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Daniel Jolley "darkgenius" RSS Feed (Shelby, North Carolina USA)
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Snow Shark
Snow Shark
DVD ~ Michael O'Hear and Jackey Hall Sam Qualiana
Price: $2.99
29 used & new from $2.65

1.0 out of 5 stars An abominably bad movie, July 3, 2015
This review is from: Snow Shark (DVD)
Any self-respecting quest to seek out the worst movie ever made must go through Snow Shark: Ancient Snow Beast at some point. While this isn’t the worst movie I’ve ever seen, it is bad – really, really bad. But, heck, you know that already based solely on the title. Now don’t go picturing deep Arctic snowdrifts in your head – this ancient snow beast, despite its significant size, somehow swims beneath two or three inches of snow on the ground. Even the rapidly decreasing hick population of the town doesn’t believe in the snow shark, despite the fact that a local teenager claimed he shot and killed one twelve years earlier. The evidence was destroyed in a fire, you see. Nothing kills tourism like wild stories about snow sharks.

It all started with an earthquake (presumably, that awoke the prehistoric shark from his millennia-long nap). Soon after, a scientific team came to investigate why all of the local forest animals seemed to have disappeared – and disappeared themselves. Now, twelve years have passed, and the snow shark is back. The mayor calls in a biologist, a cryptozoologist, and a famed hunter to find and neutralize whatever is killing local citizens on a daily basis. Locals ammo up and go on the hunt themselves. Yes, there will be blood – lots and lots of fake blood strewn across the snow.

I can’t point to any positive aspect of this film. All of the outdoors scenes look like they were filmed in somebody’s back yard. The acting is just horrible all across the board – which may be for the best given the fact that the script and dialogue is so stilted and abysmal. You can’t look forward to the shark attacks, either – they usually just amount to somehow hollering as “blood” is thrown across the camera lens. On the occasions when we do get to see more than the fin of the shark, you end up wishing you could have just left it to your imagination because it’s not impressive in the least. Even the scene with a couple of topless women coming out of a Jacuzzi is hard to watch – frankly, I found the shark more attractive. Unless you are determined to seek out the very worst movies ever made, just leave Snow Shark alone.


UFOs: Above and Beyond
UFOs: Above and Beyond
DVD
Price: $2.99

2.0 out of 5 stars James Doohan is the only good thing about this documentary, July 2, 2015
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Like several other reviewers, I only watched this documentary because it was hosted by James Doohan. Having watched it now, I would say that James Doohan is the only reason you would want to watch UFOs: Above and Beyond. I am convinced that Earth is being (and has long been) visited by extraterrestrials, but this video doesn’t make a very strong case for UFO reality. Some of the photo and video evidence may have been presented here for the first time, but virtually all of it is familiar to anyone with an interest in ufology today. Indeed, a lot of it goes back to the 1950s and 1960s. Those types of grainy images are far from conclusive, and you don’t get a lot of time to study anything you’re seeing. It appears obvious that the makers of this documentary tried to cram in as many images as possible; these things come at you faster than the chocolate came at Lucy and Ethel on that classic episode of I Love Lucy. More unfortunate still is the fact that two of the few times the video slowed down to focus on a single witness, the subjects were Bob Lazar and Billy Myers, neither of whom are given any credibility among ufologists. I really can’t recommend this documentary to anyone apart from James Doohan fans. It’s not going to convince anyone that UFOs are real.


San Andreas Quake
San Andreas Quake
DVD ~ Grace Van Dien
Price: $9.99
35 used & new from $5.82

4.0 out of 5 stars Another entertaining Asylum knockoff disaster film, June 26, 2015
This review is from: San Andreas Quake (DVD)
Once again, The Asylum shows why it is the king of low-budget knockoffs. Sure, the story is old and formulaic, some of the CGI effects are pretty bad, and some of the acting doesn’t measure up, but I still think this is a pretty darn good Asylum disaster movie. I sort of feel sorry for those who can’t just sit back and get some enjoyment out of a silly little film like this. I, for one, love Asylum disaster movies, and this one has all of the standard Asylum elements: one or more parents – one of whom has detailed knowledge of the natural disaster taking place – fighting to reach and save a child, a scientist with information no one takes seriously, “on the road” conversations about how bad the traffic is when we the viewers never see another single car going in either direction, periodic “news updates” on the deepening crisis, and, of course, the wholly predictable ending.

Molly Dunn (Jhey Castles) is a seismologist who has developed a system capable of predicting earthquakes up to several hours before they hit. Unfortunately, her inability to back up those claims several years earlier means that no one believes her – not even her step-daughter Ali (Grace Van Dien). As a series of increasingly large quakes begins to strike the Los Angeles area, though, Molly alone knows and believes that the long-dreaded “big one” is going to decimate Los Angeles within just a few hours. Even though she has a strained relationship with her step-daughter, she insists on trying to reach Ali in downtown L.A. and usher her to safety. She doesn’t go alone, but the identity of her companion and Molly’s interaction with that person is a major part of the story I don’t want to reveal.

I really like Grace Van Dien, and not just because she looks like a hot clone of Avril Lavigne in this movie. She’s a promising young actress I hope to see more of in the future. Molly’s traveling companion also turns in a good performance. As with pretty much all Asylum films, there are several goofs and mistakes – but I actually find these little things sort of endearing; they’re like the Asylum’s calling card. Still, the whole zoo-related scene is really pretty bad – terrible CGI and one shot against blatantly wrong scenery. Now, I understand that most people do not share my appreciation of the Asylum’s body of work, and I readily admit that some Asylum movies do indeed merit one star only – but San Andreas Quake really isn’t a bad film. I say try it – you might just like it.


Willow Creek [Blu-ray]
Willow Creek [Blu-ray]
DVD ~ Bryce Johnson
Price: $12.99
27 used & new from $8.49

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Easily one of my all-time favorite "found footage" films, June 24, 2015
This review is from: Willow Creek [Blu-ray] (Blu-ray)
Willow Creek easily lands itself a spot in my top five “found footage” films. This, my friends, is found footage done right (and, as for Bigfoot films in general, Willow Creek is the new champion). I was rather shocked to learn that Bobcat Goldthwait wrote and directed this gem, but it’s clear that the funny man knows how to make an effective horror thriller. Rare indeed are the films that can invoke an element of the creeps in this horror veteran’s bones, but Willow Creek succeeds in doing just that with one of the most atmospheric and uncomfortable (not to mention longest) scenes I’ve seen in years.

The first half of the movie comes across as pretty formulaic. Jim (Bryce Johnson) and his girlfriend Kelly (Alexis Gilmore) head off to Willow Creek, California, to fulfill Jim’s lifelong dream of exploring the very area where Roger Patterson (alongside his buddy Bob Gimlin) filmed the most compelling video footage of Bigfoot ever captured. Kelly isn’t really the outdoors type, and she does not share her boyfriend’s belief in the existence of Sasquatch, but she agrees to go along just to make Jim happy. That right there is love, people. First, of course, they do the whole tourist thing in Willow Creek – grabbing a Bigfoot Burger, filming landmark signs and statues, and interviewing locals for Jim’s documentary of the trip. For those interested in Bigfoot, it’s a lot of fun stuff, including a little Tom Yamarone performance of his tune “Roger and Bob (Rode Out That Day).” A couple of locals do warn the couple not to go into the forest, but Jim’s not about to give up on his dream. Once they do hike deep into the woods, this film hits a whole new gear, best exemplified by an unforgettable twenty one and a half minutes long “one take” scene. Goldthwait peels back all the layers of modern horror theatrics to expose the audience to raw, gradually building terror. It’s brilliant – it really is.

Another positive aspect of this film is the fact that it’s not wrapped in the trappings pervading this particular genre. There’s no introductory bit with law enforcement asking for help with the case, no news report of anyone getting lost in the woods – none of that crap that tends to reveal what is going to happen. The ending of the film is also praiseworthy – and not just because it is well-done by all involved. It also starts some neurons firing, leading you to suddenly grasp additional insight into what you’ve seen well after you finished watching the movie.

If your high hopes for Bigfoot: The Lost Coast Tapes were dashed or if you generally enjoy “found footage” films, I highly recommend that you give Willow Creek a try. This film avoids all of the mistakes that afflict so many films of this genre. I know I’m going to enjoy returning to this movie again and again in the future.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jun 25, 2015 8:17 PM PDT


Paranormal Retreat - Extended Cut
Paranormal Retreat - Extended Cut
DVD
Price: $1.99

1.0 out of 5 stars A film haunted by complete and utter incompetence, June 19, 2015
Rarely indeed does a movie come along that is so incompetently made, so poorly shot, so ill-thought-out, so ineptly acted, so amateurishly edited, and so embarrassingly awful on all levels that you know, in the midst of the awful suffering of actually watching it, that you’re seeing something most people will never experience in their entire lives. Paranormal Retreat is one such movie. I have to believe that there must have been some kind of inhumanly dark and brilliant mind that created this because no film could actually be this bad accidentally. You know how they say that a monkey with a typewriter might theoretically pound out the works of Shakespeare at some point over the course of infinity? Well, there’s even less of a chance that a movie this bad could just blossom into being randomly.

The setup for the film is more well-known than a one dollar hooker at a Shriner’s convention – paranormal research team investigates a haunted location. It’s supposed to be some old farmhouse, but the place looks pretty modern to me – I know the barn is certainly made of metal. Anyway, lots of goofy, inane banter ensues as the team eventually finds the actual location. It’s never clear to me whether they are believers or debunkers, but that really doesn’t matter. Weird things start happening almost immediately – especially involving contact with locals (especially a grumpy farmer) who weren’t supposed to be there. Then the ghosts begin to make their presence known. It’s a funny thing about these ghosts – although the characters apparently can’t see them, the viewer can plainly see people walking and crawling around doing things. Maybe I was supposed to pretend that I couldn’t see the people? The filmmakers apparently thought that shooting these “ghosts” with low-quality cameras in poorly lit conditions make them seem invisible or something. Who knows what these folks were thinking? You literally can’t see what is going on for at least half of the movie – no one could hold a camera steady.

I could go on and on bashing this film, but I think I’ve made my point. These guys didn’t even edit out the parts where actors could be heard laughing off-camera at the end of a couple of scenes. Let’s be clear about one thing, though – this is not one of those “so bad they’re good” bad movies. Paranormal Retreat is a “so bad you can’t believe how incredibly bad it is” bad movie.


Eyes in the Dark
Eyes in the Dark
Price: $12.99

5.0 out of 5 stars An overlooked gem in the found footage horror genre, June 6, 2015
This review is from: Eyes in the Dark (DVD)
Eyes in the Dark is a great “found footage” film, one that has somehow remained below the radar since its release in 2010. Presented as a series of classified videos accessed via an FBI server, it purports to show proof that authorities are covering up a series of missing persons and deaths in the Cascade Mountains. The first video is a short cellphone video of some scared guy meeting a mysterious end, followed by the video diary of two biologists out tracking deer migration patterns in the wilderness – let’s just say they discover why deer migration patterns have recently changed. The majority of the movie, though, deals with eight missing college students and the ill-fated search and rescue attempt to find them. Eight friends head up to a remote mountain lodge in order to get away from the stress of exams. They are blissfully ignorant, of course, of the legends surrounding that area – how local Indians have always avoided the place and left cryptic warnings about “eyes in the dark.”

I think both the writing and the acting is pretty darn good, making for believable characters interacting in ways that seem genuine. The only real shortcoming of the film is the special effects – but even that isn’t a real problem because the film is all about the terror caused by the entities with the glowing red eyes. Since you get no more than glimpses at the creatures, there’s not a great deal of gore, either. That’s sound filmmaking in my opinion – revealing the “monster” often detracts from the thrill and suspense of the action. And let’s face it, with an estimated budget of five grand, you would be hard pressed to present any kind of monster capable of pleasing the audience. I also liked the multiple story arc of this film; I think it is one of the first of its kind in the found footage genre, predating V/H/S by a couple of years. If you’re a fan of found footage horror, I think you’re really going to like Eyes in the Dark.


Eyes In The Dark: The Sasquatch Experience
Eyes In The Dark: The Sasquatch Experience
DVD
Price: $10.00

3.0 out of 5 stars Decent Bigfoot stories accompanied by unreliable recreations of encounters, June 6, 2015
This relatively short documentary features accounts of Bigfoot encounters and findings by several dedicated Bigfoot hunters – plus some thoughts from famed cryptozoologist Loren Coleman. The impetus for the video was producer/director Todd Partain’s own encounter with the legendary creature. As a young child, he – along with his mother and brother – were terrorized by a large, red-eyed creature who tried to get in their trailer, putting holes in the front steps and damaging the building’s exterior. We hear that whole story in the words of Partain, his parents, and his brother. The Bigfoot researchers interviewed here are not yokels who go around saying “I do think there’s a squatch in these woods” every time they enter a forest; they are experienced and dedicated men, several of whom have published books on the subject. Unfortunately, some of their stories are accompanied by recreations – and not very reliable ones. The recreation of a close-up encounter described by Scott Herriott and his buddy Daryl Owen looks very impressive – I’ve seen the original video, however, and I can’t really see any sort of creature whatsoever in the footage. As far as I’m concerned, this damages the credibility of this entire documentary.


Sasquatch Hunters
Sasquatch Hunters
DVD ~ Matt Lattimore
Offered by Best Bargains Inc
Price: $14.99
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4.0 out of 5 stars A surprisingly serious and entertaining low-budget Bigfoot movie, June 6, 2015
This review is from: Sasquatch Hunters (DVD)
In a world full of low-budget Bigfoot movies, Sasquatch Hunters stands pretty tall among its peers. Some may complain about the special effects (a combination of CGI and costumes), but I thought they were pretty good. More importantly, the acting is excellent and the script is quite good – and surprisingly serious. Okay, the main character’s background is mentioned but never explored, but there’s very little cheesy dialogue and the characters continually react in believable ways to the frightening situations they find themselves in. Also, unlike most Bigfoot movies, the story doesn’t cram the whole Bigfoot thing down your throat. Heck, three-fourths of the way through, the characters are still trying to figure out just what they’re up against. I only remember hearing the word Bigfoot once, and the film’s original title was Primeval rather than Sasquatch Hunters. Of course, the latter title really poses the question as to just who is hunting whom here.

Apparently, it takes five rangers to escort three scientists deep into the woods in search of unusual bones or fossils. The discovery of an unidentifiable, gorilla-like bone matching a decades-old sample in museum archives sends paleontologist Helen Gilbert (Amy Shelton-White), anthropologist Ethan Edwards (Gary Sturm), and a student photographer on a quest to find more evidence of the mysterious creature. Former Ranger Roger Gordon (Matt Lattimore) joins his old boss and three young Rangers on the mission. After a couple of days hiking, the group arrives at the investigation area, where they find a burial mound stocked with unusual big bones – possibly an undiscovered relative of Gigantopithecus, according to the anthropologist. Unfortunately, something in the woods also discovers the party of humans – something big, dark, hairy, loud, and seriously pissed off. The excitement of the scientific discovery soon turns to fear as these intelligent creatures begin to make their displeasure crystal clear.

The film is almost completely free of campiness, which is why the story plays so well. I genuinely liked the characters and did not want to see any of them harmed. There’s some harmless flirting early on, but there’s no nudity or sexual overtones to distract from the story. There’s not much in the way of gore, either – although a poacher does meet his end in a rather enjoyable way at the very beginning. Most of the real action takes place at night. The lighting is well done, allowing you to actually see what is going on while still preserving a strong “we’re being hunted and picked off one by one by Bigfoot in the middle of the woods at night” feel throughout. I also liked the fact that no one really comes out and says “it’s Bigfoot.” The whole subject matter is treated here with a level of seriousness you won’t find in most films of this genre. This really is one of the best low-budget “Bigfoot” movies I’ve seen.


Witness to Roswell: Unmasking the Government's Biggest Cover-up (Revised and Expanded Edition)
Witness to Roswell: Unmasking the Government's Biggest Cover-up (Revised and Expanded Edition)
by Thomas J. Carey
Edition: Paperback
Price: $15.16
64 used & new from $6.91

4.0 out of 5 stars The truth about Roswell according to those who were there, May 30, 2015
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Witness to Roswell is one of the best books out there concerning the crash of a flying saucer outside Roswell, New Mexico, in July 1947. It helps to have basic knowledge about the events surrounding the Roswell Incident before reading it, however, as it doesn’t lay out the story of what supposedly happened in a linear fashion. Instead, it presents different aspects of the case from the perspective of those who witnessed them somewhere along the line. Perhaps the main strength of the book is the authors’ revelations of the most recent deathbed confessions of several witnesses and participants in the cover-up, men such as Brigadier Generals Arthur Exon and Thomas Dubose who held fast to their oaths of secrecy until the end of their lives. Dubose, who served as General Ramey’s Chief of Staff in 1947, stated in recorded interviews as well as a signed affidavit that a weather balloon was switched for the actual material from Roswell in advance of Ramey’s famous press conference to kill the flying saucer story – and that the orders for the cover-up came from Washington, D.C. That is powerful testimony that the Air Force has essentially ignored in its third and fourth official “explanations” for the Roswell Incident.

Unfortunately, any evaluation of this book begs the question of Donald Schmitt’s credibility. No researcher has worked harder or longer at researching the Roswell Incident and attempting to get the most reluctant of witnesses to finally tell their stories. At the same time, he has hurt the very case he is trying to make by initially lying about his education, accomplishments, and research methods -- which led directly to the end of his research partnership with Kevin Randle. Through his partnership with fellow researcher Thomas J. Carey, Schmitt has worked hard to restore his credibility over the past two decades. Unfortunately, his involvement with Jaime Maussan and the laughable “Roswell slides” fiasco has once again left his credibility in tatters – and dealt ufology another serious black eye. Although he makes a point in this book about dismissing all of undertake Glenn Dennis’ testimony after learning Dennis had knowingly given them a fake name for the nurse that told him about the alien bodies, he does continue to put faith in some witnesses whose testimony has been questioned elsewhere. To their credit, though, the authors do not even mention the extravagant claims of Philip Corso. All of that being said, I do not believe that Schmitt and Carey put forth any information in this book that they do not believe to be true – but I can’t in good conscience give the book five stars.

If you want to know the names and testimonies of any and everyone involved in the Roswell incident, from those who saw the debris field and crash sites to those who guarded and transported the material and bodies from Roswell to Fort Worth and Wright Field in Ohio, you will find all of that information – and more – in Witness to Roswell. The book really represents the most timely of statements as to what those involved with the Roswell Incident – with the obvious exception of those who chose to take whatever they knew to their graves – had to say about their experiences. If nothing else, it puts the lie to each of the official explanations offered up by the Air Force over the years.


The Journey - The Anthony Woods UFO Story
The Journey - The Anthony Woods UFO Story
DVD
Price: $2.99

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Questionable footage and a boring presentation, May 29, 2015
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As a true believer in UFOs and alien visitation of planet Earth, I hate to say it – but this is the most boring UFO documentary I have ever seen. Anthony Woods and his brother-in-law seem like two regular blokes, but – with the exception of a couple of interesting images – their videos consist of shaky camcorder images of very distant dots in the sky. There is not even close to enough detail to even think about identifying the objects they filmed. The two most interesting images weren’t very impressive to me, either – one looks to me like a piece of black trash floating in the wind, while the “morphing” object could well be balloons. The vast majority of the documentary, though, shows you clip after clip of blurry white dots in the sky while annoying, elevator-like soft guitar plays in the background. It’s a total snore fest.

And what of Mr. Anthony Woods? From 1999-2002, he filmed “UFOs” flying over his backyard virtually every day, while no one else in the area ever reported seeing anything. That’s fishy. The story gets even fishier when you learn that Woods disassociated himself from the makers of this documentary and from the whole subject of UFOs in 2004. His attempt to retract the right to use of his images gives the impression that he was after money all along. Thus, we’re left with very questionable footage that failed to impress me in the first place. Unless you’re battling insomnia, this documentary is not worth watching.


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