Thursday, December 3, 2015

Review of "Name" - a Short Post-Zombie-Apocalypse Film

What’s in a name? For our lead protagonist, the one thing she can’t remember about the man she loved, a man who died violently from an outbreak that decimated the human race, is his name. All the memories of shared laughs, tears, and lust are there — but why can she not just remember his name?

The irony of this short film, directed by Jeremy M. Brown, is that neither the man or the woman who are the focus of this story, have a name. They are credited neatly as “Woman” and “Man”. But as Woman continues to dwell over emotional memories of what love and life were like before the end of mankind, which has left her stranded and alone in a desolate world, she struggles to remember just that one last detail: what was his name?

Review of "The Mayo Conspiracy"

Promoted as a mockumentary of the seedy underbelly of the condiment industry, The Mayo Conspiracy highlights the cartel referred to as “Big Mayo” and their grip on America’s condiment usage. How much power could Big Mayo hold over the public? If you believe the facts revealed in this film, Big Mayo had hands in some of the biggest events in American history, from the JFK Assassination, to the CIA’s clandestine attack on the ghettos, to the Bill Clinton/Monica Lewinsky scandal, and the most recent controversy over the newly passed Affordable Care Act promoted by President Obama.

The white devil’s condiment is just one tool wielded by the condiment establishment to keep control over the populace, but it’s unobtrusive nature makes it one of the most powerful. The typical citizen may not have any idea how ingrained in our society mayo has become, and while this film is satirical in nature, this reviewer believes that the filmmakers have used their jokes to hide some disturbing facts in a way that gets the word out to investigative viewers while protecting themselves from the mayo cartel’s vengeance.

Sunday, October 4, 2015

Review of "The Throbbit"

I know what you’re thinking already, yes “The Throbbit” is a “re-imagining” of “The Hobbit”, but definitely not the XXX version I originally thought by the title. This feature-length spoof film just barely ranks around a PG-13. It contains a good bit of adult humor, but in the way of innuendos and word-play rather than anything explicit.

Now, I may not be the best reviewer to write about a film that spoofs a trilogy (I only saw the first and fell asleep mid-way) which itself is based on a classic book (that I haven’t read). My apologies if I miss glaringly obvious references to the original material (either Tolkien or Jackson). What I can appreciate, though, is the grand set design, costuming, puppetry, and for the micro-budget fan film that this is, the achievements in special effects and camerawork that were able to pull the audience into just as magical of worlds as the Peter Jackson films (I did see the trailers at least, as well as the LOR Trilogy).

Director Timothy Alan Richardson did not have the production team and post-production studios that Peter Jackson did, however he still manages to bring Dweebs, Gooblins (more than just goblins), a David Bowie inspired Gooblin King, flying beagles, a nation of Elfises in a Las Vegas style Rippendell, and a drag(on) queen to life.

Monday, September 14, 2015

Review of "The Jersey Devil"

* Finally, a Faith-Based Christian Film with some meat to it! *

“The Jersey Devil” plays fast and loose with the details of any particular biblical source, but that doesn’t make this film any less worthy as a spiritual guide to help viewers on a path towards an afterlife without all the guilt associated with following any moral code.

Starring Jack Mulcahy as Lucifer and Keith Collins as James Burnett, the demented soul who is recruited to take over the reigns of Hell from Lucifer so that he can retire and enjoy himself a little bit. Along for the ride is Richard (Edvin Ortega), a recently lost soul with a crippling porn addiction and no backbone who James recruits to be his new Devil’s Advocate. Once Lucifer hands over the keys to the kingdom below, James’ first order of business is to relocate Hell to somewhere new and put a “fresh face” on Hell to entice more souls. His choice? Jersey City, NJ. Lucifer instantly regrets his decision to retire, and follows the new Satan to drag him back to the original Hell.

The film is being released by the Shami Media Group and will be available in stores and online on October 27th.

Official Trailer:
On Facebook:

Monday, August 3, 2015

Review of "Nuclear Neighborhood"

“Nuclear Neighborhood” is a film that looks & feels like it came from graduates of Troma University; a sci-fi/horror film made with little budget but plenty of fun and creativity. Within no time, Matthew J Oliver’s film jumps right into the meat & bones of the story.

Dan’s girlfriend is kidnapped by a strange man in a creeper van, and Dan’s friends conclude that she’s being kept in the weird apartment building up the road. Weird because all kinds of unexplained activity and an assortment of trippy, deformed people that seem to inhabit the building. As it turns out, radioactivity is the root cause of the eerie phenomenon, but this info isn’t enough to keep Dan and crew from breaking in to save his girl. As the team splits up, they encounter monsters, booby traps, and misunderstood freaks of nature as they get deeper into the madness and closer to the villain who took Dan’s woman.

“Nuclear Neighbordhood” will be screening at the Art Theatre of Long Beach on Thursday August 6th @ 9pm, The Dark Room Theatre in San Francisco on Sunday Aug 9th @ 7pm, and Movie at LoBot Gallery in Oakland, Ca on Sat August 8th @ 9pm.

Official Trailer:

Facebook Page:

IMDB Page:

Review of "Intrigue", a Short Film

With light-hearted fun, director Mikel J. Wisler brings the audience into a campy spy thriller, and just when you think you think you’ve figured out each of the possible ways the story can go, he pulls the rug out from you in the most unexpected way, bringing some very authentic laughter and finishing the short movie in a most relatable way.

Friday, July 3, 2015

Review of "Malady", a European downer with plenty of sex

“Malady” is a dark & moody film, slow to build, and very light on the dialogue, but luckily there’s plenty of sex to stave off any depression. It’s on the verge of being an art film, as the nearly 1hr-40min. running time has only about 15 minutes of story within, and even adding to that the 20 minutes of sex, the audience is still left with over an hour of the director/cinematographer basically getting off on his own shot compositions. Granted, the camerawork is often stunning, but there’s just too much “hang time” between any pivotal moments that I found it easy to fall out of the film completely and start to check on things like my laundry, the dishes, and if the pets were fed. If not for the repeated impromptu sex, I may have never finished this film at all.

The story itself is intriguing at first, although more in the way of “why would she even…” than, “ooh, what is this about and where is it going.” The story opens with an attractive girl who is heartbroken at the death of her mother. When she goes out for a meal, she sees a random guy who has all the warning signs of a natural creep: vacant eyes, unkempt beard, and he is a scab-picker. So, against the whim of any intelligent woman, she tracks him down, they have a staring contest, and she decides to go back to his flat with him, no words spoken. Then they fuck – and they fuck a lot in this film. But where Holly should have written this experience off as a one-night stand, her Catholic guilt (or Protestant guilt, or whichever other guilt comes from wearing a cross around your neck) seems to persuade her to stay with Matthew, likely with the idea that she can help him in some way, any way.

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

An Interview with David Conley, Cinematographer & Director

With “Mad Max: Fury Road” currently blowing audiences hair back nationwide, I wanted to revisit another post-apocalyptic action film, very much inspired by George Millers previous Mad Max films, “Bounty Killer” (2013). You can read two previous reviews of the film itself here and here, but for this issue I sat down with cinematographer David Conley to talk about his contribution to the film as well as upcoming projects of his own.

LA: Bounty Killer is packed with action – from the fight sequences to car & motorcycle chases. What were some of the camera toys & tools that made it possible to get the coverage you and Henry Saine needed?

DC: Bounty Killer is definitely packed with a ton of action and shooting the movie was no different. Henry and I decided the movie needed a very active camera. I operated a Steadicam Flyer on nearly every scene in the film. On top of that we used a Jimmy Jib, which can go around 40 feet high, but my favorite toy we had was the Ultimate Arm. It is a black Mercedes SUV with a crane arm on the top. The car takes three operators: The driver, the crane arm operator, and the camera operator who calls all of the shots. In the right hands It is capable of capturing some of the most dynamic shots you can think of. Luckily for me, George Peters, who is one of the founders and an incredibly experienced operator with a long list of major credits, came out to operate the camera for me. It was a great pleasure directing him and watching him work. If you haven’t seen Bounty Killer, you most likely saw some of the Ultimate Arm’s handiwork on “Skyfall,” which was the movie they worked on just before.

Saturday, May 2, 2015

Review of "Wipeout", a short film

A man with chronic Obsessive Compulsive Disorder falls in love with a beautiful female jogger, and takes up running in a bid to win her heart.

Made in 7 days in conjunction with the Aarhus Short Film Challenge 2014 in Denmark, this silent film is full of heart and plenty of chuckles.

Review of "The Unearthing"

The Unearthing is the first feature film from writer/director Tristan James Jensen. It plays like a PG version of Stephen King’s “IT” – a small group of random teens become friends, discover love for one another, and fight a supernatural evil. Unlike “IT”, however, “The Unearthing” is not a horror film, but a coming-of-age tale wrapped in a ghost story.

The movie starts off by introducing Autumn, who is traveling with her dad to Stillwater, Minnesota for the Summer. After her first night, she awakes to find Charlotte, a local girl, sitting at her beside, drawing in sketchbook. While initially shocking, it seems that Charlotte is good-intentioned and just looking to help Autumn make some friends in a new town. She invites Autumn on a hike, where they happen upon an awkward and shy boy, Parker. Autumn reluctantly becomes friends with these two, mostly thanks to Charlotte’s pushy optimism, and they invite her to explore the town, including the Warden’s House Museum, where Autumn gets her first taste of the supernatural.

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Review of "Reverb", a short film

Pill-popper Helia has just lost her boyfriend, and is living in a big empty house all by herself. The first night we meet Helia, she is annoyed by late-night phone call attempts from her ex, “Cupcake” (although she denies to friends having heard from him). Soon, though, she is soon more disturbed by a creepy presence outside her home at night. Could it be her ex, hoping to get some of his things? Could it be some new stalker, or could it just be her imagination? She is a pill-popper, remember… (and over the course of the first 3 days, she doesn’t seem to change her shorts – if I were her boyfriend, I would’ve bailed too). One day, though, when we don’t see Helia take her pills, things start to get a bit more wild, and whomever has been outside her house (or on the fringes of her mind?) gets closer.

Review of "World Spins Madly On" - hipster cell-phone commercial or art film?

This short is wonderfully shot by Roger Metcalf, but it feels like an extended Verizon commercial that Director Jeremy Jed Hammel wanted to fit at least 3 of his favorite indie bands’ songs into (though he bested my sarcasm by actually fitting 5 in).

The highlight of this short came from the performances of the 2 guys behind the main character in line at the crosswalk (Dennis Hurley and Quentin James, from Friends of Gertrude). Whether written or improvised, their comedic banter was the only point of realism in this fairy tale – reminding viewers not to take the short too seriously.

Monday, March 2, 2015

Review of "Bounty Killer" - A fun-as-f*** thrill-ride through a dystopian wasteland

In an alternate universe (or the near future), where corporations have taken control over world governments and destroyed civilization through the latest batch of corporate sponsored world wars, the remaining people’s only hope lay in the hands of a select crew of Bounty Killers.

These bounty killers are sanctioned by the grassroots “Council of Nine” to execute all white-collar criminals, and compete with one another to see who can stack up the highest body count (and sign the most autographs for their adoring fans). The two top bounty killers are Drifter (Matthew Marsden) and Mary Death (Christian Pitre), best friends and sometime lovers – but when word gets out that the “Council of Nine” has issued a death warrant for Drifter, Mary Death is forced to decide what matters most – money & fame, or true love.

Review of "Sad Clown", a short film

What do you do if your job is to make people laugh, but you can’t find joy for yourself? 
I recently watched Jason ’P. Schumacher’s short film, “Sad Clown”, a new 11-minute story featuring the tortured but treasured and timeless character. The film opens with a professional clown, putting on his makeup before a live show. The ringmaster enters and is alarmed, as this clown is not wearing a big red smile, but instead is in the process of painting on a frown and little blue teardrops. How can this be? With the show only moments from starting, what can be done to make this clown change his mood?

While in the traditional story of the clown and the doctor, we never know why the clown is depressed, but in “Sad Clown”, we learn the history… a jovial clown, once in love with a beautiful lady clown, has had his happiness whisked away by the whizz-bang flash of the circus magician… or should I say, illusionist? And now, this poor clown has no joy left to share with the world.

Review of "A Killer Conversation"

“What’s the use of having an ‘almost’ shitty life? The ‘almost’ is hardly any consolation, is it?”
A Killer Conversation, written by Michael Haberfelner and directed by David V G Davies, stars Melanie Denholme (also serving as producer), Ryan Hunter, and Rudy Barrow.

It takes less than 1 minute for Karl (Hunter) to hear a knock at the door, and upon answering, be knocked out by a burglar (Barrow) who then enters Karl’s flat with plans to rob and kill him. Before getting to the plundering, however, the burglar is a bit hungry and decides to keep Karl alive for a few moments so that the burglar can enjoy some company as he eats the meal that Karl had just been preparing for himself.

Thus begins this absurd dark comedy, where the burglar and Karl philosophize about life, love, and proper manners around Karl’s kitchen table. The burglar even promises to do the dishes after he kills Karl, so that when the neighbors find his body, they don’t judge him as a filthy beast.

Monday, February 2, 2015

Review of "54 Days" - A Successful Experiment in Rugged Filmmaking

At the beginning of this gritty Sci-Fi drama, diplomats are fleeing Beijing and Moscow as Washington is increasing sanctions against the East. Meanwhile, a posh party among social elites is getting underway on a downtown Sydney rooftop. Just as things seem to be getting off to a good start – boom! International war breaks out and everyone must flee for shelter against nuclear and chemical weapons!

The main characters, led by Nick (Michael Drysdale), find their way to an old bomb shelter and lock themselves inside, barely in time to protect from a chemical agent that has been dropped on major cities worldwide. Cutoff from the world, these 5 survivors must find a way to survive until the fallout has dissipated safely, though they don’t know when that will be. Lack of resources leads the survivors to succumb to their primal survival instincts, and things begin to turn deadly.

Review of "How I Buried My Ex-Boyfriend's Body"

“The perfect crime… kind of… not really”

An action comedy from Fat Foot Films, directed by Dennis Nadeau, “How I Dumped My Ex-Boyfriend’s Body” (HIDMEBB) tells the story of Maxine and Shae as they look for a way to discretely dispose of a dead body, Maxine having accidentally killed her ex-boyfriend during an argument. Missteps along the way push the girls to ask Shae’s cousin Mikey (who has underground connections) for help. He recommends a “fixer” by the name of Tony, a cleaner for the mob. When Tony shows up, he is not at all what the girls expected, but does his job disposing of the body and covering all their tracks. The girls mistakenly believed that Tony did the job as a favor, when in reality, now they owe Tony $10,000, which they don’t have. This sets them off on another adventure to try and get that money before Tony comes back to collect.  All along the way, Maxine’s weird neighbor with an obsessive crush, Roger, bumbles in & out of their mess, creating even more missteps for our leading ladies.

This was a fun and raunchy comedy, made on the lowest of budgets. All the proper elements of a film combine well to prove Dennis Nadeau is a talented comedy director. While some of the story jokes are easy to pre-read, that doesn’t make them any less effective. The pacing of the action along with the camerawork and editing are spot-on for good comedic timing. The dialogue between the characters is witty and fun all the way through, however, I got the feeling (correctly) that even though the lead characters are women, the script was written by a man.  Not that there’s anything wrong with that (as George Constanza would say), and I know many women that are as crude or worse than their male counterparts, but it seems men have a tendency to steer any situation towards a dick joke when possible. However, in this case, I think it worked in the film’s benefit to have leading ladies rather than leading men, as it would have been a sausage-fest otherwise, but also it’s nice to see women in less stereotypical roles.