There’s Not a Big Enough Pipe Cleaner to Exorcise this EVIL! “Drainiac” reviewed!


Julie, troubled by her mother’s suicide one year ago, is forced by her deadbeat dad to accompanying him in cleaning up an old house he purchased for renovation and resale. As he takes off to attend to “important business” at the local watering hole, Julie is stuck alone with the mop and bucket inside a mysterious, rundown house she’s suspicious of being haunted after strange occurrences and horrifying visions transpire during her isolation. Lurking beneath the house and seeping through inside the rusted pipes, a figureless water demon’s presence persists with malicious intentions and things become worse when Julie’s friends check in on her. Drowning in the supernatural seepage amplified by Julie’s trauma, they become trapped on the property that won’t allow them to escape, draining them of hope against a bodiless, hell-bent entity until a certifiable exorcist shows up at the door arrogantly confident of ridding the flood of evil from this house for good.

Back in the year 2000, Brett Piper’s written and directed volatile ghost house feature, “Drainiac,” saw the light of day for the first time on DVD home video. Unfortunately, through the dismal proceedings of post-production funding and a less than enthusiastic distribution company, that version of the film is undercooked and unfinished in the artistic eyes of Piper who worked with a slim budget of $10,000, making every detail crucial and required to flavor the dull taste of anemic financial support. Luckily for the “Queen Crab” director, his collaborations with Shock-O-Rama Cinema, a sublabel to the indie film doting POPCinema, gave the 20+ year indie filmmaker access to digitally remaster to ultimately finish “Drainiac,” leaving the issues with the previous version water under the bridge, water related pun intended. “Drainiac,” believe it or not, has extraordinary relate-ability to today Americans who are frightened from the mistrust of confidence in their local water treatment systems and drainage pipes for the fear of lead poison and other harmful contaminants, which, in these affected citizen’s circumstances, is a “Drainiac” monster of sorts, hidden from sight with an uncertainty of product quality that drips from their faucets and into the bathtubs their kids play in and into their water drinking glasses.

Another amazing aspect of “Drainiac” is the fresh-face, young cast in their humble beginnings that flourished into solid careers and feels absolutely energetic and stimulating to know their roots reach far back to a cellular grindhouse organism becoming their vocation life. Georgia Hatzis debuts as the beleaguered Julie, a resilient survivor of her mother’s suicide with an oil and water dynamic with her estranged live-in father. Maintaining Julie’s sanity while still fronting a stable façade couldn’t be easy, but Hatzis builds upon Julie’s strength and owning the character’s self-doubt. Hatzi extended her career into television, but Julie is her most memorably performance, especially braving bathing full front to be attacked by a drain’s quasi tentacle erotica sequence. Perhaps the most recognizable face in the film co-starring in the film in her mid-teens, Alexandra Boylan is conscripted to be Julie’s best friend, Lisa. Boylan, who went on to have roles in “The Hitchhiker” remake and the invasive thriller “Home Sweet Home” as well as branching out into life behind the camera as a producer and writer, plays consistently a rationally steady bestie that grounds Julie when needed and is the firm leader of their group of friends that also includes a shaky and nearly spineless Jake (Ethan Krasnoo) and a shallow beauty Tayna (Samara Doucette). As the black sheep in the group, perhaps not even a friend at all, was Wade, a hog riding, wisecracking jerk who didn’t have sense of personal space, especially when the rapey urge washes over him. Wade is an abhorrent human being that came to life due in part of Robert Gorden’s performance. Soon to be seen in the television comedy entitled “My Wife Divorced Me Because I’m a Zombie” that is taglined “The Walking Dead Meets Modern Family,” Gorden will make you hate his guts and despise his obnoxious 90’s haircut and wardrobe and the overall package is enjoyably cathartic to have him pitted against a conventional set of friends. Other colorful talent includes roles by Philip Barbour as an exorcist who reassembles the fisherman Gordon from the frozen fish stick packaging, Steven Bornstein as the despicable dad of the year, Todd Poudrier as a melting derelict, “Sgt. Kabukiman N.Y.P.D.’s” Andrew Osbourne as the melting derelict’s friend, and Elizabeth Hurley! No, not the Austin Powers’ Elizabeth Hurley, but an Elizabeth Hurley nonetheless!

“Drainiac” is Brett Piper’s finest work. Copiously laced with assorted practical effects now completed with a coloring touch up and enhancement by Penn State grad colorist Dave Northrop, “Drainiac” is now has a definitive package that includes Piper hyper-psychedelic matte effects, creepily good stop motion clay creatures, and an abundance of well-crafted gag effects to give the drain presence a slimy drain-protuberance without exposing a tangible thing in the pipes. “Drainiac,” in every category, has a vibrant late 80’s, early 90’s epoch authority even though clearly set and stated at the turn of the century and this is partially because of how the film was shot in 16mm, giving the feature a grindhouse texture. Along with the turn of the century, CGI becomes a huge factor no matter the budget of the film as long as portioned appropriately, but Piper sticks with a practical craft which, in a sense, is a large piece of his filmmaking passion and so “Drainiac’s” is the essence of Brett Piper.

Courtesy of POPCinema’s Shock-O-Rama Cinema horror banner comes Brett Piper’s “Drainiac” onto a special edition with a 24 progressive segmented frame, high definition DVD from the original camera negative and presented in a widescreen, 1.78:1 aspect ratio. Having never experienced the original, unfinished cut of the previous release, watching this present cut will forever be seared into my soul as the best possible rendition in the past, present, and future. The 16mm film stock quality has a lot of natural grain upon a semi-washed look over a gradient-lenient color range sanctioned around the natural lighting that then explodes into a varying vividness of hues when the FX-enhanced scenes spark an immense saturation of color schemes…in a good way. No sign of damage to the original print nor any other signs regarding frame or edge enhancing and cropping. The English language 2.o stereo track, with a re-edited mix as part of the remastered package, is free of distortions, prominent dialogue, and a classic chilling piano soundtrack that pays homage to notable horror films before it’s time. The only issue to mention is some synchronization with the dialogue track and the picture seem to be off early on in the presentation where actors move their mouths to vocalize the lines, but nothing comes out. Special features are a little anemic considering the painstaking involvement and time gap in remastering “Drainiac,” but they include an audio commentary by writer-director Brett Piper and a read worthy tidbit of an inner-lining booklet written by commentary moderator, Greg Conley. THe DVD cover art is very snazzy (or snotty-like) similar to of another POPCinema release, Greg Lamberson’s “Slime City.” Reminiscent of “Evil Dead” or even some inklings of early Peter Jackson, Brett Piper has a knack for proving low-budget horror’s misconceptions are nothing more than that, misconceptions, by keenly tinkering to perfection a story that’s made is seemingly funded from a pot of unlimited gold from nifty, traditional effects and a narrative that works wonders on the imagination, keeping you glued to guessing from start to finish.

Special Edition “Drainiac” available on DVD! Click the DVD cover!

How About Some New Zealand Evil! “I Survived A Zombie Holocaust” review

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Aspiring screenplay writer Wesley Pennington obtains the position of a runner for a low-budget zombie film. Being at the bottom rung, Wesley is commanded to do everything without hesitation or question no matter how big or small the task. With the production already plagued with a slew of problems, the film’s cast and crew come under attack from real life zombies that swarm the forest location. Wesley, along with a handful of lucky survivors, rely on their zombie film knowledge to flee from the flesh feasting fiends, living in their very own zombie apocalypse movie.
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Rare is it to come across New Zealand horror now-a-days and when the opportunity presents itself, one must jump at a viewing with great enthusiasm. New Zealand horror has been known to be eccentric and fun, while also being gory and smartly scripted. From the early prevalent work of Peter Jackson (“Brain Dead,” “Bad Taste”) to lesser known cult favorites (“The Locals,” “Black Sheep”), the tiny New Zealand horror catalogue has made an everlasting mark in a heavily saturated American and European market. Guy Pigden’s written and directed 2014 horror-comedy “I Survived a Zombie Holocaust” takes it’s place rightfully so next to niche brethren, elucidating that horror and comedy in an extremely over saturated genre can and will still be an effective and entertaining movie.
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Simply taking the premise of a horror movie being overwritten by another horror movie and using it’s tropes to poke at itself, while also jabbing at the film industry’s detached reality that ultimately devours itself, conquers being just another run-of-the-mill zombie comedy. Pidgen sharply appoints an ensemble cast to go along with the wanton story, working side by side again with Harley Neville in the socially awkward Wesley Pennington role. The rest of the main characters are purposefully stereotypical, fine tuned by Jocelyn Christian, Ben Baker, Reanin Johannink, Mike Edward, Andrew Laing, and Simon Ward. The character comedy mimics Peter Jackson’s “Brain Dead” with developing persona’s through various types of characters such as Wesley’s nerdy-awkwardness, Reanin as the prissy spoiled actress in Jessica, Mike Edward as an egotistical and closeted gay body builder actor in Adam, and the overbearing, frustrated, and desperate SMP played insanely intense by Andrew Laing.
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The gore is very similar to Jackson’s early nineties splatterfest film. Lead special effects supervisor Timothy Munro had worked under the modern era thumb of Peter Jackson, including box office blockbusters films like 2005’s “King Kong” and 2012’s “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey.” Did this influence the effects team to explore the gore written in the screenplay pages in “I Survived a Zombie Holocaust?” I would say so. We’re talking about splitting heads in half, viscera spilling out from the waist side, limb detachments, and more sanguinary bits and pieces. The gore is sound and not as exploitive, as maybe “Brain Dead” comes across, smoothing out and around a well-balanced zombie comedy.
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“I Survived a Zombie Holocaust” has faint issues of pacing that slow down between scenes, toning down a smidgen of my praise for Pidgen’s film. But the 38 Production’s freshman film goes above and beyond of being just another likable zombie comedy. The jest upon the horror community is well played and well received while also being a gory homage to an established horror community in New Zealand. “I Survived A Zombie Holocaust” has been released in the UK courtesy of distributor Matchbox films. However, I can’t comment technically on the audio and video quality due to the screener being a streaming link and nor can I comment on the extras as there are none. What I can comment on is that “I Survived a Zombie Holocaust” makes a killer first impression in the new era of Kiwi horror and will be at the top of the list for one of my favorite at home feature releases of the year!

Evil Zombies Inherit the Earth! “Zombieworld” review!

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A deadly virus turns the world’s living population into a hoard of fleshing-eating, brain-devouring, gut-munching zombies and KRPS anchor Marvin Gloat bravely remains on the airwaves reporting the walking dead incidents from all over the globe until his very last breath. “Zombieworld” delivers an undead collection, glorified in gore, vicious in violence, and surely necessary for the human survival in a zombie inhabited world. From Canada to Australia and from the United States to Spain, the tales of the risen dead relentlessly show no mercy with no holds barred on the bloodletting.
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From RLJ Entertainment and Image Entertainment comes “Zombieworld” onto home DVD video from the United Kingdom and for all you zombie apocalypse nuts out there, “Zombieworld” will be your handbook guide through the trying times. “Zombieworld” is the epic storytelling of various zombie-related accounts from several countries directed by young and fresh talent who bring a blood bathed new take on a seriously soaked genre. The 11 narratives are unique in their own rite, but share a common horror-comedy element with the exception of a couple of segments. While internet researching on “Zombieworld,” my curiosity got the better of me and I wander onto other review sites to see what my peers’ opinions are about the collection of shorts and to my surprise, the reviews and opinions are fairly negative as the reviewers take in the collection as a whole that’s being glued together by an outer story segment. This style relates similarly to the V/H/S or HI-8: Horror Independent Eight’s way of conveying multiple short films with the outer-storying being their commonality.
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In fairness, yes, the outer-story does come off a bit cheesy especially with the animated zombies that resembles the Dire Strait music video “Money for Nothing,” but my main man Bill Oberst Jr. doesn’t disappoint as anchor man Marvin Gloat and his slow transition into one of the undead masses as he continues to report world incidences. However, my interests lie mainly with the girth of “Zombieworld” and what better way to start off the tale-telling by going head first right into an intense first-person take of “Dark Times” where a nuclear plant meltdown causes panic, extreme chaos, a heartless military response, and, of course, rampaging zombies! Bits of comedy come about with a zombie Santa, a golf-club wielding family, and ends with a stellar, monstrous finale that leaves you hanging for your own interpretation!
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One of my favorite shorts is the sacrilegious short “Fist of Jesus” directed by David Muñoz and Adrián Cardona. Jesus fights off undead acolytes, Romans, and, uh, cowboys in a gory old Peter Jackson type way and then some. The non-stop comedy and blood translates over to Muñoz’s and Cardona’s other short “Brutal Relax” along with a third co-director Rafa Dengrá. “Brutal Relax” awards itself as the grand finale of “Zombieworld” and rightfully so by being just as bloody as “Fist of Jesus” yet bringing in tons more comedy especially from lead actor José María Angorrilla who portrays a large and uptight, angry-issued ridden man needing of a vacation which becomes interrupted by sea-dwelling zombie-like creatures that rip apart the beach goers.
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There are segments that pay respects to other zombie-related medias such as Resident Evil. The Vedran Marjanovic Wekster directed “How to Survive a Zombie Apocalypse” are informative shorts that refer to a welcome to sign for Raccoon City and any self-respecting horror fan knows, Raccoon City is a big part of the Resident Evil series where all the Umbrella Corporation hijinks go down. “Teleportal,” helmed by Paul Shrimpton, also pays homage to another video game series that is first person shooter entitled House of the Dead. Forget Uwe Boll’s mess of a film and go for the throat of this short that sucks in a gun-toting controlling player through his television set and right into the zombie attack that contains an ironic and spectacular game-over ending.
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Though many of the segments are inspirational, “Zombieworld” does contain some originality. The Aussie-born Cameron McCulloch directed “Home” starring a lovely Jamie McDowell contains no dialogue, but conveys the rough time McDowell’s character goes through with the loss of her fiance who she has chained up. Her loss is so tremendous that she is unsure on how to use her last remaining bullet – will she kill her fiance’s corpse or will she kill herself? The Irish horror-comedy “I Am Lonely,” directed by Phil Haine, follows an naive and annoying young man named Chris living in a zombie overrun town who comes home to his apartment and finds his friend Steve has been fatally injured. As Chris dim wittingly spills out all the absurdities he’s done to Steve, Steve’s injury isn’t solely zombie-related and that’s where things get interesting. Also, an American film entitled “Certified” is not necessarily a zombie short, but only implies to the undead. Luke Guidici directs Rebecca Spicher as young Alice who tells the grim tale of her uncle and cousin’s mind shaft demise to a gullible new mailman that nearly scares him right out of his USPS uniform.
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Lastly, some shorts follow a more heart-pounding scenario. For example, “Dead Stop” by director Tommy Woodard is a CCTV shot short that has a police officer pulling up on a frantic woman who is trying to save her bitten husband. The scene grows more intense when the husband turns on his wife. Realistically surreal with well acting completes this short and fits right in with the “Zombieworld” collective. Another intense short with a synonym-like title is the first person view of “Dead Rush” directed by Zachary Ramelan. The viewers embody a man waking up in a bathroom with dead bodies and blood everywhere and we follow his, and two others’, journey as he wields an axe through a mass of the undead. Things get serious when our hero becomes part of the dead ranks from being gut-ripped opened and devoured!

In all, I’m pleasantly pleased with how the Ruthless Pictures and Dread Central produced “Zombieworld” brought in little-to-unknown talent and showcased their short features that awesomely fit into the highly entertaining category and bites ferociously into being one of the best zombie DVD releases of the year! The RLJ Entertainment and Image DVD release cover is colorfully detailed with the best intention on not taking itself too seriously, but feels eerily similar to other notable covers such as “Faces of Death” or Steven Spielberg’s “War of the Worlds.” The specs include a widescreen 16:9 transfer with Dolby Digital 2.0 mix. Since this is a mixed bag of films, the clarity of presentations vary, but I can tell you that most shorts are sharp and clean looking with with no distortions in image or audio. Some of the night scenes in “Home” or “Marathon Apocalypse” have some digital interference that won’t ruin your viewing pleasure. The overall recommendation is to pick this undead puppy up and dive into a whole new world of talented horror directors and I’m positive that your blood lust won’t go unquenched!

Holy Evil Cow! Dead Meat review!

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An Ireland countryside becomes the victim of a mutated strain of Mad Cow disease that is infectious and sends the victims into a blood thirsty, violence fit of rage. A small band of survivors race across the land looking for a safe haven, but with nearly everyone infected, a safe place is hard to find.
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You just don’t see too many Irish horror movies and you probably will see not another one ever again. Dead Meat has to be the worst and the best Irish zombie film of the last three decades, but I’m not totally knocking Dead Meat because there are positives about the Conor McMahon written and directed film that can’t go ignored. First, practical effects, like the ones used in Peter Jackson Dead Alive, are always the best way to go because a shovel through someone’s chest or a vacuum sucking out an eye ball just doesn’t seem that convincing to me. If I want to want animated television, I’ll watch cartoons on Saturday morning. Real effects stem from the talents of the special effects crew consisting of Roy Gleasure, Brendan Fahy, and Jonathan Graham. Graham has had his hands in other major, more recent films such as Pacific Rim, Resident Evil: Retribution, and the remake of RoboCop as a mold maker.

The Fangoria Gorezone, one of the very few ever endorsed by Fangoria back in the day, film however doesn’t have a great story in which the survivors just wonder through the countryside looking for a supposedly safe castle to take shelter. The group whittles down through each passing “zombie” horde and bash and thrash through the madness. Dead Meat might not have suffered too much if one could comprehend thick Irish accents. The accents were so thick I couldn’t make out sentences. This should serious flaw the film for other viewers, but following the story was a challenge and very taxing on the ears and mind.
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In all, there lies good and there lies mediocracy with Dead Meat. The obvious stand out points of the film are that the film is an Irish horror film and uses practical and great effects. The downside is the lack of story and a good solid core to give our characters, even our hero and heroine, some depth. Frankly, the characters could have all bit the dust without a tear shed on my part. Dead Meat is not a new film and has been out for over a decade, but certainly worth a gander and wouldn’t hurt to be Irish to get some kind of understanding out of it all.