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Mist, The (DVD)

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The Mist (click for larger image)Reviewed by Nomad

Starring Thomas Jane, Andre Braugher, Toby Jones, Laurie Holden, Marcia Gay Harden

Directed by Frank Darabont

Distributed by Dimension / Genius Products, LLC.


Two days. I sat across from an incredibly cerebral Andre Braugher and asked how long he thought it would take for the world to go to hell in the face of terror the likes of which we see in The Mist. “Two days,” he said without hesitation, mirroring the timetable of the film itself. I was taken aback by the speed at which he answered and seeing this, the man repeated … “Two days” and took a sip from his coffee. You could tell he had given this some thought while shooting the film and was emphatic in his trust in human nature crumbling in nothing flat.

At one moment it seems as if cleaning up after a storm is the biggest problem a small town could face. Soon, however, an undulating mist crawls down from the mountainside, hiding all manor of terror within. David Drayton (Jane) has hit the town shopping center with his son (Gamble) and keyed up, somewhat estranged neighbor Brent (Braugher) for supplies when the mist begins its wash over the town, leaving blood curdling screams in its wake. Now, close to two dozen ordinary people are trapped in a typical grocery store with a horde of creatures, the stuff of nightmares, laying in wait.

With Frank Darabont conveying complete love for the source material by Stephen King, we knew we were in for something special. With Greg Nicotero creating creatures based on concept sketches from the legendary Bernie Wrightston, we were assured nothing short of amazing. What we got was a monster fest with no skimping on the blood flow and six fruity flavors of gore all wrapped around an ultra-realistic tale of human interaction to the nth degree. Take a group of already frightened people leading simple lives, toss in a religious extremist (Harden) to whip those people into a desperate frenzy, and you have a recipe for chaos. Plain and simple, this is a story of people just trying to stay alive for one more day. It is also important to note that this film has the most gut-wrenching ending of any film that’s come about for quite some time, be it a serious drama or hardcore horror. The recent Orphanage came damn close, but The Mist presents a moment of fragile humanity backed into a room with no exits. It is nothing short of a remarkable piece of work and, in a world of remakes, is entirely unexpected.

The Mist (click for larger image)The two-disc collector’s edition is packed with an obscene amount of extras, which you can argue is to be expected when a director loves his work so much, but as we know all too well, sometimes the movie company has the last word. Nevertheless, that’s not the case here. If you enjoyed the hell out of this movie as I did, all the extras are like so much buttered popcorn you can’t stop eating until your head is throbbing from sodium overload. To start, we have the commentary from Frank Darabont, who as I’ve said, is so jazzed about his work that you can’t help but enjoy hearing him talk about every little nuance. Dead honest, I watched the entire film, again, with the commentary. Next we have deleted scenes, another item I had to watch twice as the optional commentary was available. For the most part, these are extra bits clipped from the starts and stops of sequence … a line yanked here, a look pulled there. All are sacrificed for pacing as Darabont was convinced this should be a two-hour film, come hell or high water. What is excised is nothing you’d miss. Since this is the case, the commentary is similar, only stating why the pieces were chopped and uttering the same refrain of “pacing pacing pacing.

Tom Jane’s character is a movie poster artist, and being a huge geek for film, Darabont thought it would be perfect to model the character after Drew Struzan, a man whose work you’ve most likely seen but didn’t realize. Struzan’s work is seen in David Drayton’s studio as he works on a poster for Stephen King’s The Dark Tower, a fantastic little Easter egg for King fans. Darabont gives us a love note to Struzan in a featurette titled An Appreciation of an Artist. Behind-the-scenes webisodes give us a tour of pivitol scenes, hosted by Darabont, as he shows us how they pulled off items like the earthquake, setting a man on fire, and Frances Sternhagen getting all badass with a homemade flame thrower. Lastly, you’ve got all three trailers added for good measure.

The Mist (click for larger image)On Disc Two you’ll find a special treat in a black and white version of the entire film with an optional intro from Darabont. A film with rolling mist, glaring beams of artificial light and tense, shadowy moments, lends itself to this format. I watched all the way through (note this is my third viewing) wondering what it would have been like if my first screening had been in black and white, and they, knowing it would play that way, enhanced certain items to play off of this. I’d almost like them to throw the film back into post, turn up the contrast a bit and play off the shadows more digitally as to create a creepier feel in black and white. Hardcore film geeks wll most likely applaud the addition nonetheless.

When Darkness Came: The Making of The Mist is a close to forty-minute featurette with quickie interviews with cast and crew, conveying the breakneck speed at which this production was shot and how it bonded them all. The pacing is much like the film itself as there is always something interesting to see, and the cast appear more than willing to expound on this unique experience which they liken more closely to stage acting. With two cameras filming at all times, we are able to travel not only around a scene but within it, sometimes shoving key characters aside for a look at the action beyond them. Again, I think the hardcore film buffs will appreciate the level of detail we are given into how this production pulled things off, and at the same time, a fanboy like myself can still enjoy the controlled chaos rolled out before me.

Taming the Beast: The Making of Scene 35 zooms in on the most psychotic moment of the film in which giant bugs and flesh eating, bird-like creatures break into the store. Some characters will be eaten, others stung to death, and still others set ablaze. To have all this action happening while a small army of actors fight off creepy crawlies elsewhere at the same time is a feat in itself. Looking at it as only one scene among many is mindblowing. Monsters Among Us: A Look at Creature F/X will probably be your favorite extra as we take a trip to monster island with the lord and master of KNB FX, Greg Nicotero. This is your best opportunity to get a close look at vulture teradactyls, spider monsters, giant stinging flies, and a swarm of tentacles with a taste for The Shermanator. The perfect complement to this is The Horror of It All: The Visual F/X of The Mist where we get a glimpse at how digital effects were seamlessly laid into a real world and, astoundingly, come off as believable. Sometimes it is a little thing like the mist itself while other times it is a creature on fire flying frantically through a supermarket … or this film’s show stopper in the baffling, Cthulhu-like, mountain sized creature at the film’s end. THAT alone is worth the price of a rental, at the very least.

All this gushing spells one thing. If you enjoyed The Mist, the only way to own it is with the two disk collector’s edition. To further entice you, Genius has even included a bonus booklet with further thoughts from Darabont set against some beautiful imagery, the cover of which is painted by Drew Struzan himself. The perfect keepsake for one holy hell of a thrill ride.

Special Features

  • Audio commentary by writer/director Frank Darabont
  • Eight deleted scenes with optional commentary
  • Black and white version of the film
  • When Darkness Came: The Making-of The Mist featurette
  • Taming the Beast: Shooting Scene 35 featurette
  • Monsters Among Us: A Look at the Creature F/X featurette
  • The Horror of It All: The Visual F/X of The Mist featurette
  • Drew Struzan: Appreciation of an Artist featurette
  • Film:

    5 out of 5

    Special Features:

    6,000 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 3.5 (14 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 4.1 (21 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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