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Thursday, Feb 11, 2016

Blood, Violence and Babes

A B-Movie Holy Grail by John Allman

If you’ve surfed the DVR pay-per-view options and seen a bunch of movies that you’ve never heard of, chances are John has watched them. Why? He loves movies. All kinds of movies. Good, bad, so-bad-they’re good, even the truly unwatchable ones. He mostly loves horror and science-fiction and drive-in exploitation movies that most upstanding model citizens wouldn’t dare watch. Then he writes up his thoughts so you can decide - watch, don’t watch or avoid at all costs. Sometimes he even gets to talk to the cool folks who make some of your favorite films.

New Releases for Tuesday, January 26, 2016

What’s new in stores and on video shelves this week:

Black Mountain Side

Genre: Horror

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New releases for Tuesday, Jan. 19

 

What’s new in stores and on video shelves this week:

 

“The Guardian”

Genre: Horror

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New Releases for Tuesday, January 12, 2016

What’s new in stores and on video shelves this week:

“Howl”

Genre: Horror

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New Releases for Tuesday, January 5, 2016

What's new in stores and on video shelves this week:

"Deathgasm"

Genre: Horror

Directed by: Jason Lei Howden

Run time: 86 minutes

Rating: Unrated

Format: Blu-Ray

The Lowdown: Remember when directors just had fun making movies? Remember watching “Dead Alive” for the first time? Or “Re-Animator”? Horror movies weren’t always so super serious and drenched with wince-inducing torture.

There used to be a spirit of playfulness, a youthful exuberance, a willingness to be goofy that fueled some of the best cult classics in the 1980s. “Deathgasm” is that kind of film.

It’s not perfect. It has continuity issues and plot holes and brief stretches that add little to its propulsive narrative, threatening to undermine the initial grip of its hysterical opening segments. But, damn, if it doesn’t just leave a big smile on your face by the time the credits roll.

“Deathgasm” is the film equivalent of an awkward high school outcast trying to get to third base with the cheerleader who is way out of his league. It’s got chutzpah to burn. It’s high on its own endorphin rush, and that feeling is contagious, seeping off the screen like billowing clouds of smoke from the behind-the-dumpsters burnouts huffing on a joint.

It gets you high on its own aspirations, and then it just barrels forward, throwing everything – animation, surreal sequences of Boris Vallejo-inspired art come to life and sex toys, yes, sex toys – into its story of a ragtag band of death metal wannabes who release and then must kill a growing horde of hell-spawn demons to prevent literal Hell on Earth.

It’s also a ridiculously funny film, filled with off-the-cuff zingers that land and land and land. You seriously have to watch it twice, or even three times, to catch all the hysterical one-liners.

Go, now, and rent it, buy it, order it on VOD. “Deathgasm” is a cult classic. Don’t be the last one to jump on the wagon.

The Stuff You Care About:

Hot chicks – Yes!

Nudity – Yes!

Gore – Over the top.

Drug use – No.

Bad Guys/Killers – Demons, man, demons.

Buy/Rent – Buy it.

"The Green Inferno" (Universal, 101 minutes, R, Blu-Ray): There’s a reason why the controversial cannibal subgenre of gory horror never made a bigger splash. It’s really hard to make a good cannibal movie. That doesn’t mean you can’t make an entertaining cannibal movie, which Eli Roth has done with

“The Green Inferno.” His heartfelt homage to Umberto Lenzi (1981’s Cannibal Ferox) and Ruggero Deodato (1979’s Cannibal Holocaust) includes all the hallmarks of the genre. It starts in the jungle then jumps inexplicably to the U.S.

There are misguided activists/explorers/relief workers who believe they can make a difference with indigenous tribes. There’s at least one “villain,” a member of the captives whose lack of empathy for his or her colleagues means an immediate ticket to the top of the menu. And there’s no shortage of people being eaten alive and tortured.

“The Green Inferno” flirts briefly with character development before writer/director Eli Roth successfully strands a college-aged group of activists in the Peruvian jungle. But you won’t care much about any of these potential human appetizers. The heroine comes off as ridiculously naïve, yet oddly capable when it comes to surviving. The rest of her classmates are broad-stroke brushworks of seemingly real people with few defining or memorable qualities.

Let’s face it, you don’t watch a cannibal movie to be inspired. You want to see the goods, and Roth doesn’t hold back, offering a gruesome series of deaths that try to one up the other. Eyeballs are scooped out, killer ants are employed, limbs are hacked off. This is definitely not for the squeamish.

Like his predecessors, Roth can’t resist goosing his audience before the final credits roll with an inspired dream sequence that fades into a wacky, fun mid-credits scene that seems ripped straight from a 1980s straight-to-VHS grindhouse feature.

Scout’s Guide to the Zombie Apocalypse (Paramount, 93 minutes, R, Blu-Ray): I will admit being giddy and geeked out to finally watch “Scout’s Guide to the Zombie Apocalypse,” and thankfully it did not disappoint.

This is not top-shelf filmmaking by any means, but it’s consistently funny, ridiculously gory and quite clever with some of its visual gags. “Scout’s Guide…” is a welcome reminder of cult classics like “Vamp” and “Return of the Living Dead,” movies that didn’t take themselves too seriously but still managed to be entertaining as hell.

"The Visit" (Universal, 94 minutes, PG-13, Blu-Ray): It’s official. M. Night Shyamalan has finally made another good movie. And whoa, boy, “The Visit” is surprisingly good for its first 85 minutes or so.

I would actually place it third on my list of favorite films by the director. It utilizes found footage in a very competent way that actually makes sense. It offers up a number of stellar performances. It includes several legitimate scares. And the twist – it’s a damn good one that I didn’t see coming.

Here’s the downside, though. Take my advice and hit stop on your remote as soon as the police arrive and the scene appears secure. That’s where “The Visit” should have ended. If it had faded to black right then, “The Visit” would be a much better film, worthy of cult classic status. As it is, Shyamalan can’t resist two epilogues that only serve to undermine and diminish everything he accomplished to that point.

It’s still worthy of your time, regardless of how you’ve felt about M. Night for the past six or seven years.

"Condemned" (Image/RLJ Entertainment, 83 minutes, Unrated, DVD): Director Eli Morgan Gesner must have seen “Street Trash,” the lurid 1987 horror comedy gorefest where homeless denizens become mutated monsters after drinking a contaminated batch of ripple.

His low-budget “Condemned,” about a group of drug dealers, addicts and homeless residents who take up residence in an abandoned NYC building only to be locked inside when a toxic sewage cocktail starts turning everyone into frothing, crazed killers, is better than you would expect. There’s actual character development taking place, an anomaly for films like this, and above-average acting.

When the gory goodness kicks off, the practical effects are top notch and inspired. I really, really liked it, and I’m betting you will too.

"Sicario" (Lionsgate, 121 minutes, R, Blu-Ray): Damn, but Benecio Del Toro just gets better and better, and Emily Blunt has incredible range.

The pair propel this taunt, white-knuckle thrill ride into the Mexican drug cartel and the United States’ effort to control and defang it. Movies don’t get much better than this.

"Little Dead Rotting Hood" (Cinedigm, 90 minutes, Unrated, DVD): What if Little Red Riding Hood was actually a zombie spirit born from a pagan blood ritual to wage war against werewolves? Wow. That would be pretty cool, right?

It would be pretty cool. If only someone had told that to the people who made “Little Dead Rotting Hood.” Not even gratuitous nudity can save this turkey.

"Wrecker" (XLRator, 83 minutes, Unrated, DVD): For anyone itching for a remake to 2001’s “Joyride,” I offer you “Wrecker,” one of the most lame excuses for an original horror film in years. Years!

It’s so bad that literally the first 20 or so minutes are nothing but establishing shots of two female best buds driving at 180 miles per hour on a completely desolate stretch of California highway.This is beyond bad.

Also Available: Flesh and Bone: The Complete First Season Full of Grace Infinitely Polar Bear Kill Game True Detective: The Complete Second Season Over Your Dead Body Sleeping with Other People The Walk A Brave Heart: The Lizzie Velasquez Story Stock Option Mercury Plains Battle for Skyark Lyfe’s Journey Ancient Aliens: Season 8 Scream Factory Double Feature: The House Where Evil Dwells/Ghost Warrior Captive Experimenter

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New Releases for Tuesday, December 29, 2015

What’s new in stores and on video shelves this week:

Bone Tomahawk

Genre: Western/Horror

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New Releases for Tuesday, December 22, 2015

What's new in stores and on video shelves this week:

Queen of Earth
Genre: Thriller
Directed by: Alex Ross Perry
Run time: 90 minutes
Rating: Unrated
Format: DVD

The Lowdown: Friendships can be scary things. The sense of commitment, the tug of jealousy, the feelings that get randomly hurt and the sense by at least one party that they know what’s best for the other.

“Queen of Earth” is a relationship drama about the fissures and fractures that occur in friendship. It’s a calculated examination of possible mental illness. It’s a clinical study of jealously, both real and perceived.

It’s not a horror film, but it sure is packaged as one. And that may be its undoing, at least in the eyes of genre fans who have been led to believe that some seriously weird shenanigans take place.

“Queen of Earth” is a marvelously acted, white-knuckle tightrope walk between its two female leads. It’s maddeningly frustrating in the back and forth tribulations that both women put each other through. You keep waiting, expecting someone to snap, something sharp to come into play, some blood to be spilled. But that moment never comes.

“Queen of Earth” is the horror viewing equivalent of watching a pot of water come to a boil when you forget to turn the burner on.

That big moment, that big shock, just doesn’t happen.

“Queen of Earth” is a very well-made movie, but it has been improbably miscast as something worthy of horror fans’ time.

The Stuff You Care About:
Hot chicks – Yes.
Nudity – No.
Gore – No.
Drug use – No.
Bad Guys/Killers – Good question.
Buy/Rent – Neither.

Also Available:

Nightmares
Dragon Blade
The Brain that Wouldn’t Die
The Giant King
Pan
Pawn Sacrifice
12 Rounds 3: Lockdown
Nasty Baby

Not to be Overlooked:

Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials (Fox, 131 minutes, PG-13, Blu-Ray): The second film in this young adult franchise is decidedly darker than its predecessor, if no less frustrating, in its piecemeal approach to parceling out details about the apocalypse that has ravaged Earth. It’s a cliff-hanger in the vein of great middle films in trilogies, but it lacks the dramatic heft to truly make you care.

The Transporter Refueled (Fox, 96 minutes, PG-13, Blu-Ray): Who knew? The fourth film in “The Transporter” franchise, and the first not to star Jason Statham, is actually a fun little B-grade action movie. Ed Skrein does a good job of stepping into Frank Martin’s lighting quick kung-fu feet, and the addition of Ray Stevenson as his father is a great touch. Co-writer/co-creator/producer Luc Besson can crank these Eurotrash sequels out in his sleep. He’s the overseas Roger Corman, and that’s OK.

The Last Horror Film, aka Fanatic (Troma, 87 minutes,, Unrated, Blu-Ray): A true cult classic, this 1982 gem, released as both “Fanatic” and “The Last Horror Film,” serves as an epic vehicle for star Joe Spinell and a scathing dissection of the pretentious Hollywood machine. Set in France, during the Cannes film festival, Spinell plays yet another creepy, slobbish loner who fancies himself an awards-worthy filmmaker determined to cast the gorgeous Caroline Munro in his first feature. Released two years after Spinell’s masterpiece, “Maniac,” “The Last Horror Film” was a long-lost VHS treasure that’s finally getting a proper high-definition release.

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New Releases for Tuesday, December 15, 2015

What's new in stores and on video shelves this week:

Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation
Genre: Action/Sequel
Directed by: Christopher McQuarrie
Run time: 132 minutes
Rating: PG-13
Format: Blu-Ray

The Lowdown: It used to be that by the time a franchise reached its third or fourth sequel, the tank was running perilously low on gas. Major plot points became recycled and retread, like old tires desperate to log another mile.

But something funny happened on the way to the multiplex – lo and behold, major franchises once thought long dead (I’m looking at “The Fast and the Furious”) revved back to life by embracing the outrageous and just not giving a damn about their age.

“Mission: Impossible” is such a franchise. The first film was a blast, the first sequel a jubilant splash of Hong Kong kung-phooey craziness and aerial-acrobatics and then the inevitable lull, the third installment barely lifting off the ground despite a solid story and a great villain. The fourth film (technically, third sequel) breathed new life into Tom Cruise’s Ethan Hunt, even if I wasn’t as blown away with Brad Bird’s direction.

But now, with its fifth entry, “Rogue Nation,” this franchise has indeed elevated itself to new heights.

I loved “Rogue Nation.” I loved how the movie was ballsy enough to open with a spectacular stunt – Cruise literally hanging off the side of a plane as it took off – that would conclude most other action movies. And then I loved every intricate, nail-biting set piece that followed.

One of the best decisions ever in the franchise’s history is introducing a female agent whose skill and prowess rivals Hunt. Rebecca Ferguson inhabits the role with a lethal sexuality sorely missing in many similar spy films.

Cruise remains a sturdy, indestructible hero. Seriously, doesn’t this guy age?

And with “Rogue Nation,” I am properly overjoyed at the knowledge that a sixth film is already in the works.

The Stuff You Care About:
Hot chicks – Hello Rebecca Ferguson, lethal and lovely.
Nudity – No.
Gore – No.
Drug use – No.
Bad Guys/Killers – A nasty Brit who doesn’t do a whole lot but pull the puppet strings.
Buy/Rent – Buy it.

Also Available:

Extant: The Second Season
Slow Learners
What Have You Done to Solange?
Eugenie: 3-Disc Limited Edition
CSI: Crime Scene Investigation – The Finale
Marquis de Sade’s Justine: 3-Disc Limited Edition
Duck Dynasty: Seasons 1-8
Best of History – Gift Set
History War Collection
History Bible Collection
Marco Polo: The Complete First Season
Ted 2
The Dungeonmaster/Eliminators
Wolf Totem
Zombie High

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New Releases for Tuesday, December 8, 2015

What’s new in stores and on video shelves this week:

Ant-Man

Genre: Comic Book

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New Releases for Tuesday, December 1, 2015

What’s new in stores and on video shelves this week:

Goodnight Mommy

Genre: Horror

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Holiday Gift Guide - 2015 Edition: The Best Discs, Box Sets and Collector’s Editions

Every year, film studios and their distribution arms prepare for the holiday shopping season by readying must-have collections and impressive boxed sets of classic television, films and more for shoppers to gobble up just in time for home viewing.

Here’s a look at the best offerings released in late 2015. Each of these titles is available online or in retail stores, many for considerably less than the retail price.

CURRENT TV

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