Fans of deep sea thrillers and horror films may want to check out the trailer for the feature-film, THE CHAMBER, debut of British film director Ben Parker. (more…)
Described as a label that “looks for intriguing, unsettling, unpredictable and provocative films from around the world“, is not “necessarily a genre label“, and with the tagline “International films with an edge“, Artsploitaiton Films first exploded onto the (more…)
In case you didn’t know what you were about to get into, you are about to begin reading a review of the film JOHN WICK, by a film buff who generally dislikes Keanu Reeves as an actor. When the countless “Boos!” and jeering of all the Keanu Reeves admirers and lovers subsides, I will continue. There has always been something about his seemingly (more…)
I can’t rave enough about both THE GUEST and A WALK AMONG THE TOMBSTONES, both films that just recently arrived on Blu-Ray/DVD Combo Packs from Universal Pictures. Here are a few scenes, as well as some words on the films and working on them from actor DAN STEVENS. I highly recommend both films. THE GUEST was even my (more…)
THE GUEST’s director, Adam Wingard, has a pretty good track record with me. Although I have not seen a good majority of his body of directorial work, what I have seen I have really liked. I guess I started watching his work (unbeknownst to me) with (more…)
Spy flicks filled with intensely-paced action, gun shootouts, well-choreographed scenes of hand-to-hand combat, and a fast-paced story are what I look for in most action films. Myself, a big fan of the 007 James Bond films and the BOURNE Trilogy (two very different styles of spy films), was not familiar with many S. Korean action films and almost zero spy films. Having seen SHIRI a.k.a. SWIRI (1999) (of which Han Suk-Kyu is in as well as the film I am reviewing presently), I knew that S. Korea was capable of making a solid action film that I could really enjoy. Sadly, I had not seen too many other films outside of the horror genre from S. Korea and was completely unfamiliar with their style of action film. Then I saw Ryoo Seung-wan’s THE BERLIN FILE (2013). (more…)
Of all the many Hong Kong Action flicks and horror films that I used to watch incessantly during the 6-year period that was the peak of my addiction, one director’s name that always came to mind when looking for a solid drama or crime thriller to mix things up was (more…)
Those loyal readers of SHU-IZMZ may recall a movie I reviewed a few years entitled BLOODSTAINED ROMANCE, directed by Travis Miller, as well as a follow-up interview I did with him. Now, a few years later and after working on a film that never got finished (BAD GIRLS BURN IN HELL) due to unforeseen circumstances, pitfalls, and a falling out with the other producer, Miller is back with a noir-esque thriller that is a creature of a different type. It seems that director Miller has taken his indie filmmaking skills of prior days and used them to make a film that is not been of the usual variety and tone of all his previous efforts: gory and extreme subject matter. Miller has created a movie that (more…)
The horror/sci-fi short film, OTHER, is about a scientist who is trying to cure himself from a seemingly fatal disease whose prognosis offers no foreseeable cure–it has to be one of the coolest short films (running time 14:08) that I have seen in quite some time. The production values on this film look like they put a great deal of money and time into making the movie, even if (more…)
Shout! Factory has teamed up with Media Asia Films to bring us in the States the Johnnie To-produced action-suspense-thriller ACCIDENT. Directed by Soi Cheang (DOG BITE DOG) and filled with many familiar faces to fans of Hong Kong cinema such as Louis Koo (TRIAD ELECTION), Richie Jen (EXILED), Feng Tsui Fan (MY LUCKY STARS), Michelle Ye (VENGEANCE), and Lam Suet (THE MISSION)—this film is sure packing some all-star talent from the get-go. I was just hoping that the film was going to deliver a smart script that was going to utilize all this talent. Soi Cheang’s ACCIDENT did not disappoint.
The premise of ACCIDENT is a unique one, something that I had not really encountered in a film before, about a team of assassins led by (more…)
SHOUT! FACTORY will be releasing ACCIDENT, an action, suspense/thriller from internationally renowned action filmmaker & producer Johnnie To (ELECTION) starring Louis Koo and Richie Jen, and directed by Soi Cheang (DOG BITE DOG), comes to Blu-ray and DVD JUNE 12, 2012! Johnnie To, a director and producer known for intense, hard-hitting action flicks has never steered this Hong Kong cinema fan wrong in any of his films! This looks to be another solid production in the Hong Kong Action genre! Look to SHU-IZMZ for a review of Cheang’s ACCIDENT, as well as future giveaways for the film courtesy of SHOUT! FACTORY!
DEBUTS IN STORES NATIONWIDE ON BLU-RAY™ AND DVD
OWN IT ON JUNE 12, 2012 FROM SHOUT! FACTORY
Christopher Witherspoon’s RAGE starts up with an applicable definition from the Merriam-Webster dictionary for the definition of the word rage: violent and uncontrolled anger. That very simple and direct definition aptly defined the whole plot and purpose of the film. The film not only entertained, but RAGE also taught viewers a lesson—a lesson that many may find to be useful in their everyday life.
The film starts out in present-day suburbia, just outside the beautiful city of Portland, with a thirty-something man saying goodbye to his lovely wife (Audrey Walker) as he drives off into the city. Leaving his picture-perfect house with its finely manicured, lush, green lawn waving goodbye to him. The scene definitely was getting ready to set up some tragic and ominous events that were to occur in the future of this film. As our lead character, Dennis Twist (Rick Crawford), heads into the city to meet a friend for lunch he encounters a mysterious biker clad in black from head to toe (even including a helmet with a dark visor making it impossible to identify the individual underneath).
The biker honks its bike’s horn after Twist pulls into a parking spot and gets out. Twist looks at him in utter confusion, motioning with his hands as if to say, “What???”, then still mystified shrugs it off and leaves for his lunch date. On the way to it, he stops by for a visit to the woman he is having an affair with and gives her the news that it’s over and that he loves his wife. She takes the news badly, threatens to tell his wife, and then asks if it is because of Steven, her formerly incarcerated ex-boyfriend who just got out of prison and is seemingly on probation of some sort. Twist tells his lover, Dana (Anna Lodej) he just loves his wife and does not want to continue the relationship with her anymore.
All the while, the mysterious biker from the parking lot is seen watching them from behind the trees. At this point in the film, I was sensing that the biker was going to be directly causing some sort of trouble for our cheating, married, author. Yeah, the guy gave one of his unpublished works to his lover to get her opinion on the book. Of course she loved it.
As the movie progresses, our mysterious biker begins to follow Steven and slowly annoy him at every point in his day, whether it be pulling up in front of him and sitting at a green light while blocking his way from driving off in his oh-so-suburbanite PT Cruiser or an even more bold and rash act of aggression such as pulling up next to him and keying his car with a knife as the biker speeds off. One is starting to get the idea this elusive motorcyclist has it out for our poor, unfaithful, well-to-do suburban author.
The rest of the film turns into a cat and mouse game of chase, going back and forth between the driver of the wimpy PT Cruiser and the tough-looking, clad-in-black biker speeding around on a crotch-rocket. Just when I was beginning to think this film reminded me of another movie or two in which two drivers are “duking it out” in their respective vehicles on the road, a majorly obvious DUEL reference is made between to random individuals who are chatting with each other. One guy tells his friend the plot of Spielberg’s well-done, made for television tale of a guy driving on the highway battling a huge semi-truck having only his wits as a weapon and an open road as his arena. One could say that RAGE is a modern-day take on Duel, heavily inspired by the film, but set in an urban setting with other locations instead of just one big empty highway.
RAGE is an indie film with a budget that looks to work with the material at hand. The film was very well-shot and edited, paired nicely with a compelling soundtrack that added suspense and intrigue to the action and scenes on hand. With each scene in the film, the severity of the biker’s actions towards Steven increase more and more, from cutting the brake lines of his stupid Cruiser to following him into the bathroom of the auto repair shop (where Steven overhears the conversation between the two men talking about Spielberg and his first movie DUEL along with some metaphor crap about the film that probably was taught in a class at film school entitled “The Psychology of the Mind in Cinema” or something along those lines) and beating the hell out of him.
At this point in the film, I was really wondering where this was all going. All of the dialogue was coming from Steven and the few interactions he had with his buddy (who also is his therapist) whom he met at lunch and explained his biker problem to. At about the 35 minute mark, I was beginning to crave for some more direct action, violence, blood, guts, nudity, explosions, or some epic crashes or chase scenes reminiscent of Miller’s MAD MAX films. I guess I was not going to get anything really crazy involving a crotch-rocket and a fucking PT Cruiser, but I can still hope for it.
The rest of the movie is a semi fast-paced game of “cat-and-mouse” as Steven tries to elude the biker and get home safely to his home. At this point, it is nighttime and after the bathroom beat-down, Steven decides that he just better stay away from him and hide rather than confront him and get his ass kicked…or even worse.
When the film progresses its action back at Steven’s house, things pick up yet again and there is a little bit of blood and some rape. The rape scene could have been more graphic, showing some actual nudity and more extreme violence towards the victim (which would have given the scene more impact and made it that much more horrible for the viewer to watch (we get a side buttocks view and most of the actual rape is from the waist down and our angle of view is from just above the waist and up but the point of the scene was to show that a rape did occur and not really “shock” the viewers which I think would have worked better).
At this point, the film’s impact was starting to wear thin and my interest was starting to dissipate. I was becoming bored with this mute biker and his acts of violence, seemingly random but maybe motivated from an unknown purpose. We then get an idea of just how unbalanced the biker is when he/she uses a chainsaw on some unlucky individuals. This scene, again, could have shown more of the actual act of violence (along with even more blood and gore) to make more of an impact on the viewers and satisfy the horror fans out there, but no such luck. There is some gore involving a chainsaw, finger digits, and spraying blood but more would have been so much more satisfying.
At the conclusion of the film, which I won’t spoil, I kind of felt let down. I felt as though all the acts of violence really were ridiculous in nature when it is known who is doing them for what reason. I did not feel cheated with the film’s conclusion but I just felt that the outcome was kind of absurd and ridiculous because the tone and style of the film had a fairly sensible tone going for it and then it made a turn towards the absurd, which really wasn’t a bad thing. I just wish the director had decided to cut some of the banal minor acts of violence and aggression and begin with the major ones sooner than later. I felt the build-up was a bit too slow in the making.
The film had many solid points within it: a cohesive storyline, well shot scenes, superbly edited, and the film had a very polished and slick look to it that really shouted “big budget” even though it was a smaller-budgeted indie flick. My wishes were that is was bloodier, gorier, depicted specific scenes in a more graphic manner to elicit stronger emotions and attachments towards the protagonist and victims (like in the rape scene) and, at times, move the story along at a quicker pace.
In the end, Witherspoon’s RAGE does blow away many of the indie flicks out there that I have reviewed and felt I totally wasted my time while watching. I think I just saw that their was a great deal of potential in the film and that it could have been far better. I got more entertainment and satisfaction from watching this film than many with similar budget restraints. The film was better than most.
Geno McGahee’s horror/slasher film Family Secret is a low budget, independently produced-movie with a lot of heart, handful of no-name actors and actresses, and sub-par special effects and make-up…yet I still enjoyed watching this film because a few of the lead characters really gave decent performances and there were some well-delivered lines of dialogue that had me rolling in laughter…for the most part.
The story begins with Geno McGee (Forris Day, Jr.), a successful journalist and lead reporter for the local newspaper, getting news from the family that his grandmother has kicked the bucket. Upon hearing of this tragic turn of events, we find out his grandmother was not liked by Geno, as well as the rest of the family, of which Geno has not talked to or seen in over 10 years. Geno has really been out of touch with them and really does not care for anyone related to him. Geno, being a successful writer in the family with a hot wife, Danielle (Leean Aubuchon), and a good career is quite a contrast to everyone else in the family whom all seem to have financial issues, awful marriages, spousal abuse. It all reminds me of the type of folks that belong on the Jerry Springer Show.
The film starts out giving the audience a little taste of each family member and the dynamics of their family and home-life, as pathetic and worthless as that may seem. We get a sense of what a bitch his grandmother is when Geno (played excellently by lead actor Forris Day, Jr.) relays a story to his wife after waking up from a bad dream in which his late grandmother (referred to as Nana by Geno) comes to him in nightmarish fashion. When his wife, Danielle asks him about his grandmother Geno tells of her about a time when Nana snapped his dog Skipper’s neck in half when he was a little boy. Nana was one wicked bitch, beating young Geno and torturing him throughout his childhood. Immediately following this disturbing tale from his past, Geno decides it’s a good time to try to bang his wife. His wife voices my exact thought- who gets horny right after reminiscing about one’s evil grandmother? Yuck! The scene ends with Geno yelling, “Fuck me, Nana! Fuck me, Nana!” Classic.
As our story progresses, we come across more family members, such as the overweight Uncle Gary Vershon, played by newcomer Alex Pierpaoli (who totally reminded me of director and actor Kevin Smith). I guess Pierpaoli reminded me of Smith primarily because he possesses a beard, is overweight, and both of them are pretty damn funny. Uncle Gary Vershon is a foul-mouthed, insensitive, bigoted, lazy asshole. I believe most families have at least ONE Uncle Gary amongst them. I think Pierpaoli played the part of Uncle Gary perfectly and was one of the most memorable aspects to the whole film-that and Forris Day, Jr.’s performance. Both actors were splendid throughout the film and really made the movie very enjoyable to watch.
Although this film is a horror-whodunit-slasher-mystery type of film, I felt that the gore and special effects throughout the film were pretty boring and borderline awful. The gore and blood was not very well done and could have benefited from a bucket of blood thrown here and there, especially when meat cleavers and large knives are being used to murder unsuspecting victims by the “Granny Killer”. I think I would have enjoyed the film much more as a fan or horror and slasher films if there had been a bit more emphasis and focus on the effects created for each murder. Even with these aspects of the film that I felt were lacking, the cohesiveness of the story and plot is what holds this film all together and makes it interesting to watch and the performances given by a few key players in the movie add to the enjoyment of the film. Granted, some of the acting in the film is only a notch above awful, but the positive aspects to the film outshine most of the negative aspects.
I think I could sit watching Uncle Gary’s negatively vile character treating everyone around him like crap all day long. The guy is such a sleazy, rude, obnoxious asshole that does not give two-shits about his wife, his daughter, or anything around him unless it satisfies his own needs and wants.
As the film goes on, Geno is assigned to cover these murders that are being committed by someone or something that highly resembles the family’s late grandmother. Shortly after the funeral the murders start up and Geno’s family is being picked off one by one. Ignoring the fact that the newspaper assigning a family member related to all the murders just may be some sort of conflict of interest, Geno is determined to get down to the bottom of things and find out who is killing of his family- is it the grandmother, back from the dead, or is it someone just dressing up as an old lady who just goes around slaughtering one particular family’s members?
Director Geno McGahee, who also wrote the film, did a fine job of weaving a story that is both entertaining and interesting to watch. Although I have a slight gripe with the shoddy gore effects, the rest of the film was entertaining. There were enough well-done performances given throughout the film to keep one interested throughout.
I listened to the director’s commentary, which I highly recommend viewers to listen to, and there may have been a few performances given that I really had to disagree with the filmmakers’ views upon, such as the lines delivered by young actor Jacob Moon who plays this smart-ass kid, Larry, who happens to be hanging out at the bowling alley one night while members of Geno’s family also happen to be bowling there. There is a particular scene in which Larry is looking for two of his friends at the local bowling alley, finding them slayed by the “Granny Killer”, and reacts to their bloodied corpses by saying, “Angela, Angela, Angela…” in one of the most pathetic lines of dialogue ever given. Fortunately, these instances are far and few between. Just a few minutes prior, Moon was believably portraying a smart-ass little punk delivering some genuinely funny lines of dialogue.
Some of the lines of dialogue delivered were just too damn funny not to laugh at, even though this film is not to be categorized as a comedy. I think the mystery, comedy, and horror in the film is pretty well balanced and this is what makes the film work. If the crew had some more money to work with, I believe the blood and gore would have been more plentiful and this movie may have shined even brighter. Family Secret is a prime example and should be a lesson learned to many independent filmmakers- if one does not have loads of money to throw into a film’s production, write a solid story with great characters and dialogue performed by a handful of solid actors and actresses. Even if half the cast is lousy at acting and it looks like they are just robotic in reciting dialogue with no emotion whatsoever, a few strong leads can overshadow the amateur performances-which was the case here. I believe that to be the case here.
Upon listening to the commentary given by director Geno McGahee, actor and co-producer Alex Pierpaoli, and director of photography John Golden, I found out that Pierpaoli has not acted before, yet he gave one of the best performances throughout the film, and was definitely the funniest character to watch in any scene. He played the part perfectly and was really added some character and lowbrow charm to the whole production. My favorite scenes with Pierpaoli were when he is drunk in an Italian restaurant and bar, harassing a gay couple telling them he better not get too close to them or else he may catch A.I.D.S., as well as his scene in the bowling alley where he rips on one of the employees for being bald (his head was shaved). Uncle Gary pulls no punches- that is what I love about his character.
One of the funnier things commented on during the commentary was when director McGahee touches upon the fact that so many movies made in Hollywood nowadays, like Michael Bay mega-blockbusters and the Final Destination flicks, have a cast that looks right out of a modeling magazine- all the dudes are perfectly chiseled and have six-pack abs, while the women have tight asses and perky breasts. McGahee goes on to say that with the cast of Family Secret, this is not the case at all. Granted, there are some lookers in the film such as actress Leeann Aubuchon or Elizabeth Madera, but overall these actors and actresses are people one would run into on any given day at any given place. As director McGahee points out, when he goes walking out in public, “For every beautiful person I saw, there were fifty porkers!” (Well spoken, McGahee!).
The dvd, distributed by Tempe Video and released by X Posse/Webhead Entertainment Productions, can be ordered HERE. There also is a Facebook page for the film. I found it interesting that not only has Geno McGahee directed and made Family Secret, as well as Evil Awakening (2001), Rise of the Scarecrows (2003), and the upcoming Scary Tales (2012), he also reviews films from all genres and budgets, over at Scared Stiff Reviews. I am pretty sure that having watched tons of films from all genres has helped him learn what works and what does not work when making a film, as evidenced by Family Secret.
As the story gets closer and closer to coming to a conclusion and some answers are slowly answered as Geno McGee begins to uncover the truth behind the murders, the film becomes more and more enjoyable. At times, I thought I had a handle on who was murdering everyone, but as the film draws to its conclusion, the “family secret” is finally revealed and I don’t think ANYONE is prepared for what happens as all the questions anyone may have are finally answered.
Family Secret, as well as other indie horror flicks, are coming up with far more interesting and creative subject-matter than many of the movies coming out of Hollywood that have been recycled, regurgitated, and become redundant in countless sequels and thoughtless remakes. Geno McGahee has created a film that pays homage and tribute to many of the horror and slasher films that he talks about cherishing watching while growing up and Family Secret is a very admirable effort that was well executed and delivers the goods. I highly recommend checking this indie gem out!