Mass Hysteria (2019)

Directors Arielle Cimino and Jeff Ryan, working from a script by Jonathan T. Coleman and Christopher O’Connell, have put together an interesting story: Paige [Geena Santiago, who was in the movie YouthMin from the same creative team) is an actress playing one last role in her hometown of Salem. It’s in a local historical play about the Salem Witch Trials and the only audience is made up of drunk tourists.

During one of the re-enactments, a man dies and the crowd believes that Paige has cursed them. Holy man Samuel Hall (Matt Perusse) gets the crowd enraged and ready to enact their own modern witch trial as our heroine goes on the run.

I loved how this movie takes the, well, mass hysteria that we’ve been living under the past several years and puts it into the context of a horror movie. Everything here — well, maybe not the curse — feels like it could happen. One example is when Paige tries to stop the growing unrest with a Facebook post that makes things get exponentially worse.

Best of all, it’s a quick and quirky sixty-six minutes. It doesn’t have a big budget yet the cast tries hard and the story — which is the important part when you think about it — is well-told.

You can watch Mass Hysteria on Shudder.

 

The Mortuary Collection (2019)

As bad as most modern horror anthologies are, The Mortuary Collection makes a real case for the future of these movies, even if it borrows some of its narrative device from Tales from the Hood.

Ryan Spindell made The Babysitter Murders — I mean, if you’re going to take a title, take it from one that makes horror fans recognize that you get it — which is part of this story. The framing is all about Sam (Caitlin Custer) who has come to Raven’s End Mortuary to ask for a job from its owner, Montgomery Dark (Clancy Brown).

He takes her through the coffins inside, telling her how each of the bodies got there. The first story is simple — a thief discovers a monster — and nearly made me stop watching this, as I worried that this would follow the example of other modern portmanteau films with stories that abruptly end and have no real narrative steam.

I’m happy that I stayed with this movie.

In “Unprotected,” a college man tries to take advantage of the woke nature of his classmates. When he finally scores his next conquest, Sandra, and takes off his condom, which leads to her making him pregnant. This is a quick and simple story, yet well-structured and filled with some disquieting imagery.

“Till Death” has a husband trying to get rid of his catatonic wife with increasingly gory and unsuccessful efforts. Ironically, the movie then has Sam demand that the stories become less about simple comeuppance. Montgomery takes Sam to the mortuary subbasement and prepares to cremate a child-size coffin. Sam then tells him she’s not here for a job. She’s here for the dead child and has a story to tell.

This is where “The Babysitter Murders” fits into the story, revealing that Sam is a killer of children. She attempts to use the bones of the kids to kill the mortician, but her victims tear her apart. He sews her together and uses embalming fluid as her blood, making her the new owner of the funeral home as he steps into the sun and turns into dust.

With films like this and Ghost Stories, the future of this subgenre of horror feels like it has a chance.

Queen of the Beach (2019)

While on vacation in Goa, India, Canadian filmmaker Chris McDonell turns his camera on Shilpa Poojar, a 9-year-old girl hustling tourists to buy clothes and jewelry from her seaside shop.

The girl is a migrant worker from the unique Banjara tribe and the primary breadwinner for her family. Somehow, Chris feels a connection to her and comes back three times over the next seven years to tell her story. He feels like if he can help her get to school, he can change her life. But can it happen that way? Will her family allow her to discover her dreams? Once you become addicted to the hustle, can you give it up?

I’m not sure how I feel about this movie, to be perfectly honest. I want to believe that the director was truly altruistic, but then I wonder why he decided to turn this story into a movie instead of it just being a private analog moment.

That said, your mileage may vary and you may have less cynicism in your heart than I do. From the looks of the official Facebook page, Shilpa is leading a happy life and directly attributes that to McDonell, so perhaps things can be positive in this world.

 

SHARK WEAK: Bad CGI Sharks (2019)

When Bruce the Shark is chasing swimmers, he does not stop to download pornography. CGI Sharks will do this and really take down the speed of your internet. This is a fact that this movie has taught me and now I must pass on to you.

Jason and Matthew are brothers who have been apart for years before reuniting to discuss the shark movie they wrote as children. However, one of the sharks that they created for the film has escaped the computer world and is killing everyone in its path.

This was directed by MaJaMa, who I assume is the combination of three of the film’s actors and writers, Matthew Ellsworth, Jason Ellsworth and Matteo Molinari. Maybe I’ve seen too many direct to streaming shark movies lately, but this hits every cliche of the form — is a shark movie with a CGI apex predator a genre unto itself? — that I just accepted the fact that sharks float through the air because I’ve seen more than one movie where that’s exactly what happens.

If you’ve seen just as many bad shark movies as me, good news. This one is actually pretty fun.

You can watch this on Tubi.

Lillith (2019)

Lilith — called Lillith in this movie — may have gotten a friendly makeover of sorts in the 90s, but there’s such a dividing line in the thought as to who she is. Is she Adam’s first wife, created at the same time and from the same clay? Did she leave Adam after she refused to become subservient to him and wouldn’t return to the Garden of Eden after she’d made love to the archangel Samael? Or is Lilith a primordial she-demon, a vampire, a night bird and to quote the Dead Sea Scrolls, part of “the destroying angels, spirits of the bastards, demons, Lilith, howlers and desert dwellers and those which fall upon men without warning to lead them astray from a spirit of understanding?” Still — it’s spelled Lillith, so it can really be anything it wants!

In Lee Esposito’s Lililth, she’s a succubus conjured by Jenna (Nell Kessler), who has discovered that she’s been done wrong. Lillith (Savannah Whitten) is a redhead that the boys — and girls — of Rising Wood Community College are just, well, dying to sleep with. Well, they get their wish.

While this film has a low budget, it has a high fun quotient. It totally fits into the Linnea Quigley direct to VHS demon films of the past and that’s high praise.

Lililth is available on demand and on Tubi from Terror Films. Want to learn more? Check out the official Facebook page.

V.C. Andrews’ Heaven (2019)

The Casteel series started after VC Andrews wrote the Dollanganger books — which includes Flowers in the Attic — and My Sweet Audrina. Only the first two books appeared before her death and the series tells the story of a troubled West Virginia family, starting with Heaven, a gir whose mother died in childbirth, which leads to a hate-filled relationship with her father.

Lifetime made all five books in this series into films following their success with the Dollangager movies. Directed by Paul Shapiro (whose career is all over the place in the best of ways, working on plenty of TV movies and episodic TV) and written by Scarlett Lacey (who also was the scribe for the My Sweet Audrina TV movie and Wendy Williams: The Movie), this film places Annalise Basso into the role of Heaven Leigh Van Voreen Casteel.

Heaven is the oldest child in her family, driven to escape Winnerow, West Virginia with her academic abilities. It takes until late in her teens before she learns that she’s the daughter of the rich Leigh Cateel, who died in childbirth, causing her father to never love her. Yet when he father’s drinking grows out of control, she and her siblings are sold off to other family members, sending her to live with his ex-wife Kitty and her new husband, a writer named Cal who starts an affair with her.

Man, I’m behind in my VC Andrews TV movie watching. What is wrong with me? I have no priorities!

This is the kind of movie I love, one where a woman on her deathbed tells a teenager that it’s good with her if she keeps arrdvarking with her husband, a man who should be her father figure yet asks to be called daddy.

Now I have to stop writing this and get to watching like twenty more of these. My work is never done.

15 Things You Didn’t Know About Bigfoot (#1 Will Blow Your Mind) (2019)

Originally known as The VICE Guide to Bigfoot, this tells the tale of a clickbait journalist — in case you missed it in the title — who goes to the Appalachian mountains to report on a Bigfoot convention.

While the movie starts out making fun of sites like, well, VICE, it soon becomes yet another film where people wander the woods and yell each others’ names really loud. Or maybe I’m just old and the joke of making a movie all about a type of journalism that is already a joke doesn’t ring true with me (it hits different or has a weird flex or whatever currently way of saying that, feel free to fill in the blanks).

Seeing as how this movie wasn’t affiliated with VICE, I wonder how it was connected to it at any point. Maybe the filmmakers pushed ahead, sure they could get the name approved. Who can say? Well, maybe the filmmakers. If you’re one of them, let us know.

There is some humor in this, if only that once city folk find their way into the woods, they don’t do so well. Then again, YMMV. See, I can use the language of the times. Sometimes.

You can learn more at the film’s official site.

Redemptio (2019)

This docudrama, which combines real interviews with seven inmates of the Catlagirone prison with reenactments of their crimes, is the creation of writer/director Fabio Cillia.

According to the film’s distributors, One 7 Movies, “Redemptio is a docufilm of its own kind: thanks to a special permission from the Italian Ministry of Justice, Redemptio presents seven authentic interviews to inmates held in the Catlagirone’s jail (Sicily). All the interviews are genuine, as those men tell the story of their lives in prison: what they dream, what they hope, what they need. Different stories from different men, convicted for various crimes, from robbery to murder. Different men but with a common fear: what is expecting them outside, once they will finally be released.”

It’s kind of strange that One 7 Movies put this out, as they usually release stuff like Sex and Black Magic or Sex, Demons And Death. But if you’re interested in what a true crime documentary from Italy would be like, then you should check this out.

You can learn more by checking out CAV Distributing Corporation‘s site, who is releasing this in the U.S. or watch it on Amazon Prime.

Creature from Cannibal Creek (2019)

Take a look at this little guy in this movie. He’s awesome. He looks nothing like the poster art at all and for that, I respect the hell out of this movie.

It’s also about a religious family that kills sinners and then uses the meat from those infidels to survive through the harsh winters. So, you know, cannibals and swamp monsters, or as the title promises, Creature from Cannibal Creek.

Writer, director, producer, cinematographer, editor, costumer, sound designer, even one of the guys who is wearing the suit — John Migliore did pretty much everything in this movie that takes everything you loved about The Hills Have Eyes, moved it to a more watery setting and then brought in Swamp Thing.

How much influence does Wes Craven’s movie have on this? One of the bad guys is named Neptune!

If you love swamp horror and cannibals…do I even have to finish that sentence? I had a blast watching this one. I can fully admit that it’s a goofball cheap movie, but you know, the lifeblood of this site remains within films exactly like this.

You can watch this on Tubi or get the DVD from Wild Eye Releasing.

Punk the Capital: Building a Sound Movement (2019)

Washington DC was a center of American punk rock in the late 1970’s. Punk the Capital explores that era and gives voice to those who were part of it, celebrating musicians such as Bad Brains, Henry Rollins, Ian MacKaye and Jello Biafra.

These bands, the music they created and the influence they still exert are powerful. James June Schneider (co-director, editor), Paul Bishow (co-director) and Sam Lavine (associate producer, co-editor) have assembled a document that feels alive and vital, one that makes you want to experience this movie no matter if you’re a punk fan or have never heard this music before.

How was a punk scene created in one of the most conservative cities in the world? How did the young punks work with older hippies to get places for their shows? And how did the sound of DC from 1976 to 1983 change the world of music?

Beyond rare performances by Bad Brains, Minor Threat, Teen Idles, The Slickee Boys, Faith, The Nurses, Enzymes and Chalk Circle, more than a hundred interviews with those who lived this time were conducted.

It all comes together to be a document that music fans should seek out.

Punk the Capital will be released on Blu-ray and DVD in the US for Record Store Day on June 12 via Passion River and in the UK for Record Store Day on July 12 via Wienerworld. A portion of all DVDs and blu rays sold through Dischord Records will go to the DC based charity We Are Family.

You can learn more at the official site.