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Slither (DVD)



Slither DVD (click for larger image)Starring Nathan Fillion, Elizabeth Banks, Gregg Henry, Michael Rooker, Tania Saulnier

Directed by James Gunn

Distributed by Universal Studios Home Entertainment

Where have they gone?” That’s the question I always find myself asking when I get that familiar itch. Usually there is no relief. The only thing that can scratch it is a cool looking beastie causing mayhem in a nice little violent atmosphere. Sadly, nowadays monster movies are few and far between. Or maybe I should say good monster movies are. Wait, how about we go a little further and say good horror movies are getting harder and harder to find, period!?! If I have to sit through one more PG-13 neutered snooze-fest or another dreadful remake, I will scream until my lungs burst. Many fans echo my sentiments which is why I am all the more disturbed. I listen to folks complain endlessly: “No more remakes!” “Stop making our movies so kid-friendly!” Yadda yadda yadda. Yet, when a good R-rated original horror film hits theatres, everyone stays home. That’s right! Movies like the abysmal When a Stranger Calls remake and the bloodless smarmy teen-fest Cry_Wolf make it to the top of the box office while quality films like James Gunn’s Slither open so poorly that it’s out of theatres within a couple of weeks. This will forever be one of life’s little mysteries. Sad but true. However, there is some light at the end of this dismal tunnel. Thanks to the advent of home video and especially DVD, films that are (for whatever reason) without their audience can finally find one. Mark my words, Slither will be one of those flicks that is beloved many years from now. It’s a true B-movie classic in every sense of the word, especially in its storyline. It fits like an old comfortable sweater.

They came from outer space! Don’t they always? Bad shit always happens in small towns. Enter the meteorite. Upon crash landing on our humble planet, it is discovered by town honcho, Grant Grant (Rooker). Grant’s going through the usual mid-life crisis stuff and is looking for a change. Holy shit does he find one. Actually, one found him! Before you can say “Poke it with a stick,” the deadly space-rock splits open and out pour alien life-forms of the slug variety. There’s no amount of salt in the world that can save the human race from these slimy bastards. They descend upon Grant in dramatic fashion and set up shop within his body.

Our newly arrived space slugs have some interesting characteristics. For one thing, upon inhabiting a human, the host is then transformed into a bloodthirsty zombie. Their victims (especially Grant) start evolving into a new breed of creature, one that could spell the end of the world as we know it. *does quick Michael Stipe-like shimmy* Can anyone stop them?! Meet lawman Bill Pardy (Fillion). Pardy’s just your average Joe, looking to keep his town quiet and score with Grant’s wife, Starla (Banks). He, Starla, and a few others are our first and last line of defense against these creatures. Can the carnage be contained? Will Pardy get the girl? Have you ever seen so much pus and blood before? Does the Grant monster have two schlongs? The stage is set, and you don’t want to miss a single squishy second.

In 1986, while dealing with a similar situation, Detective Ray Cameron would greet people with the words “Thrill me.” It’s taken twenty years, but someone has answered that challenge.

Slither DVD (click for larger image)The people behind Slither know exactly what kind of movie they’re making. They know what key elements are needed to churn out a wickedly disgusting, yet fun ride. Director James Gunn is a proud horror fan, and who better to make a movie like this? Pay close attention to Slither, and you’ll see exactly what I am getting at. For instance most of the film’s characters and sights are named after those from some of our favorite movies. Need a few brief examples? I’ve got your hook-up.

The town’s mayor is named R. J. MacReady (The Thing)

There are neighbors in the film named the Castevets. The Castevets were Rosemary’s neighbors in Rosemary’s Baby

Earl Bassett High School was named after the lead character in Tremors

The gun store is named after Max Renn from Videodrome

The local bar is called “Henenlotter’s” (a nod to director Frank “Basket Case” Henenlotter)

There are many more homages to be found as well. While things like this may go unnoticed to the casual fan, believe me when I tell you we rabid ones eat shit like that up! Know what else we eat up? Blood and other various bodily fluids! Slime and pus are splashed around with reckless abandon. You can almost hear the F/X guy giggling with glee. As a result, there are scenes in Slither that are both cringe and vomit inducing. Not since the Eighties have I had this much fun watching an unabashedly cheesy alien invasion flick. Slither is without question this generation’s Night of the Creeps. Now if only we could get that one on DVD next. Alas, that’s a rant for another time.

Let’s talk supplemental materials. This disc delivers! How many times have you put on the extras for your favorite film expecting to be entertained and end up being bored to tears? This is not one of those instances. Slither‘s extras are fast paced, at times funny, and overall totally entertaining. Even on-set stress is handled in a lighthearted manner. When asked about the film during one of the featurettes, Gunn had this to say about his flick:

“This movie has its cock in my mouth, and I’m fucking gagging. My eyes are watering, I’m gagging, but I refuse to spit it out because I’m a trooper. It’s gonna cum if it’s the last thing I do! Put that on your fucking DVD.”

Ya just gotta love it. Aside from the oodles of extras (the longest one clocking in at around twenty minutes), we also get a commentary track by Gunn and actor Nathan Fillion. Even though the two aren’t even in the same country at the time of the recording (yay telephones) they still have enough chemistry to keep things lively and engaging. Bottom line – these guys are fuckin’ funny. Best damned commentary I’ve listened to in years.

While certainly not an A-list film, Slither still finds itself sitting pretty high upon the B-movie heap. That’s more than I can say for most.

So listen up! If you didn’t go see Slither in theatres, do yourself a favor — click that little link at the bottom of this review and order the DVD. Don’t live without it for another second. You don’t even have to get off your ass to do it so no more excuses! It’s a helluva lot easier than finding a needle in a fuck-stack. Whatever that means!

Special Features
Feature commentary with director James Gunn and actor Nathan Fillion
Deleted scenes
Extended scenes
Gag reel
Bringing Slither’s Creatures to Life featurette
Slithery set tour with Nathan Fillion
A Making Of: The Sick Minds and Slimy Days of Slither featurette
Lloyd Kaufman’s On-set Video Diary

4 1/2 out of 5

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Prodigy Review – This Kid Is Killer



Starring Richard Neil, Savannah Liles

Written and directed by Alex Haughey and Brian Vidal

From the minds of Alex Haughey and Brian Vidal, Prodigy could have easily debuted as a stage play instead of an intimate sci-fi horror film delivered straight to your television. Told with a confident grasp, the story unfolds in only one location with two characters responsible for carrying the entire narrative. Good performances, sure-handed directing, and a solid script highlighting tense moments make the claustrophobic setting seem much bigger in scope. A little telekinesis thrown in to good effect and a creepy killer kid don’t hurt the momentum either.

Under constant surveillance at a remote black site, an aging psychologist named Fonda (Neil) is tasked with assessing a dangerous young girl called Ellie (Liles), who is highly intelligent and possesses supernatural powers. Fonda attempts to inject some humanity into Ellie, but she is cold and calculating and seems to be toying with him at times and the onlookers watching from behind the glass. The back-and-forth between both characters is competitive and often riveting, with Ellie slowly revealing her abilities to her wide-eyed new audience. Wrapped up in a familiar setup, the decision to study or dissect this meta kid is the central question of Prodigy; but the execution of a simple premise is what keeps the story afloat.

On a very small scale, Haughey and Vidal make the setting feel cinematic with crisp images and smart shot selections that help maintain the tension. There’s a strong backbone in place that allows both actors to bounce off of each other in a well-choreographed mental dance as the dangerous game they’re playing begins to unravel.

Several scenes where Elle demonstrates her powers are the standouts in Prodigy with chairs and tables flying and glass breaking to great effect. These sequences diffuse some of the tension for a moment, only to fully explode late in the film when Elle’s emotions unleash. It’s only then that there has been any kind of breakthrough that could possibly help to save her life.

That gets to the heart of the real question posed in Prodigy: Is an extraordinary life still worth saving if it threatens ordinary lives in the process? Also, does the fact that this potential weapon is housed inside the body and mind of a young, lonely girl make a difference to whether it should survive? These questions and how they’re answered make Prodigy a micro-budget standout in the indie horror genre well worth taking the time to rent this weekend if you’re not planning on attending a St. Patrick’s Day parade somewhere.

Prodigy is now available to on iTunes, Amazon, and other On Demand platforms.

  • Prodigy


The questions raised and how they’re answered make Prodigy a micro-budget standout in the indie horror genre well worth taking the time to rent this weekend if you’re not planning on attending a St. Patrick’s Day parade somewhere. 

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Cold Hell (Die Hölle) Review – Giallo Terror Invades Vienna



Starring Violetta Schurawlow, Tobias Moretti, Sammy Sheik

Written by Martin Ambrosch

Directed by Stefan Ruzowitzky

I have a serious soft spot in my horror-loving heart for serial killer films. Movies like Seven, The Silence of the Lambs, The Crimson Rivers, and the like draw me in with their cat-and-mouse mentality. Couple those kinds of movies with non-US settings and I’m 100% hooked. So when I was introduced to Die Hölle (aka Cold Hell), which just started streaming on Shudder, I didn’t hesitate to enter this giallo-inspired thriller.

Cold Hell follows Özge Dugruol (Schurawlow), a Turkish taxi driver in Vienna who clearly lives a strained, almost broken life. The fares she picks up verbally abuse her, the Thai boxing gym where she lets go of her anger has banned her after a violent sparring incident, and her family has its own fair share of problems, including infidelity, lack of responsibility, and painful memories of early years.

One night, after coming home from a long shift, Özge opens the window in her bathroom only to see across the way into the home of another woman who is lying on the ground, flayed and burnt, her dead eyes staring at Özge. Stunned into shock, she can only look on before realizing that the man responsible for this woman’s death is standing in the shadows, looking at her. So begins Özge’s journey of terror as this killer makes it his mission to find and end her life.

Cold Hell has an interesting juxtaposition running throughout the film where cinematographer Benedict Neuenfels’ gorgeous visuals are used to highlight the near-squalor and seedy underbelly of Viennese life that Özge lives in. Each scene is bathed in vibrant colors, streetlight reds and neon greens painting the frames. Marius Ruhland, who composed Ruzowitzky’s Academy Award-winning film The Counterfeiters, lends beautiful and thrilling music that knows when to coil up and provide tension before exploding to mirror the chaotic frenzy of the on-screen events.

A direct commentary on religion’s antiquated view of the place and purpose of women, Cold Hell doesn’t shy away from making nearly everyone in this movie a flawed character. People who were unlikable become understandable once the breadth of their circumstances becomes more clear, as is the case with detective Christian Steiner (Moretti), who originally treats Özge with an almost xenophobic attitude only for us to later see that he cares for his dementia-ridden father. While not excusing his previous behaviors, such a revelation gives his irritation and frustration a more justifiable foundation.

When the action strikes, we are treated to breathtaking car chases, blood splashing across the screen, and believable reactions. The characters in this film get hurt and they show it, limping painfully with their cuts and bruises open for the world to see.

The film is certainly not flawless. Some characters feel shoe-horned in and there are rather lengthly segments where the film comes to a crawl. However, the engaging and nuanced performance from Schurawlow easily kept me glued to the screen.

  • Cold Hell


With beautiful music and gorgeous visuals, Cold Hell is an engaging, albeit slow burn, serial killer thriller. This is one film that should not be missed.

User Rating 5 (1 vote)


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Butcher The Bakers Review – Even The Grim Reaper’s Got His Slow Days



Starring Sean Walsh, Ryan Matthew Ziggler, Mike Behrens

Directed by Tyler Amm

When someone passes away, all anyone ever thinks of is the one that’s been lost – no one, and I mean NO ONE gives any consideration to the one responsible for reeling in those wayward souls…I’m talking about The Grim Reaper, and what happens when he hits a bit of a dry spell. Let’s cross on over to the other side and give a look at Tyler Amm’s Butcher The Bakers.

This horror/comedy centers around a couple of slackers (Walsh and Ziggler) who are both whiling away the hours working at a bakery, and their motivation is about as stagnant as frozen tree sap. One day the hapless duo are chosen to perform quite a Herculean task – they’ve got to prevent a recently “discharged” reaper named Dragomir (Behrens) from mass-collecting souls so he can open a portal to another world…yeah, I’m not shitting you. Seems ol’ Drago liked to snag some undocumented souls which didn’t put him in the best graces with the Human Resources department…or whomever the hell these guys report to in the afterlife. His actions have cause him to be ostracized, basically, and this is his way of getting back at the powers-that-be, if you will. Bottom line is this: the reaper’s coming-a-callin’ and he’s not planning on making this trip back and forth solo, if you know what I’m sayin.

The film, acting as part horror-fest and buddy-comedy, hits the mark on more than a few occasions, but falls flat on others – it’s all in the eye of the interpreter. There are some moments of beautifully-shot brutality, and the laughs are both subtle and pronounced, but if you’re not one of those people who dig a meshing of the two styles, you could potentially want to hit the kill-switch on this one in the early stages. Crisp editing and some seriously nifty camera-work are definite pluses, and while the acting could be a bit more stable, it’s adequate enough to support the presentation that it’s sandwiched into. Overall, I could see some horror aficionados giving this a singular peek just to break up the monotony of all that’s out there in the scope right now, but there’s not a whole lot more to go on with this one – if you’re in the mood to dissolve 94 minutes of your time, press play on this one.

  • Film


Horror comedies are far too hit or miss in this day and age, and while this movie tries to resuscitate the dead, it eventually gets dragged off kicking and screaming.

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