Going to the Country, Gonna Find Me Some EVIL! “Countrycide” review!


Big sister is getting married and Abby, forking over big money for a bridesmaid dress, can’t scrape together enough dough to afford a flight across country and to scratch off another option, Abby never learned how to drive a car dwindling Abby out of travel possibilities. In steps Mike, Abby’s tall and handsome close friend who does happen to know how to drive and, coincidently, has a car. Mike offers her a trip across the country as her plus one at the wedding. About 1/3 into the drive, exhaustion catches up with them, especially in Mike being behind the wheel 100% of the time, and without much money to spend on a motel room, the traveling duo think it best to set up camp in a stretch of wilderness. After speaking with a local government ranger, they set off to set up camp deep within the woods and as night approaches and the couple finally declare themselves hot for each other, Mike decides to return to the car for some supplies. Abby wakes up next morning realizing Mike has yet to return and in almost the same instance, she forgets where they parked the car. Wandering aimlessly through the thicket, a bear trap sinks its steely teeth into the fleshy siding of her ankle, leaving Abby hobbling alone through the woods with a hungry wolf on her trail to make matters worse. Miraculously, She’s saved by three men on a hunter’s retreat, but as they return with her to their isolated cabin, their suspicious behavior with an unwillingness to take the severely injured Abby straight to the hospital forces her to exit next morning while they stilled slumber and into an adjacent cabin where she discovers horror on a whole new level.

If the word homicide, or maybe even genocide, made sweet, sweet, angry love to the unwilling and scared word countryside, the abdominal “Countrycide” would be birthed into existence on this Earth and our congressional leadership would have legally prohibited it’s understandable abortion. Shepherding as a game foster parent is Canadian born, writer-director Brett Kelly and “Countrycide” will mark filmmaker’s third genre film through the criticism daycare of horror, following the cuddly-campy, Sci-Fi endearing “Ghastlies” and the diaper-shitting disaster that is the “Rise of the Black Cat.” A Gremlins-esques versus a super hero mess have come and gone to deliver “Countrycide” to our chop block that’s totally a horror-survival subgenre with a smidgen of exploitation and a complete lark even if unintentional.

Looking from an outward perspective, Abby is quite useless. Doesn’t know how to drive, doesn’t know where the car is, doesn’t know how to re-trace her steps out of the woods, and, yet, stammers into being a nucleus-downspout of magnetic chaos. Abby finds nothing but pure bad luck and Robin Hodge, inducted into her inaugural credited performance, bounces her saccharine chops off of various personas to become a disenchanted transfiguration character. Along for the ride is Joel Elliott as Abby’s quasi-boyfriend Mike whose emotional connection to Abby becomes decimated in a blink of an eye concluding no conclusive reason to care about his charming mug. He drives a car, cavalierly verbalizes his feelings for Abby, and then is erased from the pages as if a giant erasers literally came down and rubbed him out. Elliott has had roles in other Kelly films and so have these fellow co-stars that round out of the film: Peter Whittaker (“Raiders of the Lost Shark”), Andrew Galligan (“Ghastlies”), Trevor Payer (“My Fair Zombie”), and Lee Cyr (“Jesse James: Lawman”).

Kelly has a knack for campy-saturation and “Countrycide” splits the proverbial seams so much so that the film implodes into self-destruction, laughing manically at itself all the way to the end – funny, I didn’t initially categorize Kelly’s film was a horror-comedy, but therein lies the rub. Even textbook details, such as Abby sweaty and dirty in a fit of shock when a bear trap snaps onto her ankle, need to be illuminated. Another point to discuss is the overall pacing of the dialogue that drowns in over exposition of each event through the casts’ lips that often has a dubbed sensation. It’s like watching a giallo film from the 1970’s but where the synchronization designates more as a clumsy redneck slasher rather than an attractive murder mystery with a colorfully psychopathic adversary. Granted, swift gratuitous gore make the ushered in cut, a rock repeatedly bashed over a head or an giant log spear impalement, and that will please those gore hounds who sing the blood and violence anthem. As for the rough storytelling, characters, such as supposed hunters who hunt with single six-shooter revolver between the three of them, and the across the board acting by either unknowns or Brett Kelly staples, bad doesn’t quite describe “Countrycide’s” banal and bland vitality and must be watched, with a handle of Wild Turkey and a pack of smokes, to fully comprehend where the filmmaker was heading with his survival horror.

Wild Eye Releasing and MVDVisual go bumpkin hunting with “Countrycide” onto DVD home video. Presented in a widescreen format, “Countrycide’s” image condition is good, par for the course when considering other Wild Eye Releasing. Slight aliasing in more ariel shots, but the coloring is fine that’s perhaps on the denser contrast. The stereo sound mix, again, has that dub-like design that makes the actors sound like they’re in a studio recording their dialogue and thus isolates the vocals. Ambient track has foley written all over it with discernible focus on the twigs cracking and the birds chirping. Lets also no forget to mention to stock audio tracks of a wolf howl. There are no bonus features with this release. “Countrycide” woefully deserves a low end score, reeking up on an exploitation-survival horror by slapping together a poorly written script that cliche and trope-riddled, but being the Devil’s advocate enthusiast, “Countrycide” hit the next level in his carer even though that level might be still on the lower end of a split level, below grade.

Own Countrcide on DVD! Amazon.com

Bite Sized Evil With a Real Bite! “Ghastlies” review!


Four sorority sisters embark on a isolated cabin vacation for an all girls’ weekend in the quiet woods. Through all the booze and the trips to the lakeside beach, Sloane, Abby, Margot, and Lulu reap the benefits of solitude and sisterhood and just when everything seems to be going delightfully swell, even when Sloane’s perverse boyfriend and his friend show up unexpectedly, trouble brews beneath their feet, under the leaf-riddled surface, when Abby unwittingly unleashes three space originated, pint-sized ghastly ghouls. As the miniature and ferocious creatures rip through unlucky victims, nobody knows how to stop, let alone escape, their woodland carnage, especially when they’re being aided and abetted by human caretakers.

In the filmmaking fashion of Brett Piper (“Queen Crab”) or Mike Lyddon (“First Man on Mars”), Brett Kelly offers his low-rent talents in construction an 80s-esque creature feature on a pygmy scale in more ways than one. The Ontario born director has helmed a vast amount of independent b-horror prior to, including such great titled credits as “The Bonesetter,” “Attack of the Jurassic Shark,” and “Raiders of the Lost Shark.” Now, released for the very first time on any format, anywhere, is “Ghastlies,” a “Gremlines” or “Critters” creature feature that aims to rain down terror when all hell breaks loose with ankle biters running around and while the low budget production or creature value doesn’t par with the more popular Joe Dante or Stephen Herek films, the heartfelt attempt in this modern day feature accomplishes the intended effect of a 1980’s horror comedy, complete with synthesized score and era correlating attired.

“Ghastlies'” lineup consists of Brett Kelly regulars such as Jessica Huether and Kendra Summerfield from “Raiders of the Lost Shark.” Huether’s and Summerfield’s performance as the nerdy, yet overall good girl Abby and the snobby, superficially rich bitch Lulu, instilling the yin and yang personas of the group, and their joined by Julie Mainville and Kim Valentine as the unforgettably clueless Margot and the sisterhood leader in Sloane. Mainville more memorable out of the four sisters as she has spot on timing and delivery with the witless and likable Margot. John Migliore, known more for slabbing on the prosthetics and makeup to be a zombie, has a minor costarring role as a dimwitted bike cop Officer Vinnie and Migliore, whose donned zombie wear in films like “Land of the Dead” and “Ninjas vs Monsters,” filled multi-faceted shoes for the Kelly film by dappling into the spaceship special effects and providing the Ghastlies puppetry. Migliore’s Officer Vinnie is paired with another similar goofy character in Peter Whittaker as Officer Frank as well as Joel Elliott “Countrycide,” Eric Deniverville, Stephanie Moran, and Kyle Martellacci who also co-star in the zany trope-ladened homage. As his first feature credit, Chris Bavota’s script creates no real dynamic between the characters who all pertain to a self-serving purpose under a guise of slapped together dialogue that’s no more substantial than a boulder in outer space.

And there in lies the rub. “Ghastlies” inability to click together to fulfill the allusion of was what-once-was is the film’s weakness. The cartoonish hand puppets, the implausible effects, and the technical inconsistencies can all be overlooked as campy charm, passed aside to enjoy “Ghastlies” for what it’s worth, but what can’t subside is the wonky connection between the cast that doesn’t favor well that’s diluted at the end by the starkly questionable and abrupt editing, resulting in a presumed unfinished film that seeks to either be an open ended invitation for a potential sequel, defined by one of the characters standing up with a makeshift mini-gun and garbed in Rambo-like gear, or a hasty cut that provides a lukewarm, satisfactory, and budget friendly finale that actually invokes more confusion than viewership appeasement. Shortly following the live-action wrap up, a short animated comedy, illustrated by the multitalented John Migliore, in the same vain as the quirky Looney Tunes but with Ghastlies.

The lovely, cuddly, and ghoulish “Ghastlies” is released onto DVD and Blu-ray combo from Camp Motion Pictures. Image quality for the Blu-ray format is by far stunning for a low-budget feature presented in 1080p encoded MPEG-4 AVC BD 25. The coloring naturally displays and even the darks had great depth without distortion or inconsistencies. The English Dolby Digital 2.0 is another story as, unlike the image quality, the presentation is inconsistent with imbalanced levels that make a few scenes difficult to comprehend. Clarity isn’t necessarily an issue with no blights on the tracks, but the technical placements could have been smoother. The electric score score by Tomb Dragomir, the composers first score ever, manages to engross and re-illuminate the decade that inspires “Ghastlies.” Bonus material includes a special effects interview with john Migliore’s helping hand into Ghastlies’ FX, Tomb Dragomir discusses his experience scoring his first feature, “Ghastlies'” music video, the trailer and Camp Motion Pictures’ trailers, and an audio commentary with director Brett Kelly. “Ghastlies” is part “Gremlins,” part Lovecraftian, and all borderline shlock-y fun, but the loose character interactions and out of kilter editing embargo the full bodied experience.

“Ghastlies” available on Blu-ray!