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Archive for December, 2011
I wonder how this project got green-lit? REMAINS was originally a limited run comic book series about zombies taking over the earth (Mr. Kirkman … paging Robert Kirkman) and focused on a few survivors. So I’m sure with the huge success of THE WALKING DEAD, REMAINS was easier to get green-lit. But even on it’s own merit this is a pretty fun and enjoyable TV zombie movie, premiering on Friday, December 16, at 10pm ET on Chiller TV.
REMAINS takes place in a casino in Reno, Nevada and begins with meeting the main characters as they go about their normal daily rituals. The three main characters are Tori (Evalena Marie), a cocktail waitress; Tom (Grant Bowler), an alcoholic ex-card dealer who’s been black-listed from practically every casino in town; and Jensen (Miko Hughes), the casino’s magician. Tori and Tom have a … uummm ,,, complicated relationship. Let’s just call it ‘complicated.’ They have a ‘relationship’ but it’s a very tenuous one that seems to revolve around want and need. Tom wants to bang Tori and Tori needs some booger sugar. so a deal is made (you know what I’m talking about). We also hear news reports about some kind of natural phenomenon that’s going to take place soon. We’re never a hundred percent sure what that event is, but it seems to be some kind of solar flare. Anyone who was exposed to the solar flare became zombies (this aspect is very reminiscent of 1984’s NIGHT OF THE COMET). People become zombies and the world changes forever literally in minutes.
Tori and Tom survive the natural event because they were in a walk-in storage screwing each other and Jensen was in the equipment room in the casino. They meet up in the casino as they’re all trying to escape the zombie hordes in the casino. They let Victor (Anthony Marks) into the casino who was outside in the streets trying to get away from the flesh eaters (Victor quickly becomes the “asshole survivor” of the group). When they finally isolate/kill the zombies in the casino they decide to hole up in the fortress and wait the zombie epidemic out. They figure they have a fully stocked kitchen with tons of food (this is a hotel-casino). But as the days start to pass they realize they made the wrong decision. It seems with every passing day more and more zombies are gathering in Reno, and each day that passes makes their escape more and more unlikely. Now its “shit or get off the pot” time. As they’re making their plans and moves to get outta Reno, they run into a squad of soldiers, led by Col. Ramsey (Lance Reddick), who’re making their way out to Lake Tahoe. The soldiers at first seem to wanna help our survivors but we soon learn they have ulterior motives.
The acting here is pretty damn good and is much better than your average TV movie/pilot (more on this later). The various cast members come from such shows as TRUE BLOOD, UGLY BETTY, PET SEMATARY, RESCUE ME, HEROES, FRINGE, LOST, and THE WIRE. No complaints about the acting here. One problem I have is that the production values never rise above the level of “TV movie.” You’re very aware you’re watching a made-for-TV movie. THE WALKING DEAD really raised the bar on this issue … you never feel you’re watching a TV show with that series. There were also a few scenes of decent looking gore, but overall the gore here was pretty tame (again, THE WALKING DEAD really raised the bar on TV gore). But what was pretty unique here were the zombies themselves. SInce the solar flare altered humans and didn’t kill them first, the zombies here seem to retain a lot of human qualities. They eat to survive (not just out of some primal instinct), they pee and drop deuces (we’re told), they seem to retain a certain level of intelligence and strength, these zombies eat/cannibalize other zombies, and they even sleep (standing up, mainly). This made these zombies pretty interesting, but I don’t think this area was explored enough. The soldiers learn that a horde of really strong, fast, and intelligent zombies are making their way to Reno. It seems the more exposed to the solar flare people were, the stronger and faster and smarter they became as zombies. So the zombies that just got residual exposure from, say, inside the casino aren’t as strong or fast as the people that got direct exposure. And to nitpick, I figured there’d be a shitload more zombies in the casino. We’re talking about a huge hotel-casino, and there really didn’t seem to be that many zombies in it.
One other element that didn’t seem to logically evolve was the character of Tori. From the beginning of the movie Tori was always fiercely independent and a strong survivor, but by the end of the flick she was basically a raging bitch. I wasn’t exactly sure why she became such a mega-bitch so quickly. I get that she was feeling the pressure of the situation and the hopelessness of it all, but her behavior change still didn’t make sense. Then we get to the ending. The ending made this TV “movie” feel more like a TV “pilot.” There’s a few loose ends left unaddressed and it sure as hell feels like they were setting the stage for either another movie or a TV series. I was hoping for more of a solid ending that wrapped up what was going on in this film. The ending doesn’t ruin the film, but it would’ve been stronger with a more “closed” ending.
At the end of the day REMAINS is a pretty fun TV movie that takes a different approach to zombies. We don’t get the same survivors-on-the-road escaping hordes of shambling zombies. Even with a final act that stumbles a little bit, solid acting and interesting zombies makes REMAINS pretty interesting. REMAINS premiers on Friday, December 16, at 10pm ET on Chiller TV. Recommended, especially for the zombie completist.
Director: Colin Theys
Plot: 3 out of 5 stars
Gore: 3 out of 10 skulls
Zombie Mayhem: 3.5 out of 5 brains
Reviewed by Scott Shoyer
SKEW is written and directed by Sevé Schelenz and is part of the “found footage” sub-genre where we follow a group of people and one of them has a reason to always be filming everything at all times no matter where they are. When done right you can get successful films like the original PARANORMAL ACTIVITY; when done poorly you get a film like MEADOWOODS; and when done with nothing really interesting to say or add to the genre ya get SKEW. SKEW isn’t a terrible flick, but it is one that will leave no impression on you, have no impact on you, but will have you constantly checking the run time on your DVD player.
SKEW is a pretty simple setup: Three twenty-something friends set out on a road trip to attend a wedding. One of them, Simon (Rob Scattergood), brings along his new video camera and never turns it off. Ever. The other two along for the trip are boyfriend/girlfriend Eva (Amber Lewis) and Richard (Richard Olak). Simon’s girlfriend Laura (Taneal Cutting) stays behind and it’s alluded to that her and Simon recently had a big blow-out fight. In the beginning of their trip the three friends get along great. They’re joking around with each other and have a convincing casual banter that makes it very believable that these three people are actually friends. To me this is the backbone of making any found footage flick work: Ya gotta have believable characters and solid actors playing those characters to convince the audience and make the audience forget they’re watching a film. This is what the original PARANORMAL ACTIVITY did for me. Katie and Micah were 100% believable as a young married couple. I got sucked in and forgot I was watching two paid actors. SKEW is also successful in accomplishing this (though not as successful as PA), and director Schelenz did a great job casting the three leads.
The only problem is, they didn’t have that great of material to work with. SKEW clocks in just under 85 minutes, and I still found myself getting easily distracted by the things around me: fuzz on the carpet, an old Netflix DVD I needed to watch, my daughter’s shoe under the couch. SKEW never really grabbed me and sucked me into the story. During their road trip they are racked with one tragedy after another as most things around them (animals and people) keep dying. Then Simon discovers that he’s able to foretell who is going to die by taping them on his camera. It seems the doomed people have “skewed” faces when he looks at them through his camera. Things unravel (slowly) and the three friends eventually become paranoid, ultimately turning on each other. Schelenz does manage to capture some pretty creepy shots, but in all I just couldn’t get into this one. Why? Glad you asked. It’s dull. Please note I didn’t say ‘boring.’ Dull and boring are very different. In SKEW there’s definitely an interesting premise packed away in the script somewhere, but the director just couldn’t get to it. Too many scenes were dull and did nothing to help establish anything thing else in the movie.
For example; at one point they are stopped by a police officer because their car was spotted at a convenience store where the guy working there was found dead. And yes; Simon saw his distorted face through the camera. So the three are brought into the police station where they are questioned to see if they may be involved or if they might have any info about what happened at the store. What could’ve been a tense scene ended up being the viewer watching a cop talking to the three friends through the perspective of the camera in the interrogation room. Nothing important is said or done in this scene. And then [SPOILER ALERT WARNING ... I am giving away one spoiler here] after the three friends are shown out of the room, one cop is sitting in there alone when suddenly he’s mysteriously shot through the head. For no reason. It’s never explained and has absolutely no relevance to the rest of the film [END OF SPOILER ... that's the only one; I promise]. And then at the end of the film we get a little flashback to Simon and Laura’s fight. I think there was supposed to be some kind of revelation or twist at the very end. I’m not sure. No, seriously; I’m not sure what the “twist” at the end was supposed to be. I just literally re-watched the last 20 minutes of the film and still can’t figure out how the ending is supposed to be relevant.
My final verdict on SKEW? I’m still not sure. There’s enough in this film that is positive that I just can’t dismiss it all together. The acting is strong (even though Eva’s character becomes very mopey and depressing), there’s the kernel of a good idea buried somewhere in the film, and Schelenz does give us a few creepy shots. But it’s all so damn dull. I don’t think I care for this one, but there’s been so many positive reviews for it I think I may be missing something. But then again, this won’t be the first time the majority of reviewers love a film and I hated or didn’t care for!! This is one I’d like to get some discussion on people. It’s streaming on Netflix, so if you can, check it out and let me know what you think. I’m not going to recommend or not recommend this one. Maybe after the holidays I’ll revisit SKEW, but right now the thought of sitting through it again (the whole film, not just the last 20 minutes) isn’t appealing at all. So tell me what you think everyone!!
Director: Sevé Schelenz (& writer)
Plot: 2 out of 5 stars
Gore: 0 out of 10 skulls
Zombie Mayhem: 0 out of 5 brains
Reviewed by Scott Shoyer
Let’s see if we have the check list set: Strange house with a violent past? Check. New couple moves in, has no idea about house’s violent past? Check. A killer wearing a mask using one particular tool as his weapon of choice? Check and check. Okay then; I think we’re ready to start. Whoops, almost forgot one: Do we have a slow and plodding paced script where you completely lose interest in what’s going on on-screen? Big check. CROWBAR borrows from so many other films that it ends up having no identity of it’s own and unfortunately becomes quite a forgettable film … except there’s one glimmer of hope. Read on.
The film starts with a young boy experiencing a very traumatic event. He comes home one evening and witnesses the murder of his parents by a maniac with a … crowbar!! The opening scene ends with the little boy possibly getting killed by the masked intruder … or not. Flash forward several years and a young couple is moving into the house where the parents were killed. Veronica (Natasha Timpani) and Alex (Michael Ray Clark) move into town for a great job opportunity. Veronica’s two girlfriends drive down to help her settle in and their first night in their new house they are attacked by a welder’s mask-wearing lunatic who kills the two friends and almost dispatches Veronica.
After the police leave Alex (who was at work during the attack) and Veronica notice the neighbors all acting very peculiar and the police don’t seem to be much help. So Alex and Veronica suddenly turn into Freddy and Daphne and Scooby-Doo their way into the mystery. Soon after Veronica and her friends are attacked, CROWBAR settles into becoming a mystery/whodunit where we’re supposed to guess if the killer is that little boy from the opening all grown up, if it’s the original killer, or if it’s a copycat. Unfortunately I really didn’t care. There was nothing in the film that grabbed me and pulled me into the story. The acting by the two main characters (Veronica and Alex) was strong, but the supporting cast was a different story. The actress playing one of Veronica’s friends, Sarah Kobel Marquette, was a terrible actress. Her character, Christine, was supposed to be drunk in one scene and it was such a poor acting job that I’m wondering if she’s ever had a drink in her life. She was “acting” drunk (slurring words, stumbling around, etc …), but she looked extremely foolish.
As Veronica and Alex slowly unraveled the mystery, writer-director Scott M. Phillips manages to give us some pretty decent shots. Above where I mention there is one “glimmer of hope” in this film, well it’s with Scott M. Phillips. Yes he is responsible for writing the script, which is a mess, but he’s also responsible for setting up some rather suspenseful shots. You can see that Phillips has a good eye for horror and for setting up a tense scene, but unfortunately he was going for more of a thriller here and the story just wasn’t strong enough to pull it off. I’d love to see Phillips do a straight up horror flick … I bet he’d be extremely successful.
Of course with the ending we get the unmasking of the killer. Wow what a terrible ending. Seriously; it’s a horrible ending with a killer that makes no sense whatsoever. In the first 90% of the film the killer is a rather hulking, intimidating, and strong bastard (who apparently carries around a dry ice machine). But once the killer is revealed, you immediately cry “foul” because there’s no way the unmasked killer would’ve been able to do the things the masked killer did. If you don’t heed my warning and watch this anyway, you’ll know exactly what I’m talking about. But even more unforgivable is that with the unmasking of the killer, this did nothing to explain why they were killing and what their ultimate motive was. Look; I watched this whole thing because I won’t review a film unless I see it from opening credits to closing credits. But believe me; if I didn’t want to review it I’d have turned it off about half way through.
Slow-paced with bad supporting acting and a “big reveal” that’s about as exciting as opening a Christmas gift and it’s an ugly sweater, CROWBAR is completely forgettable. But writer-director Scott M. Phillips shows a lot of promise, and I’ll be looking out for him in the future. But next time, Scott, just stick to horror and lose the mystery!! Skip CROWBAR.
Director: Scott M. Phillips (& writer)
Plot: 2 out of 5 stars
Gore: 4 out of 10 skulls
Zombie Mayhem: 0 out of 5 brains
Reviewed by Scott Shoyer
I love this title; it nicely sets up the tone of the film as a disaster flick that’s not gonna take itself too seriously. Putting the execution of their Saturday Night Originals aside, the SyFy Channel has been doing a really nice job, lately, of choosing films with interesting plots. SNOWMAGEDDON kicks off the SyFy holiday season and where it may not have an actual “holiday theme,” it does have a nice seasonal feel to it. But as with all SyFy Original, it all comes down to execution.
SNOWMAGEDDON builds up a plot based on the very simple idea of a mystical snow globe that causes destruction in the real world when it’s shaken up. That’s it. Period. The film opens with a mysterious stranger dropping off a Christmas present to the Miller family. The dad (David Cubitt) is the town’s sheriff (the town’s name is “Normal”) and the mother is a helicopter pilot who is hired by “the world’s greatest snow boarder,” Derrick (Jeffrey Ballard) and his buddy to fly them to the town’s highest peak to get some new video footage of Derrick doing his thang. The Miller’s youngest son, Rudy (Dylan Matzke) is drawn to the snow globe and he notices right away that the inside of the globe is an exact replica of Normal’s main street. That night (Xmas Eve) when he shakes the globe, the town is hit with an earthquake and the cracked, split open ground is mirrored in the snow globe. Rudy sees this immediately and tries to tell his dad, but of course who’s gonna listen to the imagination of a young boy?
The Miller’s teenage daughter Stephanie (Magda Apanowicz) accompanies her mom to take Derrick to the top of the mountain and after they drop him off, Rudy shakes the snow globe again and causes a brutal hail storm to rain down, crashing the helicopter and injuring/stranding the snow boarders on the mountain. Now the dad is in a race to save his family and the towns people as well as figure out what the hell is going on. The basic structure of SNOWMAGEDDON works. We get a nice, likable family on Xmas Eve who suddenly find themselves physically split apart with catastrophic weather threatening to destroy the entire town and everyone in it. The cast is all very competent here and the acting is strong. I’m noticing that SyFy is starting to use established actors in their Saturday Night Originals. Here we have Michael Hogan (BATTLESTAR GALACTICA), David Cubitt (MEDIUM), and Magda Apanowicz (CAPRICA). So the acting, for a change, isn’t painful to watch. I also like the mysterious, supernatural cause of all the destruction (more on this in a minute).
Some of the various weather disasters we get from the snow globe being shaken up is the above-mentioned earthquake and huge hail storm, avalanches, and other such snow-related disasters. And the f/x? Well I can’t really speak about the f/x on SNOWMAGEDDON. I received a very early screener that barely had any of the f/x completed. In scenes that had special f/x, there was just a black screen for the duration of how long the f/x lasted. I got to see a few f/x, but I’d say that 90% of them weren’t completed on the screener I received. So in all fairness, I won’t say anything about them and will be looking forward to watching the film again to actually see how they turned out. Hell; that should say something right there. I’m going to watch SNOWMAGEDDON a second time just to see the f/x!!
The main negative thing I can say about SNOWMAGEDDON is that it felt a little rushed. The mysterious figure who dropped off the snow globe to the Miller residence in the beginning is never brought up again, and the snow globe itself is never even attempted to be explained. We have no idea how it came into existence, why it was created, and why it was specifically dropped off at the Miller’s house. There’s also an interesting element in the film that is brought up and very quickly ignored. After the earthquake hit, one of the characters attempts to call the next town over to get some assistance. He can’t get anyone on the line and mentions that “it’s almost like we’re cut off from the rest of the world” (or something to that effect). This could’ve been an interesting element in the film but its never examined.
Somehow the cast figures out that they need to throw the snow globe into a volcano (yeah, seriously) and so pappa Miller sets off on his very own LORD OF THE RINGS journey to “end this.” Besides the entire film feeling a bit like a rush job to meet a deadline and get this film out in time, the ending has the feel that we’re gonna be revisiting this snow globe in the future. The way things were left at the end of SNOWMAGEDDON (no explanations for anything) easily sets up a sequel. Director Sheldon Wilson (who also directed the other SyFy Originals CARNY, MOTHMAN, RED: WEREWOLF HUNTER, KILLER MOUNTAIN, and the upcoming MEGA CYCLONE) keeps everything moving along at a nice pace and never takes the material too seriously.
SNOWMAGEDDON won’t become traditional holiday viewing in your home in future years, but it’s a fun, holiday-linked destruction flick that will be really fun with some eggnog. Check this one out.
Director: Sheldon Wilson
Plot: 3 out of 5 stars
Gore: 0 out of 10 skulls
Zombie Mayhem: 0 out of 5 brains
Reviewed by Scott Shoyer
For those of you that are fans of George Romero and Night Of The Living Dead you already know what the Evans City Cemetery Chapel is and what it means, but for those of you that don’t here’s what it is. The Evans City Cemetery is where a good part of George Romero’s Night Of The Living Dead was filmed and the chapel was used in the film. Well since then the chapel has not been used and is in great disrepair and it was going to be torn down. Well a campaign was started to raise enough money to restore the chapel to it’s original glory.
We fully support this project and you should too. If you’re a fan and you can even afford to donate a single dollar it will greatly help the cause. If you don’t want to just donate money there’s also a store section with some cool merchandise with all proceeds going to the project. Currently they have posters, shirts and hoodies. Check out the artwork below.
George Romero himself is backing the project! CLICK HERE TO READ A WORD FROM GEORGE ROMERO.
For more information on the project and to help out and donate or purchase some merchandise head on over to www.FixTheChapel.com
If you haven’t heard of Tshirt Bordello before now then you’ve been missing out on some cool geek swag.
They’re not your typical shirts because they don’t really take themselves too seriously. Just about all of their shirts have some kind of comedy incorporated in the geekness. They do have a few “serious” shirts too which are just as awesome.
The best part about Tshirt Bordello is they don’t cater to once specific crowd. For a nerd like myself who’s into horror, sci fi, gaming, etc. that’s a good thing.
Aside from shirts they also have a bunch of other items including pint glasses, hats, and some other cool collectible items such as the zombie shooting targets.
Here’s just a few of my personal favorite shirt designs.
Oh, and if you experience a zombie bite, outbreak, or any suspicious activity call 888-WUZ-DEAD (989-3323).
Full Moon Features has an awesome Christmas contest going on right now and you have until December 20th at midnight to get in on the action. They’re giving away some AWESOME prizes, check out the run down below
ONE GRAND PRIZE:
One (1) $500 Gift Certificate to the Full Moon Direct Store!
TWO First Prize Choices:
First Prize (choice 1)
The NEW Puppet Master remastered Blu-ray AND the Puppet Master 10 DVD Box Set
First Prize (choice 2)
The Subspecies remastered Blu-ray AND the Subspecies 5 DVD Box Set
TWO Second Prize Choices:
Second Prize: (choice 1)
Gingerdead Man 1, 2 and 3: 3 DVD Box Set
Second Prize: (choice 2)
Evil Bong 1, 2 and 3: 3 DVD Box Set
TWO Third Prize Choices:
Third Prize (choice 1)
Killer Eye Halloween Haunt DVD
Third Prize (choice 2)
Killjoy 3 DVD
These are some pretty fuckin’ awesome prizes so I suggest if you’re a fan of Full Moon DO NOT miss out on this contest.
For full information on the contest and how to enter click THIS LINK and head on over to Full Moon’s website.