A Double Dose of Revenge Against EVIL in “Psycho Kickboxer” and “Canvas of Blood” reviewed!


Alex Hunter had all he could ever want. A blooming career as an up-and-coming kick boxer, a successful police chief father on the verge of finally nailing a crime lord, and becoming recently engaged to marry to his long time girlfriend. Yes, Alex’s life fortune was very valuable indeed until it suddenly came crashing down to a fateful end when the ruthless crime lord his father was pursuing, known as Hawthorne, kidnaps and brutally murders his father and finance right in front of him and leaves him to die. Found and rescued by a well-bound special forces veteran, a recovering Alex lives to fight another day, a day for retribution against the a city of evil and crime. The one time kick boxer turns to a life of vigilantism under the guise of the public designated The Dark Angel who cleans up thugs, thieves, and low-lifes with martial art combinations that put Hawthorne in a supply chain bind when drug deals fall through at the result of The Dark Angel’s meddling. Nobody knows the identity of the masked hero, but one Cassie Wells, a journalist, aims to unmask the citizenry protector with the help of a bumbling private detective, but when they become too close to Alex, Hawthorne sets his target on them as bait.

The American 5-time world kickboxing champion, Curtis “The Explosive Thin Man” Bush, stars in his debut leading role performance in the martial arts, action-melee, “Psycho Kickboxer.” Also known as “Psycho Kickboxer: The Dark Angel,” the film had exclusive rights to being born and bred in Southeast Virginia, more specifically in the Hampton Roads area, with a local cast and crew and the opportunity to utilize region locales and business, such as his own, the Curtis Bush Karate Club, and those he was acquainted with at free of charge. Bush, born in Virginia Beach, puts up the cash, along with a slew of family and friends as investors as well, to finally produce his own work without having to be another masked Foot Solider in a “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle” sequel or just be another bad guy who can kick real good for the camera. Bush hires TV series and documentary director David Haycox and freshman filmmaker Mardy South to work from a Kathy Varner script. Bush’s career didn’t quite take off to be the next Chuck Norris or Jean-Claude Van Damme of Virginia Beach despite having athletic talent and good lucks, but he lives comfortably now in Hawaii with his family. Instead, the legendary fighter, who retired at the age of 37 in 1999, can look back at 1997’s “Psycho Kickboxer,” a five year project that began filming in 1992, as a crowning cinema achievement outside the square ring and without the confinement of 20.1 x 20.1 ft ropes alongside a heap of localized co-stars Kim Reynolds, Rick Clark, Tom Story (“Metamorphosis”), Rodney Suitor (“Traxx”), Jeffrey Kotvas, and George James.

Personally, “Psycho Kickboxing” round kicks close to my heart, targeting the marshmallow center, and landing a Curtis Bush southpaw punch right (or should I say left) into one of my favorite home town films of all time. You see, this reviewer is a native of the Hampton Roads area and raised in the area for 28 years until becoming a Northerner. Honestly, I’ve never heard of “Psycho Kickboxer” or even Curtis Bush for that matter, not even the mayor honored Curtis Bush Day that’s April 27th, and once I looked past the slew of mullets and mustaches and saw the name of a local bar, Hot Tuna Bar and Grill, briefly observable in a scene, the regional newspaper, The Virginian-Pilot, and a resident country station, 97.3 The Eagle, with a pair of DJs as themselves. Championing “Psycho Kickboxer” as a good film is an enormously uphill one and even being a cult classic wobbles on the bunny hill as filler scenes, specifically the film’s ninja-cladded Curtis Bush tearing through bad guys is more than half the movie as montage segments, run rampant over what should be character exploration of redefining and rediscovering character arc qualities. However, the Haycox and South directorial has some blood red and amorous highlights with a pair of exceptional head rupturing scenes I’ve ever bared witnessed from the special effects of the Creations Unlimited team, Steve Stephens and Clay Sayre, and some tasteful T and A from Kim Reynolds in her bathtub that’s shouldn’t dare be missed.

The accompanying feature on this pyscho-revenger set tells the story of Julia, a young violin prodigy, who feels the extreme pressure weighing her down with an abrasive and abusive boyfriend and the intense passion she has for music that’s literally destroying her gifted hands from within. Her father, an art professor who has a disabled hand himself, quickly rushes her to a doctor for examination and concludes surgery is the only course of action to right the damage, but the coked up, alcoholic of a surgeon botches the job, leaving poor Julia unable to use her hand and diminishing any hope of playing her violin again. A long line of deep engrained corruption integrated inside the justice system is uncovered by her father after a sabotaged lawsuit exonerates the doctor from any wrongdoing. Pissed off with rage, the art professor decides to take justice in his own hands or, rather, his own hand as he fabricates instruments of death to paint his own retribution for physically and mentally injuring his daughter who is now in a semi-catatonic state. Police are baffled by each death that leaves little clues to the man who perpetrated them as one detective continues the investigation of grisly murders.

“Canvas of Blood” is the rightful backseat second feature being inferior of the two films on the double bill release. Set on location in and around the Baltimore, Maryland region, the anomalously rare 1997 revenge flick, that was only released on VHS, was at one time the debut disaster-piece from writer-director Joel Denning, produced by the Post Productions Film Company in association with Bad Credit OK and presented by Michael Mann – no, not the same Michael Mann who helmed Al Pacino and Robert De Niro in “Heat.” Instead of intense gun-blazing battles and gritty dialogue exchanges, Denning’s carnivalized approach to vindictive measures is met with an unscrupulous amount of aberrant sound effects such with a fart track, overweight male strippers with mullets in thongs doing abhorrent dance moves, and exaggerated character travesties in a mishmash plot involving a decorated war vet now art professor painting a trail of blood with his interchangeable cyborg mitt arsenal that includes a flame thrower, bone saw, and a T-800 “Terminator” style hand for massive nutsack squeezing. The most difficult to comprehend about a tale that warrants no deep thought is whether Denning’s intentions are sincere or to make a mockery of the revenge genre with a blatant boorish attempt. As far as actors go, the now radio personality, Jennifer Hutt, does what she can with cheap cinematic artwork and the same thing can be said about Jack Mclernan, who portrays no Paul Kersey, a role tailored by Charles Bronson in “Death Wish”, and while McLernan might strike a resemblance to the “Once Upon A Time in the West” actor, McClernan can only muster about half the set of stoic acting chops to save any kind of face. Lance Irwin, Andy Colvin, Marian Koubek, Mark Frear, Jamie Bell, Michael Mann Reennie McManus, Irena Beytler, and Svetlana Milikouris co-star.

POP Cinema’s Shock-O-Rama banner presents a Psycho Horror Double Feature with “Psycho Kickboxer” and “Canvas of Blood” on a single disc DVD and both films are presented from in a VHS-rip, 4:3 aspect ratio, format that gives no indication of an enhanced or upscale treatment to the transfers. “Psycho Kickboxer,” which was actually shot in 16mm and transferred to Betacam VHS, fairs better with a unscathed negative obtained cleanly without the annoyance of compression artifacts, due to the lower bitrate from the more than likely clean 16mm source. However, don’t expect colors to pop and details to be fine from a VHS transfer that’s has a slightly fuzzy and gray washed tone. Canvas sports much of the same with a more warmer tone and some over-saturation of blue tint, but tracking distortions and analog graded noise are more evident flaws in this presentation. The English Language mono tracks on both features are a composited nightmare of little range and depth. Fight ambience could have been pulled right from the Double Dragon Nintendo game and the subjective overlay of obscurely crude ambient tracks, even an overly synthesized enhanced screaming I would consider as well, dilutes “Canvas of Blood’s” objective plotline. The DVD extras include Shock-O-Rama vault trailers and a 3-page booklet insert containing a 1998 Alternative Cinema Magazine article written by Curtis Bush who provides a humbling anecdote about film’s origin story and the process of making his independent movie dream come reality. There’s no contest. “Psycho Kickboxer” TKO’s “Canvas of Blood” in every round of the Psycho Horror Double Feature, despite the horde of mustaches and mullets and despite both films not really being a horror. Shame that world class kickboxer Curtis Bush’s career didn’t skyrocket afterwards, but thats what makes “Psycho Kickboxer” inherently special and exceptional to behold, just like the fighter himself.

“Psycho Kickboxer” available on DVD! Click the Cover to buy!

Evil Turns Frat Boys into Bloody Greek Yogurt! “Dude Bro Party Massacre III” reviewed!


Brock Chirino, a survivor after tragedy strikes twice by a serial killer named Motherface who stalked and killed his campus fraternity brothers of DELTA BI THETA, is found gruesomely hung from a flagpole with his guts strewn tightly around his neck. Brock’s twin brother, Brent, wants answers and begins pledging with the troublemaking and cursed fraternity that is on the verge of having another Motherface encounter, beginning with the death of his popular twin. Sinister powers to be send the remaining DELTA BI THETA brothers to an isolated and notorious lake house where one-by-one, beer-by-beer, each brother is hunted down with their own personal fears invoked by the serial killer and lethally weaponized against them.

More enjoyable than a cheap case of beer pong beer is the trope-after-trope satirical genre upheaval in “Dude Bro Party Massacre III” from first time feature film directors Tomm Jacobson, Michael Rouusselet, and Jon Salmon with a screenplay penned by lead actor Alec Owen along with contributions from the directors and Ben Gigli, Brian Firenzi, Joey Scoma, Michael Peter, Mike James, and Timothy Ciancio. Usually with a conglomerate of writers and directors attached to a single project, the resulting work lacks coherency as a mesh of styles create a havoc bearing exhibition for the viewer whose head is about to explode and ready to give up on trying to make sense of disastrous, multi-motivational storyline, but these particular guys are a part of an internet comedy troupe the under 5-Second Films production company, established in their good ole college days circa 2005 to 2008, and have long list of meaningless, yet funny, credits in sketch comedy that include Uproxx Video and Funsploitation. The filmmakers’ “Dude Bro Party Massacre III” is the supposed third film in a trilogy of unspeakable comedic terror without really having a first film or its sequel as the gag, but rather recap, ingeniously and in a squeamishly gory fashion, a fast-paced and well thought out montage of series of events from the “first two” Dude Bro Party Massacres.

The 5-Second Film troupe can be synonymous with the guys of Broken Lizard, but in a slightly tweaked version that’s sure to be piss your pants funny and keep eyeballs glued to their 103 minutes of beer, hazing, and blood. Kicking it off in a dual role is Alec Owen as Brock and Brent Chirino; one super cool bro and the other just a regular cool bro, share a meaningful twin experience that keeps both characters in the mix. Owen dons daft well, but do so the slew of other in his close knit entourage of Paul Prado, Ben Gigli, Joey Scoma, Brian Firenzi, Michael Rousselet, Jon Salmon, and Kelsey Gunn. Their well-oiled machine of timing, exuberance, and expressions, from years of collaboration, make them a juggernaut in their field, leveling with, or even just beating out, the Broken Lizard team for best satire horror film. To top things off, the eclectic special guest stars add that little something, a little spiked cream in the dark, bold, Columbian coffee if you will, of unprofessionalism that just makes “Dude Bro Party Massacre III” a go to rental (or purchase) on a movie and chill night. Did you ever think you’d see Larry King in a horror movie? Yeah, that Larry King who made millions as a late night talk radio host said, “Star in a horror movie? Sure, why the hell not?” Though brief, King’s appearance is welcoming gory garnish and other guest stars whoopee in the same fate, including esteemed porn actress, the queen of sex, Nina Hartley, in an unusual non-sexual role, rock performer and producer Andrew W.K., Tommy Wiseau collaborator Greg Sestero, and my fellow Portsmouth, Virginian native, Mr. Patton Oswalt in another brilliant comedic performance. Yes, I’m dead serious, bro. Plus, Olivia Taylor Dudley as Motherface equals a repeat performance; perhaps for “Dude Bro Party Massacre IV???”

“Dude Bro Massacre III” is a 100% intentional caricature of the 1980s slasher genre, going against the well established and solid bedrock that’s bred horror fans for generations, and rocking the sacred structure to the core that not only will be admired by hardcore horror fans, but also not objectionable in its goofiness those said fans and will sufficiently gaudy for the causal popcorn moviegoer. Those in the former will recognize that tropes vitalize without tiring out the dude bro party, such as with a snarky, masked killer returning from the grave, twice, whose a bit of a mash up of Jason Voorhees and Freddy Krueger, the Final Girl notion is reversed to a Final Boy left to tell the ostentatious tale, and extravagant and elaborate deaths ultimately become a living, breathing entity to inspirit. Plus, backstories and character tangents diversify the story perpetuation enough to not over-saturated solely on DELTA BI THETA reckoning. In all honesty, the gore is the star and if gore was the object of wealth, “Dude Bro Massacre III” would be an affluent God with blood splatter on a divinity level.

5-Second Films and Snoot Entertainment release the Not Rated, 2015 satirical horror, “Dude Bro Party Massacre III” onto DVD home video distributed by MVDVisual. Presented as the only surviving VHS copy of a dismissed and banned film by some guy recording a television airing over his childhood memories, a 4:3 aspect ratio continues to sell the artificial, retrograded video nasty of obscurity. Even the mock cut in faux commercials are a nice touch that reminded me a little bit of John Ritter’s “Stay Tuned.” One thing that’s missing was the presence of digital noise as the image was really too vibrant and clean to be a super VHS or any other kind of SOV. The English language 2.0 audio track is clean with prominent dialogue and hefty amount of ambient blood gushing, splashing, exploding, etc. Bonus features aren’t impressive with only audio commentary available through the static menu, but Devon Whitehead, whose cover arts with Scream Factory releases are beyond ridiculous, lends his talents here with another intrinsic, manic storytelling work of art. A little late to the game with this review for a film from 2015, but “Dude Bro Party Massacre III” is getting a re-release and is worth the time pledging oneself to again and again with a high level rewind satisfaction rate.

Don’t Let A Bro See It Alone! Available at Amazon.com