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Devil’s Tower (UK DVD)

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Devil's Tower UK DVD Review

Devil's Tower UK DVD ReviewStarring Jason Mewes, Roxanne Pallett, Frances Ruffelle, Jessica-Jane Stafford

Directed by Owen Tooth

Distributed by Monster Pictures UK


After being dramatically kicked out of the family home by her alcoholic mother, teenager Sarah (Pallett) is forced to take up residency in a Council-run block of flats by the name of Albion Court. Unfortunately for her, the usual threat of feral youths, squatters, drug addicts, and the various types who populate the scrapings at the bottom of society’s barrel aren’t all she’s going to have to contend with.

As mysterious deaths and disappearances begin to occur amongst the residents, Sarah finds herself placed centre stage in the machinations of an angry spirit determined to turn Albion Court into the setting of its own blood-soaked soap opera.

Owen Tooth’s Devil’s Tower is a low budget British entry into the genre, grounding itself in the kind of semi-social realist backdrop that proves almost horrific enough without the addition of a malevolent ghost and, finally, zombies (of course!). The grimness is ably cut through, however, by a dose of mostly successful wit – which is to both the film’s credit and its detriment. On the positive side, the characters here sparkle with life. Pallett gets the brunt of the real dramatic work as the out-of-luck Sarah: Fresh from an abusive home and dumped head-first into a society that she simply isn’t ready for, she’s a highly troubled and conflicted young woman, and Pallett pulls off her early onset world weariness with impressive stature.

Lighting up the screen around Sarah’s corner of despair are Jason Mewes as right-minded American squatter Sid and Jessica-Jane Stafford (née Clements) as neighbour Kate. For the most part Mewes is as Mewes generally is – helplessly lovable and endearing by his very presence, but here he does put in the extra effort to dial it down and bring a few extra dramatic facets to his character, and it works. He still gets to cut loose with the wisecracks and manic behaviour come the climactic zombie battle, too, so Mewes fans will find very little to complain about here. Next to him in the supporting realm, Stafford nearly steals the show as sexpot Kate, the gossipy neighbour whose delightful demeanour is the only thing that keeps her persistent nosiness from crossing the line. She’s note-perfect in the part from beginning to end.

While the initial mystery behind the goings-on at Albion Court is an intriguing one – ably bolstered by the occasional shot of a decrepit, shadowy figure seemingly monitoring events from an old-style television set in a run-down flat – Devil’s Tower actually finds itself at its weakest when it attempts to move into full-blown horror come the final act. Tooth throws in a few nice flourishes, such as the manipulation of Sarah and Sid in a 1950s-themed dance number that turns deadly, but when the revelation of the antagonist’s identity and motives arrives, it falls mostly flat. Flesh-eating zombies fill the corridors of Albion Court for little reason beyond the film having zombies in it, and Tooth struggles to keep control of his tone amidst the mayhem. By the time the rooftop finale begins, it becomes strikingly apparent that this particular story is on shaky ground, running on fumes, and dangerously close to rolling off of the rails.

Still, within the low budget home-grown genre arena, you could do much, much worse than Devil’s Tower. It’s a strong enough story given some real effort by the cast and was obviously put together by filmmakers with a love of the genre and the drive to make it work regardless of limitations. This and the lively characters that populate its world make it a worthy option for some undemanding entertainment.

Special features on Monster Pictures’ DVD release of Devil’s Tower include a slideshow of behind-the-scenes photos, a fun but all-too-brief blooper reel mainly populated by Jason Mewes’ requisite ad-libbing and goofing off, a strong commentary track by director Owen Tooth and writer Adam Marsh that proves packed with tales from the set and well worth the time to listen to, and finally, trailers for Devil’s Tower and a selection of Monster Pictures’ other releases.

Special Features
• Audio Commentary
• Bloopers
• Behind-the-Scenes Gallery
• Trailer Selection

Film:
3 out of 5 
Special Features:
3 out of 5 

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7 GUARDIANS OF THE TOMB Review – Rest Easy, Indiana Jones, There’s Not Much To See Here

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Starring Kellan Lutz, Bingbing Li, Kelsey Grammar

Directed by Kimble Rendall


If it only weren’t for those friggin’ spiders. Kimble Rendall’s adventurous flick, 7 Guardians Of The Tomb is one of those “wanted to be, yet couldn’t quite hit the mark” action-films that will probably entertain those looking for some cave-dwelling escapades caught on celluloid, but for the more picky aficionado of said slam-bang pics, this one might be viewed as a bit stagnant. Let’s strap on our mining helmets and pick around this one, shall we?

Acting as a bit of a search-and-rescue formation, the movie tails alongside Dr. Jia Lee (Li) as she hunts down the whereabouts of her missing brother after losing contact with him while he was on expedition in Western China. Apparently he was looking for a secretive Emperor’s tomb that supposedly holds a potion that can reanimate, or re-invigorate…or rehabilitate – anyway you slice it, the juice has got some pretty potent powers. So a search team is assembled, led by Mason (Grammar – glad someone got Frasier off of the barstool), and he’s latched onto all-American fella Jack (Lutz) to assist this operation. As it turns out, the initial journey is cut off fairly quick when a violent electrical storm forces the group to head underground, and that’s when things get creepy and crawly…like 8-legged style. The film is ripe with some feverish action and a few decent performances, but it’s the overall framework that acts as the big bully, tauntingly kicking sand in the little guy’s face at the beach.

We’ve got love interests, a flurry of backstories, and oh my lord, those spiders! Yep, even the heartiest of CGI can effectively ruin a good case of the willies when it comes to arachnids and their powers of sucking humans and animals dry of their lifeforce. It’s an intently goofy movie, and even the dialogue seems a bit showy at times, leaving plausibility and intelligence at the entrance to the caves. Lutz is fun to watch as the burly rescuer, and he looks as the type who is just waiting for his cinematic moment to step into the spotlight. What pains me is that this movie really could have been something much bigger, and apparently it looks as if the majority of the film’s budget was wasted on those hokey-looking computerized spiders.

All in all, 7 Guardians Of The Tomb is spotty entertainment, even if you despise those little skittering aphids racing towards you, programmed or not. Give it a peek if Raiders Of The Lost Ark isn’t readily available at your disposal…even that crappy Crystal Skull one.

  • Film
2.5

Summary

A film that could have been so much more adventure-wise instead comes off looking like a lesson in how not to waste too much time on computer imagery.

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Who Goes There Podcast: Ep 160 – A QUIET PLACE

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

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

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

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

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THE DEVIL AND FATHER AMORTH Review: Friedkin Goes Mondo Catholic

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Starring Father Gabriele Amorth

Directed by William Friedkin


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  • The Devil and Father Amorth
2.0

Summary

See it for the freak show. Expect nothing else.

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