Monday, February 25, 2008

Gory Gear: Bodybag Trading Cards

“…the badly decomposed bodies of 12 women were found in the crawlspace…”

“Scattered throughout…were the dismembered bodies of 7 local children…”

“The headless body of an unidentified female was found on a set of railroad tracks…”

“Her left arm was completely severed from her body.”

“The unknown assailant used a chainsaw to dismember both of the girls.”

“She had been bludgeoned to death with a lead pipe…”

“A large, gaping slash ran across her mouth, believed to have been inflicted with a straight razor.”

“…suffocated with a shower curtain and stabbed 27 times in the face with an icepick…”

“She had been beaten so severely that the back of her skull cracked open like a melon.”

These graphic quotes are taken directly from mock crime stories featured in Troy Holbrook’s Bodybag Trading Cards. Despite how shocking the stories on the cards are, the photographs are even more disturbing. They feature the grisly remains of the victims in stark black and white. The black and white photographs, just like the story, aren’t real…but they definitely look very realistic!

Creator Troy Holbrook not only came up with the overall concept for the cards, but he also did the special FX, the photography and the actual writing of the fictional crime stories featured on the back of the trading cards. The results clearly demonstrate his skill and passion in all three areas.

First of all, the special makeup effects are the most striking aspects of the cards. Everything from the blood running down the models’ faces to the cuts, disfigurements, bruises, etc. looks extremely realistic! The gore is so incredibly life-like that it only adds to the illusion that the photographs are real. One headless corpse in particular will make you do a double take!

Secondly, the stark black and white photography significantly heightens the realism of the trading cards. It’s easy to imagine the photographs as crime scene photos from police archives. Holbrook has captured truly horrified emotions on his models’ faces. He also sets up his photographs in a way that ensures the models are never exploited. Though nudity is shown, it’s never in a titillating way, but rather in a cold, clinical way much like crime photography the cards emulate.

Thirdly, the stories on the back of the cards pull everything together and tell us a story about the visceral photographs on the front. The stories themselves are realistically written, including names and ages of the deceased along with locations of the crimes. The small details and the matter-of-fact way the stories are written lend credence to the realistic tone the trading cards have. In fact, I had to actually contact Troy and ask him if the stories were actually pulled from headlines or if they were all made-up. He assured me that they were fictional accounts that he himself had come up with for the trading cards.

This is the first edition of the Bodybag Trading Cards, and they include 15 high-quality trading cards. The cards themselves are very thick and are UV coated on the back and front. They are an amazing set of trading cards that vividly depict the murder victims of mock serial killers.

If you’re a serial killer buff like me, there is no doubt you will enjoy these startling trading cards. Fellow fiends of the macabre will be tickled blood red by these grisly depictions of mock murders and horrific crimes!

Get yours today at!

Sunday, February 24, 2008

The Signal (2008)

Our parents always told us that TV would rot our brains and the three filmmakers of The Signal have really taken this warning to heart. The team of David Bruckner, Dan Bush and Jacob Gentry has created a film where an electronic signal sent through the television, the radio, phones, etc. changes normal people into raging homicidal maniacs. The mysterious signal distorts perceptions and scrambles receptors in the brain so people’s logic is skewed and they do things they normally wouldn’t do…like kill everyone in sight.

When The Signal premiered at Sundance Film Festival last year, it generated a lot of buzz. It follows three different perspectives (broken down into segments or “transmissions” in the film) that are each written and directed by three different people. Transmission 1: Crazy in Love follows Mya, Transmission 2: The Jealousy Monster follows Lewis, and the final Transmission 3: Escape from Terminus follows Ben. Does the film live up the hype? Only one way to find out…keep reading!

As a brief Grindhouse-era film plays (a very realistic recreation by co-director Jacob Gentry), it is interrupted by a pulsating, blurry signal. The signal looks almost organic, and we can almost make out shapes in the psychedelic colors, but not before they become distorted and turn into something else.

Ben (Justin Welborn) wakes up to the mysterious signal playing on his TV, which has turned on by itself. The woman sleeping next to him, Mya (Anessa Ramsey) is cheating on her husband with Ben. After realizing how late it is, she has to rush home, but not before Ben tries to convince her to stay. He tells her they can leave the city, Terminus, together and never look back. He tells her to meet him at Terminal 13 tomorrow so they can go away together. He gives Mya a mix CD he’s made for her as a present, and she sets off towards home with the CD playing through her headphones.

When she gets to her car, she notices a homeless man that has been stabbed and another man that rushes up to her as Mya struggles to get in her car. When she arrives home, things aren’t quite right there either. There are people arguing in the hallway of her apartment building and she can hear many raised voices behind closed doors. When she finally reaches her apartment, she finds her husband Lewis (AJ Bowen) and his two friends trying to fix the TV, as the same signal that she saw at Ben’s is also on their TV. The phones are all out as well, and she uses that as a handy excuse to lie to her husband about why she is home so late.

Things in the apartment soon escalate between the three friends and after someone is bludgeoned repeatedly with a baseball bat, Mya runs out in the hall…only to find dead bodies littering the floor and an ominous man with a pair of gardening shears coming towards her. She finds refuge in the apartment across the hall until morning. In the morning’s light she sees how messed up things really are and flees the apartment complex to head to Terminal 13…and thus ends Transmission 1: Crazy in Love.

Transmission 2: The Jealousy Monster shows us Lewis’ story and his determination to track down Mya no matter how many people he has to kill to protect his happiness.

In Transmission 3: Escape from Terminus, the story is told from Ben’s perspective as he battles Lewis to get to Mya first.

With big Hollywood movies, more directors and writers usually spell disaster for a film. Too many cooks in the kitchen can create a big mess of a film. Such is not the case with The Signal, though, as you can barely tell there is a distinction between the three different segments. They all flow together seamlessly and each holds quite a few surprises. It is evident that co-writers/co-directors David Bruckner, Dan Bush and Jacob Gentry worked closely together to create a scary, fast-paced, and oftentimes funny, horror film. The direction was gritty and really gave the audience a close-up of the craziness that the characters were experiencing. The writing was witty, funny and realistic with more than enough twists to keep you guessing as to who is crazy and who isn’t.

With a complex script that featured unreliable characters whose perceptions you couldn’t trust, the filmmakers needed to find excellent actors to match. Luckily, the filmmakers found actors who can flip the switch between happy and enraged in the blink of an eye. I was very impressed with AJ Bowen’s performance as Lewis, the wronged husband. His sudden emotional changes coupled with a skewed perception were impressive to watch. He made Lewis a very unlikable character and yet we couldn’t get enough of him! Anessa Ramsey also made quite an impression as Mya. It’s just a pity we didn’t see more of her! The rest of the cast did an amazing job as well and really helped make this movie a success; without these particular actors I’m convinced the film couldn’t be as good as it is.

As for the gore, there are plenty of cringe-worthy scenes that even had the two huge metal guys I was with recoiling in their seats! The kill-or-be-killed mentality of The Signal leads many to compare it with the philosophy of many zombie films. The sudden violence of the film certainly lends itself to the comparison, as does the brutal scenes of gore. Still, The Signal is more intelligent and much scarier than any run-of-the-mill zombie flick. The crazies in The Signal can still think, albeit in a distorted type of way where their logic becomes twisted. They are not just acting on instinct as zombies do, but their reactions are ruled by the corrupting signal and sometimes you can’t tell who is crazy and who isn’t. It also feels realistic with its allusions to brainwashing, the power of advertising that we are exposed to every day and terrorism.

The Signal is a daring and fresh approach to the intelligent person’s horror movie. What if social etiquette was ignored and lawlessness ruled the land? What if an electronic frequency was high-jacked to make us devolve into savages and turn against our fellow man? Can you imagine the terror of a world in which seemingly rational people turned into not just crazed killers, but crazed killers with logic behind their violence? The Signal delves into each of these questions and more to make a completely terrifying and entertaining independent film.

This is not a test…go see The Signal today!

Available from Amazon!

Friday, February 22, 2008

Catacombs (2008)

Catacombs is another direct-to-DVD horror flick from (surprise, surprise) Lionsgate that stars Shannyn Sossamon as American Victoria who visits her sister Carolyn (singer Pink) in Paris. As soon as she gets into the “City of Lights,” Victoria is whisked off by her sister for a round of shopping to get ready for a big party that is going on that night put on by Carolyn’s friends. Despite Victoria’s protests that she is tired and really doesn’t feel much like partying (as her dependence on a little bottle of prescription pills makes evident), her sister Carolyn gets her all gussied up and drags her to the party…which just happens to be underneath Paris, in the famous Catacombs.

The Catacombs are, as Carolyn likes to put it, “Paris’ dark little secret,” where at least 7 million bodies where piled up when churches and cemeteries literally were overflowing with dead bodies. Someone came up with the bright idea to intern the dead beneath the city, and voila! The Catacombs were born. Today, the Catacombs are mostly off limits, though I believe you can still catch a quick glimpse on a short tour. It seems that young people regularly break into the Catacombs to party, as is the case with Carolyn’s friends.
Her friend Jean Michele (Mihai Stanescu) orchestrates these underground raves with great success. The Catacombs have over 300 miles of tunnels, so he never plans a party in the same place, which also helps keep the cops off their tail.

Anywho, despite Victoria’s lamentations about partying in a big ol’ crypt, the party is soon in full swing. Carolyn’s friends begin regaling Victoria with stories about the Catacombs, like the many mysterious disappearances or people who became lost in the many miles of tunnels. They also tell her about a satanic cult that raised the “antichrist” down in the darkness of the Catacombs. The cult purposely turned him into a crazed, killing machine and now he supposedly goes around wearing a skinned goat head and slaughtering people who venture into his domain.

Soon enough, Victoria and her sister run into Mr. Goat Head, and he proceeds to kill Carolyn. Victoria gets away, but only to get back to the party just as the cops arrive to break it up. In the chaos, she knocks her head on a stone wall and is out cold…when she wakes up she finds herself all alone and lost within the Catacombs…but she’s not as alone as she thinks…

Geesh! A satanic serial killer who wears a skinned goat head?? C’mon, you’d think writers/directors Tomm Coker and David Elliot could do better than that…and apparently they thought so too because Mr. Goat Head disappears for the rest of the film (!) in favor of following Victoria and a stinky Frenchman from the party as they wander through the dark catacombs. Ok, watching two people who can’t even communicate (though they still yell at each other in their respective languages – because volume makes things much clearer to understand, oui?) stumble through the unremarkable tunnels (the cool bone monuments the Catacombs are known for are barely shown) isn’t my idea of entertainment, especially since these scenes make up the bulk of the movie. You want tension, suspense or, GASP!, scares with your horror movie?? Look elsewhere because they are all sorely lacking in Catacombs.

To make matters worse, none of the characters where likable or people you could relate with. Victoria is a downer and isn’t even happy to be in Paris!! We are never told why she is so depressed or why she has to keep taking pills, so we are never given a chance to feel sympathetic for her. She just comes off as a whiner and is very poorly written “Final Girl” character. Carolyn is just an uncaring bitch so you’re glad when she is offed early in the film. The rest of the characters don’t matter much and are all pretty much interchangeable.

The actors weren’t given much to work with, so their performances weren’t the best. I absolutely adore Shannyn Sossamon, but her character is unlikable, which makes her performance suffer. The character of Victoria is so weak and poorly written that it is clear the writers have no concept of complex human emotions, personalities or psyches. As mentioned before, the characters are so abysmally one-dimensional that it is hard for the actors to give decent performances. All of the actors come off bland and unremarkable. As for Pink, she plays the bossy, bitchy sister okay, but her and Sossamon have absolutely no chemistry and were not at all believable as sisters.

On the technical side, the film is shot like a music video for the ADD generation. There are lots of quick cuts, lots of strobe lighting effects, blue/red hues and rapid-fire editing. The shots of the rave, with its choppy cuts mixed with the disorienting flashing lights, gets really annoying after the first five seconds. The flashbacks to the satanic cult (complete with goat heads, long fingernails, black robes, a bloody birth, etc.) looked like a low-grade Cradle of Filth video. What works in music videos certainly doesn’t work in film, though. The quick cuts and editing just come off as amateurish and annoying. Amateur hour continues with scenes that go on far too long, like the opening scene with a random girl running down countless tunnels and the scenes of Victoria wandering through the Catacombs.

Speaking of the girl from the opening, no mention of her is ever made again…which seems to happen a lot to characters in this movie. Characters crop up, but then they are discarded or forgotten about, like the main serial killer!! That should give you an idea about the disjointed nature of the film. The story feels like it was written by two 15 year olds and doesn’t take the time to build up characters or establish a solid mythology (but it also lacks the gore and nudity most 15-year-old boys would put in a horror flick…). It’s just a messy, boring mess of a film that happens to have a cool setting. Oh, and let’s not forget about the “twist” ending…(sigh!)

If you are interested in learning more about the Catacombs in Paris, rent a documentary, read a book or watch some videos online…because despite the fact that the only thing going for this movie is the setting, Catacombs does no justice to the real thing. In fact, it does no justice to the horror genre, either.

Available from Amazon!

The Ferryman (2007)

I wasn’t expecting much out of The Ferryman, yet another direct to DVD horror flick, but I was secretly hoping it would be a diamond in the rough that would surprise me…It did seem to have a cool concept and I figured this New Zealand film might have a fresh, new perspective on the horror genre.

The mythology of the ferryman on which the film is based originated in ancient Greece. The ferryman, or Charon as he was called in ancient Greek mythology, was responsible for transporting deceased souls from the banks of the river Styx to the underworld, as long as they paid their fare. The practice of placing gold coins on the deceased eyelids, so they would have enough money to pay the ferryman for passage to the underworld, stems from this legend. It is said that if you don’t have the proper fare to pass, you are doomed to wander the banks of the Styx, neither in the real world nor in the afterworld.

The Ferryman takes a slightly different spin on the classic tale, making the ferryman more into a figure like Death, who is responsible for making sure all souls are brought to the underworld and that no one cheats death. It was refreshing to see a horror film rooted in classic mythology, but The Ferryman just didn’t go far enough with its story and just ended up being a pretty lackluster, disappointing film.

Two couples, locals Zane (Julian Arahanga) and Kathy (Amber Sainsbury) and Americans Tate (Sally Stockwell) and Chris (Craig Hall) decide to take an “adventure cruise” on a private yacht owned by married couple Dave (Tamer Hassan) and Suze (Kerry Fox). Just as everyone is getting friendly and starting to enjoy themselves, a distress call comes in. Dave and Suze decide to answer it and find an abandoned boat surrounded by thick fog. They rescue the last remaining survivor (John Rhys-Davies), but soon regret ever answering the distress call. People start getting stabbed and murdered by an evil entity who keeps jumping from body to body, trying to cheat death and avoid the ferryman. As more and more bodies go overboard, the remaining survivors must figure out how to defeat the evil presence…or wind up as fish food.

One thing I appreciated about The Ferryman is that it tried to be different. It didn’t try to be a gory slasher and certainly didn’t fall into the category of the so-called “torture porn” polluting the horror landscape these days, but tried something a little different. While I can appreciate its intentions, the end result just wasn’t good enough.

There is so much that can be culled from Greek mythology and used in horror films, and while The Ferryman tried using bits and pieces of lore, it just wasn’t cohesive or comprehensive enough with the treatment of its story. There were also odds and ends that felt rather forced and set up just to serve the outcome of the story (like the subplot about the little girl). The story itself moved rather slow and felt repetitive. Stabbing someone with a knife gets rather old after the first few times you’ve seen it. It also didn’t help that the “final girl” spent about half the movie unconscious.

While the story tended to get bogged down and boring, I must say that the acting was pretty well-done. I especially liked how drastically the characters changed after they were “invaded” by the evil spirit. The best performance came from Craig Hall when he was in this “possessed” state. He was maniacally brilliant! It also helped that you really felt for the characters when they were being brutalized (though the character development was shallow and stereotypical at best).

Still, despite the decent performances, the film has more problems than perks. One major bother is that it played less like a horror movie and more like a thriller. You knew where the evil presence was most of the time, so there was no possibility for tension or suspense. The scare tactic that was used was that these survivors had no where to run from this evil entity (oh ya, and there yacht was suddenly out of gas and conveniently couldn’t be operated), but it just didn’t work to make me feel frightened. Sad to say, there weren’t even any creepy moments – when we finally do get to see the ferryman, he looks more like the Creature from the Black Lagoon dripping in green algae that a deathly specter.

While I wouldn’t call The Ferryman a “bad” movie, it lacks a certain spark to make it anything more than lackluster. Might be good for a rental if you’ve got nothing but a few gold coins lying about…but you might want to save those for something other than The Ferryman.

Available from Amazon!

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

The Red Queen Kills Seven Times (1972)

There might be those that grow weary of the routine plot of gialli films. They usually rely on similar circumstances, plot twists, glamorous characters and black-gloved killers. If you are a fan of giallo, though, you just can’t get enough of ‘em! There is just something about their sophisticated style, vivid visuals, gory death scenes and elaborate who-done-its to keep you hooked!

In 1972’s The Red Queen Kills Seven Times, director Emilio Miraglia never strays far from the giallo formula, but still manages to create a tension-filled film with candy-colored set-pieces, an impressive cast and sufficient plot twists to keep you guessing!

In the wealthy Wildenbruck family, an old legend says that every hundred years two sisters, the Red Queen and the Black Queen, will violently quarrel. The Black Queen will kill the Red Queen, but a year later the Red Queen will return for revenge, killing six people before finally killing her sister, the Black Queen. Sisters Kitty (Barbara Bouchet) and Evelyn Wildenbruck never really got along in childhood and as grownups have drifted apart. Kitty is a fashion photographer working for a fashion house and still visits her family’s castle where she and Evelyn were raised by their grandfather. Evelyn hasn’t been heard from for some time, but it’s assumed she’s living in America, where she moved to one year prior.

One night, their grandfather has a heart attack after a fright and the Red Queen, wearing a flowing red cape and cackling loudly, is seen near the castle. When the grandfather’s will is read, it is discovered that no one can touch it until the following year. Did the grandfather know something about the 100 year curse that his heirs don’t?

Soon after, murders begin occurring. It seems as if people from the fashion house where Kitty works are being targeting. After the general manager is killed, the police come up with a sketch of the murderer from an eyewitness. Kitty recognizes the face as the face of her own sister Evelyn! Problem is, she killed Evelyn a year ago.

Has the prophecy about the Red Queen come true or is someone else to blame for the murders? Could it be Kitty’s lover, vying for the general manager position, top model Lulu seeking revenge, drug-addict Peter seeking money or is Evelyn really back from the grave?

Red Queen’s luscious visuals and lurid color palettes make for a sensational viewing experience. Rather than bathing entire shots in bright hues of red and blue (think Argento’s Suspiria), each object – a bright yellow car, a blood-red cape, a cool blue and green apartment – pops out at you. The colorful 70s fashions also help bring a real liveliness to the film – plaid polyester suits, batiks, bold cuts and colors contribute to the sense of excitement. The settings – the Wildenbruck’s opulent castle, the fashion house’s posh office and the characters luxurious apartments, for example – all seem larger than life as well! These visuals grab your attention and help pull you into the story.

Giallo fans know the story is usually the weakest point in the film (gialli usually rely more on visuals than a cohesive storyline), yet Red Queen did a fine job of working all its kinks out. It also hid its secrets pretty well, with the villain never being obvious until close to the end. Except for a few rough patches (unnecessary rape scene, I’m looking at you!) the story flowed smoothly and made sense.

The acting was also done extremely well. Barbara Bouchet was fantastic as Kitty Wildenbruck. She was both an independent woman, yet vulnerable at the same time. As she begins to unravel, you can’t help but feel sympathetic towards her. Even though she was behind Evelyn’s demise (or was she?) it is very easy to feel sorry for her when everyone around her starts dying and she’s forced to face her demons. The rest of the cast is equally impressive. All the ladies in the film are absolutely gorgeous and include the previously mentioned Barbara Bouchet as well as Marina Malfatti, Maria Pia Giancaro and Sybil Danning. Unfortunately for us girls, the men aren’t as attractive as the women, but nonetheless they put on a good show.

The Red Queen Kills Seven Times isn’t as gory as some other gialli, but it does deliver. Make sure not to miss the scene where an escaping mental patient is purposely impaled on an iron fence or the death by VW Bug. Just like the rest of the film’s visuals, the blood is brightly garish!

Gialli often follow the same formula – a deep, dark secret is revealed which unleashes a black-gloved killer, usually in a posh clique, and everyone is a suspect. Still, despite the formula that most seem to follow, they can still be incredibly entertaining. The Red Queen Kills Seven Times is no different and is a sophisticated, sexy, stylish and sinister romp into the world of giallo.

Available from Amazon!

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

When Evil Calls (2008)

When Evil Calls is so downright AWFUL that I’ll try and keep this review as short as possible – I don’t want to waste any more effort on this pathetic attempt at a horror movie!

If you want the super-short version, here it is: THIS MOVIE ISN’T WORTH WATCHING EVEN IF THEY WERE GIVING IT AWAY FOR FREE!!

If you want the slightly longer review of how and why this movie is so wretched, keep reading…

Originally released as 20 downloadable episodes for your cell phone, When Evil Calls has been released on DVD by (who else would release such crap) Lionsgate. They’ve linked together the episodes by having Sean Pertwee narrate as the drunken janitor. He begins by telling us how it all started…with a very unpopular girl (Jennifer Lim, whom most will recognize from Hostel). One night, she receives a text that says, “Congratulations! You have won a wish!” (we are subjected to this annoying phrase at the beginning of EVERY episode…complete with cheesy graphics and bad music). A creepy clown visits her in her bedroom and tells her she can have anything she wants as long as she passes the text on to two more people. She wishes to be popular and gets her wish. After that, the text gets passed all around the school and people start dying from their stupid wishes…Be careful what you wish for!

The movie is less than an hour and a half long, but it was just so BAD that I had to shut it off at about 50 minutes in. First thing you’ll notice is that the film looks horrible…Lionsgate did a terrible job with this release! The film was made for cell phones, but it doesn’t look like they made any effort to upgrade it for DVD! It just looks very low-budget. Furthermore, there is no story, just short segments about people’s stupid wishes backfiring on them. Lastly, there is no good gore, just silly CGI that looks absolutely cheesy. Sean Pertwee is the only good thing about the film, but his one-liners are cringe-worthy. I bet that instead of acting like a drunken janitor, he actually was getting drunk just to make it through appearing in this movie. Hell, you’d have to be unconscious to enjoy this flick!

If the cover of the film happens to catch your eye, don’t be suckered into checking out When Evil Calls. It has one of the most misleading covers I’ve ever seen!! From the cover (and even the title), it looks like an Asian horror flick that could be half-way decent. The text message thing is even a cool-sounding premise, but DON’T BE SUCKERED LIKE I WAS!! You’ll definitely regret it.

I wish this piece of crap had never been made…where’s a genie when I really need one?

Available from Amazon!

Friday, February 15, 2008

Killer Pad (2008)

I was highly anticipating the release of Killer Pad, as it marked the return of Robert Englund to directing (after 1989′s 976-EVIL). After being a horror icon (as Freddy in the Nightmare on Elm Street films, as well as roles in many other horror films) for so long, I was really interested to see what Englund would do with Killer Pad. It seemed like a fun premise with a bunch of dumb, partying 20-somethings stuck in an evil house…it kinda sounded like Bachelor Party crossed with Night of the Demons.

Wicked cool, right?

Sadly…no. Instead of wicked cool, I got wretchedly abysmal, and that is being far too kind.

Three best friends (Shane McRae, Eric Jungmann, Daniel Franzese) move out to California after coming into some money from their pet bulldog’s botched grooming attempt. They can finally move out of their parent’s houses at 23 and decide to drive cross-country to California to make sure they get as far away from them as possible!! Or something to do with meeting hot chicks, I guess…Anyway, a tranny realtor (Bobby Lee from Mad TV) hooks them up with…you guessed it…a KILLER PAD! It’s a cozy mansion tucked away in the Hollywood Hills, perfect for our trio of bachelors who take the time to neatly decorate the place with tasteful (and color-matching) home furnishings! There is a tiny problem though…their house sits on the portal to hell and all kinds of satanic activity starts occurring. No matter, because our clueless guys blame all the weird things happening (hmmm…goat bones, poltergeist activity and a hound of hell in the basement) on squatters! Of course! The homeless have been coming into their home, re-arranging their furniture and making pentagrams out of beer cans! It makes perfect sense!! Anyways, they soon meet the three hotties (Emily Foxler, Corri English, Noureen DeWulf) next door who are a bit more devilish than what they seem (never would have seen THAT coming). The girls insist that the boys throw a party with faux rap group Demon Seed performing. The boys easily cave and decide to use their killer pad to throw the most wicked party ever (even Joey Lawrence…yep, that Joey Lawrence of Blossom fame, shows up)…until Satan the hermaphrodite (yep, you read that right) crashes it and people start getting killed!

This movie was written so poorly it makes the writers of the bottom-of-the-barrel comedies Epic Movie and Meet the Spartans seem alright in comparison. Writer Dan Stoller (whose only credit is Killer Pad) fails us not in just one genre, but in two. Killer Pad is neither an effective horror movie nor an effective comedy. There are no scares, no gore and the “jokes” feel like they are trying to rip off the lowly Dude, Where’s My Car or the newer, lamer National Lampoons that seem to be released every other week. Not once did I laugh during Killer Pad (this is no exaggeration; nary a “tee hee” escaped my lips). The jokes were achingly pathetic and mainly revolved around the naivety and stupidity of the main characters.

Don’t even get me started on the embarrassing characters! These cardboard cut-outs were just plain dumb, but not in an endearing kind of way. Their characters just sucked. All they did the entire movie was stand there and smile while making the most annoying and asinine assumptions known to man. Their comments made conversations with frat boys who’ve been on a drinking binge for 24 hours straight seem more intelligent.

The acting surely didn’t help the film, with both the three guys and the three girls coming off completely flat and annoying. Who cares about their names when they all played the same dumb character and were completely interchangeable?

This is supposed to be a horror comedy about a house party gone horrible wrong…but there is no gore and no nudity to save it from its poor story, characters and acting. Most of the time, it doesn’t even feel like a horror movie, but a brainless, vapid buddy flick (and at times, a gay pr0no). I’m not saying a horror film needs gore or nudity to be effective, but I think it may have made my suffering through this useless piece of tripe a little more bearable.

Robert Englund should be ashamed to have his name attached to Killer Pad, as it has no redeeming qualities. I can’t believe that he agreed to direct this piece of rubbish. I wish this film would have forever languished on Lionsgate’s shelves instead of being released, but now I can just hope it burns in hell…or sits collecting dust in the Wal-mart bargain bin.

Just know that YOU will be in hell if you decide to make yourself suffer through this tedious and dull movie.

Available from Amazon!

Monday, February 11, 2008

Gory Gear: Electric Zombie Clothing

1. Pertaining to, derived from, produced by, or involving electricity: an electric shock.
2. Producing, transmitting, or operated by electric currents: an electric bell; electric cord.
3. Electrifying; thrilling; exciting; stirring: The atmosphere was electric with excitement.

1. A reanimated corpse

Electric Zombie is the brainchild of designer Kyle Crawford, who has garnered much of his experience designing shirts for bands, record labels and tours in the hard rock/metal music community. His horror and metal-themed designs have ended up on CDs, posters, advertisements and even tour staging. While working with Rockett Clothing, Kyle was encouraged by many friends to start his own clothing company…with that, Electric Zombie was born. Kyle says he “wanted to have a company for those who loved horror and were a fan of my work. It’s like a comic book collection I share with everyone.”

Kyle chose the name “Electric Zombie” after designing a shirt of the same name for screamo band From First to Last. The name fits the shirts to a T (hehehe). The designs are electrifying and thrilling, with a major focus on horror themes.

If Electric Zombie has a shirt that best exemplifies its aesthetic, it would very well be the “Kill or Be Killed” shirt. It is a simple black shirt emblazoned with the motto “Kill or Be Killed.” This phrase could pretty much be the tag line for any horror movie, or perhaps for the whole horror genre itself! Its font has a very distressed, grindhouse-inspired look that is entirely eye-catching. The shirt fits snugly and is made of high-quality, thick fabric. “Kill or Be Killed” is a shirt sure to please any horror fan, or those that appreciate its take-no-prisoners motto.

Electric Zombie’s newer designs include the “Dome Splitter,” a blood-soaked homage to gruesome giallos or sanguine slashers. The large print features a woman who has just had her skull split open, with rivulets of blood dripping down her shocked face that is captured in mid-scream. It reminds me of the “Machete Zombie” from Dawn of the Dead or a set-piece from a Dario Argento bloodbath. One thing is for sure, gorehounds will delight over this drool-worthy design.

Another of Electric Zombie’s newest design included a very unique take on McDonald’s purple blob character, Grimace. Electric Zombie’s “Grimace” is a far cry from the dimwitted fatso featured in McDonald’s advertising. Electric Zombie’s Grimace is a green slime-oozing and drooling monster that shows a deceptive marketing tool for what it really is. Printed on soft purple shirt, Electric Zombie’s “Grimace” is a head-turner.

Inspired by horror movies, the 80s and life in general, Kyle Crawford’s Electric Zombie is going strong. Though Kyle plans on releasing more designs, he has no plans for expanded product lines. As he says, “I also don’t plan on releasing lines, just more or less batches of shirts as I get ideas. It’s something that’s very exciting and I’ve had a fun and positive response so far.”

Electric Zombie is another quality clothing label that makes unique and memorable horror shirts. What makes it even more amazing are the low prices…tees will usually only run you about $10!! Besides the three designs just discussed, Electric Zombie currently carries seven other original designs ranging from the comic book-inspired “Decay” shirt to the Friday the 13th homage called “Machete.”

Amazingly bold designs and unbelievably low prices make Electric Zombie another clothing company that we cannot recommend enough. They are truly in it “for the love of horror” and to bring fans satisfyingly gory and disturbing designs!

You can find Electric Zombie at – remember to keep checking back for new designs, including their “Grimace” and “Dome Splitter” designs, which aren’t available on their main site yet.

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Joshua (2007)

Joshua is a sophisticated, restrained and eerie horror movie that didn’t get the credit it deserved when it hit theaters. Instead of a typical “evil child” flick like The Omen or even Village of the Damned, Joshua shows us a somber and harrowing disintegration of a family at the hands of their young son, Joshua.

The Cairns are a wealthy Manhattan family who has just added newborn Lily to their lives. Mom Abby (Vera Farmiga) and dad Brad (Sam Rockwell) couldn’t be happier with their little bundle of joy, but their son Joshua (Jacob Kogan) is none too pleased at the lack of attention and affection he is getting. The happy family soon begins to go to pieces when Lily begins to constantly cry, driving Abby into a deep despair, which she had also faced when Joshua was a baby. Brad is preoccupied with work and isn’t home that often, though he does what he can to help. The exhausted Abby just can’t cope anymore, especially after being put on crutches after an accident. The peculiar Joshua certainly isn’t helping things, either. After a game of hide-and-go-seek that goes horribly wrong, Abby is hospitalized in a mental health facility. After Brad is forced to take care of Lily and Joshua, he becomes convinced that Joshua is behind the family’s problems. What he fails to realize, however, is the extent of Joshua’s manipulations and how far the child is willing to go.

I fully expected Joshua to be an unoriginal mish-mash of The Omen and Rosemary’s Baby, but I was pleasantly surprised when it avoided any satanic plot devices while still creating a stylish and tense film.

One word of warning, though, as horror fans might be a bit disappointed at the lack of any real “horror” in the film. Just when you think you are going to see just how evil Joshua really is and what he is capable of, the shot either cuts away or moves to the next scene. While I do think this was the appropriate case in the context of the film, I know this will leave many viewers disappointed. Still, the “scares” in Joshua aren’t aimed at making you jump out of your seat. Instead, the film aims to get under your skin, much like the film Bug, and scare you with the possibility of “what if…” What if your child was coldly calculating your own family’s demise? What if he had every angle covered and anticipated your every move? What if your own child framed you for child abuse and no one would believe the real story?

The story, written by David Gilbert and George Ratliff (who also directed), is calculated to move slowly, but under the surface tension continues to mount. Joshua’s true nature is revealed a tiny bit at a time, and so carefully and slowly that it’s easy to forget that this weird child is the instigator in the family’s problems. The story unfolds very naturally until the ending, where things really start to unravel.

The direction and cinematography only reflect the pace and atmosphere of the storyline. At first, everything is airy, bright, clean and cheery. As the story progresses and bad things begin to happen, the lighting dims, the family’s apartment becomes dingy and messy and things become cramped and claustrophobic. This doubles the effect of the tension that continues mounting throughout the film. Furthermore, the cacophonous sounds used throughout the film – discordant piano music, the constant crying of the baby, screaming, banging from the upstairs apartment – adds another layer of discomfort for the viewer.

Equally impressive is the acting in the film. Vera Farmiga is wondrous as the loving Abby who quickly loses her grip on her family and reality. Her transformation from put-together and happy wife to unkempt and desperate mother is shocking and heartbreaking. Sam Rockwell as detached hubby Brad isn’t quite so impressive, but still holds his own, though on a much more subtle scale. The real revelation, of course, is Jacob Kogan as Joshua. He plays his character so well that I actually sided with him at first over the family. His somber and matter-of-fact delivery, devoid of emotion, is extremely effective and eerie.

Joshua may not be a film for everyone, but I certainly enjoyed its slow-building story and the nefarious plans that Joshua had in store for his family. This underrated flick deserves to be seen, but is perhaps enjoyed more by those that enjoy intelligent horror films such as Bug.

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