors the spoof that pays tribute to many classic and modern horror films such as “The Amityville Horror,” “Paranormal Activity,” “Halloween”, and “The Conjuring.” Campfield joins forces once again with his longtime sidekick Paul Chomicki as Otto to produce and star in the Campfield’s and Chomicki’s four feature film of nitwit wonders Caesar and Otto who resemble a one more tool in the toolbox version of Harry and Lloyd from “Dumb and Dumber.”
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Campfield pens more dialogue for Caesar who hilariously continues to generate a well-defined lisp while spit firing one-liners, comebacks, and insults at Otto and anyone and everyone standing in the vicinity. Chomicki’s Otto is the big lovable oaf whose on-going hunt for love in all the wrong places, but manages to catch a break in nearly biting the bullet by sheer dumb luck and stupidity. Campfield and Chomicki’s whole schtick isn’t groundbreaking as we’ve seen this kind of film before in “Scary Movie” and even outside the realm of horror with “Airplane!” Unlike “Scary Movie,” Campfield and his team dedicated horror icons maintain a sense of dignity and respect that honor horror more than just dumbing it down. My first experience with the “Deadly X-Mas” Caesar and Otto wasn’t a very pleasant one as I couldn’t grasp the scene-by-scene speedy pace, the cut rate budget, and the inexplicable reference, after reference, after reference structure and I was a bit hesitant in enduring another episode of their continuing legacy. Now that I’ve matured as a viewer a little bit more from two years ago, I can honestly state that “Paranormal Halloween” is calculated corniness and precisely patronizes faithfully the horror outlets.
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Like the predecessors before, “Paranormal Halloween” contains the usual cast of entourage actors that coincide with Dave Campfield, Paul Chomicki, and Scott Aguilar as the fatherly Fred. Deron Miller again ends up shaggy and disoriented, Ken MacFarlane once again plays a guy with a J name, Avi K. Garg is calm and cool until he loses an arm, Ray Plumb quickly makes an appearance, Keith Bush sports a rad stash, Samantha Barrios makes another cut, and “Sleepaway Camp” legend Felissa Rose conjures up some on-screen time and this marks the second time I’ve seen her in a film that I’ve reviewed twice in a month. The credits also add other “Felissa Rose” type stardom actors from the similar molds such as “The People Under The Stairs’s” Sean Whalen, “Commando’s” Vernon Wells, b-horror vixens Tiffany Shepis, Debbie Rochon, and Brinke Stevens, and along with “Return of the Living Dead’s” Beverly Randolph. An excellent lineup for a horror spoof of this size. Tack on a few cute faced actresses and a nude scene from Model Mayhem model Jin N Tonic and you have a decent, well-rounded cast to support this Wild Eye Releasing film.
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The Wild Eye Releasing backed production “Caesar and Otto’s Paranormal Halloween” won’t be the last of it’s kind (a hint from the film suggests that Caesar and Otto’s Spring Break of the Dead will be the next title) from funny guys Dave Campfield and Paul Chomicki. A second chance or a second look never hurt anybody and taking a plunge after a seemingly disastrous first round with “Deadly X-mas” will now be deemed as only a fluke. With giggly-garbage writing, a cast of willing horror legends, and cruise ship filled of homages (or horror ripoffs such as the same John Carpenter “Halloween” font used on “Halloween” in the title), “Paranormal Halloween” smarts oh so good and doesn’t apologize for any or all of it’s budgeted quality.
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[trailer=https://youtu.be/CsUvnUiIvls]

Evil Rises to Kill Teenagers! “Jonah Lives” review!

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A group of bored teenagers decides to up their spirits by dusting off a $25 Ouija board and taking it for a supernatural spin to reach those beyond the grave. When deep in chant, a contact is made with the spirit of a murdered man named Jonah. The arrogant teens conjuring seeks to try and resurrect Jonah for relentless vengeance on his killer – his wife. The teens’ arrogance gets the best of them and Jonah does rise from the grave, but his thirst for murder homes in on the teens’ lives and Jonah traps them inside a basement with no way out and no way of calling for dire help.
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“Jonah Lives” construction tends to be a respectful gothic budget horror film of meshed sub genres. Deep within the bone structures of the Luis Carvalho directed film lies a grab bag that includes zombies, possession, torment, and vengeance, but with a conglomerate of styles wrapped into one film, the difficult struggle of pinning down the motivation of our killer Jonah seems lost in translation. Certainly a force to be reckoned with who absolutely looks the part as a deteriorating dead guy, Jonah awakes from his angst-slumber to seek vengeance, but why take it out on the teenagers who resurrected him? That’s the million dollar question. Did the Ouija board inject evilness into Jonah to put him on such a murderous rage? What’s also odd is the character Zora, Jonah’s murderous ex-wife, is part of the cast but not necessarily included in harms way in the basement and isn’t a primary target for Jonah. Instead, Zora party-hardies upstairs with the rest of the intoxicated grownups.
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B-horror vet Brinke Stevens headlines “Jonah Lives” as Zora. Stevens’ role is fairly minor when compared to the other cast members who names probably make the D-list film status and are not as recognizable as Brinke Stevens. However, there are some strong performances from the relatively unknown cast giving the film more girth than the story itself. Lead actor Ryan Boudreau’s acting style is very relaxed and smooth as a known-it-all jock with a guilt-ridden conscious that brings the character a full 180 degrees. I wanted to note Nicole LaSala’s character Lydia, who either has a breakdown after the brutal and gruesome death of her boyfriend at the hands of Jonah or she just shares some sort of Ouija board connection with Jonah that drivers her absolutely mad. The tell all about Lydia comes to no unfold. LaSala’s embodies the soul of the Joker from Batman for Lydia who constantly laughs and being mean spirited toward the remaining survivors. I didn’t necessarily feel the spiritual connection between Lydia and Jonah and lean toward nixing that theory.
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The special effects are very minor, but appreciatively practical. The minute effects shouldn’t be unexpected due to budgetary constraints. Carvalho and his special effects team along with some simple editing tricks goes a long way. Not as bloody as hoped, but Jonah does commit to a classic zombie bite to the neck and takes a chunk out, stretching the skin and spewing blood out of the wound, chops an arm off Jean Rollin’s “Grapes of Death” style and bashes the victim with it, and caves in a few teen skulls. While there are moments of editing brilliance, there were many scenes that over edited and, basically, replayed the same scene from a different angle and this reoccured multiple times. Also, massive editing effect is like having an epileptic episode that numbs the brain.
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“Jonah Lives” hit retail outlets this past April and this 2012 zombie revenge film is looking to rise above the rest of the new releases. I’m thinking it’ll stay grounded because it’s resembles much of the same we’ve all seen before. I’d found myself entranced more with the score by Russell Estrela as it blends tonal styles of Italian Giallo with the 80’s slasher such as the repetition of Harry Mandfredini to the synth’s of John Carpenter. Check it out yourself from Wild Eye Releasing.

Merry Evil Xmas! Caesar & Otto’s Deadly Xmas review!

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Just in time for the 2013 holiday season comes Caesar & Otto’s Deadly Xmas the sophomore sequel the original film humbly titled Caesar & Otto. Caesar and his half brother Otto embark on a religious cause to become a traveling Santa Claus and his buddy elf. Another Santa has other plans as the bodies of Caesar & Otto’s friends begin to pile up from his deranged thirst for blood. As the blood flows, Caesar & Otto’s oblivious nature doesn’t leave them one clue to the chaos that has been ensuing.
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The indie horror comedy is a large homage to the genre that references mainly back to Silent Night, Deadly Night and just like Silent Night, Deadly Night, Caesar & Otto’s Deadly Xmas comes off just as cheesy as Cheez Whiz to where most scenes are not very funny and where very few scenes give a good chuckle. The main characters are whimsical, but immature to the point where the comedy makes my take teeth grit together painstakingly.

Dave Campbell directs, pens, and stars as Caesar and his love for horror shines through into his work, but Campbell also has his hand in editing and the his editing work leaves the film feeling too fast pace that if you look down for a second or blink your eyes, you’ll end up missing an entire sequence or a key part of the film. Also, I’ve never seen the previous two films, Caesar & Otto nor Caesar & Otto’s Summer Camp Massacre, and there feels to be that some portions of the movie carried over into Deadly Xmas. I was waiting for a flashback sequence or something else that would reference what had happened previously, but nothing came about leaving more confusion.
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Like a good homage, Deadly Xmas involves a lot of great horror icons that also made an appearance in Summer Camp Massacre as well. Slumber Party Massacre’s Brinke Steven’s, Return of the Living Dead’s Linnea Quigley, Sleepaway Camp’s Felissa Rose, Troma’s Lloyd Kaufman, and Soultaker’s Joe Estevez make a b-list guest cameo appearance. Kaufman’s scene was particularly the funniest of them all, but I don’t want to discredit the others as they have bring something special to the Campbell’s film even with Joe Estevez making light and spoofing Doctor Phil with Doctor Pheel!
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Wild Eye releasing and MVDVisual bring Caesar & Otto’s Deadly Xmas to life with some really good appeasing art work that will sure attract attention to the Christmas horror genre. Check out the bonus features that include alternate scenes, behind the scene featurette, a short film entitled Piggyzilla, another short film entitled Otto’s First Job, trailers, and a bonus short film starring Maniac Cop’s Robert Z’dar entitled The Perfect Candidate.