Movie Review: The BABYSITTER

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the babysitterNetflix
2017
TV-MA

“Things get messy when you make a deal with the devil.”

Netflix has come a long way from its roots as a DVD mail rental site in 1997. Now it’s been featuring original content with series and movies, and proving these to be of a quality to rival standard television and movie sources. Case in point: The Babysitter.

So, here we have a movie that begins with the main character Cole, a 12-year-old riddled with phobias and bullied constantly by the neighborhood jerk-wad. His only friends seem to be his classmate Melanie and his babysitter Bee. One day, Cole’s parents take off for a weekend getaway, and Cole and Bee have a blast hanging out together, until Cole has to go to bed. Instead of going to sleep, though, he stays up to see what Bee gets up to after hours. Turns out, she and a bunch of her high school chums are engaged in a harmless hybrid game of Spin The Bottle / Truth Or Dare…until one of them is ritually sacrificed. Yeah, it turns out Bee and her friends are part of a Satanic cult, and Cole just witnessed everything. Of course, Bee and her friends try to convince Cole this was all just a science experiment, but he’s not having any of it. So now, what started as a great day, is now a matter of surviving against literal bloodthirsty Satan worshipers. Wackiness ensues.

Man, oh man, was The Babysitter a fun ride. The movie is a good blend of a John Hughes style coming of age teen comedy mixed with 80s style horror, and flavored with some great dark comedy. The script is great, the actors were fantastic, and there was a good balance between the horror and the comedy elements.

Overall, The Babysitter is a great fun movie that is a loving homage to the fun horror flicks from the 1980s. this movie makes a good cause for quality movies that are streaming service originals. Recommended for checking out.

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Movie Review: FREAKS OF NATURE

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freaks of natureColumbia Pictures
2015
R

“I think I’m having brain withdrawals.”

In Freaks of Nature, we welcome you to Dillford, where three days ago, everything was peaceful and business as usual: the vampires were at the top of the social order, the zombies were at the bottom, and the humans were getting along in the middle. But this delicate balance was ripped apart when the alien apocalypse arrived in Dillford and put an end to all the harmony. Now it’s humans vs. vampires vs. zombies in all-out, blood-sucking, brain-eating, vamp-staking mortal combat – and all of them are on the run from the aliens. It is up to three teenagers – one human, one vampire, and one zombie – to team up, figure out how to get rid of the interplanetary visitors, and try to restore order to this “normal” little town.

Freaks Of Nature was apparently released to theaters on the same day that another so-called “horror comedy” going by the name of Scout’s Guide To The Zombie Apocalypse was released. Only, Freaks Of Nature was only in 100 or so theaters on October 30th, 2015. I don’t remember seeing this in any of the local Omaha theaters at the time; each one, though, had a showing of the Scout’s Guide To The Zombie Apocalypse. Which I still haven’t watched. For reasons.

The original script to Freaks Of Nature started life under the title “Kitchen Sink”, something I vaguely remember being reported on back in 2011. It was evidently so memorable I promptly forgot about it until I was doing the usual background investigation on this for the review purposes. Huh. It was filmed in 2013, but was held back by Sony until it was just dumped with little to no fanfare on the previously mentioned date, then slipping into DVD/VOD relative obscurity. Which isn’t necessarily a death sentence, but the question remains: is Freaks Of Nature worth checking out?

Since I’m big on using food-related analogies, I would compare Freaks Of Nature to a good plate of goulash. And in case you were wondering (or aren’t very familiar with the concept of “goulash”), I’m talking about the American Midwest version that really only has the name and maybe the inclusion of beef as the only connection to the original Hungarian dish. It consists mainly of ground beef and macaroni in tomato sauce, and depending on the recipe can include corn, onions and garlic, diced stewed tomatoes, with the option of cheese to be added for taste.

And like goulash, Freaks Of Nature turned out to be a hot mess, but a surprisingly tasty hot mess that was made better with cheese. And if you go back to the original script’s title, you kind of get the idea that the creators of this were in on that fact. The base of this movie feels more like a John Hughes coming-of-age rom com that also features vampires and zombies dwelling together because…reasons. Then aliens invade, and a human, a vampire and a zombie from the local high school have to set aside their prejudices and band together to figure out what the aliens want. Which turns out to be a chemical compound found in the town’s Riblet factory.

For the most part, Freaks Of Nature was enjoyable on a certain level. It’s a movie that’s in desperate need of a focus, but for the most part, I enjoyed it. It’s certainly way better than Vampires Suck. Worth a look-see.

Music Review: A HILL TO DIE UPON – Via Artis Via Mortis

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a hill to die upon - via artis via mortisA HILL TO DIE UPON
Via Artis Via Mortis
Luxor Records
2017

A Hill To Die Upon has, over time since their first release Infinite Titanic Immortal, grown and matured as a band into something quite epic while still maintaining a high quality of extreme blackened death metal. As such, their most recent release, Via Artis Via Mortis, finds the band at another level with what could possibly be their masterpiece release to date.

Here, the sound of the music is very much still rooted in the melodic blackened Death Metal that is the hallmark of the band, on Via Artis Via Mortis there’s a focus on the songwriting that shines through the technical aspects while having a much darker atmosphere. There’s less on bombast, with the blastbeats used sparingly, but nevertheless maintains the brutality and heaviness. Songs like “The Garden” and “Artifice Intelligence” build slowly with intensity, with songs like “I Was There When You Went Under The Water” and “Great Is Artemis Of The Ephesians” showing a more progressive side to the band’s music, while “Jubal And Syrinx”, “Sorcery And Sudden Vengeance” and my favorite cut from the album, “Mosin Nagant”, show that they can still pummel you with brutal goodness. The lyrics of the songs also continue to be well-written, with a lot of thought and passion put into them, complementing the music.

Unlike the aforementioned Holy Despair, I purchased Via Artis Via Mortis the weekend after it was released, effectively dominating my media player for a few weeks thereafter. As I mentioned at the beginning of this review, I do believe Via Artis Via Mortis is A Hill To Die Upon’s best release to date. Highly recommended.

Movie Review: FEVER LAKE

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fever lakeETD Distribution Company
1997
NR

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: It takes a special kind of “talent” to ruin a slasher movie. I mean, I’ve seen plenty of bad slashers that fall more under the So Bad It’s Good banner (Sleepaway Camp, Silent Night Deadly Night 2, pretty much anything after Friday The 13th Part 6), but to make a slasher that is dull, boring and utterly forgettable as Fever Lake? That is a whole new kind of special.

Directed by one Ralph E. Portillo, who has directed a whole bunch of movies I’ve never heard of, and released in 1996, Fever Lake stars one of the Two Coreys from the 80s–Corey Haim–and co-stars Mario Lopez (aka Slater from Saved By The Bell, or alternately That One Host from Extra), and B-movie legend Bo Hopkins…plus a bunch of other actors. Haim and Lopez play a couple of 30-something college kids who head out to a small rented house near a lakeside community with some other 30-something college kids for a holiday of shenanigans and whatnot. Only, the lake itself has an evil spirit, one that bubbles out and causes EVIL! Only, we don’t really see it so much as we’re constantly told about it by the whitest Native American stereotype you’ll ever come across. So, when one of the locals is killed by a wolf that magically is never seen in the same frame as she is, the locals get…mildly irritated at the existence of that house the college kids are staying in. Meanwhile, nothing really happens outside of some continued warnings by Dances With Stereotypes, until about the last 20 minutes or so, when the killings start happening in the house. Then the “twist” that everyone saw coming within ten minutes of this movie starting underwhelms you, and the movie ends. And you’re left lamenting the time spent that you will never, ever get back again.

Fever Lake is such a tame slasher movie that you can be forgiven for initially thinking this was made by one of those family oriented cable channels in an effort to be edgy for the Halloween season. The problem is, this is one of those PG-13 type of “horror” movies…only, the PG-13 rating would be too strong for this, really. The aforementioned scene where the local is attacked by the wolf, it’s very apparent that they shot the scenes with the wolf separate, while shooting separately the reactions of the local, and then tried to splice the two bits of footage together, and failed miserably. The acting is 90s era sitcom level at best. Mostly filler and not much else, Fever Lake is just dull. I cannot recommend watching this, even as a bad movie night.

An ounce of prevention, and all that…

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zombiesZombie apocalypse. Trying to convince everyone that using the quiet and far more efficient and effective laser rifles would be highly beneficial, as noise would attract the zombies, and using these would cut down on the risks. But no, big bad manly Alpha men wanna use their big, bad — and very loud — rifles and guns on the undead, despite the swarms they attract. Wankers.

::END TRANSMISSION::

Into the Carnival of Souls, surrendered to the fight…

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eric claytonLast night, I dreamed that the spectre of 1996-era Eric Clayton was assisting me with grocery shopping. He was decked out in his classic stage costume, the black robe with white painted head and shiny bobble-thing on his forehead.

He would float in front of my cart, motioning when I needed to put something into the cart. He would say anything, just point while staring at me with that mournful gaze, peering through my soul.

I have no idea what this may mean. If anything. I’m fairly certain this is just my brain messing with me via the subconscious. This is, however, the first appearance of Eric Clayton in my dreams, joining the ranks of Dave Mustaine of Megadeth and the members of Anthrax.

::END TRANSMISSION::

Music Review: XL & DEATH BEFORE DISHONOR – Offensive Truth vol. 1+2

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xl & death before dishonor - offensive truth vol 1xl & death before dishonor - offensive truth vol 2

XL & DEATH BEFORE DISHONOR
Offensive Truth vol. 1+2
Independent
2016

XL & Death Before Dishonor. They are one of those bands that sadly never got the respect they more than deserved back in the day. They released their debut album, Sodom And America, in 1993, but instead of being recognized for being the genuine article as far as the burgeoning Rap/Rock hybrid that was emerging in the very early 1990s (before it got lumped in with the Nu Metal tag later in the decade), they kind of got lost on the wayside, while bands like Pillar and Payable On Death got more attention. Fortunately, main man XL kept busy, releasing other albums quietly both with DBD and as a solo artist. Then, in 2016, the group released a double album entitled Offensive Truth vol. 1 and vol. 2.

In case you’re not familiar with XL & Death Before Dishonor, and thinking they’re just another P. O. D. wannabe band…no. You can maybe say they’re a Rage Against The Machine clone, but they were contemporaries, releasing their debut a year after Rage released theirs. However, I would say, if you want to make a more apt comparison, Body Count is closer to the mark. Regardless, XL& DBD is awesome. So, enough of that, and on to the album. Or albums, as it were.

Vol. 1 opens with “In Need Of Therapy”, a nice rocking track with an infectious hook and groove, and a catchy melodic chorus, and you realize that XL & DBD haven’t skipped a beat, in a manner of speaking. The music is heavy, but has a variety going with hardcore, metal, rock and funk grooves that keeps things from going stale. Vol. 2 continues on with this, giving us 20 solid tracks of rap/rock hybrid that will get your head bopping along, no matter what the speed.

Mind you, XL and the gang are talented enough as it is (a fact pointed out in “Yeah, I Know Right”). What makes this double album even more awesome is some guest spots by Deliverance main guy Jimmy P. Brown II (“Devastated”, “The Wilderness”, “Daddy’s Too Friendly” and “Corporate Elite”), Oz Fox from Stryper (“Best Friend, Worst Enemy”), musical Jack of all trades, but remembered most from Poor Old Lu., Jesse Sprinkle (“Because Of This”), Crucified guitarist and Applehead guy Greg Minier (“Rapist”), the guy from Crystal Lewis’ band, Joel Goodwin (“The Wrath To Come”), Whitecross and King James guitarist Rex Carroll (“Methamphetamine”) and Jim Chaffon from The Crucified and The Blamed, among others (“My Hour Of Desperation”). Also, there’s a redux of the song “Armed For Battle”, which was originally from their sophomore release, Live From Nineveh, another release there’s hardly any information about online. Trust me, it exists.

Bottom line, if you happen to be one of the people who picked up Sodom And America and wore that down to a nub, here’s two more that you’re going to love. If P. O. D. is your only idea of rap rock nu metal whatever with a Christian message, you really need to pick up Offensive Truth vol. 1+2. They don’t mess around or mince words. Which…okay, I’m beginning to see why maybe these guys didn’t catch on to your standard CCM crowd. Highly recommended.

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