Beware! EVIL is Afoot in a Small Town! “I Scream on the Beach” reviewed! (Darkside Releasing / Blu-ray)

First you Scream, then you DIE!  “I Scream On the Beach” available to buy at Amazon!

Mellow Coast is a small, quiet fishing town typically free from big city violence.  When a dead body shows up on the Mellow Coast’s shoreline, a past of enigmatic and thought solved disappearance cases return to haunt Emily whose father was murdered right in front of her when she was little, yet the local police department ruled her father’s case as simply a father-husband leaving his family when no evidence of blood was recovered, and his car was missing.  The murders and disappearances are connected to a now defunct large corporation working on shady experiments and as Emily digs deeper into her father’s case, a light is shed upon the dastardly transgressions of a shifty, under handing corporation as well as more bodies, including her close friends, turn up dead around town. Pieces all the clues together with the help of a keen detective desperate to solve a case no other officer wants to touch, Emily comes face-to-face with an unsuspecting, tightly knitted killer.

As if slasher films are already tough enough in trying to unlock and solve who the mysterious homicidal wolf in sheep’s clothing is before the big, blood reveal, the 2020 horror-comedy “I Scream on the Beach!” surely takes the cake as the impossible and no-win kobayashi maru test of the slasher genre. Hailing from United Kingdom with a retro 80’s VHS veneer, the Alexander Churchyard and Michael Holiday written-and-directed parodying red herring seeks to be deceptive and as cryptic as logically possible with a masked serial killer storyline stretching over a span of 10 years that culminates to an illogical and shockingly socking finale. “I Scream on the Beach!” is the first feature from the filmmakers working as a pair and as individuals, but Churchyard and Holiday have been skimming together that micro thin layer of the horror stratosphere with college short film works, such as “Fragments” and “The Ratman of Southend,” the latter referencing Churchyard and Holiday hometown of Southend-on-Sea in Southern Essex. The duo cofounded TIS Films Limited during their production of “I Scream on the Beach!” with Churchyard and Holiday as producers alongwith Claire Bowman and executive producer Hill Burton (“RoboWoman, “Slasher House 2”).

The story follows Mellow Coast local Emily, her friends, including a bashful big city transplant with a crush on her, and Detective Kincaid embroiled in a 10-year mystery beginning with the murder of Emily’s father (Rob Shaw) or maybe even beginning with the murder of Dr. Lloyd (Lloyd Kaufman, “The Toxic Avenger”). Hard to tell as Dr. Lloyd expositional death is brought up as background plot painting an unscrupulous picture against a devious, experiment-conduction corporation. In her first feature film and first of many productions with the Churchyard and Holiday team, Hannah Paterson is placed in the final girl role of a VHS decorated slasher that has her twisting and turning from the pub to every which way to find corpses stabbed, gutted, and decapitated in the search for the truth about her father. Her friends, played by Jamie Evans, Rosie Kingston, Ross Howard, and Reis Daniel, are the trope typical asshole, hot girl, filmic nerd, and good guy love interest, in that respective order, are definitely defined to bring out the shine around this specimen of the slasher genre. Lurking in the shadows, as a contemporary scream queen of such films like Debbie Rochen’s “Model Hunger” and “Cute Little Buggers” starring alongside the iconic Caroline Munro, is the Australian born, English raised actress Dani Thompson as a snarky bar keep and aspiring actress who pokes her into the picture as the sort of easy girl and easy target for other characters to love-and-hate, especially amongst Emily and her friends in a mixed bag of feelings toward her role of bitchy Paula. Martin W. Payne (“Toxic Schlock”) as the staunch, Mellow Coast chief inspector, Tess Gustard as Emily’s combative mother, Will Jones (“Terror at the Black Tree Forest”) as the dispassionate inspector, Andrea Sandell (“Patient Zero”) as a fake nun, Chris Linnat-Scott as the creepy Dr. A, and Mark Keegan in a surprising reprising role fill out the cast.

Churchyard and Holiday embark on a VHS faceplate journey with their inaugural film complete with faux tracking lines, low-quality picture, lo-fi audio, and rounding out the semblance with schlocky f/x composition and content.  “I Scream on the Beach!” is a non sequitur, yet perfectly fitting, title for a seemingly beach-themed slasher that evolves erratically and radically as the story progresses into an eyebrow raising “…what?”  I would also dare to say that the acting isn’t the best but rather reflects the modeled era of straight-to-video indie low-budget horror with mild ostentation exaggeration with a character or two grounding the film with relative gravity from floating toward a too far-gone outcome. “I Scream on the Beach” is a kind of film that sits in the nosebleed section of the video rental and physical media aisle (if there are such things as video rental or physical stores anymore) but, sometimes, the cheap seats can be the section where anything goes, and no one will ever know about what happens near the roof. I’m not saying the Churchyard-Holiday production is a raunchy, nudity-laden, immodest, grindhouse peepshow worthy of the now ousted 42nd Street; in fact, “I Scream on the Beach!” mounts a tame and respectable horror-comedy that, like the cheap seats, is nothing to be ashamed of because in the end, they both provide entertainment on a budget.

Continuing to pluck out atypical wild horror genre films, Darkside Releasing distributes “I Scream on the Beach!” onto Blu-ray home video as part of the UK release collection. Keeping with the VHS effect, the stretched 1:78:1 aspect ratio feels to mimic only the very summary of details that continue into employing other SOV gags such as tracking lines, as I mentioned above, as well as a flat coloring palette. The English language PCM 2.0 continues to stay the antiquated technical course, taking the joke all the way, with a badly dubbed and ambient filled lossy audio tracks that keep with the kitschy package. The unrated, 87-minute, full director’s cut release comes with retrograded previews, such as “Mask of Thorn,” optional cast and crew introductions to the film, an audio commentary, complete short films “The Decorator” and “The Hiker” that were briefly spotlighted in the story, and promo spots from the Music and Film Festival. “I Scream on the Beach!” falls above being better than low-rung horror that’ll still knock your socks off, literally, with surreptitious corporation experiments insidiously embedding its clandestine claws into small town denizens in the dark and being stalked.

First you Scream, then you DIE!  “I Scream On the Beach” available to buy at Amazon!

An Evil Backyard Barbecue in “Garden Party Massacre” review!


Caleb and Addison are having a party with a small gathering of friends, and a few enemies, to enjoy a hotdog cookout in their charming garden backyard. Caleb only has one strict stipulation that all cell phones be prohibited in order for everyone attending to live in the moment. Things seem to be proceeding relative well: the beef and vegan wienies are grilled to perfection, the wine flows freely to and fro, and a love triangle arises for a possible romantic outcome for a pair of singletons. What small party doesn’t expect is a pickaxe wielding manic strolling through their backyard and crashing the festivities. With one person dead and the rest trapped inside the house, a wide range of survival hypotheses begin to kick in, squashing the idyllic soiree into panic frenzy molded by a very tall, very deranged house circling murderer.

Gregory Blair’s “Garden Party Massacre” is the 2017 horror-comedy that takes progressive comedy back a decade when material was simpler, straight forward, and where satire reigns supreme from casual conversation. Blair, who not only directed, but also penned the script, is one of those recognizable names and faces entrenched into the independent film grid with credits like 2013’s “Ooga Booga” and, directing one of Its Bloggin’ Evil’s personal favorites, “Deadly Revisions,” starring Bill Oberst Jr so this will be our second PIX/SEE Productions film coverage. “Garden Party Massacre” has been on this reviewers radar for about three years now and Blair’s sophomore feature film takes a lighter approach to horror that’s more beneficially cliché, designed to be safe in the story, and still able to provide generous humor. Just as quirky as it’s titled, “Garden Party Massacre” won’t be an aggressive avalanche of bodies and blood to consume so the highly squeamish audiences can sit and tolerate the sludge-fast bloodletting to nearly the credits with a steady amount of Gregory Blair etched absurdity to push those horror-intolerants forward.

Caleb and Addison extend beyond a couple’s normal range of quarreling. Their verbally combative relationship breaks hyperbole levels on the most mundane and trivial things couples argue over. Andy Gates (“The Blessed Ones”) and Nichole Bagby hash it out as two estranged lovers at each other’s throat that becomes a candy coated resonation of the very real reality of relationship woes. They’re each joined by a pair of friends that have previously established a relationship with them as part of their character’s background. David Leeper plays Wesley, a gay friend of the couple who also is on the Caleb’s softball team, who is perhaps the most rational character in the pack and brings another teammate to the party, Lincoln, as a possible match to his testosterone desires. Gregory Blair goes full on fool with Lincoln’s thick skull persona and the writer-director is spot on as also co-star in his role. The other established friend is Reena, a role presided by fellow “Dead Revisions” star Lisa Hart who has rash moments of exaggeration, but the timing is good for her character who serves as the odd woman out of the group. Then, “RoboWoman” herself, Dawna Lee Heising, enters the picture as Melanie, the obnoxious friend with a hankering for Lincoln’s man meat, and Heisings brings her delectable indie-horror presence to the folding table and lawn chairs! Other garden partygoers includes Matt Weinglass and Marv Blauvelt (“Snake with a Human Tail”).

“Garden Party Massacre” lampoons traditional genre tropes, highlighting the flaws and exaggerating their characteristics, and director Gregory Blair purposefully intended on constructing this fun and bubbly example of how silly the situational elements can be and, sometimes are, despite the pickaxe psycho lurking around outside and the whole neighborhood turning upside down when the sudden zombie apocalypse comes spilling into their backyard like spilt lemonade. Blair pokes fun in a homaging kind of way and that’s quite endearing. However, the character dynamic became stale faster than day old bread as scene-after-scene was nearly all about bashing the other person. Someone comes up with a plan and judgement rears an ugly head. Someone heeds a warning and, again, ridicule rolls right off the tongue. After one receives their fill of colorful raillery, Lincoln’s blockish guilelessness becomes the drug of choice and a root for character.

SGL Entertainment and MVDVisual layout the picnic for “Garden Party Massacre” onto an all region DVD presented widescreen 16:9 aspect ratio. Imagine presentation has all the digital pros and without any night shots, the digital noise has virtually no ground to flicker. Coloring and skin tones looks natural, aside from the obvious blue-ish green makeup of the zombies, and didn’t catch really any distortions to note. The English language stereo 2.0 surround sound favors the dialogue fairly well, upfront and with authority, but the ambience tracks, such as the birds chirping especially, are intrusive at times. There’s faint feedback at times during screaming moments. The runtime clocks in at 70 minutes and includes extras such as a music video to the film’s trashy-punk theme song, which is sung by “Constantine’s” Peter Stormare oddly enough, and trailers. “Garden Party Massacre” is the recipient of 9 film festival awards, including Best Comedy and Best Film, and rightfully so considering being a purposeful caricature mockup of horror well executed by Gregory Blair and crew.

Garden Gnomes and Killer Psychos in “Garden Party Massacre!” Buy at Amazon.com