Extremely frustrated with the lack of respect from snot nose kids and the monotonous, round-the-loopy-loop that is his life existence, Duke, the carousel unicorn, has finally had enough the moment after a fat kid mounts him for a ride, smacks him like a giddy-up horse, and wiping his snot onto Duke’s glossy wooden eyeballs. The latter being the final straw that broke the unicorn’s back. Duke breaks free from the amusement park ride in search for a better quality of life when he happens to discover that killing makes him feel good, real good. With a newfound purpose, Duke vows to hunt down and end that fat brat, slaughtering anyone and everyone in his path of carnival-esque carnage that leads the unicorn not to water, but to a house party where the kid stuffs his chubby face full of cake and other goodies while his older sister and her friends order pizza and hit hard the alcohol as they discuss a love and hate for a popular kids show, My Tiny Unicorn. When Duke shows up at the front door, his statue-like presence is a big party hit amongst unicorn show fanatics who are unsuspecting of his murderous desires. The only person capable of stopping the mayhem is the amusement park mascot, a jovial warden cowboy named Cowboy Cool with his trusty, evil unicorn stopping six-shooter.
Step right up! Step right up! Behold and be amazed by the stupendous and the downright bonkers horror-comedy, “CarousHELL,” about a killer carousel unicorn from big top maestro, writer-director Steve Rudzinski. The “Everyone Must Die!” filmmaker helms a satirical slasher co-written by Aleen Isley in her first credited treatment. “CarousHELL,” a whimsical play on carousel and hell if you somehow couldn’t figure that out, inexplicably sprints with the inanimate killer concept that visually livens an old “Family Guy” wisecrack about the latest Stephen King novel being about a killer lamp! Instead of a bright bulb shining blood red and using the electrical cord as a noose, Rudzinski and Isley explore the macabre qualities of an inorganic unicorn by extending its cache of weapons beyond the obvious long, pointy horn to also being able to wield a machete without opposable thumbs, sharp shoot with a bow-and-arrow with hooves, and even have the capability to kill with ninja stars despite the sloping shoulder conformation. Impressive…
Rudzinski also co-stars as Joe, a diehard pizza delivery guy and passionate dog lover who is desperately trying to earn money for his ill-stricken four legged friend. Rudzinski, sustaining both roles as a director and a performer, solicitously molding Joe as an oblivious nice guy just looking to do his job and even though he’s a bit of an impatient spaz, Joe’s not the biggest spaz swimming in the character pool. Rudzinski could be considered the lead male in the one of many boisterous roles of “CarousHELL” who certainly manages to get the girl without having to lift an finger. That girl being the self-indulgent Laurie, big sister to the unicorn pissing off brother. With her face glued to her social media phone and being a spoiled brat herself, Laurie has little-to-no attachments to anything: she’s not tied down to one boy, weighs social media clicks heavily in life, and finds disrespect the choice of attitude even toward her pole–strapping stripper of a MILF mother. Pittsburgh, PA born Sé Marie (“Cryptids”) does bitchy well, finding a nice niche to nest in with this harebrained, but light-hearted slasher with bite. Joe and Laurie have excessive personalities, but nothing can top Preston who sets the field bar. The house party co-host starts off as a complete douchebag complete with popped collar and an unquenchable thirst for bare chests and the introduction of Chris Proud really makes a first impression in a truly unbearable, over-the-top role, but believe it or not, Preston is one of the few characters of the film to have what could be construed as an arch storyline. Preston, by the end, transforms into a likable character with penchant expertise for the My Tiny Unicorn universe (a spoof toward Hasboro’s “My Little Pony”) and is the only character to perceive the first hand danger from the infiltrating and evil unicorn from hell. Duke is hands down the best scribed character of the entire film. Voiced by veteran voice actor, Steve Rimpici, Duke can literally stand inanimate and still be a vital part of the story. The versatile Rimpici is like the movie trailer voiceover guy with an uncanny Duke Nukem-type voice who has movie credits including the Dustin Mills’ directed features, “The Puppet Monster Massacre” and “Easter Casket,” as well as stints in video games such as “Red Dead Redemption” and “Mafia III.” The cast rounds out with Sarah Brunner, P.J. Gaynard, Judy H.R. Kirby, Josh Miller (“Amityville” No Escape”), Teague Shaw, Haley Madison (“Haunted House on Sorority Row”), Cindy Fernandez-Nixon, Shawn Shelpman (“Red Christmas”), Corella Waring and Michael Mawhinney.
With a film like “CarousHELL,” killer special effects need to be a must as marketing an inanimate villain will be hard sell. Yeah, “CarousHELL” has catchy dialogue, witty enough banter, and gratuitous and non-gratuitous nudity. There’s even multi-positional sex with the unicorn. Thanks for that searing image Steve Rudzinski and Haley Madison! However, a slasher requires good kill moments and the special effects work by Cody Ruch meets the demand with a brutal that include a beautiful gored unicorn horn kill to the neck, a double impale followed by a goopy string entrails, and an Ronald Lacy melting scene with charring laser eyes! Even with a high body count and delectable moments of insanity at it’s peak, “CarousHELL” will undeniably find a general audience outside the scope of genre fans who will understand the context behind fashioning a unicorn slasher, those who are just easily entertained, and maybe a slither of fans of westerns.
MVDVisual and Wild Eye Releasing delivers the hell raising attraction, “CarousHELL,” onto DVD home video presented region free, unrated, and in widescreen format. The digitally shot video has a pleasing standard of quality. A few moments of brief aliasing but nothing to specifically note that matters. The dual-channel audio was the most disconcerting issue that’s affecting the release. More so with the exaggeration of performances with the screaming and the screeching, the feedback distortion is pesky and jarring. Dialogue is prevalent and forefront, but lacks range and depth and so the verbal tracks tend to blend together. The bonus features are a welcoming site with a commentary track, cast interviews that explain how the film came to fruition and that better explains what the “CarousHELL” they were thinking when creating this fun flick, a few deleted scenes that explain the disappearance of minor characters, bloopers, and Wild Eye Releasing trailers. Just like “JAWS” did with ocean, “CarousHELL” will cause hesitation when deliberating if riding a unicorn will endanger your mortality. “CarousHELL” is fun, campy, and a whole bunch of nonsense that has our full 100% support in the horror community.
In the Australian outback, a prehistoric and ginormous crocodile has surfaced in the wake of mankind’s gentrification of the wilderness land. Between ambushing crocodile poachers and snatching little Aborigine children from off the river shore, the ancient saltwater hunter has become the hunted as park ranger and crocodile preservation expert Steve Harrison has been assigned to kill the beast, but the local Aborigine tribe holds the killer croc sacred, calling it Numunwari, an ancient, spirit carrying crocodile that has embodied the bones and souls of ancestral aborigine. Together, Harrison and local tribe leader Oondabund must find a way to stop the chaos without terminating the Numunwari while combating drunken poachers and a rattled ranger chief looking to abruptly end public fear. With the enthusiastic help of Harrison’s ex-lover, Cathy Pope, the three devise a dangerous plan to sedate the massive croc and transport it to a secluded habitat before death rears it’s ugly head once again.
Arch Nicholson’s “Dark Age” is the Australian “Jaws” equivalent, introducing a massive crocodile that puts the fear of the murky rivers into the hearts of audiences much like a giant great white shark did for the ocean beaches. “Dark Age” is a raging adventure with a delicate undertone about nature fighting back against an aggressive, occupying force called man, especially the white man, who kills without cause, who plagues without consciousness, and whose power instills a reactionary fear to kill. A single, monstrous crocodile embodies and symbolizes the essence of an entire habitat, chomping through flesh and doing a death roll to make known that nothing can stop nature or as “Jurassic Park’s” Dr. Ian Malcolm so eloquently put it, “Life, uh, finds a way.” Nicholson’s film, from the novel of Grahame Webb novel Numunwari, isn’t solely a man versus nature horror despite marketed as one; instead, “Dark Age” unveils more the cruel side of human nature that’s more Machiavellian than nature running its course.
“Wolf Creek” star John Jarrett, who I better know from “The Odd Angry Shot,” stars as the conflicted park ranger and crocodile preservation expert Steve Harrison. Jarrett’s more convincing a maniac outdoors man than a crocodile conversationalist, but the iconic Aussie convinces us all that being in between two opposing sides is no easy task with this willingness to do what’s right on both sides. Nikki Coghill portrays Steve Harrison’s love interest, Cathy Pope, and Coghill is a dominating female lead by, not only being the only prominent female character, but with her striking ability to overpower Jarrett in scenes and with her also very striking beauty that comes to peak in a fleshy sex scene with Jarrett. The second most recognizable face behind Jarrett is aborigine descendant David Gulpilil. Most Stateside filmgoers may recall Gulpilil’s long locks and distinctive facial features from Crocodile Dundee in a ceremonial Aborigine dance alongside Paul Hogan. In “Dark Age,” Gulpilil plays Adjaral, son of Aborigine tribe leader Oondabund played by Burnham Burnham. “The Howling III” actor acts as a spiritual liaison between the crocodile and the white man world and Burnham Burnham’s childlike presence onscreen makes the actor very memorable and likable. Ray Meagher, Max Phipps, Jeff Ashby, Paul Bertram, and Ron Blanchard co-star.
There have been many installments and versions of crocodile leviathans. In fact, in It’s Bloggin’ Evil’s last review, Sion Sono’s Tag, there’s a dream sequence of a giant crocodile gorily snapping down upon a Japanese schoolgirl with blood spraying everywhere. While the scene is graphic, eye-catching, and notable, the croc was a mockery of reality with disproportionate jowl and a flimsy design that’s more cartoonish than substantially factual. Kuddos to the monster effects and long time visual effects artist Roger Cowland for constructing a frightening behemoth of a crocodile. Though slightly stiff in some scenes, Nicholson camera placement exhibits just enough to warrant a shortage of breath whenever the crocodile goes in for the kill or stalks a prey with the round eyes popping just above the water’s surface. This effect is masterfully executed by the late director who didn’t feel the need to be gratuitously gory with the death scenes that are modest, intense, and sheerly practical.
Yet to be on DVD or Blu-ray in the U.S.A., the good blokes over at Umbrella Entertainment release ultra-rare “Dark Age” for the first time hi-definition on Blu-ray as part of Ozploitation Classic series presented in a 1080p widescreen, 16:9 aspect ratio, format. The image looks clean without any noticeable enhancements, distortions or print damage with only some heavy noise in the darker scenes. The Dolby Digital 2.0 audio track is just as perfect with clarity in the dialogue, a pulsating synthesizing score, and fine fidelity and range. No hissing, popping, or any other noise annoyances were detected. Umbrella unleashes a slew of bonus material includes an audio Commentary with Actor John Jarratt and Executive Producer Antony I. Ginnane, a Bicentenary with Bite: Revisiting “Dark Age”, panel discussion with film historians Lee Gambin, Alexandra Heller-Nicholas, Emma Westwood and Sally Christie, and Uncut Not Quite Hollywood Interviews with John Jarratt and Antony I. Ginnane which are tremendously enlightening about the film’s birth and concluding reactions. There’s also a 1986 documentary entitled Living With Crocodiles with Grahame Webb, author of Numunwari, trailers, and an image gallery. Forget “Rogue.” Forge “Lake Placid” Lets even forget “Dinocroc!” Umbrella Entertainment’s “Dark Age” is the ultimate formidable 90-minute action-horror with trembling induced fear and adrenaline produced thrills accompanied inside a hi-definition release packed to the razor sharp teeth with extras.
Local geologist Kristian, of the small lake side town of Geiranger, and his family pack for their start of a new life in the big city where Kristian has offered a new job. But when seemingly insignificant activity in the Åkerneset mountain that surrounds the nestled Geiranger displays on first alert’s monitors, Kristian fears that his beloved town will be washed away by the possibility of an 80ft tsunami created by a mountain landslide. Unable to leave town, Kristian stays one more night; a night in which a landslide occurs, creating a massive Tsunami heading straight for the heart of Geiranger and Kristian only has 10 minutes before impact to alert the town and escape with his family.
Norwegian’s 2015 natural disaster-thriller “The Wave” aka “Bølgen” is a landslide victory for director Roar Uthaug. “The Wave” funnels disaster into a single locality where as Hollywood tends to doll up and glossy disasters films, Roland Emmerich’s “2012,” Steve Quate’s “Into the Storm,” Brad Petyon’s 2015 “San Andreas” starring Dwayne Johnson just to name a few, that hyper peril the catastrophes into a global event. The focus becomes too spread out and the parlous state is diluted amongst the characters if the catastrophe is affecting everyone in the world. To pinpoint an area or a region isolates the drama and the thrills resulting in more of an impact upon the characters. On a global scale, characters can escape with ease because the space is vast and non-constricting, but in Geiranger (which is also a real place with the same very real threat), a fortress of mountains loom over the town, higher elevation is safe haven, and the possibility of escape is not so easily achievable.
Academy Award winning The Revenant star Kristoffer Joner plays the heroic lead in Kristian who fights and claws his way through disaster and destruction. Joner isn’t bulky like Dwayne Johnson, but has a more down to earth appeal that’s more appreciated than Hollywood’s grander is better ideal. But like the “San Andreas” conquerer, Kristian is a family man trying to save his wife and two children. Joner’s Kristian reminisces a much older disaster film involving a small town with a Mount St. Helens explosion. “The Wave” story has Kristian with inklings of forthcoming disaster and his fears are put aside in the interest of tourism. The 1997 Roger Donaldson film “Dante’s Peak” compares very similar with Pierce Bronson’s Harry Dolton has the same concerns, but the town leadership ignores the facts and only has dollar signs on the mind. When disaster strikes, both Kristian and Harry stay behind to save whomever they can.
The cast rounds out with a enormously talented cast in “Dead Snow’s” Ane Dahl Torp, Jonas Hoff Oftebro, and Fridtjov Såheim. Their working dynamics are accomplished by their individual challenges due in part of the threatening tsunami wave and the second half of obstacles that comes post-event to where Kristian and his wife Idun must now stay alive to find each other through a girth of destruction from high elevation to sea level. The script is penned by John Kåre Raake and Harald Rosenløw-Eeg and I praise their storytelling in creating worthy characters and developing the plausible cataclysm on paper.
The special effects rival the big boisterous effects of Hollywood. The menacing tsunami means business on screen was created under the supervision of Pål Morten Hverven and splayed on the natural blue hue heavy and tone setting cinematography of John Christian Rosenlund. Usually, giant waves in Hollywood just can’t cut that CGI feel. Uthaug’s wave crests with such realism it’s frightening and to experience our characters at the moment of impact makes you never want to go in the water again – forget about giant man-eating sharks, its giant killer waves you have to worry about. Uthaug puts the viewer right in the path of an immense wave, capturing all the fear and intensity and the breathtaking aspects of simulating a dire situation.
Magnolia Entertainment releases the Norwegian disaster flick in Theaters and On Demand. Magnolia courtesy sent me a screener link so I am unable to comment on the video and audio quality. Also, there were no extras included in the screener as it’s solely a feature. “The Wave” washes over Hollywood’s big budgeted calamity films that’s been released over the past decade and will have you holding your breath from start to finish and long after the wave has subsided.
Tim Weber returns to his childhood home in Somerset to take claim over the family business from his father who recently deceased. When Somerset residents start to disappear and severed body parts are discovered, the idyllic and peaceful lands of the small village are stirred, whisking together an agitated hornets’ nest of confusion and trouble. The truth surfaces when two Nile crocodiles reveal themselves, snapping off the heads of ewes and shredding the shriveled bodies of elderly ladies. Hunting parties form and traps are set to snare and kill the semiaquatic predator, but are the crocodiles just a facade for something more nefarious? The crocodiles must be stopped at all cost, but the hidden beneath the very noses of the townsfolk stealths the true danger.
While Lionsgate’s distributed UK film “The Hatching” may sound like a serious creature feature, the Michael Anderson directed 2014 film, shot on the Somerset location, is actually a horror-comedy with tea kettle loads of dry English charm and wit. “The Hatching’s” cheekiness stems from deploring a misconception that it’s actually a creature feature story of two crocodiles lurking prey from the watery ditches of Somerset and does a good job at it. The tension stagnates of something far more sinister about Somerset is quite evident, but doesn’t slap you square in the face until the obvious pivot. Anderson is able to keep the attention on the crocodiles with the help of the story’s preface of young Tim Weber and his mate Baghi stealing two crocodile eggs from a zoological establishment and witnessing their other friend becoming crocodile dinner during the process. Yet, the farce still plays out until act three when the town masks a real threat to their residents.
To quickly sum up the impression of “The Hatching” is to be frank that if “Jaws” and “An American Werewolf in London” had a crack baby, “The Hatching” would be the epitome of that said crack baby. I had a strong inkling that “The Hatchling” felt too familiar with the John Landis’ iconic and pioneering werewolf comedy of an American backpacker becoming attacked by an English werewolf. That suspicion revealed to be more physically prominent as to learn that director Michael Anderson had worked on “An American Werewolf in London” as a clapper loader, so there may lie some inspiration. Even the townies Russell and Lardy discuss the possibility of werewolves in Somerset responsible for the killings of sheep and maybe even the disappearances and a few shots of the moment eerily donned that retro homage, an oral sign of respect to the Landis movie.
To get down to the brass tax, “The Hatching” may have the intentions to bite hard like a giant crocodile, but lacks coherency at times, as if time and space were not something considered for the sake of clarity and storytelling. The Nick Squires inaugural script is all over the place with transitions not quite hitting the mark as intended. Characters were also not set up well; point in case with Tim Weber and his employees loathing him for an unknown reason. I get why his uncle Stan despises him, but why Russell and Lardy? The butcher’s boy was the biggest exposition faux pas as his story was nothing more than a brief explanation to catch up on the events at hand.
“The Hatching” is listed as rated R with violence and gore, accompanied with brief sexuality and drug use. The crocodile gore is modest at best with more of the gore being delivered by way of other means and not by the two beasts. The overall horror related effects weren’t shabby or shoddy as most of it, if not all, were practical effects and, by the grace of God, not computer generated. Granted, scenes of the crocodile out of water were obviously of not a real creature, but still real looking enough to scare the bejesus out of some poor soul. Real enough to parade around the streets of Somerset on a shopping cart, as in one scene with Russell and Lardy.
Lionsgate presents “The Hatching” DVD in a 1.85:1 widescreen presentation with an English 5.1 Dolby Digital audio mix. The DVD also comes with an digital ultraviolet that can be played on any device. Bonus features include a behind-the-scenes segment entitled “Beneath The Surface of The Hatching” and a trailer gallery. “The Hatching” may not be for everybody; with the dry English comedy and the sub-genre identity complex, the film may even piss off some hardcore horror fanatics, but I firmly believe “The Hatching” has more respect for it’s elder films than it does in itself and that’s the quality most films seem to hone into for a quick stint of popularity.
Shark tracker Chase Hunter has been employed by his estranged brother-by-adoption Jake to hunt down a black-finned great white shark off the shores of South Africa. Jake, the head of a South African crime ring, has interest in the shark due to the very large and rather valuable diamond the shark swallowed after a botched meeting between rival gangs. Jake lends his brother his beautiful lawyer Jasmine as a guide who is familiar with the South African waters and has diving experience with sharks. Things become even more convoluted when Chase becomes involved with the ever dangerous and hard to kill Nix, a competing crime lord with a severe diamond obsession, and Nix uses every means of persuasion to motivate Chase in finding this priceless, shark-ingested diamond even if the persuasion is to kidnap Jasmine. Chase and Jake must put their differences aside and use their respectful talents to save Jasmine from a deranged killer that doesn’t lurk under the glassy South African waters.
Sheldon Wilson was once a director I tried to keep my all seeing eye on over a decade ago after the release of one of his earlier films, a ghost film entitled “Shallow Ground,” which I reviewed (not for Its Bloggin’ Evil) very positively with haunting attributes and a hint of foreshadowing of horror integrity from an upcoming director. Eleven years later and after viewing his latest release “Shark Killer” which he co-wrote with “Prom Night IV” penner Richard Beattie, I’ve come to the conclusion that the foreshadowing I thought I saw within “Shallow Ground” and within a promising young director didn’t quite take and didn’t live up to the expectations of continuing a film legacy or even a cult following. “Shark Killer,” like most films involving the underwater apex predators, doesn’t make the cut of being a cinematic masterpiece, but turns out to be similar to other certain frenzy-feasting films, such as “Sharknado,” “Deep Blue Sea,” and “Shark Night,” and all of which contain charming entertainment qualities in their own right from whether being absolute ridiculous where sharks fly through the air and attack their prey, or where sharks viciously rip apart and devour famous celebrities, or where sharks swim and stalk in unsuspecting places like at an isolated lake resort.
Here’s what little I liked about “Shark Killer:” I liked the film’s budget which allowed for some decent shark special effects which in any other Syfy channel case would be unbearable. The effects are great, but not great white great and are just barely digestible with a slightly bad after taste. Another positive aspect of “Shark Killer” is the scripted dialogue. A witty dynamic between estranged brothers Chase (Derek Theler) and Jake (Paul du Toit) made for some quaint comedic relief in the second and third acts where the two had to work their way through an army of henchmen to rescue Jasmine (Erica Cerra). Derek Theler has potential to be the next Chris Pratt with a dimwitted charm, a handsome face, and a tall and bulky build. Theler’s acting also flows finely and is well-timed, but he does need to expand his range as his character Chase becomes tiresome and predictable, especially for a character torn between a dwindling family relationship with his brother Jake and a new love interest in Jasmine.
In hindsight, “Shark Killer” should have never been titled “Shark Killer.” Much of the film rarely involves Black Fin, the diamond eating great white shark, and, instead, “Shark Killer” comes off as more of an action thriller between shark hunter Chase and a criminal warlord over a diamond with such importance that is never actually explained from either of the battling criminals Jake and Nix with the exception that it’s a priceless gem. What’s also not explained is Jake and Chase’s past as we’re given only minute information such as their not actually brothers by blood, but for some reason Chase owes Jake for saving his life from presumably a instance with shark. Again, an important explanation should be provided to give us more reason to believe the Chase needs to do Jake this dangerous and pointless venture. Great white Black Fin swims silently in the background caught in the middle of this diamond war. What’s more interesting are some of Black Finn’s murderous scenes where Chase explains that the giant shark follows them to the harbor and leaves the hunters fatal calling cards; regardless of how mysterious this shark becomes from these scenes, they all become pointless when compared to the foreground story.
Also, I was expecting a bloody good show from director Sheldon Wilson and a film called “Shark Killer.” What I witness was a tame and timid PG-13 action thriller with witty banter which makes “Jaws: The Revenge” look like a hardcore bloody snuff movie. All the shark kills are off screen and implied leaving everything to imagination, but where is the visual visceral nature of being an apex predator? There should be flesh shredding, vein puncturing, and blood squirting violence whenever sharks are supposedly the main focus. South African native and the film’s most recognizable actor, “Darkman” portrayer Arnold Vosloo had the most violent scene where he executes one of his bumbling henchmen with a bullet to the head. Chase Walker mainly just beats people up, Jake shoots a couple of guys, and a shark becomes stab multiple times, but you don’t really see that part and, instead, just get a a couple of close up scenes of a determined eye of the shark being stabbed to death.
Overall, “Shark Killer” has classic PG-13 entertainment value, but doesn’t bring any new material to the deep trenches of a vast cinematic ocean. A disappointing creature-feature and action-adventure thriller entry from director/writer Sheldon Wilson who has taken a step in the wrong direction, away from the intense and jarring “Shallow Ground” that gave me hope for new blood in the water. “Shark Killer” incorporates too many variables and just chums the water with useless scenes where only a little simplicity and focus to a film could have been more beneficial for the Blue Ice Pictures production, who gave us “Fido” and “Alien Outpost,” and the RLJ Entertainment home entertainment release.