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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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    Pay Back

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

    After screening Payback, I did a decent amount of research to find information about the director in an effort to better understand the film from a production standpoint. After searching on the web for a bit, I discovered that there is really not much information about the film outside the fact that it is a Hong Kong production, written and directed by first timer Fu Xi. This is a bit strange, considering the fame of the lead actors Francis Ng and Fan Siu-Wong. Anyone who has a mild interest in the action cinema of Hong Kong would recognize Fan Siu-Wong from Ip Man, Ip Man 2, or my personal favorite, the gore-filled Riki-Oh: The Story of Ricky.
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    The Bible Stories: Moses

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

    I recently reviewed a cinematic production of a different bible story, Noah’s Ark, and I commented on the fact that I have heard that particular story told time and time again since childhood. Now I have been given the opportunity to review another bible story adapted for screen: the story of Moses. I thought that I had heard the story of Noah a lot, but then I began thinking about how many times I have heard the story of Moses. Whether be it through different adaptations of films or the original tale in the Bible, I believe I have experienced a retelling of the tale of Moses more than any other tale from the good book.
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    Out Of The Inferno

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Dan Holland on March 8th, 2016

    Out of the Inferno is one of the most recent films written and directed by Danny and Oxide Pang. I must admit that I am a fan of the prolific duo, ever since I watched the original Bangkok Dangerous. Whether it be their intense dramatic thrillers such as The Detective or The Eye franchises, or their nightmarish dreamscapes in Sleepwalker or Re-Cycle (my personal favorite from the Pang Brothers). Unfortunately, Out of the Inferno did not come close to surpassing the “bar” of expectations when it comes to my enjoyment of a film from the Pang Brothers. The narrative involves two firefighter brothers who are dedicated to their line of work.
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    Brian Regan: Live From Radio City Music Hall

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Dan Holland on February 19th, 2016

    “Tonight’s special is LEG OF LAMB”

    I absolutely love stand-up comedy. It is by far one of my favorite forms of entertainment. I would much rather watch a comic’s one-hour special than watch Hollywood’s latest zany summer comedy. I firmly believe that stand-up comedians are a group of modern day philosophers who have taken their analyses of social interactions and created a highly entertaining and intellectual form of art. While I appreciate all comics, currently my favorites are Tom Segura, Todd Glass, Greg Proops, Bo Burnham, and of course, Brian Regan.
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    Love the Coopers (Blu-ray)

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

    “Ah, the holidays. The most wonderful time of the year. And so begins my tale…” 

    Love the Coopers seems to be a holiday title that arrived a little later than expected at the Upcoming Discs hub. Within the first five to ten minutes, you come to realize that it is a family-oriented holiday film with a rather impressive A-list cast, consisting of Steve Martin, John Goodman, Diane Keaton, Alan Arkin, Ed Helms, and Olivia Wilde. If you aren’t already a fan of any of these actors and actresses, the film’s story is endearing, as are most holiday films. However, what sets this film apart from other holiday titles (for me, anyway) is the hauntingly accurate idea of a “family” being a bleak entity, as well as atmosphere, that we all must learn to love in our own ways.
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    Noah’s Ark

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Dan Holland on February 8th, 2016

    Any person who has attended Sunday school for a length of time is most likely familiar with the story of Noah’s Ark. This tale was recently brought to the mainstream with Darren Aronofsky’s Noah, which took quite a few creative liberties in retelling the story (including strange rock monsters). Given my recollection of the actual Bible story, I want to say that there really isn’t enough content to create a feature film. God warns Noah that there will be a catastrophic flood and asks him to build an ark. Noah builds the ark and suffers ridicule from the people he tries to save, and in the end, the flood takes the world and Noah and the few people who believed him are spared.
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    For Better or For Worse

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

    I’ve never been too big a fan of romantic comedies. They are often too quirky for their own good, and they follow a typically cliché story arch. I do not even enjoy rom-coms from famed comedic directors such as David Wain. Although certain directors do attempt to break the mold, it’s as if the genre is nothing more than a memory foam mattress: you will always fall into place, because it is the most comfortable. That being said, when watching a made-for-TV rom-com such as For Better or for Worse, one can assume there will not be much breaking of the genre conventions.
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    Bolero / Ghosts Can’t Do It

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

    My first exposure to Bo Derek was Michael Anderson’s horror film Orca. While she may have had a minor part in the film, she had a rather unique beauty about her that was hard to ignore. After Orca, she dropped off my radar for the better part of five years, until her familiar face came to me in Shout Factory’s Bolero/Ghosts Can’t Do It combo pack. Once again I was graced with her unique beauty, but with a new understanding of her acting career: mainly how it was influenced by her relationship with her late husband John Derek.
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    Stonewall

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Dan Holland on January 20th, 2016

    1969 was a very eventful year for the United States of America. While I will not name all of the events that transpired over that year, I will remind you of two of the most recognized: In July, Apollo 11 lands on the moon, and in August, Woodstock takes place in upstate New York. However, the events that take place in Stonewall are not as publicized as the space race or the culminating concert of the hippie movement. In fact, I had never heard of the Stonewall riots until my final year of college. To those who are not familiar with the riots, allow me to set the scene: During the early hours of a Saturday morning in late June, an unexpected police raid befalls Stonewall Inn.
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    Little Dead Rotting Hood

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Dan Holland on January 13th, 2016

    The tale of Little Red Riding Hood, like many other children’s stories, is so well known and influential that it has been reimagined time and time again. In fact, one of my favorite short stories, The Company of Wolves, is a loose adaptation of the aforementioned tale. While I can’t call Little Dead Rotting Hood a favorite, I really appreciate how they were able to create a unique story while implicitly maintaining key elements of the original tale. More often than not the important visuals and motifs are present. Unfortunately, the pacing of the events is a little slow and really makes the film feel empty.
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    Mercury Plains

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

    There is so much to enjoy when it comes to Mercury Plains. It is the first time I have seen Scott Eastwood in a starring role, Nick Chinlund provides a brilliant performance as the philosophical Captain, and each of the characters are engaging. To be clear, Scott Eastwood is the main character of the film, but his comrades have very interesting character arcs that make them unique. In fact, I think that is what I enjoyed the most from this film: the details that are not spoken directly to the audience. There are so many instances where the details in the character arcs (even Eastwood’s) are so minute, you could very well miss them.
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    Adulterers

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

    It is not very often that I am able to say that a film revolving around an extramarital affair keeps me engaged. While the writing in Adulterers became rather unfavorable towards the end, the strength of the conflict and the pacing of the editing and cinematography combine to make a significant force. That being said, I was pleasantly surprised by the intensity of the drama that unfolds among the disturbed trio, but there were many moments that distracted me from that pleasure. Through this review, I aim to be as fair and as spoiler-free as possible. I believe this film is definitely worth the watch, regardless of what does not “work” for me.
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    The Dungeonmaster / Eliminators

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Dan Holland on December 23rd, 2015

    Once again I have the pleasure of reviewing a Blu-ray double feature distributed by Shout Factory. This time out, I have been graced with two sci-fi adventure films from the mid 1980’s: The Dungeonmaster and Eliminators. Although the two films play well as a double feature, the cheesy (yet oh, so beautiful) aesthetics and special effects are not these films’ only connection. Peter Manoogian sits in the director’s chair for Eliminators and also one of the segments of The Dungeonmaster. Manoogian came onto my radar with his 1992 video feature Demonic Toys, so I was really excited to experience his earlier (and arguably better) work.
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