Monday, September 24, 2012

555 Hardbox (Massacre Video) Unboxing

Got a great release from Massacre Video today, the 555 hardbox! This was assembled in Germany so it has the authentic feel that I so desire. He previously released Orozco: The Embalmer and has Junk Films and Demon Queen coming out soon. All the releases are available in hardbox, VHS and DVD format, very limited quantities available. For more info on Louis Justin and Massacre Video, check out the Facebook page: . Thanks for reading!

Friday, September 21, 2012

The Last Broadcast

1998. Stefan Avalos. Lance Weiler. This film is one of those that's ahead of its time, pioneering and inventive, yet just out of reach of the limelight. I've made it no secret that the 'Found Footage' corner of Horror is one of my guilty pleasures. I believe it comes from my love of documentaries and mondo/shockumentary films. When done correctly, such a film can be gripping, but often it's seen (or used) as a gimmick to pad poor writing or acting. 

The general plot of The Last Broadcast revolves around a double murder, the hosts (Steven Avcast and Locus Wheeler) of a public access cable show, 'Fact or Fiction.' They had set out to find the mythical Jersey Devil, supposedly located in the Pine Barrens, a thickly wooded and remote area. A sound engineer (Rein Clackin) and a man with supposed psychic powers (Jim Suerd) are invited to join the group as well. The story is essentially the meeting of these characters and their fateful trip to the Barrens. The whole even was streamed on the internet and cable tv, a feat I found interesting since the internet was still not widely available at the time of making this film. Again, ahead of its time. A documentary filmmaker (David Leigh) is our narrator, he feels that the crime wasn't properly researched and a guilty man was convicted of murder. Suerd was immediately fingered as the killer, with the evidence being blood found on his clothes of all three victims (yes, I said three - more on that later), being the only surviving member and his outbursts on the video recordings. That's really the whole backstory. What we see is David Leigh talking the history of their show and organization of the trip, with their footage mixed in. 

There's a major documentary feel to this film and save the last ten or so minutes does that very well. The cast has a good chemistry, while the acting isn't top notch, for me it doesn't have to be. I find it smart writing how the two lead actors invite these two supporting into their group, as that creates a natural barrier to them appearing a long-time buddies, a fault that so many films try and do. What others have mentioned as a negative, I find quite the opposite. Our narrator, on the other hand, is stiff as a board. I'm almost positive he reads his lines, there's a noticeable lack of charisma but that may be his intention. The film does show some choice moments where Suerd is lashing out towards the group, but again, these guys aren't buddies. Suerd has the trust of the group on his back and due to his psychic powers, is leading the expedition. This leads to one of my main gripes with the film - I can't figure out if Leigh is really for proving Suerd's innocence or not. Obviously, having watched the film I realize why his opinion jumps but for a first time viewer it can be confusing. I say that, but the ending is very confusing regardless. 

As we are shown more of this trip, the tape runs out. Literally, as Wheeler says it's time to change the tape, that's supposedly the last tape recovered from the group. We then see a mysterious package arrive at our narrator's house, a package containing several feet of tape. He takes this to a data retrieval expert (Michelle Monarch), who says she can recover what's salvageable on the tape and attempt to repair the rest. This was my favorite part of the film, seeing the footage recovered with all the glitches and tears that would be present on a damaged video tape. Even more amazing is this film was the first all-digital release ever. Those guys had some very convincing VHS effects. Continuing, the footage shows Wheeler and Clackin discovering a large pool of blood after looking for Avcast, who had went out alone searching for the creature. This is my main gripe. We are told by one of the experts detailing the case that Avcast could not have survived, in relation to the amount of blood found at the scene. That's fine, I can deal with that, but to never close his chapter of the film? Suerd was only charged with a double murder yet there's strong evidence that the third and still missing party had died as well. I'm don't want to pick that much but I really was hoping Avcast was actually the killer, but that's unfortunately not the case.

I'll attempt to not totally spoil the ending, but after the footage is repaired thoroughly enough to reveal a face, the film changes suddenly. The perspective changes from a first-person documentary view to a standard multi-camera setup. This took me out of the film, as what genuine quality the film had was completely taken away. The remaining final minutes of the film shows a brutal murder, not with gore but with sheer force. Talking more about this shot would spoil the entire film, but just know that when the perspective changes, the whole mood changes with it. I found it a questionable choice, an unnecessary one seeing how the film was headed in a certain direction. I get that it's a shocking twist and that's fine, but if they would have continued the story as it was heading, I would have been much more satisfied. With that, it's a film and a scene that has to be watched to truly understand. I had read reviews and still when the events unfolded, I had to use my head a little to figure some things out. Maybe a second watch will take me where the filmmakers had planned, but that remains to be seen. All in all, a film that deserved more fanfare than it received, overshadowed by a similar film, The Blair Witch Project. I hope that all who read this will be intrigued enough to search the film out, it's not super easy to find but out there. Thanks for reading, I apologize for the lack of pictures but I'm typing this on the road.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

This layout...

I don't like how when I post videos my widgets are overlapped. That's odd. Part of the process, I suppose. I can always change the layout again. Some cool things coming up, I joined a horror group on Facebook, Horror Fans Asylum, and they're in the process of starting a new site. I'll hopefully be posting content on that site as well as my own, which was my goal starting out. I'm really working on a weekly content schedule, and I think it's going to work out just fine. Hoping for 1-2 videos and reviews a week going forward. Tell your friends about my site, share it, like the posts...whatever you feel like doing. The more feedback I get, the more time I will put into my projects. Keep your eyes peeled, more is coming.

Weekly Update 09-16-12

Not a whole lot of new things to show but I talk about some things I've watched recently and what's to come later this week.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

The Burning

1981. Tony Maylam. This is a film I've known about for years, one of those slashers that pops up on the fringe of conversation. It legacy is mostly due to Tom Savini's masterful effects, including some fantastic kills that haven't been replicated to death, no pun intended. The killer is referred to as Cropsey, a name that I found curious as I watched a documentary by the same name a few months ago. The film opens with a group of camp kids plotting to scare the aforementioned killer, and that prank going horribly wrong. I found the little things enjoyable, as instead of just having him die and reappear as the killer, we spend time with him. There's a decent chunk of time showing his treatments and rehab over five years, ending with Cropsey walking out of the hospital, scarred beyond repair. He dresses in black from head to toe, walking the street at night. He comes up on a prostitute who then leads him to her apartment. I found her curiously inviting to a shady looking guy, but hey, this is horror. She quickly sees his face and after screaming in fear, is stabbed with a pair of scissors. We then are shown a camp not far from the original, which was closed after the burning. Cropsey already decided to lurk this campground, as the kids that nearly killed him are now counselors. I won't lurk much on the middle of the film, campers do camp things, relationships are made and there's sex of course. Also a nice bit of nudity, full frontal as well. It's always a let down when nudity is provided in a film and the actress is not attractive. Not in this case, fortunately. Now, seeing that I've alienated my female readers, I'll continue. The campers are planning a three day canoeing trip, to the appropriately named Devil's Creek, which is several miles from camp. The first night, a campfire story about Cropsey's legend is told. It's odd since it was known he was in a hospital these past years but still has a legend. I realize that a film taking place at a camp HAS to have a campfire scene, but it's a nitpick. When two lovebirds attempt to make that next step, the lady isn't wanting to move as far as her companion is. Proves to be a fatal mistake, as she is soon dispatched with a mean pair of gardening shears. The next morning, there's a search planned for our latest victim. Soon they find their canoes missing. Being basically marooned at their campground, the idea to fashion a raft is made. A crude raft is built and some of the campers set out to find both their friend and hopefully their canoes too. The scene this film is infamous for happens here.
A canoe is found and as the raft reaches it, Cropsey stands up in it and holds his shears high. He massacres the group, cutting off fingers, slashes throats and dismembering them in a flurry of quick cuts. It's such a shocking scene, even amid the brutal kills since is happens so suddenly. The next few scenes show another couple having sex, but he doesn't exactly satisfy her desires. It's a pretty funny scene, with Cropsey killing the girl while she's in her sleeping bag. When her mate returns to her and finds her dead, he is quickly impaled onto a tree. This would be another set of counselors missing if not for Alfred, wanting to spy on them seeing the killings. He then brings the head counselor, Todd to the scene and is attacked by our killer, but not fatally. As Cropsey pursues the survivor, Todd stumbles back to his feet, heading back to camp. The next morning, the raft with the mutilated teens comes into view of the remaining group. Todd soon reaches them and seeing the raft, tells all the ones that are left to head back to the campground as he looks for Alfred, who has been captured by Cropsey. He hears the screams of Alfred and finds him being held hostage by Cropsey, who has a really nice modified blowtorch, which has been made into a flamethrower. We finally see Cropsey's face and it didn't disappoint.
He reminded me of a zombie from Nightmare City, actually. There's a little bit of cat and mouse as Todd fights for his life. Cropsey attempts to set him on fire but Alfred frees himself and stabs him with his own shears. Michelle arrives with police as Todd and Alfred are walking out of the mine where he was held. Cropsey gets back up and tries to attack them but Todd puts an axe in his head for the effort. Alfred picks up the flamethrower and sets Cropsey on fire, walking away as his body burns. I kinda felt bad, they set the poor bastard on fire twice. If you think about it from his perspective, it's quite a depressing film, haha. I rank the film right up there with some of the best slashers, it's definitely worth a watch. Savini added a lot of credibility but the film also has a good story and doesn't suffer from sequelitis as so many do. I hope you enjoyed the review, this film can be enjoyed on Netflix, do yourself a favor and check it out.