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Hellboy: Sword of Storms (DVD)

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Hellboy: Sword of Storms DVD (click for larger image)Starring the voices of Ron Perlman, Selma Blair, Doug Jones, Peri Gilpin

Directed by Phil Weinstein and Tad Stones

Distributed by Starz Home Entertainment


If ever there was a hero that horror fans could really sink their teeth into, it would have to be Mike Mignola’s Hellboy. The character embodies everything that we love. Who doesn’t love the proverbial badass who can crack wise while cracking skulls? Those skulls of course belong to other creatures that we’ve grown to love. We’re talking anything from demons to shambling zombies, both of which are prominently on display here for Big Red’s debut animated feature, Hellboy: Sword of Storms.

Things start off with a bang as we find our heroes (Hellboy, Liz, and Abe) fending off mummies and a giant bat inside a Mayan temple. The action is fast and furious, and the animation is extremely well drawn and lively. Things simply vibrate off the screen! It’s not long until our paranormal investigators are off to the Far East to tango with another band of baddies though things don’t go exactly as planned. Before you know it, Hellboy is lost in another dimension and forced to do whatever is necessary as a means to get back home and save the day. For more on the tale itself and other assorted goodies, allow me to point you to my esteemed colleague Johnny Butane’s Hellboy: Sword of Storms review as I mainly want to talk about all the supplemental goodness in store for us fans on the DVD!

Hellboy: Sword of Storms DVD (click for larger image)For a single-disc release this package is fucking stacked! For starters we get several featurettes, each with a run time of around seven minutes. The festivities begin with the To Hell And Back – How Mike Mignola Created Hellboy featurette. Everyone from Mignola himself to Guillermo del Toro have their moment to sound off about not only where the character has come from but what it’s like to play in his universe. Unfortunately, the short runtime kind of sucks the wind out of this extra. Just as things start getting interesting, the credits start rolling. There’s a lot to tell about a character with such a history. Here’s to hoping they further explore Hellboy’s origins on the next animated DVD (yes, there’s another one coming).

From here the next few featurettes focus on the process of bringing this animated vision to life. Animation is truly a fascinating process. From the time the characters are designed to when they are voiced is more or less a very long road. Featurettes like A New Breed – Creating the New Hellboy and Conquering Hellboy – The Actors Role allow viewers some valuable insight into what goes into making the best product for fans possible.

Next up we get a closer look at some particular sequences within the feature itself. Trust me when I say that the “Heads” is one bit of ass kicking you won’t soon forget. Rich with Japanese folklore, this and other tidbits are an absolute blast to watch and are also very reminiscent of some of The Great Yokai Monster tales. Fans of that particular series of films are bound to see some –ahem– very familiar faces that they may not have expected to. Way to showcase these goodies with a bit more love.

Hellboy: Sword of Storms DVD (click for larger image)How many of you out there weren’t able to make it to the 2006 San Diego Comic Con? *raises hand* Yep, sucks to be us. Thankfully (at the very least) we get to see the Hellboy panel in its entirety. Clocking in at about forty minutes, every bit of insight and fun is captured for our viewing pleasure. Now, if only we can get someone to film the entire event. Well, except for the fat people who dress up in spandex as an homage to their favorite hero. Those fuckers give me the creeps.

Things are rounded out nicely with a commentary track featuring the two directors and Mike Mignola. Honestly, after digesting the wealth of information given throughout the supplemental material, this almost seems like overkill. Don’t get me wrong; it’s a great listen, but here is some advice — check this out a couple of weeks after watching the DVD. It will probably seem a lot fresher.

Hellboy: Sword of Storms is a must own for fans. The feature itself is wall-to-wall action, and the DVD extras deliver every single thing you could ever want to know about how it got that way. Until we get a sequel to the big screen hit, this will tide us over just fine! It’s one hell of a good time!

Special Features
Commentary by Hellboy creator Mike Mignola, supervising producer/director Tad Stones, and director Phil Weinstein
To Hell And Back – How Mike Mignola Created Hellboy featurette
A New Breed – Creating the New Hellboy featurette
Conquering Hellboy – The Actors Role featurette
A View from the Top featurette on “The “Heads” sequence
Keepers of Hellboy – A Comic Con 2006 panel discussion
Hellboy Goes East featurette on the inspirations, backstories, and secrets of Hellboy: Sword of Storms
DVD Rom: weblinks, storyboards, and more
32-page comic book created by Mike Mignola

Film

3 1/2 out of 5

Special Features

4 1/2 out of 5

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Inside (Remake) Review – Is It as Brutal as the Original?

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Starring Rachel Nichols Laura Harring

Directed by Miguel Ángel Vivas


While the directing duo of the cringe-inducing and original 2007 French grand guignol thriller Inside have gone on to refurbishments of their own—Julien Maury and Alexandre Bustillo recently helmed a retread of Leatherface’s origin story—their flick now has an American stamp on it with the release of the remake, also titled Inside.

A cheerless Christmas eve sets the stage for heavily-pregnant widow Sarah’s (Rachel Nichols) oncoming ordeal. It’s a frigid and snowy night. She’s got a huge house to herself, following the accidental and violent death of her husband. She wants to sell the home that was meant to hold a family, to forget the nascent memories it once held. But she’s got to ride it out until the baby is born. While Sarah is lonesome, she won’t be alone. She’s got her genial gay neighbor nearby, and her mum is going to come and stay with her for a few days. Oh, and there will be an unexpected visitor too.

When a shadowy, seemingly stranded stranger (Laura Harring) knocks on the door pleading to be let inside, Sarah instinctively balks. She even calls the cops. But the woman leaves and all seems well. Crisis averted. Sarah puts the housekeys in the mailbox outside for Mom, and goes to bed. Big mistake.

Mystery Lady shows up at Sarah’s bedside armed with chloroform, an IV bag, and a case full of sharp-and-pointies (sorry, ’07 fans… those implements do not include a pair of scissors). The horror unfolds and the expected yet lively game of gory cat-and-mouse ensues. Then the tete-a-tete becomes a body-count chiller featuring one shocking moment after another.

Nichols is fantastic in the role, giving it her all. When the original Inside came out eleven years ago, she was starring in another French-helmed horror, P2—also set on Christmas eve—and she stole the show. She does the same here but with a less-intense adversary. Harring’s killer character, unlike her European counterpart, has a lot to say—which takes away from her initially mysterious manner as the minutes tick off. Still, the girl-on-girl action is a welcome change from the usual gender dynamic one sees in these things. Both deserve kudos for their performances.

While Inside isn’t a died-in-the-wool “Hollywood” remake (Miguel Ángel Vivas directs, while [REC] co-creator Jaume Balagueró wrote it) it feels like one. For those who’ve seen the original, there will be mild disappointment (which turns to major letdown at the very end). However, Inside is still a serviceable thriller that’s well-acted, beautifully shot, and effectively scored. Folks coming in fresh, and casual horror fans, will more than likely enjoy it.

  • Inside (Remake)
3.0

Summary

Inside is a serviceable thriller that’s well-acted, beautifully shot, and effectively scored. Folks coming in fresh, and casual horror fans, will more than likely enjoy it. For those who’ve seen the original, there will be mild disappointment (which turns to major letdown at the very end).

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What If Tina Fey Wrote Jennifer’s Body? My Friend’s Exorcism Book Review

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“Rummaging in one of his duffel bags, [the exorcist] pulled out and athletic cup and slid it down the front of his pants. ‘First place they go for,’ he explained. He then adjusted himself and picked up a well-worn Bible. ‘Let’s do the Lord’s work.'”

It was about a year ago now (it seems) that I first saw the cover of “My Best Friend’s Exorcism.” If you haven’t seen it for yourself in all of its glory, make sure to click the image over to the right for a more in-depth look. Awesome, right? Got to love all the VHS details such as the “Horror” and “Be Kind Rewind” stickers. Classic. Utter classic.

Now I’m fully aware that one should not judge a book by its cover. Literally. But still the moment I saw this work of delicious art crop up in the inbox I had to read the book asap. Well, it turns out asap was about a year later, but all the same, I’ve now had a peek at the inside of the book as well as the outside. Does the content inside match the content outside?

Let’s find out…

For those who might not know, “My Best Friend’s Exorcism” (henceforth referred to as MBFE) tells the tale of two best friends named Abby and Grethen. One night the two, and a few of there other friends, drop a bit of acid for the first time. While the drug never kicks in (no worries, there’s no lame twist-ending to be had here) poor Gretchen still wanders off into the woods and gets possessed like a motherf*cker in some creepy abandoned building. From there, things go from bad to worse until an unlikely exorcist is called in and things go off the wicked walls in all the best ways possible.

Now, to review. First of all, let it be know that MBFE is more of a teen romance (between two friends) than a straight tale of terror. Think of it as “What if Tina Fey wrote Jennifer’s Body?” and that will give you a good hint at what the book holds in store for you. Not that that’s a bad thing. Still, you should be aware that the first 2/3 of the book is almost exclusively teenagers not getting along, bitch about losing touch, who is sleeping with who, and yada, yada, yada for pages on end. Dramarama for days. Mostly.

That said, not only is the teen drama bearable (and truthfully quite sweet in spots), Hendrix keeps the horror in the spotlight just enough that I never lost faith the book was heading somewhere truly balls to the wall. And it does. Oh, boy does it. From the time the unholy shite hits the fan in the last third, to the time the last word is read, the book is filled with horror moments that will make even the most jaded fright-fiction fan gag, grimace, or stand up and cheer!

You just have to get through all the angst first…

But speaking of angst, let me get a bit of extremely personal business out of the way real quick. Can I trust you with this info? Sure I can. MBFE made is cry like a baby. Not kidding. There have been very few times in my life that I have literally burst out crying. I’ve had some sad shite happen in my days, and I have seen some sad-ass movies, but nothing has made me cry out of the f*cking blue like MBFE. I’m not going to go into details about the final 10 pages of the book, but it tore my poor horror-heart a new one. It was bad. Like snot and hyperventilating type shite. Again, not kidding. Thank the lord I wasn’t in public is all I can say. I would have arrested and thrown in the booby-hatch.

MBFE goes along like a slightly horror-centric version of Mean Girls and Heathers for most of its page count. If you’re a straight horror fan, you’ll be at odds with whether you should bother finishing it or not. You will. Trust me. But listen to me now and know that once our heroine goes into the dark, dank bedroom of the school’s resident bitch to find out why she hasn’t been in school the past few days/weeks, the horror hits like holy hell. And it only gets worse (RE: better) from there.

In the end, MBFE is a book ever horror fan should own – if only for the cover. I dug the hell out of the book (eventually) and I’m sure the majority of you guys will too. But even for those hard-hearts out there that just can’t stand to read about things like uncompromising love, and hellfire-forged friendship, you still need to own the book. You still owe it to yourself to give it a try. If you don’t care for it, that’s cool, just display in on your bookshelf in all it’s VHS glory. It will make you look cool.

  • My Best Friend's Exorcism - Book Review
3.5

Summary

Grady Hendrix’s “My Best Friend’s Exorcism” is a killer mixture of Mean Girls, Heathers, and The Exorcist. Just think of it as “What if Tina Fey wrote Jennifer’s Body” and you’ll have a good indication of what lies in store for you within the amazing VHS-inspired cover art.

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Knock Knock Review – This Throwback To The VHS Era Packs A Fun Punch

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Starring Kerry Tartack, Sisi Berry, Chuk Hell

Directed by Toby Canto


I remember the glory days of my youth back in the early to mid-80’s, renting every friggin horror flick on VHS and keeping the cassettes well past the return dates, eventually blacklisting my name from damn near all of the movie shops in my hometown. For the sole reason of wanting to hop back in the time-machine, I’ll never turn down the opportunity to check out a film that promises to ship you back to the days of all of that cheesy-neon attire and overblown hairdos.

Director Toby Canto was generous enough to offer his latest film up onto the sacrificial stone, and it’s called Knock Knock – about a WAY past his prime pugilist named Sam (Tartack) who is unwillingly thrust into a throwdown with a bloodsucker who happens to reside in the same apartment – damn noisy neighbors! His only birthday wish is to spend his 60th go-round safely hold up in his domicile, away from pesky residents alike. Well, that plan goes to shit when his kooky neighbor (Berry) comes by and pitches the idea of throwing hands with the newest tenant: a real creature of the night (Lucas Ayoub).

Sam initially nixes the idea wholeheartedly, but when more of his quirky neighbors show up to his place to substantiate the vampiric-claims, Sam finds himself lacing up the leather for one more round…or two, depending on if he can still take a beating. Filled with more than a handful of goofy instances, this near-hour presentation won’t blow the doors off of the horror/com vehicle, but should more than suffice in the short-term until the next spooky-laugher comes slithering out of its hole.

  • Film
3.0

Summary

Historians alike, this movie’s for those who want a reminder of how loopy those VHS days were, and the best part is you don’t have to rewind a freakin’ thing.

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