Evil is Starving for Your Parts! “Model Hunger” review!

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Former pin-up model Virginia “Ginny” Smith lives a solitary life on the street of a quiet Buffalo, New York suburban neighborhood. Her modeling past was prosperous, posing erotically with curves similar to that of pin-up queen Bettie Page, up until a newer, thinner model named Chloe undermines Ginny’s magazine spread career. Feeling abandoned, physically tortured, and seeking revenge throughout the years, Ginny eats up the competition from thin, to the fake, and to the virginal…literally! Sal and his mentally instable wife Debbie move in next door to Ginny. Soon after, Debbie suspects that her elder neighbor might be up to no good as people go into Ginny’s house but never come out. Chalking up her suspicions to psychosis, Sal ignores Debbie’s accusations until he mysteriously perishes in a car accident. Now nothing can stop Debbie from investigating into Ginny’s cold blooded habits.
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“Model Hunger” is the long awaited directorial debut from long time scream queen and B-movie horror icon Debbie Rochon that publicly displays the dementedness clinging to the inner walls of her brain. Helming from off the screenplay penned by “Seed 2” producer James Morgart, Rochon quickly denotes the position of anti-supermodel figure, turning the thin, the snooty, and those who encourage that sort of behavior into nothing more than a gloppy stew of human chow. “Model Hunger” parodies the serious nature of young women whom go to extreme lengths of imitating the model beauties of today, but the film isn’t a clear-cut horror-comedy per say; instead, the genre of a bizarre cannibalism life style or social commentary revenge film might better suite the self-centering tone.
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The premise most definitely classifies as a film Debbie Rochon would personally headline; Rochon personalized “Model Hunger” to her taste, but this time, Rochon’s sister-in-horror, Lynn Lowry (George A. Romero’s “The Crazies”) headlines as the vengeful, cannibalistic Ginny Smith. Lowry puts the hot in psychotic with a Southern Belle twist, delivering a memorable performance as a cougar-gone-cannibal and her character scores much of the Morgart screenplay dialogue that is overwhelmingly philosophical and ranting compared to a more downplayed principal character in the film’s third horror star – the veteran Tiffany Shepis. Shepis is Debbie next door and though that sounds like a title of a boorish 70’s porn, Debbie struggles with being burned out from a psychosis state that results in plagues of nightmares and prescribed pills. Aside from maybe the pill popping, nothing about Debbie’s persona brings to mind a porn starlet.
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Contrary to a pair prominent female actresses who bring talent and experience from cult films such as “Tromeo and Juliet” and “Shivers” and a highlight of co-stars including the wonderful Michael Thurber (“The Sins of Dracula”), Brian Fortune (“Game of Thrones”), Carmine Capobianco (Psychos in Love) and “Chainsaw Sally’s” Suzi Lorraine casted ironically as a voluptuously large television host of “Suzi’s Secret,” the James Morgart script just couldn’t pull all the talent together. Points of unfocused storytelling noticeably stemmed from the first few scenes involving uncouth and dolled up cheerleaders practicing their routine, receiving their fundraiser packet, and going door-to-door soliciting. These segments run a natural course of supposedly setting up Lisa Dee (cheerleader Missy in the film) and Samantha Hoy (cheerleader Katie in the film) as the film’s leads. The squad practice could have been completely omitted and the story would have worked just the same without bamboozling the main players Lowry and Shepis. The script drags to a slow drift during the second act by not proceeding with much character progression other than Ginny slaughtering snared victim-after-victim to fill her icebox of superficial-inspired characters.
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Honestly, the expectation of graphic violence had a sky high bar set upon the shoulders of Debbie Rochon’s inaugural film, but the special effects violence was unusually tame to a point, containing nothing too new and too extreme until near the finale that involves a naked Jehovah Witness and a medical grade scalpel. Aside from the lack of gross gratuity, the effects were borderline choppy; a prime example to consider would be the obvious rubber baseball bat, wielded by Ginny, that sprung forward and backward, like something out Looney Toon’s ACME company, when striking against an object, but “Model Hunger” was riddled, subtly throughout, with equipment flaws such as equipment shadows in scenes and a continuously shaky camera.
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Wild Eye Releasing’s unrated DVD is presented in a widescreen format with a Dolby Digital 2.0 audio mix. Aside from some awkward framing and a bitrate issue that causes a bit of blotchiness, the digital camera video looks good for the most part with an audio mix from “Friday the 13th” composer Harry Manfredini that’s well balanced. The director commentary, in the bonus features, is a highlight of the extras with Debbie Rochon letting you into her creative side of her film. The commentary is accompanied with deleted scenes, music video, an interview with Aurelio Voltaire, a Babette Bombshell short, trailers, and an Easter Egg! Overall, the underlining point is clear of reverse body-shaming in a very Hatfield versus McCoy scenario and Debbie Rochon, for her cherry-popping film, creates a solid horror entry that displays it’s quality scars and hiccups which the film, nor Rochon, apologizes for and that’s a filmmaker, and actress, I can get behind.

Buy Debbie Rochon’s first film “Model Hunger” at Amazon.com!

Evil Rises to Kill Teenagers! “Jonah Lives” review!

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A group of bored teenagers decides to up their spirits by dusting off a $25 Ouija board and taking it for a supernatural spin to reach those beyond the grave. When deep in chant, a contact is made with the spirit of a murdered man named Jonah. The arrogant teens conjuring seeks to try and resurrect Jonah for relentless vengeance on his killer – his wife. The teens’ arrogance gets the best of them and Jonah does rise from the grave, but his thirst for murder homes in on the teens’ lives and Jonah traps them inside a basement with no way out and no way of calling for dire help.
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“Jonah Lives” construction tends to be a respectful gothic budget horror film of meshed sub genres. Deep within the bone structures of the Luis Carvalho directed film lies a grab bag that includes zombies, possession, torment, and vengeance, but with a conglomerate of styles wrapped into one film, the difficult struggle of pinning down the motivation of our killer Jonah seems lost in translation. Certainly a force to be reckoned with who absolutely looks the part as a deteriorating dead guy, Jonah awakes from his angst-slumber to seek vengeance, but why take it out on the teenagers who resurrected him? That’s the million dollar question. Did the Ouija board inject evilness into Jonah to put him on such a murderous rage? What’s also odd is the character Zora, Jonah’s murderous ex-wife, is part of the cast but not necessarily included in harms way in the basement and isn’t a primary target for Jonah. Instead, Zora party-hardies upstairs with the rest of the intoxicated grownups.
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B-horror vet Brinke Stevens headlines “Jonah Lives” as Zora. Stevens’ role is fairly minor when compared to the other cast members who names probably make the D-list film status and are not as recognizable as Brinke Stevens. However, there are some strong performances from the relatively unknown cast giving the film more girth than the story itself. Lead actor Ryan Boudreau’s acting style is very relaxed and smooth as a known-it-all jock with a guilt-ridden conscious that brings the character a full 180 degrees. I wanted to note Nicole LaSala’s character Lydia, who either has a breakdown after the brutal and gruesome death of her boyfriend at the hands of Jonah or she just shares some sort of Ouija board connection with Jonah that drivers her absolutely mad. The tell all about Lydia comes to no unfold. LaSala’s embodies the soul of the Joker from Batman for Lydia who constantly laughs and being mean spirited toward the remaining survivors. I didn’t necessarily feel the spiritual connection between Lydia and Jonah and lean toward nixing that theory.
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The special effects are very minor, but appreciatively practical. The minute effects shouldn’t be unexpected due to budgetary constraints. Carvalho and his special effects team along with some simple editing tricks goes a long way. Not as bloody as hoped, but Jonah does commit to a classic zombie bite to the neck and takes a chunk out, stretching the skin and spewing blood out of the wound, chops an arm off Jean Rollin’s “Grapes of Death” style and bashes the victim with it, and caves in a few teen skulls. While there are moments of editing brilliance, there were many scenes that over edited and, basically, replayed the same scene from a different angle and this reoccured multiple times. Also, massive editing effect is like having an epileptic episode that numbs the brain.
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“Jonah Lives” hit retail outlets this past April and this 2012 zombie revenge film is looking to rise above the rest of the new releases. I’m thinking it’ll stay grounded because it’s resembles much of the same we’ve all seen before. I’d found myself entranced more with the score by Russell Estrela as it blends tonal styles of Italian Giallo with the 80’s slasher such as the repetition of Harry Mandfredini to the synth’s of John Carpenter. Check it out yourself from Wild Eye Releasing.