EVIL Wears a Mask, Has Sex Parties, and Likes to Watch. “X” reviewed! (Cinedigm / Digital Screener)

Christian King was handed the philanthropic The Foundation once was directed by her mother Lynda, a legendary singer with powerful vocals who is now on the decline with onset dementia.  Christian, along with her business partner and friend, an equestrian stable hand named Danny, uses The Foundation as a façade for monthly masquerades of elaborate dinners and afterhours sex parties that rake in substantial donations from her clients, but Christian, who clads no mask, doesn’t partake in the normal debauchery of the orgiastic stage.  Her perversions are more privately invasive as she gets off on voyeurism with a hidden camera recording every thought-to-be discreet act her clients are doing in the bathroom.  When a Stella, a familiar face from Christian’s High School past, crashes one of the parties, forgotten secrets bubble to surface that lead to nail-biting paranoia.  Compounded with the seemingly recorded rape of Stella in her bathroom, Christian King’s money and monarchy threaten to expose her peeping Tom habits to the world. 

Sex, lies, and video tape.  “X” is the Generation X’s response to Stanley Kubrick’s “Eyes Wide Shut” doused in cynicism and a disaffection spray.  “X’s” carnality of deceits is the edited and directed work of LGBT+ advocating filmmaker and music artist, Scott J. Ramsey, who co-wrote the 2021 released film with Hannah Katherine Jost.  Ramsey and Jost previously collaborated on Ramsey and producer, Kevin De Nicolo’s short music videos, “Knave” and “Queen,” for the duo’s queer electro goth-pop band, The Major Arcana; the shorts inspired the feature films voyeuristic qualities, majestically medieval terminologies, and, of course, a queer theme.  A garnered support sees “X” as a family produced suspense thriller from not only Kevin De Nicolo, but also Alex serving as producer with Susan and Tazio De Nicolo as executive producers for the self-funded production under Ramsey’s indie banner, The Foundation, completing the filmmaker’s trifecta of multi-media storytelling.

Following polar oppositely a minor role in her first feature film, “Sleep Away, a family comedy, Hope Raymond quickly jumps the rated for everyone shark and right into the complex titular character a melodrama sexcapade and illicit perversion. Raymond plays a King, a character named Christian King, who employs the definition of her name by applying the real world as her kingdom, or at least her lavish home, to used for the monthly orgy shindigs. Christian King was probably name more suited for a male lead, and was at one point most likely written for such, but tweaking the role for a female actress gave Christian King new meaning, a new perspective, and a whole new depravity intrinsically worked into a system that’s thrives off of identity anonymity, ambiguity, and gender reversal. While Raymond plays the royal King, her business partner, Danny, plays the royal Queen under the sexuality masking by Brian Smick, also making his sophomore feature film appearance. Raymond and Smick comfortably indulge themselves into roles of pansexuality without having the lifestyle be the crux of “X’s” core. Zachary Cowan and, introducing, Eliza Bolvin play the, whether intentional or not, monkey wrenches thrown into the King and Queen’s perfect, cash-cow machine. “X” endows Bolvin’s Stella as a threat to the King’s illicit Kingdom, but Stella provides strategic publicity as a renowned cam girl in certain circuits to which the Queen aims to market for new members. When Stella invites her boyfriend, Cowan’s Jackson, that’s when things get complicated with misperception and mistaken identities. Rounding out “X’s” cast is Valerie Façhman, Hans Probst, Ashley Raggs, Vickey Lopez, Mira Gutoff, Miyoko Sakatani, and Wendy Taylor.

The five act chaptered narrative, described a Shakespearean tragedy and a Hitchcockian thriller, continues the regal motif all along the way, exploiting the means to sound ritzy, refined, and provocative and to show the power of sovereignty with Christian King’s thumb over every single orgy participant’s dirty little bathroom secrets or as she puts it, “I know them better than anyone else,” as she shamefully masturbates to what should be the privy of relinquishing the bladder. The idea of getting off on watching people in the bathroom isn’t just a twisted, one-off fetish, but also symbolizes a power aspect against the unaware, leading to self-serving and self-induced loneliness because of the one-up she holds over them. “X” tries to justify King’s rationale for exploiting her sexually engorging guests with flashbacks of sexuality shaming by the snarky high school boys, which in my opinion, dilutes the LGTB+ perception of you are who you are because something terrible happened to you. However, on the other side of the spectrum, you have Danny who is also taken advantage of in more than one way and in a different and separate context, but doesn’t react in the same regards as his King. Their dichotomy exposes true personalities and gives audiences a defined line of ego and humble attributes to experience different perceptions and events that speak to who they are as an individual. “X” circulates around the titular King of self-proclaim monstrous perversions in a dicey cinematic case study in vanity, arrogance, and the sexy manipulation power.

From being entirely shot in Northern California to the five year, labor-intensive production, “X” marks a spot with a digital and DVD release from Cinedigm with digital platforms including VUDU, Google Play, Amazon, and iTunes. “X” runs a lengthy, but well entertaining pace of 127 minutes and is presented in a widescreen 2.35:1 aspect ratio. In a little buyers beware tidbit, the dialogue track might feel dubbed and that’s because it is. Director Ramsey has noted that due to the constant crashing waves in the background, much of the the three year post production included re-recording all the dialogue as well as creating a 11-track score album accompaniment entitled “At the Devils Ball” from his band The Major Arcana. Chantel Beam’s first feature credit is a good solid effort with a slew of medium closeups and framing of multiple actors in a single scene while tip-toeing outside the box and into another world with a playful black and white sequence and the hidden bathroom camera reel that’s spun like a kinky comedy, but renders into the realm of diabolical depravity. As a pillar of anonymity, X has always served as the wild card for anything goes and the same rings true for Scott J. Ramsey’s autarkic ball room blitz between sex and perversion film.

Buy “X” on DVD or Stream from Amazon Prime Video!

Evil Sows With Others’ Body Fluids! “DIS” review!


Ariel Konk, A former soldier fleeing from his regrettable past, seeks refuge in an isolate cabin located deep in the forest, adjacent to a lagoon. Struggling to live off the land and coping with loneliness, the soldier marches on, exploring his new, secluded surroundings. His loneliness comes to an end when investigating the ruins of a dilapidating building structure, spotting a masked half naked female and as he pursues her, Ariel witnesses her voluntarily jump from the highest level of the opened air building. Wrought with anguish, Ariel attempts suicide only to be knocked out before he could pull the trigger on his rifle. He wakes up being chained to the wall with a mute, mask figure drugging him and extracting his blood and semen fluids as necessary nutrients for a nearby Mandrake garden. A practice that has been executed many times before Ariel’s arrival.

“DIS” is a bordering arthouse horror film from writer-director Adrian Corona (“Nariz Ioca”). A blend from a horror influenced literary poem and a mythological folkore, Corona crafts a lurid, hyperbolic story that pulls, as Cornoa describes as a prefix of sorts, from Dante Alighieri’s epic journey through hell told in Dante’s Inferno, using the City of Dis that’s described as a lower hell for sinners who’ve committed violent and fraudulent transgressions, and interlocks that inspiration with the archaic lore surrounding the Mandrake plant that involves superstitiously condemning those to hell after reaping the intensely narcotic plant with the human shaped root and that would, also superstitiously, scream when pulled. “DIS” is full of interpretative terror through the 61 minute runtime that’s virtually expressive. Corona provides little dialogue to his script, keeping most of the dialect scribal incased within flashback confines, and let his actors’ raw emotions and visceral eloquence provide the tale that’s peppered with moments of visual shock and cathartic abhorrence.

I’ve said it once and I’ll say it again, Bill Oberst Jr. is one hell of an actor. The upcoming Rob Zombie “3 from Hell” actor has become a prominent staple professional in the indie horror film circuit, tackling the bizarre, the inexplicable, and the most difficult of roles with such vigor and passion that his motivation is seemingly inhuman. Right up there with “Deadly Revisions,” “DIS’ tops or equals being one of the best performances of his career, from the perspective of this reviewers’ cache of Bill Oberst Jr films. There’s quite a bit of difficulty catching up to the man who roughly does, whether as a lead or as support, 10 films a year! As Ariel Konk, Oberst captures the essence of pain and anger that saturates the character’s own personal delirium and hell with his past mistake catching up to his self-battered soul. The faceless figure who opposites Ariel feeds off the ex-soldiers repugnant and guilt-riddled past actions in a seemingly perverse mission that’s actually mandated by the suspected demon’s Mandrake lot. The plants are held in a nursery for engendering creatures, but what kind of creatures exactly? Other demons from the seed of murdered vehement people?
Remaining cast include Peter Gonzales Falcon, “Prison Heat’s” Lori Jo Hendrix, Manuel Dominguez, and Anne Voitsekhova.

The casual viewer will inherently disavow the hour spent watching “DIS” due to a number of reasons, whether it’s Ariel wandering the forest for more than half the film, or dialogue is fairly infrequent, or the chaptered sequence of events don’t perfectly describe just what the hell is going, or, just perhaps, the motif of genital masturbation and mutilation is just too much to stomach. Either way, “DIS’s” traction will slip and only a few are willing to get dirty and push the story forward with open mindedness and artistic appreciation. Speaking of artistic appreciation, Rocco Rodriguez’s cinematography is a character upon itself. The top of a Cofre de Perote volcano in Perote, Veracruz, Mexico during principal photography has breathtaking visuals that Rodriguez captures exquisitely and becomes a backdrop against the coarse material. Outside is vivid, bright, full of life, but when in the belly of the rundown structure, the manmade confines are claustrophobic and crummy, infernally ablaze for ritual, much to the akin of Dante’s Inferno. Rodriguez, again, depicts lustrous imagery that assists in telling Corona’s nightmarish story and that’s a skill all can recognize.

MVD Visual and Unearthed Films present Adrian Corona’s enigmatic and surreal “DIS” from 1922 Films onto high definition Blu-ray. The region A release is presented in a widescreen, 1.85:1 aspect ratio, and has the near epitome of perfect with, again, Rocco Rodriguez stunning photography. The lighting really comes to the fold that upheaves the brilliancy in the textures, such as in the building’s illustrious graffiti, and dares to switch to black and white when appropriate. Skin tones are fresh looking and natural in colored scenes. Only a minor aliasing issue around Obsert flared up momentarily, but ceased going forward. The Dolby Digital 5.1 surround sound has forefront dialogue, but not a bit soft, especially with Peter Gonzales, that made following difficult. There was not enough examples of range or depth to necessarily comment as Oberst was essentially alone for much of the film. Bonus features include an explanation introduction by writer-director Adrian Corona, a behind-the-scenes featurette that exhibits three takes of two scenes, a wonky static menu Q&A formatted interview with Bill Oberst Jr., a short film entitled “Portrait,” still gallery, and Unearthed Films trailers. Bill Oberst Jr. is, basically, a one man show knitted into an Adrian Corona allegory of unknown terror through conduits of literary works and medieval folklore, making “DIS” prime real estate for viewers seeking a film as an open book toward abstract gardening.

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Enter Into Your Darkest, Evilest Fantasies. “We Are The Flesh” review!

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Struggling to survive the conditions of the outside world, a brother and sister locate shelter inside a desolated complex and stumble upon it’s strange inhabitant, a solitary middle-aged man named Mariano with a penchant for welcoming his insanity. The alcohol distilling and isolating embracing Mariano has a twisted offer for harboring the young siblings as he also puts the two to work, constructing Mariano’s trash-ridden home into a cavernous structure from taped scraps of lumber and cardboard. Mariano desperately needs them to explore unorthodox depravities upon themselves to become one with their unhinged host that forms, in more than one way, one flesh-ravenous happy family.
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“We Are the Flesh,” aka “Tenemos la carne” in the original title, is an experimental art house feature from controversial Mexican director Emiliano Rocha Minter. The 2016 film harbors more than just three hermit individuals dipping their toes into a forbidden pool of acts, but also provides numerous metaphors and symbolisms that might be hard to swallow and difficult to sit through during the 79 minute runtime. “Sin Nombre” actor Noé Hernández stars as Mariano and there isn’t enough praise in the art house world from his performance that consumes his mortal being, transforming him into a well oiled psychotic machine with a blazing stare, a certifiable grin, and a defined muscular physique. Hernández steals scenes left and right from his young and novice co-stars María Evoli and Diego Gamaliel, whom are equally as brave as the more experienced Hernández in their respective roles. “We Are the Flesh” emits racy undertones by just hearing the title alone and, absolutely, lives up to the title’s very core by displaying non-simulated sex acts. Think about it. Minter’s film only has three main characters for most of the narrative and two of them are siblings. Yup, Minter went the incest route for the sake of art.
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In the opening scene, heavy breathing creeps upon a black screen until the image pops open to a Mariano’s face, laboring over something. Next cut is Mariano hunched over with a high stack of baled cardboard, walking in the color tone of a dark cool blue with a slight haze engulfing him. This opening scene is one instance where Mariano is portrayed the Messiah prophet Jesus. Other religious symbolistic events that connect Mariano, who would be condemned for his actions in the Christian scope, to Jesus that occur throughout, such as being dying and being reborn, the cave aspect, the motifs of faith from the mysterious eye dropper liquid, and being the sacrificial body as if transpiring to be some sort of demented wafer during a crazed cannibal communion orgy. Of course, opening anybody’s eyes or mind to this notion can be immensely difficult and profanely sacrilegious to even spell it out in text because seeing the streaming drug use, the attempted murder, the cannibalism, and the sibling incest rule the majority of the narrative makes a case that affiliates more with an unholy antichrist rather than Christ, but I believe director Emiliano Rocha Minter, being a Mexican national and growing up in a Catholic, like the majority of Hispanics, culture aimed to blur the lines between the heavens above and the fires below and embodying them as a singular whole.
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Intrinsically irrational and insatiably grotesque, “We Are the Flesh” has momentum in a colorfully abrasive form, quickly evolving from act to act with characters reemerging anew every second onscreen. What might seem as a visionless quest for the sole purpose of producing shock value can be re-construed as a message more aesthetically beautiful in man’s most detested nature. Yollótl Alvarado’s cinematic vision is absolutely dripping with gripping, mature atmospherics that are well doused in vividness while, at the same time, being despairing in a post-apocalyptic haze. The experience charges at you, pulls you into this cavernous womb, and scratches at your tender barrier lining, trying to sneakily slip into your soul. The sensation is as much unreal as the film’s avant-garde structure.
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Produced by production companies Piano, Detalle Films, Sedna Films, Estudios Splendor Omnia, and Simplemente, “We Are the Flesh” is a poetic approach experimental wonder, gratifyingly brought to home entertainment fruition from Arrow Films in the United Kingdom and Arrow Films, in conjunction with MVD Visual, in the United States on Blu-ray and DVD. Between Lex Ortega’s brutal social commentary gore-flick “Atroz” and Emiliano Rocha Minter’s art house metaphor “We Are the Flesh,” Mexican filmmaking stands high and bold, unafraid to tell unapologetic stories in conservative societies; a mere taste of what’s to come, I’m positive. While recommending this type of film isn’t the easiest for status quo movie lovers, “We Are the Flesh” hopefully will expand minds, open eyes, and encourage skin-on-skin contact for the cinematic adventurers.

“We Are the Flesh” available in USA! and in the United Kingdom!

Evil Times Out. “Reminiscence: The Beginning” review!

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What if there were multiple universes and only one time line? Then, what if time breaks down? Being aware of, in theory, the coming lapse of time, Miska uses her talents in physics to calculate the days of when exactly the rare event will occur; she brings along her boyfriend Akçay and together they experience, not an immaculate and breathtaking event, but a horrifying phenomena that intertwines parallel universes and opens the door to our world to mind manipulative beings known as The Others or Shadows. When Miska misjudges the occurrence date, the lovers find themselves trapped in a vicious loop, unable to tell the difference between what’s reality and what’s a realistically terrifying nightmare.

“Reminiscence: The Beginning” is the screenplay written by musical artist and Blue Arc Studios founder Akçay Karaazmak, who also directs film and stars as, you guessed it, the male lead named Akçay. The concept of time breaking down and releasing horrifying entities is intriguing to captivate audiences, like a moth to a bright night light, toward noticing the estimated $500,000 budgeted independent feature that has an exotic filming location on the crystal clear water beaches of Çeşme, Turkey. Alternate realities have an unique appeal since the lot of such films haven’t been saturated by previously exploration and their ventures, unlike the recycled storyline of the zombie genre, can always be varied because time is tangible; we see the parallel time lines within the established stories of popular sci-fi franchises such as “Star Trek” and “Terminator”. Karaazmak’s film, his first ever venture into the movie biz, has similarities to other works such as Stephen King’s film adapted novel “The Mist” or in “Silent Hill,” the video game adapted into film where two universes collide and ferocious monsters seep into the human world, blending time and worlds into one existence. Can we expect the same type of viscera innards from Karaazmak that resulted very favorably for the other recent genre-related films?

The answer to this time bending film is: don’t waste your time. Here’s why…

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On a pitch black night, with no street lights, Akçay and Miska barrel down an isolated road; their seemingly anxious and intense conversation annoyingly underwhelms, nearly beneath the wave lengths of the human ear. Miska, in the passenger seat, examines through numerous pages of physic notes and while Akçay drives erratically fast through the thickness of night, she’s communicating something to him but the dialogue track is, frankly, inaudible. The fault lies at the feet of a couple of major issues: shoddy post-production audio work as the soundtrack severely steps up to become an unintentional focus point above the dialogue tracks and actors Akçay Karaazmak and Michaela Rexova mumbling horribly through the bland dialogue due to their heavily broken English and immature acting status. Our ears inevitably have a chance to relax once the two finally reach the Çeşme beach after a near accident.
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The beach scenes turn out to have just as much post-productions issues as the superficial opening. The editing work will require an heavy dosage of Dramamine pills to suspend any nauseating effects from the tirelessly and pointlessly shot and edited scenes. Karaazmak’s film feels unsure on how to convey each scene appropriately, cutting and splicing two and three second scenes together. Karaazmak’s editing process resembles something close to tossing contents of a mixed bag of options and seeing what sticks to sort of fit. Also, If I’m going camping in the natural elements of a beach, dressing the occasion might heighten Akçay’s and Miska’s characters’ authenticity; instead, the lovers, cladded in dance club clothing, doesn’t speak highly of our hero and heroine as black hole researchers seriously. Michaela Rexova, starring in her only credited film according to IMDB.com, has the beauty, but her dull persona and monotonous speech makes her instantly unlikeable to which her beauty can’t rekindle and if I would have heard the word “baby” one more time between them under that low breath of either one of them, my brain would have created it’s own timeless black hole and void itself into non-existence as if some kind of mindless suicide.
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However, there are moments, brief moments, during the film’s latter that peak through the unwatchable, indigestible blitzkrieg that is “Reminiscence: The Beginning.” Surprisingly, the scenes I’m referencing satisfy some kind sexual aesthetic while managing to remain a lasting and haunting impression. In one of Akçay’s nightmarish visions, a blonde lays facedown and prone across the hall of a vacant and dark structure. She suddenly awakes, stands with only one ripped above knee stocking on, and backs against the wall, sensually moving up and down, caressing her thigh and a knife with her bloody hands, and dripping blood on the ground from the only piece of clothing covering her chest – a male’s white button down shirt stained at the abdomen. With the knife she holds in her hand, she suddenly thrusts it into her crotch and begins to masturbate. Karaazmak manages to create a visually interesting scene in a creepily sexy or psychosexual fashion and there are other just above mediocre short scenes that glimmer, but these scenes would value more as short films rather than as a whole.
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Once again, Karaazmak, has his hands in another department and this time it’s with the waffling special effects. You have to give the musician credit for multi-tasking, but when one person helms many departments, the tasks become overbearing, causing multiple areas foundering as if cables from a suspension bridge are snapping one by one to the point that the bridge begins to wobble. That’s how I feel the effects played out by wobbling, but the effects are par for the limited-budgetary course as being not terribly horrific on a modest budget, but nothing stellar beyond fantastic that would be worth bragging about to promote enthusiastic interest in the film. Karaazmak majorly implements CGI to spookily distort the faces of the other-dimensional shadow people, especially when the leads meet their dopplegangers; a comparison draws from when Ash meets Evil Ash in the 1992 horror-comedy “Army of Darkness” after having buckshot spread blasted point blank into Evil Ash’s face. “I’m bad Akcay and you’re good Akcay,” if only.
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Blue Arc Studios and SGL Entertainment, a well-established cult and horror distribution company, along with MVD distribution release “Reminiscence: The Beginning” on a region 1 DVD, presented in a widescreen format. Be prepared for 107 minutes of one of the few sci-fi, alternate reality, horror concoction genre film projects to come out of Turkey, but also be warned of director Karaazmak’s migraine inducing editing technique and a dialogue drowning soundtrack that might condemn the viewing ability. Will Karaazmak take “The Beginning” to the sequel level? Time is, hopefully, on our side.