Chattanooga Film Festival: Interface (2017)

Originally a web series, each segment of this tool two months to make, created by Canadian YouTuber and animator u m a m i, whose real name is Justin Tomchuk. You can see a collected version of the first part of the series here and the second part here.

I guess the thing to realize is that The Philadelphia Experiment is a real event and it caused a phenomenon called Cerebral Energy to be revealed, changing the color of the sky and unleashing ghosts and giving the blue guy named Henryk immortality. He’s joined by a character called Mischief, who is kind of a trickster god who likes to go on about man’s nature and then transform himself into something silly.

There’s also something about ghost stories and myths becoming reality, all while numerous pieces of famous art form the cartoon that you are downloading through your eyes. You’ll get to see everything from René Magritte’s “The Son of Man,” Dali’s “Birth of The Geopoliticus Child” and Edward Hopper’s “Nighthawks at the Diner” and dialogue like “If what you want is to live with the memories you cherish most, live here within the Interface” is read in monotone.

It’s not for everybody. I mean, your chance of loving it is just as high as hating it. But you should at least check it out.

Remember — this weekend, you can buy a back half half price badge to watch all of the awesome movies at the Chattanooga Film Festival and see them until 6/29!  Get yours right here!

Gun Caliber (2017)

20XX: Skulldier is taking over Japan but only one man stands in their way, the pachinko parlor employee by day, gun shooting vigilante by night known as Gun Caliber. And yet somehow, this Japanese tokusatsu action-comedy was really made by Filipino-Canadian director, writer and star Bueno.

It’s got a funny concept — superheroes all sell out to a corporation except for the scumbag Gun Caliber who is the only man left to save the world — but it doesn’t all completely come together. There’s so much CGI that it gets distracting at times, but through this movie, the superior sequel Strega emerged.

Basically, if you ever wanted to see Kamen Rider make sweet love and shoot people so much they explode, this is the movie for you.

You can buy the DVD from SRS Cinema or watch it on Tubi.

APRIL MOVIE THON DAY 29: The 13th Friday (2017)

Justin Price also directed The Mummy Rebirth, AbominableElvesWrong Place, Wrong Time and more, all direct to streaming or the shelves of WalMart films that you may not have noticed.

The movie starts with these words: “Somewhere in Texas is a house said to be so haunted that a church was built on the property and the family that lived on the house was never heard from again.”

Sounds good, right?

Then a puzzle globe shows up, plus monsters in a cave, plus a grim reaper-dressed villain and the idea that if the kids gathered in that very same Texas house years later — which looks totally clean with no dust at all — must sacrifice 13 people or they themselves will die.

That said, as much as this movie takes from every possession movie and tries to be a Hellraiser movie — a good idea, because a lot of movies that didn’t intend to be Hellraiser movies ended up being Hellraiser movies, so hey let’s try and be a Hellraiser movie and see what happens —   but man, that onepossessionn scene is really great looking and has some awesome effects. If that energy existed for the entire movie, I would have loved this.

There are two IMDB facts for this movie: “It’s been said that Justin Price is very difficult to work with” and “Deanna Grace Congo regrets doing the movie.” I’m willing to bet that Deanna Grace Congo supplied those facts. Then again, she’s been in multiple Price-directed projects after this.

You can watch this on Tubi.

A Fancy Piece of Homicide (2017)

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: A.C. Nicholas, who has a sketchy background and hails from parts unknown in Western Pennsylvania, was once a drive-in theater projectionist and disk jockey, Currently, in addition to being a writer, editor, podcaster, and voice-over artist, he contributes to Drive-In Asylum. His first article, “Grindhouse Memories Across the U.S.A.,” was published in issue #23. He’s also written “I Was a Teenage Drive-in Projectionist” and “Emanuelle in Disney World and Other Weird Tales of a Trash Film Lover” for upcoming issues.

Bingo O’Malley was one of Pittsburgh’s greatest stage actors. For decades, he was the go-to guy for Pittsburgh’s best theater directors, with leads in Death of a Salesman, Bent, The Man in the Glass Booth, Glengarry Glenn Ross, and The Ruling Class. When folks shot movies in Pittsburgh, Bingo was in them: Dominick and Eugene, Wonder Boys, Out of the Furnace, Lady Beware, Bob Roberts, Love and Other Drugs, and so many others. He was also in Pittsburgh-shot TV series and TV movies. But to horror fans, he will always be remembered for the remake of My Bloody Valentine and three George Romero films: Knightriders, Creepshow, and Two Evil Eyes. In Two Evil Eyes, he played the titular M. Valdemar in Romero’s segment. He was born in the Pittsburgh area, and despite his formidable talent, he never left his hometown. For this, he was beloved by Pittsburghers. Thus, it gives me great pleasure to feature the crowning glory of his long career, a little-known Pittsburgh indie film called A Fancy Piece of Homicide.

In 2016, before Bingo’s health took a sharp decline, young local director Joseph Varhola cast him as the lead in something original, a Yinzer noir. Varhola’s screenplay harkens back to the noirs of old with a flawed, but honorable, lead trying to unravel the most complex of mysteries, a mystery that ultimately is inscrutable. The difference, though, was that these mean noir streets were those of the Steel City.

In A Fancy Piece of Homicide, Bingo plays a gumshoe who, years before, had taken the fall for a murder he didn’t commit. Now he’s been released from prison and determined to set the record straight by writing his memoirs. But the past returns to haunt him when he begins to receive cryptic photos and messages. Soon he’s in way over his head as he looks for closure in his life. 

Bingo himself received closure, passing away in 2019, two years after the release of A Fancy Piece of Homicide. It was to be his last acting triumph. Watching the film was a bittersweet experience. Here he was at the height of his powers, giving a performance that, had it been in a studio film with a multi-million-dollar budget, would have received raves, if not awards. He’s compelling as a man determined to understand bewildering events from the past—and now the present—not within his control. He’s also a rare lead: a smart, independent octogenarian, out to solve one last mystery before the final curtain. 

The film is almost completely in Bingo’s capable hands. It’s a nearly no-budget affair (I’m pretty sure everyone brought their own wardrobe to the shoot), which, despite an excellent score, some competent tech credits, and an intriguing plot, tends to meander as a slow-burn with some travelogue padding shots of the Pittsburgh suburbs. And when it gets to its Dashiell Hammett-like revelation, you might be inclined to ask yourself: Is that all there is?  Apart from another Romero regular, Mark Tierno (Knightriders and Day of the Dead), who plays a weasel pretty well, the rest of the cast ranges from serviceable to awful. 

But ultimately, none of this is important. What is important is that A Fancy Piece of Murder memorializes the performance of one of the best of Pittsburgh’s homegrown talent, the likes of which we may never see again, in a film merging the unique Pittsburgh sensibility with a classic genre. May we all be so lucky to go out on such a high note.

MILL CREEK BLU RAY RELEASE: Ultraseven X – The Complete Series (2017)

The 20th entry in Tsuburaya Productions’ long-running Ultra Series, Ultraseven X is a revival of the 1967 series Ultraseven and the first Ultra show to be made exclusively for an adult audience.

In a world where all war has been eliminated, Jin deals with amnesia and a new life, as he’s given a mission by a secret group called DEUS that wants his help in the fight against aliens that have infiltrated humanity. Along with agents K and S, plus glasses that transform him into Ultraseven X, he fights for both our world and to discover his past.

The true secret? The world that Jin, K and S think they know is actually a simulation, run by an alien race that has enslaved mankind by tricking them into the illusion of utopia. It’s a far cry from the colorful monster battles you may remember from the original Ultra shows.

This was totally unexpected, as I had no idea that there was a dark Ultra series. It’s close to Dark City and The Matrix, but doesn’t forget that monsters, aliens and battles are also important. It’s definitely different and dark, but I still loved the look of the show and the slowly unfolding overall story.

You can learn more about the Mill Creek release of Ultraseven X on the official site and order the blu ray set from Deep Discount.

MILL CREEK BLU RAY RELEASE: Ultraman Zero The Chronicle: The Complete Series (2017)

This is one wild series!

Ultraman Zero is the son of the legendary Ultra Seven and as an unproven rookie Ultra, he’s been assigned Ultraman Leo to become his master. When the Land of Light is threatened by a troop of monsters and aliens headed by the evil Ultraman Belial — an evil Ultra! — Zero must embrace his heritage and save, well, everything.

Soon, he must battle Alien Batt and Alien Zetton, the Hyper Zetton to save Earth, joining with  Ultraman Dyna and Ultraman Cosmos to become Ultraman Saga.

Ultraman Zero: The Chronicle was created by Tsuburaya Productions to commemorate the 50th anniversary of Ultra Seven. It also introduced the characters from the movie Ultraman Orb The Movie, Ultraman Ginga, Ultraman Orb, Ultraman X and Ultraman Orb.

If you recognize some of the footage within the show, that’s because it comes from the Ultraman Zero films, which include Mega Monster Battle: Ultra Galaxy Legends The Movie, Ultra Galaxy Legend Gaiden: Ultraman Zero vs. Darklops Zero, Ultraman Zero The Movie: Super Deciding Fight! The Belial Galactic Empire, Ultraman Saga, Ultraman Zero Gaiden: Killer the Beatstar and Ultraman Retsuden.

It’s a really interesting journey through the history of Ultraman with a literal army of the characters showing up. As a kid, one Ultra would send me into near hyperactive moments of sheer mania. I can only imagine how I would have reacted had I seen this then. I probably would have transformed and found my own Beta Capsule.

I’m so excited that Mill Creek keeps releasing all of this Ultra content. This set is great and the fact that they’re on blu ray means that the quality is stellar. You can get this from Deep Discount.

Future Warrior Amazons (2017)

If you thought there was nowhere else to go after Future Century Amazons, oh man, well, there is.

Put on your PPE, galoshes and grab a barf bag, I guess.

Remember how Dr. Maki Amamiya had come to Amazon City to become the new artificial insemination expert? Well, that’s about when a Christian missionary named Kenta is captured while trying to give some of the castrated men of the city a proper burial. For some reason, he’s selected for Amazon City’s new and ultra-secret Male Weaponization Program. He’s dosed with testosterone. which seems against everything this tribe of amazons — let’s call then Future Warrior Amazons –standsd for, so who knows what will happen next?

Also, this movie shows us that the great unwashed of the forbidden zones yearn only to be horrible men and act as you’d expect. Also, tentacles. Also, Alien ripoff monsters. Also, the end of this world.

Also also also: more women removing the testicles of men while dressed in paramilitary costumes.

I’m sure this is someone’s fetish. They probably bought this off the rack at Lawson’s or 7-11 because that’s how Japan does it.

Future Century Amazons (2017)

I think director and writer Naoyuki Tomomatsu has some issues.

I mean, who would make this movie? A film in which radical feminism has caused the downfall of civilization, with the few remaining humans live in various settlements with vast fobidden zones between them filled with mutant creatures, all while the warring female factions battle over their male cattle and remove their bloody scrotums in ritualistic fashion to keep the human race alive? Indeed, who?

Amazon City is one of the large cities left, a place where men are more than a source of, well, balls. They’re also canned and given to the women for food. The Love Liberation Army wants to return to the days when man and woman could lie together and as such, have been killed all of the scientists. But now, Dr. Maki Amamiya has come to bring her science — and her husband — to this strange new world.

Obviously, this movie has next to no budget, but for what it has, it has a cast that throws themselves into its berserk exploitation storyline. Don’t expect any deep thinking on how men and women can fix their relations. Just enjoy the costumes, I guess. Not for long, with this being a modern Pinky Violence movie, after all.

One Cut of the Dead (2017)

Kamera o Tomeru na! (Don’t Stop the Camera!) features a 37-minute-long continuous shot that took six takes and makes the entire movie. In fact, as boring as zombie movies have become, One Cut of the Dead makes me forget just how bad things have been the last few years.

Like a charming animal-destruction free version of Cannibal Holocaust, the movie has three different ways that the story is told, changing with each new telling of the tale. Higurashi, the director, is losing money and needs to finish his film, but he hates how it kooks. So he makes a blood pentagram that activates real zombies that start biting his crew and actors while he keeps screaming for them to keep shooting, no matter what.

And honestly, if I tell you anything that happens after the actress Chinatsu kills him and stands inside the pentagram in a trance, it will ruin what was one of the best movies I’ve seen in some time.

This small movie went on to earn a thousand times its budget. That’s incredible and if a film is deserving of that success, it’s this one. You can check it out on Shudder.

Mill Creek Zombie Collection: Granny of the Dead (2017)

Craig Tudor James directed, wrote, produced, edited, shot, did the effects and sound, as well as acted as Corey in this movie, a film in which a guy named Ed learns that his grandmother has gone on to her just reward only to come back as a shambling zombie who is gained power with each moment.

In fact, everyone old has become a zombie, which means that elderly care is about to change for all of us.

Sometimes, your zombie movie is Shaun of the Dead and sometimes, it’s Hard Rock Zombies.

This one is, well, the latter. A funny idea that maybe will make a few laugh, but probably the weakest of the films on this set.

The Mill Creek Zombie Collection has four different comedic zombie films, including Attack of the Lederhosen ZombiesAttack of the Killer Donuts and Harold’s Going Stiff. You can learn more on the official page and buy it at Deep Discount.