Reviewed by The Foywonder
Starring Christina DeMarco, Greg Robbins, Laura Romeo, Hugh McLean, Lauren Bayer, Peter Kent
Written and Directed by Greg Robbins
What Would Jesus Do? Go see a better movie.
I told three of my friends and co-workers, all regular churchgoers, about the details of this film after I saw it, wanting to gauge their reaction. One just rolled his eyes and shook his head. Another reacted with a sort of bemused disdain, laughing at how stupid it sounded while being slightly appalled by the misguided message; she initially thought I was even making it all up until I showed her the trailer. The third, a self-avowed Southern Baptist Republican, was the most offended by what I described, quite vocal in his opposition to fundamentalist propaganda like this because to him it gives all Christians a bad name by leading many to believe that all people of faith share the same narrow worldview.
There’s certainly a market for a movie like C Me Dance. Just not in South Mississippi where I live, it would seem – only me and the Lord were in that theater opening night and I think the Lord snuck out to slip into the Fast & Furious theater at some point. The Dove Foundation gave C Me Dance a score of 4/5. How bad must a faith-based film be to garner a negative score from the Dove Foundation? Are there no Christian Razzies?
C Me Dance was written by, directed by, produced by, and co-stars “Pastor” Greg Robbins. What Robbins doesn’t appear to understand about the craft of quality filmmaking could probably fill another Bible. All one need do is glimpse the trailers for other recent Christian cinematic offerings like Fireproof, Thr3e, House, and The Omega Code movies, and you can immediately discern those films were at the very least made by people with some degree of competency behind a camera. Looking like a Trinity Broadcasting after school special from the Eighties, Robbins’ movie is shot with less professionalism than your average Latter Day Saints PSA. How he finagled his film into a theatrical release is beyond me.
Robbin’s greatest sin, however, is screenwriting. Nobody, and I mean nobody, in this movie talks like a real human being. I don’t know how good Pastor Robbins is at the pulpit when he’s proselytizing, but I can assure you he does not know how to write dialogue to save his soul. All he seems to comprehend about the art of storytelling is heavy-handed symbolism and hammy sermonizing.
In all fairness, it’s not just faith-based films that have lost the art of subtlety interweaving underlying messages into the drama. Look at most recent mainstream Hollywood movies about global warming, the war in Iraq, etc., that deliver their sanctimonious messages with the finesse of blunt force trauma. C Me Dance doesn’t just wear its message on its sleeves, it’s wearing a berka.
One moment Sheri chides dad about the futility of faith and prayer in light of her condition, and two scenes later she’s racing dad out the door to get to church on time. Satan first appears with red contact lenses, then later with no contact lenses, and finally with white contact lenses. If only continuity were considered a sin.
As for the cast, let’s just say there’s a reason this movie isn’t titled C Me Act and move on.
Despite some promotion pitching C Me Dance as having an element of horror to its tale, what little intended terror there is proves far more miniscule than initially believed, though there still remain a few elements of a horror movie, which I’ll get to momentarily.
Seventeen-year-old Sheri “just wants to dance and hang out.” Her dreams of being a ballerina are dashed when she is diagnosed with terminal leukemia. She’ll suffer no hair loss, no energy loss, no physical wasting away; she’ll continue to look and act like the cute bubbly Jamie-Lynn Sigler look-a-like with anime eyes she was before being given a medical death sentence. She truly becomes blessed when the Holy Spirit – appearing in the form of a blinding bright light in the dining room chandelier – anoints her with the power to convert non-believers to Christianity with a single touch. As her dad puts it, “Man, this is gonna tick off the devil.”
Indeed. Lucifer’s first insinuation into Sheri’s life is doing what he was most well known for in the Bible: heavy breathing crank phone calls. Dad immediately knows this is the devil on the phone; could just as easily have been Darth Vader.
Satan physically manifests as some dude clad in a black trench coat because the devil knows Sheri watched a movie she wasn’t supposed to years ago that caused her to develop a phobia of men in black trench coats. The Matrix? Underworld? Say Anything?
We’re told the only powers the devil truly possesses are the abilities to trick you, deceive you, and scare you. Coincidentally, also three tactics commonly employed by many politicians and televangelists.
Satan’s big comeuppance consists of Sheri telling him “You are such a loser” and then evil incarnate gets left in the dust as Sheri speeds off on the back of a motorcycle driven by ex-pro wrestler Nikita Koloff. A more satisfying requital would have been to have Koloff get off the bike and floor Satan with the Russian Sickle.
Before scolding the devil, but after an all-out brawl with violent school bullies – a subplot introduced without a smidgen of set-up, dad takes Sheri to their local minister and tells him what’s going on. Not only does this man immediately accept everything he’s being told as 100% truth, he cannot wait to begin using this girl’s power to convert everyone whether they want to be or not. “Every day God’s creation is going to hell and it’s really starting to piss me off,” this man of God angrily states (always nice to have a preacher at the pulpit with a chip on his shoulder walking around thinking the world is such a terrible place, if only someone would come along and smite it) just before laying out a plan for her to go to a local “secular” rock concert to use her powers on the heathens attending. Dad thinks this is a great plan and Sheri, clearly portrayed as an easily manipulated doe-eyed innocent, also thinks this all sounds positively neat-o.
This movie gets so militant with this conceit the minister even has her standing in front of his own congregation using her powers on life-long churchgoers sitting in the pews that just aren’t true enough believers. Within days we’re told the rates of local murders, rapes, and kidnappings have gone down at an astronomical rate, Hollywood has begun shelving movies that don’t portray acceptable family values, and the porn industry is shutting down as ex-smut peddlers begin devoting their efforts to helping those they’ve harmed spreading their filth. The ultimate goal is to get Sheri simulcast on every major television network at once so that she can telepathically gang-save millions in a single broadcast. And if anyone dares to object or stand in their way, all she has to do is touch them and they’re instantly transformed into a Stepford Christian.
Yes, ladies and gentlemen, this is a horror movie, just one with a great big smile on its face that doesn’t realize what it truly is. C Me Dance is exactly like all those body-snatching horror movies we’ve seen where someone gets taken over by an evil presence that can infect and impose its evil into anyone it comes into contact with. Sure, it’s the power of Christ this time around, but that doesn’t make it any less sinister in its affront to the very notion of free will. I’m sure many of like mind watching will think what’s portrayed on the screen is awesome, but for those of us that don’t live in a bubble, it’s obvious what’s being preached is as misguided as it is ridiculous. None of these people are coming to find Christ on their own; they’re not doing so as a decision based out of a deeply held belief or longing; none of these are honest heartfelt conversions. These people are being manipulated via supernatural mind control. She touches them or uses some psychic power to get into their head and – bam – they’re instantly born again. People are going to be filled with the Lord’s grace; yeah, but not by their own admission, not by their own choosing. Probably fruitless to even argue as much since we all know free will and individual thought are not exactly popular concepts amongst fundamentalists of any particular religious persuasion. As bad a rap as Christians tend to get, often undeservedly, negatively stereotyping them as simple-minded drones incapable of thinking for themselves, here is a movie that actually embraces that hive mindset and hails it as a great thing. If ever there was a motion picture for which the phrase “the road to hell is paved with good intentions” applied – by God, this is it.
It clearly never crosses the mind of the Pastor Robbinses of the world that there might actually be people out there that don’t share their beliefs or practice other faiths or even do subscribe to many of their same tenets but not to the same degree living happy, fulfilled lives, and the reason they don’t agree with you is not because they’re scared or stubborn or under demonic influence; it’s because they have a mind of their own and have come to believe differently. This movie will have none of that because it exists in a vacuum of us vs. them and all of “them” (i.e., us) have to be either converted or treated as a mortal enemy.
Sheri’s climactic world-changing sermon, written and delivered with all the eloquence of a third grader’s Sunday school essay, actually has the hypocritical nerve to conclude by telling us how in the end we all have a major choice to make about the way we spend eternity, the height of irony given the power she wields and the way she and those around her have chosen to use it has eliminated any choice in the matter.
I’d have been all the more offended and horrified by the mentality of this gleefully inane piece of fundamentalist Christian propaganda if I hadn’t been laughing so hard. As naive as it is earnest, as deluded as it is convinced of its own piety, the lunacy of its tale is enough to make you think it was parody if you didn’t know the filmmakers were totally sincere. Believe me when I tell you there is so much more I could go on about. I’m just going to stop here and summarize C Me Dance with two simple words:
2 out of 5
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Through the Cracks – Trick or Treat (1986) Review
Starring Marc Price, Tony Fields, Lisa Orgolini, Glen Morgan, Gene Simmons, and Ozzy Osbourne
Directed by Charles Martin Smith
I have been a horror fan for more than half of my life at this point. Meaning I have seen most of the quality horror offerings under the sun. But that said, every once in awhile a classic sneaks past so we wanted to create this “Through the Cracks” review section for such films.
Case in point, I had never seen the Halloween horror flick Trick or Treat until last night. I know, right? How the hell did that happen? But these things do happen and so for everyone that has seen the flick a million times, this will be a review of the movie from a super horror fan that – at the age of 33 – is seeing Trick or Treat for the very first time.
Now let’s get to it.
First off you have to love the movie’s plot. Mixing horror and heavy metal seems like a given, yet preciously few films Frankenstein these two great tastes together.
Like many of you out there, I am a big metal fan as well as a big horror fan. The two seem to go together like chocolate and peanut butter. Or Jason and horny campers.
I dig bands like Black Sabbath, Judas Priest, and even those hair metal bands (Dokken forever!) and I’m well aware of the legends surrounding playing these records backward.
Off the top of my head, the only other flick that combines the two to this degree is the (relatively) recent horror-comedy Deathgasm. I say more horror-metal flicks! Or should we call it Metal-Horror? Yeah, that’s a much more metal title.
It only makes sense that someone, somewhere would take the idea of “What if Ozzy Osbourne really was evil and came back from the dead (you know, if he had passed away during his heyday) to torment a loner fan?” Great premise for a movie!
And Trick or Treat delivers on the promise of this premise in spades. Sammi Curr is an epic hybrid of the best of the best metal frontmen and his resurrection via speaker is one of the great horror birthing scenes I have seen in all my years.
Add to that the film feels like a lost entry in the Nightmare on Elm Street franchise. More specifically the film feels like it would fit snugly in between two of my favorite entries in that series, Dream Warriors and The Dream Master.
This movie is 80’s as all f*ck and I loved every minute of it.
And speaking of how this film brought other minor classics to the forefront of my brain, let’s talk about the film’s central villain, Sammi Curr. This guy looks like he could share an epic horror band with the likes of Mary Lou from Hello Mary Lou: Prom Night II and the Drill Killer rocker from Slumber Party Massacre Part II.
Picture that band for a moment and tell me they aren’t currently playing the most epic set in Hell as we speak. I say let’s see an Avengers-style series of films based on these minor horror icons sharing the stage and touring the country’s high school proms!
In the end Trick or Treat has more than it’s fair share of issues. Sammi Curr doesn’t enter the film until much too late and is dispatched way too easily. Water? Really? That’s it?
That said, the film is still a blast as director Charles Martin Smith keeps the movie rocking like an 80’s music video with highlights being Sammi’s rock show massacre at the prom and his final assault on our hero teens in the family bathroom.
Rockstar lighting for days.
Even though the film has issues (zero blood, a rushed ending) none of that mattered much to this horror hound as the film was filled to the brim with striking horror/metal imagery and a killer soundtrack via Fastway and composer Christopher Young.
Plus you’ve got to love the cameos by Gene Simmons (boy, his character just dropped right out of the movie, huh?) and Ozzy Osbourne as a mad-as-hell Preacher that isn’t going to take any more of this devil music. P.S. Watch for the post-credits tag.
More than a few of my closest horror buddies have this film placed high on their annual Halloween must-watch lists. And after (finally) viewing the film for myself, I think I just may have to add the film to mine as well. Preferably on VHS.
Trick or Treat is an 80’s horror classic. If you dig films like Popcorn, and if you put the film off like I did, remedy that tonight and slap a copy in the old VHS/DVD player.
Just don’t play it backward… God knows what could happen.
All said and done, I enjoyed the hell out of my first viewing of Trick or Treat. But what do YOU think of the film? Make sure to hit us up and let us know below or on social media!
Now bring on Trick or Treat 2: The Prom Band from Hell, featuring Sammi Curr, Mary Lou Maloney, and Atanas Ilitch’s Driller Killer from Slumber Party Massacre Part II!
Charles Martin Smith’s Trick or Treat is a sure-fire Halloween treat for fans of 80’s horror flicks, as well as fans of heavy metal music.
AHS: Cult Review – Clowns, Cults, Politics, and Peters
Starring Evan Peters, Sarah Paulson, Billie Lourd, Cheyenne Jackson, Frances Conroy, Mare Winningham, and Allison Pill
Created by Ryan Murphy and Brad Falchuk
** NO SPOILERS **
It’s here. We’ve reached the end. The newest season of “American Horror Story” has ended and now we are here to provide you guys with our season review of AHS: Cult.
To start things off let me say I’m not the world’s biggest fan of “American Horror Story”. It breaks down like this: I enjoyed the absolute hell out of the first season of the series (“Murder House”), couldn’t get through “Asylum” (I know, I know, I’ve tried), dug “Coven” for what it was, really enjoyed “Freak Show”, and again I couldn’t get into “Hotel” or “Roanoke”.
That’s the story of me and “American Horror Story”. Plain And simple. But what did I think of the new seventh season of the notorious horror anthology series? Let’s find out.
Back when the seventh season of AHS was first announced (then going by the title “AHS: Election”) I was immediately intrigued by the new season because I heard it would not include any supernatural elements. Like the fourth season, “Freak Show”.
Now I’m a fan of ghosts and weird creature-men with drills for d*cks, don’t get me wrong. But the series has thus far relied almost exclusively on horrors of the supernatural variety (other than “Freak Show”) so this major change of pace was again welcomed by this guy.
Instead of vampires, aliens, and witches this season relied on terrors of the mind. Psychological fears and anxieties. The horrors man does to man. Deep issues.
Oh, and clowns. Like a lot of clowns.
But just because this new season didn’t include anything supernatural, that doesn’t mean the 11-episode season wasn’t filled with twisted visuals and horrifically disturbing acts. No, sir. This season boasted some showstoppers including S&M, gimps, and a house of horrors that wouldn’t be out of place in a Rob Zombie flick. It was all good.
But let’s backtrack a bit here.
Allow me to rundown the season’s plot for those who may be unaware. “AHS: Cult” tells the tale of a world post-election night. The literal dawn of Trump’s America. In one corner we have Sarah Paulson’s soccer mom, trying to fight through life with a series of crippling phobias (including clowns, holes, blood, and being a good person).
And in the other corner, we have Evan Peter’s angry, white (blue-haired) male, looking to seize Trump’s new position of power to bring about the end of… Actually, I want this to be a spoiler-free season review, so I’m just going to say the dude’s got big plans.
Like Manson-size plans. Let’s leave it at that.
With these two characters established, the new season then proceeds to send them spiraling into a collision course of political sabotage, intrigue, and clown-based nope, nope, nope-ing that can only end with one – or both – of them dead as Dillinger.
Overall “AHS: Cult” belonged end-to-end to Mr. Evan Peters. The young actor has continued to show his striking range from season to season of Ryan Murphy’s horror show and this season was no different. Peters’ turn as not only Kai, the blue-haired leader of the titular cult, but as infamous leaders such as David Koresh, Jim Jones, and Charles Manson – to name a few – owed this season.
I can only hope he doesn’t pull a Jessica Lange and opt-out of more AHS next year.
Speaking of top performances, “AHS: Cult ” showcases some other chilling and memorable turns with Alison Pill’s strangely vulnerable, put-upon wife character being the best next to Peters in my eyes. This actress needs to be in more films/TV!
Along with Pill, actress Billie Lourd killed it time and time again. The “Scream Queens” breakout star and Carrie Fisher spawn was yet again a highlight in her second Ryan Murphy series. Bet she has the starring role in next season. Mark my words.
Add to that, the season also boasts a handful of fun cameos, including John Carroll Lynch’s return as Twisty the Clown, Emma Roberts as a bitchy reporter that will do anything to end up on top, and Lena Dunham as SCUM Manifesto writer Valerie Solanas. The cameo cast killed it and I wish they would have been present for more episodes. What are you gonna do?
On the sour side of the season, I didn’t dig Sarah Paulson’s character. At all. But I’m sure that was the point. Right? I’m still not sure. But, boy, I wouldn’t even want to be stuck in line behind her at a Starbucks for three minutes, let alone spend the better part of this season’s 11-hours with her and her whiny bullshite. Urgh.
That said, she pulled it out by the finale. That’s all I’ll say.
In the end, I enjoyed this season as much as – if not more – than any other of the series. “Murder House” will still no doubt go on as my favorite season of the series, but “AHS: Cult” will rank third after season one and “Freak Show”.
While I was on the fence about the season after three episodes, the show ended up ditching Paulson’s character (and/or shifting her arch) after a lull so the episodes picked up quickly. Whenever the season turned its focus back towards Peters (in whichever incarnation he was playing at the time) the show got better and better. Every time.
Not a bad way to spend my Tuesday night for the past 11 weeks.
Bring on season 12.
The seventh season of Ryan Murphy’s American Horror Story was Evan Peters’ show all the way through. The young actor pulled out all the stops time and time again to make what may have been a lackluster supernatural-free season a winner.
The Axiom Review – A Stylish and Clever Slice of Independent Horror
Starring Hattie Smith, Zac Titus, Nicole Dambro
Directed by Nicholas Woods
The Axiom is an ambitious, well directed, impressively acted and stunningly shot independent horror film that has just a few, teensy little flaws holding it back from greatness (and therefore will have to settle for just being really, really good, instead).
The first thing you realize when watching The Axiom is that this is a beautiful film. Everything is framed and shot in a lush and stylish manner, but one which is always tonally appropriate for the scene.
The second thing you’ll notice, and keep noticing as the film plays out, is that the movie really struck gold with this cast. Not only is there a total lack of the sort of stilted and unnatural acting seen in countless other microbudget horror affairs, but the performances are genuinely fantastic across the board. The main characters are believably chill and relatably normal in the early scenes, and the acting remains just as impressive once things start getting a bit more… intense. It’s not often that an independent horror film has so many good performances that it makes it hard to pick the movie’s acting VIP, but that is undeniably the case here. Taylor Flowers delivers what is probably the showiest performance (and does it very well, indeed), but the entire cast really is quite good.
The central premise of the film is both interesting and original, and touches upon the real life fact (given some recent attention in the ‘Missing 411’ books and documentary) that a lot more people sure seem to go missing out in the woods than seems reasonable, while simultaneously weaving all sorts of folklore, fairy tales and urban legends into the mix. It’s also clever in the way that it very naturally reveals aspects to the relationships between characters that serve to later – or sometimes retroactively – explain some of the more questionable decisions they make or attitudes they display. While that may sound like screenwriting 101, it’s surprising how many films fail to do this. The Axiom rewards the viewer’s attention in other ways as well, with many aspects of the movie that initially feel odd or unnatural receiving reasonable explanations (within the context of the movie) by the end. It’s not quite as challenging (or as rewarding) in this regard as, say, something like Session 9, but it does add a nice layer of complexity to the storytelling.
The film’s score, by Leo Kaliski, is also quite good. There may be a moment here or there where the music hits an overly familiar beat, but overall it not only fits the movie’s tone, but does quite a bit to help set that tone as well.
The only thing that I don’t feel the movie quite pulls off – and I’m trying to be vague here, because I feel like the less you know going into this film, the better – is some of the makeup effects work. The gore stuff is very well executed, but some of the other stuff feels like it was crafted with the intention of shooting it in a more… stylized manner. Instead, filmed as it is here, the result is sometimes less than impressive and can fail to make the impact that the movie seems to be implying that it should. And while some of what the makeup effects lack in execution is made up for with the ingenuity and creativity of their design, it’s still a bit of a shame when they don’t quite pull them off because, aside from a few niggles that I have with the writing, the effects are the only aspect of the film that occasionally fails to live up to the high level of technical proficiency that The Axiom otherwise demonstrates.
- Man, the acting in this movie is really good. The dialogue may stumble once or twice, but these actors always sell it anyway.
- Give back Mia Sara’s DNA, Hattie Smith!
- If you’re going to put your female lead in shorts this small, I hope you’re not sensitive to viewers unleashing a nonstop parade of “Has anyone seen my pants / OH GOD WHERE ARE MY PANTS!” jokes.
- “You just pop this here ‘Blair Witch Stick Person / Anarchy sign’ sticker up on that there windshield of yours, and them park rangers? Well – heh heh – they won’t bother you none, no sir.” Hmmmmm…
- The film really is shot amazingly well – better than a lot of mainstream releases. Cinematographer Sten Olson has a real future ahead of him.
- As does writer / director Nicholas Woods, for that matter. Any director who can get this level of quality out of their cast and crew on their first ever film is someone to keep an eye on.
- “I’ll make a run for it and get help,” says the female lead, and I’m like “Yeah, let her go – she has no pants to weigh her down.”
- The gore effects in the movie are both realized and utilized very well.
- Welcome back to horror movies, “I’ll be right back” dialogue spoken unironically by and/or to ill-fated characters.
In the end, The Axiom is a solid and entertaining flick that manages to wring a level of quality and originality out of the somewhat tired “Don’t Go in the Woods” horror subgenre not seen since 2012’s Cabin in the Woods. The cinematography and acting are hugely impressive, it features a nice, unnerving score, the premise is original and captivating, and the whole thing moves at a nice pace that helps keep the film’s flaws from dragging it down.
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