When EVIL Gets Tough, You Fight Back! “The New Kids” reviewed!


Loren McWilliams and his sister Abby were both proud of their illustrious military careered father as well as adoring him immensely. When the teenagers’ parents set off toward Washington D.C. to receive a commendation from the President after foiling a terrorist hostage situation, Loren and Abby felt like the luckiest kids alive, but that all quickly changed with a phone call, announcing a deadly accident that killed both their parents. Somber in disbelief, Loren and Abby decide to take up on an offer from their uncle Eddie and aunt Fay who own a gas station and a joint rinky-dink amusement park in Glenby, Florida in hopes to whet the appetites of thrill seeking tourist right before hitting the major league theme parks of Disney. Settling into a new school system is relatively easy for the siblings who’ve often been use to moving from location-to-location with their father in military service, but acclimating to the local drug pusher, Dutra, along with his entourage of subversive delinquents, has placed a target on their backs. A cat and mouse game over dominance ensues with an unreasonable Dutra unable to ever settle the score until his complete satisfaction in punishing the new kids in town has been sated, even if that means Loren and Abby, and those close to them, have to fight for their very lives.

“The New Kids,” aka “Striking Back,” is a horrifying suspense thriller from the original “Friday the 13th” director Sean S. Cunningham and penned by the father of Maggie and Jake Gyllenhaal, Stephen Gyllenhaal, and “Visiting Hours” screenwriter, Brian Taggert. Instead of a lurking serial killer stalking and massacring half-naked and carefree camp counselor teens on a secluded camp ground, Cunningham tackles felonious teenagers wreaking havoc on popular outsiders treading on their drug turf, especially those who give a good fight back. “The New Kids” bombards every scene with caustic, no-good trouble and when push comes to shove, the only rational is to give the razor-edge scrap right back in a serrated do or die narrative.

Before the face of the collegiate admission scandal and before being the beloved onscreen mother to twins fathered by Uncle Jess on “Full House,” Lori Loughlin co-stars with Shannon Presby as on the defensive Abby and Loren. Presby slightly overshadows Loughlin as a stronger character or presence on screen. Loren continuously evolves through the storyline beginning as a well-rounded, cool-headed, optimistic son who recently lost his parents and then blossoms through bullying and violence as a mad dog protecting what’s his – family. Abby staggers quite precariously and never quite finds her footing in the grand scheme of things other than being a passive victim of Dutra and his gang. Even the contrast between Loren and Abby’s respective love interests is lopsided as Loren and his girlfriend (“Silent Madness’” Paige Price) dominate the dynamically in comparison to Abby and an underused and very youthful looking Eric Stotlz (“The Prophecy”). The real stud of “The New Kids” is a young, slim James Spader (“Wolf” and “The Blacklist”). Pure platinum blonde hair topping piercing eyes with a pinch of a Boston accent really brought out the villain in Spader in one of his very first feature films. Many other familiar faces in the cast, some familiar amongst horror fans, including John Philbin (“Return of the Living Dead”), the late Eddie Jones (“C.H.U.D.”), and the legendary Tom Atkins (“The Fog” and “Halloween III”) in a brief role. The remaining cast round out with Vince Grant, David MacDonald, Theron Montgomery, Lucy Martin, and Jean De Baer.

On the surface, “The New Kids” might seem polar opposite to Cunningham’s franchise birthing “Friday the 13th” series, but if looking with a keen eye, Cunningham has slapped and slathered his style all over the bullying barraging thriller. Techniques such as the camera focusing on feet that come out from hiding, the sudden appearance of people behind objects, and the menacing atmosphere of being watched are sensationalized characteristics of his camper slasher flick. Also, though the soundtrack is akin to the likes of Harry Manfredini, it was actually composed by the renowned Lalo Schilfrin who more than like was given precise instructions from Cunningham to compose a companion like score with a twist of a new kind of fear.

Mill Creek Entertainment presents Columbia Pictures’ “The New Kids” onto a Blu-ray home video with a widescreen 1.85:1 aspect ratio. The region A release on a BD25 has a well preserved transfer with little to no damaging issues and lots of good, wholesome natural grain speckling on the solid and wide range color palate. Even the darker scenes have pronounced definition so nothing is obscured from the viewer. The English language DTS-HD Master Audio track is quite robust with no sings of hissing or crackling during the entire 90 minute runtime. Even with Loren is whispering to Dutra in an intense claustrophobic and apprehensive scene, Loren is audible and understood, completing a dialogue friendly release with a, as aforementioned, a baleful score by Lalo Schilfrin. English SDH subtitles are also included. Unfortunately, there are no bonus features on this release; however, the retro style slipcover, where the VHS tape looks to be protruding from the VHS box, is a nice tough by Mill Creek Entertainment, especially with the faux wear around the edges and on the facade. For director Sean S. Cunningham, “The New Kids” steered clear of being a Voorhees repeat, but was certainly a recapitulation of Cunningham’s strong suits and with a strong, confident cast, “The New Kids” is sorely understated and overshadowed and I’m personally pleased that Mill Creek Entertainment delivered a Blu-ray release to the U.S. even if there are no bonus features.

The New Kids available at Amazon!

One Wish Sparks a Lifetime of Evil. “A Wish for the Dead” reviewed!


Ever since his wife’s life has staggered on the near brink of death, John’s mental state has been thrust into constant turmoil. Unable to get straight answers from doctors and stuck inside the vapid white walls of a hospital, John remains by his unconscious wife’s hospital bed. When a mysterious man with a severely disfigured face wrapped in bandages offers him a locket that will grant him a single wish, John’s desperation to try anything to save her soul stretches beyond logic and reality, overpowering his rational principles. Despite coming with an ambiguous warning on how to detail his wish, John heedlessly requests that death cease to exist. The locket grants endless life not only for John’s wife, but for everyone as the dead rise from their eternal slumber in perpetual anguish that sends them into a frenzy of violence without a means to an end.

“A Wish for the Dead” is the first venture into a Renegade Art production and a Shami Media Group, or SMG, release for Its Bloggin’ Evil and, to be frank, the viewing re-establishes a couple of important things: 1) “A Wish for the Dead” has tremendous bite for an under the radar flick and 2) never rule out modestly financed films based on their technical appearances. The 2014 micro-budget indie horror from the short film director of “The Confession of Fred Kruger,” Nathan Thomas Milliner, along with the editing, photography, and co-writing assistance from “Girl Number Three” writer Herschel Zahnd, takes the cautionary tale themed with a careful what you wish for approach when despondency has one backed against the wall that leads to direly lethal negligence. Milliner’s film that’s based off a comic book of the same title might not be “Wishmaster,” starring Andrew Divoff, but can certainly be grouped into that similar genre realm where the ugliness of mysticism mischief can be personally devastating instead of gratifying. The film can also be lassoed into the over saturated zombie category because, well, you know, the whole arise of the undead thing.

“A Wish for the Dead” has a fairly large cast, but doesn’t have definitive leads. Instead, Milliner and Zahnd scribe a tale with miniature, personal scenarios for characters with John being a considerable catalyst or, an interpretation, of a centralized character. John’s played by Chris Petty, who had a bit part in the Zac Efron Ted Bundy biopic “Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile,” and despite the character being fairly one dimension, Petty sells the performance of a grieving, greedy husband. John encounters the mysterious, disfigured stranger in a trench coat, head wrapped like a mummy, and nodding John over like a he’s going to sell him a knockoff Rolex from the inside lining of his coat, in Robert Hatfield that tempts him with the wish granting locket. Hatfield version of a biblical villain has charismatic and devilish value, but nothing new to note the rendition from previous performances of shallow humor and sly mischief upon an cutting grin. Branch off stories that indulge into supporting characters un-charmed, demised lives fill in the gaps and provide fuel for the undead fire and these supporting characters include Lori Cooke (“Girl Number Three”), Kristine Renee Farley (Hi-8 – Horror Independent 8), Adam Pepper (“The Zombie Movie”), Julie Strebl (“Volumes of Blood: Horror Stories”) and Ashley Anderson.

The beginning of this film starts off oddly as soon as the title credits roll for the feature film and coming to the realization that the viewer is actually not submersed into the actual story yet. First slither portion of the film is a short thriller, noted at the conclusion as being directed also by Milliner, that becomes clearly distinct from the rest of the plot line. The abnormal sequence snaps the story’s fluidity as a seamed segue that then constructs the multiple-tiered building blocks for the heart of the feature. Once the short has past, much to our chagrin that we believed to be the actual film, “A Wish for the Dead” goes into a precision mode with coordinating individually wrapped death backstories and while Milliner attempts to get us to care about these characters, all is washed away and lost when death revokes all their previous, present, and future terminations. The backstories become null and void when not circled back to for the exception of John and his wife that find’s a sweet ironic malevolency making “A Wish for the Dead” satisfying in the end.

MVDVisual and Shami Media Group courteously releases Nathan Thomas Milliner’s “A Wish for the Dead” onto a not rated DVD home video. Presented in a stretched 16:9 aspect ration, the lossy video quality and the lack of color, mostly in a squashy greenish-yellow, chap into sore spots along the 80 minute runtime to the almost the point of SOV quality. Darks are plagued with digital noise that remove the sharp quality from the image, leaving the story to fend for itself and make up for the lack of presentation. The English 2.0 stereo sound mix pops during the higher pitches of dialogue and of some action points, but the dialogue is in the forefront and nicely balanced amongst depth and range considering. There are no bonus features on this release, but as an interesting note, Milliner illustrated much of Scream! Factory’s home video artwork (releases such as “Halloween II and III”) and for HorrorHound Magazine. The artist and filmmaker’s graphically detailed and perfectly suited talents grace the SMG cover as well. A wish granted for the major win with “A Wish for the Dead” as a macabre success story for independent filmmaking for aspiring artists despite the post-production engineering for a cleaner release, but death isn’t pretty, is it?

Watch “A WISH FOR THE DEAD” on PRIME VIDEO!