Living free from job responsibilities and able to workout whenever he wants, body builder Naoto is living the high life. His daily workout is interrupted by his former photojournalist ex-girlfriend in search of the next haunted house for her latest article and she calls Naoto to inquire his father’s old, creepy home that’s now in Naoto’s possession. Accompanied by a professional psychic, the three conduct a house call to get a presence reading and take pictures of the rundown, abandoned home. They find themselves trapped inside with Naoto’s father’s darkest secret malevolently toying with them and holding them hostage with her cursed power bestowed upon her death, 30 years ago, forsaken to her by the hands of Naoto’s fahter.
In 2014, first time director Shinichi Fukazawa’s endearment for Sam Raimi’s “The Evil Dead” has encouraged the filmmaker to tribute a film that has dubbed “The Japanese Evil Dead.” With all the depictions of Raimi’s film, including from a shotgun, an axe, and even a severed sarcastic-spewing mangled demon head, “Bloody Muscle Body Builder in Hell” views just as good as the sounds. Taking his film to the next level by going back in a time warp, Fukazawa de-amplifies the image quality with a lo-fi flare that adds chaotic charm bathed in retro-VHS vision as every desaturated hue and blanket of coarse grain is a step back in time. Fukazawa implements his own sturdy brand of macabre to branch his version of “The Evil Dead.” For instance, Fukazawa removes the Necronomicon, the book of the dead, all together. Instead, the director doesn’t forth put an outright explanation behind the cause of the cursed’s murderous revenge other than holding a jealous grudge and the lack of motivation is okay because “Bloody Muscle Body Builder in Hell” is a modern day video nasty.
Shinichi Fukazawa, himself, stars as Naoto, suffering every ding, boink, and bop as our hapless hero that’s aims to strike similarities to Ashley “Ash” Williams and his gift of being the king of Three Stooges foolishness. Fukazawa plays a more conservative character in comparison, but does manage spit out memorable one-liners made genre famous by Bruce Campbell, like “groovy.” THe lead actress, Asako Nosaka, holds her own as a lovely damsel in distress who can double on a dime as a Mike Tyson speed bag puncher. The trapped pair make a convincingly distressed protagonists, especially in such a small Japanese home that’s the equivalent to a cabin in the woods. Last on the roster is Masaaki Kai filling in the psychic’s shoes and conjures an performance that’s could fit right in with the Kandarian Cheryl, Scott, Linda, and Shelley demons.
“Bloody Muscle Body Builder in Hell” is a 2014 effects driven, blood hungry roller coaster of pure mayhem entertainment. The ingeniously creative special effects, on a shoe string budget, are made of eye-popping, skull-crushing, and limb-parting goodness that every horror fan can appreciate and love. The lo-fi cinema and melancholy horror fixes to not impress those who have a taste for the CGI eye candy and won’t knock your socks off with the latest and greatest technological, animated advances in effects that attempts to mock real life, but accomplishes the opposite in the fabricated grindhouse reel with overexposures and rough edges that are more fitting for the subject matter. Fukazawa does embody Raimi’s creative editing and angle vision that makes Fukazawa’s film feel very attached to “The Evil Dead” franchise.
The well-meshed video nasty mingles Japanese culture with a loving tribute to Raimi’s “The Evil Dead” franchise and kicks off Shinichi Fukazawa’s most interesting silver screen career. Terracotta Distribution’s “Bloody Muscle Body Builder in Hell” is a tightly packed 62-minute joyride with squirrelly, demented demons with heavy emphasis on the blood and the gore. Image quality is poor and that’s a good thing! The low-tech fullscreen and unrefined quality are a tall-tell sign of a SOV gruesomeness surrounded by a fuzzy Japanese dual channel stereo. Extras includes a Graham Humprey time lapsed video of him creating his DVD artwork, a behind-the-scenes gallery, a dismemberment of scene clips, and Japanese and Terracotta trailers bringing up the tail end. “Bloody Muscle Body Builder in Hell” packs a punch, delivers the death, and gorges itself in the gore in this UK DVD from Terracotta Distribution! and is a lovely blend of comedy, horror, and praise that’s powerfully short and sweet from a freshman director who aims to make a statement while giving appreciation in his own culturally established way.
Hellbent on being the first to discover something big between 1000-feet, talented marine biologist and ecologist, Olive Crown, constructs a convincing case in a video hiring application to test a deep sea diving suit invented by Dr. Fletcher, but a harrowing encounter with monstrous creature at 2500 feet nearly claims Olive’s life. Blamed for a botch dive and unable to remember the incident, Olive has been fired from her dream position, but when she double checks the dive suit for evidence of what might have happened, she discovers an alien substance, an egg-like object, attached to the outer layer and smuggles it home. The egg hatches to birth a blood thirsty, Cthulhu being that has marked Olive as in a symbiotic relationship as protector and mother. Olive senses everything the creature does, even it’s hunger, and caves in to her discovery’s need to feed with those who antagonize Olive and her creature baby, but at an alarming rate, the life form grows into a mammoth creature and Olive might be losing the perspective of who is really in control.
“The Creature Below” puts a spin on a popularly wild H.P. Lovecraft tale and adds a notch into the belt of the Cthulhu mythos. From director Stewart Sparke in his first feature film comes one woman’s tragically macabre endowment that runs amok through the uninteresting confines of her own life and obliterate it from within. Co-written by Paul Butler, the British Cthulhu feature, “The Creature Below,” melds together a very grand unearthly story into the restrictive walls of an unwanted love triangle Olive’s involved in while dipping toes into also being a pre-Romero zombie film with the automata slave. Though very modest in story and budget, “The Creature Below” is an itsy-bitsy speck in a bigger mythological genre and that’s usually the case for indie Cthulhu flicks, as they should be, because giving a little mystery to Lovecraft’s myth tends to build worlds later, sparks the imagination aflame, and leaves a lasting impression long after the movie is over.
Anna Dawson stars as Olive Crown, creature’s foster parent, and Dawson’s first impression of Olive emits a fierce, go-getter ecologist, looking to make a name for herself in the deep dive exploration field. That egotistical drive tapers off a bit once she’s canned for botched dive, delivering a more humble and reserved Olive Crown, but Dawson puts on the sunken-eyed, icy-cold skin that’s clammy and deadlike in order to fulfill the infant Cthulhu’s bidding. Daniel Thrace embraces the lovably sweet boyfriend, Matthew, whose sensible, charming, and overall nice guy. The pair are complete oil and water, a welcoming dynamic, when Olive’s rationality goes off track. Olive and Matthew are really the only two developed characters as, disappointingly, three considerable major characters don’t build too much of a reputation to warrant their value, especially with Olive’s sister, Ellie, played by Michaela Longden. There’s something more between Ellie and Matthew that doesn’t quite hit the nail on the head and there’s also more to her staying with her sister, Olive, that the audience is not aware of and the scenes where Olive comments on her sister’s freeloading just loses all it’s credibility. The other two actors, roles awarded to Johnny Vivash and Zacharee Lee, are more involved in Olive’s deep sea dive and bring more of a well rounded antagonistic or betrayal personality to the table.
Sparke doesn’t linger too long on the creature, shielding it mostly behind a plastic tarp with a nude façade and that’s, perhaps, more in line with the micro budget constraints. In any case, Sparke focuses the story around Olive’s paranoia and obsession with the creature and with her boyfriend and the bitterness between him and her Sister, Ellie, seemingly toward Olive. Dave Walter has composed from start to finish a low and slow synth soundtrack, that’s familiar to a slowly anticipating heartbeat, and really heightens Olive’s spiraling paranoia similar to that of Ennio Morricone’s work on John Carpenter’s 1982 remake entitled “The Thing” where the eerily sounds of a personified isolation breaches every corner of your body, mind, and the dark room you’re in and all you can hear is that thump…thump…thump in a chest vibrating synchronicity of tones. While the soundtrack is riveting throughout, the story becomes a bit sluggish around the midsection in the sense that space and time don’t exists and Olive’s encounters with Dr. Fletcher, Dara, and various others, are halted to develop any kind of affluence amongst each other or with the audience. Even the ending, which I do adore on a certain level, bares the mark of being incomplete and devoid of substantiating that monolithic ending. There is some post-view satisfaction with the blend of practical and computer generated special effects and as I reflect on the film as a whole, to display a species from birth to adulthood, Sparke and his special effects team had amazing results that are fanned out well enough to leave a lasting impression of the unearthed creature’s visceral and intelligible girth.
Breaking Glass Pictures with Dark Rift Films in association with High Octane Pictures release “The Creature Below” onto DVD. The 16:9 widescreen presentation of this sci-fi horror thriller explores a sleek and clean, with a hint of being just a little hazy, picture that puts forth the appropriate dark grey and blue tone for an underwater or above water creature feature. The English Dolby 5.1 sound’s slightly muffled, but solid. Special features include a behind-the-scenes, deleted scenes, “Rats” a short film, and a Frightfest Q&A. Stewart Sparke’s “The Creature Below” is not perfect and does have appalling, laughable moments, but underneath the surface is a UK film that’s budget-busting bold and aims to be a goliath in an indie market.
Kent Chubbs manages a popular fetish nightclub called Den O’Iniquity in a small conservative town and the demanding, ever-present pressure to close his proclaimed “smut” club from the angry puritanical protestors and unethical politicians have Kent on the hair pulling fences about what to exactly do with his beloved club and loyal employees. To make the matters worse, Kent’s father and club owner, Shank Chubbs, is knocking on death’s door with a bad ticker. To make the matters even more worse, the club’s been a remarkable safe haven for those who choose to express their closeted intimate desires in spanking, furry sex, or lube wrestling, but, during the holiday season, the club has had a low hanging dark cloud in a form of a deranged killer whose been destructively rampaging through the club’s most precious employees and enthusiastic patrons. In order to save everything he holds dear, Kent must find a way to keep everything afloat despite the challenges and his ill-advised legal advice from his acid tripping hippie attorney while also tracking down a psychopath.
In 2007, Richard Griffin directed a hybrid film that structured an abled bodied comedy and interjected moments of gruesome horror and fashioned it with elaborate musical numbers and the result was a niche slasher-musical simply known as “Splatter Disco.” We like this film. Actually, we love this film. Not because we enjoy watching and reviewing Richard Griffin films (see “Flesh for the Inferno,” “The Sins of Dracula,” “The Disco Exorcist,” “Frankenstein’s Hungry Dead,” “Future Justice”) and enjoy seeing where his toddler career began, but because “Splatter Disco” embodies the unlikely mixture of oil and water genres, doesn’t take itself seriously, and was whole-heartedly invested in by some of the biggest names in cult cinema as well as some talented actors and actresses you’ve may have never heard of before, but should certainly know.
Ken Foree, Lynn Lowry, and Debbie Rochon. Three big, well-known names that add their own delectable charm into the mix and, also, three big names who have developed a dynamic, who know each other’s styles, and who can still churn new material on the fly like it’s no big deal. Tack on Trent Haaga (“The Ghouls”) and the then new and Richard Griffin regular from that point on, Sarah Nicklin, who both have the favorably b-movie glow and “Splatter Disco” goes to a whole new level. One of the best performances goes to Jason McCormick as Echo, a DJ Qualls lookalike, with a timely comedic toss that provides a unique schtick to keep the character rememberable and McCormick nails the character right on the flat head. Overall, there were no slacking performances; every actor was chin deep getting into their respective roles with the various fetishes, cloak and dagger shades, and violent intentions. Rounding out the cast is Carlos Brum (“Beyond the Dunwich Horror”), William DeCoff (“The Haunting of Alice D”), Robin L. Watkins (“Poultrygeist”), and Brian L. Mullen III (“Pretty Dead Things”).
If you never experienced a Richard Griffin feature, you’ll pleasantly find out very quickly the director goes all out and the Providence, Rhode Island born director has a great 1970’s-1980’s homage style side dished with lots of vibrant colors and the abundance of suspending smoke and you’ll see why we cater to much of his work. The script’s dialogue, co-written by Griffin and producer Ted Marr, also excellently defines and solidifies the quick wit and whimsical nature of the comedy-horror and to make no mistake, this comedy-musical-horror has no shame with perversions, has well edited bloody special effects, and is ultimately a blast of lively cult cinema! “Splatter Disco” is a self-proclaimed first slasher musical of it’s kind; honestly, I couldn’t think of a prior film of it’s kind, but “Splatter Disco” has hit and catchy imitative tunes provided by Tony Milano and performed by Daniel Hildreth that go hand-and-hand with the humbling dance choreography.
MVDVisual, POP Cinema, and Shock-O-Rama re-releases “Splatter Disco” onto a not rated DVD home video with a 16:9 widescreen presentation. Regrettably, I’m sorely disappointed in the video quality that fully suffers from the distorting and blotchy compression artifacts that make night scenes fuzzy and flimsy in defintion. The lossy 2.0 stereo track is par for the course, even with musical pieces and soundtrack overlay, but does provide a little restitution for the image loss. Bonus features are aplenty that include a commentary with director Richard Griffin and star Lynn Lowry, a behind-the-scenes documentary, alternate scenes, and a Shock-O-Rama trailer vault. “Splatter Disco” is an entertaining 87 minute Richard Griffin slasher capsule classic full of degenerate song and dance!
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.
Elliot, Sasha, and John move into an old manor home just off the university’s campus. The tight knit three friends stumble upon a tattered nightstand with scribbled nonsense inside the drawer and underneath the incoherent writing and scratched into the wood is The Bye Bye Man. Once you hear the name, a searing imprint has been made into the mind, opening up a layer within the universe that invites a grim reaper-like figure to come horrifically collect individuals who have been infected with the name. The mysterious malevolence will impose hallucinations, or tricks, upon the mind to induce others to commit evil acts on another and will stop at nothing until those who know his name are either end up dead or spread his vileness. For Elliot, Sasha, and John, their close relationships will be tested, they’re bodies will be challenged, and their minds will be altered in a race against the clock in order to beat death, to defeat The Bye Bye Man.
“The Bye Bye Man” is an Universal Pictures and STX Entertainment distributed boogeyman concept from 1995’s “The Last Supper” director Stacy Title. Title, who hasn’t been active for about ten years since her last directorial, helms the project written by her husband, an appropriately named Jonathan Penner, who also had a co-starring role in “The Last Supper.” The inspiration stems from a collection of horrific tales from Robert Damon Schneck’s “The President’s Vampire: Strange-but-True Tales of the United States of America,” but “The Bye Bye Man” borrows heavily from well-crafted horror brethren too, birthing a mythological personification of death that doesn’t wield a scythe, but rather being a master, underneath a dark hooded cloak, to a hellish beast that munches on the faces of The Bye Bye Man’s victims. “A Nightmare on Elm Street,” “Final Destination,” and a little bit of “Scream” become the selected examples that are the genetic makeup of TItle and Penner’s film, but doesn’t grossly rip from the said works, two of which are the late Wes Cravens masterpieces. Instead, Jonathan Penner reconfigures the nightmare man, a modern day Freddy Krueger type stalking every soul during the day and night hours, whom establishes his own brand of Rube Goldberg deaths through deadly vision inflictions that pray upon a human’s moral subconscious. “Don’t say it. Don’t think it” sets as the 2017 film’s tagline with the notion that perhaps little white lies are, literally, lifesavers or that the truth can be hurtful, and or knowledge can be powerful, but can also lead to your own demise.
“Ouija’s” Douglas Smith succumbs to his lead role of Elliot, an educated and patient young man who seems to have everything despite tragic misfortune that’s whisked through the character development. From friends, to a supportive brother, to a loving girlfriend, Smith transition seamlessly to languishing burden during a spotlight scene with co-star Carrie-Anne Moss (“Matrix”) that’s raw and cuttingly empathetic. The story centers around Elliot, but Sasha and John have pivotable relationships to Elliot, two essential roles given to two British actors, former girl of Prince Harry, Cressida Bonas, and television actor Lucien Laviscount. Both Bonas and Laviscount expensed drab performances, mechanically and, often, monotonically coming and going from scene-to-scene without mingling well into the rest of the film’s grim and dire trimmed overalls that basically left Smith out to pick up the slack. Along with Carrie-Anne Moss, who always seems to be typecast in a women of power role and, in this case, a detective, “The Bye Bye Man” sports other veterans of both horror and general film, but; instead, take a backseat to a younger generation of actors. “HellBoy’s” Doug Jones silently strolls through one of the easiest prosthetically garbed performances of his illustrious career as the titular character, genre stable Leigh Whannell (“Saw”) commits to a haunting performance as a murder-suicide martyr, and the legendary Faye Dunaway portrays a longtime widow of the aforementioned madman. Michael Trucco (“Wishmaster 4: The Prophecy Fulfilled”), Jenna Kanell, Cleo King (“Hood of Horror”), and Erica Tremblay round out the supporting cast.
Universal picking up a horror title resembling an infantile kids feature and releasing it theatrically might with relatively unknown, mostly non-American cast, will scratch some questioning heads, but with a well oiled supporting cast consisting of many years of guild service, a director, despite being inactive for many years, maintaining a sensible and visionary eye, and a story, aside from a few underdevelopments, that captivates with edge of your seat scares and with next moment eagerness, “The Bye Bye Man” has great potential. With smoothing out details of Elliot’s and The Bye Bye Man’s backstories and construing more of a slow burn method when getting the characters involved with the ‘don’t think it, don’t say it’ villain name, Universal would have increased their gross profits by double and the world would be happy once again. Unfortunately, that scenario was not the case as credits bombarded “The Bye Bye Man” as about as borrowed and as hokey as any low-budget horror film can be, but “The Bye Bye Man” surpassed the production budget by triple and to me, someone who generally has the same stance as most credits, that’s a win for Stacy Title and company.
The Intrepid Pictures and Los Angeles Media Fund production “The Bye Bye Man” makes a Universal Pictures Home Entertainment debut on a two-version unrated Blu-ray and DVD combo. The MPEG-4 AVC, 1080p Blu-ray disc contains a razor sharp image in the 1.85:1 presentation. Depth and shadows phenomenally define the space, especially in closer quarters and the ariel shots. A motif of bleak black and grim grey is consistent throughout, creating a tone through the darker shades, with vivid hues to gloriously fend for themselves amongst the achromatic reel landscape. The English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 surround sound doesn’t feign in the balance category with dialogue prevalence not short of excellence and, much like other atmospheric horror, the spooky elements are outlined in various levels from a coin dropping to a train horn. Bonus features are surprisingly zilch with no extras on either format; I guess there wasn’t much to say during or post-film. In all, “The Bye Bye Man” is a total hack with plot holes. A completely borrowed and revamped product with a terribly childish title promising nothing to the genre, but that doesn’t necessarily mean “The Bye Bye Man” can’t be entertaining, providing a wicked sense of humor and a morbid final destination outlook with unexpected casting choices and a barely bordering PG-13 horror rendering.