EVIL Told You Not to the First Time! “Don’t Fuck in the Woods 2” reviewed! (Wild Eye Releasing / Blu-ray)

“Don’t Fuck in the Woods 2” on a Special Edition Blu-ray!  Purchase Your Copy Here!

Beginning where the last film left off, alien attack survivor Jane, bruised and bloody, stumbles into the under-renovation Pine Hills Summer Camp where a group of newly hired and horny camp counselors, a nurse chaperone, and a handy-man ex-con spruce up the place.  Jane is met with hostility when sounding off about monsters and death, but when the Pine Hills staff realize that a few of their friends are missing and haven’t checked in, Jane’s story is beginning to resonate and take traction.  Out in the woods, the rape-impregnated sperm of the monster are parasitic and seek out human hosts to infect with raging hormones and adrenaline, transforming hosts into razor-sharp teethed, superhuman mutants hellbent on procreation of a new monster.  The invading parasites turn the isolated camp into a slaughter yard of bloodshed and chaos and it’s up to the remaining survivors to nut up and put violent stop to an alien’s insidious carnage. 

Well, by God, Shawn Burkett did it!  The director made a sequel to his straight-forward, out-of-nowhere, 2016 indie hit “Don’t Fuck in the Woods,” directly following up from where the first film left us off with a lone survivor having just blown up a sex-crazed, blood-lusting alien creature who clawed, tore, and banged his way through a bunch of naked women and some off-color guys doing the dirty in the woods.  The first film made such a splash of interest with the provocative and often controversial title as well as being one of the most pirated movie in the last decade due to said title, The Ohio-born Burket began to formulate the next step of “Don’t Fuck in the Woods 2” with a story co-written with one of the sequel’s principal stars, Cheyenne Gordon, writer of the Tory Jones directed films “The Wicked One” and “They See You.”  The enticingly crass, but greatly adored and sought after title aims to be gorier and even more nudity-laden as the first film with the story situated at an actual family-owned campground, Hannon’s Camp America, in College Corner, Ohio.  Shot in the Summer of 2019, the pre-pandemic film, “Don’t Fuck in the Woods 2,” is a production of Concept Media, Studio 605, Rising Fire Films, Taintbad Productions, and Head on a Stick Productions with Burkett producing and John Lepper (aka Johnny Macabre, executive producer of “Smoke and Mirrors:  The Story of Tom Savini” and “The VelociPastor”) as executive producer.

Though the sequel does not mark the return of the voluptuously captivating adult actress Nadia White, as her character (spoiler alert) was ripped apart by the creature (end spoiler alert), the sequel casts a whole new lot of ladies willing to let Mr. Skin archive and immortalize all their bare body parts forever…or at least until the servers crash, the internet dies, or the world ends.  It’s not like eternity or anything.  The one returning principal to return is the first film’s sole survivor, Jane, and returning to fill her blood-soaked shoes is Brittany Blanton that has officially solidified the Houston, Texas native as a scream queen, franchise final girl, and an overall badass slayer of otherworldly creatures.  Blanton is just one of several actresses to play into the popular campy motif and titular theme of open sexuality and nudity as a formulaic no-no in horror films.  B-to-Z horror movie regulars, starting with “RIP:  Rest in Pieces’” Kenzie Phillips, “Model Hunger’s” Kaylee Williams, “Slaughterhouse Slumber Party’s” Kayla Elizabeth, “5G Zombies’” Julie Anne Prescott, “Blood Moon River’s” Cara McConnell, and Nessa Moore, who I suspect used a body double for her bare all scene, follow suit (birthday suit that is) playing chopping block babes abreast of their outcome.  Burkett doesn’t completely make void his sequel of complex human emotions, supplying bitter love triangles, an oversexualized third wheel, and two more adult-ish characters running from their unpleasant past,  One of those two is ex-con Gil (co-writer Cheyenne Gordon) forced into a corner as the camp’s handyman while attempting to turn his life around for the better but finding the path to redemption difficult when being harassed and threatened by corrupt law enforcement officer.  Already down in the dumps being judged and juried by fellow campers and law enforcement, Gil is sympathetic role that earns his keep when going toe-to-toe with mutation spawn.  Mark Justice (“Atomic Shark”), Jason Crowe (“Dead Moon Rising”), Tom Komisar (“Slaughterhouse:  House of Whores 2.5), Alex Gottmann, and returning from the first film for a brief but memorable scene is Brandy Mason completes the cast. 

No contextual messages. No metaphors. No symbolizing themes. “Don’t Fuck in the Woods 2” pumps you full of the same obligatory creature feature construct as the first, those who have sex, get murdered….horribly. The only slight difference this time around is director Shawn Burkett gets himself out of the man-in-a-monster suit element and into a state of possession as the cast of characters become heinous hosts to parasitic alien slugs, essentially turning people on themselves in a battle to the death. The concept brings a new angle to the series to build upon the creature’s never say die multi-nefarious abilities that keeps it returning, in one form or another, from the grave. Blood runs rampant with the special effects team implementation of a blood gun into their bag of tricks that soaks the cast in more than one scene, but I would say between the two films, both are equally matched in blood shedding as the sequel, that doesn’t see the return of the first film’s SFX artist Deryk Wehrly but hires the 2016 film’s producer, Rob Collins to fill that void, doesn’t surpass the antecedent’s practical butchery. Looking through a technical critical lens, the indie feature has noticeable issues with crew mistakes, such as shadows of the boom operator in the frame, and scenes that hit the cutting room floor would have shed light on a few second and third act scenes that ended up not keeping the story smooth in a logical sense; one of the bigger scenes in question is one two large arms break through a wall and grab Gib from behind. The arrangement of character positions didn’t quite work out and the feature’s after credits bonus scene cements that misalignment even more. “Don’t Fuck in the Woods 2” might have filmic gaffe (there might be a cream for that) but what started as a straight-shooting, sex and slaughter, potboiler has become Shawn Burkett’s undeniable magnum opus and he’s only just beginning.

Wild Eye Releasing camp on one of the most campiness horror to date with “Don’t Fuck in the Woods 2” on a special edition Blu-ray release. Presented in high definition, 1080p, the transfer is exhibited with widescreen 2.35:1 aspect ratio. First thing I noticed about the independent film and distributor release is there are virtually no issues with compression. The black areas remain deep and inky, hues naturally come across without any fluctuation, and there are no visible banding or artefact issues. In comparison to the first film, the sequel is quite brighter with more lighting available and Burkett isn’t too heavy on gels or tints unless in slug-vision mode with a tinge of low opacity fuchsia. The release comes with a lossy English 2.0 stereo mix that’s every bit languid as it sounds with current releases. Dialogue is clean and clear of damage and interference but is too underweight for full-bodied effect. Sound design offers arm’s length depth but is ample in range with slimy sluggy-ness slithering about and skirmish associated hubbubs to make the action excitable. Optional English subtitles are available. The special features include a behind-the-scenes featurette that gives a walking tour of the Hannon’s family camp shooting location building-by-building, blooper reel which can be seen during the end credits, two deleted scenes, the original producer trailer, Wild Eye Releasing trailers, and a feature length documentary “What Happens in the Woods: The Story of Don’t Fuck in the Woods” that digs deep not only into the genesis of “Don’t Fuck in the Woods,” but also into the personal strifes of Burkett and how the story’s title was turbulent, controversial, and heated from the beginning but became a wildly great success that spurred greenlights for future sequels, such as the after credit scene that may or may not involve space and/or time travel! The clear Blu-ray snapper with latch has physical special features that include a folded-mini poster insert, reversable cover art with a composited image on the front and a bloodied Brittany Blanton screengrab snippet on the opposite, and cardboard slipcover with a mashup character collage on the front. The brisk 81-minute runtime compacts the blood and boobs in this region free, unrated disc. Shawn Burkett teases fans with a third picture that’ll surely bring the wanton woods into the world of tomorrow but, for now, bask in “Don’t Fuck in the Woods 2” unfettered maverick success.

“Don’t Fuck in the Woods 2” on a Special Edition Blu-ray!  Purchase Your Copy Here!

The EVIL Fat Man Delivers a Sack Full of Slaughter in “Christmas Cruelty!” reviewed! (Unearthed Films / Blu-ray)

Oh, Its Starting To Look a lot Like “Christmas Cruelty! on Blu-ray!

Eline, Per-Ingvar, and Magne are three close and eccentric friends preparing for the jolliest time of year, Christmas. Concocting a unique Christmas spirit of their own with scarring passers dressed as Krampus and brewing an alcohol infused cocktail, the unconventional celebration reflects their individual perspectives on the holiday: a knowledgeable Eline embraces more traditional values, Magne goes against the grain with a loose grasp on the concept of it all, and the lack of mental acuity for wheelchair bound Per-Ingvar leaves him in naive, gullible belief. All the while the friends prep the groundwork for a Christmas party, a homicidal sociopath tracks and records their every movement, habits, and personal attributes and when Christmas comes, the meticulous and brutal serial killer dresses as Santa and infiltrates what turned from being a joyous bash into Santa bashing in heads with a hammer, decapitates party guests, and rip-roars a chainsaw with blood splattering apathy.

It’s that time of year again to ride the Christmas slay down the hills covered with blood-red snow. Santa, usually a sign of pure good and jovial togetherness, is transformed to embody terror and evil across the holiday season. In 2013, Norwegian filmmaker Per-Ingvar “PIT” Tomren (“Bonzai Motherfucker!”) and his co-director Magne Steinsvoll (producer of “Killungard” and “Lyst”) not only star in another Yuletide horror that yields itself to violence and blood but also adds their perspective entry into the vast Scandanavian subgenre of ole’ Saint Nick, or an imposter of the jolly fat guy, going postal in the worst possible way. Tomren and Steinsvioll work into their debut feature film off a script penned by principal co-star Eline Aasheim as well as Janne Iren Holseter, Anita Nyhagen, and directors Tomren and Steinsvoll. Originally entitled “O’Hellige Jul!” in Norwegian, the 2013 released “Christmas Cruelty” is a Stonewall Productions and presented by DC Medias under the producing credits of Magne Steinsvoll, Kim Haldoersen, and Raymond Volle (“Saga”).

Instead of hiring an outside cast for a serial rapist and killer Santa flick, why not just star in the film yourself? In order to get their feet wet in film production as well as learning the rigors of acting, Per-Ingvar Tomren, Magne Steinsvoll, and Eline Aasheim essentially portray themselves as the three friends spending unique quality time together during Christmas. Per-Ingvar works into the script the corporeal truth of this delicate skeletal structure that battles brittle bone disease aka osteogenesis imperfecta. Confined almost entirely to his wheelchair, Tomren curbs his wellbeing for the sake of art as the filmmaker doesn’t exempt himself from the various physical altercation scenes to have a stuntman take the glory. The same kind of sentiment can be said for Eline Aasheim whose character must endure an invasive attack, one that’s deeply uncomfortable and intimate in nature surrounded by a virtually an all-male cast which includes offscreen friendships. Then there’s Magne. If Per-Ingvar and Eline embodied metaphorically everything that is good about the Christmas spirit, Magne was the complete opposite as a complaining, sexist, and indelicate sourpuss living in the moment rather than grasping his own barbed attitude. The malarky between the three friends on screen is perhaps very mirrorlike offscreen as there is a comfortability level with each other performances that keeps the dynamic on the edge of combusting but yet you never feel like a change in their relationship will ever mount, keeping their friendship close, tight, and compact. The outsider, the Serial Santa, is played mid-50’s Norway actor Tormod Lien. I mention Lien’s age because he is older than the other principal characters and that plays into his character’s wisdom as a family man who takes notes on who’s halls he will soon deck. Calm, organized, and deviant, Lien plays into the apathy without a twinkle of empathy and engineers a bloody show of planned homicide with some comedic bits put on by Lien when Serial Santa has to go off script because of interruptions.

In my mind, there are two types of Christmas horror films: the uncanny universe where Santa, or something related to Santa, such as his toyshop elves or Krampus, world’s lives and breathes in a twisted malevolency while the other type resides in fact with sociopathic and mentally unstable Santa impersonators who go on a merry murdering spree. “Christmas Cruelty!” falls in that latter category with serial killer, dressed as Santa and a grotesque mask, gatecrashes the good protagonists’ party for the nefarious primordial urge to hurt, rape, and kill. Maybe even dabble in a little cannibalism. “Christmas Cruelty!” is a lump of extreme exploitation for next level nihilism. I’ve seen my fair share of messed up movies, but the Tomren and Steinsvoll defiling picture doesn’t even have a millimeter of morality. Without a theme, a message, or a basic point, “Christmas Cruelty!” is hollow atrocity for the sake of shock and slaughter. The principal goods are either too afraid to help each other, too unwilling to help each other, or are too conceited to even take notice that something is amiss. Instead, it’s the Serial-Santa who has his ducks in order, unabashed to simply walk into a room and start his plan of cold-hearted perversion, but before even getting to that moment with deliciously diabolical practical special effects that can produce a gut-wrenching impact, the story goes static with the principal goods chitchatting about history of Christmas, their likes and dislikes of the season, and nursing a hangover from hell. This portion to build character doesn’t actually build character as we’re skirted around victimized trio’s reason for to deserving of our sympathy. Yeah, there’s a person with learning disabilities in a wheelchair and a young woman with an inkling of a moral compass but I find them aimless, sleepwalking through life, and without purpose.

Christmas comes early with the release of “Christmas Cruelty” on Blu-ray home video from our friends at Unearthed Films and MVD Visual. Presented in 1080p with a widescreen 1.78:1 aspect ratio on an AVE encoded BD50, Unearthed Films rendering of the transfer goes without a hitch, but the stylistic choices of Tomren and Steinsvoll are an eyesore with a mustard yellow overlay intended for a grindhouse veneer that also correlates with the large font and embossed opening credits. Much of the details and natural look are lost in the yellow tint. The erratic editing is supposed to reflect Serial Santa’s fragmented mind which idiosyncratically finds footing but can be off-putting to its experimental quality. The Norwegian language DTS-HD 5.1 surround sound mix reflects no issues with depth and range despite having limited need for both and has mostly clear dialogue albeit some obstruction from the soundtrack that is heavily integrated into the sound design and becomes a character in itself with a blend of English-lyrical Christmas themed tunes, instrumental string melodies, acoustic solos by Magne Steinsvoll, generic rock tracks, and folksy jamming that ends with the loud roaring of a chainsaw slicing through body parts. The bonus features include an audio commentary with co-director Per-Ingvar Tomren and producer Raymond Volle, retrospective interviews in How Cruelty Changes Our Lives featurette, blooper outtakes, photo gallery, The Last Rebels hit “Endless Highway,” an interview with Morten Haagensen, “Tradition” short film, Press Conference, a watch-a-long session with Flesh Wound Horror, and teaser trailer. The Unearthed Films menu options were a bit cumbersome to navigate when trying to play the movie as the next screen goes to the three audio options – either two commentaries that run along with the film and the play movie without commentary, but the options are not terribly intuitive and had to go through the options before I was able to play just the movie. The physical release comes in a traditional blue snapper case with the soulless, dead eyes of the Santa mask illustrated with liver sports and aged wrinkles on the front cover. Unearthed Films’ release comes not rated, region A encoded, and has a runtime of 94 minutes. Probably not the perfect holiday gift for the conventional horror filmgoer, “Christmas Cruelty” is difficult to ingest and digest as not only an extreme exploitation film but as a film as whole, but with the callous chunks of coal and the striped blood red candy cane of scrumptious special effects, the Norwegian definitely offers a good stocking stuffer.

Oh, Its Starting To Look a lot Like “Christmas Cruelty! on Blu-ray!

Become Wrapped Up in EVIL with “The Shroud” reviewed! (SRS Cinema / DVD)

“The Shroud” now available on DVD from SRS Cinema!

Centuries before, an evil witch is brutally tortured and killed while covered in a white shroud. In present day, a nun, part of a special sect vowed to never let the unholiness of the shroud deviltries be unearthed from the forgotten rubble of a divine stupa, is raped by two men wearing masks. With the help of a hired obtainer, the nun will stop at nothing to get her hands on, even at the defiance of her brother’s advice, but the shroud’s a bewitching mistress and its power are intoxicating. Breaking her piety pact with God and her sworn duty to protect man from wickedness, the nun succumbs to the sin that drips from the shroud’s blood-soaked fabric and exploits its personification powers of evil doings by not only exacting revenge on her attackers, sending the shroud to assassinate her attackers without an ounce of mercy, but also converting her devout habit to a shameless, promiscuous one of immorality.

A made-in-Italia possession film about a killer burial garment and a nun with big guns giving out the last rites. What could go wrong? The immediate impression arises a lot of interest in this 2022 released inanimate killer object flick from writer-director Fabrizio Spurio. As Spurio’s third feature in the horror genre, “The Shroud” envelopes the 50-year-old, Rome-born director’s first ambitious single story length venture behind the more episodic anthology, “Innesti,” and the more obscure “Vanity,” that taps into the willingness participation to do anything for stardom. “The Shroud” embarks into a more religious and supernatural discourse that clashes the sin and the sinner with a blurry line of empowerment. Made with pennies, or rather made on the Italian centismos on the Euro, “The Shroud,” or “Sindome,” is a production of the Dario Argento and Lucio Fulci inspired Goreproduction company, cofounded by Spurio with Francesco Lagonigro tacked on as a fulltime collaborator in shooting low-budget, independent, free-thinking cinema of underground horror.

The last time I saw the sultry lead Italian actress and extreme indie horror luminary, Chiara Pavoni, was in the avant garde “Xpiation” helmed by one of, if not the dominant, underground horror filmmaker, Domiziano Cristopharo.  In her motherly-voyeuristic role, Pavoni radiated with dark, sphinxlike desire in her well-dressed, pin-up sex-symbol performance of longing and control.  Pavoni doesn’t stray far from that archetype with her latest role in Spurio’s “The Shroud” as she plays a woman of virtue, a nun to be more exact, who has quickly turned lubricious and vindictive after her being raped.  Pavoni is certainly bodacious on screen as she adorns tight-fitting outfits that barely contain her snugly-packed large chest, exposing a Mariana Trench deep cleavage in a Spirit Halloween sexy nun getup for much of her role’s sordid side.  As a thespian performer, Pavoni has the subtle moves of a temptress who knows what she wants but dialogue deliveries are something left to be desired as the “Demonium” actress goes through the motions of plain speak as does much of the other cast, including the Goreproduction producer costar Francesco Lagonigro. Lagonigro plays her object obtainer who, by the seducing forces of the shroud, turns into her sex-slave or gothic lackey as visions of death please feed him the sensation of guilty pleasures. Lagonigro’s version of a factotum is about as cheesy as they come with a glaring lowered brow and white and black face paint to embellish something that looks nowhere near sinisterism. If we’re supposed to take Lagonigro’s maniacal manservant role seriously than Spurio, and Lagonigro for that matter, misses the mark badly in a poorly sized up rendition of a Renfield like stooge. “The Shroud” rounds out the cast with many miniscule, nearly nonspeaking roles with Paolo Di Gialluca (“7 Sins”), Andrea Pucci, Allesandro Massari, Giuseppe Andreozzi, Sara Lagonigro, Monica Rondino, and Andrea Pacilli and Samuele Lagonigro who composed the score for the film under the moniker, Sam and Andy.

As you can see, “The Shroud” is a family production for the Lagonigros who won’t hesitate to pitch in to make Francesco’s lewd and crude extreme horror on a bar tab’s worth. Conceptually, “The Shroud’s” an appealing idea of religious hypocrisy and the natural human desire to be immoral. Rules are meant to be broken as Spurio seizes control the very one thing a woman should have control over – her body. By introducing rape by two masked men, Spurio rips away that control and for a nun who whole schtick is to abide by God by maintaining purity in keeping her holy temple intact, she must seethe with humiliation in front of her Lord and inevitable turn away from him because there is nothing left unadulterated to give. She has sinned, whether intentional or not, and so the tainted nun must keep on sinning in various ways: lust, revenge, and murder. Despite being on a budget, Spurio’s ability to liven up a plain white tablecloth is what making movies is all about as the shroud lives and breathes on screen, moving in an agile manner, and becomes a physical presence that can gore a man through. Sleight of hand scene reversals bestows the shroud with a life of its own, creating a slithering dolman of death that looks great in the humble presentation. That kind of DIY special effects translates the same across the slender 76-minute with practical gore gags that rest above mediocracy, and I can say that with a straight face. “The Shroud” will have very few claims to cult fame with a slew of sloppiness that takes the zero-dollar expenditure and makes it appear even cheaper than pocket change. There’s even a scene where the director is clearly reflected into the frame, not even an attempt to hide or review for need to reshoot.

“The Shroud” is warm and cozy when it’s not trying to kill you! SRS Cinema, a leading purveying of underground cinema, releases Fabrizio Spurio’s “The Shroud” on DVD as part of the company’s extreme and unrated nightmare fuel label. Distributed through MVD Visual, the region free DVD5 is presented in an unmatted widescreen 1.85:1 aspect ratio with a commercial grade quality of a standard definition camcorder that maxes out on the higher side of output of a 720p resolution and so the final result looks fairly okay for DVD. For much of the natural lighting, the high contrast works extremely well, creating deep shadows that make the film feel richer than its actual value, but the details and textures are often soft and bleary, washing out any kind of tactile material. Luminescence of green and blue gels as well as double overlays are used to symbolize nightmares and shroud vision are more headache inducing than a stylish solution when mingled with an industrial engine rumble or high-pitched and stretched vocal score with some piano keys tossed in to mix it up. The Italian language dual-channel stereo is a lossy, unbridled catchall. As much as the audio is purely soundtrack, there is still an insurmountable of sounds being captured by the camcorder mic that softens the desired prominent audiles, such as dialogue which becomes trapped in a cavernous state of echos and various levels of pitch inconsistences. The subtitles on the SRS DVD appear to be translated by a person with English as not their primary language as a tone of grammatical errors, punctuation mistakes, and absolutely zero capitalization tarnish an already low-rent feature. If you can work your way through the strangely designed menu options to the bonus features, you’ll find included raw take bloopers, photo gallery, music videos starring Chiara Povani and Francesco Lagonigro, and SRS trailers. The physical package is perhaps the best part of “The Shroud” with a true-to-form beautifully dark illustration of the most memorable character faces to exhibit in the film, crafted and designed by Avery Guerro. “The Shroud” is an estimable underground piece of the extreme horror art pie but slacks in unnecessary places and becomes an exemplar of a shoddy and careless production that ultimately hurts the overall value of its genus.

“The Shroud” now available on DVD from SRS Cinema!

No Film is Complete Without a Flying EVIL Baby! “The Necro Files” reviewed! (Visual Vengeance / Blu-ray)

A

I Want To Believe…That You Will Check Out “The Necro Files” on Blu-ray!

An unhinged serial rapist terrorizes the young women of Seattle, ripping into shreds their internal innards and even dabbles in tasting their flesh.  Two detectives hellbent on stopping his reign of terror intercept the killer in the middle of an attack.  Though too late to save the girl, the detectives shoot six slugs into the rapist, stopping his continuous, heinous sexual assaults and grisly murders…at least for nine months later, when a satanic cult resurrects the zombie cannibal rapists from the grave after sacrificing the rapist’s bastard baby from his only surviving victim.  The killing spree begins again and this time being undead provides superhuman strength and a larger penis.  The two detectives, now embroiled in their own corruption, must embark on another manhunt while two of the satanic cult members, seeking to undue the horrors they’ve unleashed, willingly summon a demon into the dead baby to counteract the zombie cannibal unbeknownst to them the demon baby will kill anyone it’s in airborne trajectory.

Just from the above synopsis, this film sounds nuts, darkly funny, and depraved all wrapped into one undisclosed file of sex, gore, and floating baby dolls.  And, you know what?  It’s all true.  The creator behind all this madness is Matt Jaissle who helms the shot-on-video “The Necro Files” as an underground horror spoof of a popular science fiction you made have heard of – “The X-Files.”  The Truth is out there.  Well, the truth is actually not in the sky, it’s under the dirt, it’s inside some scantily cladded woman being molested by a rotting corpse, and it’s in a doped-up cop looking to wipe all the scumbags off the face of the Earth.  The 1997 released is co-written between long time Jaissle collaborators Todd Tjersland (“Faces of Gore” series) and Sammy Shapiro, based off of Tjersland sleazy horror comic series “Psycho Zombie Love Butcher,” and is the third film from Jaissle that solidifies the filmmaker as a certifiable depravity and gore-meister that has themes of rape, necrophilia, heartless exploitation, and disembowelment clothed as clearly a comedy.  Filmed around the surrounding Seattle, Washington area, “The Necro Files” is produced by Jaissel with Tjersland serving as executive producer Washington state-based Threat Theatre International production banner.

The acting pool that “The Necro Files” plucked their talent from must have been severely limited with a cast more concerned about their robotic performances rather than the unsavory story content.  Fine by me!  I don’t expect award-winning caliber thespianism on campy SOV D-movies where the main focus is guts, girls, and the grotesque.  The two detectives, Martin Manners and Orville Sloane, and the killer, Logan, are the principals caught in the middle of everything that is eloquently evil of “The Necro Files.”   Isaac Cooper plays Logan the Rapist aka Zombie Logan the Rapist and the wild-eyed, chimpanzee-running Cooper doesn’t have a lot of dialogue with his unpleasant roles with many of talking parts going toward a third character of a drug pusher before having his head blown off by a traumatized and unstable Det. Manners.  By the way, Steve Sheppard, who plays Det. Manners, has the best monologue about wiping out scumbags while sitting in the police car, looking maniacal, and just admiring his handgun next to a more rational, more off-cue Gary Browning as his partner, Det. Sloane.  “The Necro Files” cast isn’t doesn’t end there as Snell’s film has a surprisingly sizeable, small role contingent, mostly of playing Satanists, drug dealers and sexual miscreant males, and women in compromising positions.  The actresses playing the latter roles are mostly under pseudonyms, alternate aliases that provide more to the film’s campy nature.  Names like Anne R. Key (Anarchy) and Jenn O’Cide (Genocide) are a couple.  Present day, Jenn O’Cide is actually a sideshow performer, belly dancer, and an overall alternative, fearless woman of the strange and usual fine (dark) arts while keeping her stage name.  Another is Dru Berrymore and no, not the “Firestarter” and “Scream” Drew Berrymore we all know of horror fandom.  This Dru Berrymore comes from Germany and is a pornographic actress who’s had bit pars in Katheryn Bigelow’s “Strange Days,” David Lynch’s “Lost Highway,” and even in “Die Hard 2”.  Each of these ladies, including a fourth in Theresa Bestul, are supposedly claimed from the local strip club and don’t mind being the plaything for undead’s wicked whims in their simply objectifiable credited rolls as Shower Girl, Doll Lover, Camping Girl, and S&M Amazon.  The cast rounds out with Todd Tjersland, Jeff Nelson, and Christian Curmudgeon and Jason McGee has hapless Satanists. 

“The Necro Files” bares very little resemblance to the show it spoofs but bares it all with an opening shower scene containing full frontal nudity.  From the get-go, “The Necro Files” plays into schlocky, campy attire with an unpretentious, unapologetic swagger.  The story doesn’t really make much sense and is terribly choppy from a continuation standpoint.  We’re fed fleeting moments of connective information that hardly tether scene-to-scene let alone the nine-month gap where Logan’s baby must be sacrifice by a Satanist cult to randomly resurrect one of the vilest murderers for unknown reasons and then immediately regret it as part of an oopsie, what did I do moment.  Yet, at the same time, these random bits of tongue-and-cheek leave the door open for unknown possibilities and seeing a clear path on how “The Necro Files” case will close is about as predictable as selecting all the Mega Millions lottery numbers right. Matt Jaissle’s gonzo-gore-a-thon is nonetheless a winning jackpot of underground, sadistic-splaying horror with an extensive as it is impressive DIY blood-and-guts effects and makeup by Jaissle and Tjersland. You can’t name your film “The Necro Files” and not have a deluge of viscera be a collective hematoma of popped blood vessels in every other scene in what’s an all ghoul and girls brazen bloodbath of demonism and dark humor.

“The Necro Files” is the second catalogued title for Wild Eye Releasing’s new kid-sister sublabel of extreme, SOV cult and horror films called Visual Vengeance. The Blu-ray release comes with a precaution of video quality, stating that the original elements were pulled from consumer grade equipment and SD video tape masters. The final product is better-than-passable and better-than-expected based off the source material as the 1.33:1 presented feature has an abundance of interlacing, aliasing, and macroblocking throughout. The video format plays into much of the problems with soft color palette and details in which not one single scene looks particular sharp enough to call Blu-ray’s best. For underground SOV horror, the quality is what was expected, if not better, and will continue to expect with future Visual Vengeance releases. Audio options give viewers two formats to select from: An English language Dolby Digital 2.0 and an English DTS-HD MA 2.0. The DTS track is the winner between the two audio arrangements with a slightly hefty decibel soundtrack and a better job isolating the already isolated lo-fi ambient and Foley. Dialogue, to the naked ear, sounds relatively the same with the lossy strength and level inconsistencies (again with 1997 video equipment issues), but overall free from obstructions. English subtitles are option. Special features include two audio commentary tracks with director Matt Jaissle on one and with Matt Desiderio of Horror Boobs and Billy Burgess of the Druid Underground Film Festival on the other, a brand-new graveyard self-chat with Matt Jasissle providing background color on making movies in general and a little history of himself, Dong of the Dead: The Making of the Necro Files with a talking head interview of Matt Jaissle, with spliced in movie clips, speaking on the complete genesis and completion of his film, the original and Visual Vengeance trailer, the super 8 short “The Corpse,” and a bonus movie, the sequel “The Necro Files 3000!” Physical release bonus material includes a reversible Blu-ray cover, a 2-sided artful insert with Blu-ray produced acknowledgements, a mini poster, a Wild Eye VHS sticker set, a cardboard slipcover, and the official “The Necro Files” condom not intended for actual use. Probably just a little something to ward off unplanned evil floating babies! The film comes unrated, region free, and the feature clocks in at 72 minutes with another 65 minutes on the sequel. “The Necro Files” is 137 minutes of sleazy-zombie humpfest that you won’t (you can’t!) forget.

I Want To Believe…That You Will Check Out “The Necro Files” on Blu-ray!

Fixing the Tracking on Those EVIL VHS Cassettes! “Snuff Tapes” reviewed! (MVDVisual / DVD)

Ready to be Recorded?  “Snuff Tapes” now available at Amazon.com!

Marcela Arkaino investigates a Talca, Chile rapist and murder who has been drugging and abducting women for years to record aberrant tapes of his cruel exploits.  Marcela takes a special eager interest in this particular assignment as she was one of those unfortunate women.  As a silver lining out of an extremely bad situation, she is one of three women left alive by her brutal sex-sadist aggressor.  As the reporter in her garners the difficult stories from the other two survivors, Cataline and Jesus, abused by the same masked man, she inches closer to his whereabouts by triangulating attacks and connecting similarities but her scouring of roadside market, unlabeled VHS tapes became the smoking gun needle in a haystack that produces not just any depraved tape of his victims but of her own ordeal, turning now an inch into a mile in finding him.  Bring the other two women into the fold, Marcela devises a plan of revenge to direct a snuff film of her own, starring their rapist and torturer.  

Hailing from Talca, Chile, the same location where the story is set, comes the shock-slamming, VHS-inspired thriller “Snuff Tapes,” aka “Cintas Tapes,” from the Chilean born independent filmmaker, Vito Garcia Viedma.  The writer-director’s prior two zombie-influenced short films, the 2012 “Bajo el sonido del tren” and the 2017 “Escape from Zombie City,” along with the criminal underbelly 2017 feature, Los culpables,” displays a course change deviation that wouldn’t prepare the average Viedma film fan for his 2020 venture into the dark underworld exploitation of indie snuff.  While the title highlights the concept around videotaping the misuse of a person’s trust and vulnerability for one’s own disturbing profit, in this case to get one’s jolly’s off, much of Viedma’s story skirts around the edge with just mentioning the nixing of captured and consumed of vivacity women, saving the story’s climax for more detailed death dealing in a vengeful perspective rather than a videotaped one. “Snuff Tapes” is created under Viedma’s ZineFilms production company in association with Cabro Chico and Trippas Productions.

“Snuff Tapes” is no “8MM” with a mega-Hollywood budget and Nic Cage doing Nic Cage antics. “Snuff Tapes” is no “Effects” with cult icons Joseph Pilato and Tom Savini helming sordid scenes from fantasy to non-fiction. “Snuff Tapes” isn’t even on the same level as “A Serbian Film” and, to be honest, I don’t think any film anytime soon will ever be on the same level as that twisted picture. What all three of those successful and notorious films have in common and what Viedma lacks in separating itself from the rest are in two very important details: a budget and an array of talent. Viedma’s film humbles in comparison with not only a microbudget but also in a cast makeup of essentially five actors with withering substance. Valentina Soto Albornoz stars as the retribution-reporter, Cataline Ibarra, who for the last decade has been piecing together clues of her kidnapper’s whereabouts by purchasing random video cassettes tapes from Talca street vendors and when Ibarra strikes gold unearthing her own ugly tape, she understandably feels overwhelmed reliving visually the nightmare and subsequently gravitates toward being hellbent for revenge. Ibarra recruits her survivor carbon copies in the tattooed Jesus Mayano (Camila Medina) and aspiring photography model Marcela Arkaino (Camila Carreno Arancibia) for a little payback, but Ibarra, aside from her good friend Esteban (Hugo Villar) providing her a PAL encoded VHS player and rewatching her tape to catch clues missed, she virtually does all the legwork in pinpointing the one responsible, drugging him, abducting him, and committing herself to the nitty-gritty, fantasy plan for whenever she got her hands on him. I’m not sure what roles or business Arkaino or Mayano actually had to just stand there moping other than maybe bear witness to the end of their lifelong torment, to see the boogeyman parish once and for all? Reinaldo Aravena plays the man behind the mask who initially puts up a strong showing as the camera operator and stud of his homemade videos but then quickly fizzles disappointingly on the opposite side of the camera due to a lack of scaled down combating in what becomes just a one-woman show without much to show for it.

Viedma paves an interesting structural path for his film, taking the audience an extended 36-minute introduction of voiced over VHS recordings of survivor stories before entering opening credits to what then becomes a dichotomy narrative between backstory and present day. This also speaks to the visual cinematography as well that jumps back and forth between being shot on the VHS’s boxed-in format (found footage) to a wider lens of the digital world, capturing past and present in two distinct formats as well as capturing the past that isn’t glossy, pretty, and is an inescapable prison where the walls, the horizontal pillars, are closing in on the world.  Appearances, no matter how apt to the subject, do not give the movie soul and “Snuff Tapes” misses that poignant shock value target with poorly written characters and a misaligned connect-the-dots investigation that doesn’t make much sense.  Ibarra examination of the evidence, or really lack thereof, points to one man, but like a cheating slacker in high school, she does not show her work to come up with that result.  Instead, she repeats, at least in a couple of instances, her gut knows she has the right man.  In Viedma’s world, a gut feeling is factual evidence for stringing someone up to face judgement.  In reality, that’s a severe boo-boo case of miscalculation that would get you jail time.  Circumstantial street justice on little-to-no proof separates the empathy from what an audience is supposed feel fired up against an unspoken truth and gives them satisfaction in a just cause to see the obliteration of scum from the face of the Earth. In the first half, “Snuff Tapes” is undeniably graphic and cuts deep with a veridical, degenerate villain, but falters with a lazy second half approach and gratuitous revenge.

MVD Visual in association with Danse Macabre and Jinga Films release “Snuff Tapes” on a North American DVD release. The region free DVD is presented in a VHS format of 1.33:1 when looking cassette camera lens with the rest of the film in a widescreen 1.85:1 aspect ratio. As expected, the VHS quality has semblance of overuse and age with a fuzzy display and muted, boxy sound. Outside of that, the picture quality is not much better in reconstituting a playback on lower end of the DVD spectrum – approx. 3-5 Mbps. Compression artefacts are heavily present with poor clarity around the edging and blacks shimmer and appear blotchy. The lossy Spanish language Dolby Digtial 5.1 Surround Sound loses some of it’s fidelity in the compression but is the overall highlight amongst the DVD’s A/V scorecard; however, the subtitle transcription is the worst I’ve seen in quite some time with duplicated segments, spelling errors, and a timing that equates to a microsecond blip of dialogue on some occasions. The release comes with another version of the film as the sole bonus feature with an entire VHS 1.33:1 (4:3) VHS Cut for an immersive effect. As always, snuff features can be difficult to digest but they are becoming more and more prevalent and popular in a highly accessible home video market and director, Vito Garcia Viedma, tries his creative hand at creating disturbing content only to defile the genre with a subpar entry sullied by deficient storytelling.

Ready to be Recorded?  “Snuff Tapes” now available at Amazon.com!