The fine fiends at Wild Eye Releasing must have known ol’ Dan XIII needed a bit of a jolt to round out his sinister summer, and they sent me a large selection of outre offerings to feast my putrid peepers upon! So, in the interest of offering my not so humble opinion on what the creepy company has on hand; I’m going to devote the next few columns to revotin’ reviews of their various terror tales!
Part One of our deep dive will feature five, count ’em five titles available from Wild Eye Releasing; Virus of the Dead, The Velocipastor, The Baylock Residence, Pickaxe, and Ouija Shark!
First up, Virus of the Dead:
If there’s two things that cats what love the horror biz dig it’s arcane anthologies and zombies…so it stands to reason that many of you boils n’ ghouls would be curious to check out a flick that combines those things right?
Well, you’re in luck because the flick I’m slapping my putrid peepers on today, Virus of the Dead, is an anthology that weaves together multiple (and I mean multiple) tiny terror tales together to present various views of a world balls deep in the middle of a zombie holocaust!
Running through the film is a constant, that folks will simply not give up their vain phone usage and social media no matter how many frothing gut-munchers are at the door. It’s a good carry through, and sadly realistic…but whateves; it gives us a fly on the wall view of all that shamblin’ dead chaos that unspools for nearly 2 hours over fifteen sinister segments.
Speaking of those segments they are culled from a variety of filmmmakers…some more seasoned than others; but all dedicated to giving us the maximum beastly bang for our buck, and kudos should go to the curator of the footage, Tony Newton who has managed to give us a selection that shows not only a passion for the genre, but that you don’t need millions of dollars to make an effective fright flick!
As for extras on this DVD, we only get the film’s trailer…but with the format, and number of folks involved in the various films behind-the-scenes material or a commentary would be damn near impossible.
Bottom line, if you love zombies Virus of the Dead is going to give you one hell of a heapin’ helping of those living dead dudes (and dudettes) and is nearly guaranteed to contain something that for every horror hound out there!
*Note: I have worked professionally on unrelated projects with individuals involved in the production of this film.
Next comes Velocipastor:
After losing his parents in a car explosion (represented by text that an effect should be present, but isn’t), a priest named Doug (Gregory James Cohan) travels to China (via car), where he gets poked by a talon held by a dying woman.
Once home, out hero begins turning into a dinosaur, and avenges his parent’s death… and because there is literally fifty minutes left to go after that, he teams up with a hooker named Carol (Alyssa Kempinski) and fights a ninja crime syndicate. Based on true events.
Look, I’m not gonna beat around the bush, or any other part of the female anatomy… I absolutely loved the ever-lovin’ fuck out of VelociPastor. Writer/Director Brendan Steere has delivered an intentionally campy, over-the-top love letter to grindhouse cinema with all of the gore and insanity you’d expect, and then some… but what may catch you cats n’ creeps by sinister surprise is that Steere delivers some gorgeous shots among the lunacy… in other wicked words he gets his arthaus peanut butter all up in his grindhaus chocolate at times, and you know that shit is demonically delicious!
Beyond the obvious talents of it’s creator, a shit-ton (an actually measurement of pro fright flick reviewers such as yours cruelly) of credit has to go to the amazingly game performers on display, with Cohan and Kempinski making for charming leads that go full bore into the nuttiness with aplomb, but the supporting cast is excellent as well, with Jesse Turits, as Sam the white Ninja, being a real stand-out with his scenery chewing performance!
Along with all of the entertainment VelociPastor packs into it’s seventy minute run-time, there is some beastly bonus content on this Blu-ray as well to sweeten the putrid pot. Included are: a hilarious audio commentary featuring Steere, Cohan, and Producer Brandon Taylor, Q&A sessions from a duo of theatrical showings of the film, and a gag reel.
To sum it up; VelociPastor is blood drenched freaky fun of the highest order, and I defy you to resist the misadventures of this prehistoric preacher!
Moving on we come to The Baylock Residence:
During the Blitz of England circa 1944, Patricia Woodhouse (Kelly Goudie) has to contend with the potential of being blown to smithereens as well as settling the affairs of her recently departed estranged sister Susanna Baylock. Once arriving at that humble abode, our heroine is informed by her sister’s maid, Annabel Blair (Sarah Wynne Kordas) that she has inherited the whole kit n’ caboodle.
Lucky day for you, eh Patty? Well, maybe not that lucky as she immediately begins having migraines and dreams of the “fucked up” variety… not to mention the dark figure that seems to permeate the entire structure… a structure that naturally… or is that preternaturally, played host to arcane rites and murder!
The Baylock Residence is an effective lil’ slice of period piece horror biz. You got your classic Gothic tropes; the ol’ dark house, a woman secluded from the outside world, and of course, supernatural goings-on… and all are stirred in a petulant pot to give us a solid sinister story!
To break it on down a tad further; Goudie and Kordas make for strong leads, and generate a good amount of audience sympathy… you know, so we actually give a toss if they make it through this misadventure with their sanity and body parts intact, and the dwelling the inhabit is suitably creepy, and filled with period accurate accouterments… in truth the whole film is packed with costumes and ephemera that bring the World War II era to vivid life… with a few noticeable exceptions…
The biggest standouts in the “take me right out of the story” department is a small radio that looks like a cheap replica of an actual radio from that period (did they even have radio’s that size back then… if they did, let my ass know and I’ll adjust this revoltin’ review accordingly), and a minor character that has a visible, and out of place tattoo… seriously, it takes next to no effort to cover that shit up (I speak from experience having had to do just that for both of the films I have made).
As for bonus material on this DVD release, we get an alternate ending, a music video, and a “making of” featurette.
Minor nitpicks aside, The Baylock Residence is an excellent supernatural shocker with all of the fixins and worth placing your eerie eyeballs upon!
Next we look at Pickaxe:
As you cats n’ creeps well know; I love me some sex and violence… and since Pickaxe throws that at us in the first couple of minutes it has yours cruelly’s attention from the get-go!
Anyway, it’s the late ’80s, and Adrienne (legendary scream queen Tiffany Shepis) has just been set-free from the loony bin; where she found herself after seeing her friends murdered by Satanic sicko Alex Black… whom she ultimately defeated with the help of Deputy Mathews (Phantasm‘s A. Michael Baldwin).
Anyhow, she’s now a drunk, he’s now a Sheriff looking for a missing couple, and soon the woods are filled with more victi… err, I mean teenagers like Jamie (Elizabeth Redpath), Heather (Ashley-Marie Zgabay), and various dopey dudes, a stoner, a nerd, and a slut… all on their way to a rock concert in then middle of nowhere, where they are menaced by the resurrected form of ol’ Arcane Alex. Boobs and blood are splashed across the screen in equal measure, and our heroes will have to use all of their smarts to survive… so they are most likely going to die.
Pickaxe really caught me by surprise… it’s gory, funny, and well acted, and definitely not your typical ’80’s slasher throwback. Rather this fright flick is filled to the brim with genuinely hilarious moments, lovable characters (despite their faults), and a real sense of what makes the slasher genre work, while still successfully lampooning it to side-splitting result.
Also of note are the copious amounts of grizzly gore splashed across the screen, realized with practical effects wizardry no less, as well as the plentiful amounts of comely lasses in various states of undress. Look, I never put on any airs about what floats my boat…
If I had to single out anything negative it’s that the sound is lacking in some scenes. An extra pass on the sound design would have worked wonders, but I get the fact that money can be tight, and if push comes to shove, effects would always be my top choice for the rationing of the ol’ dough-re-mi.
As for extras on this DVD we get… nada. Oh well, time saved for me I guess…
Bottom line; Pickaxe is a boobs and blood showcase that manages to be funny, full of heart, and faithful to the stalk n’ slay genre and gets the ol’ (severed) thumbs up from this revoltin’ reviewer!
Last up we examine Ouija Shark:
Jill (Steph Goodwin) was all set for a day of waves and rays with her pals, but those mother fuckers were more ghost than Casper… who she could easily communicate with, because she finds a Ouija board while at the beach.
Eventually her friends let her know they are in fact at a pool, where Jill brings the board… and with a strict “fuck you” they start using that beastly board, and as is so often the case, they summon a ghostly great white shark that begins eating them as it flies around the woods… you know, you mother fuckers would be surprised at the amount I whisper “What the fuck?” to myself at this job…
Anyway, as you can tell, this production is ridiculous, it knows it is, and it manages to be damn entertaining to boot… not always the case in these “here’s a preposterous shark-centric idea, we can fill in the details later” productions that seem to be a dime a demon’s dozen at the ol’ Wal-Mart these days.
So why is it entertaining? Well, for one, the shark is front and center in all of his rubber puppet glowing glory and I love the bastard… who cares how technically proficient it’s executed; he’s there, he’s chompin’ cute girls, and flying around the woods with wild abandon… and I loved every second of it.
Second, while not the most seasoned thespians that have ever graced the screen, the cast seems incredibly game, and their heart appears to be fully into the production as does director Brett Kelly… and the screenplay courtesy of David A. Lloyd is a fast-moving, tongue-in-cheek affair that manages to provide one outrageous idea after another.
On the technical end, and from a filmmaker perspective, Ouija Shark does a great job of getting the most bang for whatever bucks it had… but if you go into this expecting Spielberg you’re ass is going to be well and truly chapped. This is ultra-low budget filmmaking, but it looks and sounds really damn good… another plus in this one’s favor!
In the negative column, this isn’t going to win any awards for length… I mean that award doesn’t even fuckin’ exist, but if it did… IF… IT… DID… Anyway this film runs an hour and three minutes before credits. I think that’s the perfect length to make a film like this an enjoyable experience, but someone, somewhere may bitch about it, so there it is.
As for DVD’s on this DVD, we get the film’s trailer, and that is that!
All in all, Ouija Shark lives up to the nonsense of the concept and has an absolute ball with it in the process, and I’d wager you cats n’ creeps will enjoy it as well if you dig on the crazier side of our beloved horror biz!
Stay tuned for Part Two boils n’ ghouls!