Evil Isn’t Home. “Death House” review!


Top law enforcement agents, Boon and Novak, achieve special access through steep sacrifice during job assignments and are permitted to tour their upcoming placement in the highly exclusive Death House, the ultimate maximum and multi-level penitentiary home to the nastiest criminals known to society and the deadly threat to mankind in a metaphysical way. Death Houses uses virtual reality to keep inmates stimulated to the point of calm submission as well as drugging the homeless and the unwanted to supply killers with victims upon victims in an their personalized virtual surroundings, but when an outsider uses an EMP to knock out all power within the facility, the cages are open and the ruthless animals are free to overrun, beating to death the guards and staff. Boon and Novak must fight their way to the bottom level that hold the Five Evils, criminals with grotesque supernatural abilities and a wickedly grisly past, where the two agents believe the Evils are their best hope for survial against a Five Evils acolyte named Sieg and his faithful jailhouse followers.

Considered as “The Expandables” of horror, “Death House” had gained almost instant fandom solely from the long-list of horror icons in the cast. Director B. Harrison Smith (“Camp Dread”) re-writes most of Gunnar Hansen’s original “Death House” story produced by Cleopatra Entertainment and Entertainment Factory. Cleopatra Entertainment is more notably a music label that has delved into films the last few years and, in my opinion, haven’t faired positively in the horror genre, but “The Texas Chainsaw Massacre” star fought tooth and nail to try and get his script off the ground, even in the face of death. “Death House” saw release after Hansen’s death, but from interviews with the filmmakers, Smith had almost totally revamped the original treatment, leaving The Evil’s at Hansen’s request if his script was to be entirely cleaned. Shot right in this reviewer’s backyard of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania at the historic Eastern State Penitentiary, the defunct prison is an ideal location as the “Death House” due in part to John Haviland’s separate cell design and gritty appeal that was once of the home of Al Capone, but more of the focus is on the interior than exterior with green scenes and Los Angeles shots constructing the story-lined scenes.

Like aforementioned, “Death House” has been called the “The Expendables” of horror. An immense, if not soaked, cast of horror fan favorites are peppered about around the main characters of Agent Boon and Novak. “Sushi Girl” and “Zombeavers” star Courtney Palm embodies the Agent Boon character with G-man toughness, but finds difficulty leaving that b-horror mentality with shakiness in working climatic scenes. Palm’s also roped into doing an extremely gratuitous shower scene with Cody Longo (“Piranha 3D”) as Agent Novak. Novak’s a hotshot and Longo has the looks and the talent to out perform his character, but Smith’s script doesn’t do justice to either Boon or Novak’s character that blatantly underwhelms their performances with cameo star power and a shoddy narrative. Dee Wallace (“Cujo”), Barbara Crampton {“Re-Animator”), and Kane Hodder (“Jason Goes to Hell”) have prominent roles that are pertinent to the story and are enjoyable to see them in more of a supporting capacity. Andrenne Barbeau {“The Fog”), Sid Haig (“The Devil’s Rejects”), Vernon Wells (“The Road Warrior”), Bill Moseley {“The Devil’s Rejects”), Lloyd Kaufman (Mr. Troma), Michael Berryman (“The Hills Have Eyes”), Tony Todd (“Candyman”), Sean Whalen (“The People Under the Stairs”), Debbie Rochon (“Killer Rack”), Bill Oberst Jr. (“Deadly Revisions”), Felissa Rosa (“Sleepaway Camp”), Danny Trejo (“Machete”), Tiffany Shepis (“Abominable”), Brinke Stevens (“The Slumber Party Massacre”), Camille Keaton (“I Spit On Your Grave”), Gunnar Hansen (“The Texas Chainsaw Massacre), and R.A. Mihailoff (“Leatherface: Texas Chainsaw Massacre”). Whew. Rounding out the remaining cast is Lindsay Harley (“Nightmare Nurse”), Vincent M. Ward (“The Walking Dead”), and Bernhard Forcher.

While the genre star-studded ensemble cast is a wet dream for horror fans, “Death House” fails in numerous filmmaking categories with the first being the most important, the script. Smith’s re-work of Hansen’s original story requires another drastic once-over, or two, as the final result attempts to push, stuff, and cram 100 lbs of multi-subgenre elements into a 10 lb, inflexible bag, cramping the ambitious project with dis-connective storyline tissue braced together with shoddy visual effects, like the two agents free-falling down a bottomless elevator shaft and able to precisely shoot their targets on each level. The overall result of “Death House” just endures an unfinished varnish and seems slapped together with pre-schooler glue and claggy spit. Singular moments surface as diamond specks amongst cubic zirconias, like the Mortal Kombat fatality-esque practical effects, but are too far and in between to muster up an enjoyable film. The Five Evils definitely and desperately needed more presence in the story instead of just flexing the talking heads muscle; well, the only two Evils to say anything at all were Bill Moseley and Vernon Wells. The Five Evils didn’t quite have that oomph to be a force to be dealt with as Gold-described beings who philosophical interpretations on the concept of good and evil.

Cleopatra Entertainment and MVDVisual present B. Harrison Smith’s long-anticipated “Death House” onto DVD home video. The unrated, all-region DVD is presented in a widescreen format that displays some frayed flaws like contrast; there’s way too much inky black in the dark scenes and little-to-no definition in more visible sequences. The compression suffers from blotchy artefacts at times too and lacks hues, which works with the gritty tone inside the Eastern State Penitentiary’s decomposing walls of rubble and decay. Visual effects are glossy with virtually no textures to give detail or, essentially, life amongst the continuous death. Bonus features include multiple interviews with director B. Harrison Smith, Courtney Palm, and more. Also included is a behind-the-scenes feather, a gallery slideshow, and theatrical trailer. Despite being true to the title and highly anticipated since it’s inception into the public market, “Death House” ultimately disappointments as an unfurnished mess enlisted with big names in the horror domain that’ll unfairly sell the film on it’s own, but all-star cameos won’t establish “Death House” as a solidified cult favorite, being unfortunately one of the biggest release flops of 2018.

A Pair of Duo Dunces Take on Horror Homages. “Caesar and Otto’s Paranormal Halloween” review!

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The homeless twosome Caesar and his half brother Otto haphazardly take down a notorious serial killer and are awarded a fall-to-winter housesitting gig at a powerful California politician’s summer home where multiple families have been brutally murdered. Their good fortune seems ill-fated as the two encounter strange house employees, random levitating objects, and an endless supply of dead bodies. Tagging along with the brothers is their drunk and inattentive father Fred who spearheads his own agenda in a house full of secrets. When Fred ends up trapped on the other side of the spirit world, Caesar and Otto’s antics strive far and wide within their bag of tasteless tricks to not only save their hapless father, but also save their very lives and, perhaps, the entire state of California. In the middle of all the chaos, Otto is informed that his once thought dead mother is truly alive and discovers he was born with a hidden talent that’s soon to be pertinent to his current and dire situation.
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My second “Caesar and Otto” experience compares to nearly the same tomfoolery as their “X-Mas” inspired horror spoof, except that “Paranormal Halloween” is vastly more superior when considering the comedy quality. Caesar himself Dave Campfield once again stars and directors the spoof that pays tribute to many classic and modern horror films such as “The Amityville Horror,” “Paranormal Activity,” “Halloween”, and “The Conjuring.” Campfield joins forces once again with his longtime sidekick Paul Chomicki as Otto to produce and star in the Campfield’s and Chomicki’s four feature film of nitwit wonders Caesar and Otto who resemble a one more tool in the toolbox version of Harry and Lloyd from “Dumb and Dumber.”
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Campfield pens more dialogue for Caesar who hilariously continues to generate a well-defined lisp while spit firing one-liners, comebacks, and insults at Otto and anyone and everyone standing in the vicinity. Chomicki’s Otto is the big lovable oaf whose on-going hunt for love in all the wrong places, but manages to catch a break in nearly biting the bullet by sheer dumb luck and stupidity. Campfield and Chomicki’s whole schtick isn’t groundbreaking as we’ve seen this kind of film before in “Scary Movie” and even outside the realm of horror with “Airplane!” Unlike “Scary Movie,” Campfield and his team dedicated horror icons maintain a sense of dignity and respect that honor horror more than just dumbing it down. My first experience with the “Deadly X-Mas” Caesar and Otto wasn’t a very pleasant one as I couldn’t grasp the scene-by-scene speedy pace, the cut rate budget, and the inexplicable reference, after reference, after reference structure and I was a bit hesitant in enduring another episode of their continuing legacy. Now that I’ve matured as a viewer a little bit more from two years ago, I can honestly state that “Paranormal Halloween” is calculated corniness and precisely patronizes faithfully the horror outlets.
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Like the predecessors before, “Paranormal Halloween” contains the usual cast of entourage actors that coincide with Dave Campfield, Paul Chomicki, and Scott Aguilar as the fatherly Fred. Deron Miller again ends up shaggy and disoriented, Ken MacFarlane once again plays a guy with a J name, Avi K. Garg is calm and cool until he loses an arm, Ray Plumb quickly makes an appearance, Keith Bush sports a rad stash, Samantha Barrios makes another cut, and “Sleepaway Camp” legend Felissa Rose conjures up some on-screen time and this marks the second time I’ve seen her in a film that I’ve reviewed twice in a month. The credits also add other “Felissa Rose” type stardom actors from the similar molds such as “The People Under The Stairs’s” Sean Whalen, “Commando’s” Vernon Wells, b-horror vixens Tiffany Shepis, Debbie Rochon, and Brinke Stevens, and along with “Return of the Living Dead’s” Beverly Randolph. An excellent lineup for a horror spoof of this size. Tack on a few cute faced actresses and a nude scene from Model Mayhem model Jin N Tonic and you have a decent, well-rounded cast to support this Wild Eye Releasing film.
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The Wild Eye Releasing backed production “Caesar and Otto’s Paranormal Halloween” won’t be the last of it’s kind (a hint from the film suggests that Caesar and Otto’s Spring Break of the Dead will be the next title) from funny guys Dave Campfield and Paul Chomicki. A second chance or a second look never hurt anybody and taking a plunge after a seemingly disastrous first round with “Deadly X-mas” will now be deemed as only a fluke. With giggly-garbage writing, a cast of willing horror legends, and cruise ship filled of homages (or horror ripoffs such as the same John Carpenter “Halloween” font used on “Halloween” in the title), “Paranormal Halloween” smarts oh so good and doesn’t apologize for any or all of it’s budgeted quality.
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[trailer=https://youtu.be/CsUvnUiIvls]