Sing Street (2016)

Before becoming a writer and director, John Carney played for the Irish band The Frames. In fact, the lead singer of that band, Glen Hansard, starred in Carney’s best-known film, 2007’s Once alongside his partner in the band Swell Season, Markéta Irglová. Made on a budget of around $150,000, it ended up earning $23.3 million worldwide. an Oscar for the song “Falling Slowly” and the admiration of Steven Spielberg, who said, “Once gave me enough inspiration to last the rest of the year.”

Carney replied, “In the end of the day, he’s just a man with a beard.”

Sing Street tells the story of Conor “Cosmo” Lawlor (Ferdia Walsh-Peelo), whose family is struggling so much that he’s forced to go shoeless at school when they can’t afford the proper ones for his uniform. He’s bullied day in and day out, but soon meets Darren, who becomes his manager, and Eamon (Mark McKenna), who can play any instrument. Initially, the idea of a band is just a way to win over Ralphina (Lucy Boynton, who will soon play Marianna Faithfull in Faithfull), who wants to be a model.

Soon, though, the band becomes a driving force in their lives and even allows for their bully to have a place to belong. It also allows him to bond with his borther Brendan, who teaches him what music should mean in your life.

The close of this film has always made me wonder if everything — please, don’t let me spoil it for you, so stop reading if you haven’t seen it — from the gym sequence to Cosmo and Ralphina sailing away is all just a dream sequence from a music video.

Carney hsa said, “Well, I don’t see it just as a happy romantic ending. I think that’s the tone of the piece, but I think it’s more like… they’re setting off together, that’s true, but I wouldn’t say that’s some huge relationship that’s going to last forever. They’re kids. I sort of hope the scene at the end would look a little like a fantasy sequence. You’re supposed to wonder where the reality ends and the pop video begins. But people are actually taking it very seriously, and people are presuming it’s fully real, which is interesting. That wasn’t the intention.”

If you grew up in the 80’s and dreamed that a girl would fall for you because you were on the verge of becoming a music video star, then this movie will warm your heart. Like all the best films, I wish that it was real.

Hitchhiking to the Edge of Sanity (2016)

Two Kansas college kids — photographer Steve Ewert and writer Dick Russell — had traveled across Europe looking for a place to belong and having adventures. They went to de Charles De Gaulle’s funeral at Notre Dame, met famous artists, almost got arrested in Amsterdam and had two cars stolen. But their real adventure wouldn’t begin until they hitchhiked 2,700 miles across the Sahara Desert.

Told in the actual voices of Ewert and Russell — and directed by Scott Petersen — this movie tells how they went from Algeria to Ghana, as well as all of the incredible moments in-between. Could they remain friends? Would they be able to get a story out of this? And how does one stay alive when their driver is a Dutch revolutionary given to crashing his van into sand dunes just for a laugh?

We are living in a time much like the upheaval the protagonists of this story lived through. Their experiences should serve to educate, inform and even entertain us.

You can learn more about this movie at the official site. It’s now available on Amazon Prime and will be coming to Tubi this fall.

DISCLAIMER: We were sent this film by its PR company. That has no impact on our review.

Invasion Earth (2016)

Eight young addicts attend an experimental group therapy run by self-help guru Doctor Carson. This will keep them out of prison, which a TV reporter sees as a scam. She tries to expose the group but just as this UK movie sets itself up as a thriller, it shifts into science fiction as an alien invasion throws the entire plot into pure chaos. I mean, they do warn us at the beginning that those alien ships are showing up in three months!

You know how you wait for the entire running time of The Alpha Incident for something otherworldly to happen? This is close to that, but not as well made. That said, it has a great poster going for it.

Director Steven M. Smith has tons of direct to streaming videos in production, so good for him for hustling. This isn’t bad and there’s some promise, so here’s hoping I like his next effort even more.

This movie will be released on demand and on DVD August 4 from Midnight Releasing, who were nice enough to send us a review copy.

The Lost City of Cecil B. DeMille (2016)

In 1982, Peter Brosnan heard a story about an ancient Egyptian City buried in California that had once been used for The Ten Commandments. For thirty years, he fought to discover it and make this film.

Yes, below the dunes, buried so no other movie would use it, is an entire City of the Pharaohs. The fight to get it consumed everyone in this movie.

Built in the Guadalupe-Nipomo Dunes, the set had 20 sphinxes and four 35-ton statues of Ramses. You have to give it to Brosnan, who didn’t give up even when it seemed like he’d never get the chance to see his dream come true.

This movie is the history of every setback over his life, which starts with he and his friends recording the site with film cameras and ends with his children recording him on an iPhone. This study of film history, legal woes and dreams come true is well worth the watch.

You can watch this on Amazon Prime and Tubi.

CarousHELL (2016)

Duke is a carousel unicorn who hates his job. One day, a fat child pushes him beyond the brink, bringing him to life and sending him on the path of revenge. Honestly, if you read that sentence and laughed, this movie is for you.

This was directed by Steve Rudinzki, who was also behind Red Christmas and makes Christmas movies like A Meowy Christmas because that’s what else horror directors are known for in the 2020 world of video streaming.

Don’t expect a budget. Do expect women to have sex with unicorns. See? You can’t always get what you want, but when you try sometimes, you just may find a tusk in the meat locker.

Want to know more? Check out the official site. You can get this from MVD and Diabolik DVD.

DISCLAIMER: We were sent this movie on DVD from Wild Eye Releasing.

The Big F (2016)

It’s Valentine’s Day and Bigfoot is looking for a mate. Even the prostitiute they hired to satisfy him isn’t enough, so he’s soon killing his way through the suburbs in this movie that was released on the Wild Eye Raw label.

BIgfoot, we learn, has a very small member. Yes, if you wanted to see Bigfoot tallywhacker, good news. This movie has the goods. Until now, I’d only seen him rip off cocks in movies like Night of the Demon. Of course, death and nudity and all manner of ridiculousness ensures.

This was written and directed by Brian Papandrea, who also is in the movie as Maverick. He’s an actor when he’s not directing, playing Jesus Christ in Gay for Pray: The Erotic Adventures of Jesus Christ.

Your enjoyment of this will depend on the amount of skunk ape love making you enjoy. There is a market for this, after all.

You can get this from MVD.

DISCLAIMER: Thanks to Wild Eye Releasing for sending this DVD our way.

2 Lava 2 Lantula! (2016)

Steve Guttenberg returns as Colton West in the sequel to Lavalantula. Once again, giant lava spitting spiders are killing people, but this time it’s in Florida, where Colton’s stepdaughter is on spring break. Guttenberg’s former Police Academy co-stars Michael Winslow and Marion Ramsey are back to help stop them including biggest lavantula of them all — the Gargantulantula.

When Steve Guttenberg gives his inspirational speech, saying “There are no aliens in Florida,” Tahnee Welch and Tyrone Power, Jr. are there They are playing their roles from Cocoon and Cocoon: The Return, a fact that is probably lost on everyone but maniacs like you and me.

SyFy and their damn movies got me to watch this by not only featuring Guttenberg, Winslow and Ramsey, but throwing in Martin Kove. Some people are suckers for their favorite hot actresses. I show up for Martin Kove in movies. Such is my lot in life.

If you want to watch a bad CGI giant monster movie about spiders that lay eggs in people and basically fart out fire, I can’t stop you. I can’t tell you not to make the mistakes I made. I can only wish you the best.

My Name is Fleming, Ian Fleming (2016)

This documentary tells the story of Ian Fleming, real-life spy, ladies’ man and sportsman. He was there at the real birth of MI-5 and the CIA, which gave him the background to tell the story of one of pop culture’s most beloved heroes, James Bond.

From how Fleming created Chitty Chitty Bang Bang for his son to how he fell in love with SCUBA diving, it really tells so much about the man who created Bond.

If you’re a Bond fan, you will already know much of this, such as how the man with a license to kill was named after a bird watching writer. However, if you are just learning about the universe of MI6 and SPECTRE, this is a quick watch that will get you up to speed.

You can watch this on Amazon Prime.

Darkslide (2016)

Originally titled Road to Red, this surf/skate/horror hybrid is all about five best friends who set out on a road trip that quickly turns into an epic battle for survival.

It was co-written and directed by Tito de Costa. It’s his fist full-length movie.

In the Sierra Nevada Mountains of California, a sheriff finds world skateboard champion Paul McGuiness’ abandoned car parked at a lake and his surfboard flaoting nearby. Some believe he killed himself or overdosed. His brother and manager Bruce sets out to learn the truth, along with four of Paul’s best friend. But now, whatever killed Paul is coming for them.

I’d compare this to The Descent, but there’s plenty of skating, too. It gets pretty claustrophobic at times, if that’s something that upsets you.

You can watch this on Amazon Prime.

DISCLAIMER: Wild Eye sent us this DVD. That has no impact on our review.

Dark Signal (2016)

The mountainous, remote wooded expanse of Snowdonia, North Wales, is terrorized by the Wedlock Killer. The savage and brutal attacks of five women share a common trait: their wedding ring fingers were removed by a bolt cutter. Luckily, Sarah, the next victim, was watching an expositional TV news report so we can learn this useful, bloody tidbit—and save it for later to season this story where The Shining meets The Ring—with a dash of Ju-On and a soupçon of 2005’s White Noise starring Michael Keaton.

Yep. There’s a ghost in the machine and a pseudo-giallo killer on the loose.

After the first kill we’re introduced to the jaded, motorcycle riding and chain-smoking (ah “character development”) Laurie Wolf (Siwan Morris of Britain’s long-running Eastenders). She’s a DJ who can’t find a new gig in the wake of hosting her final show on the soon-to-be-closed down Radio JAB, a local station victimized by corporate network automation. Ben (Gareth David-Lloyd of Syfy Network’s Warehouse 13 and the BBC’s Doctor Who spin-off, Torchwood), Laurie’s producer, has on an online affair with Kate (excellent Polish actress Joanna Ignaczewska of 2014’s The Scopia Effect), a single mother dealing with a spiteful ex-husband. Kate’s financial desperation thrusts her into agreeing to be the getaway driver for a robbery planned by her dubious boyfriend Nick, who’s out to rob a “business associate”—in those very same remote woods.

Uh-oh.

When the car’s electrical system fails and the radio turns to static, Kate meets a bloody, long-haired ghost that haunts the woods: Kate’s about to be Yūrei’d.

Now that’s a radio studio! On the air with Laurie Wolf on Radio JAB, the voice of Snowdonia, Wales.

Meanwhile, back on the final broadcast of the “Howl at the Moon” radio programme on Radio JAB, the divine Ms. Wolf and Ben decide that, as a final act of defiance against the station’s owners, they’ll break format and interview Carla Zaza, a questionable psychic (Cinzia Monreale of Dario Argento’s The Stendhal Syndrome and Lucio Fulci’s The Beyond) and hold an on-air séance.

A questionable psychic and a skeptical, bitchy chain-smoker who thinks it’s all fake?

Uh-oh.

Cue Sadako’s onryō-creeks n’ crackles and turn up the radio static: the bogus psychic made contact with the EVP (electronic voice phenomenon) spirit of Sarah, the last victim of the Wedlock Killer, who’s now using the airwaves of Radio JAB to extract her revenge.

Way to push that J-Horror angle, Mr. Distributor.

When watching this Wales-shot horror, as with any British, Scottish, or Australian-shot film, Dark Signal can be a hard watch due to the thick Welsh accents. Fortunately, TubiTV’s upload features a closed captioning feature so you can get the full enjoyment from this nicely-shot and acted debut feature from writer/director Edward Evers-Swindell.

Produced by Neil Marshall, the director behind Dark Soldiers (2002), The Descent (2005), Doomsday (2008), and Hellboy (2019), Marshall and Swindell will be back in theatres in 2020 with the Swindell-penned and Marshall-directed The Reckoning.

About the Author: You can read the music and film reviews of R.D Francis on Medium and learn more about his work on Facebook.