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After Dark Horrorfest 2007 (DVD Box Set)

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 After Dark Horrorfest 2007  DVD Box Set (click for larger image)Reviewed by Uncle Creepy

Starring (Borderland) Sean Astin, Roberto Sosa, Damián Alcázar, Rider Strong; (Unearthed ) M.C. Gainey, Russell Means, Miranda Bailey, Emmanuelle Vaugier; (Tooth and Nail ) Robert Carradine, Michael Madsen, Rachel Miner, Vinnie Jones; (Crazy Eights) Gabrielle Anwar, Traci Lords, Frank Whaley, Dina Meyer; (Nightmare Man) Richard Moll, Tiffany Shepis, Blythe Metz, Luciano Szafir; (The Deaths of Ian Stone) Michael Feast, James Bartle, Mike Vogel, Christina Cole; (Lake Dead) James Burns, Edwin Craig, Kelsey Wedeen, Alex Quinn; (Mulberry Street) Nick Damici, Kim Blair, Ron Brice, Larry Fessenden

Directed by (Borderland) Zev Berman; (Unearthed ) Matthew Leutwyler; (Tooth and Nail ) Mark Young; (Crazy Eights) James Koya Jones; (Nightmare Man) Rolfe Kanefsky; (The Deaths of Ian Stone) Dario Piana; (Lake Dead) George Bessudo; (Mulberry Street) Jim Mickle

Distributed by After Dark Films and Lionsgate Home Entertainment


Things start off with a defining moment:

Horror: A genre of motion picture intended to thrill viewers by provoking fear or revulsion through the depiction of grotesque, violent, or supernatural events.

So says the trailer for the latest batch of Eight Films to Die For from the folks at After Dark. This, the sequel to the original After Dark Horrorfest, promises much and honestly has a lot to live up to as the previous batch of movies were all-in-all pretty damned good. So how did 2007’s crop fare? Well, there’s some definite bad sprinkled in with the good so let’s start from the beginning.

As with the previous set I’m going to do things a bit differently. Rather than write new reviews for each film, I’m going to just link to their existing reviews so I can spend my time here giving you the skinny on the supplemental materials that await the eager horror hound.

First up —

 After Dark Horrorfest 2007  DVD Box Set (click for larger image)Borderland (review here)
Things kick off with a torturous tale based upon the true story of three kids who decide to blow off some steam in Mexico before they head to college. Things are going well for our trio until they end up chosen for ritual sacrifice. Never a good thing. Borderland was a standout film in the festival, and it’s packed with solid performances, good direction, and some pretty nasty gore. I’m sure the quality of the film went miles in terms of its DVD treatment as this baby is one of only three films in the set to pack some quality extras.

Things kick off with a commentary by director Zev Berman along with actor Brian Presley, producer Lauren Moews, and cinematographer Scott Kevan. Lively and informative, this audio track is a great listen. Also great are the two featurettes. The first, Inside Zev’s Head is a twenty-one-minute making-of that introduces us to the director, his inspiration for Borderland, and what he had to do to get this project off the floor and onto the screen. Zev’s a personable yet crazy bastard, and I’m sure we’ll see some good things from him in the future. The second and last featurette, Rituales De Sangre, clocks in at about twenty-nine minutes and focuses on the actual case this movie is based upon. As always, fact turns out to be more frightening than fiction, and hearing the gory details about what actually happened will haunt you for days to come. There are also some Miss Horrorfest episodes included, but we’ll save talking about them for the time being. Lean, yet mean, this is a good little package for a good little film.

Special Features

3 out of 5

Unearthed (review here)
Remember that bad sprinkled in I was talking about? Well, it starts here. This is just your typical mad scientist unleashing a monster flick minus all the fun of other films just like it. Part flaccid X-Files episode and truly reminiscent of your average Sci-Fi Original Movie, Unearthed is a shambles of a flick from a really promising director. I cannot help but wonder what went wrong here. Matthew Leutwyler’s first movie Dead and Breakfast rocked. What a letdown.

Now remember those Miss Horrorfest webisodes I was talking about? They’re here too. As a matter of fact, they’re on every single DVD in this set. Basically these five mini-featurettes clock in at about twenty minutes combined and follow the contest to crown the new Miss Horrorfest from L.A. to New York and everywhere in-between. If hot Goth babes is your thing, you’ll dig. If not, you’ll be horridly bored. I know I was.

Special Features

2 out of 5

 After Dark Horrorfest 2007  DVD Box Set (click for larger image)Tooth and Nail (review here)
After an apocalypse caused by everyone running out of gas (I shit you not), the world as we know it turns into a desolate wasteland filled with people trying to survive — and cannibals. Normally this would make me jump for joy as I love a good end of the world flick, but this is just fucking dull. While there are some really good scenes, most of the film is nothing but people sitting around and talking. Joy. Tooth and Nail is a middle of the road kind of film. It’s as mediocre as they come. While not terrible, it is instantly forgettable.

In terms of extras we get those damned Miss Horrorfest webisodes and nothing else. Yawn.

Special Features

2 out of 5

Crazy Eights (review here)
Six friends attending the funeral of a friend are given a map, which they use to dig up an old time capsule that holds some deadly secrets about their past. Atmospheric, creepy, and at times nonsensical, Crazy Eights is sort of the fest’s wild card. Here is a film that could have been really good. In fact I’m really not sure why it isn’t. It comes just shy of hitting its intended mark, but honestly you can do a lot worse.

At least we have those Miss Horrorfest webisodes. *blank stare*

Special Features

2 out of 5

 After Dark Horrorfest 2007  DVD Box Set (click for larger image)Nightmare Man (review here)
Finally some more fun. While on a road trip, a husband and his emotionally scarred wife who believes there’s a killer in a devil mask stalking her end up out of gas and shit out of luck. Good thing for them there’s a house full of horny kids nearby that they can use as a refuge. Unfortunately for the kids in the house, our heroine’s thought-to-be-hallucinations end up turning deadly. But this isn’t just your standard slasher film. Nightmare Man has plenty more tricks up its sleeve and in the end turns out to be one of the best films in the set.

It’s no surprise that it also ends up being the best DVD, too. It’s stuffed with special features, and if you’re a Tiffany Shepis fan, you’re in for a real treat. From top to bottom, including the extras, this is her movie. Things kick off with a very entertaining commentary with director Rolfe Kanefsky, Tiffany Shepis, and producer Esther Goodstein. In terms of commentaries this is the best in the set bar none. You’ll be lauging the whole time. Me likey. From there we have a seven-minute gag reel, five extended scenes clocking in at about seventeen minutes, a five-minute still gallery, those friggin’ Miss Horrorfest webisodes, and two featurettes. The first, Tiffany’s Behind-the-Scenes, has (you guessed it) Tiffany following the cast and crew around cracking jokes and conducting interviews. At about eighteen minutes this little fucker is packing some serious fun. Good stuff! Next we get a twenty-two-minute featurette called Creating a Nightmare: The Making-of. This is a more straightforward bit of material that is riddled with just about what you’d expect. It’s the F/X stuff that shines here; everything else is pretty much paint-by-numbers but completely competent. This DVD is as stacked as its star. Bravo!

Special Features

4 out of 5

The Deaths of Ian Stone (review here)
Remember Groundhog Day? You know that flick where the main character lives the same day over and over again? Well, here’s the horror version of that. Ian Stone ends his day by dying in more and more gruesome ways. I don’t want to go any further indepth because I don’t want to spoil anything for you, but make no mistake, this little flick is solid. Great acting and super sadistic gore will keep you glued the entire runtime. Sure, it has its pitfalls every now and then, but for the most part the good far outweighs the bad.

Once you’re done, be sure to check out the extras! You need to see those Miss Horrorfest webisodes again.

Special Features

2 out of 5

Lake Dead (review here)
And here we are, folks, the bottom of the barrel. The stench in the air. The shit on the shingle. The worst of the worst. Know what this flick is about? Bullshit, that’s what. I’m not even going into it. Go read the review. This shit just plain sucks. The Miss Horrorfest webisodes are better. Good thing they’re here. Jesus Christ.

Special Features

2 out of 5

 After Dark Horrorfest 2007  DVD Box Set (click for larger image)Mulberry Street (review here)
After that shitfest it’s time to cleanse the palette. Mulberry Street does just that. New York has always had a rat problem. I’ve seen some there that were as big as cats. It’s disturbing. But what would happen if these rodents started spreading a new type of plague? One that doesn’t just kill its host but turns them into were-rats? Need answers? Look no further. In a word, Mullberry Street is nothing short of excellent. There’s no doubt it is the best of the fest. The filmmakers managed to capture all the true flavor of New York while piling the horror up high, thick, and bloody.

The DVD is also blessed with some solid supplemental material. Things kick off with about nine minutes of storyboard to screen comparisons, two deleted scenes that clock in at around four minutes, some early director sketches, three and a half minutes of make-up tests, three minutes of outtakes, and a short featurette the lets us spend some time with the film’s rats. Suspiciously missing is a commentary and a real behind-the-scenes featurette, but at least we got something other than the Miss Horr… oh, screw it, I’m not writing it again.

Special Features

3 1/2 out of 5

Well, there you have it. Another year, another eight films. While not as good as the 2006 fest, we still get some memorable moments and memorable movies. The best part? You can buy either of these films separately, too. Just follow the links to the reviews for what you want, or click the link below for the whole shebang.

See ya next year!

Overall (Including Films)

3 1/2 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 3.59 (22 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 4.13 (23 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 3.95 (20 votes)
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