Movies

Legend of the Muse

Reviewed by Mike Macabre

We all love mythology, right? After all, the vast majority of horror influences can be linked to stories told in ancient times. Werewolves can be traced back to the Greek Legend of Lycaon, Frankenstein can be linked to the Jewish legend of The Golem, and as for vampires, well stories about bloodsuckers have existed for millennia. Legend of the Muse is another which draws on these old tales in the form of Celtic mythology.

Synopsis

A painter’s life is changed forever when a mythical and deadly spirit from Celtic lore becomes his muse and lover.

Starring Riley Egan, Elle Evans, Kate Mansi, Max Decker, Jennie Fahn and Lou Ferrigno Jr. and written/ directed by John Burr.

Legend of the Muse

The movie follows Adam (Egan), an introvert artist who lives alone in an overpriced, rundown apartment. When he meets Hector (Decker), a new tenant in the building, Adam’s life starts to get a bit more interesting. Whilst serving as a driver to assist Hector’s criminal activity, Adam encounters a mysterious woman (Evans). Silent, seductive and seemingly inhuman, the woman appears again in Adam’s apartment. From here the story progresses into an intriguing, sensual bloodbath.

Review

I’m genuinely unsure where to start with this one. John Burr has written an absolutely superb story that just keeps on giving. Admittedly, it was confusing to begin with, but it didn’t take long for the pieces to fall into place.

The accolade for outstanding performance would easily go to Elle Evans. Despite not having a single spoken line, she dominates the screen in every scene she’s in. To portray such a range of traits and emotions without words is an impressive feat. Displaying a multitude of characteristics from sweet and innocent, sultry and seductive, to downright terrifying, Evans pulls it off flawlessly. This, coupled with Egan’s convincing portrayal of the timid artist provides a strong cast that are a credit to the movie.

Legend of the Muse

There’s a good amount of blood/gore in the movie. Not too excessive, but enough to satisfy most horror fans without detracting from the main storyline. Speaking of the story, there may have been one issue I had with it. Who hides body parts under the floorboards?! I mean give it a couple of days and you’ll have a smell that even the strongest air fresheners wouldn’t be able to shift! That aside though, the effects were pretty good and the makeup department definitely deserve a shout out for their efforts.

Check out the trailer here

Legend of the Muse is available to watch now Amazon

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The Faceless Man

Reviewed by Mike Macabre

There are so many great horror movies to come out of Australia. Wolf Creek, The Loved Ones, Babadook and so many more originated from the land down under. And why not? With its breath-taking landscapes, awesome weather and great wildlife its one of the most idyllic places on earth. Yet, in the same breath, its unforgiving landscapes, extreme weather and downright terrifying wildlife is also the perfect setting for a horror movie, right?

James Di Martino‘s The Faceless Man is an Australian horror that has took the Oceanic region by storm. The critically-acclaimed ozploitation film has already won 6 major awards at the Melbourne Underground Film Festival including Best Director and Best Film. Now, it’s hitting the rest of the world. Cited as “one of the best films of 2019”, we just had to check it out.

Synopsis

Emily (Sophie Thurling) is a recovering cancer survivor of three years. Faced with her fear of getting sick again, her best friend Nina (Lorin Kauffeld) plans a weekend away. Six friends venture out to a country holiday house to party over a weekend. Cut off from the rest of the world they soon learn the inhabitants are unsettling red neck individuals who terrorize and humiliate travellers. At the same time a para-normal monster seen as The Faceless Man haunts the house pushing the friends to their limits.

Also starring Lucas Pittaway, Andy McPhee, Roger Ward, Albert Goikhman, Brendan Bacon and Daniel Reader.

The Faceless Man

The problem with debut features is they can often spiral out of control. New filmmakers want to show us what they can do and this can often lead to a disjointed storyline (as seen in our review of The Good Things Devils Do). Whilst Di Martino clearly has a lot of talent, The Faceless Man just has too much going on.

We have three significant storylines all interwoven into one. First of all there’s the group of friends being intimidated by the redneck locals. Second, there’s the Russian mob boss and his cronies looking for a suitcase full of drugs (which the friends have in their possession). Finally, you’ve got The Faceless Man terrorising them at the same time. These are some unlucky kids! Whilst each story is pretty good in its own right, blending them all into one feature just doesn’t really flow well.

However, there are a lot of positives to mention!

This movie is pretty gruesome with an array of makeup, prosthetics and, you guessed it, gore! There’s decapitations, hammers stuck in heads and heads blown off completely! Then there’s chainsaw dismemberment reminiscent of that scene in Scarface, and of course – blood EVERYWHERE. That being said, despite the effects being top notch there were one or two issues. For instance, you chop off a head you expect there to be SOME blood, right? At least a drop or two? Whilst the lack of blood in that sequence was painstakingly obvious, this doesn’t reflect in other parts of the movie. The attention to detail for the most part was phenomenal! Credit is definitely due to the makeup department for gifting us with this level of entertainment.

The Faceless Man

Whilst the three storylines were very different in nature, one thing that was consistent throughout was the trademark Aussie humour. There were some parts which were hilarious. Most of these involved Daniel Reader’s character, Barry. Whilst the light-heartened nature was welcomed, it didn’t really fit well with the creepy aesthetic of The Faceless Man segments.

Whilst the premise itself was pretty original, there were some aspects that were lifted straight out of Tarantino films. One of the most famous scenes in Reservoir Dogs (Michael Madsen dancing whilst torturing) was one such aspect. Admittedly, Reader’s dance moves were better, and the fact he was making a sandwich at the same time was pretty funny too. But, should it have been there? I don’t know. It was pretty funny… There was also the rape scene straight out of Pulp Fiction. Should that have been there? You guys can decide.

Overall, I think it’s safe to say that for a debut movie, this was pretty good. Di Marco has definitely got what it takes to put together a great film. Hopefully, his next feature will focus on one strong storyline rather than three interwoven ones. If he assembles a talented cast and the same makeup department I guarantee it’ll be one to look out for!

Check out the trailer here

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Sunset Horror

Written by Lunar Ponyo

From Michael Myers creeping around the sides of houses, hiding dead bodies at night, to Lights Out which plays on our fears of the unknown in the dark, horror movies are intertwined with the darkness more than any other genre of film. This makes sense, after all, our natural survival instinct is being scared of what we don’t know, and the dark is the ultimate unknown. But, an underappreciated aspect of light that’s used in some of the greatest horror movies to great effect, is sunrises/sunsets.

If the night represents the unknown, the terrifying, the omni-present dread, then the sunrise/sunset represents security, the peaceful, the beautiful. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that we always see sunrises/sunsets at the beginning and ending of horror films. Sunsets are used at the beginning of a film to represent the night creeping in and taking away the security; the calm before the storm.

The sunrise used at the end of horror films represents an escape of some kind. An escape from the darkness, an evil. For example, hopping on a pickup truck and riding into the sunrise to escape Leatherface wielding a chainsaw.

(Pictured: Final Scene of Texas Chainsaw Massacre)

A perfect example of the use of sunsets in horror is the 1977 Japanese classic Hausu. This horror movie incorporates sunsets more than once. I feel the use of them in Hausu is supposed to represent the still, subtle beauty shown in the beginning of the movie. This is to contrast the chaotic, loud horror that the characters find themselves in later in the movie when the shit hits the fan (notice when said shit hits said fan and goes completely ape shit it’s at night).

(Pictured: One of the first scenes in Hausu)

Even resident dark dweller Michael Myers himself has a sunset before he strikes, accompanied by an ominous skull in the trees. 

(Pictured: Scene of Michael Myers stalking Laurie Strode)

There’s already natural beauty to sunsets/sunrises and horror filmmakers throughout the decades have utilized that aesthetic to great effect. Whether that be to rip the light away from the sky or bring security to the final girl. They represent a transitory period which, in itself, is just as haunting as the light from the moon or a hook to the face. 

(Pictured: Bram Stoker’s Dracula)

I’ve always felt that if something is so unbelievably tranquil then it has to be followed with chaos – the yin and yang of the sun and the moon. It transports us to an almost altered reality right before slamming us down into the brutalness of the night. As the sun rises and the sunbeams bleed out over the horizon, so do the victims of a sharp kitchen knife. Long live sunset/sunrise horror, or at least until the sunlight vaporizes us away like Nosferatu.

What do you think of the article? Can you think of any other movies that use sunsets/ sunrise to create an atmosphere? Let us know on FacebookTwitterInstagram or in the comments below!

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Widow's Point

Reviewed by Mike Macabre

Widow’s Point, Gregory Lamberson’s highly-anticipated, award-winning adaptation of the book of the same name, has premiered on DVD and Digital in the USA and Canada via 101 Films. Craig Sheffer (A River Runs Through It, Nightbreed) leads the cast of the film, alongside KateLynn E. Newberry (Homecoming Revenge). Sounds good, right? Let’s check it out.

Synopsis

Widow’s Point follows a writer who spends a weekend locked in a haunted lighthouse to help promote his next book, where he is targeted by Supernatural forces.
 
The film had a successful festival run, including Shawna Shea Film Festival, where it won awards for ‘Beast Feature’ and ‘Best Actor’ for Craig Sheffer, Crimson Scream Horror festival, where Craig also picked up ‘Best Actor’ award; LUSCA Caribbean International Fantastic and Twin Tiers International, where the film picked up the ‘Audience Award’.


Review

After watching the first 15 minutes of Widow’s Point I was genuinely wondering if it was the same award-winning film that had garnered so much positive feedback. The storyline was intriguing enough but the acting at that point had been mediocre at best. I even questioned if it was a comedy following John Renna’s “Start squawking or I’ll paste ya” line! But, I was pleased to see that it did start to improve dramatically once we began to follow Thomas Livingston (Sheffer).

As part of a publicity stunt, Thomas arranges to be locked inside a supposed haunted lighthouse over a weekend. He’s equipped with a coolbox full of refreshments and a camera that is constantly streaming to his team outside. With a dark, disturbing history, the lighthouse is the ideal setting for a horror novel. However, soon after he is locked inside, strange things start to happen resulting in loss of contact from his team, and Thomas being pushed to the brink of insanity!

It’s clear why Sheffer has received so much praise. His performance is absolutely outstanding. His transition from mellow, light-hearted author to deranged, frenzied mad man is a joy to watch. As the movie progresses, Sheffer’s portrayal of insanity intensifies right up until the dramatic conclusion of the story.

The Storyline

Director, Lamberson has done a terrific job in creating a suspense-filled atmosphere, assisted by a creepy soundtrack and effective use of shadows/ lighting. However, you will be disappointed if you love a good old jump scare. While there are creepy moments, they tend to be too obvious, allowing more than enough time to prepare for them. Now, when I say more than enough time, I don’t just mean time to hide behind a pillow. I mean enough time to look for a pillow, and if there isn’t one nearby, you can get one from the next seat along and still find yourself waiting for the ghostly hand to grab the unfortunate victim.

Lamberson also adapted the screenplay from the bestselling novel by Richard and Billy Chizmar. In doing so, he has created an eerie, captivating storyline. However, one thing I found disappointing was the CGI-oriented ending. For me, it detracted massively from the story and, whilst it was a satisfying conclusion, could have been pulled off a little bit cleaner.

Overall

Widow’s Point is definitely one to watch if you like ghostly goings on, haunted buildings and descents into madness. Think Amityville Horror with a nautical twist. If that sounds good, check it out!

Widow’s Point is available on DVD and Digital via 101 Films.

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Hawk and Rev: Vampire Slayers

Reviewed by Mike Macabre

Anyone who knows me will testify to my love of the 80’s. The camp, cheesy effects and the synth-tastic soundtracks just give me a buzz. I mean, after watching indie fave Knock Knock I was riding the nostalgia train for weeks! 80’s cheese AND comedy? I’ll take that all day long. Imagine my delight when I discovered Hawk and Rev: Vampire Slayers had all of that AND more!

The horror/comedy, starring Ryan Barton-Grimley, Ari Schneider, Jana Savage, and Richard Gayler, is currently making its world premiere at the Dances with Films film festival in Los Angeles. But, we got a sneak peek of the flick and let me tell you – Festival-goers will NOT be disappointed!

Hawk and Rev: Vampire Slayers

Synopsis

Philip “HAWK” Hawkins doesn’t just dream about killing vampires… He eats, sleeps, drinks and freakin’ breaths it. After getting kicked out of the Army for staking a fellow soldier with a blunt two by four, Hawk almost dies of boredom. He’s working as a night security guard at a deserted warehouse in his hometown of Santa Muerte, California… USA. Just when it looks like all Hawk’s options in life have expired, filthy blood-sucking vampires appear and of course… Nobody freakin’ believes him! With his back up against the wall, his sweaty Karate Kid headband tied on tight, real tight, and hordes of blood-thirsty vampires closing in, Hawk enlists the help of the one person who kind of believes him… Revson “REV” McCabe, a dimwitted, vegan-pacifist groundskeeper. Together they join forces to save the whole entire freakin’ world. Well… At least their hometown anyway.

Quote

Grimley, who is also the Writer/Director, had this to say;

“So why the heck did I make my film Hawk and Rev: Vampire Slayers? Honestly… The world is just so serious. It’s exhausting being tapped into media and technology 24 hours a day. It’s really intense how many issues are happening around the world. There are so many problems everywhere and I was looking for an escape… I was looking for a laugh and something heartfelt. I was looking for some much-needed levity and humor and I was looking for a break.

Hawk and Rev: Vampire Slayers is quite simply a love-letter to my childhood and a more innocent and clueless time when everything seemed possible and like it would turn out okay. It’s a love letter to goofy weirdos with big dreams and ridiculous ideas. It’s just plain old fashioned escapism. Sure, there are themes and morals and critiques of the 80’s, specifically toxic masculinity and homophobia in there too, but at the end of the day, I really just hope you enjoy the ride and leave with a nice heartfelt feeling and the knowledge that maybe… just maybe… we’ll all be okay. “

Review

Dumb and Dumber meets Van Helsing in this hilarious 80’s throwback!

So, let’s just come out and say it. This movie is ridiculous, corny and I absolutely loved it! There wasn’t a single scene that allowed my attention to wane. From hilarious dialogue, slapstick comedy and a whole load of OTT gore. This movie had it all. The acting was superb with each character bringing their own individual comedy element to the scene.

One of the best things about this movie is it doesn’t take itself seriously… at all! CGI gore and bad prosthetics were used in abundance with the hilarious results just adding to the comedic aesthetic. Now, I know for sure it’s not going to be to everyone’s tastes, thus is the diversity of humour. However, if you like goofball comedy, wacky storylines, hilarious actors with great supporting characters (I’m looking at you, Terry!) then this is the movie for you.

Check out the trailer here!


HAWK AND REV : VAMPIRE SLAYERS will be the ‘midnight movie’ on the opening and closing night of the festival, playing August 28 and September 5.

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