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Intercessor: Another Rock & Roll Nightmare (2005)

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Starring Jon Mikl Thor, Craig Bowlsby, Brad Pope, Sharon MacDonald, Melissa Ellingham

Directed by Benn McGuire and Jacob Windatt


What the @*#% was that crap?

I should I have known I was in for quite an experience when the film opened with a montage composed of still photos and flash animation and followed it up with an opening credits sequence set to the tune of the kind of hair metal I thought had completely gone out of style about 15 years ago before the actual movie started and revealed the kind of production values and cinematography that makes one realize that what they’re about to watch isn’t an actual movie but somebody’s home movie masquerading as a real film. Then the actors began “acting” and it confirmed that not only was this really someone’s home movie, it was an amateur home movie of the worst kind. It’s like none of the advances in digital movie filmmaking that have taken place the past few years ever happened and we’re back to making digital movies that look like somebody got some friends together, put them in costumes and had them recite dialogue while being filmed with a little handheld digital camera, and then inserted some cheaply animated digital effects in post-production. But then, as I would soon come to learn the hard way, shoddy production values were only part of the film’s problems.

Intercessor: Another Rock ‘N’ Roll Nightmare is a sequel of sorts to a mostly forgotten 1980s heavy metal themed horror flick called Rock ‘N’ Roll Nightmare. How forgettable was that film? I know I saw it a long time ago but I’ll be damned if I could recall a single moment from it, and keep in mind I’m someone that can recount actual storylines used on episodes of “Madame’s Place.” You don’t have to have seen the original to watch this one since the only thing they have in common are star and heavy metal musician Jon Mikl Thor apparently playing the same character he did in the original, although you’d never really know it other than a barely hinted at reference to the first film in the opening prologue. Since I know trying to explain the film’s stunningly overwrought plot will only result in confusion and cerebral trauma (at least that’s how it affected me), I’m just going to reprint for you the synopsis from the back of the DVD box and go on from there.

“Almost twenty years have passed since John Triton expelled the forces of evil from the earth. Now, he wanders the countryside in search of his forgotten past.

Meanwhile, a feud between Zompira, the lord of the undead, and Mephisto, a dark sorcerer from the depths of hell, has brought chaos onto the world of the living once again. A spell has allowed them to come to earth with the intent to corrupt and devour the souls of the innocent. Mephisto decides young Laura, the picture of innocence, is a prize target and sends his minions The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse and the Four Elemental Demonesses to corrupt her in her dreamworld. Zompira, sensing a sweeter victim, sends the undead after the beautiful and kind Julie, whose friendship has won over the heart of Harry, a physically challenged young man. Now, Harry must leave his recluse life of comics to wield his crutch as a weapon against flesh-eating guardians and the zombie captors of his beloved Julie.

Battle rages as Harry, the Intercessor, and a mysterious Space Goddess, combine their strengths to overthrow the undead lords.”

Got all that? No? Good. Let’s move on.

Intercessor: Another Rock ‘N’ Roll opens with three guys that look like the members of the world’s worst Ramones tribute band. Actually, two of them looked like members of a Ramones tribute band; the other looked like the 2nd runner-up in a Horshack look-a-like contest. I don’t know why I’m bothering to mention them because they are very minor characters that have nothing to do with the actual plot.

So there’s this scrawny goth teenager named Harry scribbling comic book doodles while talking to someone on a walkie-talkie; the voice of the female on the other end sounds like its coming from someone in the room standing right behind him and not like a voice coming out of a walkie-talkie. I honestly didn’t realize until the camera zoomed in on the walkie-talkie that he was actually talking to someone through the walkie-talkie and not to an imaginary voice coming from lord knows where.

Harry’s right leg and right arm are in braces and he walks around with crutch. This makes him look like Tiny Tim (the one from Dickens’ A Christmas Carol and not the oddball musician with the ukulele) if he grew up to be a Marilyn Manson fanatic. Harry’s got issues because his older brother was killed in an accident. His only friend is the girl that lives across the street who talks to him via walkie-talkie.

We’re then introduced to Jon Mikl Thor as The Intercessor. The Jon Mikl Thor that starred in the original Rock ‘N’ Roll Nightmare looked like a bodybuilder version of Dee Snider. The Jon Mikl Thor of this film looks more like the dad from “American Chopper” dressed like Darth Vader who occasionally dons a Spencer’s Gifts quality Quiet Riot mask whenever a battle ensues.

Mephisto is a dead ringer for Brain Guy from the Sci-Fi Channel seasons of “Mystery Science Theater 3000,” albeit minus the pale white skin. Death itself is brought to life via a man in a ridiculously cartoonish looking Halloween costume; the outlandish skull mask I’d swear I’ve seen for sale in a costume shop somewhere in the past few years. And Zompira came across to me as what I imagine Ben Stiller would be like if he were playing Dracula. The other characters’ costumes, make-up, props, and set pieces are worthy of a local Halloween haunted house, as is the acting.

Folks, Kaiju Big Battel has better acting, better action, and better production values than this film and I’m talking about the Kaiju Big Battel of five years ago.

You’ve heard of movies where the boom mics can be seen in a particular? There are scenes in Intercessor where you actually see the wireless microphones the actors are wearing.

So Harry ends up running around fighting the forces of darkness in what looks to be an Evel Knievel football helmet, a set of homemade shoulder pads, and wielding his mighty crutch as a weapon. Because the forces of darkness are fundamentally retarded, they instantly assume this idiot is their most feared foe, the Intercessor. All of this is moot anyways since Harry’s character soon vanishes from the film as the primary plot shifts to Jon Mikl Thor’s plight. The actual Intercessor gets his powers back (Don’t ask!) and finds himself having to protect this young red-headed girl of I’d reckon about 8 or 9 years of age (she also happens to be the best actor in the film although that’s hardly high praise in this case) that the forces of darkness are after for reasons to needlessly convoluted to explain. See the synopsis above. Simply put, the whole fate of the world hangs around this child’s head and the Intercessor must come to her rescue.

The plot is also punctuated by sporadic black & white flash animation sequences that are designed to further the plot but instead come across as a parody Strongbad would come up with.

And then there’s the heavy metal soundtrack. All I’ll say about it is that there’s a good reason why this particular style of metal has long since gone out of style.

Now I’ll give the filmmakers credit for coming up with such an imaginative, if inherently goofy plot, but that’s about the only praise I can heap upon Intercessor: Another Rock ‘N’ Roll Nightmare. It’s clearly a story far more ambitious than it’s capable of being on the obviously meager budget, but there’s only so much one can excuse because of the lack of funds. As campy as the film is at times and unintentionally funny it is at others, most of the time I was either confused by the astoundingly muddled way in which the story played out or bored by the succession of scenes in which the various characters stand around or sit around and talk about what they’re going to do, what somebody else is going to do, how much they enjoy what little they are doing at that very moment, or worried that the Intercessor is going to show up and interrupt all the joy they are having sitting or standing around plotting and cackling about whatever they are doing at the moment.

When the film’s action scenes do kick into gear they’re, well… How do I put this kindly? They’re some of the most pathetic displays of cinematic action you’re likely to ever see. We’re talking public access television quality Mortal Kombat.

No matter how intentionally campy Intercessor: Another Rock ‘N’ Roll Nightmare may have intended to be, the truth is that the film is so damn bad that even the intentionally campy stuff comes across as being unintentionally awful. I’d be lying if I said the film didn’t invoke some serious laughter from me early on but the novelty soon wore off and the agony kicked in with a vengeance. Hey, I’m a guy that can enjoy a fun bad movie; I’m even the one usually advocating them to you in my reviews, but this was just too much and by around the 35-minute mark I was already beginning to feel like I was trapped in a rock ‘n’ roll bad amateur home movie nightmare and there was no Intercessor in sight to rescue me.

0 ½ out of 5

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Through the Cracks – Trick or Treat (1986) Review

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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 Popcornand 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!

  • Trick or Treat (1986) 3.5
3.5

Summary

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.

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User Rating 3.25 (12 votes)
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AHS: Cult Review – Clowns, Cults, Politics, and Peters

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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)
3.5

Summary

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.

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User Rating 4.1 (21 votes)
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The Axiom Review – A Stylish and Clever Slice of Independent Horror

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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.

ADDITIONAL THOUGHTS:

  • 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
4.0

Summary

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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User Rating 4 (17 votes)
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