The Counselors Face an Evil Murderous Rage. “Summer Camp” review!

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Four camp counselors prepare a woodsy, dilapidated living quarters a couple of days before their anxious campers arrival. As the preparations seem to be going as scheduled, a sudden violent rage takes over the head counselor with the eyes turning severely bloodshot and a bloody-black ooze seeping from the tightly grit mouth. The isolated camp structure that should bring joy and excitement to young children becomes an unescapable labyrinth for the counselors when the local transient residents fall also to the murderous madness. Trust between the terrorized counselors thins as none of them have an idea how the infection transmits. Without an operational phone or vehicle, the surviving counselors can only count on themselves to flee and fend from a fury seeking to massacre them all.
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When first hearing of Alberto Marini’s inaugural co-written and directed film entitled “Summer Camp,” a vivid portrait of radiant sunshine, lake canoes, bow and arrow games, and lots and lots of children campers naturally come to the forefront of mind – basically, “Salute Your Shorts” pops right into the old “cabeza,” even in front of slasher genre fave “Friday the 13th” that culturally Hollywood-ized camp counselors, transforming them into unlimitedly horny teens, subjecting campers into hapless victims, and demonizing campgrounds as death camps. And while “Summer Camp” resonates good times in the season’s solstice heat, Marini’s version of camp weaves a craft basket of intense fear.
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“Summer Camp” opens to a newscasters voice over reporting that three American counselors have vanished in the wilderness of Spain and are unlikely to be alive at this point of search. The setup already denotes no resolution to the counselors’ fate who make their on screen appearance in the following scene engaged in a trust game the Italian filmmaker had constructed to appear as every horror trope imaginable – a woman running through the woods with a blindfold and hands tied behind her back, a lurking ruffian peeping the counselors from the dense tree lot, and etc. The possibility of horror themed scenarios trickle at the top of a hill, snowballing until Marini decides to sudden plop down a massive, unbreakable brick wall in front of soccer ball size snowball before reaching critical speed, size, and strength for massive destruction. Marini’s a magician by convincing viewers to believe the trick in one hand, yet subtly revealing the real trick in the other and by doing this, a flare of confusion immerses the counselors and the audience in order to keep them guessing at every step of the way.
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Continuing with Marini’s script co-written with Danielle Schleif, a contrived portion of┬ámany possible triggers that causes the violent behavior almost as if Marini and Schleif used satire to highlight the absurdity of previous zombie or infected films and their numerous infected origins. “Summer Camp” leads you to believe that one of the following three, or perhaps a combination of all three, possible culprits are responsible for spawning deranged and violent behavior. Characters are purposefully shown to be unprotected to the transmission of external blood or saliva, seen drinking the mysteriously broken and recently fixed well water pipes, and being exposed to an unusual after spring pollen buildup that seems to be everywhere. Which element prompts an outbreak? Or is it all three?
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When the characters are aggressively possessed, a crossbreed between an “Evil Dead” Kandarian demon possession and a hybrid-rabies strain infected from “28 Days Later” sum up a “Summer Camp’s” possessed state of being. The actors themselves wholeheartedly accepted the role, doubling and switching themselves between normalcy and lunacy with ease. While the story prides itself on being quick to action and fast paced like Danny Boyle’s 2002 film, the characters’ depth burdens no viewer and their ultimate fate will raise no brows. The bare bones character backgrounds only affix their red shirt destiny; yet, Marini has already doomed his own characters for on script stupidity and whether intentionally or not, written to be cursed never qualifies a character to be a likable hero or heroine. When Will knocks out a possessed Michelle, he quickly unlatches his belt that holds up his pants to tie her legs with it and while that seems like a smart idea in the beginning, Will stills needs a way to keep his pants up from falling to his ankles in order to run through a dark dense forest from the numerous possessed individuals lurking about, screaming their lungs out. Will also attempts to unlace one of his shoes to bound Michelle’s hands. Why?! You’re going to need a tight fitting shoe to run through the forest and…oh forget it.
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Diego Boneta portrays the unluckiest of the luckiest counselors. As Will, he’s accused of murder and along with being bitten, battered, incised, and even drilled; yet, he manages to still lead the surviving charge even if the odds are against him. The physicality of the role contrasts with Boneta’s character whose short and has a vision disadvantage, but Boneta underneath the skin of his character sports an athletic build as shown from one gratuitous shirtless scene. The dynamic between Boneta, Jocelin Donahue as Christy, and Maiara Walsh as Michelle couldn’t have been any better with decoding the group’s trust issues even until the very end, especially between the tomboy with a mysterious past Michelle and the prissy and uptight Christy. Dynamics stands out as the bright point of Marini’s skeleton script that doesn’t involve many complexities as it does debunking horror tropes.
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The Lionsgate distributed the rated-R DVD release of the Spanish horror film has a 16:9 widescreen presentation with a Spanish and English 5.1 Dolby Digital audio complete with Spanish and English subtitles. With an average film runtime of 84, “Summer Camp” maintains just enough endless terror to suffice an entertaining haphazard horror-comedy and that’s about all the entertainment delivered from a DVD with thin extras including only trailers and a digital ultraviolet. The lightweight nature of this release should definitely not deter a viewership, but rather “Summer Camp” should be embraced as an intense and scary gauntlet of escape and survival. A well-fought first time feature from director Alberto Marini and a good showing of faith for a talented young group of actors seeking to imprint their names into horror.

Buy “Summer Camp” at Amazon.com!

 

“WTF!” Releases Trailer!

Peter Herro and Cthulhu Crush Pictures have released the first trailer for independent slasher “WTF!” A sole survivor of a gruesome massacre attempts to re-enter society with a trip with 6 close friends at an isolated cabin only to be brought back into the nightmare world of mass killings once again.

Herro directed from a script he co-wrote with Christopher Centanni and Adam Buchalter. Callie Ott (The Horror), Sarah Agor (Hatchet II, VH1’s “Scream Queens”), Andrea Hunt, Ben Norris, Johnny James Fiore, Nick Reilly and Adam Foster starred as the unfortunate group of friends.

“WTF” is expected to be released in 2016!

“Starry Eyes” Auditions for Evil

Here is a few stills, a poster, and a trailer for the upcoming physical horror film “Starry Eyes”

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Determined to make it as an actress in Hollywood, Sarah Walker spends her days working a dead-end job, enduring petty friendships and going on countless casting calls in hopes of catching her big break. After a series of strange auditions, Sarah lands the leading role in a new film from a mysterious production company. But with this opportunity comes bizarre ramifications that will transform her both mentally and physically into something beautiful… and altogether terrifying.
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Starring Alex Essoe, Noah Segan, Pat Healy, Amanda Fuller, Shane Coffer, Fabianne Therese and written and Directed by Kevin Kolsch and Dennis Widmyer

MPI will release STARRY EYES on iTunes / OnDemand and in theaters November 14, 2014.

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…

Trapped in a Tomb of Evil! Day of the Mummy review!

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Too few and far in between does a current release for a horror film about mummies comes out. Right off the top of my head, I can only recall Universal’s remake of The Mummy trilogy and Sands of Oblivion. I’m sure if I really thought more about this I could come up with one or two more films about mummies. When I was contacted to screen and review “Day of the Mummy,” a little piece of me couldn’t wait because the mummy genre is the neglected red-headed step child that the public doesn’t like and production companies just don’t know how to market Egyptian crypt keepers. Exploring “Day of the Mummy” was exciting at first but my finds remind me again why being dead, wrapped in bandages, and buried in an ancient tomb can’t catch a break in cinema land.
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Well-experienced and notorious Egyptologist Jack Wells is contracted to joins a group of archeologist in a Egyptian desert where a hidden tomb of an infamous and cursed king named Neferu is supposedly buried. Jack’s intentions are not to locate the tomb, but rather recover the Codix Stone that was buried with Neferu. When the team locates the cavernous tomb, a collapse of the cave’s structure traps them inside a tomb that doesn’t exactly hold a dead, mummified King. Their search brings them face to face with undead King seeking human parts to devour and regain strength. Now their only hope for survival lies in the hands of the treasure hunter Jack Wells.
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“Day of the Mummy” big named actor attached to the project is Danny Glover. Now, Glover isn’t the Indiana Jones type Jack Wells. His character Carl is a wealthy collector of the finer things and hires Jack, played by William McNamara, to bring back the Codex Stone for him. Glover’s role is a bit odd as he only interacts with Jack through a technology advance pair of wearing glasses that has built-in microphone, video camera, and satellite reception. I’ve known the Lethal Weapon and Predator 2 actor to be more of an interactive professional with other actors and actress around him. For Glover to play an isolated role with no one else in a scene with him takes his stardom away from the movie. He might have been better being the lead character of Jack Wells.
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Speaking of the hidden video camera glasses, the film’s perspective majority plays through the eyes Jack Wells. The effect comes off like an adventurous amusement park ride rather than a found footage film where the you explore a cave and strap into a hydraulic seat and give whipped around while a movie screen plays through the action. Part of the adventure amusement park ride feel is due to Carl’s in-screen image that pops up inquiring about the diamond every so often. The only thing missing from this ‘ride’ is the 4-D effects. Now, this perspective makes the film naturally unique, but also takes a bit of maturity out of the plot. Yeah, the film profane dialogue tries to spark life into, but the first person effect can be more effective if a more grotesque view of events comes across one’s sights.
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The sophomore film of director Johnny Tabor deserves to be recognized as a fair attempt at a genre that doesn’t spark any life into audiences. One thing that would have helped would have been to fill in the plot holes. The reason the team of archeologists venture to Neferu’s tomb was the result of a recovered video of another archeologist who found the tomb before them. The question is, how did the video get recovered in the first place once the first archeologist disappeared? How is Carl’s satellite feed still working in a sealed cave? Questions like these are annoying and baffling even if the logic is skewed just for the sake of a interesting story.
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Along with Glover and McNamara, the cast rounds out with “The Black Water Vampire’s” Andrea Monier, Brandon DeSpain, and Robin Steffen, and along with Eric Young and Michael Cortez. A fine cast with loads of talent behind them, but Tabor’s mummy film entry lives up to others in which fall short of horrifying and thrilling. The hopes of fresh air are stiffened with mummified rotting remains of the past. The perspective is unique and welcomed, but could be fine tuned sieze an opportunity to scare the pants off audiences. The wait continues for a mummy movie to resurrect the floundering, most likely currently defunct, genre. “Day of the Mummy” is an interesting and entertaining ride non-the-less. Image Entertainment’s release hits retail shelves October 20th on DVD in the UK.