FRIGHT AT HOME – July 7th, 2015: Arnold, Aliens, Ghosts and Robots!!

This  a week of releases that really spread all across the board, with everything from Scream Factory’s releases of DARK SUMMER and ALIEN OUTPOST, to the Schwarzenegger-led zombie drama MAGGIE, and tons of other films that really give cinephiles a solid amount of variety to choose from. We thought we’d take a few of the films hitting shelves this week and give you fright fanatics a heads up on which ones are ones to pick up and perhaps some of the ones that you might want to wait for Redbox for. Read on!

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ALIEN OUTPOST, ROBOT JOX and  DARK SUMMER (Scream Factory)

Aliens and ghosts and robots fill up Scream Factory’s three releases this week, with Jabbar Raisani’s Fx-driven ALIEN OUTPOST, Stuart Gordon’s ROBOT JOX and the eerie and effective Paul Solet film DARK SUMMER. Both films are very solid entries into their respective genres, with ALIEN OUTPOST going for a military against aliens vibe, while DARK SUMMER revolves around a young man whose obsession gets him under house arrest and must survive being haunted by the ghost of who he had previously stalked.

Raisani’s past in special effects pays off successfully with his gritty tale of soldiers having to fight for their lives, all while dealing with their own issues. It’s a refreshing film, one that never quite feels like a straight up genre film, instead opting for a realistic tone, with a POV/Found Footage vibe that offers an interestingly entertaining time that you don’t get very often from alien films. Closer in tone to THE HURT LOCKER than ALIENS, it’s the combination of the grit and realistic characters that really helps sell the film, and with the very impressive special effects work, ALIEN OUTPOST is a film that is most definitely one the check out.

Alien Outpost Special Features:

  • Audio Commentary By Director/Co-Writer Jabbar Raisani And Director Of Photography/Co-Writer Blake Clifton
  • Interviews With Cast And Crew
  • Deleted Scenes
  • Theatrical Trailer


DARK SUMMER, the sophomore feature from GRACE director Paul Solet, is just another example of Solet’s talented directorial eye, giving horror fans a different approach to the haunted house film, giving them a conflicted protagonist and his friends all trying to free him from being haunted by the girl whose suicide he might have been somewhat responsible for.

It’s a very character driven film, full of great performances from IT FOLLOWS star Keir Gilchrist, Peter Stormare and Stelle Maeve, and a good script by Mike Le. Bypassing the typical hero character in favor of one that as an audience member, you have to learn to be sympathetic towards, DARK SUMMER is a refreshing and completely unique film, filled with VERY beautiful cinematography and a story that instantly grabs you by the collar and leads you into a story that keeps you entertaining, right up until the shocking end.

Dark Summer Bonus Features

  • Audio Commentary with director Paul Solet
  • Atmosphere and Style Featurette
  • Director Paul Solet Featurette
  • The Art of Dark Summer Featurette
  • The Music of Dark Summer Featurette
  • A Conversation with Peter Stormare Featurette
  • The Kids – Cast interviews
  • Theatrical Trailer

Gordon’s ROBOT JOX gives viewers a futuristic landscape filled with countries fighting other countries for ownership of areas, and trades in the fighting with guns or hands for massive robots piloted by men and women in a very pre-PACIFIC RIM or VOLTRON-like way. It’s a very fun movie, one that might take itself a bit too serious at times, but is still a pretty fun ride, filled with some impressively staged robot fighting and fx work.

Like many other films of its type, ROBOT JOX is also about a failed hero trying to redeem himself, and win one for the team, this team with the Alien Nation TV show star Gary Graham playing the hero, and giving a pretty memorable performance.  Supporting performances by Anne-Marie Johnson and a villainous Paul Kolso round the film out, and the tone of the film really does an excellent job taking you back to the days of imagination before CGI, when FX work dealt with miniatures and  and creating things yourself, as opposed to the computer-led approach of a lot of films these days.

ROBOT JOX Blu-ray™ Special Feature:

  • Audio Commentary with Director Stuart Gordon
  • Audio Commentary with Associate Effects Director Paul Gentry, Mechanical Effects Artist Mark Rappaport, and Stop-Motion Animator Paul Jessel
  • Brand-New Interview with Actor Paul Koslo
  • Archival Interviews with Director Stuart Gordon, Pyrotechnic Supervisor Joe Viskocil, Associate Effects Director Paul Gentry, Stop-Motion Animator Paul Jessel and Animation & Effects Artists Chris Endicott and Mark McGee
  • Behind-the-Scenes Footage
  • 2 Still Galleries
  • Trailers

 

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MAGGIE (Lionsgate)

While some viewers might not have been on board with it, the decision to have action legend Arnold Schwarzenegger star in a DRAMA about a man coping with the fact that his daughter has been infected with the zombie virus is, in my opinion, one of the smartest ideas in a long, long time. Gone are the one-liners, crazy explosions and every other cliche that Arnold has come to be known for, and in their place, is a soft, quiet performance that Schwarzenegger hasn’t given fans yet.

A film more about the bond between a man and his daughter and how as a parent, you want to protect your children, raising the question of whether or not one would be able to live with the fact that they would have to kill their kid if they became infected. Arnold is absolutely excellent in the film, and performances by Abigail Breslin and Joely Richardson further pushes the film into a very serious tone, focusing on the relationships of the characters and less on the zombie action that has completely gotten stale by now. It’s great to see a film like MAGGIE and see sides of actors that we aren’t typically used to. Definitely a film to check out.

 BLU-RAY/DVD/DIGITAL HD SPECIAL FEATURES

  • “Making Maggie” Featurette
  • Deleted Scene
  • Cast & Crew Interviews
  • Audio Commentary with Director Henry Hobson

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AWAKEN (Arc Entertainment)

Taking a concept that we’re all very used to by now and putting an organ thieving twist on it, AWAKEN hit DVD this week, and though it may be filled to the brim with quite a few names we’re familiar with, it really doesn’t offer much in terms of originality. When Billie (Natalie Burn, who also produced, scored and did a number of other jobs on the film) wakes up on a beach with no recollection of how she got there, she soon finds a group of people who have had similar things happen to them. On a quest to find her missing sister, Billie must find out why she’s there, who brought her there, and if her sister plays any part in the whole situation.

AWAKEN is full of actors that are instantly recognizable, with everyone from Robert Davi, Vinnie Jones and Edward Furlong, all the way to Daryl Hannah and FIRESTARTER star David Keither each playing a small part in the film. Even with a decently solid cast, the film never operates in a level that we just haven’t seen thus far, with most of the actors looking absolutely bored to be in the film, and even offering quite a few awkward moments (a gun standoff towards the end of the film is unbearably long and just feels oddly paced).

If you don’t ind those pitfalls, then maybe give AWAKEN a watch, but for the most part, it’s heavy on the “been there, done that” side of things.

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THE TOWN THAT DREADED SUNDOWN (Image)

Taking the 1976 true crime horror film and giving it not a remake or a sequel, but somewhat of a “requel”, THE TOWN THE DREADED SUNDOWN, like BOOK OF SHADOWS: BLAIR WITCH 2, has the angle of the original film existing in the world of this film. With the town of Texarkana forever being remembered as the place in which the “Shadow Killer” stalked in the ’40s and immortalized in the ’76 film, the new film deals with a copycat killer, killing people similarly to the way that the real life murderer killed people and how the killings were portrayed in the original film.

What makes the film so problematic, is that it has somewhat of a too much at once approach to it. While the original film was scary, and even funny at times, the new film plays things 100% straight, and just throws too much at you, including the meta-approach that never quite feels right for the film. The kills are bloody, and for the most part pretty intense, but as a whole, it’s just not all too memorable and wastes some good performances by Gary Cole, Joshua Leonard and quite a few other people, with a plot and some twists that never feel like good choices. Everything looks great, and the film offers some of the nicest cinematography of this year, but aside from that, it’s a Redbox kind of movie.