EVIL’s Feast or “Famine” reviewed!


An annual high school famine event goes horribly wrong when a prank backfires, killing popular teacher Mr. Balszack and scarring those directly responsible for his untimely death. Five years later, a new student seeks to revive the famine-for-24-hour old tradition, inviting the same familiar faces involved in the prank, and hoping to rejuvenate vigor into the even again. Clicks form, alliances solidify, and outsiders become the insiders into just what’s really happening to the graduating class. With the night still young, a killer masquerading as the school’s mascot, The Nailer, exacts a terrible death upon those trying to not die of hunger or become dead from being categorized as unpopular. No one is safe from The Nailer who has chained the doors and has hands on every school authorized item weaponized for his eviscerating pleasure.

High School has never looked so dreadful from the late Ryan Nicholson’s written and directed 2011 gory slasher-comedy, “Famine,” co-written by “Girls Guns and Blood’s” Jeff O’Brien from a Taylor Nicholson story. Nicholson, who died this past October due to brain cancer, was for most a special effects guru who worked on well known films such as “Final Destination,” “Blade: Trinity,” and most recently, last year’s “The Predator,” but Nicholson was also a writer and director who specialized in gruesome, off-color horror, including a bowling horror-comedy “Gutterballs,” a bloody revenge thriller starring Debbie Rochon in “Hanger,” and a cannibalism film of the psychosexual style titled “Collar,” all of which have been released by notable cult home video distributors. With the Canadian bred “Famine,” the multitalented Nicholson had already found DVD distribution with his own company, Plotdigger Films, and a limited collector’s edition with Shock Entertainment back in 2013, but the indie extreme horror devotee, Unearthed Films, have reclaimed the New Image Entertainment title rights for a high definition Blu-ray release.

“Famine’s” quick to gut story doesn’t leave much room to build character, leaving much to exposition in the parameter of backstory, and only dances around the prospect of a principal role. Christine Wallace comes close to that role with Jenny, a ditzy school regular with a case of yelling tourettes syndrome and a hard on for another girl’s boyfriend, as a character on the outskirts of what really happened to Mr. Balszack that fateful famine day. Tall, broad shoulder, well-endowed, and with a pixie cut, Wallace is a striking actress acting similar to a baboon with a backpack and books. Also hot in the sultry pen, but in a more cool, calm, and mysterious way is Miss Vickers under the dark and tepid attributes of Michelle Sabiene. Sabiene and Wallace balance out with a warm blend of vapid cold and vivacious hot that split like a log under the stroke of an axe with Beth Cantor’s performance of Cathy, a mentally challenged student who often exchange sallied remarks with her quasi-friend Jenny and is seemingly the epicenter of Mr. Balszack’s demise. Cantor’s hunched over, Jerry Lewis crosse-eyed, and mimics the movements of a stiff corpse to obtain an overplayed performance that sticks out like a sore thumb and doesn’t pleasantly compliment the ruckus hijinks of a trope-ladened volley. The remaining “Famine” cast closes out with Nathan Durec, Sanya Silver, Terry Paugh, Thabi Maphoso, Ady Mejia, Gustavo MacSerna, Christopher Lomas, Karyn Halpin, Des Larson, and Glenn Hoffmann as the Nazi sympathizing Principal Nielsen.

Being familiar with “Gutterballs” and “Collar,” going into “Famine” with an open mind and the expectation that there will be blood spilled and gore galore was an easy sell for me to plop my keester down, pop the disc into the player, and press play with conviction. Yet, certain bars were reluctantly met with “Famine” and, by golly, it is my sincerest hope that I do not defile the recently deceased’s good name and reputation with my honest negativity, but after thoroughly enjoying the tasteful practical gore effects with the disemboweling spillage, the ramming of a nail spike to the head, and the sulfuric acid doused melting man, “Famine” carries a languid story with characterizations held sparely together with lose threads and comedy that’s flushed with odd behavior rather than genuine purpose. “Famine’s” an inflammatory reckoning of pervertible indecencies and blood with a harking slasher, a score well deserving of Nicholson’s legacy, but the point, if there is one, falls flat and hard on it’s face executing a fail in materializing an organized chaos that “Gutterballs” provided.

Unearthed Films have been a good friend to Ryan Nicholson with a home video release of “Collar” and a segment on “The Profane Exhibit.” Now, along with MVDVisual, “Famine” comes to feast onto Blu-ray presented in widescreen, shot in a high defintion 1.85:1 aspect ratio, with a just over an hour runtime of 77 minutes. Image wise, the Matt Leaf cinematography is bright, clean, and on the side of a warm sterile shade of yellow, but offers nothing truly new to the genre or find adulation from the comedy of it all. Still, not a single issue with uninspired imagery. The English language Dolby Digital 2.0 renders a heavy score track that softens the dialogue track. Dialogue does, at times, becomes a strain to discern. Range and depth on the ambient track fairs better with plentiful slasher characteristics. The bonus features are quite anemic with a still gallery and Unearthed Films’ trailers. “Famine” isn’t one to starve on an unpinned story as Nicholson carves up a mediocre massacre with a filet mignon finish.

Click to buy “Famine” on Blu-ray!

Evil Gets Wild! “Cub” review!

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A troop of cub scouts set out on a camping trip in the deep forests near an abandoned bus factory. At the helm are three scout masters overseeing a handful of lively young cub scouts. One of children, Sam, has been through a troubled and violent past and has been labeled the outcast amongst the rest of the troop. Sam encounters a feral young boy, who has been trained by a murderous psychopath whom has made the woods his deadly home. As nobody believes Sam’s run-in with the wild boy whose been stealing around camp, the troop hastily concludes that Sam is lying and stealing, resulting in the trop disliking him even more all the while setting up their fate for something far much worse: a killer camping trip.
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Booby traps. Children vs. Children. Outside nude showering. An ingenious killer. Fun and newfangled horror has made it’s grand return since “The Collector!” Freshman director Jonas Govaerts, with a boat load of crowd funded money, has brought a keen eye to the campy, wooded survival genre with his independent film “Cub” aka “Welp” in the films original French/Flemish language. Going through the motions of setting up character development and moving the characters seamlessly into a ominous situation is what seems to come natural to director Govaerts. Unnaturally, Govaerts doesn’t explore the psychotic background of such an interesting, yet mysterious killer, leaving everything about the antagonist’s intentions to the imagination. This villain, only known as the “psychopathic mentor” on the Artsploitation Films Blu-ray back cover, maintains a dated, yet marathon technique killing spree operation underground in the dark woods, setting up crafty and deadly traps for those who embark on his land. There’s a little tidbit of setup on the killer from an officer explaining to the scout masters that the vacant nearby factory has made some previous employees disgruntled, making the land a cursed hotspot.
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“Cub’s” success mainly stems from it’s actors. Gill Eeckelaert, who has only “Cub” credited under his name, phenomenally creates a superbly feral and masked boy, surviving on the land and in the trees. With a scrawny physique and zero dialogue, Eeckelaert has formed a eerily scary character, more so than the actual menacing mentor. In all honesty, the feral boy should have been the main antagonist pitted against the troop. This character’s counterpart, Sam, played by Maurice Luijten is the epitome of good, yet something is off with the character as told with seldom sharing of the information about his past, his foster parents, his damaged photograph, and the list goes on. While a clear picture of Sam never fully emerges until the finale, the good that bubbles up from his character couldn’t be any more prominent as he’s contrast next to the constant bully shadow of a scout master named Baloo and his mindless troop of followers, looking to be cool in the Baloo’s perverted and unorthodox eyes. With only a handful of ally accompaniments on this trip, those who wish Sam harm outweigh those who want to protect him.
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With the “Lord of the Flies” similar attitude and with more than half your cast under the puberty requirement age, Govaerts ruthlessly places every single person in danger and places every single character on the chopping block. There’s no sugar-coated dancing around the innocent minors, making them actually part of the organic story instead of pussyfooting around them as if they’re made of fragile, non-tempered glass. However, I do feel the opportunity was completely wasted or missed to take out each individual character one-by-one with a signature death scene, but I don’t believe the effect of certain character or characters being dispatched watered down the “oh my god” value.
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The Artsploitation Blu-ray has a beautiful 2.35:1 ratio, widescreen presentation with only very little aliasing detected and the night scenes just as clear as the day scenes. The 5.1 Dolby Digital mix flawlessly contributes to the overall impact of the story, creating a great balance between LFE and HFE, dialogue, soundtrack, and ambient tracks while providing accurate and well-timed English subtitles. The superb giallo-esque score by Steve Moore, who goes under the pseudo name of Gianni Rossi and worked on “Gutterballs”, delivers an intense, on the edge of your seat synth rendition of danger and chase. “Cub” director Jonas Govaerts and his crew earns their merit badges for constructing a bloody and innovative film. Another winning release for Artsploitation Films and another recommendation from this reviewer.

Ready to Choke on Evil? “Collar” review!

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Rookie officer Dana starts her shift as usual and like any other night patrolling with her partner the drug dealt and working girl streets of the city. Responding to a working girl assault behind a pharmacy leads Dana down a path of violence, torture, rape, and cannibalism. A wandering drifter murders her partner and forces a leashed collar around her neck, raping her repeatedly, and subjecting her to his lunacy. Who will come to her rescue? Her pregnant lesbian girlfriend? The drug dealing pimp and his prostitute? Or will it be the two violence junkies looking to record every detailed of the wanderer?
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Director Ryan Nicholson, better known for his directorial of the 80’s slasher-homage film “Gutterballs,” pens and helms a disturbing look into the soul of a massive killer whose background involves clergy abuse leads him to renounce film, take up Satanist rituals, and reek havoc amongst anybody who stands in his way. Genre vet Nick Principe (Chromesull from the “Laid to Rest” films) dons the garbage-clad homeless man look and uses his gargantuan build to create the character of Massive, a stricken man living off abusive fears and a re-wired mental state where killing, raping, and chowing down on human hearts is all he knows.
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But where Massive’s rampage stems from his backstory narrated by flashbacks to explain his intentions, his hunger for hearts can be only guessed at for his rituals for Satan. That’s the whole state of “Collar,’ where the motivation is a guessing game and instead, “Collar” also realistically reveals a more perversive farce to not only Massive’s maniacal being, but to also the surrounding stereotyped characters begging to become dead meat at the hands of Massive. Not one single character to put stock into leaves more than a bad taste and we circle back around to the only character for whom to root for and that would be Massive. Even Dana, our supposed heroine according to the synopsis, isn’t a tough cop. Dana gives up almost immediately to Massive and doesn’t fight back agains’t her rape and doesn’t fight for her survival. Instead, Dana whimpers and cowers, too afraid to take on the brute who gutted her partner and ate his heart.
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Gore is where the film flourishes but, sadly, that is where the blooming ends. “Collar” is a ride at an amusement park that looks so thrilling, so exciting, so stimulating that you’re thirst to ride can hardly be quenched, but when the ride comes to an end and you’re walking out the ride’s gate, you grumble under your breath becomes you’ve been lied to because the fierce facade of the ride was only a mask, a smoke and mirror, to lure you into a mediocre experience. That’s how I felt after viewing “Collar.” The promising cover and a synopsis had to drooling from the mouth, but the girth, the heart and soul, didn’t thrill me nor excite me – well maybe Aiden Dee and Mihola Terzic’s nude scenes might have perked me up a tad and gave me a thrill somewhere.
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Positives due reside in Ryan Nicholson’s “Collar.” Chillwave snyth music from Protector 101 (http//protector101.bandcamp.com) puts the work in for the score at the beginning and ending credits creating a retro vibe that might suit Nicholson’s “Gutterballs” than “Collar.” Unearthed Films is a particular film label that you can expect some nasty, gore and shock films from and “Collar” certainly fits the mold, but as of late the quality of the films have diminished and not so much the storyline but also on the technical side. The ambiance score drowns out too many scenes wroth of dialogue making the dialogue totally inaudible.

“Collar” is a short 77 minute film of one man’s distaste for humanity and to deliver evil amongst all. Certainly an anti-religion, or anti-clergyman, film sparking more controversy than entertainment when consisting of three rape scenes, multiple eaten hearts, unhelpful voyeurs, and a savor for vengeful justice. “Collar” hits retail shelves November 18.

Evil Spares No One! Gutterballs review!

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Somebody should tie my feet together, hang me upside down, put a bag over my head, and just beat the shit out of me with a Louisville Slugger for an hour or two. I held onto the Ryan Nicholson’s Gutterballs DVD for nearly 4 years and just popped the disc into the player this past Wednesday. Gutterballs is a the ultimate 80’s homage to the slasher genre where two rival bowling groups are trapped inside an after hours bowling alley being taken out one by one by a psychotic killer known as BBK – Bowling Bag Killer. Why have gone 1,460 days of not watching Gutterballs? Mostly because I have 2,500+ movies and a wife who doesn’t care much for horror movies. I’m limited to 1 to 2 horror movies a week. Yup, I’m doomed.
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Gutterballs doesn’t just claim to be an 80’s homage, there lies true behind their claim. Though the characters might a bit of annoying, overly zealous, and dislikable, I did find everything else to be quite the throwback. The clothing, the editing, the violence, the special effects – all of these qualities harked back to the glory days. The characters, as I were saying, nearly ruined the whole thing by being over the top and I’m sure these characters are written to be this way, but why? The constant three assholes (one who chuckles for no good reason and I couldn’t wait for him to die), the every girl is a slut, and the outcasts were all well-done in a burnt steak kind of way.
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The nudity was nearly x-rated. We get to see Candice Lewald’s hamburger from behind and there is loads of fake dick sucking and dick disfiguring (turning a penis into a “mangina”). And lets not forget the barrage of gratuitous tit shots. Gutterballs is certifiably NC-17 and for good reason also for the two butt pucker rape scenes that will leave women and men cringing. Nicholson uses mainly schlock and shock value to get through to his audience without much of a plot behind it. The plot here is okay at best, but there lies many holes that need filling between the characters and their histories. More development is needed to give the story some girth, but when you’re creating a film with gallons of blood and naked chicks, I doubt a good story is on your mind because that won’t necessary bring in the big bucks.
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Gutterballs is a definite must for any gore fiend of the 80’s slasher film. Even the poster is rad with the homage to Maniac and the DVD cover is scantily clad with a blooding bowling pin. Gutterballs will make you want to go bowling afterwards, but it will also make you want to protect your all your holes from being invaded. Check this one out or you will strike out!