HK and Cult Film News's Fan Box

Sunday, April 23, 2017



Yes, the winners of the 15th Annual Rondo Hatton Awards have been announced (didn't somebody just say that?) and are up at the ever-lovin' Classic Horror Film Board for your perusal!

Where, you might ask?  Right here is this here thread HERE.  

And everything else you might want to know or comment upon concerning the awards can be found HERE.

(Hear! Hear!)

Did your favorites win?  Or are you a little upset by the results, as our friend Rondo Hatton himself seems to be in the photo below?  

Oh well, that's how the Rondo crumbles.  CONGRATS TO ALL THE WINNERS, and see you again next year!


Saturday, April 22, 2017

Justin Foia’s "DOE" Begins Production In Los Angeles with Timothy Davis, Tatyana Ali, and Mira Sorvino

Justin Foia’s DOE Begins Production In Los Angeles

Cast Includes Timothy Davis, Tatyana Ali, Mathew St. Patrick, Aaron Farb, Anne Leighton, Faithe Herman, Stacey Oristano, Steven Swadling and Mira Sorvino; Mark Mathias Sayre and Jonathan Piumelli Producing

Los Angeles, CA (April 20, 2017)–Double El Productions, Sigil, and Room in the Sky Films in association with Lexicon today announced the start of production on DOE, the sophomore feature-length film for writer-director Justin Foia (Point Defiance) who directs from a screenplay co-written with his brother Timothy Foia (Point Defiance), from a story by Landon Reagan and the Foia brothers.

"DOE is a psychological thriller written in the vein of Memento, Unknown, and Proximity.” Foia says. “When John Hutton (Timothy Davis, "Billions") mysteriously awakens with no recollection of his past, yet with the ability to speak dozens of languages fluently, he decides to start a new life, marrying Rachel (Tatiana Ali, "The Fresh Prince of Bel Air," "Love That Girl!") and starting a family.

Years later, he is sent tumbling down the proverbial rabbit hole after meeting another man that shares a similar condition and learning that there are several more individuals like him, all amnesiacs with extraordinary abilities. With the help of a private detective (Matthew St. Patrick, "Six Feet Under"), John races against time before his past can rise up to destroy himself and his family."

In addition to Davis, Ali and St. Patrick, DOE stars Mira Sorvino (Romy And Michele's High School Reunion, "Falling Skies"), Stacey Oristano ("Friday Night Lights"), Aaron Farb (Kill The Messenger, "Powers"), Anne Leighton ("Grimm"), Faithe Herman ("This is Us"), and Steven Swadling (Kickboxer: Vengeance & Retaliation).

Producers on the project are Mark Mathias Sayre (The Timber, Point Defiance and the recently completed Waterlily Jaguar) and Jonathan Piumelli (Waterlily Jaguar) with Larry Nealy (Waterlily Jaguar, Kickboxer: Vengeance & Retaliation, Point Defiance), Christine Kelly, and Steven Swadling (Waterlily Jaguar, Kickboxer: Vengeance & Retaliation, Point Defiance) serving as executive producers.

Production has just commenced and is expected to last several weeks on various locations throughout Los Angeles County. (@DOEmovie) (@officialdoemovie)


Friday, April 21, 2017


If you're a certain age, the three-disc DVD set BOB HOPE SALUTES THE TROOPS (Time Life) will no doubt come as a primo slice of Grade-A nostalgia, as it did for me. 

If not, you might still have a good time stepping into the wayback machine and seeing something that was such a big part of so many people's lives for around half a century.

That's about how long Bob Hope traveled the world entertaining our troops for Christmas, starting in 1941 and lasting until Operation Desert Shield in the early 90s. 

Wherever there were American soldiers stationed far away from home during wartime, Bob and his stalwart troup of performers were there putting on a show.

Over the span of years, the faces in the crowd are always different, yet somehow the same--excited to have celebrities coming all that way just to entertain them, wildly enthusiastic for every lame joke, soft shoe dance step, or sexy girl, and often just a bit wistful at this teasing glimpse of "back home."

Bob's monologues are always corny and cheesy as all get out, but that's pretty much the appeal of these shows, especially in retrospect.  And it's all done with love and a sincere desire to both honor these soldiers and make whatever hardships they endure a bit more bearable, if only for a few minutes. 

(He doesn't neglect those who can't attend the show either, visiting military hospitals in each location.)

Bob clearly relishes the spotlight in front of such an appreciative, entertainment-starved audience, and milks every gag for all it's worth.  Who can blame him?  He's definitely getting as much of a charge out of all this as they are.

The same can be said for Bob's guest stars, some of whom probably never got quite this kind of a welcome back in the States.  These include ever-present comic foil Jerry Colonna, comedian Redd Foxx, astronauts Alan Shepard and Neil Armstrong, and sports legends Johnny Bench, Rosey Grier, and Roman Gabriel.

And then, of course, there are the ladies, including Lana Turner, Jill St. John, Ann Jillian, Frances Langford, Marie Osmond, Anita Bryant, Janis Paige, Fran Jeffries, the Pointer Sisters, the Gold Diggers, Lola Falana, various beauty pageant winners, and a sizzling Ann-Margret (clearly the crowd favorite).

Naturally, Bob works just a tad more "blue" than usual for the soldiers, throwing in plenty of military in-jokes and cracks about the often inhospitable locations they're stationed in.

These gags go over like gangbusters every time, as do the endless succession of (family-TV-friendly) sexual references.  Needless to say, most of the humor in these shows is gloriously un-PC.

The first show, "Bob Hope's Christmas Cheer in Saudi Arabia" (Original Airdate: 1/12/91) is the latest one in the collection (and the only one on videotape instead of film) and features scenes from Bob's final overseas shows during Operation Desert Shield. 

These include topical references to Hussein and Khadafi and lots of jokes about sand and camels.  By this time Bob was getting on in years so it's heartwarming to see him still at it, entertaining the troops.

Other 60 and 90-minute segments in the set, which are mostly clip shows assembled from several different stops all over South Pacific and Far Eastern military bases, are "The Bob Hope Christmas Special: Around the World with the USO" (Original Airdate: 1/16/69), "Bob Hope: Memories of WWII", "The Bob Hope Christmas Special" (Original Airdate: 1/15/65), "The Bob Hope Christmas Show" (1/16/63), "The Bob Hope Christmas Special: Around the Globe with the U.S.O." (Original Airdate: 1/17/72), and "The Bob Hope Christmas Special" (Original Airdate: 1/17/73).

These earlier shows feature a relatively younger and more energetic Hope, who, along with his faithful entourage, often brave dangerous surroundings and less than reliable transportation (a propeller stops working during one airplane flight). 

Of course, such nerve-rattling events only serve to give Bob more stories and jokes with which to regail his next joyous audience.  And if you're like me, you'll greet BOB HOPE SALUTES THE TROOPS with roughly the same enthusiasm, along with that inescapable nostalgia that adds so much to its undying appeal. 

Format: DVD/3 Discs
Running Time: 395 minutes
Genre:  TV DVD/Comedy
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
Audio: Stereo
Street Date: May 2, 2017
DVD SRP: $29.95

Available exclusively at Walmart

Read our original full coverage HERE


"SCORE": A Documentary About Great Film Music -- Watch the Trailer Now



This celebratory documentary takes viewers inside the studios and recording sessions of Hollywood's most influential composers to give a privileged look inside the musical challenges and creative secrecy of a truly international music genre: the film score.

Directed by Matt Schrader

Produced by Robert Kraft, Trevor Thompson, Kenny Holmes, Nate Gold, Jonathan Willbanks
Distributed by Gravitas Ventures


STARRING: Hans Zimmer, Danny Elfman, John Williams, James Cameron, Trent Reznor, Rachel Portman, Randy Newman, Howard Shore, Quincy Jones, Junkie XL (Tom Holkenborg), Alexandre Desplat, Harry Gregson-Williams, Brian Tyler, Joe Kraemer, Heitor Pereira, Steve Jablonsky, Thomas Newman, Bear McCreary, Moby, Garry Marshall, Jerry Goldsmith, John Debney, Steven Spielberg, Marco Beltrami, Christophe Beck, Tyler Bates, David Arnold, Christopher Young, James Horner, Dario Marianelli, Leonard Maltin, David Newman and many, many more!

Read our original coverage of the film


Thursday, April 20, 2017

Glass Eye Pix and Hood River Entertainment Announce the Cast of Teen-Punk Horror Thriller "THE RANGER" Starring Jeremy Holm

Glass Eye Pix and Hood River Entertainment Announce the Cast of Teen-Punk Horror Thriller THE RANGER

Genre Masters Unite for Jenn Wexlers Directorial Debut Lensing in New York Starring Jeremy Holm, Chloe Levine and Amanda Grace Benitez

(LOS ANGELES, CA – April 20th, 2017) Larry Fessenden’s Glass Eye Pix and Andrew van den Houten’s Hood River Entertainment have announced the cast of Jenn Wexler's THE RANGER, which began principal photography this week in New York. Jeremy Holm (House of Cards, Mr Robot), Chloe Levine (The Transfiguration, The OA), Amanda Grace Benitez (All Cheerleaders Die) star alongside Granit Lahu, Jeremy Pope, and Bubba Weiler.  

THE RANGER follows a group of teen punks who get in trouble with the cops. The punks escape to the woods to hide out where they come up against the local authority, an unhinged park ranger with an axe to grind, hell-bent on preserving the serenity of his forest.

Wexler currently has three movies on the festival circuit as a producer, Robert Mockler's LIKE ME which premiered at SXSW 2017, Ana Asensio’s MOST BEAUTIFUL ISLAND which premiered and won the Grand Jury Prize at SXSW 2017, and Mickey Keating's PSYCHOPATHS, set to world premiere this week at the Tribeca Film Festival. She also produced Keating's DARLING which world premiered at Fantastic Fest and was released in 2016. THE RANGER marks her feature directorial debut.

THE RANGER was written by Jenn Wexler and Giaco Furino. Andrew van den Houten and Ashleigh Snead produce for Hood River Entertainment and Larry Fessenden and Heather Buckley produce for Glass Eye Pix, along with Wexler. 

Holm is represented by Leading Artists and managed by Lori Kay of Prevail Artist Management.  Levine is represented by Agency for the Performing Arts and managed by Carolyn Anthony of Anthony & Associates.  Benitez is represented by AEFH Inc. and managed by Bob McGowan of  Bob McGowan Management. Lahu is managed by Avi Lipski of Cinetic Media. Pope is represented by Harden-Curtis Associates and managed by Robert Stein of Robert Stein Management. Weiler is represented by Paradigm Talent Agency and managed by Michal Zecher of MZ.MGMT.NY.

About Hood River Entertainment:
The new company from award-winning producer Andrew van den Houten (THE WOMAN, THE GIRL NEXT DOOR, JUG FACE, ALL CHEERLEADERS DIE), Hood River Entertainment has produced CAMERA OBSCURA with NBC-Universal Chiller and the action-drama HAYMAKER, coming soon.

About Glass Eye Pix:
Glass Eye Pix (“one of the indie scene’s most productive and longest-running companies”—Filmmaker Magazine) is the fierce independent NYC-based production outfit headed by art-horror auteur Larry Fessenden (BENEATH, THE LAST WINTER, WENDIGO, HABIT, NBC’s FEAR ITSELF).  Fessenden has operated the company since 1985 with the mission of supporting individual voices in the arts.  The company has produced numerous critically acclaimed films in and out of the horror genre, including STRAY BULLETS (Jack Fessenden), STAKE LAND II (Dan Berk & Robert Olsen), DARLING (Mickey Keating), LATE PHASES (Adrian Garcia Bogliano), BIRTH OF THE LIVING DEAD (Rob Kuhns), THE COMEDY (Rick Alverson), THE INNKEEPERS (Ti West), STAKE LAND (Jim Mickle), WENDY AND LUCY (Kelly Reichardt), THE HOUSE OF THE DEVIL (Ti West), LIBERTY KID (Ilya Chaiken), and I SELL THE DEAD (Glenn McQuaid). Upcoming films include Robert Mockler’s LIKE ME and Ana Asensio’s MOST BEAUTIFUL ISLAND, which both world premiered at SXSW 2017, and Mickey Keating’s PSYCHOPATHS, world premiering at Tribeca 2017.


Kasra Farahani's "TILT" (Midnight) Starring Joseph Cross -- TRIBECA FF Teaser Debut




All seems normal with Joseph and Joanne. Joanne is pregnant with their first child. Life in their little urban house is cozy and familiar.

But something is off about Joseph. He doesn’t seem excited about the baby. Work on his documentary is becoming increasingly untethered. As Joseph struggles to maintain the routines of his domestic life, his mask begins to slip.

Late at night, while Joanne thinks he is working, Joseph prowls the streets of Los Angeles, deliberately courting danger. Joanne is growing worried about Joseph’s odd behavior. But not as worried as she should be.

Tilt explores how quickly the most familiar person in your life can become the most terrifying. How quickly we can become terrifying to ourselves.

Director: Kasra Farahani
Screenwriter: Kasra Farahani, Jason O’Leary
Cast: Joseph Cross
Producers: Kasra Farahani, Giri Tharan and Kristina Kondrath
TRT: 100 MIN
TFF Section: Midnight
Sales: CAA

TFF Screenings:
Sunday, April 23 | 10:15 AM | Cinepolis Chelsea – 03 (PRESS & INDUSTRY)
Sunday, April 23 | 10:00 PM | Cinepolis Chelsea – 09
Monday, April 24 | 9:15 PM | Regal Battery Park Stadium 11-01
Thursday, April 27 | 9:45 PM | Cinepolis Chelsea – 02
Friday, April 28 | 3:15 PM | Cinepolis Chelsea -05 (PRESS & INDUSTRY)


Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Announcing the Lineup For Our First-Ever Animation Showcase! -- Midwest Independent Film Festival

First Tuesdays: Animation Showcase at the Midwest Ind FF!

May. 02, 2017

6:00pm - 9:30pm


@Landmark's Century Centre Cinema, 2828 North Clark, Chicago, Illinois

The Midwest Independent Film Festival presents its first ever Animation Showcase at Landmark's Century Centre Cinema on Tuesday, May 2nd, with festivities beginning at 6 p.m.

The best in animated filmmaking throughout the Midwest will take to the screen, including the World Premiere of Joel Benjamin’s WHEN IT FLOODS and the Chicago Premiere of 2016 Student Academy Award winner DIE FLUCHT from Champaign filmmaker Carter Boyce.

Fourteen outstanding animated films in all, with filmmakers in attendance for a post-screening discussion with the audience.

Here is the lineup for the Midwest Independent Film Festival's first-ever Animation Showcase!

6:00 p.m.     Pre-Show Reception
6:30 p.m.     Producers Panel TBA
7:30 p.m.     Animation Showcase     
9:30 p.m.     After-Party TBA

Purchase Advance Tickets

About the Midwest Independent Film Festival
The Midwest Independent Film Festival is the nation's only film festival solely dedicated to the Midwest filmmaker, presenting audiences with regionally produced independent cinema every first Tuesday of the month at Landmark's Century Centre Cinema, 2828 North Clark in Chicago.  This year-round film festival sits proudly at the center of the independent film scene in Chicago and the Midwest and is dedicated to celebrating and strengthening that community.

This film festival is made possible in part by a grant from the Illinois Arts Council, which receives funds from the National Endowment for the Arts.


Tuesday, April 18, 2017

THE DARK TAPES -- Movie Review by Porfle

There's more to "found footage" than just the convention of seeing an entire movie through the lenses of various cameras.  There has to be a good reason for it, and it has to add to a film's effect in a way that justifies it.  

Directors Michael McQuown and Vincent J. Guastini have scored on both counts with their excellent indy chiller THE DARK TAPES (Epic Pictures, 2017).  Not only is it well-written, well-acted, and technically impressive, but it manages to make "found footage" scary again. 

Basically an anthology piece whose segments relate to one another in some way (more or less), the wraparound story concerns a couple of college students who stumble upon the remains of a sleep research experiment gone wrong.  The lab is a shambles, the bed is bloody, and the professor and his assistants are missing.  Perhaps the footage on their video cameras will reveal what happened...

We meet Professor Callahan, one of those quietly obsessed types; Nicole, working on her doctorate in physics; and Jason, the group's camera operator. They're deep into their research into sleep paralysis, or "night terrors."  Callahan has a theory about the "shadow people" who often appear to those suffering from this condition--that they're actually trans-dimensional entities who exist in a different time continuum than ours. 

But before we get too involved in their story, we're then told the tale of David and Karen, a happily married couple whose beautiful new dream house turns out to be haunted by things that go bump in the night (and all day, too). 

After some pretty eerie events (footsteps on ceiling, a rubber ball that stops and rolls back to them) which gradually escalate into sheer terror, they finally call in a team of paranormal specialists in what will seem a familiar scenario to viewers of the SyFy Channel's "Ghost Hunters."

These "experts" are obviously in over their heads, and what follows is a nail-biting succession of scares taking place with that creepy night-vision effect that makes everything seem even scarier.  I'm not going to elaborate further, but suffice it to say that things (a) get a lot worse, and (b) do not end well.

After more with Professor Callahan's group we see the story of two young women running one of those cyber-sex webcam rackets.  This one also starts out rather uneventful until mysterious outside forces begin to interfere with the good clean fun, and suddenly Caitlin is trying to persuade one of her horny clients to get a knife and cut himself juuust a little bit.  And no, this one doesn't end well, either. 

Next is an intense segment called "Amanda's Revenge", which gives us further insight into the problem of "night terrors" and "shadow people."  After Amanda is molested at a party, she starts to experience strange intruders in her bedroom and feels as though they're performing sinister experiments on her.

With the help of her friend Ryan, she tries to fight them or at least record their presence.  What happens next is not only disturbing, especially if you have a primal fear of the dark, but leads right into the film's finale in which Professor Callahan and his assistants learn more than they ever wanted to know about the subject of trans-dimensional entities.

This final segment is not only nail-bitingly suspenseful, but it also contains at least one killer jump-scare that froze my blood ice cold.  The acting and direction are extremely well-handled, making it a prime example of using imagination and skill to get the most out of a limited budget. I felt pretty numb when it was all over, having been both thoroughly scared and thought-provoked.

Think of how the original "The Outer Limits" and "The Twilight Zone" used to fire up your imagination while giving you a severe case of the creeps, and you'll begin to understand how unnerving THE DARK TAPES is.  I started watching it around midnight--alone--and it wasn't long before I paused it and thought: "Okay, the rest of this can wait until daylight."

Order it now on iTunes

Also available on Google Play, Vudu, iNDemand (Comcast- Xfinity, Time Warner, Cox, Bright House & more), Dish TV, Amazon, Vubiquity (Verizon Fios, Charter, Sudden Link, Media Com &more), Xbox, Playstation, Sling TV & Vimeo.


Monday, April 17, 2017

7 WITCHES -- Movie Review by Porfle

Sometimes you can tell from the very first frames that a film is going to be beautifully rendered and dripping with mood and atmosphere.  7 WITCHES (Indican Pictures, 2017) is just such a film, and watching it is like seeing a fresco of exquisite horror being painted before our eyes.

It begins in stark, finely-etched black-and-white with a massacre of young girls and their family members in what appears to be colonial days.  Then the present time is ushered in with muted colors as the same rural seaside location becomes the setting for a wedding between two women, local girl Aggie (Megan Hensley, THE CRAZIES, CHUPACABRA TERRITORY) and her city-girl lover Rose (Danika Golombek).

Rose's sister Kate (Persephone Apostolou, SMALL FISH, PARADISE HILLS) arrives, and immediately old sibling rivalry issues are reignited.  Kate also has a problem with Aggie because she's insufferably odd and enigmatic, with the look of a prim Amish girl but a knowing air of sick perversion just beneath the surface.

Kate and Rose's family--father, stepmom, and likably brassy aunt Paula (Macall Gordon, "The Man in the High Castle"), who enjoys a toke of the old herb now and then--get together with Aggie's clan of wax-museum oddballs in a secluded old beach house that's like something out of the 1600s.  Along for the ride is Cody (Mike Jones), a schlub whom everyone mistakenly thinks is engaged to Kate.

Aggie's relatives turn out to be a deeply disturbing bunch of musty artifacts from the Salem witch-hunt days who make us feel as though that whole episode in history might've been entirely justified.  And what begins simply as a very awkward social situation leading up to Rose and Aggie's wedding soon reveals itself as something entirely more sinister.

It's like one of those rom-com setups with the disparate characters shoved together in a house for the weekend and forced to hash out their differences BIG CHILL-style, only a lot more horrifying. Even the food (which Kate wisely refuses to eat) has a disgustingly vile look to it as we see it being prepared and dished out in harsh, hostile strokes. 

Kate's twilight foray into a nearby deserted settlement in the midde of nowhere uncovers troubling indications of things to come.  Meanwhile, Cody finds himself in the middle of an unexpected seduction that leads to one of the most fervidly revolting softcore sex scenes to ever unfurl itself onscreen. 

And that's just the beginning.  Before it's over, 7 WITCHES will take the viewer on a spookhouse tour that includes sudden, shocking violence, murder, perversion, and even cannibalism. 

Gorgeously photographed in pure creep-o-vision, it's a masterpiece of mood that's lush, oppressive, and absolutely dripping with sinister atmosphere.

Brady Hall (SCRAPPER, JERKBEAST) directs it all like a work of art, as though Lovecraft's Richard Upton Pickman had taken up film as a medium for recording his darkest imaginings. 

In fact, the story's most horrific scenes, with their grim, twisted imagery, give us an idea of what Lovecraft's or Edgar Allan Poe's nightmares might have looked like. 

7 WITCHES ratchets up the tension to the breaking point and then ends abruptly, leaving things tantalizingly unresolved.  Short and sweet (the running time is around 75 minutes or less), it's a must-see film for horror connoisseurs to savor like a fine vintage wine. 

Tech Specs
Runtime: 75mins
Format: 1:78 HD
Sound: Dolby Sr.
Country: USA
Language: English
Genre: Horror


"VOODOO BLACK EXORCIST" -- ’70s Cult Horror Classic Restored on DVD & Blu-ray May 23

The Film Detective Proudly Presents
Voodoo Black Exorcist

Twice the Terror, Twice the Shock!

’70s Mummified, Cult Horror Flick Digitally Remastered
Unraveling on DVD & Blu-ray May 23rd

ROCKPORT, Mass. — May 1, 2017 — For Immediate Release — There’s twice the terror and twice the shock when a mummy sentenced to eternal damnation unearths in Voodoo Black Exorcist – restored from original 35mm film elements – available on DVD and Blu-ray May 23 from The Film Detective.

The mummy of a Caribbean voodoo priest stalks the passengers of a South Seas ocean liner in this sexy, quirky, ’70s Euro horror-thriller from director Manuel Caño (The Swamp of the Ravens) and producer José Antonio Pérez Giner (Tombs of the Blind Dead).

Filmed in such exotic locations as Jamaica and Haiti, this supernatural tale stars Aldo Sambrell (The Good, the Bad and the Ugly) and Fernando Sanchez (Return of the Evil Dead) and features the lovely Eva León as a passenger who reminds the mummy of an old love.

Commented Phil Hopkins, owner of The Film Detective, “We are delighted to bring this cult classic to HD with a brand new 2K scan from a rare 35mm archival print.”

Voodoo Black Exorcist is presented in widescreen with an aspect ratio of 2.35 and Dolby digital sound. Special features include closed captioning.

About The Film Detective:
Founder Philip Elliott Hopkins – who has been a fixture in the entertainment industry since 1999 –  has channeled his life-long passion for collecting classic films into The Film Detective, a leading purveyor of restoration and distribution of broadcast-quality, digitally-remastered programming, including feature films, television, foreign imports, documentaries, special interest and audio. Since launching in 2014, the Massachusetts-based company has distributed its extensive library of 3000+ hours on DVD, Blu-ray and through such leading digital and television broadcast platforms as Turner Classic Movies, American Movie Classics, NBC, Bounce TV, Hulu, Amazon, EPIX HD, MeTV, PBS and more. In 2016, the Film Detective launched its OTT classic movies channel streaming on Amazon Fire TV, Roku and Apple TV. Visit us online at

Voodoo Black Exorcist
The Film Detective
Genre: Horror
Original Release:  1974 (Color)
Not Rated / Rated: R
Format: DVD & Blu-ray
Running Time: Approx. 88 Minutes
Suggested Retail Price: $9.99 DVD / $14.99 Blu-ray
Street Date: May 23, 2017
Catalog #:  FD0738 DVD / FD0799 Blu-ray
UPC Code:  #818522017853 DVD / #818522017846 Blu-ray

Buy the Blu-ray at


Sunday, April 16, 2017

MOBSTER -- Movie Review by Porfle

In what might be described as a "found-footage DONNIE BRASCO", FBI agent Ron Zarger (Michel Wakim) goes undercover inside the Israeli Mob as "Eli", bodyguard to ruthless West Coast crime kingpin Jacob Hadar (Meni Aga) in the unusual and often gripping gangland thriller MOBSTER (Indican Pictures, 2013).

The fact that everything we see is either footage from Zarger's hidden tie-camera (complete with TERMINATOR-style data readouts) or various security and home video cameras is disorienting and a bit confusing at first.  Once I settled into it, however, the whole thing started coming together and getting really interesting and, yes, riveting.

Mainly, there's top dog Hadar, his trusted "brother" Yaniv (Ninef Arsanos), burly main enforcer Ido (Hamzah Saman), and our hero "Eli", navigating the dog-eat-dog world of cutthroat mobs who deal in, among other high-dollar items, "loose" nuclear weapons.

The details of their business dealings aren't important, however, compared to the internal intrigues--loyalties are bought, betrayals are harshly punished--and the hair-trigger clashes and power plays between the different gangs, be they Russian, Asian, Latino, etc. 

It all gives big cheese Hadar endless opportunities to demonstrate what an arrogant, egotistical, and cunning loose cannon he is, constantly flexing his power in shockingly unexpected and violent ways.

Plot twists often hinge on certain key characters being revealed as disloyal, then dealt with quickly and, needless to say, harshly.  Like most gangster flicks, MOBSTER features sudden, shocking violence as traitors are made examples of and business competitors are eliminated in extreme ways.

In one instance of the latter there's even a full-scale gun battle that's like something out of a war movie.  But the scariest examples are the ones in which a trusted ally's duplicity is revealed and revenge is meted out on a personal level, usually by the bloodthirsty Hadar himself. 

For this reason we're in constant fear that undercover agent Zarger will be found out, a prospect made more poignant by occasional video messages from his expectant wife and other candid home video footage of him during down time with fellow agents.

Ironically, we only rarely see the main character, although actor Michel Wakim does get a few chances to show his stuff on camera, particularly when he gets fed up with the whole thing and threatens to quit during an impassioned speech to himself.

The rest of the cast are fine, especially Meni Aga as the unstable and always unpredictable Hadar, and production values are above-average for a "found-footage" story such as this.  The dialogue often crackles with danger and we're always on edge wondering what will happen next.

I didn't have very high expectations for MOBSTER but those that I did have were quickly met and surpassed.  Of course, it isn't on the same level as something by Martin Scorcese or Francis Ford Coppola--no surprise there--but if you like the kind of movies they make, chances are this one will hit the bullseye with you as well. 

Tech Specs
Runtime: 84 Minutes
Format: 1:78 HD
Sound: Dolby Sr.
Country: USA
Language: English
Genre: Action

Cast & Crew

Directed by: Brian Eric Johnson
Starring: Meni Aga, Micahel Wakim, Christina Woods, Roger Guiterrez, Dave Silva, and Hamzah Saman

Buy it at

Saturday, April 15, 2017

TWISTED LOVE STORY -- DVD Review by Porfle

Here's something kind of odd--Indican Pictures has taken two unrelated and somewhat obscure (to me, anyway) rom-coms from the early 2000s, "L.A. Twister" (2004) and "The Mallory Effect" (2002) and released them under a single title, TWISTED LOVE STORY (2014).

The DVD menu refers to them as "Love Story Part I" and "Love Story Part II" and they appear here in edited versions for a total running time of 128 minutes. The only thing the two movies actually have in common is the fact that each features a male character who's totally obsessed with his ex-girlfriend/wife.  They're also pretty enjoyable light entertainment but nothing to write love letters home about.

The first, "L.A. Twister", is about a struggling would-be actor, Lenny (Zack Ward), whose lovelorn friend Ethan (Tony Daly) comes to live with him in L.A. after his wife divorces him.  With no other prospects in sight, the two decide to make their own movie, incorporating their daily experiences into the script.

This leads to an odd conceit that's occasionally interesting--just when we see something noteworthy happen in the lives of Lenny and Ethan, there's a brief behind-the-scenes flash that reveals it as part of a movie scene being shot.  So we're never sure what's real and what's part of their future movie project, or both, or neither if the movie's just a fantasy that will never really happen.

Aside from that, this is basically a very nicely-shot chick flick for guys (if you can imagine what that's like) in which the comedy and situations are blandly amusing but nothing more, with very little conflict of any consequence since we know it will all blandly work itself out in the end. 

Not to mention the fact that the saga of these two guys trying to put their flimsy little movie together barely sustains that much of our interest.  There is a big dramatic scene near the end that comes straight out of left field and is jarringly out of place, but its effect is diminished by the fact that the movie doesn't really take it seriously anyway.

Performances are good (though generally rather passionless), with Zack Ward earning automatic likability points for having portrayed neighborhood bully Scut Farkus in A CHRISTMAS STORY (watch for a quick reference to that seasonal classic early on) and his co-stars being equally appealing. 

Susan Blakely turns up as a pampered but love-starved wife who makes a move on Ethan on the same bed where her dead husband lies after just having a heart attack (in the film's most blandly kinky scene), and genre fave Colleen Camp appears all-too-briefly as a prospective financial backer who gets drunk during dinner and leaves the boys behind to wash dishes for the tab.

Overall, "Love Story Part I" aka "L.A. Twister" is light (very), somewhat breezy, amusing at times but never enough so to be called "fun", and basically just this side of boring.  The best that can be said is that it has a kind of positive energy and is, in the words of Douglas Adams, "mostly harmless."

"Love Story Part II" aka "The Mallory Effect" is more like it.  This time, the lovelorn guy is Charlie (Steven Roy) and he isn't fooling around--he's full-tilt stalker material in his undying obsession with ex-girlfriend Mallory (Josie Maran), and when she gets a new lover, Curtis (Scott Hanks), Charlie pretends to make friends with him so that he can ruin their relationship from the inside.

This story doesn't try for any kind of cuteness as the previous one does, showing an almost nasty sense of humor that's so deadpan and so matter-of-factly presented that it's often wickedly amusing.  It's as though the script were co-written by a group of caustic stand-up comics with a razor-sharp wit.

We sympathize with Charlie only because he's so singleminded and determined in his Mallory fixation--otherwise, he has absolutely no redeeming qualities.  His anti-Curtis crusade includes leaving a used condom in his bathroom for Mallory to find, urinating on Curtis' toothbrush, and conspiring to have the two lovebirds come home to find a half-naked woman in Curtis' bed.

The fact that this woman is hurt when she discovers how Charlie has used her gives the film an edge of reality that grounds its more outrageous humor and makes it all the more effective. 

Charlie and his unapologetically womanizing friend Nick (Sean Marble), who treats the singles' scene like a lab experiment whose goal is to get him laid as often as possible, are like specimens for us to observe with keen interest.

Performances are spot-on and the film is technically very good.  I would definitely watch "The Mallory Effect" aka "Love Story Part II" again, preferably with someone a bit twisted to share its curdled humor with. 

Tech Specs
Runtime: 128 minutes
Format: 1:85 Flat (35MM)
Sound: Dolby SR
Genre: Comedic Drama
Language: English
Extras: None
Subtitles: None

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Friday, April 14, 2017

"ALTITUDE" With Dolph Lundgren and Denise Richards -- In Theaters and On Demand TODAY!


Genre:             Action           
Rating:    Rated R for language and some violence.

U.S. Release Date:     April 14, 2017 (In Theaters and On Demand)
Run Time:            88 Minutes

Cast:    Denise Richards (Gretchen Blair), Greer Grammer (Sadie), Kirk Barker (Terry), Jordi Vilasuso (Luke Byres), Jonathan Lipnicki (Rick), Chelsea Edmundson (Clare), Chuck Liddell (Rawbones), and Dolph Lundgren (Matthew Sharpe)

Gretchen Blair (Denise Richards) is a headstrong FBI agent who goes rogue on a hostage negotiation and is sent packing to a desk job back in DC. By a stroke of luck, she’s upgraded to business class on her flight – but as soon as the plane takes off, her seatmate (Kirk Barker) offers her millions of dollars if she can get him off the plane alive.

As his ex-partners (Dolph Lundgren, Chuck Liddell, and Greer Grammar) stage a brutal hijacking, Gretchen finds herself in the fight of her life – choosing sides between two factions of a criminal gang and trying to keep the plane from going down.

Directed by:       Alex Merkin
Screenplay by:     Jesse Mittelstadt
Story by:     Jesse Mittelstadt
    Richard Switzer
    Tyler W. Konney
Produced by:     Richard Switzer
    Tyler W. Konney
    Phillip B. Goldfine
Jared Safier
Jonathan DelPonte
Chad Law
John Landolfi
Executive Producer:         Benjamin F. Sacks
                Nicholas Reed
                Milan Friedrich
                Jonathan Lipnicki
Michael Bien
                James MacMillan
                Randy Wayne
Chad Oliver
Jason Cherubini
Mickey Gooch Jr.
Alex Lebovici
Alexander Ferguson
John Sword
David Allen
RJ Burne
Jason Owolabi
Brandon Burrows
Courtney Lauren Penn
Co-Executive Producer:     James Cullen Bressack
George Saunders
Director of Photography:     Kristian Dane Lawing
Edited by:             Alex Merkin
Casting by:             Amey René
Music by:             Bobby Tahouri
Associate Producer:        Alvardo Duque
                Timothy Marlowe
                Jeff Berry
                David Gere

Grindstone Entertainment Group presents in association with Taylor & Dodge Hollywood Media Bridge Switzer Entertainment Safier Entertainment Rough Cut Films Boundless Pictures Tilt/Shift Films and Firebrand.


Thursday, April 13, 2017

DARK WATERS -- Blu-ray Review by Porfle

Hamlet once told Ophelia to "get thee to a nunnery", but I don't think Shakespeare had the one in DARK WATERS (1993) in mind.  In fact, within the rather small "nunneries gone bad" sub-genre of horror this is a prime contender for the most gone-bad nunnery of all time.

Which is why we worry that young Elizabeth (Louise Salter, INTERVIEW WITH THE VAMPIRE) is on her way there because she just inherited her late father's estate and one of the clauses in his will is that this remote island convent will continue receiving a large cash payment every month, and she wants to find out why. 

What she finds out instead is that this place is about as medieval as it gets (much of it seems hewn out of the craggy, wave-battered rock itself), lit only by flaming torches and candles and populated by as motley a bunch of nuns as ever stalked the creepy stone corridors of a shadow-strewn castle.  Basically, this place makes the dance academy in SUSPIRIA look like Knott's Berry Farm.

Even Elizabeth's bus ride and boat crossing on her way to the island are populated by frightening and grotesque characters, as though she's entered a nightmare world in which everything is abnormal, discomforting, and often downright disturbing.

This includes the convent's Mother Superior, who's a real doozy of a character.  Ancient and blank-eyed, she communicates only in a blood-curdling croaking noise that's interpreted by her equally creepy assistant.  Just about the only comfort Elizabeth receives comes from a naive young nun named Sarah (Venera Simmons), who seems eager to make friends and help Elizabeth navigate her stay there during the long wait for the island's only boat to return to the mainland.

The movie opens with a spectacular flood sequence (filmed with an entire set built in a water tank and then demolished by two trip tanks) which takes place about 20 years previously and gives us some clues to what's going on.  These include a large stone amulet that is smashed, the pieces retrieved and safely stored away by the nuns for whatever nefarious purpose this may later serve.

Meanwhile, Elizabeth and Sarah begin to play amateur detective within those labyrinthian sets (many of which appear to be found locations), finding their way into hidden subterranean dungeons that contain even more terrifying freaks and other hellish perils. 

And to make the deliriously Lovecraftian atmosphere complete, we're shown glimpses of a big locked door in the innermost recesses of the castle, behind which lurks the dreaded "thing in the closet"...a thing which is obviously very scary and very angry, and is trying very hard to get out.

Elsewhere on the island, Elizabeth encounters another creepy old blind woman who seems to recognize her.  We see several disturbing flashbacks to when she lived on the island with her father until the age of seven, giving her the unwelcome feeling that she's somehow connected to whatever is going on there.  Everything that happens to her is heavily foreboding and oppressive.

As a film, DARK WATERS appears rather rough-hewn at first, but gradually reveals itself to be sharply, almost exquisitely directed by Mariano Baino (his only feature film) and photographed by Alex Howe, and is brimming with consistently bizarre and unsettling imagery which is very imaginatively conceived and staged. 

The art design alone is a constant source of interest, with the entire film having a similar feel to the work of Dario Argento in both look and atmosphere (the story itself is reminiscent of SUSPIRIA, only freakier), as well as reminding one of Sergio Leone's ONCE UPON A TIME IN THE WEST with its stately-paced and intricately-staged set pieces.  Director Baino stretches the suspense tautly with a consistent, almost mischievous "wait for it..." style that makes us anticipate every shock and horror with bated breath.

There's also an unreal quality to the film that's disorienting--at times the narrative is barely even linear, with a dream-logic progression of events that the viewer need not question too closely but simply be carried along with, ever deeper into the nightmare, never knowing what new horror lurks around each corner.

Performances are fine, with Louise Salter as Elizabeth being a likable heroine.  Filmed mostly on location in the Ukraine, this Italian-Russian-UK production benefits greatly from its ideal locations.  There's a robust musical score by Igor Clark and some extremely jarring sound design that adds much to the film's nerve-wracking effect. 

The Blu-ray from Severin Films is in 1080p full HD resolution with English mono sound and English subtitles.  A bountiful bonus menu includes audio commentary by director Baino, a director's intro, deleted scenes, a blooper reel, several of Baino's early short films, and the featurettes "Lovecraft Made Me Do It", "Let There Be Water", "Controlling the Uncontrollable", and "Deep Into the Dark Waters."

As if everything that went before weren't enough, DARK WATERS ends with a startling plot twist and a horrific climax that may leave you reeling.  It's definitely one of the most impressively made and effective horror films I've seen since the late 70s.

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Release date: April 25, 2017