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Mummy Maniac (2007)

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Mummy Maniac review!Starring Ben Stewart, Erica Kruz, Colette Claire, Hollie Overton, Elissa Downing

Directed by Max Nikoff


I vowed after suffering through Diary of a Cannibal that I would never again ever subject myself to a movie by prolific hack (and calling him a “hack” is putting it mildly) Ulli Lommel. Anyone who ever dares to rag on Uwe Boll should be strapped to a chair and forced to watch any of Lommel’s recent output; they’ll come away thinking Boll is Robert Altman by comparison. Lommel doesn’t just give filmmaking a bad name; he even gives bad filmmaking a bad name.

Yet Lionsgate keeps slapping eye-catching artwork on his no budget, no talent, no script, shot-in-a-week-if-that-long shitfests; and because of that artwork and Lionsgate getting his movies on shelves in all the major chains and because not enough viewers have caught onto this trend, Lommel’s cheapie’s keep turning a tidy profit. It’s too the point now that Lionsgate is having the guy churn a new one out on a monthly basis. It’s become quite shameful really.

As I said, after his artsy fartsy Diary of a Cannibal robbed me of 90-minutes of my life I vowed never again. So why am I reviewing Mummy Maniac? Well, it turns out that Lommel didn’t actually make this one himself. I don’t know if the grind of churning out these worthless non-movies so quickly is catching up to him or if because he just wants to give his friends a taste of that Lionsgate money, but Mummy Maniac was directed by a guy named Max Nikoff, who could probably be described as a protégé of Lommel’s after having served as an actor and producer in some of Lommel’s past films. Lommel has truly become a cockroach: we can’t seem to get rid of him and now he’s begun multiplying.

Looking up Nikoff on IMDB, I found myself floored by the bio he submitted to butter himself up. Keep in mind that the guy studied in Moscow to be a rocket designer when you read this actual passage from his own self-submitted bio:

“In his work as a filmmaker Max often applies principles he learned during his engineering study as a rocket engine designer as he believes that art of Motion Picture is an ultimate fusion of creative art and technical ingenuity and skills perhaps as none other form of art it’s so precise as rocket engine yet is so sensual as an artist’s creation.”

The only thing Mummy Maniac has in common with rocketry is that I’d love to blast it into space along with him and Lommel.

Nikoff parrots Lommel’s filmmaking style to the point that you’d never know you weren’t watching one of Lommel’s piece of shit movies if not for actually seeing Nikoff’s name listed as the director. Everything you expect from a Lommel production is evident: concept very loosely inspired by an actual murder case, non-story, non-acting, poor improvised dialogue, minimalist sets, excessive use of voiceover and montages, pseudo-artsy fartsy fades and edits, lousy audio quality, and just a general overall sense that either nobody involved on the production side of this movie either had a clue or gave a rat’s ass. Or, more likely, they realized what a great scam they’re pulling on Lionsgate and decided to not even attempt to give the impression they’re trying anymore. Wouldn’t shock me in the slightest to find out Lommel was skimming off the top of the money Lionsgate keeps fronting him to keep cranking out this garbage.

What’s with the mummy aspect of the movie killer’s M.O. besides the movie being loosely based on a real-life New York murder case where the killer wrapped a naked dead woman’s head in packing tape in a mummy-like fashion? Well, the movie killer’s mom told him stories of 1,001 Nights as a kid and he got so obsessed with the mummy parts of the story that now he’s decided he wants to become a mummy when he dies. That’s as deep as this film ever gets. This is why he wraps their heads in a mummy-like fashion. Though technically, given what a sloppy job he does wrapping their heads, a better name for the film might have been Darkman Maniac.

Mummy Maniac is the tale of a serial killing fat ass in a cop uniform whose primary personality trait is staring off into nothingness. He keeps abducting young women, taking them to this bathroom painted black where 85% of the movie is set, lets them plead for their lives or tell him that God will punish him, kills them with a knife or a saw or a power drill, wraps their heads in Ace bandages like a mummy, sometimes pulls up the woman’s shirt and fondles their breasts, and then dumps the clothed body on the street. This process repeats seven times in a row and then the movie ends. Seriously. That’s it. This process will repeat itself seven times. Seven. Long. Times. If you watch the first ten minutes of this movie then you’ll have seen everything there is to see for every ten minutes to follow until the 75-minute movie time limit expires and the miniscule credits crawl across the screen for to pad out another six minutes.

The whole thing seems to have been done with some misguided mentality that they were making a serial killer character study, yet all we ever learn about him is that apparently he’s got domineering mommy issues and murdered daddy issues and sexual hang-ups when it comes to getting laid and is obsessed with mummies. Our killer also seems to have audio issues because most of the time you can’t even hear what in the hell he’s saying.

We don’t actually see the kidnappings – just him loading the women into the back of his moving van. This is followed up with often lengthy driving montages while the women in the back weep. Ooh, suspenseful.

You’d also think cutting one’s throat or power drilling one’s head would generate a good deal of blood – you’d be wrong. Sorry, gorehounds.

All of these horrendously acted murder vignettes are interspersed with shots of the guy’s ugly mom, who looks like Miss Balbricker from the Porky’s films, looking on in the bathroom mirror. In between murders we’re also treated to the killer’s pointless therapy sessions and dream-like sequences involving his mom done in the style of a first year film student with delusions of being an expressionist filmmaker. Let’s not forget the montages of the city at night and our killer walking down the street or standing atop a roof with binoculars looking for his next victim. Riveting stuff.

Some cheap nudity, even cheaper gore, and a plotless, repetitive serial killer movie with delusions of artistic merit … This, folks, is torture bore.

The other day I harshly panned an utterly atrocious Army of Darkness rip-off by the Sci-Fi Channel called Harpies with the lowest rating possible: no knives. That one now looks like the work of Sam Raimi when compared to Mummy Maniac. I wish we had a rating even lower than zero knives for movies that aren’t just terribly made on every conceivable level, but that really aren’t even movies at all. This is not an actual movie. I don’t know exactly what to classify this as other than to just call it was it is…

The worst movie I’ve ever reviewed for Dread Central!

Yes, I’d even rather sit through Not Dead Enough and Curse of Halloween again than watch Mummy Maniac ever again.

I don’t blame Lommel anymore or any of his equally untalented sycophants for the movies they’re making. The blame now belongs squarely at the feet of Lionsgate for enabling Lommel and company to keep cranking out bullshit wastes of time and space like Mummy Maniac and giving their worthless productions wide distribution. I’m through being nice so I’ll just come right out and say it…

FUCK YOU, LIONSGATE!

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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 3 (1 vote)
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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 5 (2 votes)
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The Dollmaker Short Film Review – Welcome to Heebie Jeebie City!

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Starring Perri Lauren, Sean Meehan, Dan Berkey

Directed by Alan Lougher


The loss of a young child drives a mother to take a set of unusual measures to preserve his memory, and all it takes is one call to The Dollmaker.

When the short film by Alan Lougher opens up, we see a rather disturbing image of a little boy inside a casket, and the sound of a grieving mom speaking with an unidentified man in the background – he’s requesting something personal of the child to help “finish” his product, and it’s not before long that mom has her little boy back…well, kind of. What remains of the child is the representation of his former self, although it’s contained within the frame of a not-so-attractive doll, and the boy’s father isn’t a believer in this type of hocus-pocus (or the price to have this constructed, either). The doll comes with a specific set of instructions, but most importantly, you cannot spend more than one hour a day with the doll, or else you’ll go mad thinking that the soul inside of it is actually the person that you lost – sounds reasonable, doesn’t it?

Well this is just too good to be true for Mommy, and as the short film progresses, we’ll just have to wait and see what happens to her mind – it’s ultimately a depressing scenario, but Lougher gives it that creepy feel, almost like visiting a relative’s home and seeing their dearly departed pet stuffed and staring at you over the fireplace – HEEBIE-JEEBIE CITY, if you ask me. All in all, the quickie is gloomy, but ultimately chilling in nature, and is most definitely worth a watch, and if I might use a quote from one of my favorite films to apply to this subject matter: “Sometimes…dead is better.”

  • Film
3.5

Summary

Ultimately chilling in nature!

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User Rating 3.29 (7 votes)
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