Sunday, October 23, 2016

House of Purgatory and a Trip to Hell: A Film Review

*full disclosure: an online screener of this film was provided by Terror Films. This critic has worked on some publicity for this title.

**there are spoilers here.

Director/writer: Tyler Christensen.

Cast: Torey Michael Adkins, Laura Coover, Aaron Galvin, Brian Krause and Marika Engelhardt.

House or Purgatory is a recent horror release from Terror Films and first time director Tyler Christensen. Filmed partly in Wisconsin, the film's central story is based on an urban legend. At a haunted house attraction, participants can get there money back, if they can get through the scariest attraction, ever built! Christensen sets a consistent dramatic, horrifying tone. However, the moral of his story is muddied along the way. The setting is supposed to be Purgatory, but the evidence suggests that this is Hell. Yet, none of characters are the typical sinners. The film's story would have been more cohesive, if Christensen would have stuck closer to Dante Alighieri's interpretation of Purgatory. As it is, House of Purgatory is both entertaining and slightly puzzling.

The film element this viewer enjoyed the most was the dark tone. Christensen and the musical department, comprised of Patrick Giraudi and long-time film composer Kurt Oldman, have constructed a great musical score here. The notes are often dramatic and they help amplify the tension on-screen. For instance, the character Ryan (Bryan Fry) lurks around his high school (really a level in Hell). The soundtrack creates brooding notes, which make it feel like a sinister villain could jump out, at any time. In this same series of scenes, the lighting is appropriately dimmed as Ryan confronts a hidden part of himself. The darkness and brooding musical choices create a true terrifying and compelling viewing experience. The filmmakers have created an affective horror watching experience.

The story is slightly less well done. In the film, four friends set out to find a mysterious Halloween attraction. It is rumoured to be found just out of city limits. The legend states that no one has ever made it all the way through this haunted house. If these friends can make it all the way to the end, they will get their money back and bragging rights. Initially, they begin the ride with some courage. Soon, their strength wilts as their deepest secrets are brought out into the light. One girl is forced to confront her pregnancy and termination, while another must face his true sexual desires. The Devil is leading the events along and forcing the internal confrontations. Yet, his identity and the actual hellish location, of the haunted house, are weakly set-up.

The film's title suggests the film is set in Purgatory; this is actually Hell. Before entering the ride, a skeletal character (the Devil, played by Brian Krause) states: "abandon all hope, for it cannot penetrate these walls." This statement is lifted from the ancient text - Dante's Inferno, part of the Divine Comedy. This same saying appears on an inscription, leading into Dante's Hell: "all hope abandon ye who enter here." While their are no fires at the entrance, it is quickly apparent that this is a journey into the Devil's lair. As well, the characters begin at the top and descend, downwards. Hell is often described, in ancient texts, as being below: "the descent into Hell is easy (Virgil)." There are many temptations in life. And, the film's devilish character has a final line, which alludes to the haunted house as being set in hell: "to keep a fire going, sometimes, you need to add fuel." What needs more fuel than the fires of Hell? There is only one line to suggest this is Purgatory, spoken by a skeletal man: "nobody escapes purgatory." There is little other film evidence, outside of the title, to suggest that this is Purgatory. Instead, the characters are trespassing in Hell and their own sins are tormenting them, here.

This viewer and avid readers wishes Christensen would have stuck closer to Dante's actual sins for Purgatory and Hell. As it is, the characters are not guilty of any of the fourteen sins, with the possible exception of lust. The sins of Hell include: limbo, lust, gluttony, greed, anger, heresy and violence. Meanwhile, the sins of Purgatory are: pride, envy, wrath, sloth, covetous, gluttony and again - lust. The Christians really had a problem with sex, in the 14th Century! In the film and on the topic of sin, Amber (Laura Coover) has had an abortion, before the start of the film. While an abortion is considered a sin, in Catholicism, it is definitely not a sin of Purgatory. Another character has homosexual desires. Again, this is a sin in Catholicism, but not a sin of Purgatory. Even stranger, one character has been raped by a relative, so why would she be in Hell, at all? She should not be there (unless guilty of lust) and neither should any of the four characters, according to Dante's rules for Purgatory. Unfortunately, Christensen appears unfamiliar with the writings on the setting, in which his story takes place.

House of Purgatory is a recent Video-on-demand horror release. This film fan has seen this title on the Playstation Network and it is available across multiple territories. This outing is entertaining and often unsettling. Still, the writing and the film's morality are a bit muddy. While unfair to compare Se7en (1995) to this smaller film, Se7en and writer Andrew Kevin Walker utilize the seven deadly sins of Purgatory more consistently. The rules of Purgatory are all but forgotten in this horror entry. And, the social, or moral message of the film suffers, a bit, because of it.

Overall: 6.75 out of 10.

*a great and relevant quote from Dante Alighieri: "the darkest places in Hell are reserved for those who maintain their neutrality in times of moral crisis."

House of Purgatory at Terror Films: House of Purgatory at Terror Films

A closer look at Dante's sins in Purgatory: The Sins of Purgatory at Dante Worlds

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Friday, October 21, 2016

Events are Heating Up in Giorgio Serafini's Burn: First Trailer

A few details are igniting for Giorgio Serafini's Burn. This film, centrally starring Eric Balfour (Backcountry), involves a trapped stock broker. His life hangs in the balance as a psychopath turns up the heat, in an isolated kiln. Burn also stars: LaDon Drummond, Joe Grisaffi and Kristin Cochell. Slated for a release in early 2017, the film's first poster and trailer are hosted here.

Most of the plotline has been discussed above. However, more plot points are revealed in the trailer. In the clip, Ryan is tasked with making a mysterious man 1 million dollars. He must use all of his contacts, as a stock broker, to track down the cash. But, the time is running out and the temperature is heating up, making Ryan's task that much more difficult.

Burn is reminiscent of other films. The film is influenced by the Saw franchise. One man is housed in a trap, with an ominous voice piping in instructions. Burn also reminds this viewer of the Eastern European shot 247°F. In both films, a character or characters cannot escape the growing heat, leading to nasty burns. What film does Burn remind you of? Fans of horror can find the latest on Burn right here.

Release Date: February 19th, 2017 (TBA).

Director: Giorgio Serafini.

Writer: Garry Charles.

Cast: Eric Balfour, LaDon Drummond, Joe Grisaffi and Kristin Cochell.

A trailer for the film is here:

Source: Burn at Smoke Hammer Media

Recommended release:

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Thursday, October 20, 2016

"A Body in the Woods" Begins to Move in this Antidote Movie Clip

No one is releasing more horror films, this Halloween season, than Terror Films! Their latest is titled Antidote. A post-apocalyptic thriller, two characters do their best to survive in an infected landscape. When Matthew shows signs of infection, the only cure might make him worse. The film also stars Kate Flanagan and Matthew Rauch. And, the film's latest clip, titled "A Body in the Woods," is hosted here, before the film's Oct. 21st release date.

The clip shows Hannah (Kathleen Wise) looting a corpse? However, the body begins to move, in protest. Now, Matthew (Michael Izquierdo) and Hannah must decide if the body is infected or not.

Antidote will release on several Video-on-demand platforms. The film will be available on: iTunes, Amazon Instant, YouTube, Xbox, VUDU, PlayStation, Vimeo On Demand and Google Play. There are also plans to release this title on cable, at a later date. For now, fans of post-apocalyptic thrillers can find more on Antidote, right here!

Release Date: October 21st, 2016 (VOD: iTunes, Amazon Instant, YouTube, Xbox, VUDU, PlayStation, Vimeo On Demand and Google Play).

Directors/writers: Craig DiFolco and Pete DiFolco.

Cast: Kate Flanagan, Michael Izquierdo and Matthew Rauch.

“A Body in the Woods” Clip:

Antidote details at Terror Films: Antidote at Terror Films

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Tyler Chrstensen's House of Purgatory Locks You in the Darkness with "The Shack" Clip

House of Purgatory is set to release this Friday, October 21st. This horror title, from director Tyler Christensen, involves four teenagers and their trip to a "fabled haunted house." Inside the house, their deepest secrets are revealed before each other. House of Purgatory stars Brian Krause ("Charmed"), Anne Leighton ("Criminal Minds") and Laura Coover. As well, the film was shown at the Fear Fete Horror Film Festival and LA's Shriekfest. Now, a new clip, titled "The Shack" is sure to unsettle viewers.

The film has received a number of positive reviews. Horror Freak News noticed the excellent acting: "the film's greatest assets are the talented cast." Some of that acting can be seen in the preview below. Also, Culture Crypt mentioned the great writing, by Christensen: "the [film] offers more thematic depth than typical haunted house slashers, which assists in elevating House of Purgatory above its peers in terms of context." There is more than just bloodshed, in this latest horror release. And, fans can view the film, on many Video-on-demand platforms (full list below), tomorrow!

Release Date: October 21st, 2016 (VOD: Xbox, Amazon Instant, Google Play, Vudu, PlayStation, YouTube, Vimeo On Demand and iTunes).

Director/ writer: Tyler Christensen.

Cast: Torey Michael Adkins, Laura Coover and Marika Engelhardt.

"The Shack" clip is hosted here:

A fan page for the film: House of Purgatory on Facebook

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Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Killjoy's Psycho Circus Has a Date Under the Big Top with the El Rey Network - Oct. 30th!

Full Moon Entertainment has completed production on the 5th Killjoy film. The latest is titled Killjoy's Psycho Circus. This time, Killjoy (Trent Haaga) battles flying creatures and in-fighting amongst his clown army. Still, some of the iconic characters, in this series return. And, Killjoy's Psycho Circus is set to premiere the night before Halloween, on the El Rey Network. A preview of the film's launch is hosted here.

In the synopsis, Killjoy is now semi-mortal. He has to deal with the inconveniences of human life. Meanwhile, Batty Boop (Victoria De Mare) has abandoned him, while Beelzebub (Stephen F. Cardwell) is trying to trap him in a box. With his allies - Freakshow (Tai Chan Ngo) and Punchy (Al Burke), Killjoy must fight to remain living outside of Hell.

The El Rey Network was developed by director Robert Rodriguez (Grindhouse, 2007). This channel targets the Latino market and it reaches over 40 million viewers, in North American territories. If you are a horror fan and want to see the film (Oct. 30th), you still have time to sign up. But, this viewer will wait for the film to hit DVD markets as there is no time for television, this close to Halloween! More details on Killjoy's Psycho Circus, including the official trailer, are available below.

Release Date: October 30th, 2016 (El Rey Network).

Director/writer: John Lechago.

Cast: Raylin Joy, Dyna Myte, Victoria De Mare, Maria Olsen, Trent Haaga and Robin Sydney.

The film's official trailer:

Recommended release:

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Monday, October 17, 2016

Greed Leads to Murder in this Teaser Trailer for Massacre on Aisle 12

Massacre on Aisle 12 is a new, horror comedy, from director Jim Klock ("Scream Queens"). The film takes place at closing time, inside a hardware store. Several employees discover a bag of cash and a body! Now, they must decide what to do with all of this money. The film stars: Chad Ridgely (Murder Eleven), Mike Capozzi and Michael Buonomo. A teaser trailer for the film is here.

The teaser clip shows many of the employees, in chaos. One employee is injured and the others become murderous. Meanwhile, the survivors will have to decide how to divvy up the cash.

Massacre on Aisle 12 will have its World Premiere in November. The film will show at the Buffalo Dreams Fantastic Film Festival. On November 4th, the film will play before audiences. A wider release, for the film, will be announced soon.

Release Date: November 4th, 2016 (Limited Theatrical).

Directors: Jim Klock and William Mark McCullough.

Writers: Chad Ridgely and A.J. Via.

Cast: Michael Buonomo, Chad Ridgely, Jim Klock and Melissa Saint-Amand.

The film's first teaser trailer (NSFW):

A fan page for the film: Massacre on Aisle 12 Facebook

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Saturday, October 15, 2016

No One Can Sleep in this "Bedtime Lurking" Clip for The Dark Stranger

More and more horror films are coming out this Halloween. The most recent release is Chris Trebilcock's The Dark Stranger. Starring Katie Findlay ("How to Get Away with Murder") and Stephen McHattie ("The Strain"), The Dark Stranger involves a young woman, her art and a strange figure. In this latest clip, titled "Bedtime Lurking," McHattie makes a late night appearance as this shadowy figure. The nightmares begin from there. The latest clip for The Dark Stranger is available here.

The film's synopsis begins and ends with Leah (Findlay). She has experienced a trauma, that keeps her close to home. She tries to find solace in her artwork, but a strange apparition interferes. Now, Leah is no longer sure if the figure is part of her unconscious or something more physical and sinister. She will have to confront this stranger, or lose her mind.

The Dark Stranger has just released (Oct. 14th). Horror fans will find the film on most Video-on-demand platforms, including: XBox Live, Amazon Instant Video, Google Play, VUDU, Sony Playstation, Youtube, Vimeon on Demand and iTunes. Indie film fans can see more of McHattie as the Dark Stranger, now!

Release Date: October 14th, 2016 (VOD).

Director/writer: Chris Trebilcock.

Cast: Katie Findlay, Stephen McHattie, Enrico Colantoni and Jennifer Dale.

The "Bedtime Lurking" clip is here:

The Dark Stranger at Terror Films: The Dark Stranger Details at Terror Films

Recommended release:

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Thursday, October 13, 2016

Can Camryn Survive Round Two in Benjamin R. Moody's Last Girl Standing (First Trailer)?

Benjamin R. Moody's Last Girl Standing has a trailer, now. The clip shows the survivor of serial killer attack, attempting to adapt to life, after the crisis. The film bills its uniqueness by looking at what happens to a "final girl...who alone manages to survive the carnage." The film stars: Akasha Villalobos (Now Hiring), Danielle Evon Ploeger (Wind & Rain), Brian Villalobos and Jason Vines. The film's first trailer is available here.

The story begins with a brutal attack. Camryn (Akasha Villalobos) has lost almost all of her friends, to a brutal serial killer. Five years on, she is still struggling with her losses. Alone and grief-stricken, Camryn is befriended by a new co-worker. But, how can one let their guard down, after so much murder?

The life of a final girl, after the attack, has been looked at in Rick Rosenthal's Halloween II (1981). Horror friends will remember Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis) being chased down hospital hallways. There is no time to breathe as Michael Myers chases her across two films. In Last Girl Standing, writer Moody looks at the long-term effects of surviving an attack, by a serial killer. What is life like several years after such a brutal encounter? Fans can find out November 1st, when this title releases on DVD and VOD. More details on the release are below.

Release Date: November 1st, 2016 (DVD, VOD).

Director/writer: Benjamin R. Moody.

Cast: Akasha Villalobos, Danielle Evon Ploeger and Brian Villalobos.

The film's official trailer:

The film's homepage: The Last Girl Standing Official Website

Available here:

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