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

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.

 

 

Evil Will Eat Your Face! Bath Salt Zombies review!

!!!Pre-order!!! http://www.bathsaltzombies.com/ !!!Pre-order!!!

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Almost a year ago, do you remember the real life face-eating cannibal Rudy Eugene due to, unconfirmed, street drug nicknamed “bath salts?” Eugene basically left his disabled vehicle near a Miami causeway, stripped completely butt-ass naked, and assaulted one Ronald Poppo by beating him down to the ground, stripping off his homeless man trousers, and proceeding to munch on the upper portion of his face. A real life zombie? Most likely not, but the more probably cause would be high as a kite on drugs, making him insane and almost superhuman-like. Reportedly, the attack went on for nearly 20 minutes and police even shot Eugene four times.

Not in the film, but I wanted you to have an idea of what to expect!

Not in the film, but I wanted you to have an idea of what to expect!

A year later, ambitious filmmakers came together with the “Miami Zombie” inspiration in mind and made a highly exaggerated, or was it, loosely based film about drug addicts turning into face biting zombies after smoking a bath salt resembler that is actually concocted from a highly toxic, military grade, weaponized substance that somehow mysteriously disappeared from the military’s inventory. Hot on the destructive addict’s tail is a relentless DEA agent who will stop at nothing to put an end to reign of bath salt terror!

Who are these ambitious filmmakers? And how the hell did they pull off a great fun and creative movie about the bath salt “Miami Zombie?” First off, the team of creators and actors behind that fantastic little Faustian film Night of the Tentacles were involved! Dustin Wayde Mills, whom very uncanny in looks and voice resembles Red State director Kevin Smith, directs, co-wrote, and also co-stars as the money hungry mad scientist behind the bath salt concoction. Night of the Tentacles lead man Brandon Salkil who is comically animated and has great facial features for film. Secondly, my main man Clint Weiler produced and co-wrote Bath Salt Zombies. Clint is also a head hancho over at MVD, a major home entertainment distributor for music and DVD video!

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Bath Salt Zombies combines 300 with Scott Pilgrim vs. The World. You have the epic fight scenes, done very well by the way with well done choreographs by co-star Jason Eal (DEA agent), with the Scott Pilgrim like animations that turn a cheesy premises into the next big indie cult film – the next Dead Next Door comes to mind. Now, I could be wrong, but I found that Bath Salt Zombies paid homage to a couple of other notable horror and action icons such as the first Resident Evil video game in the mini-cartoon intro at the beginning reminded me of first appearance of a zombie and the subway fight finale reminded me of Neo and Agent Smith duking it out in the first Matrix. However, Bath Salt Zombies delivers more blood and more creative style with the budget.

What I really wanted more from this film was Erin R. Ryan’s twins in the shower. Along with Ryan’s ta tas, Bath Salt Zombies offers other perks such as a fully frontal 4 minute scene of DeviantArt and Model Mayhem model Bella Demente! You also have a great punk Soundtrack to go along with the spew of blood, the elastic internal organs, the dismembered body parts, and the multiple decapitations. I highly recommend this movie to any comedy, horror, or drug addict fan because Bath Salt Zombies entertains with a blood, boobs and banter that hasn’t been this witty for a indie film in such a long, long time! Well played!


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