Movie Review: ABC’s of Death 2 (2014)

The follow up to the original film makes you rethink your fragile existence with 26 more interesting short films of bizarre deaths. Not all of these are horror (though many are). The plots range from sadistic killers to vacations gone bad to children’s fantasies gone awry. Most are live action, but some are claymation or animated. Some send chills down your spine while others are quite poignant, and another references The Three Stooges.

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Some of Radio Of Horror’s favorites: A is for Amatuer gets the ball rolling with an action packed romp about a beginner level assassin. The most bizarre short was D for Deloused directed by Robert Morgan who is known for directing Tool music videos which are also bafflingly creepy. Believe that this stop motion animated freakshow of beheadings and bugs will make your skin crawl. E is for Equilibrium  switches the tone to something completely different with castaways fighting over a woman who washes up on shore. Then F is for Falling tugs on my heartstrings with the story of a female Israeli soldier whose parachute gets tangled in a tree is found by an armed Palestinian young man, in just a few short minutes Aharon Keshales and Navot Papushado tell a modern story more gorgeous and heartbreaking than “Romeo and Juliet” that ties into current affairs that seem intangible and far away to much of the West and instantly it’s relatable, it’s just fascinating.

H is for Honorable Mention: H is for Headgames is an interesting concept: a man and a woman kiss and it turns into a surreal power struggle. I am a huge fan of Bill Plympton and I really wanted to like this one a bit more than I did. It was good, and instantly recognizable. I’ve been a geek for Bill Plympton since I Married a Strange Person came out in 1997 (just kidding, I was 12. I probably watched that for the first time in 2003).

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Bringing the horror: The contest winner (chosen from 541 submissions); M is for Masticate takes a turn for true crime and reminds us all about bath salts (did everyone just smarten up real quick about those or what?) and it was great, both humorous and terrifying. Hajime Ohata’s O is for Ochlocracy a mother protecting her child from zombies finds herself not in a struggle for survival but a legal battle when zombies are “cured” and coexist. S is for Split sees an ill fate for one half an unfaithful couple. In Jen and Sylvia Soska (The Demon Twins of Berlin in American Mary)’s T is for Torture Porn a woman harassed at an audition gets her hentai on. U is for Utopia gets sci-fi, big brother meets cosmetic culture when an unattractive man is targeted in a crowd of the fit and well groomed. V is for Vacation gets gritty and real with killer prostitutes. French actress Beatrice Dalle appears as a creepy and unstable babysitter in X is for Xylophone. Z is for Zygote creeped me out …mostly because the idea of being pregnant for 13 years is terrifying.

This film has many high points, although it is up for debate which ones are king. With bites from various genres, demographics, weapons of destruction, style and sentiments there is something for everyone. And it’s worth watching for that alone. Most of the actors are unknown and so the only thing to judge on is the direction, which is something so rare in the typical reboot and sequel cinescape, that’s what really makes this unique (even if it is the second time). The showcasing of new or relatively unknown directors with cult favorite directors made for innovative and enticing bites of film.

Worth the watch -just put down the popcorn during D for Deloused.

4/5

Produced by Ant Timpson and Tim League, distributed by Magnet Releasing.

Have you watched? What were your favorites?

Movie Review: Night of The Creeps (1986)

There’s something so pleasing to me about 80’s cheese horror. I don’t know if it reminds me of shite my babysitters used to let me watch or if it’s just the overall aesthetic, frequent partial nudity, the inevitable jock vs. nerd duality,or the awesome female characters who always seem to pop up.

In this CLASSIC film, directed by Fred Dekker (Monster Squad, Robocop 3) we flashback to 1959 on Sorority Row. Masterfully pulled off in black and white. It’s only slightly tongue in cheek when a blonde bombshell out for a ride with her date, Johnny. Johnny hears a noise and goes to investigate. Which is where the alien brainslug turns him into a murderous zombie.

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In 1986, two dweebs pledging a fraternity so that a former Griswold can have a chance with his dream girl find the cryogenically frozen corpse of Johnny. The are supposed to dump to corpse on the steps of another fraternity. Instead, they freak out- but still unthaw the corpse and the brainslug is passed on to a new host and soon the whole campus is in peril ..and so is Chris’s dream girl. The original zombie peeps on Cynthia and Det. Cameron is called in. Cameron (Tom Atkins, who is is still making films and starred in 1951’s Thing From Another World) had helped take down a zombie axemurderer in 1959.

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Tongue in cheek nods abound to horror greats throughout the film, including the character’s names. Sgt Raimi (Sam Raimi), Chris Romero (George, obviously), JC Hooper (named for both James Cameron and Tobe Hooper).

Cynthia joins team nerd after uberjock fratbro trips the physically disabled JC. JC is my favorite character, he’s picked on for his physical abilities but he’s more self assured than Chris, he’s a great wing man, he stares down the cool kids, he doesn’t take shit from anyone and he lights a brain slug on fire without hesitation. Shortly after Cynthia recounts seeing a zombie’s head explode and slugs crawl out to Chris, JC gets turned. But instead of turning murderous: he fries himself and his brainslugs, before he does he leaves a tape for Chris explaining brainslugs, telling him that he loves him and good luck with Cynthia.

Meanwhile, the cops are zombie hunting. Det. Cameron confronts the original with a venomous, “I already killed you. You son of a bitch I already killed you.”

Chris meets up with the Detective and gives him the news. Then they head out to the homecoming party with flame throwers, Chris hands Cynthia a 12 gauge saying “Hold this, you’ll feel better.” Then they switch and Chris shoots and Cynthia lights ’em up. Going from near catatonic to certified badass with relative ease.

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The ensuing scenes are GOLD. Flame throwers made out of cigarettes and hairspray, running a zombie over with lawn mower, “It’s Miller Time”, infected science experiments. Nothing groundbreaking here, but damn if this isn’t enjoyable as all hell.

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(Nerd) Newsday Tuesday

Freddie Prinze Jr says Kiefer Sutherland is unprofessional… and nearly everyone replies “Who is Freddie Prinze Jr?” Kiefer’s people address the situation the most obvious way: by pointing out that he has a lucrative career, and that Fox wouldn’t have brought “24” back after 5 years if he were.

While those stars are squabbling, “Walking Dead” actor Steven Yeun addresses racism in Hollywood. He discusses that he has trouble getting roles because there simply aren’t roles for Asian men -and worse, many roles meant for Asian men a whitewashed. You can read more on that here.

Geeks Of Doom gave fans the low down on blu-ray special features for “Agents of SHIELD” they link up a pretty rad blooper real, too.

Quentin Tarantino, now making his foray into comics with Dynamite’s Django Unchained/Zorro crossover series announces that he’ll be directing 2 flicks due out in 2015, one called “The Hateful Eight” and the other? A superlength version of Kill Bill with a 30 minute anime scene.

Also straight out of Comic-Con: Jensen Ackles talks about “Demon Dean” in the season 10 storyline. & Sam Raimi announces an Evil Dead TV series made for Groovy Bruce himself!

In the world of non-entertainment news from San Diego ComicCon: A man plowed into a “Zombie Walk” He started edging out trying to get through the crowd. People/zombies upset about his dangerous driving started banging on the car and sitting on the hood. The man freaked out and drove into the paraders and also injured an 84 year old woman who was not part of the walk.

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For the record, I like Wonder Woman’s get up, it’s serious + powerful. Imitation is the most sincere form of flattery and it’s just one Amazon emulating another after all. I’ll count it as a nod to Xena and hope that Gal Gadot can hurl and insult or deliver a battle cry half as fiercely as Lucy Lawless.

31 Horrifying Days- Day 16: Quarantine (2008)

I haven’t watched a zombie movie in a while and I’d never seen this one. Well, no one ever says the Z word. But it features humans affected by a rage-virus much in the same style as 28 Days Later and affected animals like in Resident Evil that fall ill and then try to eat your freaking face off, the afflicted are unhindered by pain, unable to speak and without reason. They are sensitive to light and hard to kill.

The modern interpretation of a zombie.

Jennifer Carpenter (“Dexter”, Exorcism of Emily Rose) stars as Angela Vidal, a television reporter working on a fluff piece about LA’s Bravest. She, along with cameraman Scott (played by Steve Harris, “Awake” and the voice of Clayface on “The Batman”) hang out with the firefighters at the station: shoot hoops, eat chilli, make small talk, then they head out on a call.

The call is medical and they arrive at an apartment building along with the police before the EMTs. When they get there they head upstairs and find an addled looking woman with blood around her collar and then the bodies start dropping. Sometimes literally. One of the firemen gets thrown down 3 floors straight onto the tile. They try to get outside, but the police (and later National Guard and CDC) have them locked in. Even with an injured officer and firefighter. Those inside search for alternate routes and are met with assault rifles and ordered to back away from windows. The police won’t tell them anything and soon they are without cell reception and electricity (this one’s weird. The elevator is on “auxiliary power” and a resident’s TV still works, but there’s no lights. Doesn’t add up except to add to the atmosphere). Angela tells Scott to keep rolling, that people won’t believe this. 

And he does. Of course, one of the things I dislike about mockumentary/found footage films is the implausibility of someone lugging a camera around with rage zombies actively trying to eat their face. He does bash one of the turned over the head with it. The lens gets bloodied. Slightly off camera Scott falls apart while cleaning the blood. Some of the camera angles don’t work. He’d be taping an infected chasing them right till they were face to face but then be first through the door to get the shot of everyone coming in. That’s a nitpick, though. At one point the camera is actually integral because conditions are pitch dark and it has night vision.

It is really good. And the characters work well, the first responders are freaked out but ready for a fight and regular people like Angela and Scott are not built for this. After seeing a firefighter get up walking on a broken leg and a little girl rip out her mom’s throat… she’s done. “I’m done. I’m not moving.” There’s a wealthier white man who wants to exercise his god-given right to die in his own apartment, a young Indian-American couple with nice clothes and a bathroom full of prescription sedatives and narcotics, a pair of North Africans who don’t speak English, the tough cop who is at first reluctant to go against orders (Columbus Short, “Scandal”), the hot firefighter who lives the longest (Jay Hernandez, Hostel, “Gang Related”) and a veterinarian (Greg Germann, “NCIS”) who diagnoses the infected with a mutated form of rabies.

The CDC arrives. The CDC also tells them that a blood test will confirm if they are infected. The veterinarian tells them that they’d need a brain sample. Everyone freaks the hell out. The CDC ends up getting eaten and no one gets their brain sampled. 

As numbers dwindle, the search for a way out leads to an unnecessary plot point. The virus was cultivated by some freakshow in rats first in the name of some cult. It didn’t add much to the plot. It didn’t need it. Dark apartment complex full of relatable people search for a way out while on the run from hyper-rabid former friends.

There are a few females in the film but no girl-power to speak of. I feel as though Angela’s flailing and inability to find a weapon suited her TV diva character… but I wish that there had been an Officer Deb Morgan somewhere.

4.25/5 (I fucking love zombies)

But it should be noted: this movie is based on the Spanish horror film [REC] from 2007, the main character’s name is even the same. I’ll definitely be watching the original.

31 Horrifying Days- Day 6: Dead Before Dawn (2013)

A bunch of college kids accidentally unleash an evil curse that causes people to kill themselves and turn into Zombie Demons, aka ZEMONS! (Or dombies, Cassie Hack knows)

So, essentially the plot is somewhat Evil Dead: people driven crazy enough by a curse to eat their own hands or play with a hornet’s nest or set themselves on fire. The characters are Breakfast Club style archetypes, something that plenty of horror flicks: from Cabin in the Woods to Detention of the Dead has tried with more or less success. It also adds slapstick humor to horror elements in a way that’s very reminiscent of “Todd and the Book of Pure Evil”.

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The main character, Casper Galloway (Devon Bostick, Art of the Steal) has been afraid of his grandfather’s occult shop since his father died there when he was a child. He agrees to watch the store and when his crush, Charlotte comes in he tries to show off by showing her this cursed urn. Which breaks. The group unknowingly concocts the world’s most inane curse: Anyone they make eye contact with kill themselves and become zombie demons who will try to kill them with hickies and if they French kiss them the zemons will be their slaves, and if they don’t break the curse before dawn they’ll be cursed forever.

With a plot that includes death by zemon hickies, it’s obvious that there are laughs to be had. Some of those come from Casper’s grandfather played by the legendary Christopher Lloyd, who even drops a “Great Scott!” in for good measure.

The group splits up initially with only Casper concerned about the curse they created. But when night falls and the town starts turning demonic, they quickly realize their peril. 4 group members Charlotte, cheerleader BFF Lucy and football players Dazzler and Patrick end up turning both teams. Seth Munday works at a convenience store and runs into a large portion of the town. Becky turns her blind date while Casper accidentally causes his mother’s death. With pandemonium ensuing they are in a race against time to stop the curse. There’s also a couple love connections. 

This film is mostly fluff. The characters act younger then they should and there’s no real uncharted territory being pioneered here. Still, it is enjoyable.

There are some interesting running jokes (hot dog mug, for example). And the plot is simple but cohesive from start to finish. Low on gore, but there’s bucket of blood and creative ways to die.

But is it scary? Nope. Not by a long shot. The set up is amazing. I adore the concept of the characters creating their own curse. But even with the copious amounts of blood, it’s too cartoony to fear.  

The characters aren’t more than tokens. One black character, action chick with bow and arrow, quirky beta male, crush, rival, “slutty” cheerleader, stoner dude… it’s been done. There’s not much depth. Well.. there’s not really any depth. 

2.75/5

Review! IN THE DARK a Horror Anthology

Drawn from a wide range of inspirations, stories reminiscent of childhood campfire tales, or Lovecraft-esque, or teenage action influenced and featuring creepy kids, self-sacrifice, monster hunters, petty revenge or something more existential, good people going bad, and bad kids going good from the tampering of horrific entities. What if the reason that jerk always checks his phone so much is that he needs to know when he’s going to change into a horrific beast? Nothing is as it seems here IN THE DARK.

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Among my faves:

The Michael Moreci and Steve Seeley penned story Guilloteens a punk rock Buffy homage with a Scooby gang monsterhunters and on one night they find a house being used by were-wizards for nefarious reasons. Were-wizards. So cool. Cute characters and extra blood spatters made awesome by artist Christian Wildgoose.

All Things Through Me by Mike Oliveri, artist Mike Henderson follows the son of a fallen priest who can communicate with the dead and has a knack for possession on a house call in a small town and stumbles on something local law enforcement would rather he hadn’t.

When the Rain Comes by Steve Niles is a creepfest about repercussions of fearing what you don’t understand. Damien Worm’s super creepy art is killer here, cloudy scratches, scribbled silhouettes capture the essence of the mysterious creatures that come forth to a farmhouse after a flood.

The Body by Tim Seeley, art by Stephen Green, mixes urban violence with a supernatural avenger.

Final Meal by Christopher Sebela and Zack Soto makes me glad to be vegan after reading this eerie tale about feeling like a God on the top of the food chain following a sad character who can’t get enough of sucking life from between his teeth.

The One That Got Away, written by Scott Snyder (who, y’know, writes both metropolis and Gotham’s heroic dudes) plays off our expectations when a young boy is approached by a knife wielding character.

Brian Keene’s The Lost Valley of the Dead is set in a wild West zombie plague. Tadd Galusha brings it with well drawn zombie animals sporting dripping fangs and exposed ribs. In trying to escape the disease they find a hidden entrance to a world of dinosaurs ..things get even crazier when the T-Rex ingests the zombie coyotes. Zombie freaking dinosaurs.

Swan Song by Rachel Deering takes a break from the plethora of werewolves and features a gorgeous vampire and the dashing would be hero who unknowingly unleashes a monster.

Extra treats- faux vintage ads and page 185’s horror trivia crossword! I’m thinking about sending $3.25 to get my “Creature in a Crate”.

Whether you like your villains internal, supernatural or humanly homicidal and your main characters twisted, teenaged, tragic or triumphant and your settings futuristic, realistic or rustic IN THE DARK has something for you. If you didn’t get in on the ground floor for this one order one from your local comic shop, IDW is printing and shipping this rad compilation soon.

Army of Darkness vs Hack/Slash #6

This series was wrought with delays, employed immature tropes and the last issue annoyed me to no end. But this was the last issue and I’d pressed on this long. So after Cassie betrayed Ash and left him in ancient Greece, what would become of her?

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Cassie takes on Britt Cilentro and heads back to the Ig’nant Mime Squad concert where overweight and underwashed teens had their sodas spiked and turned into Black Paladin stab happy dombies (that’s a demon-zombie, kids). This issue really tugged at my heart strings, Cassie is willing to cross time and space, fight deadites, cult leaders, suped up GI Joe wannabes and more to save Vlad from his fate. So she goes back to where Vlad died. But Ash, in a moment of maturity tells Cassie that he’s been down this road. But some other awful thing always happens. If she saves Vlad; what if she doesn’t marry Margaret and adopt Sandra? What if she has a whole different life that no one else remembers? 

And Cassie listens, and she doesn’t save Vlad. And she goes home with her wife and Ash babysits while they see the new Denzel movie. 

So I give Tim Seeley credit. Because he’d really lost me with #5. I was PISSED. Here’s the thing, though; it didn’t feel totally authentic until Ash asked Cassie to call him if she and Margaret ever wanted to make a reverse Oreo. 

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That’s Tim Seeley’s cover. None of that happened. But metaphorically it makes perfect sense.