EVIL is Out For Blood! “Attack of the Unknown” reviewed! (Gravitas Ventures / Digital Screener)

A Los Angeles SWAT team raids a syndicate congregating big narcotics deal that leads to the arrest of the local high profile drug lord named Hades.  In transporting Hades into federal custody, massive alien ships suddenly loom over the city, beginning a merciless extraterrestrial invasion that forces the close knit SWAT team, Hades, and a handful of low on the totem poll federal agents to take shelter at an inmate detention center housing dangerous criminals as everyone outside, fighting for their very lives on the streets of an ablaze metropolis, are swarmed and killed by tentacle spearing, blood sucking aliens.  Running low on ammo, cut off from any kind of rescue, and aware that an attack on them is imminent, the survivors must band together to plan their continuous survival and understand what the aliens want from them before being raided for their blood.

“Independence Day” meets “Assault on Precinct 13” in the blood marauding mayhem of the alien invasion action film “Attack of the Unknown” from writer-director Brandon Slagle (“House on Manson,” “The Dawn”) based off a story by producers Michael and Sonny Mahal of the Mahal Empire production company. The American made, Los Angeles and Las Vegas shot Sci-Fi embattled entanglement labors an intensive visual effects heavy bombardment that bares an unbiblical similarity of the David versus Goliath parable.  Instead of using stones and a slingshot to bring the formidable giant down, gunfire and hand-to-hand combat serve as the nearly useless weaponry of choice against these spacemen, with a slight inspiration of H.R. Giger’s biochemical flare, searching for the junkie’s high of medicinal hemoglobin.  Alongside the Mahal Empire, the company behind the artistry of supernatural-sins, “Art of the Dead,” Spicy Ramen Productions (“Murder Van”), FilmCore (“Clownado”), and Blain-Y-Bootleg Films also stick their producing tentacles into the narrative that entails expropriation of human blood by otherworldly beings.

“Attack of the Unknown” reunites “Art of the Dead’s” Richard Grieco and Tara Reid once again in a non-scene sharing feature, but, this time around, Grieco lands the lead role of Vernon, a long-in-the-tooth cop going through a brutal divorce, going through cancer, and must be the person to save during the invasion…wait, what? Yes, forget the women, children, and possible any other last hope for mankind, Vernon, through the eyes of his SWAT brethren, becomes early on the favorite for survival, but only later into the story does the fact of Vernon’s fatalistic, cancerous blood is the cure for dominion dominance, something that should have been noted when Vernon is labeled as must live. Grieco’s austere soul for Vernon disposes a man without a care or is unpredictable and while the role is overall solid, Grieco is a bit theatrical with the performance. On the short end of the stick is Tara Reid whose barely in a folklore tale told by Hades as a severely brief conclusion on why these malevolent space invaders have landed on planet Earth. Former “Hellraiser: Revelations'” cenobite, Jolene Andersen, and typecast bad guy, “Strangeland’s” Robert LaSardo, without an alternative, had the most intrigue without having a lick of depth with their characters. Andersen is the only female SWAT member, Hannah, with an unexplained connection between her and Vernon other than being colleagues, but Hannah is a bit of a Jane of all trades able to hold her own in a humbling kind of way, making her more likable. On the other hand, the mysterious temperament challenges us to figure out what LaSardo kind of person is Hades; obviously named after the lord of Hell, the drug kingpin isn’t devilish in the least and has the tendency to be more of a stubborn and angst tween. The cast list is huge but the main players involved rounding out the cast list is Douglas Tait, Robert Donovan, Paul Gunn, Mouine Omari, Clay Trimble, Gerardo de Pablos, King Jeff, and, not forgetting to mention as Featured Dancer #1, adult actress Tasha Reign.

Slagle has to reign over and rein in the slew of competing talents and the story’s first act of an indeterminate direction. When the narrative finally settles upon the alien encircled detention center with the survivors’ back against the wall, a harried subplot with two, nearly off the clock San Fernando cops encountering a crashed ship in the desert on the outskirts of town is pushed aside; instead of a smaller, parallel story alongside the SWAT’s predicament, the two cop encounter becomes a bookend story that feels sorely out of place and sheepishly wrapped up. Another out of place aspect, an unfillable character arc within the core story, is with an out of element survivor, a vlogger from Texas, who is the only unqualified defender against an attack and supposed to be on this tangent of earning his “got your back” badge (anyone from Texas, the Alamo state, should know a thing or two about a last stand), but by the time the vlogger musters the courage to shoot back at the bloodsucking tentacles during an elevator escape, the moment is way too late and way too underwhelming to make an impact, leaving his presence wasted amongst a motley crew of rough and tough officers and criminals. Luckily, the Mahal production has plenty of capital to go around to render a bolstering blend of practical and visual effects that tags “Attack of the Unknown” as Slagle’s Michael Bay attempt of a Sci-Fi action film. The visual effect composites are verisimilar in comparison to big budget Hollywood and the practical work, whether be with the fleeting gruesome deaths (ripping off the crown of the head scene was pretty nasty), the alien spacesuits, and the alien’s classic bug eyes and small mouth, harped back on a throwback science fiction alien attack sans the ray gun trope.

For an indie production, “Attack of the Unknown” has a palpable core story with promising visuals that has invaded all major VOD platforms this past August courtesy of Gravitas Ventures. The A/V qualities will not be reviewed due to the digital screener provided, but just to comment on the rigors of budget films, the depth perception issues in the composited effects and the sounds effects not always necessarily syncing properly with the action (i.e. explosions), cold cocks us back down a peg that “Attack of the Unknown” is an indie film. The music score is provided by Scott Glasgow (“Hatchet III”) and the shots are provided by Michael Su, who I thought garnished really neat scenes with smoke and brilliant light. Bottom line, “Attack of the Unknown” just ekes out being entertaining enough but the space vampire’s ground assault traverses a rocky road of dry performances and unfocused bearings that cultivates earnest dramatics progressing into one ginormous space ship-sized cliché.

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EVIL Waited 30 Years. Now It’s Unleashed! “Zombie Rampage II” reviewed! (Wild Eye Releasing / DVD)


A zombie ravaged world divides survivors into gangs. In this case, two warring rivals, a group of decent folk versus cannibalistic savages, spar over little territory left untouched by the undead. Seeking tactical advantage, the contentious factions either scheme a plan for appropriating the land while the other recruits and trains an inexpert survivalist to better their odds against one another. Leave it to humanity to still be the most dangerous animal on Earth during a zombie apocalypse when an armed showdown opens the doors for death and the undead to wreak havoc on the best and worst parts of being human.

Full disclosure. I have never seen or even sought out Todd Sheets’ renown direct-to-video, zombie epic, “Zombie Rampage,” from 1989. So, when the opportunity came around to check out the sequel, “Zombie Rampage II,” presented on a Wild Eye Releasing DVD, I jumped at the chance to witness the anticipated follow-up despite the sequel not being steered by Sheets himself. The “Bonehill Road” director’s involvement extends to the credit of producer and co-writer of the aborted 1990 sequel, which had unearthed VHS footage repurposed for the 2019 release, while Alexander Brotherton makes his directorial and script debut the new material and Mike Hellman and Charles Gooseman, who were a heavily involved duo of the original discovered footage, are credited as co-directors. In the last few years, Brotherton’s been a staple of Sheets’ films in some skeleton cast and crew capacity from the satirically bonkers “Clownado” to the narcotically world toppling chaos of “Dreaming Purple Neon” and with full confidence in Brotherton, therein lies sanctions for the filmmaker to pay homage to the 1989 original with its own shot-on-video rendition that maintains that gritty VHS integrity, continuing to be a financial churned out by Todd Sheets’ production company, Extreme Entertainment, which has been goring out content since 1988 and that makes “Zombie Rampage” and “Zombie Rampage II” larger than life, honorary bookends to Sheets’ continued indie success.

Cast is comprised of Sheets’ entourage of actors and actresses, starting off with Antwoine Steele whose reprising the afro-sporting, smooth talking, lady loving, ass-kicking Durville Sweet from “Zombie Bloodbath 3: Zombie Armageddon.” Steele steals the show with his indifferently foul mouth Sam Jackson approach that somehow manages to spin into a favorable personality trait. Another show stealer is Dilynn Fawn Harvey serving a plate of scantily-cladded roughness with the sexually suggestive Hot Stuff. Harvey jumps at the opportunity to show off her chest again while being the sultry lass who never has to be the dame in distress. Both Steele and Harvey are bigger than life on screen and that trend continues with other key players in Jack Mccord as the cross-dressed Mr. Hyde, leader of the cannibal gang, Eve Smith as an androgynous warrior for the good side, Jay Perkaple as the inept survivor recruit, and Skyler Roberts as a psychotic cannibal with a severed finger partner in crime. The supporting cast is made up of Daniell Bell, Carol Word, and Jenny McCarty.

“Zombie Rampage II” is a rough, SOV mix of black-to-satirical humor and a healthy amount of zombie carnage that isn’t a direct sequel. Don’t expect the carnage to be overwhelming complete and gory as the low budget bullet flatlines the realism of any kind of flesh-eating horde violence, but that lack of zombie realism is to be expected from the kitschy quality that seals in air tight the stank of the 30-year-old VHS predecessor. Yes, mistakes and miscues will be a natural condition of a penny-pinched film, such as a conspicuous train passing by in the background during a supposed zombie desolated world, fight sequences that will be hilariously and horrendously overstated, and the gore would be nothing more than quick explosive flashes of red matted paint and be about as Wharferin thin to the point of being limpid clear. Yet, what bothers me the most out of everything is the drifting flimsy and anorexic plot that initially emphases on finding Stewart and his assimilation into the gang of well-versed survivalist, but then grossly upends more for a battle of territory between gang one and gang two with a final showdown involving Durville swinging a colossally fluorescent, two-sided dildo as a num-chuk and the bashing of heads in with foam covered kids’ toy bat that you can purchase offline for $10. There’s a crude and abnormal sense of poetry in that scene involving an adult’s orifice stuffing sex toy with a children’s athletic plaything being combative instruments in the same scene, but for the sake of not going off on a tangent, “Zombie Rampage II” bares little plot growth that flaunts more tasteless humor than rampaging a zombie chorus and the destruction that leaves in it’s wake.

For fans sworn to be loyal acolytes of Todd Sheets, take a long, hard gander at “Zombie Rampage II” on DVD home video from Wild Eye Releasing on their Raw and Extreme banner. Those who’ve waited for a sequel will be pleasantly surprised in how the video presentation and quality are comprised of two similar but distinct formats with a letterbox 16:9 in the recently shot video that bookends the letterbox 4:3 footage from 1990. Both formats are heavily lossy in providing a detailed presentation and express vapid color that comes to not surprise inside a production value cost little-to-nothing at all. “Zombie Rampage II” definitely harks back to the demeanor of a shot on video film where quality is but an intangible illusion compared to the unfathomable gore that fills the quality caliber void, but to my shock, there is just not enough fake blood in the sequel to justify a purchase of a subpar quality pardon. The English language single channel stereo output caters to the same lossy conditions of a low bitrate amplitude with a stiffened dialogue track and poorly edited stock foley inserts. Again, all telltale attributes of an indie video recorded classic that’ll certainly get SOV and Todd Sheets’ fans rocks off. The only special feature amongst a model static menu available is the film’s trailer, but the visceral DVD cover, distributed by MVDVisual, has a milky eyed zombie grotesquely chowing down viscera that’s very poignant of a Raw and Extreme title and very welcoming, eye-catching package feature. There are bonus features before and after the feature with a fake trailer for “Durville Sweet and the Lost Temple of Ass Pirates” and bloopers during the rolling credits. “Zombie Rampage II” covers 30-years of ground, breaking the laws of time, and giving retrograde VHS and Todd Sheets aficionados what they want – blood, boobs, and butchery.

“Zombie Rampage II” on DVD!

Sharks? Who Gives A Sh*t About Sharks When EVIL Clowns Storm In! “Clownado” reviewed!


A sadistic carny ringmaster and his troupe of malicious clowns put on a traveling circus act through the America midwest. When an unfaithful lover challenges the powerful lout, he and his painted-face company exact a punitive act against her for all the crowd to see and enjoy and in bitter return, the scorned woman invokes a witch’s spell to summons evil forces to pluck the ringmaster and his clown lackeys up into an unordinary whirlwind. Trapped inside a super storm, the clowns use their newfound and unintentional given powers to funnel a tornado for spreading massive destruction through their cyclonic path of vengeance, terrifying a handful of ensemble midwestern survivors to fight back against the merciless and murderous clowns.

Clowns are so hot right now. From the success of Stephen King’s “It” remake and the subsequent sequel to the re-emergence of Batman’s notorious foe, “Joker”, in a controversial origin film, the carnivalesque buffoons are at the height of their inhuman malevolency since the late 1980’s saw Jack Nicholson donned the makeup as a crazed lunatic with a penchant for nerve gas and extraterrestrial clowns invaded Earth to harvest people and snack on their blood. Adding director Todd Sheets into this era of clown renaissance and outcomes the carny carnage gore fest, “Clownado,” straight from the big top. As an obvious pun on the “Sharknado” franchise, the “Dreaming Purple Neon” and “Sorority Babes in the Dance-A-Thon of Death” director pens and helms another blood drenched, apocalyptic, cine-schlock of callous proportions and unparalleled in content funded by Sheet’s production company, Extreme Entertainment. With a production company tagline of Movies with Guts, Sheets makes good on his delivery with an up close and personal spew of geysering blood sprays, severed gushing limbs, and guts, lots of guts, that’ll run any clown’s makeup red while dousing each feature with action and fun.

How do you hire a cast to garb themselves as maniacal clowns, have them portray being supernaturally charged with meteorological phenomena, and wreak havoc down from the heavens with a tornado vessel just to rip people to shreds all the while laughing their heads off? Easy. You employ the entourage familiar with your brand of Mccobb! John O’Hara, Antwoine Steele, Dilynn Fawn Harvey, Rachel Lagen, Jeremy Todd, Millie Milan, Nate Karny Cole, Douglas Epps, and others have worked previously with Sheets in these flicks, but not limited to: “Sleepless Nights,” “Dreaming Purple Neon”,” “Bonehill Road,” and “House of Forbidden Secrets.” Mix to blend some well churned budget horror talent, such as “Return of the Living Dead’s” Linea Quigley as an angst-y bar/strip club owner and “Brainjacked’s” Joel D. Wynkoop as a fearless flyboy, an already colossal cast becomes an gargantuan cogency of tacit talent and to top it off, how about an former porn star amputee? Jeanne Silver, or better known in the industry as Long Jeanne Silver of “Debbie Does Dallas Part II”, bewitches the screen as the spellbound caster and she didn’t even have to penetrate anyone with your missing fibula of a leg. The one actor that really sought the affable nature in us all is Bobby Westrick with the charming redneck Hunter Fedelis. Westrick, who hasn’t been in a movie since Todd Sheets’ “Goblin” back in 1993, returns in 2019 to be one-time alcoholic lowlife to a world savior from clown devastation; Hunter’s an overall gentlemen despite his straggly, rough appearance and beat up old straw cowboy hat and doesn’t live one person behind while also befriend a black man impersonating Elvis Presley in town has unexpressed racial prejudice. The cast also includes Sierra Stodden, Eileen Dietz, and a Cayt Feinics who seemed to just love caressing her blood soused breasts more than the next woman.

I get what Todd Sheets has erected here being the ringmaster of a dementedly dissension in the circus of blood. The capitalizing idea of clowns twirling and terrorizing through a maelstrom flash of fluorescent, like of SyFy sharks in that popular six installment franchise, is indie kitschiness at it’s finest and couldn’t be more perfectly timed after the release of Joaquin Phoenix’s “Joker.” “Clownado” is a fun windstorm of gore and carnival surrealism. Sheets continues to deliver as promised per his production company and is still able to sustain relationships with his usual clowns – such as my stoic favorite, Antwoine Steele, and his role dressed arbitrarily as the King of Rock and Roll – while providing chuckles, sparks, and bimbos galore and, no, I don’t mean clown names. With any Todd Sheets production, the practical effects are innovative and dastardly with highlights including breasts with teeth instead of nipples, heart replacement surgery with a block of ice, and head explosions!

MVDVisual and Wild Eye Releasing doesn’t clown around with Todd Sheets’ “Clownado” that lands onto DVD home video in a widescreen, 1.78:1 aspect ratio. In light of microbudget limits, the digitally shot film has some issues, such as color banding, and then there’s also the visual effects that come straight out of the stock footage file and then matted over with assertion on the first run; however, Todd Sheets been doing this for decades and I’m sure if the director wanted his production and post-production to be first rate, he’d be like Picard and make it so. Yet, disappointments are a part of life and the biggest disappointment by far is the over saturation of purple tint to lay down an ominous killer vibe throughout the night scenes of the 99minute run and the tint completely dilutes the vivid face paint, or in the clowns’ case war paint, and also turns blood into a black and magenta farcical gas. The English language audio 2.0 stereo track, complete with closed captioning available, has great clarity and often doesn’t seem as tumultuous as would be expected. The mic had on point placement to hone in on every wisecrack and pun known to clown-kind. Bonus features include a commentary track with Todd Sheets, behind the scenes, a featurette entitled “The Human Hurricane, and Wild Eye Releasing trailers. From a meteorologist standpoint, weathering through “Clownado” might be a downpour of rubbish, but for those who live vicariously through Todd Sheets’ repertoire of campy, no-budget, gore films, “Clownado” is a beautiful black-comedy day for a stroll.

Purchase Clownado on DVD!