Evocation of EVIL in “The Girl In the Crawlspace” reviewed! (ITN Distribution / DVD)


Jill escapes from the grip of a kidnapping-serial killer who kept her confined in a crawlspace under the house. Her courage brings lethal justice to the captor when the local marshal shoots and kills him upon confrontation. Jill struggles to reintegrate back into her local community in the aftermath, sleeping unconfined in the outdoors and withdrawing herself for social interaction, including from her weekly role playing game with friends. When Kristen moves back into her hometown from college, she aims to set up her therapy practice to assist families impacted by the serial killer as well as Jill by special request from the marshal, but Kristen’s rocky relationship with her substance abusive, off-Hollywood screenwriting husband on the mend drags out Jill’s much needed treatment. With Jill and Kristen preoccupied, they’re oblivious to the concealed threat that plots the next terrorizing exploit of kidnapping and tormenting young, beautiful women.

From under the grubby wooden floorboards to the strategic folding table of a role playing game, “The Girl in the Crawlspace” is the Midwest direct-to-video suspense thriller that tackles post-traumatic stress and marital strife while submersed in a looming trail left by a notorious mass murderer, written and helmed by first time director John Oak Dalton. Dalton, who has penned several low-budget grindhouse titles over the last decade and half, including titles such as “Among Us,” “Sex Machine,” and “Jurassic Prey,” returns once again to the genre with the repercussions of Podunk psychopath upon small town America, filmed in Indiana and release in 2018 hitting the ground running with film festival circuits. Indie filmmaker Henrique Couto, schlock horror director of “Scarewaves” and “Marty Jenkins and the Vampire Bitches,” signs on as producer, stepping back from his usual productional duties, and letting an occasional collaborator Dalton to completely engulf himself as the omnipotent auteur. Midwest Film Ventures serves as the production company, shot in Farmland, Indiana.

Erin R. Ryan has continuously sustained a low level hover on the indie horror radar after taking her in Dustin Mill’s “Bath Salt Zombies,” based on the Miami incident based on a naked man eating someone’s face induced by being high on bath salts, and the gooey-gory body horror, “Skinless,” that’s also a Mills production. Ryan expands her portfolio outside physical horror with Jill, a traumatized recluse derived from her abduction and torture, as a subdued component that’s contrary to previous roles, but Ryan capitalizes the opportunity of a scared kitten, recoiling from public gatherings, and slowly and silently emerging back into society while recalling chilling moments as the story progresses. However, there’s difficult pinpointing the head lead as the protagonist roles are shared between Ryan and depicted married couple, a pair of more Henrique Couto casted actors, in Joni Durian and John Bradley Hambrick as Kristen and her husband, John. Between the three, chemistry clicks better than cooking meth in a chemist’s unsanctioned laboratory and offer ample contention without the attending killer’s presence hanging over the whole town’s head. Rounding out the remaining cast is Chelsi Kern (“Scarecrow Count”), Joe Kidd (“Ouija Room”), Jeff Kirkendall (“Sharkenstein”), Clifford Lowe (“Scarecrow County”), and re-introducing Tom Cherry as the good old boy town officer, Marshal Woody.

With a title like “The Girl in the Crawlspace,” I would be remiss if I didn’t say there were some expectations of bodily torture, psychological terror, and teeth-clinching tension when sitting down to watch. The hype was high considering the post-after-post amount of positivity for “The Girl in the Crawlspace” on my Twitter feed. The catchy name and optimistic comments provided real temptation, but Dalton steers in another direction, the what follows in the state of everlasting shock and the reliving of moments seared into your psyche. The direction wasn’t as expected, but that’s necessary a bad thing. “The Girl in the Crawlspace” is exposition heavy with considerable amount of movie referencing peppered with some current event topics, such as the brief mentioning of killing of migrant children, throughout and continuously wanders off point, strolling more into Kristen and John’s crumbling marriage. Jill, the supposed centerpiece of the story, feels more like an afterthought, despite being the “girl” in “The Girl in the Crawlspace.” The cantankerous marriage supposedly jeopardizes those personally involved in Jill’s well-being as John exploits Jill’s idiosyncratic experiences from being a captive by turning them into inspirational junk food for his fading screenwriting career, but the catalyst incident doesn’t stick, becoming more of a weak opening for a more pronounced return of Jill’s haunting past.

From ITN Distribution and Mill Creek Entertainment, “The Girl in the Crawlspace” lands onto a not rated DVD home video release. The single layer DVD is presented in a full frame widescreen of an 1.78:1 aspect ratio. In a framing sense, Henrique Couto’s cinematography distinctly places small town in a spectrum view that highlights the soybean fields and farms, the rustic brick infrastructures, and the simplicities of a relaxed, old-fashioned town, using some drone shots to expose the green belt greenery. For an indie feature, the agreeable bitrate has a frank, clear image despite some consistent overexposure that softens details, especially on faces in the outside scenes. The Dolby Digital stereo 2.0 mix has also agreeable dual channel output. Some of the dialogue scenes suffer through an echo, but for the majority, the lines have clarity and unobstructed by ambient layers or the soundtrack. The depth discloses some distant ambiguities, such as in a train shot that’s not rendered in the background as it should, but the amount of range is palatable. English SHD subtitles are available. The only bonus features available on the release are the theatrical trailer and an commentary with producer Henrique Couto and director John Oak Dalton regarding their history together and going through the shot techniques as well as touching upon the actors. The road to recovery is paved in nightmares, psychological terror, and Midwest psychopaths in “The Girl in the Crawlspace,” but pitches away from the principal concern that turns second fiddle to one struggling screenwriter’s difficult assimilation into rural life while simultaneously rethreading a floundering livelihood and a tattered marriage.

Own “The Girl in the Crawlspace” on DVD

Take A Magical, Evil Ride on the “Caroushell” review!


Extremely frustrated with the lack of respect from snot nose kids and the monotonous, round-the-loopy-loop that is his life existence, Duke, the carousel unicorn, has finally had enough the moment after a fat kid mounts him for a ride, smacks him like a giddy-up horse, and wiping his snot onto Duke’s glossy wooden eyeballs. The latter being the final straw that broke the unicorn’s back. Duke breaks free from the amusement park ride in search for a better quality of life when he happens to discover that killing makes him feel good, real good. With a newfound purpose, Duke vows to hunt down and end that fat brat, slaughtering anyone and everyone in his path of carnival-esque carnage that leads the unicorn not to water, but to a house party where the kid stuffs his chubby face full of cake and other goodies while his older sister and her friends order pizza and hit hard the alcohol as they discuss a love and hate for a popular kids show, My Tiny Unicorn. When Duke shows up at the front door, his statue-like presence is a big party hit amongst unicorn show fanatics who are unsuspecting of his murderous desires. The only person capable of stopping the mayhem is the amusement park mascot, a jovial warden cowboy named Cowboy Cool with his trusty, evil unicorn stopping six-shooter.

Step right up! Step right up! Behold and be amazed by the stupendous and the downright bonkers horror-comedy, “CarousHELL,” about a killer carousel unicorn from big top maestro, writer-director Steve Rudzinski. The “Everyone Must Die!” filmmaker helms a satirical slasher co-written by Aleen Isley in her first credited treatment. “CarousHELL,” a whimsical play on carousel and hell if you somehow couldn’t figure that out, inexplicably sprints with the inanimate killer concept that visually livens an old “Family Guy” wisecrack about the latest Stephen King novel being about a killer lamp! Instead of a bright bulb shining blood red and using the electrical cord as a noose, Rudzinski and Isley explore the macabre qualities of an inorganic unicorn by extending its cache of weapons beyond the obvious long, pointy horn to also being able to wield a machete without opposable thumbs, sharp shoot with a bow-and-arrow with hooves, and even have the capability to kill with ninja stars despite the sloping shoulder conformation. Impressive…

Rudzinski also co-stars as Joe, a diehard pizza delivery guy and passionate dog lover who is desperately trying to earn money for his ill-stricken four legged friend. Rudzinski, sustaining both roles as a director and a performer, solicitously molding Joe as an oblivious nice guy just looking to do his job and even though he’s a bit of an impatient spaz, Joe’s not the biggest spaz swimming in the character pool. Rudzinski could be considered the lead male in the one of many boisterous roles of “CarousHELL” who certainly manages to get the girl without having to lift an finger. That girl being the self-indulgent Laurie, big sister to the unicorn pissing off brother. With her face glued to her social media phone and being a spoiled brat herself, Laurie has little-to-no attachments to anything: she’s not tied down to one boy, weighs social media clicks heavily in life, and finds disrespect the choice of attitude even toward her pole–strapping stripper of a MILF mother. Pittsburgh, PA born Sé Marie (“Cryptids”) does bitchy well, finding a nice niche to nest in with this harebrained, but light-hearted slasher with bite. Joe and Laurie have excessive personalities, but nothing can top Preston who sets the field bar. The house party co-host starts off as a complete douchebag complete with popped collar and an unquenchable thirst for bare chests and the introduction of Chris Proud really makes a first impression in a truly unbearable, over-the-top role, but believe it or not, Preston is one of the few characters of the film to have what could be construed as an arch storyline. Preston, by the end, transforms into a likable character with penchant expertise for the My Tiny Unicorn universe (a spoof toward Hasboro’s “My Little Pony”) and is the only character to perceive the first hand danger from the infiltrating and evil unicorn from hell. Duke is hands down the best scribed character of the entire film. Voiced by veteran voice actor, Steve Rimpici, Duke can literally stand inanimate and still be a vital part of the story. The versatile Rimpici is like the movie trailer voiceover guy with an uncanny Duke Nukem-type voice who has movie credits including the Dustin Mills’ directed features, “The Puppet Monster Massacre” and “Easter Casket,” as well as stints in video games such as “Red Dead Redemption” and “Mafia III.” The cast rounds out with Sarah Brunner, P.J. Gaynard, Judy H.R. Kirby, Josh Miller (“Amityville” No Escape”), Teague Shaw, Haley Madison (“Haunted House on Sorority Row”), Cindy Fernandez-Nixon, Shawn Shelpman (“Red Christmas”), Corella Waring and Michael Mawhinney.

With a film like “CarousHELL,” killer special effects need to be a must as marketing an inanimate villain will be hard sell. Yeah, “CarousHELL” has catchy dialogue, witty enough banter, and gratuitous and non-gratuitous nudity. There’s even multi-positional sex with the unicorn. Thanks for that searing image Steve Rudzinski and Haley Madison! However, a slasher requires good kill moments and the special effects work by Cody Ruch meets the demand with a brutal that include a beautiful gored unicorn horn kill to the neck, a double impale followed by a goopy string entrails, and an Ronald Lacy melting scene with charring laser eyes! Even with a high body count and delectable moments of insanity at it’s peak, “CarousHELL” will undeniably find a general audience outside the scope of genre fans who will understand the context behind fashioning a unicorn slasher, those who are just easily entertained, and maybe a slither of fans of westerns.

MVDVisual and Wild Eye Releasing delivers the hell raising attraction, “CarousHELL,” onto DVD home video presented region free, unrated, and in widescreen format. The digitally shot video has a pleasing standard of quality. A few moments of brief aliasing but nothing to specifically note that matters. The dual-channel audio was the most disconcerting issue that’s affecting the release. More so with the exaggeration of performances with the screaming and the screeching, the feedback distortion is pesky and jarring. Dialogue is prevalent and forefront, but lacks range and depth and so the verbal tracks tend to blend together. The bonus features are a welcoming site with a commentary track, cast interviews that explain how the film came to fruition and that better explains what the “CarousHELL” they were thinking when creating this fun flick, a few deleted scenes that explain the disappearance of minor characters, bloopers, and Wild Eye Releasing trailers. Just like “JAWS” did with ocean, “CarousHELL” will cause hesitation when deliberating if riding a unicorn will endanger your mortality. “CarousHELL” is fun, campy, and a whole bunch of nonsense that has our full 100% support in the horror community.

Evil Is Only Skin Deep! “Skinless” review!

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I’ve been following Dustin Mills and his films for quite some time now. From the ambitious, multi-role Zombie A-Hole to the from actual news to your for your home entertainment Bath Salt Zombies, producer, writer, and director Dustin Mills has all the makings of a great independent director. The latest indie feat for the ambitious director is “Skinless,” a fierce and grotesque body horror film that sparks a familiar resemblance to a certain David Cronenberg film but with more ooze and goo that will leave a sticky, slimy aftertaste sensation that makes the film difficult to look away from yet still hard to wash off once the credits roll.
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“Skinless” revolves around brilliant scientist Dr. Peter Peele who suffers from a terminal condition of the cancerous melanoma. His only hope is a flesh-eating enzyme from an exotic worm. Peter’s research partner, Dr. Alice Cross, genetically modify’s the enzyme to attack only cancer cells. When Peter and Alice are refused backing funds for the project, Peter turns to a more radical approach to use his own body as a test subject even at Alice’s stern disapproval. The enzyme worked as the cancer cells were stricken from Peter’s body, but at the cost of losing all of his flesh and going through a metamorphose that drives Peter into a murderous monster.
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It’s icky. It’s sticky. It’ll have your skin crawling literally of your muscle tissue. Dustin Mills and his body horror entry proves that heart still exists in independent films today. Brandon Salkil and Erin R. Ryan, a regular cast of actors used by Dustin Mills, star as Dr. Peter Peele and Dr. Alice Cross. These two have chemistry on screen making chemistry. Salkil co-wrote the script with Mills making his character, pre- and post- metamorphose, into completely separate entities. There is a serious tone change in Dr. Peele that results in Dr. Cross to change with him in the second act of this two act film. What I like about Salkil is his style of acting, much like his other roles in previous Mills’ work, resembles a “Dumb and Dumber” Lloyd Christmas from an alternative universe – fairly silly with a realistic handle and grip of tension and hostility.
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Once you view “Skinless”, you might feel like you’ve had a dose of deja vu. I know I did. I started to compare “Skinless” to David Cronenberg’s remake of “The Fly” in which Jeff Goldblum plays an inventory who develops a transporter, uses himself as the first test subject, and has his DNA infused with a fly’s DNA. Much of the same qualities from “The Fly” are transposed to “Skinless” from the projectile digestive acids to the transforming fly-like-ticks each character develops through the metabolical change. Was “The Fly” a big inspiration for “Skinless?” I would like to think so since the evidence is hard to ignore, but is this an intentional homage or a re-write flying below the bar?
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Any way you dissect it, one can’t deny the special effects from the crew with one name to mention in Brandon’s Salkil’s wife – Sherriah. There’s something to be said for creativity and invention in body horror films because without the transformation of Dr. Peele to this skinless, fleshing eating thing, you would literally have no movie. Some of the puppetry might some dated and cheesy, but campy and still can put a ripple up your spine to think and feel like you’re going through the flesh-deducing change yourself.
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Whacked Movies and MVD bring you the latest and greatest of Dustin Mills Productions with “Skinless.” Check it out on DVD on November 18 and watch this sleazy take on a gory-glorified body horror film.

 

 

Upcoming Evil! Skinless!

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Dustin Mills has become one of my favorite independent directors over the last two years with successful features such as Bath Salt Zombies (read review here), Zombie A-Hole (read review here), and Night of the Tentacles (read review here). Mills continues to course and has released a trailer for his next project – a bloody, body horror film – entitled Skinless which is full of practical, gooey effects.

Synopsis

He searched for a cure. What he found was a curse. Brilliant oncologist Peter Peel discovers a possible cure for skin cancer in the belly of an exotic parasite. When he tests the cure on himself, his world is shattered and a monster is born. Skinless is a sad tale of madness, murder, monsters, and love.

Cast favorite Brandon Salkil plays the male lead Dr. Peter Peele, which I’m guessing “Peele” goes with the whole “skinless” motif. Check out gory trailer down below.

Evil’s a Dick! Zombie A-Hole Review!

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Slowly and slowly, there has been a increase of likability toward director and writer Dustin Mills and his hugely creative and widely entertaining horror films. This might sound like a creepy man-crush, but the Kevin Smith like-a-like director has his own production company, he pulls from his own stable of actors, and his movies are not your typical, run-of-the-mill independent boringness trash. The experiences had with Dustin Mills have been in backwards motion where I’ve started Mills recent projects and have worked backwards ending with Zombie A-Hole – so far. Zombie A-Hole involves a hellbent cowboy, a psychic twin brother, and a one-eyed engineer superstar all seeking the same evil – the other twin brother who gave his soul to an evil living inside a medallion that has given the brother unlimited power and has returned him from the grave! This a-hole stalks and kills twin siblings for their brain matter to give him everlasting power making this zombie a-hole the most depraved, the most senseless, and the most hated being on this twisted earth!

What impresses me more about Dustin Mills is his use of effective special effects when compared to a $1,000 budget. The man must be good with a computer because even though I can see the slight mistakes or the slight cheapness of the prosthetics, his special effects can please even the most critical critics. Mills even uses quick editing techniques to create the illusion of twin siblings. Seven “twins” will trick your mind by having the “twins” seem to be in the same scene, but with some quick camera work and some flawless editing the same actor will only seem to be in the same scene with their twin when they’re talking to each other. If that last sentence doesn’t confuse you, then you’re special. Mills can also make Party City skeletons looks like some grade A Sam Raimi Army of Darkness skeletons by brushing them up in makeup and using filter techniques to create his own smart ass undead army.

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Two regular actors of Mills’ work turn grueling indie project into a highly entertaining horror film. Brandon Salkil portrays three characters in Zombie A-hole as the twin brothers and the zombie. Jason Eal takes on the rough and tough, zombie asskickin’ cowboy. Both actors feature in Mills’ later films such as Bath Salt Zombies (another great, based on a true story film) and both have had their own starring roles in Mills’ films as well as working behind the scenes on the production crew. Versatile and hardworking, these two actors’ on screen performances are poetic. Salkil’s animated personality homes in on a Jim Carrey while Eal tough guy schtick is well welcomed when dealing with any evil force.

Zombie A-hole markets itself as a zombies are cool and hip while being brutal and deadly. Though Salkil’s zombie is brutal and deadly, the prey could have been more lively. The “twins” are mainly alternative girls who for some reason always get the ax when they’re taking a bath or in the shower…? A pre-shower, during shower, post-shower motif I don’t completely understand. Perhaps to show some gratuitous tits or maybe to show how helpless these victims are with no fight in them when the Zombie A-Hole is cracking open their skulls, ready to eat their brains!

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Zombie A-Hole’s all out mentality will leave you with great appreciate for independent filmmaking. Thank you MVDVisual for releasing Dustin Mills work and exposing the writer and director and also his two main actors Brandon Salkil and Josh Eal. MVD’s presentation runs 108 minutes with a standard definition 16×9 widescreen ratio, but Mills purposely grains the film to give the a grindhouse film feel and the standard definition goes right out the window. There are no extras and its a bit of a shame because I would want to see the behind the scenes of Zombie A-Hole, but that shouldn’t come between man and his urges to see blood, boobs, and the zombies!