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Saturday, October 19, 2019

No Bulliez, Pleaze

I love incorporating a little "Jedi mind trick" into my parenting. Using the spirit of halloween and love of zombies, now is the perfect time to read a book with your loved ones about the importance of treating people we are around with kindness. Enter Chad Hunter's new book, Zack and the Zombie No Bulliez Pleaze.

Chad has been busy sharing his values and latest book in schools and online. It's the story of Zack and how an unlikely friendship must face a mad scientist's zombie army! Visit the Zack and the Zombie website to learn more and make a purchase. The new book can also be found on Amazon.com allowing you to take advantage of your holiday wish lists!






When Zach Graves helps a classmate at school, he has no idea that more bullying trouble is on its way - in the form of a zombie army made by a mad scientist! A bigger surprise is the green friend that will help Zach do the right thing! This anti-bully, pro-friendship book is a great tool towards helping the bullied and opening dialogue with children!





DEVIL'S JUNCTION: HANDY DANDY'S REVENGE (Film Review)


                             Starring: Bill Moseley, Bill Oberst Jr, Danni Spring

                                             Directed by: Jeff Broadstreet

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   I'm completely down for a killer doll film at any time - some of those little bastards can absolutely chill your soul to its ever-loving black core...then there are movies such as Devil's Junction which take the possession aspect to a whole new level. Now whether or not this "level" that I speak of is one of pure absurdity lies in the eyes of the viewer - I know what I thought of it, and I'm fairly sure that the masses who spend 90 minutes to watch this one will feel the same, so let's hop into the review, shall we?

  The film centers around an abandoned TV studio, which formerly was the home of the "Mr. Jolly and Handy-Dandy Show"- you see, Mr. Jolly (played by the exceptional Bill Oberst Jr) was not only the face of the kids' spectacle, but he was also a despicable child-killer as well - talk about multitalented! Anyhoo, after Mr. Jolly ended his cycle of life here on Planet Earth the studio closed its doors, but something managed to stay behind...and not for the sake of entertainment (cue ominous music). Flash-forward to present day and the studio has been snatched up by Steffan's (Jake Red) dad (Moseley), and his plan is to turn it into a series of condominiums - all Steffan has to do is have his close pals invest in HIS opportunity - that of a potential nightclub. How will he achieve such a feat, you ask? Well, once he sneaks them in at night, he can begin his sales-pitch - what could go wrong? How about a homicidal cluster of knee-high marionettes ready to slay all in the name of their former leader? Sounds good, huh? Well, hold onto your assessment until the movie has come to a complete stop.

  Bolstered by an assortment of stereotypical victims ready to be dispatched with pint-sized aggression, the film spirals into a dizzying array of gore and nudity, and not to say that the combination isn't a welcome one to the genre, it is overused and comes off as a bit lazy when involving direction. There's an extremely flaky subplot consisting of evil Masonic practices that just convolutes the storyline, and the lines of cohesive conveyance of the plot get muddled and it wasn't long before I was screaming for more skin and slashings. Moseley and Oberst are ALWAYS well-respected in this genre and their work speaks for itself, yet the two had an odd interaction in the film and their chemistry came off as farcical at best - sad to say but talent like this should have had better dialogue written for them. When the credits rolled I looked at the positives like this: decent kills, a few minor scares, and the fact that the film had the two Bills on display - my negatives were a completely preposterous plot, not nearly enough of the sadistic kills that I craves, and the notion that the two Bills' performances seemed hampered by lackluster script deficiencies.

  It all adds up to looking at Devil's Junction like this: while the premise seemed to come to life like a possessed dummy, the actual product remained lifeless and hollow - worth a watch only if reruns of the "Howdy Doody Show" aren't readily available...now that creeped the crap out of me. The film will be shown in a limited L.A. theatrical run on 10/18 & 10/19, then shuffling off to a DVD and On-Demand release on 11/5.

RATING: 2 out of 5



 

100 ACRES OF HELL (Film Review)


                           Starring: Gene Snitsky, Ernie O'Donnell, Jeff Swanton

                     Directed by: Hank Leigh Hump, Lisa Lakeman, Ernest O'Donnell

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     Let me start this review off by offering a bit of a protective disclaimer: while the possibility of this film's leading man finding me and ripping my limbs from my body does seem remote, I'll do my best to keep my normally negative comments on the low-end of things...there, is it safe? Okay - let's leap into this (ahem) riveting display of horror - it's 100 Acres Of Hell (or 89 minutes of subjective ocular torture for those keeping score).

   Directed by a triumvirate of big-chair sitters, this "survival-horror" presentation stars former WWE brute Gene Snisky (who also wrote) as Buck Severs, a retired grappler of the squared-circle who has certainly seen his share of traumatic instances. Having lost his wife and daughter in an accident that forced his fallback, his 3 pals decide that a "bros weekend" is in order to snap him out of his funk...if you can call PTSD and clinical depression a "funk" after the sudden loss of your family, but hey - I'm just a goon at the keyboard without a medical degree. Severs' trio of bros are some of the biggest unlikeable jackasses you could ever ask for, and how these guys all managed to not kill each other over the course of their friendship escapes me on every conceivable level. So here we are at the preserve that will act as the film's backdrop - a little hunting, fishing, ball-breaking, and eventual self-preservation is on-tap.

  Jeb Tucker (former WWE star Sam Anoai) is the urban legend with a killer's attitude, and he's going to protect his woods no matter how many souls he's got to rack up, and it won't be long before these behemoths of the ring butt skulls in a showdown that would make Hogan vs. Andre look like small potatoes...okay, maybe not but you hopefully latch onto the scenario I'm presenting. Some people have called this film "as close as you can get to a Friday The 13th entry...and I'll respectfully ask them to pee into a specimen cup to determine through urinalysis exactly which drugs they've been ingesting to make such a statement. This movie is a hundred percent complete inanity, and for some, that's a good thing - it just doesn't offer anything different or refreshing. You could toss in virtually any backwoods slasher and get the same result (with the exception of Mr. Voorhees' work, of course)

  Snisky does work well here as the hero, and although his performance is adequate it's not enough to have him carry the weight of this entire production on his back, even if he is of Herculean strength. Overall, I'd have to utter a hard-pass on this one - maybe watch a few hours of pro wrestling followed by any horror movie if you want to mash-up the two but I'd be content to stay outside of this ring for a 10-count.

RATING: 2.5 out of 5

 

TRICK (Film Review)


                                        Starring: Omar Epps, Ellen Adair, Kristina Reyes

                                                     Directed by: Patrick Lussier

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     Consider Patrick Lussier's Trick one of those Halloween films that should sit somewhere in the middle of your "must-see" list this Autumnal Equinox - while not one of the best films to showcase slashers and their actions, it's still a worthwhile watch to partake in while consuming mass-quantities of sugary sweets served up in a plastic pumpkin.

  I think since we're (somewhat) on the same wavelengths here that we can chuck plausibility and rational action to the side for 100 minutes of this film's runtime - it's simply fun for horror fans, regardless of how things go down in the movie itself. A bullied teenager, aptly named "Trick" uses the sharp end of things in order to exact revenge upon his tormentors...and basically everyone else that gets in the way of things. Starring the well-traveled Omar Epps as Denver, the dogged Detective pursuing the killer and comedian Jamie Kennedy (no stranger to horror films himself) as an Emergency Room doctor who has seen his share of Trick's handiwork. The movie shows the slasher's origins and after just a short year he's still stabbing away with furious and relentless commitment. Could this still be the same killer who was supposedly shot and killed by Detective Denver 12 months ago? Watch and see, my slimy crawlers - only time will tell.

 Ellen Adair and Katrina Reyes provide strong supporting work (although they do carry many scenes), and there's even a fantastic piece of work here by Mr. "Thrill Me!" himself, the legendary Tom Atkins as a local businessman who simply makes every film he's in that much better. Blood and gore are at the forefront here, and as hounds of the crimson it can be used to supplant the completely ludicrous plot behind this entire presentation - as I said earlier, however, it's the suspension of disbelief that'll get you through. At the end of it all, Trick is simply bloody good fun - just don't dig too terribly deep and we'll all enjoy this blessed holiday that's soon upon us. The film is currently available on DVD and streaming services as of October 18th.

RATING: 3 out of 5

Friday, October 18, 2019

INTERVIEW WITH BILL OBERST JR


   Go ahead - I dare ya. Head on over to IMDB and give Bill Oberst Jr's page a look and see for yourself the absolutely BLISTERING amount of work this man has pulled off since 2007. He is a complete workhorse in the business, and chances are if you've seen damn-near any horror movie over the last decade you've probably seen his talents. I first had the opportunity to interview him after his incredibly chilling performance in the Facebook short "Take This Lollipop" and I've wanted to pick his brain again ever since. Luckily for us (and all of you as well) the chance to speak with him recently arose when he was gracious enough to call in and discuss his latest role in Devil's Junction: Handy Dandy's Revenge - so grab a cold one (or a warm one - it's getting chilly out there), read on and enjoy!

ZT: Bill, what can you tell us about the film and your character, Mr. Jolly?

BO: Handy Dandy is about a bunch of ventriloquist dummies that aren't quite dummies, and it's set inside of an abandoned television station in Detroit, and my character plays the nemesis of Bill Moseley's character, who was quite fun to work with. I'm the former host of a television show called "The Mr. Jolly and Handy Dandy Show"  - Mr. Jolly has been thought to have been dead for years but...I can't say any more (laughs). The cool thing was we shot in an actual abandoned TV station where lots of shows were shot, including one called "The Mr. Jolly Show" - it really had a creepy feel to it.  



 ZT: An earlier interview that I had I discussed this topic with another actor, and I'd like to get your take on it as well: some actors just seem to have that "perfect fit" with a specific genre, and yours is horror - everything I've seen you in has not only been portrayed perfectly but with a sense of passion - is there something about the horror framework that's in your blood?

 BO: Well, first of all, thank you for saying that - I used to say that it was because of my face. I'm not the traditional handsome guy - I've got these acne scars, but as I've done more and more of these films I've noticed this archetype called "The Wounded Monster" - it's purely psychological - Frankenstein was one - it's the monster that society helps create by the way they were treated. I really identified with that because when I was a kid I was overweight and I had this bad acne, so I was ostracized like hell - I was also into books instead of football, and it was like a creature from another planet, and I think that's why I like these roles so much because no matter how much people seem evil to society, keep it up and sooner or later you'll find a wound. I try to do the same thing Lon Chaney did which was to find the humanity in the monster, and I think that's why it resonates so well - I'm not a good soccer dad. 

 ZT: You've done your share of on-stage work as well as on-camera stuff - do you have a preference? Does one more than the other allow you to expound upon a character's traits and actions?

 BO: Both are very different - live stuff is like a blind date where you meet this audience, and you know you'll never do this again for the first time, and if you're good at the end you'll get a good-night kiss, which is the bow. With film the camera is like a hungry lover - it's voracious, and it wants what it wants RIGHT NOW and if you don't give it, it's going to somebody else, so there's a lot more pressure there. There's much more technical stuff to be aware of with a filmed performance as opposed to a live performance where you can just focus on the emotional stuff. 

 ZT: Which to you is more appealing: the strong, predominant leading role or that cameo shot that comes out of nowhere and just knocks everyone on their asses?

 BO: The second guy - I'm not a leading actor - I mean I've done leads before but they've got to be "messed up" leads (laughs). Now if this was the 40's and 50's and they were still making movies with Roger Corman and Vincent Price and the old Universal Monster stuff, I could be lead in that, but they don't write like that anymore. If I'm the lead I'll generally be a bland character and that's not me. The worst is when someone wants to bring you in for a couple of days just to get your name next to the title of something - they want me to play a sheriff in the middle of an investigation, and he drives up saying "I don't know what's going on here!" - shit like that. But if I get that role I'm going to bring some kind of malevolence to it so the audience says "that son-of-a-bitch did it!"




 ZT: Has there ever been a time where a producer or director came to you with an idea that you refused - no way you'd breach a specific subject?

BO: There's only one thing that I will not do, and that's play a person who says they represent God, or is in touch with God and does something morally despicable. It's a personal thing because of my own faith, and I know that shit goes on -  there's plenty of it in the world, but I don't want to add to it. I'll play a preacher who's bad, but I won't play a preacher who by all appearances seems to be an honest and true man with good intentions but does these horrible things which seem to perceive from his relationship with God - that's my weak point, but I'll eat my own vomit all day long (laughs). 

 ZT: Lastly, what's coming up next for you on the work slate, or does Bill Oberst Jr take a nice, relaxing break for a spell?

BO: Can't do that! You cannot do it! If you stop, you'll probably think "Well, I DO want to stop." No, I can't do that - I need to do this. When I did the movie Dis with Adrian Corona I said "you seem pretty determined to do this movie" and his response was "there's two types of creative people: one that does something for attention, and the ones that do it to get release." We're both the second person there, and I do this because this stuff is inside of me. If I quit I'd go crazy - I have to do this until I die...and hopefully I'll die while I'm doing it, maybe on-camera. 

  


  




Wednesday, October 16, 2019

INTERVIEW WITH JEFFREY COMBS


                    Any self-respecting horror fan will know the face of Dr. Herbert West in an instant, but make no mistake: Jeffrey Combs is one actor who manages to spread his talents around so vastly that he's not pigeonholed into simply screen work. He's flexed his talents on TV, stage and even some video game voicing as well, and the latest slice of creepiness takes him into the role of "The Shopkeeper" in the horror anthology Holiday Hell, opening on November 1, 2019. He was kind enough to give us a few minutes of his time to discuss the role, as well as what else he's got up on the morgue slab (sorry, but I had to) - so grab your favorite Re-Animation cocktail, read on and enjoy!


 ZT: Can you give us a little peek into what Holiday Hell is all about, as well as your character, The Shopkeeper?

JC: It's a bit of a clever anthology piece, and my character is in the wraparound story - there's a young woman on Christmas Eve that's looking for a special present for her sister, and she comes into my curiosity shop as I'm about to close up, and there's something about her that seems familiar to me. I then tell her about everything that I sell, which just happens to have a story behind it, and there's a nice twist towards the end of the film. It was a very pleasant shoot, and I enjoyed working with Jeff Ferrell (one of the 4 directors) and got to hang out in Seattle - a city that I happen to love. It was great. 

ZT: Your live stage event "Nevermore: An Evening With Edgar Allan Poe" was showcased in Tarrytown, New York on October 12th at the Sleepy Hollow Film Festival - can you tell us how the show actually came to be? 

 JC: It was an idea of mine - I was looking around - I like to read and I enjoy history, and I was looking for a historical figure to portray...not really sure in what format - it was a bit vague, but I was looking at biographies, someone I could be a good fit for. I then found a book about Poe and I got really intrigued by him, the person, and I wondered how come no one had ever made a movie about this man in their life. It was so complex and riveting, and about a year later I was asked by Stuart Gordon if I wanted to play Poe in an episode of Showtime's Masters Of Horror (Ep: The Black Cat), and while we were on set he said to me "you really ought to do a one-man show." My response to that was "No way am I doing a one-man show!" But he kept urging me and about a year and a half later we sat down and found a theater and a 4-week run blew up into a little over a year - we were selling out and people were asking me to bring it to their towns all over the country. It's just a really powerful piece - it's an imaginary recital that Poe might have done - certainly not the way we'd do it, and we came up with a lovely script. We got really good reviews right out of the box, and with word of mouth it really took off. 

  So the guys at the Sleepy Hollow Film Festival were putting on a show that featured films of people with a literary background, and they thought that I'd be a good fit for that - it was a nice piece for their Saturday night during the film festival.

 

  ZT: Some actors seem to be a perfect fit for a specific genre - some with drama, others with comedy, but you fit in the horror scheme of things like a champ - is it in your blood?

 JC: No (laughs) - when I was a young actor and I was making a living on the regional theater circuit I wasn't doing horror - I was doing Shakespeare and contemporary plays - comedies, dramas, restorations. I had a variety of styles, so then I come to L.A. and kick around for a few years and just went in for an audition for a play, and the director said "I think you'd be right for something I'm casting right now which also wasn't horror - it was about 3 Vietnam veterans in a hospital, so I went in and met a guy named Stuart Gordon. Well, he cast me and just like a billiard ball off the side of a pool table I was sent in the opposite direction. Maybe I bring an intensity to my work sometimes that works well with horror, and perhaps my theater background gives me the ability to elevate some things. It wasn't the original plan, but I'm glad it turned out that way - as a kid I was always into horror and I always loved a good scary movie.

ZT: Lastly, after the release of Holiday Hell, what's coming up next on the work slate for you, or are you headed for a nice relaxing break? 

 JC: Oh, I don't know - the holidays are coming up quickly and I don't want them to be hell (laughs) - I may lay back a little bit. Next year I'm actually taking my Poe stage show on a Star Trek cruise - those ships have incredible theaters on them and they asked me if I'd bring my show and I agreed. That and I do a lot of voice work that pops up - as an actor you just never know what's coming around the corner.




 


Thursday, October 10, 2019

MARY (Film Review)


                                       Starring: Gary Oldman, Emily Mortimer, Jennifer Esposito

                                          Directed by: Michael Goi

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     You know, living so close to the water my whole life I've always regretted never buying a boat - sure they're expensive to own and maintain, and there's a different set of rules when your cruising the H2O...and of course there's the whole "haunted vessel" thing going on - yeah, you know what? I think I'll just keep my land-lubbin' butt on dry ground - unfortunately for director Michael Goi's maritime-chiller Mary, that's exactly where it should have stayed as well - in dry dock.

  Starring quite possibly one of the strongest and most talented actors of my generation, Mr. Gary Oldman - he plays fishing tour organizer David, and to say that he's languishing at his job is an understatement. He's doing his damnedest to provide for his small family, and he's ready to purchase a boat of his own, where his travels lead him to The Mary, a beat-down old barge but one that's definitely caught his eye. After some much needed coercing, his wife (Mortimer) gives him the okay, and when the restoration's complete, The Mary is ready for the big blue. However, something is keeping this ocean-cruiser from fully stretching its legs - almost as if it's got a little "dead weight" attached (bad pun intended), and suddenly all the interior problems that the family had seem like a small puddle compared to the seven-seas-sized dilemma they've got to contend with now.

  While the movie itself uses the boat's small confines to create a nice framing of claustrophobia and despair at times, the usual horror tropes are retread and spit back out like a fresh chum bucket for the big feeder fish - been there, done that and it's just tiring to watch. There's a two-pronged attack on the storyline itself, with not only the actual events that occurred, but an after-investigation with the police - it can be a bit tedious, but not difficult to keep in perspective. Oldman, who absolutely knocks every role he's served up out of the park seems to be wasting his time in this film, and outside of a couple of mid-line portrayals there really isn't much to speak of if you're looking for outstanding character representation. The overall product had a look and feel as if it was rushed to beat a deadline, and the presentation suffers as a result. At the end of it all it would be best to let Mary sail off in to the sunset, and ultimately submerge with no hope of reclamation.

RATING: 2 out of 5