Mike (Marcin Paluch) and Carrie (Tracy Willet) Bonner have just been married and move into a secluded forest home. Of course, it takes but a few weeks until the other people who live in the area start to upset Carrie, which leads her to believe that their new hometown is filled with the supernatural. Mike blows it all off, but you know, if a house tells you to get out, you should get out.
Animosity was originally filmed in 2012 as a thesis project at the School of Visual Arts with professor Roy Frumkes (Street Trash) acting as the film’s executive producer. It faded away until Brendan Steere, the movie’s director, had a hit with Velocipastor.
I was surprised that this is a film closer to Let’s Scare Jessica to Death — credit for that theory goes to Jim Morazzini on Voices from the Balcony — than the goofball gross-out action that Steere has become known for. Despite some audio issues and being too dark to see in places — hey, it had a $14,000 budget — there’s enough in this to warrant a serious watch for any horror lover.
Editor’s Note: Thanks for joining us on our three-day “Drag Racing Week” tribute to the funny cars and rails speeding down the quarter mile during the ’60s and ’70s. Let’s wrap it up with this bioflick on the two biggest starsof the sport. Search for “Drag Racing Week” to find ’em all.
Don “The Snake” Prudhomme and Tom “The Mongoose” McEwen were gods to the wee-lads of the ’70s. I was, myself, funny car crazy, with centerfold tear outs of “The Snake and The Mongoose” on my walls, right alongside magazine rips of champion motorcrosser Roger De Coster. I had the draggin’ duo’s matching Hot Wheels cars. I had their respective model kits: both funny and rail. When the ABC Wild World of Sports held one of Prudhomme and McEwen’s drag or funny car races on a Saturday afternoon, the neighborhood streets cleared: everyone sat in front of the TV. In terms of asphalt sports idols, The Snake and Mongoose were matched only by Richard Petty and Evel Knievel. They were the “Muhammad Ali” of racing. Everyone loved them.
But why did Hollywood never produce a film about the famed racers? Well, they did, finally, or you wouldn’t be reading this review. But it’s not the film an ol’ racing fan, such as myself, wanted. I expect this from a dramatic B-Movie dragger of the Crown International variety, like Burnout. But not this.
Now, you think those battling asphalt warriors would be ripe — like daredevil cyclist Evel Knievel, who had not one, but two movies about his life: the first, Evel Knievel (1971), starred George Hamilton; the second (and worse) dramatization, Viva Knievel (1977), starred Evel as himself — for a ’70s era theatrical film. Drag racing was so hot, so hip, and so trendy, the industry pumped out the early ’70s documentaries Funny Car Summer, Wheels of Fire, Wheels on Fire, and Seven Second Love Affair, and dramatic pieces, such as Drag Racer. Even exploitation coming-of-age drive-in flicks, such as the The Young Graduates, which wasn’t even about drag racing, tossed in a drag racing subplot to get us rubber-burning fans into the speaker and mosquito coil farm. Even George Lucas tossed in a drag racing subplot in the box office flounder that is More American Graffiti. If Elvis hadn’t gotten out of film, we probably would have gotten a hip swingin’ drag racing film — complete with Prudhomme, McEwen, Muldowney, and Garlits cameos — to go with his stock car racing flick trio of Viva Las Vegas, Spinout, and Speedway.
You’d also think that after producing a hit film about Shirley Muldowney (Bonnie Bedelia), the First Lady of Drag Racing and the first woman to receive a license from the National Hot Rod Association (NHRA) — and even having “Big Daddy” Don Garlits (Billy McKinney) portrayed — in the film Heart Like a Wheel (1983), Hollywood would have responded with an ’80s theatrical film. Not even after David Cronenberg gave us the 1979 drag drama, Fast Company.
Nope. Denied again.
Instead: We got this years-too-late-TV movie (with a limited, 20-city theatrical release that failed to catch a box office upwind) starring Jesse Williams (star of TV’s Grey’s Anatomy and Station 19) as Don “The Snake” Prudhomme, and Richard Blake (guest roles on TV’s NCIS: Los Angeles and CSI: Crime Scene Investigations) as Tom “Mongoose” McEwen. Rounding out the cast are the always serviceable TV faces of Noah Wyle (who, I always felt should have been on the A-List with his fellow ER castmate, George Clooney) and the always game for-anything-the-SyFy Channel-throws-at-him, Ian Ziering. Also on deck are the always on point Tim Blake Nelson, Fred Dryer, and John Heard.
As you can see from the trailer, it’s all put together well enough. But this is a TV movie, after all, and it’s not Days of Thunder starring Tom Cruise. So, there’s lots . . . and lots . . . of stock footage spliced into the film — which was the same production weakness that plagued those Evel bio-flicks all those years ago. Honestly, if I wanted to watch old, classic clips of the races, I can pull those up on You Tube, ad nauseam. If I am pulling up a pop corn bucket, you have to give me more than old ABC Wild World of Sports clips in what ends up as a companion piece to the lightweight Disney Channel drag racing bio, On the Right Track (which, again, is serviceable enough, but it is an against-the-budget cable flick with TV actors). Even updated CGI cars would have been better serving than grainy ’70s clips. At least the CGI draggin’ would have matched to the rest of the dramatic footage.
But if you need a quick way to get down and dirty into the tale of the mutual friendship (and fake rivalry) and marketing brilliance of two guys — who put this kid on a hook and took him for several hundred laps on the bright orange track — then this is worth your time. It’s a serviceable B-Movie that, while too late to the track, it — finally — gets is all on record. (All the Hot Wheels images of the Snake and Mongoose you can handle are a Goggle click away.)
If Hollywood only made this bio-racer during the prime of Tom Cruise and George Clooney as the Snake and Mongoose, we’d have something special.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 (of the later Almost Sharkproof) 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)?
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.