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Attack of the Sabertooth (DVD)

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Attack of the Sabretooth DVDStarring Brian Wimmer, Stacy Haiduk, Nicholas Bell, Robert Carradine, Parry Shen, Natalie Avital, and Billy Aaron Brown

Directed by George Miller

Distributed by Lionsgate


Attack of the Sabretooth was directed by George Miller. No, not the George Miller that directed The Road Warrior; this is the George Miller that made The Aviator. No, not that Aviator; I’m talking about the one from 1985 that starred the late Christoper Reeve. He also directed the brutally unfunny Corbin Bernsen sperm bank comedy Frozen Assets, the exceptionally dopey Corbin Bernsen disaster thriller Tidal Wave: No Escape, and the dog befriends a dolphin kiddy flick Zeus & Roxanne, that substituted Steve Guttenberg for Corbin Bernsen. Now that I think about it, that’s what Zeus & Roxanne was lacking – multiple decapitations and disembowelment, preferably of Corbin Bernsen, but that’s another axe to grind another day.

The original title for Attack of the Sabretooth was going to be Night of the Sabretooth. I’m fairly certain the title was changed after someone actually watched the movie and astutely noted that everything takes place during daylight hours. Too say that Attack of the Sabretooth is a stupid movie would be quite the understatement. The film contains enough cheese to put someone lactose intolerant into a coma. Be warned: much of the film’s cheese is pure limburger.

Niles is a greedy yet hapless multimillionaire who has invested every penny he has into a combination tropical island resort/wildlife refuge that he’s banking on becoming one of the biggest tourist destinations ever because being he’s managed to bring back to life the long extinct sabretooth tiger using the same sort of genetic manipulation that was popularized in Jurassic Park. No T-Rex’s, no velociraptors, no goo-spitting dinosaurs – just sabretooth tigers. Is it just me or does the idea of gawking at tigers with tusks seem like a novel idea that’s novelty would quickly wear off rather quickly? Sabretooth tigers just haven’t captured the imagination quite like the dinosaurs have and I rather doubt they’d be nearly the draw that a true life Jurassic Park would be.

Nonetheless, the fumbling Niles has invited a bunch of other multimillionaires to the island for the big unveiling with hopes of getting them to become big money investors in the park that he hopes to franchise across the world. It seems the man has the riches to fund prehistoric genetic research but not enough to keep up the overhead costs of a dinky zoo. Go figure.

A sign outside the refuge reads PRIMAL PARK: GENETIC MIRACLES REASONABLY PRICED. Four things go through my mind upon seeing that sign:

Is Primal Park really the best name anyone could come up with?

Wouldn’t the advertising executive that came up with “Genetic Miracles Reasonably Priced” be fired immediately for devising such a horrible slogan that makes your sabretooth cat refuge sound like a discount freak show?

Is that line really an in-joke admitting the film’s own cheapness?

Couldn’t that tagline also be a metaphor for pretty much every Sci-Fi Channel original movie these days?

Oh, yeah, if you weren’t aware before then let it be known that this movie was originally produced for the Sci-Fi Channel. Explains a lot, don’t it?

One of the rich sycophants Niles has invited is his long time rival Grant, another millionaire who has always managed to one-up Niles. Grant (I don’t think any character in the film was ever given a last name) as played by Robert Carradine is a typical broad caricature of a greedy, egotistical corporate executive. It’s like Carradine is playing his Revenge of the Nerds’ Lewis character as if he went on to become a wealthy, self-centered prick. Niles and Grant behave around one another like Wall Street weasel versions of Walter Matthau and Jack Lemmon’s Grumpy Old Men characters minus the entertainment value.

Oh, important safety tip for those out there that might one day find themselves working at a sabretooth tiger wildlife reserve: if you come across the gate to the sabretooth tiger pen open and the security guard is nowhere to be found, do not just walk in yelling out the guard’s name repeatedly because I assure you nothing good will come from it.

The sparse personnel at Primal Park attempt to recapture the toothy feline and get things under control while Niles stalls for time with the party guests. You keep waiting for the sabretooths to run wild at the party and slaughter all the guests but that must not have been in the budget.

Amongst the park personnel is former Superboy hotty Stacy Haiduk ,whose career never really took off like some people probably thought it would; a brief stint on “SeaQuest DSV” is pretty much her career highlight, and believe me, the words “SeaQuest DSV” and “career highlight” should never be used in the same sentence. Heck, she isn’t even the film’s lead security guard hero. Nope, she’s the lead security guard hero’s horny co-worker girlfriend. I barely remember anything about the lead security guard hero at all except that he was boring, chased after genetically engineered sabretooth cats with little more than a flashlight at times, oh, and he’s clearly seen Halloween 2 based on how he attempts to dispatch some sabretooths at one point.

Meanwhile, a merry band of typical B-movie college kids have arrived at the resort for a scavenger hunt that will determine whether or not they get accepted into the fraternity/sorority they’re pledging. They trespass into the Primal Park command center and damn near loot the place, even causing the electrical system to go down so that the tigers can escape.

These characters do have names but those names are not important because they are only identifiable by their archetypes. We have an Asian computer geek, a vacuous blonde, a surly goth chick, a dumb jock, and a token black girl. Every last one of them deserved to die and the fact that all of them did not both saddens and disgusts me. Too stupid too live, too annoying too live – just like the idiots in House of the Dead, I would accept nothing short of graphic mutilations as their fate. Sure, we got a few of those but the body count should have been higher. It should have been complete.

On the plus side, we are treated to some wonderful banter between some of these morons that sounds as if it was written by a screenwriter that obviously has no idea how young people (or any people for that matter) talk. Here’s a sample from a spat between the surly goth chick and the dumb jock:

“You are living proof that the human race is evolving… backwards.”
“Your attitude sucks, goth girl. You know that?”
“Read my lips, beefcake; a goth’s attitude is supposed to suck.”

“A goth’s attitude is supposed to suck?” Dammit, I want that printed on a T-shirt and sold at Hot Topics everywhere. It’ll be the greatest thing to happen to goth chick apparel since Emily the Strange.

Once the B-movie teenage wastrel all-stars invade Primal Park, the movie basically plays out like this: sabretooth tigers already loose kill people, get recaptured, then all the sabretooths get loose again, kill more people, and then the people not already dead band together to kill them. And let’s not forget the Robert Carradine character is secretly plotting to steal all of Niles’ scientific data for genetically engineering sabretooth tigers.

Oh, and the sabretooth cats also see the world in what I can only best describe as psychedelic orange Jell-O vision.

I warned you that this was a Sci-Fi Channel original and that means the special effects are subpar for the course. Of course, that’s also because a lot of the CGI was recycled from the original Sabretooth (the David Keith/Vanessa Angel crapfest that this film is a pseudo sequel to) in what was surely a cost cutting move. We’re told the sabretooth cats are 600 pounds but the computer animators must not have been told this fact since all appear to be the size of a big cougar with the exception of the enormous mongoloid sabretooth tiger; a sabretooth for which the genetic engineering process didn’t quite take causing its back legs to be useless leaving it to crawl around with its front legs like a walrus on its flippers. Seeing this ludicrous but at least imaginative oddity left me longing for a big, killer walrus movie. Come on, Sci-Fi Channel; bring it on! Walrus: Tusks of Terror! I demand it!

Repulsively dumb characters, insipid dialogue, surprisingly gory death scenes, not so surprisingly terrible special effects, but at least it moves at a reasonably brisk pace and has a few mildly entertaining moments. The ending even leaves things open for yet another sequel, and if that sequel ends anything like this one then the computer effects are going to reach Commodore 64 quality before it’s all said and done. And if they continue along the path of Star Wars-esque titles then the next one will be Revenge of the Sabretooth, preferably with a half cyborg sabretooth tiger.

Nah, screw the sabretooth tiger! All I want is my killer walrus flick – Walrus: Blubber of Destruction!

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2 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 3.5 (14 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 3.95 (20 votes)
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