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Review – Panic Button

December 9, 2012 in Ash Hamilton, DVD/Bluray, Movie Reviews, Movies, Video/TV

Panic button is a great representation of how a small movie with an even smaller cast can come across as a film with a much bigger scope than its means. It also represents a very real threat to us here in the digital age and that means a very real, palpable horror as well. Panic button centers on four characters, each from different walks of life, who find themselves the winners of a social network site’s contest that puts them on a private jet headed straight to the big apple for an all expense paid vacation of fun in the US. Right away, our all British cast almost gurantees a well rounded crew of capable actors (Not to digress here, but how many British productions do you see that have less than adequate acting chops among their central thespians? Scones and acting… those Brits bring their A-game). After brief introductions in the airport, our winners board their ride and are almost immediately treated to a game of ” who’s the biggest scumbag” MC’d by an on-board computer representing All2Gethr, the social network site that is soon to become the film’s antagonist. It is here that the real horror of Panic Button shows its pearly whites. Horror is more than the killer in the closet, the monster under the bed or the maniac with a master plan to prove his demented philosophies to his victims. Horror is around us, laying in wait, packaged as a nice slick service that connects us to our friends all the while nearing closer to our jugular with a serrated blade. Panic Button might leave a lot of horror fans thinking that the film is a little message heavy, but its point is poignant and topical enough that it doesn’t feel forced. It reminds us that we are too quick to give up our freedoms and our privacies in a virtual word that is just as risky as the corporeal one. Our characters find this out quickly as their private lives and their misadventures are forced into view in front of them and their peers as the sadistic game unfolds. We soon learn that each character has their own secrets and as each are seperated from the group, they are given ultimatums from their host that could mean a grisly end for their friends and loved ones should they not meet its demands. I am a sucker for character studies, movies that move along by reaching into the past and allowing us to follow the backstories of its characters. Panic Buton is adept in doing this, withut using the conventinal means of flashbacks and grainy black and white footage. It manages to do so inface while propelling the present timeline forward and in doing so pushes it running time forward at a break-neck speed. If PB has any fault it is that it is almost too successful in exploring the depravity of its characters, leaving us looking for a hero, but luckily still engaged enough to let it slip by. These are characters that even when we are appaled by them, we realize that it s the human condition that it is their afliction and we must concede to our own introspection, allowing us to forgive them just enough to wish for their redemption. I could not help but to be reminded of the first Saw as I watched Panic Button. It has a tone and intent that mirrors the franchise starter and leads me to believe that this was only the first button to be pushed and that with a solid DTV audience, we can hope to see a little more panic in the future.

Panic Button is available on DVD and Bluray. Check your local retail store for pricing and availability.

Season 2 of The Steps Currently Playing Online

December 9, 2012 in On The Web, Video/TV

Horror and thrillers go hand-in-hand and Horror Fix recognizes a good thriller when we see it. The Steps, a dark noir thriller, is currently playing online for free on several of your favorite video sites. Press release for Season 2: What: Produced by Giantleap Industries and written/directed by Dylan Kussman, “The Steps” follows former Hollywood private investigator, Charlie Madison who, after finding himself under examination for crimes he may have committed in a drunken blackout, escapes town to avoid impending prosecution. The second season discovers a distressed Charlie returning to Los Angeles with a 24-hour window to locate evidence that would exonerate him. The plot twists quickly as he begins to realize the only asset that could ensure his freedom may be buried with the body of his ex-girlfriend, who Charlie can’t be sure he didn’t kill. Running six consecutive weeks after launch, the suspense thriller will release six total episodes with a complete runtime of just under 40 minutes. Unique for its emphasis on dramatic cinematography and a sophisticated noir styling, “The Steps” captures audiences with an intriguing story line, dark onset of dynamic locations and a strong ensemble cast of characters. When & Where: “The Steps” launches on February 9th, 2012 on WatchTheSteps.com. The series can also be found on Koldcast.tv, Blip.tv, iThentic.com and the program’s YouTube channel. Visit the official site here. Episode 2 premieres today.

R.I.P. Bill Hinzman

December 9, 2012 in Movie News, Movies

It is a sad, sad duty to have to report the death of Bill Hinzman whom you will know as Graveyard Zombie, one of the genres most iconic zombies, in the original Night of the Living Dead. He passed away Feb. 5th after a battle with cancer. He was 75. Bill continued to work with Romero on such movies as There’s Always Vanilla, Season of the Witch and The Crazies and also tried his hand at directing with Flesh Eater. Bill was also a fixture on the convention circuit where he always had a smile, handshake and a story for his fans. I was fortunate enough to meet Mr. Hinzman several years ago and it is something that I will always remember. RIP Mr.Hinzman, you will be missed…

Review – The Tunnel (2011)

December 9, 2012 in DVD/Bluray, Movie Reviews, Movies, Video/TV

The Tunnel is the Mercedes of found footage flicks. Now, depending on where you currently stand on the topic of what is soon to be one of the most loathed sub-genres to grace the silver screen in the last twenty years, that could mean very little. What it is in a nutshell is a very well produced picture that straddles the line between faux documentary and yet another take on the Paranormal Activititty (yes, I said Activititty… I mean, c’mon… Katie Featherston’s um… “talents” were downright juggnormous in that movie.. and glorious…ohhhh soooo glorious….moving on) popularity that has swept movie houses and kept phenomenal box office receipts hitting Variety headlines every October. In its defense, it’s a better movie with better acting than its predecessors, and it shows it in every fame. The Tunnel starts us off with interviews from both a cameraman and investigative journalist (two of the original party of four) that were involved in the horrifying events that the film centers around. The tunnels beneath Australia are part of a conspiracy, it is revealed and our protagonists were hell-bent to investigate their many mysteries, with, of course, the blessing of the station they worked for. Well, blessing might be overdoing it as we find out that the station itself had no clue as to their methods for entering the forbidden tunnels (unlawfully of course after a failed bribe to one of the security guards on site) and now the hunt for the truth behind the disappearance of some of the city’s homeless turns into a fight for survival for the quartet of would-be investigators. The Tunnel might suffer from an overall lack of originality if it suffers from anything. A small group of people get caught in unfamiliar territory after being warned to stay far away and now they themselves are victims of a lurking evil with an insatiable thirst for blood… like I said… this isn’t a post World War 2 musical about gay lab apes in love (yeah.. you heard it… hella-original and free for the casual reader to run with) it’s a horror movie with a similar premise to the score of those that came before it. Again, the proof is in the pudding and the proof here is tunnel’s very atmospheric locale and the believability of its cast. To say the movie is claustrophobic is an understatement as we follow our quartet through the labyrinthine twists of the city’s tunnel system. Couple this with just the right amount, or lack thereof, of light, and the film’s environment is rife with suspense. THIS, is what separates The Tunnel from its contemporaries. We go into it knowing that two comrades are destined for the dark beyond yet we still feel the scares nonetheless. Although we never get a very clear image of exactly what is hunting our crew (these scenes are IR but thankfully it actually adds to the tension instead of being just a green backdrop to a timer and some sleepwalking… or sleepstanding… wow… that really does make it sound a little more boring, doesn’t it? I like the idea of sleep sprinting myself… a little chariots of fire set amidst images of faceplants and sweaty pjs) we don’t feel like victims of “pull-the-rug-out from-under-us” shaky cam, either. We are treated to just enough to get our imaginations going…which… now that I think about it..is a pretty successful tactic for a horror film, isn’t it? Like I said earlier, The Tunnel might not give much hope to detractors of the found footage genre, but to me, I’d rather have a Mercedes with some resell value than a Gremlin with an empty Mcdonald’s bag in the passenger seat and a petrified fry on the floorboard.

Review – Hellraiser Revelations

December 9, 2012 in DVD/Bluray, Movie Reviews, Movies, On Demand, Video/TV

For those of us who worked through the era of faxes and xeroxes we remember a term called image degradation. Image degradation happens when you fax a copy of a fax or copy a copy of a copy and each copy gets copied or each fax gets faxed untill the document is barely readable. Helraiser Revelations suffers from franchise degradation. the movie, which has all the trappings of what one might expect from a Hellraiser feels like a copy of a copy of a copy… the formula is there, but the original inspiration has been bastardized so many times that its barely recognizable. Barker’s initial vision showed us the depravity of the human soul and the power of obsesion. It was a sexual sadistic social commentary on the human psyche and fetishism. The threat was every bit a human one as it was a supernatural one. It grounded the idea and when Barker’s angels of pain showed themselves, the terror felt palpable and somehow real despite its origins. It was Barker’s introduction as a director and the translation of his own work to celluloid proved a striking and horrific entry into the genre. Its sequels, however, proved to be the very definition of cinematic ”image degradation. After Hellbound: Hellraiser 2, the series became more of a Hellraiser Presents sort of venture, with the cenobites barely bookending the central story. By the time Hellworld made its STV debut the central stories had so little to do with the original mythology that they barely bore the Hellraiser stamp. Revelations seeks to return the franchise back to its roots…unfortunately, it comes across as a reinvention, and one that seems to pay homage to a copy of a copy of the original, missing its mark by a mile. The story centers on two young men, bored with school, suburbia and everyday life, who decide to take holiday in search of excitement and adventure to relieve their simultaneous case of the doldrums. This is the film’s first mistake. Horror enthusiasts, the fans that actually sustain the economic longevity of films through rentals and sell through, remember when horror films were made with actors of all ages, not just post-pubescent teens. We understand that studios are trying to appeal to a VERY specific demographic. Unfortunately these same studios are often so out of touch with their core audience that they will sacrifice years of healthy receipts for a strong opening weekend or VOD release date. Hellraiser Revelations is a prime example of a studio with a franchise that is adored by hardcore fans, yet the persistence of the studio to appeal to a younger audience has bastardized the storyline almost beyond repair. Hence the new entry follows a pair of late teens/ twenty somethings sharing their vapid adventures with an audience that will find it next to impossible to connect with the leads. This is the first mistake’s legacy throughout the duration of the film. You simply don’t and almost CANNOT care for the central characters. We are given so very little development to two characters whose well being is so beyond the scope of our compassion that we cease to care about what happens to them, let alone the equally annoying peripheral characters. **SPOILERS** Like most ill guided forays into genre screenwriting, it is the characters that make or break the tale. This might be the perfect opportunity to reintroduce another lost but still relevant term: YUPPIES. Thats exactly what the entire cast of this film portrays, yuppies. Each and every character represents the very element of our society that has taken their privaleges and used their position to suck the very life out of the middle class (note to filmmakers: a big portion of the horror going audience are hard working blue collar Americans… Americans who might find it very difficult to identify with Revelations’ cast.) SOOO, we have two yuppie teens who decide that their lifestyle (albeit relaxed, pampered and full of hope and promise through ample amounts of mommy and daddy’s money) is just too unbearable and to alieve the pressures of ..aw hell let’s just make something up here.. umm… growing pains… sure… take off to distant shores in hope of finding themselves. They run into trouble and before they can be whisked back to suburbia they find themselves in a whole other world entirely. The boys’ problems follow them back to the good ole US of A and they disappear. Leaving only a videotape with a very different and portly looking Pinhead on it as to what ill fate might have befell them, the boy’s families frantically search for answers. THIS is actually the bulk of the film. The boys’ misadventures are told through flashbacks of the videos left on the camera and we are left to spend more time with their families, who are equally uninteresting. Revelations tries to insert the core of what made the first film great, but it has absolutely no idea how to go about it and in the end, the only semblance of hell it manages to conjure up… is a little steam, as in “steaming pile”. AVOID.

Hellraiser: Revelations is available on DVD and Bluray disc at all major retailers and also available on VOD in select areas.

Review – Red State

December 9, 2012 in DVD/Bluray, Movie Reviews, Movies, On Demand, Video/TV

To say that Red State is flawed is to undermine director Kevin Smith’s attempt at taking his creative talents in a bold new direction. However, if you are not a fan of Smith’s work or just don’t care then this is going to mean very little to you. So little to you that State might end up coming off as a glorified tv movie about religious zealots and intolerance making familiar bed fellows. Unfortunately, Red State does play a lot like a tv movie almost twenty minutes in and does nothing more than give us a whole lot of the same for the rest of its running time. In all actuality, Red State should not be reviewed on this site. The film, despite its marketing campaign, is NOT a horror film. In fact, Red State feels like a film that had every intention of being a few different films, but couldn’t center on a premise that it felt comfortable with exploring till the end credits. In doing this, the film loses any cohesive thematic elements and it’s viewers attention by the end of the first act. The beginning of Red State is promising though as we are introduced to a trio of overzealous teens as they plan to meet up with an older woman found online through a sex personal. Admittedly, this could have been the start of our horror film right here, and although the set up is a familiar one, it would have been interesting to see where Smith could have gone had he decided to sharpen the story’s teeth. The trio quickly run into trouble at the hands of a local religious cult known for their intolerance of sexual deviants and this surprisingly is where the film slows down… WAY down. Smith has been accused of wordy expositions from his characters, but we are given a sermon from Michael Parks (playing the cult’s leader) here so lengthy that we are left looking around the room just waiting for it to run it’s course. It’s too bad really, as we are given some good performances in State; good performances that are mired in the films inability to give the characters any real weight or importance, but is downright militant in its desire to bloat its dialogue. Early into the second act we get a Branch Davidian retread so stalely portrayed that we ask ourselves just why State felt it deserved a theatrical release. This might be one of the major reasons Smith himself lobbied so hard to find the film a distributor: it just never elevates itself above a movie of the week status. I would still love to see Smith try his hand at an honest to goodness horror film. Red State, however, needed a lot more RED before it can come close to calling itself that. NOT Recommended.

Review – Seconds Apart

December 9, 2012 in DVD/Bluray, Movie Reviews, Movies, Video/TV

Afterdark Horrorfest’s contributions have been hit and miss admittedly. Although I enjoy a tradition of a cache of films that annually give us a new helping of horror, Afterdark’s offerings more closely resemble SyFy faire more than anything else. This last grouping has had some gems, Husk being among the most noteworthy. SO it was with little enthusiasm that I went into Seconds Apart, an evil twins picture that looked part Omen, part Dead Ringers. Fortunately Seconds Apart bypasses the temptation to be either of those films and instead marches to its own sick, sometimes disturbing beat. The end result is very well Afterdark’s first real, mature entry that shows us just what the brand may be capable of. Seconds Apart follows Seth and Jonah Trimble ( Gary and Edmund Entin), two twins that from the start appear to have a very strong and terrifying grip on their high school peers. After the twins are placed at a party where 4 of the school’s star football players meet a grisly end after an impromptu game of Russian Roulette, detective Lampkin (Orland Jones) pursues the boys, realizing along his quest that their power might be more than just psychological. Psychological is the operative term here as the thriller explores the demented sadism of the sociopathic Trimble twins. The real treat here falls squarely on the shoulders of the Entin brothers. Quite possibly roles that these two were literally born to play, both Gary and Edmund Entin are able to convey a familial closeness that is so eerily intimate and at times disturbingly sexual that every scene the two occupies easily rivets you to the following frames. It is this performance that takes Seconds Apart and quite frankly puts it so far ahead of the other Afterdark films that it threatens to nullify even their best entries with its craft and tone. Yes, it is literally that atmospheric of a film. My only complaint with Seconds Apart is that from the first interaction of the twins with Blooms’ character, we get the overwhelming feeling that he is horribly outmatched. Whether intentional or not, it is so apparent that Bloom seems hardly a threat to the two that his character and performance is quite simply undermined by the intensity of the pair. Again, I can’t stress enough that this movie is OWNED by the Brothers Entin. Able to sit confidently on the same shelf as movies such as the Bad Seed and Dead Ringers, it is qualified further by superb directing from filmmaker Antonio Negret and a lush haunting score by Lior Rosner. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED

Review – Ty Schwamberger’s The Fields

December 9, 2012 in Book Reviews, Books, Comics/Books

Ty Schwamberger’s The Fields starts out with an introduction by Jonathan Mayberry, laying out the ground rules for zombie stories, those rules being that … there are no rules. Save maybe one, that zombie stories tell us more about ourselves than about the shambling undead on our heels. This was a wise choice, as, from the beginning, it’s clear that this isn’t the zombie story we’re expecting. It’s hard to say what exactly we’re expecting, but Schwamberger knows, and he exploits this knowledge, teasing the reader with one zombie cliché after another: the strange light from the sky, the backyard full of bodies, the zombie bite that may or may not have been a dream. The Fields makes explicit the subtext in any good zombie story: that the beasts reflect our own deepest fears of our time. Billy, the protagonist, fears losing the family farm. He fears not living up to his father’s expectations, at the same time fearing filling the old man’s shoes too well. Abraham, a mysterious visitor, shows up at just the right time to capitalize on Billy’s failing crops … for a price, of course. Abraham is easily the creepiest part of this book. His uncanny sneakiness, his sinister laugh, and a hint of mind-reading put me at unease from his first appearance. Abraham insists he is there to help – Schwamberger has expertly crafted a character just creepy enough to set your teeth on edge, but not creepy enough for the main character to be justified in turning down his promises of assistance. The setting is inherently spooky, too. Maybe it’s just me. I’m a sucker for rural settings. Add in a creaky old barn, some primitive farm implements, and a protagonist in worn overalls, and you’ve got my attention. Schwamberger sets the scene for us well. Unfortunately, while the story and the characters in The Fields were fine, the prose itself was a major distraction. A worse offense is that every few pages, Schwamberger seems to hit on a turn of phrase he likes, and repeats it to the extent that I wondered if I’d forgotten to turn the page. Sometimes repetition can form a pattern to drill in the importance of a scene. Here, it just gets boring. Couple this with the repetitive descriptions of Abraham and Billy’s father, add in a dash of over-long and unrealistic dialogue, and I think this promising concept would have been better suited to a short story. Overall I found this to be a great idea, with dynamic characters, that fails in the execution. Posted by HorrorFix contributor Sugar Shock.

Review – The Uninvited (iPad App)

December 9, 2012 in Comics News, Comics Reviews, Comics/Books, On The Web

I admit it. I scoffed at the iPad when it was first introduced. I thought it was nothing more than an oversized iPod touch and I was going to be damned if I was going to lay out that kind a money for an oversized iPod. Let’s fast forward to me putting my foot right into my mouth so far that my big toe just gave a thumb’s up to my proctologist. I love my iPad and over the course of the year it has all but practically replaced my laptop. Among the actual “productive” apps I have, I have a slew of horror themed apps and games to satiate my thirst for macabre. Add in a full library of books and even a horror trivia app and the iPad becomes a “love horror, will travel” device for me. The Uninvited is the first horror anthology magazine for the iPad and when the office here at HorrorFix heard about we couldn’t wait to get our little bloodstained hands on it. I have always been a fan of horror anthology books, magazines and comics. Tales from the Crypt, Eerie, Shock Suspense Stories and Heavy Metal comprised the bulk of my high school study hall reading materials (reprints, gents… I’m old, but I’m not fartin dust yet). I’ve always loved the idea of being able to explore a wealth of different worlds and styles all within the same binding. So, I ditched second hour home-ec, fired up my favorite contraband smoke under the bleachers and bathed in the electronic glow of Apple’s little wonder for my first foray into the digital horror anthology arena. I have to give The Uninvited kudos for its look and its attention to aesthetics. The Uninvited is a nice looking app and a very graphic centric app for something intended to be read. It is the look of The Uninvited that effortlessly leads you into its electronic pages and lets you settle comfortably within its binary dust jacket. The stories within The Uninvited are every bit as polished as its exterior, and although you might not recognize some of the names, that doesn’t detract from its quality. The Uninvited brings us five horror stories in this, its first issue, two of which are comic book stories. The comic stories, in fact, might be enough of a drawcard to get The Uninvited its audience, but it is its middle addition, The Most Beautiful Girl, that is truly its standout piece. Anthologies, as much as I enjoy them, often make it difficult to let a store or idea linger. Dealing with short stories or episodic tales, by the time the ball gets rolling, its time for it to come to an abrupt halt, making most anthologies a mixed bag for many. If The Uninvited suffers from anything, it is the format itself. The Most Beautiful Girl feels the most complete of the yarns that the app spins and its author (Mark MacKenzie) probably has the firmest grasp of the short story template. The Devil’s Eggs (the first of the two comic pieces) should also be mentioned in its accomplished illustrative style and Lovecraftian storytelling. With more ups than downs, The Uninvited is a nice addition to the App Store and I’m anxious to see what the next installment brings us.

Review – Gore #2

December 9, 2012 in Comics, Comics Reviews, Comics/Books

Gore #2 by GG Studios. Written by Alex Crippa. Drawn by Emilio Laiso. $2.99. First off, the girl on the cover of issue two is the “evil” version of Cinderella. Like I said in issue one, the art is worth getting this title alone. With that being said, I am glad I was right. In this issue the story seems to come together better. Less “setting the stage” and more telling a story, and it is getting better. Cinderella is one brutal bitch in this comic, and that is being nice. She calls rats to eat a girl alive after she had cut off the head of her boyfriend and cut off her feet. Definitely not the Cinderella I remember. The author is getting in his stride and doing a good job at developing the characters in this second installment. If he keeps this up, but the time the series is over he will have a pretty unique story. The artist once again shines in the title, bringing the “evil” storybook characters to life. The action and panel structure is really thought out and makes the story flow much better than in the first issue. Seeing as how I really liked the art style of this book, I’m glad that the story has caught up to the art. That is not to say it is still the best thing I have read, but it is getting better. originally posted by contributor AnOriginalDick

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