Reviewed by Melissa Bostaph
Starring Peter James and Fiona Horne
Directed by: Charles Adelman
Distributed by Anthem DVD
You know how when you’re sitting in the theater enjoying a big bag of popcorn and hit that random hideous piece that tastes like burnt asshole? That momentary assault on your taste buds is enough to make you put the bag on the floor and reach for your drink. Well, for me that same type of reaction can be brought on by a number of things. It all depends on what I’m doing at the time.
When it comes to movie watching there are a few things that put a bad taste in my mouth instantly, and it can stay there for the rest of the film. Bad CGI: For the love of everything horror worthy, if you can’t do it right don’t do it at all! Random acts of masturbation: I’m sorry but Wrong Turn 2 didn’t need to show me a redneck retard ringing his own redneck. And when it comes to anything that is trying to take “Ghost Hunting” seriously … A séance or channeling will have me reaching for the remote faster than a buffet disappears at a Jenny Craig convention. All credibility flies right out the window.
That silly parlor trick used to work on me when I was young, impressionable, and naive but now I just find it annoying as all Hell. Unfortunately, Ghost Encounters is one such film. This documentary style 60 minute film tries desperately to compete with the likes of Sci-Fi’s Ghost Hunters and falls miserably short. The DVD cover touts that “There has never been proof that ghosts exist until now!” and “No special effects of any kind have been added!”…Well, No Shit Sherlock…what was your first clue? I’ve experienced more paranormal activity scratching my ass! And proof? What proof? The only thing unexplained in the whole film is the entity on Peter James’ upper lip. There hasn’t been a moustache that epic since Mark Twain’s!
Peter James and his moustache are accompanied by Fiona Horne to host Ghost Encounters on the long thought to be haunted ship The Queen Mary. Along the way Peter gives lengthy backgrounds on the history of the ship and its hauntings. He goes as far as to give exact numbers of spirits, names, and reasons why they are still on the ship. He explains why ghosts are here and what they think and how they see humans, and tells us that ghosts don’t know they’re dead and blah, blah, blow more smoke up my ass and I’m turning this shit off!
The man speaks as if he has sat down and had long conversations with each and every spirit on the ship, and the scariest part of the whole thing is I truly think he believed what he was saying, which made him very convincing to his multiple celebrity co-hosts. While they were eating off his spoon … I was gagging on it. My eyes rolled progressively with every turn down a new corridor, which was always announced by wanna-be creepy editing and digital effects that gave me a sea-sick feeling without having to step foot onto the boat, as did the celebrity reactions throughout the film.
The more James talked the more I was reminded of listening to my grandparents telling stories when I was a kid. Each time you hear the same story it gets more fanciful and dramatic, especially if there’s a new set of ears around. Peter James was no exception. He seemed to thrive on the fact that his present company was captivated by his every word and was more than obliged to deliver additional tidbits of misinformation to the eagerly waiting suckers in his midst. So seeing him bust out in an impromptu possession wasn’t a surprise. That doesn’t make it any less ludicrous, annoying or unbelievable, but it didn’t surprise me in the least.
Now don’t get me wrong, I’ve had plenty of personal paranormal or unexplained experiences during my lifetime, and I do believe in such things, but after being the butt of more than one spook-spoof I have become jaded against individuals who just happen to become “sensitives” when the mood suits them. I just can’t swallow it.
EVP’s scare the living shit outta me because they’re really on the recording … but you have no idea why or who or how. But any moron with vocal chords can drop their head and change their voice in order to pretend to channel spirits. Hey if it’s real and you can prove it to me beyond a shadow of a doubt that these people can really allow the dead to communicate through them then fine, but until then all I will ever see is a charlatan.
Ghost Encounters could have been mildly entertaining if it hadn’t been for the host himself, but once he starts weaving his yarns into elaborate tapestries of colorful, fictitious dribble … I lost interest. The ship’s history was extremely fascinating, but coming out of Peter’s mouth I wasn’t even sure if I could believe half of what I was hearing. There was no way for me to filter the truth from the tales.
This is the reason why it was difficult for me to put any stock in the disembodied voice of a little girl in the pool area of the ship, or the metallic banging sound heard in another region of the Queen Mary. It all seemed very theatrical and scripted to me.
The Ghost Encounters’ DVD includes the 60 minute documentary-style program and a scene selection. It also contains a laughable special features selection that gives you an on-set photo gallery with cast and crew. There are no “ghostly images” or even a frigging dust speck being passed off as an orb. There is also a “Real” Story section that caused me to LOL at its absurdity. To say that Peter James’ approach to the paranormal is straight forward and based on science fact because it’s based loosely on a theory about not being able to destroy energy is like saying Roseanne will look good in a G-string just because she has an ass-crack!
The only apparition you’ll get with this DVD is the ghostly remains of your interest the deeper you get into the hip-wader worthy content within.
1 1/2 out of 5
1/2 out of 5
AHS: Cult Review – Clowns, Cults, Politics, and Peters
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.
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.
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.
The Axiom Review – A Stylish and Clever Slice of Independent Horror
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.
- 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.
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.
The Dollmaker Short Film Review – Welcome to Heebie Jeebie City!
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.”
Ultimately chilling in nature!
Read Darren Aronofsky’s Screenplay for mother!
Bigfoot Horror Movie Cherokee Creek Gets Trailer and Poster
Edward James Olmos Says Shane Black’s The Predator is Really Funny, Yet Deadly
The Girl in the Spider’s Web Snares It’s Bad Guy
Check Out the Opening 2 Minutes of Another WolfCop
Director Says New Suspiria Film Isn’t a Remake
7 Freddy’s Nightmares Episodes That Should’ve Been Movies
First Look at Samuel L. Jackson as Mr. Glass in M. Night Shyamalan’s Glass
Mindhunter Review: The Best Netflix Original Series to Date
What if the Best Synth Scores Are For Horror Films That Don’t Really Exist?
Hotel Transylvania 3: Summer Vacation – First Trailer and Artwork!
The Walking Dead Season 7 Limited Edition Box Set – Unboxing Video
Desolation Trailer Goes Off Trail
More Exclusive Stills from Devil’s Whisper
Talent to Attend Dread Central’s Bicoastal Screenings for The Night Watchmen Next Week in NY and LA
Join the Box of Dread Mailing List
From Around the Web
Reviews2 days ago
Mindhunter Review: The Best Netflix Original Series to Date
News5 days ago
What if the Best Synth Scores Are For Horror Films That Don’t Really Exist?
News4 days ago
Exclusive: Dark Horse Announces Three New Hellboy Collections and We Have the Covers
News5 days ago
Deadpool Game Immediately Being Removed From Storefronts
News5 days ago
Ever Wondered What Happened to Hellraiser’s Kirsty After The Hellbound Heart?
News5 days ago
Dario Argento’s Opera Opens on Blu-ray from Doppelgänger and Scorpion Releasing
News6 days ago
Sony Prepping Morbius Movie
Reviews6 days ago
Welcome to Willits (2017)