A Dilapidated Terminal Full of EVIL Spirits. What Could Go Wrong? “Prison of the Psychotic Damned” reviewed! (Wild Eye Releasing / DVD)

A pre-depression era railway terminal is now an aging and decrepit structure left to ruin in Buffalo, New York. It’s also the site where an experienced paranormal investigator, her ghost-tech guru, and three volunteers venture for exploration, hoping to uncover something spooky that goes bump in the dark because of the buildings long-marred and infamous history that includes an insane asylum, an unorthodox cattle abattoir, and many unexplained and terrible deaths throughout the decades. The deeper they dig down into the terminal’s underground corridors, the more they find themselves lost in a labyrinth amongst a taxonomic diversity of unhinged ghosts and ominous orbs. Lost and being hunted down, the ghost hunters fight for topside survival before absorbed by the terminal’s evil past.

Ghost hunters investigating the eerie ambience has been a source of easy pickings for producers and filmmakers from television’s “Ghost Adventures” to the popular James Wan phenomena that is “The Conjuring” franchise based off the Ed and Lorraine Warren investigations. The then mid-30s, New England filmmaker, David “D.W.” Kann hops aboard the investigator train with his own specter-sleuthing indie film, “Prison of the Psychotic Damned,” penned by producer David R. Williams (“Frightworld”) and released in 2006.  Also known as “Prison of the Psychotic Damned:  Terminal Remix,” the once puppetry and props master, who worked on such classics as “Carnosaur 2” and “Children of the Corn III:  Urban Harvest” as well as hitting the big time with Jim Carrey’s “The Mask” and the 1995 video game adaptation, “Mortal Kombat,” showcases the historic Fellheimer & Wagner Art Deco-architecture that once stood grand inside the Buffalo Central Terminal.   Built in 1929, the 15-story building has been abandoned since 1979 and left for the whim of vandals until its sloth restoration in the 2000’s that even saw paranormal activity themed reality shows take a crack of discovering spirits beyond the grave.  “Prison of the Psychotic Damned” also is an imprisonment of psychotic fraud as David R. Williams was arrested and convicted of embezzlement of his then employer’s capital back in 2010 to fund his schlock ventures under his production company, Red Scream Films, including this film but that didn’t stop Williams who went on to continue producing and directing long after his short stint in the slammer. 

About as volatile as Mount Vesuvius wiping out Pompeii in 79 A.D. are the five, dynamically counterpoised ghost hunters driving toward their insensible doom at the Central Terminal.  Spearheading the venture is the most experienced investigator Rayna (Susan Andriensen, “The Blood Shed”) with the intention of reviving her dwindling career before becoming defunded by the grant investors.  Rayna is joined by her longtime tech assistant Jason (James Vaughn) looking to capture something, anything, supernatural with his homemade psychokinetic-detecting gear as he innocently enough flirts with the snarky unwilling participant Kansas (Melantha Blackthorne, “Bloody Slumber Party”) who finds herself on the brink of losing her funded wayward lifestyle if she doesn’t join Rayna’s expedition per her moneybag father’s direction.  The relation between Rayna and Kansas is being step daughters, but that connection isn’t made entirely clear with only one brief exchange regarding Kansas’s forced attendance.  While Kansas disparages much of the investigation, and many of its participants, she’s joined by fellow volunteers Nessie (Noel Francomano, “Kottentail”) and Aurora (Nemesis 5:  The New Model’s Daiane Azura, credited as Demona Bast) in their respective roles of Rayna’s geeky fanatic and go-to psychic.  The one aspect that really kills these characters (pen intended) for me, and probably the audiences, is the consistent, continuous, ceaseless contentiousness between them with a slew of nitpicking, name-calling, and verbal and physical abuse that makes you wonder why should we even care for a bunch of people who can’t get along.  Brief moments of reasoning flash between them that could end up turning the dynamic around, but the fleeting qualities subside to blunt anger and hate to the point they’re bashing each other’s heads with bricks and leaving each other to fend for themselves against a horde of surgery-conducting ghost-zombies with revoked medical licenses, played by Kidtee Hello, Terry Kimmel, Michael Ciesla, Kelly Budniewski, and Jessica Grangler rounding out the remaining cast list. 

In what feels like the distant cousin, watered down version of “House on Haunted Hill” lite, Kann’s lowbrow, Digital8 shot film is a talkative spew of exposition that lends itself to pretentious prologue surrounding Kansas’s opening scenes of self-mutilation and prosaic nudity as if she’s on an unidentified narcotic.  What’s more confusing about the out of context opening scenes is we don’t really know it is Kansas alone in her apparent apartment.  The film begins with a woman slashing her wrist and licking the blood from her wound, before two medically masked men rush through apartment door and whisk her away.  Next scene, the same woman is back in perhaps her same dingy, dim lit apartment, but this time she’s spouting out philosophy and exposing her breasts by ripping her cheap cotton, tight white top before getting into a warm, steamy bath to stare at the candles at the other end of the tub.  Next thing we know post title creds, we’re riding in a van with the five paranormal investigators and Kansas, sitting in the back seat with Nessie and Aurora, doesn’t even look like the person we saw in the prologue as her hair is put up tight in a bun and she outfits more makeup and gothic drapery.  Once Rayna and Kansas have a sidebar chat and Kansas’s hair progressively loosens and falls, the pieces begin to fit together that Kansas’s disturbed impulses has forced her father’s hand to pair his errant daughter with Rayna for some extracurricular activities that maybe will do her some good…?  Ghost hunting must be the new vogue therapy the kids are into these days, or at least back in 2006.  Structurally, “Prison of the Psychotic Damned” runs faithfully the same obscured narrative course with Rayne expiating mouthfuls of the Terminal’s anecdotal infamy to build a dark dome above the longstanding history, but we rarely see any of the said mythos come for blood and get punted random glowing orbs, creepy doll room, and gloppy possession in return.  Along the way, Kann finds some ways to expose all but one of the actresses’ breasts in a gratuitous-laden attempt to advert our attention from the misaligned components like the story or the performances that just consist of ball-breaking personalities becoming trapped underground with killer spooks and have to duck and dodge the malevolent spirits to survive.  Though the gory bits sate nicely and David Williams erratic editing of eerie filler shots of the Terminal and surrounding area renders like a formidable damaged homemade movie on screen, “Prison of the Psychotic Damned” ultimately boils down to just more of the same rebranded indie slop we’ve all seen before.

Wild Eye’s DVD is released under the indie company’s Raw & Extreme sublabel and is the third physical release of “Prison of the Psychotic Damned” behind the cheap York Home Entertainment DVD and the SRS Cinema limited edition Blu-ray that was released approx. 2 years ago.  The DVD back cover lists the region free film as a widescreen presented transfer, unrated, and clocking in a 100 minutes.  Producer David R. Williams once noted that the surviving master transfer of a flood that destroyed nearly all material is the best there ever will be and with many dark areas shot on a Digital8 camcorder, the presentation is practically raw footage switching back and forth between digital third person and POV with ghosting and soft details amid the thick grain that collaborates the fact of a cruddy transfer. The lossy English 2.0 stereo sound mix toggles with the ears about as much as you have to toggle with the volume. From dialogue to score, insipid flat audio mix universally stiffens the Terminal urban legends Rayna rambles on about as well as extinguishing the score to a putter of insignificant industrial tones with a bookend and backup soundtrack by The Voodoo Dollies and actress Demona Bast serenating with the gothic-vamp vocals with Sonic 14 on an outro track. Among a static menu with scene selection, only Wild Eye trailers are included with the release. Buried beneath the torment of deranged souls, “Prison of the Psychotic Damned” sequesters itself from originality and from graspable, relatable, or even likeable characters in a vanilla story with decent gore effects.

Own “Prison of the Psychotic Damned” on DVD from Wild Eye!

Evil Revolts! “The Last House” review!

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Erotic escort Love falls for on the side boyfriend Ned, a regular client with who she’s madly in love and with who she doesn’t charge a dime for her services. When Love wants out of the escort business, her controlling pimp Sunny says otherwise by sending her and two other girls on Love’s final trick, an all night mansion party. When the girls arrive at the gated mansion, they’re greeted by three strange hosts: Cleb, Selma, and Hate. Each of the three girls partner up with each of the hosts and move forward to their separate rooms where the escorts fall victim to sadistic tendencies, but Hate has more in store for Love. Ned, concerned when Love didn’t call once all night, sets out on a rescue mission to track down Sunny and gain information in means necessary on the whereabouts of the girl who love struck him.
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“The Last House” is a 2011 mixed subgenre film directed by b-horror director Sean Cain that was originally released under the title “Breath of Hate” and was penned by first time writer Wes Laurie. The ambitious story plays out cordially with a talented cast of actors behind the camera, but the story, though larger than life for a b-horror flick, follows a non-linear path that builds and builds for a grand finale and while that sort of tension usually creates a good setup, the ending nearly fizzles, not generating enough pizzaz and spark worthy the wait of the last five minutes of the total 91 minute runtime. However, the Laurie script fascinates and entertains throughout because of character structure through the aforementioned non-linear layout and because of the physical and emotional outpouring portrayed by the actors such as Lauren Walsch, Timothy Muskatell, Jason Mewes, and, especially, Ezra Buzzington.
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“The Hills Have Eyes” remake actor Ezra Buzzington steals the entire movie as Hate, leader of the three sadistic maniacs, and Hate, in himself, is an interesting character who seeks to start revolutions against humanity through brains and brutality and maybe even something more. Buzzington embodies a “Die Hard with a Vengeance” Jeremy Iron’s type personality with a calm demeanor on one face and a ruthless side on the other, but he single handedly separates the character from the likes of any other and creates Hate, with the help of a Laurie twist ending, to be potentially a long time running franchise character. There is a fierce downside alongside Hate where his lackeys were served a overshadowed injustice. Monique Parent plays another sadist, Selma, and her time on screen didn’t add to the girth and felt unnecessary. The then 46-year-old actress, with more than 100 film credits to her name, looked absolutely stunning, sizzling with lust for her cougar age. That should be no surprise to fans of Parent who are mostly familiar with her previous work in a number of softcore porn films. Sadly, Parent has no nude scenes though the part strongly suggests it; “Evil Head’s” Joanna Angel and “Amateur Porn Star Killer 3’s” Regan Reece take the burden of skin diligently – thank you Joanna and Regan. The third sadist, Cleb, is portrayed by Jamaican native Ricardo Gray. Gray’s take made Cleb, frankly, my least favorite sadist as Gray went overboard with a character that could been a menacing psycho-sexual deviant to a half-witted, Jurassic role-playing pervert. If there was perhaps more of Cleb’s backstory, a better picture of this sadist’s mindset might have reversed the first unfavorable impression.
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Jason Mewes has always played the part of the funny guy character. The same stereotype description can be laid upon other actors of similar character such as Hollywood studs Jim Carrey, the late Robin Williams, or the cult favorite Bill Murray. Mewes, a strong supporter of independent work, has most famously, for most of his career, teamed up with writer-director-actor Kevin Smith and produced some of the most notably comedic material to ever be released for about around a decade starting near the mid-1990’s. Not many audiences, aside from fanatical Mewes fans, are aware that the same Jay, of “Jay and Silent Bob” films, has had quite a few horror credits. From John Gulager’s “Feast,” to David Arquette’s “The Tripper,” Jason Mewes doesn’t just do comedy, but what makes “The Last House” unique from the other independent horror films is that Mewes is cast in a serious horror film whereas “Feast” and “The Tripper” are horror-comedies that still tap into Mewes endless vein of laughs. Instead, “Dead Girl” actor Timothy Muskatell takes the reigns on the comedy as a pot smokey, womanizing lackey and Muskatell is born for that type of part. Porn star Timmy Pistol also delivers some goofy laughs in a brief cameo with Jason Mewes and also, fun fact, Tommy Pistol and Joanna Angel were both in “Evil Head!”
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Mewes, Buzzington, and even Parent are major, recognizable names in the movie industry, big enough that even audiences so attached to Hollywood stardom would still be familiar with them. Two of the names mentioned headlining “The Last House” are accompanied by one more name that isn’t familiar to mainstream audiences, but any knowledgeable horror enthusiast would surely recognize. “Sleepaway Camp” actress Felissa Rose is that third headlining name and, unfortunately, shouldn’t have been exploited. Rose’s on screen appearance runs a total of around two minutes as the mansion realtor, but her presence falls from the face of “The Last House’s” universe after her single scene. Her iconic name alone will draw in the horror masses, but when she filmed the minor role, Rose was near popping at 9-months pregnant and she didn’t have one single story merit line or action.
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Distributed by Wild Eye Releasing, “The Last House” picture quality looks amazing presented in a detailed widescreen format. The audio quality comes and goes; at some points during outside scenes the ambience or the soundtrack plays at a whisper. When in more confined scenes, the tracks blare with some crackle. However, none of these will impact watchability nor take away from the film itself. “The Last House” aka “Breath of Hate” will make a deep gash into the independent horror scene and Wild Eye Releasing will help deliver Hate into your home entertainment on November 24th.

Evil’s a Dick! Zombie A-Hole Review!

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Slowly and slowly, there has been a increase of likability toward director and writer Dustin Mills and his hugely creative and widely entertaining horror films. This might sound like a creepy man-crush, but the Kevin Smith like-a-like director has his own production company, he pulls from his own stable of actors, and his movies are not your typical, run-of-the-mill independent boringness trash. The experiences had with Dustin Mills have been in backwards motion where I’ve started Mills recent projects and have worked backwards ending with Zombie A-Hole – so far. Zombie A-Hole involves a hellbent cowboy, a psychic twin brother, and a one-eyed engineer superstar all seeking the same evil – the other twin brother who gave his soul to an evil living inside a medallion that has given the brother unlimited power and has returned him from the grave! This a-hole stalks and kills twin siblings for their brain matter to give him everlasting power making this zombie a-hole the most depraved, the most senseless, and the most hated being on this twisted earth!

What impresses me more about Dustin Mills is his use of effective special effects when compared to a $1,000 budget. The man must be good with a computer because even though I can see the slight mistakes or the slight cheapness of the prosthetics, his special effects can please even the most critical critics. Mills even uses quick editing techniques to create the illusion of twin siblings. Seven “twins” will trick your mind by having the “twins” seem to be in the same scene, but with some quick camera work and some flawless editing the same actor will only seem to be in the same scene with their twin when they’re talking to each other. If that last sentence doesn’t confuse you, then you’re special. Mills can also make Party City skeletons looks like some grade A Sam Raimi Army of Darkness skeletons by brushing them up in makeup and using filter techniques to create his own smart ass undead army.

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Two regular actors of Mills’ work turn grueling indie project into a highly entertaining horror film. Brandon Salkil portrays three characters in Zombie A-hole as the twin brothers and the zombie. Jason Eal takes on the rough and tough, zombie asskickin’ cowboy. Both actors feature in Mills’ later films such as Bath Salt Zombies (another great, based on a true story film) and both have had their own starring roles in Mills’ films as well as working behind the scenes on the production crew. Versatile and hardworking, these two actors’ on screen performances are poetic. Salkil’s animated personality homes in on a Jim Carrey while Eal tough guy schtick is well welcomed when dealing with any evil force.

Zombie A-hole markets itself as a zombies are cool and hip while being brutal and deadly. Though Salkil’s zombie is brutal and deadly, the prey could have been more lively. The “twins” are mainly alternative girls who for some reason always get the ax when they’re taking a bath or in the shower…? A pre-shower, during shower, post-shower motif I don’t completely understand. Perhaps to show some gratuitous tits or maybe to show how helpless these victims are with no fight in them when the Zombie A-Hole is cracking open their skulls, ready to eat their brains!

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Zombie A-Hole’s all out mentality will leave you with great appreciate for independent filmmaking. Thank you MVDVisual for releasing Dustin Mills work and exposing the writer and director and also his two main actors Brandon Salkil and Josh Eal. MVD’s presentation runs 108 minutes with a standard definition 16×9 widescreen ratio, but Mills purposely grains the film to give the a grindhouse film feel and the standard definition goes right out the window. There are no extras and its a bit of a shame because I would want to see the behind the scenes of Zombie A-Hole, but that shouldn’t come between man and his urges to see blood, boobs, and the zombies!