EVIL is Undead…And Rides a Shark! “Sky Sharks” reviewed (Umbrella Entertainment / DVD)

Former Nazi scientist Dr. Klaus Richter’s past has finally caught up with him after 70 years when a clandestine German laboratory, disguised as an aircraft-battleship hybrid, thaws from behind a globally warmed sheet of frozen ice and rock, releasing Dr. Richter’s regenerated legion of undead Nazi super-soldiers piloting genetically engineered flying battle sharks complete with guided missiles alongside their razor sharp jaws.  Loyal to the Third Reich, the sky sharks continue their master race patronage with a blitzkrieg in the skies, attacking commercial aircraft, boarding the cabins, and slaughtering every last person on board before crashing.   Now contractually working for the U.S. Government as the biggest name in technological advancement, Dr. Klaus, with the help of his two daughters, has a plan to nullify the sky sharks’ defenses to make them vulnerable to his latest newest experiment in warfare, Dead Flesh, under the guidance of his fellow covert government agency heads.

Apex predators of the waters are now apex predators of the skies in Marc Fehse’s ridiculous, frenzied, and utterly mad ultra-violent Nazi-exploitation, “Sky Sharks.” Soaring through the heavens soaking fluffy white clouds with blood, the Carsten Fehse and A.D. Morel co-written film took off virally in 2020 with the promise to the internet, especially horror fans, of zombified SS soldiers mounted standing on humungous Great White, Hammerhead, and Megalodon jet-propelled sharks. Fehse’s team delivered. “Sky Sharks” has not one single serious bone in all it’s cartilaginous gory-glory body in what’s Fehse’s second film behind the 1999, straight to video, “Mutation” involving the what-if factor of a surrealistically free reigning and sadistically unbridled Nazi force hellbent on winning World War II no matter how many lives needing to be sacrificed for the sake of the Führer’s dominion. The Germany-made production is a Fuse Box Films and Fantom Films.

“Sky Sharks” is studded with cult stars, but those studs pop out mostly after the carnage-laden opening scene of passengers on a commercial flight being ripped to shreds by undead super-soldiers hog-wild about killing. Robert LaSardo (“Strangeland”), Lynn Lowery (“Model Hunger”), Tony Todd (“Candyman”), Diana Prince (“The Last Drive-In with Joe Bob Briggs”), Mick Garris (director of “Critters 2”), Dave Sheridan (“Scary Movie”), Amanda Bearse (“Fright Night” ’85), Asami (“Gun Woman), Naomi Grossman (“American Horror Story” franchise), Lar Park-Lincoln (“Friday the 13th Part VII:  The New Blood”) and “Mortal Kombat’s Shang Tsung himself, Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa, make an appearance in some minor way, shape, or form, but since “Sky Sharks” is a German production, much of the cast is geared toward German and Austrian actors with Thomas Morris spearheading the lead role of the inverted mad scientist, Dr. Klaus Richter, a centenarian mastermind behind the birth and, hopeful, destruction of his monstrous airborne jaws of death experiment.  The role itself isn’t very exciting that refrains Morris to be nothing more but a talking head who recounts his failed World War II and Vietnam resurrection serum to turn the tides of war.  While Dr. Richter has immense blood on his hands from a long and rich background, the present day Richter has lackluster appeal and Morris doesn’t provide much zest either.  More complexities reside in Richter’s two tech-savvy and kickass daughters, Diabla and Angelique.  Their signifying names alone provide some foreshadowing of events, but the close sisters are boots on the ground with their father being the eye in the sky; yet, Diabla and Angelique have been kept in the dark from their father’s horrid past that factors little into parting ways from being daughter’s little girls.  Blonde beauties Eva Haberman and Barbara Nedeljakova successful roles in Germany and the U.S. include “Hostel” and the sci-fi tele-series “Lexx,” but their blind obedience to the patriarch roles downscales any moments to shine individually as free thinking agents of good.  Any other character factored into “Sky Sharks’” whiplash narrative come and go without a single ounce meaningful impact becoming background noise for the fray. There’s not even a singular villain to speak of as a focal point to direct a challenger against forces of good.

As much as the concept excites me on an obscurely dysfunctional level, a real telling tale of who I am as a person, who also praises “Snakes on a Plane” as cult candy, “Sky Sharks” has atrocious issues with pacing and story quality.  The opening scene sets up what to expect of gore drenched Nazis yoking back on genetically mutated sharks, zipping through high altitude to acrobatically infiltrate commercial planes for complete and total annihilation of every passenger onboard.  Tickles me in all the right places.  Yet, the sky sharks’ unveiling background whizzes past right into death from above world apocalypse, skipping keynote details resolving the giant warship beached on the Antarctic ice.  Fehse decides to redirect our focus with a bunch of explicit violence and sex and while that’s all nice and good…really good…the misdirection can’t coverup the necessities needed for a good story even if the story is absolutely bonkers. The visual effects are not distinct from the ream of shark-sploitation films that have become popular over the last decade in a cheaper slaved effort to capitalize on the majestic beasts of the sea…who sometimes mistake a surfer for a sea lion. The flying sharks swim in a stiffly pattern and move inorganically through their uncharacteristic ecosystem as they rocket in a school of steampunk nightmares. Not all visuals fall short of satisfaction when they’re appropriately blended with practical effects. Under that hood of tangible horrors is “Iron Sky: The Coming Race’s” Martin Schäper and, the legendary, Tom Savini, who we haven’t seen special effects work from since 2012’s “Death from Above” (an also fitting title for killer sharks in the sky). Schäper and Savini bring it with blood. Each plane sequence, there’s two of them, exhibit different deaths with each one more outrageous than the next. My favorite is the inverted periscope through a guy’s cranium and having a looksie at the screaming, bloodied passengers. “Sky Sharks” is, literally, an over-the-top scream of slice’em and dice’em fun.

Cresting through the blue yonder and painting the sky blood red is the deadliest gang of shark riding Nazi’s to ever grace a cinema platform in “Sky Sharks,” coming to DVD in Australia, no stranger to large, deadly sharks, courtesy of Umbrella Entertainment in association with Raven Banner. The NTSC encoded, region 4, rated R release will present the film in a widescreen 2.35:1 aspect ratio. “Sky Sharks” is a turbulent wonderland of rustic computer generated visual effects with a Marco J. Riedl and Olaf Markmann cinematography, typifying a clashing style, of keeping actors tightly in focus to sell a futuristic fluorescent environment. A few scenes give a sense of layered paper mâché sitting in front a green screen as the forefront images seemingly pop out of their backdrops. The English and German Dolby Digital 5.1 surround mix falls victim to an overpowering score of a weak dialogue track that washes key pieces of exposition that might explain more as the scenes fleet away in the rushed paced 103 minute runtime. Aside from a brilliantly detailed DVD cover robust with a glowing eyed, half-decaying Nazi soldier as centerpiece amongst flying, weaponized sharks and Robert LaSardo and Lynn Lowry cameoing off to the left side with a half-naked female warrior on the right, the DVD has no bonus features included. After the credits, a fake commercial for “Sky Frogs,” starring that half-naked female warrior I just mentioned, is a satirical happy ending full of even worse, 80’s caliber, visual effects worlds and frogs. Though not at the top of the food chain being one of the grossly ostentatious and shoddily visual effects films ever, the mindless, search and destroy, crudeness of “Sky Sharks” chums our oceans of entertainment with some of the bloodiest fun we’ve seen in a long time from a Nazisploitation.

Own Umbrella Entertainment release of “Sky Sharks” on DVD! Click the poster!

Pass or Fail Weekend is Evil’s Playground. “Camp Twilight” reviewed! (DarkCoast / Digital Screener)

On the verge of failing and having to repeat a grade, six students are given the opportunity to spend one technology free weekend at Camp Twilight with their homeroom teacher, Ms. Bloom, and principal, Mr. Warner, as chaperones.    Planned with a series of outdoorsy, bonding activities, the weekend will serve to boost their grades to the cutoff line for graduating and, for some, maintaining their spot on the high school sports teams.  A local urban myth has haunted the camp’s reputation based off a grisly scene of murders a few years back, but the revamped park now serves as a community safe zone overseen by three dedicated, and also quirky, park rangers:  Art, Bob, and Chief Tom.  On a weekend where none of the students wanted to attend, forced by the threat of academic failure, an ominous figure revives the camp’s notorious past as one-by-one campers, teachers, and park rangers fall victim to a hooded killer’s impulse for blood.

Summer camps and masked serial killers are as synonymous as the vast ocean is with the dreadful thought of man-eating sharks.  “Friday the 13th, “Camp Blood,” and “Sleepaway Camp” have made a fortune and a franchise off the backs of the hapless summer campers, hacking and slashing away at the pre-martial sex crazed, the love struck wimps, and the overconfident jocks to build a flawless, ultimate killing machine series.  Will director Brandon Amelotte’s debut slasher, a horror-comedy entitled “Camp Twilight,” claim stake in the genre being the next persevering serial killer franchise?  For starters, the USA-made, indie feature releasing later this month has a leg up with “Sleepaway Camp” scream queen Felissa Rose headlining a cast that also includes a few other genre favorites as well as co-written the script with Amelotte.  Shot on the grounds of the palm tree lined Markham Park, “Camp Twilight” trades in mountain bike trails, disc golf, and it’s outdoor weapons range for machetes, lots of machetes, and is a product of Rick Finkelstein and Brandon Amelotte’s Florida based Entertainment Factory productions and, also Amelotte’s, Pelican Films.

As mentioned, genre icon Felissa Rose ditches the awkward teenage camper from the finale traumatizing “Sleepaway Camp” for a hyped-up, goody two shoes high school teacher in Ms. Bloom.  The top billed Rose brings the energetic know-how of her fully present, larger than life, broad range persona who audiences will never know exactly where her character stands until it’s lethally too late!  Rose is joined by more fresh faced, incredibly automaton co-stars in the roles of the six students and principal, played by the executive producer Barry Jay Minoff.  Minoff and Rose are supposed to be a couple concealing an affair, hiding their lustful courtship very poorly around the students, but both roles are completely under written, unexplored, and unfulfilling in the grand scheme of their pivotal plot point.  Little can be said differently about the students with a range of interrelationship intricacies that tried to be fleshed out as psychological terror triggers in lieu of their already conventional teenage sensitivity struggles.  There are other cult genre vets alongside Rose but in minor, more cameo-esque roles.  Linnea Quigley (“Return of the Living Dead”), Camille Keaton (“I Spit On Your Grave”), and Vernon Wells (“Innerspace”) add more or less star power to the fold, supplementing virtually nothing to the narrative but campy slasher fodder for fans to gobble up.  More impressively is Dave Sheridan bringing forth a version of “Scary Movie’s” loveable dimwitted cop, Doofus, with Ranger Bob, adding a great deal of the substantiated comedy toward “Camp Twilight’s” campy ebb and flow.  Cougar MacDowall, Thomas Haley, Hayleigh Hopkins, Harris Sebastian, Dondre Tuck, Brooklyn Haley, and Steven Chase, with “Truth or Dare’s” Jessica Cameron and Sport’s Illustrated model-turned-film producer, Tracy Lear, filling out the troupe lineup.

I wish I could say that “Camp Twilight” is a campsite of entertainment, a paradisal slasher of genius design, offering up a new breed of deranged psychopathy to the likes we’ve never seen.  Unfortunately, I couldn’t make heads or tails out of Brandon Amelotte’s derivative and tired trope-laden slasher rippled with loose and forgotten subplots and characters while at the same time being a heap of longwinded exposition that still way after viewing can’t fully explain the turbulent core of the story.  I hate to knock anything Felissa Rose touches, but I would be doing an injustice and a disservice if I tried to play up a slack script that starts off picturizing a campy horror-comedy but plays out the third act with critical revelations without a hint of funny bone material. The kills follow the trend of a lighthearted horror comedy, albeit the pelting of F-bombs, with “Camp Twilight’s” holdall of off screen deaths, barely scratching the surface with on screen kills rendered only by closeups, and not particularly bloody, intense, or nearly as menacing by a black hooded killer in jeans creeping up on prey in a well-lit campground with lots of room to run. The same company, Entertainment Factory, behind the horror icon drenched disappointment, “Death House,” should have been a clue into “Camp Twilight” critical success, but much like the “Death House,” both films are a totality of mess.

Not a fan of the outdoors? Hate bugs, snakes, and all things that go bump in the night? Does your fear of an unclear, inaccessible toilet seize you up? DarkCoast has you covered with their digital release of “Camp Twilight,” arriving onto digital platforms come November 1st, 2020 – Day of the Dead. The release platforms will include InDemand, DirecTV, FlixFling, Vudu & Fandango. The A/V qualities will not be reviewed due to the digital screener provided for this new film release, but I will say much of the soundtrack sounds stock file-ish (and there is no composer listed which would be a dead giveaway) and the Adam Beck cinematography is too well-lit, benumbing any kind of intense emotions that would correlate with the action. There were no bonus features included with the release nor were there any bonus scenes during or after the credits. “Camp Twilight” plays into it’s own title as a dim denticulated slasher that’s far too breathy and far less spirited and so the question stands, will “Camp Twilight” be the next slasher hit to spawn a lengthy, decade spanning franchise? The answer is no.

From the Garden of Evil Come the “Attack of the Killer Tomatoes” review!


The United States comes under a relentless siege from a formidable foe unlike any other. An enemy that’s risen from the ground up to overthrow the very soil Americans’ inhabit. Flashing proudly their red colors, this adversary will fight and destroy anyone in their path. The attack of the killer tomatoes will seek to end mankind and take over the world! As desperation sets in, top U.S. generals, under the aloof guidance of the President of the United States, assemble a motley crew of special ops that become America’s best hope against a vicious barrage from the killer fruit….or are they vegetables? Under the leadership of Mason Dixon, his team will infiltrate, investigate, and, if lucky, exterminate the rotten to the core tomatoes. From the glossy red cherries to the plump big boys, the round ripe killers are hungry from human pulp and only Dixon and his team can stop them!

Courtesy of the MVD’s Rewind Collection, a newly released line of retro cult cinema, comes the impeccably unsystematic comedic spoof “Attack of the Killer Tomatoes!” for the first time on high definition Blu-ray! Writer-director John DeBello, along with his co-writers and fellow many hat wearing cohorts Costa Dillon and J. Stephen Peace, takes satire to the composter, lets it fester for a month, and releases a heaping pile of slapstick gold to the masses. The zany indie production, backed by various family members and local mom and pop retail operations, has been a horror comedy staple for past 40 years with not-so-cutting edge timeless humor that pokes a satirical finger at other more serious ventures such as Alfred Hitchcock’s “The Birds” with the film opening with a message about viewers brushing-off jovially the Hitchcock subtle creature until the event actually happened with aggressive, unflinching fowls terrorizing a small town and in that context, a film about killer tomatoes was born. DeBello’s film aimed to poke fun at many other things as well and successfully pulled the wool over the eyes of critics who remarked how awful his film was to behold, but that was the director’s sought-to, goal line intention.

Out of a cast of untrained talents and actors and actresses who never saw the bright lights and prepped sets ever again, only one actor stands out as a recognizable face and household name and that face and name was of Jack Riley as a Government slug. I might be a sucker for classic re-runs, but I remember Riley from his stint on “The Bob Newhart Show” and his very presence in “Attack of the Killer Tomatoes” legitimizes not on the film’s creditability but set the humor tone that was to be expected and despite almost being killed during filming as the rented helicopter accidentally crashes with him in it, the comedian rose from the ashes like a reborn phoenix and suggested to use crash footage to seemingly boost the pint-sized production value. However, it’s David Miller, who has zero interactions with Riley, in the lead role as a Mason Dixon. Though with an uncanny resemblance to the late funny man John Belushi with the wavy dark hair upon his short round figure, Miller goes fairly dark, as in quiet, for his leadership role as perhaps the only sane, and logical, character in the entire sequence of misfits. Dixon’s right hand Lt. Wilbur Finletter is played by co-writer, co-producer J. Stephen Pearce who courageously commits himself to doing all his own stunt work in a film that proudly wishes to just have a good time. Pearce’s approach to the lieutenant is with a sullied gung-ho persona that’s effective, but barely in the eyes of Mason Dixon. Dixon’s love interest Lois Fairchild, the only credited role of actress Sharon Taylor, inarguably is involved in an awkward game of being coy with Finletter as Fairchild, being a rookie reporter, aims to get the story at any cost while Finletter’s dimwit has him skate around her advances and oblivious to her information seeking intentions. Rounding out the cast is George Wilson, Eric Christmas (“Porky’s), Ernie Meyers, and Ron Shapiro.

Before “Scary Movie,” before “Naked Gun”, and even before “Airplane!,” “Attack of the Killer Tomatoes” had tailored, if not probably pioneered, this particular gag humor and in today’s day-and-age of political correctness, films like John DeBello’s are much like the Dodo bird – extinct. In the mix of light hearted witticisms, a number of racial, sexist, and overall bad taste cracks lie sporadically about the 87 minute runtime that wouldn’t make past the MPAA standards of today, that would invoke public ridicule and outcry for the filmmakers’s heads, and would unjustly place on a blacklist mark all involved, but just like a many number of these cinematic relics, they’re grandfathered into the fold. Though I doubt many millennials have even heard of the killer tomato franchise which would be baffling since health conscious wackos would enjoy seeing genetically modified tomatoes run a rampage, proving their points.

“Attack of the Killer Tomatoes” arrives on a special collectors edition Blu-ray/DVD combo set from MVD’s Rewind Collection. For the 1978 film, this release, presented in an AVC encoded 1080p 4k digital transfer of a 1.85:1 aspect ratio, is by far the best yet with a rich coloring range that pop and bring new life to the cult favorite. Hair line blemishes and some blotchy moments rear ugliness every so often, but the outcome of this release is astonishing when compared to previous DVD versions. The mono uncompressed PCM track reinforces a well rounded release when technically speaking. The dialogue is crystal clear and the musical numbers go off without a hitch. Perhaps, not as resonating as one would hope, but in the end, the mono track really sounds good here. Bonus features aplenty with audio commentaries from director John DeBello, J. Stephen Pearce, and Costa Dillon, three delete scenes, a collection of old interviews from cast and crew entitled Legacy of a Legend, a discussion on the helicopter crash, and “Attack of the Killer Tomatoes” original 8mm short film plus much, much more. Roughly about two hours of bonus content on this release makes it certainly a definitive collection. It took only 40 years for “Attack of the Killer Tomaotoes” to receive the treatment the John DeBello directed creature feature rightfully deserves and though might stink like rotten organic matter, there’s certainly nothing like the splat-fest riot of rolling, death-dealing fruit fleshed with trail blazing comedy unlikely to be repeated in today’s uptight community.

Own this version of “Attack of the Killer Tomatoes!”

A Pair of Duo Dunces Take on Horror Homages. “Caesar and Otto’s Paranormal Halloween” review!

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The homeless twosome Caesar and his half brother Otto haphazardly take down a notorious serial killer and are awarded a fall-to-winter housesitting gig at a powerful California politician’s summer home where multiple families have been brutally murdered. Their good fortune seems ill-fated as the two encounter strange house employees, random levitating objects, and an endless supply of dead bodies. Tagging along with the brothers is their drunk and inattentive father Fred who spearheads his own agenda in a house full of secrets. When Fred ends up trapped on the other side of the spirit world, Caesar and Otto’s antics strive far and wide within their bag of tasteless tricks to not only save their hapless father, but also save their very lives and, perhaps, the entire state of California. In the middle of all the chaos, Otto is informed that his once thought dead mother is truly alive and discovers he was born with a hidden talent that’s soon to be pertinent to his current and dire situation.
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My second “Caesar and Otto” experience compares to nearly the same tomfoolery as their “X-Mas” inspired horror spoof, except that “Paranormal Halloween” is vastly more superior when considering the comedy quality. Caesar himself Dave Campfield once again stars and directors the spoof that pays tribute to many classic and modern horror films such as “The Amityville Horror,” “Paranormal Activity,” “Halloween”, and “The Conjuring.” Campfield joins forces once again with his longtime sidekick Paul Chomicki as Otto to produce and star in the Campfield’s and Chomicki’s four feature film of nitwit wonders Caesar and Otto who resemble a one more tool in the toolbox version of Harry and Lloyd from “Dumb and Dumber.”
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Campfield pens more dialogue for Caesar who hilariously continues to generate a well-defined lisp while spit firing one-liners, comebacks, and insults at Otto and anyone and everyone standing in the vicinity. Chomicki’s Otto is the big lovable oaf whose on-going hunt for love in all the wrong places, but manages to catch a break in nearly biting the bullet by sheer dumb luck and stupidity. Campfield and Chomicki’s whole schtick isn’t groundbreaking as we’ve seen this kind of film before in “Scary Movie” and even outside the realm of horror with “Airplane!” Unlike “Scary Movie,” Campfield and his team dedicated horror icons maintain a sense of dignity and respect that honor horror more than just dumbing it down. My first experience with the “Deadly X-Mas” Caesar and Otto wasn’t a very pleasant one as I couldn’t grasp the scene-by-scene speedy pace, the cut rate budget, and the inexplicable reference, after reference, after reference structure and I was a bit hesitant in enduring another episode of their continuing legacy. Now that I’ve matured as a viewer a little bit more from two years ago, I can honestly state that “Paranormal Halloween” is calculated corniness and precisely patronizes faithfully the horror outlets.
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Like the predecessors before, “Paranormal Halloween” contains the usual cast of entourage actors that coincide with Dave Campfield, Paul Chomicki, and Scott Aguilar as the fatherly Fred. Deron Miller again ends up shaggy and disoriented, Ken MacFarlane once again plays a guy with a J name, Avi K. Garg is calm and cool until he loses an arm, Ray Plumb quickly makes an appearance, Keith Bush sports a rad stash, Samantha Barrios makes another cut, and “Sleepaway Camp” legend Felissa Rose conjures up some on-screen time and this marks the second time I’ve seen her in a film that I’ve reviewed twice in a month. The credits also add other “Felissa Rose” type stardom actors from the similar molds such as “The People Under The Stairs’s” Sean Whalen, “Commando’s” Vernon Wells, b-horror vixens Tiffany Shepis, Debbie Rochon, and Brinke Stevens, and along with “Return of the Living Dead’s” Beverly Randolph. An excellent lineup for a horror spoof of this size. Tack on a few cute faced actresses and a nude scene from Model Mayhem model Jin N Tonic and you have a decent, well-rounded cast to support this Wild Eye Releasing film.
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The Wild Eye Releasing backed production “Caesar and Otto’s Paranormal Halloween” won’t be the last of it’s kind (a hint from the film suggests that Caesar and Otto’s Spring Break of the Dead will be the next title) from funny guys Dave Campfield and Paul Chomicki. A second chance or a second look never hurt anybody and taking a plunge after a seemingly disastrous first round with “Deadly X-mas” will now be deemed as only a fluke. With giggly-garbage writing, a cast of willing horror legends, and cruise ship filled of homages (or horror ripoffs such as the same John Carpenter “Halloween” font used on “Halloween” in the title), “Paranormal Halloween” smarts oh so good and doesn’t apologize for any or all of it’s budgeted quality.
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[trailer=https://youtu.be/CsUvnUiIvls]