Wednesday, 3 August 2011

(3) Slices of Life (2010)


DVD Release date: June 7 2011 (USA)

Written by Anthony G. Sumner, Eric Richter, Alan Rowe Kelly

Directed by Anthony G. Sumner

Stars: Kaylee Williams, Merve Blauvelt  and Helene Alter-Dyche.

For those fans out there who are really appreciating the new surge of Tales From the Crypt style anthology flicks such as ‘Drive-in Horror Show’ writer and director Anthony G. Sumner has really come up with the goods for you with his new film ‘Slices of Life’. The movie has quite rightfully been receiving a lot of buzz and high praise over the past year or so and received its anticipated DVD release June 7 this year.

The movie consists of three stories (Work Life, Home Life, Sex Life) with a genuinely intriguing wrap around story, featuring a sweet and vulnerable performance by rising scream queen Kaylee Williams. Considering its extremely low budget this movie far exceeds expectations – It’s well made, well written and features a number of strong performances, particularly from its female actors.
Opening tale ‘W.O.R.M,’ (Work Life) is an hilarious story of a nano virus gone horribly wrong, resulting in a blood bath of body horror and out and out gore. It’s basically a zombie tale with a techno twist and very enjoyable to boot. It may also be worth pointing out that the always superb Alan Rowe Kelly provides a freakishly entertaining cameo here as a sexy web cam vamp – fans will certainly be thrilled. Admittedly W.O.R.M is the least enjoyable of the three shorts but isn’t to take away from its entertainment value.

Second up ‘Amber Alert’ (Home Life) is a dark tale involving child kidnap, demonic haunting and a disturbing resolution which rears its head at the end in gory fashion (*Ahem * Sledgehammer scene!) Toya Turner as the pregnant-lead-in-peril, shines here as her character ‘Vonda’ really raising the bar for acting within independent horror. I wouldn’t want to give away the ending of this short so to conclude it’s a great little movie and extremely engrossing along with it.
Finally you get the craziest segment of the bunch ‘Pink Snapper’. This gory little short involves a brother and sister on the run, a house masking a gruesome secret and all kinds of the red stuff.  Another scream queen in the making, Deneen Melody, plays the damaged female character ‘Susan’ to perfection in this tale. After supposedly killing her abusive Uncle, Susan’s brother Eric (Galen Shloeming) takes her on the run where they stumble upon a far more dangerous horror.  I wouldn’t want to give too much away regarding the climax of Pink Snapper except to say you may find yourself crossing your legs VERY tightly! This segment really ends the anthology part of the movie on a blood splattered high.

The wrap around segment serves to tie things up in an original and interesting manner but again it should be seen first hand. Slices of Life is one of those indie flicks that needs to be seen and appreciated as it really does bring the horror goods. The film seems to be quickly finding its audience which is just fantastic to see – purchasing a copy comes highly recommended.

Tuesday, 2 August 2011

Demon Divas and The Lanes of Damnation (2009)

DVD Release date: April 5  2011

Directed by Mike Watt
Written by Mike Watt

Stars: Amy Lynn Best, Brinke Steven,  Debbie Rochon,Lilith Stabs Robyn Griggs, Nikki McCrea and Sofiya Smirnova

Demon Divas and The Lanes of Damnation is the fifth feature film from the lovely people of Pennsylvania based film company Happy Cloud Pictures. Described as a homage to the sexy and silly horror comedies of the 80s before its release, I for one was chomping at the bit to see what HCP had come up with – particularly considering the quality entertainment of their previous indie horror outings. One of the main differences between Demon Divas and any previous output is the pure emphasis on the fun and camp. Not to knock any of the previous films, as they are all great in their own right, but it just was fantastic to see writer and director Mike Watt and producer and actress Amy Lynn Best (the talented husband and wife team behind HCP) letting loose, having a blast and actually delivering good on their promise to bring back the sexy, blood spattered side of the 80s.

The movie presents a simple plot, paying direct homage to goofball horror movies such as Sorority Babes in the Slimeball Bowlarama and Nightmare Sisters. Two geeky but sweet college gals; Lisa and Taffy (played to near perfection by Nikki McCrea and Sofiya Smirnova) have incurred the wrath of a spiteful posse of sorority girls led by the vindictive and unbalanced Rochelle (a hilariously over the top Stephanie Bertoni).  The bowling alley where the girls work is run by a group of entrepreneurial women (played by a sassy line up of indies hottest scream queens; Amy Lynn Best, Brinke Stevens, Debbie Rochon, Lilith Stabs and Robyn Griggs) who are, in truth, age old demons looking for their next meal and a refresher of their satanic powers.  Since our demon divas need wishes to accomplish this, their obvious new targets are the lovelorn Lisa, who wants to rip Rochelle’s iron claws from her high school crush Johnny, and the charmingly trusting Taffy who JUST wants to be liked. It’s safe to say that once the wish for the bowling alley owners to help the girls is unleashed, that all kinds of entrails, eyeballs and other grue and gore are going to hit the fan. During a late night mixer at the alley held by the Rochelle’s entourage and their dumb jock boyfriends, the demons, recently empowered, go on the rampage, causing death, destruction, and a lot of laughs throughout the night.

This movie just ticks all the boxes in the horror comedy department. Some viewers may note the lack of nudity in this type film but it in no way detracts from the incredibly witty dialogue (pretty much anything the dim witted sorority girls spew out), the clear, crisp picture and the fun, gory killings.  The acting is also pretty much impressive across the board especially considering several people in this movie are complete and utter first time actors. It requires a decent performance to deliver humorous lines effectively and luckily this is accomplished really well here. Sure there are a few technical flaws along the way such as a bit of dodgy sound here and there but this is only likely to cause bother to a real stickler for perfection and should be forgiven considering the sheer enjoyment to be had.

Demon Divas comes highly recommended as does all other films made by HCP – which can be purchased here like: Also keep an eye out for the next movie, a far more seriously toned ‘Razor Days’ – which you can also view the trailer for over at the HCP website. It looks killer.

The Loved Ones (2009)

DVD Release date:  4 October 2010 (UK)

Directed by Sean Byrne

Written by Dean Byrne

Stars: Xavier Samuel, Robin McLeavy, Victoria Thaine and John Brumpton

Australian Director Sean Byrne gives the horror genre a most welcome -and painfully nasty - boost with this shining example of a true piece of cinematic terror.
Drawing on a much maligned subgenre such as 'torture porn' may be ill advised if you can't find a way to draw new blood from it and do something different – and here is where Sean Byrne delivers admirably.
Opening with a fast and brutal car smash we are soon dropped in the middle of the depressed and bleak world of Brent (Xavier Samuel) - a teenager who lost his father in aforementioned accident where he was behind the wheel. Carrying a wealth of grief and guilt and dealing with his mother’s subsequent alcoholism, the only happiness Brent seems to have to save him from a dark descent into complete mental breakdown, is his sweet and loving girlfriend Holly (Victoria Thaine).
Still, this is a horror movie so you can very much expect the shit to hit the fan at any time and this comes in the form of school misfit Lola Stone (played with incredible and terrifying talent by Robin McLeavy). When Lola first asks Brent to accompany her to the end of school dance with her meek whine of a voice you would be forgiven some surprise to discover the true twisted monster which lurks beneath her shy facade.
Not allowing a little polite rejection to stand in her way, Lola has her 'Daddy' (a very scary John Brumpton) kidnap Brent and bring him home to their very own end of school dance. Not wishing to give too much else away as there are plenty of surprises to be had in Lola's house of horrors, it is safe to say that this prom will not be a pleasant experience for Brent. Rather than vodka laced punch, dancing the night away and some 'fun' in the back seat of a car, Brent instead gets up close and personal with knives, syringes, hammers, powers drills...and in keeping with the prom theme - a mirrored disco ball!
In what appears to be an attempt to alleviate the stress of Brent’s ordeal we are also shown a side story in which Brent’s best friend Sac takes the girl of his dreams, sexy goth Mia, to the dance. Here these characters manage to get up to all the things Brent could only wish that he was doing. While most of this side story appears very much irrelevant it does tie in rather well at the end, where we find out further details of Lola and family’s hideous endeavours - let’s just say that things are more powerful and far reaching than they appear to be in the first half of the film. In  fact my sound advice to anyone who intends to see this flick is AVOID THE OFFICIAL TRAILER LIKE THE PLAGUE! Way too much given away here and will certainly detract from the viewing experience.
Performances are solid all round in ‘The Loved Ones’ with everybody doing a great job with their roles, most of which aside from ‘Sac’ require some grit. Most impressive however are the well chosen leads. Xavier Samuel seems to effortlessly portray a damaged teenager finding it difficult to cope in the wake of tragedy. He also shows great promise when baring his teeth and fighting for his life after accepting it’s kill or be killed. Robin McLeavy gives the performance of her life in a role that will get her noticed even if people start crossing the street to avoid her. Her spoiled, sexual, childish and violently insane ‘Lola’ tramples all over Kathy Bates’ ‘Annie Wilkes‘ with bloody spiked stilettos  – and further more she seems to be having a blast doing so. The girl deserves more roles – pronto.
I highly recommend going into The Loved Ones as blind as possible to ensure you experience all of the twists and turns as they are intended to be. This film is one blood splattered date you do not want to miss or be late for.  Also -If you are thinking of taking a weirdo to your school dance do yourself a favour and stick with Carrie White!!