FRIGHT AT HOME Reviews: SONNY BOY, THE LAST WITCH HUNTER, BURROUGHS: THE MOVIE and MORE!!

68390_10151150539704998_897037894_nThis week sees two FRIGHT AT HOME articles because, to be honest, we’ve seen quite a few films lately, ones that have stayed in our heads. This one also sees a documentary about one of the greatest writers of all time, William S. Burroughs. We’ve got quite a few films to cover in this one, and we’re excited to tell you Fright Fanatics all about them. Read on!

 

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SONNY BOY (Dir. Robert Martin Carroll)

One of the craziest films I’ve ever seen, Robert martin Carroll’s SONNY BOY is like a coked-up look at family and insanity. Revolving around a very unconventional family full of colorful characters, the film follows “Sonny Boy”, a kind-napped baby who over the years, grows up and is stored in a cage. Beaten and having his tongue cut out by the demented Slue (MIDNIGHT EXPRESS) , Sonny Boy years for an escape but is used to kill and steam from various people by “Weasel” (CHILD PLAY, EXORCIST III) and Charlie P. (Sydney Lassick, CARRIE, DEEP COVER), two of Slue’s henchmen.

It’s impossible NOT to love SONNY BOY, it’s such a desert-filled genre film, filled with excellent performances from Paul L. Smith, Brad Dourif and David Carradine, who is drag the whole time and acts as Sonny Boy’s mother throughout the film. What makes Carradine’s performance so great is how committed he is to the character of Pearl and his transvestite preferences is not addressed in the film, he just plays the part as if he genuinely was a woman. The family dynamic is an interesting one, with such vivid character filling it up. Dourif is great as Weasel, being sly and dangerous, obviously the most dangerous one, planning and being in my opinion, the strongest character in the film.

A great film and a must own, thanks to the gang at Scream Factory. The supplemental material on the disc is a bit lacking, featuring two new commentaries and the film’s trailer as the only special features. While that might turn some off, what’s so great about this release is how strong the film is, making the lack of some special features not a big deal. If you want to experience a family that wouldn’t be out of place next to THE TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE‘s family, then be sure to pick SONNY BOY up.

 

 

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THE LAST WITCH HUNTER (Dir. Breck Eisner)

Director Breck Eisner (THE CRAZIES) returns with the Vin Diesel-led film, THE WITCH HUNTER, a film that is completely entertaining while watching it, but ultimately lacks the staying power that would make people want to watch it again. Filled with a great cast, including Elijah Wood, HONEYMOON‘s Rose Leslie and the always awesome Michael Caine.

Diesel is Kaulder, a man who, 800 years ago, defeated a witch, but was cursed to live forever. Kaulder’s present day job is hunting Witches who don’t abide by the rules that were made in order to bring peace between witches and humans. By his side, Kaulder has the 36th Dolan (played by Caine), a man who has spent most of his entire life, aiding Kaulder in finding and bringing rogue witches to justice. When the 36th Dolan mysteriously dies during the film’s first ten minutes or so, Kaulder is assigned the 37th Dolan (Elijah Wood), a young man who has waiting his entire life to serve Kaulder. The film leads Kaulder and the 37th Dolan on a mission to solve the mysterious death, and into a witch bar owned by Rose Leslie’s Chloe character. Soon, all three try to solve a huge catastrophe that is impending.

THE LAST WITCH HUNTER is, again, a film that is very fun WHILE you watch it, but doesn’t have anything that stays with you more than the film’s running time.  The action scenes are well done, and Eisner is unquestionably showing that he can make big, stylized films. The supplemental material is quite impressive, with full length looks at the myth, costumes and how the film was made. Definitely one to at least check out.

 

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BURROUGHS: THE MOVIE (Dir. Howard Brookner)

Criterion did a very impressive job, with Howard Brookner’s 1983 documentary, BURROUGHS: THE MOVIE, a film that gives you a look into the mind and surroundings of one of the best writers of all time, William S. Burroughs. What we’re given by Brookner, is a film that is full of stories, recollections and ideas that leave you, as a viewer, absolutely enthralled and hungry.

Filmed over five years, BURROUGHS: THE MOVIE follows Junkie and Naked Lunch author Burroughs around, showing him tell stories to friends like Allen Ginsberg, Terry Southern and Lucien Carr, all of which are very entertained and challenged by Burroughs. He’s such an interesting person to watch, with stories of robbing a bank early in his life, showing the crew how to use weapons, and having William’s friends talk about him and his past. Ginsberg talks of an affair that he and Burroughs had, and we’re eventually told of Burrough’s common law wife, Joan Vollmer, who was accidentally killed during Burroughs and Vollmer’s playing of the “William Tell” game, a game in which one person has to shoot something on top of the other player’s head. While playing the game, Burroughs accidentally shot too low, killing Joan.

It’s impossible not to be completely fascinated by Burroughs, his words and presence hooks you and never lets go, and Criterion’s new Bluray release is a gem. Filled with various special features that not only shows you Burroughs, but also how committed director Howard Brookner was, spending five years filming the doc, a story told by Brooker’s nephew, Aaron. Aaron Brookner tells viewers the story about how the film came up, how committed his uncle was, and recollects the long journey of finding and restoring the film, which was, for a long time, lost.

A documentary for both the avid Burroughs fan and those who simple enjoy great documentaries. It’s full of magic, showing you a legendary writer and how he operated.

 

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PARANORMAL ACTIVITY: THE GHOST DIMENSION (Dir. Gregory Plotkin)

Supposedly the final film in the PARANORMAL ACTIVITY series, GHOST DIMENSION is like similar to Tommy Lee Wallace’s HALLOWEEN 3, in the sense that it’s a great movie, but is ultimately brought down due to the series it’s a part of. Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE the first PARANORMAL ACTIVITY, as well as parts 3 and THE MARKED ONES, but GHOST DIMENSION  would be a better film if it stood alone, without being tied to being a PARANORMAL ACTIVITY.

A family moves into the home of young Katie and Kristi and eventually finds an old video camera and before you know it, an evil spirit begins to terrorize them. What sets GHOST DIMENSION apart from the rest of the films in the series, is the fact that we get to see the spirits, a touch that makes the film unique and refreshing. The daughter of the family is targeted by the entities, and like POLTERGEIST and INSIDIOUS, the parents have to fight to save her.

Proving that the series isn’t dead in the water, this one is a plus, feeling original and featuring some very impressive special effects as well. It might sound odd, but with an entry such as THE GHOST DIMENSION, I’m dying to see more and wanting to see what happened to Katie following the events of PARANORMAL ACTIVITY 4. If the film lacks anything, it’s the fact that it really doesn’t give viewers the “all will be explained” closure it was supposed to. As a film itself, it succeeds, but as an entry into the series, it doesn’t add much. It’s a bummer because it’s a good movie, and if it didn’t have the PA name to it, it would be great on its own.

The Bluray release features the theatrical, unrated and unrated with an alternate ending versions, as well as some “Lost Footage”, deleted scenes that really don’t add much. If you’re a die hard PA fan, then Ghost Dimension will most likely leave you wanting more explanations that you’re given, but if you go into it just wanting an entertaining film, you’re love it.

 

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ALL HALLOWS’ EVE 2 (Dir. Elias Benavidez, Agnes Borghi, Jay Holben, Mike Kochansky, The Kondelik Brothers, Bryan Norton, Antonio Padovan, Ryan Patch and Marc Roussel)

Taking the anthology approach and running with it, RLJ Entertainment has a gift for the anthology lovers, but unfortunately, it ends up being more of a curse than a blessing. Bypassing the killer clown of the first film and giving viewers a figure with a pumpkin mask, the film’s wraparound is somewhat pointless and the films themselves don’t gel well together. Feeling more like someone collected multiple short films, put them together and called it ALL HALLOWS’ EVE 2. The worst part of the film is how strong of an opening it has, with the Bryan Norton and Antonio Padovan-helmed “Jack Attack.” A short from 2013, Jack Attack tells the story of Elizabeth (V/H/S and BODY star Helen Rogers), a young woman babysitting a kid, all while dealing with her boyfriend. When Elizabeth shows the kid how to carve pumpkin, all breaks loose and you’re given a very gory and unexpected treat.

The unfortunate case of having such a strong opening segment is that as a viewer, you’re expecting the entire film to be that. What you’re given with ALL HALLOWS’ EVE 2, is an exciting first short, and a series of underwhelming others. There’s technological horror in Spanish without subtitles, a carnival gone wrong and quite a few others, all of which never live up to Norton and Padovan’s segment. The film is literally a bunch of short films (some over three years old) all throw together for no reason other to cash in on how genre lovers loved the first film.

With how many anthology films hitting the market these days, filmmakers are having to step to the plate and trying their hardest to hit a home run. Unfortunately, ALL HALLOWS’ EVE 2 doesn’t hit that home run,…it strikes out.