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Masters of Horror: Chocolate (DVD)

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Masters of Horror: Mick Garris' Chocolate DVDStarring Matt Frewer, Leah Graham, Stacy Grant, Katharine Horsman, Lucie Laurier, Henry Thomas, and Paul Wu

Directed by Mick Garris

Distributed by Anchor Bay Entertainment


Dinner. Amazing feats can be accomplished by just having a single sit-down meal. After all, we live in a world in which empires have been forged and come undone over cocktails alone. Over dinner is exactly how the hit Showtime original series Masters of Horror originally came to be. Genre staple Mick Garris came up with the idea of having all the horror heavyweights get together every so often for some wine, some steak, and of course conversation. From those gatherings talk about how cool it would be if they could all collaborate on a single project together began to gain momentum. The rest is horror history, and what we have here is yet another absolutely stunning DVD courtesy of Anchor Bay Entertainment. This time around the man himself, Mick Garris, gets his chance to shine, but the results are just a bit on the mixed side. Sit back, kids; it’s time to learn about a tale that starts with one of life’s most irresistible sins! A tale of Chocolate.

What happens to a person when he has been stripped of everything? Loss can have a lot of damaging effects on the psyche, but the most dangerous of all is that feeling of void and emptiness within one’s soul. For Jamie (Henry Who You Tellin’ to Phone Home? Thomas) that type of existence is one that he’s spiraling out of control toward in a hurry. Fresh off a divorce and dealing with the loss of his life as he once knew it, Jamie is slowly losing not only hope but himself. That is until one night he awakens from his sleep with the unmistakable flavor of chocolate coursing around his taste buds. We’ve all heard of wet dreams before, but I’d trade them for a mouthful of sugary goodness any time.

Thinking that this was an anomaly, he goes about his business as usual until his senses begin to betray him further. It’s not long before he starts not just having visions but actually seeing through the eyes of a strange woman he has never met. This, as you can well imagine, becomes quite disconcerting. But what happens if these extra sensory perceptions take an additional step? Before Jamie knows it, he begins to actually feel what this beautiful and mysterious woman is experiencing. Fine wine, fine food, and even some occasional masturbation with a shower massage can be kind of fun, but what about the things in her life that aren’t so pleasant such as having forced sex with her boyfriend? Can you imagine feeling vaginal penetration without a vagina? Sound uncomfortable? You bet — and in more ways than one as showcased by the scene in which Jamie’s new lover, ex-wife, and kid all happen to be with him at the exact time that he is being subjected to violation.

No longer able to deal with experiencing this woman’s life without knowing her personally, our protagonist sets off on a mission to find her. No one knows this person better than he. Could it be that the reason he is experiencing all of this is because his life was so empty and hers so very full? Maybe they’re soul-mates and this is fate knocking on the proverbial door. On paper that may sound a bit like the concept of a cheesy romance novel, but guess what? This is an episode of Masters of Horror! It’s not long before things turn ugly and violent.

Being that this whole project was the brainchild of Garris, I must confess that as a viewer and fan I became very curious about his contribution to Masters. Unfortunately, Chocolate plays like a bit of a misstep along these blood-drenched roads to depravity. Truth be told, while the situation and circumstances surrounding Jamie are indeed extraordinary, there just aren’t enough horror elements in the mix to follow suit with the other entries in this series. Don’t get me wrong; this hour-long mini-film is competently made and a very good watch. It just kind of misses its horrific marks way more than it hits.

That being said, let’s get on with the DVD goodies! Man, oh man, what more could a fan ask for? The DVD releases of Masters of Horror are without question some of the most top-shelf packages we’re likely to see now or ever. Anchor Bay once again pulls out all the stops and delivers big time. The main supplement on this disc is a look at director Mick Garris titled The Sweet Taste of Fear. Say what you want about Garris; the one thing that cannot be denied is this man’s love for our genre. In this nearly half-hour-long interview, we get a glimpse of his career from his humble beginnings as a front-man of a rock band to his many collaborations with legendary author Stephen King. Out of everything on the disc, this featurette is without question the most heartfelt. It’s hard not to gain an appreciation for the man. As long as he and people of his ilk are involved, it’s good to know that our genre is in very capable and caring hands. It’s no wonder you’re considered a master of your craft, Mick. Bravo.

Elsewhere on the disc is another featurette that explores what it’s like working with Garris titled, what else, Working With a Master: Mick Garris. Here we meet a plethora of stars that have worked with Mick not only on Chocolate but throughout his career. Stories are swapped, smiles are shared, and once again it becomes clear why Garris is at the top of his game. From there we have various interviews from the set of Chocolate with stars Henry Thomas and Lucie Laurier, some fairly cool behind-the-scenes footage, and your standard extras such as trailers, a very lively and insightful commentary by Garris, a host of DVD-ROM features, and a truly extensive text bio. However, the gem of it all comes while watching a really early clip from Garris’ talk show Fantasy Film Festival in which a very young Garris interviews soon-to-be fellow master in his own right, Roger Corman. Watching this is like stepping through a time machine and ending up in the land of cable access past! It’s a truly great addition to a really packing disc.

Bottom line, you simply could not ask for more from a DVD. Masters of Horror is an important event in our genre, and Anchor Bay treats it with the respect it and its fans truly deserve. While I wasn’t too keen on the feature itself, this DVD still stands head and shoulders above most and is a worthy addition to any horror fan’s collection.

Special Features
Audio commentary with writer / director Mick Garris
The Sweet Taste of Fear: An Interview with Mick Garris featurette
Working With a Master: Mick Garris featurette
On Set: An Interview With Henry Thomas featurette
On Set: An Interview With Lucie Laurier featurette
The Making of Chocolate behind-the-scenes featurette
Fantasy Film Festival: Mick Garris interviews Roger Corman
Trailers
Still gallery
Mick Garris text bio
Collectible Masters of Horror trading card
DVD-Rom features: screenplay, original short story, screen saver

4 out of 5

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Totem Review – It’s Not Always A Bad Thing To Look Up From The Bottom Level, If You Like That View

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Starring Kerris Dorsey, James Tupper, Ahna O’Reilly

Directed by Marcel Sarmiento


Following the untimely death of a family’s matriarchal figure, a young woman finds out that managing to hold all of the pieces in place becomes increasingly more difficult when otherworldly infiltrators make their presence felt. We’re going to have to work our way up this Totem, as

17 year old Kellie is the leading lady of the home following the passing of her mother Lexy, and with a needy father and tiny tot of a baby sister, she still keeps things in working order, regardless of the rather large hole that’s been left in the dynamic due to the death. Kellie’s dad after a while decides to ask his lady-friend to move in with the family, so that everyone can move onto a more peaceful existence…yeah, because those types of instances always seem to work seamlessly. As fate would have it, Kellie’s sense of pride is now taking a beating with the new woman in the mix, and her little sister’s new “visitor” is even more disturbed by this intruder – only question is, exactly who is this supernatural pal of sorts? Is it the spirit of their dead mother standing by to keep watch over the family, or is it something that’s found its way to this group, and has much more evil intentions at hand?

What works here is the context of something innately malicious that has found its way into the home – there are only a couple moments that come off as unsettling, but the notion of having to weave through more than half the film acting as a sullen-teen drama is rather painful. The presentation of the “broken family” is one that’s been done to death, and with better results overall, and that’s not to say that the movie is a complete loss, it just takes far too much weeding through at times stale performances and even more stagnant pacing to get to a moderately decent late-stage conclusion to the film. Under the direction of Marcel Sarmiento (Deadgirl), I’d truly hoped for something a bit more along the lines of a disturbing project such as that one, but the only thing disturbing was the time I’d invested in checking this one out. My best advice is to tune into the Lifetime channel if you want a sulky teen-melodrama with a tinge of horror, or you could simply jump into this one and work your way up…but it’s a LONG way to the top.

  • Film
2.0

Summary

Sulky, moody, and ridden with teen-angst buried in the middle of a supernatural mystery – SOUNDS like a decent premise, doesn’t it?

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IAMX’s Alive in New Light Review – A Dark, Hypnotic, and Stunning Musical Endeavor

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Recording eight albums is an achievement no matter the artist, group, or band. This is especially true for Chris Corner’s IAMX, his solo project after the trip hop group Sneaker Pimps, which has enchanted listeners since 2004’s Kiss + Swallow with its dark electronic aesthetic. There’s something fascinating about the music Corner puts out as IAMX. Perhaps it’s the underlying melancholy that seems to pervade the music, almost certainly a result of the musician’s battle with depression and chronic insomnia [Source]. Perhaps it’s the unexpected melodies that reveal themselves with each new measure. Whatever it is, IAMX’s music is a constant delight.

On Alive in New Light, Corner reveals that his eighth album was a product he created as a way of “…breaking free from demons that have long plagued him,” per an official press release. Strangely enough, this uplifting attitude may easily be overlooked but repeat listens unveil a sense of hope and wonder that are simply breathtaking. The title track echoes with almost angelic choir pads that positively shine as Corner exultingly cries in a shimmering falsetto, “I’m alive in new light!” This comes after the Depeche Mode-esque “Stardust”, which offers the first collaboration with Kat Von D, whose pure voice is a beautiful addition to the pulsating track.

The third track, “Break The Chains”, has an opening that immediately called to mind Birds of Tokyo’s “Discoloured”, which is meant as a compliment. It’s followed by the Nine Inch Nails influenced “Body Politics”, which meshes Corner’s crooning vocals with a 90’s industrial backdrop. “Exit” has an almost sinister progression lurking in the background that builds to an aggressive, in-your-face third act. The cinematic Middle Eastern flairs of “Stalker” mutate effortlessly into a heartbeat pulse that features back-and-forth vocals between Corner and Von D. The haunted circus vibe that permeates through “Big Man” is mirrored by its playful gothic aura, ghostly “oohs” and “aahs” sprinkled carefully here and there.

While the album has been a delight up to this point, it’s the final two tracks that took my breath away and left me stunned. “Mile Deep Hollow” builds layer after layer while Corner passionately cries out, “So thank you/you need to know/that you dragged me out/of a mile deep hollow/and I love you/you brought me home/because you dragged me out/of a mile deep hollow.” The way the song’s melodies back these wonderfully uplifting lyrics feels grand and epic, as though a journey is coming to an end, which is where “The Power and the Glory” comes in. Far more subdued, it’s a beautiful song that feels almost like a religious experience, a hymn of a soul that is desperate to claw its way to salvation and escape a life of pain and darkness.

What makes Alive in New Light so wonderful is how much there is to experience. I got the album and listened to it no less than five times in a row without pause. I simply couldn’t turn it off because each return revealed something new in the music. Corner also makes fantastic use of Von D’s vocals, carefully placing them so as to make them a treat and not a commonplace certainty.

While some may be disappointed that there are only nine tracks, each of the songs is carefully and meticulously crafted to be as powerful and meaningful as possible. It really is a stunning accomplishment and I’m nothing short of blown away by how masterfully Alive in New Light plays out.

  • Alive in New Light
5.0

Summary

IAMX’s Alive in New Light is a triumph of music. Full of beauty and confidence, it doesn’t forget the foundation that fans have come to know and love for over a decade but instead embraces that comfortable darkness with open arms. Corner states that this album was a way to break free from his demons. It certainly feels like he’s made peace with them.

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The Hatred Review – A History Lesson Dug Up From The Depths Of Hell

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Starring Zelda Adams, Lulu Adams, John Law

Directed by John Law


I don’t know about the scholastic interests the masses had (or have) that read all of the killer nuggets that get cranked out on this site, but when I was an academic turd, one of my true passions was history, and it was one of the only subjects that managed to hold my interest, and when the opportunity arose to check out John Law’s ultra-nightmarish feature, The Hatred – I was ready to crack the books once again.

The setting is the Blackfoot Territory in the late 1800s, and the pains of a lengthy conflict have taken their toll on the remaining soldiers as food has become scarce, and the film picks up with soldiers on the march in the brutal cold and snow covered mountainside. In tow is a P.O.W. (Law), and the decision is made by the soldiers to execute him in earnest instead of having to shorten their rations by feeding him, so he is then hung (pretty harshly done), and left to rot as the uniformed men trudge along. A short time later the group encounters a small family on the fringes of the territory, and when the demands for food are rebuked, the slaughter is on and the only survivor is a young girl (Adams) who prays to an oblivious god that she can one day reap the seeds of revenge upon those who’ve murdered her family. We all know that there are usually two sides to any story, and when the good ear isn’t listening, the evil one turns its direction towards those who need it most, and that’s when the Devil obliges.

The answer to the young girl’s prayers comes in the resurrection of the prisoner that was hung a short time ago, and he has been dubbed “Vengeance” – together their goal will be achieved by harshly dishing out some retribution, and the way it’s presented is drawn-out, almost like you’re strapped into the front-row pew of a hellfire-cathedral and force-fed the sermon of an evil voice from the South side of the tracks. It’s vicious and beautiful all at once, Law’s direction gives this visually-striking presentation all the bells and whistles to please even the harshest of critics (hell, you’re reading the words of one right now). The performances, while a bit stoic in nature, still convey that overall perception of a wrong that demands to be righted, no matter how morally mishandled it might be. Overall, I can absolutely recommend The Hatred for not only those wanting a period-piece with ferocious-artistry, but for others who continue to pray with no response, and are curious to see what the other side can offer.

  • Film
3.5

Summary

The Hatred is a visually-appealing look into the eyes of animus, and all of the beauty of returning the harm to those who have awarded it to others.

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