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Savage Planet (2006)



Savage Planet (bears in space!)Starring Sean Patrick Flannery, some other people I’ve never heard of, and more stock footage of grizzly bears than you can shake a stick at!

Directed by Paul Lynch

Folks, I got three words for you:


Holy smokes! What the hell were the makers of Savage Planet smoking? Even by the increasingly low standards of Sci-Fi Channel original movies, Savage Planet reaches a plateau of stupidity few Sci-Fi Channel original movies even attempt or succeed at achieving. Again:


And the filmmakers didn’t even bother to make them mutant-looking bears, nor could they afford the CGI to make the bears interact with the film’s actors. Instead we’re bombarded with a barrage of stock footage of actual grizzly bears in the wild either charging forward or standing on their hind legs growling, stock footage that is pretty much recycled over and over only at different angles and in varying degrees of close-up. Scratch the opening line of this review; I’ve got six words for you:


I knew from the opening minutes of Savage Planet that I was going to be in for one doozy of a movie. Two explorers are foraging about a forest-covered alien world called Planet Oxygen, named so after being discovered by Oprah Winfrey – or not. The male explorer leads the way while the female behind him slices through the brush with a machete. You’d think if it was that bad then she would be leading the way, but then if she was, then she wouldn’t be able to accidentally lop his arm off. Indeed. She somehow manages to not look at what she’s cutting and takes part of his arm off with the machete. Reeling in agony, the guy accidentally falls through a hole in the ground. Upon landing, the blood-gushing stump of what’s left of his arm ends up in a puddle of green goo bubbling up from the ground of this underground cavern. He pulls his arm up and watches it magically regenerate before his eyes. It’s a miracle. What is this miraculous green slime with its amazing regenerative healing powers? He’ll never know because that cavern he fell into happens to be the den for one of those dreaded space bears. Non-regenerative death follows. Cue opening credits.

Oh, yeah, I knew I was in for a full-blown cornucopia of schlock with Savage Planet.

It’s the future. Earth is currently an environmental hellhole. People have to wear oxygen masks outdoors. Yadda yadda yadda… A corporation has detected an Earth-like planet – dubbed Planet Oxygen – far across the galaxy that could be the salvation for the human race. They’ve also developed a teleportation system that can transport people and equipment across the galaxy. Yadda yadda yadda… Sean Patrick Flannery is Kane, the leader of the small expedition consisting of the shady corporate boss, the boss’ dullard scientist wife who clearly has the hots for Kane, the boss’ fatso lawyer, and some other scientists, soldiers, and medics that have bear food written all over them. Yadda yadda yadda… Something goes wrong, killing the last person to transport to Planet Oxygen and leaving them stranded on the planet with only limited supplies and ammo. Then the tech guy in charge of the teleporter (that looks like a high-tech bird feeder, mind you) vanishes, their crooked boss who clearly is not telling them something also abandons them in a time of crisis, and it turns out the planet is so unstable it will eventually self-destruct. Yadda yadda yadda…

It also has a lot to do with finding some of that regenerative green space goo. There’s a hilarious flashback where we see the boss and the teleporter tech viewing the last transmission sent back by the first expedition. The footage is the exact same footage we saw in the pre-title sequence. How were these ill-fated explorers able to film this footage from a third-person perspective? Ah, the mysteries of the universe. Now the unscrupulous corporate honcho has tagged along with another exploration team to personally find some of that magical healing muck, bring it back to Earth, reverse engineer it, and use it to save the human race. Oh, and become the wealthiest, most powerful man in the history of the universe for doing so. There’s only one thing standing in their way:


Savage Planet (bears in space!)Scuttle the plot and screw the characters; the only thing that really matters is that Planet Oxygen’s seemingly only inhabitants are bigass brown bears. According to one scientist, who will herself soon become a human picnic basket, the bears are supposed to be along the lines of the colossal prehistoric bears from Earth’s past. Thanks to the stock nature footage they just look like ordinary bigass brown bears. This same scientist will also reveal that these alien space bears are indeed smarter than the average bear, which I guess is supposed to explain why they often wait until characters wander off alone to attack or specifically target and drag off injured members of the group. These bears must have been starving to death too because we never see any birds or fish or other animals to sustain the appetites of these intergalactic prehistoric space bears.

Here’s how the makers of Savage Planet handle the typical encounter between our insipid explorers and one or more of Planet Oxygen’s space bear population:

  • Sounds of growling
  • Startled reaction shot by actor(s)
  • Stock footage of a bear rushing forward
  • Panicked reaction shot by actor(s)
  • Stock footage of a bear either growling menacingly or standing on its hind legs and growling
  • Actor(s) begin shooting at the bear
  • If being shot, close-up of bear torso with digital bullet wounds inserted
  • Stock footage of a bear on hind legs falling forward
  • Actor(s) stop firing and look calm
  • Freeze frame of a bear sprawled out on its back or face down on the ground
  • The only deviations from this formula will be if the actor is required to stand too frightened to move, at which point they will be killed, or if they attempt to run away, at which point they will most likely be killed. Sometimes a character will be making a break for it and suffer a non-fatal phantom bear swipe; something that looks like a blurry claw will very quickly fly across the screen behind the actor, causing him to fall with a slash wound across his back.

    The numerous space bear encounters throughout Savage Planet play out pretty much the way I’ve just described, and it never fails to not elicit unintentional laughter. I’ve argued in the past in regards to Sci-Fi Channel movies that if they don’t have the budget to properly CGI the monster(s), then why even bother making the movie at all? With Savage Planet, they not only didn’t have the budget to properly CGI the monsters, but even Nu Image with its cheap-o shark movies never sank to the levels that the makers of Savage Planet did. Not only is it stock footage of actual bears, they recycle this same stock footage over and over – often reversing angles, sometimes not even bothering to try and make it not look like the same bear footage we’ve been seeing over and over. All of these encounters will feature an inordinate number of jump cuts and extreme close-ups. And it’s quite apparent that the actors themselves had little clue what exactly they were supposed to be interacting with when these scenes were shot. In fact, I bet they were positively mortified upon seeing how it all got edited together.

    Aside from that, there appears to be one single scene where they actually had a bear on the set, four seconds worth of CGI bear footage, and several quick shots in which characters are grabbed or slashed with bear claws that are so obviously hand puppets it’s impossible not to laugh.

    Savage Planet (bears in space!)While the death scenes are often surprisingly gory, they’re still no less laughable. These bears really love to decapitate and disembowel people. Well, at least their hand puppet claws do. For example, a puppet bear claw slashes one unlucky individual’s head clean off, and the director decides to focus on the headless corpse as it falls to the ground squirting out blood like a malfunctioning water fountain. I should be horrified or repulsed. Nope, I’m laughing. Another gets his skull crushed, but the fake bear hands make it look more like this person is getting his skull squashed by a pissed off Chewbacca.

    Despite being stranded on an alien world spiraling towards self destruction and being hunted down by otherworldly bears, there’s a surprising lack of urgency in the words and actions of these monumentally screwed interplanetary explorers. Teleporter malfunctions causing one of their teammates to arrive without any bones in his body, seeing the decapitated head of another teammate rolling down a hill right at your feet, finding the remains of the previous exploration team you weren’t told about, realizing you may have been double-crossed by the man responsible for getting you in this mess to begin with, being constantly stalked by man-eating, intergalactic grizzlies – they never seem nearly as terrified or concerned as one would expect people in such a predicament to be. In fact, two of the male leads often find themselves sitting acting like they’re on a date with two of the female leads. Aside from a few brief shouting matches, these people are remarkably casual about the life or death situation and seemingly insurmountable odds stacked against them.

    The film’s highly inappropriate piano music score doesn’t help matters either. This is supposed to be a sci-fi horror movie, but the score sounds like it came out of a PBS documentary. The faux-Jaws chords struck whenever there’s a looming bear threat also give an air of comedy to the proceedings.

    The traditional sci-fi elements are nothing special yet perfectly acceptable for the sort of movie it’s trying to be, hampered by occasional slow points where not a whole lot happens. Whenever the STOCK FOOTAGE OF BEARS IN SPACE! goes on the offensive, Savage Planet is an absolute howler. Considering we are talking about BEARS IN SPACE!, perhaps I should call it an absolute growler?

    I suppose as preposterous as Savage Planet is, it still might have worked if it had been done in the style of a Jack London wilderness survival tale with science fiction overtones. Hell, for all I know that may have been exactly what the screenwriters had in mind before the Sci-Fi Channel execs got their grubby claws on the script. Or maybe they intended to make a whacked-out retread of the 1977 “Jaws in the woods” flick, Grizzly, only set on an alien world that just happens to look like the Canadian wilderness. Whatever the filmmakers intended with this film is moot since Savage Planet plays out like a joke from “The Colbert Report.” What with Stephen Colbert constantly warning us of the current bear threat and that phony sci-fi novel he claims to have written, the Sci-Fi Channel execs should have struck a deal with Colbert, renamed the Sean Patrick Flannery character, and called the movie Savage Planet: A Tek Jansen Adventure. At least then the ludicrous nature of the film would have seemed more intentional.

    2 1/2 out of 5

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    Through the Cracks – Trick or Treat (1986) Review



    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


    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.

    User Rating 3.14 (7 votes)
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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

    ** 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)


    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 4.43 (7 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 4 (17 votes)
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