“Winchester” on Digital and Blu-ray/DVD Combo Pack 4/17!

Lionsgate has just announced that the supernatural thriller, “Winchester,” will be available Digitally and on a Blu-ray Combo Pack (includes Digital and DVD) on April 17th! “Winchester” stars Helen Mirran (“Red,” “The Queen”), Jason Clarke (“Terminator Salvation”), Sarah Snook, Finn Scicluna-O’Prey, Emma Wiseman and directed by Jason and Michael Spierig (“The Undead”, “Jigsaw,” “Daybreakers”).

Inspired by true events, Winchester is set on an isolated stretch of land outside of San Francisco where there sits the world’s most haunted house. Seven stories tall with hundreds of rooms, the house has been under construction for decades. But heiress Sarah Winchester (Mirren) is not building for herself, for her niece (Snook), or for the troubled doctor (Clarke) she has summoned. She is building it as an asylum for hundreds of vengeful ghosts.

The Winchester Blu-ray Combo Pack and DVD includes a never-before-seen “making of” featurette, which includes cast and crew interviews, and will be available for the suggested retail price of $39.99 and $29.95, respectively.

Specs:
Type: Theatrical Release
Rating: PG-13 for violence, disturbing images, drug content, some sexual material and thematic elements.
Genre: Thriller
Closed-Captioned: N/A
Subtitles: Spanish, English SDH
Feature Run Time: 99 Minutes
BD Format: 1080P High Definition 16×9 Widescreen 2.39:1 Presentation
DVD Format: 16×0 Widescreen 2.39:1 Presentation
BD Audio: English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio™, Spanish 5.1 Dolby Digital Audio, English Descriptive Audio
DVD Audio: English 5.1 Dolby Digital Audio, Spanish 5.1 Dolby Digital Audio, English Descriptive Audio

An Evil Hog Demon Won’t Let You Escape this Island! “The Forlorned” review!


Just off the rough stormy shores of Nova Scotia is a remote island where American Tom Doherty becomes the newly hired lighthouse caretaker in search for good money. Already overwhelmingly cloaked with the lighthouse’s creepy adjacent housing and being forewarned by the island’s infamous legends, an isolated Tom experiences the abilities of dark force first hand and doesn’t know whether the forces are real or madness has swallowed him from the extreme isolation. As Tom continues the work, he discovers clues along the way that suggest the island holds a nefarious past involving murder, suicide, and cannibalism, but an old bible with a list of names is the key that has the potential to unlock all the island’s mysterious doors and can also be Tom’s unfortunate undoing if he maintains being the lighthouse caretaker.

Based off the Angela Townsend book with the same title, “The Forlorned” is the 2017 silver screen adaptation of Townsend’s mystery-thriller from “Dead Noon” director Andrew Wiest who has helmed a jolting, supernaturally visual and auditory accompaniment to Townsend’s literary work. To maintain authenticity, Townsend co-wrote a script alongside Wiest and Ryan Reed that’s riddle with an ill-omened story leading audiences down a path of insanity-ladened darkness. But what exactly is “The Forlorned?” Forlorn has two definitions: 1) pitifully sad and abandoned or lonely 2) unlikely to succeed; hopelessness. Either of the disparaging definitions, if not both, can be used to described “The Forlorned’s” eerily gloomy story that’s saturated in a motif of burdensome loneliness and relentlessly bashes the concept into our heads in a constant reminder that no one can ever escape the island even in postmortem. The character Tom is the very definition of the forlorned. Whether because of due diligence or a dark force, his role of caretaker is a permanent position allotted to him unwillingly by a sadistic, secret-keeping demon that seeks to swallow more unfortunate souls.

Colton Christensen inarguably shapes the role of Tom Doherty into his own with a solid solitary performance for more than half the film. Christensen also, for much of the last ten minutes of the story, had to systematically break away from his character in order to forge a combative persona to Tom and while Christensen does the job well for one character, shouldering a second didn’t suite the actor’s abilities despite a total embrace of character and a few jabs at his own humility. Wiest has worked with Christensen prior to “The Forlorned” and has seemed to continue the trend of using his own entourage of actors with the casting of Elizabeth Mouton (also from “Dead Noon”). Mouton’s character is briefly mentioned near the beginning as a little girl of a previous caretaker, but her adult version only makes the scene in the latter portion of the story to provide a better clarification and exposition into the demon’s background. Also serving exposition as story bookends and peppered through as emotional support is Cory Dangerfield’s “Murphy,” a sea-salty old bar owner who liaisons with the lighthouse committee and can make a mean clam chowder. Murphy hires Tom to do the restoration and caretaker work and while Murphy initiates Tom existence into the fold, Murphy, for the rest of the film, serves as slight comic relief and, in a bit of disappointment, an unfortunate waste of a character. I also wanted Benjamin Gray, Shawn Nottingham’s priest character, to be built upon and expanded more because the character is a key portion that, in the end, felt rushed with quick, messy brush strokes in order to finish painting the picture.

At first glance, Townsend, Wiest, and Reed’s script screens like a typical, if not slightly above par level, haunting where Tom encounters sportive spirits, ghastly visions, and a slew of ominous noises inside a time-honored lighthouse home, but then a twist is written into play, pitting Tom against a masterminding demon whose conquered many other bygone caretakers and whose the epicenter of all that is sinisterly wrong with the island. The demon, who has taken the form of a man hungry hog, lives only vicariously through the camera’s point of view, never bestowing an appearance upon to Tom or even the audience, but referenced numerous times by island locals and boisterously given hog attributes whenever the demon is near. The concept fascinates with this demon-hog thing kept stowed away deep inside the isle’s bedrock even if the dark entity never makes a materializing appearance, but where that aspect thrives in “The Forlorned,” a pancake thin backstory for the demon goes simply construed with a slapped together account of its languished two-century long past and wilts the demonic character wastefully down with backdropped uncertainly, powerlessness, and puzzlement that’s forlornly misfired. There’s no deal with the devil, no selling of the soul, no medieval rite that gives the demon-hog it’s power; it just turns into an evil spirit out of greed.

Andrew Wiest’s production company, Good Outlaw Studios, presents “The Forlorned” that found a distribution home in Midnight Releasing, the fine folks who released “Blood Punch” and “WTF!” “The Forlorned” is available on DVD and multiple VOD formats such as iTunes, Vimeo, Vudu, Xbox Video, and Google Play. Since a screener was used for this critique, a full review rundown of the technical specs will not be provided and no bonus materials were featured on the disc. Director Andrew Wiest and his cast and crew entourage are able bodied participants in assembling a good, entertaining, and sufficient indie mystery-thriller brought to fruition out of Angela Townsend’s story with the author’s pen ship assistance. With a little tweak here and there on the antagonistic demon-hog, “The Forlorned” might have necessarily escalated into a richly dark territory of a more volatile, blood thirsty spirit that’s scribed to have racked up body after body, century after century; however, the fleeting chronicle of how the demon-hog came to be a malevolent being leaves a bittersweet aftertaste on a premise that started out spooky and strong.

Available on DVD at Amazon.com!

A Child’s Dreams Can Conjure Evil! “Before I Wake” review!

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Grieving parents, Jessie and Mark, aim to heal the deep wounds of the tragic and accidental death of their young son by fostering an orphan boy named Cody. After the mysterious death of Cody’s mother and having been through two concerning foster parents prior to Jessie and Mark, Cody strives to be the most sweet and loving child to his new and pleasant foster parents, but Cody has a dark secret that keeps him up at night. When Cody falls into a dream state, his subconscious imagination manifests his awe-inspiring dreams and even his worst nightmares that become deadly with the presence of the malicious Cranker Man, a dream shadow who can pluck anyone into disappearance that happens to be near the slumbering boy.
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“Before I Wake” director Mike Flanagan labors over all that is supernatural, churning out more than his fair share of specter-centered storied films including “Absentia,” “Occulus,” and the more favorable sequel to “Ouija,” entitled simply enough “Ouija: Origin of Evil,” that was produced alongside “Before I Wake” in 2016. Flanagan’s knack for suspenseful tall-tale horror doesn’t pigeonhole the Salem, Massachusetts born director into producing the same terrorizing story over-and-over and while “Before I Wake” has undoubtedly a few heart-pounding horror elements, fantasy more than so strong arms the genre into a branding submission. If I may be so bold by comparing “Before I Wake” to Guillermo del Toro’s “Pan Labyrinth” might be committing, perhaps, blogger career suicide, but the draw to resemblances can’t go ignored with what “Before I Wake’s” Cody creates from his overly stimulated dreams is much more familiar to what “Pan Labyrinth’s” Olivia character imagines when she escapes the horrors of a war bred sadistic maniac, if even only in a diluted version of events.
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“Superman Returns” actress Kate Bosworth headlines with co-star Thomas Jane (“The Mist,” “Deep Blue Sea”) as the unwitting foster parents who are forcing themselves back into the parenting game. I specifically was not coming to terms with Bosworth’s performance as Jessie; her facial expressions and body language, along with her tone and line deliveries, were too lifeless with rigidity and repetitiveness. So much so that I compared Bosworth to Suzanne Cryer’s impassive Laurie Beam character from HBO’s “Silicon Valley.” Unless the inexplicable amount of grieving has voided her of all emotion, like the Borg drone from “Star Trek: The Next Generation,” the role of Jessie is written with a variety of mood driven circumstances that start with her insomnia, to her willingness to not leave their home, to being carelessly exploitive with Cody. Being a fan of Thomas Jane since 2004’s “The Punisher,” I might be a bit biased, but Jane had more range with the ability to switch back-and-forth between mixed attitudes and sentiments, making the dynamic between Jane and Bosworth clunky and awkward. To round off the trio of main actors, you might recognize the pint sized actor playing Cody as Jacob Tremblay from the 2015 Oscar Winning Brie Larson film “Room” portraying an innocently pitiful dreamer with an unquenchable thirst to be loved.
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The Flanagan and Jeff Howard co-authored storybook script, intentionally or not, borrows heavily from psychoanalyst Sigmund Frued’s dream interpretation theory that wishful fulfillments are more common in children. Previous day activity, or day residue, has influential properties on a child’s dream, much like with Cody in this story, and Cody’s dreams are written to be an exaggerated fruition, fulfilling his desires and illuminating his emotions to the brightest or the darkest extent. Like many other films that involve the misunderstanding of children, adults Jessie and Mark blindly understand all the possibilities of Cody’s uncontrollable gift, exploiting Cody’s powers for their own greed. I did find that I love Jane’s Mark character as he tries to show Jessie the errors of her reasoning as he’s a bit of a kid himself, living vicariously through Cody with the video games and with the pizzas as if husbands, or men in general, are actually children at heart. Cody’s gift becomes a power struggle with Mark caught in the middle and the consequences of this struggle result in being the catalyst to unify Jessie and Cody as a strong bond between Mother and Son. Men totally receive the shaft in this picture where both dominant adult male figures are reduced to a forgotten or humbling state, left behind because mother knows best when it was really mother who dismantles the situation.
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“Before I Wake” is a boogeyman fable of sleepless nights that independent Canadian distributor Mongrel Media presents on Blu-ray for the first time anywhere in North America on a home entertainment platform come January 10th. The film has been in a distribution limbo since U.S. theatrical distributor Relatively Media filed for bankruptcy, but, luckily for fans of the supernatural genre, Mongrel Media obtained home video rights. I was provided an online screener link, forcing my hand to not comment on the specs of the Blu-ray audio or image quality nor touch upon the bonus material, but what I can state is that the spin on the dream killer won’t stop here with “Before I wake.” Dreams, like conceptions of outer space, are vast with unlimited, unconstrained content that surrealist director Mike Flanagan has only partially tapped into by exploring the dangerously innocent perceptions fabricated from a child’s abstract mind.

Gory Evil Experiments With Life and Limbs! “The Curse of Doctor Wolffenstein” review!


All Doctor Victor Wolffenstein wanted to accomplish is to invent an occult practiced serum that would permit eternal life, but his pure genius was corrupted by an egomaniacal drive during his time of research in a small village of 1930’s Germany. When Dr. Wolffenstein began gruesomely experimenting with the body parts of the resident dead, local inhabitants labeled him an abomination against humanity and God and sought to expunge him from life by cutting out his tongue and burying him alive in a wooden coffin. Before his ultimate fate, Wolffenstein injects himself with his latest serum batch and curses the villagers prior to his damnation. His serum works, giving the malevolent doctor decades to perform his vital experiments for the next 80 years, but portions of his body start to decay and rot. To keep his tissue viable, this time he steals body parts from the living!
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Director Marc Rohnstock’s German gore film “The Curse of Doctor Wolffenstein” finds residence on a callously displayed Blu-ray/DVD combo set courtesy of the blood aficionados over at Reel Gore Releasing. While the premise sounds like nothing more than one deranged doctor’s thirst to slice and dice at his little black heart’s whims, running parallel to Wolffenstein’s monstrosity narrative done in the dank dull light of a mad scientist’s bloodstained lab is the declining story of five young partygoers living life to the fullest travel to a rave festival and when their car breaks down in an eerie and isolated village, beginning the Rube Goldberg process of landing on the front door step of Doctor Victor Wolffenstein’s castle home. The two stories are structured almost purposefully divisive to distinguish on one hand the relationship ups and down of Mike, David, Tina, Jenny, and Emily and while on the other hand, the good doctor straps victims to his cold metal slab, performing invasive experiments on them, and finishing them off by slashing right into the thick of the noggin with a machete, solidifying a hard motif that eventually becomes a the doctor’s MO.
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A big part of the Rohnstock 2015 gore film is Wolffenstein’s numerous machetes to the cranium kill that explodes a geyser of dark red blood all over the place. The special effects and makeup by Oliver Müller literally had the blood rushing to brain, splitting the skull to unleash the blood splatter, and Müller does offer a bit more than sustaining as a one trick pony. Realistic arm dismemberments and reattachments, decapitations, exploratory surgical openings, and much, much more are a part of this gore-God’s repertoire. So much gore is present that gore itself becomes a character. That’s saying something since Rohnstock exploits his short lived, ill-fated red shirt characters that roster many recognizable Germans such as porn star Lena Nitro and one of the great gore and shock directors Olaf Ittenbach!

Without a doubt, “The Curse of Doctor Wolffenstein” is a labor of love that subtly borrows from the films of the director’s fandom. There’s a bit of “Evil Dead,” a piece of “Night of the Creeps,” and a flair of Hammer Horror in a mix that defines Rohnstock’s writing and director perspective and style. As the co-founder of the film’s production company Infernal Films, Rohnstock and his Infernal Films team have free reign over the overall structure, style, and tone of this fantastic flesh filleting of a film. What Infernal Films couldn’t really control was the relatively young cast of Isabelle Aring, Robin Czerny, Roland Freitag, Stephanie Meisenzahl, and Julia Stenke whom are pitted against the dual role performance of Mika Metz, playing a miserable mechanic and Doctor Wolffenstein.
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Reel Gore Releasing’s gorgeously slipcovered 2-disc Blu-ray and DVD combo release doesn’t hold back standing behind a flick that gallops in blood, bares it all with female nudity, and even has an orifice invading creature with enough ooze to lube it’s way down with ease. Video quality wise, the image is heavily showcased in a cyan hue that’s feels unnatural. The day or brighter scenes look good enough for hi-def in the widescreen presentation in a 16:9 aspect ratio. The German DTS-HD 5.1 option with optional English subtitles is flawless in all areas of the audible tracks. There is also a DTS-HD 2.0 with optional subtitles. Bonus features include a showcase reel in a behind-the-scenes featurette, a German only bloopers reel, “Trapped & Stabbed” short film by director Marc Rohnstock, the film’s trailer, and a still image slideshow. Gore films have always been a hit or miss with this review, but “The Curse of Doctor Wolffenstein” has reclaimed my faith in the intensity of content that’s not suitable for most viewership in one way or another.
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“The Curse of Doctor Wolffenstein” Blu-ray?DVD Combo! Get your GORE on!

Evil Goes Silent! “The Unspoken” review!

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In September of 1997, the Anderson family vanished from their remote home on Briar road, leaving behind scores of scattered blood, a lynched dead body, and a house keeper in mental shambles. Seventeen years later, Jeanie and her son Adrian move into the Briar home with the legendary and infamous reputation for being ghastly haunted. Living on hard times with her father being laid off from the region business, Angela reluctantly accepts a good paying caretaker position for Adrian at the notorious Briar home. When a local drug runner gets wind that his stash’s repository is no longer vacant, a dangerous game of retrieval pits the desperate small time dabblers against a supernatural force living inside the home that puts Angela, consequently, in the middle of a terrifying standoff.
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Sheldon Wilson. A name that’s under the horror radar for most horror fans, but for this particular reviewer, this particular fan, Sheldon Wilson has had a major influential role in bringing a wealth of horror to my life. The director’s 2004 film “Shallow Ground” was the first domino piece to fall that a started landslide of independent horror cinema to come flooding into my presence and opening up my world, my eyes, to the many facets of the genre. I fell hard for “Shallow Ground” that led to the foundation of a grand and glorious horror collection that would be acknowledged Rob Zombie, who’ve I’ve heard, has an extensive film collection. Wilson’s latest venture “The Unspoken” has reminded me that horror can live in the restraints of the past and can be bold with an unforeseen twist.
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Now, “The Unspoken” epitomizes the very definition of generic titles, but the premise goes far beyond being geriatric with similarities, but not on the same elaborate scale, to the 2012’s “The Cabin in the Woods” by exploiting the genre’s familiar tropes but shifting, at the very last moment, to an ending that’s well received and a breath of fresh air. From the Wilson films that I’ve experienced, his story structure is orchestrated in a detailed manner making the subtleties pop with saturated intensity. With “The Unspoken,” Wilson’s indirect jump-scare style is very much engrained and effect goes without diluting the entire film as some, examples such as some of the recent Halloween films, have done in the past to the point of tiresome and ungratifying.
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A satisfying cast genetically makes up the captivating story with young and upcoming scream queen Jodelle Ferland in as the lead role of Adrian’s desperate caretaker Angela. Ferland has quite the stint in horror starring in such memorable films as the recently referenced “The Cabin in the Woods,” “The Messengers,” and as the young child in 2006’s strong video game adaptation of “Silent Hill.” Ferland possesses that scared and innocent persona and she leaves nothing on the table when forcing to battle against a supernatural danger that can animate a decaying, jaw-severing dog corpse. Pascale Hutton, Anthony Konechny, Chanelle Peloso, Lochlyn Munro (Freddy Vs. Jason) and a passing-through role for “The Hitcher” remake’s Neal McDonough as a local sheriff rounds out the rest of the “The Unspoken” cast. Sunny Suljic, who portrays the unspoken Adrian, solidly performs as the creepy and mute, Damian resembling child even with his bad young Elijah Wood haircut. Together, the ensemble plays their respective roles with as much as earnest as the next film with more of the focus on Angela and Adrian throughout with supporting characters driving much of the storyline, funneling toward a surprising catalytic event.
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For the majority of the film, “The Unspoken” meets the harsh criteria fans need and desire from their horror films with some solid practical effects, no CGI effects, a story-driven plot, and a haunted house full of good scares with tidbits of blood and gore in between them all. There’s even a little nod of respect for the “Amityville” series. Only insignificant character underdevelopments raise a few unanswered questions about situations perhaps more pertinent to the motivation of the story such as the forbidden relationship between Angela and best friend Pandy which floundered a bit out of place within the confines of the plot and went stagnant when more about the Briar home became revealed or when Pandy’s more-or-less boyfriend Lutheran and his drug scheme goes through the sharp blades of a blender.
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The Lighthouse Pictures produced and Arrow Films UK distributed paranormal disturbance feature “The Unspoken” hit retail shelves and online markets September 5th. I’m unable to review video and audio quality with a region 2 DVD-R and there were no bonus material available from the static menu. However, Wilson’s film fairs with a sharp and clean appearance without the bedazzling of a Hollywood budget; the director’s use of the slow panning method and focusing on unsettling camera angles to transform an ordinary mountain home into a menacing dark presence doesn’t require much touchup in order to terrify audiences. If you’re a fan of quiver inducing, nail biting horror with a good M. Night Shyamalan twist at the end, “The Unspoken” will leave you completely terrified and utterly speechless.