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Midnight Movie (Blu-ray)



Midnight Movie Blu-ray reviewReviewed by The Foywonder

Starring Rebekah Brandes, Daniel Bonjour, Mandell Maughan, Jon Briddell, Stan Ellsworth, Greg Cirulnick, Michael Schwartz

Directed by Jack Messitt

Distributed by Peace Arch Home Entertainment

Take a little bit of Popcorn, a little bit of Demons, a little bit of Last Action Hero, throw in just a dash of Texas Chainsaw Massacre, and you got yourself a Midnight Movie. The idea behind Midnight Movie is that of a supernatural slasher movie maniac who can exit his own movie to kill in the real world during screenings of his film, at which time the picture on-screen will cut to his point-of-view as he stalks and kills someone in the building where the motion picture is being show. Viewers then see the real world victim’s corpse being dragged back into the killer’s movie lair. No one is safe until the movie ends, during which time the very building its being shown in becomes cut-off from the rest of the world almost as if it and everyone in it are trapped in another dimension.

Thirty years earlier a deranged filmmaker named Ted Radford went on a killing spree after making a horror film titled The Dark Beneath, about a van full of teens on their way to Woodstock who breakdown in the woods and end up at the house of a masked maniac (played by Radford) and his disarmingly crazy mother. Having long been locked away in a loony bin for decades, one of his doctors thinks it a good idea for his therapy to let him see his own movie again after all these years. An insane asylum massacre follows. None of the bodies are ever found, nor is Radford seen or heard from since.

Five years pass and a movie theater that likes putting on midnight screenings of cult movies is preparing to show The Dark Beneath for the first time in untold years. You have your usual small assortment of college age friends in the audience and on duty running the show, along with a burly biker and his babe, and the lead heroine’s kid brother who snuck in without her knowing. Also in the audience are a police detective determined to capture Radford and a doctor who once treated Radford; both believe that given Radford’s obsession with his own movie he won’t be able to resist coming out of hiding for this screening.

Midnight Movie reviewWhat nobody counted on was the movie’s killer coming out of the movie and making a bloody mess of employees and attendees alike. Everyone at first thinks what they’re seeing on the screen is some sort of elaborate prank. It isn’t long before they realize that this is interactive cinema at its most fatal and they’re the real stars of the show.

Sounds nifty, huh? And for the most part it is. Director Jack Messitt and his co-writer Mark Garbett have crafted a very polished-looking low budget slasher flick built around a premise that at times shows real flourishes of imagination and lord knows slasher movies these days could use an infusion of creativity. Even the usual stock characters are played by actors with winning personalities. You root for certain characters to live and can’t wait for certain jack-offs to die, and you’re even surprised when a certain jack-off turns out to be not so bad a guy after all. But – and I really wish there wasn’t a “but” – I couldn’t help be a tad disappointed by how uninspired much of the execution of this inspired concept proved to be.

For a killer who fear is his ultimate weapon, a skinny guy in baggy overalls and a half-skull mask never struck me as being all that fright-inducing. Nor do we get any explanation as to how Radford acquired his supernatural abilities or what his objective is aside from a love for scaring and slaughtering people. I probably could have overlooked the mostly mute slasher essentially being a phantasm if the script had bothered to flesh out Radford just a bit more than what little we come to learn from random hearsay.

Midnight Movie reviewNot only does this slasher bore victims to death with his trademark, razor-sharp, hand-grip drill bit, he’s also something of a bore himself. Once you’ve seen him corkscrew a few people to death, burrowing divots into their body cavities with his signature instrument of death, it gets old rather quickly. I mean Jason’s trademark was the machete and Freddy Krueger had his knife-fingered glove but even they didn’t kill everyone the exact same way. Not to say there aren’t any spectacularly bloody kills here, I’m just saying that with one exception there’s a real predictability to the kills, both stylistically and the order of death, that’s in sharp contrast to all the creative possibilities offered by the supernatural premise. I like a little variety in my slasher movie kills. I suspect most people watching slasher movies do to.

I got to say I found the movie-within-a-movie to be a tad on the dull side too. Though the filmmakers certainly captured the aesthetics of a Texas Chainsaw Massacre type of flick – though I’ve no earthly idea why a movie from the 1970’s is presented as the sort of scratchy black & white film that went out of style about a decade prior, we see an awful lot of The Dark Beneath early on and let’s just say I can understand why the screening was so poorly attended.

The detail of this new high-definition transfer is really something to see. Skin tones are accurate, the blacks very deep, colors are razor sharp and everything from bits of grue to even facial stubble is presented in stunning detail. However, just like the DVD soundtrack don’t expect the audio mix to knock-your-socks off just because we’re on a new format.

The special features on the Blu-ray are the same ones found on the DVD and offer the type of behind-the-scenes information that you would expect. Things kick off with three featurettes that run about seven minutes each and are actually quite enjoyable. There’s a lot of personality behind this flick, and nowhere does it show more than here. From there we get a few deleted scenes and outtakes, followed by a trailer gallery.

But – always with the “but” – don’t let my criticisms scare you off. If you like slasher movies, you’re probably going to dig this fun little gorefest. At the same time I wouldn’t be surprised if you, like me, come away thinking with one more rewrite they might have really had something special here. I’m afraid Midnight Movie is going to have to settle for possibly ending up as the very sort of midnight cult movie with a limited following just like the kind of cult movie it both builds itself around. And you know what? There’s really nothing wrong with that.

Special Features

  • Creative Team featurette
  • Cast featurette
  • Visual F/X Storyboards featurette
  • Deleted scenes
  • Outtakes
  • Trailers


    3 out of 5

    Special Features:

    3 1/2 out of 5

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    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.

    Spoiler free.

    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.

    • American Horror Story: Cult (2018)


    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.

    User Rating 4.43 (7 votes)
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    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.
    • The Axiom


    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.

    User Rating 4.14 (14 votes)
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    The Dollmaker Short Film Review – Welcome to Heebie Jeebie City!



    Starring Perri Lauren, Sean Meehan, Dan Berkey

    Directed by Alan Lougher

    The loss of a young child drives a mother to take a set of unusual measures to preserve his memory, and all it takes is one call to The Dollmaker.

    When the short film by Alan Lougher opens up, we see a rather disturbing image of a little boy inside a casket, and the sound of a grieving mom speaking with an unidentified man in the background – he’s requesting something personal of the child to help “finish” his product, and it’s not before long that mom has her little boy back…well, kind of. What remains of the child is the representation of his former self, although it’s contained within the frame of a not-so-attractive doll, and the boy’s father isn’t a believer in this type of hocus-pocus (or the price to have this constructed, either). The doll comes with a specific set of instructions, but most importantly, you cannot spend more than one hour a day with the doll, or else you’ll go mad thinking that the soul inside of it is actually the person that you lost – sounds reasonable, doesn’t it?

    Well this is just too good to be true for Mommy, and as the short film progresses, we’ll just have to wait and see what happens to her mind – it’s ultimately a depressing scenario, but Lougher gives it that creepy feel, almost like visiting a relative’s home and seeing their dearly departed pet stuffed and staring at you over the fireplace – HEEBIE-JEEBIE CITY, if you ask me. All in all, the quickie is gloomy, but ultimately chilling in nature, and is most definitely worth a watch, and if I might use a quote from one of my favorite films to apply to this subject matter: “Sometimes…dead is better.”

    • Film


    Ultimately chilling in nature!

    User Rating 3.41 (17 votes)
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