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Tuesday, October 19th, 2010 | Author: Casey Criswell

Coming out in 1995, “Tales From the Hood” was a movie that flew under the radar for me. The early trailers for the movie made the stories packed within the anthology look weak with the urban themes being forced in to fit the tones of the ‘From the Hood’ moniker. Some fifteen years later, I’ve come to find out that the themes are heavily urban in flavor making a great setting for this group of fun stories.

Trying the four stories together is Clarence Williams III. Portraying an eccentric undertaker in a funeral home, he is confronted by three young thugs in search of ‘the shit’. As he stalls the three men, he shows them the various dark corners of his funeral home, each of which unlocks a different story that eventually seals the groups fate.

Ultimately, “Tales From the Hood” is quite a bit of fun. While it doesn’t’ do anything revolutionary to the genre, it is on par with many films of its kind, especially horror flicks that came out in the nineties. None of the stories are overly scary but they pack a good dark sense of humor and give a creepy vibe throughout. There is a good variety between the stories as well. The tale of a young boy with a powerful imagination is downright touching. Watching Corbin Bernson act like a racist pig rather disturbing, his fate well suited. The harsh reality that flashes through a dying murderers mind; unnerving. All of the shorts manage to push their point without taking themselves too seriously.

The best part of the entire movie is Clarence Williams, hands down. He’s campy. He’s over the top. He’s maniacal and has good comedic timing. He’s just all around entertaining and the glue that holds the whole thing together.

“Tales Form the Hood” isn’t going to show you anything new. It’s going to keep you around for the full runtime though and give you some laughs and some chills. I’d say it’s well worth throwing in the DVD player for a Halloween party and it won’t scare off your non-horror minded friends either!

Monday, October 11th, 2010 | Author: Casey Criswell

This past weekend found me with some spare time on my hands. As you can tell by the cobwebs here around Cinema Fromage, I haven’t had a whole lot of time for movie watching, but I took the opportunity to dive back in head first and catch three movies I’ve been looking forward to seeing! After all, it’s time to start getting geared up for Halloween, right?

Since things have been slow around here lately, I’m going to kick things back into gear with a handful of capsule reviews!

Let Sleeping Corpses Lie – Italian Zombie flicks are always something special but to be completely honest; my experience with them has been pretty Fulci centric. It was a nice change to get outside of the heavy gore that those types of zombie flicks usually rely on and concentrate a bit more on the characters.

Speaking of the characters, they’re something special. George is a hippie but more importantly, he’s a complete and total ass. When he runs into Edna who is traveling the countryside after his motorcycle breaks down, you’re left wanting to bust him in the chops just to shut his demanding ass up. It’s that bad. This is counteracted though by Edna who is slightly dreamy and sweet played by Christine Galbo. She is quite lovely. Throw in Edna’s heroin addicted sister trapped in a country side manor and things get pretty zany.

The cool twist here is the source of infection. It’s a nice change and something a bit different from what was causing zombies in other movies in those days. Here we’re looking at a radioactive insect repellent that drives the denizens of the country side to become aggressive and violent. And though I said before that it’s a nice change from the typical super gory Fulci formula, there is still a good chunk of blood and guts going on here!

Psychomania – I’ve been dying to see “Psychomania” for a long time though I never worked too hard to find a copy. Thankfully, Turner Classic Movies made it nice and easy for me by showing the flick late Friday night. Here’s another confession; the reason I wanted to see “Psychomania”? Those motorcycle helmets are KICKIN’ RAD! I mean, look at that logo with the skull and the helmet! Isn’t that cool?

Anyways…

Yet another twist on the classic zombie formula, now we get into deals with the devil and cults and black magic. It sounds pretty off putting at first and as a standard horror flick, its pretty light in the scares department. Still a pretty captivating flick, simply because it’s unlike anything you’ve seen before! When we’re first introduced to the gang of young people terrorizing the country side, they seemed dark and mysterious and simply strange. Once the leader of the band of misfits Tom Latham goes home for the night, he transforms into some British Ultra-Mod type with his snazzy white turtleneck and high fashion living room decor. We’re talking Austin Powers here folks.

Despite the ‘yah baby yah’ tendencies, it’s still a good flick. Its look at the undead is pretty unique altogether, one that looks at an after life of causing mayhem free from death and consequence rather than feeding on flesh and brains. My one nit-picky 3am gripe about the movie? They buried Tom sitting on top of his bike. Dig the damn hole deeper, his head was still sticking out!

Cabin Fever 2 – I was never the biggest fan of Eli Roth’s original “Cabin Fever”. I didn’t’ hate it or anything. I just wasn’t into it as much as others seem to be. For “Cabin Fever 2″ I wasn’t expecting a whole lot, especially since I didn’t care for Ti West’s “House of the Devil” much at all! Turns out, I ended up enjoying it more than I thought I would!

Plot wise, there’s nothing much new here. The disease has hit the water table that the local bottled water company draws its water from. So; same disease, new location. We have one Giussepe Andrews returning from the first flick as Deputy Wilson and that’s about it. He knows what’s going on when things start to go gooey around town. Now we have a high school outsider type played by “Deadgirl” lead Noah Segan and his hopeless crush on Alexi Wasser. Unfortunately for Noah, Alexi’s got an asshole boyfriend she’s in love with, so Noah doesn’t stand a chance. All of that is an aside to the main point of contention here which is…the disease is back, it’s going to culminate at the high school prom and things are going to get messy.

If you push back the standard run of the mill plot, you’re left with the gore being the main character of “Cabin Fever 2″. In that aspect, Ti West succeeds pretty well! There are a lot of moments that fit in well with the Eli Roth original. There’s body parts sliding off here and there, bloody vomit and some scenes involving genitalia that will make you cringe and look away from the TV. Considering that’s the whole point of the series? I’d call that a good thing!

Monday, July 19th, 2010 | Author: Casey Criswell

Growing up in Northern Indiana, I’ve met my fair share of Amish folk. Sure, we don’t have quite the Amish population that someplace like Pennsylvania has, but there are plenty of them out here. They’re a friendly folk and are always happy to lend a hand. I’ve always found them a bit fascinating to be quite honest in how they live their lives without all the things we take for granted!

That being said, they’re an oft overlooked culture for such things as horror films. I’m not saying we should target them or anything, but in today’s age of rehashing everything until it’s done to death, there’s a whole culture that could be mined for some story telling. Every other culture has taken their share of jabs and such and their way of life could lend itself to some decent plot turns in a new setting. When I read the plot for “The Season”, I was quite intrigued by the idea of a story set around a rogue sect of Amish folk!

In “The Season”, we find ourselves watching a large group of hapless people traveling the countryside. They all have different destinations in mind and reasons for being out there. Some are skipping parole, others are on vacation. When on a road trip, it only makes sense that you’re going to need gas along the way and luckily for all involved, there’s a homey little gas station run by a large Amish family out in the middle of nowhere! Everybody gases up and enjoys the lemonade and sandwiches offered up by the friendly Mrs. of the family and set about their merry way! As all parties leave the friendly wayside rest stop, they quickly learn that the station may have been plagued by a bad tank of gas as all of their cars break down. When they return to the homestead to look for help, they soon find that they may stopped at an unfortunate time of year; for the rogue sect of Amish that have been living here over the years, their breeding stock is wearing out and wouldn’t you know it? It’s mating season.

For a movie that promises something new with setting itself in the Amish culture, it turns out the base plot of “The Season” is in fact nothing new. We’ve seen a similar plot in many a backwoods hillbilly flick and this movie does nothing much to differentiate itself from these tales. It’s the same story, just a different group of people doing the inbreeding and murderin’! That’s not to say that the film is all bad however. Where “The Season” excels is its use of out of place gore, played off the gentile and friendly nature of the Amish people. Where with a backwoods freak, you expect craziness such as blood and guts and carnal attacks. With the Amish folk, you can expect some solid strength and some old world values, but you don’t expect those values to be enforced with blood laced attacks with mallets and pitch forks.

For you standard direct to DVD horror flick, the gore in “The Season” is well done and is kept from being too gratuitous. Sure, there’s a lot of it but it fits in with the plot and the nature of the characters that are carrying out the atrocities. The effects are well done for a low budget film and are truly the highlight of the film.

The plot here is not a real slouch either. While the story has been done before, the pace flows well throughout much of the movie and the characters carry on well in believable and entertaining fashion. We know where they’re going with everything in the film but we don’t mind watching. You’ll be looking forward to seeing just what will happen next attack wise and wonder as to how far the director will go with trying to make his film stand out from the pack. Unfortunately, all is not sunshine and roses as we hit the final act of the movie and “The Season” begins to suffer from being too long. Were the movie perhaps fifteen to twenty minutes shorter, we’d have a good direct to DVD film on our hands. Instead, we have a movie that we’re engaged in throughout the majority of the journey but eventually hit a wall that makes your attention wander. There’s bouts of long exposition and wandering dialog that takes us away from the fun we were having. Thankfully, they patch things back up with a decent ending after all the long winded talking runs its course.

I can’t say that “The Season” is a good movie from beginning to end, but there is quite a bit of decent movie packed in here. The first forty five to fifty minutes will entertain you well enough but soon your eyes will cross and you’ll forget what you were doing for a bit. Good for a late night fix, it’s not necessarily a movie you’ll want to go out of your way to track down.

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Saturday, June 12th, 2010 | Author: Casey Criswell

Okay, admit it; we all love Steve Guttenberg just a little bit at least. His days as Sgt. Mahoney made him a lovable and endearing miscreant. Sure, he shows up here and there in bit parts and cameos, I’ve never seen him headline a horror movie. To be honest, I never really thought of him headlining a horror movie before. The idea is a nice little twist for the guy as an actor and for us as a viewer. It’s fun to see somebody you know so well who embodies a certain characteristic challenge themselves and change things up just a bit! It’s just too bad that “Cornered!” as a whole didn’t add up to back up Guttenberg’s venture into new territory.

Inner city convenience stores are a dime a dozen, but for the purposes of “Cornered!” our store of the moment is populated by a group of colorful lowlifes and regulars. The store is owned by Steve, an over watchful and paranoid man that accepts life as is. He’s assisted by his nephew Jimmy played by James Duval, a lapsed rehab patient. Donny Donut, the chubby and wimpy store clerk does his best to fend off shoplifters while he harbors his love for street walker Jess who is happy to let Donny fawn over her. To round out the mix, we have Mona the heavyset freelance phone sex operator with a taste for ice cream. Guttenberg arrives as Morty, the beer delivery guy who arrives daily to keep the shelves stocked with cans of generic no-name beer.

This group of self described low-lives combine together to show a portrayal of life in inner city america. There’s no real social message here; they’re just real people living life. Since they’re all regulars, they meet once a week at Steve’s apartment over the store to play poker, which we witness as the film unfolds. Cutting over these scenes of ‘life’ we get snatches of news reports that talk of a serial killer stalking convenience stores across the city. As the group of misfits gather to play poker, it is all to obvious what is about to go down over the course of the night.

“Cornered!” presents a nice idea for a slasher film. That of a group of people held to one limited location as the killer works his way through the cast one by one. The premise is ultimately nothing new though. We’ve seen similar set ups before, so you have to make things happen on screen to make your movie stand out. “Cornered!” simply doesn’t do that. The movie is predictable from the very beginning leaving little to no mystery. We see that everybody is going to come to the store to play poker. We know that there is a serial killer on the loose targeting convenience stores. We know that the over protective shopkeep is going to lock everybody inside. The only real question is ‘who is the killer?’ and it really isn’t that hard to guess early on.

Though the movie is predictable leaving “Cornered!” as a bit lack luster in the slasher/serial killer department, there are still some good things to watch here. If you watch the special features, the director pushes the idea that he wants the characters to appear real in their portrayal and not some caricature of what inner city denizens. They are indeed successful in this wish! Each person that we focus on does have a stereotypical basis in their character but they are not over the top. Jess is a low-rent hooker, but she has real concerns such as money and rent. Steve is over protective of his store running and watching security cameras 24/7. It’s believable though because the store is all he has, so why wouldn’t he go overboard trying to protect it? It’s this aspect that makes “Cornered!” worth the watch instead of the serial killer tangent that brings them all together.

As far as a slasher movie goes, the film falls short in giving us anything new and exciting. There are attempts made to give our killer some stand out quirks such as killing each victim in ways central to methods mentioned early on in the film, but each moment happens so fast and shaky that it’s hard to get much thrill from them. We watch Mona be dispatched with her beloved drumstick ice cream cones, but the entire scene is played out in quick snatches. We’re only fully sure how she was killed off in a scene far removed from the kill, later in the movie. As killers go though, there is a slight attempt at a twist ending, but the murderer still manages to feel real by the end of the movie. Watching him work, we again do not get to focus on much to give meat to the character. In the end when he reveals his motives, he seems genuine and fairly basic as to the whys of his actions which makes him stand out just a bit from his counterparts.

“Cornered!” is not a great movie, but there are far worse ones out there. The characters help to keep the movie interesting along with nice attempt at giving it a bit of a grind house feel. Come for the characters and not for the carnage and the movie is worthy of a late night watch. Just don’t expect to find your next favorite psychopath during the running time.

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Tuesday, April 20th, 2010 | Author: Casey Criswell

“Meadowoods” is a simple film from beginning to end. The plot is straight forward; a group of college students in a small town are essentially bored and want to stir things up a bit with a murder. They figure the best way to execute said murder is to find a random person and come up with a creative way to end them. That way its a drawn out process and they can get some great video of the dying process and create a bit of chaos in town to scare everybody while they’re at it. What better way to pass away the time with some good old fashioned killing?

Cribbing from other films that have used similar styles in the past, “Meadowoods” is told from the first person perspective of Ryan, a film school student who has access to the cameras our trio needs to film their morbid documentary. The first two acts are simply close up shots of our three teens discussing their idea; murdering an innocent person. We watch along as they start off gung-ho over the idea and slowly move towards trepidation, over zealous excitement and flat confusion. It’s an interesting take at telling a story where we get to see everything from the birth of the idea, research, building the props needed for the act and finally, execution. The closest film we have seen of late would be “Behind the Mask: The Rise of Leslie Vernon” which feels like an obvious influence for the likes of “Meadowoods”. The key difference being that this film is set from beginning to end to feel like a true to life story where “Vernon” has a definite satirical agenda.

Where the problems enter in for “Meadowoods” is in this same point of view that makes the movie interesting. When dealing with a green cast setting off on possibly their first acting job, it can be difficult to keep the story flowing. Tedium rides a fine line here when the actors get off their marks for the slightest bit. Where some scenes are tense as you watch the characters coldly discussing taking the life of another person, others just seem to roll on for a bit too long. This causes us to lose the point at times and wonder when they’ll be moving on. Don’t get me wrong, this isn’t the case of the entire film. A good chunk of the first two acts are great in the simple act of watching how cold these potential killers are. Just at times, they wander a bit the film slows down because of it.

While the work to get there is a bit over long, the payoff of the third act of “Meadowoods” is worth the effort. In this final act, we see numerous things happen surrounding the trios deadly adventures. Some characters evolve, some devolve and yet others seem to be mired in confusion uncertain of where to go. After our hour long buildup of the first two acts, the final events kick off unexpectedly and snowballs through to its conclusion. This is a great contrast to the first two acts as suddenly the film becomes frenetic and chaotic, much like you would expect any plan devised by a trio of bored college students to unfold. For the purists, you will happen across a few issues in the script itself, though they are minor. More than anything, I found myself wondering throughout the movie why they thought sitting in a coffee shop discussing committing murder loudly and openly was a good idea. Getting past the fact that they are filming the entire ordeal, you’d think they would go through a little more effort to keep things to themselves. But once again, just a minor annoyance.

Ultimately, “Meadowoods” is a highly watchable horror flick that is going to be a bit different from what you would normally expect. The pacing feels different from most films I’ve watched before which makes the movie feel like a fresh idea. You do have to be in the right frame of mind for this pacing. It may well strike you as meandering and slow. If you give it a chance however, it’s a worthwhile journey to see the final act unfold.

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Monday, April 05th, 2010 | Author: Casey Criswell

I’ve mentioned a few times now that I’m working on a new Bigfoot story for you all to read, right? What I didn’t tell you is that I’m teaming up with Damaged 2.0 editor Louis Fowler and Bookgasm editor Rod Lott to put together a new bigfoot anthology! So not only will you get one bigfoot story to entertain yourself, you’re going to get an entire book full!

So now, the official call for submissions are up! Read below for details so you can get started on churning out your stories! The rules are pretty clear: we want bigfoot and we want whatever version of bigfoot you can dream up!

Stay tuned for further details as we finalize the anthology title, the official blog, artwork, and a whole lot more!

NEW BIGFOOT PRINT ANTHOLOGY CALLS FOR SUBMISSIONS!

Bigfoot. Sasquatch. Skunkape. Whatever you call him, this cryptozoological American legend has entertained and befuddled us for generations. From grainy Zapruder-like film to family fare such as “Harry and the Hendersons”, the Bigfoot is an ingrained part of our culture. And, now, we’re gonna tell the other side of his story…the further adventures of Bigfoot!
Conceived in a fever pitch this past Horrorhound Weekend, Louis Fowler, editor of DAMAGED 2.0 and Casey Criswell, editor of “Cinema Fromage”, are teaming up with Rod Lott at BOOKGASM for an as-yet-to-be-titled Bigfoot Anthology, to be published under the new “BOOKGASM PRESENTS” banner. And, as with any anthology worth it’s salt, we need quality writers wanting to tell their own version of the Sasquatch myth!

Think that you’ve got an unique story to tell? We want it! Anyone can do a typical Bigfoot-scares-teen-campers tale…we want something different. Stories can put the creature in anytime or anyplace or any situation, as long as it is entertaining! Think your story is too “B-movie”? Chances are we’ll like it even better. Think your “take” is too insane? We want to read it!
Short story submissions need to be at least 1500 words, but feel free to go longer to tell the story that you need to. Additionally, flash fiction of at least 250 words will also be considered, but, please tell a story.
NO POETRY.
All submissions should be sent as a .doc file, in 12 point Times New Roman font. No crazy fonts, please. Number all pages and please include name, mailing address, phone number and e-mail address in the top left corner of the first page.
For work accepted, authors will receive a complimentary copy of the anthology in which their work appears.

We will be accepting submissions from now until June 15th. Authors will be notified of acceptance shortly thereafter by email.

Send all submissions to damagedhearing@gmail.com with the subject “BIGFOOT SUBMISSION”.
Thanks, and we look forward to seeing your stuff!

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Wednesday, March 31st, 2010 | Author: Casey Criswell

I wrote about this back in September but as you can see above, it’s now become a reality! That’s right, this past weekend I was handed an editors proof of Dark: A Horror Anthology to gawk over and maybe drool on a bit. (Just a bit, promise Bryan.)

While I’ve had a few stories published before such as “A Fine Line” at the now defunct Sonar 4 Ezine and “Jackboots for Jesus” in The Jack, this is the first time I’ve had one bound up all nice and purdy for people to actually…you know…go out and buy! While you can’t go out and buy it quite yet, you’ll have your chance here very soon! And you really should. There’s some really great friends and authors included in this anthology such as Steve Wands, Derek Koch, Bryan Wolford and a whole lot more!

At any rate, we’re down to a matter of a few weeks before “Dark: A Horror Anthology” is officially available for purchase. If you’re vaguely interested in laying your eyes on my story “Deep Lies the Murky Floor” or would just like to inflate my fragile ego just a bit to keep me from collapsing into a sobbing mess, be sure to stay tuned for once the book is officially for sale!

Cause you can be damn sure I’m going to brag about it.

Sunday, May 31st, 2009 | Author: Casey Criswell

Let’s get this out of the way. This movie? It made me giddy. It made me enjoy a night at the theater more than I have in quite awhile. And I go a lot. “Drag Me to Hell”? Loved every minute of it. Sure, it sounds fanboyish for certain and I’ll be honest, it really is. At the same time though, getting Sam Raimi back behind the camera for a horror flick is an event worthy of dreaded fanboyism. I’ll do my best to tell you why I liked it with minimal squeals and giggles.

There are many types of horror films out there. Some have a slow building brand of fear that gets under your skin, gives you goosebumps. Others aim to repulse you with blood and guts and other disgusting attributes. For “Drag Me To Hell”, Raimi dove into his well worn bag of tricks and gave us a jump scare thrill ride that got to even the hardest of horror nerds. The key element to “Drag Me To Hell” is to catch you off guard and startle you quickly and surgically. Kicking it off straight from the opening title screen, they leave no doubt that you’ll be jumping out of your chair repeatedly, and they do it pretty damn well. It got me to jump several times. Ask the Mrs.; I’m pretty desensitized to it all.

It was a well publicized fact that this one was going to get the dreaded PG-13 rating and the worry was palpable across the internet. There have been very few *good* PG-13 horror films to come out. Whether it was the fact that it was Sam Raimi, superstar director, causing the ratings boards to slack a bit or the fact that he really is that good, the boundaries of the PG-13 brand of mediocrity was pushed to the edge and perhaps over some. Gone is any bonafide snot-like pus and gore that the man is known for from such classics as “Evil Dead” as well as over the top violence. It wasn’t needed though. He still manged to paint a distinct and clear picture as to what happened and in many cases, we still got to see it. For me, what helped him to redefine the PG-13 boundaries was the use of audio to make the viewer uncomfortable. At times it is overly loud which is the point. Dissonant chords swelling into a blasting cacophony forces the viewer to cringe along with our star Alison Lohman. This takes the place of the blood and guts spewing forth for an hour and a half and works well. At other times, the sound is used effectively with the demonic presence that is stalking our starlet making the moments even more unsettling. An all around good show that helped to accentuate the positive in the mix of old fashioned latex and CGI effects.

In the acting department, star of the movie Alison Lohman centers herself solidly in a new found role of scream queen. Fully engrossing in her tormented state yet still managing to capture the goofy humor that is a trademark of Sam Raimi horror, she fit in well. The rest of the cast are meant to be not much more that set pieces, but they do quite well. Especially in the case of Lorna Raver, the lady cast in the unfortunate role of Mrs. Ganush, the gypsy lady who gets Lohman in trouble. No offense to Ms. Raver, but she was downright nasty in this flick and the lady fully engrossed herself in the role and did a stellar job. She’ll make you feel for her and turn around repel you in disgust in the same breath making the film all the more enjoyable.

An important note to those that have not been indoctrinated to Sam Raimi or the “Evil Dead” series. “Drag Me To Hell” is a cousin to these early films in every way. It is not a straight up serious horror flick. It’s not a flick that is meant to make you think or to force you to dig into it deeply. The entire film is there for you to enjoy on the surface and they have only one thing in mind; to make you jump. Repeatedly. At the same time, there is a trademark sense of humor that comes with a Raimi film too and it is present here as well. You’re going to laugh. You’re going to laugh a lot. It is all a delicate balance and with this movie, it is the perfect example on how to do such a thing well.

“Drag Me To Hell” is a great flick and the best time I’ve had at the movie theater in quite awhile. I jumped a lot, I laughed a lot. I even enjoyed “Mac Guy” Justin Long. This is a perfect date movie in that I guarantee you that your girlfriend (or boyfriend) will be holding on for dear life through out the film. This is a movie that you definitely want to see in the theater with a large crowd, it ads to the experience.

With all that said, Sam Raimi and Alison Lohman can drag me to hell anytime they want.

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Wednesday, December 03rd, 2008 | Author: Casey Criswell

From the blog of Brian Keene…

We are proud to officially announce the formation of Drunken Tentacle Productions, a new independent film company based in Maryland, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania, and headed by Mike Antonio, Matt Blazi, Jeff Heimbuch, Brian Keene, and Mike Lombardo.

Drunken Tentacle Productions’ main focus will be feature-length horror films for DVD, Blu-Ray, and digital download formats. Their first project will be an anthology film based on selections from Brian Keene’s short-story collections Fear of Gravity and Unhappy Endings. The film is expected to be released in 2010.

It’s a well known fact that I’m a fan and supporter of the direct to DVD horror market. When you pack some powerhouse talent into it, I get even more excited. I’ve been a Brian Keene fan for quite awhile as he’s quickly made himself a staple in the horror lit world. With their first film being based off of his short story collections, I find myself a bit excited to say the least!

The independent and direct to video market is where the future of our genre lies. Be sure to check it out and support it!

For the full press release on Drunken Tentacle Productions, head over to Brian Keene’s website for all the info!

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Monday, December 01st, 2008 | Author: Casey Criswell

Gutterballs

In a small town, there’s not much to do. In this small town, all there is to do is…bowling. As the cool kids in town gather to knock a few down and knock a few back, the common cliques of high school still exist. On one side are the jocks; foul mouthed, bullish and crude. On another side, the pretty girls; full of themselves, decked to the nines and looking…inviting. Finally, you have the cool dudes; rockers, not so jocks and…well they weren’t too specific with this last group. As different minded gangs of youth gather together, of course tempers clash. The jocks get belittled by the rest of the gang, they decide to enact their revenge. Grabbing hold of the head lady in training and having their way with her in brutal fashion; afterwards they all gather to bowl again the next night except this time there’s somebody new on the premises; a bowling bag bedecked killer is on the loose!

“Gutterballs” is a low budget throw-back from Ryan Nicholson who previously brought us “Live Feed”. With this outing Nicholson aims straight for the 80’s jugular in setting, presentation and plot. In some factors he reached his goal admirably; in others he leaves you cringing with mild disgust. Once we roll through to the final frame however, “Gutterballs” proves to be a fairly fun low budget throwback worthy of attention.

As with most 80’s slashers, the main forte of “Gutterballs” is a joy of creative kills and high quality gore. Featuring some clever and some over the top kills, they both drew some laughs and groans. Quite possibly the first film I’ve ever seen featuring a death by ‘69’, Nicholson obviously holds a love for the genre and its craft. Later we see a death by bowling pin sodomy, various deaths by random bowling alley equipment and quite possibly my favorite; death by ball polisher. In addition to this, the plot in itself is solid enough to get the job done. Most makes sense by the end and there is enough to keep you guessing throughout the movie. However, there are some faults at play here.

The most grating issue with “Gutterballs” has to be the dialog sprinkled throughout the film. While most characters come across as passable, our trio of jocks becomes highly grating within a good ten minutes of film. While it is understandable that they are aiming for a certain stereotype, the parts are delivered so over the top that it becomes distracting and frustrating. If this could have been dialed back a touch, the film would have been far more enjoyable.

My only other gripe with this film comes in the main plot point; the brutal rape scene that airs early on in the film. The scene is shot in very graphic detail and has some elements that come across as too much; so much that the scene comes across as disgusting and not in that fun way; that morally wrong and ‘you’ve gone too far’ sort of way. Now, the idea of the acts portrayed here is meant to be horrible and I can understand that. For what takes place however, showing the majority of this act is stomach turning and for the most part unnecessary. The rest of the scene borders on near ‘Cinemax After Dark’ soft core levels. I don’t have as much problem with this thematic choice; however it does make you wonder at times if you’re watching a horror flick or skin-e-max.

Despite the rape scene and some annoying characters, “Gutterballs” was otherwise rather enjoyable. With a solid plot and some kick ass deaths, the movie will make you cringe and laugh all the while. I’ve never seen a killer that wears a bowling bag for a mask, but I can now say it was quite effecting. Not in that ‘oh god he’s going to kill me’ kind of way, but that ‘holy shit what’s up with this guy?!?!’ kind of way.

6 bowling baddies out of 10

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