[Editor's Note: We're bringing some of our columns from DEADLY Magazine into Daily Dead as well and today we have a look at our review roundup from Monte he likes to call "Movie Mayhem." Each month, he'll give you the rundown on movies he watched over the last 30 days that you may be interested in checking out. In the first installment on Daily Dead, find out what he thought of Bone Tomahawk, Tales of Halloween, Scouts Guide to the Zombie Apocalypse, and more...]
Bone Tomahawk: It’s a horror film, but it’s mostly a western. Add Kurt Russell, some cannibals and basically point me in the direction of the movie theater because I’m sold. “Bone Tomahawk” is an impressive film, one of the best of the year so far; a mix of unusual humor, touches of thoroughly effective and satisfying horror, a beautifully rendered western era composition, and stunning performances from an impressive cast. Richard Jenkins, known to horror fans as one of the operators of horror in “The Cabin in the Woods”, is amazing. Mr. Jenkins constructs a character that is both too old to banter with the mindset of those younger than him but also too old to not share whatever wisdom he can conjure up through insufferable anecdotes. Matthew Fox, from televisions “Lost”, plays a prideful and somewhat despicable hired gun. Mr. Fox might be at his best here, displaying a complicated character that in one 10-second scene runs through a range of heartfelt emotions all conveyed without the use of words.
The horror here is utilized exceptionally, one scene in particular being one of the most brutal I’ve seen in some time. “Bone Tomahawk” is never what it seems to be; expectations cannot prepare you for the experience, which changes throughout in all the best ways to accommodate a multitude of genres. It’s strange and beautiful and unnerving, a meticulously composed western/horror mashup from all angles.
4.50 out of 5.00
Julia: Rape revenge films are nothing new to film viewers though that doesn’t make them any less effective. One of the problems with these films is that the revenge, in whatever extreme manner it may take, could ever match the physiological distress or emotional destruction the victim of the rape will have to live with. The difference for Matthew A. Brown’s standout film “Julia” is that it takes an intellectual approach, one that utilizes a changing emotional tone to accommodate the visceral scenes of vengeance taken by the films female lead. Ashley C. Williams, familiar to genre fans from “The Human Centipede”, is Julia and she is fantastic in the lead. Much of her performance is done without words but instead with haunting looks into her resolute eyes and subtle expressions that change along her awakening. This is a revenge film but it’s also much more. The character driven focus and intelligently composed narrative make it an emotional journey. “Julia” is more than just comeuppance; it’s also about how terrible trauma changes a person from the inside out.
4.00 out of 5.00
Pay The Ghost: Call it a guilty pleasure but I will watch most any film that Nicolas Cage performs in. With that said, it’s been slim pickings for quality films from Mr. Cage in the past few years which usually means that he is due for a great performance in a film soon. Unfortunately “Pay the Ghost” is not that film, but that doesn’t mean that it doesn’t try to be. For a moment the film starts off promising with an interesting setup that transitions into some decent scare material. However as the film lingers forward everything becomes completely predictable and familiar. The scares begin to lack invention, mostly relying on volume fluxes and the movement into the third act treads on every other popular ghost film horror fans have seen in recent years. “Pay the Ghost” utilizes Mr. Cage with all his untamed qualities but a worn-out story can’t help the film become much than weekend fan fodder.
1.75 out of 5.00
Dude Bro Party Massacre III: I’m sure many of you gained a significant amount of your horror film knowledge from the video store in your neighborhood. Perusing the horror isle is one of my favorite memories, especially around Halloween. Depending on the selection at your video store it may have been easy to run through the “Friday the 13th” or “Nightmare on Elm Street” collection from start to finish. Well, at my store it was common to have incomplete collections, this resulted in me watching “Bride of Re-Animator” before watching “Re-Animator”. “Dude Bro Party Massacre III” takes its influence from this aspect in recreating an 80’s comedic homage to slasher cinema. The first two films in the fictional series here are lost, leaving only the third to continue the bloody saga of the films villain “Motherface”, a surprisingly great foe complete with creative kills and funny one-liners. The gore here is enjoyable, a mostly practical visual treat that jumps off the screen, even through the purposeful method of making the film look like a poor quality VHS copy. While the film doesn’t always connect in the ways that it should, the comedy hits with good stride and the combination of all the 80’s era touches are passionately employed. “Dude Bro Party Massacre III” may not be for every horror fan but for those looking for a quirky and bloody time, give this one a shot.
3.25 out of 5.00
Tales of Halloween: “Tales of Halloween” is an ambitious horror anthology. A collection of 10-miniature horror shorts that takes place in small town on Halloween night. Adrienne Barbeau introduces the film as a still sultry voiced radio DJ and the collection of recognizable genre directors begin displaying all manner of horror treats and tricks. There is an aspect of “instant gratification” associated with these kinds of films, quick and to the point narratives that waste little time in setting up the pins just before quickly knocking them all down. Some of the tales are exceptional while others are just okay but the positive for “Tales of Halloween” is that even the stories that are less than spectacular aren’t terrible, they just have trouble fitting in with the rest of the stories. That’s a hard aspect to accomplish with this much material in one film. “The Night Billy Raised Hell” directed by Darren Lynn Bousman combines mayhem and mischief with a humorous devil character played by Barry Bostwick. “Grim Grinning Ghost” directed by Axelle Carolyn is a straightforward ghost story with a nice payoff. While the standout “Bad Seed” directed by Neil Marshall is everything a Halloween story should be, complete with a man-eating pumpkin. “Tales of Halloween” is a fun and easy-going horror anthology, a film that would make a great Halloween night double feature.
3.50 out of 5.00
Scouts Guide to the Zombie Apocalypse: Zombies are everywhere. With the continued popularity of “The Walking Dead” television show, putting zombies in the living room on a weekly basis, this subgenre of horror is seemingly unstoppable. The zombie comedy, a common staple for zombie films, has been done exceptionally well with films like “Shaun the Dead” and “Zombieland”, but amidst all the living dead saturation in entertainment these films are becoming more of a rehashed annoyance than a welcome indulgence. The first few minutes of “Scouts Guide to the Zombie Apocalypse” doesn’t especially help the negative aspects for these films. The introduction is overly predictable, even a bit lackluster, but it establishes a small but visually stimulating reason to stick around…the use of gore. What ultimately gets the film moving is the cast of characters, a relative set of unknown actors with the exception of Tye Sheridan who shined in a few independent films.
The camaraderie of the teenage boys and the raunchy high school comedy motifs work great throughout; Tye Sheridan has a natural, laid-back quality, Logan Miller provides many of the quick witted one-liners, while Joey Morgan plays the emotional anchor of the group. “Scouts Guide to the Zombie Apocalypse” is one of the better zombie comedy films this year. While it may not compare exceptionally well to the films that have come before it, for fans of coarse and crude humor and juicy amounts of bursting blood, this will be a film that will surely entertain.
3.00 out of 5.00