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DVD ~ Eli Roth
Price: $9.94
50 used & new from $1.34

1.0 out of 5 stars Not Roth's best moment..., August 1, 2015
This review is from: Aftershock (DVD)
The latest Eli Roth vanity project which proudly proclaims above the film’s title that “Eli Roth Presents” is Aftershock, a tedious, low-budget horror/disaster film that was produced, written, and stars Roth. In other words, he owns this film for better or worse…mostly worse. Roth plays an unnamed American who is referred to only as “Gringo” by his friends. He is on vacation in Chile to visit his two friends Ariel, and Pollo who is the stereotypical rich boy.

The three friends are concerned with little else other than meeting women at local clubs and soon connect with Russian model Irina, party girl Kylie (Lorenza Izzo) and her stern sister Monica. Roth and director Nicolás López essentially waste the first 30 minutes of the film following this uninteresting cast of characters travelling from club to club, drinking, dancing, and playing childish pranks on each other. The film tries your patience so much that you begin to hope the impending earthquake just ends things quickly.

Once the earthquake hits, killing many in the club, the six friends flee but find themselves trapped within the city. As if the earthquake was not bad enough, sirens warn of an incoming tsunami and the walls of a local prison have been destroyed, spilling its dangerous convicts onto the streets where they rob, rape, or murder anyone who crosses their path. The group’s only hope is to make their way through a cemetery and to a local church which is rumored to have tunnels that can lead them to safety.

Aftershock was originally slapped with an NC-17 rating and had to be re-edited to get an R rating. Look, Roth loves this crap. He’d much rather push the envelope of good taste rather than actually make a good film and the publicity he gets from these ratings wars are more than he’d get from the film on its own merits. The film is filled with characters who have no redeeming qualities whatsoever so why should we care about them? The convicts are mere blood-crazed morons. If I’m in prison and the walls come tumbling down, I am going to use the opportunity to get as far away as possible, not stop to loot an appliance store.

Aftershock is a grim, slow-moving film that never manages to engage the viewer on any level.

DVD ~ Stephen Moyer
Offered by Sparks DVD Sales
Price: $9.99
37 used & new from $3.74

2.0 out of 5 stars Predictable, August 1, 2015
This review is from: Evidence (DVD)
I’m not a big fan of found-footage films but at least in Evidence there is a purpose to the footage. After the brutal murders of several people at a rundown truck garage outside of Las Vegas, local detectives uncover several cameras and phones that recorded the deadly events. Radha Mitchell and Stephen Moyer (True Blood) play detectives Burquez and Mitchell. Reece has just returned to the force…that every day…from a leave of absence which is never fully explained. The fact that he would return and immediately be put on such a high profile case immediately stretches believability but it’s explained as Reese being an expert at analyzing video.

Frankly the half dozen characters that are stranded in the desert and terrorized by a maniac in a welding mask are not compelling in the least. They are stock characters who get little character development. The action shifts between the police lab and the found footage. Reece tries to piece the video together; much of it damaged by fire and has to use computers to augment the footage as he tries to figure out the identity of the killer.

While there are plenty or red herring suspects tossed out there…basically every single character including possibly Reese himself, the mystery isn’t all that difficult. Director Olatunde Osunsanmi tips his hand within the first few minutes of the film and then numerous times throughout. Who is going to continue to hold their camera and film the action when they are being attacked by a maniac? The answer is no one would unless that person had a good REASON for filming the events.

Evidence is a tedious, predictable film that wastes the talents of Moyer and Mitchell. Osunsanmi’s clumsy direction fails to any semblance of suspense.

Hatchet III (Uncut and Unrated)
Hatchet III (Uncut and Unrated)
DVD ~ Danielle Harris
Price: $7.44
24 used & new from $7.44

2.0 out of 5 stars Horrible, August 1, 2015
We all know that the killers in slasher films can take an inhuman amount of damage, enough to kill dozens of normal men, and still keep going. But Hatchet’s Victor Crowley takes this amazing recuperation to new heights in Hatchet III. The film begins right where part II left off. Marybeth Dunstan (Danielle Harris) has just blown Crowley’s face clean off with a shotgun blast. But even that isn’t enough to stop the bayou beast. As Crowley rises again, Marybeth slices him in half from head to toe with a chainsaw. Thinking that Crowley is finally dead, Marybeth turns herself in to the Jefferson Parish sheriff, covered in blood. Sheriff Fowler (Zach Galligan of Gremlins) locks Marybeth up and sends a team of officers and paramedics out to investigate her claims of the slaughter at Honey Island Swamp.

The cops arrive on the scene to find dozens of mangled bodies including the split-in-half body of Crowley. Crowley’s remains are bagged and taken about a paramedic’s boat for processing. This is where Crowley pulls off his amazing feat of putting himself back together whole. And perhaps even more amazing is that his overalls also magically are repaired without a stich out of place.

Ok, I have not been overly impressed with any of Adam Green’s Hatchet films even though he turns directorial duties over to BJ McDonnell. But Hatchet III reaches a new low. We’re given some new mumbo jumbo about how Crowley is actually a ghost and needs to be reunited with the ashes of his father in order to finally kill him. As Marybeth is the last relative of the men that killed Crowley years earlier and only she fan deliver the ashes. Yeah, ok, anything to suck the remaining life out of the series.

Granted, Hatchet III should satisfy most gore hounds. Among Crowley’s more notable kills is thrusting his fist into the belly of a man and ripping out his spine with the skull still attached, leaving behind an empty meat sack. The effects however are cheap looking, even for low budget horror film. The blood looks like it was left over from a Herschell Gordon Lewis film. It’s too bright and lacks the viscosity of actual blood.

The cast features Sid Haig, Derek Mears and of course, Kane Hodder as Crowley,and is a lot of fun, but largely wasted. In particular Danielle Harris is given little to do other than apparently say F**K as many times as she can in 81 minutes.

Graphic Horror: Movie Monster Memories
Graphic Horror: Movie Monster Memories
by Caroline Joan S. Picart
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $29.03
45 used & new from $14.69

5.0 out of 5 stars Well Done!, August 1, 2015
Perhaps more than any other type of genre, horror has a legacy that is handed down through the generations and becomes the inspiration for new horror writers and filmmakers. The legacy of horror is at the core of this fun and fantastic new book from Schiffer Publishing. John Edgar Browning (and boy is that a name that exudes horror) takes readers on a trip down horror’s memory lane from the silent era to the present and collects the memories of leading horror writers, editors, anthologists, and historians who wax poetic about some of their favorite and most influential horror films.

Some of the noted commenters include Ramsey Campbell, David Drake, Don Glut, Marvin Kaye, Kim Paffenroth, David J. Skal, Brian Stableford, Tony Timpone, and F. Paul Wilson, to name just a handful. In all there are nine chapters covering the decades of the 1920s to the 2000’s, along with a foreword by David J. Skaal and an afterword by Chelsea Quinn Yarbro.

Each chapter features still pics or original movie poster of the film in question along with the commenter’s memories of that particular film. These also feature some views of rare overseas versions of posters or lobby cards. But these are not just vaporous comments about how they saw it as a kid, blah, blah, blah, but generally more of a discourse on why the film is so important along with liberal doses of interesting anecdotes such as Leslie Klinger’s comments on the Spanish language version of Dracula from 1931 and why he feels it is vastly superior to the Tod Browning/Bela Lugosi version.

For me the book works not only as a scrapbook of horror movie memories, but also a tome collecting images of hundreds of original film posters. Lastly, Browning features a comprehensive list of suggested reading for horror fans of both fiction and non-fiction books written or edited by his vast roll call of contributors. Whether your tastes run from the Universal horror classics, 1950s giant monsters, the Hammer horror films, or today’s modern slasher films, this is a book you’ll be happy to add to your library.

Lovely Molly
Lovely Molly
DVD ~ Gretchen Lodge
Offered by newbury_comics
Price: $5.99
47 used & new from $2.94

2.0 out of 5 stars Just for Rent, August 1, 2015
This review is from: Lovely Molly (DVD)
Lovely Molly is written and directed by Eduardo Sanchez. If that name sounds vaguely familiar, you may recall that Sanchez also wrote and co-directed the phenomenal indie hit The Blair Witch Project and then went on to do, well, not much. Sanchez hauls out a lot of the old plot devices and tricks for Lovely Molly but they all seem tired and have a distinct “been there, done that” quality to them.

Molly, a recovering heroin addict has just married Tim and moved into her late father’s country house. Tim is a truck driver and thus is on the road a lot, leaving Molly alone in the big, brooding house. Molly begins to experience a rash of chilling experiences including ghostly whispering and sobbing, doors rattling and opening by themselves, and visions (hallucinations) of something terrifying.

Molly continues to descent into madness and terror and behaving erratically including simulating being raped at work which she believes was real. She begins stalking her neighbors, spying on them with her video camera, watching both mother and daughter. As her family tries desperately to help her including older sister Hannah, Molly falls back into her addiction and soon is beyond help.

Is Molly possessed by something evil in the house? Is she haunted by the spirit of her deceased father? Or has she just gone mad? Sanchez hints at all of these as possibilities but that’s all he does is hint…tantalize, but never does he fully embrace molly’s true problem. The blu-ray offers several featurettes which explore each of these possibilities and one even claims that cast and crew experienced strange happenings at the real life Maryland country house while filming but I suspect that was just Sanchez trying to sell the film’s premise much like he tried to do with Blair Witch.

Lovely Molly isn’t particularly chilling or suspenseful. It has a woefully slow pace which had me nodding off a couple of times. It does have a couple of fine performances, particularly from Gretchen Lodge as Molly but this one is strictly a rental if there’s nothing better available.

The Alluring Art of Margaret Brundage: Queen of Pulp Pin-Up Art
The Alluring Art of Margaret Brundage: Queen of Pulp Pin-Up Art
by Stephen D. Korshak
Edition: Paperback
Price: $19.88
29 used & new from $14.25

5.0 out of 5 stars Spectacular!!!, August 1, 2015
Pulp magazines were considered the lowest rung of the literature ladder. They were the successors to the penny dreadfuls and dime magazines of the 1800s. They were produced using the cheapest possible paper. Often times, the writers and artists who worked in pulps did so under pen names because of stigma that came with working on such fantastic stories. But that artwork, once considered so disposable is now highly sought after today both in the form of the magazines themselves as well as the original artwork.

This was an industry dominated by male artists like Virgil Finlay, Frank R. Paul, Edd Cartier and others, but perhaps the greatest pulp artist of all was a female artist, Margaret Brundage. Brundage’s art became notable for working on perhaps the most famous of all pulp magazines, Weird Tales. But it was not only working on Weird Tales that Brundage was fortunate to work on but also the fact that she did the covers for many of the Weird Tales that featured Robert E. Howard’s Conan the Barbarian.

Vanguard Production’s fabulous books looks at Brundage’s incredible career in pulp art which featured some of the most shocking and lurid covers ever seen; covers that depicted full nudity and scenes of bondage and torture not only for Weird Tales but also Magic Carpet and Golden Fleece. Brundage drew covers depicting Howard’s barbarian hero for stories like The Devil in Iron and Queen of the Black Coast and while they are a far cry from the depiction of Frank Frazetta’s considered the standard of all Conan artists, Brundage got there first.

The book features a rare, 1973 interview with Brundage who was in her 70s by this time and had all but been forgotten. She talks about her life and career in the pulps, particularly working for Weird Tales. The book also includes every cover she did for Weird Tales. But this is actually two books in one. The second part, written by J. David Spurlock called “The Secret Life of Margaret Brundage” looks at a facet of her life which till now was largely unknown, that of a key player in counterculture and activism in worker’s rights and racial equality. Spurlock uncovers incredible details about the her life which goes well beyond her career as an artist.

Vanguard has never failed to enthrall me with their incredible line of books and The Alluring Art of Margaret Brundage is another winner.

Under the Bed
Under the Bed
DVD ~ Jonny Weston
11 used & new from $3.73

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars 2 1/2 stars, August 1, 2015
This review is from: Under the Bed (DVD)
What kid hasn’t gone to bed at night thinking there was a monster lurking under his bed or in his closet? Under the Bed expands on that idea but fails to actually run with it. Teenager Neal Hausman has returned home after living out of state with family for two years. Neal was sent away by his father, Terry, after the death of his mother in a fire, which local gossip blames on Neal.

Neal’s reunion is not a happy one. His always angry father is on him constantly to group and be a man, and his new stepmom is trying too hard to get to know him. All Neal cares about is his little brother Paulie. He discovers that Paulie is being tormented by the same evil entity that lived under Neal’s bed, turning his nights into living nightmares. Dad dismisses the boy’s claims of monsters as foolish nonsense, locking them in their room at night. But there is something underneath their bed, something which creeps out and forces the boys to sleep on their dressers at night. They have to destroy the creature before it destroys their family.

Under the Bed is an interesting concept but Director Steven C. Miller and Writer Eric Stolze fail to do much with the idea. Unlike similar films like Darkness Falls or The Boogeyman, Under the Bed fails to develop much of a mythology to capture the viewer’s interest. What is the monster? Where does it come from? Why is it haunting these two particular boys? Those questions are never answered and as such, the film plays like an extended episode of Goosebumps. Furthermore Miller contradicts himself when in one part, Neal says the monster is bound to their beds, but in another, the creature harasses stepmom Angela in the garage laundry room and later shows up at the neighbor’s house when the boys are spending the night.

The two leads Jonny Weston and Gattlin Griffith do a strong job throughout, particularly in conveying the sense of stress that comes with sleep deprivation but they simply are not giving much to work with. Add to that cheap creature effects and Under the Bed should have remained there permanently.

Marvel Select Ghost Rider Action Figure
Marvel Select Ghost Rider Action Figure
Price: $17.89
57 used & new from $13.92

4.0 out of 5 stars The teeth are incredible and outlined in fine, dark lines, August 1, 2015
The Ghost Rider Marvel Select figure features the Johnny Blaze version of the character which has always been my preferred version. He comes dressed in his blue jumpsuit with black gloves and boots. Marvel Select is always first rate when it comes to paint jobs and Ghost Rider is no difference. Unlike many of the more mass market action figures that are often lacking in details, this figure has a first rate sculpt and paint scheme. Not only are folds molded into his pants and coat but the folds are accentuated by black paint to emphasize the texture and shading in the outfit. The outfit is also sketched with smudges and scrapes to reflect Johnny Blaze’s profession as a stunt motorcyclist.

Ghost Rider’s head is the strongest aspect of this figure. Look at it closely…the skull itself is painted in a light gray color as opposed to white. The teeth are incredible and outlined in fine, dark lines. There are flecks of darker gray or perhaps even brown throughout the skull which gives the head an aged look. Ghost Rider’s head is shrouded in flames that is molded in a translucent orange plastic and highlighted with yellow paint that makes the figure appear to glow when in front of a light. The flames however are going backward instead of straight up as if he’s riding his motorcycle and the flames are being blown back.

Ghost Rider is articulated at his neck, shoulders, elbows, wrists, hips, knees, and ankles. The hip articulation only allows the leg to move forward and back, not out and in which does limit the posability a bit but is also fairly standard. Movement of the head is limited by the wide color of his suit as well. Ghost Rider comes with a base that is a flaming piece of road that features four hands reaching up out of Hell and through the road to try and grab him. One of the hands actually fits over his foot when put onto the base which lends to the look that he is being grabbed by a minion from Hell. The base has the same kind of translucent orange plastic with yellow flame highlights.

Now some people have complained that a problem with the figure is that it does not come with a motorcycle. Adding a motorcycle would also have added to the cost I think. Ghost Rider has to get off his bike often to fight so I don’t have a problem with this exclusion. And again, the base with the fiery hands makes it great for display.

Diamond Select Toys Marvel Select: Classic Green Goblin vs. Spider Man Action Figure
Diamond Select Toys Marvel Select: Classic Green Goblin vs. Spider Man Action Figure
Price: $24.68
38 used & new from $18.74

4.0 out of 5 stars Romita era Greatness, August 1, 2015
Hey look all of us who are action figure fans love Marvel Select figures from Diamond Select Toys but if you missed them upon initial release the only way to get them was on the secondary market and often at inflated prices. Thankfully Diamond Select sees fit to throw collectors who missed these figures a bone now and then by re-releasing some of these classic figures. This time are giving us Ghost Rider and The Green Goblin.

The Green Goblin is the original John Romita version which was inspired by the cover to Amazing Spider-Man #39 from 1966 featuring a triumphant Green Goblin with Peter Parker, exposed as Spider-Man, tied up and helpless. The Goblin comes with his Goblin Glider which fits onto a display base, pumpkin bomb, and satchel. The first thing that stands out about this figure is the maniacal look on the Green Goblin’s face. His bright yellow eyes are wide and crazed as he smiles a tooth-bearing grin. Meanwhile, Peter Park has a grimace of pain on his face as he struggles to free himself.

The detail on the Goblin is fantastic, with small raised dots on the green portions of his body to give the look of scales that are mixed with bulging vessels on his thigh and bicep muscles. His purple shirt, boots, gloves and hat have a textured look with folds and touches of black paint to bring out the shading. With 12 points of articulation, GG isn’t as articulated as other Marvel Select figures. He is jointed at the neck, shoulders, gloves, wrists, waist, hips, boots and ankles. The only problem with the figure is that he’s molded solid at the knees in a permanent crouch which means that he’s only going to look right if posed on his Goblin Glider. I’m not crazy about that but at he does have a good amount of flexibility when put on the glider. Otherwise he’s looking as if he’s crouching down to take a dump. In the crouched position he stands about 5” tall and the wingspan of the glider is a little over 6”.

The Peter Parker figure is molded solid so it has no movement and is about 6 ½” long. Parker is dressed in white dress shirt and green pants (green pants?) which are torn open to reveal his Spider-Man costume since this was the issue that The Green Goblin discovered Parker’s secret Identity. Thus, while cool, the Parker figure is a mere accessory.

The Demented
The Demented
DVD ~ Kayla Ewell
Price: $9.96
49 used & new from $0.92

3.0 out of 5 stars Decent but was hoping for better, August 1, 2015
This review is from: The Demented (DVD)
The Demented is another entry into the zombie film genre, this one drawing its inspiration from films like 28 Days Later where the “zombies” are actually people who are infected with a rabies like disease making them crazed and attacking anyone they see with abandon AND full speed but also meaning they can be killed as normal humans are as opposed to just shooting them in the head. The Demented has a couple of things going for it that other low-budget films of similar ilk do not. Often times in zombie films we hear about the infected being the result of some viral or biological outbreak but rarely do we see it actually happen. This is not the case with The Demented.

Six college friends have gathered at the friend Howard’s home in Louisiana (while their parents are away) for a weekend of sun, fun, and beer. Howard receives a call from his father about a possible terrorist attack along the Gulf Coast but the phone goes dead before he can gather any details. Soon after, a missile strikes in the distance, causing a plume of green smoke to mushroom up on the horizon. As the group of friends debate their next move the first indication of trouble comes in the form of a dog with a chewed off ear and flies buzzing about its head that attacks them, causing them to take refuge in the house. Soon after, several salivating maniacs come crashing through the windows of the house, scattering the group. As the small group of friends takes refuge in an upstairs bedroom, they realize that they have to somehow get to their car and get away to find safety.

I mentioned a couple of things that the film has going for it…the second is that the infected stand absolutely motionless when they don’t have a target on which to focus. In this regard they are similar to the Nurses in the Silent Hill videogame and film franchise. This adds an element of creepiness to the infected as there are several scenes where the group attempts to sneak by them while they are motionless. Director/Writer Christopher Roosevelt keeps the action moving for the most part, giving us just enough character development even though it might be stereotypical such as the white kid who is going to be a lawyer while the black kid is the football star. There’s an unnecessary bit of drama involving one of the girls sleeping with another’s boyfriend that ultimately goes nowhere.

The male actors are frankly boring and wooden in their delivery but the female leads including Kayla Elwell (The Vampire Diaries) and Sarah Butler (I Spit on Your Grave) are vastly superior and fun to watch. The makeup effects are strictly bargain basement but the infected run so fast that you rarely get a decent look at them anyway.

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