Rapid Fire Friday – Evilspeak and Final Exam

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I hosted a horror movie night tonight for some friends. We watched the blu rays of Evilspeak and Final Exam; both by Shout! (Scream) Factory. 

Evilspeak was really good, especially when the action got going. Clint Howard was entertaining and had a solid supporting cast around him. I was very entertained for the most part and pleasantly surprised by how blasphemous it got at times with the chapel setting and religious imagery. Some good gore gags riled us up, too, and for a film combining fledgling computer technology with satanism, it delivered in spades.

Final Exam however was extremely disappointing; it’s possibly one of the worst slasher films I’ve ever seen and lord knows I have seen more than my fair share. There is almost an hour between the first and second kills and most of the violence happens off screen. There never seems to be any rhyme or reason for anything that happens; I’m not talking about a fancy story by any means, but at least something that makes some sort of sense as to why the people and killer do what they do. There is one solid kill involving a cheesy fight followed by a death at the gym. I’m surprised this film apparently has somewhat of a cult following and Scream Factory would bother releasing it.

The one thing that really impressed me about the bluray of Final Exam was the stunning picture quality and awesome transfer. The audio was a bit rough at times mostly during some of the dialogue. I would not recommend the purchase unless you are an absolute slasher film completist; honestly, it barely qualifies as a slasher flick at all.

- JP

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Oculus (2013)

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The idea of another “evil mirror” movie didn’t sound very appetizing, but something about Oculus seemed like it might have some potential to surprise, and to a certain extent, it did.

Oculus tells the tale of siblings trying to prove, or disprove, whether or not an antique mirror with a sordid history, had anything to do with the deaths of their parents 11 years earlier. One of the siblings, Tim, who had just been released from a psychiatric hospital, was thought to be the one to blame for the demise of their parents; his sister is hell bent on trying to prove that indeed, this mirror is to blame, despite her brother’s wishes to move on and start life anew. Some of the motivation for these characters (the sister in particular), is quite dubious and laughable; especially the way in which the haunted mirror is retrieved, in a less than realistic auction scene.

Oculus really implements flashback storytelling well, while seamlessly working it into the present time. Katee Sackhoff stood out in the mother role, while the rest of the cast was solid, too; especially the child actors.

I was pretty impressed that in what is mostly a confined setting, Director Mike Flanagan manages to conjure up some creative scares, though not offering up too much new in terms of the ghosts on display. The climax is well executed, even if what happens is not a total shock.

This flick slightly surpassed my expectations of what it would be, and is not a bad rental if you got the time. The obvious comparisons get made between this and Alexendre Aja’s Mirrors; I personally remember enjoying Mirrors more, as it’s scares were more effective. Oculus, however, is a much different film anyway, once you look past the mirror thing.

-JP

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Happy Father’s Day: Top Dads of Horror

jpthorn:

This is a great Father’s Day read. Enjoy!

Originally posted on The Mind of Madness:

I Heart Dad

Hope you are all having a good Father’s Day, or making the best of it.  A couple years ago, I did a spotlight on the moms of horror so I figured it’s time I did a spotlight on the Dad’s of horror!  Let’s get it started:

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Butcher Boys (2012)

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I really wasn’t expecting much from this one and as it turns out, my instincts were for the most part correct.

A bunch of friends run into trouble when they are out for a night of fun and cross the wrong people. At first it seems like they ran into a bunch of street thug, gangsta-wannabes, but as it turns out, these bastards were much worse than the first impressions they give.

The group of bad guys have little to no personality, but they are pretty damned sick and evil. This band of cannibals is a mix of The Lost Boys (with far less personality) and The Texas Chainsaw Massacre family. Actually, the influence of TCM is so obvious, it literally slaps you in the face with it in the latter stages of the film. I’m not sure if this was a tribute or if the people behind this really thought they might get away with viewers not noticing the blatant influences.

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Not to say that this was all bad; there were some good things about it. The “final girl” was quite good, and some of the more grisly elements of the bad guys’ actions were plenty disturbing at times.

Don’t go out of your way to watch this one. If you’re completely out of flicks to watch and you’re bored, then go ahead.

-JP

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Among Friends (2012)

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Took me long enough, but I finally watched Danielle Harris’ directorial debut, Among Friends.

A group of friends join an 80s-themed murder/mystery dinner party and the hostess has some devious plans in mind for her unsuspecting friends.

It takes a while for things to get going. Some of the attempts at humor don’t really succeed, and the characters seem rather shallow. The script also leaves a lot to be desired. Characters repeat themselves too often and I can’t count the number of times they all say “Go fuck yourself”.

When things do get going, this movie is pretty decent. Torture porn elements are there, though they are very light compared to others we’ve seen.

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Kane Hodder makes a cameo appearance that is cheesy as hell but fun to watch. Danielle Harris also makes a brief appearance as Jamie Lloyd from Halloween 4 and 5, due to a mushroom-induced hallucination from one of the characters.

The climax is effective even if the characters prove to be even dumber than the rest of the film already demonstrated. Among Friends is shot well and looks good for a small budget indie flick.

All in all, Danielle Harris did a good job making this even if the film is rough around the edges in parts. The cast of unknown actors gave decent performances despite the poor script.

Among Friends is uneven, but ultimately entertains. Worth a rental, even if to just see how Danielle does as a first time director.

-JP

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Book Review: The Twelve by Justin Cronin

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If you haven’t read Justin Cronin’s The Passage, which is the first installment of this book series, then you should skip this review and go read it immediately! You’ll thank me later.

This novel continues where The Passage left off and further follows the characters Amy, Peter, and Alicia as they continue in their quest to find and eliminate the Twelve and their viral horde. Sara, Michael, Hollis are also back in the second part of the story and play a more significant role in this installment.

We are also introduced to several new characters both bad and good, who not only play a major part in this story, but some of them will be a major factor in the next novel.  I loved this novel as much, if not more, than the first and I for one cannot wait to read the next chapter in this story. The Twelve is a post-vampire apocolyptic tale that follows a group of survivors as they try to find and destroy the Twelve, who are made up of twelve death row inmates who traded their lives to become part of a Government experiment which tested the effects of a vampiric blood strain found in a small South American jungle. The results of this testing and the ensuing escape of the Twelve brought about the end of humanity as we know it, and any human who is turned by one of the Twelve become instantly linked with the one who turned them. 

This book, for me, is like taking Stephen King’s The Stand, and mixing it with Chuck Hogan and Guillermo Del Toro’s The Strain, to create a completely new and captivating story. Once you get into the story you don’t want to put it down. I highly recommend this novel as well as his first novel, The Passage to anyone who loves great fiction. Read and enjoy! 

Wilson King                                                  

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Book Review: The Hand That Feeds by Michael W. Garza

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  I should start by saying that I’m not the biggest fan of the zombie genre unless it is done in a unique and different way from the zombie stories of the past. That being said, I was pleasantly surprised by this book! I enjoyed the fact that the story centered around two parents, and the lengths they are willing to go in order to keep their son alive after he falls victim to a mysterious virus. The majority of the story revolves around John (the boy’s father) and his inner struggle between doing what he knows to be completely wrong and against his nature in order to keep his son alive, and trying to keep his wife happy, as well as preventing her from slipping into the poor mental health that affected her in the past, a task he finds increasingly difficult as his moral compass takes a beating, and his wife Angela’s manipulative ways make him constantly go to lengths he’d never thought possible. 

  Things get even more difficult for John as his son’s condition seems to have spread to the townspeople and is rapidly getting worse. I liked this fresh perspective on the genre and I also liked the graphic detail that the author used to tell this story. The only thing I would have liked to have seen done differently is that I would have liked to have had more of the backstory to the novel.  I would have liked to have known how the virus came about, or more importantly how the boy contracted it. Aside from that, I really enjoyed it and would recommend this book to any fans of the zombie genre, of which there are many, or fans of horror fiction in general.

– Reviewed by Wilson King
                                                     

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