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Bram Stoker’s Dracula’s Curse (2006)



Bram Stoker's Dracula's CurseStarring Tom Downey, Eliza Swenson, Rhett Giles, Jeff Denton, Christina Rosenberg

Written & Directed by Leigh Scott

It’s taken me several days to write this review because this is the kind of movie that I find really hard to review. Bram Stoker’s Dracula’s Curse, a new movie from The Asylum that actually isn’t designed to be a knock-off of a current theatrical film, is not a bad movie per se, but I really can’t say it’s one you should go out of your way to see. If you asked me if it’s worth a rental, I’d be inclined to say yes because it’s different and definitely of better quality than much of the DTV dreck out there right now, and yet if you asked me for my overall opinion I’d probably focus on the film’s negatives that stand out more than the positives. See my dilemma?

Bram Stoker’s Dracula’s Curse is a very ambitious film, perhaps too ambitious for its own good. I do admire the work that writer/director Leigh Scott put into it but think it really could have used another rewrite, a little more budget, and a few less characters to juggle. What we have here is a movie about vampire hunters that has less to do with vampire hunting and more to do with vampire politicking. This is a very talky movie, and I swear there were times when it felt like I was watching people playing a live action Vampire: The Masquerade role-playing game. Given that the majority of the film focuses on the lives, losses, and loves of the vampire hunters, I guess it would be more like live action Hunter: The Reckoning. Of course, that might also be due to some occasionally horrible acting.

The primary plot deals with a ragtag band of vampire hunters led by the determined (and somewhat secretive) Rufus King and Jacob Van Helsing, a descendent of Abraham Van Helsing continuing the family tradition. The group is disbanded after King forges a truce with the vampires’ high council who promise to stop vampires from preying on mortals in exchange for no longer being hunted down by King’s group. The story then picks up five years later (Scott actually divides the movie into chapters complete with on-screen titles, a neat yet unnecessary quirk) when the evil blood countess Elizabeth Bathorly launches a scheme that could make her the supreme vampire, a plot that alarms both vampires and vampire hunters alike. King “gets the band back together” in order to deal with Bathorly, including taking in and training a young man whose girlfriend has been abducted by Bathorly’s ominisexual vamp tramps, while the vampires themselves embark on their own to deal with the Bathorly threat, often finding themselves at odds with King and Van Helsing’s forces.

The thing about this movie is not that the script is incoherent, but that Scott is trying to balance so many characters – some of whom have full story arcs while others get maybe a single individual scene designed to give their character some reason to exist – along with the main storylines to the point that I started having trouble following everything, and at nearly 110 minutes in length, trying to keep up with everyone along with the occasional asides began to wear me down about 2/3rds of the way through.

There are some really good scenes such as when Van Helsing gives the new recruit a combat lesson or when another member of the group introduces the new recruit to the other vampire hunters through their weapons of choice, but this latter scene is a perfect example of the story structure’s problems. The weapons scene tells us more about some of the lesser vampire hunters than anything else in the entire flick, and yet it doesn’t take place until about an hour in, long after it would have meant something to know or care about these supporting characters. It’s not that the overall plot isn’t decent; it often is – the ending is actually quite good – but the screenplay desperately needed some restructuring, and given the low budget nature of the film it certainly wouldn’t have hurt to eliminate a few extraneous characters that never really payoff.

In a way, Bram Stoker’s Dracula’s Curse is The Asylum’s version of It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World! since the cast is a virtual who’s who of actors and actresses that have appeared in previous Asylum productions. Unfortunately, for every Rhett Giles – an actor that really deserves to be appearing in A-list films – there’s a Rebekah Kochan (star of The Asylum’s When a Killer Calls) who gives a gratingly bad attitude of a performance in what ultimately amounts to a pointless character. Again, there are just too many characters inhabiting this small film.

Leigh Scott does make one other critical error that nearly sinks the whole film. The villainess, Elizabeth Barthorly, played with perhaps a bit too much girlish glee at times by the otherwise solid and not too hard on the eyes Christina Rosenberg, is reduced to a minor character. Virtually everything plot-wise has to do with Bathorly’s actions. Everyone constantly talks about how dangerous Bathorly is and how much of a threat she poses for vampires and vampire hunters alike if she succeeds. That right there is the problem – everyone constantly talks about it. It’s all talk; talking is about all anyone ever does except for the film’s opening and closing action scenes. Bathorly herself and her whorish minions have very little screen time; Bathorly herself is little more than a minor character, certainly not one realized enough to fully convey the threat level that’s constantly being paid lip service to her. Again, eliminate a few characters and give us more of the villain.

Never is this fim’s over-ambitiousness more apparent than in the make-up department. Scott has opted to give us a variety of different vampire races, some of which are monstrous in their appearance. While the Nosferatu type vampire and another patterned after Lon Chaney in London after Midnight turned out fairly well, if not 100% convincing, there’s a scene where Bathorly’s henchwenches confront a pair of vampires with laughable make-up jobs: one a Knights of Columbus Halloween carnival quality devil and the other an Asian bloodsucker whose vampirism seems to have caused him to sprout monstrous dimples. The highlight (of the entire film too) is a Dracula monster that looks like the winged vampire creature from Underworld: Evolution if brought to life with traditional man in a suit f/x. It’s such a great looking monster costume I kind of wish they’d built the whole movie around it instead of the story at hand.

It’s funny how I often find myself complaining about DTV movies not having enough plot or character development, and yet I finally get one with both and actually wish it had a little less of either. Still, Bram Stoker’s Dracula’s Curse isn’t a bad movie. If you’re looking for a vampire film cut from the same cloth as Vampire: The Masquerade or the short-lived TV series “Kindred: The Embrace” then you’ll probably dig Bram Stoker’s Dracula’s Curse, but you’ll need to have a little patience.

2 ½ 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


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 4.33 (6 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 3.9 (10 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 3.31 (16 votes)
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