Haunted Overload is one of the very best Haunted Attractions. 2013 Season Review
SHOCKTOBER 2015 BEGINS: Doc Manson reviews the furry creature feature, Zombeavers!

[REC] 2 - Movie Review - SHOCKTOBER 2015 - Movie #4

Doc Manson returns to his roots for the month of October, taking the Horror Movie Challenge. The quest before him? To watch 31 horror movies in 31 days. And to be extra ambitious, try to write something about each one on this website. So far, so good. We're through movie #4, which is the foreign import [REC] 2.

The film is a sequel to the Spanish film [REC], a well-made zombie-infection type movie with a twist. I previously reviewed the first film, and you can refresh yourself on the series by clicking here. Go ahead, I'll wait for you to come back.

Alright, so let's be clear: here, there by spoilers! If you don't want the end of [REC] spoiled for you, you will need to stop reading here. The wrinkle introduced into the zombie infection formula at the end of that film plays prominently into the plot of the sequel which necessitates talking about that development at length.

Last warning, SPOILERS AHEAD!

Alright, so, the zombies aren't just zombies. Turns out that the infested apartment building is the site of ongoing scientific experimentation run by a doctor associated with the Vatican. His research project? Finding the molecular basis for demonic possession. Unfortunately, the doctor did his job a little too well, isolating an enzyme found in the blood and saliva that is able to transmit like a virus. The infected folks aren't just zombies, they're possessed by one demon whose consciousness co-habitates all of the infected folk simultaneously.

Demon zombie hive-mind, then? Got it? Good.

The sequel picks up right where the first one leaves off -literally, with the same shot. The action picks up with a new group of characters, a SWAT team escorting a Ministry of Health official into the apartment building. The film is still filmed in the found-footage or shaky-cam style, although the SWAT team has some interesting picture in picture capable equipment that provides unique view points that I hadn't previously seen in films of this types. Definitely bonus points for innovative cinematography.

The film also splits its runtime between a second group of characters. Scenes play out from multiple angles and perspectives, and time has a way of skipping back and forth. It's rather satisfying to realize that you're watching a scene play out from a parallel perspective, and to piece together the continuity on your own. The script is smart and it keeps the film engaging.

Much like the first [REC], the sequel is a great film. The only issue is, once again, they introduce new information during the closing minutes of the film. As a viewer that likes to try to piece together stories, I'm conflicted by the continued use of this device by the [REC] series. Like an Agatha Christie novel that deliberately denies you information, I felt somewhat cheated as the credits began to roll. Don't get me wrong, I like being surprised, but I hate it when the rules are suddenly changed. I'm mostly just hoping that the same formula isn't applied to the third film in the series.

A Kiss to Remember

I hope to find out for sure later this month -both [REC] 3 and [REC] 4 are currently on Netflix Instant Streaming!

Minor complaints aside, this film was good. GOOD. Four out of four Bruces.

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Housebound - Movie Review - SHOCKTOBER 2015 - Movie #3

Doc Manson is back writing at the B-Movie Geek for SHOCKTOBER 2015! The quest? To watch 31 horror movies in 31 days. Today, we're talking about movie #3, a horror-comedy from New Zealand, Housebound, which is readily available for your consumption via Netflix Instant Streaming.

Housebound tells the story of wayward youth, Kylie Bucknell (Morgana O'Reilly), whom, after a botched ATM robbery during the film's opening minutes, finds herself sentenced to house arrest at her mother and step-father's creepy old house in the country. The disaffected youth has some difficulty adjusting to the quiet life back at home and, before Kylie has a chance to settle in, inexplicable happenings begin to occur. Before long it seems that the old country home might have some unwanted guests that never quite managed to vacate the premises after an untimely, violent end - if you get my ghostly drift.

I won't go into too many more details about the plot, as the film unfolds into a rather clever and satisfying little tale. Beyond the plot, then, I'd like to mention that the film has the honor of being one of the more subtle horror-comedies that I've seen in some time. Numerous events happen, but unlike a lot of films where slapstick elements rue the day, Housebound manages to keep an understated tone throughout its most humorous scenes. It comes across as a dry sense of humor, maybe unsurprising given the film's country of origin. It was a refreshing change from the more obliquely obvious comedic elements found in most other film's from the horror-comedy genre.

Shh! No spoilers here!

I feel like this review is a little short, but it's difficult to talk any more about the film without spoiling some elements of the plot. Given that I enjoyed the storytelling on display, I hesitate to spoil anything more here. Instead, I think I would encourage you to watch Housebound yourself. It's something of a slow burn, but the subtle humor gives it an energy that you don't often find.

The only other thing I'll say is to watch out for that cheese grater. Yeah, it gets used, and it gets used exactly like you think it will.


Three out of four Bruces.

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See No Evil 2 - Movie Review - SHOCKTOBER 2015: Movie #2

It's October and the B-Movie Geek, Doc Manson, is back to take the #Shocktober challenge! The quest? To watch 31 horror movies in the 31 days of October. Movie #2 is the WWE Studios produced slasher film, See No Evil 2. Full disclosure, this entry into my SHOCKTOBER journey was chosen due to its relevance to my current online activities as co-host of an online talk show about professional wrestling, the NAIborhood podcast.

As mentioned, the film was produced by WWE Studios and stars the Big Red Demon, Kane (Glen Jacobs). I actually thought that the first See No Evil was an OK slasher film, and that Kane's portrayal of Jacob Goodnight -stupid name aside- made for a great slasher antagonist. Kane, after all, is a legitimate 300-lb, 7-foot tall, muscular monster of a man; to say that he is physically imposing is an understatement.

In the sequel, Jacob Goodnight is now missing an eye (the result of the climax of the first film), and wears a clear mask. This provides a more distinctive, iconic look for the killer. Goodnight also makes less use of his chain-hook weapon in the sequel, which in theory ought to help increase variation in the kills. In reality, Goodnight tends to use his bare hands a lot more, and only occasionally makes use of some sort of amputation knife/bone saw combination weapon. Oddly, it also seems that the filmmakers felt as though the violence ratio of the film had to be increased, as nearly all of the kills from the first film appear here in flashback sequences.

I enjoyed the first film, but not everything about it worked, and some of that carries over to See No Evil 2. The whole God's Hand Killer moniker and the underlying religious motivations for the Jacob Goodnight character never quite gel. The religious undertones to the killings just don't seem justified in what is otherwise a standard slasher film. This is material better suited to a headier film.

Beyond that, I continue to think that Glen Jacobs is a fantastic choice to play a horror movie slasher. I say give this guy the hockey mask and give him a go as Jason in the next Friday the 13th (Come on, we all know it's coming sooner or later). I also loved the performances put in by Danielle Harris (Halloween, Hatchet II) and Katharine Isabelle (American Mary, Ginger Snaps).

Terrifying Hot Dog Action - See No Evil 2

Credit goes to the screenwriters, Nathan Brookes and Bobby Lee Darby, as they've woven in a couple of great moments into See No Evil 2. The standout is a scene in which one of the legs of a paraplegic man is skewered by a hook on a chain. This moment stuck out to me because, as would be expected, the man doesn't feel any pain in response to the violence against him. There's an odd sort of detachment in his reaction that the directors really translate to the audience through the deft use of visual and audio cues. It's a small moment, but it works well.

The Soska Sisters have directed a finely produced film, coaxed good performance from their actors, and delivered some above average cinematography. Seriously, the use of colors and clarity in certain shots of this film are way above the level of a direct to DVD film. In light of the many things done so well in this film, it's all the more disappointing then that the end sequence is so poorly executed.

In the film's final moments, Jacob Goodnight is stabbed by a large surgical needle and pumped full of embalming fluid. The embalming fluid sequence is just poorly shot; too much time elapses between the stabbing and the activation of the fluid pump mechanism. The scene lacks any sort of proper cadence, marring the tension in what is otherwise a fulfilling and creative end to the antagonist.

That said, I'll watch another one.

I guess you could say, I'd be glad to See More Evil.

OK, that one was funnier in my head. Three out of four Bruces.

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Zombeavers Review - Shocktober 2015 - Movie #1

It's October and the B-Movie Geek, Doc Manson, is back to take the #Shocktober challenge! The quest? To watch 31 horror movies in the 31 days of October. The first flick? A fun b-movie creature feature and zombie combo called Zombeavers.

I found this gem on Netflix streaming, so if you're a horror fan with a subscription to that service then the barrier to entry is as low as it gets - no need to track down any kind of physical media. The movie starts with a pair of truckers making small talk with dialogue reminiscent of a Kevin Smith film. The action switches over to another car, this one filled with three sorority sisters with filthy mouths and filthier SnapChat accounts, seeking the refuge of a quiet, secluded cabin with no cell phone service.

Stop me if you've heard this one before.

The foul-mouthed dialogue continues with our sorority sister protagonists. I was a bit torn on the writing of these characters, as the amount of times I heard the word "bitches" in a ten minute period was approaching my personal limit. On the other hand, if I take a step back and try to imagine a groups of characters that might actually talk like this to each other, a group of coeds does fit the bill, even if it might be a stereotypical portrayal. At the end of the car trip sequence, I sort of had the impression that this was a group of college aged females written like stereotypical college males. I'm not sure if this was meant to be some sort of commentary by the screenwriter, or if this was just a male trying to write females the way that he hopes nubile young coeds talk to one another when alone.

After typing that last paragraph, I took a quick detour over the IMDB and found that Zombeavers has three writer credits, all of them male. Draw your own conclusions.

So, maybe I'm sounding a bit down on this film, but overall I enjoyed it a great deal. It has everything you want from a goofy b-movie. The zombified beavers are hilarious, and I appreciated the way that they seemed impossible to kill, even when in pieces, much like the zombies from the Return of the Living Dead series (You can check out my review of the first film in that series here). Zombeavers really explores its core concept, and even goes above and beyond my expectations for the film.

This might be considered a bit of a spoiler, so consider yourself warned.

Seriously, spoiler ahead.

Stop reading if you don't want the brilliance of Zombeavers spoiled.

Still here? Ok, last warning.

Let's just say the Were-Beaver transformation sequence is amazing, and really fulfills the promise of the Zombeavers premise. I also appreciated the stinger sequence at the end of the credits, in which the filmmakers execute on a visual pun by suggesting that the zombie affliction is passed onto a hive of honey bees.

Now that is attractive.

Get it? Zom-bees? Oh man, that's good. Also, I'm pretty proud of my own pun that snuck into the paragraph above - "Stinger sequence." Yes, I'm a dork.

That's the quality on display in Zombeavers. The concept is well thought out and is executed as well as you could reasonably hope. Also, for fans of the tropes of the genre, I can report that, yes, there is nudity and violence galore to be seen.

Zombeavers was a great kick off to the Shocktober 2015 season. Highly recommended for fans of horror silliness. 3 out of 4 Bruces.

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Godzilla - 2014 - Extended Look Trailer

Another day, another trailer for the 2014 release of Godzilla. I am extremely excited for this film, and every new glimpse of it I see only raised that level of excitement. Here we get a clear idea of the motivations of Bryan Cranston's character, Joe Brody. Director Gareth Edwards has seemingly developed a complex human side of the story, a must for any successful giant monster film. Take a peek at the newest, extended trailer below.

Godzilla opens May 16, 2014.
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