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Event Horizon: Special Collector’s Edition (DVD)

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Starring Laurence Fishburne, Sam Neill, Kathleen Quinlan, Joely Richardson, Richard T. Jones, Sean Pertwee

Directed by Paul Anderson

Distributed by Paramount Home Video


The bridge between sci-fi and horror is not one that is often traversed successfully. While there have been many films that have attempted to bring both genres together in one neat little package, few are worthy of mention. Of course, there’s the classic Alien, which for all intents and purposes was the best of the bunch, but other than that the only one that stands out in my mind is Paul Anderson’s Event Horizon. I know what you’re thinking: “Paul Anderson? Isn’t he the guy that just recently directed the cinematic train wreck that was Alien Vs. Predator?” Yes, same guy. He’s also taken some liberties with the Resident Evil franchise with mixed results and, truth be told, hasn’t done anything too exciting for many, many years. Back in the mid to late Nineties things looked a lot brighter for him. After hitting Hollywood gold with his live action adaptation of the video game Mortal Kombat, Paul headed into deep space with a haunted house yarn that at times can be truly frightening. Mired in controversy because of heavy cuts, the film did okay theatrically, but fans wanted to see what was excised. Could this DVD be our chance? Well, yes and no. Let’s start off with the basic premise for the uninitiated.

Meet Dr. William Weir (Sam Neill). In the –now– not so distant future the world is his oyster. Why? Because he has built a ship that can bend time and space. The ship was called the Event Horizon, and it housed a device that could create a black hole of sorts that would enable travel faster than the speed of light. Amazing, huh? It certainly looked good on paper. The trouble was that during the vessel’s maiden voyage once it entered its newly crafted black hole, it never came back out the other side. Seven years later a distress signal is sent out and picked up by a rescue team aboard the ship Lewis and Clark. The source of this transmission? The Event Horizon. Where’s it been all these years, or better yet, where has it gone? A crew headed up by Laurence Fishburne as Captain Miller is sent to find out, and of course they have the good doctor in tow.

Once the ship has been located and boarded, strange things start occurring. Something has come back with the Event Horizon. Something that is alive and hungry for souls. Something — demonic.

Event Horizon seamlessly bends genres like the time and space it purportedly travels through. The result is a very spooky, action-packed ride. It’s all here: gore, ghosts, demons, and of course, hell. Hell in space? Sounds a little like Doom, but I can assure you Event Horizon has much more to do with Hellraiser and The Shining with just a touch of the original film adaptation of Shirley Jackson’s The Haunting than it does with that. The demons inhabiting the ship know what scares us and want us to suffer. The actors for the most part do everything right. There are no dumb or questionable reactions to the crazy shit that goes on. For instance when Captain Miller is asked what he intends on doing about the Event Horizon once it’s clear that he and his crew can evacuate safely, he turns and responds lovingly to the question by saying, “I have no intention of leaving her, Doctor. I will take the Lewis and Clark to a safe distance, and then I will launch TAC missiles at the Event Horizon until I’m satisfied she’s vaporized. Fuck this ship!” How can you not respect that?

Disturbing and perverse imagery litter the screen in rapid succession, but that’s also one of the film’s problems; things can seem a bit too rapid. It’s obvious a lot was filmed that never got to see the light of day, and that’s what we fans want to see. When it was announced that this film would be getting the stellar DVD treatment, fans were excited. It seemed as if finally we would be getting the blood-soaked goodies.

Sorry, but this doesn’t do it. It’s the same exact cut we’ve all seen countless times. Not a single thing has been added, changed, or taken away. Well, at least there’s a ton of supplemental material, right? Right! There is a lot, but that’s what is all the more infuriating about this release. During the nearly two-hour long, five-part documentary, The Making of Event Horizon, all of the extended goodness is talked about. In fact, a lot of time seems to have gone into making this documentary. Actors are brought back to talk about their experiences, effects people dig up some actual screen used film props, etc. This is great! Fantastic even! But where is the extra footage? Where is the gore?

Event Horizon was filmed during a time when the MPAA was just coming off of its cut-happy bitchfest, so a lot of scenes fell by the wayside. That coupled, with the fact that the powers that be at Paramount have been gore shy since they took heat for the original Friday the 13th of all things, make for a bit of a flaccid experience for splatter lovin’ fans.

We do get some glimpses though via a deleted scenes portion of the making-of. There’s a bit more of the torment of the original crew on display, a closer look at the evisceration of D.J. (Jason Isaacs) , and a truly strange spider-walk type scene that rivals the creepiness of the one in The Exorcist. More is mentioned, but apparently a lot of the footage was lost over the years. So my question becomes: Why not just add the few things that are still around back into the film? It’s not unheard of, and Paramount is no stranger to adding stuff to older films (i.e., the silly new version of the Walter Hill classic, The Warriors). I mean, come on, if enough time can be taken to construct a documentary that runs longer than the feature itself, would it have killed someone to release a more complete version of the film? Sigh. I guess we’ll still just have to wait. Maybe one day.

In addition to the making-of, this release sports an array of storyboards for the film (one set is even assembled as an un-filmed rescue sequence with commentary by Paul Anderson), various pieces of production art, theatrical and home video trailers, and of course a commentary in which Anderson once again talks about things we don’t get to see. I swear, it’s almost as if we’re being taunted.

All in all, the re-release of Event Horizon packs quite a bit of punch and is well worth the double dip if you’re a fan of the film. While it may be the same cut, both the image and sound have been dramatically cleaned up, and everything else is aces. Double dipping is almost a sin when it comes to DVD purchases. It can be costly and annoying. However, I have to say if a definitive cut of this film is ever made available, I’ll be first in line to get my hands on it. I’m fairly certain a lot of fans would be right behind me. Are you listening, Paul? Get Paramount on the phone STAT!

Special Features
Commentary by director Paul W.S. Anderson and producer Jeremy Bolt
The Making of Event Horizon, a five-part documentary: Into the Jaws of Darkness, The Body of the Beast, Liberate Tutume Ex Infernis, The Scale to Hell, The Womb of Fear
The Unseen Event Horizon: The un-filmed rescue scene; conceptual art, a montage of paintings and drawings of uniforms, ships, and more
The Point of No Return: The filming of Event Horizon featurette
Original theatrical trailer
Home video trailer

4 out of 5

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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 4.43 (7 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 (11 votes)
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The Dollmaker Short Film Review – Welcome to Heebie Jeebie City!

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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
3.5

Summary

Ultimately chilling in nature!

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User Rating 3.41 (17 votes)
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