Monday, January 28, 2013

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I Didn't Come Here to Die: Movie Review


Volunteer work. Some people do it simply out of the goodness of their hearts; some do it to boost their resume; and some people do it because they are forced to. Whatever the reason, volunteering is supposed to provide one with a meaningful and positive experience. In the indie horror, I Didn’t Come Here to Die, six young humanitarians discover that some volunteer projects require you to get your hands a lot dirtier than they imagined and they may even get you killed.

To read the rest of my review, visit Shock Till You Drop.
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Guest Post: A Journey of Zombie Therapy




If only Rick and Lori knew how to work through their marital problems and let the zombie apocalypse be their guide, their marriage (and Lori) may have actually survived. Unlike the characters in The Walking Dead, Urban Fantasy author, Jesse Petersen, uses the zombie apocalypse as therapy for her characters in her Living with the Dead series. The author just released her latest book, The Zombie Whisperer, on Amazon. Petersen took the time out of her busy schedule to guest post about the zombie world she created for readers interested in a different kind of zombie tale. Check out the post below:


First off, thanks to Mandy for having me here on her blog. This is all part of a big celebration for me. The final book in my Living With the Dead zombie comedy series, THE ZOMBIE WHISPERER, was published January 15.

Normally I write books with different protagonists in each story. Living With the Dead is the first series I’ve written where the main characters travel along through four stories. In fact, each story follows how they use the zombie apocalypse as therapy of sorts.

In the first book (Married With Zombies), I worked on their marriage. They’re about to break up, but the zombie apocalypse forces them to work together, accept each other’s strengths and their own weaknesses and bond like only a crushing fear of death can do.  In the second (Flip This Zombie), our hero and heroine started a business in the zombie apocalypse. So what else would they learn about during their journey than good practices? There’s nothing like a zombie apocalypse to make you yearn for success. Also for a good shotgun. In the third (Eat Slay Love), they took a more general “self-help” approach. Getting more Zen is important when there are zombies outside. And in the fourth and final book (The Zombie Whisperer), Dave and Sarah ponder parenthood and all the advice they need to raise a child in an apocalypse.

It’s all very silly and fun and hopefully funny, of course, but I do actually think the reason why people have responded so strongly to the books is that they can relate. When things are great in the world and in our lives, we don’t learn a whole lot about ourselves.

But under the worst of circumstances, we tend to show our true colors as humans. And if we’re lucky, we improve those true colors. Dave and Sarah, rushing through a zombie apocalypse, trying to keep themselves alive and each other alive, are just human. They can be obnoxious and mean to each other and make stupid decisions now and then. But they grow. They change. They help each other see the best and worst in themselves.

And maybe that’s why all those self-help books sell so well, too. We’re all just looking for a catalyst to change, to become better people. Who knew it would be mindless, sprinting, goo-spewing zombies that would be the ticket?

So my question to all of you is, do you think a zombie apocalypse would be a catalyst for positive change in your own life? Aside from the possibly dying and all…

For more on the author, visit her site. Check out THE ZOMBIE WHISPERER Kindle edition on Amazon.com for $4.99. To read my review of the first book in the series, Married With Zombies, click here.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

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Apocalpse of the Dead: Movie Review


Someone needs to tell Ken Foree that he doesn’t need to do every horror movie that comes his way and more importantly, that not every zombie movie is written and directed by George Romero. Unfortunately, for the horror legend, he seemed unaware of these two things when he signed onto the 2009 Serbian horror, Zone of the Dead (released in the U.S./UK as Apocalypse of the Dead), and the end result is an unintentionally cheesy film that fails and tries too hard at paying homage to past zombie classics.

To read the rest of my review, head over to Shock Till You Drop!
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The Frozen: Movie Review


Here’s a bit of advice fellas: if your girlfriend wants to go on vacation with you, don’t take her on a camping trip in the middle of nowhere during the winter. Not only will you not get laid, you may find yourself being stalked and taunted by a creepy stranger. In The Frozen, a couple soon realizes that their romantic getaway isn’t what they had planned when things start going awry. The result is a repetitive and predictable horror with a storyline that is all too familiar with horror audiences.

To read the rest of my review for Shock Till You Drop, click here!
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It's okay, Christian Slater. You Can Cry on my Shoulder


Christian Slater was once the "IT" boy of Hollywood in the 80's and early 90's, with a string of hits like Heathers, Pump Up the Volume, and True Romance. Sadly, thanks to his little drug habit, his career has hit a bit of a snag and he hasn't starred in an A-List movie since the early 2000's. Last year, it seemed as though Slater was slowly inching his way back up the movie ladder and all looked hopeful with his role in the horror, Playback. Unfortunately, Slater's luck just keeps getting worse as it was recently revealed that the horror flick made only $264 at the box office, making it the lowest grossing film of 2012.

Playback, written and directed by Michael Nickles, was made with an estimated budget of $7.5 million dollars. The film was apparently only shown in one theater for one week in March and according to The Daily Mail, only 33 people purchased tickets to see the film, giving it its total numbers.

Despite the low outcome, I don't think Slater should be blamed for the movie's success because he was hardly in it. His role was not a starring one; his character was in only a few scenes, making Slater's appearance feel like a quick cameo. Also, the DILF was doing the film as a favor to pal Nickles, who asked him to be a part of the flick. The one who should be blamed for the movie's poor success and reception is Nickles himself, who seemed like he was just trying to ride a wave of success off of Slater's big name. Sigh.

To read my review of Playback, click here. And Christian, keep on truckin', buddy. You'll get back there some day--I know it!
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Grave Encounters: Movie Review


It seems as though everyone and their mom has a paranormal television show and since the success of Paranormal Activity, found-footage style movies have reigned supreme. The 2011 horror, Grave Encounters, took both of those successful aspects and put a spin on their movie, presenting a parody of the genre that quickly becomes terrifying.

Grave Encounters, written and directed by The Viscious Brothers, is a found-footage horror that follows a television crew as they film an episode of their Ghost Adventures-esque paranormal series, Grave Encounters. The crew, head by the charismatic and handsome Lance Preston (Sean Rogerson), locks themselves inside of an abandoned mental hospital to capture prime entertainment sure to make their series a ratings hit. What starts as a harmless situation soon takes a turn for the worst as the crew members realize that they should have left the dead in peace.

The movie had an interesting concept and put a fun spin on the typical found-footage ghost movie. Following in the footsteps of the Travel Channel series, Ghost Adventures, the film not only pokes fun at the host of the show with Rogerson's spot on impression of Zak Bagans, it comments on the genuineness and sincerity of the entire show as a whole, as well as other paranormal reality series in the genre. With so many programs being churned out today and the sometimes hard-to-believe evidence that is captured, it's hard to take everything that it presented as fact and Grave Encounters brings the audience behind the curtain as it casually examines the issue.

After the characters and their intentions are established, the tension and the action slowly builds as small occurrences start happening throughout the night. As the night progresses, the activity increases and the crew become spooked and shocked at what they are witnessing. When a few members of the crew decide that they've had enough, the situation spins out of control and the production team are taken to a realm full of twists, turns, and scares as they try their best to find their way out of the dark hospital.

Although a few of the scares seemed recycled from past horror movies, particularly the final scare which was taken right out of House on Haunted Hill (1999), the film did provide some great entertainment. The humor in the beginning of the film is what initially hooked me and The Viscious Brothers did a great job at using the humor to downplay the creepiness that was to come later on in the film. The lightness of the setting in the first act allowed the directors to throw the audience off guard and make them wonder when the crew was going to meet their doom. When things do start happening, the pay off is all the better because the movie does a 180 shift.

Aside from the humor, Grave Encounters created some subtle and decent scares. The most intriguing part of the movie--and in my opinion, the most terrifying--was the idea that the crew couldn't get out of the hospital. The individuals essentially become the mental patients that they were trying to communicate with, causing them to regret ever meddling with their spirits in the first place. The place that the characters find themselves in hasn't really been done before, at least not in the found-footage subgenre, and it was a creative twist for the film.

The twist of setting helped me to get over some of the grievances I had with particular characters; however, I surprisingly didn't find them to be that annoying. I enjoyed Lance and his transformation from the cocky television personality into the real, terrified and concerned human being as he captured his surroundings and did his best to lead his crew to safety. I found the reactions of T.C. (Merwin Mondesir) and Sasha (Ashleigh Gryzko) to be real--over-the-top, but real. If a person was actually in the situation that they were in, they would most likely freak out, cry, scream, and swear A LOT.

Grave Encounters was interesting in the first half, moving along smoothly and keeping the audience entertained with just enough information and scares to hold onto. However, the second half of the film is where the movie starts to drag and the story becomes repetitive as the characters keep doing the same things, because there isn't much different for them to do. The scares become tiring as well, and they begin to lose their effect as the film continues.

Although the movie loses its spark towards the end and takes a scene from another horror, the beginning of the film was good enough for me to enjoy the movie as a whole. The humor as well as the twist on setting are what helped make the movie stand out for me. I recommend watching this one alone, at night, with all of the lights off to enhance your viewing experience. 






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The Revenant: Movie Review


Buddy comedy movies are always a good time but more often than not, they usually will follow the same tired storyline filled with sex and weed-related jokes. The horror dramedy, The Revenant, starring David Anders and Chris Wylde, challenges the traditional bromance movie by throwing in death, blood, and zombies, making for a creative and entertaining take on the living dead.

The film opens with soldier, Bart (Anders), following him as he embarks on a night-mission with his fellow comrads in Iraq. When a baby runs out into the middle of the road and Bart fears that his truck has hit it, he immediately gets out to make sure that the child is okay. Upon his exit, Bart is confronted by a group of Iraqi's with guns and he soon realizes that the whole thing was a set up. The soldier is killed and sent back home to be buried; however, he doesn't stay buried.

Following his funeral, Bart awakens, confused and terrified as to what has happened to him. Unsure of what to do, he goes to the only person he knows he can trust: his best friend, Joey (Wylde). Moments after the initial shock and alarm, Joey takes his friend in and vows to help him figure out what is going on. After researching his friend's condition, Joey concludes that Bart is a Revenant, a person who has come back from the dead, similar to a zombie and vampire, and dependent on blood to live.

Not knowing how to take his diagnosis, Bart decides that he doesn't want to kill to get the blood--at least not anyone innocent. After finding themselves at the wrong place at the wrong time several times, Bart concludes that he will become a vigilante "superhero", and begins killing criminals for their blood, all the while having a few good laughs with his best friend.

The Revenant, a 2009 film directed by D. Kerry Prior, is an interesting take on the zombie/vampire craze and it creates a new kind of supernatural creature for people to root for. The main duo are immediately likeable from the moment that they share the screen and each actor plays off the other very well. Anders is perfect as the silent, stern, and by-the-books army soldier while Wydle evens things out and lightens the mood with his humor and bluntness.

Not only are the characters likeable and believable as best buds, Anders does a great job at creating a sense of empathy for Bart, making the audience want him to have his second chance at life, despite the costs it may have on the lives of others. As Bart gets himself deeper and deeper into the situation, putting himself into worst-case scenarios, one cannot help but become anxious and hope for his safety as he navigates through each ordeal.

It's easy to understand what Bart does because in a way, he's doing the right thing. Although he murders people to survive, Bart only goes after individuals who are causing problems on the street, ultimately cleaning up the bad guys and saving innocent lives. The vigilante aspect of the film was unique and fun because Bart was put into interesting situations, resulting in humorous interactions between characters.

It was different to see a zombie/vampire-like character who wasn't lusting after a woman or simply just thirsting for flesh. Bart is one-of-a-kind and actually has a personality, which makes him all the more likeable. The fact that he had an actual purpose and a way of obtaining what he needed makes him stand out among past characters in the genre.

The Revenant isn't all just jokes and gags; the film is lightly sprinkled with social commentary on society and the government, all in the backdrop of a horror about friendship, relationships, and life in general. The friendship between Bart and Joey is the sole driving force of the movie but Bart's way of dealing with his life, his relationship with his girlfriend and his status in the military are big themes throughout the film as well.

The movie is thoroughly enjoyable up until the last half, when things seem to veer off in a different direction and the movie lost the magic that it had created in the beginning. The friendship between the men is tested and some of the decisions that are made don't really make sense, considering how positively their relationship was presented in the beginning. Character choices didn't feel right and they didn't feel like the characters the audience was first introduced too.

Other than a minor road bump toward the end of the film, overall the movie is an enjoyable watch. The ending is questionable and also sad as it comments on how society treats things that we are unsure of. The movie is filled with laughs balanced by sentimental moments between two buddies who are just trying to enjoy their second chance at having the time of their lives together. It's a unique and different take on the living dead and it provides viewers with something new to absorb into their horror-dependent minds. The Revenant is definitely a watch and it will most likely stand the test of time as the quintessential buddy-horror flick.


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