WATCH THE SERIES: The Purge Part 3

Somehow — and I don’t know legally how this has happened — there are several films that outright use the Purge as their plot. I understand how the parodies happen but there’s one movie that. just can’t figure out how no one was sued.

Then again, according to The Hollywood Reporter, “Universal, Platinum Dunes Productions and James DeMonaco have finally put an end to a four-year-old lawsuit that alleged the horror smash The Purge was ripped off from another writer. On Friday, the parties informed a California court that the case was being dropped after a settlement.

Douglas Jordan-Benel brought the lawsuit alleging the film — about an annual 12-hour period where all crime is legal — derived from his screenplay called Settler’s Day. As the plaintiff navigated one hurdle after another in litigating his copyright and breach of contract claims, The Purge spawned sequels and a TV series. Jordan-Benel stated in court papers that the plot of both works was “virtually identical” and in his complaint, the plaintiff focused on the submission of his script to the UTA talent agency, which also represents DeMonaco.”

After a four-year case, the article goes on to reveal certain documents suggested that DeMonaco’s script may have predated Jordan-Benel’s. Then, a huge fight broke out over whether there was any evidence tampering, which led to Jordan-Benel gaining great access to early versions of The Purge screenplay and emails. There was a settlement and the notice of the dismissal was unusually specific and favorable to DeMonaco, with the court stating, “In light of information produced in discovery demonstrating Defendant James DeMonaco’s independent creation of The Purge, Plaintiff has agreed to dismiss his lawsuit with prejudice, in exchange for a waiver by Defendants of any claim for an award of fees and costs.”

Here are the movies that came after and how they relate to the original films:

Meet the Blacks (2016): Directed by Deon Taylor, who wrote this with Nicole DeMasi, Meet the Blacks finds that family — led by Carl (Mike Epps) — getting out of Chicago after stealing some money from drug kingpin Key Flo (Charlie Murphy in his last role). Once settling in Beverly Hills, Mike and his wife Lorena (Zulay Henao) and kids Allie Black (Bresha Webb) and Carl Jr. (Alex Henderson) discover that they ended up in town at the absolute worst time. Yes, they’re here on the day of The Purge.

The best joke is that George Lopez is President El Bama, but hey, Paul Mooney is also a Klan member, plus Mike Tyson, Tyrin Turner and Perez Hilton are in this too. It’s not exactly great, but the fact that this movie just outright uses The Purge is pretty audacious. If the racial issues of the first few movies were too under the surface for you — they are not — this movie goes all out.

Not to be outdone, Taylor and most of the cast returned for The House Next Door: Meet the Blacks 2, which is literally Fright Night with Katt Williams as a pimp version of Jerry Dandrige. Maybe this was the movie that Herschell Walker was really watching?

Evil At the Door (2022): For almost a hundred years, The Locusts have treated their followers to one night — three hours — where they can do anything they want to a selected home and any of the people they find inside. The Locusts have selected the home of Daniel (Matt O’Neill, Candy Corn) and Jessica (Sunny Doench, Coffin). Complicating matters is that there may be a Locust who isn’t on the same side as everyone else, plus Jessica’s sister Liz (Andrea Sweeney Blanco) is hiding under the bed trying to escape.

Like a combination of The Strangers and The Purge, the film begins with John Doe (Bruce Davison, who has nearly 300 credits, but may be best known for being in X-Men as Senator Kelly; you may also recognize him from The Lords of Salem or The Crucible) invites the cult’s member to initiate the Night of the Locusts.

A family that barely gets along being surrounded by four cult members who can get away with anything that happens. Great set-up, right? Yes, it is. The execution — CGI stabbings instead of practical effects and costumes that look like the Wish version of Ghost from Call of Duty — take away the good will that the opening created.

Fans of TV’s Dynasty and The Colbys will, at least, be happy to see John James (Jeff Colby!) show up. His next movie is My Son Hunter, playing President Biden. It’s directed by Robert Davi and stars Gino Carano so…

Director, writer, producer, editor and one of the actors — he’s Truman — Kipp Tribble did more than just two or three things on this movie. I wish that he could have followed up on pieces he set in motion. That said, he’s figured out how to pull this movie together with a small crew and a low budget.

The Binge (2020): Directed by Jeremy Garelick and written by Jordan VanDina, The Binge is about a world where no one can drink or do drugs except for 12 hours, once a year, just like…yeah, you got it. This follows the adventures of Griffin (Skyler Gisondo), Hags (Dexter Darden) and Andrew (Eduardo Franco), three guys who have just turned eighteen and are now eligible to take part of America’s one part day of pleasure.

Griffin is in love with Lena (Grace Van Dien), whose father (Vince Vaughn) is the overprotective principal of their school. Of course he ends up being an old partier and everyone is happy, yet a 2020 drug movie has none of the wacky ramshackle charm of Cheech and Chong, its plot as manufactured as the scientifically grown weed. You know where the highs are coming from, but some of those old bags of comedic hash sometimes could give you the kind of laughs that stay with you for the rest of your life. This is not that strain.

The Binge 2: It’s A Wonderful Binge (2022): Hulu has bought another The Binge film and set it at Christmas and man, we hit the algorithm right on this week. Directed and written by Jordan VanDina, this year’s Binge comes during the holidays, which seems like when it should always be if you can only drink and do drugs for 12 hours a year.

Hags (Dexter Darden) is trying to stay sober so that he can propose to his girlfriend Sarah (Zainne Saleh) while his friend Andrew (Eduardo Franco) wants to use all those powders, pills, drinks and smokes to get through the time he has to spend with his family. All while Mayor Spengler (Kaitlin Olsen) is trying to get her town — and her daughter Kimmi (Marta Piekarz) to end The Binge just as her brother Kris (Nick Swardson) escapes from prison.

It’s nice to see Tim Meadows, Danny Trejo and Paul Scheer get some work, but this movie seems like a child who has just learned to swear or worse, a college kid who comes back home for Christmas obsessed with smoking grass. It tries — the animated part is kind of humorous — but I just know we’re going to get a third one. And you know me. I’m going to sit through it.

2025: Red White and Blue (2022): I get the urge to purge a The Purge ripoff from your system, but how can you make a parody that’s 2 hours and 15 minutes long?

In the year 2025, the 45th President of the United States of America — look, this is automatically the most horrifying film of the year just with the rest of this sentence — gets back in the White House, restarts the Purge, rebuilds the wall and gets ready to Make America Safe Again.

Bill Wilson (Grid Magraf), agent of FIRE (Forest and Immigration Raking Enforcement), is two weeks from returning, getting too old for this excrement and has just finished the bust of his life taking down a Mexican drug cartel. However, some dirty agents want the evidence and plan on using The Purge to get it from his house.

This is an equal opportunity movie, making fun of Biden as a pedophile, Trump as a man reduced to filming The Apprentice and urinating online for hits and liberals maybe even more devoted to murder than the right wing gun owners they argue against. There’s something for everyone to be offended by here, mostly that this takes so long and can get away with outright being a Purge movie despite it being made by anyone other than Blumhouse.

You can watch this on Tubi.

Am I missing any more Purge-inspired ripoffs? Let me know!

I mean, one can argue that The Purge was ripped off from “The Return of the Archons,” an episode of the classic Star Trek.

This is not a test.

This is your emergency broadcast system announcing the commencement of the Annual Purge sanctioned by the U.S. Government.Weapons of class 4 and lower have been authorized for use during the Purge. All other weapons are restricted. Government officials of ranking 10 have been granted immunity from the Purge and shall not be harmed. Commencing at the siren, any and all crime, including murder, will be legal for 12 continuous hours. Police, fire, and emergency medical services will be unavailable until tomorrow morning at 7 a.m. when The Purge concludes. Blessed be our New Founding Fathers and America, a nation reborn.

May God be with you all.

WATCH THE SERIES: The Purge Part 1

James DeMonaco was born in Brooklyn but spent eight years in Paris. When he came back to America,  he “put a microscope” on his life after realizing the difference in the relationship our country has with guns. He stated, “I’m terrified for my country. So I think that cynicism seeps into the film. America itself becomes the canvas, instead of the haunted house, the canvas is America. We don’t need ghosts or vampires anymore when we’re just killing each other, you know?”

Then, a drunk driver nearly killed him and his wife and she said — she’s a doctor, mind you — “I wish we could all have one free murder a year.”

That’s how we got The Purge.

In 2014, the New Founding Fathers of America are voted into office, promising to fix the economic collapse. One of the ways that they do that is by passing a law sanctioning the Purge, an annual event where all crime is legal and emergency services are temporarily suspended.

Somehow, it works, because the news claims that the U.S. is crime-free and unemployment rates have dropped to 1%. However, that only works if you’re upper middle class and white, just one of the many ways that these movies — while a bit too on the nose — really reflect reality almost way too much.

The Purge (2013): Just like Sinister, the first movie in this series stars Ethan Hawke and really is there to lay the groundwork before the much more interesting sequel. Not that either movie is bad, but they create the world that the other film (or films) get to explore.

Hawke is architect James Sandin and his family — wife Mary (Lean Headey), son Charlie (Max Burkholder) and daughter Zoey (Adelaide Kane) — are aware that the Purge is coming but he’s invented a security system to protect them all. Well, it works until a stranger shows up injured and Zoey’s boyfriend Henry (Tony Oller) decides to bring a gun and confront James about their relationship.

What follows is a night of horror as the assembled neighbors, led by Grace Ferrin (Arija Bareikis), want the homeless man that asked for James’ help and to gain revenge against them as the Sandin’s wealth has come from all of them, as everyone needs the security system that he has invented to survive this night.

That mysterious man, known as the Stranger (Edwin Hodge), will become more important as the series continues. The budget for this was low and the idea of multiple Purges wouldn’t be possible, but DeMonaco said, “We only had 19 days to shoot and $2.7 million to work with.” And if he ever got the chance to do another, it would be like Escape from New York.

Good news. He got the chance.

The Purge: Anarchy (2014): Frank Grillo is the kind of actor that I love, someone who would be starring in Cannon movies if this was the 80s and instead is the lead in this movie as Leo Barnes, an LAPD Police Sergeant who wants to use Purge Night to avenge his son’s death, with the killer going free as the boy died on Purge Night.

Before the sixth Purge can begin, a resistance group led by Carmelo Johns (Michael K. Williams) and Dante Bishop (Edwin Hodge), the Stranger from the first movie, hijack the American media to denounce the government and the fact that the Purge has reduced poor and non-white people to target practice.

The other storyline in this concerns waitress Eva Sanchez (Carmen Ejogo), her daughter Cali (Zoë Soul) and her terminally ill father Rico (John Beasley) who has sold himself to a rich family as someone to be hunted so that Eva and Cali can live in confront after his death.

There’s also Shane (Zach Gilford) and Liz (Kiele Sanchez), a couple ready to leave one another, who also are trapped in the inner city on the worst night of the year.

Complicating matters is that the Purge has not worked out how its creators thought: people wait to enact revenge based on personal grudges, killing friends and family instead of random poor people. The government has sent out death squads to up the body count and destroy the lower class.

The Purge: Election Year (2016): It’s kind of crazy how The Purge finally found its real footing three movies in, moving Leo Barnes (Frank Grillo) into a Secret Service hero protecting Senator Charlene Roan (Elizabeth Mitchell), a U.S. Senator running for President on an anti-Purge platform. She has a true belief in this, as her family was killed during the first Purge.

The New Founding Fathers of America use the Purge to try and kill Roan legally, as this year government officials have no immunity. This film also goes all in on just how close the NFFA is to right-wing religious zealots, even praying for death in church and having a sacrifice on an altar. Minister Edwidge Owens (Kyle Secor) is the other Presidential front runner and he’s been targeted by the underground led by Dante Bishop (Edwin Hodge).

Of all The Purge movies, this feels the most like something John Carpenter would make, as it feels like a non-stop chase and the good guys up against the wall for the entire running time. It expands the world of the film without forgetting the normal people caught up in the Purge, those truly battling for their lives and not just arguing about money and politics.

This is also the most violent in the series with 116 deaths, nearly one every single minute. It also shows that the rest of the world has begun to be part of the event with death tourism increasing along with the government sponsored death squads.

DISMEMBERCEMBER: Better Watch Out (2016)

Directed by Chris Peckover, who wrote the script from a story by Zack Kahn, this film starts with 17-year-old babysitter Ashley (Olivia DeJonge, who played Priscilla in Elvis) dealing with an awkward seduction by the five years younger Luke Lerner (Levi Miller). Then a brick flies through the window that says “U leave and U die” and it looks like someone has shot his friend Garrett (Ed Oxenbould). That intruder breaks into the house with a shotgun as Ashley and Levi hide inside the closet.

And then…well, wouldn’t that be giving the whole movie away?

With cameos for Virginia Madsen and Patrick Warburton as Levi’s parents and enough twists and turns to fill twelve days of Christmas movies, Better Watch Out’s biggest surprise is that it was shot in Australia. Peckover was going to shoot this on a lower budget in North Carolina, but then Australian producer Brett Thornquest heard his mother was an Australian native and gave him $3 million to make it there.

My favorite idea in this movie is that the big city Ashley is moving to is Pittsburgh. What small town is she leaving?

Don’t read up on this movie. Just go into it cold, like I did, and get ready to discover if that paint can trick in Home Alone really would kill someone.

You can watch this on Tubi.

WILD EYE DVD RELEASE: Crazy Fat Ethel (2016)

I had no idea that Brian Dorton directed and wrote a remake of Nick Millard’s Criminally Insane. One could argue that Millard did the same with his sequel, as it uses so much footage from the original movie. Yet this time, we get more of the story of Ethel (Dixie Gers) as she annihilates everyone that gets in her way.

Ethel may have killed her Uncle Joe, which is why she’s been in a sanitarium all these years, but when two orderlies assault her, she’s released and in the care of her Aunt Joyce. Yet she eats so much food that her guardian must lock it away, which drives her to the brink and beyond, and before you know it, Aunt Joyce is dead too.

Made with real animal guts, this movie in no way shies away from the gore. There aren’t many movies that have a death by inserting a smashed wine bottle into someone’s nether regions, much less a POV anilingus shot.

Yet beyond all the sleaze and guts, this movie has a great performance by Gers. You actually understand Ethel a bit more by the end and if anything, feel for her plight if not understand it.

You can get this from MVD.

SLASHER MONTH: Don’t Fuck In the Woods (2016)

This movie is a worked up 15 year old who reads Fangoria and has never seen a woman naked in person and I want to be its friend. It’s only an hour long with 13 minutes of credits and bloopers, but it knows what you want: breasts, beasts and blood.

Shawn Burkett directed and wrote this and you know, if I were a teenager again, I’d be hunting down every movie he made. According to IMDB, he was celibate for almost a year in order to finish this, so yeah. It totally seems like it.

The monster cost under $200. That also totally seems like it.

Don’t Fuck In the Woods 2 just was released and it definitely improves on this. Jane (Brittany Blanton) is a great final girl and shows up in the second movie too, which is a spoiler, but you know, you’re watching this movie for the sex and gore, so maybe let’s not be so quick to get angry about giving away the plot.

You can watch this on Tubi.

SLASHER MONTH: The Barn (2016)

Justin M. Seaman is from Claysville, PA and as a fellow Washington County resident — Monongahela forever — I’m pleased to see someone from around here make horror movies. He planned this movie for years and even wrote a book about it when he was eight years old. This movie feels like watching a slasher film when you’re too young and not allowed.

Sam (Mitchell Musolino) and Josh (Will Stout) are ready to graduate high school, which sadly means that the days of trick or treating will be over. They want to have one last great time, so they go to a rock concert with some friends and then try out a local legend, knocking on a barn door and saying “trick or treat” three times. They think it’s a dud. The truth? The Boogeyman, Hollow Jack and The Candy Corn Scarecrow are let loose on the sleepy town of Wheary Falls.

What I like about this movie — and totally didn’t come out in the trailers — is that it stays serious and isn’t a Troma-style movie made to be bad. It’s an 80s direct to video supernatural on the loose slasher made with practical effects and a great story. It’s also a treat to see Ari Lehman and Linnea Quigley in this.

If anything, The Barn Part II gets even better. I’m ready for Season of the Barn.

You can watch this on Tubi.

31 (2016)

Rob Zombie came up with the idea for 31 after reading a statistic that stated that Halloween is the “number one day of the year when people go missing” and walking through the Great American Nightmare and seeing chainsaw-carrying clowns. Or, you know, he just wanted to keep making Eaten Alive by 2007 Tobe Hooper and not 1977 Tobe Hooper.

Halloween 1976: Carnival workers Charly (Sheri Moon Zombie), Venus (Meg Foster), Panda (Lawrence Hilton-Jacobs), Levon (Kevin Jackson) and Roscoe (Jeff Daniel Phillips) are traveling through the countryside when they get stopped by scarecrows and kidnapped to a compound where they will play the game of 31 for the pleasure of Sister Dragon (Judy Geeson), Sister Serpent (Jane Carr) and Father Napoleon-Horatio-Silas Murder (Malcolm McDowell). If you guessed The Most Dangerous Game, you’re right, played against facepainted clown-lookalikes such as Sick-Head (Pancho Moler), Psycho-Head (Lew Temple), Schizo-Head (David Ury), Death-Head (Torsten Voges), Sex-Head (E.G. Daily) and Doom-Head (Richard Brake). Ginger Lynn and Tracy Walter also appear as Cherry Bomb and Lucky Leo.

Brake’s the best thing in the movie, as he at least gets two speeches in. But man, for a movie that had not one but two crowd-funding campaigns, you would think that money would make this movie a little better. Of all Zombie’s movies, I found this the roughest, as it never really gets anywhere, despite being filled with sound, fury and a Kafka quote that just says, “See, I’m smart.”

It’s not.

In fact, there’s so much pandering to be cool. Look, there’s Malcolm McDowell, he was in a cool movie that’s still edgy! Look, I have Nosferantu playing on a screen! Hey — a body under the dining table reveal just like Rocky Horror! It’s the 70s, man. Everybody was saying the c word. Swearing is cool.

You know that guy that keeps telling you how amazing he is?

He’s this movie.

You can watch this on Tubi.

You can also hear how much I hated this movie mere minutes after I watched it right here.

Vigilante Diaries (2016)

Director Christopher Sesma has been cranking out direct to streaming action films. Co-writing this film with star Paul Sloan, the twosome got this story started as a web series and got seven episodes onto USA before it got canceled.

The Vigilante has been captured and a black ops team with Wolfman (Quinton “Rampage” Jackson) and Tex-Mex (Chavo Guerrero Jr.) as members has to rescue him. And then there’s a rescue of The Vigilante’s pregnant wife. And Jason Mewes is a filmmaker who got the world interested in The Vigilante. And then Armenian mobsters start shooting up the place. And then there are bombs all over the city. And then there’s the threat of Barrington (Michael Jai White) and Moreau (Michael Madsen). And hey — there’s Danny Trejo tending a bar straight out of Accident Man or Deadpool.

This movie feels like I got dropped into the fifth sequel and have no idea who anyone is but everyone else does. It also feels like a comic book adaptation for a book that has never been published and somehow we’re supposed to know who everyone is.

That said, I want to like this more than I did. I have a soft spot for it. Maybe you will too.

You can watch this on Tubi.

Sinister Squad (2016)

Directed and written by Jeremy M. Inman and a spin-off of his Avengers Grimm movie series, this movie finds Alice (Christina Licciardi, who plays the same role in Avengers Grimm: Time Wars) and her Looking Glass spy organization rounding up fairy tale heroes and villains like the Wicked Stepmother of Sleeping Beauty Carabosse (Fiona Rene), Piper (Isaac Reyes), Goldilocks (Piper Lindsay), Gelda the Queen of Hearts (Talia Davis), Bluebeard (Trae Ireland), the Big Bad Wolf (Joseph Harris), Hatter (Randall Yarbrough) and Tweedledee and Tweedledum (Joseph Moses) like Amanda Waller setting up convicts at Belll Reve.

The machinations of Rumpelstiltskin (Johnny Del Riaz) in the past movie — where he was played by Casper Van Dien — have allowed Death in a  ninja mask (Nick Principe) and his cult to run free on Earth. Kind of like, you know, Loki and Thanos somewhere else.

There are some good ideas here — Bluebeard uses his knives to kill women and trap them inside the blades which he calls his wives, the whole idea of a group of fantasy villains joining up, Carabosse being a cannibal witch — but the budget hurts this, as does the same warehouse I’ve seen in nearly every Asylum mockbuster.

I’d love to see them do a comic book of this, as drawings have no budget.

You can watch this on Tubi.

Red Sonja: Queen of Plagues (2016)

Dynamite Entertainment, who published the Red Sonja comic books at the time, collaborated with animation studio Shout! Factory to produce this motion comic, which takes the script of Gail Simone and the original art of Walter Geovani and Jenny Frison, then adds small bits of motion that can kind of, sort of be called a cartoon. It’s kind of like the way Grantray-Lawrence Animation did The Marvel Super Heroes in the 60s with a bit more tech.

If you’ve only seen the live-action Red Sonja, this is closer to the comic book version of the She-Devil with a Sword. Our heroine (Misty Lee, the magician wife of animator Paul Dini) comes back to a kingdom to pay back the blood debt to the king who freed her from the slave pit, but finds herself battling Annisia, a woman who she once considered her sister.

While the animation is rough and this wouldn’t be the story I’d introduce new readers to when it comes to Red Sonja, it’s nice to see this character getting any media mentions after decades of a rumored film.

You can watch this on Tubi.