Reviewed by The Foywonder
Starring Kurt Angle, Jenna Morasca, Sam Nicotero, Natalie Bail, Eric Wright, Jonas Chaney
Directed by Bruce Koehler
Kurt Angle. Olympic gold medal-winning amateur wrestler. World championship-winning professional wrestler. Future award-winning actor? Hey, two out of three ain’t bad.
I could see him getting his feet wet in the acting world appearing in a broad comedy or doing the typical b-action movie thing, but playing a devious, smooth-talking, charismatic, master of disguise serial killer requires a thespian skill set that Kurt Angle does not currently possess. Angle’s best acting moment has him do nothing more than stare ominously at a victim without a shred of emotion in his eyes, which he does convincingly, though still looking as if he were a Terminator that wasn’t issued hair at the Skynet factory.
What we have here is another one of those serial killer movies where the cunning murderer spends most of the running time toying with potential victims and the cops after him. The killer frequently changes his appearance, sometimes even passing himself off as a policeman working his own case. The killer also relishes the cat & mouse game he plays with the lead detective on his tail (i.e., calling up the man’s house at all hours to taunt him). The detective – married with a young special needs daughter – further plays into the killer’s hands by getting involved with the stripper roommate of his most recent victim whom he has now begun targeting.
End Game is a pretty lousy movie. That should not come as a shock to anyone when talking about a no-budget serial killer flick starring a professional wrestler and a reality television star turned professional wrestler. Now to be fair, all of the acting ranges from sub-par to terrible to laughably bad. The entire production gives off the vibe of a student film project. There’s so much blue tint lighting used they should have cast The Undertaker instead of Angle. Frequently static camerawork makes many a scene feel like you’re watching the filming of a lethargic stage play. That’s a fitting comparison given the acting much of the time left me feeling like I was watching the rehearsals. Not that the script would make for a compelling thriller even with a bigger budget, a better cast, and a faster pace. Watching End Game isn’t so painful that you’ll need 70 Vicodins to get through it, but I would advise some pep pills to keep you from falling asleep during the extremely dull parts.
If you’re looking for a compelling serial killer thriller, this is so not it. But if you’re a Kurt Angle fan or a connoisseur of movies about or starring professional wrestlers, End Game is an absolute must-see.
Kurt Angle stars as sexual predator Brad Mayfield AKA the “Stranglehold Killer”, a serial killer who has gained his rep for asphyxiating female victims to death after sex. Only the first we see him kill in the film will die at his hands via what I suppose you could call strangulation. The next female victim he seduces gets her neck broken. A male victim (non-sexual, thank goodness) then gets stabbed. I was hoping someone would get anklelocked to death – no dice. For a guy billed as the “Stranglehold Killer”, he doesn’t seem beholden to that particular means of murder.
The movie opens with Angle going doggy-style on his first victim, during which he will redefine the concept of the “rear naked choke” by cupping his hands over her mouth and smothering her to death. So if you’ve ever wanted to see Kurt Angle’s fuck face while repeatedly asking the woman he’s banging from behind “You want me to make you cum?” over and over…
Personally, I could have lived without ever having to see Kurt Angle’s O-face. Not quite as psyche-scarring as the Chyna sex tape or the horrifying thought of one day accidentally stumbling upon an underground viral video of Ox Baker getting titty fucked by Abdullah the Butcher, but this was still not a position I ever wanted to see our Olympic hero in.
Mayfield has now set his murderous sights on the exotic dancer roommate of his most recent victim. Such as the harrowing scene where Mayfield dressed like a cat burglar tries to break into her apartment by lying on the floor and sticking his hand underneath the front door with a lockpick device; she stabs his hand with a screwdriver and he screams like a woman. Something about the staging of this scene left me wondering when Dick Tracy would arrive to question witnesses.
Jenna Morasca, a former “Survivor: Amazon” contestant who posed for Playboy and is now part of the roster of Total Non-stop Action wrestling (the same promotion Kurt Angle just happens to wrestle for), co-stars as a stripper who never takes off any clothes. She develops a relationship with the cop hot on Mayfield’s trail after he pays her a visit at the strip club where she works and watches her never remove a single article of clothing while barely moving on stage.
Should I mention now that the filmmakers were shooting for a PG-13 rating? Despite opening with a sex scene and setting other scenes inside a strip club, there is no actual nudity and the violence is fairly tame. This strikes me a major miscalculation. When you set out to make a motion picture about a psycho sexual serial killer that preys primarily on exotic dancers, it just seems to me that right from the get-go you should already be thinking in R-rated terms. I’ve seen 15-year-old reruns of “Silk Stalkings” more salacious than End Game.
The cops can’t seem to catch Mayfield. That strikes me as odd because Mayfield works in an office under his real name even as the police are on the hunt for him. Maybe I missed something along the way. I have to confess to having been bored into such a stupor at times – anytime the focus was on the police side of things or the melodrama of the lead detective’s personal life – paying attention to the details became quite the arduous task. Sorry to say there’s very little entertainment value outside of the unintended comedy stemming from the novelty of Kurt Angle’s “acting” and his silly disguises.
Mayfield’s favorite disguise is that of “Detective Bishop”, a heavy-set policeman with a voice so husky it could win the Iditarod. A brown fedora, a brown suit designed to make him look at least 50 pounds heavier, and a latex face appliance meant to make him appear older and fat faced: it’s astonishing how much Angle in this outfit combined with his phony deep voice makes him a dead ringer for Tor Johnson in Plan 9 From Outer Space during the scenes of Johnson playing police detective. It simply has to be seen to be believed.
Even more amazing because when we get close-ups of “Detective Bishop” his completely unnatural complexion has the texture of a shinier, more rubbery version of Richard Lynch’s face. He’s about as normal looking as Fantastic Four‘s The Thing whenever he’d walk around in a hat and overcoat, and yet nobody looking at him is ever the wiser.
Another awesome disguise has Angle dressing up as a birthday party clown to get inside the investigator’s house. As carnival music plays over the entire scene, Doink the Olympian will KO the wife with a punch to the face and then deadpans the line “It’s a beautiful day in the neighborhood.” That incredible moment sets the stage for my favorite exchange of uproariously bad dialogue. Not sure why I laughed so hard at this particular dialogue exchange; possibly because the actor playing the lead detective has a voice almost as gravelly as Don Frye, which just made it sound funnier than it was. As his wife is being loaded into an ambulance (that must have been a hell of a punch!), the detective asks what happens, and she tells him that Mayfield has abducted their special needs daughter, Chrissy.
“Who did this?”
“He took Chrissy.”
“HE TOOK CHRISSY?!”
Yet End Game is still better than 95% of Hulk Hogan’s filmography.
1 out of 5
American Psycho Meets Creep – Strawberry Flavored Plastic Review
Starring Aidan Bristow, Nicholas Urda, Andres Montejo
Directed by Colin Bemis
Recently I wrote up an article here on Dread Central which was basically an open letter to anyone who was listening called “I Miss Found Footage.” Well, it seems like someone WAS listening, as I was then sent the link to an all-new found footage film called Strawberry Flavored Plastic from first-time writer-director Colin Bemis.
The film follows the “still-at-large crimes of Noel, a repentant, classy and charming serial killer loose in the suburbs of New York.” Basically, you could think of the flick as American Psycho meets Mark Duplass and Partick Brice’s Creep. That, or you could think of it as “Man Bites Dog in color!” However you choose to label Colin Bemis’ psychological thriller, just make sure you check out the film once it hits in the future.
As I alluded to above, the film is basically a found footage version of American Psycho. But that said, the film sports a twist on the charming serial killer subgenre that I have yet to see play out in any of the above-mentioned classics. I’m not going to go into spoiler territory here, but I will say that the film introduces an element to the tale that spins it into much more of a character drama than a straight horror film. Not that there is anything wrong with that!
Truth be told, the film’s turn from serial killer flick into a layered character study might have been its kiss of death, but this slight genre switch is rendered a minor issue as the film’s central narcissistic antagonist is played by Aidan Bristow. Bristow is an actor you may not have heard of before this review, but you will hear his name more and more over the years to come, I promise. The guy gives (no pun intended) a killer performance as the film’s resident serial killer Noel Rose, and time after time surprised me with how chilling, charming, or downright vulnerable he chose to play any given scene.
Bristow’s performance is, in the end, the major element the film has going for it. But that said, as a fan of found footage, I was smiling ear to ear at first-time director Colin Bemis’ understanding of what makes a found footage suspense sequence work.
In Strawberry Flavored Plastic director Colin Bemis is confident and content to allow full emotional scenes to play out with the camera directed at nothing more than a character’s knees. Why is this so important? Because it keeps the reality of the film going. Too many found footage directors would focus on the actors’ faces during such emotional scenes – no matter how contrived the camera angle was. In this film, however, Bemis favors the reality that says, “If you were really in this emotional state and holding a camera, you would let it drop to your side.” I agree, and it is small touches like that which make the film feel authentic and thus – once the shite hits the fan – all the scarier.
On the dull side of the kitchen knife, the film does feel a bit long even given it’s short running time, and there doesn’t seem too much in the way of visceral horror to be found within. Again, graphic blood and gore aren’t a must in a fright flick, but a tad more of the old ultra-violence would have gone a long way in selling our main psychopath’s insanity and unpredictability. But all the same, the film does feature a rather shocking sequence where our main baddie performs a brutal home invasion/murder that puts this film firmly in the realm of horror. In fact, the particular POV home invasion scene I’m talking about holds about as much horror as you’ll ever wish to witness.
In the end, Colin Bemis’ Strawberry Flavored Plastic is a must-see for fans of found footage and serial killer studies such as American Pyscho, Creep, and Man Bites Dog. I recommend giving it a watch once it premieres. If only to be able to point to Aidan Bristow in the near future and tell all your friends that you watched (one of) his first movies.
Lead actor Aidan Bristow turns in a star-making performance in Colin Bemis’ Strawberry Flavored Plastic, a found footage film that plays out like Man Bites Dog in Color before introducing a new element to the charming-serial-killer subgenre and becoming more character study than a straight horror. Think American Psycho meets Creep.
Who Goes There Podcast: Ep 148 – Inside (2017 Remake)
We’ve all heard the old saying, “in this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes.” Well, I’m here to tell you that’s only partially true. It seems there is a third certainty that had been omitted from the original quote, “It is certain, if you enjoy a movie, at some point someone will remake that movie.” Now is the time when one of my favorite movies gets reimagined, “for an American audience”.
In the late 2000’s an explosion of “French extreme” horror films was released. Martyrs and or High Tension can often be found on any number of lists of the “most fucked up horror movies ever”. Unfortunately, the vastly superior Inside is often forgotten (as well as Frontier(s), but that’s a whole ‘nother rant). Now, ten years after it’s initial release, Inside has been Americanized. Don’t worry, we watched it so you don’t have to. You’re welcome.
Mommy says you’re not dead. Is that true? It’s the Who Goes There Podcast episode 148!
If you like what you hear, please consider joining our Patreon subscribers. For less than the cost of a beer, you get bonus content, exclusive merchandise, special giveaways, and you get to help us continue doing what we love.
The Who Goes There Podcast is available to subscribe to on iTunes right here. Not an iTunes user? You can listen on our Dread Central page. Can’t get enough? We also do that social media shit. You’ll find us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Twitch, and YouTube.
Totem Review – It’s Not Always A Bad Thing To Look Up From The Bottom Level, If You Like That View
Starring Kerris Dorsey, James Tupper, Ahna O’Reilly
Directed by Marcel Sarmiento
Following the untimely death of a family’s matriarchal figure, a young woman finds out that managing to hold all of the pieces in place becomes increasingly more difficult when otherworldly infiltrators make their presence felt. We’re going to have to work our way up this Totem, as
17 year old Kellie is the leading lady of the home following the passing of her mother Lexy, and with a needy father and tiny tot of a baby sister, she still keeps things in working order, regardless of the rather large hole that’s been left in the dynamic due to the death. Kellie’s dad after a while decides to ask his lady-friend to move in with the family, so that everyone can move onto a more peaceful existence…yeah, because those types of instances always seem to work seamlessly. As fate would have it, Kellie’s sense of pride is now taking a beating with the new woman in the mix, and her little sister’s new “visitor” is even more disturbed by this intruder – only question is, exactly who is this supernatural pal of sorts? Is it the spirit of their dead mother standing by to keep watch over the family, or is it something that’s found its way to this group, and has much more evil intentions at hand?
What works here is the context of something innately malicious that has found its way into the home – there are only a couple moments that come off as unsettling, but the notion of having to weave through more than half the film acting as a sullen-teen drama is rather painful. The presentation of the “broken family” is one that’s been done to death, and with better results overall, and that’s not to say that the movie is a complete loss, it just takes far too much weeding through at times stale performances and even more stagnant pacing to get to a moderately decent late-stage conclusion to the film. Under the direction of Marcel Sarmiento (Deadgirl), I’d truly hoped for something a bit more along the lines of a disturbing project such as that one, but the only thing disturbing was the time I’d invested in checking this one out. My best advice is to tune into the Lifetime channel if you want a sulky teen-melodrama with a tinge of horror, or you could simply jump into this one and work your way up…but it’s a LONG way to the top.
Sulky, moody, and ridden with teen-angst buried in the middle of a supernatural mystery – SOUNDS like a decent premise, doesn’t it?
Join the Box of Dread Mailing List
Ellen Page and The Cured Come Home to VOD
#Brainwaves Episode 74 Guest Announcement: Creature Designer Mike Hill – The Shape of Water and More!
The Saw Chapter Comes to Dead By Daylight January 23!
Flying Wolf! New Rampage Trailer Swoops In
See What We Do in the Shadows on the Small Screen
Gender Bashing: The Exorcist Series and the Male Body in Possession Horror
Zak Bagans’ Paranormal-Themed Documentary Demon House Acquired: Aiming For March Release
Julie, Sweet Julie: Why Return of the Living Dead 3 Is One of the Most Inventive Sequels Ever
Decade of Horror (2010-2017): What Have We Learned in the Past 7 Years?
Devil’s Tree: Rooted Evil – Exclusive Trailer, Stills, Poster and More
News6 days ago
An Early Draft of Halloween 6 Has Been Released And It’s… Interesting
News4 days ago
The Evil Dead Trilogy Cuts a 72-Minute Super Cut in Black and White
News5 days ago
Universal’s Bride of Frankenstein Reboot Back on Track With Gal Gadot?
News5 days ago
Zac Efron Looks Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile as Ted Bundy
Editorials4 days ago
What’s Next? 5 Horror Trends We Expect Within 5 Years
Reviews5 days ago
Godzilla: Planet of the Monsters Review – A Timid Step Towards a Frightening Possibility
News5 days ago
Friday the 13th Part 3: In Memoriam Documentary Now Available For Free!
News5 days ago
Jigsaw Teased for Dead by Daylight