Thursday, December 18, 2014

Alien Rising Distracts and Nothing Else: A Movie Review

*full disclosure: an online screener of this film was provided by Breaking Glass Pictures.

Director: Dana Schroeder.

Writers: Michael Todd and Kenny Yakkel.

Cast: Lance Henriksen, Amy Hathaway, John Savage, Brian Krause and Dave Vescio.

Alien Rising is a sci-fi thriller, from director Dana Schroeder (Lost Soul). Previously titled Gemini Rising, this title was completed in 2013 and it is set to be released in 2015. Alien Rising is very CGI heavy and the film's believability suffers. Whole sets are completely constructed in post-production and the results look very poor. Starring Lance Henriksen and Amy Hathaway, Alien Rising is an indie sci-fi title that is more miss than hit.

The story's logline sounds good. Alien research, involving telepathy, takes place in a volcano. But, the film is not as great as its premise. Instead, the film brings in an unneeded female protagonist, who is not really part of the research. She is better at sabotaging one colonel's plan, to make a lot of money. Why is she even there? Now, it is alien versus scientist, in the underground research laboratory. The hokey visuals wreck any possibility of a compelling climax.

CGI enhancements take place hundreds of times. For instance, an entire exterior setting, the volcano, is composed from graphics. When the volcano explodes, the results look comic bookish. In another instance, several soldiers fight the alien creature, which has escaped. The creature, the gunfire and the entire setting has been composed on digital displays. Green screens have been used for entire sequences and none of it looks real. Helicopters, helipads and many other elements are completely composed from CGI. These visuals and many more look very fake and poorly rendered.

The use of CGI has reduced the believability of the film. The overuse of these enhancements distract from the film's story. Though, the film's story is also overreaching. This viewer found himself drawn out of the film's reality, because of the use of CGI. It is obvious that these enhancements were used to reduce the size of the film's budget. Still, Alien Rising is difficult to watch, especially through later portions, when the use of enhancements increase. The filmmakers have chosen to utilize flash and bang, when more dramatic elements could have helped develop the story.

Alien Rising is not recommended even for fans of sci-fi. Though, fans of b-movies might find some creativity here. Overall, the film's central reality is disrupted by so much faux special effects. Low in budget, Alien Rising rarely shows any indie movie charm, despite an intriguing premise. The end results are laughable and not recommended for most film fans.

Overall: 6 out of 10 (most of the acting is above average, martial arts sequences look mostly well done, there are some credibility issues in the story).

A trailer for the film is available here, on 28DLA:

A Gemini Rising/Alien Rising Trailer

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Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Alien Rising Launches an Attack on Earth January 20th, 2015 through DVD

Tagline: "They are here. They are real."

In 2011, Alien Rising was just finishing post-production. Since 2011, the film has been completed and released through Video-on-demand (Dec. 2nd, 2014). Now, the film is getting set to release on DVD on January 20th, 2015 and the official artwork and trailer have been released for this sci-fi thriller. Alien Rising stars Lance Henriksen (The Terminator), Brian Krause ("Charmed"), John Savage (The Deer Hunter) and Amy Hathaway. Release details for the film are hosted here.

The film begins, where all films should begin, under a volcano. Here, a rogue colonel is creating an army of robotic soldiers. As well, Colonel Cencula (Henriksen) is conducting illicit research, which could lead to everyone's destruction.

The film's DVD artwork shows one of those experiments. A creature looms on the left hand side, in red. Meanwhile, Cencula looks to have plans for Earth, which lies below. All of the b-movie madness begins in just a few weeks. And, fans of sci-fi thrillers can view the official trailer for the film, below.

Release Date: January 20th, 2015 (DVD).

Director: Dana Schroeder.

Writers: Michael Todd, and Kenny Yakkel.

Producers: John Rogers, Steven Ameche, and Mark Butler.

Cast: Lance Henriksen, Amy Hathaway, John Savage, Brian Krause, Dave Vescio, Anthony Vitale, Art Evans, James MacPherson, Andy Gates, and Tara Cardinal.

The official trailer for Alien Rising is here:


Alien Rising at Breaking Glass Pictures

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Creature Feature Portal to Hell to Bring Roddy Piper and Cthulhu to the Big Screen!

Director Vivieno Caldinelli ("Picnicface") and writer Matt Watts ("The Newsroom") are preparing to shoot their short film Portal to Hell. The film is a Lovecraftian homage and a battle against Cthulhu. To star Roddy Piper (They Live), financing for this title has already begun. As well, the short film will be developed into a feature film, in late 2015. Raven Banner will distribute the feature in Canada. More details on Portal to Hell are previewed here.

In the story, Jack (Piper) discovers several cultists in his basement. He also discovers that they are trying to bring the god Cthulhu into his world, through sorcery. Jack must enlist the help of others to stop this madness, or else everyone is doomed.

This film is still in the early phases of production. And, the filmmakers could use the support of horror fans to bring the short film to life. Details on the film's Indiegogo campaign are listed below. As well, an early film poster, for Portal to Hell, is hosted above. More details on the film will be released, once shooting begins.

Director: Vivieno Caldinelli.

Writer: Matt Watts.

Producers: Andrew Rosen, Todd Brown, Lori Fischburg and Ryan Reaney.

Cast: Roddy Rowdy Piper.

The crowd funding campaign for the film is hosted here:

a Portal to Hell at Indiegogo

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Sunday, December 14, 2014

Gregory Blair to Crash Garden Party Massacre in 2015

Director Gregory Blair (Deadly Revisions) is prepping a new horror film, titled Garden Party Massacre. This upcoming title blends horror and comedy. In the vein of Tucker & Dale vs Evil and Shaun of the Dead, the film brings a surprise or two, to a small get-together. A preview for the film is hosted here.

Pre-production for Garden Party Massacre has already begun. Casting is currently taking place in Los Angeles, California. As well, Blair is expected to begin shooting the film in 2015. PIX/See Productions is the company behind the shoot, with Blair running double duty as screenwriter and director. A full cast list for this production will be announced shortly.

Release Date: 2016.

Director/writer: Gregory Blair.

Cast: TBA.


Garden Party Massacre at PR Log

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Saturday, December 13, 2014

This Chemical Peel is Too Caustic: A Movie Review

*full disclosure: an online screener of this film was provided by the filmmakers.

**there are minor spoilers here.

Director: Hank Braxtan.

Writers: Dan Sinclair, Hank Braxtan, Arielle Brachfeld, and Natalie Victoria.

Cast: Natalie Victoria, Arielle Brachfeld, Stephanie Greco and Lacy Fisher.

Chemical Peel is a smallish horror feature. This title was released earlier in the year (Oct. 14th, 2014), through Lions Gate Entertainment. A film about a toxic chemical spill, Chemical Peel spends most of its ninety-five minute runtime with bickering characters. Several so-called friends, at a bachelorette party, are more toxic than the mist outside. Shot almost entirely inside one location, the film is an exercise in what not to do in a catastrophe. Characters act in cowardly and idiotic ways, which makes Chemical Peel a difficult watch.

A group of girls gather for a night of drinking and celebrating. Fifteen minutes into the story, it is finally revealed that the girls have come together for Angela's (Arielle Brachfeld) bachelorette party. With Angela's vile attitude and unfriendly demeanour, it is a surprise that she has any friends at all. Still, Rae (Natalie Victoria), Jordin (Stephanie Greco) and a couple of other girls put on a brave face and drink the night away. They ignore an explosion outside, until a smoky mist crawls up to the door. Now, girl turns against girl in a battle to see who can die first, or the bloodiest. There are no real winners here, including the viewer.

A lot of idiocy occurs in Chemical Peel. None of the characters seem to have any idea on how to survive in a disaster. This viewer was wondering if they wanted to survive at all. For instance, a possible rescuer is introduced into the mix. One character mishandles a rifle and this potential rescuer is outroduced, by an errant shot. If you do not know how to handle a rifle, then you should just put it down. In another scene, it is revealed that the toxic chemicals react with water. So, what does one character do? She takes a shower; the results are gore-filled. It is amazing to think that any of these characters survived into adulthood.

Technically, the film is shot well. Director Hank Braxton does a good job of filming all of the interaction. Most of the shooting consists of tight shots as the film is mostly filmed within a small cabin. This close shooting helps capture some of the excellent make-up effects. Still, Chemical Peel could have utilized a few more medium shots, to break up the tedium and repetitive interior shooting. Sometimes, catastrophes can appear more broad, if they also take place outside. As well, a couple of scenes utilize ADR. But, much of the technical aspects are well done.

It is the cowardly characters who diminish the film's impact. There are no heroes in Chemical Peel. Instead, the film relies on infighting to create inauthentic conflict. The conflicts, often initiated by Angela, come across as forced. And, when there is an opportunity to rise up to a challenge, the female characters implode. The one courageous act in the film involves Kimberly (Leigh Davis) securing an air conditioning unit, to prevent the toxic air from coming into the cabin. Her reward is being locked outside in the toxic air, by Angela. More cowardice comes along when Angela leaves her supposed friend, Rae, to die in a basement. She does not even close a door, to prevent the poisonous fumes from incapacitating Rae, further. Even the protagonist does not behave in a very heroic way, unless she is trying to save herself. There is no one to root for in this horror outing.

Chemical Peel is a very average film. The production is brought together well. But, the storytelling falters. The central McGuffin is an intriguing one. It is just too bad that the team of scriptwriters could not develop even one compelling or virtuous character. Almost all of the people onscreen behave in despicable ways and the film begins to grind on the nerves, with so much inane dialogue and faux conflicts. Fans of horror could bypass this feature and feel secure in knowing that Chemical Peel offers only toxic characters and very little else.

Overall: 6 out of 10 (everyone turns on everyone else which is the last thing you want to do in a disaster, a final scene offers one of the only surprises in the film, very mediocre overall).

A trailer for this film was released in early 2013 and it can be found here:

A Chemical Peel Trailer on 28DLA

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A Serial Killer Stalks Several Friends in this Trailer for Desecrated

Desecrated is an indie horror feature from first time feature film director Rob Garcia. The film involves a piece of land, which is guarded by a very strange man. Desecrated stars Haylie Duff (Napoleon Dynamite) and Michael Ironside (Starship Troopers). To release January 6th, 2015, a preview for the film is here.

Several friends head out on a peaceful weekend getaway. Their plans are interrupted by a security guard, who takes his job much too seriously. Now, the friends are being tracked and stalked by a serial killer!

A trailer for Desecrated was released earlier this year. Fans of horror can preview the clip below. The trailer introduces several of the characters and some of the killer's murderous tools. As well, a couple more stills have been released for the film. Viewers can find the photos below. The stills show the friends camping on a remote ranch. All the details on the release of Desecrated are hosted below.

Release Date: January 6th, 2015 (DVD, VOD).

Director: Rob Garcia.

Cast: Haylie Duff, Gonzalo Mendez, Heather Sossaman, Wilmer Calderon and Michael Ironside.

A trailer for the film is here:


Uncork'd Entertainment. Press Release. 12 Dec. 2014.

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Thursday, December 11, 2014

Love in the Time of Monsters Offers a Trip to a Toxic Resort in this Full Length Trailer

Love in the Time of Monsters is an indie horror title from director Matt Jackson and writer Michael Skvarla. In the film, a toxin infects several workers, leading to a murderous pandemic. The film stars Doug Jones (Hellboy), Kane Hodder and Michael McShane. Recently, a full length trailer was released for the film. The grisly clip can be seen here.

For more on the story, the film focuses on a tourist trap. This locale brings costumed bigfeet out of the local fauna, while a strange microbe infects the water supply. Now, the bigfeet are filled will with both toxin and rage!

Currently, this title is on a film festival run. The film will play in Manhattan, on January 7th, 2015. As well, the film will show in San Francisco tonight (Dec. 11th, 2014), at the Arrow in the Head film festival. Fans on both sides of America will get there chance to see Love in the Time of Monsters on the big screen as the film moves towards a home entertainment release, through Indican Pictures. A home entertainment release date is scheduled for February 17th, 2015 (DVD, VOD).

Release Date: 2014-15 (Limited Theatrical) and February 17th, 2015 (DVD, VOD).

Director: Matt Jackson.

Writer: Michael Skvarla.

Cast: Doug Jones, Kane Hodder, Michael McShane, and Shawn Weatherly.

The full length trailer for the film is hosted here:

A fan page for the film is hosted here (theatrical showtimes):

LITTOM on Facebook

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Dead Snow 2: Red vs Dead Brings two Undead Armies to Life: A Movie Review

*full disclosure: a DVD screener of this film was provided by Well Go USA.

Director: Tommy Wirkola.

Writers: Stig Frode Henriksen and Vegar Hoel and Tommy Wirkola.

Cast: Vegar Hoel, Ørjan Gamst, Martin Starr and Jocelyn DeBoer.

Director Tommy Wirkola returns to the zombie genre with Dead Snow 2: Red vs Dead. After dabbling in bigger films, including Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters (2013), Wirkola returns to where he began, indie horror. This sequel, to the 2009 film, picks up right where the last one ended. Martin (Vegar Hoel) is still dealing with cursed, Nazi zombies. This time, the enemy is growing and seeking revenge, on a small town, in Norway. This sequel utilizes lots of exterior shootings, while relying on a comedic and light tone. Horror elements are minimized. And, any real thrills or scares are forgotten, in favour of over-the-top camp. Still, Dead Snow 2: Red vs Dead brings a great climactic final scene and lots of laughter, along the way.

This sequel follows right where the previous one left off. Martin is stalked by Nazi zombies and they want his gold, which he stole in the previous film. An action scene takes place not much later, but Martin finds some peace of mind and solace in a hospital bed, nearby. However, Martin has a new arm, which is cursed and very murderous. Soon, doctors and police officers are killed as Martin plots his escape. Later, he has an uphill battle to defeat Herzog (Ørjan Gamst) and his growing army of zombies. His only choice is to create his own zombie army, through the powers of his cursed arm. A final battle scene brings all kinds of chaos and characters together, in the chilly Norway landscape.

Wirkola utilizes lots of exterior shooting in this sequel. The original was spent, mostly, inside a cabin or in an outhouse. This time, the film is more expansive and less claustrophobic. In these larger scenes, Wirkola also brings lots of characters in front of the lens. This sequel uses German soldiers, the Einsatz, to fill the space. As well, more of the Norwegian landscape is shown and all of settings look natural and more colourful. A creepy cabin is no longer the focus in this larger film.

Dead Snow 2: Red vs Snow is more comedy, than horror. Just like the original, this is a film about light humour. Reminiscent of The Evil Dead (1981) and its successor, Evil Dead II (1987) scenes of violence are delivered tongue-in-cheek. As well, Martin has a modified arm, much like Ash (Bruce Campbell), in these earlier films. For an instance of campy violence, Martin disembowels one zombie and uses its intestines to electrocute the enemy, with power lines. CGI enhancements show this scene's shocking power. As well, the film brings in a "Zombie Squad," now that all of Martins' friends are dead. They also play some of the film's court jesters, always creating laughter from their lack of competence. Finally, the film ends with a scene of necrophilia, which is offered as the film's only love story; this steamy is strangely not horrifying, but disturbingly funny. All of these scenes, and others, create laughter; horror elements are mostly forgotten, or pushed to the side to create more scenes involving comedy.

So, any excitement comes from the film's action elements. The climax is particularly well done as a German Tiger tank enters the fray. Two undead zombie armies fight, in close combat. Meanwhile, Martin must face Herzog again and probably for the last time. Action elements are well-choreographed. They are also complex, with the inclusion of so many extras. The action genre is also very prominent in Wirkola's latest.

Dead Snow 2: Red vs Dead has just released in North America (Dec. 9th, 2014) and this title will entertain fans of both action and comedy. Though, horror fans will not find much excitement, nor scares here. Horror elements are relegated to the creatures onscreen, make-up effects and a few night scenes. Still, this film offers lots of laughter, through its use of special effects. Gore is sprayed everywhere, in this picture. Wirkola continues to blend genres in his films and his latest will entertain a number of action focused film fans.

Overall: 7 out of 10 (likeable characters, good pacing and a suitable ending for the series?).

A United Kingdom trailer for Dead Snow 2: Red vs Dead is here (United Kingdom version):

A Dead Snow 2: Red vs Dead Trailer

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