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The Fangs of February

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Executive Producer ... Gary Frederickson?!It must be a surefire sign that I’m utterly burned out on the entire zombie subgenre because word of two new low budget vampire flicks coming to DVD in February suddenly seems like a breath of fresh air to me. Remember when that was pretty much the other way around? Seems like a long time ago, huh?

First up on February 12th is the Image Entertainment release of Soul’s Midnight, a film with quite an interesting pedigree behind it. It may have been written and produced by relative unknowns Brian and Jason Cleveland, but the executive producer of this fangfest is Gray Frederickson, Oscar winning producer of all three Godfather films and Apocalypse Now. Whether or not Soul’s Midnight lives up to that pedigree remains to be seen (Highly doubtful), but I must say it sounds like it has a neat premise that takes the famous legend of “Saint George and the Dragon” and puts a vampiric spin on it. I’ll just quote the synopsis on the website of the film’s production company, American World Pictures:

In the 12th century Saint George vanquished a creature of extraordinary evil. As time passed, fact evolved into legend and the true story of Saint George and the Dragon was buried in time…

Charles, a descendent of Saint George, and Alica, his pregnant wife, are a happy couple that travels to a sleepy Midwest town to attend his estranged father’s funeral. They are graciously invited to stay at the lavish Borgo Hotel, where the eccentric owner Simon (Asante) invites them to enjoy the festival of Saint George.

Their holiday turns to terror when…

Pardon me for interrupting the synopsis but I really have to question the person who worded this synopsis. “Their holiday..?” This couple has made this trip to attend the funeral of one of their parents. Does that sound like a “holiday” trip to you? Anyway, back to the synopsis:

Simon reveals his thirst for blood. As the leader of a Vampire cult he lured Charles and his pregnant wife to his hotel with the intention of capturing their unborn child. As a descendent of Saint George the child possesses untainted blood and will be sacrificed in a ceremony that will resurrect the Dragon — The world’s original Vampire!

Like I said, I totally dig this premise. Unfortunately (Why must there always be an unfortunately?), I then watched the trailer for Soul’s Midnight and it really doesn’t do the film any favors, unless the idea is to make it look like as generic a vampire/devil cult horror flick as possible. Is “Fight the Bite” really the best tagline they could come up with?

We do get a brief glimpse at the gargoyle-esque Dragon, but mostly it looks like generic vampire shtick and all the stuff you’d expect from a “Help; a satanic cult is after my unborn baby!” flick. Not a whole lot of the Saint George tie-in that’s really what could and should set this movie apart from similar films of the genre. I really hope this was just a poorly cut trailer and not a reflection on the finished product. Otherwise, we might be back to bitchin’ about lousy low budget vampire movies again.

Loaded with hasbeens and neverwases!A week later will see the DVD release of Revamped, boasting the tagline “immortality sucks”. Hopefully the movie doesn’t. Suffice to say, this one will be as campy as it is vampy. Here’s a synopsis from the film’s official website.

When successful businessman Richard Clarke is bitten by a beautiful Vampire, he is transformed into a creature of the night and plunges into the dark world of the supernatural.

Richard very quickly realizes that immortality isn’t all that it’s cracked up to be and must fight for survival when a militaristic Team of Vampire Hunters, The S.T.A.K.E. Team, discover his existence. Richard is separated from Lilith, the beautiful vampire that originally “turned him”. Searching for his eternal Soulmate, Richard winds up in Club Synister where a Goth promises to lead him to her. He takes him downstairs to a private party, which turns out to be the set for a snuff film.

When a female Vampire-Dominatrix viciously kills her leading man, it becomes obvious that Richard is about to become the next star of the film. When the Dominatrix realizes that Richard is also a Vampire, she and the crew soon become the unwitting talent for their own production.

After viewing the carnage in Club Synisters basement, two L.A. Detectives develop the film and discover Richard’s existence along with his face on celluloid. Through a bizarre course of events, Richard is finally reunited with Lilith, but their bliss is cut short, when they are ambushed by the S.T.A.K.E. Team.

Barely surviving, Richard’s presence is brought to the attention of The Bleeders, a savage underground gang of Vampires bent on survival at all costs.

The Bleeders capture Richard and are attacked by the S.T.A.K.E. Team. All Hell breaks loose and it turns into a war for survival and no one is taking any prisoner’s. Let the Bloodbath begin.

Writer/director/star Jeff Rector has overloaded the cast with recognizable names: Martin Kove, Billy Drago, Sam J. Jones, Fred Williamson, Reggie Bannister, Vernon Wells, R.A. Mihailoff, Kato Kaelin, rising b-movie starlet Christa Campbell, original “American Gladiators” Deron McBee and Raye Hollitt (Malibu and Zap), Carel “Lurch” Struycken, Tane “Cinemax After Dark” McClure, soap opera cutie Alana Curry, Babylon 5‘s Jason Carter, and Saved By The Bell‘s principal, Dennis Haskins, as a satanist. Is this a horror movie or a VH1 reality show cast waiting to happen?

MTI Home Video will be releasing Revamped on February 19th. Check out the trailer on its official website, in only to enjoy the scenery-chewing stylings of Billy Drago. Nobody overacts quite like Drago.

The Foywonder

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Night of the Living Dead 4K and The Silence of the Lambs Come to the Criterion Collection

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It’s been a long time coming for these two classics, especially Night of the Living Dead after the ridiculously bad transfer put out by Mill Creek Entertainment, whose transfer was supposedly remastered from a new 2K scan. I swear I thought it was some kind of a joke when I first put it on to watch. In any event…

IndieWire is reporting that horror classics Night of the Living Dead and The Silence of the Lambs will be added to the 2018 Criterion Collection, a hallmark label for home video cinephiles.

According to the site, Criterion will release a new 4K digital restoration of The Silence of the Lambs, which has been approved by the movie’s cinematographer Tak Fujimoto. Included on the DVD and Blu-ray sets are 35 minutes of deleted scenes and audio commentary from 1994 featuring the late Jonathan Demme (director), stars Jodie Foster and Anthony Hopkins, screenwriter Ted Tally, and former FBI agent John Douglas.

Night of the Living Dead will also be released in 4K with never-before-seen 16mm dailies included as a bonus feature(!).

These will be added in February of 2018 so make sure you save up some cash after the holidays!

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DIS Review – Not for the Faint of Heart!

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Starring Bill Oberst, Jr., Lori Jo Hendrix, Peter Gonzales Falcon

Directed by Adrian Corona


I’ve made this claim many a time on this website before, and in the company of film friends as well: Bill Oberst Jr. is one of those actors that can literally be thrust into ANY role, and deliver a performance with so much harnessed electricity that you couldn’t believe that it was possible. I was the lucky recipient chosen to get a look at his latest project, titled DIS, and I think that I can honestly say – this is the stuff that nightmares are constructed of.

Directed by Adrian Corona, this 60-minute dive into the black depths of hell, and in actuality DIS is located between circles # 6 and 9 in Dante’s Divine Comedy, and trust me when I tell you – there’s not a shred of comedic relief in this demented presentation. Oberst Jr plays an ex-soldier named Ariel, and his seemingly harmless jaunt through the woods will become anything but that, and judging from the film’s opening scenes, you are meant to feel as uncomfortable about this watch as any you might have checked out in recent memory.

Perversion is the norm here, and lord help you if you’re caught where you shouldn’t be…my skin’s crawling just thinking about what I saw. Ariel’s travels are basically dialogue-free, but it only adds to the infinite levels of creepiness – you can tell he’s being stalked, and the distance between he and the horrors that await are closing in rather quickly.

Visually by itself, this hour-long chiller can sell tickets without any assistance – hollowed-out buildings and long sweeping shots of a silent forest give the movie that look of complete desolation. Sliced up into three acts, the film wastes no time in setting up the story of a killer needing fresh blood to appease his Mandrake garden – seriously guys, I can’t type as much flashy stuff as there needs to be in order to describe this innately disturbing production.

If you’re one of those types who tends to shy away from the graphic side of things, then I’d HIGHLY advise you to keep your TV tuned to the Hallmark Channel for some holiday entertainment, because this one registers high on the “I can’t believe someone thought of this” meter. So the quick recap is this: Oberst Jr in a standout performance, visual excellence, and an unshakable sense of debasement on a cellular level – keep the kiddies out of the living room with this one. Corona should be lauded (or locked up – just kidding) for his work on this one – HIGHLY recommended, and one that I’ll throw down as a top 5 for me in 2017.

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4.5

Summary

Director Corona should be lauded (or locked up – just kidding) for his work on this one – HIGHLY recommended!

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User Rating 5 (2 votes)
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Todd And The Book Of Pure Evil: The End Of The End Review – A Heavy Metal Massacre In Cartoon Form

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Starring Alex House, Bill Turnbull, Maggie Castle, Melanie Leishman, Chris Leavins, Jason Mewes

Directed by Richard Duhaney and Craig David Wallace


“Todd And The Book Of Pure Evil” – Canadian television’s greatest blend of Evil Dead, Superbad and Deathgasm? Yes. That answer is yes. For two face-melting seasons, Todd “protected” Crowley High from episodic villains who were bested by metal riffs, stoner logic and hormonal companionship. Musical interruptions showcased stage theatrics like Sondheim meets pubescent Steel Panther and high school tropes manifested into vile, teen-hungry beasts. It was like a coming-of-age story got stuck between Fangoria pages – all the awkwardness with 100x more guts.

That – for worse – was until Todd fell to a premature cancellation after Season 2’s clone-club cliffhanger. Indiegogo became the show’s only way to deliver a feature-length finale, except to reduce costs and ensure completion, the project would have to be in cartoon form. Todd And The Book Of Pure Evil: The End Of The End suggests an animated curtain call for this otherwise live-action production, and from a fan’s perspective, familiar maturation follies befall our favorite bloodsoaked friend group. But for new viewers? Start with the far-superior original show – you’ll be lost, underwhelmed and baffled otherwise.

Alex House retains his characterization of Todd Smith (in voice only). At this point, Todd has thwarted the book’s apocalyptic plan, Hannah (Melanie Leishman) has died, longtime crush Jenny (Maggie Castle) isn’t as horny for Todd anymore, and best friend Curtis (Bill Turnbull) has sworn Todd’s name to Hell (since Hannah was his girlfriend). Guidance Counselor Atticus Murphy Jr. (Chris Leavins) is now Janitor Atticus Murphy Jr. because Janitor Jimmy (Jason Mewes) is now Counselor Jimmy, yet Crowley High finds itself plagued by the same satanic uprisings despite these new changes. Why is evil still thriving! How is Hannah back in class! Who is the new “Pure Evil One” now that Todd has denied the book! Welcome to the end, friends – or is it a new beginning?

At just north of 80 minutes, structure runs a bit jagged. We’re used to Todd battling one baddie over a half-hour block – backstory given time to breathe – but in The End Of The End, two mini-boss cretins play second fifth-fiddle to the film’s big-bad monster (well, monsters – but you’ll see). A double-dose of high school killers followed by a larger, more important battle with the gang’s fate hanging in the balance. Not a problem, it’s just that more length is spent singing songs about Todd’s non-functioning schlong and salvaging relationships from the S2 finale. Exposition (what little there is) chews into necessary aggression time – fans left ravenous for more versatile carnage, underwhelmed by the umpteenth cartoon erection gag. Did I mention there’s a lot of boner material, yet?

These two mini “chapters” – “No Vest For The Wicked” (yarn demon)/”Zits Alors” (acid acne) – never come close to rivaling Hannah Williams’ doppelganger bombshell (“Songs About Boners”/”This Is The End Of The End Of the End”). Hannah [X]. Williams waking up in a room full of other Hannahs, emerging from some sleep-pod chamber; Todd’s gang facing off against this new “chosen one” in a way that erases “Sack Boy” and “Pizza Face” from memory. The End Of The End dashes dildoes-swinging into the show’s biggest mystery while dropping call-backs and bodies with equal speed – maybe too hastily for some.

Now, about the whole pivot to animation – a smooth rendering of Crowley High and all its mayhem, but never representative of Todd And The Book Of Pure Evil‘s very Ash Vs. Evil Dead vibe. All the practical death effects (gigantic man-eating cakes, zombie rockstars) are lost to one-dimensional drawings, notable chemistry between cast members replaced by edited recordings lacking signature wits. This isn’t Metalocalypse, where dismemberment and bloodshed are gruesome on levels that outshine even live-action horror flicks. There’s no denying some of the magic is missing without Chris Leavins’ “creepy uncle” overacting (a Will Forte breed) or the book’s living incarnations of evil. Todd And The Book Of Pure Evil: The End Of The End plays hooded minion to Todd And The Book Of Pure Evil’s dark ruler – less powerful, a bit duncier, but still part of the coolest cult around. Just try not to think about how much radness is missing inside hand-traced Crowley High?

It’s hard not to strike comparisons between “reality” and ‘toon, because as noted above, live actors are sorely missed in a plethora of situations. Be they musical numbers, heretic slayings, Todd and Curtis’ constant references to wanking, wangs or other pelvic nods (no, for real, like every other sentence) – human reactions no longer temper such aggressive, self-gratifying cocksmanship. It doesn’t help that songs never reach the memorable level of “Horny Like The Devil,” but the likes of House, Leishman, Turnbull and Castle were masters of selling schlock, shock and Satan’s asshole of situations. Instead, lines now land flat like – for example – Leavins’ lessened ability to turn pervy, stalkerish quips into hilarious underage stranger-dangers. Again, it’s not Metalocalypse – and without that kind of designer depth, a wall prevents inter-dimensional immersion into Todd’s extracurricular madness.

If this review sounds over-negative, fret not – it’s merely wishes of what could have been. None of this is to say Todd And The Book Of Pure Evil: The End Of The End should be skipped. When you’re already known for masterstrokes of ballbusting immaturity, metal-horned malevolence and vicious teen-angst creature vanquishing, expectations are going to be sky high. Directors Richard Duhaney and Craig David Wallace successfully service fans with a smile, ensuring that rivers of red scribbled blood spurt from decapitated school children just like we’re used to. It’s just, I mean – ugh, sorry, I just have to say it one more time. BY DIMEBAG’S BEARD, this would have been an epic live-action flick. As is? Still one fine-with-a-capital-F-YEAH return to Crowley High for the faithful who’ve been waiting some 5-or-so years in a Todd-less purgatory.

  • Film
3.0

Summary

Todd And The Book Of Pure Evil: The End Of The End brings closure to hungry fans in all the ways they’d hope – albeit turned down a notch through animation. Over-the-top kills and headbanging metal riffs still reign supreme, they’re just drawn by hand instead of oozing practical effects this time.

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User Rating 3.11 (9 votes)
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