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Deadly End (DVD)



Deadly End DVD review!Reviewed by Paul McCannibal

Starring Jack Huston, Pell James, Nick Searcy, Terry Becker

Directed by Graeme Whifler (interview)

Released by Wizard Entertainment

At its core, Deadly End (aka Neighborhood Watch) is a film about a poisoner. In this day and age of torture porn at the local multiplex and formulaic gorefest blowouts like Hatchet, one might reasonably ask how a movie about a poisoner could compete. Poisoning takes time, after all. And stealth. What could the story of a poisoner possibly entail? A wispy haired rogue in tights sneaking up to a minstrel dozing beneath a willow tree, whispering Shakespearian platitudes whilst pouring tincture of hemlock into his ear?

Better think again…

You want extreme, this is your movie! You’ve probably heard the hype about the audience fallout in festival screenings of Deadly End (back when it was called Neighborhood Watch), like the medics being called in when someone passed out when the movie played at Fantasia in Montreal (I was there, it’s true) and someone else breaking out in hives while watching it elsewhere.

This happened because Deadly End is a film that, simply put, goes farther than even a lot of us horror folks are typically used to going. Above and beyond isn’t the right way to phrase it – Deadly End is goes below and beneath; to those ugly places in the brain that we like to leave undisturbed. Director Graeme Whifler goes straight into these dark recesses and pokes around like a morbidly curious kid prodding a dead animal with a stick.

Deadly End DVD review!There’s a sense of perverse menace pretty much right away when you start watching this film. We’re brought into the new life of a young couple, Bob and Wendi, at their brand new home where the belongings aren’t even unpacked yet. Bob’s got a new job, they’re a young couple in love, it’s a scenario where the best days are meant to be ahead. But then, we’re immediately whisked away into the nightmare residence of neighbor Adrien Trumbull, a truly horrific guy who is lying back on his decrepit floor, his soiled, grimy shirt pulled up as he picks away at his … well, I don’t want to tell you what he’s doing because it’s something better seen than described.

Adrien Trumbull likes to “take care” of his neighbors; he’s the Welcome Wagon from hell. Our first glimpse of him doing that nasty business on the floor, while highly nauseating and unsettling, is only the tip of the poopsicle … Adrien’s got divine intervention in mind, a way to purify the dirty, stinky sex lives of people in his midst, like those young neighbors Bob and Wendi who just set up house across the road. He knows there’s something inside them that needs to be purged, something rotten and seething, something that’s poisoning their souls without them knowing it. And he’s going to make things right for them by all means necessary. Like all really formidable villains, Adrien doesn’t see what he’s doing as wrong. He thinks he’s helping people in his sickly dogmatic way.

The role of Adrien Trumbull is handled masterfully by actor Nick Searcy. This is a complete reversal from how I knew Searcy before, as Deputy Ben Healy in the criminally overlooked sinister TV series “American Gothic” which was, in my opinion, the only horror oriented show to rival “Twin Peaks” in both quality and originality. In “American Gothic”, Searcy was one of the good guys, and damn likeable in that kind of role. Here, in Deadly End? Yeesh … the man reveals that he is a total chameleon as an actor. His acting abilities have lead to the creation of one of the most vile screen villains of all time; I shit you not.

Deadly End DVD review!Searcy and his embodiment of Adrien Trumbull might be the thing you remember most about the film, but there’s plenty of other disturbed elements and narrative layers at play. Deadly End exists in a turbulent, unsettled world where pretty much every character and aesthetic attribute is messed up in some way. Any semblance of comfortable living is crushed or smeared into a distorted remnant of normality – the whole neighborhood in which the story is set is some kind of post-disaster tornado zone. The new home interior of the protagonists is in permanent unboxing mode, a mess of cluttered belongings and half painted walls. Adrien’s house would make a meth lab sprawling with tweakers seem tranquil by comparison.

Then there’s Zeecor, the company in which our hero Bob takes his new job. Zeecor is a hilariously depressing take on the worst realities of modern corporate existence, from needless drug testing to mewling and manipulative coworkers, to psycho-babes who sexually manipulate their way up the corporate ladder. Zeecor, like a lot of dull office jobs, isn’t so much a career as a lifelong trap posing as a career. The corporate satire in this movie feels like the American cousin to English weirdo-humorist Chris Morris’s “Blue Jam” surrealist comedy series.

But for most of Deadly End, it’s Adrien the creepy neighbor against Bob & Wendi, the unsuspecting newlyweds. The tale is rife with extreme schadenfreude, no excess is spared and no punches are pulled in what Adrien unleashes on this poor couple and others in the ‘hood. The bad things that unfold start very bad and somehow just keep getting worse. The dialing-up effect kinda grows on you like ringworm, and it’s not until you notice the brown itchy spiral halfway around your arm that you realize you’ve been infected with something really nasty.

Deadly End DVD review!In terms of pure visceral effect, the ability to churn stomachs, and generally freak people the fuck out, Deadly End could feasibly be placed in that dingy corner of the video store where they stock copies of Salo and Cannibal Holocaust. Not because of thematic parallels to either of those titles, more because this is a movie that’ll upset some people in a big way. On the other hand, for those with the fortitude to handle it, there’s an undeniably hilarity to the presentation that somehow remains queasy enough that it never stumbles into out-and-out horror/comedy territory. This movie is most definitely in a category of its own. The only other film I’ve seen in recent years that comes remotely close in tone and feel is the middle section of The Signal (review).

So, what of the features on this disc from Wizard? Thankfully it’s gotten itself a strong release here in the States, even if the marketing was less than ideal

Watch the film end-to-end a second time, if you can handle it, and you’ll get plenty of fun anecdotes about the source material and the behind the scenes from Graeme Whifler and Nick Searcy in the commentary. Screenwriter and big time Deadly End fan Matthew Chernov is on hand to ask all those things that a lot of people might be wondering about with regards to this film.

There’s also a “making of” doccuemntary that’s a funny and well done behind the scenes look co-helmed by Deadly End producer Jeff Kirshbaum. It looks like people working on this had a lot of fun. The interesting thing about this making-of is how ratty the makeup FX look even in non-polished video. A lot of the time, seeing prosthetics and so on in the daylight, they just look like props. Not here! Some of the FX stuff in this making-of rivals the movie in its icky disgustingness. And boy, does Nick Searcy ever get into his role. You’re practically getting a whole extra dose of Adrien in the making-of, so be sure to check it out.

There are also some behind-the-scenes photos, which are nothing special, just a handful of promo shots. Maybe a desktop for your computer if you want to do a screengrab…

Deadly End DVD review!Finally we have music tracks, which always seems like an odd inclusion to make on a DVD, because DVD movie releases aren’t usually what one reaches for when listening to music. Anyway, it’s a good soundtrack that reminds me of Danny Elfman mixed with The Residents. I especially like the tracks featuring the rabid banter of the fundamentalist radio host.

So if you have a strong stomach, what are you waiting for? Got a few meek friends and a sadistic streak? Grab some beers, a copy of this DVD, and get ready to cause devastation in your social scene. Including the risk of ostracism if you are complicit in one of your nearest and dearest breaking out in sores.

Deadly End is hands-down the most gruesome shock film of the new millennium. But it’s much more than that – it’s also one of the most uncompromising and original horror films ever made.

Special features

  • Director’s commentary
  • Making-of featurette
  • Music Tracks
  • Behind-the-scenes photo gallery

    5 out of 5


    4 out of 5

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    Through the Cracks – Trick or Treat (1986) Review



    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


    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.

    User Rating 3.5 (14 votes)
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    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.

    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)


    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.

    User Rating 4.1 (21 votes)
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    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.
    • The Axiom


    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.

    User Rating 3.95 (20 votes)
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