EVIL Presses the Reset Button For Killer Results! “To Your Last Death” reviewed! (Quiver Distribution / Blu-ray)

Miriam DeKalb has just survived a bloodbath inside her tycoon father’s high-rise, walking out shaken, bloodied, and carrying an axe.  When the police detain her in the hospital, construing a case against her for the death of her siblings and father based off her previously unhinged mental state inside a psychiatric institute, Miriam is visited by an otherworldly being known as the Gamemaster.  Miriam is given two choices:  stay at the hospital to be pursued as the murderous villain in her harrowing escape from near death or restart her traumatizing experience to save her siblings in an intergalactic wager by infinite being gamblers eager for amusement, blood, and a clear winner.  Miriam’s foreknowledge of how the events play out should give her an edge in saving her family, but the restart is the Gamemaster’s game with the Gamemaster’s rules as timelines and outcomes are determined limitless. 

“To Your Last Death” is a science fictional brawl of Darwinism in this eviscerating adult animated survival horror from director Jason Axinn.  Originally titled as “The Malevolent” during the crowd-funded Indiegogo campaign, which raised 114% above film’s budget, “To Your Last Death” is Axinn’s first full length feature from a script co-written by Jim Cirile (writer of horror-comedy “Banned”) and is the first credited work of Tanya C. Klein, both who’ve previously collaborated on the superhero short “Liberator” in 2016 starring the original Hulk himself, Lou Ferrigno  With an animated direction similar to that of FX’s “Archer,” Cartoon Network’s “Metalocalypse,” or an even slightly more advanced version of “Space Ghost Coast to Coast,” but, in fact, the hand-drawn, puppetry style animation is the first ever 2-D animated horror under the meticulous art direction of Carl Frank along with lead artists Luca Romano and Vicente Saldivar, who interned on “Metalocalypse,” that keeps in tune with the adult themed animation trend, but levels up the explicit nature that kisses the sordid substance of “Heavy Metal” with strong bloody violence and some nudity.  “To Your Last Death” is the first feature film of Jim Cirile and Tanya C. Klien’s Coverage Ink Films, a subsidiary of the screenplay analysis and development service group, Coverage Ink, and Quiver Distribution (“Becky”) with Cindi Rice, Paige Barnett and Jason Axinn taking on a producer role. 

The voice work is comprised of some of the most distinguishable voices in genre land; voices that carry the unparalleled weight in intensity, tenor, and madness to their darkly depicted illustrated characters.  You can almost feel the veins throbbing out of Ray Wise’s neck when spewing the murderous insanity of warfare kingpin and diabolical businessman, Cyrus DeKalb.  The “Dead End” and “Jeepers Creepers 2” actor’s inhumane avatar, who looks just like him, devises a plan to solidify his company’s legacy by eliminating his four children who, if banding together, can derail his egomaniacal runaway train.  His children are distinct individuals themselves, beginning with the BDS&M buff and death metal rocker, Ethan (Damein C. Haas), a pill-popping wrist cutter, Kelsy (Florence Hartigan “Phoenix Forgotten”), and a mirror-image disappointment and homosexual, Collin (Benjamin Siemon “Thankskilling 3”).  The fourth child, Miriam, is the principle lead.  Voiced with perpetual mixed reactions by Dani Lennon, a regular from the videogame-themed horror comedy and zombie apocalypse television series, “Bite Me,” Miriam’s complexities stem from a web of junctures that lead her to being a control freak amongst her siblings, an obsessive activist against her father, and a certified schizophrenic, but Miriam is also pragmatic with the strongest will to see through and survive her maniacal father’s abhorrence.  While everyone’s voice work is solid, Steve Geiger’s Eastern European accent replicated for the sadistic, warmongering henchman, Jurek, imprints a nightmare man unabashed by his decadent desires.  You wouldn’t think just be reading this review, but Bill Moseley (“Devil’s Rejects”) and William Shatner (“Star Trek” franchise) also have voice roles that are more cameo resembling as Moseley voices a short lived, facially disfigured hired gun and Shatner is the narrating voice in between the void as the Overseer, filling in with cryptic exposition of the Gamemaster’s existence, much like his narrative work on the reboot of the children’s show, “The Clangers.”   Mark Whitten, Bill Mishap, Rom Lommel, Paige Barnnet, Jim Cirile, Tanya C. Klein, Ruairi Douglas, Jason Axinn, and “Deadpool’s” Morena Baccarin as the Gamemaster round out the cast.

The way “To Your Last Death’s” story is structured runs along the same quivering line that’s equal to pure madness and this narrative path of unstoppable carnage is purposefully trekked to dislodge any judgements about what we, the viewer, think we know about the Gamemaster’s macabre game for galactic gambling.  Is the whole “Saw”-like designed bloodbath really a part of Cyrus DeKalb’s hatred and vindictiveness toward his children or is the lucid experience just a figment of Miriam’s break from reality?  Remember, Miriam was depicted to an ex-committed, living with and within the pressures of her father’s ever present, looming shadow. Miriam finds herself repeating moments but blueprinted differently than before or is manipulated by the Gamemaster’s gamer’s high for the adrenaline voyeurs betting on the outcome. The story’s effervescently fluid in pivots, tactics, and style; yet, the constant modify and rebuild was, perhaps, done one or two many times as staleness begins to set in and I eventually find himself anxious for a more linear goal for Miriam and her siblings to be out of limbo, out of being hacked to pieces on the fourth or fifth go-around, and reach the final stage, the final boss, to not be jerked back (or jerked around) to the beginning or midpoint like in unendurable game of chutes and ladders. Soon after that sensation of being uninterested in another rewind, the feeling immediately washes away as the story finally did progress, climax, finish, end, close, and put to sleep a rotunda of violence engendered by cosmic sadists that is “To Your Last Death.”

Like some warped version of “Clash of the Titans,” the insouciant Gods in “To Your Last Death” are not generous or kind in their gamble of human entertainment on this Blu-ray release distributed by Quiver Distribution. The feature is presented in a windscreen 1.78:1 aspect ratio with rich colors through but favor toward scenes splotched of dark red or saturated in full tints of blue. The animation can be a little jagged at times but tolerable and only one scenes stood out compromised with two character stuck still for a few seconds too long and color banding rear its little ugly head on their animated faces. The English Dolby Digital 5.1 surround sound renders equally gratifying that includes a pulsating and terror riddled soundtrack by Rene G. Boscio. Typical with animation, ambience is generally underused as the filmmakers control much of what’s in the frame and the same can be said with this film, but with the much of action stationary inside the building, the confinement fills in the auditory gaps in conjunction with lucrative and well timed effects, such as a ripping roar of gas guzzling chainsaw, the squirting sounds of blood sprays, and even with the lossless details of minor necessities, such as Jurek whistling, to build upon character development. Dialogue is prominent, clear, and syncs okay with the marionette animation. The Blu-ray case is sheathed in a cardboard slipcover, both arranged with the same front and back cover image and layout. The bonus features are lack as the bare bones release only comes with a high definition trailer of the film. “To Your Last Death” is this year’s cinematic graphic novel to knock back and lap up, loaded with transcendent selfish twists and second-chance carnage with dysfunctional family issues spot lit on center stage.

 

Pre-Order “To Your Last Death” for a October 6th release!

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.