Sunday, October 4, 2015

31 Days of Halloween 2015: Devil's Backbone, Texas (on Netflix Instant and VOD)

[31 Days of Halloween 2015: DEVIL’S BACKBONE, TEXAS now available on Netflix Instant, VOD, and other streaming platforms.]

Review by Bob Ignizio

Burt Wall, a horror writer living alone on a secluded ranch, may have supernatural inspiration for his stories, or he may just be a gigantic bullshit artist. After his death, his family investigates his homestead hoping to find out just which one it was. The new found footage film DEVIL’S BACKBONE, TEXAS being in the horror genre, you just know they’re going to regret their curiosity. It's just an awful long (and awfully dull) journey getting to that regret.

Following the THE BLAIR WITCH PROJECT playbook to a “T”, DEVIL’S BACKBONE, TEXAS starts out with more polished documentary footage setting the stage by interviewing friends, associates, and family members of Wall’s, and even including a bit of an “Unsolved Mysteries” segment on the real Devil’s Backbone, which is one of those areas some folks claim is haunted by numerous spirits. So far, so good, but if you thought the hikers wandering around aimlessly in the woods in BLAIR was boring, you’re really gonna’ need some NoDoz to get through this one.

Saturday, October 3, 2015

31 Days of Halloween 2015: The Oregonian (available on various streaming and VOD platforms)

[31 Days of Halloween 2015: THE OREGONIAN is available on Fandor, Amazon instant video, Hulu, and possibly other streaming/VOD options.]

Review by Bob Ignizio

A young woman (Lindsay Pulsipher) finds herself covered in blood in a car with bodies around her and no memory of who she is or what happened in THE OREGONIAN. In the middle of nowhere, she sets off looking for help and for answers and instead finds herself caught in a nightmare of strange characters and stranger situations. Of course for the audience, the answer as to what’s really going on is fairly obvious almost from the get-go, so we’re really just watching our protagonist put the pieces together. Whether that’s worth watching largely depends on your tolerance for surrealistic set pieces in a film that feels like a talented but rough around the edges David Lynch fan remaking CARNIVAL OF SOULS.

In all honesty, it’s debatable whether this truly qualifies as a horror film, but I found it in the horror section on Fandor, it’s rife with gory and/or horrific imagery, and since I watched the whole thing and only have so much time in the month, it’s getting included in my 31 Days of Halloween marathon for this year. And let’s face it, aside from the hardiest of arthouse aficionados, horror fans are pretty much the only ones willing to watch a movie in which characters nonchalantly pee blood and vomit up black goo while laughing, to name just two of the gruesome sights on display.

Friday, October 2, 2015

The Kindergarten Teacher (opens in Akron October 2nd exclusively at The Nightlight Cinema)

[THE KINDERGARTEN TEACHER opens in Akron on Friday October 2nd exclusively at The Nightlight Cinema.]

Review by Bob Ignizio

Israeli kindergarten teacher Nira (Sarit Larry) is an artistic soul married to a working class guy who has little interest in or understanding of her passions. Nor does she stand out much in her poetry club, her own writing talents being minimal. Things change when Nira discovers one of her students, Yoav (Avi Shnaidman), is a child prodigy of sorts who, when struck with sudden inspiration, goes into a trance like state and begins reciting poems for his nanny (Ester Rada) to write down. Nira “borrows” one of Yoav’s poems for her poetry group, gaining newfound respect from her the group leader, and a greater confidence in herself. But things soon escalate from mere plagiarism into something far more disturbing as Nira goes to increasing extremes to “protect” Yoav from a modern day Israel, and a modern world, she views as being hostile to poets.

On the one hand, THE KINDERGARTEN TEACHER is a creepily effective portrait of obsession in which a woman who seeks to escape the banality of her own existence by appropriating the genius of a child prodigy, and ultimately by appropriating the child himself. On the other hand, it’s meant to be an allegory for a world that has no use for poets and artists, the need to protect such individuals from being stifled, and the futility of doing so. Both aspects of the film are undermined by a subdued, realistic tone that clashes with the film’s growing implausibility, culminating in a final act that veers into “B” thriller territory, yet still tries to be taken seriously. It also doesn’t help that there’s an awful lot of padding in the film’s two hour running time. 2 ½ out of 4 stars.

Greater Cleveland Film Commission Welcomes "The Bye Bye Man" To Cleveland

[Press release from the Greater Cleveland Film Commission.]

The Greater Cleveland Film Commission is happy to announce that the film "The Bye Bye Man" has arrived in Cleveland to prep for filming in November.

Ivan Schwarz, President of the Greater Cleveland Film Commission said, "The Greater Cleveland Film Commission is excited that another film has decided to film here and help us continue with our mission to build a year round industry in Cleveland and Northeast, Ohio. So far we have created 1,729 full time equivalent jobs, have had an economic impact of $400 million and a return on investment of $2.01."

The supernatural thriller's director is Stacy Title ("Snoop Dogg's Hood Of Horror," "Let The Devil Wear Black," "The Last Supper"), and was written by Jonathan Penner ("Let The Devil Wear Black") from a short story by Robert Damon Schneck, "The Bridge To Body Island", which recounts a series of terrifying events experienced by three Wisconsin college students in the 1990s.

Trevor Macy of Intrepid Pictures ("The Strangers," "Safe House," "Oculus") is producing along with Jeffrey Soros and Simon Horsman of The Los Angeles Media Fund ("The Disappointments Room"), and executive producer Seth William Meier ("Cooties," "The Briefcase").

The film stars Doug Jones ("Hellboy," "Pan's Labyrinth"), Douglas Smith ("Vinyl," "Terminator: Genisys," "Ouija"), Cressida Bonas ("Dr. Thorne," "Tulip Fever") and Lucien Laviscount ("Scream Queens," "Coco").

Cleveland Cinemas Serves Up a Ghoulish Slate of Films in October

 [Press release from Cleveland Cinemas.]

October promises to be a terrifying month for movie-goers in Cleveland thanks to the scary line-up of creepy and occasionally kooky films presented at various Cleveland Cinemas locations.

Sleeping With Other People (opens in Cleveland October 2nd exclusively at the Cedar Lee Theatre)

[SLEEPING WITH OTHER PEOPLE opens in Cleveland on Friday October 2nd exclusively at the Cedar Lee Theatre.]

Review by Bob Ignizio

He’s an affable womanizer who intentionally sabotages all his relationships by cheating whenever things start to get too serious. She’s obsessed with a married gynecologist who can’t make up his mind if he even wants to keep the affair going. Years ago they lost their virginity to each other. Now they meet up again at a 12 step program for people with sex addictions and wind up becoming platonic best friends. But could the connection between these two go deeper than just friendship? This is a romantic comedy, what do you think?

SLEEPING WITH OTHER PEOPLE is yet another one of those movies in which two characters spend almost the whole movie dealing with one contrivance after another before inevitably realizing what the audience has known all along: they’re perfect for each other. It’s a formula, to be sure, but one that continues to work, especially when you have two leads as winning as Jason Sudekis and Allison Brie are here. 

31 Days of Halloween 2015: Creep (on Netflix Instant and VOD)

[31 Days of Halloween 2015: CREEP is now available on Netflix Instant and VOD. Not on Blu-Ray/DVD as of this writing.]

Review by Bob Ignizio

Down-on-his-luck filmmaker Aaron (Patrick Brice) answers a Craigslist ad to follow Josef (Mark Duplass) around and film him in CREEP, the new “mumblecore” horror flick from writer/director/star Brice and co-writer/producer/star Duplass. At first Josef presents himself as a dad dying of cancer who wants to record messages to his son for posterity, but it isn’t long before that’s revealed to be a lie. Josef claims he’s just a lonely guy looking to make a connection, but there’s something about him that’s just, well, creepy. But beyond needing the money, Aaron’s just too nice a guy to simply cut out on his employer despite his nagging suspicions that the guy is more than a bit off. Sometimes it’s not a good idea to ignore your gut instincts.

Thursday, October 1, 2015

31 Days of Halloween 2015: Cub (now on video and VOD)

[31 Days of Halloween 2015: CUB, available on VOD and Blu-Ray/DVD from Artsploitation Films]

Review by Bob Ignizio

It sounds like a fairly typical horror film set-up: a group of scouts and their horny troop leaders head off on a camping trip. Due to unforeseen circumstances, they decide not to stay at their assigned campsite and venture a little further into the woods where, unbeknownst to them, danger and terror await. But CUB is not cookie-cutter FRIDAY THE 13TH knock-off. It’s a far nastier, and far more thoughtful animal altogether.

The film’s protagonist is 12 year old Sam (Maurice Luijten). Sam has evidently survived some kind of horrific family tragedy. As a result, he’s a little withdrawn and has a tendency to tell tales, but despite the ordeal his basic decency remains intact. Kids being the cruel bastards they often can be, however, many of Sam’s fellow scouts bully him, including one of the scout leader, Peter (Stef Aerts). The other scout leader, Chris (Titus De Voogdt), and the troop’s chef Jasmijn (Evelien Bosmans) try to look out for Sam, but they can’t always be there.

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Donald Trump would go over well here too: Cinema Wasteland, October 2, 3 and 4.

[Event preview by Charles Cassady, Jr.]

The Strongsville-centered Cinema Wasteland grindhouse-movie, sci-fi/exploitation and drive-in culture convention happens twice every year – which means at least as often as the Browns win. So which one should you patronize this weekend?
Thought so. In the spirit of such movie-memorabilia and nostalgia expos as the Monster Bash in Pittsburgh and DragonCon in Atlanta, Cinema Wasteland is a fan gathering, film marathon, variety show and memorabilia expo at the Holiday Inn Select of Strongsville, devoted to what founder Ken Kish, of Berea, underscores as the B-movie golden era, roughly from the late 1950s to the late 1980s.
Those, affirms Kish, were the glory years of horror, fantasy, science-fiction, Roger Corman, spaghetti westerns, martial-arts, juvenile delinquency melodramas, nudie-cuties, Filipino actioners, Italian "giallo" thrillers, blaxploitation, rock'n'roll and psychedelia, post-nuke car chases, summer-camp sex and slapstick, underground comix-inspired animation and, well, whatever else artists du cinema could make or release quick, cheap and dirty.

Northern Soul (opens in Mentor October 2nd at Great Lakes Stadium 18)

[NORTHERN SOUL opens in Mentor OH on Friday October 2nd at Great Lakes Stadium 18.]

Review by Matt Finley

Fifteen years in the making, NORTHERN SOUL, the debut feature from photographer Elaine Constantine, offers a a loving, warts-and-all trip through the ballrooms and music halls of northern England in the mid-'70s, when small groups of restless youths flocked to hear DJs spin obscure American soul and R&B records.

The biggest challenge for any film that focuses on a such a time- and place-specific subculture is winning over viewers, like myself, who lack first-hand nostalgia for, second-hand knowledge of, and, let's face it, active interest in the underground scene in question.