Saturday, December 31, 2016

Phil Gets Tromatized: CLASS OF NUKE 'EM HIGH (1986) from Troma Entertainment - December 15, 2016


Starring Janelle Brady, Gil Brenton, Robert Prichard, James Nugent Vernon, Gary Rosenblatt, Brad Dunker, Gary Schneider, Théo Cohan, Mary Taylor, Pat Ryan
Written by Richard W. Haines, Mark Rudnitsky, Lloyd Kaufman, Stuart Strutin
Cinematography by Michael Mayers
Edited by Richard W. Haines
Produced by Michael Herz, Lloyd Kaufman, James Treadwell, Stuart Strutin
Directed by Richard W. Haines, Lloyd Kaufman (as Samuel Weil)
Released by Troma Entertainment
Originally released on December 12, 1986

Welcome back to another installment of Phil Gets Tromatized!! Today's entry is a special one because I am celebrating the anniversary of one of Troma's greatest films ever and my personal favorite! Combining over the top violence, high school hijinks, teen sex, peer pressure, drug use, social commentary and environmental issues, CLASS OF NUKE 'EM HIGH is one of the classics from the Troma library!

The film's official synopsis: Created by the same lunatics who brought you the smash cult classic THE TOXIC AVENGER, CLASS OF NUKE 'EM HIGH takes place in the radioactive halls of Tromaville High School, where a dangerous leak turns great minds into great mutants. Expose yourself to outrageously awesome doses of science fiction, horror action and bizarre humor. This nuclear age movie has something for everyone... and everything. Your entertainment level will shoot right off the meter!

Phil sees ROGUE ONE: A STAR WARS STORY in 3D from Lucasfilm/Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures - December 16, 2016

With the release of last year's holiday blockbuster STAR WARS: THE FORCE AWAKENS, Lucasfilm and Disney revitalized the STAR WARS franchise and showed that there was a new generation of fans out there who may have never seen any of the movies before. While Episodes VIII and XI are scheduling to be released in 2017 and 2019 respectively, between these installments are special stand alone movies that focus on a particular story set between the much beloved episodic entries. The first one out of the gate was the recently released ROGUE ONE: A STAR WARS STORY in 3D and yours truly was there for the opening night screening.

The film's official synopsis: This prequel to the very first Star Wars movie tells the thrilling story of how a ragtag band of freedom fighters -- including a former soldier-turned-prisoner (Felicity Jones), a Rebel Alliance insider (Diego Luna), a Jedi (Donnie Yen), and a sentient robot (voiced by Alan Tudyk) -- worked together to steal the Death Star's secret blueprints. Ben Mendelsohn, Forest Whitaker, Riz Ahmed, Mads Mikkelsen, and Jimmy Smits co-star.

Expanding on the mythos of the STAR WARS saga, the film is a very much welcomed story that really shines a light of the untold story of this band of brave rebels, who against all odds, must complete this very important mission the could shift the tide towards the burgeoning Rebel Alliance. But while it looks and feels like a STAR WARS film, it's actually a war movie, and it's one of the best war movies I've seen in a long time.

Filmmaker Gareth Edwards does a phenomenal job directing this incredible and moving film. His style has gradually matured since his two previous films: his 2010 debut MONSTERS indicated that he was going to someone important, while 2014 GODZILLA really pushed him into the spotlight. His set-ups, compositions, sweeping camera pans and his intimate close-ups really brings forth the characteristics of our lead protagonists and the beauty and ugliness of war. Truth be told, Edwards gave us fans the prequel we've been waiting for since 1999. Credit also goes to writers Chris Weitz, Tony Gilroy, John Knoll and Gary Whitta for delivering a smart and emotional script that deals war, belief and fighting for what's right. It is both political and social commentary story that is very poignant in today's world.

The entire cast was fantastic in the movie! First props to Felicity Jones' intense performance as our heroine Jon Eros. She's just amazing to watch up on the screen as she battles with the film's main antagonist and all around evil Orson Krennic, played by Ben Mendelssohn. Alan Tudyk's K-2SO is my new favorite droid in the STAR WARS franchise as he had the best and funniest lines in the whole movie. Martial artists and Hong Kong action superstar Donnie Yen (from the IP MAN franchise) portrays Chirrut Îmwe, who single handily created a new catchphrase with his, "I am one with the Force. The Force is with me." So far I've seen several T-shirts with this one them already. My only real complaint is that I wish we had more of Forest Whitaker's character Saw Gerrera. His character ties to the computer animated Star Wars: The Clone Wars television series and I wanted to see more of his story and where has he been since then.

Another aspect I really enjoyed about the film is the use of real locations, practical special effects and sets that had to be built from the ground up. It looks more closely to the original trilogy rather than George Lucas' overblown, CGI heavy, prequel trilogy. Now there comes a time when CGI is used correctly and the final battle scene between the Rebellion versus the Empire looks spectacular! The space battle as well as the battleground on the surface, the quick editing, the musical score creates a magical third act that will thrill STAR WARS fans worldwide!

By now, the whole world knows about the CGI inclusion of Grand Moff Tarkin, which was played by the late, great Peter Cushing from the original 1977 film. I really enjoyed seeing the inclusion of this iconic villain and it serves the film purposely, as it connects directly with A NEW HOPE. And with the CGI Princess Lea, it really ties into the original film.

And last, but not least, the return of Darth Vader to the silver screen. Fans of this legendary character were really pissed off at the way Lucas had him at the end of REVENGE OF THE SITH. Now, he's a bad ass again. An evil, vicious, ruthless bad ass! Basically, we got our Darth Vader back!!

ROUGE ONE: A STAR WARS STORY is one of the greatest STAR WARS films of all time, one of the greatest science fiction films of all time and one of the greatest war films of all time!! This is, without question, the prequel film fans have been waiting for period! And I for one cannot wait to see it again!! 5 out of 5 stars!! Highly recommended!!

ROUGE ONE: A STAR WARS STORY is currently playing at a theater near you. Check your local listings to see where it's playing in your area.

Thanks for reading, and my the Force be with you!

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Phil sees SAUSAGE PARTY from Columbia Pictures/Sony Pictures - December 18, 2016

Every now and then I'll see a movie that completely takes me into another world that I've never seen before. Others introduce me to exciting and interesting characters that I've never met before or show  me stories and lives that I haven't lived yet. And then there another film's that make ask myself, "What the f*ck to I just f*cking Watch?!? Seriously, what the f*ck was that?!?" Yup, this happened to me recently when I finally sat down to watch SAUSAGE PARTY from Sony Pictures.

The film's official synopsis: In this R-rated CG-animated movie, one sausage leads a group of supermarket products on a quest to discover the truth about their existence and what really happens when they become chosen to leave the grocery store. The film features the vocal talents of some of today’s best comedy stars – Seth Rogen, Kristen Wiig, Jonah Hill, Bill Hader, Michael Cera, James Franco, Danny McBride, Craig Robinson, Paul Rudd, Nick Kroll, David Krumholtz, Edward Norton, and Salma Hayek.

Ok, I'm forgoing my usual review and just doing something completely different. Was this an original film? Yes. Was it funny? We're the voiceover actors great? Yes. Did it have funny characters? Yes. Was it politically incorrect? Yes. Was it racist? Yes. Was it misogynistic? Yes. Was it highly offensive? Yes? Was it way over the top? Yes? Was it made for adults? Yes. And lastly, was I entertained? Yes I was!!

I can honestly say that I have never seen anything like this before! Ever! And I've watched some crazy shit in my lifetime!! I mean for crying out loud, I watch Troma movies!! But this was something all together new. And the end of the third act?!? Holy shit I did not see that coming at all!! All I can say is that that shit never happened when I worked at Safeway back in the day!!

SAUSAGE PARTY is one of the most f*cked up, disturbing and hilarious animated comedies I have ever seen!! And it's also the best comedy film of 2016!! The filmmakers really pushed the envelope with this movie! It's not what you'd expect. It's something more, way more than you can possibly imagine. So, if you want to politically and socially offended, then go see this movie!! 5 out of 5 stars!! Highly recommended!!

SAUSAGE PARTY is still playing in select theaters across the country. The movie is also available on Blu-Ray and DVD. It is also available on iTunes, Video On Demand, Netflix and Redbox.

Thanks for reading, and enjoy the show!

Friday, December 9, 2016

Phil sees DOCTOR STRANGE in 3D from Marvel Studios/Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures - December 8, 2016

In 1964, writer Stan Lee and artist Steve Ditko (the creators of Spider-Man) unleashed a new and different type of superhero, one that would have a huge impact on the Marvel Universe. With this one character, a whole new universe opened up and the world of magic was unleashed, bringing with it the concept of multiverses. Now over 50 years later, this iconic and legendary comic book character has finally joined the Marvel Cinematic Universe. So let's chat about me seeing DOCTOR STRANGE in 3D this past weekend!

The film's official synopsis: Marvel's "Doctor Strange" follows the story of the talented neurosurgeon Doctor Stephen Strange who, after a tragic car accident, must put ego aside and learn the secrets of a hidden world of mysticism and alternate dimensions. Based in New York City's Greenwich Village, Doctor Strange must act as an intermediary between the real world and what lies beyond, utilising a vast array of metaphysical abilities and artifacts to protect the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

I have one word to say about the movie: WOW!! When Marvel released CAPTAIN AMERICA: THE WINTER SOILDER, CAPTAIN AMERICA: CIVIL WAR and GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY, the bar was set very, very high to the point that I didn't think it would be possible to surpass these high acclaimed films, let alone have it even come close. But remember, this Marvel we're talking about here. Needless to say, this latest chapter in the MCU is one of their very best films!

British actor Benedict Cumberbatch is one of the finest actors out there today and this role was taylor made for him. First, he's speaking with an American accent, which is just weird but cool to hear. Second, he brings a lot of  depth and humility to Doctor Steven Strange. When we first meet him, he is a gifted but very arrogant, conceded and selfish individual. It isn't till after the accident that he becomes worse. For him to come back from and become the hero is a massive undertaking. Cumberbatch brings his A-game and the embraces the character completely. Don't bother looking him in the movie you won't be able to find him. All you will see on the big screen is Doctor Strange himself.

Joining Cumberbatch on this marvelous (get it!) journey into this newly opened part of the MCU is Rachel McAdams, who plays Strange's co-worker and love interest Christine Palmer. Strong, devoted and a woman you don't want to piss off, I'm hoping we see more of her in upcoming films. While I loved her character, I think they didn't utilize her enough so here's to keeping our fingers crossed. Tilda Swinton was fantastic as Strange's mentor The Ancient One and I was very impressed on how devoted she was with portraying this beloved Marvel character. Benedict Wong's character Wong was hilarious and bad ass, so let's see more of him. Finally there's Mordo, played by actor Chiwetel Ejiofor. He's The Ancient One's right hand man and one incredible being. A gifted sorcerer, Mordo plays off Strange well and the two have great on-screen chemistry but things might not be alright with him.

As you can see, I'm trying not to reveal any spoilers if you have not seen this movie yet (and if not why the hell are you reading this?). But I will tell you that there are the standard two end credit scenes so no big surprise there. However, these two scenes also set up two major events that will be revealed in upcoming MCU films! So, heck yeah I'm super excited to see where all this goes!

While it's a superhero movie, it's all about the magical and mystical side of Marvel that most people do t even realize yet. With this movie, a new doorway has been opened and it leads to other worlds, other realms, other dimensions that have yet to reveal themselves. The MCU is about to become an even bigger world thanks in large part to not only Doctor Strang, but to Lee and Ditko for creating one of the most important characters in comic book history.

DOCTOR STRANGE in 3D is one of the best Marvel films that you will ever see on the big screen! With all of Marvel Studios films, you need to see it on the big screen! And yes definitely see it in 3D!! It will totally blow your mind wide open!! 5 out of 5 stars!! Highly recommended!!

DOCTOR STRANGE is currently playing in both 2D and 3D in theaters nationwide. The movie is also being shown at select IMAX theaters as well. Check your local listings to see if it's playing at a theater near you.  

Thanks for reading, and enjoy the show!

Thursday, December 8, 2016

Phil sees BAD MOMS from STX Entertainment - December 8, 2016

Now as some of you might now, I'll watch any kind of movie out there. Even the so-called "Chick Flicks" that most men will dread taking their female companion to. But there's been a recent trend that has taken Hollywood by storm: raunchy chick flick comedies. Seriously, the films are funny as hell and can rival their male counterparts! So another excellent edition to this genre is the film BAD MOMS from the folks at STX Entertainment.

The film's official synopsis: Amy (Mila Kunis) has a seemingly perfect life - a great marriage, over-achieving kids, a beautiful home and a career. However, she's overworked, over-committed and exhausted to the point that she's about to snap. Fed up, she joins forces with two other over-stressed moms on a quest to liberate themselves from conventional responsibilities - going on a wild, un-mom-like binge of long overdue freedom, fun and self-indulgence - putting them on a collision course with PTA Queen Bee Gwendolyn (Christina Applegate) and her clique of devoted perfect moms.

Writer/director Jon Lucas and co-writer Scott Moore pull off of the funniest comedies I've seen in a while. The script is both huge on laughs while wears its heart and feelings on its sleeve. Their characters looks and sound like real moms who basically do it all: having a career, being a parent, drive the kids to and from school, running errands, do the cooking and the house cleaning, laundry, etc. I've always said that mom's are our superheroes and they don't get enough credit for all that they do for us. Also keep in mind they also carried us around for nine months, so remember that everyday is Mother's Day. Lucas also finds that perfect balance of comedy and emotion with his directing. He has clean medium and wide shots and compositions so we can see every single sight gag, every joke said, every tear shed and every moment of all these incredible moms and all the bullshit that they deal with everyday.

Leading the bad moms crew is actress/sex symbol Kunis, who is just outstanding as our frustrated, stressed out, overwhelmed and under appreciated mom Amy. Once she reaches her breaking point is where the fun begins and we see how her decision of quitting at being a mom both re-energizes and re-discovers of who she is. Kristen Bell's Kiki is one of her best roles she's ever done. She goes against type and plays Kiki had thus soft spoken, naive, low self-esteemed stay-at-home mom who is pushed around and dominated by her asshole husband. But there's a lot of growth with Kiki and Bell's performance is awesomely funny! Rounding out the group is bad girl Carla, portrayed by the hilariously raunchy Kathryn Hahn. I loved her character Carla. She had the best one-liners, is  tough as they come and is just drop dead sexy! I love this woman! Together, these three actresses have great on-screen chemistry and they are freaking funny as hell. Don't believe me? Just watch the grocery store scene and try hard not to laugh your ass off!!

As with all movies, your hero is only as good as your villain. In this case, Amy's main antagonist is the wicked bitch from the west Gwendolyn, played by Applegate. This woman is one evil bitch: she's a rich wife,  she's head of the PTA, she's rich, she bosses everybody around including the school staff and she comes off as the perfect mom who can't do wrong. When she bumps heads with Amy, all hell breaks loose. Gwendolyn, along with her cronies Stacy (Jada Pinkett-Smith) and Vicky (Annie Mumolo) go after Amy, her kids and her reputation as a mom while she and her bad moms crew retaliate and the results is pure comedy gold!!

Now maybe it's just me, but my opinion is that America is a pretty up tight place. Or maybe they think that women aren't funny. Whatever the case may be, the film received a lot of negative feedback, was panned by critics and was just trashed by audiences. I know what you're gonna say people. Everybody's a critic, but remember, film's are a form of entertainment. They are designed to enlighten you, enrich you, open you're eyes to the problems of the world, or they're just there to entertain you and offer you an escape from the real world for about 90 minutes. This film wasn't to be taken seriously. It was supposed to entertain you and make you laugh your ass off. And that's just what it did for me! It accomplished both endeavors and it was great!! And despite the negative reviews, it went on to gross $179.4 million worldwide! Not too bad considering the film's budget was only $20 million.

BAD MOMS is one of the funniest movies of 2016!! If you're a mom, then you will love this movie! If you love raunchy comedies, then this is right up your alley! This is one helluva funny movie and you definitely need to see this!! 5 out of 5 stars!! Highly recommended!!

BAD MOMS is available on both Blu-Ray and DVD. The movie is also available on iTunes, Video On Demand, digital download and Netflix.

Thanks for reading, and enjoy the show!

Friday, November 25, 2016

Phil Gets Tromatized: SQUEEZE PLAY (1979) from Troma Entertainment - November 20, 2016

Starring Jim Harris, Jennifer Hetrick, Rick Gitlin, Helen Campitrlli, Diana Valentien, Al Corley, Rick Khan, Melissa Michaels, Sonya, Jennings, Kaye Bramblett, Michael P. Moran, Brenda Kaplan
Written by Charles Kaufman, Haim Pekelis
Cinematography by Lloyd Kaufman
Edited by George T. Norris
Produced by Michael Herz, Lloyd Kaufman
Directed by Lloyd Kaufman (as Samuel Weil)
Released by Troma Entertainment

Greetings from Tromaville! So who's ready to go back in time to the 1970's to visit a true Troma classic? Well, congratulations kids because our destination is the year 1979 and today's review I'll be talking about one of their all-time greats. Kicking off their hilariously raunchy comedy series, today's installment proved to be very popular among Troma fans. SQUEEZE PLAY was the film that gave the new company its first big boxoffice hit and continues to attract new fans!

The film's official synopsis: It's a wild battle of the sexes as the "World Series of Laughs" heats up on and off the softball field. In the small town of Springborn the local all-male baseball team, The Beavers, celebrates each victory by bedding their wives, sweethearts and casual dates. Tired of this chauvinistic treatment, rebellious Samantha (Jenni Hetrick) organizes an all-girl team, the Beaverettes. She forces a battle of the sexes on the baseball diamond, pitting her buxom teammates against the dirty-playing Beavers.

The film broke all the rules and is part of all those sexy comedies that would follow for years to come, such as MEATBALLS, PORKY'S and ANIMAL HOUSE. And like with a lot of their other titles, there's a lot of social commentary to be found around the nudity, racy jokes, wet T-shirt competition, softballs flying into a man's bum, topless women, vulgar language, sexual situations, cartoon sound effects and killer soundtrack. Yup, I totally miss the 70's!!

Original Theatrical Poster (1979)
There's so much comedy going in the movie you'd have to watch it three times to catch them all, but it still holds up after all these years. The sexual innuendos, slapstick, sight gags plus the plethora of cock shots you can shack a stick at!! The film contains classic lines like, "Honey, I love you. What about all the children and silverware we're gonna have, huh?" Plus, I could I forget the greatest comedic line in all of cinematic history, "I don't care how big it is, I won't put it in my mouth!" By the way, all of this is courtesy of screenwriters Charles Kaufman (Lloyd's brother) and Haim Pekelis. Man, they don't write movies like this anymore!

The cast is hysterical while showing off their ability of keeping a straight face. Lead actress Jennifer Hetrick is hilarious as female protagonist. This was her feature film debut and had a very long career in television, appearing as Veronica Barrett in the soap opera classic General Hopital, Vash on Star Trek: The Next Generation and Corrinne Hammond on L.A. Law. Her co-star Jim Harris, who portrayed her boyfriend Wes in the film, appeared in another Troma feature WAITRESS! and was in AMERICAN NINJA 4: THE ANNIHILATION. Rick Gitlin only acted in a couple more films like CHEERLEADERS BEACH PARTY, A MARRIAGE and HOTSHOT before leaving the business. Same with Helen Campitelli, who played Sam's best friend Jaimie. This was her only film she did and then disappeared until 2011 when sh started acting in a couple of short films before appearing in an episode of The Underground Kings in 2014.

Originally, Troma had difficulty in getting the film into theaters. Then one fateful night Kaufman received a phone call from a theater owner in Norfolk, Virginia asking if he could have the movie. His second feature backed out and he was desperate. Kaufman sent the film out there where it played as a double feature with THE IN-LAWS. He thought nothing of it. The following Monday the owner called back and told him that it was the funniest film he ever saw and the audience laughed their butts off. After that, the movie went out to several theaters and became Troma's first big hit. With the profits, Kaufman and Herz purchased the original Troma Building in Hell's Kitchen in New York, where they stayed until they moved into their new location in 2012.

SQUEEZE PLAY remains one of the most important films in the history of Troma and it's one of my all-time favorite raunchy comedies from the 70's!! It's interesting to see where the studio got their start and to see how much the company has grown since. Troma still remains as the only AND truly independent movie studio in America today! So go revisit this comedy classic today! 5 out of 5 stars!! Highly recommended!!

SQUEEZE PLAY is currently available on DVD at your local retailer and on the Troma website. To purchase this film as well as books, posters and Blu-Rays and DVDs, visit The film is on iTunes, Amazon Instant Video, Netflix and Video On Demand.

Thanks for reading, and enjoy the show!

Friday, November 4, 2016

Phil's Horror Watch: 31 (2016) from Lionsgate - November 4, 2016

31 Blu-Ray Cover
Starring Sherri Moon Zombie, Malcom McDowell, Jeff Daniel Phillips, Meg Foster, Lawrence Hilton-Jacobs, Kevin Jackson, Judy Geeson, Jane Carr, Richard Brake, Pancho Moler, Elizabeth Daily (E.G. Daily), Ginger Lynn Allen, David Ury, Torsten Voges
Written by Rob Zombie
Cinematography by David Daniel
Edited by Glenn Garland
Produced by Rob Zombie, Mike Elliot, Andy Gould, Michael Sherman, Matthew Perniciaro, Eddie, Vaisman, Craig Walendziak
Directed by Rob Zombie
Released by Lionsgate

Musician and filmmaker Rob Zombie has had, let's just say, a very colorful and controversial career in the horror genre. His 2003 directorial debut HOUSE OF A 1000 CORPSES was a decent film, but it didn't live up to all the hype surrounding it. His follow-up and sequel THE DEVIL'S REJECTS was a masterpiece of horror cinema. Then he did the unthinkable: he remade John Carpenter's 1978 classic HALLOWEEN. Needless to say, the movie received mixed reviews, caused an avalanche of controversy among fans but made a killing at the boxoffice, taking in $59.3 million worldwide. The 2009 sequel HALLOWEEN II fared worse and performed poorly in theaters. In 2012, Zombie directed THE LORDS OF SALEM, a throwback to those classic witch and satanic films from the 1970's. Combining intriguing characters, magical and mystical themes and art house style of filmmaking, it looked like Zombie was growing as a director and poised to go on to make some really intriguing and fascinating movies. Then last month I saw his newest film 31 and all my hopes and expectations were flushed completely down the crapper.

The film's official synopsis: Five carnival workers are kidnapped and held hostage in an abandoned, Hell-like compound where they are forced to participate in a violent game, the goal is to survive twelve hours against a gang of sadistic clowns.

The main problem I have with Zombie's films is that the characters are all interchangeable and they all sound the same. They're dirty looking, cuss like a truck driver, sound deranged and are about as deep as a child's swimming pool. Since THE DEVIL'S REJECTS, the majority of his characters have been exactly the same! While LORDS OF SALEM was something completely different, it had a couple of his trademark characters but it didn't take away from the story nor its main protagonist. I was really looking forward in seeing what we was going to do as a filmmaker, but not anymore.

Theatrical Movie Poster (2016)
Now the film did have a few shining moments within the proverbial garbage that I was subjected to see. The opening scene was very fascinating to watch, as it was shot in black and white with actor Richard Brake as Doom-Head talking directly into the camera. It's actually a POV shot as we are seeing him through the victim's eyes, which I thought it was a very effective way  as to giving the audience an idea of the tone of the movie. And I have to admit, seeing E.G. Daily all sexy and batshit crazy was pretty damn cool! She's come a long way since playing Dottie in PEE-WEE'S BIG ADVENTURE that's for damn sure!

The film was originally crowdfunded, giving fans the opportunity of bringing Zombie's vision into fruition. A lot of them (plus the media) were speculating that the movie would be a sequel within the Firefly Family Universe (CORPSES and REJECTS) based on the teaser poster which had a bloody clown face, the title and the words "a Rob Zombie film." Others thought it was a movie about serial killer John Wayne Gacy, or perhaps another HALLOWEEN installment. Zombie later said that the title 31 refers to October 31, the Halloween holiday itself. The idea for the film came about when he read a statistic stating that Halloween is the number one day throughout the calendar year that more people go missing than any other day. Also, because of the tone of the screenplay, he wanted the visuals  of the film to be really down and dirty (like his movies didn't already look like this).

The movie had its premiere at the 2016 Sundance Film Festival in Park City, Utah. Lionsgate picked up the distribution rights and gave it a limited theatrical release in September. Originally, the movie received an NC-17 from the MPAA twice before finally getting an R rating. Zombie assured fans that he would release an unrated director's version on home video.

To be honest 31 isn't Rob Zombie's best film to date. Is it gory? Yes. Is it grotesquely sickening? Absolutely. Is it profoundly disturbing that it feels like a snuff film? Pretty damn close. But the auteur doesn't bring anything new and fresh to his project. It looks, feels and sounds like your typical Rob Zombie film, basically your familiar with the characters because we've seen them in his other films. So if you were looking forward to watching this movie, I'm sorry to report that it's just not that good and your better off watching THE DEVIL'S REJECTS and LORDS OF SALEM. At least you'll enjoy those films!! 2 out of 5! Only watch if you're bored!

31 is available on both Blu-Ray and DVD. The movie is also available on iTunes, Video On Demand, digital download and Netflix.

Thanks for reading, and enjoy the screaming!

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Phil sees MISS PEREGRINE'S HOME FOR PECULIAR CHILDREN from 20th Century Fox - November 1, 2016

Filmmaker Tim Burton has had one of the most interesting careers in Hollywood. His unique vision has brought some of the most beloved, iconic and original films to the silver screen. PEE-WEE'S BIG ADVENTURE, EDWARD SCISSORHANDS, BEATLEJUICE, SLEEPY HOLLOW, BIG FISH and SWEENEY TODD: THE DEMON BARBER FROM FLEET STREET have all garnered worldwide acclaim, cult like fandom and huge boxoffice returns. He's delved into the world of comic books with both the highly successful BATMAN and the equally successful sequel BATMAN RETURNS. His stop-motion films CORPSE BRIDE, FRANKENWEENIE and A NIGHTMARE BEFORE CHRISTMAS have become unique children classics. But, he's also made some notable bombs such as PLANET OF THE APES, CHARLIE AND THE CHOCOLATE FACTORY, MARS ATTACKS!, DARK SHADOWS and ED WOOD (which is a personal favorite of mine). All this brings me to his latest project MISS PEREGRINE'S HOME FOR PECULIAR CHILDREN, based on author Ransom Riggs's 2011 novel of the same name.

The film's official synopsis: When Jacob (Asa Butterfield) discovers clues to a mystery that stretches across time, he finds Miss Peregrine' Home for Peculiar Children. But the danger deepens after he gets to know the residents and learns about their special powers.

I found the movie interesting to watch, but it didn't really contain hardly any of Burton's trademark weirdness. The only real thing that I found somewhat Burton-esque was the evil monsters that plague Jacob and the other Peculiars. His directing style has become more polished and more mainstream looking. There's not a lot of sweeping shots of cities or gothic looking locations, nor crazy camera pans and such. It's a lot of basic set-ups and shots. Nothing that looks out of the ordinary, which to me isn't Tim Burton. He's an artists in the most purest way; he writes, he draws, he paints, he directs, he's really a talented individual. But somewhere along during his journey throughout Hollywoodland, he seems as if he lost his way. This, of course, is only my opinion but he was a better filmmaker when he was more eccentric and goth. Not that the movie was bad, but it just didn't look and feel like a Tim Burton movie.

Asa Butterfield was good in the role of Jacob, bringing some layering and personality to his performance. However let's be honest, Eva Green just steals the whole movie.  She just radiates when she's on the screen: her speech, her mannerisms, her intelligence, her body language, she is just a joy to watch. She is so damn talented that she could read me the Yellow Pages and I would be hooked! Plus she's a very attractive and sexy woman that you cannot take your eyes off of her when she walks into a scene! Lastly, Samuel L. Jackson as our main antagonist Baron. Seriously, he's having a lot of fun in this movie. He's the MAN folks! 'Nuff said!!

As I mentioned earlier, the movie is based on the young adult novel by Ransom Riggs. The book was published by Quirk Books on June 7, 2011. It went on to become a New York Times bestseller and reached the Number 1 spot in April of 2012. The sequel "Hollow City" was published in 2014, while the third chapter of the series "Library of Souls" was released in September of 2015. As to whether Burton will direct the other two adaptations is still unknown.

So to wrap this review up, MISS PEREGRINE'S HOME FOR PECULIAR CHILDREN is an entertaining movie, but it's not Tim Burton's best work. I sincerely hope that one day he returns to his cinematic roots and craft a film that truly represents his voice, his vision and his eclectic personality. If your children really want to see the movie, then by all means take them. Nothing wrong with a family night out to the movies. 3 out of 5 stars! It's mediocre at best!

MISS PEREGRINE'S HOME FOR PECULIAR CHILDREN is currently playing at theaters nationwide. Check your local listings to see if it is playing in at a theater near you.

Thanks for reading, and enjoy the show!

Monday, October 31, 2016

Phil's Halloween Horror Watch: THE OTHER SIDE OF THE DOOR (2016) from 20th Century Fox - October 31, 2016

Starring Sarah Wayne Callies, Jeremy Sisto, Sofia Rosinsky, Logan Creran, Suchitra Pillai, Javier Botet
Written by Johannes Robert, Ernest Riera
Cinematography by Maxime Alexandre
Edited by Baxter
Produced by Rory Aitken, Alexandre Aja, Ben Pugh
Directed by Johannes Roberts
Released by 20th Century Fox

My Halloween Horror Watch marathon continues with another fantastic film that was very entertaining and horrifyingly chilling. I've heard good things about this movie and it took me awhile to finally get around to watching it. Filmed in India, THE OTHER SIDE OF THE DOOR explores the different beliefs and evils that exist in other parts of the world.

The film's official synopsis: A family lives an idyllic existence abroad until a tragic accident takes the life of their young son. The inconsolable mother learns of an ancient ritual that will bring him back to say a final goodbye. She travels to an ancient temple, where a door serves as a mysterious portal between two worlds. But when she disobeys a sacred warning to never open that door, she upsets the balance between life and death.

Sarah Wayne Callies is just an amazing and wonderful actress. Here, her character Maria is so lost without her son that she will do anything to get him back. Her depression and desperation gets the better of and now she must come to grips that her son is gone and she must move on or her family will die. To display all these different ranges of emotions requires talent and Callies nails her performance perfectly. I was such a huge fan of hers since The Walking Dead and now she can be seen on the new USA sci-fi show Colony so this makes me very happy.

Theatrical Movie Poster (2016)
Also turning in a great performance is Suchitra Pillai, who portrays Maria's nanny Piki. Wise, caring and devoted to Maria's family, she tells her of the ancient ritual but warns her of the consequences if she breaks the rules. Pillai is quite famous in her native home of India. She is an actress, singer, model, anchor and VJ. She started acting back in 1993 and has appeared in several Bollywood movies like DIL CHAHTA HAI (2001),  FASHION (2008) and FITOOR (2016). Actor Jeremy Sisto (who plays Maria's husband  Michael in the film)has had a long career in Hollywood, appearing in CLUELESS, SUICIDE KINGS, THIS SPACE BETWEEN US, ANGEL EYES, MAY, WRONG TURN, THIRTEEN, WAITRESS and ROBOT & FRANK.

The film was directed by English filmmaker Johannes Roberts. He made his feature film debut with the 2001 SANITARIUM. He made several movies in England such as ALICE (2002), HELLBREEDER and DARK HUNTERS (both in 2004). His first film made here in the states was the 2011 feature ROADKILL for the Maneater Series and was shown on the SyFy Channel. Here, Roberts exhibits his growth as a competent director, creating fear, scares and dread as well drama and character development. He captures all the beauty and horror of India and showcases their beliefs, their folklore and their rituals.

The movie was released on March 4, 2016 in limited release in select theaters. It grossed $2.8 million domestically and $4.5 million internationally. However, critical response has been less than warm. Despite these negative reviews, I thoroughly enjoyed the film and was captivated by its story, characters and directing.

THE OTHER SIDE OF THE DOOR is a brilliant, entertaining and horrifying movie that will haunt your Halloween season! If you want to see something different in your horror film, then make sure you add this title to your library! 3 1/2 out of 5 stars! Recommended viewing!!

THE OTHER SIDE OF THE DOOR is available on both Blu-Ray and DVD. The movie is also available on iTunes, Video On Demand, digital download and Netflix.

Thanks for reading, and enjoy the screaming!

Saturday, October 29, 2016

Phil attends a special screening of STREETS OF VENGEANCE at the Shire Community Space in Modesto - October 22, 2016

If you've been following my blog for all these years then you know that I'm a huge supporter of local independent filmmaking. A&P Productions is an independent film production company based out in Modesto, California. Founded by power couple Paul Ragsdale and Angelica De Alba, they make their films the old fashioned way; meaning they write, shoot, edit, produce and direct all themselves which is wonderfully inspiring. They're latest film caught my attention a couple of months ago and I knew that I had to review it. Lucky for me, they were having a special screening of the film at The Shire Community Space in Modesto. Taking inspiration from films like SAVAGE STREETS, ANGEL and ALLEY CATS with the late night format of USA's Up All Night, STREETS OF VENGEANCE is a perfect blend of 80's homage and local DIY filmmaking!

The film's official synopsis: Former adult film star Mila (Delawna McKinney) is attacked by a misogynistic cult known as The Sword. She turns vigilante and puts a group of bad-ass girls together and seeks revenge.

Since the release of GRINDHOUSE back in 2007, there have a plethora of retro styled horror and exploitation films that have been amazing. These releases include HOUSE OF THE DEVIL (2009), HOBO WITH A SHOTGUN (2011), THE SLEEPER (2011), THE FINAL GIRLS (2015), WE ARE STILL HERE (2015) and the movies from Canada's Astron 6: FATHER'S DAY (2011), MANBORG (2011) and THE EDITOR (2014). Here, director Ragsdale continues this trend but adds some new ingredients into the mix. While it feels and sounds like your classic 1980's revenge action movie, it looks like a like a modern day film. There's modern day cars, cellphones, computers and other forms of technology that reminds viewers that the film takes place in today's world of San Francisco. But, by having the grittiness of those films that inspire it and the totally awesome 80's synth soundtrack courtesy of Vestron Vulture, it takes you back to those crazy fun-filled days of Reganomics era America.

Ragsdale's directing is fantastic; providing that perfect balance between action and drama. His set-ups and compositions are incredible, creating some very iconic scenes that would make excellent lobby cards (hint hint Paul). He is able to tell a very compelling story (which he wrote as well) with complex and often hilarious characters and grotesque villains while offering the audience some cool action and gory death scenes. Credit also goes to cinematographer Dan Zampa who does an outstanding job of capturing it all. His visuals are sharp, clean and his lighting is very reminiscent of those found in Dario Argento's films like SUSPIRIA, DEEP RED and PHENOMENON. Truly a very talented cameraman and photographer.

As for the cast, I have nothing but absolute praise for them! Standouts for me include lead actress Delawna McKinney as our protagonist Mila, who shines bright as our heroine. She brings naïveté, vulnerability as well as strength, determination and guts! Paige Jenkins as Amber is sweet, kind and a loyal friend to Mila (she also did the special effects for the insanely sickening "Penis Scene" which was absolutely freaking impressive). Cassidy Irwin's Liv had the best one-liners in the film! She was hysterical and badass as well and I loved it when she appeared on-screen. Brian, played by Anthony lava To'omata proves that the average joe can become a hero and get to kiss the girl. Awesome job by this great actor.

Now you can't have a good movie without some bad guys and this film has the luxury of having not one, but two evil antagonists. While I won't mention their names due to revealing spoilers, but my hat goes off to both of them for their performances. These two are the most diabolical, disgusting, and deplorable human beings to ever appear in a movie. Seriously, these guys are just plain evil and I loved hating them while I was watching the movie. Like I said, I can't mention them due to ruining the plot revelations, but again, tremendous job fellas.

Another interesting fact is that the movie also features cameos from some of today's most popular adult film stars. So look for Alexis Amore and Sophie Dee in one scene together. Also having a small part in the film is Joann Angel, founder of Burning Angel Studio. Angel plays Nina, who is the catalyst for one of our antagonist going batshit crazy. The other actress to appear in the movie is the adult film icon Ginger Lynn Allen as Roxy Carmichael. I loved Ginger in her role and I am very happy and excited to see her being used properly and to see her acting in a film! I'm sorry but Rob Zombie's use of her in both THE DEVIL'S REJECTS and his latest project 31 is appalling. She is a legend, she is a gifted actress, and she is talented! She's completely wasted in those films. Here, she gets to show off her range as an actress and have real dialogue. I applaud Ragsdale for giving her the opportunity to display her acting capability. A great performance by this living legend!

I mentioned earlier that Ragsdale wrote the film's screenplay, which has a strong feminist message within the dialogue. Women have the right to do what they want with their bodies and shouldn't be slammed with vulgar displays of discrimination. Body shaming, name calling and misogyny are not tolerated. I am a big supporter of women's rights and if they wish to work in the sex industry or make adult films or whatever, then that's their right. Despite its over-the-top violence, gore and bloodshed, the movie acts as a reminder for all women to be and feel empowered and ignore society's so-called and outdated "standards" on what and how a woman should be and act like. It's their lives and their choices people, so if you don't like it, well, tough shit. Get over it!

After the screening, they had DVDs of the movie for sale as well as three different type posters. Of course, I went TOTAL fanboy and bought it all. I then had the cast and crew autograph everything plus made some new friends as well. This was my first real movie event that I've attended in a long time and overall, I had a total blast at the screening!

STREETS OF VENGEANCE is my favorite underground independent film of 2016!! It's only a matter of time before the film takes over the world! Till then, I'm gonna watch my DVD copy over and over again! Also, keep your eyes peeled here because in the very near future, I will be conducting interviews with several members of the cast and crew! If you see this film playing in a town near you, I would strongly suggest you see this movie!! 5 out of 5 stars!! Very highly recommended!!

STREETS OF VENGEANCE will be soon be screening at film festivals throughout the country. In the meantime, you can follow the movie on Facebook and checkout it's IMDb page and look for A&P Productions on Instagram.

Thanks for reading, and enjoy the show!

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Phil's Halloween Horror Watch: THE BOY (2016) from STX Entertainment - Oct. 11, 2016

Starring Lauren Cohan, Rupert Evans, James Russell, Jim Norton, Diana Hardcastle, Ben Robson, Jett Klyne, Stephanie Lemelin
Screenplay by Stacey Menear
Cinematography by Daniel Pearl
Edited by Brian Berdan
Produced by Matt Berenson, Jodyne Herron, Gary Lucchesi, Tom Rosenberg, Jim Wedaa
Directed by William Brent Bell
Released by STX Entertainment

Welcome back my faithful followers to another installment of my horror movie marathon! Tonight I have another fright-tastic flick that will surely make you quiver with fear! Or at least entertain you for about 90 minutes. So let me tell you all about THE BOY from STX Entertainment.

The film's official synopsis: Greta (Lauren Cohan) is a young American woman who takes a job as a nanny in a remote English village, only to discover that the family's 8-year-old is a life-sized doll that the parents care for just like a real boy, as a way to cope with the death of their actual son 20 years prior. After violating a list of strict rules, a series of disturbing and inexplicable events bring Greta's worst nightmare to life, leading her to believe that the doll is actually alive.

Now here is horror film that truly delivers the goods! First, you have a smart and scary script courtesy of screenwriter Stacey Menear. It's rare to see a film that contains a unique and original script like this coming out of Hollywood. The story is a perfect blend of horror, thrills and mystery. Plus, we have these interesting and realistic characters that we actually care about. What's that you say? A horror film with characters that we are emotionally invested in? Yes, the end is nigh my friends! Also worth noting, it has one of the best twist endings I have ever seen in a horror movie! Not since THE SIXTH SENSE have I been caught off guard like this! Brilliant ending!

Original Theatrical Poster (2016)
Actress Lauren Cohan's performance as Greta is fantastic, but then again, I wouldn't expect anything less from the woman who plays Maggie Green from my favorite television show The Walking Dead. She's naïve in the beginning of the movie; thinking that this family with the life-sized doll are completely nuts. But then, she starts to believe in the possibility that this doll is alive as recent events persuades her to change her mind. The final act we see her become the heroine as she must not only fight to save her life but of her new love interest Malcolm, portrayed by Rupert Evans.

For a time filmmaker William Brent Bell was on my shitlist, reason being was because he directed the damn awful THE DEVIL INSIDE back in 2012. Now if you've been following my blog, you will remember that I was so pissed that film sucked so bad. In fact, I wrote that it was, "2012's worst horror film to be released" and to, "let this movie rot in Hell for all eternity." Yup, I hated it that damn much! Now, I love the man! The directing style was flawless; each set-up, every camera angle, every composition told the story of this young nanny being tormented by this little doll. Superb work by Bell people!! He has redeemed himself!

The film was released to theaters on January 22 of this year and went on to gross over $35.7 million here in the states and another $26.6 million in the international market. Overall, its worldwide box office take was $62.4 million. Not too bad considering the budget was only about $10 million but it received mixed reviews from movie goers and film critics. It opened up against THE 5th WAVE and DIRTY GRANDPA in the same weekend.

THE BOY is one fantastic film to watch this Halloween!! It's psychological, it's thrilling, it's scary and most important, it's fun and entertaining to watch!! So bust out the popcorn and drinks, sit back and relax and enjoy watching this movie! 4 out of 5 stars!! Highly recommended!!

THE BOY is available on both Blu-Ray and DVD. The movie is also available on iTunes, Video On Demand, digital download and Netflix.

Thanks for reading, and enjoy the screaming!

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Phil's Halloween Horror Watch: PRIDE AND PREJUDICE AND ZOMBIES (2016) from Screen Gems/Sony Pictures - October 10, 2016

Starring: Lily James, Sam Riley, Jack Huston, Bella Heathcote, Ellie Bamber, Millie Brady, Suki Waterhouse, Sally Phillips, Douglas Booth, Matt Smith
Based on the novel Pride and Prejudice and Zombies by Jane Austen and Seth Grahame-Smith
Written by Burr Steers
Cinematography by Remi Adefarasin
Edited by Padraic McKinley
Produced by
Directed by Burr Steers
Released by Screen Gems/Sony

Hello again folks and welcome back to horror movie marathon! Now I'm sure you're all familiar with the name Jane Austen, since many of you (including me) had to read her novels back when we were in school. "Sense and Sensibility", "Mansfield Park" and "Emma" are literary treasures, but her most famous novel is "Pride and Prejudice." Hailed as an instant classic, the book has been adapted in many other mediums ranging from the theatre to television and the silver screen. In 2009, writer Seth Grahame-Smith combined Austen's 1813 novel with modern day zombies to create his parody novel entitled "Pride and Prejudice and Zombies", which he cited Austen as co-author. It became a huge success, prompting Hollywood to come calling. Then finally in January of 2016, the film PRIDE AND PREJUDICE AND ZOMBIES was finally released to theaters.

The film's official synopsis: A zombie outbreak has fallen upon the land in this re-imagining of Jane Austen’s classic tale of the tangled relationships between lovers from different social classes in 19th century England. Feisty heroine Elizabeth Bennet (Lily James) is a master of martial arts and weaponry and the handsome Mr. Darcy (Sam Riley) is a fierce zombie killer, yet the epitome of upper class prejudice. As the zombie outbreak intensifies, they must swallow their pride and join forces on the blood-soaked battlefield in order to conquer the undead once and for all.

Original Theatrical Poster (2016)
OK, so I have a confession to make and here it is: I loved this movie!! This was not what I had expected it to be. It was freaking awesome!! It had it all!! Beautiful British women dressed in Victorian clothes who did Kung Fu moves and killed zombies! Blood and gore galore!! Humor and horror blended perfectly together!! A cool story and  interesting, funny and bad ass characters!! And of course, it had zombies!! Yup, I absolutely loved watching this movie!!

Lily James is incredible as our heroine Elizabeth, who is both breathtakingly beautiful and a bad ass warrior! Strong, independent and opinionated and knows how to open a can of whoop ass on zombies, Jamesalso brings a little bit of vulnerability to her character, especially when she meets Sam Riley's Colonel Fitzwilliam Darcy. Like Austen's original novel, it isn't quite love at first sight but soon their love grows while trying to survive the plague of zombies. Another fun character was Parson Collins played by the great Matt Smith. Smith made a name for himself portraying the Twelth Doctor on the long running BBC sci-fi television series Doctor Who. Here, he's playing against type, making Parsons wimpy, cowardly and hopefully romantic. And he's very funny too.

While the book received mass amounts of rave reviews, the film itself performed rather poorly at the boxoffice. The budget was a staggering $28 million but only reaped in a measly $10.9 million in tickets sales. While there was a huge fan base for the novel, it translate into theater goers which is quite a shame. The film stayed pretty faithful to the original source material and it was entertaining as hell, but it didn't bring in the audience that it was trying to attract.

PRIDE AND PREJUDICE AND ZOMBIES is an action packed, zombie crawling, blood drenched, fun-filled ride for the whole family!! Pay no attention to those naysayers out there in the cold, dark world!! Check out this movie for yourself and form your own opinion, but don't be surprised when it's over, you'll want to watch it over again! 4 out of 5 stars!! Highly recommended!!

PRIDE AND PREJUDICE AND ZOMBIES is available on both Blu-Ray and DVD. The movie is also available on iTunes, Video On Demand, digital download and Netflix.

Thanks for reading, and enjoy the screaming!

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Phil's Halloween Horror Watch: THE HOUSES OCTOBER BUILT (2014) from Image Entertainment - October 5, 2016

Starring Brandy Schaefer, Zack Andrews, Bobby Roe, Mikey Roe, Jeff Larson
Written by Zack Andrews, Jeff Larson, Bobby Roe, Jason Zada
Cinematography by Andrew Strahorn
Edited by Jeff Hall with Cesar Martinez
Produced by Zack Andrews, Todd King, Steven Schneider, Matthew Stein, Steven Steiner
Directed by Bobby Roe
Released by Image Entertainment

Welcome back everyone to my Halloween Horror Watch! Today's film is an unique one, having been a documentary first before morphing into a found footage horror film. Now I know the idea of a found footage film has literally been done to death, but taking an existing documentary movie and transforming it onto a feature length is rather clever. So for today I'll be talking about THE HOUSES OCTOBER BUILT from Image Entertainment.

The film's official synopsis: Five friends are stalked by a group of mysterious and disturbed individuals while on a road trip looking for the ultimate haunted house attraction.

Theatrical Movie Poster (2014)
As I mentioned earlier, the movie was at first a 2011 documentary of the same name. In it, five friends traveled across the country checking out many haunted houses while interviewing those who do the and those you attended. The documentary won the grand prize at the 2011 Schockfest Film Festival. Since then, director Bobby Roe very cleverly used footage from this and reused it for the feature length, which is a very Roger Corman way of filmmaking!

The cast of the movie are real life friends so the chemistry between them all is authentic and I really enjoyed seeing them play off one another. Also you can tell that there were having fun while making the movie. However, it drags a lot when they're visiting these local haunted houses. These scenes could have been edited down more. Plus some of the dialogue (or should I say conversations since a lot of it was lifted from the documentary) went nowhere and I started to lose interest real fast. Now when it started getting scary, it was good and creepy. But then it fell flat for me towards the end. It didn't have that much suspense for me to fell that I should fully invest myself into the characters and their dire situation.

Image Entertainment released the film on home video in October of 2014. As an added bonus, they included the original documentary the movie was based on so the fans received two films for the price of one.

THE HOUSES OCTOBER BUILT is a decent little horror film but it brings nothing new to the genre. However, the documentary I found interesting and fun to watch! So maybe you should pick up the movie so you can watch the documentary and then maybe see the movie so you can decide for yourself. 3 out of 5 stars! Maybe a rental!

THE HOUSES THAT OCTOBER BUILT is currently available on both Blu-Ray and DVD at your local retailer. It's also available on iTunes, Video on Demand and Netflix.

Thanks for reading, and enjoy the screaming!

Sunday, October 9, 2016

Phil's Halloween Horror Watch: JESSABELLE (2014) from Lionsgate - October 4, 2016

Starring Sarah Snook, Mark Webber, Joelle Carter David Andrews, Ana de la Reguera, Chris Ellis, Brian Halliday, Amber Stevens West
Written by Robert Ben Garant
Cinematography by Michael Fimognari
Edited by Kevin Greutert
Produced by Jason Blum
Directed by Kevin Greutert
Released by Lionsgate

Welcome back my fellow horror hounds! Right now I would like to take you the bayous of Louisiana, where tonight's film takes place. Filled with voodoo magic, ghosts and hidden family secrets, JESSABELLE is one of those films that will surprise you with it's interesting story and complex characters.

The film's official synopsis: Returning to her childhood home in Louisiana to recuperate from a horrific car accident, Jessabelle (Sarah Snook) comes face to face with a long-tormented spirit that has been seeking her return and has no intention of letting her escape.

Theatrical Movie Poster (2014)
Actress Sarah Snook shines as our lead heroine. Vulnerable and naive the first half of the film, brave and fearless near the end. All roads on her journey towards both self-discovery and self-aware are steps in her character development. Snook really does an excellent job of conveying all of these elements and more. Jessabelle is a young woman who is trying to heal after surviving a horrible car accident. Once home, her life becomes even more complicated as she sooon unravels her true destiny but she once again fights for her life. I thoroughly enjoyed Sarah Snook's performance in the film and I am looking forward to seeing where her career takes her.

Kevin Greutert is no stranger to the horror genre, having directed SAW VI, SAW 3D: THE FINAL CHAPTER and VISIONS. However, he's best known as an editor and he not only edited this film but several others like SAW 1-6, THE COLLECTION, JOURNEY TO THE END OF NIGHT, ROOM 6 and THE STRANGERS. Greutert brings his eye for detail to the film, leaning towards more atmospheric chills as well as some nice jump scares. Credit also goes to screenwriter Robert Ben Garant for crafting a supernatural scary and intriguing script that contains a very satisfying twist ending.

The film was originally scheduled for release on January 10, 2014, but was pushed back till August that same year. It received a very limited theatrical release before being available on home video. Which to me it makes me very sad because there are some really interesting and original films being made in the independent film world. While there's the IFC Channel and Sundance Channel as well as the SyFy Network, it's not the same as going to an actual theater and watching a movie with those in your community.

Overall, JESSABELLE is a supernaturally spooky slice of cinema that you should really checkout this Halloween season! If you're looking for a movie with thrills and chills with a Louisiana voodoo twist, this will be right up your alley! 4 out of 5 stars! Recommended viewing!

JESSABELLE is currently available on both Blu-Ray and DVD. The movie is also available on iTunes, Video On Demand, Netflix and digital download.

Thanks for reading, and enjoy the screaming!

Friday, October 7, 2016

Phil's Halloween Horror Watch: BACKCOUNTRY (2014) from IFC Midnight - October 3, 2016

Starring Missy Peregrym, Nicholas Campbell, Eric Balfour, Jeff Roop
Written by Adam MacDonald
Cinematography by Christian Bielz
Edited by Dev Singh
Produced by Brandon Baker, Michael Baker, Jeff Roop
Directed by Adam MacDonald
Released by IFC Films

Hello again boils and ghouls and welcome to Day Four of my Halloween Horror Watch marathon! Today we are going on a little hiking trip out in the woods for some rest and relaxation, to witness nature in all her beauty and bliss. Just as long as you don't accidentally run into a crazed man-eating bear!! Oh snap, there's one now! Hang on folks as we travel to the BACKCOUNTRY.

The film's official synopsis: Alex (Jeff Roop) is a seasoned camper, but Jenn (Missy Peregrym) is not. When they realize that they have entered bear territory, there terror gets turned up to a whole new level.

The film was based on the true story of story of couple Mark Jordan and Jacqueline Perry who were attacked by a bear back when they were camping up in Canada in 2005. The movie captures the authenticity of their horrific experience. Both Peregrym and Roop have great on-screen chemistry that propels the movie forward. We care about this couple and when things take a turn for the worse, we sympathize for them as well as with them. But make no mistake, Perry is the star of the movie and she proves it time and time again throughout the movie. Seriously, she is one tough actress as she pitted not only against her antagonist the black bear, but against nature as well.

Theatrical Movie Poster (2015)
The movie also marks the film debut of director Adam MacDonald, who cut his teeth at making a couple of short films. Making a film in the woods is not an easy job to pull off, especially if it's your first film. You have to worry about the elements, animals, insects, etc. MacDonald dismisses all of this by making such an intense thriller that plays on the old concept of man versus nature. But what makes him a really great director is that we was an actor prior to writing and directing, having appeared in SATAN'S SCHOOL FOR GIRLS, CONFESSIONS OF A TEENAGE DRAMA QUEEN, JEKYLL + HYDE and WOLVES plus television series like Vampire High, Beach Girls, Wild Roses and Being Erica. Because he can relate to his cast, he is able to obtain some fantastic acting, especially from the formentioned Peregrym. His directing leans towards more of the documentary style, very in your face, shaky camera and unflinching.

The movie had its premiere at the world famous Toronto International Film Festival in September 2014 to critical acclaim. It went to be screened at other festivals such as the Telluride Film Festival, Stiges International Fantastic Film Festival and the Palm Springs International Film Festival. Eventually, Event Film Distribution bought a share of ownership of the film, which they then sold the US distribution rights to IFC Midnight. The movie was finally released on home video in March of 2015.

BACKCOUNTRY is one of the best nature horror films to have been released in the past 20 years! It's a very suspenseful and horrifically realistic slice of cinema that make you shiver with fear! So if you go down to the woods today, remember that you're not going to find any teddy bear picnic! 4 out of 5 stars!! Recommended viewing!!

BACKCOUNTRY is currently available on DVD at your local retailer. It's also available on Amazon Video, iTunes, Netflix and Video On Demand.

Thanks for reading, and enjoy the screaming!

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Phil's Halloween Horror Watch: GREEN ROOM (2015) from A24 - October 2, 2016

Starring: Anton Yelchin, Patrick Stewart, Imogen Poots, Alia Shankar, Joe Cole, Callum Turner, Macon Blair, Taylor Tunes
Written by Jeremy Saulnier
Cinematography by Sean Porter
Edited by Julia Bloch
Produced by Neil Koop, Victor Moyers, Anish Savjani, Vincent Savino, Macon Blair, Daniel Hammond, Gabriel Hammond, Brian Johnston
Directed by Jeremy Saulnier
Released by A24

Welcome back to another installment of Phil's Halloween Horror Watch! Tonight's film has been receiving a plethora of critical acclaim and for good reason. This is an ugly film to watch and I'm not just talking about the bloodshed, gore and the violence (which this film has). No I'm talking about the characters, the so-called human beings that occupy within this cinematic universe. With prestigious and talented actors, complex story and visceral directing, GREEN ROOM is a movie that is not for the faint of hearts.

The film's official synopsis: A band straying into a secluded part of the Pacific Northwest stumbles onto a horrific act of violence. Because they are the only witnesses, they become the targets of a terrifying gang of skinheads who want to make sure all the evidence is eliminated.

One word I used over and over again when I first watched the movie: WOW! Patrick Stewart is just unbelievably evil in the film! Vicious, malevolent, diobolical, he's everything that you would expect the man to portray. Best known as Jean-Luc Picard from the STAR TREK series and Proffessor X from the X-MEN franchise, Stewart proves that he can play any character in any genre. He has such a tremendous range that it's profoundly astonishing to see him portray this disgusting man named Darcy Banker. It was said in an interview that Stewart was reading the film's script at his English country home and was he was done reading it, he immediately locked his house up and turned on his alarm because it freaked him out that much. It was then that he knew that he wanted to play the main antagonist.

Theatrical Movie Poster (2015)
Also appearing in the film is the late Anton Yelchin, who portrays the protagonist Pat. I found it hard at times to watch the movie knowing that he no longer here. As I mentioned in my STAR TREK BEYOND review, he was accidentally killed in a freak accident at his home on June 19, 2016 when he was pinned between his keep and the brick mailbox. I find it ironic that the movie has two STAR TREK stars from two different generations appearing together. But once again Yelton knocks it out of the park. He shows a wide range of acting; showcasing determination, fear, and finally hero. It really is a shame that he is not here to see how his film has garnered so much acclaim, along with his acting as well. He was such a gifted and talented actor. Sometimes we are reminded that life isn't always fair and sometimes the good die young.

Writer/director Jeremy Saulnier poured a lot of social and political commentary into his film. Topics about Neo Nazis, racism, hate crimes, murder, punk rock codes and the human will to survive, the movie is very in-your-face. Hell, the first song Pat's band plays is the Dead Kennedy's classic, "Nazi Punks Fuck Off." The movie grabs you right in the jugular and doesn't let go till the final ending credits. It's shot as it's a documentary and it does not flinch from the violence at all. A very bold statement has been made by this up and coming filmmaker!

Filmed in October 2014, it made it's debut at the Cannes Film Festival on May 17, 2015. Shortly thereafter, it was picked up for distribution by A24. It went on to open the Toronto International Film Festival that September and received a limited theatrical release in April of this year before being released worldwide the next month.

GREEN ROOM is a horrorific thriller of a masterpiece!! Not one time did I feel safe watching the movie! A truly disturbing cinematic gem!! 5 out of 5 stars!! Very highly recommended!!

GREEN ROOM is currently available on Blu-Ray and DVD. It is also available on iTunes, Video On Demand, Netflix and Redbox.

Thanks for reading, and enjoy the screaming!

Phil's Halloween Horror Watch: THE SHALLOWS (2016) from Sony Pictures - October 1, 2016

Starring: Blake Lively, Óscar Jaenada, Bret Cullen, Angelo Josue Lorano, Sedona Legge, Janelle Bailey, Pablo Calva
Written by Anthony Jaswinski
Cinematography by Flavio Martinez Labiano
Edited by Joel Negron
Produced by Jaume Collet-Serra, Lynn Harris, Matti Leshem, Douglas C. Merrifield
Directed by Jaume Collet-Serra
Released by Sony Pictures

Hello again everybody and welcome back to my annual Phil's Halloween Horror Watch, where I'll be watching nothing but horror movies for the entire month of October! This year, I thought it would be interesting to focus on films that were released within the last couple of years. As some of you know, I'm a huge advocate and supporter for independent films, especially within the horror genre. But every now and then, Hollywood releases a film that really captures my attention. So for tonight's inaugural entry, let me present to you THE SHALLOWS, which was released to theaters this past June 24th.

The film's official synopsis: When Nancy (Blake Lively) is surfing on a secluded beach, she finds herself on the feeding ground of a great white shark. Though she is stranded only 200 yards away from shore, survival proves to be the ultimate test of wills, requiring all of Nancy's ingenuity, resourcefulness and fortitude.

Ever since the release of Steven Spielberg's 1975 classic JAWS, there have been a plethora of shark films (JAWS 2-3, SHARK NIGHT 3D, SHARK ISLAND) well as knockoffs (ORCA, PIRANHA) but this movie caught me by surprise. Not only was it entertaining, but it had character development, a good story, great acting as well as great directing.

Theatrical Movie Poster (2016)
Credit goes to the lovey Lively, who carries the entire film on her shoulders and pulls it off amazingly! Her acting is fantastic and because of this, we the audience become emotionally invested in her character. We like her from the very beginning and we want her to survive. We want her to live. We want her to defeat her aquatic adversary; the great white shark who ruined her special trip to the secluded beach that her mom visited long before she passed. Lively brings strengths, determination and depth to her character Nancy and I applaud her incredible performance!

I would also like to acknowledge the acting skills of Sully Seagull, who portrayed Nancy's companion Steven Seagall. Get it? I thought it was pretty damn funny!! But the again I have a weird sense of humor. Moving on now...

It's difficult to set a story or film on only one location, but do it right and people will forget that detail. Screenwriter Joel Negron crafted one helluva script that has a great story arc, perfect beats and plenty of tension and thrills. Combine this with filmmaker Jaume Collet-Serra's directing and it's a win-win situation. Using both real world location, CGI and studio sets, Serra does the impossible by making the movie lean, mean and frightening cool! And it all takes place at one location! Impressive indeed people!

THE SHALLOWS is one of the best horror films of 2016!! This sleeper of a gem will surely make you afraid of the water all over again! So for make sure you watch this film this Halloween!! Just as long as you don't live on a boathouse or something. 4 out of 5 stars!! Highly recommended!!

THE SHALLOWS is still playing in select theaters across the country. The movie is also available on Blu-Ray and DVD. It is also available on iTunes, Video On Demand, Netflix and Redbox.

Thanks for reading, and enjoy the screaming!