EVIL Wears a Mask, Has Sex Parties, and Likes to Watch. “X” reviewed! (Cinedigm / Digital Screener)

Christian King was handed the philanthropic The Foundation once was directed by her mother Lynda, a legendary singer with powerful vocals who is now on the decline with onset dementia.  Christian, along with her business partner and friend, an equestrian stable hand named Danny, uses The Foundation as a façade for monthly masquerades of elaborate dinners and afterhours sex parties that rake in substantial donations from her clients, but Christian, who clads no mask, doesn’t partake in the normal debauchery of the orgiastic stage.  Her perversions are more privately invasive as she gets off on voyeurism with a hidden camera recording every thought-to-be discreet act her clients are doing in the bathroom.  When a Stella, a familiar face from Christian’s High School past, crashes one of the parties, forgotten secrets bubble to surface that lead to nail-biting paranoia.  Compounded with the seemingly recorded rape of Stella in her bathroom, Christian King’s money and monarchy threaten to expose her peeping Tom habits to the world. 

Sex, lies, and video tape.  “X” is the Generation X’s response to Stanley Kubrick’s “Eyes Wide Shut” doused in cynicism and a disaffection spray.  “X’s” carnality of deceits is the edited and directed work of LGBT+ advocating filmmaker and music artist, Scott J. Ramsey, who co-wrote the 2021 released film with Hannah Katherine Jost.  Ramsey and Jost previously collaborated on Ramsey and producer, Kevin De Nicolo’s short music videos, “Knave” and “Queen,” for the duo’s queer electro goth-pop band, The Major Arcana; the shorts inspired the feature films voyeuristic qualities, majestically medieval terminologies, and, of course, a queer theme.  A garnered support sees “X” as a family produced suspense thriller from not only Kevin De Nicolo, but also Alex serving as producer with Susan and Tazio De Nicolo as executive producers for the self-funded production under Ramsey’s indie banner, The Foundation, completing the filmmaker’s trifecta of multi-media storytelling.

Following polar oppositely a minor role in her first feature film, “Sleep Away, a family comedy, Hope Raymond quickly jumps the rated for everyone shark and right into the complex titular character a melodrama sexcapade and illicit perversion. Raymond plays a King, a character named Christian King, who employs the definition of her name by applying the real world as her kingdom, or at least her lavish home, to used for the monthly orgy shindigs. Christian King was probably name more suited for a male lead, and was at one point most likely written for such, but tweaking the role for a female actress gave Christian King new meaning, a new perspective, and a whole new depravity intrinsically worked into a system that’s thrives off of identity anonymity, ambiguity, and gender reversal. While Raymond plays the royal King, her business partner, Danny, plays the royal Queen under the sexuality masking by Brian Smick, also making his sophomore feature film appearance. Raymond and Smick comfortably indulge themselves into roles of pansexuality without having the lifestyle be the crux of “X’s” core. Zachary Cowan and, introducing, Eliza Bolvin play the, whether intentional or not, monkey wrenches thrown into the King and Queen’s perfect, cash-cow machine. “X” endows Bolvin’s Stella as a threat to the King’s illicit Kingdom, but Stella provides strategic publicity as a renowned cam girl in certain circuits to which the Queen aims to market for new members. When Stella invites her boyfriend, Cowan’s Jackson, that’s when things get complicated with misperception and mistaken identities. Rounding out “X’s” cast is Valerie Façhman, Hans Probst, Ashley Raggs, Vickey Lopez, Mira Gutoff, Miyoko Sakatani, and Wendy Taylor.

The five act chaptered narrative, described a Shakespearean tragedy and a Hitchcockian thriller, continues the regal motif all along the way, exploiting the means to sound ritzy, refined, and provocative and to show the power of sovereignty with Christian King’s thumb over every single orgy participant’s dirty little bathroom secrets or as she puts it, “I know them better than anyone else,” as she shamefully masturbates to what should be the privy of relinquishing the bladder. The idea of getting off on watching people in the bathroom isn’t just a twisted, one-off fetish, but also symbolizes a power aspect against the unaware, leading to self-serving and self-induced loneliness because of the one-up she holds over them. “X” tries to justify King’s rationale for exploiting her sexually engorging guests with flashbacks of sexuality shaming by the snarky high school boys, which in my opinion, dilutes the LGTB+ perception of you are who you are because something terrible happened to you. However, on the other side of the spectrum, you have Danny who is also taken advantage of in more than one way and in a different and separate context, but doesn’t react in the same regards as his King. Their dichotomy exposes true personalities and gives audiences a defined line of ego and humble attributes to experience different perceptions and events that speak to who they are as an individual. “X” circulates around the titular King of self-proclaim monstrous perversions in a dicey cinematic case study in vanity, arrogance, and the sexy manipulation power.

From being entirely shot in Northern California to the five year, labor-intensive production, “X” marks a spot with a digital and DVD release from Cinedigm with digital platforms including VUDU, Google Play, Amazon, and iTunes. “X” runs a lengthy, but well entertaining pace of 127 minutes and is presented in a widescreen 2.35:1 aspect ratio. In a little buyers beware tidbit, the dialogue track might feel dubbed and that’s because it is. Director Ramsey has noted that due to the constant crashing waves in the background, much of the the three year post production included re-recording all the dialogue as well as creating a 11-track score album accompaniment entitled “At the Devils Ball” from his band The Major Arcana. Chantel Beam’s first feature credit is a good solid effort with a slew of medium closeups and framing of multiple actors in a single scene while tip-toeing outside the box and into another world with a playful black and white sequence and the hidden bathroom camera reel that’s spun like a kinky comedy, but renders into the realm of diabolical depravity. As a pillar of anonymity, X has always served as the wild card for anything goes and the same rings true for Scott J. Ramsey’s autarkic ball room blitz between sex and perversion film.

Buy “X” on DVD or Stream from Amazon Prime Video!

Evil Surgical Nightmares…on Repeat! “Inoperable” review!


From being stuck in stand still Floridian hurricane traffic to waking up in a hospital without any recollection of how she got there, Amy Barrett finds herself in a seemingly evacuated sanitarium on the verge of being hit by a category 5 hurricane. When she finally makes contact with the limited hospital staff, Amy discovers that the staff are not in the position to help, but desire to perform unnecessary surgeries. Then, she finds herself in traffic again. Then, she wakes up in hospital…again. Amy, and other patients, find themselves trapped in a nightmare loop forged by the powers of the massive hurricane. Before the storm passes over, Amy must find a way to end the corkscrew of timelines that propel her limbo hell or else she will be trapped in the hospital forever.

To the O.R. stat! From writer-director Christopher Lawrence Chapman comes “Inoperable,” the horror equivalent to Bill Murray’s exceptional dark comedy “Groundhog Day.” As Chapman’s sophomore directorial, first in the realm of horror, the director takes “Inoperable” to rebrand the quantum paradoxical plight by introducing a medical butchers with hours upon hours, days upon days, years upon years of experience with exploratory surgery and ghastly invasion procedures. Behind the wormhole of terror script with Chapman is co-writer, the b-horror screenwriter, Jeff Miller whose extensive credits include “Axe Giant: The Wrath of Paul Bunyan” and “Jolly Roger: Massacre at Cutter’s Cove.” In this go-around, Miller explores the space-time-continuum, or does he, with Amy reliving the same moment, experienced slightly differently, in an endless loop of grisliness.

Starring in “Inoperable” is the “Halloween’s” franchise third favorite star, behind Jamie Lee Curtis and Donald Pleseance, being Danielle Harris (“Halloween 4,” “Halloween 5,” and Rob Zombie’s “Halloween” remakes). Harris keeps and maintains the tension, supplementing an increasing annoying and frustrating tone with each and every reset, and does superbly in extended takes running through the hospital’s dark corridors. Amy’s center storied character really puts Harris to work on her ability to flex in sequentially illogical scenes that go in various tangents and come to a dead halt in the end, flipping the script that forces the modern day scream queen to relive some of those killer “Halloween” moments. Harris is accompanied by Katie Keene and Jeff Denton, both whom worked with Chapman previously on the clownsploitation slasher “ClownTown.” Keene and Denton’s characters are also caught up in the same situation as a Denton plays a beefy good looking cop named Ryan who brings in a witness, Keene’s JenArdsen, a dolled up blonde who while in his custody, to the hospital following a multi-vehicle pile up; the very exact incident Amy in which Amy was involved. The two fall for each other more and more with each and every restart and that pain coldly passes over when to bare witness to each other’s demise over and over again is disturbingly twisted. Rounding out the cast is Chris Hahn “Axe Giant: The Wrath of Paul Bunyan”), Cher Hubsher (“The Amityville Terror”), Michelle Marin (“Bloody 27”), Philip Schene, and Crystal Cordero.

The trio of resetters formulate a wildly speculated theory that a nearby military compound, experimenting in spatial physics, was ravaged by the hurricane that oozed out their experiments that disrupted timelines, affecting this particular hospital, and the only way to escape the madness is by displacing the same energy that was put into it; so for example, since Ryan and JenArdsen arrived together, they would have to escape together. As long as Amy doesn’t die, every trapped soul is eligible for escape. Wait, what? Like aforementioned, Amy is the centerpiece to the puzzle and the whole entire situation actually revolves around Amy, intentional or not. Even though clues try to put a monkey wrench in that notion, the story always seems to revert back to Amy much like the loop she’s caught in. That in itself is the biggest hint of all that funnels to a underwhelming ending in null and voids the rest of the story.

ITN Distribution presents “Inoperable” onto DVD and VOD. The DVD is presented in a widescreen to “preserve the aspect ratio of its original exhibition” and, yes, this was done so. Nothing too particularly to note about the image quality being a modern release, but the color palette is balanced and vivid. The English language 5.1 Dolby Digital track has some good range and clear dialogue that effective communicate all theories and explanations on why this is happen to Amy, Ryan, and JenArdsen. Extras are slim that include a cast and crew commentary and the theatrical trailer. The Zorya Films and Millman Productions’ “Inoperable” is open heart surgery gory and is unique in a deadfall environment that’s sublimely refreshing for the over saturated genre, but culminates flaccidly with a conventional finale too predictable for comfort.

Evil’s One Click Away! “Slasher.com” review!


A Missouri city is terrorized by a slippery psychopath who gratifyingly kills women after meeting them on an online dating service and chopping off a lock of their hair for his serial killer souvenir. During this reign of urban terror, Jack and Kristy decide to meet for the first time in the midst of all the chaos of online skepticism. Kristy’s elaborate first date idea involves driving out to an isolated cabin on the outskirts of the big city ran by Momma Myers and her eccentric family. After an eventful day and passionate night of exploring each other inside the dark cabin enclosure, Kristy and Jack find themselves in the malevolent grips of the rural area’s most delinquent and psychopathic residents who know the wooded landscape like the back of their blood soaked hands. Escaping a killer in the city was the easy part, but in the woods, no one can hear you scream, no signal can be transmitted, and there’s nowhere to run, but what comes about of Jack and Kristy takes a twisted turn of events that has transformed this secluded campground into a war zone.

“Slasher.com” assumes to exercise an excessive vat of survival slasher tropes by creating foreboding scenarios that are extremely obvious to keen horror eye. If you know your slashers, you know the drill. Missourian native director Chip Gubera’s has developed a half-serious, half-self-deprecating 2017 thriller co-written by fellow Missourian Chelsea Andes with her first feature script credit. The story starts off hot and steamy enough with the sounds of moan-and-groan lovemaking, but turns sour in a split second with a half naked victim becoming shish kabob. Great start so far. Proceeding goes into a montage about an anonymous online dating service homicidal psychopath who lures women to their ultimate demise and whacking off a piece of their hair for trophy. Here’s where things become little satirical. Main characters Kristy and John, knee deep in online terror dating and who know each other solely from their online conversations, hike up toward a deep-wooded cabin in a small podunk town and with a bit of overzealousness, the ease between them feels whole-heartedly unnatural and very uncomfortable, but makes for superb Cliffnotes version of the whole slasher genre mock up. You got your daft couple, you got your deranged campground establishments, and then you got your gratuitous nudity – what else could you ask for?

And who are these players Chip Gubera was able to sway to be in “Slasher.com?” First up, Ben Kaplan, relatively unknown, steps into the shoes of John, an organized, easy going good looking guy who you wouldn’t expect to be online dating and the same goes for Kristy, portrayed by a very beautiful Morgan Carter, also an unknown in her first and only credit. The two have a weird and robotic dynamic that’s hard to swallow, hard to accept, and hard to comprehend why they’re both seeking what’s behind the other end of the keyboard and computer monitor, but here they are casted into the lead roles. On the opposite end of the spectrum are a duo of veterans in the horror field and, as well, in the erotic genre. “Leatherface: Texas Chainsaw Massacre III” and a few other notable horror sequels’ R.A. Milhailoff, a very large and threatening man, does have the killer presence and dwarfs a out of this world demented performance by the one and only Jewel Shepard as Momma Myers. The same Jewel Shepard from “Return of the Living Dead” and from the recently reviewed sex-tastic action film “Christina” and she’s so sleazy and so unbelievable rank that’s it’s truly scary. Rebecca Crowley, Delious Kennedy, and Adam Boster fill out of the support cast.

“Slasher.com,” from what you read earlier in this review, might seem like stiff drink with the same cobalt, down-the-hatch taste, but there’s a flick of the wrist in the finale that’s leaves Gubera’s film standing just slightly above the mediocre, low-budget melee and taser-charges the nuts of what could be a new breed of horror. Just out of reach and falling flat on it’s face is the quick rise and long hard fall for Chip Gubera’s “Slasher.com” who took a quirky, fly-by-the-seams slasher and contributed to it a brief glimpse of ambition that never reach full potential, but there were moments. Good moments that cleared the ugly scrap show up every so often; for example, the dead body pit, or the captivating needs of Momma Myers by the delectable Jewel Shepard, or even the final showdown between the Myers and John and Kristy.

Cinedigm and ITN Distribution release “Slasher.com,” also known as “S/ash.er,” onto DVD home video presented in widescreen with a poor English Stereo 2.0 track. The digital noise waves through nearly all scenes of the image, especially the ariel shots, and doesn’t sharply display the forest, but keeps the vague Myers dungeon in the shadow’s of it’s own shoddiness. Sleazo, that’s the creative moniker of the scorer, provides a synthesized track that’s horribly exploited because it is a fairly good soundtrack even if it’s only a one track, sorry trick, pony. There’s also no bonus features on the DVD, leaving only the feature to fight for itself, and with that omission of extras, with that poor quality, and with steep drop at the end, “Slasher.com” fails to take advantage of the sui generis story that needed to blossom.

An Evil Chessboard of Blood and Guts! “The Demon’s Rook” review!

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Young Roscoe is lured to an underground dwelling dimension by an ancient demon of peace. The demon takes Roscoe as his pupil and mentors him for years the ways of the powerful dark arts, but when Roscoe unknowingly opens the gates of hell by releasing three powerful and evil demons from their vessels, his master is killed and Roscoe flees back to his quiet earthly town with the evil demons in tail. Now the three pure evil beasts ascend topside and reek havoc amongst the quaint little town using mind control upon their human prey, re-animating the dead back to life, and conjuring the evil out of innocents’ souls. Roscoe has the only supernatural power to stop them, taught and passed down to him by his late demon master, but will he have enough strength to save what’s left of his humanity?
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First off, “The Demon’s Rook” is my first favorite release of the 2015! A freshman film from James Sizemore rises to the top and absolutely destroys, or rather obliterates, any horror release I’ve watched and reviewed the past two months. Sizemore eviscerates the 1980’s and early 1990’s horror, tangles and twists all the elements together, releasing a grotesquely creature-feature of awesomeness.
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The detail on the practical effects are so finely tuned and done well that in trying to point out the rubbery, obviously fake demon body parts was seriously pointless. Every thing from costumes, to makeup, to exploding heads were rock hard solid in the results, even the sometimes over-zealous gore scenes in other gory films were exact and on point with camera angles, the right amount of blood, and not too hard to swallow when it came down to suspending disbelief.
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The fantastic-driven story combines many horror subgenres from, the obvious, demonology, to the living undead. This doesn’t feel like another “run for your life while we’re being chased” type film as there are various facets and layered tangents to the story. Many characters are introduced and are quickly, but properly, disposed of and, for a film like “The Demon’s Rook,” this type of catch and release is suitable because death becomes a character and without death, in a movie with demons and zombies and black magic, you need death to breathe and live and in order to fully embody that death character you need victims and Sizemore, along with co-write Akom Tidwell, breaks the bank with disposable characters.
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Tim Reis’s cinematography is beyond brilliant with the use of prominent coloring. The red, green, blue dense fog settings create an atmosphere like none other while the editing, cut also by Tim Reis, is easy on the transitions and easy to follow. Sizemore tackles the special effects department and seizes the moment to be relentless on the use of fake blood. These Georgian filmmakers will need to be watched closely as “The Demon Rook” is underground gold and I wouldn’t be surprised if we see rush of more films into production from this crew. The dialogue is my only small beef with “The Demon’s Rook” as it’s bit bland and a bit expositional, but I’m really reaching to find a flaw here. Most of the ambiance and dialogue becomes a bit jumbled at the beginning with sudden stops in sounds creating goofy transitions. However, this all seems to clear up fairly early.
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Technically, the Cindedigm DVD looks amazing in a clarity sense with only a few blurry moments during forest scenes in it’s 16:9 widescreen format. The sound is balanced and consistent throughout even during the scenes or montages tracks from rock bands come into play. No sign of audio stifling nor hijacking. Plus, a good amount of extras come with the release such as deleted scenes, a making of, a gag reel, and bonus short film from Sizemore entitled “Goat Witch” which is just as amazingly disturbing.
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Bringing old time practical monster classiness to the modern age is risky business, but director James Sizemore’s and Akom Tidewell’s passion and thirst for hallmark classic demons and zombies resurrects legends back to the indie scene and by adding in his own terroristic tastes, the Black Rider Productions duo also conjures up something new with the vibrant coloring. I would compare Sizemore to the satanic or cult likes of Rob Zombie, to a young George A. Romero with the zombies, and to a special effects genius such as Tom Savini. Don’t consider Sizemore a hack of icons; he’s certainly not, but he displays his own style by slowly sliding that sharp blade into the stomach with perverseness pleasure and that, my friends, is Sizemore’s contribution to chaos.