Eerie Horror Film Festival 2011

November 3, 2011 | No comments | Posted in Horror, Movies, Reviews | Tags: , , ,

One of my favorite events of the year is the Eerie Horror Film Festival. Although it takes place over four days every October, I usually only have time to go for one day. This year I went on Saturday, and watched the first four blocks of movies they played, totalling 8 hours of shorts and features. Allow me to tell you a little bit about what I saw.

But before I start, I have a couple comments. First of all, I’ve never seen a truly bad movie at this festival. Sure, there were some I didn’t care for, but the quality is consistently excellent in the films chosen. Secondly, I was very tired the day I went. This definitely affected my experience of the features, since they were obviously longer.


UK | Directed by Ray Vernava | 11min

Very weird, very cool! It’s a surrreal fantasy horror piece . . . or something like that. This one is hard to explain, but well worth the watch. Watch the trailer.

Dead Friends

Canada | Directed by Stephen Martin | 11min

An original tale, for sure. I didn’t care for the makeup, but it involves a zombie (always a plus in my book) and some fun humor. Watch the trailer.

The Corridor

Canada | Directed by Evan Kelly | 99min

My first feature-length film of the day was a good one. It was a strange supernatural tale that for some reason kept reminding me of The Shining. But I kept falling asleep during this one — I’m not sure whether it was the movie, or my severe lack of sleep that caused this. I think I needed to pay more attention than I did to really get this movie. Watch the trailer.

Bad Moon Rising

Australia | Directed by Scott Hamilton | 8min

Awesome werewolf short, complete with a sweet transformation scene that reminded me of An American Werewolf in London. You gotta watch this 1-minute excerpt.

St. Christophorus: Roadkill

Germany | Directed by Gregor Erler | 26min

A faced-paced thriller about a guy who endures an extreme amount of pain after witnessing an accident on the road. I loved this one. Check out the official website, where you can watch the trailer (among other things).

Donner Pass

USA | Directed by Elise Robertson | 86min

I love a good cannibal movie, and this made me happy. It’s all based on the Donner Party, and the legends surrounding it. Great production value: acting, violence and gore effects were wonderful. Watch the trailer.

Mea Maxima Culpa

Canada | Directed by Eric Spoeth | 25min

Black and white and based on Poe’s The Tell-Tale Heart, this short was very enjoyable. Good acting, and good expansion on the original story. Watch the trailer.


Germany | Directed by Martin Bargiel | 19min

I think I was too tired for this one, as it was really surreal, having to do with blurring the edges of the real and the imagined. Too much for my tired mind to wrap around. I’m sure it was good. Watch the trailer.

The Black Box

USA | Directed by Jason Balas | 81min

I think I was so confused after Augenblicke that the disorientation spilled over into this movie. I guess it’s a post-apocalyptic, futuristic kind of thing, but I really have no idea. I need to try to watch this one again. Watch the trailer, and look for links on that page for other trailers for this movie.

The Living Want Me Dead

USA | Directed by Bill Palmer | 23min

This was my favorite short of the whole day! A man subjects himself to scientific tests for money, and consequently develops a condition in which he gives off a pheromone that causes people to turn into bloodthirsty killers. Brilliant and extremely enjoyable. Bravo! Watch the first scene and sneak peek.

The Millennium Bug

USA | Directed by Kenneth Cran | 98min

My favorite feature of the day! I was pleasantly surprised by this, as I had no idea what it was about. It’s New Years Eve 1999, and a family is headed into the mountains for a holiday getaway. They encounter inbred hillbillies, a cryptozoologist and an enormous creature that surfaces once every thousand years. All practical effects (“No CGI” was actually the movie’s mantra), which was pulled off masterfully. I liked this movie so much that I went out and bought it on DVD immediately, getting to meet the director. What a way to end the day! Go to the official website to watch the trailer and order your own DVD.

New Zombie DVD: Cowboys & Zombies

July 30, 2011 | 4 comments | Posted in Horror, Movies, Reviews, Zombies |


It’s an imaginative title, I know. On August 1, 2011, the UK will see the DVD release of Cowboys & Zombies, previously released here in the States under the title of The Dead and the Damned.

I was excited about this. The combination of zombies and the Western genre has been pretty successful, with games like Red Dead Redemption: Undead Nightmare and books like Eric S. Brown’s How the West Went to Hell. I had high hopes for this independent effort, written and directed by Rene Perez and starring David Lockhart, Camille Montgomery, Rick Mora, and Robert Amstler.

The movie opens with a pretty decent gunfight, but really drops off from there. A bounty hunter is strapped for cash, and goes after a notorious Indian who is wanted for rape and murder. The citizens of the old Western town find a strange glowing-green meteorite and open it up, releasing CG radiation and turning them all into angry, fast zombies. And you can pretty much figure out where it goes from there.

My two biggest problems with this were the lack of originality — there’s really no guesswork here — and the dragging plot. I thought of Creepshow as soon as I saw the meteorite sequence — the Stephen King meteorite segment. And there are just so many traveling sequences. You see a lot of walking around. I almost fell asleep during the drawn-out, actionless dialogue scene between the bounty hunter and the Indian.

Not to mention the blatant CG that plagues the film. I already mentioned the radiation being computer-generated, but a lot of the blood is unquestionably CG and sticks out badly.

I might as well add that I had a problem with the lead actor as well — David Lockhart has the bounty hunter. He comes across as neither rugged nor tough, and his soft, high-pitched voice doesn’t help.

But I will say that I enjoyed the look of the zombies. I loved the sequence inside the house when the blind zombie is stalking the girl. The makeup was done very well, and the scene was pretty well done, even if there were some things about it that didn’t make much sense.

Yeah, I was disappointed by this one. Lots of promise, with little delivery. I give it a 3/10.

New DVD release: Bane (2009)

July 22, 2011 | 8 comments | Posted in Horror, Movies, Reviews | Tags: , ,

This week, the independent British movie Bane was released on DVD by Safecracker Pictures. Written and directed by James Eaves, it runs close to 2 hours, and was the winner of the Best Horror Feature Award at Shriekfest in LA.

This movie has a very Saw vibe. Four women wake up in an underground cell, remembering nothing. They are drugged and subjected to a series of horrifying experiments. On top of this, the women are visited one at a time by the killer Surgeon, who cuts a number into each woman’s skin — the exact time that he’s coming back to kill them. The movie takes a number of unexpected twists and turns, leading to an ending that is truly surprising.

I have to say that I’m amazed at what the filmmakers did with a very low budget, especially in the effects department. There is lots of blood and gore, the vast majority of it being practical (not CG). I only saw a couple quick CG enhancements to the effects, and they did not detract from the scene at all. It all plays into the psychological nature of the movie — they’re messing with the actors’ (and the viewers’) heads, leaving everyone to try to figure out what is really going on.

It’s also very good on a technical level. A lot of careful attention was paid to camera placement and movement, and stylized, creative lighting was utilized to the fullest extent. It’s all edited together very well — even though it’s a longer movie, the pacing is very good and never left me bored or over-stimulated.

The acting is pretty much what you’d expect from a micro-budget film. A couple of the characters are done well, while most are mediocre at best. But they weren’t helped by the fact that there wasn’t much character development — I really didn’t care for any of them that much. Most of the movie is focused on the psychological horror of the situation, not on growing deeper with the characters.

A few specific problems I had:

  • I just didn’t get the killer Surgeon. Why was he there? Several things didn’t make much sense to me.
  • After the experiments and subsequent questioning, the women were given the chance to ask the doctor one question. Why didn’t they ask what was going on? They never thought of that until the end.
  • The main character was awfully calm upon discovering the Lovecraftian tentacle bug monster. She was even clearheaded enough to use the creature to her advantage. I think that any normal person would have crapped their pants and collapsed in a sobbing heap. Or maybe that would just be me.

All in all, this was a very interesting movie to watch. It’s a Saw-like psychological horror film, lacking the fine polish of a big-budget film, but still delivering some nice gore and unexpected twists.

Thanks to my friends at Organic Marketing for sending this!

Great Lakes Brewing: Edmund Fitzgerald

May 15, 2010 | 2 comments | Posted in Beer, Reviews |

It was fate — it had to be. I was at the westernmost Wegman’s in Erie, browsing the beer selection. I wanted something different, which is why I go to Wegman’s to try new beer — I only have to buy a 6 pack, and am not committed to an entire case. I had paced up and down the beer aisle without anything really jumping out at me. That is, until I discovered this porter in an inconspicuous cooler:


Edmund Fizgerald Porter, Great Lakes Brewing

The first thing that flashed through my mind was my bone-crunching version of The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald, which I had put a lot of work into a couple weeks ago. Finding this beer is clearly more than a coincidence. However, being that I wasn’t quite sure what a porter was, I almost passed it up. The label promised a taste that is “smoky, robust, dark and bittersweet.” After a few minutes of deliberation, I finally decided to give it a try. It was $8.49 for a sixer, which is relatively reasonable at Wegman’s.

It turns out that porters are pretty heavy. Not quite like a stout, but still very dark and rich. The description on the bottle is accurate, with the warmness of chocolate and coffee in the forefront. I’m surprised that it’s only 5.8% ABV, as I’m used to darker beers being stronger. On the initial sip, I wasn’t too sure I’d be able to drink more than one or two, the taste was so rich. Not bad by any means, but very full. Well, let me tell you this: it’s not all that hard to drink more than a couple. In fact, it gets easier and easier.

It turns out that Cleveland has managed to do something right, as that is where Great Lakes Brewing is located.

And it turns out that I officially like porters (so far). It’s not a party beer, but rather one to sit down and enjoy with a good hearty dinner — or on a sinking vessel on Lake Superior. I recommend it!

The Zombie Combat Manual

May 15, 2010 | No comments | Posted in Books, Horror, Reviews, Zombies |

My friend Roger Ma from the Zombie Combat Club sent me his new book, The Zombie Combat Manual: A Guide to Fighting the Living Dead. And I’ve happened to see it on the shelves of Borders and at Amazon.com, which is very cool.


I love this book. It’s a comprehensive, entertaining guide for zombie fighting, written in a military style. In this well-organized and well-written manual, Ma covers everything you need to know about fighting the living dead, complete with helpful illustrations and “Combat Reports” — interviews and accounts of encounters with zombies. It’s a great blend of straightforward instruction and short storytelling.

The first section covers the facts about zombies: what they are, what they aren’t, and how they function. I was particularly thrilled with the first misconception discussed: that zombies can run.

Next, the focus is turned to those fighting the zombies. Physical fitness, health and wellness are discussed in terms of zombie combat, so that those confronting the living dead can prepare as much as possible. A lot of time is spent on weapons of all kinds — traditional battle weapons, swords, knives, blades, clubs, etc. — as well as weapons that can be found in certain settings: the farm, the garage, the kitchen, and more.

Ma brings it all together with the final section, Combat Strategies and Techniques. Your chances of success in a skirmish with the undead will soar as all kinds of techniques and situations are covered.

“For those who have never encountered a walking cadaver, the techniques described in this section may seem vicious, brutal, perhaps even excessive and gratuitous.”

Of course, the humor is implicit. The straightforward, deadpan delivery of the manual and conversational tones of the Combat Reports are inherently funny when the subject is zombies.

It’s a great read. Roger Ma’s zombie knowledge is unparallelled, and I can only hope to have him at my side during the next zombie outbreak. Go buy The Zombie Combat Manual right now.

Rating: 10/10

Bled White (2009)

May 13, 2010 | 5 comments | Posted in Horror, Movies, Reviews |

I love independent zombie movies — they’ve been slaying their big-budget Hollywood counterparts for years now. Bled White (2009) caught my attention during its production, and the good people at CU There Productions sent a DVD over for me to check out.

Bled White web site


The movie takes place after the zombie apocalypse has struck, and what’s left of society is reordering itself to deal with the flesh-hungry “zombies.” People are doing whatever it takes to survive, and we follow several plot lines that intertwine. We follow two hit men, a family, and a couple running a hotel. The scenes aren’t necessarily chronological, creating a darker kind of Pulp Fiction feel. Things happen at the beginning of the movie that don’t quite make sense until it’s connected to something else later on.

The filmmakers explore some interesting territory and have come up with some original ideas — a big plus in my book. We see the conflict between those who believe in “killing” the zombies and those who want to them” live” in hopes of a cure being discovered. Themes of cannibalism, cheating, and survival vs. killing are also in the mix.

The characters are pretty nicely developed, and the actors perform much better than I was hoping for. Some are excellent (the lead hit men), some are mediocre, but none are bad.

On a technical level, they did a great job with a low budget. The whole movie is high-contrast, allowing for a lot of lights and shadows. They managed to film the whole thing during the winter, something not often seen in zombie movies. It works really well. Overall, the shot selection and cinematography were well done. The suspense they’ve created is wonderful. The editing and pacing, along with the good score and sound effects, make for great atmosphere.

Now for the zombies. Even though they run, they look good: pale with lots of blood and light blue cloudy eyes. The makeup is good — they must have spent a fortune in blue contacts. Nothing looked fake. However, the zombies growl and roar and sound demonic — a little too over-the-top for me. This could have been just as scary (probably scarier) with slow zombies.

The effects were good, and they kept it mostly practical. They used some digital effects — fire, gunshot flares, clouds going over the moon, etc. — but they don’t overindulge in digital effects like a lot of low-budget movies tend to do.

All in all, this is a very good low-budget movie — fun and gory. Also a breath of fresh air in the over-saturated zombie movie market.

Rating: 7/10

Fear Factory – Mechanize (2010)

April 29, 2010 | 1 comment | Posted in Music, Reviews |

I was hesitant to pick up Fear Factory’s newest effort Mechanize. My first experience with them was their highly popular album Obsolete, which immediately made me a fan. Then I picked up Demanufacture, which is slightly more raw and brutal, also a fantastic album.

But then things went weird for the band. Creative differences began to show through on Digimortal, the followup to Obsolete. It wasn’t a great album, and the band seemed to be in limbo for a while. Madman guitarist Dino Cazares left the band after a falling-out with vocalist Burton C. Bell. Bassist Christian Olde Wolbers switched to guitar, Byron Stroud (from Strapping Young Lad) took over on bass, and Raymond Herrera remained on drums.

They released Archetype — which I love. A few years later came Transgression, which was lukewarm (although I’d still listen to that over Digimortal any day). I figured they were still growing with the rearranged lineup, although they were pulling away from the element of death metal and getting awful pop-sounding on some tracks (like that U2 cover?!).

Then they kind of wandered away from each other. Christian and Herrera began playing in Arkaea, and Burton decided to reform Fear Factory with Dino back on guitar, Gene Hoglan (from Strapping Young Lad) on drums, and Byron remaining on bass. Controversy abounds, and you can read all the (supposed) details on the Wikipedia page.

While I love Fear Factory, I became disinterested in them. All the bickering and problems kind of turned me off. I’m not fully convinced that I like Burton or Dino. I like the Strapping Young Lad guys, Christian and Raymond.

Which brings me back to my original statement: I was hesitant to pick up their February 2010 release, Mechanize.


And to be honest, this is about what you would expect from a Fear Factory album. Dino has come up with some really cool riffs, and the mega-robot-drummer Hoglan adds larger-than-life heaviness to the mix. Burton adds some welcome growls this time around, but his vocals aren’t anything you haven’t heard before. He maintains his ability to do death metal screams and melodic singing within the same song, which ain’t easy.

While this is an album I’ll probably listen to fairly regularly, it’s really nothing new in the realm of Fear Factory. At times I feel like I’m listening to Demanufacture or Obsolete. I’m fairly certain that the purpose of this album was to re-establish cred with an increasingly disillusioned fan base.

Innovation it isn’t. However, it’s an enjoyable album that FF fans will appreciate. Hopefully, Mechanize is a stepping stone to further growth and creativity in the band.

Rating: 7/10

Prototype (Xbox 360)

April 21, 2010 | 1 comment | Posted in Reviews, Video Games |

This past weekend, my wife was away on an extended shopping journey. Not satisfied with any of my video game selections, I hurried to GameStop, bound and determined to pick up a game or two. After spending the better part of an hour going back and forth over the Xbox 360 and Wii games, I finally decided on two unlikely choices: Prototype and Ghostbusters.

Why? They were each $19.99.

The teenage guy behind the counter wasn’t impressed by what I was buying. “Something to keep you busy,” he dully remarked as he bagged them.

I knew neither of these games were big hits — they both received pretty lukewarm reviews. But something pulled me toward these games. Today, let me tell you about Prototype.


This is an amazing game. You’re an shapeshifting anti-hero given free reign in New York City. You can consume people and steal their memories and appearance. Your powers include super jumps, super strength, super speed, and a vast array of weapons (like the giant claws seen above). As you go through the city slaughtering the police and military, you earn more experience, which rewards you with more powers and stronger abilities.

Sure, there’s some kind of story that goes along with it. But it’s so much fun to terrorize the good citizens of New York, that I really don’t care about actually doing the missions. I’m not ignoring them completely — you have to complete missions to gain more abilities and powers — but I spend an enormous amount of time between missions bringing death and destruction to the city.

My only real complaint is that there’s not much variation in the scenery or the people throughout the city. The playable map is very large, but everything pretty much looks the same.

I love this game. It’s a steal right now for twenty bucks — go get it.

Monsters of Misfitboy: Creature from the Black Lagoon (1954)

April 7, 2010 | 6 comments | Posted in Horror, Misfitboy, Reviews | Tags: , , , ,

My first review ever was for a local access horror show about 6 years ago. It was called “The Death of the Drive-In’s.” When I watched the show one night I was shocked to find the two hosts were going to read my review on the air! It was about the drive-in era dying out like a plague sweeping across the country. Everywhere you went (in Ohio alone), For Sale signs were all over the once majestic, towering screens that used to show some of the greatest films of our time. One in particular was the Memphis drive-in, one of the most popular ones in Ohio. It was so popular that people tried to get a petition going to make it a historical site. It never happened. So the “drive-in plague,” as I refer to it, continues. And why, you may ask? Well, mostly because the use of the film costs money, and in order to turn a profit, drive-ins rely on concession stands besides ticket purchases. Today, with movies costing in the millions to make, the price goes up. A drive-in by me did a smart thing and charged $5 to bring your own food, generating a little more profit, which in turn keeps it running to this day.


Okay, enough history lessons — let’s get to the plot. By the way, the 3D version of Creature from the Black Lagoon is amazing if you can find it. It does have great underwater effects! A large explosion is seen as a narrator gives a short speech on earth. The film then shows a beach with strange footprints coming out of the water. The waves slowly wash over them, leaving the viewer the obvious question: what was it?

Meanwhile, scientists are digging into a wall of dirt and rock, uncovering an odd-looking skeletal hand. Later that night, two men are wakened in their tent by a monstrous shadow. The thing tears down the tent, slashes one man with a sharp claw, and kills both of them. The skeletal claw is sent to a lab so it can be determined what species it is from. Dr. Carl Maia, who discovered the hand, assembles a crew of scientists to find more fossils in the “black lagoon.” Among the crew are Dr. David Reed, Kay Laurence, Dr. Mark Williams and Dr. Edwin Thompson. They board the boat, the “Rita,” driven by Lucas, who tells them a tale of “gill-man,” a legendary creature who, millions of years ago, may have been a throwback to the human and amphibious race — a cross-breed, if you will. It is then we get our first glimpse of the creature, coming up from the lagoon to grab a large bird and pull it down to the deep lagoon.

It soon becomes apparent that the legend is real and two battles begin. One is for the capture of the creature for study purposes, or to let it stay in its natural environment. Second is the ever-famous battle for the love of a woman (Kay), which was common in these types of films. In a brilliant scene, Kay goes for a swim in the lagoon. The creature sees her and has never witnessed such beauty before, swimming inches away from her, slightly grazing her leg, wondering what she is. Kay panics and gets out of the water. The gill-man then begins his pursue of Kay by jumping onto the boat and causing chaos.

Eventually it is decided that the scientists will use rotenone (a drug that is used to capture fish). Then they put the creature in a cage, but unfortunately it doesn’t hold the beast for long. The creature breaks out and seriously injures Dr Thompson. Lucas thinks it’s time to leave the cursed lagoon, but cannot, because the creature has blocked off the only exit with giant logs. Williams decides to go underwater to try to remove the debris, but is confronted by the gill-man and is killed. Using the rotenone on the creature gives Dr. Reed enough time to remove the barricade created by the gill-man. Later that night, the gill-man comes on board, kidnapping Kay and taking her to his cave somewhere within the lagoon. Yes, its’ like King Kong underwater, but I’m fine with that! The rest of the team manages to find the gill-man’s subterranean lair, and after a brief fight the creature is shot and falls into the darkest depths of the lagoon.

This is without a doubt my favorite Universal monster film, and seeing it in the 3D form (the way it was introduced to American audiences) was amazing, especially the underwater shots! Ben Chapman, who played the creature, would have to hold his breath for over a minute in some scenes.

On a scale from 1-10, Creature from the Black Lagoon is a perfect 10! If you should happen to want to buy the movie, I would recommend the legacy collection. It comes with all three creature films, several documentaries, anda lot of other photos, trailers, etc. You can get it at Amazon.com for around $20 — a steal in my book.

Well, that’s it for this time around. Once again, thanks to Corey for allowing me to continue reviewing some of the drive-in classics! See you at the drive-ins! This is Misfit boy and I’m out!

Monsters of Misfitboy: The Deadly Mantis (1957)

March 26, 2010 | 4 comments | Posted in Horror, Misfitboy, Movies, Reviews |

There is an old urban legend that says “if you kill a praying mantis you can be fined up to $50.” But what if the mantis is bigger than a 2-story house? Well, that’s what’s at the drive-in this week as we dive into Universal’s The Deadly Mantis (1957). One neat little fact about the film is that the actor who did the voice for the famous “Robby the Robot” narrates the film. Now at first you might think that this movie is a documentary from 5th grade science class. At certain parts of this film, you’re not sure if you’re watching a b-movie or getting an education! I mean, this goes on for the first 12 minutes into the picture! (insert more stock footage for plot holes). I would personally recommend the MST3K version of this film for the simple fact that Mike and the “bots” really tear this movie to pieces!


So here is the plot. “For every action there is an equal and opposite re-action,” narrates the voice at the start of the film. A volcano erupts on a distant island and causes tremors across the North Pole, causing a giant glacier to crack and collapse, revealing our giant menace (yes, a giant insect in the North Pole — don’t ask, I don’t know either). OK, insert even more stock footage, and finally 15 or 16 minutes into the picture the film finally starts. On a small military station manned by two men, a distant buzzing sound is heard before the roof collapses on top of them. Meanwhile, Colonel Joe Parkman is worried that something is wrong with the station, so he sends out a search team. When they arrive they find the station is destroyed. A giant claw falls on top of them, nearly crushing the two searchers (he he, giant claw)! They take it back to the lab for investigation. After more [YAWN] chattering they finally figure out what it is! Yeah. They send out a plane to see if they can find it after it appears on the radar, and the plane never comes back. Surprise [insert more boring dialogue] and then the mantis finally strikes! OK, as if the poor Eskimos don’t have enough to deal with — polar bears, living in ice, gamera at one point (never vacation in the north pole) — the mantis attacks and the Eskimos flee.

The giant claw, as I referred to earlier, is actually a hook from the mantises giant pinchers. MORE DRAMA THAN THE MIDNIGHT PODCAST!!! Sorry Corey. Here comes the giant puppet! The mantis shows itself eventually right outside the base of Red Eagle One, as it’s referred to. Seeking a warmer climate, the mantis moves towards the USA. OK, enough already, the mantis tours Washington and New York, where it is rammed by Parkman and bails out of the plane at the last second — that was close! In the end, the mantis is trapped in a highway tunnel under the streets of New York!

Spoiler alert!! The mantis hides in the tunnels of New York, wounded and dying. Then the military comes in to gas the creature. The end.

On a scale from 1-10 I would give this a 4, BUT the MST3K version would be a 9! Go figure. Thanks Corey, and I’ll see you at the drive-ins for Creature from the Black Lagoon! This is misfit boy and I’m out!