Never Poke Isolated EVIL. “Darkness in Tenement 45” reviewed! (Wood Entertainment / Digital Screener)

In an alternate reality of the 1950s, the Soviet Union has obtained components for long range biological weapons that threaten United States’ borders.  New York City has been declared as a tangible target and the city is evacuated of all residents, but one tenement, number 45, remains occupied, boarded up by the frightened tenants to shield themselves from the biological threat and from a possible USSR invasion.  Cut off from the outside world and running low on food and supplies, the building’s owner, Felix, ventures outdoors to forage what’s left on the streets of NYC, leaving Martha in charge of the dilapidated building, the anxious children and the terrified adults.  Martha’s adolescent niece, Joanna, arrived just before the evacuation; a measure taken by Joanna’s mother due to her daughter’s “darkness” of violent outbursts, but Joanna’s darkness conflicts with Martha’s authoritarian leadership leading up to a faceoff between children and adults in already tense surroundings.

In August 2017, production finished on “Darkness in Tenement 45.”  In 2019, a Kickstarter campaign was launched to complete the post-production of the Nicole Groton written and directed psychological thriller based off fear and intimidation in the context of a Red Scare backdrop.  As her breakthrough feature film, Groton probably couldn’t have imagined that the release of her quarantine isolating and germ warfare agog could have coincided right in the middle of a current pandemic climate of self-quarantining anxiety and globally enforced lockdowns.  Yet, “Darkness in Tenement 45” can be viewed a sentiment of triumph in a time of actual worldwide darkness for a film with a crew that is comprised of primarily women and with a cast that favors the majority of dialogue roles also for women.  Groton supports her own cause by contributing as producer under her production label, A Flying Woman Productions, a North Hollywood, California based indie picture production company.

While there might be a contingent of characters that could easily be in the vying for lead, Nicole Tompkins is the discernible “darkness” descriptor in the “Darkness in Tenement 45” title.  The Texas-born actress has developed a little darkness of her own in her career corner being a principle lead in the 2018’s nightmares of the netherworld, “Antrum:  The Deadliest Film Ever Made” and also landing a voice role of one of survival horror’s most renowned heroines, Jill Valentine, in the remake of “Resident Evil 3” video game released this year.  Now, Tompkins scales the identity range as a damaged young woman sheltered in place from the elements of war only to be stuck as an afterthought amidst toxic authority that could endanger all tenants, creating a boiling tension culminating into a volatile climax with Martha, a role drenched with an unapathetic interest in children’s opinions, especially from the unstable ones.  Martha is played sardonically by “Blood of Drago’s” Casey Kramer with a seething disdain for anything that isn’t in her interest.  Overall, the performances and characters are grounded enough to development the story along it’s simple narrative lines, but not everything support character, who are supplemented with individual portions of the story pie, are well bloomed to sate their character.  For instance, Tomas, the youngest child of the building owner, Felix, has an undisclosed autistic side him and becomes obsessive with the breast of one of his older sisters, and while that plays out in Groton’s themes of partisan power when Tomas is given authority over his sisters from his venturing father, because of their innate Latina patriarchal culture, Tomas’s motivations fall short of really being dug out from the undercurrent context as an individual arc.  Same kind of broke off development can be said with Emmy Greene and Joseph Culliton’s characters as fellow adults who blindly follow Martha’s do-as-I-say mentality like lemmings toward their self-destructions.  The cast rounds out with a wide range assortment of children and adult actors that include David Labiosa (“The Entity”), Melissa Macedo (“Blood Heist”), Keyon Bowman, Marla Martinez (“Blood of Ballet”), and Anthony Marciona (“Invasion U.S.A.) who provides more of a 1950’s white man NYC accent true to the era.

Revolving around the theme of isolation, “Darkness in Tenement 45” operates under the similar structure of John Carpenter’s “The Thing” by establishing a group of people cutoff from the rest of the world trying to survive a different kind of infection and the antagonist alien, represented as the darkness in Groton’s film, is the villain that tears the remaining survivors apart from the inside, metaphorically in the house instead of their bodies in this case.  “Darkness in Tenement 45” is by no means on tenterhooks or as a molecularly gruesome as John Carpenter’s classic re-imagining of an actual 1950s film, but the basic principles of the story present plenty of suspicion, hegemony, and stir craziness to go around, fueling the dreams and anxiety to Joanna’s snowballing psychosis redlining toward critical.  While I feel that the performances and wardrobe are not the best representation of the 1950s time period, the Caitlin Nicole Williams’ production design shoulders much of that responsibility.  Williams, who worked as the second unit production designer on the satirical-slasher “Dude Bro Massacre III”, creates a delineable vividness out of a bare bone lined tenement setting, appropriate for the depicted social class and period, while exuding the crude shiplap finish that fits the narrative, adding confinement and angst to the space.  “Darkness in Tenement 45” is Groton’s groundbreaking effort that dishes out this disorder of a safe haven in dismay; yet, the story pulls plot point punches that should have landed to knockout a more effective thriller that touches importantly upon the very livelihood and fate of each individual tenant in an alternate universe wartime backdrop.

On the biggest day of every four years, as anxiety-riddled clouds loom over the entire nation as we all wait in the shadows with bated breath of who will be the next President of the United States of Election Day, Wood Entertainment has embraced another kind of tense darkness with their release of “Darkness in Tenement 45” onto various digital platforms, including iTunes; Amazon; Vimeo, Xbox, Google Play, iNDEMAND, FandangoNOW, and more. Continuing the praise of the female-led thriller is with the Carissa Dorson cinematography that deposits two shot styles of the conscious and subconscious. When awake, Joanna and the others are engulfed in a hefty, deep dark and light wood brown scheme that compliments the slummy environment of their tenement. When asleep, Joanna is rendered in a softer image to resemble the hazy or airy atmosphere of her dreams. This style is also complete with a medium scaled purple-pink tint often associated with the hallmark callings of a 1970s-1980’s foreign supernatural horror. Dorson never intertwines the two styles, giving clarity to Joanna’s conscious and subconscious state without going deeper into the character’s easily agitated and short fuse temperament, while also setting up some neatly framed shots that make things look bigger or more menacing than they appear, such as the overly boarded up entrance door or the candle lit supper table that becomes a point of contention. Flashes of incubus imagery and the dissonance of gearworks clanking around an unhinged mind give “Darkness in Tenement 45” a morsel of allure amongst the thematical discord of breaking the chains of restrained individualism and overprotecting those with a firm hand from self-harm and while the film might not be pitch perfect, the spirit is strong in the vanguard of female-driven filmmaking.

“Darkness in Tenement 45” now available for rent on Amazon Prime!

EVIL Choo-Choo Choses You! “Infernum” reviewed! (Indican Pictures / Screener)


When Camille’s parents awake to an unknown and encompassing rumbling and what sounds like agonized wailing, they decide to go investigate not too far from their camping tent where their daughter, Camille, still sleeps. When Camille awakes, the rumbling is now deafening and her parents have disappeared into the night, leaving the young child frightened beyond belief. 25 years later and still haunted by the phenomena, art post-graduate Camille conducts recorded interviews with witnesses of the event along with James, a film studies student working on a documentary project. When the rumbling returns in the Nevada desert, Camille and James take a train to record research just outside the affected area and not become too close to the dangers that’s traumatized Camille, but when the train stalls in a tunnel halfway to the destination, Camille and James awake alone with no passengers or conductors in sight and a rumbling noise that isn’t the train’s engine. Camille finds herself once again in the midst of wailing and now something outside the train is trying to get in.

Stick “Infernum” into the sub-horror category of the great and fear-inducing unknown perhaps based loosely off the unexplained low-frequency hums, such as a Taos hum, stretching from the U.S. to the U.K., writer-director Dutch Marich sensationalizes the phenomena by adding the trimmings of tortured souls howling in torment as a rift opens up between Camille’s world and, supposed, Hell. Filmed primarily inside an antique rail train from the Northern Nevada Railway Museum and inside the railway tunnel west of Ely, Nevada, the “Hunting” and “Miserable Sinners” filmmaker, Marich, slow churns a low-budget friendly and simple plot into a materializing worst case scenario with the anxiety-riddle markings of being trapped, surrounded, and alone inside a dark and confined space with a cacophony of screams, as if in a dark-padded psychiatric cell. Mariach’s Luminol Entertainment and Vekinis Studios, headed by former Luminol Entertainment employee, Peter Panagiotis Vekinis, collaborate on the project.

Playing the traumatized Camille is “American Mummy” and “Dude Bro Party Massacre III” b-movie actress, Suziey Block, who has to not only struggle with coping against the hauntingly strange event plaguing her past, but also deal with an overprotective, yet also apathetic boyfriend in a role filled by who could very well be a young Christopher Meloni lookalike, “Happy Camp’s” Michael Barbuto. Block’s become something of a scream queen over the last few years and “Infernum” continues to make the Michigan born actress keep screaming her lungs out; however, its Camille and Hunter’s hot-and-cold relationship that topples the main theme here as Camille, through Block’s insensate performance, feels disinterested in unearthing what happened to her parents while being too engaged in Hunter’s desensitize, if not rightly justified, position toward her glazed over stress, but Block is engrossed by the fear just enough to sell it. Rounding out Infernum’s cast is Clinton Roper Elledge, Sarah Schoofs (“The Theatre of Terror”), and Rita Habermann.

“Infernum” can feel like a simmering slow burn of paranormal byproduct and resonates closely with Milla Jovovich’s extraterrestrial faux found footage thriller, “The 4th Kind.” The lingering scenes with tedious exchanges render a remote sense of terror that’s teamed with more tension from Hunter and Camille’s argumentative discourse. Yet, when things seem to be dwindling as Camille and her filmography friend, James, board the vintage train to the ghost town of Kimberly (and when I say ghost town, I mean an abandoned mining area), that’s when things go from a steadfast numb to a terrifying turn of the inexplicable circumstance kind. Camille finds herself in a familiar situation like 25 years ago, but the environments different with desolate train, an ominous presence over the loudspeaker, and though most passengers have disappeared, there are some who are found, blue as ice in the face, and lifeless. The tension is thick with the engine rumbling of an infernal-sounding machine that reeks havoc with cries and screams to amplify night jitters. The open ending leaves room for a wide berth of possibilities and interpretation, making “Infernum” metaphysically loiter in between the rifts of our minds.

“Infernum” is a spooky train ride to hell and back, pulling into the DVD home video and digital platform station from the independent film distributors, Indican Pictures. Unfortunately, the video and audio quality will not be covered because of the DVD-R screener, but I can say that the LFE audiophiles are immensely characteristic and behooves viewers to play on a surround sound system or quality headphones will also do the trick. The film’s innate hues are on the bleaker, gloomier side, backdropped by the frigid air of a wintery Nevada dessert. Other than Indican Pictures’ trailers for other films, including “The Lurker” among other films, there were no other special features beyond a static menu. I highly recommend “Infernum’s” spooky vibe and unlimited possibilities all aboard it’s simple, yet effective paranormal premise.

Watch “Infernum” on Prime Video!!!

Kindergarten Field Trips Was Never This EVIL! “Little Monsters” reviewed!


Dave, a failed, down on his luck musician with a penchant for doing the wrong thing, volunteers to chaperone a kindergarten field trip to a popular outdoor petting zoo park attraction intent on gaining the affection of his 5-year-old nephew’s perky teacher, Miss Caroline. Also at the attraction is an American children’s’ television personality, Teddy McGiggle, travelling the world with his latest stop in Australia. All seems well and dandy until the U.S. stationed Army base adjacent to the petting zoo loses control of the highly aggressive rejuvenation test subjects and are overrun by the lemming of slow, flesh-eating zombies that stagger bit by bit toward the park’s touristy patrons. With every last living, breathing thing either turned undead or eaten to the spinal cord, Dave, Miss Caroline, and Teddy McGiggle must fight against the outbreak for not only their survival, but for the troop of young and impressionable kindergarteners thinking what’s happening is nothing more than a prolonged game of tag before the gung-ho U.S. military sanction of eradicating airstrike right on their location.

The lumbering zombie canon enjoys a delightfully endearing and rousingly tucked zom-rom comedy, “Little Monsters,” with children being the heartfelt conquerors to slay the funk the genre has been stagnantly lingering inside. Written and directed by up and coming filmmaker Abe Forsythe, the internationally collaborated production from the U.S., United Kingdom, and Australia delivers a brashly funny film under the guise of long-pigged zombie horror shot primarily in Sydney, Australia at Centennial Park. Not to be confused with the Fred Savage children’s film of the same title from 1989 that also starred funny man Howie Mandel, Forsythe’s “Little Monsters’” head lopping, guts coiling, and every four letter word in the profanity bible goes to infinity and beyond the parental guidance rating.

Perfect performances all around from a dynamically intercontinental collaborative cast starting off with Lupita Nyong’o. The “Us” actress, who should have won an Oscar for her performance in the Jordan Peele film, astounds again with a delicately frank and beautifully sage performance as the alluring kindergarten teacher Miss Caroline whose number one priority is to protect her class of 5-year-olds, physically and mentally, at all costs. Counter to Miss Caroline seemingly having her stuff together, the raucously detached Dave immediate sets his whirlwind claws right into Miss Caroline, attempting to attract her with disinformation about his stable state of mind and being; however, Dave to the core is a good guy harnessed by Australian actor Alexander England (“Alien: Covenant”) who adds the rough edges around Dave’s stagnant and serrated lifestyle. Though different on the surface level, Caroline and Dave do have rooted similarities that spark romance after some convincing through zombie tribulations and scenario finesse; Nyong’o and England singe around the edge of attraction that’s goes from a seething disaster to being playfully coy and tender that works confidently on screen. When you through Josh Gad into the mix, you never know what to expect in terms of a wild card character. The “Frozen” star pulls off Olaf on hard drugs as Teddy McGiggle as Gad’s voice is unmistakably the overly friendly snowman who likes warm hugs but with a lot more F bombs and a dee seeded disgust for kids show personality that results him bedding many of his toddler fans’ moms. I wasn’t sure how Gad was going to pull off a zombie epic, but his gas-riot performance is a spiked drink compared to other who dances around the children’s innocence and the fact Teddy McGiggle is a kids show personality elevates his crude conduct to that more pungent. “Little Monsters” round out with Kat Stewart, Marshall Napier (“The Beast”), Diesel La Torraca as Felix.

The word from my inner circle of moviegoers, those who have little interest in horror and more interests in fast cars and vast explosions, say something along the lines that “Little Monsters” was “okay,” “Didn’t really do it for them,” or “I didn’t watch the last 20 minutes.” Disclaimer: These people are really not close friends, but barely colleagues, and since “Little Monsters” is being cut down by popcornist naysayers, their opinions have itty-bitty merit awarded to their poor judgement in taste of good, funny, and superbly acted eye-candy horror cinema with pocket messages of insufferable loneliness, hidden internal commonality, and the caliber in what makes us human that piece together as collectively relatable. If these aspects do not register with you, then you’re not human, but rather a 7-headed martian with tentacles and a pea-size purple brain. “Little Monsters” has some good gritty zombies at work here that juxtapose against the tender nature of children and the only thing between these children being lunch are three damaged adults searching for something meaningful. The apocalypse becomes a fork in the road, an ultimatum, that tests their worth and Aby Forsythe bombards that fateful decision with little notes of comedy, witty banter, and a clear case carnage.

“Little Monsters” takes a field trip to Blu-ray DVD home video, and digital download February 10th from UK distributor, Altitude Film Entertainment. “Little Monsters” is a production of Made Up Stories, Protagonist Pictures (“31” and “Lords of Chaos“), and Snoot Entertainment (“Dude Bro Massacre III” and “You’re Next”). Unfortunately, a DVD-R was provided for review so no audio or video quality critiques will be touched up, but the upcoming region B Blu-ray is listed as a BD-50, 1080p Full HD, and presented in the original 2.39:1 widescreen aspect ratio with an English language DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track. There were no special features listed in the press release and there were none available on the DVD-R. Finding a way to harness everything sacred from the zombie genre and then creating something new, interesting, and captive from start to finish to blend is a victory melange of wall-to-wall wit and feral monsters leaves “Little Monsters” as the horror romantic comedy that has it all.

Evil Turns Frat Boys into Bloody Greek Yogurt! “Dude Bro Party Massacre III” reviewed!


Brock Chirino, a survivor after tragedy strikes twice by a serial killer named Motherface who stalked and killed his campus fraternity brothers of DELTA BI THETA, is found gruesomely hung from a flagpole with his guts strewn tightly around his neck. Brock’s twin brother, Brent, wants answers and begins pledging with the troublemaking and cursed fraternity that is on the verge of having another Motherface encounter, beginning with the death of his popular twin. Sinister powers to be send the remaining DELTA BI THETA brothers to an isolated and notorious lake house where one-by-one, beer-by-beer, each brother is hunted down with their own personal fears invoked by the serial killer and lethally weaponized against them.

More enjoyable than a cheap case of beer pong beer is the trope-after-trope satirical genre upheaval in “Dude Bro Party Massacre III” from first time feature film directors Tomm Jacobson, Michael Rouusselet, and Jon Salmon with a screenplay penned by lead actor Alec Owen along with contributions from the directors and Ben Gigli, Brian Firenzi, Joey Scoma, Michael Peter, Mike James, and Timothy Ciancio. Usually with a conglomerate of writers and directors attached to a single project, the resulting work lacks coherency as a mesh of styles create a havoc bearing exhibition for the viewer whose head is about to explode and ready to give up on trying to make sense of disastrous, multi-motivational storyline, but these particular guys are a part of an internet comedy troupe the under 5-Second Films production company, established in their good ole college days circa 2005 to 2008, and have long list of meaningless, yet funny, credits in sketch comedy that include Uproxx Video and Funsploitation. The filmmakers’ “Dude Bro Party Massacre III” is the supposed third film in a trilogy of unspeakable comedic terror without really having a first film or its sequel as the gag, but rather recap, ingeniously and in a squeamishly gory fashion, a fast-paced and well thought out montage of series of events from the “first two” Dude Bro Party Massacres.

The 5-Second Film troupe can be synonymous with the guys of Broken Lizard, but in a slightly tweaked version that’s sure to be piss your pants funny and keep eyeballs glued to their 103 minutes of beer, hazing, and blood. Kicking it off in a dual role is Alec Owen as Brock and Brent Chirino; one super cool bro and the other just a regular cool bro, share a meaningful twin experience that keeps both characters in the mix. Owen dons daft well, but do so the slew of other in his close knit entourage of Paul Prado, Ben Gigli, Joey Scoma, Brian Firenzi, Michael Rousselet, Jon Salmon, and Kelsey Gunn. Their well-oiled machine of timing, exuberance, and expressions, from years of collaboration, make them a juggernaut in their field, leveling with, or even just beating out, the Broken Lizard team for best satire horror film. To top things off, the eclectic special guest stars add that little something, a little spiked cream in the dark, bold, Columbian coffee if you will, of unprofessionalism that just makes “Dude Bro Party Massacre III” a go to rental (or purchase) on a movie and chill night. Did you ever think you’d see Larry King in a horror movie? Yeah, that Larry King who made millions as a late night talk radio host said, “Star in a horror movie? Sure, why the hell not?” Though brief, King’s appearance is welcoming gory garnish and other guest stars whoopee in the same fate, including esteemed porn actress, the queen of sex, Nina Hartley, in an unusual non-sexual role, rock performer and producer Andrew W.K., Tommy Wiseau collaborator Greg Sestero, and my fellow Portsmouth, Virginian native, Mr. Patton Oswalt in another brilliant comedic performance. Yes, I’m dead serious, bro. Plus, Olivia Taylor Dudley as Motherface equals a repeat performance; perhaps for “Dude Bro Party Massacre IV???”

“Dude Bro Massacre III” is a 100% intentional caricature of the 1980s slasher genre, going against the well established and solid bedrock that’s bred horror fans for generations, and rocking the sacred structure to the core that not only will be admired by hardcore horror fans, but also not objectionable in its goofiness those said fans and will sufficiently gaudy for the causal popcorn moviegoer. Those in the former will recognize that tropes vitalize without tiring out the dude bro party, such as with a snarky, masked killer returning from the grave, twice, whose a bit of a mash up of Jason Voorhees and Freddy Krueger, the Final Girl notion is reversed to a Final Boy left to tell the ostentatious tale, and extravagant and elaborate deaths ultimately become a living, breathing entity to inspirit. Plus, backstories and character tangents diversify the story perpetuation enough to not over-saturated solely on DELTA BI THETA reckoning. In all honesty, the gore is the star and if gore was the object of wealth, “Dude Bro Massacre III” would be an affluent God with blood splatter on a divinity level.

5-Second Films and Snoot Entertainment release the Not Rated, 2015 satirical horror, “Dude Bro Party Massacre III” onto DVD home video distributed by MVDVisual. Presented as the only surviving VHS copy of a dismissed and banned film by some guy recording a television airing over his childhood memories, a 4:3 aspect ratio continues to sell the artificial, retrograded video nasty of obscurity. Even the mock cut in faux commercials are a nice touch that reminded me a little bit of John Ritter’s “Stay Tuned.” One thing that’s missing was the presence of digital noise as the image was really too vibrant and clean to be a super VHS or any other kind of SOV. The English language 2.0 audio track is clean with prominent dialogue and hefty amount of ambient blood gushing, splashing, exploding, etc. Bonus features aren’t impressive with only audio commentary available through the static menu, but Devon Whitehead, whose cover arts with Scream Factory releases are beyond ridiculous, lends his talents here with another intrinsic, manic storytelling work of art. A little late to the game with this review for a film from 2015, but “Dude Bro Party Massacre III” is getting a re-release and is worth the time pledging oneself to again and again with a high level rewind satisfaction rate.

Don’t Let A Bro See It Alone! Available at Amazon.com