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Succubus: Hell Bent (2007)

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Succubus reviewStarring Robert L. Mann, Natalie Denise Sperl, Jayson Blair, David Keith, Kelly Hu, Lorenzo Lamas, Gary Busey

Written and Directed by Kim Bass


Adam is a hedonistic trust fund baby from the Hollywood Hills who only seems to have four goals in life: getting laid, partying hard, becoming a rich & famous Hollywood director, and getting more laid. He has his own editing equipment at home that he spends more time using to edit his homemade sex videos of the not-so-bright beauties, sometimes two at a time, which he’s bedded – condoms be damned. He’s an arrogant brat who talks of being a filmmaker but makes it clear he’s only in it for the fame and fortune – artistic merit be damned. It’s like someone’s made a movie where the main character is supposed to be a young Michael Bay. Actually, considering what a monumental poseur Adam proves to be, a young Brett Ratner would be apropos.

Whoever Adam reminds me of he’s one of the least likable protagonists I’ve ever seen. How unlikable is Adam? His reaction to discovering that he’s been targeted by a centuries old succubus – a demoness who has already murdered people around him, murders he’s been blamed for – is to blow off some steam by heading out on the town with his best friend for a night of further club-hopping and carousing. The only things that make this Adam character sympathetic in the slightest are his icy relationship with his father and that he finds himself being blamed for the murders that the angry demoness going all Fatal Attraction on him is responsible for. This ultimately causes the film to slump a little during the final showdown between Adam and Lilith because not in a million years is Adam a character that anyone could really root for unless you’re the sort that thinks the Paris Hilton’s of the world are actually cool.

Now that I think about it, the movie never quite makes itself fully clear as to whether the succubus is after Adam because she genuinely doesn’t like be used and tossed aside or if she’s just evil and intended to make his life hell from the get-go. I’m thinking it’s the latter, but the movie is never 100% clear. She’s a fun villainess, but that ambiguity and the way the movie eventually seems to want us to sympathize with this over-privileged man-whore is the weakest aspect of the otherwise infinitely watchable, albeit instantly forgettable, cheesefest entitled Succubus: Hell Bent.

Adam and his best friend Jason head down to Cancun for Spring Break. One sexual conquest leads to another, and soon Adam sets his sights on a mystery femme named Lilith, whose husky-voiced alpha female demeanor and overall strange behavior should have instantly tipped him off that this woman was going to be trouble even if she weren’t Adam’s wicked first wife from the Garden of Eden on the prowl through the ages looking for soul’s to suck. A night of rough sex and that cad Adam is headed back to Beverly Hills to his life of luxury, dimwitted girlfriend, and all the other bimbos he continues to bed when the girlfriend isn’t around. All is well for Adam until Lilith sashays back into his life for some more rough sex followed by a reign of terror.

At first Adam thinks Lilith is just some obsessive psycho bitch, but then he freeze frames the sex video they made and notices that this dark-haired beauty he picked up for a one-night-stand South of the Border sprouted a pair of demon wings at the height of orgasm and realizes that he’s now got satanic psycho bitch problems instead. She begins stalking him on land, in the air, in his dreams, and even on his computer screen. Of course, who in their right mind is going to believe him when he tells them he had sex with a satanic succubus and now she’s out to make his life hell? Thank goodness for the Internet!

Adam finds a website with a page devoted to Lilith with graphics worthy of an Internet comic book; a site that turns out to be the official website of Sentinel, Demon Hunter for Hire, which also sounds a lot like a comic book, but turns out to be a California-based demon hunter. Enter Gary Busey looking and sounding as loony as he ever has, dressed like a black leather clad Crocodile Dundee-type, driving a customized truck pimped out with skull designs, and carrying a sword he calls “Lucille” that would make Skeletor envious. He turns up just long enough to give Adam the 411 on his succubus problem and to provide him with some stuff that might help: a parchment with instructions on how to deal with her, an amulet for protection, and an anti-Lilith kit consisting of a crossbow gun, a six shooter with silver bullets, nunchuks, and holy water. But he can’t be bothered to stick around and help this punk slay the demoness because he’s already got a gig booked elsewhere to battle a daywalking vampire. A pity because while it’s a brief cameo, I found myself wanting to see a Sentinel, Demon Hunter For Hire movie, if only to see how much crazier Busey could get when having to play opposite the sexually-charged, scene-chewing hellcat.

Brief appearances by more well-known actors are something this movie has quite a few of. The most prominent being David Keith as Adam’s government contractor gazillionaire father, a heartless prick that orders Adam to attend the memorial commemorating his mother’s death but can’t make it himself because he’s got more important things to do – namely business meetings and sleeping with his secretary. I kept waiting for Lilith to go after him too, something that never happened, possibly because he himself didn’t seem overly fond of his own son.

Hottie Kelly Hu turns up for a whopping two scenes cast against type as a hard-as-nails homicide detective investigating the murders surrounding Adam. Given how hate-filled she sounds when telling Adam how he’s going to get the death penalty for the murders she thinks he’s committed, you’d think she was one of his sexual conquests that he bedded and never called again. She sounded more hell-bent to destroy Adam than the succubus.

Lorenzo Lamas plays a pilot that works for Adam’s father. Adam himself is a pilot and the two like to go up in these fancy mock fighter jets to mock dogfight. Along comes Lilith one day to take a plane up herself to stick it to Adam by displaying her own aerial combat skills in a confusingly edited scene that goes on too long and is kind of hard to figure out just who’s doing what since everyone’s plane looks exactly the same.

Awkward transitions occasionally plague Succubus: Hell-Bent. Writer/director Kim Bass is able to cover-up the film’s obviously low budget most of the time with vibrant locales, but several of the scene transitions still reveal the film’s shortcomings. For example, one moment Adam is having a drink with Lilith and suddenly it abruptly fades to them in a hot tub together as if they just teleported into it mid-conversation. Well, maybe they did, at least Lilith is established to have teleportation powers. Scene transitions like this feel like they’re missing an establishing shot of some sort.

And I must protest, for a movie in which sex plays a key role and a cast overflowing with beautiful babes, there’s precious little nudity on display. That just seems odd to me. If you’re going to make a movie like this R-rated then there’s really no need to skimp on the T&A.

Still, can’t complain too much. Succubus: Hell Bent is a fun little flick that breezes by even if it does occasionally feel as if it’s holding back on going completely over the top – no boiling bunny moments in this Fatal Attraction. Clearly played for laughs at times, only really hurting when it tries to take itself seriously or thinks it can actually make us feel empathy for this spoiled dickweed; you’ll probably forget all about the movie ten minutes after watching it, but you’ll still be entertained as you do so.

Stick around for the bloopers in the end credits just to see some great footage of Gary Busey just being nuts. I so want to see a Sentinel, Demon Hunter for Hire movie now.

3 out of 5

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Through the Cracks – Trick or Treat (1986) Review

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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
3.5

Summary

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.

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User Rating 3.14 (7 votes)
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AHS: Cult Review – Clowns, Cults, Politics, and Peters

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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)
3.5

Summary

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.

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User Rating 4.43 (7 votes)
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The Axiom Review – A Stylish and Clever Slice of Independent Horror

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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.

ADDITIONAL THOUGHTS:

  • 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
4.0

Summary

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.

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User Rating 4 (17 votes)
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