Pleased to Meet Me (2013)

When it comes to musicians as actors, John Doe is the “Bruce Campbell” of the profession. Campbell has stated in interviews that he accepted his lot as an actor, in that he’d never be a leading man (after losing out to Billy Zane for The Phantom), instead getting smaller support roles in A-List pictures and leading man roles in B-Movies.

And this seems to be the lot rolled by John Doe. Not that John cares: he’s always a musician first and an actor second. So, like Ash, we’ll see John in the supporting cast of a bloated Hollywood project mixing it up with the likes of Ryan Reynolds Ben Affleck and Sandra Bullock (Forces of Nature*) and Patrick Swayze (Road House*), then see him as a leading man in an indie project (his upcoming, 82nd film, D.O.A.: The Movie, and the-2002-still-can’t-find-a-copy Under the Gun co-starring Christopher Atkins).

In this Kickstarter-financed, shot-in-two-week-mostly-on-the-first-take film named after an old album from ‘80s college radio darlings the Replacements, John Doe leads a pleasurable cast of veteran musicians thespin’ for the cameras. In his support are Aimee Mann (yes, the Til’ Tuesday “Voices Carry” girl),’70s folk singer Loudon Wainwright III (of the 1972 novelty hit “Dead Skunk (in the Middle of the Road)”), and ’80s college rock folkie Joe Henry. More current indie-rock fans will recognize Whispertown’s Morgan Nagler, Over the Rhine’s Karin Berquist, and the Broken Spurs’ Adam Kramer in the cast.

Doe is somewhat playing himself: Pete Jones, a legendary rocker at a personal and professional crossroads. The muse has left him. He can’t seem to get his long-in-the-studio album finished. He’s dodging bankruptcy, foreclosures, and lawsuits from his record label. He needs help.

That help comes in the form of his ex-wife and former producer Laura Klein (Aimee Mann) who now works as a National Public Radio reporter. Referencing her inner, old studio producer, she believes Pete’s artistic rut is the result of losing his “musical purity.” So, for an episode of her syndicated radio program “World Café, she devises a 24-Hour experiment where she’ll place an online classified ad to form a one-day eclectic band of six random musicians to record a new Pete Jones tune.

This mostly ad-libbed, improvisational comedy project that comes off as a more serious, Spinal Tapish mockumentary is based on a 2002 episode of the National Public Radio program “This American Life.” In that program, a group of strangers were recruited from classified ads to enter the studio for one day to craft a cover of Elton John’s “Rocket Man.”

If you’re a fan of Louisville Kentucky’s indie-rock and folk scene (where this was shot) and hep to obscure references to early ‘90s college rock bands like Sleater-Kinney and Pussy Riot—along with Loudon Wainwright III as a socially maladjusted Theremin player and seeing John Doe in a leading-man role (check all those boxes for moi)—then there’s something here for you to watch.

This one is hard to find and is only available for streaming on the Vudu platform. Sorry, Amazon Prime users: there was a streaming copy, but it’s no longer available. But keeping checking back to see if it returns.

About the Author: You can learn more about the writings of R.D Francis on Facebook. He also writes for B&S About Movies.

* Look for our full reviews of Forces of Nature and Road House, this week.

Zombex (2013)

Look, we’re not going to sugar coat: the reviews on this one ain’t good. But when you have a film with a cast headlined by Malcolm McDowell and Sid Haig, with Corey Feldman along for the ride, and Slayer’s Tom Araya and X’s John Doe in tow, you cut generous amounts of CGI-slack for this, the writing and directing debut of musician Jesse Dayton. Dayton is a Texas musician best known for his soundtrack collaborations with Rob Zombie (Halloween II ’09 and The Haunted World of El Superbeasto).

How can you not want to at least try to watch a film with this cast—regardless of the fact that there’s no in-camera effects and all of the gun fire and headshots (to kill the zoms) are cheap CGI-boondoggles? Malcolm McDowell, as always, is good in his role and giving it his all, but we sure wish Zombex gave us more of him, Sid Haig, John Doe, and Tom Araya. Also stepping up to the plate is Lew Temple (the real star of these proceedings)—who we all know as Axl from The Walking Dead—as a conspiracy-spouting talk radio DJ out to expose the cover up.

Dayton gets bonus points for injecting a sense of reality into the undead tomfoolery with a zombie outbreak infecting a post-Karina Louisiana. Ol’ Mal is, of course, the greedy pharmaceutical boss distributing a new anti-stress drug that triggers the outbreak.

You can watch Zombex on Amazon Prime and Vudu as a VOD, but we found a free stream (without an account sign up) on Roku Online. The film’s Facebook page is still active, so you can check out stills from the film.

You can learn more about the life, career, and discography of Jesse Dayton at his official website. Fans of HBO’s True Blood also know Jesse for his songs “Coming Down” and “One of Them Days” appearing in the series. And I really dig Dayton’s countrified take on the Cars’ “Just Want I Needed,” complete with lap steels and mandolins. Give it a listen.

About the Author: You can learn more about the writings of R.D Francis on Facebook. He also writes for B&S About Movies.

L.A. Macabre (Amazon Prime Series, started in 2013)

Fifteen episodes of the series L.A. Macabre are now available on Amazon Prime (season one, season two) and we were lucky enough to get a sneak peek.

Originally starting as a found footage web series on YouTube. the second season of the show turned it into a single camera drama with more locations throughout Los Angeles, as well as expanded characters, stunts and scares. Now, the Amazon Prime version has been cut into fifteen 30-minute episodes.

The series starts with three filmmakers — show host Ryan (Ryan Hellquist), director Colin (Aidan Bristow) and Ryan’s younger sister Jamie (Ryan Bartley) — getting the opportunity to interview Callie (Corsica Wilson), a former member of a cult called The New Family. After the first episode of L.A. Macabre with her in it airs, Callie begins to get stalked by someone or something who just could be from her old life. Or is she everything that she seems?

If you’re a true crime fan or someone missing Supernatural, this show has something to offer you. It starts off smart and quick before somehow picking up steam from there. I really like that the show moves away from found footage and becomes more of an action-adventure by the second season, while concentrating on the romance between Ryan and Callie, as well as the worry that she may be brainwashing him with the techniques that were once used against her.

You can learn more about this series by visiting its offical Facebook and Twitter pages. You can also watch the show on YouTube.

SLASHER MONTH: Scream Park (2013)

Sure, Kennywood gets all the press, but Western Pennsylvania has had plenty of theme parks. Scream Park is shot at Conneaut Lake Park, which is north of the Steel City, closer to Erie. I went there often as a kid and while small, it has a certain charm of its own and plenty of history, as this was its 128th year of being open.

In this film, it stands in for Fright Land, a park that’s about to sadly close down. And that’s where the story begins.

Realizing that he can no longer make money from the theme park, owner Mr. Hyde (Doug Bradley, who is an adopted Pittsburgher that you can often see show up at horror events in town) decides to kill all of his employees as they celebrate the last night of the park being open. He hopes that their deaths will bring the lucrative murder tourists in to attend the newly re-opened park.

Steve Rudzinski, who made CarousHELL, appears in this movie, as does Skinny Puppy’s Kevin “ohGr” Ogilvie, who was Pavi Largo in Repo! The Genetic Opera.

Director Cary Hill has announced a follow-up, Return to Scream Park, which I’m totally down for whenever it gets made. This may not break much new ground, but it’s a competent slasher that has some moments that are really fun. You can watch it on Amazon Prime and Tubi.

SLASHER MONTH: Hatchet 3 (2013)

B. J. McDonnell took over as the director of the Victor Crowley saga this time around, pitting him against Marybeth Dunston one more time in the swamps of Honey Island Swamp. After a shotgun blast to the face, a chainsaw sawing him in half and another shotgun to the brainstem, it seems like Crowley is finished. But hey — we wouldn’t have a movie if he didn’t get back up.

Marybeth is now Sheriff Fowler’s (Zach Galligan) main suspect in the case of the thirty bodies found in the swamp, but his ex-wife Amanda Fowler (Caroline Williams!) knows the truth: Crowly continually repeats the night of his death and anyone that gets in his way is just blood and guts in his way.

After figuring out that Marybeth isn’t part of the murders, she is released to try and stop the killer one more time, along with a SWAT unit that features Tyler Hawes (Derek Mears, who played Jason in the Friday the 13th remake, meaning that this movie has Jason versus Jason*) and the one armed Dougherty (Rileah Vanderbilt, who was the person that Crowley’s face was molded onto and also played the young version of him in the first two movies).

Oh yeah — Sid Haig shows up too!

If this had been the close to the series, it would have been perfect. However, Victor Crowley is next and that’s pretty good, too! I fell in love with these films, watching the fourth one first when Joe Bob showed it and I’m so happy that I went back and watched them all.

*Hodder was also in other movies with other Jasons. In Friday the 13th Part VIII: Jason Takes Manhattan, he appeared with Ken Kirzinger. John Carl Buechler was also in the first two Hatchet movies.

Fast & Furious 6 (2013)

After the last film moved away from street racing to more heist movie, this film moves the series into spy adventure, or as I have asked before this week, “When did this little street gang become G.I. Joe?” You can follow a similar path with the Saints Row series of video games, which somehow again went from small street gang in a turf war to being the leaders of the free world, superheroes and battling in Hell.

This movie is also two hours and ten minutes long, so plan accordingly.

After the big score of the last film, the family has settled down around the world. Dom (Vin Diesel) is with Elena (Elsa Pataky, Giallo) while his sister Mia (Jordana Brewster) and Brian (Paul Walker) have had a son. Gisele (Gal Gadot) and Han (Sung Kang) are in love, while Roman (Tyrese) and Tej (Chris “Ludacris” Parker) are living the high life. As for Luke Hobbs (Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson), he and Riley Hicks (former MMA star Gina Carano) are keeping tabs on former SAS special ops soldier Owen Shaw (Luke Evans, Clash of the Titans), who may have the supposedly deceased Letty Ortiz in his gang.

Hobbs promises amnesty to Dom and his crew if they help him take down Shaw. The fact that Dom can reunite with his dead lover only adds to the urgency of the mission. All manner of double crosses occur, but at the end, everyone ends up in the old Los Angeles house saying grace over a meal. One hundred cars gave their mechanical lives for this film.

The end of this, however, introduces Deckard Shaw (Jason Statham), as he seemingly murders Han in the events of The Fast & The Furious: Tokyo Drift.

Bula Quo! (2013)

One’s enjoyment of this movie hinges on your knowledge of and enjoyment of the music of Britain’s Status Quo, along with your retroism for the Beatles’ movies A Hard Day’s Night or, more accurately, Help! — you know, the one where the band’s on the run (sorry) when Ringo becomes of the target of a religious cult that covets his gaudy ruby ring.

With that being said, this movie isn’t intended for U.S. audiences who came to know the boogie-rock purveyors for their 1968 psychedelic-influenced hit “Pictures of Matchstick Men“; this movie is meant for the U.K. audiences — an audience that helped Status Quo outrank the Beatles, the Rolling Stones, and Queen by placing 61 of the band’s singles in the U.K. Top 40, with 22 of those singles reaching the Top 10 — more than any other U.K. band.

AKA, Guitars, Guns and Paradise

So, in commemoration of their upcoming 30th studio album, Bela Quo!, the band shot this movie in four weeks on a three million dollar shoestring while on vacation in Fiji — along with a corresponding double soundtrack album.

The story is a simple one: Francis Rossi and Rick Parfitt of Status Quo, playing themselves, while on tour with Status Quo on the Pacific Island country of Fiji, become involved in mafia intrique after witnessing a murder. The fact that SNL’s Jon Lovitz serves as Rossi and Parfitt’s co-star tells you this film wears its self-deprecating humor on its sleeves — and Rossi and Parfitt play the “aging rock stars” quite well.

Also known as Guitars, Guns and Paradise in other overseas markets (the band has a rabid fan base throughout Europe, Australia and the Pacific Rim counties), the Quo’s lone film isn’t a blockbuster and it’s certainly not an Oscar winner. But it’s a fun film with plenty of action, comedy, and great music by the kings of boogie rock (honorable mentions to Savoy Brown and Foghat, of course).

If you get a chance, do check out a few of my personal .mp3 player favorites from their early ’70’s catalog, such as “Caroline,” “Down Down,” “Down the Dust Pipe,” and “Paper Plane.” Yeah, when it came to down n’ dirty jeans n’ t-shirt (and leather vests) rock ‘n’ roll, Status Quo was the shite and a bag ‘o chips. You can get all the Status Quo you need, and more, over at their official You Tube page.

Now, if only Uriah Heep would make a movie . . . or how’s about Phil Mogg and UFO thwarting a Bond-like madman from stealing a cache of missiles to start WWIII (hey, it worked for Cliff Richard and the Shadows)?

The Quo’s 100th single release!

You have a couple of online choices to watch. Overseas readers can watch Bula Quo! on Rakuten TV. In the U.S. you can watch it on Amazon Prime and in the U.K. on Amazon Prime U.K.

About the Author: You can learn more about the writings of R.D Francis on Facebook. He also writes for B&S About Movies.

Poseidon Rex (2013)

Corin Nemec was originally the lead actor in this movie, but the former Parker Lewis Can’t Lose star was critically injured when a Belizean Coast Guard boat ran into a semi-submerged barge while transporting the crew to set. His leg was decimated and it took multiple blood transfusions to save his life.

Instead, we get Brian Krause, who was once Charles Brady in Sleepwalkers.

He plays Jackson Slate, who has been forced by a local crime lord to dive deep for treasure buried beneath the seas of Belize. He ends up freeing a giant dinosaur who is soon snacking on divers and henchmen with equal aplomb.

There’s a great puppet scene with a hatched baby dinosaur, as well as the big bad final boss getting blasted with a bazooka. It’s schlocky science fiction with bikinis and jetskis, but honestly, as horrible as the real world is today, this is a pretty decent escape that only lasts 79 minutes.

You can watch this on Amazon Prime and Tubi.

Deep Sleep (2013)

After murdering his latest female victim, a killer is blackmailed with mysterious envelopes filled with evidence of all of his kills. However, as we hear no dialogue and only see things from the killer’s point of view, we are forced to be part of his crimes.

Directed, written and scored by Luciano Onetti and produced by Nicolas Onetti, this movie is the start of their giallo tribute films. Each one has grown in ability and style, but even at the beginning, with the handcuffs of an incredibly simple story, a first person camera and a slavish devotion to Argento, this is well above any of the spate of giallo-influenced films of this century.

Even the blood looks like it came out of an Argento film. That’s how far this goes. So, you know, if you hated Deep Red, there’s no way that you’ll like this.

Blood of 1000 Virgins (2013)

Playboy Playmate Nikki Leigh hosts this series of trailers for movies that Full Moon may or may not own the actual rights to. The in-between segments are worthless, but this is packed with some great trailers, including one of my all-time favorites, 1967’s Teenage Mother.

There are also trailers for Invasion of the Bee GirlsAndy Warhol’s DraculaThe Girls That DoLet’s Do ItThe DepravedThe TeacherThriller/They Call Her One EyeCaged VirginsAxe, A Virgin In Hollywood, Mighty Peking ManThe Curious FemaleLet Me Die a WomanThe Blood Spattered BrideMother Goose-A-Go-GoLucifer’s WomenThe Dead Are Alive, The Devil’s Wedding NightDeadly WeaponsActs of VengeanceCharlie and the HookerSavage StreetsChatterboxhe Harrad Experiment, Ms. 45, Brides of BloodVirgin Witch and The Devil Within Her.

If you’ve never seen these trailers, this is a great way to learn more about some films that really are worth your time.

You can watch this on Tubi.