Southern Hospitality is all EVIL Cloaks and Daggers! “The Long Night” reviewed! (Well Go USA / Blu-ray)

“The Long Night” now available on Blu-ray home video!

After spending years in foster care as a child, the now adult Grace tries to track down any information or background about her biological parents with the help of affluent boyfriend Jack.  The New York City couple travel into the rural, deep south on a seemingly solid lead about her folks.  As Grace and Jack drive up to their contact’s isolated and grand manor estate, their contact with the information doesn’t greet them upon their arrival and as they search the house, they find it as empty and still as the wide open land around them.  When darkness falls, cloaked members of a demon worshipping cult surround the estate, using their telekinetic and telepathy powers to infiltrate and corral Grace toward being a host for the prophesized return of 400 year slumbering and powerful demon the night of the equinox.  The couple battle the subservient minions inside and outside the manor as the night progresses into terrifying visions of Grace’s predestined lineage and the hope of surviving the night is quickly dwindling.

A longstanding demonic cult with supernatural psychotronic abilities besieging two city slickers armed with broken cell phones and a fireplace poker feels like the mismatch from Hell.  Somehow, “The Curse of El Charro” director, Rich Ragsdale, was able to stick the landing with loads of dourly, yet intensely powerful, cinematography crafted from a Mark Young (“Tooth and Nail”) and Robert Sheppe script based off the Native American mythology of the Horned Serpent, Utkena.  Keeping with the mythos’ descriptors involving snakes and horns or antlers, Ragsdale utilizes his usual bread and butter music video talents to fashion psychedelic imagery out of an extremely committed cult mercilessly stopping at nothing in resurrecting their preeminent master who will cleanse the world of corrupted humanity to start the world afresh…or so they believe.  Shot on site at a deep-rooted and isolated plantation house and property in Charleston, South Carolina, “The Long Night,” also known as “The Coven, is a production of Sprockefeller Pictures (“Fatman”) and Warm Winter in association with Adirondack Media Group, El Ride Productions, and Hillin Entertainment.

Super stoked that “The Lurker” and Rob Zombie’s “Halloween” remake star Scout Taylor-Compton is playing an age-appropriate role and not another high schooler, the actress plays the soul and parent searching Grace who has a strong desire to track down her parents, which never comes to the forefront why Grace was placed in foster care to begin with. Compton is completely competent assuming a role that requires her physicality as well as her emotional range in fear through resistance against a group of mostly unknown cast of characters that mostly keep their hoods and masks on for the entire engirdling of the manor house. Compton can also exude being a badass at times, but the script shamefully holds the character back that never allows Grace to become a true opposition to their exalting will toward their demon god. Nolan Gerard Funk (“Truth or Dare”) might ooze that trope persona of a dude-bro bred out of spoiled opulence as Grace’s boyfriend Jack. Despite his unappealing swaggering veneer, Jack reaches for depth more than any other character in the film and Funk pins it pretty well. Jack loves Grace but can’t face his Hamptons residing parents’ derision of a woman, of any woman in fact, who will never be good enough for their son and that creates some nice early on tension that fizzles out to being actually nothing of real importance to the couple. Yet, Jack continues to be the one with more common sense, receiving pre-plot point hump bad vibes since arriving at the manor and also making some of the better decisions when the bottom drops out and snake-charming demonists come calling for his main squeeze to squeeze out the resurrection of an unholy being. Funk adds bits of comedic charm throughout like someone who watched too many horror movies and tries to reenact scenes that could be beneficial to their survival in theory but hopelessly fails in a humorous way. A real waste of a raw cinematic talent is in Jeff Fahey (“Body Parts”) who plays the brother of the missing manor owner. Fahey feels very much used for solely his veteran star power, a recognizable face, just to be nearly instantaneously forgotten at the same time and by the climatic ending, you might not even remember Fahey being a part of the story. “The Long Night” rounds out with Deborah Kara Unger (“Silent Hill”) and Kevin Ragsdale (“Little Dead Rotting Hood”).

“The Long Night” is a delicate incubus uncoiling its snake-biting venom of inexorable fate. Rich Ragsdale hyper stylizes flashbacks and often mundane moments to conspicuously denote unimaginable and resistant-futile power over a pair of out of their league NYC outlanders. Speaking of which from within the script, there is a sting of contrast between North and South, as if the Civil War was still relevant, ever since the first moment Jack and Grace hit the screen with their travel plans. Jack passively continues to harp upon his dislike of South and even looks to Grace to make sense of a demon cult outside on the front and back lawn, hoping that her Southern roots can explain the provincial nonsense raising torches and speaking in tongues that’s blocking any and all exits. Even Grace, a character originating from the South, believes that the makeshift totems surrounding the property are resurrected to ward off evil. As a Southern, I never heard of such a thing. The concept for a Lazarus possession out of the depths of dimensional binding sounds like a winner in my book, but Ragsdale can’t quite smooth out the edge to effectively and properly give the cult and Grace a banging finale of supercharged hellfire that sees our heroine fight to the bitter end. Instead, the entire third act and ending feels like a sidestep because not a single better thought came to the writers’ imaginations. Cool visuals, good special effects, but a banal trail off ultimately hurts “The Long Night’s” longevity.

Well Go USA Entertainment delivers the Shudder exclusive, “The Long Night,” onto Blu-ray home video with a region A, AVC encoded, high definition 1080p release. Presented in 16X9 widescreen, some scenes look compressed or rounded suggesting an anamorphic picture, but the overall digital codec outcome is really strong elevated by the creepy folkloric and the pernicious dream atmospherics of “Escape Room’s” Pierluigi Malavasi who can masterfully casts the light as well as he shields it in a menacing silhouette. Some of the nightmares or hallucinations see more of compression flaws in the mist, smoke, or gel lighting with faint posterization. The English language 5.1 DTS-HD master audio balances a vigorous surround sound output, catching and releasing all the appropriate channels with a range of environmental ambient noise and the scuffle between violent contact, denoting a strong amplitude with depth between foreground and background. Dialogue comes out nice and clear with a vitality that’s reverberates in the ear channels whenever a momentous moment sparks an outburst of rage and dominion. Special features include a behind-the-scenes featurettes that look at the raw footage of the birthing flashback scene, the overall aesthetic tone of the film, and the resonating tribal score. Also included is a Rich Ragsdale commentary track, the theatrical trailer, and Ragsdale’s 2019 short film “The Loop,” a meta-horror surrounding a scary VHS tape and two young brothers. While “The Long Night” has flaws with unfinished plot details that will leave a lingering unsatisfied aftertaste, entrenched within the narrative is a contemporary premise revolving around dark fate and that gut feeling toward belonging to something bigger that unfortunately turns out to be murderous summonsing of a demon scratching at the door wanting to be let out in the world. An unforgettable long night of terror.

“The Long Night” now available on Blu-ray home video!

Radioactive Evil Will Bite and Burn Your Ass! “Saltwater: Atomic Shark” review!


On the gorgeous and lively beaches of San Diego, an atomic level predator lurks underneath the clear, blue water, splitting the ocean surface with a large glowing red dorsal fin. Lifeguards, Gina and Kaplan, track a series of scorched dead fish washed ashore and determine that a catastrophic environmental event is afflicting the shoreline in the form of an atomic shark, a sunken Russian nuclear submarine byproduct roaming unstable through the ocean, ravenously devouring ablaze any boat or any person that it comes in contact with, and unwittingly ready to deploy a one megaton nuclear explosion if provoked with enough ammunition. Bogged down by incompetent supervisors and purposeful governmental misdirection, Gina and Kaplan turn to radical social media journalists, a perverted drone enthusiast, and a salty boat captain to form a ragtag team of shark hunters to save the West Coast from becoming a fallout wasteland for thousands of years.

Just when you thought it was safe to return to the genre, another made-for-TV cheesy killer shark movie breaches to the small screen surface, but this particular man-eater has bite. “Sharktopus” doesn’t have enough tentacle fortitude. Tornado sharks are just a bunch of wind bags minnows in comparison. And “Dinoshark,” well, that beast is just ancient history. All these other silky, grey predatory kings of the ocean are no match for this man-made mistake of a Godlike creature in the 2016 horror-comedy “Saltwater: Atomic Shark.” You’ll need a bigger boat or a bigger ocean or a bigger sense of humor as this nuclear fish bestows havoc and mayhem upon a usually quiet California coastline with a fiery belly. “Lake Placid vs. Anaconda” director A.B. Stone helms a script by Scott Foy, Jack Snyder (“Fatal Exam”), Griff Furst (“Ghost Shark”) that’s essentially Baywatch chummed with “Sharknado!”

Leading a group of amateur shark hunter is the novice environmental scientist and lifeguard Gina, played by Rachele Brooke Smith who has worked with writer-director Griff Furst previously on the 2016’s horror-mystery “Cold Moon.” Almost immediately, Rachele won the heart of this viewer as the amazonian built actress is tough as she is beautiful and all the while, never out of her lifeguard swimsuit. Her performance against a CGI monster shark is the best amongst her cast mates. She’s opposite Bobby Campo, as an injury sidelined lifeguard with a cavalier life persona. “The Final Destination” actor has the charm and the looks of a spring breaker, ready to drink tequila shots from between the cavernous cleavage of intoxicated co-ed, but Campo’s rides the fine line into as an attentive and cooperative friend to his leading lady costar. Bud Bundy, I mean David Faustino, reprises a similar role from his “Married with Children” days with Fletcher, a drone enthusiast with a penchant for videotaping babes on the beach. Second shark flick being released in the same year along with “Sharknado 4,” Faustino keeps the old comedy schtick well lubed for a slick chuckle or two in his scenes. “Atomic Shark’s” headliner, “The Lawnmower Man” Jeff Fahey, gears up as a stern boat captain hellbent on leaving himself out of trouble. Fahey provides his trademark soft blue eyes under a furrowed brow and a solid performance to earn him his payday as the most recognizable name on the credits. The remaining cast include Isaiah LaBorde (“Cold Moon”), Adam Ambruso, Mariah Bonner, Jake Chiassen (“Trailer Park Shark”), and Jessica Kemejuk, producer of “The Neighbor.”

While “Saltwater: Atomic Shark” can be appreciated for not taking itself too literal or too serious as it organically shouldn’t, the comedy portion teeters on a fine line between stalely outdated or casually tongue-and-cheek. For plot progression during one of the movie’s pivotal discoveries that lead the would-be heroes to the shark, A.B. Stone mocks up a yelp.com review graphic image for one of the story’s locales at a beachside restaurant named Tales from the Grillside that loses one star when characters are caught in the middle of restaurant patrons, and the catch of the day, start simultaneously exploding via radioactive instability. The spontaneous combustion of a snobby Guy Fieri type to kick off the magnificent event after eating the infected fish spells classical campiness in all it’s oddball allure, but when that yelp.com review comes up on screen and downgrades the grill’s three star review scale to two, the moment feels out of place, cheap, and unnecessary post bombastic detonations of fish guts and human entrails, splattering into the crevices every nook and cranny, are more than satisfying. Scenes containing comedic tension highlight some of the film’s best moments not involving the shark itself, especially when Mariah Bonner’s Felice, after losing her conspiracy theorist companion Troy to radiant jaws of the shark, takes all her angst out on Gina. Felice pins down Gina’s head while trying to spark a lighter to ignite a yacht full of dynamite and as the anxiety riddled score inches closer with Felice moving toward to lighting the explosives, the score abruptly cuts with each time Gina blows out the small flame. It’s a simple, yet well thought out moment with poised performances from both actresses to bring that flash of comedy to ahead.

ITN distribution and MVDVisual distribute the Curmudgeon Films’ “Saltwater: Atomic Shark” onto DVD home entertainment. Presented in a widescreen, 1.78:1 aspect ratio, the imagery consists of numerous ariel shots, especially from the implemented drones. The overhead view of the water is immaculate, yet portions of the picture, mostly in wide and long shots, faintly go into pixeling state due to most likely the data transferring speed. It’s not as heinous as imagined as the pixeling is quite miniscule. The English Dolby Digital 5.1 audio track is a well-rounded machine that pickups up the generic, yet sometimes catchy score, conveys a clear dialogue, and produces ambient sounds like the beach, explosions, and drones inside the metrics of surround sound. If you want to see vengeful, eco-friendly lifeguard ride an outboard motor under the ocean surface to deliver bundled sticks of TNT to a giant, radioactive shark, then this shark frenzy flick, “Saltwater: Atomic Shark” is right for you!

Sink your TEETH in this “Saltwater: Atomic Shark” DVD!

Sushi Never Tasted so Evilly Delicious. Sushi Girl review!

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Sushi. A Japanese delicacy which numerous people fear to digest because the fish is raw and cold and that which is raw and cold usually disgusts us. I should know – I was one of those ignorant people. However, being exposed to sushi for four years now, I’m confident in my opinion that sushi is exceptionally tasty and good for you without all the mayo-like sauces that are sometimes put on top of the rolls. But I can not say that I’ve had the pleasure of dining with a sushi spread laid out among the smooth and creamy body of a young naked woman. Though the idea sounds novel and sexually stimulating, the idea that someones dirty body touching my sushi makes me more nauseous than the raw and cold of the sushi itself.

This brings me to Sushi Girl from first time director Kern Saxton and Saxton has become an impressive director just from his work on this revenge crime thriller. Fish has spent six years, five months, and 17 days in prison for diamond heist crime. In all that time, he did not rat out his accomplices and in return, Duke, the ringleader of the heist, holds a special naked girl sushi dinner for Fish and also invites the rest of the gang. After the pleasantries are quickly established, the truth becomes clear among them that bad blood on the botched crime those many years back have spoiled their beliefs in one another and each wants a cut of the diamond profits and they suspect that only Fish knows where the diamonds are since he was the sole bag man.

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Sushi Girl doesn’t pull any punches and his with such ferocity you’ll inch to the edge of your seat to figure out how the situation will all turn out. The trust is thin among the group and rightfully so as the characters in this game of chess are personally all different. Six years ago, Fish is a rookie looking to score big, but when he does his stint in prison and is released, all Fish wants to do is go home and wash his hands clean of the everything. The other characters don’t see it that way. Max is the hasty muscle of the group and can barely maintain his psychotic nature, most likely caused by his mountain of daddy abuse issues. Crow is also a psychotic individual, but a different kind of species; Crow’s wit, flamboyant, and sadist qualities make him a sheep and wolves clothing. Francis is like Fish by trying to come clean, but this former coke addict doesn’t have the fortitude to save anybody nor save himself from his addiction. And then there is Duke. Duke is educated, suave, a con man, and a killer. He can control the wound up Max, he can out wit the wolf Crow, and he can get under the skin of recovering druggie Francis. Fish is the only character who can stand up to all three of them, but the scenario is nothing as it seems.

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I never thought Mark Hamill could be a character actor. Hamill, to me, will never break away from being Luke Skywalker – I mean he is even rumored to be in J.J. Abrams Episode VII – but Crow could be Hamill’s saving grace. Hamill’s range as an actor has expanded two folds and I have a theory that Robot Chicken and the animated superhero movies have helped Hamills out by utilizing his voice talents. The character has become the most unique character I’ve seen in a year. Good for Hamills as he has earned my respect as an actor. As for the other cast, well they’re a bit overshadowed by Crow, but they’re still worth mentioning. I’ve always had a soft spot for James Duvall ever since I saw him play another drug addict named Jimmy in Cornered! Duvall is like Tracey Walter in the sense that Duvall is a great supporting actor for any film – big or low-budget. Candyman himself Tony Todd, also executive producer, handles the role of Duke with ease. The man is a pro at being heartless, ruthless, calm and collective. His tall stature and baritone voice doesn’t hurt either. Plus, Courtney Palm, the sushi girl, has a drool-over body to die for.

Don’t be fooled by advertising that state this film has the Robert Rodriguez line up of stars like Michael Biehn, Jeff Fahey, and Danny Trejo in it and though the statement is true, their total screen time is about three minutes at the most..? I did read on IMDB’s trivia page that Biehn waved his acting fee due to a favor for smoking hot actress and Sushi Girl producer Electra Avellan (aka Babysitter Twin in Planet Terror). But these brief scenes of great actors don’t make Sushi Girl the greatest cult crime thriller since The French Connection, no. Saxton creates tension between the main characters, in a small room, with sushi on top of a naked woman and he delivers such a twist at the end, you won’t see it coming. You know there will be one, but what exactly the twist is will be unexpected.

Sushi Girl is brutality at it’s bare-bloody-knuckled best and really does resemble a sort of Reservoir Dogs feel with the trust issues amongst the group and the terrific torture scene goes without saying. Magnet Releasing has yet another winning release. Pick up your copy today!