Directed by Kevin VanHook
Released by Anchor Bay Entertainment
This is my first run-in with prolific Sci-Fi Channel original filmmaker Kevin VanHook, and I wish it could say it was well worth the wait. I wish I could tell you guys that we’re looking at a new voice in horror, someone who, with a few more films under his belt, could go on to deliver a truly memorable scare flick.
Sadly, such is not the case. You can tell the man enjoys what he’s doing, maybe even that he has genuine affection for our genre, but if Voodoo Moon is any indication, he’s like a mule with a spinning wheel; he has no idea how he got it and danged if he knows what to do with it.
Our story finds a young man named Cole (Mabius) returning to his home after years abroad studying all manner of dark and white arts. He’s on a mission to destroy the manifestation of evil, who just keeps showing up around the globe in a new guise (a word that is fine when written, but sounds very clunky coming out of Mabius) every time. He’s gone back to enlist the help of his sister, Heather (Carpenter), who apparently has some psychic ability that allows her to foresee events, and to assemble a cast of random characters he’s met during his travels who have all agreed to help him if he ever needed it.
Meanwhile, evil keeps body jumping and doing naughty things such as pushing one of Cole’s friends, Frank (Combs), down a flight of stairs, breaking his neck. Such an inconvenience doesn’t stop Frank though, and he proceeds to travel to Cole’s place as a slowly rotting, broken-necked zombie, which leads to one of the most annoying under-usages of Jeffrey Combs I’ve ever seen. Of course before he dies he gets to monologue to his wife with incredibly dramatic flourishes, which will likely having you chuckling without even realizing it.
So back to the plot; right … well, Cole has all these powers that he can use to stop evil, including the power to float, but then evil (who finally shows up as charming Brit named Daniel, played by Rik Young) can do cool stuff, too, and eventually they have this big fight but… well, before that there is just a whole lot of talking going on and not much else. Cole pontificates to his sister, gets counsel from the woman who owns the house they all converge in back in their hometown (played by the always awesome Dee Wallace), the rest of the characters sit around and bullshit with one another, and eventually Heather ends up chatting with the personification of evil for about 20 minutes before it finally dawns on her what’s going on.
There are many annoying issues in Voodoo Moon; the lack of action is only one. When there are practical effects, they look great (as they were supplied by the folks at Almost Human), but any digital effect is so glaringly obvious that, even if somehow you became deeply engrossed in the plot, it would take you right out of the story as soon as it shows up onscreen. The motivations of the characters are also severely questionable throughout, save for those of Frank, who is given the aforementioned unnecessarily long backstory that does very little other than pad the running time, but why are the rest of these people coming to help Cole? It’s never explained, other than that he helped them at some point, and is even more annoying when they turn out to be nothing more than glorified red shirts when the evil guys show up. And why did evil all of a sudden decide to show up back in the sibling’s hometown, which was filled in as a reservoir for the surrounding area a few years previous?
The long and short of it is that Voodoo Moon is just a dull story with minor flares of cool stuff happening that don’t really make it worth your time when it’s not. Carpenter is very easy on the eyes, and the rest of the cast is actually quite solid; it’s just too bad they had such a dull story to work within the confines of. Don’t tell that to the crew of the film; they seem to think they’ve created something very special.
Or at least that’s what comes across on the DVD’s first and longest featurette, “You Reap What You Sow: Making Voodoo Moon.” Clocking in at just over 10 minutes, it’s basically a fluff piece for everyone to talk about how cool they thought the movie was and how cool they thought VanHook was and basically just saying a whole lot of nothing. It does amaze how those involved could actually watch the movie and still have such good things to say about it afterwards; I guess it takes all kinds.
There’s also a 7-minute featurette about the make-up and visual effects of Voodoo Moon, though the primary focus is on the latter. A bit sad, considering both how bad they turned out and how much cooler it would have been to listen to Almost Human chat up their creations.
Some deleted scenes round out the extra features, serving to give a bit more backstory on Heater and Cole as well as a slightly longer version of the scene in the cemetery that still doesn’t make any goddamn sense until you realize that the gardener who gets killed by the cute little girl is VanHook himself, and then it all becomes clear.
That is abut the only useful information you’ll get from VanHook’s scattered commentary track, though there may have been more that I just tuned out because he speaks so rarely throughout the movie you begin to wonder if maybe he hadn’t dozed off, too. Yet another example of a commentary that would have been much more interesting with at least one other person in the room, and it doesn’t help that when Kevin does have anything to say, it’s not really all that interesting.
So at the end of the day I guess I got what I expected from a direct-to-DVD release from a man who at least usually gets his films shown on the Sci Fi Channel. I really want to know what the hell IDT/Anchor Bay is thinking with some of these titles; remember when they were the ultimate in badass horror DVD companies? I guess all things come to an end, and they’re still doing a pretty good job with the Masters of Horror series, but man, it’d be nice if they could pawn off these crappy films to someone else for a while.
“Black Magic: The Stunts, Make-up and Visual Effects of Voodoo Moon”
“You Reap What You Sow: The Making of Voodoo Moon”
Photo and still gallery
Screenplay on DVD-ROM
1 1/2 out of 5
Discuss Voodoo Moon in our forums!
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 Popcorn, and 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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Exclusive: Rocky Gray Talks Halloween Horror Anthology 10/31
The Duffer Brothers Have Begun Working on Stranger Things 3
James Cameron’s Terminator Reboot/Sequel Hires Screenwriter
The Strangers: Prey at Night Official Site is Live and Waiting
Exclusive: Patrick Brice on Creep 2
Mindhunter Review: The Best Netflix Original Series to Date
Director Says New Suspiria Film Isn’t a Remake
7 Freddy’s Nightmares Episodes That Should’ve Been Movies
What if the Best Synth Scores Are For Horror Films That Don’t Really Exist?
First Look at Samuel L. Jackson as Mr. Glass in M. Night Shyamalan’s Glass
Hotel Transylvania 3: Summer Vacation – First Trailer and Artwork!
The Walking Dead Season 7 Limited Edition Box Set – Unboxing Video
Desolation Trailer Goes Off Trail
More Exclusive Stills from Devil’s Whisper
Talent to Attend Dread Central’s Bicoastal Screenings for The Night Watchmen Next Week in NY and LA
Join the Box of Dread Mailing List
From Around the Web
Reviews4 days ago
Mindhunter Review: The Best Netflix Original Series to Date
News5 days ago
Exclusive: Dark Horse Announces Three New Hellboy Collections and We Have the Covers
News3 days ago
Blumhouse’s New Halloween Will Change The Original Film’s Ending (Slightly)
Reviews2 days ago
AHS: Cult Review – Clowns, Cults, Politics, and Peters
News3 days ago
Exclusive: Buzzard Hollow Beef Brings Cannibal Gore to the Holidays
News4 days ago
Horror Box Office – OPENING THIS WEEK: November 17, 2017
Reviews3 days ago
DIS Review – Not for the Faint of Heart!
News3 days ago
Kevin Bacon Lets Us Know the Tremors Reboot Pilot Has Wrapped Filming