Monday, January 2, 2017

Scream King Tom's Best Of 2016

 Yeah, so I'm a couple of days late. 2016 was a year that sucked much ass in terms of beloved celebrity deaths. Independent cinema, on the other hand, while output was down, quality was way up! I didn't review as much stuff as I have in recent years, but what I did watch was phenomenal! Here is the creme de la creme!

Scream King Tom's Best of 2016

Best Film (Feature)

"Harvest Lake"

Runner Up-"Witch Hunt"

Best Director (Feature)

Todd Sheets--"Dreaming Purple Neon"

Runner Up- Scott Schirmer--"Harvest Lake"

Best Film (Short or Anthology Segment)

"Laid To Rest"

Best Director (Short or Anthology Segment)

Jill Sixx Gevargizian-"The Stylist"

Best Actor (Feature)

Jason Crowe-"Harvest Lake"

Runner Up-Rick Chandler-"Witch Hunt"

Best Actress (Feature)

Tristan Risk-"Harvest Lake"

 Runner Up-Angelina Leigh--"Dangerous People"

Best Actor (Short or Anthology Segment)

Marv Blauvelt-"Maternal Instincts"

Best Actress (Short or Anthology Segment)

Najarra Townsend-"The Stylist"

  Best Supporting Actor (Feature)

Ricky Farr-"Dreaming Purple Neon"

Runner Up-Eliot Bayne--"Dark Cove"

Best Supporting Actress (Feature)

Brigid Macaulay-"Plank Face"

Runner Up-Lillith Astaroth--"Witch Hunt"

Best Boobs

"Plank Face"-Director--Scott Schirmer

Best Gore/Violence

"Dreaming Purple Neon"-Director--Todd Sheets

Monday, November 28, 2016

"Model Hunger" (2016) Review

            I've often said that, with her unparalleled body of genre work, horror legend Debbie Rochon has been in more than a few bad movies, but she's never been bad in a movie. Long a champion of indie/micro budget horror films, it seemed only a matter of time before the talented Ms. Rochon spent some time behind the camera. Well, fright fans, the wait is over with "Model Hunger".

            Featuring a "body image" subtext that's about as subtle as a sledgehammer to the temple, the film follows former model Ginny (fan favorite Lynn Lowery) as she adjusts to "retirement" so to speak. She takes her revenge on the beautiful people of the world by dispatching them in increasingly gruesome ways, and disposing of the bodies in a most practical manner. The always amazing Tiffany Shepis and Carmine Capobianco play Ginny's neighbors who observe to proceedings with a growing suspicion ala "Rear Window".

            Fast paced, and very self aware, "Model Hunger", while at times teetering on the brink of being a little paint-by-numbers (the script gets a little threadbare), nonetheless, it delivers the gory goods at the precise moments it needs to. Lowery is over-the-top batshit crazy as Ginny and seems to relish the sadistic ways she carries out her various atrocities. Suzi Lorraine pops up in some unnerving commercials sprinkled throughout the film that really can't be described in print. In fact, keep your eyes open for all kinds of genre regulars in cameos and small roles, there's plenty of 'em.

            Bottom line, "Model Hunger" is nothing new, it's a little generic and worn, but it's also a lot of fun. Seeing some of your favorite indie horror players chewing up the gory scenery and having a blast working with each other is infectious and makes for a film that, while is wears it's flaws on it's sleeve, is also pretty damned entertaining. Bravo Debbie.

--Scream King Tom

"Dark Cove" (2016) Review

            Any film that opens with some friends burying a tarp wrapped body in the woods and swearing to keep a secret is bound to pique my interest. When "Dark Cove" rewinds to give you the back story, an interesting twist on a familiar sub-genre crawls out of it's shallow grave.

            Canadian lensed (and featuring a lot of BC's natural beauty) "Dark Cove" opens with the old standby--a group of twenty-somethings heading out for a weekend on the beach with plenty of: booze, drugs, and nubile flesh. But once our merry band of youngsters meet a trio of Aussie surfers to party with, things get a teensy bit complicated.

            Some psycho-active drugs, a thwarted assault, and a brutal beating later, and people are soon burying corpses, swinging axes, destroying evidence, and embracing their inner maniac in this taut feature.

            Boasting a gorgeous cast of newcomers (save for writer/director/editor and male lead Rob Willey), "Dark Cove" is a really impressive, beautifully shot and scripted feature. Everything comes off as very authentic, the interplay between the characters, and the dialogue is actually how people talk (at one point they even make fun of American accents)! Something that is often sorely lacking in films at this price point. Montana McNalley and Eliot Bayne particularly stand out as Jen and Ian respectively, and the whole ensemble cast delivers impressive performances.

            Technically, the film is top notch. Great lighting, even sound, crisp edits, and a effective sound design are all present and make for a great viewing experience. The script moves along at a nice pace, never lagging or allowing the viewer's interest to wander while setting up the ultra violent third act.

            There's a few knocks, sure, mostly the nonchalant way everyone agrees to cover up a murder, but other than that, "Dark Cove" is pretty error free.

            "Dark Cove", ultimately, is a violent, gory, original film that, with a great cast and some expert direction, ratchets up a Hitchcock-ian tension before blowing up into an orgy of axe-wielding mayhem. Watch it. Watch it with the lights off.

--Scream King Tom

Sunday, February 7, 2016

"Harvest Lake" Review

"Harvest Lake"

Four twentysomethings head to a cabin on a secluded lake to drink, smoke weed, and fuck. You've heard this basic set-up about a million different times in a million different horror films before, right? Well, friends, this is where the similarities from all of those generic slasher films of days past end. "Harvest Lake" is an entirely different animal.
Director Scott Schirmer ("Found"), brings together most of the talent from last year's "The Legend of Wasco" into what amounts to a creative masterpiece of indie cinema. A ferociously original script coupled with stunning cinematography, truly surreal set-pieces, a brilliant tension building sound design, and a cast delivering career defining performances elevate "Harvest Lake" head and shoulders above 99% of the current crop of modestly budgeted features.
After a disturbing opening sequence, the four friends in question, Ellie Church ("Time To Kill"), Tristan Risk ("Innsmouth"), Jason Crowe ("Easter Casket"), and Dan Nye ("The Legend of Wasco") arrive at the lake house to celebrate Josh's (Nye) birthday, and after a quick dip in the lake, things start to get weird. Like, really weird. The arrival of random camper Mark (Kevin Roach) adds another piece of the puzzle as the hallucinations, paranoia, amped up sexuality, and psychic ramblings begin to eat away at the party atmosphere.
"Harvest Lake" draws from some very lofty influences in that it combines equal parts of Cronenberg's "body horror" phase (think "Shivers" in the woods), Kubrick-esque tension, several Lovecraft elements (fear of the unknown, ancient aquatic beings, madness, and, yes...tentacles.), and lush dreamscapes reminiscent of Harvey's "Carnival of Souls". Heady stuff indeed, yet, Schirmer's script keeps the "cheese factor" at bay by not allowing the nudity and sexuality to creep into "exploitation" territory (and there's TONS of potential for gratuitous nudity here kids), and, when not keeping the entities involved in the ambiguous shadows, utilizing some truly exceptionally well done creature effects (old school bladder effects FTW!) to get the point across. That's not to say that some of the plot points aren't left enough in the dark to challenge the viewer into "filling in the blanks" so to speak, that is definitely the case here, but this is "thinking man's horror", and thank fuck for that, we need more films like this!
All of the above is meaningless, however, without talent on both sides of the camera. Brian Williams' camera work immerses the viewer into the world of "Harvest Lake" making the titular body of water and the woods surrounding it (as well as the denizens contained therein) vital characters in this twisted tale. Jason Crowe, already known as a capable actor, delivers an amazing, fearless performance here, Tristan Risk (one of the most attractive humans on the planet, as I often point out) chews up every scene she's in with a subtle vulnerability that evolves into raw sexuality as the story progresses, Ellie Church is completely fucking chilling in the last half of the film, and both Nye and Roach seem to revel in the miasma of terrifying situations their characters are thrown into. A nearly perfect ensemble performance.
"Harvest Lake" is one of those rare films that will find an audience if enough people "get it", and here's hoping it tears it up on the festival circuit, because everyone involved in this film deserves a pile of awards, trophies, certificates, free drinks, sexual favors, tee shirts, hand shakes and back pats that the indie horror scene can muster. This, friends, is the type of film and talent that deserves your support.
10/10--Scream King Tom

Thursday, December 31, 2015

The Scream King's Best Of 2015

In the interest of keeping with tradition, here is my usual, lame-ass, "Best of" list for 2015--the creme de la creme of what I reviewed (although some things may not have been posted as of yet) in year 2015--so, behold... King Tom's Best of 2015 Awards




Best Film (Feature)




Runner Up-"Invalid"


Best Director (Feature)


Richard Chandler--"Gilgamesh"


Runner Up- Brandon Slagle--"House of Manson"


Best Film (Short or Anthology Segment)




Best Director (Short or Anthology Segment)


Izzy Lee-"Innsmouth"


Best Actor (Feature)


Bill Gobin-"Three Tears on Bloodstained Flesh"


Runner Up-Brandon Salkil-"Invalid"


Best Actress (Feature)


Joni Durian-"Invalid"


 Runner Up-Melantha Blackthorne--"Gilgamesh"


Best Actor (Short or Anthology Segment)


Marv Blauvelt-"Snake With a Human Tail"


Best Actress (Short or Anthology Segment)


Tristan Risk-"Innsmouth"


Best Supporting Actor (Feature)


Bryan Wilson-"Chopping Block"


Runner Up-Brian Williams--"Headless"


Best Supporting Actress (Feature)


Angelina Leigh-"Reichsfuhrer SS"


Runner Up-Devanny Pinn--"House of Manson"


Best Boobs


"House of Whores"-Director--Daniel Murphy


Best Gore/Violence


"Headless"-Director--Arthur Cullipher





And that's it, until next year, you freaks!!


Tuesday, December 29, 2015

The King is Dead, Long Live the King!

Virtually anyone on social media today has seen at least one post about the death of Lemmy Kilmister. And, the World being what it is, there are quite a few people pissing and moaning about it, telling people to "get over it" and asking "who?". As a lifelong fan of the heavier side of the musical spectrum, Lemmy's death touched me on visceral level.

I remember clearly, my senior year in High School, going to see the mighty Motorhead with some older friends (courtesy of a really terrible fake I.D.) and being blown away. If Rock-n-Roll is a religion, then going to a Motorhead show is like going to church, and Lemmy was the de-facto Pope. To this day, whenever I hear that distorted bass and that croaking, raspy voice (the product of too many cigarettes and Jack Daniels) I can almost smell the liquor, leather, and greasy denim...

And that's how it is, and was, Motorhead was a HUGE part of my musical world, as a kid and as an adult. Everything about them was purely and simply ROCK. For every song with heavy subject matter you had a song that reminded you how fun Rock n Roll was. For every "Iron Fist" you had a "Love Me Like a Reptile", for every "Killed By Death" you had a "Doctor Rock" and then they'd mix everything up with a pseudo-psychedelic gem like "Capricorn". Motorhead definitely had something for everyone. That's why they had such cross over appeal, the "metal" guys loved them, the "thrash" guys respected them, and even the most hardcore punk would bob his head and smile a little when he heard "Ace of Spades" or "Bomber". And anyone who doesn't agree that "No Sleep 'til Hammersmith" is one of the finest live albums ever committed to tape needs socked in the dick!
Motorhead, as a band, is over now. Much like the Ramones, something that I thought would be there forever (and seemed like it already HAD been there forever) is gone now. With the death of Philthy Animal Taylor back in November, when the Rock n Roll Hall of Fame selection committee finally pulls their collective heads out of their asses, Fast Eddie Clarke will be the only member of the "classic" line up left to attend the induction ceremony. Which brings me to another sad fact, Motorhead sales will probably peak now with Lemmy's death! They were always a band on the fringe, who were outright copied by plenty of successful bands, that never fully "made it", and, as a testimony of his inherent "awesome", Lemmy never seemed bitter about it in interviews (even though he had every right to be). And now, after this loss, people will finally appreciate what was one of the greatest bands in history.
John Lennon (and Lemmy was a noted Beatle fan) once famously said “If you tried to give rock and roll another name, you might call it ‘Chuck Berry'". I'd like to amend that, and substitute "Lemmy" for "Chuck Berry" because nobody who ever drew breath was more rock-n-roll than Ian "Lemmy" Kilmister. The man played it, he lived it, he breathed it, and probably drank it with a whiskey chaser. There will never be another one like him. EVER.
He changed my life. If you're reading this, he probably changed yours.
Not bad for the front man of a band that was almost called "The Bastards"
Rest in Peace, sir.

Monday, November 16, 2015

A sequel? THAT was quick! "House of Whores 2: The Second Cumming"

Tom Komisar and Daniel Murphy are back at it again. The clown masks from "House of Whores" were barely back to room temperature and these deviants, along with AC McCray and Peter Barnone, are suited up and home-invading their way through more unsuspecting victims in this latest installment from HM&M Films.


          Kinda/sorta picking up from the first film, this time the torture happy gang of miscreants target a suburban family's birthday party (with Linda Schrader as "Kayla the Corpse" in tow) and a televangelist & his gold digging girlfriends (Cheyanne Summer and Montana Skylar).


          Much like the first film, HoW2 is thin on plot, but long on depravity. It's all covered: ball peen hammer assaults, terrible jokes, sex toys, lactation gags, even a "Dirty Sanchez", as well as all manner of atrocities visited upon porn star Riley Grey in comedic interludes. HoW2 also features more musical vignettes with horror/music personality Nurse Hatchet, suitably taken to the next level for this outing, that are both psychedelic and sexy as Hell. Actress Lindsey McIntire, another veteran from the first film, turns up this time as "Skanko", the sadistic clowns' new sidekick, complete with an ultra creepy sex doll mask and the ability to shoot lasers from'll just have to watch the film. This crime scene of an indie feature also boasts the talents of: Craig Lemons, the very hot Vergena Fields, and Eric Reaume as the pizza boy (didn't really need to see your ass, man).


          While a "franchise" like this may not be feasible beyond this second installment (but hey, never say never, right?), HoW2 hits all the right nerves and manages to be even more mean spirited and dark than it's predecessor. Definitely a guilty pleasure that often makes you feel terrible for enjoying the goings on, the flick sometimes even brings to mind the cult classic "August Underground" series of films, with it's "found footage" style, and gleeful violence. This stuff makes Pennywise look like a pussy!


          A bold new style of "Torture porn" or just a bunch of knuckleheads vicariously living through the righteously fucked up films they're making? You be the judge as you wallow waist deep into the quagmire of unspeakable acts (along with quite a few bodily fluids) splattered across your screen in "House of Whores 2: The Second Cumming"! Consider this your warning.




---Scream King Tom