An Evil Hog Demon Won’t Let You Escape this Island! “The Forlorned” review!


Just off the rough stormy shores of Nova Scotia is a remote island where American Tom Doherty becomes the newly hired lighthouse caretaker in search for good money. Already overwhelmingly cloaked with the lighthouse’s creepy adjacent housing and being forewarned by the island’s infamous legends, an isolated Tom experiences the abilities of dark force first hand and doesn’t know whether the forces are real or madness has swallowed him from the extreme isolation. As Tom continues the work, he discovers clues along the way that suggest the island holds a nefarious past involving murder, suicide, and cannibalism, but an old bible with a list of names is the key that has the potential to unlock all the island’s mysterious doors and can also be Tom’s unfortunate undoing if he maintains being the lighthouse caretaker.

Based off the Angela Townsend book with the same title, “The Forlorned” is the 2017 silver screen adaptation of Townsend’s mystery-thriller from “Dead Noon” director Andrew Wiest who has helmed a jolting, supernaturally visual and auditory accompaniment to Townsend’s literary work. To maintain authenticity, Townsend co-wrote a script alongside Wiest and Ryan Reed that’s riddle with an ill-omened story leading audiences down a path of insanity-ladened darkness. But what exactly is “The Forlorned?” Forlorn has two definitions: 1) pitifully sad and abandoned or lonely 2) unlikely to succeed; hopelessness. Either of the disparaging definitions, if not both, can be used to described “The Forlorned’s” eerily gloomy story that’s saturated in a motif of burdensome loneliness and relentlessly bashes the concept into our heads in a constant reminder that no one can ever escape the island even in postmortem. The character Tom is the very definition of the forlorned. Whether because of due diligence or a dark force, his role of caretaker is a permanent position allotted to him unwillingly by a sadistic, secret-keeping demon that seeks to swallow more unfortunate souls.

Colton Christensen inarguably shapes the role of Tom Doherty into his own with a solid solitary performance for more than half the film. Christensen also, for much of the last ten minutes of the story, had to systematically break away from his character in order to forge a combative persona to Tom and while Christensen does the job well for one character, shouldering a second didn’t suite the actor’s abilities despite a total embrace of character and a few jabs at his own humility. Wiest has worked with Christensen prior to “The Forlorned” and has seemed to continue the trend of using his own entourage of actors with the casting of Elizabeth Mouton (also from “Dead Noon”). Mouton’s character is briefly mentioned near the beginning as a little girl of a previous caretaker, but her adult version only makes the scene in the latter portion of the story to provide a better clarification and exposition into the demon’s background. Also serving exposition as story bookends and peppered through as emotional support is Cory Dangerfield’s “Murphy,” a sea-salty old bar owner who liaisons with the lighthouse committee and can make a mean clam chowder. Murphy hires Tom to do the restoration and caretaker work and while Murphy initiates Tom existence into the fold, Murphy, for the rest of the film, serves as slight comic relief and, in a bit of disappointment, an unfortunate waste of a character. I also wanted Benjamin Gray, Shawn Nottingham’s priest character, to be built upon and expanded more because the character is a key portion that, in the end, felt rushed with quick, messy brush strokes in order to finish painting the picture.

At first glance, Townsend, Wiest, and Reed’s script screens like a typical, if not slightly above par level, haunting where Tom encounters sportive spirits, ghastly visions, and a slew of ominous noises inside a time-honored lighthouse home, but then a twist is written into play, pitting Tom against a masterminding demon whose conquered many other bygone caretakers and whose the epicenter of all that is sinisterly wrong with the island. The demon, who has taken the form of a man hungry hog, lives only vicariously through the camera’s point of view, never bestowing an appearance upon to Tom or even the audience, but referenced numerous times by island locals and boisterously given hog attributes whenever the demon is near. The concept fascinates with this demon-hog thing kept stowed away deep inside the isle’s bedrock even if the dark entity never makes a materializing appearance, but where that aspect thrives in “The Forlorned,” a pancake thin backstory for the demon goes simply construed with a slapped together account of its languished two-century long past and wilts the demonic character wastefully down with backdropped uncertainly, powerlessness, and puzzlement that’s forlornly misfired. There’s no deal with the devil, no selling of the soul, no medieval rite that gives the demon-hog it’s power; it just turns into an evil spirit out of greed.

Andrew Wiest’s production company, Good Outlaw Studios, presents “The Forlorned” that found a distribution home in Midnight Releasing, the fine folks who released “Blood Punch” and “WTF!” “The Forlorned” is available on DVD and multiple VOD formats such as iTunes, Vimeo, Vudu, Xbox Video, and Google Play. Since a screener was used for this critique, a full review rundown of the technical specs will not be provided and no bonus materials were featured on the disc. Director Andrew Wiest and his cast and crew entourage are able bodied participants in assembling a good, entertaining, and sufficient indie mystery-thriller brought to fruition out of Angela Townsend’s story with the author’s pen ship assistance. With a little tweak here and there on the antagonistic demon-hog, “The Forlorned” might have necessarily escalated into a richly dark territory of a more volatile, blood thirsty spirit that’s scribed to have racked up body after body, century after century; however, the fleeting chronicle of how the demon-hog came to be a malevolent being leaves a bittersweet aftertaste on a premise that started out spooky and strong.

Available on DVD at Amazon.com!

Jack’s Back for an Evil Good Time! “Razors: The Return of Jack the Ripper” review!


London’s infamous 19th century serial killer, Jack the Ripper, was never caught and the specialty knives he used to fillet his victims were never recovered, but in the darkly lit maze of an abandoned Victorian warehouse located in present day London, the spirit of the mysterious murderer of prostitutes lingers within the bricked up walls or so goes the urban legend. Six aspiring writers are invited to a screenwriters workshop at the Victorian warehouse for inspiration and orchestrating the event is an eccentric arts professor Richard Wise. The goal is write the most horrifying, potentially box-office busting horror story for a chance at penning a major movie deal. One of the six writers, Ruth, had received an enigmatic case full of old knives prior to her invitation, placing inspiration in her to write a terrifying script involving Jack the Ripper. When the knives go missing, the writers become trapped inside the warehouse as their involuntarily actions result in the return of Jack the Ripper to continue his unholy work of slaughter and the only way to stop him from carving his way into their ill-fated story is to solve the mystery of why they were specifically chosen to attend this particular workshop.

“Razors: The Return of Jack the Ripper” is the interesting first installment of a British horror movie franchise from writer-directors Ian Powell and Karl Ward. The co-filmmakers reach into the 19th century to bring Jack the Ripper into the present day, but Jack’s not the same; He’s a variant of him old self that involves the murderer being a pissed off malicious ghost in a concoctive tale that blends the modern-day remakes of “House on Haunted Hill” and “13 Ghosts” from near the turn of the century. Other than a physically present, if not more of a flickering presence, manifestation with a link to his prey of frightened writers, I won’t delve too much into details of Jack’s return and what he means to accomplish in hopes of not spoiling the story for you, but I have a sneaking suspicion that that won’t be a problem. The independent film attempts very little to bring the Victorian era swag into the fold. Even Jack the Ripper solely dons a dark wide brim hat and cape, that loosely associates him with the time period. Powell and Ward focus more on the group of bewildered writers and their conflicting dynamics on how they deal with their predicament – i.e. one character is very poignant on the dangers while one other brushes off superstitions and unnatural occurrences – but the pair of filmmakers fail to work the character Professor Wise into the mayhem and by not attributing purpose to the character, the professor inarguably becomes one of the many loose ends of a sunk horror franchise before it’s even set afloat.

The 2016 film stars Kelby Keenan as Ruth, the only character to have any damn sense, but won’t just leave even though she repeatedly states how much danger their in. Kelby’s the lead actress with Josh Myers (“Zombie Diaries 2”), Georgia Mcguire, Kunjue Li (who oddly enough have a bit part on an unrelated Jack the Ripper television series entitled “Ripper Street”), Jack Brown, and Ian Weichardt (“Freak of Nature”) to round out the group of writers. Together, their plight doesn’t come across potently enough; instead, Thomas Thoroe’s Professor Richard Wise strew them through the warehouse corridors in an unbelievable performance of the professor not having a clue about the turmoil that’s afoot. Jack the Ripper goes virtually silent, much like a ghost should, under the unkempt performance of Andrew Shire. In short, the cast haphazardly walks through the storyboards, overkilling reactions and not reacting enough during called upon scenes to the relative cause of action.

So far, in this review, you might conclude that Powell’s and Ward’s inaugural franchise film may be a dud and not spawn sequels. Honestly, I personally would like to see closer for the open ended characters and story; however, I preferably would not like Powell and Karl in the director chairs. Their style could only be described as spastic with way too many edited in interjections of arbitrary spook house filler. The body of work has the sheer tenacity of being more like a 92-minute music video that’s abundantly chorused with haunted house ambiance. Literally, interlaced cuts made more than half the film, barely leaving any story for the actors, and the back-and-forth edits could crisscross your eyes into a strabismus.

Breaking Glass Pictures and Magic Mask Pictures Limited present “Razors: The Return of Jack the Ripper” on DVD home vide. Usually the pride of indie LGBTQ films, Breaking Glass Pictures has a fair share of horror as well and, typically, do right by the release. In this one particular, the DVD is presented in a widescreen 16:9 aspect ratio that’s very detailed. The color hues are a bit dull, more so grey, than hoped. The English language stereo dual channel stereo track had no part in being saved. Layers upon layers of unfinished audio snippets run rampart throughout to the point where you can pick out the flaws at will. Dialogue is wish-washy with the full power of the voice being reduced to no more than a mumble of hearing every other third word from every character. The DVD does come with some special features, such as clips and interviews in a segment entitled “Lights, Camera, Speed!,” “Behind the Walls” is a short featurette about the film, and you can also play the film with commentary from the directors and cast. The film is dedicated to the late Khan Bonfils, who had a minor part in the introduction, after his untimely death on a separate project. “Razors: The Return of Jack the Ripper” is clunky at best. Poor Jack couldn’t rise from the dead to reclaim his infamy in this ghost show of scatterbrained storytelling.

“Razors: The Return of Jack the Ripper” is available at Amazon.com!

In a Seemingly Fresh Corpose Lies a Legendary Evil.  “The Autopsy of Jane Doe” Review!


An unknown corpse of a young woman, found naked and half-buried in the basement of a home involved in a gruesome crime scene, is strolled into a small town family morgue and crematorium by a puzzled local sheriff.  Without any idea who this woman is and how to explain the her presence at the scene, the sheriff wants a cause of death on his Jane Doe as soon as possible and it’s up to Tommy and his son, Austin, to investigate what caused her demise and to determine her involvement in the grand scheme of the grisly events.  When the medical examiners begin to peel back the layers, each segment of the autopsy reveals impossible and unspeakable horrors underneath her cold flesh that go against their combined years of medical experience and the deeper they dig into her body, the more the autopsy room becomes a spine-tingling area as strange occurrences begin to happen to the father and son. Their only hope in stopping the ominous terrorizing presence and surviving the hell-bent stormy night is to continue the examination in order to unravel the enigma that surrounds Jane Doe.

“Troll Hunter” director André Øvredal helms a contemporary horror masterpiece with the Americana horror film,”The Autopsy of Jane Doe, that can be described as American folklore lit ablaze with modern day macabre that plays like a gruesome adult version of the children’s game Operation. Øvredal pulls inspiration from present day classical horror, including such films as the widely popular James Wan franchise, “The Conjuring,” by not embarking on an overkill journey of heavy duty effects or relying on gallons upon gallons of fake blood to sell his film. Instead, André Øvredal’s “The Autopsy of Jane Doe” is patient, subtle, and massively creepy, utilizing the dated morgue and crematorium basement setting to construct a dreadful, despairing dungeon atmosphere and focus on being very particular with every scene having a function to take advantage of the overwhelming brooding aurora and pop scare moments that can scare the pants off a mannequin. Øvredal heightens moments of complete pin-drop silence to amplify the terror and plays with camera angles that linger longer to leave an unsettling residue pooled in a spine-tingled soul.

Not only is the Ian Goldberg and Richard Naing script palm-sweaty frightening, tack on A-list actors like Brian Cox (“Manhunter”) and Emile Hirsch (“Killer Joe”) as a father and son team pitted against a dead body and “The Autopsy of Jane Doe” jumps up by tenfold as a must-see. Brian Cox is masterful as the widowed mortician whose numb to the pain of life and shock of work, making him a dedicated professional at uncovering the truth inside corpses, and he’s well companioned with Emile Hirsch, the mortician’s eagerly loving son and apprentice to the family business. The only problem is Austin doesn’t want to be a part of the family legacy, but is rooted by his continuously cloaked grieving father and you can see the struggle in Hirsch’s wish-washy character. The pair of veteran actors play off each other well being a medical super duo by conducting examination procedures and digging right into the corpse of dead, disfigured bodies like it’s just another day at the office. The gorgeous Olwen Catherine Kelly is dead on being a dead body. Though Kelly literally doesn’t move an inch for the entire runtime, her slim frame and blank facial expressions are truly haunting, if not also alluring to behold.

Immediately, my first impression of André Øvredal’s film had me stroll back to the past, nearly a decade a go to 2008, with the Marcel Sarmiento and Gadi Harel thriller “Deadgirl.” The premise of the film told the story of two high school aged boys discovering a seemingly near dead young woman in an abandoned asylum; the dead girl being played by Jenny Spain.  Whereas each film have their separate horrific identities, their end games bare supernatural similarities. What also separates André Øvredal’s film from Sarmiento and Harel’s “Deadgirl” are the two protagonists; instead of two teen boys pulling hormonal hijinks on a motionless attractive female body, Tommy and Austin are strictly professional, focused on their task to answer the riddle lying inside the very fabric and bones of Jane Doe. The only gripe I can bottom barrel scrape out is how Tommy and Austin had this big ‘what if’ epiphany that becomes the very basis of the entire film and, in my opinion, felt that scene was extremely chintzy and a cop out.

Lionsgate Home Entertainment delivers “The Autopsy of Jane Doe” from production companies 42, Impostor Pictures, and IM Global onto UK DVD and Blu-ray.  Unfortunately, a DVD-R screener was sent to me, resulting in no true examination of the audio and video qualities and the only extra on the disc was a Q&A with directorAndré Øvredal. Even if viewers might be able to guess the nature of the corpse – I did about halfway through – “The Autopsy of Jane Doe” is still way ahead of it’s genre brethren in being the best horror film of 2017 with an unlimited amount of sinister wretchedness that tugs at your soul strings and weighs heavy in your mind’s cache as soon as the lights go out for bedtime. I would recommend this title to anyone seeking an unadulterated horror experience.

For All The Evil in the World, There is One Pint-Sized Hero! “The Search for Weng Weng” review!


Australian filmmaker Andrew Leavold set forth on an adventure of answers to discover the legendary, the one-and-only, pint-sized actor known internationally as Weng Weng. In the early 1980’s, Weng Weng became the Guinness World Record’s smallest lead actor in a slew of rare, some never-before-seen, Filipino spy films and took the world by storm, creating a bizarre cult following on social media, and for Andrew Leavold, the only way to learn more about the Weng Weng, who could actually act and do his own stunts despite his small stature, was to create a documentary film that would take years in the making, but would hopefully answer three very simple, yet extremely difficult, questions: Who really was Weng Weng? How did he become Weng Weng? And where was Weng Weng now?

Weng Weng might be a humorous name for some, odd in fact, and his James Bond spinoffs as Agent 00 (double zero) flourished with zany stunts, practical special effects, and a tremendous amount of improbability – just like the Bond films themselves – but the Weng Weng films, even his Westerns, had an attractive aurora about them and not only because of the 2’9” sized actor. “The Search for Weng Weng’s” main focus was its titular star, but the film also displayed how the Pinoy films had engrained much of the Filipino culture and embraced their own charismatic star actors while, at the same time, being a byproduct of America’s Hollywood and other nation’s cinematic scenes. The Pinoy films were much akin to India’s Bollywood, replacing the musical and dancing segments with more action and comedy. Though Weng Weng’s films, including “For Y’ur Height Only” and “The Impossible Kid,” were whimsical and charming, Leavold’s documentary points out the darker side of the actor’s fame by comparing and explaining how Weng Weng’s “handicap” could be examined as a freak show gimmick that exploited Weng Weng out of cinematic earnings from his so-called adopted producers. The film also noted his lack of relationships with women and his health issues later on in life. Yet, “The Search for Weng Weng” highlighted much that was unknown about the actor, such as his real name, and that he was impressive and skillful at Karate; though small, Weng Weng wasn’t a traditional short person. He was fit and muscular and this helped him accomplish much of his own stunt work, which the Filipino stunt people have been claimed to be some of the best in the world.

Leavold doesn’t leave a stone unturned as he tracks down the persons involved in Weng Weng’s life. From the film crew who worked on the Agent 00 flms to his neighbors who grew up alongside him and from one of the five siblings, a brother whose the only surviving member of his impoverished family, to, perhaps, the wealthiest former first lady adored by all, Leavold checks every nook and cranny, every minute cubby hole to obtain that much more information about how Weng Weng lived and influenced their lives. In all, not a single person disliked the tiny personality as they appreciated much about him from his squeaking voice – that was always dubbed more masculine in the films – to his overall childlike serious, but calm nature. Weng Weng, in essence, was born a star guided by unscrupulous caregivers that was ultimately bittersweet for the childlike build and mentality.

“The Search for Weng Weng” hits the nail square on the head with the exactness of the title. Leavold’s impartialness leaves the wrongdoings against Weng Weng properly in the past as a good documentarian should impress. The editing is well done, taking a non-linear journey through Weng Weng’s short lived life and movie career and Leavold’s research and dedication to the project really amplifies through the film, giving Weng Weng the appreciation he rightfully deserves despite his height limitations.

Wild Eye Releasing in association with Monster Pictures presents “The Search for Weng Weng” on home video DVD. The region free, unrated DVD is shot in various formats from standard definition full screen to 16:9 widescreen with archival footage of the best of the best from the B-Asia film stock. Bonus features are plentiful with audio commentary from the director, Andrew Leavold, extended sequences of certain interviews, deleted scenes, the official “I Love Weng Weng” music video, and trailers. Who knew that there would be 92 minutes plus of content about a man not even three feet tall? Weng Weng was a mystery to us all and now, thanks to director Andre Leavold, everyone in the world can revel in that that is the amazing Weng Weng!

Buy Here “The Search for Weng Weng” on DVD!

Get Jacked! Get Evil! “Bloody Muscle Body Builder In Hell” review!


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.