Movie Review

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The Dead Ones

Reviewed by Killer Kelly

Synopsis

The Dead Ones – For four outcast teens, summer detention means being assigned to clean their high school after a horrific incident. But they are not alone; a macabre gang wearing guises of The Four Horsemen Of The Apocalypse – Famine, Pestilence, War and Death – has locked them inside and is hunting them through the school’s ravaged hallways. As the four students battle to survive, each must confront the supernatural echoes of past traumas they have struggled to forget…and may be condemned to relive.

Starring Sarah Rose Harper, Brandon Thane Wilson, Katie Foster, Torey Garza and Clare Kramer, the movie was directed by Jeremy Kasten

The Dead Ones

Review

The storyline was great. It was a good idea and although confusing at the beginning, does get better as it progresses. Soon after The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse show up (which is right at the beginning) their identity becomes pretty clear. Whether their unveiling was meant to be a big dramatic twist at the end, I’m not sure, but the ending DOES have a cool turn of events.

The acting was pretty good too. Mouse (Harper), lives up to her namesake. Timid, non-confrontational and just trying to get through their ordeal without issue, she still proves to be a significant character throughout. Scottie (Wilson) plays the tough guy. He’s hot-headed, but able to use logic when required. Louis (Garza) is the polar opposite. Wild and impulsive, he acts first, thinks later. Yet, he does share Scottie’s short temper which becomes more problematic as the movie progresses. Emily (Foster) is a tiny bit cuckoo and no longer taking her meds. This becomes evident from the outset with her erratic behaviour.

All four play their roles well and, despite the odd eyebrow-raising dialogue choice, are pretty convincing. Clare Kramer, who many will recognise from Buffy, plays the teacher overseeing the students.

What else?

The Dead Ones

There were some continuity errors throughout. The pic above, showing the poor student losing control of her bladder, is a prime example. The scene after this shows her with dry trousers, then again with sodden trousers but wet patches in different places. You might argue I’m being pedantic but I don’t sit there looking out for these errors. It was just too brazen to ignore. Better editing would have identified/remedied this but it’s not something I’d class as a major flaw.

There were some great effects throughout this movie that deserve a mention. Certain injuries and ailments looked real enough and for a low budget flick that’s pretty commendable. There’s also guts, gore and a whole load of firepower which, as you can guess, can produce some pretty nasty-looking injuries. However, in the same breath, there was just way too much CGI for my taste. Call me old fashioned, but I much prefer props and makeup over computer generated stuff, especially when the CGI is painfully obvious. For instance, the ghosts that frequently appear. Their movement and actions are creepy as hell. But, the excessive CGI just curtails the scare factor and takes away the immersiveness of the movie.

Controversial?

The prospect of a school shooting might seem a bit close to the bone for some. However, Director/Writer Kasten has provided the following statement;

“This is my sixth and most personal film: a ghost story about a school shooting. It doesn’t shy away from violence, either emotional or physical. It’s explicit, but not exploitative; instead it takes risks and invites discussion. I was warned that a movie about a school shooting might engender unavoidable reaction, but I’ve always believed it’s important for genre films – despite their often-graphic intensity – to be relevant. I shot The Dead Ones in my hometown of Baltimore where I knew I could capture the gritty quality I wanted. To cast the local teens, I worked closely with Pat Moran,
who produced John Waters’ early films and went on to win multiple Emmys as a casting director.

As our main location, we found a decommissioned public school that had been built in the 1930s. Working with young actors to
elicit emotionally gruelling performances on an ambitious production with a limited budget was the best possible reminder of the challenges – and rewards – of being a genre filmmaker. Although it’s set in the aftermath of a high school shooting, my intention never was – or will be – to trivialize
this real-life horror that increasingly plagues our world. Instead, I wanted to create a disturbing reflection of modern adolescence. The Dead Ones is a film with a message of hope for outsiders.”

— Jeremy Kasten

About the Director

Jeremy Kasten

Jeremy Kasten is an American film director, producer, screenwriter and editor, best known for his visceral, cerebral, and often psychedelic approach to modern horror. His 2001 directorial debut THE ATTIC EXPEDITIONS, starring Seth Green, Alice Cooper, and Ted Raimi, has been hailed by Dread Central as “one of the best mind-f#@k movies ever.” His 2007 neo-noir re-imagining of Herschell Gordon Lewis’ splatter classic THE WIZARD OF GORE starred Crispin Glover, Brad Dourif, and Jeffrey Combs was called “one of the most shocking, entertaining and best horror films of the year” by Film Arcade. Kasten has also contributed to the acclaimed horror anthology films THE THEATRE BIZARRE and THE PROFANE EXHIBIT. His other features include the 2005 zombie thriller ALL SOULS DAY: DIA DE LOS MUERTOS and the 2006 ‘vampirism as addiction’ shocker THE THIRST, which was called “the bloodiest vampire movie ever” (DVD Crypt).

Conclusion

In summary, I’d definitely recommend The Dead Ones. Whilst there are minor elements I wasn’t a fan of, the movie as a whole was pretty good. Great storyline, believable acting and a fair few nice effects. What more could you want? The only thing you need to be conscious of is the sensitive nature of its theme. Other than that, check it out!

Here’s the trailer.

The film will be available on DVD/Blu-ray and VOD/Digital on September 29, 2020 via Artsploitation Films.

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Redwood Massacre: Annihilation

Reviewed by Mike Macabre

Independent horror constantly shows us that it can rival the efforts of its mainstream counterparts. With awesome special effects, great acting and stunning locations, many could easily be mistaken for a big budget flick. In fact, only recently we’ve reviewed such movies. The terrific acting in The Legend of the Muse, the stunning scenery in The Faceless Man and the great effects in both are prime examples. Redwood Massacre: Annihilation literally has all of the above.

Synopsis

A stranger obsessed with the unsolved Redwood murders, convinces a group of bereaved family members to venture into the wilderness in hope of proving the existence of the infamous killer. Their quest for truth sees a sinister turn of events, as the hunters become the hunted. A blood-soaked fight for survival ensues when they find that the tales of the axe-wielding maniac are very real.

Redwood Massacre: Annihilation

Review

The movie opens with a massacre. The Burlap Killer strolls amongst a sea of bodies, slicing and dicing survivors amid a cacophony of wails and screams. It’s a solid opening, giving viewers a reminder of the Burlap Killer’s brutal, unrelenting nature. This is then followed with another murder by a different killer! However, he’s just as sadistic as our main antagonist.

After this prologue we’re treated to some great cinematography. It has to be said, Scotland is an absolutely stunning place. With rolling hills, winding streams and endless landscapes, you couldn’t ask for a more picturesque location. Yet, the vast majority of the movie takes place in an underground military bunker. I mean, it makes sense. The beauty of the Scottish countryside would definitely detract from the brutal murders occurring throughout the flick! Director David Ryan Keith certainly made the best decision on that front.

Whilst we’re talking about good decisions, let’s focus on the acting!

Who’s who?

Redwood Massacre: Annihilation

The film is made up of a stellar cast each bringing a unique aspect to the storyline. Danielle Harris plays her role as Laura Dempsey superbly. A constant presence throughout the movie, Harris’ convincing portrayal of a kick ass fighter is certainly one to watch. With her confident demeanour and determination it’s easy to fear for the Burlap Killer himself as opposed to his potential victims. This is exacerbated even further when you incorporate Gary Kasper. With his huge, imposing frame and menacing persona you can’t help but yearn for a face off between him and the antagonist. Add to that the huge arsenal he brings with him, it’s not your bog-standard slasher! However, the man-mountain also has a softer side when it comes to his friends. The camaraderie displayed throughout the movie is a joy to behold.

Jon Campling is great in his role as Tom Dempsey, Laura’s father. He’s driven, yet easily swayed and is happy to let his daughter lead the way. Damien Puckler plays Max, the mysterious stranger who convinces the party to go and find the masked killer. His motives are clear from the outset and he lives up to these expectations as the movie goes on. Finally, Tevy Poe‘s portrayal of Jen is the only time the director conforms to stereotype. The flirtatious friend of Laura is a standard mould seen in the vast majority of slashers, yet, she still plays a good part and ultimately I think the movie is perfectly cast.

The Effects

Redwood Massacre: Annihilation

As you can probably expect if you saw the first film, Redwood Massacre: Annihilation is rife with blood, gore and great effects. Given the small cast, we do have to wait a considerable amount of time before we get to the brutal killings, however, this just serves to build suspense. There are some great props used throughout and the creative murders are a credit to the makeup department and special effects team. There’s dismemberment, evisceration and, as you can guess, bucket loads of gore!

Overall, this movie is certainly not one to be missed and I would highly recommend it to everyone. Even if you haven’t seen the first one, you can quickly grasp the concept!

Check out the trailer here

Redwood Massacre: Annihilation is coming to DVD and Digital on October 20th from Uncork’d Entertainment.

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A Nightmare of Horror: Nightmare Radio

Reviewed by Mike Macabre

We do love a good anthology series at Erebus Horror. We recently reviewed the Chills Down Your Spine collection and whilst the low-budget effort was commendable, this anthology shows what can be done with an even greater budget. A Night of Horror: Nightmare Radio consists of 10 horrifying tales by some of horror’s up and coming filmmakers.

Brothers Luciano and Nicolás Onetti have collaborated with Sergio Morcillo, Joshua Long, Jason Bognacki, Adam O’Brien, Matthew Richards, A.J. Briones, Pablo S. Pastor and Oliver Park.

Synopsis

Rod, radio DJ, hosts a popular horror-themed show packed with tales of terror for eager listeners. When he receives alarming calls from a horrified child things start to feel off. What ensues is a roller-coaster ride of horror stories…

The collection was hugely enjoyable with a multitude of themes and styles. There’s suspense, monsters, body horror and a whole load of gore. What more could you want? Lets see how they did.

A Nightmare of Horror: Nightmare Radio

Review

Post-Mortem Mary – Australian horror with a historic setting. A woman takes her reluctant daughter to a neighbour’s house following the death of a young girl. She’s given the job of preparing the body and making the girl appear ‘alive’ in order to take her photograph. Yet, as the story progresses, it becomes apparent that the corpse has been possessed by something sinister. This is a great supernatural horror with a great twist at the end that sets up the anthology perfectly.

A Little Off The Top – Gruesome torture porn flick. A hair stylist has a conversation with his client about… hair. However, we soon discover that he’s a little bit of a psychopath and his fetish with hair is a tad extreme. This was a really short flick which relies on the gory, shock factor to satisfy horror fans. It’s not bad, with an inventive use of a barber’s chair and a nice bit of gore. Yet, you can probably guess from the title what happens so it wasn’t really a surprise.

It gets better!

The Disappearance of Willie Bingham – Brutal prison reform. Highly imaginative storyline whereby prisoner Willie Bingham is punished for his crimes by having different limbs removed. This is part of a new reform of the justice system. Willie is then paraded around educational establishments to serve as a deterrent from crime. As the movie goes on, Willie loses more body parts (including his namesake) until he is left with not much else. It certainly isn’t a traditional horror story and is more unsettling than scary, but still enjoyable nonetheless.

Drops – Dancer plagued by demonic entity. This creepy Spanish movie follows a young dancer as she tries to balance a relationship, achieving her dreams and dealing with the demon tormenting her. It was slightly confusing in parts but overrall it wasn’t too bad. There were a few creepy bits and if you’re into weird humanoid demon things you’ll probably enjoy it.

There’s more? You bet!

A Nightmare of Horror: Nightmare Radio

The Smiling Man – Creepy.. demonic… man. This is another really short flick which involves a child following a trail of balloons through her house until she reaches The Smiling Man. They have a brief, unsettling interaction before he unveils a sinister secret. It’s a shame this was so short as the premise and great acting could have took this a lot further. However, as it is, it’s a pretty good short.

Into the Mud – Woodland horror with an unexpected twist. A woman regains consciousness in the woods only to find that she is being hunted. Naked, alone and afraid, she flees through the forest with the hunter pursuing her. What starts out as a cat and mouse chase turns into something even more sinister at the dramatic conclusion. With a great twist and some really good makeup/ effects, this one should appeal to a lot of monster fans.

Nearly there…

Vicious – Eerie, British horror with some good jump scares. A woman returns to find there has been at her home. After initially finding nothing untoward, she goes to bed where she is plagued by a demonic entity. This one had the biggest jump scares out of the lot and cranked the creep-factor up to the max. Unsettling and impactive, the only issue for me was the victim’s decision-making. We’ve all done it – watching a horror movie and shouting “Don’t go into the basement!” “Don’t run upstairs!” “The murderer is down, kill him before he gets up!” – you know all the stereotypes that we love/loathe. This one had me wondering why she lay down to reach around the door when she could’ve opened it. You’ll see what I mean when you see it. But apart from that it was a great flick!

Nightmare Radio – Good wraparound story with a satisfying conclusion. So Nightmare Radio is the wraparound story that progresses in between each segment. Towards the end, DJ Rod is tormented by prank callers, noises nearby and paranormal happenings in the next room. The story concludes with a satisfying twist which is a great ending to a great anthology.

Check out A Night of Horror: Nightmare Radio trailer below

A Night of Horror: Nightmare Radio is available on demand and DVD on now!

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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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