ANOTHER ALL OUT BRAWL FROM THE GREAT TEAM OF WRITERS AT FARSIGHTED (INCLUDING MYSELF, OF COURSE). GET AT ME IN THE COMMENTS SECTION!
ANOTHER ALL OUT BRAWL FROM THE GREAT TEAM OF WRITERS AT FARSIGHTED (INCLUDING MYSELF, OF COURSE). GET AT ME IN THE COMMENTS SECTION!
Here is a group review of THE NEON DEMON. Check it out and holler at me in the comments!
BY BLAINE MCLAREN
This past year was an undeniable bummer. We lost Prince, David Bowie and countless other cultural figures of society. We elected a Twitter happy reality star as our Commander-in-Chief and rappers have decided its more exciting to beef on Instagram instead of releasing records. The end may be nigh, but at least we had a great year of movie releases. VOD continued to dump great films into our living rooms, companies like Vinegar Syndrome and Arrow restored fantastic, lost gems and even Multiplexes provided us with a consistent string of entertaining releases. My list this year is a healthy combination of all three sources and had to dwindle a huge list into a measly fifteen films. I am sure that I missed some great films, but of the 300+ I saw, these were my favorite.
15. Ouija: Origin of Evil (Mike Flanagan)
It seems odd to be praising this film. I did not expect much, but I was humbled to go to a screening (with other cynical bastards) with snarky comments and come out completely jazzed. The scares are a plenty, but the greatest achievement is the way it is made. The film could have been a lot of things, but Flanagan was skilled enough to make an old fashioned ghost story and breathe new life into it.
14. Lung II (Phil Stevens)
Another beautifully shot, silent film from auteur Phil Stevens. A nightmarish journey through the psyche of a serial killer shot entirely in black and white. There are very few people doing what Mr Stevens is ad I hope to continue to see more highly original horror from him.
13. The Alchemist Cookbook (Joel Potrykus)
Joel Potrykus has been an interesting director over these past few years. Both Ape and Buzzard were amazing exercises in nihilism, adding a new layer to the well worn territory of “slacker” films. The Alchemist Cookbook is no exception and manages to do more with even less. All of Potrykus’ films have been small, but this flick boasts a cast of two, with a couple adorable cameos from some animals who play major parts in the film. Most of what is on screen would be pretty boring if it was in the hands of a less skilled artist, but the casting and perspective makes for a fantastic depiction of the banality of solitude.
12. The Greasy Strangler (Jim Hosking)
Bullshit Artist!!!!! Need I say more….
11. The Neon Dead (Torey Haas)
I’ve watched this film multiple times now and I am repeatedly impressed by the quality and care put into The Neon Dead. The lighting and sets are spectacular, giving the film a dreamy vibe that is infinitely watchable. The special effects are over the top and unique, offering a new mythology and cast of villains brought to life on a minimum budget.
10. The Wailing (Na Hong-Jin)
An epic possession film from South Korea that utilizes its foreign concwpts to make a film even scarier. Now that this film is on Netflix, I really hope more people get to see it.
9. Night Of Something Strange (Jonathan Straiton)
An over-the-top gross out film about a sexually transmitted zombie virus. What a fantastic description for a fun film that turns the teenage roadtrip movie on its head. Buy a six pack, invite over some friends and enjoy the hell out of this crazy flick!
8. Dreaming Purple Neon (Todd Sheets)
The title and one-sheet alone had me hooked for Dreaming Purple Neon, so when I had the opportunity to check it out I did not hesitate one bit. This film packs a lot of genres and ideas into its nearly 2 hour runtime and Mr Sheets manages to pull it off to an impressive degree.
7. The Night Watchmen (Mitchell Altieri)
This slapstick, gore-soaked comedy came out of nowhere and left me with a smile on my face for its entire runtime. Some may be too cool for its silly (and occasionally campy) sensibilities, but those people are not the target audience and will probably never see it.
6. BB (CJ Wallis)
BB is a cinematic example of watching an artist find his voice. The film shifts multiple perspectives and is not afraid to mix things up (stylistically speaking). This entire movie could have been done much easier (and lazier) as a found footage film, but luckily they choose not to and opted for a more stylish route. This film transcends its T & A concept and gives the viewer a look into the life of a camgirl on the edge.
5. Another Evil (Carson Mell)
Another Evil dwells in that strange world where there is no real genre to place it in. It is funny, but it is not a comedy and it is has ghosts, but it is not really a horror movie. Where it falls in…who knows, but I can say that it is one of the best written and acted films of the year.
4. Train To Busan (Sang-ho Yeon)
Not since The Raid 2 have I seen an action movie that was this exciting. A big budget Zombie movie full of emotion and action set pieces that should have Hollywood shaking in their boots. Mark my words, once this film hits Netflix it will be the biggest movie of the year!
3. Pig Pen (Jason Koch)
Every year there is that one indie release that really grabs me. That movie that strikes an emotional chord, that feels both cinematic and intimate. In 2014 it was Found, last year it was Androgynym and this year it is Jason Koch’s Pig Pen. This film is a masterful example of “true to life” horror, telling a grim story of poverty and the toils of boyhood. This departure from traditional horror is refreshing and really shows the signs of a maturing artist who is not interested in being kept to one genre. Pig Pen is a moving, but intensely ugly film that is just as much a thriller as it is a coming-of-age tale.
2. Frankenstein Created Bikers (James Bickert)
Make no bones about it, this is a 125 minute epic of exploitation and excess! I Cannot stress how fun this flick is and urge you to check it out for yourself
1. The Witch (Robert Eggers)
From numbers 15 to 2 it was hard to make my picks for the year, but my number one film of the was (undoubtedly) The Witch. This is a complex, timely film that will go down as one the of the classiest horror films in history. I wouldn’t be surprised to hear this film mentioned in the same breath as The Exorcist and Rosemary’s Baby. Who knows?…but time will tell and Robert Eggers has solidified himself as horror royalty with The Witch.
THANK YOU TO EVERYONE WHO READ AND SUPPORTED US THIS YEAR AND WE WILL SEE YOU IN 2017
BY BLAINE MCLAREN
There is not a lot to say about this 1977 classic that has not been said hundreds of times. This is one of those great films that you may not appreciate when you are young, but grows on you as you get older and more jaded. Wes Craven started his career with the one-two punch of nihilism know as (back to back releases) Last House on the Left and The Hills Have Eyes. What is fantastic about “Hills” is that it works out all of the goofiness in “House” and shows why (the late) Wes Craven would go on to be a master of horror. He sets the tone and maintains it from beginning to end, making outlandish characters feel real and alive. When it is time to turn up the tension, he never hesitates to show true ugliness and violence. While being a great film, most of its releases have been fairly sub par. Luckily the good folks at Arrow Video decided to rerelease it and give it the care/attention that it has always deserved.
The 4k scan used for the blu ray looks great and you finally get to see the detail and great photography in this film. Most prints have that very “brown” look that instantly makes a film seem older and less impressive, but this print corrects that. The color shines through and you get a real feel for the desolation and heat these actors are enduring. My favorite part of this release is the hour long “making of” that managed to bring back most of the central cast and crew. Wes Craven tells stories and we get to hear the details of what it took to get this story from page to screen. If you don’t dig great movies, then you can watch the “feel good” alternate ending (that is also included). Overall, this is the home release that the film deserves and it offers a lot of goodies that make it well worth the sticker price. THE ARROW VIDEO RELEASE OF THE HILLS HAVE EYES IS CURRENTLY AVAILABLE AT RETAILERS, INCLUDING AMAZON.COM
Brand new 4K restoration of the film, supervised by producer Peter Locke and viewable with both original and alternate endings
BY BLAINE MCLAREN
Todd Sheets is a living legend of no-budget filmmaking and he is a filmmaker that I am always excited to see anything that comes from him. Movies like Zombie Bloodbath, Goblin and Nightmare Asylum were “go-to” films back in the VHS era and he has made a fantastic comeback over these past few years. Contributing to a couple anthologies and his impressive feature House of Forbidden Secrets. The title and one-sheet alone had me hooked for Dreaming Purple Neon, so when I had the opportunity to check it out I did not hesitate one bit. This film packs a lot of genres and ideas into its nearly 2 hour runtime and Mr Sheets manages to pull it off to an impressive degree.
Dreaming Purple Neon begins with two drug dealers/gangsters, Tyrone (Ricky Farr) and Ray Ray (Antwoine Steel), who are dealing with an associate who has clearly crossed the two. Once things go south, they kill the associate and scare the hell out of their employee Catriona (Millie Milan). She freaks out, steals the mysterious drugs and flees to one of her friends who works for a dentist. At the same time, Dallas (Jeremy Edwards) has returned to his hometown to try to settle things with his ex. It just so happens that this leads Dallas to the same dentists’ office as Catriona. Once all of these stories intersect it leads all of our players into the clutches of an evil Satanic cult that is manufacturing a drug called (you guessed it) Purple Neon. It is at this point that things get messy and our characters end up in a fight for their lives and sanity.
This film harkens back to a lot of what has made Todd Sheets early films so enjoyable, but the level of craftsmanship makes this film much more impressive than what you would expect. Scenes are shot well and scenes feel deliberate and lack the padding you would usually see in a film like this. Todd Sheets’ direction feels very confident and this confidence affects everyone involved in the film. The acting is a little rough around the edges, but the lines are delivered with that same confidence, which (instantly) sells the viewer into believing what they say (no matter how ridiculous).
The biggest star of this film is the practical FX on display in this film. They must have gone through gallons and gallons of fake blood. Gooey latex and prosthetics get torn to shreds by cleverly designed demons, people and monsters throughout. I can only imagine how much work it was to clean up after these scenes, but this film puts every single dollar if its budget on the screen. The sign of a true indie filmmaker that understands why we all love these types of films. The only complaint I found was that the (occasional) CGI really stood out. With these budgets it is necessary, but the top notch practical FX made the digital FX look worse. That tiny (and easily overlooked) gripe aside, this is an original horror that rises above your normal glut of low budget horror that fans deserve. Todd Sheets has blessed us with another great splatter-classic that gore fans will be singing praises of for years to come. DREAMING PURPLE NEON WILL BE RELEASING SOON AND I WILL UPDATE WHEN IT IS ANNOUNCED.
BY BLAINE MCLAREN
Sleaze Box and Gatorblade pictures are back at it again…just in time for the holidays. I am not sure who said “let’s make Bob Glazier Santa Claus”, but I want to personally thank them. Cannibal Claus is a Christmas movie, but it is not exactly fit for the whole family. It has all of the gore and naked breasts you have come to expect, but this time it is set to the jolly tune of Christmas carols. It may not be the best film from Director Sean Donohue, but it is one of his most enjoyable.
Cannibal Claus starts with a mall Santa (played by Bob Glazier) losing his job to his smug employer. This sets our central character into a tailspin of debauchery and violence, putting together “a list” of those who have been naughty and nice. This includes anyone who has ever wronged him and his methods are as brutal as they are funny.
The company of actors that Sean Donohue and Sleaze Box films continually work with really seem to be growing as a whole. These actors are clearly having a great time and it shows throughout the film’s brisk runtime. The direction is solid and feels cinematic, but it does lack a little of the polish we saw in Death-Scort Service. The scenes are a little choppier than his last film, but it’s not distracting and may help with the playful tone. What works best is how this film interweaves the two storylines, giving an explanation for our Santa’s quick decent into insanity. The family from the flashback sequences give great performances (They are played by a real family; Alberto, Mady and Lucio Giovannelli) and give the viewer a break from the non-stop gore flinging.
I would be remised if I did not mention the parade of lovely women in this film. There is a list too long to name, but they all deserve credit for giving fun performances and never wasting a moment of screen time. So if you prefer your Christmas movies a little sleazier, trading cheer and snow for blood and boobs, then give Cannibal Claus a chance! CANNIBAL CLAUS IS COMING SOON FROM GATORBLADE FILMS AND SLEAZE BOX
BY BLAINE MCLAREN
Expectation can be a very tricky thing, especially with movies and the internet. Rarely can films live up to their own hype, but when I see a film’s name popping up all over…my curiosity gets the best of me. Over the past month (or so) I have been seeing the name BB pop up on sites that I respect. I would quickly skim the reviews and could tell that this was a film for me. BB is a self financed movie from C.J. Wallis that is rough around the edges, but full of interesting choices that make for an excellent first feature.
This film follows a woman named Leah (played by Jennifer Mae) who is starting a job as a camgirl to support herself and her girlfriend. She spends her time ineffectually flirting with her viewers and reaping the financial benefits of her new career. She earns enough money to send her partner overseas and finds herself alone, with a very real threat from one of her many online admirers.
BB is a cinematic example of watching an artist find his voice. The film shifts multiple perspectives and is not afraid to mix things up (stylistically speaking). This entire movie could have been done much easier (and lazier) as a found footage film, but luckily they choose not to and opted for a more stylish route. A lot of the film seems very unscripted, but never sloppy. Scenes can begin to meander, but before they get sloppy, Wallis reels it back in and pushes the story forward. There are a lot of scenes of Leah dancing, but it is more than just an excuse to show nudity. The film takes advantage of these titillating scenes by adding a tone of dread, helping build to the film’s intense final twenty minutes. The only critical thing that I can say is that the sound mix can get a little muddled. This occurs mostly in its final scenes, when the music and dialogue crosses over. It can be a little frustrating, but is not too distracting. It is easy to say that BB is one of my favorite films of the year and hopefully Wallis’ follow up will be just as interesting and exciting. BB is currently available to purchase at https://now.bt.co/bundles/bb
BY BLAINE MCLAREN
There are very few films as aptly titled as The Greasy Strangler. This films oozes with unpleasant humor, bizarre vignettes and drawn out scenes emphasizing an older man’s penis. It takes some time to adjust to the drawn out scenes and SOV acting choices, but once it clicked with me it went from revolting to oddly endearing. I use the word endearing because beyond all of the disgust, it is the story about two outsiders who need each other more than either will ever admit. All of this sounds pretty gross (and it is!), but it helps to create an unforgettable comedy that could be one of my favorite films of the year.
The story revolves around Big Ronnie (Michael St. Michaels) and Big Brayden (Sky Elobar) who are a father/son duo. They lead a co dependent life where Ronnie lets Brayden live with him for free if he cooks only extra greasy meals for him. They spend their time discussing grease and fat, only taking breaks to fart and call one another “Bullshit Artists” (a phrase used at least 50 times in the film). Their dynamic seems to be working until Brayden meets a women named Janet (Elizabeth De Razzo). This new relationship throws a wrench in their day to day life and could be causing more “greasy” stranglings in the neighborhood and the grossest love triangle in the history of film, maybe the world.
What’s most impressive about The Greasy Strangler is how well the film is actually made. Scenes are shot well and the absurd characters make perfect sense within this gonzo universe created by Director Jim Hosking. The casting is insane and they all give fantastic performances, especially Brayden. He serves as the heart of this vile story, taking his abuse on the chin. Every time Ronnie mentions him “crapping on the bed”, he shrugs it off and continues to care for his father. The gore only adds to the surreal comedy. All of the violence is played for laughs and never comes across mean-spirited. Faces implode with punches and eyes pop out of socket when people are chocked, giving it a cartoon-like quality to it all. I’m not really sure who this film is made for, but I am just happy it was made. Hats off to Spectrevision and hope they continue to take chances on films like this. The Greasy Strangler is currently available on VOD.
BY BLAINE McLARENThe good folks at Sleaze Box have been working overtime to bring us some of the best no-budget exploitation films since bursting on to the scene with Amerikan Holokaust a few years back. As rough-around-the-edges as that first movie was, there was something unique and fantastically DIY about their vision. Chris Woods and company have been putting out a lot of titles and each release has shown a progression in craft, but (thank God) not lost that charm and grittiness that I have come to love. Their name says it all. These are sleazy, fun exploitation films that make Florida seem even more dangerous than any twenty-four hour news cycle could ever imagine. They wear their influences on their sleeves, but they are not pulling from your typical pool of influential movie directors. Directors like Bruno Mattei and Todd Sheets have made major impressions on these guys and it shows up in a glorious way. Their most recent effort, Chaos A.D., is no exception. We are treated again to an ultra-violent world of naked ladies, over the top gore and way too much of actor Bob Glazier’s anatomy.
The story takes place on Halloween night and we are introduced to a housewife, a brother and sister and a hooker loving politician. Each of our central characters are kidnapped by a gang of viciously perverse weirdos that are ready to celebrate the night with torture and murder. Once our protagonists are forced into their world, its a non-stop game of blood thirsty cat and mouse.
Having seen all of Sleaze Box’s releases this film is a big leap in production and sets. Most of their films have been pretty minimalists, but they seem to go out of their way to mix things up this time around. Also, Chris Woods spends more time developing characters and establishing who these folks are. Ashley Lynn Caputo really shines as a housewife with a secret and I cannot believe how well she plays her role. Both her and Bob Glazier steal every scene they are in, not to mention giving brave (nudity filled) performances. Overall, the acting is pretty great. Most of these actors have worked with Sleaze Box before and seem to have a level of comfort that is rarely seen in no-budget filmmaking. My only complaint is very minor. The runtime is a little longer than expected, but luckily it doesn’t feel too padded. I just prefer these types of movies to be shorter and more briskly paced. Besides running a little long, this is another great “gore and gals” roughie that lives up to its provocative title. This may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but for the few who dig this kind of unapologetically filthy filmakking will love the shit out of Chaos A.D. The film has not been released yet, but is currenly available to pre-order at https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/chaos-a-d#/
BY BLAINE MCLAREN
There has never been a more aptly titled and timed film than the most recent entry in The Purge series. The U.S. is currently suffering through a real “Election Year”, enduring our way through two power hungry assholes that don’t seem that far off from the film’s fictional “new founding fathers”. The concept of an annual purge has been a pretty high concept idea from the beginning, but I don’t think the creators had any idea of what they were starting. The series had a pretty rocky start, but really found its footing with the release of its sequel “The Purge: Anarchy”. This film took us into the streets and became an ultra violent homage to films like The Warriors and other action/exploitation films of the 70s and 80s. The streets seemed as dangerous as you would imagine, allowing for some very interesting set pieces that were more than satisfying. What I never expected was the introduction of a not-so-subtle message of class warfare. We followed the lower class this time and we were tossed into a gritty world of survival that showed the true nature of why The Purge (actually) exists. The big question going into this follow up (at least,for me) was “Is this going to just be Anarchy all over again or will this build on this concept and offer something new?” and I am glad to say it did!
The story picks up two years after the events of “Anarchy” and we are reintroduced to Leo, our unlikely hero from the last film. He is currently working as bodyguard for a controversial senator who is currently running for president. Her entire platform is built around outlawing The Purge and restoring the lower classes of this alternate America. As you can imagine, this prompts the New Founding Fathers to attack her, setting off a series of events where our protagonists end up back on the city streets on Purge night. From here we meet a slew of good guys and baddies hunting and surviving on the streets of Washington D.C.
The biggest difference with this film is the shift in tone. This time around, the writing is much tighter and allows for more humor and humanity. The comic relief is subtle and does not take away from the tension. The streets feel even more dangerous this time around and the bad guys are even worse than before. Some of the actors may be a little too exaggerated for some movie goers, but I feel their bigger than life performances fit this film perfectly. The overall vibe has more in common with classic blacksploitaion films and this is (once again) because of the excellent script they are working with. The only thing that can be grating is this series’ obsession with its “white crusaders”. The events seem to be constantly surrounding Senator Roan and her every action seems out of place in this world. She is given a compelling backstory, but every word from her mouth seems phony and incredibly cringe-worthy. That aside, The Purge: Election Year is better than it has any right to be and I will be ready to fork over my next fifteen bucks when the inevitable sequel is released. The Purge: Election Year is currently playing in theaters everywhere.