Mark Patton encountered one of cinema’s most notorious serial killers, Freddy Krueger, in ANightmare on Elm Street 2: Freddy’s Revenge. But in the upcoming 1 Dead Dog, he will come face to face with not one – not two…but three notorious murderers! Talk about a step up – or down, depending on your tolerance for the macabre!
Begun as a project to promote his excellent New Wave-Synth Pop project Japanese Carcrash, Casey LeBeau’s debut film Terror in the Scream, clocks in at around 42 minutes. Despite some production difficulties (which curtailed the original plotline), this project ultimately provides a moody, musically embossed narrative about a masked killer haunting a small town.
Indeed, LeBeau captures that mysterious quality of unease that occurs in a secluded area when violence unexpectedly erupts. Quiet conversations between lovers, here a lesbian couple trying to navigate disapproving family members, and film loving friends are tinged with hopelessness as peace seems forever shattered without any sensible explanation. British scream queen Eileen Daly (Razor Blade Smile, Witchcraft X: Mistress of the Craft, Kannibal) adds a magnificently haunting narration that adds to the mystery here and the appearance of Lilith (Jessica Koons) is another beautifully random occurrence that adds to this effort’s unknowing milieu.
Too much of a good thing can be deadly. Just ask me after I’ve eaten too many of those chocolate frosted cake donuts from the corner 7-11. Meanwhile, writer-director Jason Zink explores how honorable intentions can turn eviseratingly militant in his survivalist horror effort Straight Edge Kegger.
Here, our hero Brad (Cory Kays) has started to grow tired of the violent antics of James (Julio Alexander), his straight edge brother in arms. While once James had protected the streets and defended the innocent, he now uses his leadership to violently squash anyone behaving in a way that he doesn’t like. Thus, Brad falls under the influence of a happy go lucky party hound named Sean (Sean Jones). When James discovers that Brad is attending a house rave with his newfound companion, he and his crew set out to punish their former associate with maniacal precision. Locking down the home, they soon are brutally killing off the formerly blissful drunk and drugged revelers. It is up to Brad, who understands James’ mindset, Sean and Maybe (Evey Reidy), a girl that Brad has developed a crush on, to find a way to defeat the unrepentant slaughterers before they join the other unfortunate victims of James’ murderous rage.
Nicely, akin to Chris Moore and his 2018 savagely fun effort Triggered, Zink skillfully exposes how being too extremist in one’s views is never a good thing, no matter the intentions. Ultimately, James, magnetically played by Alexander, and his throng remind one of our current political leaders whom have established a social landscape where aggressive behavior is encouraged against anyone falling outside of the straight, white norm.
As with many genre exercises, one does have to let go of disbelief a bit as James and his crew make their way steadily through both punk rock celebrants and law enforcement officials with ease. But the gore is swift and vicious and executed with a sense of glee. The performances, particularly those of Kays and Alexander, are also solid, making this low budget offering both a thrilling exploitation ride and a potentially powerful think piece, as well.
You have to admire the determination of some creators. It took director-writer Scott Philip Goergens a number of years, with a limited budget and a cast of eager yet nonprofessional performers, to finish his intriguing 29 Needles, a horror fueled look at one man’s journey into extreme body fetishism.
Goergens has recently released the film’s first trailer and, nicely, this Baltimore, Maryland lensed adventure seems to gladly attack Cronenberg territory with a delightfully twisted gay flourish!
Her production company might be Stupid Idea Films, but there is nothing as smart as a cool and creative woman and that definitely defines Dallas based filmmaker Tiffany Warren. A gay, horror loving auteur, Warren’s recent shorts Kill Me Under the Mistletoe and Run are currently on the festival circuit and hitting various conventions and horror events.
Warren also recently participated in the Women of Independent Horror panel at the Atlanta Days of the Dead convention, proving that she is truly a talent to look out for.
Lately, I’ve enjoyed comparing my favorite horror and exploitation queens to the grand stars of old. For example…the statuesque Julie Strain is akin to the buxom Jane Russell. Jennifer Rubin, who undulates with a smoky noir texture, is in the same school as Marie Windsor while the charms of Deborah Dutch emerge as a sexier version of cockeyed second banana Una Merkel.
Meanwhile, I believe that indie goddess Ellie Church has the looks and comedic chops of Jean Harlow in her prime. Church puts these glamorous elements into perfect use as The Widow, the prime wraparound character in the terror anthology Skeletons in the Closet. Here, she delivers her lines with low key sauciness and a sardonic timing and, handily, steals the show.
Riding the understandably undying love for the ‘80s, Skeletons’ other segments resemble the mixed bag of goods akin to other solid anthologies. Thankfully, this means that there is generally something here for everyone. Other standout segments, therefore, involve a sarcastic babysitter and her surprisingly crafty young ward and a scary visit with a mysterious grandmother that signals the arrival of a very savage curse.
Those who prefer a little deep thought and theatricality with their cinema will also appreciate the bloody artistry of the Meisnersegment, anchored by writer-actress Rhiann Owen’s truly emotional work.
Rachel Melvin’s tenure on the soap opera Days of Our Livesis put to good use in the indie horror film The Rake. As much of a monster flick as an exploration of the emotional fallout of damaged childhoods, this horror exercise doesn’t overstay its welcome and emerges as a nice addition to the creature feature genre.
Clocking in under 80 minutes and featuring smart direction from Tony Wash, the primary running time of the film is focused around a weekend get together hosted by Nicole (Melvin) and her husband Andrew (Joey Bicicchi). As past hurts are examined and new hopes emerge, it appears that someone (or something) is hunting the couple and their family and friends. Soon reconciliation and redemption are replaced by grievous bloodshed…and death.
The script by Wash and Jeremy Silva doesn’t necessarily explain everything. One doesn’t totally grasp what the rake of the title is or gather all the details of how Nicole is connected with the others, but the final 30 minutes of the film is a beyond enjoyable stalk n slash. Melvin and her co-stars also deliver the dramatic goods, a testament to their impressive talents and Wash’s keen ability to work with them.