Friday, June 6, 2014

Thursday, May 29, 2014

2013 Favorite Films

So another year has passed and part of the next one. A great part of my time is spent watching dark disturbing films. Below are some of my favorites from 2013. There were more, but I had to cut it off somewhere. Thanks to all the filmmakers for great year and 2014 is shaping up for another good year for horror.

Top 15 Favorite Features

The Conjuring - Director - James Wan
Antisocial - Director - Cody Callahan
We Are What We Are - Director - Jim Mickle
You're Next - Director - Adam Wingard
Silent Retreat - Director - Tricia Lee
American Mary - Directors - Jen and Sylvia Soska
Dark Skies - Director - Scott Stewart
Carrie - Director - Kimberly Pierce
Conjoined - Director - Joe Grisaffi
Jug Face - Director - Chad Crawford Kinkle
The Bay - Director - Barry Levinson
Krampus: The Christmas Devil - Director - Jason Hull
Evil Dead - Director - Fede Alvarez
World War Z - Director - Marc Forster
Mama - Director - Andres Muschietti

Top 5 Favorite Horror Comedies

The Haunted Trailer - Director - Chuck Norfolk
Hellbenders - Director - J.T. Petty
Hell Baby - Directors - Robert Ben Garant and Thomas Lennon
Grabbers - Director - Jon Wright 
( I can't remember if I saw at the end of 2013 or beginning of 2014 either way it could show up on 2014, because I am still watching it and loving it!)
A Haunted House - Director - Michael Tiddes

Top 10 Short Films

The Wretched - Director - Rick Greenwood, Jr.
Luna - Director - Antonio Perez
Ave Maria - Director - Skip Shea
Fondue - Director - Torin Langen 
Suckablood - Directors - Ben Tillit and Jake Cuddihy
The Devil Walks Among You - Directors by Ryan M. Andrews
Don't Move - Director - Anthony Melton
Legitimate - Director - Izzy Lee
The Meeting - Director - Karen Lam
Insomnia: Psychological Horror - Director - Nino Suderi 
Good Conduct - Director - Patrick Rea

Upcoming Films of 2014

Circus of the Dead - Saw it May 2, 2014 - Freaking Loved it.
Godzilla - Saw in May and didn't like it.

Occulus  - Saw it in May and it was just okay.
Deliver Us From Evil
The Sacrament
Truth or Dare
Fear Clinic
Pickaxe Murders Chapter III: The Final Chapter
Getting Schooled
The Quiet Ones
The Good Friend
House of Manson

Thank you for stopping by to read some of my favorites from 2013 and what I am looking forward to seeing in 2014.

Monday, April 7, 2014

Odd Thomas

Odd Thomas
Reviewed by Char Hardin
Director: Stephen Sommers
Writers: Stephen Sommers (screenplay) and Dean Koontz (novel)
Stars: Anton Yelchin, Addison Timlin, Leonor Varela
Comedy - Horror - Mystery

3.5 Out of 5

"Dean Koontz Odd Thomas book fans will love Odd in his own movie. Anton Yelchin is casting perfection!"

Welcome to Pico Mundo and the Pico Mundo Cafe where Odd (Anton Yelchin) Thomas is a short order cook. Odd name for a guy, but that is what's on his birth certificate. His mother claimed it was a mess up, but his father said otherwise.

Odd has an unusual talent, he sees spirits. I could say he see's dead people but that is so Sixth Sense and been done. Odd is contacted by ghosts who speak to Odd though touch. He can see what they need to tell him. Odd feels compelled to help these souls so they can rest in peace. He is quirky and a little goofy, but I liked that about him. His love for his girlfriend is sweet and when tested, I admit I felt a few teardrops fall. 

In the beginning of the film,

Odd is visited by a little girl named Penny who lays her hand on him and the details of death flash into his mind and he sees who killed her and he knows the man. Odd sees a car approaching and it is being driven by the killer, so he flags the killer down. The car stops and Odd reaches in to remove the car keys. And the moment Odd mentions to the guy, "her blood is your's still in your pocket", the guy knows that Odd knows and he jumps out of the car and takes off running. The men run through the back streets leaping over cans and Odd calling out apologies to those they encounter (I thought that was sweet) only to crash a back-yard pool party. The killer runs into the house and up the stairs and he and Odd end up fighting more and then the cops arrive.

Chief Wyatt Porter (Willem Dafoe) is Odd's friend and knows of his young friend's clairvoyant abilities. He has a soft spot for Odd and it is evident in how he handles the killer crashing the pool party. The chief wishes that Odd would go through the proper channels so that it would be easier to explain in a report other than by paranormal interventions. 

Not only can Odd see ghosts but he sees a different sort of predator worse than any ghost or even man, they are what he calls "Bodachs" they feed off of evil/pain and they are just about the ugliest things you would ever want to see. Odd explains how he doesn't acknowledge that he can see them or they would be kill him. Because that's what they do, if you show that you can see them, they kill you. One friend of Odd's had a face splatting experience that happens so fast, if he'd blinked, he'd missed it, simply because he acknowledged their existence. 

After the pool party incident, Odd is at work in the cafe and he sees a Bodach enter the cafe and within seconds this male customer is teeming with Bodachs. Odd follows the man outside and watches as he leaves and the area is crawling with Bodachs. From this one man, the story takes off. He is the catalyst to an adventurous experience. Odd's girl friend, the Chief and more are touched by an evil so vicious; it will take your breath away. Dreams and visions show Odd riddles of what's to come and he must try and put the pieces together to prevent a catastrophic event that will rock the community of Pico Mundo and cause a riff that Odd never saw coming. 

A few years ago, a book came across my counter at our used bookstore, "Odd Thomas" by a favorite horror author Dean Koontz. It had been some time since, I had last read and enjoyed a good book by Koontz, so I was thrilled to have the chance to read "Odd Thomas". One small problem, I couldn't get into the story. I just couldn't picture it in my mind. It just wouldn't work; I grew bored and put the book down. I watched more copies coming into the store and then the sequel and proceeding titles. All my customers thought the books were excellent and I should try it again. I just never could get into the story and just left it at that.

A few months ago, I saw where the movie was coming out and I was pleased to see Anton Yelchin was in the film and he was playing Odd. So I thought I would try to read the book before it came out, so I could do a comparison. I was contacted and asked if I would be interested in a link for me to view "Odd Thomas".

I was interested. I was surprised at how easily; I was able to get into the film. I didn't have to concentrate on a visual as I was able to see it unfold on my screen. I fell in love with the character largely because of Anton who brought this charming character to life perfectly for me. Odd is the narrator of them film and is a comical commentator at times. I did laugh out loud, but also, I enjoyed being drawn into his life and experiences.

This is not a straight horror but a mixing of horror, supernatural, mystery and FUN. The creatures the Bodachs are a wicked piece of work and they are transparent at times and then become solid and they are just gross looking. Really hard to describe and I want to let you see them for yourselves and not ruin the surprise. So let me know if you see it and tell me what you think of the Bodachs.

There is a lot going on in this film and if you are a stickler for details like I am, you will see without being told what is going on. Later in the film Odd does explains and through memories, dreams/visions what happens, so if you miss the signs, don't worry Odd will explain it. That was one of the things I didn't like that it seemed so much was going on. The film was fully loaded and it felt overloaded. The ending (no spoilers), but it does set up for a sequel and I hope they do follow through with one, but this film felt like it was two films packed into one. It really doesn't have room to breathe because of the many goings on of what's happening.

Aside for feeling overly loaded, I loved the characters and the special effects were good. CGI is used throughout; something that I wished was not overly used. I enjoy the use of practical effects and would have liked to have had more instances of practical, but it doesn't take away from the film. That is just a preference of mine. 

There are strange twists and turns and it gave me the boost I needed to read the books. I am happy to say, I have read the first one and look forward to reading the next books in the series. I would recommend reading the Odd Thomas series and oh yes, I do recommend looking for the DVD which is available now. I found my copy at Target for $15 and I have watched it several times since buying it. It's a fact, if I can't watch a movie more than once, I won't buy it on DVD. 

Many times with films that are adapted from books, the fans are disappointed in what actually makes it into the film and what was ignored. After reading the book and watching again, I feel that it was close to how Odd is actually depicted in the books and feel that fans of the novels will like the film. 

Favorite Novels of 2013

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Press Release from Potent Media: The Sugar Skull Girls

The Sugar Skull Girls film is being produced by Potent Media has officially released a teaser trailer featuring Addy Miller (The Walking Dead) and has jump-started its fundraising campaign on Indie Go-Go.

The film is reminiscent of films The Dark Crystal ( 1982) and Hocus Pocus (1993) using visual FX technology combined with practical puppetry.

The film is about three supernatural sisters who are accidentally conjured during a ritual and escape the wrath of the Pale Witch (Carmela Hayslett) who wants nothing more than to drag them back into her world by their cute little ponytails! The film is also an assembly of old school horror actors joining together to make this a fun but frightful children's film. They include: Michael Berryman (The Hills Have Eyes, The Devil's Rejects), John Amplas (Romero's Martin and Day of the Dead), and Leslie Easterbrook (The Devil's Rejects, The Afflicted).

Film begins shooting this summer. To stay updated visit these sites and please share them with your horror loving friends!

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

The Black Water Vampire

Director: Evan Tramel
Writer: Evan Tramel
Cast: Danielle Lozeau, Andrea Monier, Anthony Fanelli, Robin Steffen and Bill Oberst, Jr.
Reviewed by Char
3.5 Out of 5

There has been two found footage horror films that I couldn't wait to own...The Blair Witch Project and The Bay and now I have added The Black Water Vamp:re to that list. What did all of these have in common other than found footage, possibly the budget. Ha! Most likely a unknown cast, aside for Bill Oberst, Jr. being a familiar face in Black Water Vamp:re, the rest of the cast were virtually unknown to me as was the case in the other two films. Did not knowing the actors make it better? Perhaps. It made it more real for me. I have read some reviews already for this film and was at first turned off to the idea of even watching it, but I had sat through a witch hunt and ecological pollutant issue, so I couldn't resist the lure of the vampire myth. I am glad I gave in.

One of the victims of the Black Water Murders

Synopsis, I really should tell you what the film is about before I go any further with my comments and thoughts. Danielle (Danielle Lozeau) Mason, Andrea (Andrea Monier) Adams go online and hire a cameraman to join them in making a documentary about The Black Water Murders. Four women over a course of 40 years have been found, drained of blood in the snowy wooded mountains of Black Water and their believed killer Raymond (Bill Oberst, Jr.) Banks is on death row. Banks is to be put to death in a matter of three months and Danielle isn't convinced of his guilt, not when all the police have is circumstantial evidence. A confession after a grueling amount of time where Banks was without legal representation is not enough to convince Danielle. She wants to investigate and trek through the area to gain insight on Banks and the murders. 

Danielle ropes friend Rob (Robin Steffen) Allen to come along as the sound guy. He is not enthused but for a friend he comes along for the journey. Once he finds out what the people of Black Water believes lives in the woods, he changes his tune. The people of Black Water believe there is a Vampire that lives in the woods, but they believe strongly that Raymond Banks is the "devil" and that it was Banks who murdered those women. The four filmmakers move on and Rob complains the whole time. 

Their time spent in town talking to different people about the film is intriguing and one old guy was a little entertaining. The four finish for the day and head to where they had rented a cabin for the night from one of the locals. On their way to the cabin, something distracts the driver Anthony and he swerves and hits a pot hole, thus getting a flat tire for his troubles. Wait until you see what happens, when they flag down a truck for help. Later they arrive at the cabin, much later than planned, to find the owner of the cabin not in the best of spirits due to their being tardy. She is questioned about Raymond Banks it from her the viewer hears her comment that Banks is "the devil". 

Left to Right: Rob, Anthony, Andrea and Danielle in tent.

The next day the four are back in their car loaded up for a three day hike destination Raymond Banks home. From this point the film takes the viewer on intimate trek in the cold snow, with 3 friends and cameraman they just met. Rob whines and complains like a toddler, the whole time he is wanting to turn back and then when the sun goes down...the night sounds break out and there is one sound in particular that will make your skin crawl and have the occupants of a tent freaking out. What they learn is they probably should have stayed at home and far from the hills of Black Water. 

My thoughts...I really liked this film. One can't help but be reminded of The Blair Witch Project while watching The Black Water Vamp:re and that is okay, only difference is these filmmakers are looking for evidence to support that Raymond Banks is in fact the Black Water Murders killer and disprove that vampires actually exist. There are 4 people involved with this film where there were only three in The Blair Witch Project. But as in the other film, this film has symbols that should warn the filmmakers to turn back, but they don't, they push forward.

Raymond Banks (Bill Oberst, Jr.)

The acting in this film felt natural. The only person I felt was truly "acting" was the cabin owner. She looked like she was trying to hard to be creepy. Bill Oberst, Jr. was an excellent choice for the part of Raymond Banks. He has the "creepy factor" down pat. There is a scene where Danielle goes to the jail where Banks is incarcerated and talks to him. He is sitting there gnawing on what's left of his finger nails and giving her a positively evil look. He is less convincing to the viewer that he is innocent. But if the viewer listens to what he tells Danielle, then they will pick up on a delectable morsel about what truly happened. To get his point across to Danielle, Raymond leaves a bloody present, one you just have to see for yourself. 

The viewer will in fact see the mythical vampire and what I liked most about the handling of the creature is that you hardly see it. It's there in the dark, but just like the characters, the viewer can't see it, but you know its there. Creepy! When the creature is used, it is seen a little more, but still in shadows with a few close ups. I will tell you this, if you weren't exactly sure of what the creature looks like and you wake up in the middle of the night to it breaking into your tent, it is freaking scary. 

My biggest complaint is the cover art for the DVD. I think the creature's face should not be on the cover. It takes away from the "what's in the woods" mystique and in a way shows the viewer too soon what to expect. If distributor had kept with how the creature is not overly seen in the film, then they should not have put it's likeness on the cover. For me, it kind of ruined the scare and for that reason I am not using the picture of the DVD. I found one on Google with the symbol that is used in the film. I recommend seeing this film even if you get a copy from Red Box, try it. You can always buy a copy later if you decide it's a keeper for you too. I am thankful that I accepted the screener that was offered, because now I can watch it over and over. I have already watched it four times and just like with the other two films I mentioned, The Black Water Vamp:re is a keeper. 3.5 Out of 5.