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The Movies, Films and Flix Podcast – Episode 360: We Summon the Darkness, Heavy Metal, and Twinkies

April 21, 2021

You can download or stream the pod on Apple PodcastsTune In,  Podbean, or Spreaker (or wherever you listen to podcasts…..we’re almost everywhere).

If you get a chance please make sure to review, rate and share. You are awesome!

Mark and Zanandi (@ZaNandi on Twitter) discuss the 2020 thriller We Summon the Darkness. directed by Marc Meyers, and starring Alexandra Daddario, Maddie Hasson, and Amy Forsyth, the film focuses on a wild night of violence involving knives, cooking sheets, and boat motors. In this episode, Mark and Zanandi discuss fun horror, Johnny Knoxville, and cheeky characters. Enjoy!

If you are a fan of the podcast, make sure to send in some random listener questions so we can do our best to not answer them correctly. We thank you for listening, and hope you enjoy the episode!

You can download the pod on Apple PodcastsTune In,  Podbean, or Spreaker.

John’s Horror Corner: Wrong Turn (2021), not the hillbilly horror remake you were hoping for.

April 19, 2021

MY CALL: A decent horror film, but a God awful reimagining of Wrong Turn—which it clearly isn’t even trying to do. MORE MOVIES LIKE Wrong TurnWell, of course, you need to go back to Wrong Turn (2003), and then perhaps the sillier but gory sequels. For more Appalachian Horror, consider Spell (2020), The Descent (2005), Evil Dead (2013), Jug Face (2013), Tucker and Dale versus Evil (2010) or Pumpkinhead (1988).

A group of friends hiking the Appalachian Trail stumble across an archaic tribe of long-secluded woodsmen and disappear. Determined to find them, a father (Matthew Modine; Stranger Things, 47 Meters Down) sets out looking for his daughter (Charlotte Vega; Another Me) recruiting whatever help from the rural locals he can.

I’m not impressed with this Appalachian cult of deer skull-masked mountain people. Their costumes, camouflage and booby trap shenanigans all seem far-fetched even for a horror movie. These guys always seem to be in the right place at the right time in the otherwise vast forest. It’s not cheeky or charming or amusingly self-aware. Quite the opposite—this is 100% serious and always delivered with a straight face. Yet the events that transpire felt very unrealistic, even in the context of a horror movie.

This film’s greatest saving grace would be how it celebrates brutal head trauma across multiple scenes. The first death scene features an awesomely mangled jaw and crushed skull. Some other brutal scenes include a spiked pit trap impalement and a savage cranial beating with a log. These visuals are more pleasing (to gorehounds at least) than the overall movie—which has none of Wrong Turn’s (2003) DNA to be found. In execution, this movie wishes it was The Shrine (2010) and it doesn’t even know it.

This script was clearly written for a more northern setting, and set in Virginia (not West Virginia as the source material) to ease us into a Wrong Turn state of mind. It’s sad how obvious it is that this was originally never meant to be a Wrong Turn script. At one point a character refers to hunting moose and elk… moose are found nowhere near Virginia! Perhaps that makes more sense of whatever language they spoke (something Germanic/Slavic/Scandinavian, I’m no linguist). Later in the movie, more dumb things transpire. The “cavern of the blind” was particularly ridiculous and smacked of something in an ill-written Hammer-era movie of the 50s or 60s depicted some lower circle of Hell.

REMAKE/REIMAGINING/REBOOT SIDEBAR: For more horror remakes, I strongly favor the following: Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1978), An American Werewolf in London (1981), The Thing (1982), The Fly (1986), The Blob (1988), The Mummy (1999), The Ring (2002), The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (2003), Dawn of the Dead (2004), The Hills Have Eyes (2006), Friday the 13th (2009), Let Me In (2010), Evil Dead (2013), Carrie (2013), The Town That Dreaded Sundown (2014), It (2017), Suspiria (2018) and Child’s Play (2019). Those to avoid include Body Snatchers (1993; the second remake), War of the Worlds (2005), The Invasion (2007; the third remake), Prom Night (2008), Night of the Demons (2009), Sorority Row (2009), Patrick: Evil Awakens (2013), Poltergeist (2015), Martyrs (2015), Cabin Fever (2016), Unhinged (2017) and The Mummy (2017). I’m on the fence about An American Werewolf in Paris (1997), The Grudge (2004), Halloween (2007), It’s Alive (2009), My Bloody Valentine (2009), A Nightmare on Elm Street (2010), Fright Night (2011), The Thing (2011; a prequel/remake), Maniac (2012), Rabid (2019), Pet Sematary (2019) and Castle Freak (2020), which range from bad to so-so (as remakes) but still are entertaining movies on their own.

The story doesn’t build to anything meaningful or particularly tense. But as critical as I can be, the finale scene was definitely satisfying even if brief. In fact, this movie would probably be okay if it had no association with Wrong Turn. Just call it “Appalachia” or “The Tribe” or “The Foundation” (the name of our tribe in this movie).

Not an upsettingly bad movie at all. It’s just fine really. But without gnarly-toothed inbred cannibals, surely a woefully disappointing “reboot” of the Wrong Turn namesake, doing no justice to the original property in any way, shape or form. That just put a sour taste in my mouth. Ultimately director Mike P. Nelson (The Domestics, Summer School) made a decent enough film that suffered from the studio’s desperate attempt to use the title and retain the rights to the Wrong Turn property for the sake of future cash grabs.

John’s Horror Corner: Digging Up the Marrow (2014), a pleasant horror-comedy mockumentary about real monsters living among us.

April 18, 2021

MY CALL:  This is a very charming, unpretentious, self-aware, playful mockumentary. This film was far from what I expected, but no less enjoyable for it. I’d love to see a sequel about the creatures of The Marrow.  MORE MOVIES LIKE Digging Up the Marrow: For more mockumentary-esque or documentary-gone-wrong horror I’d strongly recommend Lake Mungo (2008), The Last Exorcism (2010), Grave Encounters (2011), Grave Encounters 2 (2012), The Taking of Deborah Logan (2014), Hell House LLC (2015), Demonic (2015), Ghost Stories (2017) and Butterfly Kisses (2018).

A breath of Horror Convention fanfare sweeps us away into nostalgia as we reflect on how and when and why we came to love horror. And if these monsters that we’ve come to love, or at least some monsters analogous to them, were in fact to exist then where would they exist?

At first, this feels like an absolutely real documentary. I love Grave Encounters (2011), but it’s so slickly written and shot; the complete opposite of Marrow, which is affably clunky and takes the time to reveal presumably true aspects of a director’s relationship with the fans and their physical fan mail. Describing his reaction to his fans’ love of his films and the genre, real-life horror filmmaker Adam Green (Hatchet I-II, Victor Crowley, Chillerama) is likably awkward in front of the camera as he introduces this documentary effort to tell the story of William Dekker (Ray Wise; The Lazarus Effect, One Missed Call, The Butterfly Room, Chillerama, The Rift)—a man who claims to have discovered “real” monsters.

Dekker explains on camera that these monsters are of human origin and they exist in The Marrow, an underworld hundreds of feet below the surface. This is where you know this film is not only not a real documentary, but a goofy satire. Dekker’s story is at times well thought out yet beyond unfeasible, but delivered with a straight face. From here things get hokey, clearly a deliberate comedy. I find the tone charming even if overtly goofy at times.

Accompanied by his real-life cinematographer (Will Barratt), Green’s interviews and fieldwork dig deeper into Dekker’s ridiculous claims… until they find actual evidence of a creature!

There is no gore at all and creature effects (heavily concentrated in one great scene) were limited by a very low budget. But there some very provocative visuals nonetheless and the movie hardly needs for us to see anything at all. This film instead thrives on the wacky entertainment value of watching Dekker’s story unfold. The story has its developments. They’re silly, but they work for the tone of the film. And everything builds to a final act that is goofy, ridiculous, deliberately stupid, kinda terrible and kinda wonderful.

John’s Horror Corner: The Cleansing Hour (2019, aka The Devil’s Hour), a mediocre exorcism movie in which a team of charlatan exorcists get theirs.

April 17, 2021

MY CALL: This was not good, and I dare not recommend it to anyone. However, a trusted fellow reviewer I know and trust quite liked this movie. So take my opinion with a grain of salt. MORE MOVIES LIKE The Cleansing Hour: The Unborn (2009), Grave Encounters (2011) or The Last Exorcism (2010).

Like Grave Encounters (2011) or The Last Exorcism (2010), the showrunners of a popular “live exorcism” webcast quickly reveal that the show is completely scripted down to the priest’s vows and the visual demonic manifestations. When one of their scripted sham exorcisms suddenly becomes very real, it gets interesting for our exorcism crew.

This initially has the vibe of a direct-to-VHS late 90s-era horror flick. Everyone is slick and stylish, but the writing just doesn’t sound as good as the characters think it does. The movie begins weak on all cylinders, and then burns the clutch when it tries harder.

There were some genuinely shocking moments. A man bursts into flames and it plays out far better than just a gag, complete with the cindered flesh of the victim reaching out and touching another crewman leaving charred remains stuck to them. This gave me hope for the film… but then everything that followed was retreading all too familiar ground with nothing new to add and unmotivated special effects. The possession vomiting looked great, but the execution of events around it (and maybe even the editing) softened its bite to such point that it just felt weak.

Our sham demon-battling priest (Ryan Guzman; The Boy Next Door) has some cheeky character moments; the possession victim (Alix Angelis) delivers some fingernail-cracking flair; and the producer (Kyle Gallner; Jennifer’s Body, The Cleanse) is the strongest character carrying the movie largely by himself. Ultimately, I felt the writing lacked the synthesis to link the scenes and muster dread. Often, I could see the movie was trying. But the introduction of the invisible rat-dog hellhounds and the full-form revelation of the demon at the end took me from finding this movie maaaaaaybe passable, to regrettable.

I’m not thrilled that I spent my time watching this, more often finding myself annoyed than amused. But at times it was somewhat entertaining. “At times” being far from most of the time. Most of the time I was underwhelmed by the weak sauce brought to the table. Director and co-writer Damien LeVeck (Dark, Deadly & Dreadful) had a nice idea, not original but nice enough for a movie. The follow-through just isn’t there.

The Movies, Films and Flix Podcast – Episode 359: Super Dark Times, Swords, and Primitive Radio Gods

April 17, 2021

You can download or stream the pod on Apple PodcastsTune In,  Podbean, or Spreaker (or wherever you listen to podcasts…..we’re almost everywhere).

If you get a chance please make sure to review, rate and share. You are awesome!

Mark and Jonny Numb (@jonnyNumb on Twitter) discuss the 2017 film Super Dark Times. Directed by Kevin Phillips, and starring Charlie Tahan, Owen Campbell and Elizabeth Cappuccino, the film focuses on the super dark times that follow a tragedy. In this episode, they discuss 1990’s nostalgia, film theories, and convenience store squid. Enjoy!

If you are a fan of the podcast, make sure to send in some random listener questions so we can do our best to not answer them correctly. We thank you for listening, and hope you enjoy the episode!

You can download the pod on Apple PodcastsTune In,  Podbean, or Spreaker.

Deep Blue Sea – The Podcast – Episode 41 – Sleeveless Welding, Cardigans, and Michael Beach

April 16, 2021

You can listen to Deep Blue Sea – The Podcast on Apple Podcasts, SpreakerSpotify, Tunein, Podcast Addict, Amazon, Google Podcasts, and everywhere else you listen to podcasts. Also, make sure to like our Facebook page!

Please make sure to rate, review, share, and subscribe!

Jay and Mark are joined by Jeanette Ward (@Jeanette_y_ward on Twitter) to discuss the fourth chapter on the Deep Blue Sea 2 DVD. In this episode, they talk about nonsense clothing, Michael Beach, and shark surveillance. Enjoy!

Please make sure to check out the following links!

oceana.org – https://oceana.org/
smile.amazon.com – https://smile.amazon.com/
4ocean – https://www.4ocean.com/
ocean project – https://oceanproject.co/

The Movies, Films and Flix Podcast – Episode 358 – Prince of Darkness, Math, and Green Goo

April 13, 2021

You can download or stream the pod on Apple PodcastsTune In,  Podbean, or Spreaker (or wherever you listen to podcasts…..we’re almost everywhere).

If you get a chance please make sure to review, rate and share. You are awesome!

Mark and John discuss the 1987 film Prince of Darkness. Directed by John Carpenter, and starring Donald Pleasence, Victor Wong and Dennis Dun, the film is part of Carpenter’s “Apocalypse Trilogy” and focuses on what happens when a mysterious green liquid awakens, and causes funky things to happen. In this episode, they talk about cheeky humor, heavy themes, and sturdy walls. Enjoy!

If you are a fan of the podcast, make sure to send in some random listener questions so we can do our best to not answer them correctly. We thank you for listening, and hope you enjoy the episode!

You can download the pod on Apple PodcastsTune In,  Podbean, or Spreaker.

John’s Horror Corner: Leatherface (2017), the youthful origin story of the iconic killer.

April 10, 2021

MY CALL: The chunky gore and mean horror violence will satisfy those who desire it. But the film never even nearly lives up to its name Leatherface. This feels like a “Sawyer family story.” Despite its lackluster impact as a whole, the cruel death scenes still manage to hit hard. So if you enjoy mean slasher horror, then you ought to enjoy this… even lacking the macabre atmosphere and dread of the franchise. I’d only recommend this to TCM completists. MORE MOVIES LIKE Leatherface: Well obviously you should have already seen The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974) and the ultra-zany sequel The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 (1986), though I was not a fan of Leatherface: Texas Chainsaw Massacre III (1990). Then there was the excellent (IMO) franchise reboot The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (2003), The Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning (2006) and perhaps Texas Chainsaw 3-D (2013). From there I’d suggest seeing The Funhouse (1981), Motel Hell (1980), House of 1000 Corpses (2003) and The Hills Have Eyes (2006).

Being an origin story, I had hoped this wouldn’t take the over-expository path of Halloween (2007) regarding the creation of a soulless Michael Myers. And to be fair, I among the fans of Rob Zombie’s remake. But the young Myers story arc simply didn’t serve the character or enrich my view of the franchise. Well, in this film, the entire story revolves around turning a criminally delinquent child into what we know and fear as Leatherface. Let me spare you the suspense—this fell completely flat on its lame face. No wonder he decided to start wearing a mask!

The opening scene attempts to capture the unnerving magic of the iconic TCM dinner table scene, but does so with a toothless lack of intensity (and some weak writing). You feel none of the dreadful weight of the scene that was so earned in 1986 and 2003’s iterations. But what is nailed well is the abrupt violence and its accompanied brutal impact of the gore. Hammer-strikes to the head and chainsaw lacerations look great and provide brief spates of exhilarating violence amid an otherwise drab movie.

Except for the first few scenes, the first half of this film feels more like a family-size Natural Born Killers (1994) (more in character style than overall film tone) than anything from the Texas Chainsaw franchises. Hell bent on imprisoning the homicidal members of the Sawyer family, Sheriff Hal (Stephen Dorff; The Gate, Blade) seeks revenge for the murder of his daughter. As a result, in 1955 young Jed was removed from the Sawyer house and his family as a small child. In 1965, he came home. Most of this film is the few days marking.

A group of teenagers (including Jed) have escaped from their “mental hospital for troubled youths” with criminal intentions of getting money and a vehicle, quite comfortable with whatever bloody cost by which it comes. What’s interesting is that the movie keeps the viewers from knowing exactly which teen is Jed (i.e., eventually Leatherface). My obvious choice (in my opinion anyway) turned out to be very wrong.

[Spoilers in this paragraph] One thing I found perplexing was that I spent half the movie thinking a “different” character would end up being Verna’s (Lili Taylor; The Haunting, The Conjuring) son Jed (whose name was changed at the juvenile facility). I expected it to be the gigantic heavy teenager who hardly spoke; not the thin and spry, chatty sympathetic teen. And the movie essentially never acknowledges this deception or reveal. A second criticism would be that Leatherface’s fixation with making “human” leather-stitched masks comes completely out of nowhere. Sure, it makes for a mean closing scene, but completely unjustified given the movie. [end Spoilers]

The chunky gore and horror violence is solid. But, to the title’s-sake, the film never comes close to living up to its name Leatherface until except for a couple scenes. This feels like “a Sawyer family story.” Co-directors Alexandre Bustillo and Julien Maury (Livid, Among the Living, Inside, ABCs of Death 2—X is for Xylophone) have done some decent movies in horror. This is not one of them. Despite its lackluster impact as a whole, the death scenes hit hard. They’re mean. And if you enjoy mean slasher horror (e.g., Wolf Creek), then you still ought to enjoy this.

But where’s the macabre atmosphere and the dread? This film packs none of it. So ultimately, I’d only recommend this to TCM completists who want to see all things Leatherface/Sawyers ever created (which I am).

John’s Horror Corner: Monsters of Man (2020), a very violent killer robot Sci-Horror that is worth your time.

April 9, 2021

MY CALL: It may run a bit too long, but this remains a strong recommendation for fans of hard-R graphic violence in their Sci-Fi. Plus the action effects of these robots is excellent! MORE MOVIES LIKE Monsters of Man: For more smartly written Sci-Fi killer robots, go for Chappie (2015), Black Mirror S4 segment ‘Metalhead’ (2017), Love Death and Robots (2019) and RoboCop (1987).

Both in concept and visual execution, I am immediately fondly reminded of Chappie (2015)… if Chappie were dropped into the jungles of Cambodia soullessly hunting down its fare like a T-800. However this comparison makes you feel, the special effects of these robots are excellent! So I’m in either way.

Sometime in the not-so-distant future, companies are developing militarized robots with artificial intelligence for defense contracts. A group of young doctors, a robotics weapons company’s technical team and four of the CIA’s prototype AI robots all converge on a Cambodian drug camp. When the doctors witness the robots in action slaughtering the women and children of a village, they become witnesses to an illegal military operation and Major Robert Green (Neal McDonough; Minority Report, Timeline, I Know Who Killed Me, The Hitcher) must decide what to do with them. When one of the prototypes has a malfunction and becomes self-aware, things get interesting.

Director Mark Toia crushes his first feature film! For a writer/producer/director I’ve never heard of doing his first film, this is gorgeous! From the tropical wilds to cityscapes, the photography, cinematography, editing, action photography… just everything is so crisp and brilliantly done! Even the writing is solid. The young doctors remind me of meeting the group of twentysomethings in a well-written horror movie. They’re not complete throw-away characters and they say and do some substantial things even if they are largely forgettable characters.

My only criticism of this film is that it’s too long. I enjoyed everything I saw on screen. But with all the time spent with the team of doctors, the technical team controlling the robots, and everything going on with the robots in rather equal doses, I felt some inertia was clearly lost. We could have had many of these scenes compressed, and many others removed—especially with the doctors. Not that there was any dead weight, to be fair. This had the level of development you’d expect from a Netflix series in which some episodes are more action driven, and others more thriller-exposition driven. And while delivered as a Sci-Fi/action movie, there are some intensely gruesome scenes including a gory face-peeling and a shocking head stomp.

Very good film for fans of graphic violence in their Sci-Fi.

The Truffle Hunters: A Charming Documentary That Introduces the World to Some Unique Characters

April 9, 2021

Quick thoughts: The Truffle Hunters will put a smile on your face, and introduce you to a world of charming truffle hunters who all have their own reasons for hunting truffles.

Directed by Michael Dweck and Gregory Kershaw, The Truffle Hunters focuses on the hierarchy of the truffle hunting world in Italy. The documentary introduces us to Aurelio, Angelo, and other specialists who scour the Italian woods and countryside in hopes of finding large truffles they can sell. It’s an intriguing world full of secret hunting spots, poisoned dogs, and men who just can’t stop looking for truffles. It’s a blast watching the process as we get to see the hunters, and their dogs spending their days and nights walking through wooded terrains in hopes of finding truffles. Then, we get to see them sell them to Giancarlo, a middle-man, who then sells them at higher prices to restaurants, or auctions, in which a man named Carlo sells them to wealthy looking people who line up to smell each pungent treat.

Another neat aspect of the documentary is that it spends time with each of the personalities who spend the majority of their time covered in mud. The majority of the men are on the older side, and they are extremely secretive and paranoid about their hunting grounds and process. They all have trusted dogs, who smell out the truffles, and are occasionally in danger as other hunters leave poison behind to kill them (don’t worry, you never see a dog dying, but it is stressful). Each character is lovingly framed, and they must’ve trusted Dweck and Kershaw because the directors were given access to their private moments that involve arguments with their spouses who just want them home more. In one of the best moments, we are treated to a former hunter doing some casual typing and wine drinking. It’s a random moment that never feels exploitative as it’s super charming and captures a fun and organic seeming moment. 

What The Truffle Hunters really has going for it, is the neat cinematography that embraces static shots, and isn’t afraid to strap a GoPro to a dog for a semi-queasy moment of truffle hunting. It’s a beautiful looking documentary that was nominated for Outstanding Achievement in Cinematography by the American Society of Cinematography, and you’ll be constantly charmed by the framing of the locations and characters who hunt for the truffles. 


If you are looking for an excellent documentary that introduces you to a neat world inhabited with likable characters, you will love The Truffle Hunters.

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