Transcend This Life With an EVIL Elixir! “At Night Come Wolves” reviewed! (Gravitas Ventures / Digital Screener)



Leah has tirelessly tried everything to please her misogynic and negative husband Daniel, even going as far as dressing up in a skimpy and sexy Wonder Woman outfit and serving him his cake in more ways than one.  Yet, nothing seems to be chipper his spirit as he barrages her with meanspirited down talk that disparages her in every possible way.  Fed up with it all and hightailing their home before she does something rash, Leah drives aimlessly to get away from him and winds up, out of gas, at a diner where she meets Mary May, an acolyte to cultist Davey Stone who believes an elixir made from a forgotten, thought extinct, plant will transcend their existence beyond the cruel world of the now.  What the elixir actually does is something far more horrifying.

Verbal abusers, cult leaders, murders.  The crazy doesn’t stop there in Thomas J. Marine’s debut feature film, “At Night Comes Wolves,” landing it’s anti-sexism and anti-misogynistic messages upon the world on digital platforms this month.  Marine comprises his three short 2015 through 2017 films – “Paris, My Love,” “The Call to Future,” and “Object in Reality” – together with central narrative to bring new life into each one of his projects and also create something new from half the work being already filmed years earlier. Marine, or TJ as credited, writes a genre abstract story out of the pieces he tries to puzzle together, wildly cutting and pasting his shorts together as he continuously self-funds that extends into the filler narrative of his 2021 film under his own copyright, leaving “At Night Come Wolves” as a piece of true work from an auteur.

Beyond the first scene of a bound woman to a chair, bleeding from her hungry eyes and mouth, “At Night Comes Wolves” opens with Leah, “On-Site’s” Gabi Alves in her sophomore feature film, coming under hellfire from her loathing husband Daniel (Jacob Allen Weldy). Alves comes off with the submissive, will-do-anything to be a pleasing wife starkly contrasted against Weldy’s take-it-all and give nothing sexist persona; however, their relationship strays into Daniel’s bizarre sexual fetishes and watching his sexually objectified wife become the plaything for another man, a black man to be specific. The scene is brief, but powerful, perhaps the most powerful 10 seconds in the entire film that could have been, or rather should have been, the very principal theme of “At Night Comes Wolves'” subjugating prejudice roots. Instead, Leah throws in the towel and deadheads to nowheresville, serendipitously running into cult acolyte Mary May (Sarah Serio) and cult leader Davey Stone (Vladimir Noel). Stone’s fancies himself as an alchemy enthusiast, mixing his vintage bottled potions of unmarked substances that produce a variety of outcomes, usually ones Stone doesn’t expect and that thinly becomes the plot point genesis of Marine’s shorts. The entire dynamic becomes a glass ceiling as the story kind of just ceases to make logical sense when Leah deliveres Stone and Mary May to Daniel in a reconnect from the past of bad blood crossing paths again and along for the ride is Daniel acolyte Susanne (Colleen Elizabeth Miller “Leaf Blower Massacre 2”) whose down to drink Daniel’s demented womanizing Kool-Aid. Joe Bongiovanni, Myles Forster, Madeleine Heil and Byron Reo are sprinkled into servitude of “At Night Comes Wolves'” contorted three prong story.

Marine might repurposed his shorts into a Frankenstein feature to resuscitate new life into his lifeless projects, but the concept of regurgitating material itself isn’t totally unheard of while also being not widely popular amongst the mainstream crowd and even well-backed, risk-taking B movies due to the innate choppiness consequence.  Whether the restructure comes in the form of a web episodes strung together as in Nicholas Tana’s “Hell’s Kitty” or from lengthy shorts of one continuous story as with Joe Lujan’s “Rust” being a prime example of his short films, “Rust” and “Rust 2,” having been meld together years later, the narrative planes always seem and feel fragmented and staggered to the point where convincing audiences of a seamless story becomes a blurred line of why even try as filming styles, crews, actors, and even equipment change over time and “At Night Comes Wolves” suffers from that very incoherency with an intended non-linear storyline inelegantly sewn together by backtracking segues. Marine has two, if not three, very different ideas floating around his feature with one being very poignant, another identifying ideological radicalism with sexism undertones, and the other being just for the hell of a horrific good time with the undead. Of course, you don’t ever see the finale coming because, let’s face it, there’s never an established clean and clear objective in the narrative that floats in time and space. Hell, I don’t even know if it’s supposed to be partly a comedy or not with the incorporated park ranger scenes with Joe Bongiovanni and Vladimir Noel that are offbeat funny. This is the hand Marine dealt himself and it wasn’t a pretty one, yet somehow his ambition made a semi-intelligible presentation of a cult group toppling another more depreciating cult group before transcending into the seedlings of the apocalypse. And all I can do by the end of the movie is ask myself, what the hell did I just watch?

Don’t let this review scare the preeminent pants off of you from checking out and judging for yourself TJ Marine’s 2015, 2017, or, maybe, 2021 released films within a film as “At Night Comes Wolves” hit digital platforms this month of April, including iTunes, Google Play, Fandago as well as available on cable and satellite VOD services. Clocking in at 77 minutes, the unrated “At Night Comes Wolves” is out now released by worldwide film distributor Gravitas Ventures.  Aside from that singular moment of marital dysphoria that leads into an uncomfortably potent fetish of sexual desires and some witty repartee between a pair of colorful characters, TJ Marine’s reworked story might actually weaken the mystifying intrigue of his shorts as he plucks holes and fills gaps with new footage in a forced teetering of trying to make a comprehensible notch in the movie market.

Rent or Own “At Night Comes Wolves” at Amazon.com!

Kiss Your Cousin and Watch Some Evil! “Hillbilly Horror Show Vol.1” review!

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Bo, Cephus, and their kissing cousin Lulu lounge on their small trailer park camper couch drinking ice cold beer and watching a bag-filled of horror shorts discs. A fear-filled anthology containing four of the best horrifying shorts from some of the most talented and unknown filmmakers displayed for our country-bunpkin viewing pleasure.

For the most part, horror anthologies are the bane of my existence. The appeal of numerous plot lines, not intertwined, swells and overflows the mind. Trying to process it all is like dumping all your Thanksgiving leftovers down the garbage disposal and witnessing it clogging up trying to choke down week old Turkey, bits of yellow kernel corns, and de-gelatized cranberry jelly patties.
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…but every once and awhile a worthy anthology gets it right, gets the gist of what makes the innards of good collection of horror shorts. I commend good compilation releases such as “Body Bags,” “Creepshow,” and “ABCs of Death.” Believe it or not or take my recommendation with a grain of salt, but “Hillbilly Horror Show Vol. 1” is on the same awesome level as those I’ve just listed in not so marketable fashion.
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1: “Franky and The Ant”

Franky and his partner are hitmen and their current mark is a sexy, barely clad young lady. With bag over her head, the two men drag her to the isolated field where an open grave was previous dug. When the target is revealed to the two men, Franky has more in store for his partner and his target than what meets the eye.
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“Franky and The Ant” is a quick-wit and smart short about lover revenge in a chilly cold-hearted and thrilling way. This short will make you think twice about the people who are close to you in more ways than one. Directed by first timer Billy Hayes, the festival winning short is a crime thriller with just the right amount of duration and enough story to make it compelling.
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2: “Doppleganger”

In this stop motion short, a skeleton awakes alone in a cave and ventures out on a journey into the world. Walking across great lands and discovery the desolation of the world, the skeleton stumbles upon another skeleton. They’re both seemingly the same with only the lower jaw missing from the second skeleton. When the journeying skeleton extends a hand in friendship, friendship is not what the doppelganger is seeking.
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Director Theo Stefanski creates a gothic and surreal looking info life after death and then death again. The message of nothing changes after death is a bit depressing in a comical depiction. The animation wonderfully constructed with love of classical inspirations. The short is short but the takeaway is everlasting.
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3: “Amused”

Martha returns home to her snow covered house to find an insane individual munching on her daughter’s scalp. The crazed man then wears the detached scalp on his head and chases Martha through the cold countryside. With every hope of help, more terror lurks around every corner and its up to Martha to resolve her own salvation against the sinister amusement that has overcome the murders.
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Cuyle Carvin is a vet in the film industry and with “Amused” being his first attempt at direction just proves that his experience is a test of time spent on the independent and Hollywood scene. “Amused” is well shot even if the film stock quality isn’t up to snuff; this might have been purposefully done give the tone and feel of the short a more retro sensation. The short has no dialogue and translate so well to the viewer that no chatter is necessary and I would go as far as unwanted. I would love to see more from Cuyle Carvin in the future in the horror genre and see a longer version of “Amused.”
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4: “The Nest”

A small town diner has an award-winning, business-thriving honey from a deadly hive of over-sized, flesh eating swarm of bees that are kept secret. When a horse rancher and a government land inspector investigate the remains of a flesh-ridden horse, the diner owner and her dim-witted mute son strive to keep their hive a secret.
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Saving the best short for last, Tim Zwica’s masterful short contains flawless acting and a story that fun as it is thrilling. Flesh eating bees. Who know that would be fun? The dark tone of the film’s cinematography surely heightens the appeal of the film and the special effects creates an allure that can’t be ignored. The Nest is produced by the ever-so-lovely Jennifer Scott who also plays a goth-hooligan girl who gets ravaged by the bees. “The Nest” might be a Syfy mega hit if it was made into a full length feature much in the same vain of “Sharknado” but I would predict that “The Nest” would have three times more success.
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I’m hooked on “Hillybilly Horror Show” and I wouldn’t mind seeing more of Glamour model Rachel Faulker and her skimpy outfits. Horror shorts with girth, grit, and guts unlike any anthology I’ve seen in a very, very long time. The “Hillbilly Horror Show” is today’s Joe Bob Briggs with more redneck fun. MVDVisual brings volume one home and I would recommend this DVD, though the cover lacks much artistic enthusiasm, with award winning shorts as these filmmakers need more exposure and new talent is brooding behind the scenes of Hollywood.