EVIL Doesn’t Joke Around. “Let’s Scare Julie” reviewed! (Shout Studios! / Digital Screener)


After the sudden passing of her father, Emma stays with her cousin, Taylor, along with her aunt and drunkard uncle. Taylor pressures Emma to be part of her prank habitual group of friends, trying to convince Emma how this is how things will be from now on while also trying to be a compassionate shoulder to her reserved cousin. With Taylor’s uncle passed on the sofa downstairs and her mother flying in from out of town, an impromptu sleepover encourages the group of girls to connive a break-and-entering prank to scare a new neighbor, a teenage girl named Julie, across the street. Emma half-heartedly participates by producing a way into the house, allowing her cousin and her heedless new friends onward on their scaring scheme, but when only two of the four girls return, the prank has turned terribly wrong as an urban legend about the house across the street might actually be true.

Breaking out from helming television documentaries and into the genre feature realm is filmmaker Jud Cremata debuting with his written and directed bloodcurdling slumber party, “Let’s Scare Julie,” premiering on in home theaters on digital and VOD come October 2nd, 2020. Starting off Halloween with an innovative filming structure and a good ole fashion horror tale, Cremata never eases on the reins of terror from nearly a single, continuous take of his mischievous teenage girls meet malevolent ghost story that occurs over a single night, condensed further to a time frame that’s almost parallel to the film’s runtime. Formerly known as “Let’s Scare Julie to Death,” the Santa Clara filmed, real time hijinks gone awry spook show is the first horror production from the Los Angeles and Moscow based Blitz Films in association with “Becky’s” Buffalo 8 Productions. Jud Cremata and Marc Wolloff produce the feature alongside Blitz Films’ Eryl Cochran and Nick Sarkisov.

Comprised with a small cast of new talent, “Let’s Scare Julie” focuses around a group of five teenage girls and one elementary grade school girl concentrated more so around a life rebounding Emma played by Troy Leigh-Anne Johnson, making her introduction into feature length films. What makes this a phenomenal role and performance for Johnson is the fact that the young actress has to maintain in-character for the entire length of the film with the camera rarely parting away from her in every moment of the nearly continuous take and she has to adjust her dynamics with a variety volume of characters ranging in temperament from meek, to obnoxious, to terrifying, to drunk, and to the perpetuance of adolescence behavior from her protective, yet peer pressuring cousin Taylor (Isabel May), the obnoxious goof Madison (“Ladyworld’s” Odessa A’zion), the unassertive duddy Paige (Jessica Sarah Flaum), and the confident showoff Jess (“Unearth’s” Brooke Sorenson). Individually, the characters are well developed, hinting more towards unravelling their true selves with each progressive moment their on screen, but not overly enough to have each figured out and that leaves their hopeful futures in ruin, offering more substance to their potential demise. Rounding out “Let’s Scare Julie” cast is Dakota Baccelli, Blake Robbins (“Rubber,” “Martyrs”), and Valorie Hubbard (“Resident Evil: Extinction”) as the evil spirit, Ms. Durer.

Uncomplicated with less fancy footwork adorned, “Let’s Scare Julie” is all about the story and less about the effects hoopla usually associated with vindictive phantasma creepers, especially ones like Ms. Durer who like to seep into her victim’s personal bubble using voodoo black magic dolls while wearing nothing more than her dirty nightgown and scathing glare on her face. The simplicity of the movie is almost refreshing in the inherent campiness of the anecdotal urban legend spieled by the girl living next to the house of ill repute, but one thing about the story that irks me is the marketing of “Let’s Scare Julie” being shot in one continuous take; yet, there are a few edits that not necessarily cut to a different scene, but rather just jump seconds of a frame and continue the moment. Whether the edit’s intent was because of timing, reducing frames in a scene to meet a certain runtime, or to give the actors a slight break, the expectation wasn’t fully met when the handful of edits are slipped in condemning that anticipated single take to just a still impressive compilation of long takes. Chuck Ozea’s maneuvering cinematography seamlessly tells the tale without so much of a hiccup as the veteran music video DP choreographs somewhat of a dance around Troy Leigh-Anne Johnson to capture her slow simmer into terror. “Let’s Scare Julie” does more with less as a round about ghost story, building up suspense above the guise of guilt-riddled themes without placing the perspective in the middle of the supernatural action.

Sometimes, pranks backfire and, in this case, this prank is to die for in the Shout Studios distributed “Let’s Scare Julie,” scaring up into home theaters on Digital and On Demand at the beginning of Halloween season on October 2, 2020. Being a brand new film, there were no psychical media specs to report nor would there would be any A/V if specs were available since this review copy is a digital screener of the film. As a digitally recorded production in this day and age, expect the found footage-like video and sound as faultless as expected, but the quality will be determined by your internet connection and streaming platforms. There were no bonus material with the screener nor were there any additional scenes during or after the credits. Five teens’ prank spree ends on a dark and stormy night of terror where urban legend trounces cruelty over shenanigans in the crafty and solid shiver-inducing “Let’s Scare Julie.”

Pre-order “Let’s Scare Julie” on Prime Video.

Neglect. Rape. Christmas Birth. A Perfect Storm for EVIL to be Born! “The Curse of the Werewolf” reviewed! (Scream Factory / Collector’s Edition Blu-ray)


Set amongst the simple, yet sometimes divisively barbaric, culture of Eighteenth Century Spain, a beggar stumbles into the castle of a cruel king whose throwing a lavish wedding reception with his lords. The King’s young bride takes pity on the beggar as his force to be the occasion’s jester to obtain scraps of food and wine, but when the King retires with his new wife, he orders the beggar to be imprisoned. Forgotten to the point of insanity with his only visitor a lovely mute jailkeeper’s maid, the haggard and disheveled beggar goes mad with ravenous intentions and when the maid is punished for disobeying the now elderly, but still cruel, King, she is locked away with the beggar who rapes her. When the maid is released next morning, she kills the King and escapes into the woods to live like an animal until she’s barely found alive by a nobleman named Don Alfredo. Nursed back to health by Don Alfredo’s servant, Teresa, and discovering that the maid is pregnant, Don Alfredo and Teresa tend to the maid until the eventual birth on Christmas Day, an unholy time to give birth to a child according to superstition. The maid dies shortly after giving birth and the child, named Leon, is then raised by Don Alfredo and Teresa as their own, but carries with him a terrible curse stemmed from the maltreatment of his parents and being born on Christmas Day that transforms him into a bloodthirsty werewolf when the moon is full. When a priest advised that only love will restrain the beast from emerging, young Leon must be continuously shown affection, but when a young man, Leon leaves home to live his life, but the beast within him returns to ravage the village’s population.

Let’s travel back in time to the groovy year of 1961 when the renowned Hammer Horror direct, Terence Fisher (“Horror of Dracula”), was accelerating to the height of his career into what would be the United Kingdom’s very own colossally cult production studio, Hammer Horror, that economically constructed violent storied horror concepts splayed with a brilliant crimson blood inside an orgasmic gothic melodrama circulating around most of the classic monsters like Dracula, The Mummy, and Frankenstein, but, in this review of a new collector’s edition of Scream Factory’s Blu-ray release, Fisher wrestled with the hound from Hell, the werewolf, in “The Curse of the Werewolf” that was penned by Anthony Hinds, under the pseudonym of John Elder, as his sophomore credit behind “The Brides of Dracula.” English studio locations were transformed, not under the light of a full moon, to fabricate a mock village of Eighteenth Century Spain with the immaculate details to the sets and costumes, surely recycled from previous Hammer films, to offset the inherent English accents on a broken Spanglish vernacular. Fisher and Hinds upend common werewolf narratives, spinning a wildly tangent rendition of Guy Endore’s already highly taboo tricked out horror novel, “The Werewolf of Paris,” and drape it heavily with Gothicism.

Playing the shapeshifter werewolf is Oliver Reed who at the time was relatively unknown, playing a few bit parts such Plaid Shirt (“Wild for Kicks”) or my personal favorite, Man With Bucket on Head (“No Love for Johnnie.”) Yet, Reed exuded animalistic qualities, such as his dark features and somber eyes, that made him ideal for the role by appearances alone. The thespian in him didn’t quite fit what I believe Fisher was trying to flush out for his beast as Reed held back with a stoic reserve rather than a man desperate for salvation or death, but no one could deny that Reed wore the werewolf makeup like no other, a fine tuned testament of makeup artist Roy Ashton’s creativity that intensified an already beastly framed actor. “The Kiss of the Vampire’s” Clifford Evans took the role of being the wealthy socialite and surrogate father, Don Alfredo, who took the responsibility of raising a cursed child as his own with much suppression love as he could muster to stave the beast from returning. The legendary actor who starred in countless crime-dramas step outside his niche and into horror, even if at the time horror was considered a schlocky exercise of distaste content for a cheap thrill. As Don Alfredo, Evans wages his worth solely on the prospect of being a gentled hearted father-figure doing the right thing even if it’s detrimental to himself and the veteran actor triumphs taking an aloof man with little responsibility to his village, let alone his home, and turning him into taking the matter of his adopted son’s affliction into his own hands when he fails to cobble another solution together. “The Curse of the Werewolf” holds many other fine support performances from “Circus of Horror’s” Yvonne Romain as the mute jailkeeper’s maid, Catherine Feller, Richard Wordsworth, Warren Mitchell, Anne Blake, and John Gabriel.

“The Curse of the Werewolf” is driven not by the snarling teeth action or the transformative body horror one expects of Lycanthropy features. Instead, Hammer’s film rides a story high without being arbitrary with nonsensical waning on the centerpiece of the story, the curse, coursing the path that led to Leon’s fate that was no fault of his own. Leon’s throat-ripping moonlight rendezvous was bred from cruelty and circumstance of severe class division that reaps the life from those in the same blue collar social class as Leon, leaving the higher, wealthy class virtually unscathed by the curse’s wrath in a cruel ironic twist of events. With the story leading the charge, special effects and makeup take a backseat without only some immature fangs and shadowy lurking to sate the need for creature presence. When Roy Ashton’s vision of the half-man half-beast does make a full presentation of Oliver Reed in the full hairy beast getup, complete with a furrowed brow, elongated lower canines, and large wolf ears that were connected with bristly, greyish brown hair down the side of his lower jaw, the werewolf is worth the wait for some of the best practical werewolf makeup from the mid-20th century and surely was the inspiration for future werewolf films, such as “Wolf” with Jack Nicholson. The novelty of “The Curse of the Werewolf” still remains ripe despite being nearly half a century young, giving the beast a meaningful, if not also pitiful, existence to empathize being damned on two fronts: a wretched, cursed soul and being the target of a village mob.

Can love soothe a killer heart? Find out in Scream Factory’s collector edition Blu-ray of “The Curse of the Werewolf” with a new 4K scan from the original 35mm negative and presented in a 1080p high-definition widescreen format of a 1.85:1 aspect ratio. Rendering with clean textures and superb details, the image has remarkable vibrancy and hue balance in it’s tinctured technicolor. The transfer is virtually blemish-free, suggesting that the original negative aged well, with agreeable natural grain to complement the film stock. Scream Factory has produced the best looking version of this classic Hammer release. The English language DTS-HD single channel Master Audio renders, again, scot-free of aged distortion with the high-definition eminent boost to providing even clearer dialogue and untarnished ambient clattering during more turbulent scenes of laughter or beastly disarray. English subtitles are optional. A collector’s edition wouldn’t be complete with a slew of bonus materials and, boy, does “The Curse of the Werewolf” have brand spanking new material for the special features that include a new Roy Ashton tribute piece by his friend and “Little Shoppe of Horrors'” writer Richard Klemensen and new audio commentary with film historians Steve Haberman and Constantine Nasr. Plus, interviews with actors Catherine Feller, Yvonne Romain, Mike Hill, art director Don Mingaye, art department member Margaret Robinson, and filmmaker Jimmy Sangster in “The Making of The Curse of the Werewolf” featurette, a look at Lycanthropy that discusses whether man’s inner wolf can be a transformative source of mental will, a still gallery, and the theatrical trailer. The package is illustrated with Oliver Reed’s snarling werewolf persona by Mark Maddox, who designed Scream Factory’s “The Thing” release, and comes in a nifty cardboard slip cover. All in all, Scream Factory brought new life into the re-originating and re-orientating “The Curse of the Werewolf” that is, perhaps inarguably, the best Hammer upgrade to date.

Own “The Curse of the Werewolf” today!

Gun Woman vs. Evil! “Gun Woman” review!

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A determined doctor pledges revenge after his wife fell victim to a crazy, sadistic, cannibalistic, sex-fiend killer. Known by only the Mastermind, his quest lures him to buy a junkie from an underground trafficking organization and trains her, without given her a choice, to be an lethal assassin. The Mastermind teaches her hand-to-hand combat, how to handle a handgun, and even how to survive surgical procedures in order to have the mechanical parts of a handgun implanted into various portions of her body and then abstract the bulky pieces when the time is right. The dastardly plan for assassination comes to fruition when the Mastermind’s target makes his rounds at a necrophilia and cannibalistic business called “The Room” where Gun Woman feigns her death to infiltrate and carry out the hit.
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“Gun Woman” is an insane Japanese action-thriller concept from the mind of a relatively new director Kurando Mitsutake. From this reviewer’s point of view, Mitsutake’s film is much more tame compared to the other numerous Japanese’s extreme and unthinkable plot lines. Basically, the Japan film industry produces three solid genres that hover around outside the realm of their mega-popular Japanese Adult Video and Pinku markets: Dramatic noris involving a various range of characters from gangsters to samurais, the Americanized popular ghost films such as Ringu or Ju-on, and the outrageous, ultra-violent films, spreading amongst various sub-genres from action to horror. “Gun Woman” suits the latter category with it’s necrophilia, super-soaking blood, rape and torture, cannibalism, and the odd jobs of the reproductive body parts. Remember when I said that “Gun Woman” is the fairly tame?
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The Maxam produced film stars the ever gorgeous actress Asami of “Machine Girl” fame. You may remember my last Asami film review for the Pink Eiga released “Prison Girls” starring the once former JAV actress turned phenomenal B-movie heroine. Asami’s uncanny ability to conform to any role heightens the film’s viewing and enjoyable factors and “Gun Woman” is the epitome of B-movie schlock, almost as if her role as Gun Woman was made just for Asami. Alongside Asami are Kairi Narita as the Mastermind and Noriaki Kamata as the heinous sex-fiend only known as Hamazaki’s son. Narita towers over Asami with a strong muscular face, proving to be a powerhouse character even though the Mastermind character is partially crippled. Kamata possesses such a freaky super thin, yet muscular build with defined facial features that his role as a necrophiliac, a cannibal, and a rapist-murderer wouldn’t be so far from the truth if bumping into Kamata randomly on the street.
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While Asami’s character might be the heroine of the film, “Gun Woman” surely feels like an anti-woman film. Many of the female roles, no matter how minor, are subjected to some sort of abuse. Hamazaki’s son rapes and strangles various American women while also raping and killing the Mastermind’s wife. The Mastermind himself kidnaps an innocent woman and uses her as a tool to create a lethal weapon in Asami. Even Hamazaki’s female body guard doesn’t get a chance to have one line in the entire film, does really nothing at all, and ultimately meets her end and I can’t help but wonder why even have this character at all if the character serves so little a purpose? Like I aforementioned, Asami might be this kick-ass, gun-toting, deadly femme-fatal, but her mission for revenge isn’t even her mission for revenge; its the Mastermind’s and he’s using her, a junkie bought off a secret organization, with given a single choice: to either kill for him or die.
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“Gun Woman” markets itself as a “no-holds-barred revenge flick” and has all the makings of a cult film. Blood gushes out of gaping wounds, intense fight and gun scenes, and naked women galore grace the film’s entire presence. However, “Gun Woman’s” enticing premise isn’t without major flaws including obvious plot holes, inaccurate medical procedures, and some unbalanced acting from not the Japanese, but from the English speaking Anglo-Saxons driving the car during the outer-story. Hey, this is the movie industry where anything can happen as long as someone can think of whatever it is up and as long as someone can construct it as well. The whole premise behind the film is bogus in reality and Asami’s character might as well be a part of the IMF because her mission is impossible. To provide an example, nobody could withstand having three parts of a firearm surgically implanted into their body and then live 22 minutes later after removing the said parts by reopening the wounds to assassinate everybody in “The Room.” Other factors are involved when contemplating blood loss and time such as what if Asami is additionally injured resulting in blood loss? What if her pulse rate increases during heart-pounding scenarios causing a faster blood flow?
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Show business is all smoke screens, lengthy mirrors, and customized misdirection and Mitsutake’s “Gun Woman” certainly provides just that while pushing the boundaries of taboo subjects and being, what I consider, a chauvinistic perspective against women. If a viewer wishes to suspend disbelief for 87 minutes, witness a bloody-stellar end game, and see their fair share of naked and abused women, then “Gun Woman” would be right up their mentally deranged alley. The Scream Factor (Shout Factory) Blu-ray release is presented with little digital noise interference in a 1080p High-Definition widescreen 1.78:1 aspect ration with DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 mix with English subtitles available. I’m not sold on the Scream Factory Blu-ray cover of a closeup of Asami’s face and holding two smoking sidearms in a criss-cross way (think Kate Beckinsail on the “Underworld Evolution” DVD). This doesn’t actually represent the movie as she never really garnishes two handguns. Other releases are more accurate with a naked and bloodied Asami, aiming one handgun. Still, the release is solid and I wouldn’t discourage anybody, especially Asami fans, of a good time.

Shout Factory Brings “Destroyer” Back to Life!

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Some exciting news coming out of the ever-glorious Scream Factory, aka Shout Factory, company and that is 1988’s “Destroyer” with Anthony Perkins from “Psycho.” The incredulous film will pari with another 1988 film – Scarecrows. The double feature will hit blu-ray in 2015!

A prison riot breaks out at the moment of a serial murderer’s execution by electrocution, and his fate becomes indeterminate when the prison is shut down. 18 months later, a team of filmmakers converge on the prison to film a women-in-prison exploitation flick, but find that a certain somebody is disrupting their shooting schedule…

British thugs versus evil! Dead Cert review!

Can you remember the last good vampire flick?  Does Underworld count?  My mind can’t conjure up one better than Interview with the Vampire, but of course, all of these examples are mainstream, hollywood-produce examples.  Am I shunning the back alley projects?  Perhaps I’ve just seen too much horror movies.  I can’t recall the last indie vampire project that was actually worth a viewing.  Unfortunately, I still haven’t come across such a worthy viewing even if the topic of this review is a vampire genre film called Dead Cert.

A tough London gang are ruthless when it comes to territorial disputes, taking care of their competition with merciless violence, but when an Iranian businessman comes into town, Freddy and his gang don’t know what they’re getting themselves into.  The Iranian businessmen are more than just land searchers, they’re legendary vampires looking to reclaim what they claim is theirs – the London land.  Freddy’s club becomes their base of operations when Freddy’s boxer Dennis loses his bout against an Iranian brute.

 

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