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Murder Drome (UK DVD)

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Murder Drome (UK DVD)Starring Amber Sajben, B On The Rocks, Rachael Blackwood, Jake Brown, Kat Anderson

Directed by Daniel Armstrong

Distributed by Monster Pictures


Roller Derby is the sport of choice at the centre of Aussie comedy/horror Murder Drome, pitting a bunch of hard-hitting roller-skating chicks against a murderous ghost hell-bent on claiming souls. Or something like that.

Appearing to all the world like it stepped straight from the stables of Troma, director Daniel Armstrong’s micro-budget film is predominantly a barely coherent mess, but still retains a level of charm owing to its punk-rock sensibilities and general attitude.

As far as the story goes, Derby chick Cherry Skye (Sajben) finds herself falling for local guy Brad (Brown), much to the violent chagrin of his ex – Cherry’s rival ink the rink, Hell Grazer (Blackwood). When Brad gives Cherry a strange old medallion as a token of his affection, demonic wheels are set in motion, bringing to life the vengeful spirit of Momma Skate, the highest profile killer in a violent old sport named “Murder Drome”. Seems that Momma’s team were involved in black magic rituals, and with the medallion she may seek to free her soul from hell in return for Cherry’s. Meanwhile, she’s content to skate about with her trusty blades and hooks-on-a-chain and chop up anyone who gets in her way.

That’s about as much sense as I could make of it, though, so there’s a possibility that some points are incorrect. It’s rather galling that at even a brief runtime of under 70 minutes (discounting credits) – and even then many of those are padded out with lengthy extended sequences that do little but showcase the punk/rockabilly bands on the soundtrack – what seems to be a rather basic story setup still can’t manage to make more than a lightly moist lick of sense. These extended sequences also see the pacing of the flick flail randomly back and forth in such a manner that it winds up feeling much longer than it really is, especially considering that it’s populated by an over-burdening gaggle of characters that are all as flat as the rink they routinely skate round on.

As mentioned earlier, though, it isn’t all bad. Armstrong’s script has some spunk to it, with a good number of quotable lines that will no doubt raise a chuckle, and a few comedic sequences that do hit the mark. Unfortunately, while it’s decent on paper the obviously inexperienced cast mostly manage to flub the delivery of most of the gems leaving them rather difficult to fully appreciate. Visually, Armstrong’s use of lighting is fun, with plenty of coloured filters employed and some pretty capable low-budget CGI effects work. The fun is also matched in the kills, which feature a couple of real kickers in there of a quality not expected considering that of the rest of the haphazard narrative. It’s clear to see that plenty of fun was had on set, and no smaller amount of ambition that just wasn’t fully realised.

Aussie punk and Roller Derby fans should get a kick out of Murder Drome, and so will those who want little more than to get drunk and laugh at a bunch of alt chicks running around fighting each other and getting killed off, but anyone looking for something more developed or well constructed will be turned off pretty quickly. It may be slightly damning praise, but one genius point of the film is a fake television commercial for a product named “Fris-B Hat”, that works almost as well as South Park’s stupendous “Wild Wacky Action Bike” in the fake comedy product scale. Whether it’s worth sitting through the rest of the movie just to see that is directly dependent on your tolerance for reckless filmmaking.

Monster Pictures deliver a quality DVD release of Murder Drome, with a bunch of special features including a picture-in-picture cast and crew commentary. That one gets a bit noisy, and almost as haphazard as the film itself, really, owing to the fact that it’s filmed on a balcony while they’re all enjoying beer and barbecue! It’s fun, though. There’s an FX breakdown showing the various layers and compositing utilised in the CGI-enhanced sequences; a blooper reel that offers a few good laughs; a ‘short film’ that’s really a short trailer for a film that doesn’t exist yet… something about nazi zombie wrestlers that looks bat-shit nuts; and a selection of music videos ranging from punk to rockabilly and horrorcore.

Special Features:

  • Picture-in-Picture Commentary
  • VFX Breakdown
  • Gag ‘n’ Stack Reel
  • Short Film – “From Parts Unknown”
  • Music Videos

    The Film:

    2 1/2 out of 5

    Special Features:

    3 1/2 out of 5

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    Who Goes There Podcast: Ep 160 – A QUIET PLACE

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    Lately, it seems as though comedy actors are cutting their teeth as horror directors and absolutely killing it! This year’s indie horror darling comes in the form of John Krasinki’s A Quiet Place. Chris has been sick as a dog, so the haomie Christine from Horrible Imaginings Film Fest is filling in to discuss whether A Quiet Place is 2018’s horror heavyweight, or just a lot of noise.

    What Bruno took was what changed me; it only amplifies your essence. It simply makes you more of what you already are. It’s the Who Goes There Podcast episode 160!

    If you like what you hear, please consider joining our Patreon subscribers. For less than the cost of a beer, you get bonus content, exclusive merchandise, special giveaways, and you get to help us continue doing what we love.

    The Who Goes There Podcast is available to subscribe to on iTunes right here. Not an iTunes user? You can listen on our Dread Central page. Can’t get enough? We also do that social media shit. You’ll find us on FacebookTwitterInstagramTwitch, and YouTube.

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    THE DEVIL AND FATHER AMORTH Review: Friedkin Goes Mondo Catholic

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    Starring Father Gabriele Amorth

    Directed by William Friedkin


    Hitting theaters this weekend in NYC and LA is William Friedkin’s new documentary, The Devil and Father Amorth. And right away I am asked: “Is it ‘good’?” You don’t watch a documentary like this with that in mind. Faces of Death, Traces of Death, Mondo Cane. They are not here to be “good”—they are beyond words like that. Beyond good and bad.

    It is more like the sideshow—Behold! See what has not been seen before! The Horror! The Forbidden! And you hand the man your ticket — you see The Arabian Giantess at the flea market in New Jersey, and maybe it is a sleight of hand and made of papier-mâché, but it was worth that dollar, and now you have a story. You have bought your way into the unknown.

    The Devil and Father Amorth is light on science (and length – it runs just 68 minutes) and heavy on faith. If you have been exposed to Friedkin’s — or more specifically, William Peter Blatty’s — work, there is the struggle with belief in the Roman Catholic faith, and also in the search for evidence of the miracle. You could also prove the Force of Divine Good if you could face the opposite side of the coin—the Force of Evil, in the vernacular of Catholicism—the Devil himself. Paradoxical, yes—faith exists without proof; and so what is the drive to tell the world God exists, the Devil exists?

    In the documentary we learn Rome is filled with the possessed. Hundreds of people are contacting the Church about their own possession or the possession of their loved ones. The Most Holy Father Amorth is the person the Vatican has tapped to perform exorcisms—thousands of them. And sometimes he has repeat business. Christina is one such woman, exorcised nine times and still susceptible to the Force of Evil. Those of us who are non-believers look at this woman as someone who is troubled—but “through the eyes of faith,” obviously it is a demon.

    Surrounded by her family, the rite begins, and you see… an actual exorcism. There is no enhancement, no Dick Smith make-up; it is not as dramatic as we want it to be. Should we get her help that is not in the form of a witch doctor? What about doctors? And so we meet them.

    Friedkin brings the footage to top hospitals in NYC. Psychologists give their point of view. Then neurosurgeons. They don’t know what’s going on—the exorcism seems to help, but they do see that it might be a cultural remnant. There is a medical diagnosis for it, as it can affect anyone of any faith. But the doc never digs too deep. I am disappointed: I needed to know more. I don’t believe it.

    Are they hurting Christina? Is she just another female the Church is suppressing, as they did with witches—the control, the stigma, of the female body and identity? None of this is explored because it’s just a 1-dollar ticket under the striped tent, just left of the dancing girls and the strong man—Actual! Exorcist! Footage! Hurry up and see!

    As Friedkin mentioned himself, when someone asks you to film an exorcism, you say yes. So see it for the freak show. Expect nothing else. And either you believe or you don’t, based on how you were raised — mythology, religion, or superstition.

    • The Devil and Father Amorth
    2.0

    Summary

    See it for the freak show. Expect nothing else.

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    Tribeca 2018: The Dark Review – Atmospheric Zombie Horror Done Different

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    Starring Nadia Alexander, Toby Nichols

    Written by Justin P. Lange

    Directed by Justin P. Lange


    The zombie subgenre often goes through waves where it focuses on one aspect that changes the status quo before overdoing it completely. Romero’s slow shuffling zombies were the norm until we got fast moving zombies with Return of the Living Dead and 28 Days Later. There was even a period where we had smarter zombies, like in Fido and Warm Bodies. Now it seems like we’re about to enter an era where the undead are meant to elicit emotion, making us feel for those who have no feelings themselves. Such is the case with Justin P. Lange’s The Dark.

    The film follows Mina (Alexander), a young woman who was murdered and stalks the forest that saw her demise. Anytime some unfortunate soul enters her area, they are quickly dispatched and become her feast. But when she stumbles across a young boy named Alex (Nichols) in the back of a car who shows signs of clear and horrifying abuse, she can’t bring herself to do away with him. Rather, she becomes his protector while trying to protect her own little world. As police and locals search for Alex to help bring him home, their own growing relationship seems to be changing Mina in ways she never thought possible.

    Stylishly shot by cinematographer Klemens Hufnagl (The Eremites, Macondo), The Dark lives and breathes along with the forest in which it spends the majority of its time. The film feels very natural, as though no artificial lighting was used and we are brought into the world in which these characters live. Steel blue washes over the screen as dusk turns into night while light and dark contrast during the day. The only visuals that didn’t play well were Mina’s undead look and Alex’s scarred eyes, which were both distracting but possible to be overlooked.

    Both Alexander and Nichols performed well enough, although the film spent too much time on the first two acts of their story, their combative phase and then the period where they build trust, leaving them scrambling at the end to show that they not only trust but are reliant upon each other. Alex finds trust in Mina after his horrific ordeal while Mina’s choice to protect and guide him sees her humanity slowly coming back.

    Where the film goes awry is that it doesn’t know how to convey its message. We learn that Mina’s death was the result of a sexual assault by her mother’s boyfriend, who can barely look Mina in the eyes, turns violent. Alex’s captor is also a man of violence but that’s mixed with weakness and timidity. This is a theme throughout the movie, where the adults are wicked and/or self-serving and it’s only these teenagers, who certainly have endured a fair share of suffering, can be seen as worthy of empathy and understanding.

    Also present and enough to stay in the back of my mind while watching The Dark were the strange and inconsistent ways it handled time. We learn that Mina’s death was several years, possibly more than a decade, prior to where we see her now. But when presented with an iPhone, she first doesn’t know that it has a history of previously made calls and then, without anyone explaining it, she knows exactly how to use it. Meanwhile, Alex’s scars on his eyes, which the movie hints were done by his kidnapper, suggest that he’s been held captive for months if not longer but the the opening of the movie suggests that it’s been a few weeks, at most. While not overly distracting, these are certainly issues that pop out.

    These faults aside, The Dark is still effective and emotionally charged. With enough kills to satisfy the bloodthirsty, it will certainly have an audience who love films about the undead but are craving something with a different taste.

    • The Dark
    3.0

    Summary

    Poignant and original, The Dark is not without its flaws. But it sure does know that horror doesn’t have to be solely of the flesh. It can just as easily be horror of the heart.

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