One Night in an EVIL Sanatorium. What Could Go Wrong? “Haunted Hospital: Heilstätten” review!

Among the outskirts of Berlin lies a vacant and dilapidated Heilstätten hospital once used by the World War II Nazis to conducted “mercy deaths” for tuberculosis patients. Over the years, the hospital has remained dormant in its subsequent closure after the war and infamous labeled cursed and haunted during daytime tours, becoming the sole connection between instances of madness and murder through the decades. When a pair of YouTube pranksters and social media influencer gamble against each other on spending 24 hours inside the hospital for viral stardom to gain more followers, they’ll put the hospital’s paranormal notoriety to the test with the help of Heilstätten tour guide Theo as their access onto the grounds. With all the cameras set up and the stage set for an all-nighter spook show, their viral glory campaign becomes a malevolent presence’s bloodbath welcoming.

“Heilstätten,” also known as “Haunted Hospital: Heilstätten” under the North American market, is the gruesomely supernatural found footage horror film from “Potato Salad” director Michael David Pate. Pate, who also co-wrote the script with Ecki Ziedrich, helms his own perspective on the sanatorium (English term for Heilstätten) horror that offers more than just a phantom in hospital wings. Deranged and soulless Nazis performed immoral experiments on not just the Jewish people, but also sought to eradicate the sick for their feverish impurities, such as those afflicted with tuberculosis. “Heilstätten” pits history against the present in a egregious tone of respecting the past and diminishing the importance young social media influencers without a peck of smarts or appreciation.

The 2018 film stars “Tape_13’s” Sonja Gerhardt as Marnie, a social media star who records and implores people to face their worst faces, catching up with the group of YouTubers before they dig themselves deeper into their own graves. Gerhardt’s hard sell of her character doesn’t quite shape the sincerity in stopping the carnage before it happens as Marnie is the proverbial monkey wrench in the overnight blood bath. Marnie is drawn to Theo, an ex-lover that hasn’t quite severed her interests in him, played by Tim Oliver Schultz. As the tour guide breaking all the rules, Theo’s compulsion to help wavers on the idea of being just as renowned on the internet as those he’s helping, but there is more to meet the eye with Theo than the surface level material. The more complex characters revolve around the pranksters, Charly and Finn, played by Emilio Sakraya and Timmi Trinks, who become wedged by social media influencer Betty, Nilam Farooq. Charly’s strive for world wide web fandom drives him blind to the circumstances around him, especially when Finn and Betty become romantically involved, and despite Finn’s willingness to be part of the prank, his conscious breaks beyond Charly’s gimmicky barrier where lives actually do matter over stardom when people end up missing or dead at the hands of an ominous force. “Heilstätten” cast rounds out with Farina Flebbe, Maxine Kazis, Lisa Marie-Koroll, and Davis Schulz.

The trick about “Heilstätten’s” allure is the moments that the ghost film isn’t afraid of the blood and flesh bits founded upon a nicely laid foundation with the Nazis’ extermination activities and all the notorious lore surrounding a hospital. The hospital itself, Heilstätten, wasn’t created out of thin air just for the story sake. Pate and Ziedrick used the withering Beelitz Heilstätten as their base, utilizing actual historical facts, such as Adolf Hilter was treated at the hospital during World War I, to even further demonize the setting, but in reality, Beelitz Heilstätten rehabilitated the war wounded rather than mercy death the Tuberculosis-stricken. Yes, the hospital was Nazi occupied, but so did the Russians after the war. “Heilstätten” has rich backstory that basically breeds itself into a horror film. However, one aspect about what discourages “Heilstättens” effectiveness is the use of soundtrack for a found footage horror film. No found footage horror film should ever have a soundtrack that doesn’t add to the realism and renders the film more closely to William Malone’s “House on Haunted Hill” in more than one similarity.

Well Go USA Entertainment admits proudly Michael David Pate’s 20th Century Fox International produced “Heilstätten” onto a dual format, DVD and 1080p Blu-ray, release. The Region 1 and A, not rated film is presented in a widescreen, 16:9 aspect ratio, that’s relatively free of problems. The second act shadows find definition hard to make out under the quick, stark edits, but the “Predator” heat vision is nice touch to liven things up when the darkness is as black as night. The German language DTS-HD Master Audio lives up to the supernatural maelstrom that cause the covers to be pulled up to your eyeballs with range and depth to personify the gloomy corridors and multi-level death snares. The hard-lined English subtitles are well synced and accurate and the release also offers up an English dub track. The DVD comes with an English language Dolby Digital track too. Bonus features a slim with a just a trailer to it’s name. “Heilstätten” is one effectively spooky, atmospherically creepy, and dreadfully engrossing good time with a full-bodied backstory topped with Blut und Eingeweide.

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Evil Reeks in an Old Magician’s Mansion. “Death’s Door” review!

Deaths Door DVD
A young group of people are mysteriously texted an address for an unknown party. When they arrive, the address takes them to a dilapidated mansion with innards displayed as if time has ceased to exists. When the group tries to leave, all the doors to the outside won’t open, condemning them to the horrors of a magician’s vengeful spirit and his very large and frightening assistant who looms around the mansion’s endless corridors. As the group continues to butt against each other in distress and disbelief, one-by-one they fall victim to the magician’s gruesome parlor tricks behind every door and the only way out of the mansion may be dependent on their families’ legacies.
With a premise similar to the 1999 remake of “House on Haunted Hill” where a group of people are mysterious invited to a creepy house and end up in a death trap, I wouldn’t say director Kennedy Goldsby’s “Death’s Door” aka “The Trap Door” is entirely, 100 percent unique. In fact, much of the film is undeniably the same compared to William Malone directed remake, yet less entertaining and without an all-star cast and a vaster budget. “Death Door” lures with the headliners of more attractive and experienced stars with the Jamaican-born movie and television actor Obba Babatundé and the “Friday” franchise actor, and overall a big, badass monster of a man, Tommy “Tiny” Lister. Yet, like most smaller projects, I’m sure Obba’s and Tiny’s handful of scenes were the majority of the budget pie, leaving a few dollar bills at the bottom of the barrel for special effects that were desperately needed for a film about a ghoulish magician.
The effects were completely inadequate and can’t even equate to the same stature used for “House on Haunted Hill.” Off screen deaths, quick edits and cuts, camera angles, shoddy CGI, the over use of red tints, shaky camera, flash backs, and a prop skeleton tried to sell plausibility when really just added to absurdity. Aside from the lackluster effects, the Goldsby penned script logically doesn’t flow and fails to develop acts. While seeking for an exit, separate groups of characters aimlessly wander the house, trying door after door, and then the next scene could be one of those characters mixed in with another separate group, creating some continuity confusion. Also, much of the script settles to a stagnate, housing an unnecessary long montage of the group being bored, napping, looking glum, or walking from one part of the room to another. To put the cherry on top, a random nude scene is oddly inserted into a montage into the magician backstory portion. There’s no telling who the naked breasts belong to or why they’re naked to even begin with as the exploitive and titillating shot crops out the head and the setting is awfully generic, not placing the body in any familiar surroundings related to the mansion.
I will say that very few of the acting skill sets were not at a total loss. The fast-talking, wise-crackin’ Bruce played by Chico Benymon was entertaining; the character’s angst-fllled stand-up-comic style character goes against the grain, fleeting any ideas of ghosts or any form of malevolency. Tommy “Tiny” Lister is always top notch. The big man doesn’t even have to say a word and he’s downright menacing, even if his character, Jomo, stuffs emotionless Latina’s into tight spaces and fails to soil the pants of the mansion’s guest when quietly walking around them. Sarah Wagenvoord, who I was hoping had the mysterious naked breasts scene due to her massive…well, you know, should have played a more prominent role du in part to her character’s outcome. Actors Michael Bernardi, Felix Ryan, and Danielle Lilley maintained an average performance through a mirco-budget production. The rest foundered to capture any kind of terror or despair or just even trying to be a normal character, overacting the parts as if trying to put passion into reading straight from the script.
The video quality of the MVDVisual DVD comes with hardly any flaws in the video stock or any loss in the natural coloring. The stereo audio is a bit unbalanced between the LFE and the dialogue tracks, deducing to some loss dialogue over the pounding hammering sounds. The extras includes the Kennedy Goldsby directed music video of “Shorty Wassup” by Hip-Hop artist Sizzol Pop. The last piece of bonus material is a behind-the-scenes featurette from the actual haunted house set where the crew has personal encounters with the spirits. “Death’s Door” is a fools gold, a trap, that promises deadly snares, haunting ghoul, and many scares. The ending comes to a complete halt with only tall tales of what might have dastardly happened to most of the characters in the rickety mansion. I would recommend far better old mansion spook stories.