Monday, May 22, 2017

House on Willow Street



Director - Alastair Orr
Stars: Carlyn Burchell, Sharni Vinson, Zino Ventura

Horror

3 Out of 5

"An impressive finish to a slow burn. Typical clich├ęs got swept away with gory good FX and a strong finish by actresses Carlyn Burchell and Sharni Vinson. I enjoyed the middle to end."


Four would-be kidnappers plan the taking of a diamond dealer's daughter to ransom. Their careful planning lead to the house on Willow Street and upon entering the dark home, the four adults see various strange symbols that are the first clue to the viewer that all is not well within the house on Willow Street.  Katherine is secreted away and taken to an unknown location and chained to a chair. 



Hazel (Sharni Vinson/You're Next) commented that it looked like they had rescued Katherine from the house, which is the second clue. Katherine begs the kidnappers to "save yourselves" and "release me" they typical rote of any victim; however the kidnappers should have heeded the warning and released her.


The kidnappers videoed their victim and wished to send to her father, unfortunately problems arise. The parents of Katherine could not be reached. They ring all their numbers and it became evident that something was amiss and two of the kidnappers returned to the house. After one scary encounter the two men return with a tape that reveals the horrors surrounding the reputation of the Willow Street house and gives further insight to the woman they have chained. She harbored a secret that will affect each of them. 



Fans of demons and exorcisms may like this film. I was unsure of what I was getting myself into and the first part of the film was slow and I was left caring little for the characters and wishing them all a fast death for the boredom that I felt as I struggled to stay awake. Once the tape was introduced to the kidnappers, ghosts appeared and a demon made his presence felt and seen. I sat up straighter in my chair and took notice and for the second half of the film. 

I did come to care, but not for the kidnappers...for the demon possessed Katherine! She was the true star of this story. Her transformation from scared victim to a powerful entity was breathtaking. The gory effects were very entertaining and the best part of the demon was the barbed snake-like tongue that seemed to have no end, when it exited Katherine's mouth. WICKED! The strongest of characters were Katherine (Carlyn Burchell/12 Monkeys, Lizzie Borden Chronicles) and Hazel (Sharni Vinson). 

Sacrifices were made and Hazel was left to face the demon known as the "Devourer of Tormented Souls". The ending was explosive! I would recommend this film, however it is a one-time watch for me. I wouldn't look for it on DVD or Blu-ray, perhaps Red Box or as an Amazon rental. 




Monday, April 3, 2017

31


Director - Rob Zombie
Starring: Malcolm McDowell, Richard Brake, Meg Foster

Horror - Thriller

1.75 Out of 5


"WTF!!! 
It's like Rob swallowed all his movies and vomited "31" onto his audience. I have not been this disappointed in him since his second Halloween."
Char/Charred Remains

The latest from Rob Zombie has the Charred One scratching her head. What the fuck did I just watch? It's like Rob took all his movies and vomited "31" onto his audience. I have not been this disappointed in him since Halloween 2. 

One either likes Rob Zombie films or they hate them. In the past I have been a fan and even with the bizarro film The Lords of Salem, I held firm to my belief that he was worth watching, but with new film, I have serious doubts about what direction he was aiming for with 31. It fell flat after the opening scene with Doom-Head (Richard Brake) which held so much promise for a gruesome story.

In this story a band of carnies run into trouble in a small town October 31, 1976. They are kidnapped and forced to play a game called 31 of which the objective was to survive 12 hours in a maze of horrors dreamed up by the game-makers. 

Zombie is known for his heavier metal music but to horror fans he is the go-to for depraved gory splatter flicks that have given fans hits such as his directorial debut, House of 1000 Corpses and fan favorite (sequel) The Devil's Rejects which lead to more horrors including his re-imagined film based upon the classic horror film, Halloween

Through them all I sat on the edge of my seat and watched as his psychotic characters transferred from words written in a script to a screen bathed in blood. Depravity knew no boundaries where Zombie's stories were concerned. His work became my guilty pleasure and with each one I waited patiently for the next. I was thrilled to see 31 on DVD and snatched it up for a weekend viewing. However, once I popped it into my player...I sat in horror as I fought to stay awake to finish the entire film. It was a struggle and one that ended in a sound sleep. 

I slept through the screams, blood-shed, the sound of chainsaws and the ticking off the clock while the victims’ time grew shorter as they fought for survival. I slept through it all! For this review I forced myself to watch it again and the lacked heart. I am sorry to report there was no soul to this film. It was real "snooze-fest". It's like Zombie swallowed all of his films and vomited 31 on his audience. I was watching a culmination of all his work and other horror films came to mind such as Saw, Kill and Circus of the Dead.

In each of the films listed above it is a game of survival. The victim/player is forced to make decisions that will affect either their own life or the lives of others. Odds were placed on the five players of 31; the odds that I was going to love this film or even like it are slim. I had three likes one being the gory blood scenes, Doom-Head as the opening and closer to the story and the soundtrack.

Doom-Head he just oozed a maniacal psycho with the face of a clown. In his opening scene he explains to a priest that he was not a clown, but he had a clown face (looked like Captain Spaulding from House of 1000 Corpses) and moments later he is swinging his ax and the blood spatter mixed with the wet squelching sounds as the ax struck flesh had me giddy with anticipation. That lasted a few minutes and never returned. 

Sherri Moon Zombie is once again a character in her husband's film. She brings nothing to the film but a tired look and boring performance that had me begging the killers to find her and end the madness of watching her lethargic brand of acting.

Other familiar faces Meg Foster, Malcolm McDowell, Lew Temple did little to make the film interesting and became background dressings for a film that was doomed after the first five minutes.

Instead of total decimation of this film, I'll answer an important question. Would I recommend seeing this film? No. It's not worth the time or the $12.96 plus tax that I invested in it. It's a pass for me. However this is just my opinion. Be your own judge and if you want to take a chance on 31, by all means you take a chance on it, but I would recommend renting it from Red Box, Amazon etc., before shelling out the dough for it on DVD/BluRay. 

Sunday, February 26, 2017

Amethyst

Frolic Pictures




New Psychedelic Horror Adventure 'Amethyst' premieres on Amazon Prime
The most shocking silent horror film since Nosferatu. Amethyst, written and directed by psycho-sensationalist, Jared Masters (Slink, Ballet of Blood). Shot in 4-K resolution, in a secret garden, this highly anticipated feature film is now available to watch free with an Amazon Prime subscription, or rent or download to own (DVD coming soon). This phenomenal picture was the Semi-Finalist this year at the Los Angeles CineFest and Winner at the UHD 4K Film Festival, in South Korea, where it will be broadcasted on local television (SkyTV). 


Trapped in a trip. The incredible true story of Amethyst, the girl who accidentally consumed a full vial of LSD, on her 17th birthday, and inevitably begins losing her mind. Follow along, as this profound psychedelic adventure unfolds.


She took too much.

Will she ever return to this side of reality again? Will her best friend, Ember, who gave her the gift, find her, in time?


One drop is enough.

Consumed by a kaleidoscope of wonder, Amethyst discovers a whole new existence above ours, inhabited by female vampires, piccolo-playing eunuchs, romantic noblemen, river nymphs, mystical floating orbs, and a giant stone pyramid that may be her portal home.


A fragile mind in a delicate body.

What critics are saying…

“…heavy on style and trippy nuance, AMETHYST is one LSD trip appreciators of art house horror will definitely want to check out. In this dialog-less experimental film, a pair of women take some LSD and go on a sometimes beautiful/sometimes haunting trek across a mansion grounds, a countryside, along a river, and through a cemetery. Writer/director Jared Masters gives these two damsels room to explore the locale and come in contact with some pretty trippy things along this fantastical journey. AMETHYST is a psychedelic little pill worth popping.”
– Ain’t It Cool News

"I don't think I've seen a worse film...just a bore."
Randibee IMDB User Review
   
"I am sure there were a lot a symbolism and metaphors I didn't get, but the film wasn't worth thinking about. Grace Kilch is in nearly ever scene. It is like watching somebody else's acid trip...oh it is."
The Movie Guy Amazon Prime Review





Yeah, Yeah, Yeah...


NOW here's what I have to say about AMETHYST...

Director - Jared Masters
Starring: Grace Klich, Valerie Miller, Derrick Biedenback, Olivia Yohai, Jared Masters and Vincent Joel

Adventure - Fantasy - Horror
Left to Right: Grace Klich "Amethyst and Valerie Miller "Ember"




A young woman named Amethyst is given a gift on her seventeenth birthday from friend, Ember. Inside the box is tiny bottle with a stopper. Amethyst glances briefly at the card but not reading it fully before she opens the bottle and drinks the entire bottle. It is only then that she sees at the bottom of her card a "PS. Just one drop". 

OOPS...

Amethyst begins to stroll the grounds of a nice estate (movie was filmed in Virginia) complete with lush gardens and Koi fish pond. As she strolls, the contents of the bottle begin to explode in her blood stream and she exhibits one in the beginning of a psychedelic trip. 

The friend who gifted the liquid soon arrives behind her at the house and sees the emptied bottle and grows concerned for her friend and traces the steps Amethyst has taken. It takes some time but the two meet up and from there the trip begins to look like an explorative of touch and sound as the drug continues to course through Amethyst's body.  The women dance and frolic and at one point Amethyst is drawn away by a mysterious man described as the Eunuch Bridgekeeper (Derrick Biedenback). His presence is whimsical and odd. 

Her journey leads to an interlude in the meadow where bread and wine turn deadly, to a cemetery where a day walker takes a bite and drinks her blood to an erotic moment with Ember with a chalice of blood. The trip culminates with a dip with a water nymph and leads...well maybe you should just experience for yourself!

My thoughts on the film...

Before I go any further...this is not a film for the general horror audience. If you read my review and go out and purchase, rent or watch on your Amazon Prime account and then come back and blast me, you were forewarned. However, this film is may appeal to the Art House lover. Look deeper and you may enjoy this film on the merits of the art that was created by the artist.

What is "Art House" according to Google...An art house film is typically independently-produced, outside of the major film studio system. Major studios are reluctant to pour money into projects which are unlikely to return a profit due to the limited – often niche market – appeal of the material. 

What is Art House to me? I see all Indie films as the definition above implies, however there are those filmmakers that take it to the next level. They incorporate artistic measures that may seem to overwhelm the general audience or even bore them, but the filmmaker is striving to add diversity. They are attempting to transform from a script of words into images with hopes that it works well and sometimes not in hopes of being liked. They do it for the challenge and for their art.

Amethyst is such a film. It is independently made with the typical trappings of a low funded project. The actors are not of the highest caliber and usually the fodder for an attack review from reviewers who cannot see past their own greatness at other aspects of a film or this film in particular. Poor acting in films is a peeve of mine, but this film was different. You have a character on a mind-trip and her expressions changed like the wind. And if one is tripping, do they stop to worry with how they look or how they are acting? Hmmm...NO and in that respect Grace Klich nailed it for me. Remember how everyone gave kudos to Bryce Dallas Howard for wearing heels in Jurassic World? I give Grace major kudos for being "barefooted" throughout the film! 

Grace has an innocent naivety that transferred nicely and looked good on film. Her character has obviously never tripped before and her body and mind went through a whole different transformation in the course of her hour long trip. My favorite expression was when she dropped the purple plum and it cracked like an egg on the rocks. She looked skeptical and then she had an impish mischievous expression that I laughed out loud. It was something I would have done. It humanized her to me and I saw her more as a person and less than just another character. 

 The location was beautiful and with the masterful additions of CGI it takes the viewer on a virtual journey of colors, sights and sound. The film is dubbed a silent film with no audible dialogue. The story is placed heavily on the shoulders of the actors to portray a first trip on the hallucinogenic drug while the viewer follows. The musical score used throughout the film lends to the specifics of what is transpiring and it intensified appropriately to the scenes. 

I am not a fan of Jared Masters' films, but I did like this one. I am a lover of old silent films and although this not in the same caliber of old Hollywood, but it was a decent trial of the style. I was not bored and did not skip ahead and I did not wish it would end. I stand by my views that it is not for the general public and that's an honest assessment. I do not think I would find this film on the shelves of friends who love horror movies or even trippy films, but those who like artsy trippy Indies...take a look. You may not agree with me or even Jared but you may learn something in CGI or cinematography that you could use in your own artistic careers. 

This film is what it is a TRIP...a drugged induced mind blower and nothing about it makes sense. It doesn't have to; it wasn't meant to be understood. So do not fault someone else's trip for not making sense. Instead of looking and seeing this as a bad film, look past the prejudices of low-budget films and see the beauty of what Jared has done. He entertained this reviewer for over an hour and inspired me enough to sit down and write about it. I didn't see the need to rip it apart based on what the general horror viewer would see; I looked deeper for the positive and found it. 






 Amethyst is A Strange...Mystical...Stylish Mind Blower 
I Enjoyed the Trip. 
Char/Charred Remains Reviews










Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Inspiration



Director: Jason Armstrong
Stars: Emily Alatalo, Jennifer Polansky, Coline Paradine, Andrew Roth and Ry Barrett

Thriller

4/5

"Jason Armstrong is one twisted fucker! Inspiration is a mind-bender that takes the viewer to another dimension of horror. This film will seriously have you doubting your own sanity. It did not disappoint!"
Charred Remains Reviews


The men and women involved in this film are some of my favorites in Canadian Independent Horror. They always deliver and have yet to disappoint this reviewer. I was thrilled when writer/director Jason Armstrong asked if I was still reviewing, because it gave me this wonderful opportunity to view his film. 



Fans of Stephen King will love this story. There's a nod to the horror author in that the main character Samantha who shares a King-like name...Kingsley. Another similarity is that Samantha is a horror author as well.  Portrayed by the beautiful Emily Alatalo (The Scarehouse/Neverlost), Samantha Kingsley is an exceptional horror writer who decides to switch genres and try her hand at writing romance. 

All writers at one time or the other comes to a certain crossroad, where they want to try something new. It is the job of their publisher to remind them what made them popular in the first place and sometimes persuade them to stick with their genre and not take a risk on genre switch. Such is the case with INSPIRATION. Samantha's publisher asks her to rethink her decision and to abandon romance and return to horror. The publisher utilizes the perfect opportunity and offers it to Samantha.


Left to right: Jennifer Polansky, Emily Alatalo


Samantha's relationship with her husband Mark Kingsley (The Demolisher/Antisocial) is tested by weakness of the flesh and results in immediate separation. Upon further reflection, Samantha decides to take her publisher's writing opportunity and moves out. New location is needed and she moves to a secluded house in the mountains. And from that point on...everything is upside down.

I don't want to spoil the film and will cease to give away more of the plot, but I highly recommend this mind-bending film. You will see things and by the end of the film question your own sanity. INSPIRATION is a dark foray into a maddening state that will leave you to wonder, but because of how it is played out, you will be satisfied with the ending. It is twisted, shocking and I loved every moment of it!

It's hard to break down the other actors and mention who they were and how they connected to Samantha without giving away too much. Suffice to say their performances were memorable and once again provided a pleasurable viewing seeing so many of my favorites in one film. 

Film festivals will want to add this film. It's edgy, intriguing, disturbing and it's like an intricate puzzle that horror fans will enjoy trying to figure out. If someone involved in a festival should read this review, look for Jason Armstrong and request his film to be in your festival. It is well worth my recommendation for your festival. 

Emily Alatalo as "Samantha Kingsley"


For those of you that have read my reviews on my other blog, then you are familiar with the names: Ryan "Ry" Barrett, Emily Alatalo, Jennifer Polanksy, Colin Paradine and Andrew Roth and if you are new to my reviews and these actors, then it is my highest recommendation that you seek out the films of which all these actors starred. 

Look for: The Demolisher (Ry Barrett), The Scarehouse (Emily Alatalo), 48 Hours in Purgatory (Andrew Roth, Emily Alatalo), SICK: Survive the Night (Jennifer Polansky), Neverlost (Ry Barrett, Emily Alatalo, Jennifer Polansky), Antisocial (Ry Barrett, Jennifer Polansky), Backwater (Andrew Roth), Abolition (Andrew Roth, Ry Barrett, Emily Alatalo, Colin Paradine) and Dead Genesis (Ry Barrett, Emily Alatalo, Colin Paradine).

I would like to thank Jason Armstrong for allowing me to experience his film. I say this with utmost respect, "Jason you are one twisted fucker!" I enjoy watching your films. I look forward to many more to come.

Film Links






Key words
#inspiration
#indie
#horror
#canadian
#madness



Saturday, October 29, 2016

Into the Forest


Director - Patricia Rozema
Starring: Ellen Page, Evan Rachel Wood, Max Minghella
Drama - Sci-Fi - Thriller

4/5

It's the end of the world!

"Ellen Page and Evan Rachel Wood were phenomenal in this film. Poignant, bittersweet. A powerful and moving portrayal of sisters trying to survive the end of the world. Awesome!"
Charred Remains Reviews

Recently I discovered new film on DVD starring Ellen Page and Evan Rachel Wood called INTO THE FOREST. At first glance of the synopsis, I almost put it down. The description included one word that I am tired of seeing...Apocalyptic. Most "apocalyptic" films include zombies and with a genre overrun with the shambling undead, I almost missed out on a really good story. 

The entire synopsis reads, "Set in the near future, this riveting and suspenseful apocalyptic drama follows two sisters whose peaceful lives are disrupted one day by a world-wide power outage. The sisters must work together in order to survive in their increasingly treacherous new world, fighting intruders, disease, loneliness and starvation."

NO mention of zombies just that one descriptive word, "apocalyptic" that screamed zombies must appear at some point. I walked away from the film and something made me turn around and go back and I so, so very glad that I did. I highly recommend this film and I will tell you why without spoilers. 

It is true there is a power outage that affects the current living conditions for the area in which Nell (Ellen Page/X-Men Future Past/Juno), sister Eva (Evan Rachel Wood/Westworld/Across the Universe) and their dad (Callum Keith Rennie /Longmire/Warcraft) reside. The coolest aspect is their house. It was automated and functioned by command. When the power first went off the small family commanded the power to come back on. It reminded me a little of the old "clapper" commercials in which customers would clap their hands to turn their lights on/off. Unfortunately for Nell, Eva and their dad the command failed as the power remained off. 

Time passes and as it becomes obvious something is wrong. A trip to town revealed gas outages and missing neighbors and a nearly empty grocery market being run by a shady employee named Stan (Michael Eklund/Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency/The Call). Dad and the girls do their best to secure candles, food and necessities to survive until the power is restored. Rumors and speculation is heard by several people that it was a terrorist attack that led to the power outage, but nothing is confirmed. 

The trio returns home and come up on a situation that troubled the dad and he decides there wouldn't be any further trips into town until he felt it was safe to return. This is not what either girl approves of for different reasons (no spoilers) and it is clearly noted by teenage rebellion and words that cannot be taken back. 

A terrible accident occurs that thrusts the siblings into a harsh new reality. They are forced to come to terms in a startling way and relying on each other's strengths and weaknesses they persevere with a vast array of knowledge found in books from their home.  They begin to seek out plants for food and medicines that grew in the forest surrounding their home based on their research. A empty jar of jelly is given a fix in the discovery of berries and the instructions to make more. 

The sisters seemed to be adjusting well to the life altering changes, when an intruder comes along leaving in his wake devastation and consequences for Eva that takes the sisters into another learning curve that almost becomes too much for one and alienates the other. 

I found the pacing of the film to be slow as it showed character development and added to the suspense. With each moment, I sat watching and aching for their suffering and laughed and shared in their small comforts and joys in the course of an hour and forty-one minutes, I came to care about these sisters and waited with hands clenched during the most intense situations to see how they would handle the chaos and upset. 

Their relationship was loving and poignant, but they had their moments with tempers that flared and tension that broke out between. In one scene, Eva begged her sister to use their gas to start up their generator, so she could listen to music and watch videos of their deceased mom. The harsh reality that that gas was too precious to waste created argument that just couldn't be justified no matter how either of them wanted to solve it by giving in to the luxury.

The ending was satisfying and raised an eyebrow that no matter what happens there is always hope and with love, determination anything is possible even in the darkest of times...hope survives.
If you want to see a good character driven, well developed film with beautiful cinematography and a lot of heart, rent or buy a copy of INTO THE FOREST and see for yourself why I gave the film 4 out of 5 for an excellent indie film that remained with me long after the credits faded away. 

Below is the trailer and links for the film.

Facebook 

IMDB

Amazon






Keywords: apocalyptic, sisters, Ellen Page, Evan Rachel Wood, survival, indie film

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Thrill Kill



Director Giuseppe Asaro
Starring: Adea Lennox, Max Gray Wilbur,  Todd Landon

Crime - Horror - Thriller

 3 out of 5

"Thrill Kill surprised the hell out of me!"
Charred Remains


Two male teens are thrust into a real nightmare created by Karrie (Adea Lennox) whose incident of horror at the hands of her mother's boyfriend spur her boyfriend Christian (Max Gray Wilbur) to confide into best friend Danny (Todd Landon) who decides the only way to deal with the incident is to take out the problem.

Both young men are video game junkies who believe that killing another human is no different than killing a character in a video game. When the moment that separates fantasy from reality comes face to face with the accused, can Christian and Danny deliver their promise to Karrie?

This film was given to me for an honest review and I hope my words deliver my true feelings on the matter of fantasy game playing compared to real life murder. The subject matter described by Karrie to her boyfriend and their friend is a strong slap in the face to what befell her character. What I didn't see coming was the how or the why? No spoilers. The way the film was told with going back and zooming in on certain parts of the story unfolds in a way that explains everything without befuddling the viewer. Nicely done. 

The teens exuded what bordered on overly confident and cockiness, when it came to their mercenary skills that they were only too eager to demonstrate. The two young men were in a frenzied state of emotion and testosterone at the audacity of what Bud (Kadu Lennox) did to Karrie. Their sole mission was to terminate their target. The baddest of all conquests and they felt sure that they could deliver because of their skills with a game controller.

However, this film and its female character had her own ideas. I do not wish to spoil the film, because it has a surprising twist, one I didn't see coming.  It is with my hope and recommendation that viewers give this dark gem a chance and bear through the slow burn for a fulfilling ending. This ending had my lips lifting in a satisfying smile and deep sigh at the end. Nicely played by the least expected character to manipulate the situation to suit their own desires.  

I liked the story more than anything. The actors in my opinion were fair in their skills, but the story had a life of its own and the actions it placed its young cast in created enough of a diversion that the mediocre acting was overshadowed by a strong solid story. The director had a good sense of what to give and when to give it with a wicked twist. 

Be forewarned it is a slow burn. Almost to the point of excruciating but hang in there it gets to the point and the truth of the matter was worth the wait. 

Thrill Kill is not to be overlooked! It had a strong story, solid twist and good music throughout. I think viewers will be surprised with this film...in a good way. It surprised the hell out of me.



Keywords
video games, violence against women, survival, revenge