Wednesday, September 22, 2021

Boar, Go Pig!!!

So when did this happen?  Didn't we used to like Australians?  Paul Hogan and that whole 'Crocodile Dundee' thing? They were funny...irreverent...happy-go-lucky!  Today they are annoying and no fun to be around.  Maybe the English saw this centuries ago when they banished these blokes to the land down under.  Today's antagonist...a really big pig...will warm our hearts as he eats and rips apart these Fosters-drinking-nitwits.  Our feature today is 2017's  "Boar," a film by Chris Sun. 

Okay...fair enough...we like Sasha (Melissa Tkautz)...but that's only because she keeps the drinks coming.  Otherwise, we start cheering for the mutated pig early on.  It'll murder and eat farmers, campers, motorists, and annoying Aussies engaging in pre-marital sex.  Okay, Sheridan's (Sheridyn Fisher) is a babe we would have liked to have survived...to her credit, the boar doesn't just kill her...it tears her apart and sticks its tusk...well never mind.  Two annoying hunters come across the carnage...mercifully, they are ripped apart, as well.  Under this romantic and bubbly backdrop we meet the family and desire them to be ripped apart, as well.

Bruce (Bill Moseley) is your typical Australian nowadays...eek!  Come on pig!  Get him!  Just wait, you won't be surprised.  His GF Debbie (Simone Buchanan) may have been quite the babe 20 years ago, but like any Aussie...her shelf life expired.  Their teen-aged kids?  Yeah...we won't even go there.  Here comes the boar...the really big and drooling boar.  The only hope for this family is Uncle Bernie (Nathan Jones), a behemoth of a man.  He is big...did I mention that?  He takes his relatives on a picnic in the wilderness and there the war happens...man vs. beast.  Go beast!

Is Sheridan's gory death actually an act of mercy by the pig so she won't have to interact with Bernie, Bruce, and Debbie?  Can the Foster's serving Sasha redeem Australia's reputation as being a friendly and nice place to go?  What does it say about us as a people when we cheer as the big pig bites off Bruce's head?  Have fun with this one.  Oh yes, for you Aussies...take this film as a wake-up call...your not as loved as you once were.  "Boar," see it and learn from our tusked friends in nature.


Monday, September 20, 2021

Monsters of War, What Jurassic Park Should Have Been

Today we have Chrissie Wunna's magnum opus.  What?  Oh come on!  She's the sultriest actress ever to hail from...Burma.  If all women from Burma looked like Miss Wunna, the U.N. and the United States wouldn't be shortchanging that nation on vital assistance and aid.  Today we look at 2021's "Monsters of War," directed by Jack Peter Mundy. 

An earthquake in the UK.  May (Wunna) figures that is what it is...she will be wrong.  The sultry mother of Tim and Sue (these two kids are much more talented and watchable than those two brats in "Jurassic Park").  May is packing bags as she intends to leave her abusive husband.  On their drive out of the city a giant monster worm disables her car.  Now May rushes her two kids away from the road and meets two miners.  They're useless...one will be eaten by a T-Rex, the other picked apart by a big spider...happens.  Perhaps a metaphor of the government run health system in the UK.

Finally May finds shelter in a hostel.  The place is run by Mark (Richard Lovell) and his asthmatic mom, Lyn (Kate Sandison).  Also there are grouchy guests including a really pessimistic nun who demands everyone repent...fat chance.  Now the monsters, including icky spiders and the T-Rex converge.  The idiotic guests find reasons to venture outside and are eaten.  Now two soldiers arrive.  Mel (Chelsea Greenwood) will match May in melodramatic performances.  Mel will yell a lot and cry...and bond with May.  The two kids will be cute and make you wonder what "Jurassic Park" could have been if the two children roles were not wasted on such thin talent.  

Will May join forces with soldier Mel to lead the survivors out of safety and past the monster perimeter? Will the T-Rex do us all a favor and eat the nun?  Will the rampant corruption in the United Nations be exposed and Burma finally get their fair share of humanitarian and economic aid?  Just have fun this Friday night and put on "Monsters of War."  

Saturday, September 18, 2021

Hostage, Nubile Cheerleader Turns Psycho

 I know...we don't say it in public.  However, when we find a vicious film about a high school cheerleader victimized by a home invasion lunatic...well...we turn off "The English Patient" and switch it on.  Clad in a cheerleading outfit and as deep as a half filled bathtub, the nubile lass will be tied up, tortured, and sexually assaulted...or so it appears in the first few seconds of 2021's "Hostage."  Surprise!  She's the psycho...get ready to sympathize with the brute home invader.  Directed by Eddie Augustin, "Hostage" is a vicious film that may cause you to turn your head from the screen a time or two.

Ashley (Nicole Henderson) sneaks home after breaking curfew.  The very pretty cheerleader was just out with her hunk boyfriend, Chris (Nico DeCastris) and must sneak through an open window wearing her cheerleader get-up.  Uh oh!  She walks back in during a home invasion/robbery.  Mark (Mike Cannz) is robbing the place and tries to rape Ashley...or does he?  Okay...enough of the first three minutes of this film.  Twisted plot devices and a bit of torture porn will follow after Mark regains consciousness...with a stab wound and bound to a chair.  He'll get to meet Ashley in a new light...and Ashley's twisted parents, Thomas (Daryl Marks) and Grace (Tina Trineer).

On the surface, Thomas and Grace seem typical parents...at least for the first three seconds you meet them.  They end up as psycho as Ashley.  Now the bound Mark will realize he is a prisoner and his three captors might just be serial killers seeking to hold onto some dark secrets.  The very pretty and evil Ashley, just like most psychopaths, is always thinking.  You remember her boyfriend Chris?  Good!  Don't forget about him...no spoilers here.  What makes Ashley so psycho?  You'll see...and it won't be pretty.  Now the twisted family has a "family" discussion on what they should do to Mark...and the answer won't surprise any of you...though Mark won't take it well.

Does Mark have a prayer at getting out of this alive?  Will the pretty cheerleader, Ashley, sexually attack her prisoner?  Just who are Thomas and Grace and are they really Ashley's parents?  Miss Henderson's performance is terrifying and alluring.  She emits 'psychopath' nicely and we have no trouble believing she is capable of the stuff she actually does in this film.  For a fast-paced thriller with allure, torture, and bloodshed...see "Hostage."    

Thursday, September 16, 2021

The Curse of Humpty Dumpty, The Horror of Dementia

Not the feel good movie of this decade...no way.  Any of you who have been thrust in the position of being the caregiver for a loved one diagnosed with dementia may have to watch out for PTSD when viewing this film.  Even without the horror elements, 2021's "The Curse of Humpty Dumpty" will shock those who are not familiar with the dastardly effects of dementia, and cause those who are familiar to revisit painful episodes in their past.  Be very afraid, there will be other horror, and very bloody, elements thrown in.  Directed by Scott Jeffrey, "The Curse of Humpty Dumpty" is our feature today. 

A painful opening scene.  A loving daughter, Liz (Sian Altman) accompanies her mother,  Wendy (Nicola Wright), to the neurologist.  The prognosis is obvious...dementia.  Wendy will not be able to live alone anymore with her memory issues.  Liz and her younger sister Hazel (Antonia Whillans) will move Wendy back to the country home where she raised a family.  Dad?  Uh oh...you'll find out.  Now the memory issues play havoc as Wendy has weird memories shooting out of her subconscious.  What kind of memories?  From the pieces of them that we see, horrible ones that suggest...well, you'll see.

As Liz ands Hazel come to grips with losing their mom, Wendy finds an old menacing looking doll of Humpty Dumpty in a curiosity shop.  Wendy remembers the doll in their house as she raised the two girls...the girls have no such memory.  The doll is evil and seems to be alive at times.  Uh oh, Wendy's sister-in-law Beryl (Daniella Scott) visits and she wants to know what happened to her brother.  Wendy is hardly in a position to know but the doll may have something to say.  As Hazel dips further into the abyss of dementia her weird memories from the past indicate that she is not the innocent victim of fate that most dementia patients are.  The blood will splatter and the weirdness of who Wendy really is will cascade home.  Now Hazel and Liz will find themselves in mortal danger and so will anyone else who begins asking questions about Wendy's past.

What is the doll's connection to Wendy?  What are the macabre secrets bubbling to the surface of Wendy's subconscious?  Just what did happen to Wendy's husband and why is Beryl in mortal danger for trying to find out?  Depressing and without any humor, this film will play havoc with anyone currently going through the dementia process with a loved one.  See "The Curse of Humpty Dumpty" and then fight the temptation of drinking several adult beverages afterwards.  

Tuesday, September 14, 2021

Companion, An Ominous Frolic through the Apocalypse

Apocalyptic wasteland films are some of my favorites.  I don't even demand originality from them.  Nevertheless, on occasion we do get these films with some sobering originality.  Today we have a grim and horrific jaunt through post-apocalyptic Texas.  Ominous, heartbreaking, gory, and perhaps convicting is 2021's "Companion."  Written and directed by John Darbonne, this is a shocker and without humor or let-up.  No spoilers here, but Christine Nguyen fans will be jolted by her performance in the second half of this film.


It all began in 2024...they arrived...or appeared.  Companions...ghostly apparitions that have a zombie look to them.  The dead have returned and by 2027, the world is gone.  The dead become companions haunting and murdering the areas they died in when they were human.  The few survivors must battle and escape them.  Gus (Marcus Anthony) and his wife Ella (Anna Flynn) are foragers/survivors.  They reach a farmhouse and hope it will provide them shelter.  It won't.  Companions are there, and so is something much worse...you'll see.  As Gus reminds Ella, even more dangerous than these ghoulish companions are survivors. 

The Preacher (Eric Hanson) arrives with a small homicidal gang.  They are all quite insane.  Carnage follows and an apparent savior also arrives, Abner the cowboy (Russell Shealy).  Abner and Preacher are mortal enemies and you will find out why.  Ella and Gus are already in the crossfire between these two but quirks of fate will really play havoc with our young couple.  Oh yeah, these companions?  People who have died?  Well, it is not that simple and now Ella and Gus must also survive the truth of who or what these companions actually are.  Sorry, nothing here about Christine Nguyen's riveting performance, but trust me...it won't be easy to watch.

To survive will Gus and Ella have to figure out a way to kill the companions or the survivors?  In this apocalypse, are the companions merely arbiters of fate and deliverers of some grim news from the other side?  All right...so sue me for asking...any chance that we see Miss Nguyen frolicking in a bikini here? For those who love their horror ominous and grim, enjoy this highly original post apocalyptic tale of the extinction of humanity and man's fleeting attempt to hold onto it.  See "Companion," and be prepared to be discussing it for days afterward.    

Monday, September 13, 2021

Interview with Aaron Hawkins, Evil Lurks

This November Aaron Hawkins' ominous and intense horror film "Evil Lurks" will be released.  The trailer (click on the link below) is already raking in awards.  Mr. Hawkins was kind enough to sit down with me and tolerate an interview.  The filmmaker from the Midwest seemed to be a kindred spirit...we both love hour horror horrific and lasting.  When "Evil Lurks" gets closer to its release date, I look forward to posting a review.  In the meantime enjoy this interview with a classy and wonderfully talented horror film maker. 

To view the award winning trailer for EVIL LURKS, click on this link Evil Lurks Trailer on YouTube


CJZ:  Ominous plot? Demon rape?  A coming evil event?  You have made a film that speaks to me (my deviant confession of the day). What films have inspired you over the years...not only branding you as a film maker but inspiring "Evil Lurks"?

AH:  The films that have inspired me over the years, The Exorcist, Chernobyl Diaries, The Nun, The Purge, The Serbian Film (I would not suggest watching this), as well as a video game called Fallout 4.  The reason I spoke of The Serbian Film is because it is dubbed the scariest film in the world and it is the most disturbing film to me.  I get inspired by many things in the world and I am always thinking how a scene would look in real time, at any location I am at.

CJZ:  Amanda Winston has a starring role, Kimberly, is viciously attacked and victimized.  By the end of the film she will undergo a transition from beset damsel/victim to a strong hero on a mission.  Can you talk to us about Miss Winston?

AH:  Amanda Winston (Kimberly) is such a dynamic actor.  I knew we had someone special with her. A little back story on how she was cast. One week before filming her scenes we had another actor cast for the role but she had to drop out at the last minute.  We put out a rush call and 48 hours later we cast Amanda for what is to be the most physical role in the movie.  The attack scene took us story-boarding, choreographing the scene along with numerous rehearsals. It took us well over eight hours to film this one scene.  She did an awesome job as Kimberly as you will see when the film is released.


CJZ:  The low budget for this film provided challenges, I'm sure.  It does not look like you toned down the plot because of that.  How did you meet the challenges of cash shortages in making "Evil Lurks"?

AH:  No!  We did not tone down anything in the making of this film.  At all! I wouldn't necessarily say we had any cash shortages but I will say we are, as a cast and crew very resourceful.  Everyone behind the camera knows how to run cameras, lighting, booms, set decorating...even cooking for the cast and crew!!! For scenes with blood, I made two versions of blood.  One edible (tasted like Girl Scout thin mint cookies) and one non-edible that washes out without staining. Even some of the cast knew how to run some equipment so if I was unable to run, let's say the sound equipment, another actor jumped in. This was really a team effort and at the end, we considered ourselves family.

CJZ:  A normal kid?  A military veteran from Illinois? Staying in Illinois, you became a horror film maker.  This is wonderful.  Can you talk about your upbringing, desire to go into horror films, and also staying home (Illinois) to make films?  Thank you so much for avoiding California...it's so cliché!

AH:  Well, my upbringing was somewhat "normal," that is to say...I am normal...LOL. My mom worked at the phone company until she retired at the age of 48. My dad (biological) owns his own tree-trimming business in West Virginia.  My Step-Dad worked for a GMC dealership in the area so I was always learning how to work on cars, since as a kid I grew up with him. I started my journey in the arts when I was in junior high school (at the age of 13). I would design stuff in art class and draw cartoons.  In high school I designed a house in architecture class so my move for the arts progressed from school and seeing movies and TV shows as a kid.

I did join the military about six months after high school graduation and had fun doing that...but the arts kept calling.  My desire to get into horror is relatively simple.  Horror films are the least expensive to make and have the highest return of investment of all the genres. Oh!  I love how they look and how they keep my mind moving. I hear that all the time that California is cliché and part of me buys into that mindset...but the reality is, as a film maker, you can make a film anywhere.  The cast of "Evil Lurks" is entirely made up from actors and crew entirely from Illinois.  

CJZ:  Getting a low budget indie film made and distributed can't be easy. In addition to a film maker, I'm sure you also have to be a salesman or a pitchman... or in some cases a broker to draw in money.  Do you enjoy that aspect of your role in making "Evil Lurks"?

AH:  Yes and no.  The 'yes' is I love to talk to people and when someone asks what I do, I tell them I am a film maker and actor.  They are immediately intrigued and start asking questions and it is 100% of the time leads them to watching the award winning trailer.  The 'no' aspect is dealing with the legal stuff like contracts.  Outside the actual filming, I would say the hardest part is indeed raising the funds to film.  Along with being the creator of this film I also am the Executive Producer, co-writer, Director, and I even had a cameo role. 

CJZ:  You know who they are.  Unlike you and me, some so-called horror people will be offended by Kimberly's plight and the ominous circumstances that beset her.  From watching the trailer I am guessing some taboo plot devices are also utilized. You will be criticized and the film will be termed "offensive" and "crossing the line."  Do you have a response for those critics?

AH:  To those critics who deem it "offensive" and "crossing the line," I challenge you to watch "Evil Lurks" again with an open mind to the sheer art of the movie and watch the symbolism in it.  After all, filming a movie is an art form and the actors within ANY movie or TV show are performing and engaging in that art form. I fully expect to have critics make comments about this film.  The Horror genre is not for everyone but the die hard horror fans I know will love this movie.

CJZ:  From a business point of view, how are you and "Evil Lurks" doing?  IMDB gives a release date of late November.  Are the financial backers coming aboard?  Are distributors and festivals talking with you?

AH:  Myself and "Evil Lurks" are doing good.  The release date on our IMDB page is rough.  We are hoping to release it in November.  We are in post currently so we are beyond financial backing.  I have a few festivals I will put the film in.  I also have a list of six distribution companies who have reached out to me wanting "Evil Lurks."  We had planned on attending AFM (American Film Market) the first week of November to pitch it to more distribution companies but AFM has moved to online only.  We are still deciding if it makes sense to do the virtual AFM, or not.

CJZ:  "Evil Lurks" come out in late 2021...then what?  This is an ominous and ambitious story.  Prequels?  Sequels?  An entirely different film?

AH:  I am currently writing a prequel to "Evil Lurks" as we speak.  In fact, I started on the writing in the middle of filming "Evil Lurks."  I am also writing another horror movie entitled "Doomsday," and I have two other writers working on this with me.  It's funny, my family keeps asking me when I will stop writing horror and write a comedy.  My response is, as soon as I am no longer on this earth is when to expect me to write a comedy!!!



Sunday, September 12, 2021

Valentine, Typical Slasher Fare with Major League Babes and Hunks

Today's feature had obvious challenges when it hit the silver screen in 2001.  This slasher film came out well after the slasher era.  There was absolutely no demand for slasher films...except from weirdos like me.  Problem two:  Nothing new in the story.  Predictable twists and a telegraphed ending may have also served to doom its box office take.  Fear not...not all was bleak.  The babes and the hunks in this film were quite extraordinary.  Bikinis!  Hot tubs!  Big knives!  Axes!  Pre-marital sex!  Gore!  The aforementioned faults can be forgiven as all the right boxes were checked with emphatic red check marks.  Today we look at "Valentine," directed by Jamie Blanks.

The first kill will be the sultry med-student, Shelley (Katherine Heigl).  She'll be knifed while hiding in a body bag.  At her funeral we meet her sultry friends which include Kate ( Marley Shelton) and Paige (Denise Richards).  Uh oh...an ex-flame of Kate's shows up, Adam (David Boreanaz).  The recovering alcoholic tries to get Kate interested in him again.  The sultry former elementary school mates all begin receiving menacing Valentine cards.  Whoever gets the last card will be the next to die horribly.  Oh!  We meet the hunk boyfriends...all major league hunks.  They'll die horribly too.

One by one the babes and hunks die in bloody fashion.  A bow will fire three arrows into the lovely Lily (Jessie Cauffiel) at an art exhibit.  The sluts that they are, have planned a big party at babe Dorothy's (Jessica Capshaw) mansion.  All the gals desire to score big at the party and Denise Richards, Paige, will bring along a bikini.  The body count continues and a backstory rears its ugly head...you'll see.  Could a humiliated boy at a sixth grade dance have come back to butcher the babes who humiliated him?  Too easy?  The babes will look fine as they die horribly...the hunks will garner no sympathy as they promote the "all men are pigs" philosophy.  The party commences and you know who is there...or is he?

Will there be a final girl in this bloodbath of a slasher film?  Is Denise Richards too trashy to be considered a final girl?  How about the smooth talking Adam?  Is he too good to be a hero in this film?  Okay...yes...it is standard stuff...but for some great looking talent with wonderful bikini and evening gown action, this is a film you will want to see.  See "Valentine," and if nothing else, enjoy a wonderful hot tub demise.