Don’t Let Evil Give You The Shaft! “Down” review!


One of New York City’s popular skyscrapers, the Millennial Building, is a modern marvel with 102 floors sought to be visited by national and international tourists, looking to reach the zenith and take a once-in-a-lifetime, awe inspiring gander across the Big Apple’s urban jungle landscape or seeking to be a working stiff inside the immaculate bones of the building’s historical foundation. Every day, thousands of visitors and employees ride the Millennial Building’s 73 elevators, assuming the safest ride possible to the touch the bottom of the sky, but when a deranged scientist implements a controversial biomedical computer into the building’s elevator vascular network, one tragic accident after another compiles fatal consequences within the vertical box that draws negative national attention. Elevator mechanic Mark Newman teams up with a rebellious newspaper reporter Jennifer Evans to investigate and uncover the a larger-than-life conspiracy behind a killer elevator organism.

Over three decades ago, Dutch filmmaker Dick Maas wrote, directed, and released the killer elevator film, simply titled “De Lift,” in the Netherlands. About 18 years later after his commercial success for “De Lift,” Mass spawned an American remake of the film entitled “Down,” also known as “The Shaft,” that transformed into the forgotten bastard when compared to Maas’ 1983 feature. To be frankly, “Down’s” terror-comedy knack with spunky characters and zany deaths put the 2001 remake right smack dab at the top of the repeat value charts and despite the lack of rigorous plausibility, the refreshingly no-holds barred, fun zone horror film doesn’t think twice, charging forward with gun blazing in an elevator ride to cinematic hell that shows no mercy and gives not one single care with each surpassing floor level. Be damned the backstory with meager exposition! Be damned the underdeveloped characters who are pivotal to the plot! Be damned the complexities of how the biomedical elevator system is able to live, breath, and reproduce through murder and mayhem! “Down” has a black and white, up and down glory that’s considered b-horror good that’s very reminiscent of the early films of Peter Jackson.

If you’re going to remake a killer elevator film, go big with the cast and Mass surely pulled through by signing cult genre stars of the time. Naomi Watts was just coming into the mainstream scene as she tackled well-received projects around that same time frame between David Lynch’s “Mulholland Dr.” and “The Ring” a year later, but the “Tank Girl” actress showed more than just her aesthetic assets, more than just shrieking horrific screams, and more than just displaying her big guns. In “Down,” she proved to be a gung-ho, rough-it-with-the-boys portrayer of a feisty reporter whose hot on the trail of a conspiracy helmed by surreptitious characters played Michael Ironside, who did not lose an arm in this film like he does in “Total Recall,” “Starship Troopers,” and “The Machinist,” and Ron Pearlman (“Hellboy,” “Cronos”). However, James Marshall, in the lead as the elevator mechanic, couldn’t ratchet tight a performance that called for concern and durability; instead, Marshall, known for playing James Hurley in “Twin Peaks,” schlepped clumsily on screen compared to the aggressively hungry Watts. Eric Thal (“The Puppet Masters”), Dan Hedaya (“Alien: Resurrection”), Edward Herrmann (“The Lost Boys”), and Kathryn Meisle (“Basket Case 2”) round out the remaining cast.

“Down’s” commercial success was plunging disaster. Reasons ranging from a flimsy premise to being an unconventional horror to the genre were, more than likely, not the major players in “Down’s” inability to elevate an audience. More so, the reasons stem solely between one or two factors, if not both. For one, Maas writes New Yorkers as belligerent morons, cocky, greedy, and deranged. Many of the characters are like this and if there was any that embodied any sliver of rationality or humanitarian attributes, there screen time was quick and fruitless. Secondly, though “Down” released in the spring of 2001, a film set in a New York City high rise with multiple mentions of terrorists and even verbally conveying a foiled plot to take down the twin towers probably hurt the film’s home entertainment value to the point where a DVD release didn’t surface until a good two years after the theatrical premiere.

Aside from all the delays, harsh reviews, and a shoddily cropped Artisan DVD release, Blue Underground delivers a godsend presenting “Down” on Blu-ray/DVD combo. The 1080 HD on a BD 50 dual layer disc has a widescreen 2.35:1 aspect ratio and radiates with clarity; so clear, that I had a hard time placing the year as the image certainly outshines most turn of the century products. An immense amount of detail just exemplifies the extraordinary content without appearing as a discount deal for special effects. Audio options include an English and French 5.1 DTS-HD and an English and French Dolby Digital stereo with both including optional English SDH subtitles and Spanish subtitles. The amount of range is leaps and bounds beyond the Artisan’s par quality with the 5.1 channelling maximized quality and clarity. Dialogue track is clear and free from obstructions with the only stain being the horrendously dubbed diner jerk that punches James Marshall in the face, but that’s not necessary a make or break blemish. Bonus materials include audio commentary with writer-director Dick Maas and stunt coordinator Willem de Beukelaer, the making of “Down,” behind-the-scenes footage that’s exclusive to the Blu-ray, theatrical trailer, poster and still gallery, and teaser trailers of upcoming releases. The casing itself harnesses a collectible booklet with new essays by Michael Gingold. “Down” finally shines through with a stellar release from Blue Underground, a leader in restoring and releasing cult films. If in the mood for a story without much thought while desiring to choke on out of this world terror-comedy then “Down” is a must on the upcoming marquee!

Own “Down” on Blu-ray!

Evil Wants You to Say it’s Name! “The Bye Bye Man” review!


Elliot, Sasha, and John move into an old manor home just off the university’s campus. The tight knit three friends stumble upon a tattered nightstand with scribbled nonsense inside the drawer and underneath the incoherent writing and scratched into the wood is The Bye Bye Man. Once you hear the name, a searing imprint has been made into the mind, opening up a layer within the universe that invites a grim reaper-like figure to come horrifically collect individuals who have been infected with the name. The mysterious malevolence will impose hallucinations, or tricks, upon the mind to induce others to commit evil acts on another and will stop at nothing until those who know his name are either end up dead or spread his vileness. For Elliot, Sasha, and John, their close relationships will be tested, they’re bodies will be challenged, and their minds will be altered in a race against the clock in order to beat death, to defeat The Bye Bye Man.

“The Bye Bye Man” is an Universal Pictures and STX Entertainment distributed boogeyman concept from 1995’s “The Last Supper” director Stacy Title. Title, who hasn’t been active for about ten years since her last directorial, helms the project written by her husband, an appropriately named Jonathan Penner, who also had a co-starring role in “The Last Supper.” The inspiration stems from a collection of horrific tales from Robert Damon Schneck’s “The President’s Vampire: Strange-but-True Tales of the United States of America,” but “The Bye Bye Man” borrows heavily from well-crafted horror brethren too, birthing a mythological personification of death that doesn’t wield a scythe, but rather being a master, underneath a dark hooded cloak, to a hellish beast that munches on the faces of The Bye Bye Man’s victims. “A Nightmare on Elm Street,” “Final Destination,” and a little bit of “Scream” become the selected examples that are the genetic makeup of TItle and Penner’s film, but doesn’t grossly rip from the said works, two of which are the late Wes Cravens masterpieces. Instead, Jonathan Penner reconfigures the nightmare man, a modern day Freddy Krueger type stalking every soul during the day and night hours, whom establishes his own brand of Rube Goldberg deaths through deadly vision inflictions that pray upon a human’s moral subconscious. “Don’t say it. Don’t think it” sets as the 2017 film’s tagline with the notion that perhaps little white lies are, literally, lifesavers or that the truth can be hurtful, and or knowledge can be powerful, but can also lead to your own demise.

“Ouija’s” Douglas Smith succumbs to his lead role of Elliot, an educated and patient young man who seems to have everything despite tragic misfortune that’s whisked through the character development. From friends, to a supportive brother, to a loving girlfriend, Smith transition seamlessly to languishing burden during a spotlight scene with co-star Carrie-Anne Moss (“Matrix”) that’s raw and cuttingly empathetic. The story centers around Elliot, but Sasha and John have pivotable relationships to Elliot, two essential roles given to two British actors, former girl of Prince Harry, Cressida Bonas, and television actor Lucien Laviscount. Both Bonas and Laviscount expensed drab performances, mechanically and, often, monotonically coming and going from scene-to-scene without mingling well into the rest of the film’s grim and dire trimmed overalls that basically left Smith out to pick up the slack. Along with Carrie-Anne Moss, who always seems to be typecast in a women of power role and, in this case, a detective, “The Bye Bye Man” sports other veterans of both horror and general film, but; instead, take a backseat to a younger generation of actors. “HellBoy’s” Doug Jones silently strolls through one of the easiest prosthetically garbed performances of his illustrious career as the titular character, genre stable Leigh Whannell (“Saw”) commits to a haunting performance as a murder-suicide martyr, and the legendary Faye Dunaway portrays a longtime widow of the aforementioned madman. Michael Trucco (“Wishmaster 4: The Prophecy Fulfilled”), Jenna Kanell, Cleo King (“Hood of Horror”), and Erica Tremblay round out the supporting cast.

Universal picking up a horror title resembling an infantile kids feature and releasing it theatrically might with relatively unknown, mostly non-American cast, will scratch some questioning heads, but with a well oiled supporting cast consisting of many years of guild service, a director, despite being inactive for many years, maintaining a sensible and visionary eye, and a story, aside from a few underdevelopments, that captivates with edge of your seat scares and with next moment eagerness, “The Bye Bye Man” has great potential. With smoothing out details of Elliot’s and The Bye Bye Man’s backstories and construing more of a slow burn method when getting the characters involved with the ‘don’t think it, don’t say it’ villain name, Universal would have increased their gross profits by double and the world would be happy once again. Unfortunately, that scenario was not the case as credits bombarded “The Bye Bye Man” as about as borrowed and as hokey as any low-budget horror film can be, but “The Bye Bye Man” surpassed the production budget by triple and to me, someone who generally has the same stance as most credits, that’s a win for Stacy Title and company.

The Intrepid Pictures and Los Angeles Media Fund production “The Bye Bye Man” makes a Universal Pictures Home Entertainment debut on a two-version unrated Blu-ray and DVD combo. The MPEG-4 AVC, 1080p Blu-ray disc contains a razor sharp image in the 1.85:1 presentation. Depth and shadows phenomenally define the space, especially in closer quarters and the ariel shots. A motif of bleak black and grim grey is consistent throughout, creating a tone through the darker shades, with vivid hues to gloriously fend for themselves amongst the achromatic reel landscape. The English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 surround sound doesn’t feign in the balance category with dialogue prevalence not short of excellence and, much like other atmospheric horror, the spooky elements are outlined in various levels from a coin dropping to a train horn. Bonus features are surprisingly zilch with no extras on either format; I guess there wasn’t much to say during or post-film. In all, “The Bye Bye Man” is a total hack with plot holes. A completely borrowed and revamped product with a terribly childish title promising nothing to the genre, but that doesn’t necessarily mean “The Bye Bye Man” can’t be entertaining, providing a wicked sense of humor and a morbid final destination outlook with unexpected casting choices and a barely bordering PG-13 horror rendering.

Say Buy to “The Bye Bye Man” at Amazon.com!

How About A Nice Evil Plate of Hillbilly, Long Pig Meat? Legend of the Hillbilly Butcher!

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Taking after his demented butcher of a father, Carl Henry Jessup (Paul E. Respass) is a backwoods living hunter whose local delicacy amongst his surround neighbors is serving up grade-A human meat for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Carl relives the past with the tragic death of a murder-suicide of his parents and tries to summon them to live again with the help a demon named Sam Bakoo. When the loner cannibal doesn’t get his wish from Sam Bakoo, he curses and rejects the demon starting a whole new set of problems for poor old Carl. All this is told in narrative story of the “Legend of the Hillbilly Butcher” to three young children by an old man who knows Carl and his murderous history.
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Director Jaoquin Montalvan could be considered the underground doppleganger of Rob Zombie in filmmaking especially in “House of a 1000 Corpses” or “The Devil’s Rejects.” In the “Legend of the Hillbilly Butcher”, all the makings of a Rob Zombie like film are accounted for with the exception of hard rockabilly music. White trash and white trash dialogue? Check. Grindhouse style editing and cinematography? Check. Cannibalism and demon summon horror genre? Check. It isn’t like Montalvan exactly mirror’s Zombie’s films from scene to scene. Montalvan makes this film his own in the subtlety of the work; many of the scenes are low key and not over the top with dialogue and heavy moments of stimulating effects. And the indie director does make this into a bit of a horror comedy. In a number of scenes, the characters will sit across from each other, have a meal or a drink of moonshine, and bullshit in a quippy could of way. End scene.
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The cannibalism story tangent takes a bit of a backseat to the demon that plagues Cary Henry. The quick switch in plot direction is a good, positive change for the Hillbilly Butcher as monotony would set in with the cannibalism plot line. Much of the “meat” effects were a bit scarce and cheesy. The dead bodies were not so realistic. But the quick edited dream sequences of Sam Bakoo and Carl Henry’s visions of Sam Bakoo were intense, surreal, and welcomed. What also helped was the performance from amateur actor Allen East as Sam Bakoo – a scrawny, bald man who can conform with the best of them like Doug Jones from “Hellboy.”
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Another good actor (or actress in this case) is Theresa Holly. A blue eyed, black haired beauty with a bust that would break hearts. Her character Rae Lynn, a friend of Carl Henry, is sweet and tender but when push comes to shove, her salvation lies with her fighting for her life. While there were no nude scenes for her character, Theresa Holly does do some bra and panty scenes in a, and again in a Rob Zombie like way, montage scene.
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With any cannibal archetype or cannibalism film, I expect a lot of gore and with a title like the Legend of the “Hillbilly Butcher”, there comes an expectation that meat would be separated from the bone for consumption. Well, prepared to be mostly disappointed with only one real scene of disembowelment. The scene is fairly gory and intestinally jarring, the movie is practically over by the time we get to this scene. The film does speak more to it’s tone toward placement in the world and in the afterlife; how the good become better and those who do wrong get what they deserve in the end.
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MVDVisual is releasing this 2012 festival hit on September 23rd, 2014 and while I won’t expect this to be flying off the shelves, reaching cult status in a matter of weeks, I do expect a pretty good following for poor old Carl Henry.

NUDITY REPORT

Theresa Holly (NON-NUDE) – Bra & Panties / Cleavage

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Trailer: The Canal

David life is perfect. He has a beautiful wife and a wonderful, young boy. When David discovers that his home has an ugly past of ghastly murders, that’s when things start to fall a part. His marriage falls through the cracks and he begins to lose his sanity which he blames everything on an entity that lives in his house – the entity in the form of the murderer whom he believes committed the heinous murders at the turn-of-the-century.

I’m not one for overseas ghost films, but “The Canal” looks sharp and really seems to get into your mind, questioning whether David is actually seeing a ghost or he might really be going insane.

“The Canal” hits select theaters, iTunes, and VOD October 10th and starring “Hellboy’s” Rupert Evans.

From the Evil Mind of Don Coscarelli! John Dies at the End review!

jdateposterIf you did a retrospective analysis of Don Coscarelli’s film career and try to pinpoint Coscarelli’s area of specialty with in the realm of horror, you’ll wind up scattered all over the place unable to achieve an exact position of Coscarelli’s sub-genre schtick. His latest (and greatest) film endeavor John Dies at the End embarks on being Coscarelli’s next longevity cult hit. Unpredictable and captivating forces you to forget that this indie movie bares no no-named stardom and borders the edge of “crinchable” special effects, but the story grabs you, shakes you, chews you up, and spits you out wanting to know more while leaving you wondering what the hell just happened…in a good way.

Paranormal exorcists and best friends David and John are bound by the supernatural Soy Sauce, a jet black living drug that give David and John the outer body experience and is the source of their powers to fight evil. The Soy Sauce has a ying-yang affect and drive them down a path of sends them into another dimension to face off agains’t a monstrous being that wants to absorb their dimensions knowledge by digesting everything they know!
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John Dies at the End won’t scare you. There are no thrills or chills. What it will do is give you a wicked acid trip. Where bits of meat conjure together to become a meat monster, where door handles morph into large veiny penises, and where eye balls burst out by soul devouring gnats! Only Coscarelli’s mind could be this warped and that warp sense mixture of humor and horror keeps our attention waiting to see what happens next. This mixture also drives the film which is a definite positive, but can also be a negative.

Coscarelli’s film feels all over the place that makes the concept hard to grasp. The non-linear plot places characters in our conscious in disorderly manner without any grounded statuses. By the end of the movie, I start to wonder if there are pieces missing from the story boards. The concept of time doesn’t seem to exist and that might be part of the film’s facade as the drug-fueled outer-body experience.

Chase Williamson and Rob Mayes are great as Dave and John. Dave’s a passive person with a sarcastic attitude but willing to stand John’s frantic personality. John, as I said before, is a bit spastic and has that carpe diem attitude. Their contrast draws them together to form a powerhouse team. Tack on Clancy Brown as a co-worker of their trade with a sleazy white hairdo and Paul Giamatti as a skeptic feature reporter and you have great talent supporting the the two leads who are already phenomenal as your slummy ghostbusters. Doug Jones (Hellboy) makes an appearance whose character doesn’t have enough time screen in my opinion as an other dimension mystic. Lets not forget the cameo of Angus Scrimm as a demon priest – fantastic.
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John Dies at the End will smack you in the face and you’ll smile at the end. You’ll definitely get some laughs because this horror comedy is nearly in the same vein as the Bubba Ho-tep with the anal soul sucking mummy. Magnet Releasing brings you the next Don Coscarelli hit and you can purchase at Amazon.