The EVIL In Our Past Will Forever Plague. “Ever After” reviewed!


A plague has decimated the world, turning citizens into crazed, flesh eating zombies. In Germany, only two cities have survived the devastating apocalypse the last two years – Weimar and Jena. In Weimar, the infected are immediately eradicated on site without exceptions. In Jena, compassionate individuals strive for a cure for the diseased. Weimar residents, Vivi and Eva, sneak out of the authoritative camp for their own personal reasons and flee toward Jena’s safe-haven policy in hopes for a better way of life, but a perilous journey through the horde occupied Black Forest stands in between them and salvation. Without weapons, food, and one liter of water between them, chances of coming out unscathed are slim-to-none as long as nothing separates them from assisting their survival.

Based off the illustrated graphic novel of the same name written by Olivia Viewig, “Endzeit,” also known as “Ever After” in the English translation, hits the big screen in the 2018 film adaptation under the orchestration of a female, Sweden-born director Carolina Hellsgård as her sophomore feature with Viewig herself providing the script treatment. With pop culture entrenched and seemingly an extension of herself, Olivia Viewig is by trade a German cartoonist best known for her quirky “Why Cats…” series, a children’s book author, and regularly contributions to the world of Manga to which she was influenced. Viewig then turned to horror with “Endzeit” that served as a graduating studies project that earned her a University degree in 2012. The initially 72-page full-length comic became extended six years later in 2018 by a major German publisher named Carlsen and served as the basis of the script for the film about to be covered below that’s a coming-of-age film that also symbolizes passing of the torch for two young and dissimilar women scrambling between two opposing worlds with a common calamity.

Initially, “Ever After” focuses around the immense struggles of a shut-in named Vivi, a character instilled with paralyzing fear and guilt that has more or less clinically diagnoses her as an extreme agoraphobic whose been hasn’t stepped outside the last two years ever since the plague occurred. “Nothing Bad Can Happen” actress Gro Swantje Kohlhof envelopes herself as the “weakling” her character is ascribed by hardened and callous Weimar survivors, but as Kohlhof evolves Vivi’s fragile resolve into something more concrete, Kohlhof also opens a little more trait range for Vivi when she is finally pushed across the threshold of letting go her fear and guilt. Eva can be said as Vivi’s hard-bitten muse whose looking for a softer slice of life and as Eva becomes engulfed in Vivi’s massively sheltered circle by chance, the former Weimar grunt is able to crack through the hardened exterior and let someone like Vivi into be a calming force in her own anxiety riddled interior. Maja Lehrer compliments as the aggressor in an encouraging pair of diverse female characters driven by their regrettable past to never look back on it and keep moving forward to a better prospect that’ll wash their souls clean. Haired tied back tight, form-fitting mercenary-esque clothing, and a self-preserving attitude to match, Lehrer rounds Eva out well to arch her role hard when Vivi is ready to take the reins as an apocalyptic ranger of the Black Forest. In the forest, Vivi and Eva encounter a mystical being, a half-breed of sorts between living and dead, who doesn’t have a name but goes by The Gardener is played by Denmark actress Trine Dyrholm. Since “Ever After” references quite a bit about nature taking the world from man, I’d like Dyrholm represents Mother Nature as the character invites Vivi to her abundant tomato green house, a serene scenery of low-hanging fruit trees, and the character herself has vines and leaves growing out of the side of a human face and can temporary restore or extend life to a person. Vivi and Eva’s brief encounter prompt’s a change in them both that defines their destiny going forward toward Jena. The cast rounds out with minor roles from Barbara Philipp, Yuho Yamashita, Amy Schuk, Axel Warner, Muriel Wimmer, and Ute Wieckhorst.

If you’re looking for blood, “Ever After” is not that kind of zombie film that glorifies the flesh chomping violence but rather utilizes the violence as a motivator for Vivi and Eva to embark from safety, but that isn’t to say the sheer zombie terror is omitted or even diluted. The mass of running undead continues to be a force of concentrated fear with heart pounding side effects, much carried over from Danny Boyle’s “28 Days Late” and Zack Synder’s remake of “Dawn of the Dead,” and director Hellsgård seldomly relies on a crazed horde to be the mindless exploit of “Ever After’s” core message. Instead, the story clearly defines the growth and understanding Vivi and Eva as individuals and as part of something more, taught in part by their short time with The Gardener, and a highly reflective poignant past that ripples through their memory banks over and over again. Their ambitions nearly shot from existence at the beginning of the apocalypse to the start of their Black Forest voyage have found harmony in letting the past be the past by the end of the story. Once could call it a coming-of-age to see the two women elevate themselves from a place of inner turmoil and, in my opinion, the two women part of that is greatly important because “Ever After” is almost, about 95%, completely female cast driven. So, not only is the story a coming of age one, but also speaks upon self-reliance and empowerment for women.

The swotted comic of Olivia Viewig gains a visual odyssey amongst the undead catalogue with a Blu-ray release of the Das Kleine Fernsehspiel and Grown Up Films production, “Ever After,” distributed by MVDVisual and Juno Films. Stored on a BD-25 and presented in an anamorphic widescreen of it’s original aspect ratio of 2.35:1, “Ever After’s” 1080p full high definition image is sleek to every sensory receptor in the eye and captures the topographic thickets of Germany landscapes in grand wide angles. There is not a lot of tint work here, if any, and relies much on the luminescent and glowing beauty of natural light. The German language DTS-HD 5.1 master audio sufficiently taps into all five channels without overbearing results from zombie hordes. Instead, the focal points here discern more on the tiny tunes and tones of nature. Also included in the setup is an option for a 2.0 LCPM Stereo Audio track and English subtitles, which appear accurate but are hastily paced. Other than a static menu, the region free, 90 minute runtime release bares no special features other than the trailer. “Ever After” is an ascension from within the very weary genre oeuvre, encouraging the strength to stomach guilt and fear as important, but presently irrelevant if one wishes to change with a world that has redesigned around them.

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Gory Evil Experiments With Life and Limbs! “The Curse of Doctor Wolffenstein” review!


All Doctor Victor Wolffenstein wanted to accomplish is to invent an occult practiced serum that would permit eternal life, but his pure genius was corrupted by an egomaniacal drive during his time of research in a small village of 1930’s Germany. When Dr. Wolffenstein began gruesomely experimenting with the body parts of the resident dead, local inhabitants labeled him an abomination against humanity and God and sought to expunge him from life by cutting out his tongue and burying him alive in a wooden coffin. Before his ultimate fate, Wolffenstein injects himself with his latest serum batch and curses the villagers prior to his damnation. His serum works, giving the malevolent doctor decades to perform his vital experiments for the next 80 years, but portions of his body start to decay and rot. To keep his tissue viable, this time he steals body parts from the living!
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Director Marc Rohnstock’s German gore film “The Curse of Doctor Wolffenstein” finds residence on a callously displayed Blu-ray/DVD combo set courtesy of the blood aficionados over at Reel Gore Releasing. While the premise sounds like nothing more than one deranged doctor’s thirst to slice and dice at his little black heart’s whims, running parallel to Wolffenstein’s monstrosity narrative done in the dank dull light of a mad scientist’s bloodstained lab is the declining story of five young partygoers living life to the fullest travel to a rave festival and when their car breaks down in an eerie and isolated village, beginning the Rube Goldberg process of landing on the front door step of Doctor Victor Wolffenstein’s castle home. The two stories are structured almost purposefully divisive to distinguish on one hand the relationship ups and down of Mike, David, Tina, Jenny, and Emily and while on the other hand, the good doctor straps victims to his cold metal slab, performing invasive experiments on them, and finishing them off by slashing right into the thick of the noggin with a machete, solidifying a hard motif that eventually becomes a the doctor’s MO.
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A big part of the Rohnstock 2015 gore film is Wolffenstein’s numerous machetes to the cranium kill that explodes a geyser of dark red blood all over the place. The special effects and makeup by Oliver Müller literally had the blood rushing to brain, splitting the skull to unleash the blood splatter, and Müller does offer a bit more than sustaining as a one trick pony. Realistic arm dismemberments and reattachments, decapitations, exploratory surgical openings, and much, much more are a part of this gore-God’s repertoire. So much gore is present that gore itself becomes a character. That’s saying something since Rohnstock exploits his short lived, ill-fated red shirt characters that roster many recognizable Germans such as porn star Lena Nitro and one of the great gore and shock directors Olaf Ittenbach!

Without a doubt, “The Curse of Doctor Wolffenstein” is a labor of love that subtly borrows from the films of the director’s fandom. There’s a bit of “Evil Dead,” a piece of “Night of the Creeps,” and a flair of Hammer Horror in a mix that defines Rohnstock’s writing and director perspective and style. As the co-founder of the film’s production company Infernal Films, Rohnstock and his Infernal Films team have free reign over the overall structure, style, and tone of this fantastic flesh filleting of a film. What Infernal Films couldn’t really control was the relatively young cast of Isabelle Aring, Robin Czerny, Roland Freitag, Stephanie Meisenzahl, and Julia Stenke whom are pitted against the dual role performance of Mika Metz, playing a miserable mechanic and Doctor Wolffenstein.
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Reel Gore Releasing’s gorgeously slipcovered 2-disc Blu-ray and DVD combo release doesn’t hold back standing behind a flick that gallops in blood, bares it all with female nudity, and even has an orifice invading creature with enough ooze to lube it’s way down with ease. Video quality wise, the image is heavily showcased in a cyan hue that’s feels unnatural. The day or brighter scenes look good enough for hi-def in the widescreen presentation in a 16:9 aspect ratio. The German DTS-HD 5.1 option with optional English subtitles is flawless in all areas of the audible tracks. There is also a DTS-HD 2.0 with optional subtitles. Bonus features include a showcase reel in a behind-the-scenes featurette, a German only bloopers reel, “Trapped & Stabbed” short film by director Marc Rohnstock, the film’s trailer, and a still image slideshow. Gore films have always been a hit or miss with this review, but “The Curse of Doctor Wolffenstein” has reclaimed my faith in the intensity of content that’s not suitable for most viewership in one way or another.
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“The Curse of Doctor Wolffenstein” Blu-ray?DVD Combo! Get your GORE on!

Cross-Dressing, Katana Wielding Evil! “Der Samurai” review!

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In a small German village, Jakob, a police officer, encounters a blonde cross-dresser wielding a samurai sword who reeks havoc throughout the village. Before Jakob can make an arrest, the decapitating murderer quickly vanishes and reappears during random points of the night. Jakob soon realizes that this cross-dresser killer has more in store for Jakob who, before the strange encounter, struggled to remain above the water living in a town that doesn’t seem to want him there. Does this dangerous individual hold to key to the answers of Jakob’s questions or is he just a mental head case wielding a katana for the fun of it?
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“Der Samurai” is certainly an interesting piece of German cinema that’s difficult to follow, but if you dig deep and look closely into the bones of the film, a glimpse into the personal life of our hero Jakob and his conquering of personal struggles is clear to the mind’s eye through the interpretation of writer and director Till Kleinert in his sophomore film. Jakob, portrayed by Michel Diercks, doesn’t quite fit in in his small hometown village; he has no outside life as he spends his every waking moment taking care of his grandmother when not on official police duty, his boss is constantly degrading him, and the town doesn’t respect his job given authority. While he struggles through these life issues, his work obsession becomes with a wolf that has been sited in the village. Since nothing ever happens his his small village, the wolf is the most interesting thing ever to happen as far as crime goes.
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The wolf is hardly seen throughout the movie except for a few brief sightings and up until near the end and the reason for that is the katana wielding, cross-dressing maniac Jakob happens upon. The cross-dressing psychopath, played by Pit Bukowski, is a representation of the wolf and the wolf represents the epic struggle in Jakob’s pitiful life. If he can overcome the epic struggle, then he’ll be free of all the insecurities that have burdened to him and dished out by his insincere village folk. However, the quest to best the manic isn’t going to be easy and will be bloody.
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With a title like “Der Samurai,” there will be blood, but the production crew had to use cheap tricks to make the realistic violence work and work well. These cheap tricks were very well done and certainly didn’t look phony or cheesy on screen. The effects are also very experimental and up for interpretation. At one point when a character is decapitated, a spectacular display of blood and fireworks skyrocket out of the neck as a sort of spirtual release for the poor headless character. Experimental and up for interpretation, just like the androgynous character that Pit Bukowski portrays. What kind of sexual desires are being explored here between Jakob and the maniac? At first, I thought maybe Jakob was the maniac due to his boss questioning Jakob on the phone that he might be dressed up and wielding a katana and when his grandmother, in a frightened state, claims that the person tending to her was not her grandson when clearly it was Jakob tending to her. This all changes when other police officers and town folk also see the cross-dresser, putting to defunct the speculation that Jakob was this cross-dresser.
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Artsploitation Films brings to Blu-ray home video “Der Samurai” and we’re lucking to have a film like this to be available now in America. However, the 1080p widescreen 1.85:1 transfer isn’t up to the Blu-ray quality one would think. There lies a lot of grainy noise interference, perhaps to the low lighting provided for the film as much of duration is shot in the dark. Didn’t look like to me that there was any digital noise reduction used to smooth out the specks. The Dolby Digital 5.1 German dialogue with English subtitles is flawless and all the subtitles sync up well with the characters’ dialogue. Bonus features include a commentary with director Till Kleinert and Producer Linus de Paoli, a theatrical trailer, and a behind the scene featurette that is actually worth looking into as much of the background and backstory is explained. I’d recommend this German horror to all to experience and, to put the cherry on top, you’ll get to see an erect penis! Enjoy!

Evil Will Lock You Up Forever! Iron Doors review!

IDMVDA young investment banker awakes with a major headache and trapped inside a vault. Having no idea how he landed inside this death trap, he struggles to find a way out before he dies of dehydration or starvation. As he tries to piece together who has an immoral vendetta against him, an escape from the vault leaves him desperate and energy spent while the questions of his mysterious circumstances are almost too much for his mind to bare.

We’ve seen this type of movie before where one or more people wake up to find that they have no idea where they are or how they got there. Iron Doors plays on top of that age old aspect that normally what scares the crap out of people – the unknown. Iron Doors resembles a lot like 1997’s Cube without the traps. Instead, the rooms are filled with different objects that might or might not leave foreboding clues to their whereabouts – such as a coffin and a grave. The idea behind these types of movies, which also include the first two Saw movies and Ryan Reynolds Buried, are giant concepts and yet somehow these filmmakers, including Iron Doors director Stephen Manuel, are able to take the minimalistic routes and produce a thrilling story.

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However, unlike Saw and Cube, Iron Doors ending bares a big disappointment and leaves the audience more questions than answers. I can tell you that the ending left me yearning for more answers, but I guess we have to make our own conclusions and nothing can just be handed to us as a freebie. I hope this won’t spoil too much or if any at all about the movie, but I want to provide my own interpretation of the status on our main character actor Axel Wedekind and his companion actress Rungano Nyoni, an African woman who doesn’t speak a lick of English. I strongly believe the characters are dead and have been stuck in limbo where the duo must be capable to work together, supporting each other to dig, chisel, and survive their way out of the vaults. The clues are this, and I’ve mention these two already, the coffin and the open grave. Two straight forward signs of recent death. Also, when Axel wakes up in his vault, what accompanies him is a maggot infested dead rat and that, again, suggests that death surrounds him. When Axel tries to recall what he was doing before he awoke in the vault, he states that he was out at the bar (he continuously states that he will never drink again) and didn’t know where he left his car suggesting that Axel was very intoxicated and probably crashed his car, killing himself in a DUI incident. Rungano, in subtitles, mentions being from Africa where we know genocide and disease plague most of the un-urbanized parts of the lands. Rungano’s traditional outfit suggests that she leaves in a primitive tribe. A bit of a stretch on my end, I know. Plus, the vault itself is supernatural and every time the characters enter a new room they are confronted by the same four walls and a vault door, but only the objects are different.

The film never really picks up the pace and sometimes the tediousness of the characters’ attempts to escape are captured too long in a scene extending the scene way past it’s prime. Their survival instincts, drinking their own urine, eating maggots, using a discovered oxygen tank for air, are seemingly instinctively smart, but realistically very ill-advised. We can only blame panic on the part of Axel, but opposite Axel, Rungano is calmer and level headed yet she is persuaded by Axel who has been awake three days longer than Rungano. Yet desperation gets the better of her when knowing her existence is near end and breaks down to enjoy compassionate love with a barely alive Axel in what could be their last hours on, what they believe, is their world.

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MVD releases the Germany born and bred English spoken Iron Doors, a suspenseful thriller I would recommend for any fans of Cube or Buried. If you’re claustrophobic, then I’m sorry because you probably will not enjoy this film; you’ll most likely suffocate at the idea of being locked in a small room with a dead rat. Purchase the film at MVD!