Review: The Walking Dead - 'No Sanctuary'


By: Heather Seebach

**Warning: The following contains spoilers for S5E1. Do not read without first watching the episode**

 Since Scott Gimple took the reigns on The Walking Dead last season, the show has been getting progressively darker which pleases me to no end! There were rumors that the season 5 premiere was "too disturbing to air" and while that is a dangerous amount of hype, the first episode definitely delivered! Unlike with most episodes of the show, I could not find a single complaint here.

"No Sanctuary" picks up where the finale left off, with our protagonists trapped in a traincar in Terminus. True to Rick's promise of "They fucked with the wrong people"  - yes, I'm pretending that whole "screwed" thing never happened - the gang prepare makeshift weapons to defend themselves. It is to no avail, however, when they are separated and dragged to a slaughterhouse. 

I was pleasantly surprised with the level of gore in this opening scene. As a diehard horror fan, slit throats and gushing blood do not faze me but I did not expect AMC to have the balls to show such graphic human-on-human violence. The walker kills reach ridiculously gory levels but I cannot think of another human murder that was portrayed with such graphic realism as this. Between the Governor, Lizzie, and this, the show is taking a refreshingly bleak turn and finally beginning to match the cojones of its comic book counterpart. 


Speaking of the comics, I still have to wonder if that "baseball bat smock man" was a little tongue-in-cheek reference to Negan. I won't go into specifics but if you know the comics, you know what I mean. Especially considering Kirkman's involvement with the show, there is no way the similarity did not at least occur the writers. Perhaps this means future events won't play out quite as expected? After the watering-down of the Governor, I would expect some things to be changed, but now with Gimple and his penchant for brutality, I'm not so sure anymore! We shall see.

The slaughter-floor scene is a bit predictable what with the nameless "red shirts" and the convenient saves but I thoroughly enjoyed the gore and Rick being a total bad-ass. His give-no-fucks glare to Gareth was fantastic. As soon as I saw that head-tilt, I knew shit was about to go down!


I also found Gareth to be suitably creepy, especially his calm, collected but cold demeanor and the way he knew Bob's name. The whole scene was tense and bleak in a fashion finally befitting this storyline. Rick's ruthlessness in particular this entire episode pleases me. From "Let him turn" to "They don't get to live", my man was one hard motherfucker this episode! Hopefully the gun-fearing, ghost-seeing Farmer Rick is gone for good now.

The only person who could touch Rick's beast-mode this episode was Carol, who moved up yet another notch on the total bad-ass scale when she went full-blown Rambo (in a Clint Eastwood poncho) and saved everyone's butts. The gas explosion; hiding amongst the walkers; sniping the bad guys from inside their own compound; and leaving Tasha Yar/Rachel Creed to be eaten alive - DAMN, woman! I defended Carol's actions at the prison; I loved her for how she dealt with Lizzie; and now she's finally the kind of hero that everyone can accept - even Tyreese. I'm not sure I could adore that woman any more! If Carol dies, we riot!

 The scenes between Tyreese and Martin, the guy from Terminus, were fantastic, as well. The latter was equally menacing, if not moreso, than Gareth. "You're a good guy. That's why you're gonna die today. That's why the baby's gonna die today." What a deliciously nasty line! Thankfully, Tyreese's whiney, crybaby phase ended and he got to fuck up a half-dozen walkers (true to his print counterpart) and how epic was that tackle?! There's the Tyreese I know and love!

The gore and FX were pretty solid this episode...



....even that one face-muncher who looked totally fake but still felt like a nice, old-school low-budget effect: 


Mostly, "No Sanctuary" is bolstered by strong characters, tense writing, and dialogue. I love all the backstory given to Terminus. It imagines what Rick & co could have turned into - or could still turn into - given enough time and pain. They were once good, caring people who were victimized and made to survive. "You're the butcher, or you're the cattle." Great stuff! Love a little sympathy for the devil! The use of the "THEN" bookends was a great touch.

After all the brutality and badassery, the episode ends with a tearful reunion between Rick, Carl and Judith, and between Daryl and Carol. Fangirl hearts exploded everywhere, etc. etc. A nice relief. All in all, a fantastic premiere and I am excited to see where they take it.

Review: 'Found.'


By: Heather Seebach

These days, every new indie horror that pops up is touted as the Second Coming of the genre. Cheap torture porn is considered "edgy" and people stitched ass-to-mouth is hailed as "disturbing." Frankly, I grow weary of the hyperbole. So what a refreshing surprise it was when I saw Scott Schirmer's Found. and realized it was every bit as soul-shattering as I had heard - and then some. More than that, though, it is a powerful coming-of-age drama that provokes relevant discussion on bullying and the role of horror movies in real-life violence.

Review: 'Ink'


By: Bradley Hadcroft

INK is the final part of director Andy Stewart's body horror themed trilogy of short films - preceded by DYSMORPHIA and SPLIT, respectively - and it proves to be his most well-rounded and accomplished piece of work yet.

This particular slice of discomfort pie concerns a severely disturbed young man with a novel approach to body decoration and scant regard for basic medical principles. Suffice to say, tattoos play a major part in a movie titled INK; however, it is best to go into this deranged short as bereft of knowledge as possible and just throw yourself at the mercy of its twisted imagination.

The plot of INK is in fact relatively linear but once again it is the intricacy of its cinematic mechanics that creates the fierce intensity we have come to expect from this talented director. It really is a little Swiss watch of a short.  Stewart has retained the services of his gifted crew from previous installments of the trilogy for INK and once again they prove to be consistently professional and frequently inspired. INK is never anything other than technically accomplished and as such soars high above its under $10,000 budget.

David McKeitch's sound design is by turns brilliantly subtle and nauseatingly rambunctious, and Alan McLaughlin's camerawork is precise, lean, and moody - stalking Remo Catani & Chris Goldie's atmosphere drenched sets with economy and purpose. Award-winning effects artist Grant Mason takes us on another excruciating tour of his practical make-up repertoire and strong stuff it is indeed. 

The usual wince-inducing set pieces we have grown accustomed to from this body of work are present in sharpened spades. There will be many a tightly gripped chair arm amidst the sharp intakes of breath and diverted eyes once this cringe machine blazes its way around the festival circuit. Also to be commended here is the fine editing from Jim Lang. Taking the "Slow Burn " approach benefits INK tremendously as staring at It's glowing embers is just as engrossing as when it bursts into flames.

Interview: Matt Hannon of 'Samurai Cop'


The world has lost a lot of great people these last few months but amidst all that tragedy, there was a resurrection! Back in June, Samurai Cop star Matt Hannon - long believed to be dead - posted a YouTube video telling the world he was in fact alive! Yours truly promptly shit herself and then proceeded to reach out to Mr. Hannon. As it turns out, he is not only alive (and looking astoundingly good for 50) but one of the nicest, most sincere people one could hope to ever encounter.

With the second coming of Samurai Cop is upon us, I asked to interview Matt and he readily agreed! I invited my good friends at The Gentlemen's Guide to Midnight Cinema to join me in talking to this cult cinema icon. Please click below to give our joint-podcast a listen! In it, Matt goes into life, film, and the cult of Samurai Cop. You'll hear exclusive stories about his days working with Stallone and Schwarzenegger. Plus, Amir Shervan and Robert Z'Dar anecdotes! And find out what the fuck was up with that yarn lion head!

Also, please, PLEASE visit the Kickstarter page for Samurai Cop 2 right here.



 
DON'T FORGET TO DONATE AND KEEP IT WARM!!!

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/samuraicop2/samurai-cop-2-deadly-vengeance



Giveaway: Win the 'Ong Bak' Trilogy on Blu-ray!


The wildly popular Thai martial arts trilogy, Ong Bak is now available as a Blu-ray set from Magnolia Home Entertainment! I have a copy to give away to one lucky reader. To enter, simply leave a comment below! That it's! Bonus points if you tell your friends about Viewer Discretion Advised and all our sweet giveaways ;) 

Here are the details on the Blu-ray set:

STARRING ACTION SUPERSTAR TONY JAA
THE ONG BAK TRILOGY
Featuring Spellbinding Fight Scenes And Hard-Hitting Action For The First Time In A Complete Collection Of Fan-Favorite Thrillers Arrives July 29 On Blu-ray™ and DVD From Magnolia Home Entertainment Under The Magnet Label

Synopsis
Tony Jaa electrifies in this three-part epic tale of revenge. A franchise TIME calls “exhilarating,” with relentless, fever-pitched action – often free of stunt doubles and special effects. Jaa performs some of the most amazing physical feats ever seen on film.

Blu-ray/DVD Basics 

Price: $29.98 (Blu-ray 3-Disc) / $26.98 (DVD 5-Disc)
Running Time: 302 min.
Catalog: 10700 (Blu-ray) / 10699 (DVD)
MPAA Rating: R
Language: English and Thai
Subtitles: English and Spanish Subtitles


Rules and Regulations: The contest ends at 12pm EST on Friday, August 8th and the winner will be announced on Facebook that weekend, so be sure to follow us there if you are not already! Contest open to USA residents only.

Can't wait to get your hands on it? Pick up a copy at the link below!



SDCC '14 Cosplay


Sweaty nerds packed into the San Diego Convention Center this weekend for Comic Con International. Truly the happiest place on Earth, there were celebrity meet-and-greets, film panels with geek icons and megastars alike, endless comic book and merchandise dealers, countless artists, and of course - perhaps SDCCs most famous attribute - the cosplayers. If you're not familiar with that term, well, it's basically people in costumes. Specifically, the most awesomely creative and often-homemade costumes you'll find anywhere. Over the course of the weekend, I've seen hundreds of amazing costumes. I've been noticing some sweet genre movie-themed ones, so I figured I'd share them here. 

Get to da choppa!


Don't feed them after midnight...

Photo c/o www.escapistmagazine.com

My Take on the 'Evil Dead' TV Show


By: Heather Seebach

The news out of San Diego International Comic Con is that Sam Raimi has announced his involvement with an Evil Dead television series. His brother Ivan and frequent collaborator Bruce Campbell are also involved. Well, inevitably the reaction largely looks like this:


And so and so forth. "Dead horse" comes up a lot. Basically, this is the same reaction that the Evil Dead "remake" (which wasn't really a remake at all) got when it was announced. Well, until it turned out to be a blood-soaked chunk of awesomeness and everyone shut the fuck up.

Now, the television show announcement is causing the same "outrage." We've been down this road so many times. How exactly is this "beating a dead horse" or "a blatant money-grab" when those same fans are BEGGING for an Evil Dead 4? So making a sequel in a franchise that has been dormant for 20+ years starring a middle-aged B-actor is NOT a money-grab, though? Look, I want a fourth film by Sam and Bruce more than anyone but as a hardcore ED fan, I also look forward to Sam being involved in this series at all! Prior to Fede Alvarez's movie, Raimi had zero interest in Evil Dead anymore. In the two decades that followed Army of Darkness, we got a Kevin Costner baseball movie, Spider-Man, and a shitload of Xena. Yes, thankfully we got Darkman, the occasional Coen collaboration and A Simple Plan, too. Finally, he made Drag Me to Hell and this Raimi fan nearly shit her pants! He was finally showing an interest in horror again, and clearly it rattled something loose inside the man because he came back aboard the Evil Dead train then.

Now, naturally people accuse Sam of being a greedy dickhead just trying to squeeze more money out of the franchise....because he's SO poor from those superhero movies. I can only say I know that's not true from being an avid follower of the man and his work ethic. Obviously, I cannot convince you of that so instead I'll say - who cares? It's business. Even if these are nothing more than money-grabs, they still have the potential to give us fans exactly what we want! Evil Dead 4 would be the ultimate cash-grab but I fucking want it so hard!!! So who am I to judge?

Furthermore, why the sudden outrage over television adaptations? Bates Motel, Fargo, and Hannibal are also adaptations of movies that really never needed a tv remake but they turned out AWESOME! Each one of them had very skeptical fans when they were announced. So have faith, my friends. The fact that Raimi maintains an active interest at all, along with the Bruce Campbell (who usually wants nothing to do with these films) and Ivan Raimi, is amazing! 


The other complaint I am hearing is, what the fuck would this show even be about? Well, I imagine (much like Fargo) it would be in the style of the original movie but not directly related. In fact, seeing as Sam is close friends with the Coen Brothers, I would not be surprised if Fargo was his inspiration for this. I imagine it cannot stay in the cabin. I like to think it would show deadites all over the world and different time periods. Like how Army of Darkness took the story and put it in medieval Europe. I think that could be pretty great, actually!

What say you, primitive screwheads? Are you open-minded to this tv show and what would you like to see in it?


Is that Negan in The Walking Dead Season 5 trailer?!? (COMIC SPOILERS)


***Warning: The following contains spoilers from The Walking Dead comic books and POTENTIAL spoilers for season 5 of the television series***

I was just watching the newly-released The Walking Dead season 5 trailer out of San Diego Comic Con. Firstly, I'm not sure about the plot but it looks wonderfully gritty and bleak! I love that! The show really started to hit its stride in the last few episodes of season 4 and I am desperately hoping they keep that up! The first few minutes of the new trailer hint at some disturbing shit. There was also recent talk that the season 5 premiere might be "too disturbing to air." It made me think, "Man, I really hope they maintain this nastiness for when Negan shows up!"

Well, while watching the trailer, a very quick flash caught my eye:


If you are caught up on the comic books, you know about a very infamous scene between Negan and Glenn (**MAJOR COMIC BOOK SPOILERS AHEAD**):


Of course, Negan isnt bald nor is that guy wearing his signature leather jacket, but it's hard to not be alarmed by the baseball bat and Glenn's circumstances in that screenshot! 

While I don't believe that is ACTUALLY Negan (it's a bit too soon, don't you think?), I DO know that The Walking Dead team likes to rearrange moments from the comic books. For instance, Lizzie and Mika being stand-in's for Billy and Ben, or Hershel losing his leg in lieu of Dale. That list goes on and on. So it's actually very possible that Glenn's fate has been shifted into the hands of someone else.

What say you, Walking Dead fans?

Watch the new trailer for season 5 here:



Blu-ray Review: 'Blue Ruin'


By: Heather Seebach

As genre film fans, we know every trick and cliche of a revenge movie. They are almost always satisfying anyway, even when they color within the lines, but what makes Blue Ruin so special is the way it brilliantly - and subtly - subverts the genre. Add to that director Jeremy Saulnier's talent, an amazing cast, and a fantastic slow-burn revenge tale, and it's no surprise that this indie took home the esteemed FIPRESCI prize at Cannes Film Festival last year. 

Macon Blair stars as Dwight, an Eastern Shore derelict who commits a terrible act of vengeance and must deal with the consequences of his actions in order to protect his estranged family. The basic concept of the film began with the question: What would a regular person do in this situation? Imagine the gritty, bloody revenge films we know and love, but replace the lead bad-ass with a realistically mediocre man. That is our hero, Dwight. He is your average person dealing with his pain in the way he believes is right, even if he does so with frustrating ineptitude sometimes.

I have been a hardcore fan of Saulnier and Blair since I first saw their debut collaboration, Murder Party years ago. That black comedy has since become a staple of my Halloween celebrations, and a favorite film of mine and every friend I force to watch it. Green as they were back then, it was already obvious that Jeremy and Macon were ones to watch. Their sophomore effort is a very different animal, of course. There are touches of that dark humor here but they are appropriately restrained to maintain Blue Ruin's moody atmosphere. Most of the laughs come about from, as Saulnier describes it, "archetypal scenes being interrupted by reality." What would be a bad-ass entrance or showdown for men like Paul Kersey or Jack Carter becomes awkward and terrifying for Dwight. In doing this, the film beautifully walks the thin line between depressingly bleak and absurdly comical.

Saulnier has a strong background in cinematography and acted as his own DP. There are moments of Michael Mann-esque beauty (like a breathtaking Rehoboth Beach boardwalk sequence) but mostly the film is populated with lovely tracking shots in the 'burbs and boonies of Virginia. As for the script, Saulnier has found an ingenious way to tell the kind of revenge tale we genre film fans love but in a more realistic fashion where the characters are genuinely human and the violence never glorified. Dwight and the antagonistic Cleland Family are the broken products of their parents' mistakes, left behind to perpetuate a generational war.


Ruin is an independent film in the truest sense - Saulnier cast his best friend (a relative unknown) in the lead; the crew often doubled as actors; even Jeremy's car, kids, and childhood home play pivotal roles in the movie. This is seemingly a very personal film for the director, as he literally returns home while Dwight does the same. There is a lot of subtext about nostalgia and childhood, which is fitting for a story about the past and about family. There is a hell of a lot of beauty and emotion buried in this gritty little revenge story. You would be doing yourself a great injustice to skip this one - buy it immediately.


------------------------------------------------------------------

Blue Ruin is available on DVD and Blu-ray from RADiUS-TWC and Anchor Bay Entertainment starting Tuesday, July 22nd. You can also find the film On Demand. If you are a fan of this movie and/or Saulnier/Blair, I highly recommend picking up the Blu-ray release, which includes the doc, "No Regrets: The Making of Blue Ruin." In addition to on-set footage, bloopers, festival footage, storyboards, and audition tapes - all amazing content for any behind-the-scenes doc - the most exciting part for me was there are clips from Saulnier and Blair's early VHS movies! Megacop 2000

The interviews with cast and crew are also great, and surprisingly emotional. Saulnier and Blair recount their struggles to find work post-Murder Party (which BAFFLES me), returning to their day jobs until finally taking a chance on Blue Ruin, only to be shot down before finally breaking through. Their story is an inspiration to aspiring filmmakers. I was nearly brought to tears by their story, followed by genuine waterworks when Jeremy talks about his father's death - it's a beautiful moment but you'd better have tissues at the ready.

The commentary track with Saulnier and Blair is also a great listen for fans of this film. Their humorous and occasionally drunk walk-through of the movie is full of good anecdotes. These guys are so humble and don't even realize know what true talents they are. I had no idea that funding this film was such a struggle but I am thrilled for their much-deserved success now.

The Blu-ray also includes deleted scenes, which are mostly extended scenes plus a very cool sequence where Dwight goes through a spooky funhouse. It also has the camera test which the guys used to recruit investors, cast, and crew. It's a stunning 4-minute piece starring Blair and establishing the tone of the final film. It is set to the beautiful and bleak "I Hope You Die" by Maryland-born band, Wye Oak. It's all very Delmarva which hits home even further with this Baltimore native! This is definitely a must-watch for fans of the movie.

You can pick up a copy and support great indie filmmakers (and Viewer Discretion Advised) using this Amazon link below:



Giveaway: Win 'Ginger Snaps' from Scream Factory!


Scream Factory is releasing fan-favorite and coming-of-age werewolf flick, Ginger Snaps on Blu-ray/DVD combo this Tuesday, July 22nd and I have a copy to give away to one lucky reader! To enter, just leave a comment below by noon EST on Friday, July 25th! At that time I'll pick a winner and notify you!

Here is the run-down on the new release:

Los Angeles, CA – Scream Factory has announced the July 22 Blu-ray release of fan-favorite Ginger Snaps (Collector’s Edition). Bonus features include new interviews with director John Fawcett, writer Karen Walton, actors Emily Perkins and Jesse Moss, producer Steve Hoban, make-up effects artist Paul Jones, composer Mike Shields and editor Brett Sullivan, a new Women in Horror panel discussing Ginger Snaps, an audio commentary with Director John Fawcett, an audio commentary with writer Karen Walton, deleted scenes with optional commentary by John Fawcett and Karen Walton, The Making of Ginger Snaps - Vintage Featurette, Creation of the Beast - Vintage Featurette, Being John Fawcett -Vintage Featurette, cast auditions and rehearsals, theatrical trailers, TV spots, production design artwork photo gallery.

Fifteen-year-old Brigitte Fitzgerald (Emily Perkins, Insomnia, Juno) and her nearly-sixteen-year-old sister Ginger (Katharine Isabelle, Freddy vs. Jason, See No Evil 2) are both best friends and outcasts. Obsessed with dying and bound by a childhood pact to stay together forever, they loathe their mind-numbing existence in the suburbs of Bailey Downs. One night the two girls are heading through the woods when Ginger is savagely attacked by a wild creature.

Ginger’s horrible wounds miraculously heal over, but something is not quite right about her. Ginger is irritable and in denial. But to Brigitte, it is obvious that a terrifying force has taken hold of her sister. She’s convinced that the insatiable craving her sister is experiencing can mean only one thing – Ginger is becoming something unspeakably evil and monstrous.

Also starring Mimi Rogers (Penny Dreadful), Kris Lemche (Final Destination 3) and Jesse Moss (Tucker & Dale vs. Evil), this riveting funfest was directed by John Fawcett (Orphan Black) and written by Karen Walton (Orphan Black).



SPECIAL FEATURES:

·        NEW interviews with director John Fawcett, writer Karen Walton, actors Emily Perkins and Jesse Moss, Producer Steve Hoban, Make-up Effects artist Paul Jones, Composer Mike Shields and Editor Brett Sullivan
·        NEW Women in Horror panel discussing GINGER SNAPS
·        Audio Commentary with Director John Fawcett
·        Audio Commentary with Writer Karen Walton
·        Deleted Scenes with optional commentary by John Fawcett and Karen Walton
·        The Making of GINGER SNAPS - Vintage Featurette
·        Creation of the Beast
·        Being John Fawcett
·        Cast Auditions and Rehearsals
·        Theatrical Trailers
·        TV Spots
·        Production Design Artwork Photo Gallery
2000/Color/108 minutes
Blu-ray: 1080p High-Definition Widescreen (X.XX:1)/DTS-HD Master X.X

If you absolutely cannot wait, feel free to pick up a copy using the link below!



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