Review: 31, lost in the violence

Wondering whether to go out of your way to see the latest Rob Zombie standard “slaughterhouse full of rednecks” flick? Check out Ryan’s always on-point review from The Missing Reel before you spend your time and money on it–trust us, you’ll be grateful that you did!

Rob Zombie’s 31 is his most Rob Zombie movie yet, this time injecting his signature style of trashy characters, vile dialog, and brutal violence into a compact version of The Running Man. But despite it featuring all the typical tropes that make his films stand out, 31 has to be Zombie’s most disjointed of them all. It’s a top-to-bottom mess that never finds cohesion between its characters and the violent world in which they exist, ultimately meandering through an incoherent plot. In it, five carnival workers are kidnapped and held hostage in an abandoned, Hell-like compound where they are forced to participate in a violent game of survival.

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“Evil Ed” (1995) – Throwback Review By Mrs. Horror Boom, Simply Titled “No”

So, ole Mrs. Horror Boom here had insomnia last night, and started searching Amazon Prime Video in hopes of finding free, newly released horror movies I hadn’t seen yet that were worth seeing (with very little hope, but it has been known to happen). I saw a review for a movie titled “Evil Ed,” which claimed to have the recent release date in 2016. I initially figured it was a new movie, though it had the same title of a really disappointing horror flick from the 1990s. Perhaps a remake? This review contained the one-word title, “No.”  That rang a bell. The more I read, the more familiar it sounded. Ever written a horror movie review fifteen years ago, started thinking you and the reviewer had a lot in common and would probably hit it off, then eventually something clicked and you realized it sounded familiar because you WERE that reviewer? No? Well, okay, but it has happened to me before. Not often, because I have used the same reviewer handle on Amazon and IMDB since I first got internet access in the mid-late 90s (drop me a line privately and I will share it with you; I built up quite a library which I am finally going to get off my ass and start recycling here), but it does happen. I was only thrown here–as I have been in the other rare cases–because for some reason my alias did not appear, and I was instead referred to as “a customer”. I actually find this concerning, since my reviews on both sites contain (or did, I’ll have to look into it)  a way to privately contact me, which resulted in some great networking with other horror fans, many offers of free review copies, and even a couple of job offers, but I digress.
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This cover art was actually kind of edgy at rental chains in the late 1990s.

I found that I still stand by this fifteen-year-old (yikes)* review. The only information I might add is that I literally just this moment realized that the movie is titled Evil Ed not as an homage to the beloved Fright Night character as portrayed by Stephen Geoffries, but because it rhymes with “Evil Dead”. Also, they manage to rip off American Werewolf in London in the end credits, another reason to be pissed off. I guess I could be more kind and say it was inspired by AWIL rather than calling it a rip-off, but I am not in a generous mood. Finally, keep it mind that I went into the movie with only mediocre expectations and was still let down. Below, therefore, is my review of the 1995 horror flick that I still do not recommend, Evil Ed. The header/title of my piece is simply, “No”.
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…and not in a good way.

Actually I feel like having my review be that one word. My friend, whose opinions I almost always trust about movies, especially horror movies, warned me NOT to rent this no matter how tempted or bored or desperate to see a new horror movie I was, because it was a complete waste of time. Unfortunately I haven’t talked to him in a while, and I was in a hurry to pick a movie, and thought, ‘what the heck, how bad could it be?’ WHY don’t I learn? What was I thinking? Did I think it would magically turn into a better movie while sitting there on the shelf for years waiting to be rented?

The ‘plot’ concerns a guy who edits films for some company. His boss is a jerk. The guy who had the job before him went insane and blew himself up in the pre-credits sequence, so for some reason the boss picks nerdy ‘Ed’ for the special project of editing “Loose Limbs” splatter movies. He never says what Ed is supposed to edit, but I guess that doesn’t matter. Ed is upset by some of the clips, working on them up at this house all by himself that the boss has decided to relocate him to for no apparent reason. He asks his boss if he can stop or do another project, but his boss doesn’t care. He starts to slowly go insane, supposedly from watching the clips, and wants to carry out the gory murders in real life. Or has he been this way all along? Please note that I am making this plot sound much more deep, interesting, and coherent than it actually is.

We don’t care about the characters at all, or have any sympathy for them, or even hate the bad guys. The plot is really, really boring and predictable. The splatter isn’t even that gruesome or creative-this is NOT worth renting just to see the gore, because what there is isn’t interesting or original.

All the ‘tributes’ to Sam Raimi just come off like really bad rip-offs, and no-one in the movie is anywhere near good-looking enough as Bruce Campbell, so you can’t distract yourself with that. I think an “Evil Dead II-Dead by Dawn” poster is only prominently displayed in one scene in the hopes that Sam Raimi will be flattered and not consider any sort of legal action. A trained chimp could have written a better screenplay. Every time I hear lines like “Are we having fun…yet?” (which even Bride of Re-Animator couldn’t pull off without making me wince) I start feeling like picking up some sort of deadly weapon myself. Characters just appear out of nowhere with no explanation, wandering in only to get killed. This might be okay if the movie was even remotely amusing or entertaining, but it was all I could do to keep from fast-forwarding through most of it. Fortunately I chose to pay some bills and balance my checkbook at the same time the movie was playing. Trust me, it did not require my full attention-I still felt like 90+ minutes of my life were wasted just by having this on in the background.

Don’t watch it, no matter HOW tempted you are- you’ll hate yourself for wasting your time and money. Horror fans will be completely disgusted by how incompetent it is. Even those who haven’t seen too many splatter movies should stay away, as there are so, so many movies out there you could rent that are much more well worth your while. If you want something brainless, low-budget and fun, rent something else. Complete waste of time with no redeeming qualities whatsoever. Be smarter than I was at the time and don’t be fooled by the “Warning-Not For the Faint of Heart” on the box. You have been warned!
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Here’s the NSFW (technically, I guess) trailer for the 1995 movie (appears to be the unedited version; read more on that here), which contains much of the gore (and big Raimi horror fans can count the references) contained in the flick. Please just watch the trailer rather than the movie; you will do yourself a favor.

Also, this You Tube reviewer seemed to find it more entertaining than I did (in a “so bad it’s good” way-more power to him, I guess). Still curious? Then here is another way to avoid sitting through the movie, as the rest of the gore and practical effects more or less appear in this short “Monster Madness” review below.

 

*After hitting the age of forty, you will often make the unpleasant discovery that what occurred fifteen years ago seems more like a five-to-seven year old memory than something that apparently happened THREE TIMES LONGER AGO THAN THAT.  Beware, millennials, this could very well be in your future… take it from a Gen-X’er.

 

SFF Review: The Invitation, a dinner party for the mad

“The Invitation”, Karyn Kusama’s intense thriller, will be available in select theaters and VOD this Friday. We have heard nothing but good things about this flick since it premiered at the Stanley Film Festival. Check out this spoiler-free review from Ryan at The Missing Reel right here!

The long wait to see Karyn Kusama back behind the camera of a feature film is finally over, following up Jennifer’s Body with her cutthroat, paranoid thriller The Invitation. Calculated, tense and unflinching in its brutality, it’s a terrific simmering style of storytelling that boils into one insanity-fueled finish. In it, while attending a dinner party at his former home, a man thinks his ex-wife and her new husband have sinister intentions for their guests.

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Film Review: ‘Insidious: Chapter 3’ – Variety Says This Is Weakest Chapter in Series

“It’s all the more puzzling, then, that “Insidious: Chapter 3” keeps Shaye in the shadows for so much of its running time, and keeps Specs and Tucker (introduced as bumbling practitioners of a YouTube ghostbusting channel) on ice for even longer. During most of that time, Whannell tries his hand at the kind of atmospheric, slow-burn scares that made Wan’s films textbook examples of what Roger Ebert termed “bruised forearm movies” (so named the intensity with which they cause your date to squeeze your antebrachium). But whereas Wan (who retains a producer credit here, and makes a cameo appearance) is the sort of director who can effortlessly turn a billowing curtain or creaking floorboard into an unbearable portent of dread, Whannell rarely makes the neck hairs quiver, let alone stand at attention. The only risk of arm injury here comes from the frequent checking of one’s watch.

Around the one-hour mark, once Whannell finally has the whole ghost-hunting band back together again, “Insidious: Chapter 3” gives off a few fleeting sparks of pleasure and conjures up a couple of memorably creepy images (including that of a half-formed woman with no face, hands, or feet). But what, finally, can one say about a movie in which the family being haunted seems more embalmed than the ghosts doing the haunting?”

-From the Variety.com review by Scott Foundas

Sadly, we have heard the similar things from several other reviews. About the only upside here is saving the high cost of a ticket price, but we were hopeful this would be worth going out to see and scream at the top of our lungs a few times. If you’ve seen it, and think this review is too hard on Insidious: Chapter 3, please do tell!

You can read the entire review by clicking “View original” on the lower left.

Variety Review: ‘The Invitation’ (2015) Will Freeze Your Blood

“Everything does go to hell in the end, of course, as it must in any genre movie worth its salt, and “The Invitation” delivers the necessary jolts in satisfyingly visceral fashion without descending into Grand Guignol excess. Still, it’s in the slow-and-steady buildup — as opposed to the attenuated action climax or the slightly eye-rolling denouement — where the film excels, as Kusama (working with editor Plummy Tucker) keeps the tension simmering away beneath the sounds of clinking silverware and polite, nervous laughter. D.p. Bobby Shore’s elegantly skulking camera familiarizes us with virtually every inch of the house to which the action is confined, bathing the interiors in a seductively moody, almost amber glow. Phillip Blackford’s sound design adds to the eerie vibe, ensuring that we register every slammed door, shattered glass and cut-off scream with perfect clarity.”

-From the Variety (at SXSW) review by Justin Chang for “The Invitation”

“It Follows”: Ten Things We’ve Read Online That Have Us Counting The Days Till Release!

You may have seen the “Milestone” widget in the footers counting down the days until It Follows (nice creepy title) will be out on VOD and DVD/Blu-Ray. Why, you ask? Read on.

It Follows–written and directed by David Robert Mitchell–garnered up a ton of positive buzz when it made the festival circuit last summer; reviewers went out of their way to praise the film and tell readers how frightening it is.  We would include the creepy trailer here, but more than one review advised going into this movie knowing as little as possible about the details, and to avoid the trailer in particular. Some of the reviews say that the last act of the film is uneven, but none of them advise us to avoid the movie because of it.

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So we will give you the official plot given out in the PR, which lets you know just about the right amount of detail:

For nineteen-year-old Jay, Autumn should be about school, boys and week-ends out at the lake. But after a seemingly innocent sexual encounter, she finds herself plagued by strange visions and the inescapable sense that someone, something, is following her. Faced with this burden, Jay and her friends must find a way to escape the horrors that seem to be only a few steps behind.

Here are ten excerpts from top reviewers that got us to put it on our Must-See List (with links and annotations, in case you want to read the actual pieces in their entirety).

1. The first is from Variety.com. We re-posted their review last summer (yep, that’s how long this has been on our Must-See List) which you can read here. What grabbed us, you ask? Well, here is the set-up from the reviewer:

“As bogeymen go, Mitchell’s monster is both intuitive (like something out of a bad dream) and impossible to comprehend (despite much discussion, no one seems to know how to beat it). The pic’s malevolent shape-shifter can take the form of anyone, from a beloved relative to a complete stranger. Sometimes it’s subtle enough to blend in with crowds. At others, it’s frighteningly conspicuous: a naked old man staring at you from a nearby rooftop, or a cheerleader leaking urine as she lurches across the living-room floor. The only certainty seems to be that it won’t stop until you’re dead. And once you’re dead, it will go after the person who “gave” it to you.“

So, Variety already had our full attention after we read this. Then it got better.  This is from the IGN.com review:

2 .It’s a refreshing change for modern horror, which has become far too reliant on jump scares and deafening sound cues, in place of carefully mounting tension. Mitchell prefers a slow burn. The use of wide shots is particularly successful once Jay starts being pursued. It’s almost like a sick game of ‘Where’s [Waldo?]’ – find the plodding killer in the frame before it’s too late…

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3. The rules of the damned in It Follows are intriguing and frightening. The never-named apparition will follow you forever, for instance, but it has to follow on foot. You can briefly elude the monster by driving away but it always comes back, leading to one shocking moment after another in which Mitchell’s impeccable wide shots gradually reveal a single individual gradually making their way into the foreground, while the oblivious protagonists ignore the audience’s pleas to RUN! RUN FOR YOUR LIVES! (Reviewed by William Bibbiani,* editor of CraveOnline’s Film Channel and the host of The B-Movies Podcast and The Blue MoviePodcast*).

There’s not a single character in Mitchell’s film that fails to elicit our sympathy, and so their demises always resonate like a tuning fork from Hell.

 

4. Once the scares start to come, they rarely let up. Mitchell, in only his second full-length, does an incredible job of creating horror not only in small houses in the middle of the night but in beachfronts with the sun shining down, in schoolyards on an overcast day, and in the middle of an empty street with nothing in sight… The highest compliment I can pay the movie is that its moments of horror play out like something from an old children’s ghost story. It’s not hard to imagine finding the tale within the pages of a collection of folklore akin to Alvin Schwartz’s Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark (now with sex!).**

By this point we felt like grabbing all the cash we had on hand and tossing it frantically at the screen of the laptop we were reading on; sadly, we knew that wouldn’t get us the movie magically appear online to watch and we still had to wait. Here’s more of the praise heaped on It Follows by critics we trust.

5. It Follows is suspenseful, atmospheric and spine-tingling horror cinema which nods at the masters and completely astounds as it manages the tough feat of being striking, sensitive and utterly disturbing. (Film.list.co.uk, read more here)

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6. Director David Robert Mitchell gives this an almost art-house vibe, mixed with a retro-eighties look and an amazing synth-soundtrack that sounds like a cross between Vangellis and John Carpenter. Mitchell does a brilliant job ratcheting up the terror throughout the film, and by the time the end credits rolled I was almost feeling queasy from how on edge I had been during the last act of the film. …IT FOLLOWS will likely become a big-time horror sleeper once Radius (who acquired the rights out of Cannes) puts it out, and if you can see this on the big screen that would be all the better. It’s a tremendous horror flick and the scariest film I’ve seen in years. It’s deeply, deeply unsettling. (JoBlo, click here to read the full TIFF review.)

7. Chris Bumbray at Reelfilm.com gave the movie 8/10 stars, even though he had problems with the last act of the film. Though it fizzles out to a slight degree in its final stretch, It Follows nevertheless establishes itself as one of the most inventive, exciting, and truly frightening horror flicks to come around in ages.

 

“More or less a contemporary horror fan’s dream come true.”

 

 

8. The movie’s a brilliantly fresh spin on a classic model – the pass-on-the-curse conceit which horror fans will know from MR James’s shivery short story “Casting the Runes”, and its numerous cinematic offspring, from Jacques Tourneur’s Night of the Demon (1957) to the Japanese cult hit Ringu (2000) and its American remake, The Ring (2002). It Follows – which deserves even more marks for that marvellously suggestive title – does this entire lineage proud, not just by switching tacks from runic subterfuge or videotape circulation to the rather Cronenberg-y gambit of inflicting a demon on your unfortunate sex partner. It’s altogether smart, subtextually fascinating, and more or less a contemporary horror fan’s dream come true. (Tim Robey, Telegraph UK)

 

“It’s a tremendous horror flick and the scariest film I’ve seen in years. It’s deeply, deeply unsettling”.

 

8. Fangoria LOVED this movie (8/10 skulls), and Chris Alexander (Fangoria Editor and the writer of this review) said this:. It Follows is an incredibly evolved, joyously alive piece of “dead teenager” cinema that likely requires a few viewings to properly assimilate its rhythms. And it could easily become part of any High School health class curriculum, because If I saw it as a kid, when I was at my hormonal, girl-hungry peak, I’d likely pack my bags and move to a monastery.

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9. There’s a primal fear at work here – everyone gets nervous about being followed – and even though the monster is fiction, I suspect the anxiety may pursue the viewer home. (Luke Y. Thompson, Toplessrobot.com)

Well, that won’t be a problem, since we will be watching it at home, so the anxiety won’t have to follow us anywhere! Nope, it’ll be right there with us.

10. Finally, we can’t count the number of pieces in which the writer stated that John Carpenter was clearly a huge influence. Early John Carpenter.

It Follows will be in theaters and VOD on March 13th. The tagline is, “IT DOESN’T THINK. IT DOESN’T FEEL. IT NEVER GIVES UP.”

 

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This just in: It Follows won the critic’s prize– AKA top honors– at the Glasgow International Film Festival. This isn’t a genre festival, either, which makes the win even more impressive. It even topped A Girl Walks Home Alone At Night, which, as you probably are aware, is no small feat. Read about it here.

 

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*Follow him on Twitter at @WilliamBibbiani

** Read the full review here at ConsequencesOfSound.net.

Variety Review: ‘Angelica’, Second Feature by Writer Director of ‘Teeth’, Is Never Boring

Wow, this sounds messed-up. Teeth (the first movie from writer-director Mitchell Lichtenstein in 2007) was pretty sick, but there was nothing like this in it:

“It’s during one of those nighttime visits that Constance first sees the otherworldly “flying man” — an apparent swarm of microbial bacteria in a vaguely humanoid shape, hovering over Angelica’s bed and attempting to penetrate her delicate body. When Constance disturbs the creature, it scuttles off into the bureau, leaving what can only be described as an ectoplasmic cum stain all over the door.”

That’s not even the creepiest thing described in this review by Scott Foundas (Chief Film Critic for Variety.com). Click “View original” in the lower left of this post to read the entire review. Meanwhile, we’re going to go looking for a trailer…

Good News: IFC Midnight Acquires Gritty Revenge-Horror Movie ‘Reversal’

Good news! IFC Midnight has picked up the brutal revenge thriller from director José Manuel Cravioto‘s “Reversal” after it screened at Sundance. We’ve read reviews that really hated it (Variety did not have even the hint of one positive thing to say about it) and others that enjoyed the ride (such as Big Shiny Robot, who said while the movie did have its flaws but called it “a hell of a ride) and many others recommended it to horror fans (well, those who can handle some pretty intense horror). Here’s a link to Film Threat’s positive review, for instance.

The movies starts out where plenty of similar movies often end: a woman in chains in the basement of a man who has kidnapped, tortured, and done God knows what else to her suddenly surprising her captor by vigorously beating the living shit out of him with a brick and coming out on top. However, she’s not going to kill him off completely, and she’s not calling 911. Instead of hastily taking off and getting as far away from him as she can, she is enraged enough to turn the tables on him and force him (using violence when she needs to) to give up the location of the other victims he has locked up. So yeah, we’re in.

Good to know the wait won’t be too long to see it. If only IFC Midnight had picked up the rights to Green Inferno…

‘Suburban Gothic’, From The Director of ‘Excision’, Is A Likeably Wiseass Horror-Comedy

“Meanwhile, landscaper Hector (Mel Rodriguez) and his crew accidentally dig up a child’s skeleton in the family’s backyard, unleashing a vengeful spirit that first makes its presence known via visions and nightmares suffered by Raymond, who as a child used to experience “paranormal stuff.” He enlists a similarly caustic local misfit, goth-styled bartender Becca (Kat Dennings, of “2 Broke Girls” and “Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist”), to help him guide the ghost toward eternal peace before it wreaks total havoc.”

 

-From the Variety.com review by Dennis Harvey

Wow, this doesn’t sound at all like 2012’s Excision (the début feature from Richard Bates Jr.), but it sounds like fun. Big selling points for us: he got John Waters back in the cast AND Jeffrey Combs (who per IMDB, plays a doctor; Combs always shines playing doctors*, as Re-Animator and its two sequels, not to mention House on Haunted Hill, proved) in supporting roles. The Soska Sisters have cameos! Ray Wise (Twin Peaks, Robocop, and the deeply disturbing Dead End) has a lead role. Matthew Gray Gubler (Life After Beth and Criminal Minds) won the Festival Trophy for Best Actor at Screamfest 2014, for this movie, too.

We’re all in on January 30th, when this horror-comedy hits VOD!

To read Variety.com’s entire review, click the “View original” link in the lower left.

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The photo is not in the actual movie, it’s just a really cool-ass gothic house/home.

 

*He REALLY shines when he’s playing Edgar Allan Poe, too.

Variety Says ‘Preservation’ Best Appreciated As a Member of a Cheering Theater Audience-Read Their Review & See Trailer Here!

Denham shrewdly tightens the screws with some cheeky but dead-serious visual allusions to other thrillers — a bit of “Blair Witch Project” here, a smidgen of “Friday the 13th” there — before upending expectations with a startling reveal at the two-thirds mark. And that leads a few scenes later to a turnabout that likely would be best appreciated as a member of a cheering theater audience.

-from the Variety.com review by Joe Leydon

Aaaaand we are sold! You’ll probably recognize ole “Pornstash” from Orange is the New Black and Ken Cosgrove from Mad Men in the trailer if you’re a fan of either of these shows. Cosgrove hasn’t done too well on hunting trips, but it’s gonna get even uglier this time around…
Click “View original” in the lower left of this post to read the rest of this enthusiastic review, and watch the trailer below!

The release date given is January 9th (2015), but we can’t find Preservation on any of the regular VOD outlets. Sadly, that means we can’t watch it with a cheering theater audience (unless you hold a party revolving around watching it with some festive horror fans at your home) Hopefully it’ll show up soon!