Alex and Jane just graduated college with an uncertain future ahead of them. In financial debt with no aid from their family because of their lesbian relationship, Alex can’t shake the uncomfortable sensation that her life spirals down an unknown path. Jane’s optimism stems from the upcoming reboot woodland retreat with friends. Booze, drugs, and a whole lot of sex is planned to escape reality’s harsh unforgiving grip. There’s only one problem. A creature lurks in the woods, sniffing out the moment of vaginal penetration, and ripping to shreds the naked, sweaty bodies that were entangled in raunchy passion. A jock, a cheerleader, a geek, a stoner, and a pair of lesbians are the familiar horror film tropes fighting for their very lives in a grisly battle against a ghastly man-beast.
“Don’t Fuck in the Woods,” an alluring cavalier horror film title, is the indie project from writer-director Shawn Burkett. Burkett’s crowdfunded low-budget venture doesn’t piddle around the subject matter with interpretive titles or undertone stories. Burkett, with every intention, aimed his sights on developing the most proverbial scenarios of horny young folk in the woods being stalked by an inhuman monstrosity and achieved great success while also topping his film off with a sexually explicit cherry, defining “DFITW” as every young boy’s wet dream with gratuitous nudity and blood splatter mayhem! In fact, nudity, at least in my belief, outweighs the creature in screen time with the majority of the female cast baring more their breasts than the creature bares it’s teeth.
Brittany Blanton and Ayse Howard lead in the lesbian roles of Jane and Alex and are the only two actors to have characters to have some meat on their depth chart. Hence, why they’re in the lead role shoes. Blanton and Howard alternative style spills into the rest of the cast pool. Roman Jossart, the stoner, naturally gushes with wit and delivery that makes the sweaty, large, and overly perverted character very likable. Then there’s the inexplicable Nadia White. The “Give It To Me Grandpa” actress (look it up in Google) wears many shameless hats off screen, from modeling to fetish porn, but the stark blonde who once wrapped herself completely in duck tape except for her massive boobs, dons a hardly uncharacteristic character whose attached to the hip of her tall, dark jock boyfriend Conor, played in a debut performance by Brian Cornell. Hannah Herdt picks up the geek trope with credulous rant about iconic scream queens and their rise to fame without having to bare it all on screen. Kayla Stone, Brandy Mason, Derek Wehrley, and Scott Gillipsie in a dual role as Luke and the creature round out the rest of the “DFITW” cast. What I love about this cast is the fact they’re not these super slender and fit individuals with four, six, eight-pack abs you typically see in horror films. Instead, each one has their own little mid-section cupcake pudginess or pooch and that’s okay!
Above paragraphs contain praise for admiration and passion toward everything that’s right about “DFITW,” but there’s also plenty to dislike and many viewers, and reviewers too, have spoken publicly their harsh negativity. In a more constructive criticism, the first point is that Burkett’s film has no real logical story structure. Why should we care about these characters who trek into the woods, bone like rabbits, and then become lunch meat for an anti-fornication fiend? Secondly, the editing and special effects need firming as some kill scenes felt unnecessarily rushed and prolonged terror scenes didn’t really induce the terror, requiring that edit to break apart the monotony of the scene. The cheaply made creature passes, but the imperfections in the latex, or whatever material it was constructive of, can be clearly captured. Which leads me into the Alfred Hitchcock quote at the beginning of the film, “There is no terror in the bang, only in the anticipation of it.” The anticipation of the creature was sorely absence as much of the film focused on the group and their shenanigans and didn’t give the creature much hype, reducing it to a powerless vessel until rearing that jacked up Ninja Turtle head into the campers’ den.
Concept Media and Shawn Burkett’s “Don’t Fuck in the Woods” is a horror homaging and referencing machine, spitting out as much time-honored horror movie no-nos and final-girl conventionalism as one film can, but the story feels hollow inside and doesn’t offer worthwhile character development in neither protagonists or antagonist. Definitely the title, and even the film as a definitive whole, borders that thin line of becoming a ridiculously bad, but very interesting, parody porn, exploiting the rules of the slasher genre and having little-to-no girth of a plot. Roman Jossart’s hilarity, notable “Predator” references and remarks, and the fair amount of fair skin saves this exploitive film from being a total loss and, as well, the overwhelming communal participation and support to have this film see the light of day is absolutely amazing as a title like “Don’t Fuck in the Woods” would financially scare the money bag pants off any potential backer. You can see “Don’t Fuck in the Woods” on Vimeo On Demand by clicking the link below!
Boobs. They are the supreme catalyst toward obtaining professional achievement. They are the driving force behind stabling a lustful relationship. They are the cat’s meow for curbed catcalling. For flat chested Betty, a cavernous cleavage praising society doesn’t show her a lick of titty-twisting respect, being the constant butt of a running joke for her asset-less figure, until she schedules a life altering, boob-enhancing appointment with Dr. Thulu, an uncredited and unlicensed plastic surgeon seeking the perfect, wholesome vessel to host her blood hungry, elder world creatures for planet domination. Betty’s implanted funbags are all but fun when the mammary monstrosities begin devouring hounding perverts when getting handsy with Betty’s girls. The diabolical double Ds slowly take control over Betty’s consciousness and will, eventually, take full mastery, but will true love put a permanent road block toward ruling the world?
Horror-comedy “Killer Rack” is a Lovecraftian inspired schlock film from “Slice City” and it’s sequel, “Slime City Massacre,” director “Greg Lamberson and penned by Paul McGinnis, who also has a co-starring role. The slapstick riot embellishes the real life battle of young women’s self-esteem, the constant struggle with the female physique, and with lots and lots of different levels of sexual harassment to the point where “Killer Rack” is basically becomes a social awareness film. Even though “Killer Rack” is blatantly farcical, the representation of men objectifying women is quite scary and Lamberson and McGinnis hone very meticulously on every facet related from gawking to catcalling and from sleaziness to potential rape. The manufactured, boob-infatuated universe McGinnis and Lamberson create isn’t a far stretch from this one with every single scene so ingrained with breast obsession that’s, as an American, I feel almost ashamed of myself for watching “Killer Rack,” but my European bloodline revels in this type of perverse gratification.
Lamberson, also known for his novel publications stemming from the early 2000s, continues his schlep of low-budget filmmaking over the course of three decades as a producer, writer, and director and the refreshing part of his career is that Lamberson has kept the course, providing fans of undiluted horror trash in a resilient body of work with “Killer Rack” being no exception. The ambitious undertaking stars a fresh faced indie actress Jessica Zwolak in the lead sporting the killer rack and Zwolak nails the intended comedy, pulling off the center of gravity gag numerous times post-implant surgery and being able to effectively switch between conscious Betty and puppet Betty. Surrounding Zwolak are collective years of a indie filmmaking experience that solidify Lamberson’s shtick filmmaking including long time industry leader and co-founder of Troma Entertainment, Lloyd Kaufman, being his great idiosyncratic character onscreen, but the buck doesn’t stop there with a roster of vets. The fiendish Dr. Thulu is embraced by one of the genre’s favorite, hard working indie scream queens Debbie Rochon (“Tromeo & Juliet,” “Dollface”) who submerses herself elbows deep into the film’s H.P. Lovecraft mythology. By far, my personal favorite genre star making a brief cameo was Roy Frumkes, the Jim Muro “Street Trash” businessman who melts away in a glorious death, reliving that well-known death scene once again but sprayed in the face this time with toxic breast milk!
“Killer Rack” nestles snuggly in between the two dirty pillows that are indie pop culture and social undercurrents, but only hardcore fans who follow this particular niche filmmaking will understand and enjoy the special effects puppetry, the outlandish absurdity, and the homage barrage of references. Lamberson and McGinnis’ 2015 horror-comedy was completely made for us, the dedicated fans, and that’s also the downfall as many popcorn cinema goers will become lost and probably offended, especially in this particular modern culture. That’s why we should embrace actresses like Debbie Rochon, Jessica Zwolak, Brooke Lewis, and Brittani Hare for being strong and good-natured actresses for being subjected to culturally deplorable material delivered by the actors, such as by the one-man show that is Michael Thurber (“Sins of Dracula,” “Model Hunger”). The play on words titled film follows a very simple, if not already on some obsolete plane, structure of comedy that’s not necessarily a negative aspect of the film, but rather sets a modest tone for the whole blood thirsty boobies concept.
Akin to Mitchell Lichtenstein’s “Teeth,” the Slaughtered Lamp Productions produced and Camp Motion Pictures home entertainment distributed “Killer Rack” provides a similar feministic horror in a screwball, dystopian world. The unrated DVD presents the film in an anamoprhic widescreen 1.78:1 aspect ratio with image quality that really details the budget. Flesh tones look natural, blacks are fairly solid, and no sign of major aliasing or compression issues. The English 2.0 audio sustains clean and clear quality throughout with forefront dialogue and appropriates ambient and sound effects properly during sequences of Chtulhu inspired bone crunching, blood splattering, and torso piercing. Bonus features are nicely stacked for “Killer Rack,” including a commentary track, deleted scenes, a behind-the-scenes featurette, a bonus short film “Kill the B!tch” and “The Camper,” and trailers. “Killer Rack” fondles around the sexual harassment issues and hilariously denaturalizes, as if implants weren’t already unnatural, with a diabolical pair of creature infested tatas!”
Los Angeles’ skid row is the desolated and forgotten residence to countless displaced people living in tents or sleeping bags on the cold streets, fighting ever which way they can to live just one more day. When three University of Southern California students take a wrong turn onto the streets of skid row, a dangerous world opens to them where being young and privileged doesn’t warrant an easy pass through LA’s notorious “The Nickel.” A homeless gang, ramrodded by a vicious vagrant named Wilco, catches them trespassing under the unused sixth street bridge and detains them until the situation turns deadly wrong. When one of the students, Marshall, escapes naked and on foot, a chase ensues through the empty concrete jungle, and as he attempts to retrieve help, he encounters wretched night owls who are just as dangerous, or if not more so, than Wilco and his gang.
The very first impression from the films of “Parasites’” director Chad Ferrin came in the form of Ferrin’s 2003 underground cannibal dweller film “The Ghouls” and, retrieving past critiques or comments from past yonder, I wasn’t too thrilled with his indie sophomore feature. However, after sitting through “Parasites” and being a fan of the 2009 pleasantly berserk “Someone’s Knocking at the Door,” a second viewing might be warranted. The 2016 film, shot on location, defines Ferrin’s immense penchant for independent filmmaking that basically tells a story of one man’s perilous and herring marathon journey through the meat grinder of Los Angeles while also reminding and resonating viewers that the homeless are just an unfortunate alternate version of ourselves.
“Parasites” will suck every once of hope and happiness one might have for humanity to the point of believing in misanthropic perspectives. Purely oozing with cynicism in a nightmare scenario, the story couldn’t have reached such depths without a few key performances such by Robert Miano (“Giallo”), a bold and enduring role for Sean Samuels, and an always pleasant cameo by “Day of the Dead’s” most villainous captain, Joseph Pilato. Though, some exaggerated moments of peculiar over performances and prolonged montage scenes of Sean Samuels running through the barren Skid Row maze run their course with seizing captivation, but Miano steals many scenes with his spiteful portrayal of an overprotective, mad dog violent bum being the venomous snakehead of a 1980’s style street gang whose keen on hunting down and burying a college quarterback.
What I also found interesting about the Ferrin’s scripted-narrative is the severe lack of tension with race and gender relations between the eclectic group of characters. Much of the action and dialogue flows freely without much opposition as if the racial slang or the running down of a young black man is normalcy. Gang leader Wilco only cares about one thing, his dilapidated corner of L.A., and berates everyone in a fit of racism peppered with nihilism. Ferrin purposefully implemented a Hispanic and an Asian in Wilco’s crew to run rampant with obscenities from their leader, along with a hefty woman to whom Wilco objectifies constantly with chauvinistic nicknames such as “Sugartits” and “Sweet Cheeks,” and an athletic black character being the subject of a bizarro-world reversal characteristic witch-hunt that relates awfully too familiar with recent race crimes. The social commentary leaves an everlasting trail of uncomfortable goosebumps, working their way toward the heart’s core of human morality and packing a powerful punch when not nearly one single character has any redeeming value.
Crappy World Films in association with Girls and Corpses Magazine produces “Parasites,” an exhibition a do-or-die survival horror framed to point out the loathsome portions of past, and most certainly, current events. Ferrin’s low-budget film goes the extra mile with the brief, yet effective, violent special effects. I’m unable to critique on the audio and video quality of the 108 Media distribution release, nor the bonus features, as a screener copy was provided. “Parasites'” raw approach through characters, story, and cinematography, breathes life into a desolate place like “The Nickel” and gives power to the powerless, remarking upon the monsters we create by ignoring their existence and shunning their potential worth. The fear from this film is all too real.
Providing his dysfunctional family with new hope of rekindling, Bruce Diaz ditches the hectic grind of the city for the quiet surroundings of a mountainous Californian resort town. As they settle into their new abode, Bruce tries his hardest to piece together a shattered family. From his scared younger son Manny, to his angst-filled teenager daughter Kacie, to his distraught wife Jennifer, Bruce can only find solace in his daughter’s coasting through life boyfriend Mark. After the first 24 hours, nobody really knows what had happened to the Diaz family until an anonymous source leaks a distorted and violence recorded video tape from the dark corners of the world wide web. With new evidence at the table, a documentarian interviews family and friends of the Diaz family, local residents, and officials associated with the case in hopes to determine the whereabouts of the Diaz family that seemingly went through a violent disappearance and expose that disappearances like these can’t just be quickly covered up.
Vicious Apple Productions and Ruthless Studios add their entry amongst an overcrowded found footage market. More recently in the golden age of independent cinema, found footage films have incorporated faux interviews to add upon an artificial authenticity, but, in reality, these one-on-ones with the closest people to the victims just fill the voids to compensate for a lack of story and “The Purging Hour” plays right into that shortfall story mold. Director Emmanuel Sandoval’s sophomore 2015 feature leads into being a first time venture into horror for the young California director and Sandoval’s potential needs refinement from his also co-authored feature with Robert Trezza and Zaidal Obagi.
Developmental pacing puts the hurt on the story. I’m not sure how much more Steve Jacques moving of Bruce’s lowbrow attempt to lightheartedly get this family to bind together over this new home I could stomach. If I was Bruce with all of Jacques’ beefiness, not one smart and ugly remark from his ungrateful daughter Kacie would be taken lightly. Kacie’s family trampling is the biggest elephant in the room to the point that’s an exploited archetype in many independent projects. On top of Kacie’s entrenched battle with her family, she’s able to sustain a firm grip over her weak parents by letting her boyfriend Mark stay with them way after the move was completed. Through the muffled sidebar conversations, Mark’s fixture status amongst the family, and an unclear picture of a the family between their personas on the video tape and the their personas through the eyes of the interviewees, which creates a totally different family, speculations fly wildly toward the next steps into what happens next.
About a little over an hour after being subjected to interviews and multi fits of family bickering, Sandoval begins his HI-8 fright flight and thats where the director soars slightly by casting a muddled look into the family’s last known status. Purge, by the very definition, is to physically remove completely and “The Purging Hour” stays true to that moniker with one hour of purging and 23 hours of family turmoil and in the midst of that hour of purging, either a supernatural force or a violent bunch of heathens do the so said purge. One theory for the latter, a loose one at that, falls upon the introduction of a local resident spooking upon one of Kacie and Mark’s muddled conversations in the outside darkness. The local proceeds to explain that he’s meeting up with friends, which he does every year, and to do what, is not explained. Could this be part of a purging group? Perhaps, but there’s more of an malicious supernatural force at work upon the Diaz family that includes no physical body ever in the scene with the main characters who become main victims.
Ruthless Studios is the same production studio that also delivered “All Hallows Eve” and, frankly, nothing has tickled the distinctive quality from either film. “The Purging Hour” is a low end rental that fails to blend suspenseful drama with suspenseful thriller. Dabbled with touches of key fear elements that does not rendition a bold new of horror, “The Purging Hour” waits until the very last hour to divulge into the subject matter with anything prior to being a waste of reel. The MVDVisual distributed widescreen 1.78:1 presentation has great retro coloring through the purposefully installed Hi8 format while being clear, with little electronic interference, through the interviews and the 2.0 audio mix is muddle through the Hi8 experience, but should be cleaner for more subversive effect. No bonus material included on the static menu. The DVD cover makes you believe the film centers a supernatural entity with a dead cold hand with razor fingertips upon gnarled fingers grasping a door through the jamb. “The Purging Hour” raises too many questions to satisfy a complete and coherent story that relies too much on fake interviews to provide infamy amongst the characters and instead of letting the characters conjure a force reconstructed through their imbalance, an unknown entity, human or otherwise, randomly select their residence to even more obliterate their family coherency.
Unorthodox exorcist and hobby writer Richard Vanuk lives a depressing and humble life full of endless booze and filthy altruism. Driven by the need for alcohol and an underline desire to help possessed strangers for a small fee, Vanuk barely maintains his own sustainability. With each challenging case of demonic inhabitance, the poor full time exorcist, and part time writer, expels demons from their misfortunate hosts into his own wretched soul, draining his self-respecting humanity out of him one demon-expulsion job at a time. The deeper Vanuk spirals downward into nihilism and the deeper he goes into severe debt, the choice to withdrawal from the toll of exorcising demons becomes no longer an option, but a fruitlessly fateful venture to just surviving in a world that’s scarce of good people.
My second undertaking into a Daniel Falicki horror film has the “Awaken The Devil” director batting a solid hundred percent on the ever honest critique block, going a strong two-for-two with his latest film, 2016’s “Accidental Exorcist,” that’s drenched with a despair atmosphere that swallows the intentionally pathetic character who is granted only a glimmer of unattainable hope for a good life. The writer-director has a keen eye for developing horror in various comedic, dramatic, and absurdly berserk formatted segments, delicately defining details to capture memorable moments. Falicki also stars as his own character, Richard Vanuk, and Falicki charms the audience by creating a likable anti-protagonist whose cavalier about demonic possessions and begrudged by a “corporate” employer who pays very little for the precision of demon banishment; this same company performs a stigmata on him after every exhausting job, discarding his limp, unconscious body in a different snow covered park afterwards.
Falicki drowns Vanuk in vices and addictions. Aside from the obvious alcohol and constant inebriation, Vanuk needs the pain of performing exorcisms as much as he loathes the process and the people who employs him. The character can’t reform, can’t function properly in normality, as witnessed when his successful brother offers Richard a once-in-a-lifetime position at his mundane company of pigmentation for sports equipment. When the exorcism well runs dry, Vanuk goes into full blown, borderline psychotic detox as he’s cut off from his, one and only, natural born skill and the ceasing of his per diem position sends him into frantically gulping down bottles of cold medicine to get a soothing fix. Falicki punishes the audience beloved, unconventional exorcist by having Vanuk fall to the bottom by not being unlucky or plotted against, but by simply self destruction and having God turn his back on his loyal servant when the promise, or a test, of a favorable outlook reveals itself.
The casting couldn’t be much more perfect with a cast of talented b-movie stars such as Jason Roth (“Awaken The Devil”), Chris Kotcher, and Jeffrey Goodrich to quickly name a few. Falicki owns Richard Vanuk, embodying the character so brilliantly that I would have a hard time relinquishing Richard Vanuk from Daniel Falicki’s face. Falicki pulls out all the stops by putting every once of degradation the director can muster into the downtrodden exorcist with a performance that sells his hapless nature and spew-filled gigs. Every client Vanuk attends to is portrayed honestly and earnestly from Sherryl Despress’s role of a desperate mother turned possessed super sewer to Patrick Hendren’s blind and levitating demonic being who goes on to have a heart-to-heart with Vanuk after an exorcism recovery.
“Accidental Exorcist” is unapologetic and shameless; a real nasty bitch to love unconditionally. The fun soars above the summit and the ingrained heart bursts beyond the restrictive seams of the reel. The film is nothing I’ve ever scene before; yet, still manages to homage legendary films that “Accidental Exorcist” built it’s bones upon. Similarities to, of course, the iconic William Friedkin’s “The Exorcist” are apparent throughout with the almost beautifully grim and isolated atmospheric exterior scenes of foreboding destiny. Falicki’s film contains special effects so convincing by leaps and bounds when compared to other modern independent horror, portraying Vanuk so well within the confines of his dank and dejected existence that it’s as if he’s sharing his grime and his loneliness with us that’ll result with a quick shower when the credits roll.
Sector 5 Films and Rotomation Studios courtesy produces “Accidental Exorcist,” that’s not related to the Joshua Graham novel, but the audio and video will not be critically reviewed since I received and viewed a press screener and the film has yet to be released onto a home entertainment platform. However, make no mistake that “Accidental Exorcist” strides cockily into the first half of 2016 horror season, flying unnoticed, under the radar, as sleeper agent dangerous to demonic possession film competitors. Director Daniel Falicki is on the up and coming watch list like a high target terrorist, striking the heart of modern day horror and putting fear, and comedy, into a cynical cauldron.