Evil Big Enough to Bite Your Face Off Clean! “Abominable” review!


Six months after a tragic climbing accident that left his wife dead and him crippled and bound to a wheel chair, Preston Rogers has been ordered by his doctor to return home, near the site of accident, with the assistance of a nurse to unify Preston’s shattered psyche. Next door, five, young party girls check in for an all-girls party weekend. However, they’re not alone. In the woods, lurks a monstrous living legend, blood thirsty, and ready to feast on the flesh and bone of animal and human alike. As Preston witnesses one death after another from a perched view while sitting in his wheel cheer, he becomes desperate to reach the survivors’ attentions and no one, from police to his uncouth nurse assistant, believe his story of a vicious, hairy creature skulking in the woods, leaving Preston by himself to save others as well as himself.

They don’t make monster movies like this anymore! “Abominable” is the 2006 blood splattering creature feature from writer-director Ryan Schifrin. The director’s freshman film is a wallop of entertainment with ton of homage and a plenty of gruesome kills that you can revisit over and over again on some kind of morbid repeat in this high caliber, independent, coal-coated gem that’s “Read Window” meets a whole hell of a messed up version of “Harry and the Hendersons.” You don’t want this ginormous meat eater breaking in your couch or raiding your fridge! The tightly knit set locations that might usually stagnant a story are easily compensated with a graphic and bloody violence that stems from the many full frontal visuals on the towering, practical effects monster. “Abominable” also looks and feels really expensive and not a slapped together, last minute production.

Now, Ryan Schifrin might not agree with me here and the director might say that it was his passion that attracted some of the genre’s biggest names to have small roles in first time feature, but I’m pretty confident that his well-known composer father, Lalo Schifrin whose composed for movies “The Amityville Horror” and “The Class of 1984”, had some influential help other than also being the orchestrating composer for his son’s film. In leading with “Abominable’s” main star, I remember this actor from his charismatic boyfriend material character in “Deep Star Six;” Matt McCoy plays the crippled Preston Rogers who must rely on his smarts rather than his physical strength. McCoy’s piecing blue eyes and solid acting chops has him being a believable character in an unbelievable movie. McCoy’s character and his at odds dynamic with skeezy male nurse Otis Wilhelm, dedicatedly played in a first time performance by special effects artist Christien Tinlsey, is probably one of the better shallow pissing matches around. The five party girls are Karin Anna Cheung, Natalie Compagno, Ashley Hartman, genre scream queen Tiffany Shepis, who has one of the best death scenes ever, and rounding off with Haley Joel in the female lead. Hold onto to your hats, because we’re not done yet with the star-studded cast list that includes Rex Linn (“Cliffhanger”), Phil Morris (“Dark Planet”), Dee Wallace Stone (“E.T.”), Lance Henriksen (“Aliens”), Jeffrey Combs (“Reanimator”), and Paul Gleason (“Breakfast Club”). Dialogue between Henriksen and Combs is pure magic and just adds that cherry on top of something already pretty sweet.

Schifrin’s “Abominable” is a down to Earth horror. Practical, small, and a straight shooter that doesn’t try to gimmick a way to fame and cult fandom. Schifrin, with the help of the late “Blairwitch Project” director Neal Fredericks, was able to capture the atmosphere and the creature without having to burden themselves with computer generated imagery or relying heavily on camera tricks or crafty edits to progress the story that certainly needed to be blunt. Fredericks cinematography creates the allusion of a bigger world, a world where Schifrin’s creature lives, breathes, and hunts as the urban legend of the Flatwoods Monster. McCoy sells his role of a challenged individual; one whose on the cusp of giving up with he realizes there’s hope in saving these young girls when he could not save his wife or the use of his legs. Auxiliary cast members are not two-bit nobodies with lifeless personalities of backwoods piss ants; instead, Jeffrey “The Frighteners” Combs and Lance “Pumpkinhead” Henrikson are the best backwoods creeps with shotguns and oxygens canisters to act the roles. The monster’s absolutely and gratifying heinous with the Frito-razor teeth, the dingy string hair, and the mouth that opens up a foot wide.

“Abominable” reclaims a home on the MVD Rewind Collection label with a brand new 2K definition transfer 2-disc, DVD (Standard Definition) and Blu-ray (1080p) combo set, presented in a widescreen, 1.78:1 aspect ratio; however the ratio is stretched to fit the entire screen. The image quality is rather clean, but has a fuzzy, soft overlay that’s true to form with a film originally shot in 35mm coming into contact with some electrical interference. The version of “Abominable” is also a all new cut of the film with improved CGI-effects, which there were some, and were overseen by director Ryan Schifrin and editor Chris Conlee. The release continues with a forthright note about enhancing the color timing and correction to further the experience which epitomizes more clearly in a scene where the blue eyes of Matt McCoy and Haley Joel are depicted overly brilliant when staring at each other in the darkness or in the lighted room or, in fact, anything that’s blue, i.e. Joel’s blue jeans or Otis’s nurses getup is indistinguishable being any other hue. This edition comes with an English 5.1 surround audio, uncompressed PCM on the Blu-ray, and the balance is remarkable. Dialogue is poignant and punctual with the beast’s belly deep roars echoing through with such range and depth that it heightens the monstrous terror. Lalo Schifrin’s score comes out clean enough despite slightly schlocky in comparison to his son’s material. New extras include a new introduction from director Ryan Schifrin and bonus material from other releases become rebranded on this combo release with an audio commentary by Schifrin, Jeffrey Combs, and Matt McCoy, a making of featurette, deleted and extended scenes, outtakes and bloopers, “Shadows” – short film by Ryan Schifrin at USC Student Film school, “Basil & Mobius: No Reast for the Wicked” short by Schifrin that features a score composed by Lalo Schifrin, the original theatrical trailer, poster and still gallery, stoyboard gallery, and a collectible mini poster insert! Whew! MVD Rewind Collection went big and landed huge with Ryan Schifrin’s “Abominable.” The mammoth release will surely be a definitive cut for the scarcely heard of creature feature that’s made with deep reverence for the classic monster movie and denotes a sincere and unwavering passion for the genre, making “Abominable” a lovable tribute of beast slaughtering stowed with paralyzing anxiety and symbiotic with pure, addictive joy.

 

“Abominable” is a must own!

 

The Mold Knows Evil. The Mold Knows! “Motivational Growth” review!

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Ian Foliver is a pessimistic, depressed, and reclusive young man with a touch of agoraphobia. When his best friend, an old Commodore tube Television named Kent, bites the bullet with a busted boob-tube tube in his unkept apartment, Ian determines that life is no longer worth living because that television named Kent was his only friend, his only ray of daily sunshine and that life-worthy activity had just suddenly died. Feeling that life is no longer worth living, Ian gathers up household chemical products and decides to gas himself to death in his bathtub, but when trying to clog the bathroom air vent, he slips and falls landing on his head. When he wakes up, Ian is face-to-face with a growth of conversing mold. The Mold, as it refers to itself, wants to help Ian – clean up his apartment, shave and bathe, and attract the attention of his attractive next door neighbor who Ian stalks and ogles daily through his front door peephole. In return for this helpful motivation to live, The Mold demands that Ian follows The Mold’s precise instructions which might not be as helpful as Ian first thought.
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The Don Thacker directed dark comedy is a surreal voyage into the internal life struggle of Ian Folivar, played beautifully by Adrian DiGiovanni, who directs his own downward situation making the audience part of Ian’s life. Ian is a character that is aware of his flaws but can’t accept his life and his analysis is that “life is shit” and is dangerous so shutting himself in his small apartment fairs way better than living the conventional life. “Motivational Growth” shares commonalities with prior cult favorites; one of those favorites is the Peter Hyams directed and John Ritter starring film “Stay Tuned” to where Ian becomes sucked into eccentric television programs he was viewing before Kent blew a fuse. Also, another cult favorite film, Don Coscarelli’s “John Dies at the End,” which shares that wacky fantastics of dark and ironic situations. All three of these dark comedy romps are in a small, rare genre group that dares to be different and do well at it.
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The Mold is an unique, life-like creation of filth that can actually make you feel the fungi-filled griminess lying within between the nooks, crannies, and crevices of your body. A job well done by Thacker and his The Mold puppetry team led by special effects supervisor Steve Tolin of TolinFX. They really did an amazing job creating a practical effect living-being that works in sync with the iconic voice of Jeffrey Combs whose voice fits as The Mold’s persona – confident and inspirational with a hint of cynicism. The interactions between Ian and The Mold becomes symbiotic where Ian needs The Mold to rejuvenate his depressed life back to order and back to the land of the living while The Mold needs Ian to fulfill it’s inauspicious desires for Ian’s “well-being.” When Adrian DiGiovanni interacts with The Mold, he’s interacting with an actual character in the room and not a hokey-hapless effect. You have to hand it to DiGiovanni in forming a believable dialogue and relationship between himself and an inanimate object such as the lowest scum, excuse me – fungus, on Earth.
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What I adore about “Motivational Growth’s” plot is the mysterious time period that it’s set in as many references point to the late 1980’s to the early 1990’s with the video game imagery, the television personalities, and the hairdos and clothing lines of characters in Kent’s hosted top shows Ian mindlessly views. Ian, himself, is stuck in time not knowing what a Plasma TV was which would fall right in line with the time frame above since Plasma’s didn’t start rolling around until the mid 90’s. I also like the peculiar characters Ian encounters even though his setting his solely set in his cramped apartment. Box the Ox, played by the intimidating Pete Giovagnoli, pinpoints his character perfectly as a seemingly overbearing, yet somewhat absent and simple minded, landlord who threatens Ian with off-the-wall metaphors, thus making him fun to watch and see how Ian attempts to interact with Box until Box cuts him off all the time even if Ian is provoked with a question by Box the Ox. Ken Brown as Plasmoday is by far my favorite. With a creepy face and creepy mannerisms, Plasmoday had too short of a role and I thought he would make a return to Ian’s abode to lick his TV again, but in the character’s short amount of screen time, Brown is able to up-play the oddity that embodies Plasmoday with such passion that it’s hard not to love the character.

“Motivational Growth” molds itself into greatness amongst cult movies. The nitty-gritty portions are grossly stimulating and will sure to have you jump in the shower for a quick rinse. Whether or not Ian is suffering from brain trauma, purgatory, or just to awake to a nightmare scenario, the story is left open for interpretation, giving the audience a chance to determine the ending for themselves which is always fun in my little black book. The MVD Blu-ray is spectacular technically. Super clear with no disturbances in the transfer. The Hi-resolution downplays the obvious practical effects on The Mold but that only brings more charm to the film. The sound is clear and the extras are plentiful. I’d suggest “Motivational Growth” to anyone – even to a neat freak with cleanliness issues.

Trailer: Motivational Growth

Coming to VOD, DVD, and Blu-ray October 7th, Don Thacker’s Motivational Growth spawned a theatrical trailer today and it’s quite impressive.

Ian Foliver is a reclusive and a depressed individual who has nothing to live for and after an attempt at suicide fails in his grimy bathroom, a fungal growth, simply named The Mold, begins to talk to Ian, coaching him on how to remodel his lifestyle. The Mold, voiced by genre vet Jeffrey Combs (Re-Animator, The Frighteners, From Beyond), advice might not be as innocent as Ian had thought.

Check out this batshit insane trailer that has weird splashed all over it. I’m going to be there to see it! How about you?

Evil Out Your Pineal Gland! From Beyond (Second Sight) review!

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Perhaps the most very definition of sensory stimulation lies with the Stuart Gordon 1986 mad science horror film From Beyond. Numerous sensors are teased from color perspectives to sexual stimulation to even the thrill of exciting the mind through science. From Beyond is not only a maddeningly weird and utterly slimy film about expanding the pineal gland to the point of losing yourself to a creature ridden other-dimensional world where you’re absorbed into chaotic, gelatinous mutated mass. No. From Beyond lets you fully and freely experience what most people consider to be taboo and frightening.

Dr. Edward Pretorius and his assistant Crawford Tillinghast construct a machine called the Resonator that will tap into the dormant pineal gland of the mind in hopes of expanding to beyond the regions of the mind. When Crawford first turns on the machine, creatures appear swimming in the air and attack Crawford. Ignoring the warnings of possible danger, the obsessed Pretorius turns on the machine and has his head twisted and decapitated by a shape-shifting monster. Crawford’s story lands him committed in an mental institution where he is greeted by Dr. Katherine McMichaels who treats Crawford and wants him to recreate his experience in order to treat what she thinks is schizophrenia. Crawford, Katherine and Bubba Brownlee, an overseeing officer to make sure Crawford behaves himself, return to the Pretorius house to reactivate the Resonator – to recreate the nightmare.

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How can you not read that synopsis and not be curious to see this fun flick? Loosely based of H.P. Lovecraft’s short story of the same title and intertwined with other Lovecraftian stories. We all know that director Stuart Gordon is the true historian behind Lovecraft as he has most likely studied and then directed most of Lovecraft’s stories such as Herbert West-Re-Animator and Dagon. Yet somehow with From Beyond, Gordon and his team did something right; they infused their own ideas and their own creative style making From Beyond more memorable and highly controversial amongst the MPAA. Hell, I’m guessing this is why we can never have a home entertainment copy stay in print for more than 3 years – point in case, the MGM release! Luckily, for you and for me, UK cult and horror film loving Second Sight Films has brought back From Beyond from the DVD grave and has even enhanced the film for Blu-ray!

Oh yeah, Dr. Katherine McMichaels.

Oh yeah, Dr. Katherine McMichaels.

From Beyond really did push the limits with the MPAA; so much in fact that even using green slime over blood to lessen the effect still caused heavily edited down editions. But there are scenes of extreme uncomfortableness which I find a sense of relieve and peacefulness in. Such scenes are with Barbara Crampton in the S&M outfit and she fondles Jeffrey Combs as he lies hair less and injured in bed. If I feel awkward, dirty, or uncomfortable after a scene, I’m extremely enjoying the movie and thank you director, producers, writers, actors, and the rest of the crew in making uncomfortable scenes enjoyable for weird folks as myself. Like I always say, if a horror movie frightens you, then the movie is doing it’s job! From Beyond will surface all sorts of internal emotions and stimulations that cause the sensations to overload and explode much like the Resonator stimulating the pineal gland to the point of blissful agony.

If you want to feel like you’re on a severe acid trip, I’d suggest grabbing From Beyond from Second Sight here before the DVD goes out of print again. Remember, this is a region 2 disc and can only be played on region 2 players so beware!