Sunday, September 30, 2012

an appreciation of "The Good Sisters"

“a cuppedia in obscurum”

“The Good Sisters”—an appreciation

            In the Spring of 2009, I received a screener in the mail of “The Good Sisters”. I had asked the ever gracious JimmyO Burril for this after connecting with him via social media. I was a huge fan of “The Chainsaw Sally Show” and, after seeing: poster art, production stills, early reviews, and a full page ad in Fangoria, I was intrigued (especially since the be-all-end-all, no-questions-asked, posers-and-pretenders-need-not-apply, de-facto Queen of Indie Horror, Debbie Rochon was starring).

            I’m a sucker for “super-natural/occult” films (Hell, I even like that Clint Howard clunker “Evilspeak”), and “The Good Sisters” seemed to fit nicely into that niche. To say I was impressed would be a gross understatement…

No shit, I even had the screener copy, along with the short note that JimmyO wrote on the envelope, framed with a poster (criminally damaged by the fucking US Postal Service in transit) signed by Ms. Rochon and the incomparable April Burril that I got when I received my “commercial” copy that I eventually ordered (I absolutely HAD to have the full-on, signed copy). Yeah, I know, I’m a hopeless fan-boy…but with good reason!

            Have you seen this fucking flick?!? You should!!! To date, I have watched “TGS” 9 times in entirety (including the very cool “Dr. Gash” screening with April, Debbie & JimmyO in the chat room—that shit was EPIC!). A slow building, almost “Hammer-like”, modern gothic tale of sisters Breanne (Rochon) and Kindra (Burril) Good, the film is a skilled study in fantastic story telling. Masterfully paced with production values and a look that belies the film’s meager budget, “The Good Sisters” weaves a web of paranoia and impending doom that is punctuated by a fantastically creepy nemesis, David Calhoun as “Daniel Hopkins” (shades of Vincent Price’s Matthew Hopkins in “Witchfinder General”?) and a revelatory performance from April Burril that really shows a range and versatility only hinted at in “Sally”.

            There’s violence, gore, and a fantastic ritual scene with Rochon and Burril that positively burns the screen (also, there’s a completely gratuitous scene of the ladies changing that you just know JimmyO put in there as a cinematic “wink and nod” for all of us!). And, as is often the case with indie films, there’s limited sets, but JimmyO turns this into a positive by making the apartment scenes play into the claustrophobic/paranoid feel, that just deepens the mood (Polanski’s “Repulsion”? Yeah, sorta like that.).

            You know, I’ve already reviewed this film on NerdRemix, but it is such an undeniably fine example of all the things that are RIGHT about indie horror, that I felt compelled to blog about it. April Burril spreads her acting wings, Debbie Rochon turns in a performance that (I think) is among her finest, and the interplay between the two leaves you wanting more (dude—figure out an angle for a fucking sequel already!).

Buy a copy, buy it now, fuck it, and buy two in case one wears out! “The Good Sisters” is one of those films that NEEDS TO BE SEEN! BY AS MANY PEOPLE AS POSSIBLE! Seriously fuckers, make it a “Cult Classic”, it needs to be.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

"Kronanburg or BUST!!!"

I’ve had the distinct pleasure of reviewing quite a few anthology horror films from the world of indie film lately. The form is making quite a comeback, and rightly so, it gives aspiring film makers a collective marketing medium, and allows them to cross promote with other studios. “Psycho Street” (coming soon from R-Squared) is, to paraphrase “The Lord of the Rings”—one anthology to rule them all! Featuring segments directed by some very familiar names to followers on the indie fright scene, and includes thespians that are among the brightest talents in the genre.

            Last year, at the Motor City Nightmares convention, I was finally able to meet and chat with Muscle Wolf Production’s Marv Blauvelt, and first heard, in detail anyways, about the project. Marv’s enthusiasm for film making is equal to his talent as a writer and actor, so I was very intrigued when he passed me a screener for the Pete Jacelone directed segment “Hypochondriac”. A great short film, with plenty of gross-out humor, “Hypochondriac” featured an excellent ensemble cast that included (among others): Raine Brown, Allan Rowe Kelly, Zoe Daelman Chlanda, Susan Adriensen, and some great comic interplay between Marv and Carl Burrows. I posted a glowing review on for the short, and waited…
This was followed, a few months later, by a link to an online screening of “Lewis”. A blackly comic, over the top, amazingly paced and acted throwback, director Anthony G. Sumner cemented his growing reputation as one sick bastard with this twisted little gem. Truly standout performances from rising star Deneen Melody, as well as Susan Adriensen and Jerry Murdock as the demonic duo of “Sister Louise” and “Father Lennox” made “Lewis” a very memorable viewing experience, and again, another review was shot—and I waited (impatiently) for more…
Enter: HorrorHound, Columbus, this past Spring—Marv (who, by the way, has become a pretty awesome friend as well as an “industry contact”) introduced me to director Patrick Desmond and actress Kaylee Williams before he slipped me a blu-ray of the deliciously malignant “love story” that is “Anti-Bodies” (which had screened to rave reviews the night before). The aforementioned Ms. Williams delivered a harrowingly convincing performance in this segment, supported more than ably by Jared Degado, Brigid Macaulay(holy shit, she's hot!), the Barbosa twins, and the man, the myth, the Marv! Deviant sexuality, and aliens ratcheted up the “WTF?” factor in this final segment that delivered the goods in spades.

At long last, this past week, I received a package from MWP with the finished product—all of the above in their splendid, sick, fucked-up, gory glory!! With the added bonus of the wrap-around story, “Come On Down” starring some of the segment’s players, and beautifully brought together by one of the sexiest women on the fucking planet—Tiffany Shepis (seriously—she could seduce, like, a stadium full of guys with one wicked smile)!!
“Psycho Street”—take heed fuckers, THIS IS HOW IT’S DONE! Any genre fan will find plenty to love in this anthology, because there’s plenty of everything genre fans love!! And, hold on to your hats, my second 10/10 EVER!! Run, do not walk, to buy a copy when it drops!! Then, pop some popcorn, grab an “adult beverage”, and prepare to grin, wince, and cower in fear!! Kronanburg is my kinda town!!

            Thanks, and big ups to Marv for keeping me in the loop on every step (and, unfortunately, mis-step—this baby had a sometimes difficult “gestation” from what I’ve heard) of this amazing project, and for, along with Anthony Sumner, providing me with some of the coolest poster art in decades for each of the segments! They hang proudly in the “Tavern of Terror”—and to everyone involved, thanks for making one HELL of a wild, roller coaster ride of a film!

I’m Tom, and I’m a “Psycho Street” fan.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

"Hey! Are you a 'film maker'?"

Something has been on my mind for a while now, so I'm gonna rant--at what point exactly does a person qualify as a "film maker"?? I'm asking this because apparently my definition varies wildly from some peoples'. I thought the stuff I review, defend and support was "independent" film. Furthermore, I thought that people who actually made films were film makers.  About a year ago, I was at a convention and met someone who's advice changed my whole outlook--ducking away from the commotion, this man asked what I was doing at the fest, I explained that I was sharing a table with two film makers, we had all made short films that year and released them together on one DVD--and we had sold out of them! I then remarked to this person that "I almost felt like I was among my peers for a second there" to which he replied "young man, did you have a vision of the story you wanted to tell, and then, did you translate that story onto the screen using everything you had available?", when I answered "yes", he told me "then you could be in a room with Coppola, Scorcese and Spielberg and you'd be among your peers--don't ever sell yourself short, there's plenty of people in this business to do that for you". With that in mind, I'll lay out a few things that sort of chap my ass about indie horror films (and the people that make them) and clarify my positions and opinions.

Seriously, some of the best indie films were made by people with a rudimentary knowledge (at best) of the process--the key to an entertaining film, horror or otherwise, is storytelling! And that, friends, can't be taught in any school--you either have it, or you don't. Film making is kind of like a great guitar solo--you can have all the chops in the world, but if you ain't feeling it, it's gonna be as entertaining as watching someone do long division. Passion for the story will shine through a mountain of technical glitches.

Really?? So you used a RED camera and still made a boring, sterile, shitty film that pales in comparison to one shot on a VHS cam-corder, circa 1992? I'd demand your money back if I was you!! Or better yet, go on social media and rail about how people are morons because they hate your pristine, hi-def masterpiece (it's a whole lot cheaper than sending out fliers!). Maybe if chicks at film fests overhear you discussing your geek-gasm collection of gear, you'll get laid more. Hey, it could work...

If I hear one more self important fuck-bag whine about how Indie Go Go and Kickstarter are too flooded with half-assed projects that no one will fund a decent film anymore, I'm gonna fucking retch!! Browse those sites for 5 minutes--go ahead--if you can't separate the shit from the Shinola by reading the proposals in that amount of time, you should probably list something other than English as your primary fucking language!! If you've made a decent film with no funding, people will hear about it (Hell, I spend most of my free time making sure people will hear about it) and funding will come. The old adage "the cream always rises" is true in a lot of things, especially film. If you have a great script/idea/concept, and you have the right people behind it--it will work. Look at what people like Brandon Slagle, JimmyO Burril, and Jason Liquori (to name a few) have done with micro-budgets---see what I mean? I made a film for $40, edited and scored it myself and got festival play and DVD sales with it. Derek Huey has built a sizable and fiercely loyal following for "The League of Science" while spending, like, 5 bucks an episode. A budget will not make a ranconteur out of a boring douchebag--that's just unconscious knowledge!

FACT:"Real" actors cost money. FACT: Money is usually something up and coming indie auteurs have little of. While excellent acting can make or break a film, often people making their first, second, or even third film are using their savings, kid's college fund, or whatever they can scrape together to simply complete the film, and then possibly make enough money to make the next one even better. Precious few directors in the indie world are making a "living" at this godless endeavor, so if they can con "amateur actors" in their circle of friends to act int heir films--don't bag on them because they didn't hire you--root them on, maybe they'll be able to afford you next time. It worked for Romero!

So, yeah, guys & gals, STOP WHINING!!! Trust me, if you're passionate about what you're doing--it shows!! And I can say this with some conviction because I almost certainly have watched more indie/low budget/no budget/I'll-pay-YOU-to-watch-this films in the last 3 or 4 years than 95% of the people reading this have. And, as always, SUPPORT INDEPENDENT CINEMA!!
Oh, and the guy I spoke to at that film fest, that was none other than Lloyd Kaufman--so take his advice, and go "make your own damn movie"!!!

I'm Tom--I'll be here all week!

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Krusty Klassick-"3 On A Meathook"

So, from time to time, I plan to review the seamy underbelly of horror/exploitation cinema, the not-so-new, cheap, sleazy, and possibly shitty films from years past to hopefully turn you on to something new to you or inspire you to revisit a crappy gem!! The inaugural title?? The shit-tastic "3 On A Meathook"!!
Enjoy weirdos!!!

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Motor City Nightmares-Great People, Great Times!!

Motor City Nightmares! Fast becoming one of my favorite conventions, I was lucky enough to attend on Saturday April 28th--and I got to meet and chat with a ton of the very cool people in attendence as fans/guests/vendors!

    Where to start? First off, we (my brother Dennis, my cousin Lori, and my long suffering wife Jessica) stopped at Tom Berdinski's (The Italian Zombie Movie) table, it was great chatting with Tom and his co-conspirator Tim Berndt, and meeting Sarah Marilyn from his upcoming "House With A Morgue"--we even caught a screening of his fantastic "Noirmageddon"! Sascratch, of course, reared his afro'd head later in the afternoon to much hilarity! Berd's table is always the fun spot to be!
    Speaking of great indie film makers--I got to chat up Kristoff Bates ("Afterparty Massacre" and about his new project that sounds even more metal than APM, seriously, it sounds like another exercise in boobs, blood, and bad behavior--can't wait to see it!! "Sloppy the Psychotic", one of the most tasteless films in recent memory (and one of my favorites) screened on Friday, so I had to stop by and finally meet the sick fuck in charge-Mike O'Mahoney! He was as hilarious and enthusiastic in person as he comes across as in his films! Also touched base with Jon Manthei, the very cool guy behind "Room For Rent", didn't get to check out the Kill Whitey video he directed until I got home, but it was great talking with someone semi-local who has a real passion for horror film making! And I'd be remiss if I didn't mention Matt Farnsworth and "The Orphan Killer"--we cleared up our lines of communication getting crossed, he gave me a review copy and it was FANTASTIC!!! Watch this film immediately--check my review on!!

    Celebrity guests!! Michael Berryman and Sid Haig were great in person!! Really funny and down to Earth! Kane Hodder sat for a mini-interview and clowned around with us about a certain convention goer. Rachael Adams from "Mimesis" was stunning in person and Tiffany Shepis is fucking painfully gorgeous!! Wow--she recorded a quick video clip and she's smoking hot even when she's breaking balls! And after being shoved aside by a pair of indie film folks that will remain nameless, I was finally able to meet my hero-Debbie Rochon! I was humbled by her awesomeness, and babbled like a hopeless fanboy I'm sure, but she was incredibly cool and gracious in the presence of a sweaty, nervous fat guy like me! It was something I'll tell my grandchildren about, and then they'll stare at me blankly...

    Tommy Brunswick (who also directs some very cool stuff) and company out-do themselves every year--this is fast becoming a premier horror con! Thanks to everyone who attended and helped make this yet another great MCN!! See ya next time!!

Monday, April 23, 2012

HORROR CONVENTIONS: the “ins and outs”, the “ups and downs” and the inevitable “money shot”

HORROR CONVENTIONS: the “ins and outs”, the “ups and downs” and the inevitable “money shot”

            Ahhhh, the horror convention, a rite of passage into full blown nerdity!! Have you busted your “convention cherry” yet? I’ve attended a few, but I’m far from a seasoned convention veteran. However, I have made some keen observations and learned some valuable lessons—so let’s begin!!

  1. OH YES! THERE WILL BE FREAKS!!! Con attendees run the gamut: “cosplay”, full out “Goths”, Juggalos, guys dressed like it’s 1988 and they’re on the way to a Testament show, people dressed like they're going to funeral (if the funeral in question is Joey Ramone's) normal folks—you’ll see ‘em all. But I’m talking about real live weirdos!!! Quick example—at Cinema Wasteland’s fall 2011 show, my wife and I were signing a “Trio of Terror” DVD (I directed “Zombitch!”, she starred in it) that a guy had bought and asked all involved to sign, pretty unremarkable except for the fact that the man in question was wearing a T-shirt tucked into his sweatpants, breathing heavily through his mouth, sweating profusely all while staring intently and directly at my wife’s cleavage!!! Yeah…just like that.
  2. HAVE A GAME PLAN! If you’re getting anything other than a signed 8x10, you gotta plan shit out! I’m totally screwed on my autograph planning—case in point (try to keep up) The “Dawn of the Dead” dilemma: I have an original 1-sheet, attended CW last Fall, David Emge was a guest, partied like a rock star with him on Friday, didn’t bring the poster, never got his sig, going to Motor City Nightmares this weekend, Ken Foree is a guest, could have got his sig on it too, but never got Emge’s sig, so now I’m fucked!! Another example of my dumbfuckery—“Devil’s Rejects” style—Bill Forsyth was a guest at MCN 2010, got a signed 8x10, should have bought a DR poster because…(are you still with me?) Bill Moseley was at HorrorHound Cincy, got a signed TCM-2 photo, going to MCN 2012, Forsyth cancelled, but Ken Foree, Sid Haig, Michael Berryman, PJ Soles, and the aforementioned Bill Moseley are all guests.(I still do not have a “Devil’s Rejects” poster Goddamn it!!!) In my defense, I do have a NOTLD mini-poster with several cast members sigs on it.
  3. NO MATTER HOW COOL YOU (think) YOU ARE—SOONER OR LATER, YOU WILL ACT LIKE A “FAN-BOY”—“Fanboy moments”, I’ve had a few—First con (MCN 2010), first celebrity meeting-Tiffany Shepis—I shook, I stammered, I was sweating like a fucking meat loaf, my mind went blank, I acted like a jack-off, in short, total nerdity!! And, by the way, Tiffany Shepis is easily 10x sexier in person than she is on film (and she’s pretty fucking sexy on film!) no lie, no contest! CW-Fall 2010-I met a personal hero: HG Lewis, couldn’t wait to meet him, the extent of my in depth, intelligent conversation? “Uhhh I really admire your work, can you sign my poster?” After meeting April & JimmyO Burril at MCN 2011 I was visibly geeking out and April said to me: “we’re just normal people like you”, I nodded but my mind was screaming:”no you’re not!! You’re CHAINSAW FUCKING SALLY!!!!”. I shudder to think what I’ll be like meeting Debbie Rochon at MCN 2012 this weekend.
  4. PACK A SACK FULL OF CASH—YOU’LL NEED IT! If you’re a horror fan, like me, you’re gonna want to buy EVERYTHING!!! Vendors everywhere, with truck loads of cool shit: DVDs, artwork, posters, masks, shirts, collectibles, magazines, celebrities selling stuff—it’s like a total horror nerd-gasm!!! Spend wisely, or you’ll be broke as shit in no time flat!!
  5. IMBIBE WISELY! Ask anyone who saw me drinking like a retarded fish at CW 2011, talking loudly, Coor’s Light seeming glued to my right hand, asking “where’s the party?”, talking nonsense with David Emge—not one of my (or my long suffering wife’s) prouder moments! (although it was Tim-not me, that drank Emge’s beer down). Pace yourself!

So, hopefully, these few pointers help you avoid: looking like a douche, looking like a drunk douche, looking like a broke-ass douche or looking like a total loser! As for me, I’m off to a convention this weekend—Motor City Nightmares—I’ll may break one (or two) of my own rules, but I guarantee I’ll have a blast doing it!

Some past convention coverage for ya!!

Saturday, April 14, 2012

A Few of My Favorite Things in 2012 (So Far)

            1/3 of the way through, and 2012 is shaping up nicely! I have the distinct privilege of reviewing so many indie horror films on NerdRemix, that it becomes a blur sometimes. Thankfully, there’s those certain films that just stand out and become the yardstick by which everything else is measured.

            Michigan whack job, Tom Berdinski’s “Noirmageddon: A Mark Anvil Thriller” is an amazing short films that blends so many genres, and gives so many nods to classic films that viewing it feels almost like slipping into a comfortable pair of jeans. I thought last year’s “The Giant Rubber Monster Movie” was nearly perfect, but “Noirmageddon”, in my mind, surpasses it. The scary part is that Berd is currently producing two films and the fucker keeps getting better! I’m particularly stoked about “House With a Morgue” the 4th (?) installment of “The Italian Zombie Movie”.
            I also really, really enjoyed Douglas Schulze’s “Mimesis”—a fucking brutal film that breathes new life into the stale ass trend of NOTLD reference films. Expert pacing, a great cast, and actual film making craft!! I can’t wait to see what’s next from these guys!!
            Mike O’Mahoney also scored big with the hilarious “Sloppy the Psychotic”, cheesy, gory, and pissing all over every self imposed horror taboo, “Sloppy” is impossible to watch without laughing your ass off!! Best enjoyed with a beer in hand, if this film offends you, you’re truly too old and stuffy to be watching an indie horror film (so get a grip you whiny bitch!).
            I also got to check out yet another segment of the upcoming “Psycho Street” anthology, “Anti-Bodies”—wow!! Director Patrick Desmond really pushes the envelope with this jacked up tale of sex, blood, and terror! Incredibly sick performances by the entire cast (particularly Kaylee Williams) and shudder inducing set-pieces have got me jonesing to review the whole thing!!

            On the convention front, I briefly attended HorrorHound Magazine’s Columbus, Ohio show a few weeks ago. I told myself I wouldn’t attend another HHW after my experience in Cincy in 2010—great guests, lousy venue, layout and crowd control. Columbus was more of the same—good and bad---but I did get to hang out with the MuscleWolf guys (along with the above mentioned Kaylee Williams and Patrick Desmond), Marv Blauvelt is always a blast to hang with! I finally got to meet my amazing “internet friend” Jessica Cameron, and chatted with Blake Powell and the “Midnite Mausoleum” ladies, JABB Pictures’ Jason Hoover, Casie Baun, and Cam Scott—so, in summation, great people, lousy venue/planning.

            Absolutely looking forward to Motor City Nightmares this month! It’s always a great con, perfect size, awesome atmosphere, and great guests!! This year they have most of the guests from last year (but no April & JimmyO or Monique Dupree—this sucks out loud!) and the added attraction of Doug Bradley, Sid Haig, PJ Soles, the incredibly hot Tiffany Shepis and my personal hero DEBBIE ROCHON!!!!! Also can’t wait to re-connect with Berdinski & Amy Lynes, and to talk “Sloppy” with Mike O’Mahoney! See you there!! Hoping to bring some fabulous NerdRemix prizes for you nut-jobs!!
Enjoy bitches-keep the beers cold and the movies gory!!