Burt Gummer Neutralizes EVIL Graboids in “Tremors: Shrieker Island” reviewed! (Universal 1440 Entertainment / Digital Screener)

A wildlife preservation maintains categorizing and tracking of native elephants, but when one of the company’s philanthropist turns his private island, just across the water from the preservation campsite, into a game reserve for apex predators, nothing will stop him from wagering the thrill of the hunt on expensive, top-of-the-line game.  That is until the graboids he’s illegally bred and genetically modified starts to hunt the wealthy trophy gamers back, especially when the Precambrian lifeforms metamorphize into the fast-spawning shriekers.  With an island full of graboids and shriekers that contributed to already one death, graboid expert and arms enthusiast-survivalist, Burt Gummer, is tracked down and brought out of retirement to once again battle his longtime killing machine adversary.  With no munition weapons, an obstinate playboy’s maniacal urge to hunt the fierce predator, and the most powerful of the graboids bred on the island able to wriggle underneath the sea floor between land masses, Gummer and a team of preservationists must band together to stop the graboids from being an invasive and unstoppable species. 

From an icy Canadian landscape in “Tremors:  A Cold Day in Hell” to the tropical beaches of Thailand, “Tremors:  Shrieker Island” is the seventh feature film in the Tremor’s 30-year franchise.  Heading straight to video on Blu-ray, DVD, and Digital, including Streaming and VOD platforms come this October 2020, the subterranean monster action-comedy is steered by serial sequel director Don Michael Paul, who directed the last two “Tremors” installments, off a Paul script co-written with Brian Brightly that set sights on expanding the graboid footprint even farther East and surrounded by the seas of Thailand, further more distancing itself from the dust bowls of Perfection, Nevada and Mexico into new and unexplored terror-itories.  Universal Pictures’ off-shoot subsidiary banner, Universal 1440 Entertainment, and Living Films serves as the presiding production companies. 

 

The smart-mouth, quick-wit, arms-toting Burt Gummer has become, dare I say it, the Ash Williams of the Tremors’ franchise as a perpetually dragged back hero into monstrous circumstances to battle graboids and their offspring on land, air, and in the pits of hell of the innate underground habitat.  Aside from Bruce Campbell, there are not too many heroes in a genre that usually has a villainous backbone and so Michael Gross is the longest lasting reoccurring actor, spanning now 30-years, to return as an original hero who first encountered and killed the bastard creature who “broke into the wrong God damn rec room” in Perfection, Nevada.  Gross, now gray with a few more wrinkles sporting his iconic Gummer mustache, fits into the military-esque attire under his ball cap to square off alongside a ragtag team of unprepared, unqualified, and novice graboid hunters in Jon Heder (“Napoleon Dynamite”), Jackie Cruz (“Orange is the New Black”), Caroline Langrishe, and Richard Brake (“31”).  Heder fills in for the Jamie Kennedy role of Burt Gummer’s son, Travis, from the two previous installments and though Travis is mentioned briefly, the character’s presence is extended through Caroline Langrishe as Travis’s mother and preservation camp leader.  Heder and Langrishe complete that entangled trio that has been a trope present in nearly all the Tremor Films, starting with Val McKee, Earl Basset, and Rhona LeBeck, battling side-by-side to overcome the odds.  Cruz and Brake offer a serious side dish of badass on a polar opposite spectrum.  Jackie Cruz as Freddie, an entrenched team member of elephant tracking, is the Latina MacGuyer and is a weapon in herself that only someone like Burt Gummer would fully appreciate while Richard Brake, with his trademark sinister smile as obsessed game hunter Bill, relishes the role, pulling a watered down, PG-13 version of his typical bad guy motif from the more violent-venomous Rob Zombie films.  However, a minority of characters fall through character development cracks, such as Anna played by the up and coming Cassie Clare (“Death Race 4:  Beyond Anarchy”).  The archery expert Clare is a pertinent show off with a bow and arrow and is Bill’s right hand, but the Anna, under Cassie’s muscular thin frame and ironclad persona direction, has an inclined built up that goes to naught as she’s snubbed-shoved to a lesser role without having a significant impact in the latter half.   The reverse can said for Heder’s Jimmy character with first impressions of a top class scientist with lower class ambitions; yet, in an instant, Jimmy becomes a battle-worn graboid and shrieker killer while more experienced hunters, especially one wielding a mini gun, have less of a handle on the situation. 

While it’s neat and cool and nostalgic to see graboids and Burt Gummer back in action, much like the disconnect with lopsided arch able characters left to be graboid-fodder, “Tremors:  Shrieker Island” falls short of earlier predecessors, replacing personal filmmaking style over story substance.  For one, graboids just haven’t been the same since going from practical applications to computer imagery since “Bloodlines” on that has radically evolved the creatures from a less-is-more model to a complete overhaul of their veneer, resembling the dark and slimy man-eating tentacles of “Deep Rising,” and as well an overhaul of the creature mechanics that lead graboids to leap out of the ground and into the air like a flying fish, spiraling and twisting back into their dirt environment.   The graboid burrowing irks me as well as the ground explodes 10-15 feet up into the air in a blatant uses of detonating charges by the effects team to create the earthworm moving effect instead of just a perpetual hump and collapse of the ground that’s more of a menacing effect. Nuances run amok, causing subtle points of frustration in how Paul’s direction is really more a passive glance than a serious absorption of the franchise. Meandering people on the ground when they fully well know graboids are attracted by movement, half the film scaled back to slow motion to accentuate big money explosions, and the mother of all graboids able to target Burt Gummer for a mano on monstro showdown are just more examples of the charmless details in, what is, a palpable comedy with Earth dwelling monsters. “Tremors: Shrieker Island” is the equivalent of “Jaws: The Revenge;” the story may not make sense, but watching gigantic monsters cause mortal destruction is pure creature feature bliss.

What may be Burt Gummer’s last ride (or so they said in the last film), “Tremors: Shrieker Island” tunnels onto Blu-ray, DVD, and VOD come October 20th, 2020 and soon to be streaming on Netflix shortly after. The BD50 Blu-ray will feature an anamorphic widescreen, 16:9 aspect ratio, with an English language DTIS-HD Master Audio 5.1 while the DVD9 is presented in a widescreen 16:9 with a Dolby Digital 5.1 surround mix. Both formats will include optional English Dolby Digital 2.0 as well as a dubbed French, and Spanish DTIS Digital Surround 5.1 with a slew of option subtitles: English SDH, French Canadian, French European, and Latin American Spanish. Since the film was reviewed on a digital screener, the A/V aspects will not be critiqued. The exclusive bonus features listed on all physical and VOD include a Burt Gummer narrated “The Monster of Tremors” that gives you everything you need know about the diabolical monsters, “Tremors Top 30 Moments” that hone in on 30 years worth of scenes that provide laughs, Burtisms, and some of the most gory moments in graboid history, and, lastly, “The Legend of the Burt Gummer” that focuses on the iconic graboid hunter character told by his persona creator himself, Michael Gross. Richard Brake, once again, nails the villain, Jackie Cruz stuns as a resourceful Gummer-ite, and Michael Gross fleshes out one more commando swashbuckling Burt Gummer in the zany seventh installment of the unstoppable “Tremors” franchise.

Pre-order Tremors: Shrieker Island on Blu-ray/DVD/Digital!

EVIL Checks Into the “Motel Mist” review!


The Motel Mistress stands tall beside a highway on the outskirts of Bangkok. The adult-oriented love accommodate caters to the freakiest of the freaks under the soft glow of the hotel’s purple-pink neon marquee that’s shimmers on the rooftop during the tantalizingly active nightlife, flickering to a more conspicuous Motel Mist, but during the day, the near vacant hotel sits dormant and has scarce use. That’s all about to change when four visitors and one Hotel Mist front desk man become five strangers entwined into an uncanny affair that begins with illicit sexual desires between an extremely perverted and dangerous middle-aged man and a young school girl with ulterior motives and ends with a former child star’s refuge into, what he believes, is communications from beings not of this Earth. Salacious deviances, revenge, and strange occurrences check into the Hotel Mist, but will the five strangers check out?

From the erotically charged DVD cover from Philadelphia based home video distribution company, Breaking Glass Pictures, the Truevisions Original Pictures in coproduction with the 185 Films and Song Sound Productions produced “Motel Mist, written and directed Prabda Yoon, has the irrefutable markings of an unforeseen science fiction thriller from Thailand. Yoon’s introductory 2016 picture initially dodders on various genre borders that venture into the human complexities of interaction from an alienation or a subversive standpoint and wholeheartedly whips 180 degrees merging into exacting revenge and experiencing unearthly dimensions to an inevitable mesh correcting what’s characteristically abnormal. Though sexual romps in one-night-stand lodges have been marketed as quite the norm in Bangkok, Yoon pushes the creepy factor limits to the max, turning the dial on predatory intentions to an unreal reality.

The focus surrounds five characters with dialogued roles. The characters, with the exception of two of them, are essentially from all walks of life: a young hotel concierge with ambitions to be a fire stick performer, a middle-aged man with duel façade, a child star with unknown psyche complications, and then there are the school-aged girls with relatively the same motivation, but of a diverse personality type. We’re gently introduced to the middle-aged father figure Sopol, played by Surapol Poonpiriya, gazing at a newscast about a missing child celebrity on a car onboard touchscreen. Poonpiriya reels in slowly a conservative, perhaps even old-fashioned, fatherly figure where children shouldn’t swear and nose deep in cell phones isn’t a proper and good thing, but then the actor yanks hard back on the spoke, settling his character into a blurry role between niceties and deviances. Sopol’s an abhorrent wolf in sheep’s clothing, lavished and proud of his alternate life of an older man whose been with many younger women in his prefabbed BDSM motel room. His latest fair object is Laila, a young school girl in a short skirt with fresh innocence splayed from head to toe, performed by Prapamonton Eiamchan. Laila goes with the Tot’s flow by guiding her every move and letting him manipulate her like a doll of his pleasure. Eiamchan’s curious portrayal befalls her character’s with a relationship with masochism because of a more deep rooted motivational factor and the dynamic between Eiamchan and Poonpiriya pulls at the unsettling strings while also teasing visceral fantasies. Yet, oddly enough, Vasuphon Kriangprapakit cerebral performance being an antenna for alien correspondence is more intriguing. Kriangprapakit’s Tul is the crucial focal point that connects each character, playing against their vices that shepherds into a more savior role; in fact, Kriangpapakit could be considered appearing like the Thai version of the Messiah. While Tul requires a force invading into one’s mind bubble, Tot bubble seems to have popped with vague ambitions and being an overall motel lackey. Tot, a role suited for the talented Wissanu Likitsathaporn, sports green hair atop his punk rock outfit, and, like today’s typical millennial, enjoys conversing on the phone, especially with women. His sympathetic qualities aim to grant him amnesty for his cooperative nature, especially assisting covertly alongside Sopol, and being an agent of greed when figuring out his other daytime tenant, Tul, has a reward for his whereabouts. Katareeya Theapchatri rounds out the cast as Laila’s accomplice, Vicky.

As the subtitle insists, “Motel Mist” is a setting where there are no limits. Whereas that’s true for unlimited sexual pleasures and displeasures as well as thematics akin to the “Outer Limits,” “Motel Mist” has some limitations to challenge the experimental engine on which the film is powered. For one, the takeaway message has vague variables and not enough outright exposition to grasp viewers by the balls for that deep-in-thought, chin scratching moment that ekes forward the turning giant wheels in our heads, spinning conclusions and possible theories into plausible themes. For me, the takeaway message borders somewhere along the lines of the mysterious mechanics of the cosmic universe righting the wrongs between inherently misguided human faults and interactions. Whether that notion weighs in with any truth or not is most certainly up for grabs and could possibly way off the marker, but the enigmatic complexities are what make films, like “Motel Mist,” interesting to dig into and explore.

Breaking Glass Pictures calls for room service and has delivered “Motel Mist” onto DVD home video presented on a DVD9 with a widescreen, 2.39:1 aspect ratio and the region 1 Sci-Fi/Thriller runs just under two hours at 117 minutes. Often with a warm resemblance to Bangkok atmosphere, Yoon also seizes every opportunity with a vast color palate to shape the character developments in Room 7 with sultry red and Room 5 with a sterile black and grey. No problematic issues from a nice sharp picture in natural lighting juxtaposed a vivdly colorful. The frame work, by cinematographer Chananun Chotrungroi, captures micro stories with such aggression that it becomes a thing of beauty and with Yoon’s long takes, the sensation, no matter how unpleasant, lasts what seems to be an eternity. The Thai language stereo 2.0 dual channel audio mix has clean range and depth with parameters around mid-to-high levels of output through the variations of dialogue, ambient, soundtrack, and miscellaneous distortion tracks. There are English subtitles available and while seemingly translated okay, the yellow font coloring blend way too much into the background, making reading them difficult. Special features include a pair of behind the scenes with cast & crew and a trailer. Common perceptions of Bangkok could be extracted out entirely from director Prabda Yoon’s “Motel Mist” with a taste of illicit sexual affairs and the super bizarre in this unique science fiction thriller.