Demonic (aka Forest of the Damned) (DVD) - Dread Central
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Demonic (aka Forest of the Damned) (DVD)



Demonic reviewStarring Daniel Maclagan, Nicole Petty, Sophia Holland, Richard Cambridge, David Hood, Tom Savini, with a cameo by Shaun Hutson

Directed by Johannes Roberts

Distributed by New Light Entertainment

There are those times when filmmakers use their talents to create a film that becomes an instant classic, and there are other times when filmmakers miss their mark with stupefying ease. Forest of the Damned is a British film, renamed Demonic for its US DVD release, that I could have easily put into the first category if it weren’t for the multitude of problems I had with it. By no means does it belong solely in the latter, but it is hard for me not to lean my opinion in that direction when I witnessed such an enormous amount of possibility and potential wasted on the unnecessary content within the film.

The director, Johannes Roberts, shows a great deal of promise as a filmmaker, and I am curious to see his other works. Unfortunately, Demonic fell short of impressing me. I read the blurbs that are strewn across the main page of the Gatlin Pictures website, and I have to say I am shocked to see the glowing words of admiration that read more like slobbering fellatio than film critiques. Yes, I admit Roberts showed cinematic skill, but he took something worthy of praise and ruined it with too much added showiness that degrades it into nothing more than another sub-par horror flick.

Demonic starts off with a couple entwined in the kind of steamy embrace that usually leads to gratuitous nudity. The audience is of course treated to an onscreen buffet of flesh…but in such a surprising fashion that the film immediately had my attention. The imagery was sublime as the scene unfolded into a tense and vile display of bloodshed. The make-up and gore effects were interesting enough, and I was at that moment ready to totally enjoy the next hour and a half. As the next scene played out and the main characters were introduced, I geared up for what appeared to be a decent cinematic trek into the unknown wilderness.

Yeah, it’s another film where a group of friends plans on spending their “holiday” relaxing in the woods. We all know this never in fact happens due to whatever menacing evil awaits them just beyond the tree line. Be it monsters, ravenous animals, back-woods cannibals, or whatever, something is going to royally screw the whole vacation in the ass. But this time the audience has already had a sampling of the fun that lies ahead, and I for one was ready to see more! Then the unthinkable happened. I was taken for a ridiculously frantic ride down a winding wooded road that seemed to take long enough for me to have actually traveled to the shoot location myself. The only real “need” for a scene like this is possibly if it was to be used behind the opening credits, but in this case the credits were long gone.

Unbeknownst to me at the time, I would be required to sit through countless other stretches of pointless footage of trees, skylines, and bad shots of clouds that move at mach nine. These additions to the film would have been perfect if not for the tedious amount of screen time they were allotted. I’m all for a bit of filler to keep similar terrain from getting stale, but if the film could be thought of as a conversation and you’ve started to meander into “uncomfortably long silence” territory, you know the date isn’t going well.

click for bigger imageThe characters in Demonic were a bit cliché for my liking as well. In these woodland adventure horror films you always seem to get one happy couple, the obvious virginal dork that couldn’t get himself laid in a brothel if he had hundred dollar bills glued to his naked ass, the stupid jock who thinks he’s God’s gift to women, and then there’s “that girl” — the one who is so annoying, condescending, and irritating that you pray she will be the first to die a horrible, ghastly, bloody death! The one that you have to refrain from rejoicing out loud in a packed theater when she finally does meet her demise even though it never seems to fit her crime of ever existing. There’s even a piece of shit vehicle that is being held together by the paint that only starts by the sheer will of the dumbass who owns it! Well, permit me to introduce you to the cast of Demonic!

Now that our players have taken the psycho-ride from Hell, they find themselves lost (big surprise), and they arrive at the miraculous yet typical scary gas station. Here, the as usual creepy guy scares the kids with warnings of doom. The only reason for this guy to be in the movie is to set up the frail back-story of a local legend that is supposed to explain the rest of the movie. They try to flee and the automobile nearly fails, but they get away in the nick of time. This scenario has been played out a million times, and it will be played out a million more, but for some reason it can always get the heart pounding if it is done right. Back on the road we are taken for another eternal drive that ends abruptly, and then the real fun begins.

Our group of friends decide the best solution to their current dilemma is to split up. Always a good plan in a horror film, almost as smart as heading off into the woods! They hit another glitch in their thinking and decide to further separate until we have two small groups and a single schmuck that has to go it alone. It might seem like I’m heading into spoiler region here, but really if you’ve seen more than one horror film, you can pretty much see this stuff coming from a mile away anyhow. Let me assure you that once you get passed the cliché aspects of Demonic, you will be host to some of the strangest guests you could imagine. I never said the whole film was cliché, now did I?

The smaller groups are of course easier targets for the evils that lie in wait, seemingly around every tree or corner. So, you know the lone fool is doomed, but oh, what a way to go…or so it seems. As a bonus you even get more than one type of foe to root against…or for if you prefer. There was that earlier brief explanation offered as to what is pursuing our young heroes, but if you weren’t listening closely enough to the ravings of the madman, you will probably have missed it. Something about a legend that tells of angels who were thrown out of Heaven because their minds had been tainted with impure sexual desires. All you really need to know though is that what you’ve seen is all bad, and if I were you, I would get my ass far away in the shortest amount of time possible. Asking questions is a good way to get yourself killed!

Audiences who view Demonic can expect tension, fear, unsettling creatures, nudity, a decent amount of blood and violence, and an all-around troubling atmosphere. All of which are the perfect qualities for a superior horror movie to possess. This is why it is so upsetting to me that I watched in absolute dismay as a movie with so much potential to be amazing self-destructed right in front of me over and over again. Just when I thought I could start forgiving a flaw, I would be shown another defect that would cause my trust to falter again. What could and SHOULD have been one of the best horror movies I have seen in some time left me disappointed and asking myself why?, how?, and what were they thinking?

click for bigger imageAside from the distractions of lengthy interludes of inane shots of nothing and the empty, overused, cookie-cutter characters, I also had a problem with the use of Tom Savini as one of the antagonists in the film. There were some brilliantly shot scenes that were rendered completely and utterly laughable as soon as I recognized the face of Savini on the screen. This may not be the case for everyone who sees Demonic, but for me Savini’s mere presence in this role sucked all credibility out of what otherwise would have been a very ominous and frightening character. Not to mention the fact that I’m sure they could have found a better actor to fill those sinister shoes. I admire some of Savini’s work, but I just didn’t buy him in this role.

I do, however, have to admit to more than one occasion in which I was startled by things lurking amongst the shadows or darting between trees. The scare tactics used were refreshingly subtle and flawlessly executed. The creature design itself was disturbingly unnerving in its simplicity. Most of the direction and camera work were splendidly carried out. On a whole I think that with some simple alterations to the editing, Demonic could have been as brilliant as other reviewers seem to think it is.

As for me, I was left feeling sorry for a defenseless film with fantastic promise that should have been spectacular but because of some simple mishandling turned out to be another monotonous attempt at filmmaking. I really wanted to love this film! I just couldn’t look past the elements that detracted from it. If I could see a re-edited version, I’m sure I would adore it. Perhaps those of you who are interested in watching Demonic will enjoy it more than I did.

[Note: Unfortunately, I’ve been unable to find out exactly what features are included on the US DVD release so have not included any details in that regard.]

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 3.65 (20 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


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 4.14 (22 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 3.95 (20 votes)
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