End of Loyalty (2023)

When Carmine (Michael DeBartolo)the head of a crime family, is killed by a rival named Rooker (Vernon Wells), his son Grant (Justice Joslin) swears revenge. His lifelong best friend, Ray (Braxton Angle), is now a federal agent and while he wants to help his friend, he also has to keep him from going too far. To make matters worse, Ray’s dad (Michael Paré) is watching Grant’s 11-year-old daughter Jada (Tenley Kellogg) when Rooker comes calling.

When Grant goes after Rooker all by himself, this leads to the biggest worry of the movie: If Ray calls the cops, so many of them are paid off by Rooker. Best case, his friend gets arrested. Worse case, they both get killed. And the other option? He has to go up against the toughest criminals in town all by himself.

Director Hiroshi Katagiri has worked on plenty of special effects for some big movies, but now he’s directing. He also made Love Hurts and Gehenna: Where Death Lives, as well as acting as the writer on this film along with Chris Preyor. You can see some of his effects work in movies like Avatar: The Way of WaterCaptain Marvel and Looper. He does a good job directing this film which seems like a welcome throwback to 90s action.

End of Loyalty is available on digital and on demand from Uncork’d Entertainment.

Cocaine Bear (2023)

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Jennifer Upton is an American (non-werewolf) writer/editor in London. She currently works as a freelance ghostwriter of personal memoirs and writes for several blogs on topics as diverse as film history, punk rock, women’s issues, and international politics. For links to her work, please visit https://www.jennuptonwriter.com or send her a Tweet @Jennxldn

Unless you’ve been hiding under a rock, you’ve seen the incredible trailer for this film.

Cocaine Bear is, as advertised, a non-stop romp of comedy horror.

This movie is a breath of fresh air. It’s the exact opposite of any of the more recent films that seem to be all the rage. You know the ones. The ones so far up their own asses, we can see the director’s dental work. Whenever I hear the phrase, “elevated horror” I hear Jack Burton’s voice in my head opining, “I don’t even know what the hell that means.”

This is the kind of movie that looks back to an age when guys like Roger Corman and William Girdler made back in the old days with a cast of likeable characters in jeopardy chased by a monster. Like all good movie monsters, this one is sympathetic. She’s a mother black bear who stumbles upon a bunch of cocaine and well…she likes it. Her cubs like it too. This movie is so ballsy it even has kids trying coke, although they do spit it out. It offers no preachy eco or anti-drug messages. It does what movies were invented to do. Entertain! The kills are scary and the humor organic to the situation as batshit as it is. There’s no wink-wink self-aware bullshit here. It’s a bear high on cocaine killing people. That’s what you get.

The film clocks in at 90 minutes. Proof positive that a movie doesn’t need to be 3 hours long to be good. It’s a tight script, weaving together several sub-plots and likable characters together with enough over-the top action and gore to satisfy even the most jaded B-movie fan. 

The performances are good. Despite the short running time, each character is given enough development that we feel it when something bad happens to them. Ray Liotta couldn’t have asked for a better swansong even if he’s not looking his best here.

The music by Devo’s Mark Mothersbaugh strikes the perfect balance between the ‘80s and 2023 and the camera work and editing are as good as any movie with twice the budget. 

Cocaine Bear will no doubt usher in a new era of low-budget copycats. Attack of the Meth Gator has already been announced. Kudos to Universal for greenlighting such a fun concept and bigger kudos to director Elizabeth Banks for pulling it off. Lest I forget WETA who have done an excellent job with the bear. Remember when animal fur was hard to pull off in computer generated characters? It’s damn near perfect here.

See this one with a like-minded friend or a group of friends and you’re going to have a good time. It likely won’t play the same on a quiet evening at home. Hopefully, its success will make horror movies fun again. I haven’t laughed this hard at a movie in ages.

TUBI EXCLUSIVE: Alarmed (2023)

Janet (Brittany Baker) and Sean (Pooch Hall) have gone from an empty nest to having their son Billy (Chris Whitcomb) move back in after being arrested for hacking government websites. Now under house arrest, he’s just one of the many problems in their marriage. But while their personal life is at a 2, their professional lives are at a 9. That’s because Janet has been promoted to  CEO of Citadel Security, a high-tech security company. So in the hopes of fixing their love life, they go away on a vacation and leave Billy in the house alone.

As you can imagine, this bad idea is why we have this movie.

Using the security system in their home, they can see that Billy has invited a girl named Kat (Angie Campbell) to the house. Yet that security system isn’t flawless. Because you know who he didn’t invite? Hackers Coltrane (David Gere), Martinez (Brendan Kelleher), Andrew (Eric Lutes) and Foggy (Salvatore DelGreco), who quickly attack Billy, shoot Kat and demand that Janet and Sean kill her boss Larry (Eric Allan Kramer) if they want their son to survive.

Director and writer Matthew Kohnen also made Aaah! Zombies!!, a movie that I always scroll past and should really check out. This movie might not break any ground and may be filled with characters making the worst decisions, but it’s well made. Ah, Tubi. You got me again.

You can watch this on — hey I just said it above — Tubi.

The Gods 2: The Dark Side (2023)

I’ve never seen The Gods — it’s on Tubi — but this sequel has Mikey James (director and writer Mykel Shannon Jenkins) returning after the loss of the love of his life Sofia and their unborn child. Her brother and his rival Anthony Fasano (Kevin Interdonato) wants Mikey to pay for her death, which means that Mikey and his brothers  Bobby (Casey Ford Alexander) and Keith (Nicoye Banks) have to pay their old debts while staying out of the sights of Fasano and his murderous crew.

The budget might be low for this, but it’s a more character-driven revenge movie. The first film seemed to be a very Romeo and Juliet story while this is the aftermath with characters caught between regret and revenge. The five years between the two movies has not reduced the rage between the Fasano and James families. Add in Mikey trying to help an old friend named Olympus (Ernest Thomas), who is targeted by a hitman named Florian (Daniel O’Reilly) and you have a recipe for bloody vengeance. And then there’s Lil Homie (Mykel’s son Bryce) whose love life may be the past repeating itself all over again.

The Gods 2 looks great and hey — you can’t beat the price, because it’s playing for free on Tubi.

Wolf Garden (2023)

William (Wayne David, the writer, director and star of this movie) lives alone in the British countryside, thought to be missing — along with his girlfriend Chantelle (Sian Altman) — but probably the truth is closer to hiding. In fact, she might be there. Or she might be a hallucination. She could be a memory. See, William has some problems. Big ones.

Now, there’s a shed where William heads out to feed and talk to whatever is inside, feeling apologetic and worried that he’s blamed for whatever got whatever is in that shed there. And there’s also the enigmatic Visitor (Grant Masters), who claims to know what’s happening but he might be one of the other parts of our protagonist’s dreams. Or delusions. Or he may really know what’s going on.

At 89 minutes long, this feels a bit longer than that. That said, it’s shot really well and with a little bit of tightening, it could really be something special. As it is, it’s a unique film that’s still worth your time.

Wolf Garden is now available on digital platforms from Gravitas Ventures. You can learn more on the official Facebook page.

ReBroken (2023)

Will (Scott Hamm Duenas) is drinking himself into the grave when he isn’t attending court-ordered grief counseling run by Bella (Alison Haislip). But then he meets a stranger named Von (Tobin Bell) who gives him some records that, when played, contain messages from his dead daughter Shelly. In fact, they just might give him a clue that can bring her back from the dead. All he needs is one last recording but now the stranger has disappeared.

Directed by Kenny Yates (who was a child actor on the TV show Zoom) and written by Dumas and Kipp Tribble, who plays Bryan, this is as much a supernatural film as one where a father left behind by death seeks redemption from the daughter he has lost. It’s not an expected film and it really tries something unique and interesting. The idea of records of meditations unlocking the beyond is a really solid one.

There’s also the push and pull of the group, as Bryan (Tribble), pushes Will to embrace their teachings and work toward recovery. Yet Lydia (Nija Okoro) feels that the preachiness of their steps is wrong and that Von’s meditations are the answer. You’ll have to watch to see who is right, who is wrong and if even right and wrong matter when it comes to grief.

ReBroken is available on streaming platforms on March 7 from Gravitas Ventures.

The Way Out (2023)

In this movie by director and writer Barry Jay, we meet Alex (Jonny Beauchamp), whose teen years of parental sexual abuse have turned him into someone who only finds help at the bottom of the bottle. Yet he is working to fix his life, thanks to his friend Gracie (Ashleigh Murray) and sponsor Veronica (Sherri Shepherd).

He decides that he wants to reconnect with his father, despite everything that happened, and forgive him. Yet when he enters the house, his father has been murdered. He inherits his old house but soon learns that it’s too expensive to keep. That’s when he meets Shane (Mike Manning), a personal trainer who begins to change his body, as well as how he feels about himself and his sexuality. As he starts to open up and realize that he’s gay, he also finds himself pulling away from his AA group and Gracie. Then, the movie asks us — what if Shane was the wrong person for Alex?

I really dug what this movie was going for. It’s nearly a gay version of a Lifetime thriller and I say that with all the best of meanings. There’s so much that feels unexpected here and I really enjoyed it.

You can watch this on Tubi.

The Last Deal (2023)

Directed and written by Jonathan Salemi, this is about what happens to dealers with marijuana becomes legal. Vince (Anthony Molinari) can’t get his license and starts to lose money, so much that he can worries that he’s about to lose anything. He and his friend Bobby (Mister Fitzgerald) decide to make one last deal, but the criminals they’re working with steal all the weed, which leaves them in debt to the Boss (Sala Baker), a man who he borrowed a hundred grand from and also the maniac who demands his money in a week and then kills Bobby.

Based on a true story and shot during the pandemic, The Last Deal is a gritty take on the crime genre. This film literally had a lower budget than most major Hollywood action films spend on a half day of craft services and ends up working. That’s due to how good Molinari is at his role, a normal guy forced into a fight that he has no chance of winning and worrying that he has a baby on the way with his girlfriend Tabitha ((Jeffri Lauren). Now she and his friends are also targeted, so he has to do whatever he can to survive.

You can learn more about The Last Deal at the official website.

TUBI EXCLUSIVE: Best Friend (2023)

Trisha (Serayah, Empire) and Jamie (Marques Houston) have been best friends since grade school — he saved her from a boy who just wouldn’t leave her alone and then has always been there to rescue her, even through college and into their professional lives in marketing — but have never been anything more than friends. This changes when she starts hanging around one of their potential clients. She isn’t feeling it — the guy seems creepy — but when he dies the day after one of their dates and the cops find out he was poisoned, Trish and Jamie begin to question one another. Is he stalking her? Is she playing him? And how about all the I Heart Radio references in this movie? Did they pay for them?

Director and writer Chris Stokes — who also made the Tubi originals The Assistant, The Stepmother, The Stepmother 2 and Howard High — keeps making these Tubi movies and I keep watching them. The more I watch them, the more I wonder if I should expand giallo into the urban theater? Seriously, this has pretty much all of it — red herrings, fashion, sex, past trauma — and maybe these movies have hip hop instead of Goblin. It’s a theory that I’ve never seen anyone get into before and one worth exploring.

Oh yeah — the antagonist in this is awesome. No spoilers.

You can watch this on Tubi.

Free to a Bad Home (2023)

Directed and written by Cameron and Scott Hale, Free to a Bad Home is an anthology about a box filled with cursed objects including a ring that gets passed from person to person, starting with Amy (Miranda Nieman) has lost her husband and found a drinking problem. Then it’s found by Ryan (Jake C. Young), who breaks into a house where he finds a safe he can’t open. In the next room, a woman is chained up. She promises to unlock the safe if he lets her loose. Except that, well, she wants to kill the family next door when she gets free. Then it makes its way to his sister Julia (Olivia Dennis) goes to a drug-filled Halloween party that gets much, much worse.


There are some pacing issues in this movie, but for a low budget, it does a lot right. The color and cinematography of the last sequence are great. And obviously the Hale brothers aren’t just trying to make the same streaming horror anthology that everyone else is making. Here’s hoping that the things they have learned in this film allow them to create something even better after this. Also: eyedropper drugs seem horrifying.

You can watch this on Tubi.