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Reviews Written by
Daniel Jolley (Shelby, North Carolina USA)

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Don't Go in the Woods... Alone [Blu-ray]
Don't Go in the Woods... Alone [Blu-ray]
Dvd ~ Jack McClelland
Offered by Film Seller 44
Price: £8.98

0 of 2 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars A painfully bad, totally random low-budget slasher film, 13 Nov. 2016
How does this pitiful excuse of a slasher film get a Blu-ray release when numerous cinema classics still beg for that honor? I’ve seen a lot of bad horror movies – some great, some pretty bad – but Don’t Go Into the Woods has to be one of the worst movies I’ve ever seen. Maybe, if you were really drunk, you could find humor in the awful storyline, the terrible cinematography, the load of bad actors portraying characters you desperately want to see killed, and all of the random, nonsensical elements that make up this film. Dead sober, it’s pretty hard to endure. The movie evens sounds like it’s dubbed somehow, and the dainty little ditty that plays through the end credits is just weird – and more enjoyable than the entire movie itself.

The first thirty minutes basically consists of random, downright odd characters being killed by some unseen killer. A foursome of annoying campers somehow end up being the main characters by the process of elimination. Periodically, we get shots in town of the world’s fattest sheriff ignoring reports of missing people. The killings themselves become even more laughably bad when we get our eyes on the culprit, a fat “mountain man” who couldn’t sneak up on a dead horse yet somehow manages to kill people effortlessly. From this point on, the story basically becomes a tale of the survival of the dumbest.

The date of the movie is 1981, but this is pure 70s in look, character, and execution. The killer does take out his victims in a number of different ways – I’ll give him that much – but I think the gore quotient of the film is overrated. It all looks fake. I also can’t stress enough just how annoying every single character is in the film. In the aftermath, I’m left wondering what the heck was up with the guy in the wheelchair out in the middle of the woods alone. Everything else about Don’t Go Into the Woods is completely forgettable, and I am anxious to get the process of forgetting started.

Clowntown [DVD]
Clowntown [DVD]
Dvd ~ Brian Nagel
Offered by Wildstar Movies
Price: £3.95

3.0 out of 5 stars Really just an average slasher film -- but with clowns, 1 Oct. 2016
This review is from: Clowntown [DVD] (DVD)
With all of the real life clowns being spotted trying to lure kids into the woods and hamming it up on random home security cameras across a dozen states, it’s only natural that a clown horror film like ClownTown would be released. Of course, it’s not the first clown horror movie by far – after all, we’ve known for years and years that clowns are creepy as all get out. I was scared to death of them as a kid, and I’m not going near one now, either. Unfortunately, the creepy clown thing is about the only thing that ClownTown has going for it. As with virtually all American horror films, there are too many questions left unanswered (most of them starting with the word why), the ending doesn’t present a strong sense of closure, and the whole thing really isn’t that scary.

So, basically, four twenty-something friends (one of whom is apparently a clone of Kevin Smith) end up stranded in an abandoned Ohio town where the freaks do come out at night – dressed as clowns. None of our young victims even questions why a decent-sized town would be completely deserted in the middle of the day, nor do they show much desire to arm themselves in any way possible once killer clowns start coming out of the woodwork. Their whole concept of running away is pretty flawed, as well. In other words, this is in many ways a typical, cliché-riddled slasher. For a low-budget movie, the effects and cinematography are actually pretty good. Unfortunately, the clowns themselves never really develop a true sense of menace despite their violent proclivities. Only a true coulrophobic is going to go home from this movie and dream of clowns coming after them. I personally think clowns are very creepy, but the denizens of ClownTown never managed to make me feel uncomfortable.

Catacombs [DVD] [2007]
Catacombs [DVD] [2007]
Dvd ~ Shannyn Sossamon
Price: £3.55

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Not very scary -- but I loved the ending, 17 Sept. 2016
This review is from: Catacombs [DVD] [2007] (DVD)
The maze-like city beneath the city of Paris is, of course, the perfect setting for a horror movie. Populated by the corpses of six or seven million skeletal remains of Parisians past, the hundreds of miles of winding passages cast in perpetual preternatural darkness have claimed the lives of many who never found their way back to the light. The mystery of the place, reinforced by the authorities’ attempts to keep people out, makes it an irresistible attraction to rebellious young people and others with a penchant for the darker side. This film never manages to capture the truly claustrophobic and disorienting nature of the catacombs or to inspire any real sense of fright in the viewer, but it is still well worth watching if you’re a horror fan – thanks in large part to a very effective ending.

We don’t know a lot about Victoria (Shannyn Sossamon) when she arrives in Paris. She’s there because her sister Carolyn (played by Pink aka Alecia Moore) invited her, she takes pills to help her deal with anxiety, and that’s about it. Carolyn is her complete opposite, a total extrovert who lives a rather bohemian lifestyle apparently centered around having fun. The historic attractions of Paris apparently have little meaning for her, as she almost immediately drags her weary sister to a secret underground party located in – well, I’m sure you can figure that one out on your own. Naturally, Victoria eventually ends up lost and alone, desperately searching for a way out while being pursued by someone or something with bad intentions.

These catacombs never really come to life. The passages seem too wide, there is an almost complete lack of crawlspaces requiring one to skitter along atop or through piles of human remains, and there is never a sense of the walls and ceilings closing in. I’m highly claustrophobic, and this film never made me the least bit uncomfortable. Without the buildup of any sense of dread, the scenes that are supposed to be frightening don’t really deliver, either. So why am I giving it four stars? The ending really saves this film from being average and somewhat forgettable. I would argue that it is not predictable (I did guess right about one thing, but the ending as a whole was not something I saw coming), and that it is quite effective – and, at least for me, quite satisfying. If you only watch one movie set in the catacombs beneath Paris, watch As Above, So Below – but give Catacombs a chance, as well.

The Gingerdead Man [DVD]
The Gingerdead Man [DVD]
Dvd ~ Gary Busey

4.0 out of 5 stars Charles Band cooked up something good with The Gingerdead Man, 24 Dec. 2015
This review is from: The Gingerdead Man [DVD] (DVD)
The Gingerdead Man is classic Charles Band – a bad, completely ridiculous, abnormally short film (the film itself runs about an hour) that somehow manages to be entertaining. The Charles Band recipe of filmmaking rarely produces a product that tastes delicious, yet it’s good enough to keep many of us just keep coming back for more. Admittedly, Gingerdead Man is pretty ridiculous, even for Charles Band. So, yeah, I can believe that the grieving mother of executed killer Millard Findlemeyer sent his ashes in the form of gingerbread spice to the pretty young baker that testified against him, but there’s no way she could have even fantasized that someone would drip blood in the batter, actually bake it up with the blood, and time it so that a freak electrical incident would supply the necessary juice to actually imbue Millard’s murderous spirit into the baked product. Of course, watching any Charles Band movie requires you to accept the impossible – it’s all in the name of camp.

Millard Findlemeyer (Gary Busey) isn’t the smartest of criminals. First, he decides to rob some dive with about four customers in it, then he hangs around to taunt, kill, and injure the diners until the cops show up. For some reason, though, he decides not to kill young Sarah Leigh (Robin Sydney) after offing her father and brother, so she’s able to guarantee him a trip to the electric chair two years later. Now Sarah is struggling to run the family bakery. A city slicker competitor and his mega-spoiled daughter Lorna (Alexia Aleman) are trying to run her out of business. That’s the least of her problems, though, when she lets one of her workers hold his bleeding arm over a bowl of batter, which said worker then goes ahead and bakes up. The next thing you know, a foulmouthed little gingerbread man is running around chopping off fingers, cold cocking people in the head, and inventing some new baked goods of his own. Trapped inside the bakery (only because they think it’s safer to stay inside than to leave, despite the fact that they know the killer is in the bakery), Sarah, Amber, and misunderstood bad boy Amos (Ryan Locke) must find a way to stop Millard Findlemeyer’s tasty little mini-me before he kills them.

Gary Busey is great as Findlemeyer and the voice of the Gingerdead Man, delivering even the cheesiest of one-liners with gleeful hostility. I loved Robin Sydney, as well, and not just because she’s extremely easy on the eyes. All of the characters were pretty much stereotypes – the misunderstood bad boy, the narcissistic beauty (and drama) queen, the baker with aspirations of wrestling glory – but that’s fine. A film about a killer gingerbread man doesn’t really call for any deep character development. This is just a fun little farce of a horror movie, and it makes for an hour of great B-movie entertainment.

Kiss Him, Not Me 1
Kiss Him, Not Me 1
by Junko
Edition: Paperback
Price: £9.99

7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Never thought I'd read a shojo manga, but I actually did enjoy this, 23 Nov. 2015
This review is from: Kiss Him, Not Me 1 (Paperback)
What am I doing reading a shojo manga? I’m a grown man, not a teenaged girl, and I try to stay as far away from boys’ love territory as I possibly can. I can identify with the main character of this story being an otaku, but that’s about it. I am trying to build up my manga collection, though, and that’s really the reason I plucked this book off the Vine (meaning I got it free from Amazon) – that and the fact that it seemed rather cute and innocent in terms of the BL component. I have to admit, though, that I did enjoy the story and actually might consider following the series a little longer. The main character only fantasizes about the boys she knows getting friendly (and her fantasies aren’t that vivid), so I can handle that. Plus, the girl’s cute.

Serinuma Kae starts out as an awkward, chubby, and rather forgettable young high schooler – and serious otaku. When her all-time favorite anime character shockingly dies, she spends the next week grief-stricken. Apparently, that’s the magic formula for dramatic weight loss because the Kae who eventually emerges from her locked room is a slender cutie that immediately attracts the attention of four guys at school. Now she’s popular and dating all four guys, enjoying a new confidence that makes her game to take on challenges she would never have considered before. Of course, as much as she enjoys all of the attention from her four male pursuers, she can’t help fantasizing about the guys getting friendly with each other.

Kae’s fantasies about the guys are really just a small part of the story – here in Volume 1, at least. This is more about a shy and awkward girl suddenly blossoming and gaining self-confidence without really changing who she is inside. According to Junko, the writer and illustrator, the foundation of the story is based on her own youthful experiences, and I think that gives it a sort of endearing quality. It has plenty of funny moments, as well. So, in the end, I did enjoy this first volume of Kiss Him, Not Me!

All Hallows' Eve [DVD]
All Hallows' Eve [DVD]
Dvd ~ Katie Maguire
Offered by ReNew Entertainment
Price: £3.98

1 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An underrated little horror film with quite a memorable killer, 27 Oct. 2015
This review is from: All Hallows' Eve [DVD] (DVD)
Let’s face it – clowns are just about the creepiest things to be found on this earth. No normal adult would ever smear makeup all over his face, dress up in some ridiculous outfit that even Liberace wouldn’t wear, and go out in public. And they’re mimes, which makes them pure evil in my book. That silent laughter bit isn’t funny, and that whole bucket-throwing shtick was old about a hundred years ago. I say we wait until these freakish buffoons are all crammed together in their little cars and wipe them out. Why am I ranting about clowns? Well, obviously, All Hallows’ Eve features a killer clown, one who has gone even farther down the path of evil than John Wayne Gacy.

It all starts with a videotape, which little Timmy discovers when he dumps out his bag of Halloween candy on the table. Now, when I was a kid, I watched what people put in my bag, wanting to know who was giving me fruit instead of the good stuff, but Timmy has no idea where the tape came from. Unfortunately, babysitter Sarah (Katie Maguire) gives in to Timmy’s and his sister’s demand to watch the thing. It appears to be some kind of unnamed horror anthology featuring a sinister clown doing unnamable things to people. It’s just the kind of thing to get under the skin of horror novices like Sarah and the kids. After the first of the film’s three stories, Sarah finally shuffles the kids off to bed, but she continues to watch in an effort to convince herself that what seems increasingly real is not in fact real at all. That, of course, is a big mistake.

The middle of the three anthology stories is pretty darn weird and barely features the clown, but the first and third are pretty good examples of your typical slasher fare. Two of them look like drive-inn shlock from the 1970s, so I was surprised to learn that all three scenes came from recent other films made by director Damien Leone. They do have that old-school look and feel to them, though, and that’s a plus in my book.

All Hallows’ Eve doesn’t deliver any surprises, but I enjoyed it. The director wasn’t shy about using blood and gore, and Mike Giannelli puts in a memorable performance as Art the Clown. He’s even more sick, twisted, and evil than your average killer clown, and that makes All Hallows’ Eve eminently worthy of a spot in your Halloween week horror movie rotation.

The Asylum [DVD] [2015]
The Asylum [DVD] [2015]
Dvd ~ Brett Dier
Offered by Entertainment Direct
Price: £3.47

3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A decent watch for horror fans, 23 Sept. 2015
This review is from: The Asylum [DVD] [2015] (DVD)
Who thinks it’s a good idea to throw a massive, drug- and alcohol-fueled party in a run-down mental asylum infamous for the abuse and suffering of its patients? Anyone? Well, in this movie, only one person objects – but he’s helpless to stop it and goes right along with the crowd once he meets a certain raven-haired young beauty. By morning, only our central gang of characters remain, and they decide to do what all hardcore partiers do – try to levitate someone. Yes, like a bunch of prepubescent girls, they decide to play “light as a feather, stiff as a board.” That’s where the trouble really begins. The next thing you know, they’re looking up how to perform exorcisms and discussing ways to hide bodies. Of course, there’s a backstory to all of the demonic goings-on they experience throughout the film. It all goes back to an uncontrollable former patient named Devon whose unspeakable powers led to the deaths and misery that finally got the asylum shut down over a decade earlier.

There’s really nothing original about this entire film, but it does differentiate itself somewhat by placing its most climactic scene about one-third of the way into the movie. After that, it’s just your typical survival horror film where characters try to avoid getting killed or possessed. There’s blood and gore and some less than spectacular special effects along the way. On the positive side, the film does manage to maintain some level of suspense about what actually happened to Devon, and I guessed wrong about what the inevitable twist to the story turned out to be.

Honestly, the whole “trapped in a creepy mental institution with a demon” thing would have been a lot more effective if there was no way for these kids to escape. They have every opportunity to get out before things really hit the fan. Then, when they do want out, they just make a few weak attempts to rattle doors. Most of the windows in this place were already shattered, but no one tried a window. Even worse, they had Internet access the whole time but never tried to contact anyone outside for help. I mean, come on.

Still, it’s a decent effort. The pacing is good, the girls are pretty, the acting isn’t bad, and the filmmakers did actually try to tell a story here, so I have to give them some credit. There are no scares to be found here, though. It’s worth watching if you’re a horror fan, but don’t expect to be blown away.

Alone in the Dark [DVD] [1982] [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC]
Alone in the Dark [DVD] [1982] [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC]

2 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A cult classic thriller with a stellar cast, 20 Sept. 2015
OK. If you’re going to depend solely on electricity to keep the dangerous psychopaths from escaping your mental institute, you really need to have a wholly dependable backup system. Unfortunately, the Haven’s backup system fails when the power goes out, which allows the dangerous guys on the third floor to escape (along with everyone else in the institute). That is most unfortunate for Dr. Dan Potter (Dwight Schultz) because paranoid schizophrenic Frank Hawkes (Jack Palance) has convinced his buddies that Potter killed the previous doctor who was working with them. That includes Byron “Preacher” Sutcliff (Martin Landau), who likes to cry out about the Lord’s vengeance while setting fires; Ronald “Fatty” Elster, a serial child molester; and “The Bleeder,” who has the embarrassing habit of suffering nosebleeds while he’s committing murder and chooses never to show his face if at all possible. Dr. Potter does have one guy in his corner, Dr. Leo Bain (Donald Pleasance) – but this version of Donald Pleasance actually thinks he can simply reason with the criminally insane. Ultimately, it’s Dr. Potter’s whole family that finds itself “alone in the dark” with four unpredictable, psychopathic killers trying to get in the house. That includes his wife, young daughter, and sister (who – wouldn’t you just know it – has a lifelong fear of the dark).

Few horror thrillers can boast of such a stellar cast as that of Alone in the Dark. Martin Landau, Jack Palance, and Donald Pleasance have a presence that none of today’s actors can even begin to match. Schulz was pretty much a lightweight compared to the three big names in this film, but he acquitted himself quite well. Palance and Landau steal the show, though – as you would expect. As for the storyline, it isn’t all that original overall, but I have to give major props to the writers for introducing one major plot twist I didn’t see coming. I didn’t fine the film scary at all, but there are some uneasy moments involving Potter’s little girl and one jump-scare that is pretty effective.

I would highly recommend this film to fans of horror and suspense. Just look at the cast list, for crying out loud. Who wouldn’t enjoy watching Jack Palance and Martin Landau get in touch with their psychotic sides?

Zombeavers [DVD]
Zombeavers [DVD]
Dvd ~ Chad Anderson
Price: £3.20

0 of 5 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars A stupid movie that fails to meet even the lowest of expectations, 18 Sept. 2015
This review is from: Zombeavers [DVD] (DVD)
Zombeavers did absolutely nothing for me. There is absolutely no fear factor involved, the so-called disgusting parts are just desperate attempts at shock value, and the humor falls completely flat, especially the constant supply of beaver jokes. I have to believe that the target audience is middle school boys who will laugh at all of the beaver innuendoes, whether they actually get the jokes or not. The special effects aren’t realistic at all, especially that of the zombeavers. I can’t argue with the filmmakers’’ decision not to use CGI, but the animatronic beaver effects they give us aren’t any more ambitious than beavers on a stick, with someone shaking the stick back and forth. I couldn’t even find a single character to like or root for, apart from a small dog. The young people being attacked are the epitome of dumb, self-centered kids. I couldn’t even rustle up any support for the girl who just found out her boyfriend was cheating on her. And do I even have to mention the fact that the entire script is utterly predictable?

I am more partial to these kind of dumb, low-budget movies than most, but one word – stupid – seems to say everything I want to say about Zombeavers. That is why I am so surprised that a lot of people actually seemed to enjoy this crude horror-comedy. I got no enjoyment out of this film at all. I can only hope that nothing ever comes from the obvious setup for a sequel thrown in following the credits.

Price: £11.44

1.0 out of 5 stars Run -- do not walk -- away from this awful movie, 16 Aug. 2015
Paranormal Extremes: Text Messages from the Dead is just flat-out awful. The storyline is terrible and full of gaps, the special effects are embarrassingly bad, the acting is stale and oftentimes painful to watch, and the editing is just atrocious, with no transition between one scene and the next. Most of the homemade videos you’ll find on YouTube have a higher production quality than this film. Some plot elements seemed to have been added on a whim midway through the story, and the ending makes this whole bitter pill even harder to swallow.

The film stars Colie Knoke as Addison London, a young model who begins seeing and hearing things in the wake of a personal tragedy. After consulting everyone from a tarot card reader to a neurologist, she finally begins to face the fact that scores of dead spirits are trying to communicate with her. I’ll bet you’re thinking they communicate with her via text messages – you are thinking that, aren’t you? Well, you’re quite wrong. She only receives a couple of text messages from one spirit – and she pretty much just ignores those. Knoke does a horrible job playing the part of a distraught and scared woman battling grief and an unceasing assault by spirits looking for help – and, unfortunately, she’s probably the best actor/actress in the entire film.

Most movies this bad have a comparatively short runtime, but Paranormal Extremes drags on for an excruciating 100+ minutes. Most viewers won’t make it through the first ten. It really is that bad.

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