Author Archive

Sunday, August 23rd, 2015 | Author: Casey Criswell

Casey and Colleen are back after a week off! This week, they venture back to 1987 to take in “The Lamp” a.k.a. “The Outing”! Is it good? Does it have some major sociological issues? Does Casey talk Colleen into rubbing the lamp? (No, but he just got smacked.)

Tune in to find out!

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Saturday, August 08th, 2015 | Author: Casey Criswell

While it’s not a Sam Raimi movie, it does feature two Raimi’s! And twice the Raimi is always a good thing! This week, Casey and Colleen venture back to 1989 to talk on the Scot Spiegel slasher “Intruder”, talk about the 80′s, reboots, sequels and more!

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Saturday, August 08th, 2015 | Author: Casey Criswell

“Harbinger Down” is a enjoyable flick, but there are some caveats to keep in mind. First; yes this is very much “The Thing” done over. There’s a reason for that though. The effects house Amalgamated Dynamics was hired to do the practical effects for 2011′s “The Thing” prequel. Unfortunately, the studio replaced all of their effects with CGI before release. Feeling slighted, ADI decided to venture forth and kick start their own film to showcase their practical effects. With that in mind, ADI may have had a bit of a misstep in promoting this as a ‘practical effects’ movie because at times, the story runs a bit thin as the movie tends to feel like an effects showcase. That’s not to say it’s a bad movie though.

“Harbinger Down” benefits greatly from the addition of genre legend Lance Henriksen. Lance commands the screen and helps drive the plot when it sometimes bottoms out and runs a bit slow. The rest of the cast does well enough, with nobody really standing out as particularly bad. Nobody really stands out as particularly good though in the wake of Henriksen. This isn’t such a bad thing; it’s a serviceable cast that shines on its own from time to time. With a story line that mirrors such an iconic genre movie though, it could have benefited from some stellar performances.

The story is another factor that keeps “Harbinger” in the realm of pretty good vs. great. Again, it’s a watchable story and is engaging. It just mirrors its roots closely throughout its run. They tweak the origin a bit as well as the big bad, but it was clear that the filmmakers had a particular setup in mind and the follow the formula from beginning to end. It’s a solid formula though, so you can enjoy the film for what it is. There’s just no particular aspects to make it stand out on its own. No aspects that is, aside from the effects.

It’s clear that “Harbinger Down” is made to be a showcase for the unused practical effects created by ADI and thankfully, those effects really excel. While sometimes the framing of these effects by the film around them are a little hokey, if you were a fan of the gory results of “The Thing”, you’ll be impressed by the chaos that besets the crew of the Harbinger. They shoot for the moon in their creations, aiming for bigger and crazier than its predecessor and they make for a fun twist, and these twists are where the film separates itself from their influences. Their big and gooey and sometimes packed with splatter, and there’s moments that will make you cringe and make the gorehounds smile.

In the end, ask yourself this; did you like “The Thing”? Then you’re going to like “Harbinger Down” better than the prequel.

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Saturday, August 08th, 2015 | Author: Casey Criswell

A surprising flick, “Extinction” starts off as your bog standard zombie apocalypse fare. That doesn’t last very long though. Quickly the film jumps the time line ahead nine years as we join Patrick, Jack and Lu, in their lonely existence at the end of the world.

Where the surprise comes is in the fact that this is a very sparse film that manages to be emotionally gripping the further it travels. We don’t know much about Jack and Patrick, accept that it soon becomes clear that they hate each other. We don’t know why. The story is doled out in small bits as they grow the characters of each of these men, little by little. The character of Lu is simply used as the glue that ties them together, but it’s effective as we slowly learn she’s the key to much of their strife.

“Extinction” is a zombie flick in formula, but it play out different than most. While the monsters are present, their more of an after though and a reminder of the predicament that this awkward little family are in. While typically these types of movies concentrate heavily on either gore or the strife of living in this harsh new world, “Extinction” bypasses all of this and focuses on the strife of this small group, living in a harsh world, as opposed to fighting it.

The kicker? “Extinction” eve passes on up on zombies and goes a for a weird evolutionary monster arc, something that’s always appreciated in today’s over run word indy zombie fare.

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Sunday, August 02nd, 2015 | Author: Casey Criswell

This week, Casey and Colleen head back into the past to confuse everybody by covering “Screamers”! No, not that Screamers, the original one that was also known as “The Island of the Fishmen” out of Italy!

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Thursday, July 30th, 2015 | Author: Casey Criswell

“Dark Was the Night” is an interesting movie that follows all of the rules of the classic monster formula’s. Unfortunately, the film is a bit uneven and falls a bit short when it’s final reveal is brought to light.

It’s an age old formula; never show your monster. “Dark” follows this rule very well. We spend a good chunk of this movie only seeing the slightest of hints of what is stalking the small town of Maiden Woods. There are mysterious footprints found about town. There are traces of animal attacks on the local livestock. There are words of worry from local hunters who say that all of the local wildlife has fled the vicinity. There are even those brief moments that we catch just a glimpse of whatever it is that is stalking the town.

All of these moments combine to make for a good dose of tension as we see Sheriff Sheilds and Deputy Saunders try and unravel it all. They also dole out the mystery in good pace throughout the film, leaving we the viewer wondering just what we’re up against. There are hints, but not actual definition, of what might be out there. Unfortunately, it all falls a bit flat in the end once the true form of Maiden Wood’s Menace is fully revealed. Perhaps it’s a matter of personal taste, but once we see what is hunting the towns folk, it makes all of the previous hour plus of tension building fall a bit flat. The creature design is simply not very good. That’s not the only thing holding “Dark Was the Night” back.

For this film, we get to see Kevin Durand take on a rare leading role, that he does pretty well with, yet falls a bit short of great. He shows that he has the chops, though his performance is a bit uneven. Little things like how his accent changes halfway through the movie really stands out. Other actors working around him, such as Lucas Haas do well. There just isn’t a lot of meat for them to work with in the script. Even genre regular Nick Damici makes an appearance, but is unfortunately rather under used.

Other than a few inconsistencies, this isn’t really a fault of the performances though. The script has some weak spots that they’ve tried to add in to give our characters depth and a way for us to connect with them; they just do not add anything to the overall story. Sheriff Shields has a rough past, which leads to a strained marriage and a son that spends time hopping back and forth between mom and dad. On it’s own, it’s not a bad sub plot. The things that happen to the Shields family is bad and makes for some decent drama. It just adds nothing to the story of whatever is haunting the woods around Maiden Woods. This leaves the film feeling a bit over long and leaves us viewers, wondering when they’re just going to get on with it.

That said, this isn’t a bad film and is worth a watch. The tension and mystery are solid for the first two acts of the film, and only fall short in the final ten minutes or so. And again, it’s not enough of a down turn to ruin the entire movie, but makes it feel merely all right as opposed to great.

Also, kudo’s for a quick Steve Agee sighting!

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Monday, July 27th, 2015 | Author: Casey Criswell

It’s well known that I base a lot of expectations on a video cover and a plot drop. I know we’re not supposed to, but a good movie cover hints towards a lot of good things to come. In the case of “Crawl”, it’s plot drop hinted of a seedy bar owner, a Croation hitman and hostages and hijinks, all with a “humorous chain of events”. It’s listed as a crime thriller, so naturally, I was curious. As it turns out, “Crawl” is far from anything thrilling.

Pacing in films such as these is crucial, a point in which this movie missed the mark totally. In the case of a movie such as “No Country for Old Man”, a slow pace works well because you’re dealing with a movie that relies heavily on its characters. For “Crawl”, it feels like the director might have gone after some of the key elements that made the former movie more interesting, but failed to give us any characters that were interesting in the slightest.

Really, as I write this, I realize that the pace of “Crawl” wasn’t at all the problem. It’s a movie filled with one dimensional characters that simply aren’t given much to do. Nor are they given any real substance.

First we’re introduced to Marilyn, our damsel in distress. We get a quick blast of back story for Marilyn; we know she’s about to get engaged. We know the lady giving her a ride home from the bar wants her to have a good night for her engagement. Once Marilyn arrives home and the second act begins, she doesn’t have much to work with. All she does is stalk about her house wide eyed, then spends the rest of the film tied to a chair. No reason to connect with her, no reason to sympathize. She’s just kind of there. The same goes for her soon to be fiance. I’d give his name, but I already forgot it. We’re introduced to him through a mere flash back so that and a voice message. We have no insight to the character whatsoever. When the plot of the film over takes him, we barely know who he is. So it’s easy to write him off and forget.

Perhaps the biggest crime for “Crawl”, comes with it’s villains. A solid crime thriller relies heavily on its bad guys and here, they are more of the one dimensional type. Our seedy bar owner is mostly seedy because he snorts a bit of coke and hired this hitman. He also looks like he could use a shower. He also likes to spank the other waitress, for no reason at all. (This scene came completely out of nowhere.) Otherwise, he’s just bland. Our Croation Hitman, the mysterious man that our entire plot hinges upon…is flat out dull. He stalks around silently, everything he does wooden and slow. His face isn’t menacing in the slightest, nor is he imposing. He just seems like an old Croation stomping about and not in a hurry to get anywhere. It really took any of the “thrill” out of the thriller.

It’s a shame, because I think director Paul China puts together a nice looking film. It’s shot very well and has it’s on distinct look and atmosphere. There’s just some serious fault with characters that needs to be addressed.

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Monday, July 27th, 2015 | Author: Casey Criswell

Plague is not a bad movie in the over run world of post apocalyptic viral outbreak movies. It’s not quite a stand out either though. There isn’t much terribly new going on in this Australian zombie flick, but if you enjoy watching how the regular denizens of society change when dealing with such a traumatic event, this movie has some to offer.

Be forewarned, the movie is a bit dry. For a zombie film, there is a wee bit of gore, but it’s far from the focal point. There’s a lot of dealing with survivors interacting with each other, not to mention our main character dealing with some unpleasantness that some times pops up in these types of films.

Possibly the largest fault of Plauge comes in the second half when much of the story falls up on the shoulders of Evie’s husband John. To put it bluntly, the character of John is written to be fairly grating and comes off as highly unlikable as the film rolls on. While you can sympathize with Evie, you can’t sympathize with John it all. Thankfully for us, if you tough out the second act, it all corrects itself in the third with a nice little twist that I didn’t see coming.

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Saturday, July 25th, 2015 | Author: Casey Criswell

It’s a new week, time for a new show! This week, Casey and Colleen take on their first anthology flick with 2013′s “The Penny Dreadful Picture Show”!

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Saturday, July 18th, 2015 | Author: Casey Criswell

Hey, we’re a few days late, but fear not! We’re here! This week, we take on fan recommended “A Little bit Zombie” and chat about video stores, the evolution of movie fandom, the movie and more!

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