FRIGHT AT HOME – August 4th: Snakes, Bears, Zombies and Cannibals!!

IconsOfFright_Logo (1)This week sees quite a few releases hitting shelves/stores, with everything from giant snakes fighting giant crocs to post-apocalyptic survival and hey, there’s even some killer bears and cannibals thrown in for good measure. We thought we’d shine the spotlight on a few of the standout genre (and a couple of non-genre) films that are available to pick up today, and while we’ve tackled some of them already (INNER DEMONSBURYING THE EX and WYRMWOOD: ROAD OF THE DEAD), we’ve got the rundown on the rest for you fright fanatics!


 

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ALWAYS WATCHING: A Marble Hornets Story (Anchor Bay/Gravitas Ventures)

A feature film based on the popular (and creepy) Marble Hornets series, ALWAYS WATCHING brings the series and the eerie Slender Man into your DVD players, with a found footage-like tale revolving around a trio of reporters that get caught up in something way over their heads.  There’s a strong presence of foreboding dread in this one, and the building tension leads to a good series of shocks and scares that really make the film a fun one.

Following Milo (FREDDY VS. JASON/BROKEN HORSES star Chris Marquette), a young cameraman/editor for a small news channel, and his adoration for his coworker Sara (Alexandra Breckenridge, The Walking Dead, American Horror Story) and jealousy over Charlie (Jake McDorman, AMERICAN SNIPER, LIVE FREE OR DIE HARD) , the new coworker that Sara is more interested in, ALWAYS WATCHING is a film that while very familiar, is able to do a great job of standing on its own. We’ve all seen the entity driving a film’s main characters crazy and having them turn on each other, but what this film does is make you as a viewer care about the trio, making it easy to latch onto them and their eerie plight. Marquette does a great job as Milo, and with this film and the recent BROKEN HORSES, it’s great to see the range as an actor that he has, something that really leads the film. As the trio investigate a series of foreclosed homes, they’re led to one that ends up having not been foreclosed, but completely abandoned and making things even worse, they find a box of of tapes detailing the family’s life.

Finding anything in a horror film is a bad sign, so when the tapes begin showing the mysterious figure that we know as Slender Man (HELLBOY/PAN’S LABYRINTH creature actor Doug Jones), as a viewer, you know things are only going to go downhill from there. It’s a creepy little film with some good performances and  some interesting angles that set it apart from the countless other POV/Found Footage films out there.

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LAKE PLACID VS ANACONDA (Sony Pictures Home Entertainment)

Capitalizing on the recent VS. craze, LAKE PLACID VS. ANACONDA doesn’t pit a whole lake against a snake like the title would suggest (I get that it’s meant to be the crocs from the LAKE PLACID series, but the film’s title is just an easy target for a joke), but an all out weird feud between the lake’s crocs and special genetically altered hybrids of massive snakes and crocodiles.

What made the first LAKE PLACID and ANACONDA films fun to watch, is the fact that like the ’80s gem, ALLIGATOR, they felt like normal films that just happened to have a huge croc or snake involved. Now, with this film, the genetically altered reptiles going head to head with not only each other but with Robert Englund, Yancy Butler and Corin Nemec as well, just feels like a SyFy film that is cashing in on the MEGASHARK or whatever other hybrid team up that SyFy or The Asylum is doing this month.

If you’re a fan of those films, you’ll probably really dig this one, with Englund playing a patch-wearing badass combined with quite a few moments of CGI mayhem. The crocs and snakes eat up tons of people, mostly a group of sorority sisters that you’re DYING to see get eaten, but even with Englund involved, it just feels like a been there, done that offering.

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INNERSPACE (Warner Bros.)

One of the most enjoyable comedies from the ’80s, Joe Dante’s INNERSPACE finally hits Bluray, and though it’s light in the supplemental features area (a commentary from Dante and a few others is on it, but aside from that, nada) , the film itself makes picking this one up well worth it.

Following Tuck Pendleton, a washed up pilot (Dennis Quaid) that is shrunk to microscopic size for experimentation on a rabbit, but is accidentally injected into anxiety-filled grocery clerk Jack Putter (Martin Short), INNERSPACE takes that twist and runs with it, giving its viewer one hell of a comedy. Short’s physical comedy chops really shine in this one, with his character thinking he’s possessed at first, when Pendleton begins to speak to him. Soon after, the duo become entangled in an espionage plot, and the film begins a comedic action film, something like a Jerry Lewis and Dean Martin tale, but updated for the ’80s.

Also adding to the mix, is Meg Ryan’s reporter character Lydia, one that joins in on the fun when she spots Putter driving Pendleton’s car (her character is Tuck’s ex girlfriend that he regrets letting down). It’s a good example of a trio of actors all doing excellent jobs of knowing great comedic timing, and the film really feels like a Dante film, something is unique and refreshing when watching films directed by him. Fiona Lewis, Kevin McCarthy, Vernon Wells and Robert Picardo as the film’s villains are all memorable and do such a good job making the film feel like a successful ensemble comedy, one filled with some impressive visual effects (it won an Oscar for them) and clever writing.

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THE LAST SURVIVORS (Dark Sky Films)

It’s hard to make a good post apocalyptic film, and THE LAST SURVIVORS is an example of doing it right. Telling the story of Kendal (Haley Lu Richardson), a young girl who lives with her boyfriend, Dean (Booboo Stewart, X-MEN: FIRST CLASS) in a desolate, desert wasteland, one with almost no water whatsoever. Needing some H2O to survive, Kendal searches through the abandoned residences, farms and whatever else is around, in an attempt to find a way to survive.

Already interesting based on the film’s setup, THE LAST SURVIVORS becomes a bloody and sometimes savage film of survival, when we’re introduced to Carson (a calm, yet mean as hell performance by Jon Gries), a man who is control of the surroundings and who lives and dies, being the owner of the only source of flowing water around. Wanting the water supply for his crew and himself, Carson travels from abandoned home to abandoned home, looking for survivors of the drought and dispatching them one by one. With having to make sure she doesn’t die herself, along with caring for her dying boyfriend, Kendal is forced to take on Carson and his crew, and the aftermath is a post-apocalyptic bloody time.

It’s a real standout film, one that feels very original and never feels like it’s lifting from another movie. Good supporting performances by THE CROW‘s Michael Masse, RE-ANIMATOR/YOU’RE NEXT‘s Barbara Crampton and the young Max Charles, THE LAST SURVIVORS is a film that is definitely one this week’s release highlights.

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APPETITES (RLJ Entertainment)

This film is, without a doubt, the weirdest and most insane movie to hit shelves today. It’s so weird that I can see why people would absolutely hate it, but with that being said, I can also see why people (such as myself) would love it: it’s THAT odd. A film about murderous and cannibal siblings hunting people down is already a wild time, but when you throw in a singer/songwriter serial killer who comes into town and becomes smitten with one of the cannibals, you get more than your share of nuts.

APPETITES is a movie that you can tell doesn’t care about what people think of it, it’s such an interesting and bloody time, that you can’t help but to watch it with your eyes WIDE open, the carnage and the singing while providing said carnage is something that is unusual, but is completely entertaining. I’d compare the tone of the film to that of weird cult classics like the Reese Witherspoon-led FREEWAY, but with people chopping into each other, a serial killer playing the spoons on a girl’s ass before killing her, and a banshee-like lead that is one of the toughest female murderers that I’ve seen in a film in quite some time.

Bret Roberts’ serial killer John Doe character is like Jim Morrison as a murderer and Lauren Parkinson’s Daisy is his match times twelve. Throw in a funny cameo from character actor James Duval, and an appearance by porn star Bonnie Rotten, and you’ve got the ingredients for one trippy and in your face musical murder tale. Good good stuff.

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INTO THE GRIZZLY MAZE (Sony Pictures Home Entertainment)

Having gone through at least four name changes over the last two years, the Thomas Jane, Billy Bob Thornton, James Marsden and Piper Perabo-led INTO THE GRIZZLY MAZE is finally out and is it worth the wait? Hell yes it is. Having such a large cast would be the first sign to pick this one up, and watching them all do such great jobs giving the film’s viewers such an intense ride would be the second.

Revolving around two estranged brothers, one a peaceful and settled down police officer played by Thomas Jane, and the other a pissed off and grudge-filled brawler played by James Marsden, INTO THE GRIZZLY MAZE does a great job setting up its characters before unleashing one monstrous bear into the film’s woods. When multiple attacks begin to happen, the dilemma of the brother who would rather not harm the bear and that of Marsden’s “I don’t care”-like approach is a fun one, and when you throw in Billy Bob Thornton as a real bastard who hunts down whatever he wants and doesn’t care about any laws trying to stop him into the mix, you’ve got a pretty entertaining film.

What makes INTO THE GRIZZLY MAZE so much fun is the attacks are brutal and in your face, and the acting is great all around, with solid support from Perabo, Scott Glenn and a few others. Also impressive, is Bart the Bear as the dreaded Red Machine, a bear who destroys everything in his way. Bart is terrifying and when he strikes, we get some really horrific makeup fx work to admire as well.

It’s a fun movie that never feels silly, an intense ride full of atmosphere and excitement. INTO THE GRIZZLY MAZE is one that you fright fanatics should check out ASAP.