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    Resistance

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Dan Holland on March 12th, 2017

    Resistance was first released in the UK in 2011, and it saw its first DVD release two years ago in Finland. Now in 2017, the US is finally getting DVD distribution. However, like most distribution marketing strategies, the cover, DVD home screen, and advertised star power are an inaccurate depiction of what the film actually offers. While the film has many strengths, all the imagery that you get prior to actually watching the film (the cover and home screen), prepare you for what you think is going to be an interesting WWII-themed thriller with possible action sequences. Instead, Resistance is an interesting, yet severely slow-paced character study that doesn’t necessarily follow its own plot description.
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    Slasher.com

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Dan Holland on March 9th, 2017

    Contemporary horror films are in a really strange position. Gone are the days of the formulaic slasher flick or creature feature. Today we have filmmakers who only seem interested in breaking genre conventions in order to try something new and be deemed “relevant.” As  a result, we are treated to an intellectually-driven horror renaissance with films such as It Follows or The Babadook, or we must sit through the onslaught of torture-porn-infused sequels to 70’s and 80’s classics such as Evil Dead (2013), I Spit on Your Grave (2010), or The Last House on the Left (2009). If the filmmaker is trying to break genre conventions, it is important to note that they do not always succeed, as is the case with Slasher.com.
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    The Black Dragon’s Revenge

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Dan Holland on February 14th, 2017

    Exploitation film has reached a point where there are just too many subgenres to count, or to care about for that matter. This film combines three of the subgenres into one incoherent amalgamation of boredom: Blaxploitation, Kung Fu flicks, and “Brucesploitation.” While the two former concepts should be familiar outside of the realm of cinephilia, Brucesploitation may be a little more difficult to grasp. Basically, after the death of Bruce Lee, filmmakers began to capitalize on Lee’s image posthumously, by using barely passable lookalikes such as Bruce Le or Bruce Li as lead martial artists.
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    Wax Mask

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Dan Holland on February 8th, 2017

    If you have any love for Italian horror films, then you know the names Dario Argento and Lucio Fulci are the ones that cause the most excitement. Both directors have made a name for themselves in horror cinema, each providing their own authorship within their own interests. Much like debate concerning The Beatles or The Stones, cinephiles typically side with one over the other. Yes, Argento has conjured dreamlike, character-driven horror that has haunted our minds over the decades (Suspiria, Phenomena), but the late Lucio Fulci has a seemingly innate ability to create landscapes of terror that consistently push the envelope of realistic gore (Zombi, The Beyond). While I do tend to favor Fulci, I am well aware of both of their contributions and influence to horror cinema as a whole. Even though they have notable differences, The Wax Mask offers a collaboration between the two greats prior to Fulci’s death in 1996.
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    Danny Says

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Dan Holland on February 1st, 2017

    The 1960s were very important to the counterculture movement in the United States, most notably the artists of New York City. Whether it be future rock stars such as Iggy Pop and The Stooges and The Doors, or the enigmatic Phenom Andy Warhol, New York was at the crux of a lot of influential ideologies that have inspired us in the succeeding decades. However, there is only so much you can read about when it comes to discovering the cultural history of New York. That’s what makes documentaries like Brendan Toller’s Danny Says so fascinating: Sure, you know the history, but can you glean what the experience would be like? Danny Says takes you on a journey beyond the facts and delves into the personal experiences of one of the most significant music journalists New York has seen.
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    The Babymooners

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Dan Holland on January 24th, 2017

    If asked about my favorite genre of film, romantic comedies would not be close to the top of the list. However, I have seen enough rom-coms that I wouldn’t mind watching a second time. The Babymooners would be a film that I’d give a second watch, simply because of its charming energy. Most of this charm can be attributed to Shaina Feinberg and Chris Manley, who co-wrote and directed the film. Through explicitly stating in the synopsis that the film is “clearly influenced by old Woody Allen films,” the filmmaking duo alert audiences to exactly what they should be expecting, and they are not far off. So if you are a fan of Woody Allen, rejoice, as that is not an empty promise.
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    The Orphan Killer

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Dan Holland on January 16th, 2017

    When a movie makes a bold claim such as being “a tour de force murder flick that defies classification,” it is inviting a hefty amount of preconceived criticisms prior to anyone actually viewing the film. It’s like titling a horror film This Will Scare You. Naturally, your first thought would be something along the lines of “Yeah, whatever, movie.” Needless to say, that want to criticize burns within you until you watch it. Then, with all the satisfaction in the world, you get to say “No, that wasn’t scary at all.” In the end, you are stuck with a movie that wasn’t what it promised to be, but realistically, you knew that would be the case anyway. It is a cheap marketing ploy that entices you to watch for all the wrong reasons.
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    Road To The Well

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Dan Holland on January 2nd, 2017

    Road to the Well is about what you would expect from an independent thriller: atmospheric and character-driven, sporting a slow pace. While the pacing was indeed slow, it was most certainly deliberate and aided in the storytelling. I can’t necessarily say that I would watch the film again, but I can say I understand why it has won awards while on the festival circuit, especially given the fact that it is writer/director Jon Cvack’s first feature length film. It is a good movie. It satisfies. And even though good movies have their faults, Road to the Well succeeds in balancing its failures with tremendous amounts of successful feats.
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    Little Men

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Dan Holland on December 15th, 2016

    All too often do indie films fall under the category of “character study”. It’s almost as if that the entire “independent” genre has divided itself into these dramas focusing on painfully slow character development or budgetless, empty husks of action films riddled with terrible CGI. I have seen independent films that held my attention with captivating writing, but they seem to be few and far between. Little Men is no exception to the trend: it did have some interesting character development, but the story had great opportunities for intense conflict that just never followed through.
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    C.H.U.D II: Bud The Chud

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Dan Holland on December 14th, 2016

    The first time I saw C.H.U.D., I was deathly afraid I was going to be watching yet another zombie movie. C.H.U.D. is an acronym for ‘Cannibalistic Humanoid Underground Dwellers,’ so with only that description, my assumption wasn’t unreasonable. For the readers who have actually seen C.H.U.D., you probably know that I was pleasantly surprised: it was actually a very fun monster movie. Yes, they were humanoid, but they were rather creepy, with bright glowing eyes and scaly skin. C.H.U.D II apparently forgot how amazing the original creatures were, because they are absent from the entire film (even though they are proudly displayed on the front cover of the Blu-ray case). Instead, we are treated to a zombie film with glam metal transition music and only the worst brand of tongue-in-cheek silliness.
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    “31 Nights Of Terror” Girl in Woods

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Dan Holland on October 28th, 2016

    Girl in Woods is a very conflicting film. The writing and direction were wonderful, as well as the setting: I have previously written about my fondness of independent horror films set in the woods (see my review of The Interior). However, the film’s post-production and the acting were not up to par with the maturity set forth by the intricate story and overall tone of the film. The film succeeds in establishing an atmosphere of fear and mania through cleverly fragmenting the narrative through cryptic flashbacks, but it fails to impress with visuals, simply because of poor quality.
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    “31 Nights Of Terror” The Midnight Swim

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Dan Holland on October 24th, 2016

    Yet another indie horror flick has come through the Upcoming Discs hub. Although, I wouldn’t necessarily categorize The Midnight Swim into the horror genre: it’s more of a dramatic mystery. That is not to say that the film did not have any unnerving moments, but the priority of the storytelling was to study the three main characters. In an effort to capture three very different personalities while simultaneously providing a lingering suspense, The Midnight Swim created a tension that resolved to my satisfaction. Ultimately, the film favored its character study more than it did its mystery, which hurt my enjoyment as a result.
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    Suddenly (Blu-ray)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Dan Holland on October 23rd, 2016

    Frank Sinatra is a man of many talents, although I had never really paid much attention to his acting, as I had never actually seen him outside a musical. Anchors Aweigh and On the Town are among my favorite musicals. That being said, I have never watched a film where I have been fully attentive to Sinatra’s talents as an actor. While Suddenly has other big names like James Gleason and Sterling Hayden, I was surprised that the entire film had an incredibly rocky start without Sinatra’s presence in the first twenty minutes.
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    “31 Nights Of Terror” 6 Plots

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Dan Holland on October 7th, 2016

    The continent of Australia has seen a small renaissance of horror films over the last fifteen years. Considering the continent’s rich history with suspenseful cinema, the frequency of these films is indeed exciting. Picnic at Hanging Rock and The Chant of Jimmy Blacksmith are two movies that have stuck with me over the years, considering I only watched each title once. I remember the suspense and terror created in the atmosphere of Picnic, through a combination of a simple plot of a missing child and an ominous score. Jimmy Blacksmith’s climax is one of the most psychologically tormenting experiences I have had watching a film.
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    Patterns

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Dan Holland on October 1st, 2016

    Before The Twilight Zone, Rod Serling had a fruitful career writing teleplays in the early 1950’s. One of his earliest successes, Patterns (1955), was aired on a program named Kraft Television Theatre. The popularity of the play was so enormous that a second encore performance was aired the same week of its release, and it was written as a feature film the following year. Given its impressive history and my love of Serling’s writing, I was really looking forward to watching the the film. However, I was surprised that I did not enjoy myself as much as I was expecting.
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    Warcraft (UHD Blu-ray) (4K)

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Dan Holland on September 26th, 2016

    When it comes to titles from Blizzard Entertainment, I was always more into the Starcraft and Diablo franchises. I played World of Warcraft (WoW) for a small period of time when it became a popular MMORPG (Massive Multiplayer Online Role Playing Game), but my interest in the game quickly died. The aesthetics were a little too cartoony for my liking, plus, you paid for a subscription. Regardless, I am just one fan of Blizzard: WoW caught on like wildfire. I still know people who are playing the game to this day.
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    The Interior

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Dan Holland on September 3rd, 2016

    I have seen an incredible number of independent horror films that are either shot in or around the woods. The setting makes sense for budget purposes: you are able to create a mysterious, brooding atmosphere for absolutely no cost. These films were produced even before The Blair Witch Project made the aesthetic popular in 1999. Even I hear the call of the woods as an amateur filmmaker, but I’m careful not to give into temptation and create a guaranteed flop just so that I can have a film set “in the woods.” I may seem pessimistic, but I have been disappointed by too many of these films to understand that it is not just being “in the woods” that makes the film. For these films to succeed, you need excellent writing and an unsettling/uncanny presence of which to be afraid. As is the case with The Interior.
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    The Boy Who Cried Werewolf

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Dan Holland on August 12th, 2016

    The Boy Who Cried Werewolf (1973) is an interesting collection piece for fans of horror film. It marks the end of Universal’s long-standing tradition of double-billing B-horror films from the 1930’s onward. That being said, The Boy Who Cried Werewolf and its companion film Sssssss (1973) are the physical evidence of the end of an era. This particular release drops the double- billing tradition, which is rather confusing to me, simply because the Universal Studios distributing system’s historical relevance is worth more to me than the actual film. Outside of the context that I have provided, this film doesn’t have many interesting qualities.
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    Hellhole

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Dan Holland on July 28th, 2016

    They really don’t make horror films like they used to. I understand that each decade graces us with new, unique genre mechanics, but there is just something to be said about the horror elements found in 1980’s cinema. While Hellhole does not have any supernatural or modern science fiction qualities, it does carry the classic “mad scientist” narrative quite well. The film also boasts one of the silliest, yet terrifying, villains I have seen to date. Hellhole is a film that gracefully slips below the radar, but for the cult cinema connoisseur, the strong writing is really what makes this film a great find.
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    The Funhouse Massacre

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Dan Holland on June 26th, 2016

    It is with a rather heavy heart that I give this film a low rating, because it really has so much going for it. The concept of having several psychopaths escape from an asylum, only to slaughter the patrons of a horror-themed amusement park has a lot of potential when you think about it. During the times when horror attractions such as Halloween Horror Nights have become so popular, it’s hard to believe that a film like this hasn’t already been made. (Perhaps one has, but I have not heard of one yet.) Regardless, the film is pitched as a horror comedy, which is a genre that can easily lose control of itself. Predictably, I would have been much more satisfied without the comedic elements put into the film.
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    Altered Minds

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Dan Holland on June 16th, 2016

    “I heard that if you don’t give him a name, he’ll turn the children into icicles.”

    It has been a long time since I have seen a decent psychological thriller, and Altered Minds is a great film to bring me back to this type of film. To give readers a frame of reference, films like Identity or Session 9: they are most certainly part of the “psychological thriller” genre, but you are led to believe there are supernatural forces at work during the film. Then, just when you think the film will have a supernatural climax, you are offered a twist ending that is not supernatural and actually makes sense to the plot.
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    Warcraft

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Dan Holland on June 11th, 2016

    When it comes to titles from Blizzard Entertainment, I was always more into the Starcraft and Diablo franchises. I played World of Warcraft (WoW) for a small period of time when it became a popular MMORPG (Massive Multiplayer Online Role Playing Game), but my interest in the game quickly died. The aesthetics were a little too cartoony for my liking, plus, you paid for a subscription. Regardless, I am just one fan of Blizzard: WoW caught on like wildfire. I still know people who are playing the game to this day. The question, however, is whether or not this franchise would make a great cinematic adaptation. I will admit that I am not an expert on the Warcraft lore, by any means, but I know enough about popular culture and its many fandoms to look at this film objectively.
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    Kroll Show: Season 3

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Dan Holland on June 6th, 2016

    Sketch comedy is always something that has brought me joy. While I was introduced to Saturday Night Live and Monty Python’s Flying Circus at a young age, I don’t think I would trade my engagement with the current sketch comedy scene for a dead parrot or samurai delicatessen (hilarious though they may be). As far back as I can remember, I would watch one sketch show after the next: All That in my earliest years, Chapelle’s Show during high school, and Whitest Kids U Know, as well as the more risqué Tim and Eric Awesome Show, Great Job! throughout college. Then in 2013, I was introduced to Kroll Show and taken for a rather wild ride. The show certainly does not have the most insane premises I have seen in a sketch comedy show (see Tim and Eric), but it does pack enough charming, playful irreverence to be polarizing.
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    Destroyer / Edge of Sanity

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Dan Holland on May 2nd, 2016

    Anthony Perkins is arguably most well known as Norman Bates, the hotel owner with mommy issues from Psycho. While Hitchcock’s film was groundbreaking for the horror genre (and Hollywood in general), I find it strange that Perkins’s career did not improve with such a commercial hit. He had certainly acted in other projects prior to Psycho, but his name is not one that I see very often. In other words, I have never “happened upon” an Anthony Perkins film, I seek out films in which he has acted. As a matter of fact, I can count those films on one hand: The Trial, and the three schlocky sequels to Psycho. This Blu ray double feature contains two films produced in the late 80s between Psycho III and Psycho IV, towards the end of his career.
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    Daniel Tosh: People Pleaser

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Dan Holland on April 21st, 2016

    Daniel Tosh is known for his no-holds-barred approach to stand-up comedy. His latest special, People Pleaser, is no exception: He even admits that he makes a living out of saying outrageous things in the middle of this act. Although he is often criticized for delivering racist and misogynistic humor to the young, white male demographic, Tosh gracefully disagrees through this persuasive performance. Having already seen two of his prior specials, I must admit he hit a beautiful stride in his fourth special that I really wasn’t expecting. There is an impressive retention of attitude and abrasiveness, but he added a large amount of metacognition to his act that forces the audience to really think about his performance.
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