Evil Zombies Inherit the Earth! “Zombieworld” review!

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A deadly virus turns the world’s living population into a hoard of fleshing-eating, brain-devouring, gut-munching zombies and KRPS anchor Marvin Gloat bravely remains on the airwaves reporting the walking dead incidents from all over the globe until his very last breath. “Zombieworld” delivers an undead collection, glorified in gore, vicious in violence, and surely necessary for the human survival in a zombie inhabited world. From Canada to Australia and from the United States to Spain, the tales of the risen dead relentlessly show no mercy with no holds barred on the bloodletting.
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From RLJ Entertainment and Image Entertainment comes “Zombieworld” onto home DVD video from the United Kingdom and for all you zombie apocalypse nuts out there, “Zombieworld” will be your handbook guide through the trying times. “Zombieworld” is the epic storytelling of various zombie-related accounts from several countries directed by young and fresh talent who bring a blood bathed new take on a seriously soaked genre. The 11 narratives are unique in their own rite, but share a common horror-comedy element with the exception of a couple of segments. While internet researching on “Zombieworld,” my curiosity got the better of me and I wander onto other review sites to see what my peers’ opinions are about the collection of shorts and to my surprise, the reviews and opinions are fairly negative as the reviewers take in the collection as a whole that’s being glued together by an outer story segment. This style relates similarly to the V/H/S or HI-8: Horror Independent Eight’s way of conveying multiple short films with the outer-storying being their commonality.
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In fairness, yes, the outer-story does come off a bit cheesy especially with the animated zombies that resembles the Dire Strait music video “Money for Nothing,” but my main man Bill Oberst Jr. doesn’t disappoint as anchor man Marvin Gloat and his slow transition into one of the undead masses as he continues to report world incidences. However, my interests lie mainly with the girth of “Zombieworld” and what better way to start off the tale-telling by going head first right into an intense first-person take of “Dark Times” where a nuclear plant meltdown causes panic, extreme chaos, a heartless military response, and, of course, rampaging zombies! Bits of comedy come about with a zombie Santa, a golf-club wielding family, and ends with a stellar, monstrous finale that leaves you hanging for your own interpretation!
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One of my favorite shorts is the sacrilegious short “Fist of Jesus” directed by David Muñoz and Adrián Cardona. Jesus fights off undead acolytes, Romans, and, uh, cowboys in a gory old Peter Jackson type way and then some. The non-stop comedy and blood translates over to Muñoz’s and Cardona’s other short “Brutal Relax” along with a third co-director Rafa Dengrá. “Brutal Relax” awards itself as the grand finale of “Zombieworld” and rightfully so by being just as bloody as “Fist of Jesus” yet bringing in tons more comedy especially from lead actor José María Angorrilla who portrays a large and uptight, angry-issued ridden man needing of a vacation which becomes interrupted by sea-dwelling zombie-like creatures that rip apart the beach goers.
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There are segments that pay respects to other zombie-related medias such as Resident Evil. The Vedran Marjanovic Wekster directed “How to Survive a Zombie Apocalypse” are informative shorts that refer to a welcome to sign for Raccoon City and any self-respecting horror fan knows, Raccoon City is a big part of the Resident Evil series where all the Umbrella Corporation hijinks go down. “Teleportal,” helmed by Paul Shrimpton, also pays homage to another video game series that is first person shooter entitled House of the Dead. Forget Uwe Boll’s mess of a film and go for the throat of this short that sucks in a gun-toting controlling player through his television set and right into the zombie attack that contains an ironic and spectacular game-over ending.
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Though many of the segments are inspirational, “Zombieworld” does contain some originality. The Aussie-born Cameron McCulloch directed “Home” starring a lovely Jamie McDowell contains no dialogue, but conveys the rough time McDowell’s character goes through with the loss of her fiance who she has chained up. Her loss is so tremendous that she is unsure on how to use her last remaining bullet – will she kill her fiance’s corpse or will she kill herself? The Irish horror-comedy “I Am Lonely,” directed by Phil Haine, follows an naive and annoying young man named Chris living in a zombie overrun town who comes home to his apartment and finds his friend Steve has been fatally injured. As Chris dim wittingly spills out all the absurdities he’s done to Steve, Steve’s injury isn’t solely zombie-related and that’s where things get interesting. Also, an American film entitled “Certified” is not necessarily a zombie short, but only implies to the undead. Luke Guidici directs Rebecca Spicher as young Alice who tells the grim tale of her uncle and cousin’s mind shaft demise to a gullible new mailman that nearly scares him right out of his USPS uniform.
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Lastly, some shorts follow a more heart-pounding scenario. For example, “Dead Stop” by director Tommy Woodard is a CCTV shot short that has a police officer pulling up on a frantic woman who is trying to save her bitten husband. The scene grows more intense when the husband turns on his wife. Realistically surreal with well acting completes this short and fits right in with the “Zombieworld” collective. Another intense short with a synonym-like title is the first person view of “Dead Rush” directed by Zachary Ramelan. The viewers embody a man waking up in a bathroom with dead bodies and blood everywhere and we follow his, and two others’, journey as he wields an axe through a mass of the undead. Things get serious when our hero becomes part of the dead ranks from being gut-ripped opened and devoured!

In all, I’m pleasantly pleased with how the Ruthless Pictures and Dread Central produced “Zombieworld” brought in little-to-unknown talent and showcased their short features that awesomely fit into the highly entertaining category and bites ferociously into being one of the best zombie DVD releases of the year! The RLJ Entertainment and Image DVD release cover is colorfully detailed with the best intention on not taking itself too seriously, but feels eerily similar to other notable covers such as “Faces of Death” or Steven Spielberg’s “War of the Worlds.” The specs include a widescreen 16:9 transfer with Dolby Digital 2.0 mix. Since this is a mixed bag of films, the clarity of presentations vary, but I can tell you that most shorts are sharp and clean looking with with no distortions in image or audio. Some of the night scenes in “Home” or “Marathon Apocalypse” have some digital interference that won’t ruin your viewing pleasure. The overall recommendation is to pick this undead puppy up and dive into a whole new world of talented horror directors and I’m positive that your blood lust won’t go unquenched!

Trapped in a Tomb of Evil! Day of the Mummy review!

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Too few and far in between does a current release for a horror film about mummies comes out. Right off the top of my head, I can only recall Universal’s remake of The Mummy trilogy and Sands of Oblivion. I’m sure if I really thought more about this I could come up with one or two more films about mummies. When I was contacted to screen and review “Day of the Mummy,” a little piece of me couldn’t wait because the mummy genre is the neglected red-headed step child that the public doesn’t like and production companies just don’t know how to market Egyptian crypt keepers. Exploring “Day of the Mummy” was exciting at first but my finds remind me again why being dead, wrapped in bandages, and buried in an ancient tomb can’t catch a break in cinema land.
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Well-experienced and notorious Egyptologist Jack Wells is contracted to joins a group of archeologist in a Egyptian desert where a hidden tomb of an infamous and cursed king named Neferu is supposedly buried. Jack’s intentions are not to locate the tomb, but rather recover the Codix Stone that was buried with Neferu. When the team locates the cavernous tomb, a collapse of the cave’s structure traps them inside a tomb that doesn’t exactly hold a dead, mummified King. Their search brings them face to face with undead King seeking human parts to devour and regain strength. Now their only hope for survival lies in the hands of the treasure hunter Jack Wells.
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“Day of the Mummy” big named actor attached to the project is Danny Glover. Now, Glover isn’t the Indiana Jones type Jack Wells. His character Carl is a wealthy collector of the finer things and hires Jack, played by William McNamara, to bring back the Codex Stone for him. Glover’s role is a bit odd as he only interacts with Jack through a technology advance pair of wearing glasses that has built-in microphone, video camera, and satellite reception. I’ve known the Lethal Weapon and Predator 2 actor to be more of an interactive professional with other actors and actress around him. For Glover to play an isolated role with no one else in a scene with him takes his stardom away from the movie. He might have been better being the lead character of Jack Wells.
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Speaking of the hidden video camera glasses, the film’s perspective majority plays through the eyes Jack Wells. The effect comes off like an adventurous amusement park ride rather than a found footage film where the you explore a cave and strap into a hydraulic seat and give whipped around while a movie screen plays through the action. Part of the adventure amusement park ride feel is due to Carl’s in-screen image that pops up inquiring about the diamond every so often. The only thing missing from this ‘ride’ is the 4-D effects. Now, this perspective makes the film naturally unique, but also takes a bit of maturity out of the plot. Yeah, the film profane dialogue tries to spark life into, but the first person effect can be more effective if a more grotesque view of events comes across one’s sights.
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The sophomore film of director Johnny Tabor deserves to be recognized as a fair attempt at a genre that doesn’t spark any life into audiences. One thing that would have helped would have been to fill in the plot holes. The reason the team of archeologists venture to Neferu’s tomb was the result of a recovered video of another archeologist who found the tomb before them. The question is, how did the video get recovered in the first place once the first archeologist disappeared? How is Carl’s satellite feed still working in a sealed cave? Questions like these are annoying and baffling even if the logic is skewed just for the sake of a interesting story.
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Along with Glover and McNamara, the cast rounds out with “The Black Water Vampire’s” Andrea Monier, Brandon DeSpain, and Robin Steffen, and along with Eric Young and Michael Cortez. A fine cast with loads of talent behind them, but Tabor’s mummy film entry lives up to others in which fall short of horrifying and thrilling. The hopes of fresh air are stiffened with mummified rotting remains of the past. The perspective is unique and welcomed, but could be fine tuned sieze an opportunity to scare the pants off audiences. The wait continues for a mummy movie to resurrect the floundering, most likely currently defunct, genre. “Day of the Mummy” is an interesting and entertaining ride non-the-less. Image Entertainment’s release hits retail shelves October 20th on DVD in the UK.

Get Into the Evil Spirit! Varsity Blood review!

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A small town pack of football jocks and cheerleaders with a dark secret spend Halloween night at a rundown farmhouse to party until dawn, but a sadistic killer in the school mascot uniform hunts them down one by one. Now their only chance of survival is to rely on each other, but will their dark secret get the better of them?

“Varsity Blood” tries to home in on the slasher saturated 80’s decade and, more or less, hits the mark right on the head with quick quip dialogue, teen angst, nudity, and blood. The killer garnishes a costume, even if the costume is the school mascot of a goofy tribal warrior, but the warrior outfit is simple, dark, and, like aforementioned, tribal which already gives it a ominous feel. Like most iconic slasher movie killers, they all have to brand a signature weapon – Jason had his machete, Myers had his knife, Leatherface had his chainsaw. The Warrier had his axe. Not too many killers carry an axe as a signature weapon and the axe is not overused as the Warrior does implement various methods of death.
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What about the teen group of various mannered jocks, cheerleaders, and other high school patrons of “Varsity Blood?” Like I said before, there is plenty of teen angst – jock wants sex badly, girl is major slut, fat girl tries to prove herself, lots of crying – so there lies enough teenage drama to make white and black pimples to form on your face. Some characters, like the main female lead Hannah (Lexi Giovagnoli) and good-girl Heather (Elyse Bigler), receive good character background, some of the cast are just fillers for the killer to dice up and their deaths become less important and severely fall short of a sympathetic death.

The whole reason why the killer kills is a bit of a joke too. I’m not going to go into more detail, but lets just say that there is an agreement and the one’s side terms are a bit too lame for my liking. The other side has an legitimate excuse for making these teen hooligans into mince meat. I do mean ‘hooligans’ too as the teens don’t learn from their historical depravities that resulted into a terrible accident that they’ll never forget. The past always catches up with them and the warrior makes sure of that.
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Didn’t I mention nudity earlier? You would think nudity would run rampant in a film about cheerleaders getting hacked to bits. Unfortunately, we’re teased to no end as Natalie Peyton and Elle LaMont give nothing but a tease show with covered nudity and bra and panties. However, not all is a total loss. Taylor Moessinger does do a strip show dance and goes topless and you can read my short review of her scenes here.
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The death scenes were relatively tame for a slasher that is suppose to homage the greats, but these deaths weren’t necessarily terrible either. There is great use of practical effects that are pulled off with excellent angle work with the camera and use of camera placement. I’ll give that to Jake Helgren, you might remember from my review of “Bloody Homecoming”, another high school slasher with the same vein.
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Give “Varsity Blood” a try and see how it fits. Room for growth and improvement with the director Helgren, a promising career for sexy leading lady Lexi Giovagnoli, and a great topless scene from the spirited, free loving, always naked model Taylor Moessinger. “Varsity Blood” is now available to own on DVD and VOD from Image Entertainment.

Entertaining B-Movie Evil! “Werewolf Rising” review!

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“Werewolf Rising” revolves around Emma (Melissa Carnell), a big city girl moving back to her secluded childhood home in the country after a long stint of battling alcoholism. But working on keeping her sobriety is a piece of cake compared to the full moon nights as werewolves roam the forest. Her relaxing vacation has turned into a nightmare when the wolves start to hunt her and her secluded getaway home has her trapped.

When I was a young lad, I remember watching old movies where actors dressed up in really bad Ape or Werewolf costumes and they would chase after the damsel in distress as she screams her head off. “Werewolf Rising” welcomed me back to my childhood with a big embracing hug made up of offbeat werewolf makeup and costumes. Nothing wrong with a man (or woman) in a fur coat with a immobile headpiece, but there is something campy in nature about the whole scenario.
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In cahoots with the “classic” costuming, the story and acting are made up of the best b-movie attributes. From Matt Compko’s character Johnny Lee and his goofy-serious posture and speech to Bill Oberst Jr.’s overzealous portrayal of an escaped werewolf convict, B-movie madness is back in full swing. Speaking of Bill Oberst Jr., the veteran B-movie actor is a man on a movie role mission. The guy has way too many upcoming roles on his plate, but with a mug like his, I can see why he can be very versatile to filmmakers. In “Werewolf Rising”, Oberst is one creepy dude covered in blood and mucus – lets just leave it at that.
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After 24 hours of having watched “Werewolf Rising”, I’m still trying to puzzle together to plot. I get that our heroine Emma retreats to her childhood home after a long and hard battle with alcoholism, but what does alcoholism really have to do with werewolves? What’s the parallel there? There seemed to be some underlying message that states drinking an colossal amount of hard alcohol, werewolves (or your demons) will come back into your life or am I reading too much into this B-movie? We see the same kind of alcoholism with the character Wayne played by Brian Berry so I could be correct. A blind squirrel finds a nut every once and awhile.
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For the werewolves, how and why do they come into play? These creatures just happened to appear in the woods at this very particular moment with no explanation. Beatrix, played by Irena Murphy, seems to have some sense of what is going on as she waits in the woods for the beast. Emma involvement has more lycanthrope lineage, but again, the detail is limited and complex that nothing makes any real sense. I can tell you this. These werewolves love to go for the throat, they love to take long runs in the woods, and their red-tinted, nearly blind night vision sucks.
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You have to hand it to writer/director BC Furtney because he was able to bare all with Irena Murphy’s character! But in all seriousness, Furtney tries his hand at direct-to-DVD horror and doesn’t come away exactly breaking even, but there is still some pride to be taken away from this piece of work. “Werewolf Rising’s” cast also includes Taylor Horneman as the man in the werewolf suit and Danielle Lozeau who you might remember completely buff from my review of “Black Water Vampire.” Werewolf Rising will be available to own September 8, 2014 in the uK from Image and RLJ Entertainment.

Dance the Evil Dance! Bloody Homecoming review!

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The latest trend for independent horror filmmakers is to pay homage to the 80’s slasher. Bloody Homecoming is no different as one other review site said the film is “an unusually effective homage to the golden age of American slasher movies.” Is the Freshman of Brian C. Weed a worthy throwback of the “golden age of American slasher?” The elements are there and I can say that Weed gave it one hell of a try making a masked killer into a relentless murderer of teens that harks back to classic icons like Jason Voorhees or Michael Myers.

Football star Billy Corbin dies in a fiery deathtrap during his school’s homecoming. Three years later, the teens who were labeled responsible, but never held accountable, prepare for the school’s first homecoming since the tragic death of Billy Corbin. While in jubilation of their school spirit, a killer dressed in a firman’s gear hunts them down one by one during the homecoming dance; a killer hell fire bent on revenge for Billy.
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And while director Weed makes a heartfelt attempt at a throwback horror movie, the characters are too shallow and need more work to make them more human. Robotic dialogue creates a kind of hatred that only a masked killer could exterminate. Thank goodness for the “fireman” killer. However, a handful of hopeful characters keep the film’s watchability right on the line between entertaining and dull. Bloody Homecoming does bring a unique way, a rare method, when deciding to who gets the axe. Every character is fair game to bite the dust and no one can argue with that as the usual suspects are token black guys, couples who’ve just had sex, and the comic relief – to be fair, all these characters were in this stereotyped high school teen horror film.
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Other slasher films such as My Bloody Valentine or Scream come to mind when thinking about the “fireman” killer. I’m guessing the writer, Jake Helgren, gave the killer inspiration for using the fireman gear after the burning death of Billy Corbin. The outfit is a bit out of place, but the connection between the catalyst and killer can determined. The killer uses a sharpened spirit stick which doesn’t make a intimidating weapon, but effective none the less. Lets just say the spirit stick takes the spirit right out of the kids. The killer character’s depth could have been more extensive and more meaningful. The paper thin motivation from the killer does little for the character and the killer would just be labeled as another run of the mill killer.

Bloody Homecoming won’t knock your socks off, but the death scenes are graphic, bloody, and well timed in the scene. Brian C. Weed’s first attempt at horror is just the tip of the ice berg and we could see some great things from Weed if another opportunity presents itself. The editing is professional and well done so I see things could only get better from here and Bloody Homecoming’s UK DVD release is slated for March 10 from Image Entertainment.