Reel Evil (2012)

reelevilartfinalStarring Jessica Morris, Kaiwi Lyman, Jeff Adler, Jamie Bernadette, Michael Cline, Christian Edsall, Sandra Hinojosa, Galen Howard

Directed by Danny Draven

Expectations: Moderate. It’s found footage, so odds are I’ll hate it.

halfstar


This might be a very short review because there isn’t much to talk about here. Reel Evil is a found footage film, a sub-genre of horror known for being horrible, and it’s a bad found footage film. The film does inspire some true moments of horror, though, most notably when I dozed off, paused the film to walk around a bit and realized that it had only been 30 minutes. True horror. I’m shuddering just trying to relive that moment.

For those that care about the story here (and why would you?), you should just watch Full Moon’s earlier film The Dead Hate the Living!, an incredibly fun and well-made movie that features a very similar plot. But if you must know, Reel Evil follows a trio of documentary filmmakers looking for their big break. They go into a producer’s office to pitch their big idea, and walk out with a job filming some bullshit behind-the-scenes featurette for a low-budget horror movie’s DVD. Gotta start somewhere. The movie is shooting at an abandoned insane asylum, and because this is a found footage film, there’s ghosts! Zoinks!

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Murdercycle (1999)

Murdercycle (1999)
AKA Mörderbike

Starring Charles Wesley, Cassandra Ellis, Robert Donavan, Michael Vachetti, Robert Staccardo, William Vogt, Dane Northcutt, David A.R. White

Directed by Tom Callaway

Expectations: Pretty high, actually. The cover is incredible, and the title… oh yeah!

On the general scale:

On the B-movie scale:


Like all B-Movies, Murdercycle isn’t for everyone. Those that value exciting dialogue exchanges between meaningful characters won’t make it past minute five. Those hoping for a story that is unique and original will need to look elsewhere. Murdercycle is like a melting pot of various sci-fi ideas all rolled into… something. I’m not going to tell you that this is some hidden gem that rises above its poor budget to deliver something worthwhile for the average viewer. What I will tell you is that it does deliver some ridiculous, low-budget action, and if that’s all you’re expecting, it will entertain.

Murdercycle takes its inspiration from the Shakespeare classic, King Lear, which, coincidentally, also had the tagline “Alien Death Machine” on its original posters. Little known fact. Anyway, one night at some long-forgotten government installation, a meteor slams into the ground near an unsuspecting dirt biker and before he knows it, the meteor has busted open and a black symbiotic being (much like Venom) latches onto his body and the body of his dirt bike, thus turning them into the Murdercycle! Now that’s what I call entertainment!

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Lurking Fear (1994)

Lurking Fear (1994)
AKA H.P. Lovecraft’s Lurking Fear, Shocking Fear

Starring Jon Finch, Blake Adams, Ashley Laurence, Jeffrey Combs, Allison Mackie, Paul Mantee, Vincent Schiavelli, Joseph Leavengood, Michael Todd, Cristina Stoica, Luana Stoica, Adrian Pintea, Ilinca Goia

Directed by C. Courtney Joyner

Expectations: Moderate. If nothing else, Jeffrey Combs is in it.

On the general scale:

On the B-movie scale:


Lurking Fear is yet another Full Moon film based upon an H.P. Lovecraft tale, but this is definitely one of the minor entries into that sub-genre. Ever since Stuart Gordon scored a major genre hit with Re-Animator, Full Moon has loved going back to the Lovecraft well and Lurking Fear shows them trying that schtick without Gordon’s involvement. It doesn’t work out near as well without him at the helm, but the film is definitely interesting enough to hold your attention.

The story starts off as a couple of separate tales that eventually intersect. The only problem is that once they do it kinda feels like each story’s characters have done a Purple Rose of Cairo and walked out of their movie and into another. I guess this is because the gangster story starts in the city, and the deserted town story feels distinctly removed from that setting. It creates a disjointed feel to the overall movie that even white-eyed, subterranean-dwelling mutants can’t fix. Although I do have to give them credit for creating characters distinct enough to feel like they come from their own worlds.

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Puppet Master X: Axis Rising (2012)

Starring Kip Canyon, Jean Louise O’Sullivan, Brad Potts, Scott King, Stephanie Sanditz, Oto Brezina

Puppet Cast: Blade, Jester, Pinhead, Tunneler, Leech Women, Six Shooter, Blitzkrieg, Bombshell, Weremacht, Kamikaze

Directed by Charles Band

Expectations: Moderately high. I enjoy the Puppet Master movies.

On the general scale:

On the B-movie scale:


If there’s one thing I love about the Puppet Master films, it’s Tunneler tunneling into people. The budgets on the modern Full Moon films ain’t what they used to be, so I’ve learned to set my expectations accordingly and I was not prepared to see Tunneler going full bore into a Nazi’s forehead within the opening five minutes of the film. I called for this in the review of the last Puppet Master film, and damn if Full Moon didn’t deliver!

In this tenth Puppet Master film (or eleventh if we’re counting the horrible, non-Full Moon Sci-Fi channel entry, Puppet Master vs. Demonic Toys), we pick up just the next day after the close of the last film, Puppet Master: Axis of Evil. It’s been over a year since I saw that one, so I don’t remember the finer details of where it ends. I recall everyone fighting on a stage and the good guys triumphing. Anyway, in this film Tunneler is quickly lost into Nazi hands and they set their resident puppet master to the task of reverse engineering him so that he can build a machine to resurrect people from the dead. How one leads to the other I don’t know, but whatever, it’s Part 10, what do you want? Anyway, the good guys Danny & Beth (here played by new, better actors) band together with an Army sergeant played by Brad Potts to take out the Nazi threat. That’s overly reductive, but it gives you the gist.

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The Evil Clergyman (1988)

Starring Jeffrey Combs, Barbara Crampton, David Warner, David Gale, Una Brandon-Jones

Directed by Charles Band

Expectations: Very high. There’s no way it can live up.

On the general scale:

On the B-movie scale:


The Full Moon archive is home to many unreleased films. Back in the VHS days (and earlier), sometimes low-budget studios needed to create a killer poster before they shot the movie in order to secure the necessary funding. Many of these advertised Full Moon films were never produced, or were later assimilated into other Full Moon projects in some altered form. But in the case of Pulsepounders, Full Moon’s 1988 unreleased anthology film, the film was actually done shooting and in the can. Its legend had grown so large that it seemed that it would never see the light of day. But if it was done shooting, why was it never released? I always assumed it was some sort of rights issue, but apparently the negative was lost, never to be found. But hark! In 2011 a workprint VHS was uncovered deep in the dark recesses of the Full Moon archive, and Band’s team went to work to ready it for release.

As an anthology film, Pulsepounders consisted of three 30-minute segments: a sequel to Trancers (now affectionately known as Trancers 1.5), a sequel to Ragewar (which is the most interesting to me because Ragewar itself was kind of an anthology film), and, of course, The Evil Clergyman. This film was to be a spiritual successor to Re-Animator, a highly successful H.P. Lovecraft adaptation directed by Stuart Gordon (as if Re-Animator needs an introduction). There were times when I thought this ambitious project was lost to time, and there were other, more hopeful times when I imagined its illustrious, remastered release, but I honestly never thought it would actually happen.

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Killjoy Goes to Hell (2012)

AKA Killjoy 4

Starring Trent Haaga, Victoria De Mare, Al Burke, Tai Chan Ngo, John Karyus, Aqueela Zoll, Jason R. Moore, Cecil Burroughs, Randy Mermell, Stephen F. Cardwell, Lisa Goodman, Ian Roberts, Jim Tavaré, Jessica Whitaker

Directed by John Lechago

Expectations: Moderately high. The last one was great, and the buzz has been very positive.

On the general scale:

On the B-movie scale:


Coming off the impressive Killjoy 3: Killjoy’s Revenge, writer/director John Lechago is back to bring Full Moon fans another dose of the demon clown whether they wanted it or not. (And rest assured, there will most definitely be a Part 5.) Thankfully, Killjoy Goes to Hell lives up to the previous series entry, and although I liked Part 3 better, this one is still pretty damn good for a modern Full Moon movie. It’s easily the best produced film from the studio since the last Killjoy film, and it’s quite impressive the amount of play they were able to squeeze out of a few simple sets.

Like the title suggests, in this one Killjoy goes to hell, but not for a relaxing vacation… he’s on trial! All these people slipping through his fingers over the course of the series have been adding up, and the devious girl still alive at the end of Killjoy 3 (Jessica Whitaker) is the last straw. So when an old hag summons Killjoy after finding part of his face in a trash heap (one of my favorite moments), she promptly delivers him to the devil and we’re thrust deep into a courtroom drama that only Full Moon could deliver. Move over 12 Angry Men! Step aside A Few Good Men! Killjoy’s back and he’s funnier than ever!

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Stitches (2001)

Starring Elizabeth Ince, Robert Donavan, Kaycee Shank, Lindy Bryant, Marc Newburger, Alex Peabody, Debra Mayer, Maggie Rose Fleck

Directed by Benjamin Carr

Expectations: Low, this era of Full Moon is always a sticky proposition.

On the general scale:

On the B-movie scale:


If you were to chart the course of Full Moon’s history, the early 2000s would be the lowest point on the entire graph. It was when Full Moon was all but dead, going from 19 films released in 1999 to one in 2004. Somehow they managed to rally around The Gingerdead Man and Evil Bong, resurrecting the company into the thriving beast it is today. 2012 marks the first year since 2003 to have more than three releases, and while none of this is specifically related to Stitches, it does play into my expectations going into it. See, because I’m familiar with Full Moon’s history I always start films of this era with trepidation. So imagine my surprise when Stitches stepped up to the plate and delivered one of the best Full Moon films to date.

The rating above might not reflect that, due to some incredible dropping of the ball that happens throughout the film’s second half, but even these mishaps didn’t diminish my feelings about this movie. It’s good, surprisingly so, and while I don’t think mainstream audiences would enjoy it, it’s definitely a diamond in the rough for hardy Full Moon fans looking for something a little different than the average fare from the company. The story is quite simple: a demon wearing the skin of a friendly old lady arrives at a boarding house in the 1920s and systematically tricks the inhabitants into willingly surrendering their souls to her.

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