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Wolvesbayne (2009)

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Wolvesbayne review (click for larger image)Reviewed by The Foywonder

Starring Jeremy London, Marc Dacascos, Yancy Butler, Christy Carlson Romano, Rhett Giles, Stephanie Honore

Directed by Griff Furst


Wolvesbayne won’t win any awards for originality, but as I’ve said in the past, if you aren’t going to bring anything fresh to the table you better make sure to retread familiar territory in an entertaining fashion. This is exactly what director Griff Furst and company manages to do until the overwritten script begins to collapse in on itself during the second half. The breezy pace and enthusiastic cast is almost enough to make you overlook a most annoying turn the story takes.

One thing I do suspect viewers of this fast-paced action horror flick will have a hard time overlooking is how little screen time werewolves get despite ostensibly being billed as a werewolf movie. You can watch and tell every penny of the film’s limited budget is on the screen; maybe with a few more pennies they could have afforded to give the werewolves more face time.

Jeremy London (“Party of 5”, “7th Heaven”), showing more personality than usual, stars as greedy real estate developer Russel Bane; a chance roadside encounter with a werewolf leads to him inheriting its curse. After going through the usual newly cursed werewolf motions, the arrogant businessman goes seeking the assistance of the pretty proprietor of an occult shop (Christy Carlson Romano, the voice of Disney’s “Kim Possible”) he had been scheming to acquire the deed to. She has her own lycanthrope secret and takes the reluctant Bane under her wing to train him in the ways of the werewolf.

Wolvesbayne review (click for larger image)Bane’s werewolf problem quickly turns into a vampire problem when he garners the attention of a clan of vamps led by Marc Dacascos as Von Griem, a debonair bloodsucker fed up with his kind having to hide in the shadows.

That the vamps have splintered off into various factions that cannot seem to get along with each other complicates matters. Von Griem resurrects uber vampire Lilith (Yancy Butler, vamping and camping it up all at once, a vampire queen by way of “Mommy Dearest” Joan Crawford) hoping that she can help bring unity to their legion and lead them into a new era of fanged glory. Doing so will require them to acquire a series of amulets that will fully return Lilith’s god-like power.

With the exception of a sexy vampire assassin (Stephanie Honore, soon to be seen in Final Destination 3D) these vampires don’t do a whole heck of a lot that could be construed as vampiric. More of the World of Darkness “Vampire: The Masquerade” variety, which means excessive amounts of vampire politicking and an overemphasis on talking about what they’re plotting rather than actually doing what they’re plotting.

Bane gets roped into working with a team of vampire hunters, the leader of which, Jacob Van Helsing, played by former Asylum regular Rhett Giles, demonstrates a take-no-prisoners attitude that doesn’t sit well with Bane.

In fact, all of these vampire hunters are straight out of an Asylum film: Bram Stoker’s Dracula’s Curse, to be exact. Screenwriter Leigh Scott wrote and directed that film back in his days working for The Asylum and brings a few of those characters back to life in this non-Asylum film. Though these vampire hunters are a colorful lot and Rhett Giles is an underrated actor who makes for a credible vampire slayer, the introduction of this clan of vampire hunters where the Wolvesbayne begins to derail.

Wolvesbayne review (click for larger image)Russel Bane’s progression from selfish jerk to reluctant werewolf superhero gets put on the back burner, along with his potential were-girl love interest, going from title character to second, maybe even third fiddle as the returning characters from Dracula’s Curse waltz in around the 50-minute mark and completely takeover the movie. I figured if nothing else it was all setting up Bane’s big moment during the final battle when he’d use his werewolfism to save the day, but, and this really is hard to believe, that’s not exactly how it goes. His big moment doesn’t even involve the use of his wolfman powers and Lilith’s downfall is almost entirely Van Helsing’s doing.

Imagine you’re watching the Wolverine origin movie. Two-thirds into the film the X-Men show up; recruit him, and from that point on he just becomes another face in the crowd while Professor X, Cyclops, and Storm dominate the proceedings and lead the charge against the bad guys. Then the final battle hardly involves Wolverine; he barely brandishes his claws and is just kind of there while other X-Men vanquish the villains. People watching a Wolverine movie probably want to watch Wolverine rip the bad guys to shreds, not smiling politely off to the side while Cyclops blasts the main supervillain into oblivion.

When Wolvesbayne was over I kind of had the feeling I’d just spent 90-minutes watching the superhero origin movie for a minor supporting sidekick. Even then the film is not half bad, but I can’t help but come away feeling a bit soured by the lack of werewolf action in what’s being billed primarily as a werewolf movie and then having that werewolf character we’re emotionally invested in all but sidelined by a group of secondary characters that dominate the entire third act.

2 1/2 out of 5

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Friends Don’t Let Friends Review – A Haunting Mixture of Psychological Turmoil and Brutal Supernatural Horror

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Starring Brittany Anne Woodford, Jenny Curtis, Kanin Guntzelman, Brendan McGowan, Jake White

Directed by James S. Brown

We all like to think of ourselves as being surrounded by friends, but let’s face it, if we were to ever truly hit hard times, there are probably very few, if any, people we could truly rely on. So on some level, Friends Don’t Let Friends is a film we can all relate too, as it deals with this very issue.

Stephanie is an emotionally unstable young woman who strangles her boyfriend to death after he insults and breaks up with her. She calls her friends to help her dispose the body out in the Joshua Tree National Part area, and instead of reporting her to the police, they reluctantly comply. As their car breaks down, the four friends find themselves alone at night in the Californian wilderness with the rotting corpse in need of disposal. Given their dire circumstances, they begin to become more and more aggressive towards each other, and this was where the film was really at its best. I was on the edge of my seat, wondering how far the limits of their friendship could be stretched, and who would be the first to crack and turn on the others.

Anyway, their body disposal endeavor soon proves to be a mistake, as Stephanie’s ex rises from the grave as vengeful zombie demon thing with claws as long as knives. I’ll admit, I first I thought Friends Don’t Let Friends was going to be a movie purely about the limits of trust, so I was pretty surprised when the supernatural elements came into play. And when they did, the trust and friendship elements of the plot were somewhat downplayed in favor of a more traditional horror approach, and while it was still entertaining, I still would have preferred for the film not to have strayed from its initial path. At least the ending came as a shocker. I won’t go into spoilers, but let’s just say the even the most attentive viewers probably won’t see it coming.

As you can probably guess from a psychologically-driven film of this kind, the performances were top notch, with Brittany Anne Woodford being on particularly top form as the manipulative and unstable Stephanie, a character who revels in the revels in the power she felt when ending another human life.

With its mixture of psychological turmoil and brutal supernatural horror, Friends Don’t Let Friends is a film I would certainly recommend, but keep in mind that it may make you think twice when confiding in people who you think of as being your friends.

8 out of 10.

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Coulrophobia Review – One of the Most Entertaining Killer Clown Films in Quite Some Time

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Starring Pete Bennett, Warren Speed, Daniella D’Ville, Roxy Bordeaux

Directed by Warren Speed


The word ‘Coulrophobia’ refers to the fear of clowns, and if you happen to suffer from it, you might want to avoid director Warren Speed’s film of the same name. However, if you can stand the sight of clowns with gaping wounds in their manly parts, then you’re in for one heck of a fun time.

An all-female hockey team get lost deep in the Scottish woods on their way to a match (don’t ask), and are captured and forced to participate in a series of horrific games by the Grock family of clowns. All of the members of said family are absolutely fucking insane, but the one that really stood out was Twitch (Pete Bennett), who wears jester cloths and it said to have a short attention span. He longs to be a violin player and wishes he could blend in with normal society like the other members of his family. And you almost feel sorry for him, even though he’s a mad killer with bells on his head.

Director Warren Speed also appeared as Milo, a grunting mute who had his tongue cut out when he was a boy. As mentioned above, we see a close-up shot of a open wound in his penis being stitched up, which is not an image that will be leaving your mind anytime soon. Speed is clearly fearless when it comes to his art.

Inter-spliced with all the torture and mayhem, we also see documentary-style telling the sad history of the family involved, and this was where the film unfortunately faltered, because these scenes seemed out of place and just didn’t flow with the rest of the plot.

Ultimately, however, Coulrophobia almost seems like a film Rob Zombie might have made before he lost his way and started churning out trash like 31. Comparisons to House of 1000 Corpses are inevitable, and I absolutely mean that as a compliment. This is one of the most entertaining killer clown films in quite some time.

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User Rating 2.94 (17 votes)
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The Gatehouse Review – What Is Found in the Woods Should Be Left in the Woods

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Starring Scarlett Rayner, Simeon Willis, Linal Haft

Directed by Martin Gooch


Now while no one will sneeze at the prospect of bringing up a bit of a rebellious child alone, it’s those damned kids that like to tempt fate by pissing off creatures in the woods…oh kids, they do the funniest things, don’t they?

In Martin Gooch’s moderately spooky presentation, The Gatehouse, a struggling writer named Jack (Willis) finds himself behind the 8-ball following the tragic drowning death of his beloved wife, and if that isn’t enough to torque your drawers, his young daughter, Eternity (Rayner) is becoming quite the salty soul herself. Unfortunately the little one has been finding herself bullied at school, and her recourse of sorts is to simply toss attitude around as if it was pleasantly acceptable. Her pastime has become lonely wanderings in the deep woods, digging for hopeful treasures…and we all know what problems reside in the woods, don’t we, horror fans? Well, Eternity’s father is attempting to re-start his writing career with a frightening backstory – taking the reigns on a novel that was abruptly ended when the author committed suicide, and supposedly the tome is quite the dark piece of literature.

Eternity’s never-ending quest for fortune and glory in the forest leads her to a most interesting (and ultimately) dangerous discovery (don’t sweat it – I won’t spill it for you). Bottom line here is this: the little girl has taken possession of something that should have been left in the friggin’ woods, and now someone (or something) wants it back PRONTO. What follows is a lackluster series of “spooky” events, and far be it from me to say, I’ve seen creepier stuff watching the evening news. Gooch then tries to bombard the audience with a plethora of instances and swerving plot direction – it’s fun at the beginning but can grow a bit tiresome over a duration.

Performance-wise, both Rayner and Willis play the perfect combination of mentally-shot dad and determined-to-be-independent daughter – their scenes are ripe with subtle contempt, and the right amount of indecision. Overall, the film is best suited for those fans of fantasy/fable-like horror, and while it might not scare the pants off of you, it definitely will give us all another reason to stay the hell out of the woods once and for all.

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Summary

Children in a forest-setting don’t always add up to cutesy-pie encounters with furry creatures – this one’s got a few scares to keep fans of coppice-horror appeased.

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User Rating 3.56 (18 votes)
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