Petals on the Wind (2014)

Ten years after escaping from their mother, the surviving Dollanganger children — Cathy, Chris and Carrie — have tried to move on with their lives. But now, Cathy decides that enough is enough. She’s finally ready to take her horrible revenge on her mother, vengeance that was only hinted upon in the first film.

After the death of the man who took them in, our three heroes have moved on with their lives. Meanwhile, their grandmother Olivia is now an invalid after a stroke while their mother Corinne has fully taken over Foxworth Hall, the site of their imprisonment.

Cathy (Rose McIver, The Lovely Bones) has become a ballet dancer while her brother Chris (Wyatt Nash, whose career started on the reality show Survivor) learns to be a doctor and her sister Carrie (Bailey De Young) is bullied in high school.

On the eve of Carrie leaving town to try her luck on Broadway with her new boyfriend Julian, she gives in to her passion for her brother. That’s when it’s revealed that they almost had a child that miscarried. She leaves in the hopes of a new life while her brother remains behind, unable to love anyone but her. That’s bad news for the daughter of his boss at the hospital, Sarah Reeves, who falls in love with him.

Meanwhile, Julian is the rogue you probably figured he would be. He abuses her and even drops her at the try-out, breaking her leg and ruining her dreams of being on the Great White Way. That said, he does sabotage the girl who wins the lead by putting glass in her shoes and getting Cathy into a restaging of Romeo and Juliet. However, he starts getting touchy with her sister and an argument causes him to drive so badly that he wrecks and dies. Want to bet that Cathy is pregnant with either her brother or Julian’s child?

That said, Carrie is still a mess. She falls in love with a minister named Alex, but when she meets her mother and invites her to the wedding, her refusal leads to suicide. Cathy finally enacts her plan — seduce her mother’s husband Bart Winslow and then ruin her life. She also shows up to kiss her brother the day before his wedding, causing him to lose his new bride and his job as a doctor.

Chris decides that Cathy and her son Jory should come to California, where they will start a new life where no one knows them. But hey — why do that when you can go to a Christmas party and reveal to your evil mother that her husband’s baby is growing inside you?

The ending of this — how do I even get into it? Corinna and Olivia get in a shouting match, which ends with the old woman revealing that she kept the skeleton of her grandson Cory. Everyone but Cornnine, Chris and Cathy dies in the ensuing inferno, leaving for California while their mother is institutionalized.

This one has everything you want — if what you want is crazy people acting crazy and shouting recriminations at one another.

BONUS: Becca and I discussed this movie on our podcast.

Flowers In the Attic (2014)

Has any author been more made for Lifetime than V.C. Andrews? Nope. So it was no surprise when the network announced that four movies based on the Dollanganger saga would begin airing on its network in 2014. Unlike the 1987 theatrical film, the ending follows the book.

Of course, it’s the same basic story of the Dollanganger children Chris (Mason Dye, MTV’s Teen Wolf), Cathy (Kiernan Shipka, Mad Men and Netflix’s The Thrilling Adventures of Sabrina) and the twins Carrie and Cory who must endure after the death of their father and eventual abandonment by their mother Corrine (Heather Graham) inside the attic room of their brutal grandmother Olivia (Ellen Burstyn).

However, where the original film only hinted at the incest between Chris and Cathy, this one uses it as the bait to keep you watching the movie. Hey — it’s 2019. For some reason, 90% of all pornography seems to be incest based these days. Perhaps V.C. Andrews was on to something.

Instead of trying to tie the ending off with a neat — or poorly realized — ending, this time the story naturally leads to the second book of the series, Petals on the Wind, which aired four months later.

I’m pleased to state that I have all four of these films — are you surprised? — and I didn’t even wait for the four pack from Walmart. No, I have them all individually because I bought them the moment they came out. Not every movie has doughnuts killing mice and children, you know.

A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night (2014)

This movie was called “the first Iranian vampire western”,  even though it was shot in Taft, California. It’s all about a lonesome vampire in the Iranian ghost town known as Bad City. It’s also a Tarantino combination of influences, in black and white, that will either make you say, “Wow, that’s art” or “Huh, that’s self-indulgent tripe.”

Arash works hard to take care of his heroin-addled father. He’s proud of his car until it’s taken by his father’s dealer Saeed (Dominic Rains channeling Ninja from Die Antwoord). Our hero — such as it is, no one is really all that heroic here — tries to protect the modesty of Shaydah, the wealthy young woman he works for, but still steals her earrings.

As for Saeed, his interlude with one of his girls is cut short by The Girl (Sheila Vand), a vampire who soon kills him. Arash comes to the dealer’s home to get his car back, finds him dead and takes his money and drugs. Now, he can stop working so hard and get everything he wants. That doesn’t happen — he can’t even win over Shaydah, who rejects him.

He goes into the night high on Ecstasy and encounters The Girl. She takes him to her place, where they listen to music. The next night, he pierces her ears and gives her the stolen earrings.

Meanwhile, our hero’s dad is a mess, thinking that a cat is his dead wife. With all of the dealer’s money and drugs, he forces a prostitute to get high with him, which marks him as evil in The Girl’s eyes. She kills him and the prostitute helps her dispose of the body.

Arash soon learns that The Girl was behind his father’s death, but they still leave town together, even after he pulls over to the side of the road, leaving him unsure of what to do next.

This was the first feature for Ana Lily Amirpour, who was born in England, grew up in Florida and went to school in California. She was hailed as the new Tarantino as this film released, but the follow-up, The Bad Batch (which she described as “Road Warrior meets Pretty in Pink with a dope soundtrack” and “El Topo meets Dirty Dancing“) didn’t do so well. She’s working on another movie called Blood Moon, which is “”a mind-bending adventure set in the humid, neon-lit streets of New Orleans. Inspired by adventure films of the 1980s and ’90s, Blood Moon follows a young girl with special abilities. After escaping from an asylum, she enters back into the chaotic reality around her, making unexpected allies along the way.”

This is a movie with a spaghetti western soundtrack while referencing David Lynch and having a skateboarding vampire. Honestly, it’s really well made. Almost painterly. But it left me cold, with long stretches of absolutely no action. In fact, it’s a rather cold film.

Maybe it’s because it has it’s heart in the world of the art film. There’s a thin line between exploitation trash and celebrated cinema — it just depends where the movie is playing. It just feels like someone standing in front of your art class and trying to amaze you because they just read some philosophy books for the first time and want to wow you with how their painting really means something, man.

You can watch this for yourself and decide. It’s on Shudder with and without commentary by Joe Bob Briggs.

WolfCop (2014)

The first film picked for production from the CineCoup Film Accelerator, WolfCop won a contest that gave $1 million dollars and a guaranteed theater showing nationwide at Canada’s Cineplex Odeon theatre chain. They spent most of that money on the elaborate special effects werewolf transformation sequences in the film. It totally shows — this isn’t just a throwaway direct to WalMart and VOD affair.

A play on the French term for werewolf, alcoholic police officer Lou Garou spends most of his time in the small Canadian town of Woodhaven either drinking or sleeping. After being called to a complaint of occult activity, he stumbles on to quite a scene: the town’s elders are sacrificing the new upstart mayoral candidate. He wakes up the next morning in his bed with a pentagram carved into his belly.

Suddenly, his senses grow sharp and he surprises his fellow officers with how he’s investigating the case. He also starts to transform into a werewolf, starting in one startling scene with his penis turning black like a dog’s and spraying blood. Yep — this transformation scene is not for the weak of heart.

With the help of his friend Higgins and fellow cop Tina, Lou must find the shapeshifting Satanic town elders, clean up Woodhaven and drink as much as he can.

Filmed in Regina Saskatchewan and Moose Jaw Saskatchewan Canada, this is probably the best Canadian police officer werewolf movie you’ll ever see. The only other one I know is the sequel, 2017’s Another WolfCop.

It’s a lot of fun, if not very deep, but I love the scene where Lou is studying in a quiet library and yells, “You have any books on devil worship?” WolfCop also fulfills the next step of every 1980’s action hero: if life gives you lemons, build a special car with a battering ram and your logo on it.

Learn more by visiting the film’s official site. You can watch it on Shudder with and without commentary from Joe Bob Briggs.

Potential Inertia (2014)

Declan Holmes is about to graduate college and head into the real world. But to get there, he has to experience losses beyond what he’s ever felt before. This movie is all about his journey through the most difficult time of his life and the relationships that will either make or break him.

Delan has it rough. His dad is dying but they haven’t reached any resolution beforehand. He’s broken up with the love of his life. And most importantly to him, he has a script that he just can’t finish.

This is a pretty talky affair and I found it difficult to connect to the hero, but that may because I’ve lived more life than he has and know that the issues that make you feel like its the end of the world in your 20’s are nothing compared to the pain and stress that you’ll feel in your 40’s. I’m certain I’ll feel the same way twenty years from now as I look back.

This was shot right in my home area of Western Pennsylvania, so it’s cool to see movies coming out of the region. I’m looking forward to seeing where Matt Croyle’s work proceeds from here.

You can buy and watch this movie at the official site.

DISCLAIMER: We were sent this movie by its PR firm, but that doesn’t impact our review.

22 Jump Street (2014)

Hollywood demands sequels. But this is one that literally bites from the hand that feeds, making fun of the fact that it treads the same ground with minor changes and inversions. It’s also just as funny as the last one, taking the ridiculous notion of bringing 21 Jump Street into modern times and succeeding in spite of such a dumb concept.

Two years later, (Jonah Hill) and Jenko (Channing Tatum) are back on the streets and after drug dealers led by Ghost (Peter Stormare). After failing spectacularly, they’re dropped back into Captain Dickson’s (Ice Cube) program, which has moved across the street to 22 Jump Street.

Now, Jenko is the popular one becoming friends with the jocks like Zook (Wyatt Russell, son of Kurt and Goldie Hawn) and Rooster (YouTube actor Jimmy Tatro). Schmidt hooks up with Maya, who ends up being Ice Cube’s daughter and hijinks, of course, ensue.

The supporting cast makes this one, from Nick Offerman, Rob Riggle and Dave Franco returning from the last film to appearances by Queen Latifah, Jillian Bell, Bill Hader, Anna Faris, Seth Rogan, H. Jon Benjamin and Patton Oswalt. There are also appearances by nearly every actor from the 21 Jump Street series that didn’t make it into the last film.

Finally, the end credits spoil tons of sequels that are coming to this movie. Sadly, one of the real sequel ideas — MIB23, which would combine 21 Jump Street and the Men in Black series into one movie — has never come to pass.

What Was Lost (2014)

Joel had it all. A great job, a gorgeous wife, and the chance of finding a manuscript thought lost to time. But one day, everything changes in this 24-minute film from director Don Swanson, who also brought us A Wish for Giants.

One day, everything changes. His pursuit of the manuscript and ignoring of his wife finally pushes his wife into the arms of another man. I loved the honesty of this scene, with Joel just stunned that this is happening and discussing the proper making of bacon rather than attacking the man at first. I don’t to ruin what happens next, but he gets everything he wants back while losing everything at the same time.

Swanson’s directorial eye has improved since the last film of his that I watched, so that’s pretty exciting. He’s doing what he can with his budgets and that’s really all you can ask for.

You can check this out on Amazon Prime.

The Town That Dreaded Sundown (2014)

Alfonso Gomez-Rejon directing the movie Me, Earl and the Dying Girl probably wouldn’t make you think that he could knock it out of the park when it comes to horror. Seeing that this was produced by Jason Blum and Ryan Murphy (Gomez-Rejon also worked with the latter on the excoriable American Horror Story) isn’t something that would give you any hope, either. But man — this is way better than I would have ever thought and is actually a movie I’ve recommended to many people.

October 31, 2013. Texarkana. The local drive-in is showing its annual event of the original The Town That Dreaded Sundown, which the film at once presents as an actual film in its universe but also one based on the true story of the Phantom Killer of 1946. Corey Holland and Jami Lerner do the typical slasher move of leaving the drive-in to make out before the Phantom attacks them, saying, “This is for Mary. Make them remember.”

With that, we’re let loose in the modern world, where people have started to forget the Phantom but are about to get a devastating reminder of his power. There’s a bravura sequence where a soldier comes back home from leave and instantly finds himself in a hotel with his girlfriend before leaving to get a drink. He’s beheaded and the Phantom brutally kills her before calling Jami with Corey’s phone, saying, “I’m going to do it again and again until you make them remember.”

Just like in 1946, people start locking their doors and demanding that the police do something. Much like an Americanized giallo, Jami responds by starting her own investigation with a former classmate named Nick. And then “Lone Wolf” Morales (Anthony Anderson) takes over the case from the locals, like Chief Deputy Tillman (Gary Cole, always a welcome face).

Jami keeps getting emails from the killer, yet the police don’t believe her. They already have the killer — a depressed teen who has dressed up as the Phantom to die via suicide by cop. But the murderer isn’t really dead, as the remake/reimagining redoes the first film’s infamous trombone murder one better by having the Phantom wipe out a young male couple.

The cops decide to look closer at the email and determine that it came from Reverend Cartwright (Edward Herrmann in his last role) but don’t believe he is the killer. Jami hasn’t stopped looking and learns that Charles B. Pierce’s (the creator of the original as well as The Legend of Boggy Creek) son still lives in the area. He believes that this Phantom is the grandson of Hank McCreedy, the forgotten sixth victim of the original Phantom, who had a wife named Mary.

Meanwhile, the Phantom moves on to even killing cops, wiping out Tillman while he’s instigating a sword fight with a lady he’s brought home from the bar. While all this is going on, Jami decides to leave town to go to college and loses her virginity to Nick, who is quickly killed by the Phantom.

As she tries to leave town with her grandmother, the Phantom attacks them at a gas station, killing nearly everyone with a rifle. Jami finds Nick’s body just as she’s pinned to a wall by arrows and learns that there are two killers — Deputy Foster, who is McReady’s grandson and her boyfriend Corey, who had faked his death.  Corey tries to tell her that Texarkana had a box made for them and they are the same, but she rejects him. Foster then shoots Cory so that he has a patsy to blame, but Jami shoots him and escapes. His body is never found.

In the end, Jami is off at college, far away from small town life. Yet even there, the shadow of the Phantom is still there.

This movie is never going to replace the original, obviously. It has none of the abrupt shifts in narrative tone, instead staying firmly in dark territory. But unlike so many modern remakes, it both honors and adds to the movie that it came from.

You can watch this movie on Amazon Prime.

BIGFOOT WEEK: Bigfoot vs. D.B. Cooper (2014)

I want you to look at that awesome box art. I want you to imagine just how insane a pairing of legendary hijacker D.B. Cooper and Bigfoot could be. I want you to notice Linnea Quigley and Eric Roberts names above the credits. And then, when you realize that David DeCoteau directed it, you’ll realize that things are about to take a turn.

Sure, DeCoteau started his career making movies like Creepozoids and Sorority Babes in the Slimeball Bowl-O-Rama, but of late, he’s been making cover versions like The Brotherhood, which reimagines The Craft as a homoerotic battle of magical boys.

I started watching this and Eric Roberts’ narration of the legend of D.B. Cooper had me hooked. I put my head down to start writing this review and looked up and thought, why is every guy just wandering around topless? Soon, I realized that no one had on any shirts at all and were all gradually taking more and more of their clothes off. Once a scene turns into a softcore JO event, I decided to do some research, thinking “David DeCoteau has to be behind this.” And yes, pardon the pun, be he sure was.

You have to admire the audacity of a director that promises you a movie where Bigfoot battles another myth and delivers a movie with hairless boys parading around with guns. In fact, I love that this movie is on Amazon Prime, complete with reviews that all contain the phrase “not that there’s anything wrong with it.”

Bigfoot erotica is a thing. David DeCoteau movies of bros with pecs all posing for the voyeuristic lens of the director are a thing. If that’s what you’re looking for and you have no interest in just straight up watching porn or an actual Bigfoot film, then let me recommend this one to you. I’m glad that there’s something for everyone and this film is certainly that something for those that always wanted to watch a movie where dudes stroke themselves until being murdered by a man in a horrible looking Bigfoot costume. But hey! The scenery is nice!

And if you were planning on Linnea Quigley rescuing you from the odd stirrings you’re feeling, bad news. It’s just her voice. You’re gonna have to deal with whatever you’re dealing with like a man.

I love that Fangoria even interviewed DeCoctau about this project, in which he said, “I remember the evening when D.B. Cooper leaped from that plane. I was 9 years old and living with my family in Portland, Oregon, where Cooper boarded it. It was all over the local news. Even at a young age, I knew it would be near-impossible for anyone to survive that jump—at night, during a rainstorm. I knew the area of Washington State where the FBI thought he could have landed. It is so remote and dangerous that if the jump didn’t kill D.B., then maybe something else did. Bigfoot vs. D.B. Cooper is my theory of what actually happened to the hijacker.”

So basically, at nine years old, he imagined a movie where Bigfoot traced the outline of a dude’s package through his boxers before killing him. I love that we live in this reality, everyone.

You might be reading this and wonder, “Should I watch this movie?” I’d say yes. You’re not going to see another film that has this many repeated shots, this much stock footage (there’s literally a 3D render of an airplane used in the place of stock footage) and this much ADR. It’s the kind of movie you can brag that you finished. It’s 76 minutes of running time feels like 76 months. I stuck it out just wondering, “Would Bigfoot ever battle D.B. Cooper?”

I’m going to save you some time and tell you that yes, they battle. And that D.B. Cooper is now Bigfoot. If you want some explanation beyond that, you’re going to need to watch this yourself.

I love that this movie was available on DVD at Wal-Mart and can only imagine that this was made only as a Trojan horse to get male softcore porn into the unwanting hands of far-right conspiracy lovers. And if me sitting through this painful film had to happen to make that come true, I regret that I only have one life to give to my country.

Bag Boy Lover Boy (2014)

Who decides what is art and what is junk? Is there much of a difference between Alejandro Jodorowsky and Lucio Fulci? What is good and what is bad? This movie raises those questions and more. Does it answer them? Kinda.

Albert is a strange man — a hotdog vendor who can barely communicate with the rest of the world. Played by Jon Wachter, a first-time actor who is usually a writer and director, he’s an unsettling presence everywhere he appears. Suddenly, he becomes the muse of a Richard Kern-like photographer and forced to endure all manner of bloody and disturbing photo sessions.

Our hero — is he the hero? — decides to become a photographer himself. But all he knows is how Ivan acts. And the only people he knows how to hire are prostitutes. This can’t end well. And it doesn’t.

This isn’t a perfect movie. But it will keep your attention throughout. It has an odd undercurrent beyond its subject matter, making the viewer think they are watching a real maniac and not just one on the screen.

You can grab this video from Severin or watch it on Amazon Prime.