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Reptilicant (2008)



Retilicant review!Reviewed by The Foywonder

Starring Gary Daniels, Tina-Desiree Berg, Jason Johnson, Neeta Kim, Desi Singh, Daniel Phinnessee, Ben Schwagrowski

Written & Directed by Desi Singh

Those of you who haven’t read my reviews of “>GiAnts and “>The Abominable… may not be familiar with the films of Cine Excel Entertainment, a little San Francisco-based film company that is sort of like The Asylum in that they seem to be very ambitious in the scope of some of their movies yet they do so with budgets that are probably the equivalent to the catering budget of your typical Asylum production. When you’re making a movie about giant ants on a rampage in San Francisco or a King Kong wannabe with a 60-foot yeti running amok in San Francisco and doing so for the price of a used automobile, that kind of moxie at least deserves some credit if only in a “Little Engine That Could” sort of way. You have to admire their spunk even if their movies tend to be junk.

Then there’s the interesting footnote that they’ve had a whole bunch of films listed on their website for years yet few of them have ever seen the light of day in North America. Most of them have yet to see the light of day anywhere. GiAnts and The Abominable… are only available on Japanese DVD and now Reptilicant has finally gotten a DVD release – in Hungary and the Czech Republic. Why Hungary and the Czech Republic only? Beats me; maybe Gary Daniels has a strong following in those countries.

You are familiar with Gary Daniels, aren’t you? B-movie martial artist who starred in the live-action Fist of the North Star and a string of other low budget action flicks with titles like Firepower, Heatseeker, Rage, and American Streetfighter. Let’s just say his filmography has been a hit & miss affair. His career highlight was when he fought Jackie Chan in the memorable “Streetfighter” live-action video game sequence from Chan’s City Hunter flick. Daniels has said that he only did Reptilicant because he was friends with the producer and reportedly gave an interview to a Russian martial arts website calling it the worst film he’s ever done and that he was considering quitting the film business. IMDB has him listed as appearing in a slew of upcoming movies so Reptilicant clearly did not kill his career. As for it being his worst movie, I cannot say since I have only seen a few of his previous movies, but I’m willing to bet it definitely falls somewhere towards the bottom of his barrel.

Gary Daniels’ role for the majority of the first 70-minutes of Reptilicant consists of sitting in a chair interrogating a woman in a gaudy red wig named Dannie, the sole survivor of a team of fortune hunters that fall victim to an alien monster while scowling the infamous Alcatraz prison for diamonds left behind long ago by an inmate. Dannie is played by Tina-Desiree Berg, a former writer for Femme Fatales magazine and an actress I’ve seen in two other Cine Excel productions where she was the most competent actor in the film – not this time though. Wonder if she would also consider Reptilicant the worst film on her resume too?

Retilicant review (click to see it bigger)To be honest, all of the acting is uniformly bad but not for lack of effort on the part of the actors – call it enthusiastically bad acting if you must. Even then you can’t fully fault the actors because they’re working with a script that is utter nonsense overloaded with heinous dialogue like the following two examples.

“The last time I was afraid of shadows I was a snot-nosed kid.”

“The only way we’re going to get any truth out her is to hold her down and squeeze her head. You lie like a rug!”

Heck, there’s even a line where Gary Daniels jokes that he should nab the film rights to Dannie’s tale of hidden diamonds, Alcatraz, and alien identity thieves, to which one of the other federal agents snipes about how audiences “won’t be standing in line to see that movie”. For a line of dialogue like that make it into a film of this caliber, I really hope that was just the filmmakers’ cheeky way of conceding they were well aware their movie was rubbish.

Daniels and the two federal agents accompanying him don’t even bother taking this woman to a police station; they just find an interrogation room right there on Alcatraz island and start questioning her. Most of the film is told in flashback as Daniels interviews her about what happened. These flashbacks will contain their own flashbacks, as well as a couple flash forwards; the structure of the film being not so much confusing as it is simply a jumbled mess.

Dannie’s story begins with her dying grandpa telling her about the diamond thief in the cell next to him when he did time in Alcatraz. That thief managed to smuggle in $20 million in stolen diamonds by ingesting them. Then he hacked them up and hid them somewhere in the prison where they remain today.

To give you an idea how inept the filmmaking gets, when the grandpa in the wheelchair starts telling Dannie about how the diamond thief one night whispered secret clues to him from the next cell, the director dissolves to a flashback of this very scene playing out, a flashback of an old man whispering his secret so softly that even we cannot hear what is being said. What the hell was the point of showing us this flashback if it’s just a shot of an old man’s mouth moving with no audio and not even a voiceover by grandpa explaining what was being said to him either? What the hell, people? Geez, Louise.

Retilicant review (click to see it bigger)Now even though Alcatraz has been abandoned for decades and is pretty much just a tourist destination sitting in San Francisco Bay gathering dust, and, according to this movie, only inhabited by a security guard or two and a janitor, Dannie still calls in her old buddies to help her get the diamonds as if this were a full-fledged heist. Her old buddies happen to be a heavily-armed team of mercenaries, including her conniving ex-husband, whom she and the others are convinced will eventually double-cross them because he always double-crosses them and, sure enough, he’ll end up double-crossing them. My favorite of the lot though was the eye patch-wearing, shirtless, musclehead lovechild of Ashton Kutcher and John Cena who looked very much like someone who had gotten lost on his way to the set of an Andy Sidaris movie.

Not sure why she needed a team of commandos to storm an almost completely empty Alcatraz other than to give the monster some people to kill off. There wouldn’t be much of a movie otherwise, and considering there isn’t much of a movie here to begin with … This is a movie where she’ll tell someone to secure a particular area of the empty prison and the director will then cut to that gunmen standing in an empty room declaring it secured. Thrilling stuff, I assure you. Almost as thrilling as all the perfunctory walking about the cramped prison sets waiting to be picked off by the alien creature, sometimes cutting away from the action right when the action begins. Dannie and the remaining commandos will eventually decide that the only way to survive and stop the extraterrestrial monster is to outsmart it, so you know they’re doomed.

Dannie is also the world’s nicest diamond thief in charge of a heavily-armed commando unit you’ll ever see. She’ll actually tell them once their monster troubles begin that they’re getting off the island because the diamonds aren’t worth risking their lives. Don’t hear that very often in movies with scenarios like this.

Now let’s talk about the Reptilicant itself; the director did double duty also playing one of the characters and putting on the monster suit, too. Somewhere in heaven Don Dohler is smiling upon this foam rubber monstrosity that looks like a jacked-up Sleestak with some vaguely simian and Klingon features to it. In this day and age it’s hard not scoff at something that is so obviously a man-in-a-rubbersuit, but given this is also the age of computer generated overkill I can appreciate a man-in-a-rubbersuit. It may not be the most realistic monster but at least it’s tangible, something on the set the actors can actually interact with, or in the case of Gary Daniels, do some man vs. monster kickboxing.

Retilicant review (click to see it bigger)The Reptilicant gets its name – a name never actually uttered in the film itself – from its ability to take on the physical appearance of anyone it comes across. A “shape-shifting replicating reptile” as the artwork describes it, there’s nothing wrong with the concept of the Reptilicant but I can’t help but find some logical flaws in how it’s utilized here. Why does a seemingly unstoppable, bulletproof monster with superhuman strength and claws that can cut metal need to disguise itself in the first place if it’s just lurking within a very isolated complex with so few people to interact with? It’s not like the creature is wandering the public streets where it needs to go unnoticed. And why bother taking on the physical appearance of others if when you do so you’re going to be, say something, or behave in such a manner as to make it apparent you’re not really the person you’ve taken the form of?

Reptilicant is for most of its running time a pretty deplorable bit of filmmaking. Cramped quarters and limited sets severely cripple whatever action there is, all of which prior to the final showdown is so poorly staged it isn’t even worthy of being laughed at. Scenes often feel cobbled together with jarring transitions, at least when there are transitions. There’s just something so very clumsy about how the whole movie has been put together.

But all is not a total loss. While Cine Excel’s flicks tend to be quite bad, they also tend to boast a certain degree of Ed Wood enthusiasm. This one saves it all for the climax. I’m telling you right now if the first hour of Reptilicant had been as zany as its preposterous final 25-minutes then it would have at least been worth whole heartedly recommending for the schlock value alone.

Turns out the only thing that can penetrate the Reptilicant’s hide are diamonds. First we’ll get to watch a diamond thief make like Super Mario swinging a diamond-encrusted mallet that he uses to smash the Reptilicant’s toes while taunting it with lines like “How’s that for toejam!” Then, when Daniels finally finds himself confronted by the alien, he’ll run off to a boiler room where he’ll promptly rip his shirt off and super glue some diamonds to some rags that he’ll tie around his fists (shades of the climactic Taipei deathmatch of Jean-Claude Van Damme’s Kickboxer) so that he can fight the Reptilicant in hand-to-claw combat. It also helps that there’s a raging thunderstorm brewing and Gary Daniels knows how to quickly “MacGyver” up a lightning rod tripwire deathtrap so that the film can also pay homage to the finale of the original version of The Thing.

Any motion picture that can pay homage to both a Jean-Claude Van Damme movie and a 1950’s science fiction classic while at the same time giving us a shirtless British beefcake with cubic zirconiums glued to his fists and a guy in a rubber lizardman costume going all Rocky V in the bowels of Alcatraz deserves some extra credit. I’m going to bump the rating up one full star just for that alone.


2 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 3.25 (12 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


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 4.08 (13 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 4 (17 votes)
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