Living free from job responsibilities and able to workout whenever he wants, body builder Naoto is living the high life. His daily workout is interrupted by his former photojournalist ex-girlfriend in search of the next haunted house for her latest article and she calls Naoto to inquire his father’s old, creepy home that’s now in Naoto’s possession. Accompanied by a professional psychic, the three conduct a house call to get a presence reading and take pictures of the rundown, abandoned home. They find themselves trapped inside with Naoto’s father’s darkest secret malevolently toying with them and holding them hostage with her cursed power bestowed upon her death, 30 years ago, forsaken to her by the hands of Naoto’s fahter.
In 2014, first time director Shinichi Fukazawa’s endearment for Sam Raimi’s “The Evil Dead” has encouraged the filmmaker to tribute a film that has dubbed “The Japanese Evil Dead.” With all the depictions of Raimi’s film, including from a shotgun, an axe, and even a severed sarcastic-spewing mangled demon head, “Bloody Muscle Body Builder in Hell” views just as good as the sounds. Taking his film to the next level by going back in a time warp, Fukazawa de-amplifies the image quality with a lo-fi flare that adds chaotic charm bathed in retro-VHS vision as every desaturated hue and blanket of coarse grain is a step back in time. Fukazawa implements his own sturdy brand of macabre to branch his version of “The Evil Dead.” For instance, Fukazawa removes the Necronomicon, the book of the dead, all together. Instead, the director doesn’t forth put an outright explanation behind the cause of the cursed’s murderous revenge other than holding a jealous grudge and the lack of motivation is okay because “Bloody Muscle Body Builder in Hell” is a modern day video nasty.
Shinichi Fukazawa, himself, stars as Naoto, suffering every ding, boink, and bop as our hapless hero that’s aims to strike similarities to Ashley “Ash” Williams and his gift of being the king of Three Stooges foolishness. Fukazawa plays a more conservative character in comparison, but does manage spit out memorable one-liners made genre famous by Bruce Campbell, like “groovy.” THe lead actress, Asako Nosaka, holds her own as a lovely damsel in distress who can double on a dime as a Mike Tyson speed bag puncher. The trapped pair make a convincingly distressed protagonists, especially in such a small Japanese home that’s the equivalent to a cabin in the woods. Last on the roster is Masaaki Kai filling in the psychic’s shoes and conjures an performance that’s could fit right in with the Kandarian Cheryl, Scott, Linda, and Shelley demons.
“Bloody Muscle Body Builder in Hell” is a 2014 effects driven, blood hungry roller coaster of pure mayhem entertainment. The ingeniously creative special effects, on a shoe string budget, are made of eye-popping, skull-crushing, and limb-parting goodness that every horror fan can appreciate and love. The lo-fi cinema and melancholy horror fixes to not impress those who have a taste for the CGI eye candy and won’t knock your socks off with the latest and greatest technological, animated advances in effects that attempts to mock real life, but accomplishes the opposite in the fabricated grindhouse reel with overexposures and rough edges that are more fitting for the subject matter. Fukazawa does embody Raimi’s creative editing and angle vision that makes Fukazawa’s film feel very attached to “The Evil Dead” franchise.
The well-meshed video nasty mingles Japanese culture with a loving tribute to Raimi’s “The Evil Dead” franchise and kicks off Shinichi Fukazawa’s most interesting silver screen career. Terracotta Distribution’s “Bloody Muscle Body Builder in Hell” is a tightly packed 62-minute joyride with squirrelly, demented demons with heavy emphasis on the blood and the gore. Image quality is poor and that’s a good thing! The low-tech fullscreen and unrefined quality are a tall-tell sign of a SOV gruesomeness surrounded by a fuzzy Japanese dual channel stereo. Extras includes a Graham Humprey time lapsed video of him creating his DVD artwork, a behind-the-scenes gallery, a dismemberment of scene clips, and Japanese and Terracotta trailers bringing up the tail end. “Bloody Muscle Body Builder in Hell” packs a punch, delivers the death, and gorges itself in the gore in this UK DVD from Terracotta Distribution! and is a lovely blend of comedy, horror, and praise that’s powerfully short and sweet from a freshman director who aims to make a statement while giving appreciation in his own culturally established way.
Ash is back! The chainsaw for a hand, fouled mouth, Deadite destroying retail stock boy returns to face Evil with his boomstick once again after the last monstrous incident some 30 years ago. Trying to stay under the radar and not make waves amongst the ignorant living, Ash has sunk low into the drunken and fat state of barely living until he accidentally reads from the pages of the Necronomicon during a night of irresponsible reefer madness. Now, evil forces thrust Ash into an impossible position to which he’s unable to remove himself from and with the help of his enthusiastic co-worker Pablo, a loyal immigrant sidekick, and the pessimistic Kelly, the orphaned daughter of Deadite victims, Ash and his gun-toting, ass-kicking haphazardness crew will take the terrifying show on the road, tracking down a way to destroy this Evil and the Necronomicon before it swallows the world and release a demonic wrath that’s never been seen before!
Many horror fans thought the day would never come. A number of us believed the rumors were a myth, a hoax, or a bamboozling viral campaign set forth to stir up fandom and the water cooler conversation. Then, a trailer was released and Starz! brought “Evil Dead” back to audiences’ who wanted to relive the the havoc Kandarian demons, to an audience who wanted to expand more upon the mythology of Sam Raimi’s epic hero, and delivered to an audience who don’t even know who Bruce Campbell, the legend, is and why he’s important to the horror community.
“Ash vs Evil Dead” blends seamlessly into the series’ saga, pitting once again our chainsaw wielding hero against a body-possessing force that’s more vicious and blood thirsty than ever. Any and every soul is up for the shredding and ripping grabs when Kandarian demons are concerned while also new, unseen variations of Kandarian demons make a fashionably late appearance. This time around is slightly different than before as, unlike Ash and his unlucky bunch caught in evil’s clutches, Ash has willing assistance in Pablo and Kelly to form a battle trio and take on this evil head on. Ray Santiago (Pablo) and Dana DeLorenzo (Kelly) are a fresh contrast to an aging Bruce Campbell, but Campbell pizzaz and rudimentary quick-wit dialogue manages to steal the scenes. Campbell, Staniago, and DeLorenzo are joined by a fourth; an actress reuniting with Bruce Campbell from long ago in her own fantastical series “Xena: Warrior Princess.” None other than Xena herself Lucy Lawless dons a mysterious Ruby Knowby who holds a deeper understanding of Necronomicon.
Sam Raimi also makes his grand and spectaculr return to his rightful spawn. Raimi, Campbell, and long time Evil Dead collaborator Robert Tapert’s production company Renaissance Pictures, along with Starz!, are the chief production companies on the television series that was originally meant to be the third sequel installment of the “Evil Dead” franchise. However, the zany-comical horror writing and directorial style that only Sam Raimi can deliver was reproduced for the first episode of season one to recreate the devilish “Three Stooges” slapstick atmosphere bred for a brooding, yet hysterical, Starz original series. A handful of directors take the helm of nine more episodes after Raimi, with one of the “Xena: Warrior Princess” directors Rick Jacobson being the most recognizable name among the list, and once the story expands further into the season, a loss of slapstick buffoonery that trademarks Raimi so very well is lost, but doesn’t slow down the blood spattering carnage.
Starz! and Anchor Bay Entertainment’s 2-disc Blu-ray edition of “Ash vs Evil Dead” season one is available today at your local or online retailer! Presented in a HD 1080p widescreen 1.78:1 aspect ratio with an English Dolby TrueHD 7.1 and a Spanish Dolby Surround 2.0 mix, the 10-episode, 294 minute runtime, unlimited goriness will soak into your funny bones right before shattering them into axe-cleaved pieces! Special features include an audio commentary on all episodes, Inside the World of Ash featurette, How to Kill a Deadite featurette, and the Best of Ash featurette. Plus, the release comes with a lenticular slip cover. Bring on “Ash vs Evil Dead” season two! Hail to the King, Baby!
The long awaited follow up to Sami Raimi’s “Army of Darkness,” STARZ original series “Ash Vs. Evil Dead” will summons itself to retail shelves on August 23, 2016 on Blu-ray and DVD. Evil Dead producer Robert Tapert and director Sam Raimi come back to be executive producers for Bruce Campbells big return as Ash for the small screen, television series.
“Campbell reprises his role as Ash, the stock boy, aging lothario and chainsaw-handed monster hunter who has spent the last 30 years avoiding responsibility, maturity and the terrors of the Evil Dead. When a Deadite plague threatens to destroy all of mankind, Ash is finally forced to face his demons – personal and literal. Destiny, it turns out, has no plans to release the unlikely hero from its “Evil” grip.”
Street Date: August 23, 2016
Pre-book: July 20, 2016
Catalog #: BD63966
Run Time: 294 mins.
Aspect Ratio: Anamorphic
Audio: Dolby TrueHD 7.1
Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish
“Ash Vs. Evil Dead” DVD
Street Date: August 23, 2016
Pre-book: July 20, 2016
Catalog #: ST63965
Run Time: 294 mins.
Aspect Ratio: Anamorphic
Audio: Dolby Digital 5.1
Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish
Unable to cope working as a hospice nurse, Danni begins a new life in a new apartment after separating herself from a server downhearted state while living with her uncle Gus. As Danni settles into her degrading new job involving saving the whales and into her small apartment, she begins to decorate her home, starting with hanging a simple shower curtain. However, as soon as she exits the bathroom, the shower curtain vanishes and so begins the mystery that leads to the discovery that she’s now part of secret order to protect The Gate, a passage way that can be used to give birth to the vilest evil. With the tireless help from her co-worker Tim, the two set off to stop The Gate from potentially destroying Dani’s life…or the world.
Movies like “Curtain” are the reason why I enjoy writing about them so very much. One tiny event, an event anyone would think couldn’t be turned into a full feature film, snowballs through the pages of a script and that script is presented to us by independent filmmakers Carys Edwards, writer, and Jaron Henri-McCrea, writer and director, of “Curtain.” The 74-minute film revolving around shower curtains being sucked into the bathroom tile opens with a seemingly distraught individual on an empty subway car, rambling and shaking after a reoccurring and thunderous dream that doesn’t make sense at that moment. The film’s hook comes early, sucking us into this man’s life when we learn he’s duck taped his bathroom door shut. He’s tensely afraid of the small enclosure to where one goes for unburdened release whether to drop a load or get cleaned up, but as the man decides to cut away the tape and opens the door to proceed in hanging a curtain, he unintentionally sets the stage for our heroine, Danni.
Solid performances all around by the cast. Danni Smith, portraying her namesake character, conveys a strong, defiant character even in the wake of her depressive struggle. Her characters goes through complete denial of the curtain eating bathroom, shutting down Tim, played by Tim Lueke, almost instantly when he’s curiously goes berserk of the possibilities of what to gain from this phenomenon. Tim Lueke does amazing work displaying a naïve activist and we discover the character’s humbleness through his naïveté, making him a likeable, standout character whose has motives that semi trump his passions when Danni is concerned. I really liked Martin Monahan and his Pale Man character, a blind gatekeeper, if you will, trying to protect the realms The Gateways portals. Monahan worked with director Jaron Henrie-McCrea previously, headlining Henrie-McCrea’s comedy-thriller “Pervertigo,” and the Indiana native takes a backseat, co-starring role that packs a memorable punch, leaving an everlasting mark of solemn and death.
If you haven’t noticed already, Henrie-McCrea has an affection for Alfred Hitchcock films. Between “Pervertigo,” a slight play of words from Hitchcock’s “Vertigo” starring James Stewart, to this film entitled “Curtain;” the shower curtain is an iconic set piece for Hitchcock’s more popular film “Psycho.” The Columbia University alumnus Henre-McCrea knits his own pattern into the Sci-Fi Horror film that is “Curtain,” subtly building-in comedy elements amongst the characters and not so much surrounding the situation. The young director has an eye for cinematography and bringing substance from the scene to the forefront as the director blends suspense, terror, comedy, and sadness, meshed together so intricately it’s seamlessly composites all genres that’s shot in some particular tight locations. The comedy stems from only certain characters such as the crass Preston The Super or Willy the homeless, paint can sniffer.
Much of Henrie-McCrea’s shock value spurs from intense close ups, as you’ll see in this articles screen shots. Quick, loud, and in your face scares or disturbances that’ll cause eye-popping jumps effectively note “Curtain’s” tone. This technique is very familiar with Evil Dead’s Sam Raimi and does bear a resemblance to a staple of 80’s horror with an Italian-like synth score by Adam Skerritt to match. Creature and special effects are briefly shown to obscure the possibility of detecting flaws (perhaps) and also to suggest that less is more, leaving more for the mind to fill out the horror’s of what you just saw. No scenes are left lingering on the horrific moments as much of “Curtain” is story centric, focusing on the mystery of The Gateway.
Frightfest presents the Icon Studio’s “Curtain” on DVD this July 18th in the UK. The DVD will be released in a gorgeous 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen with a solid Dolby Digital 5.1 audio mix and an accompanying 2.0 stereo mix option. The DVD includes a film introduction, an presentation commentary, and an entertaining making-of featurette. I can’t comment too much on the audio and video since a DVD-R was available for screening. “Curtain” has a particular taste of comedy that’s favorably dry and on-point synced well to the horror mystery engulfing the genre. Director Jaron Henri-McCrea becomes a force to be reckoned with paired to the talented actors Danni Smith, Tim Lueke, and Michael Monahan. “Curtain” is everything that’s right with horror-comedies and nothing short of excellent independent filmmaking.
Chicago based Ben and Annie travel to Annie’s small southern hometown in North Carolina over Thanksgiving weekend. Annie reunites with high school friends Paul and Jed, who have stuck with their southern roots and tease Ben for his sheltered city life. Ben discovers more about Annie’s past through her friends such as her and Paul being at one point in time an item in high school, her being a wild party animal, and that she actually believes in Bigfoot. Jed and Paul invite Annie and Ben to a deep woods camping trip where Bigfoot has been believed to be looming about; Ben doesn’t believe in Annie’s Bigfoot obsession, but tags along to keep Paul from purposely undermining their relationship in order too get close to his at one time girlfriend. When the four go deeper into the woods, attempting ddto meet up with a couple of other friends, they soon realize something is wrong and something has been following and toying with them, but is it really Bigfoot?
Finally, a well-made simplistic, yet terrifying story about the legendary Bigfoot that isn’t disgustingly mishandled when interpreted to the big screen. Cautiously optimistic with each Bigfoot inspired film, I’m always to be horribly let down by the sheer lack of monstrous intensity, heartfelt passion, and distinctive effects the big and iconic cryptozoological creature has been displayed over the years, or even decades in fact. I did think the William Dear family-friendly “Harry and the Henderson’s” would be the sole king of the Sasquatchsploitation genre, but here, right before me, under the careful and patient eye of director Dan Riesser is “Stomping Ground.” “Stomping Ground” is one part comedy, one part melodrama, and one part thriller rolled up into a three act film school archetype that gets it’s dirty sasquatch-ian claws into the viewer’s attention from start to finish.
The Riesser and Andrew Genser collaborated script strongly develops the four main characters in Ben, Annie, Paul and Jed. Ben is a complete fish out of water, seeking eagerly to fit into Annie’s southern habitat and be one with it’s rowdy and rugged natives, but can’t seem to grasp, what he considers, the oddball behavior of those living below the northern hemisphere. Annie is a girl with an elusive past, according to Ben, by not letting Ben into who she formerly was, a Bigfoot believing, let-loose party girl with a love for the ourdoors, until old habits start to emerge externally in her return back home. Knowing this about Annie and with a strong attraction to his former fling, Paul seeks to disintegrate Ben and Annie’s city-living relationship, cutting their opposite-attraction bind, and get her back at whatever means possible. Jed opposites life long friend Annie where he lives for the freedom of the sticks while never letting go the cockeyed belief that Bigfoot roams the local woods. John Bobeck as Ben, Jeramy Blackford as Paul, Tarah DeSpain as Annie, and Justin Giddings as Jed deserve a round of applause for believing, and showcasing those beliefs, in their characters because if there wasn’t such a heavy character development in the first two acts of “Stomping Ground,” there might not have been such a desire to give two-shits about any of the characters, placing them in the neutrality column.
Usually with any film about the big, hairy myth, the Bigfoot effects are either jerry-built or heavily CGI dependent that reveal more of a glossy feel aftertaste than a mangy, gritty animalistic and realistic one. Not many effects were used up until when the Bigfoot made an appearance so I wasn’t quite sure what to expect and, like I aforementioned, I’m always cautiously optimistic. When Bigfoot made the on screen debut in full visibility, the matted hair, begrimed skin, tall and broad stature, and an effects accomplished atrocious face was all combined to structure a well-crafted, finely-detailed animal that could pass for a real life Bigfoot sighting without a doubt. Though the scenes are brief and obscured at points, “Stomping Ground” has a Bigfoot contender that’ll top the makeshift giant gorilla suits some actors are placed into with very little touchups and the digitally implemented gargantuan that’s over exaggerate in appearance and abilities of the Bigfoot in those other films.
I wouldn’t be doing my job if I didn’t have a gripe or two about every film I review and there are a couple of issues that deserve expressing here, even if “Stomping Ground” is an independent favorite. Shot on location in North Carolina, the woods felt more like a national park than uncharted territory as a few trail markers were seen on trees and though not necessarily expressed that the woods were uncharted, wouldn’t that still leave the question why Bigfoot has been so elusive? Yes, a few background hints were dropped in the beginning about sightings, but nothing major really split the hairs to make North Carolina the Bigfoot sighting capital of the world. The circle seemed kind of small to just the group of three – Annie, Jed, and possibly Paul. Also, the film’s ending was a bit undercooked, leaving up the air the fate status of Ben and Annie and also of the Bigfoot too. The abrupt finale emerged right when the story was becoming more and more captivating and now I feel unquenched, I feel betrayed, and I feel unsatisfied with our character’s conclusions.
Anvil Entertainment and Irrational Films co-produced the project with independent distributor BrinkVision, who also distributed the praised “Evilution,” releasing the DVD and streaming Video On-Demand on March 8th. Don’t also miss the Theresa Tilly cameo, one of original ladies of Sam Raimi’s “The Evil Dead,” as she’s cast as Annie’s mother. Though we received only a streaming copy for review, “Stomping Ground” does include other extras such as audio commentary by writer-director Dan Riesser and Stars John Bobek and Tarah DeSpain, behind the scenes featurette, deleted scenes, and the film’s theatrical trailer. We can’t comment on the video or audio quality due in part to the streaming screener copy, but the our overall impression of the film’s quality is above par as no technical errors were discovered or noticeable. Its good to have Bigfoot looking good back on the screen again.