It’s “The Bye Bye Man,” or as I call it “Honey, We Ripped Off Slenderman.” In all honesty, “The Bye Bye Man” actually looks like a weak Senator Palpatine cosplayer who died from toxic poisoning from his face make up and became a demon who likes to rip off his shtick from The Babadook, Freddy Krueger, and your every day mime. I’ve experienced scarier stories in young adult sections at public libraries, and could come up with a monster ten times more imposing, and with a name that doesn’t automatically inspire me to chortle under my breath. A movie this bad could only inspire me to gather my thoughts of bewilderment in an itemized list.
Arrow Video is easily one of the best movie distributors around, and if you ask certain movie buffs collectors, they’d argue that they’re the best, period. I can’t decide as Arrow Video has been on a mission for the last few years to deliver fans some of the most unique movie titles on blu-ray and DVD, and offer them in deluxe collector’s packages that would make most cineastes hyperventilate out of sheer excitement. Arrow Video has taken it upon themselves to offer fans the two tales of “House,” two films that were big movie rental fodder in their heydays and are now brought together for what is a heavily suggested anthology. Arrow Video combines two of the true “House” movies that are—ironically—about as different from each other as the last two “House” movies.
I think most people go in to a movie that’s labeled a found footage anthology film might be expecting something like “VHS,” but directors Michael McQuown and Vincent J Guastini have so much more ambitious in mind. While the aforementioned horror film garnered a small assemblage of horror stories with a framework, “The Dark Tapes” tries to add more cogency. Everything in “The Dark Tapes” is cryptic and complex, and what we’re watching ends up making more sense the more we think about it. The directors obviously aspired to make a movie you have to watch more than once to understand. And of course they invite audiences to go to the movie’s website to perhaps convey their own theories about what the movie entails.
“Teen Titans: The Judas Contract” is a sequel to “Justice League vs. Teen Titans” which was a sequel to “Batman: Bad Blood” so don’t worry, it all ties to Batman. Like pretty much everything DC Comics these days, it’s all about Batman, and “The Judas Contract” compensates for the lack of Batman by including both Robins. Not only do we get a look at Dick Grayson as Robin when he led the Titans, but we also go to modern times where Grayson is now Nightwing. Damian Wayne is Robin now, and is a member of the Teen Titans. So that Batman flavor DC banks on is still there, even if Batman never shows up. “The Judas Contract” is an adaptation of one of the most iconic comic book storylines of all time, as the Teen Titans confront a traitor in their midst. Sam Liu’s animated adaptation is weak and limp, and often times bereft of entertainment value. And I say that as someone who genuinely loves the character Nightwing.
I would be lying if I said I was looking forward to “The Void.” Not only have I not been a fan of what Astron 6 has put out there for audiences, but “The Void” seemed generally like a vain attempt at Lovecraft. I’m glad to admit, though, that “The Void” is so far the best film Astron 6 has ever put out there. While the fan boy winks and nods are still there, it’s considerably toned down and doesn’t bog “The Void” down too much. Directors Jeremy Gillespie and Steven Kostanski are damn good at taking a miniscule budget and building with that, as “The Void” is an incredibly creepy survival horror film that feels like a nightmare from beginning to end. Even when the film has seemingly closed, “The Void” is never done choking you with its mesmerizing imagery of another world, and assures you that it will indeed return to haunt the audience once more.
In the nineties, Hercules and Xena garnered humongous fan bases that were vocal and loud. And this was long before the internet became a common facet in every home in the world. Hercules begat Xena and Xena became the more popular of the pairing, with Hercules still showing up every so often to remind us that, yes, Kevin Sorbo was still on his journeys as the half god. Both series were so big they even prompted a ton of merchandise, including a prequel TV series aimed at kids starring a very young Ryan Gosling, and this animated action movie, which barely clocks in at eighty minutes. I’m not sure if this movie is even considered canon, but it is Hercules and Xena together again, fighting evil Titans and trying to stop the evil Goddess Hera.
The first time I ever saw “Mortal Kombat” was in 1992 when I stopped by a grocery store on the way to school and saw a pair of guys battling one another on the arcade cabinet. Though “Street Fighter 2” was huge, “Mortal Kombat” made its own waves by realistic character models and some of the most vicious video game violence ever conceived in its era. So came the 1995 movie where not even then was there this much babbling about supernatural forces, and tournaments. “The Journey Begins” works overtime to build a mythology from this simple video game, and fails big time. It feels like someone at Threshold Studios were alerted about the upcoming movie and only had about two weeks to build a respectable animated tie-in.
Sam Liu’s “The Judas Contract” is both a sequel to “Justice League vs. Teen Titans,” and an adaptation of perhaps one of the most iconic storylines in comic book history. And, I’ll just say it: The animated series of “Teen Titans” accomplished this storyline so much better. With “The Judas Contract” we’re given literally eighty four minutes to know, understand and empathize with the Teen Titans and perhaps feel a twinge of shock when they’re betrayed by a close ally. With the animated series, we were given so much more build up and time to understand the betrayal of Terra, as well as dodge all the creepy pedophilia overtones between villain Deathstroke and his assistant. The animated series allowed for a lot of build up and when Terra does make her descent in to the dark side it stings so much that even levelheaded Raven begins to shed a tear.