VooDoo (2017)

Dani arrives in California to visit her cousin for a month and have some fun away from her worries and her past.  The two girls do fun tourist things and prank each other, until something goes wrong, very, very wrong.   As things go from bad to worse, the film explores voodoo, the supernatural, and hell, all through a found footage lens.  The story created by writer/director Tom Costabile has a lot of good ideas and some truly unnerving imagery and moments.  The opening with the voodoo curse being put into place goes from interesting to freaky fairly fast.  The film itself then takes a little bit to establish the two cousins and the other players around them (including an unnecessary but not annoying cameo by Ron Jeremy) until one pranks leads to all hell breaking loose.

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Day of Reckoning (2016)

“Day of Reckoning” is a pseudo-biblical horror movie that teams “Doom,” “Day of the Dead,” “The Walking Dead” and the Roland Emmerich disaster pornos in to one ball of baffling entertainment. “Day of Reckoning” is teeming with potential and actually manages to be entertaining every now and then. When a mining company accidentally unearths a hibernating brood of demonic monsters, the beasts arise from their slumber to begin wreaking havoc on humanity. The monsters are a variety of winged, stampeding, anthropomorphic demons with varying degrees of appearances and habits. Sometimes they’re a random herd of monsters, and sometimes they’re scheming and planning. They can poison people to apparently turn on everyone else, and they have a thirst for human flesh. Best of all they can be taken out by dousing them with enough salt.

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The Monster (2016) [Blu-Ray]

Bryan Bertino has a talent for depicting the inexplicability of evil, first with “The Strangers,” and now with how a seemingly chaotic force of nature threatens to destroy a mother and daughter. What’s worse is that when we do meet the titular monster, it’s about to completely obliterate a relationship already on the cusp of falling to pieces. Director and writer Bertino succeeds in creating a creepy monster movie that also builds a compelling relationship that pulls us through the emotional wringer time and time again. Zoe Kazan and Ella Ballantine are an excellent pairing as Kathy and Lizzy, an estranged mother and daughter that are constantly at war with one another.

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Yu-Gi-Oh!: The Dark Side of Dimensions (2017)

The new two hour+ installment of “Yu-Gi-Oh!” is an adventure set six months after the original series. While it definitely won’t convert new fans, it will likely act as a good book end for hardcore fans of the series. Especially in the way that it resolves a lot of character back stories, and ends every plot thread as best as it can. With Anime though there’s never a huge guarantee these characters will be gone for long, but “The Dark Side of Dimensions” is a new and unique adventure with Yugi Muto fighting a new villain alongside his friends, dueling against old grudges, old scars, and hopefully save his loved ones so they can pursue their futures.

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Blair Witch (2016)

It’s just such a travesty that Adam Wingard’s shot at the “Blair Witch” mythology flopped and has been generally derided by fans alike. I, for one, completely loved “Blair Witch,” not only for being such a unique and terrifying experience, but for the respect Adam Wingard has for the mythology. Even if you never bothered to watch those documentaries about Burkittsville, director Wingard brings everything full circle, including nods to the documentaries, the much derided sequel, and the original film. It’s a legacy sequel, but one that also acts as an impromptu book end to the whole series. After this I don’t know when we’ll ever see anything about the Blair Witch ever again, but it’s a great consolation the series goes out on this note.

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Princess Mononoke (Mononoke-hime) (1997)

Returns to theaters across the nation for a 20th Anniversary celebration, complete with a new 4K restoration. Premiered in theaters Thursday, January 5 in Japanese with English subtitles and will screen Monday, January 9 with an English dub at 7 p.m. local time. Tickets are available now. The event will also feature a screening of the never-before-released music video directed by Hayao Miyazaki, On Your Mark!

Back when “Princess Mononoke” hit the states in 1999, I literally had no idea who Hayao Miyazaki was. My teacher in high school kept a poster of the movie up on her bulletin board and I thought the movie looked amazing. Years after the Oscar buzz, I discovered “Princess Mononoke” and the brilliance of Studio Ghibli. The great thing about Studio Ghibli is there is no wrong way to enter in to their universe.
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Dreamscape (1984): Collector’s Edition [Blu-Ray]

Between Joseph Ruben’s “Dreamscape” and Wes Craven’s “A Nightmare on Elm Street” arriving at just about the same time, 1984 had a keen insight in to dreams and transforming it in to compelling entertainment. Whereas the latter film is a dark horror masterpiece, “Dreamscape” is its own kind of cinematic offering. It’s an entertaining and often intelligent look in to dreams that opts more for dark fantasy with a hint of adventure. It also sparks allusions, however coincidental, Craven’s film featuring dream demons and a villain who in one instance conjures up blades from his fingers to attack hero Alex Gardner. Despite the coincidence, it’s fun to imagine these films are kind of working within the same universe.

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SiREN (2016)

Gregg Bishop adapts for the big screen one of arguably best segments from the “V/H/S” horror anthology entitled “Amateur Night.” The original segment was the most memorable of the bunch and was filled with tension, disturbing gore, and a very memorable final scene. Thankfully, “Siren” grabs on to most of the original short film’s aesthetic, including a lot of call backs to the original segment. Wisely, the director and studio re-cast Hannah Fierman who has a haunting beauty that most viewers really will have a hard time forgetting any time soon. What made “Amateur Night” so haunting was that Fierman could be oddly beautiful and shockingly horrifying at the drop of a dime. Here she invokes the same qualities, playing arguably the same character.

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