Saturday 19 April 2014

Night of the Dolls (2014)

(Online screener copy)

Directed by Daniel A Murphy

Written by Tom Komisar

Stars: Emily Rhoads, Bryer Sage, Cassie Boom Guthrie, Linda Schrader, R.J Cecott, Eric Reaume, Dustin Lawson, Chuck Smith, Deb Perkins and Paisley Blackburn.

Night of the Dolls is the new horror film by Daniel Murphy ( Director of the excellent revenge flick And Then YOU Die) a dark journey that manages to be horrifying, creepy, emotional and funny in turn. 

I'm going to be extra careful to avoid anything remotely close to spoilers in this review as this is a film that calls to be viewed with limited knowledge. I will of course touch on the synopsis as much as possible without giving anything away.

An all girl rock group, The Lolita Dolls, are heading to an old Sanitarium with their two male companions to shoot their new music video. Kari (Emily Rhoads), the lead vocalist of the band, has a strong interest in the dark, bloody past of the Sanitarium and thanks to a recommendation from their biggest fan, they have secured exclusive permission to record their video there. Right where a number of horrific events occurred twenty years previous........

While the four feisty girls and their mini entourage of pranksters Lenny (Eric Reaume) and Steve (R.J. Cecott) start to make their  way to their macabre destination, Detective Bailey (Chuck Smith) is doing his own investigation into the gruesome events of the past.

Neither Lolita Dolls and co or the viewer will be able to foresee the terror that will be unleashed by this fateful trip and on this note I must commend writer Tom Komisar for the twisted story he has woven. Its going to keep viewers guessing as I did and I will happily admit that I was wrong on several assumptions.

I wont lie, there are some very disturbing scenes in this film a few of which had me squirming but there is also a great deal of heart at the centre of all the madness. There is a particularly powerful scene towards the end where bloody, wince inducing scenes are broken up by shots of the band having fun. I'm a sucker for characters who I have grown to care for and in these scenes I admit to feeling bloody emotional - the tear in my eye was obviously due to getting smoke in it but well..... As well as this there is a lot of laughs to be had for the first 3/4 of the film. The characters interactions are mostly hilarious, they joke, poke fun at each other and ultimately appear to care and look out for one another. While none of this will help calm the blow of some of the events in the final act, it still makes the characters far more fleshed out and colourful than you might see in other movies, especially those in the horror genre. This is course is helped by some great performances and I have to hold up Emily Rhoads as Kari, Eric Reaume as Lenny and R.J Cecott as stand outs. I also thought Bryer Sage as the softly spoken and slightly shy Chloe to be adorable.

The film has a great professional look and impresses me with what is possible with a smaller budget, its full of interesting camera angles and is shot exceptionally well. If this is the kind of progress that can be made in such a short amount of time from his previous film And Then YOU Die then I can only imagine what's coming next from Daniel!

Oh and I absolutely loved the interpretation of one of my favourite Ramones songs - a nice touch! As I mentioned to Daniel, the songs performed by the Lolita Girls were awesome and music I as a music lover would totally buy.
Check out Night of the Dolls official Facebook page HERE and start getting excited for the moment you get to see it for itself. Its original story, scares and laughs will ensure a very satisfied audience and I can only express again how much it impressed me, made me laugh out loud and had me squirming in my seat!

Tuesday 15 April 2014

The Lashman (2014) - Online Screener copy

Image result for lashman

Directed by Cameron McCasland

Written by Cameron McCasland

Stars: Stacey Dixon, Shawn C. Phillips, David Vaughn, Jeremy Jones, Kaylee Williams, Tim Emery, David Chattam, Lee Vervoort, Larry Underwood, Todd Bush, Terry Gragg, Bob King.

Cameron McCasland's new slasher movie The Lashman shines due to its excellent atmosphere, engaging main characters and fresh cinematography. I have read a lot about the film over the years and so it was my pleasure to have been sent a screener copy to review.

The Lashman spins the familiar yarn of a group of friends heading out to a lakeside area for a summer break; drinking, screwing and bickering…until the fun is broken up by a madman out for blood. In this case its nice guy Billy (David Vaughn) total arsehole, Daniel (Jeremy Jones) gal pals Stacy and Jan (Stacey Dixon and Kaylee Williams) and Stacy’s slightly odd brother Bobby (Shawn C. Phillips) who are on the chopping block.

Even a warning from local lunatic Eustice (in an almost alarmingly freaky scene I might add!) doesn't stop them from setting up camp and putting themselves in the firing line. On the first night the atmosphere is set as Billy tells the tale of ‘the Lashman’, the local legend that Eustice had manically referred to at the start of the film. This tale gives the film a nice, creepy vibe, enhanced by Billy expressing how much the story scared him as a kid. Even Daniels constant heckling throughout doesn't break the shivery feeling of knowing what might be out in those woods. After a few teasers such as the mysterious person peeking in a window while Jan and Daniel getting it on, and a couple of minor character deaths, the Lashman closes in one the group of friends who soon realise the awful predicament they are really in.

I really enjoyed this movie- there are a few flaws sure such as some sound glitches at several points along the way and there are some inconsistency’s in how a few of the characters are played. However there is also plenty to recommend The Lashman.

The sound track itself is amazing, glitches aside. It gives the film an added punch that reminded me of the days of watching Friday 13th movies when I was too young to do so. As with those movies, the soundtrack fits The Lashman perfectly and really adds to its appeal.

I liked the main characters, most of their conversations and interactions are funny and likable. A scene where Daniel shows up after a heavy night of drinking made me chuckle. He walked just like I would when REALLY hung over so it was very effective to me! Although there are one or two issues earlier on in the movie, the actors and actresses’ really step up to the plate in the final 20 minutes when things turn extremely dark and dramatic. In fact I was quite surprised at how brutal and intense things got in the final act, one ax murder literally made me jump!

The film is also exceptionally well shot – it looks fresh and clear and you can see how much hard work went into editing the film in post production. Cameron and team should be incredibly proud of how the final product turned out. In addition the opening and closing credits are AWESOME.

Check out the official Facebook page to find out more and also how you YOU can see the film this Sunday when it has its premiere!
All in all, a fun, spirited, sometimes dark, slasher movie that I can recommend most definitely.I really hope The Lashman does very well as its easy to see that a lot of hard work went into making it what it is.

Friday 11 April 2014

Murderdrome (2014)


Directed by Daniel Armstrong 

Written by Daniel Armstrong 

Stars: Kat Anderson, Daisy Masterman, Amber Sajben 

Release: May 12 2014,UK DVD Courtesy of Monster Pictures. 

Big thanks to Monster Pictures UK for sharing a screener of slice, dice and roller-skate film MurderDrome with me! I have been very interested in this Australia produced flick since I heard about it so was delighted to get the chance to check it out.

The plot of Murderdrome is simple – two rival roller derby teams find much more to worry about than their distinct hatred for one another when a dark evil from the past sets about cutting them down to size – literally. As girls from both sides of the fence start dropping like flies, it’s up to feisty ‘Cherry Skye’(Amber Sajben) to try to put a lid on the chaos before there’s no one left to compete against ...or with for that matter!

MurderDrome is low budget, make no bones about it. Obviously for someone like me that’s no issue as I love a good film made  for next to nothing. However I also wouldn't want to deter people from this film who perhaps like a bit more polish to their horror film because MurderDrome also has plenty to recommend it.  First, there is some nice comedy running throughout and I definitely laughed out loud several times. There are some great characters with brilliant team member names (aforementioned Cherry Skye, Trans Em, Princess Bitchface (YES!)  Hell Grazer and many more) AND there is plenty of splattery grue and gore to keep the hounds happy.

I think that Daniel Armstrong and team did a fine job of giving horror fans a trip back to the gory days of horror cinema where all you needed to do was pop open a can, sit back and enjoy. I think there is plenty more to come from Mr Armstrong and whether it be a MurderDrome sequel or something entirely new I am in.

UK readers can grab a copy of MurderDrome from the 12 May and if you want to get a pre-order in then check out Amazon!  You can also follow the films official Facebook right here.  Get your skates on people! (sorry….)

Friday 4 April 2014

Lucky (2014) - Horror Short

Directed by Jakob Billinski

Written by Todd Martin

Stars: Louisa Torres, Dillon Schueller

Produced by P.J Starks and Jim Blanton

It always nice to hear from a friend asking me to check out a new film or short - particularly if they made one of my favorite indie horrors ever (Hallows Eve: Slaughter on Second Street). P.J Starks is on producing duties this time around in the Jakob Billinski directed (Bloody hooker Bang Bang) and Todd Martin written Lucky.

Displaying Lucky - Quicktime Animation MASTER color

I really enjoyed Lucky - its a really great twist on the 'woman in peril' story and also features some cool makeup and effects. Louisa Torres stars as a young lady holed up in a library late at night, which doesn't bode too well for her after we learn of a string of murders in the local area. She is soon approached by a real creep (Dillon Schueller) who may or may not be the killer closing in on his next hapless victim. At this point the short turns nicely on its head and we learn that all is certainly not what it seems. The ending left me wanting more and I honestly see the potential for a feature film on the back of this.

Displaying Lucky - Quicktime Animation MASTER color

It never ceases to amaze me, just what is possible in a film running at only 8 minutes long, if in the right hands. Lucky is a solid, well made, well written little film with a cool twist. As a fan of both Jakob and P.J's work already, I would love to see them team up again in the near future.

Displaying Lucky - Quicktime Animation MASTER color

Oh and did I mention you can watch Lucky right HERE right now??? Go and show your support friends!