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2010 - NR - 84 Min.
D: Kai Blackwood
S: Stacy Jorgensen - Michael Cornacchia - Anne Griffin - Aaron MacPherson
DVD Provided by Little Engine Films
Extras: Screener - None

Seven friends hook up after college at a remote cabin out in the middle of nowhere. After an evening of getting reacquainted, they witness what looks like a meteor crashing off in the distance. One couple goes and investigates, but only one comes back. They hunt the poor guy down and find him naked in the woods covered in black gunk and not feeling too well. They toss it up to too much coke and booze the night before, but alas, something isn't quite right in the upcoming alien/ufo thriller GREY SKIES. Now, we've all seen the story before, there isn't too much new here or anything groundbreaking. So it all comes down to whether or not the sense of wonder of the unknown and the thrills work. One by one, certain characters are taken over by the aliens and chase after the rest, mainly to break one of from the pack so the aliens can possess another body. For the most part GREY SKIES works pretty well, thanks to a foreboding tension and some fleshed out characterization. A decent script and some atmosphere can go a long long way when dealing with something that feels like a cross between THE X-FILES and THE BIG CHILL or INVASION OF THE BODY SNATCHERS meets DINER. It also helps when you have some cool looking aliens designed by Academy Award Winner Barney Burman (STAR TREK, DAWN OF THE DEAD remake). Overall, the movie is entertaining, has some thrills, outdoes it's meager budget and is pretty well acted. I see bright things in the future for the cast and crew. It's got some minor gore, nudity, but nothing shocking in that kind of department. Everything is more subtle here, but when it works, it has some truly thrilling and trippy moments plus some comic relief that feels natural rather than forced. I can definitely recommend checking it out. - Mark Engle

1990 – NR – 72 Min.
D: Timothy O’Rawe
S: William Friedman – Scott Gordon / Special appearances by Joe Franklin – Jackie Martling
DVD courtesy of Camp Motion Pictures
Fullscreen / Mono
Extras: 3 commentaries – Making of – Promo – Student films – Trailers – More

Two thieves (aiming very high) decide to rob the cash a janitor has stashed away in the basement of a local school where he makes his home. The thugs discover a hidden room and, long story short, accidentally release a chemical that knocks them out, filters into the water, and subsequently transforms the swim team into flesh eating monsters. It falls to super-dorks Steve (Friedman) and Jeff (Gordon) to save the band rehearsing in the auditorium, rescue what’s left of the basketball team, retrieve the bootleg gore flick (Robot Ninja no less) they borrowed and were watching in the AV room and make their collective escape. Yes, it’s as dumb as it sounds. Yes, it’s outrageously inept. Yes, it’s nonsensical. It’s all that and less. The gore scenes are not as frequent as you might expect them to be, either. Splatter that is displayed ranges from satisfactory to downright embarrassing, watching blood filled condoms stretch between what are clearly pre-cut articles of clothing until they sometimes pop, for example. Taking all faults into consideration, the interminably annoying characters are this films greatest downfall. Ghoul School may not achieve the clever, tongue in check, cult classic status it strives so hard for, but it’s passable enough viewing for horror hounds in a very forgiving mood. The promo reel and a couple of the student films showcase ambitious gore scenes and admirable low-budget atmosphere absent from the feature itself. Filmed in 1990 yet marketed as part of the Retro 80s Horror Collection. – Michael Mackie

1988 – R – 86 Min
D: Damian Lee
S: Paul Coufos – Lisa Schrage – Frank Pellegrino
Artisan Home Entertainment DVD
Fullscreen / Dolby Digital Surround
Extras: Nil.

B-movie director Lee unleashed this campy, gory, cheese sandwich on the world early in his career. In it, college research scientist, Neil (Coufos), struggling to uncover the secrets of a super growth hormone in order to save a ‘little’ boy inadvertently introduces it to a large number of rats. The rats are set loose by a group of animal rights activists and the blood flows freely until the wild climax. This is clearly not a film we are meant to take seriously. Lots of jokey references are littered throughout and there are laughs to be had, sometimes. You just might not always be laughing with the movie. The F/X work is mostly impressive and not limited to splattery rat attacks either. For instance, a character suffers a nasty meltdown when the hormone, crossed with some diseased lab samples, gets into an open wound. There’s also the nightmare sex sequence, but the less said about that the better. Always more fun to be surprised, yes? Schrage (Hello Mary Lou: Prom Night II) shows up as Neil’s love interest, Alex, but seems uncomfortable and out of place. Gnaw does have a tendency to drag a little but, if you make it all the way to the end, you’ll get to see lots of pool patrons slaughtered in the you-knew-it-was-coming all out attack finale. After that, there’s time left for emotionally devastating tragedy, or wide-eyed belly laughs, depending on your disposition, and the door is left open for a sequel that you shouldn’t hold your breath for. Is it all worth it? If you groove on goofy gore, then yes, Gnaw – Food of the Gods Part 2 is for you. The disc is sadly full frame so there’s an above average chance you’ll notice the occasionally visible boom-mike or perhaps even the hands of the F/X crew working the goop syringes. The DVD, just like the movie itself, is flawed but passable. Just barely, though. - Michael Mackie

THE GHOST aka Ryeong
2004 – NR – 94 Minutes/South Korean
D: Kim Tae-Kyung
S: Kim Ha-Neul – Nam Sang-Mi – Ryu Jin
DVD Provided by Tartan Asia Extreme
Widescreen/Dolby Digital 5.1/DTS Surround 5.1
Extras: Interviews – Behind The Scenes Featurette – Trailers

Ji-Won is a student suffering from amnesia. Her old friends won’t talk to her and when something starts killing them off one by one, she must face her past and remember if she wants to survive. The cover compares it to The Grudge and Dark Water, but you can throw in Ringu and Tomie as well. More of the same that we’ve seen for about a decade now, right down to the long haired specter coming out of water with most of her faced covered only revealing one demonic eye. Ji-Won’s only friend is a male student who is obviously in love with her and as the clues come in, we discover just how evil Ji-Won was before her “accident.” It’s competently made and acted, but entirely ho-hum since we’ve seen it so many times before. I’ll admit, the ending caught me completely off guard, but only in that sort of works once Sixth Sense kind of way. Worthy of a rental for those not tired of the revenge ghost genre and it boasts some great cinematography and decent enough visual effects. Unfortunately, The Ghost does not contain the subtlety of Ringu nor the complexity it requires to make it worthwhile enough to revisit. – Mark Engle

GROOVIE GHOULIES – Saturday Morning Collection
D: Hal Sutherland
S: Dal McKennon – Howard Morris – John Erwin – Larry Storch
DVD Provided by BCI Eclipse
Extras: Couple Episode Commentaries – Image Galleries – Sing-A-Long Features – Producer Interview – Scripts – 45-Minute Documentary

What happens when you mix Rowan and Martin’s Laugh-In with the Universal Monsters and make it a Saturday morning cartoon for kids? Well, you get The Groovie Ghoulies! Completely inane and insane, repetitive and kookie, for fans, you got to love it! All 16 episodes from 1970 are here with tons of extras to boot. Now, don’t get me wrong, I love this stuff and nostalgically, this was an incredible box set when I first opened it up. Just don’t do what I had to do and try and watch it all at once. Best watched in doses since many jokes are reused over and over again. Some of the jokes are quite creative while some should have been nailed in a coffin and buried for good. It’s all good clean fun and captures the spirit of 70’s youth, especially those of us who bought monster model kits and watched Godzilla movies instead of playing baseball with the neighbor kids. Extras include a performance from the band Groovie Ghoulies who got their name from this show and interviews with several Kool Kats like Forrest J. Ackerman, Bob Burns, Alice Cooper and more. If you grew up watching Groovie Ghoulies, there’s no reason not to pick up this set. – Mark Engle

2003 – N/R - 87 Minutes
D: Sean Tretta
S: Ryan Hutman – Mike Marsh – Jason Dinger – Melinda Lorenz
DVD Provided by Brain Damage Films
Extras: Commentary – Trailers – Shorts – Featurette – Extra Snuff

I had heard that this film had some sort of actual footage of the killer that this flick was based on killing some girl. BULLSHIT!! It’s the same, shot on video and badly made to look like 8mm film. What we get is a fictionalized account of serial killer William Allen Grone. Seems that he and some messed up buddy that runs a junkyard like to make snuff flicks by catching and whacking people that are passing through their little part of the desert. Well, this time they have themselves two lovely ladies who they brutalize in a nasty little trailer out in the junkyard. The film culminates in actual footage of one of Grone’s killing. My opinion on the reality of this is mentioned above. Look people it’s just badly made torture horror porn. Remember Saw and Hostel? That’s all it is and as a sub genre it leaves quite a bit to be desired. In the case of this little SOV project it leaves even less. The killer narrates the entire thing in this flat monotone that is probably supposed to be spooky, but is just boring. His sidekick is so much of a stereotype that when he gets what’s coming to him you almost applaud. They try to do things to make it look like rough footage, but you know it’s not. They try to make it cutting edge and it’s not. I do find that the mountain of material that issues forth from Brain Damage is a hit or miss kind of thing. I see a lot of stuff from them that works, even on the micro budget level. This one, however, is an embarrassment and a waste of time. – Douglas Waltz

2007 – NR – 82 Min.
D: Michael Feifer
S: Cherish Lee – Benjamin Pitts – Brent Fidler – Rebekah Brandes – James C. Burns
Lions Gate Home Entertainment DVD
Anamorphic Widescreen / Dolby Digital 2.0 /
Extras: Trailers

This independent plays as though it’s afraid to take the ride by itself and negotiates this fear by stealing so much from so many other places that there’s nothing left for it to call its own. Think Final Destination but on that film’s toiletry budget. Lee is a stripper helping to put her boyfriend through medical school. She gets hit by a taxi after work and eventually finds herself in an abandoned asylum with some other (troubled) people that are all under the impression death is hunting them. They’re right. The next hour or so is spent watching these people run from dark hallway to dark hallway trying to avoid the shadow of the Reaper as well as the Doctor that gathers them all up in exchange for extended life. The boyfriend shows up to try and save the day because a guardian angel showed him the way. Pretty much a failure on all counts. Everybody seemed to be trying their best but it just wasn’t enough (Brandes is the only performer on display with any spark). A little bit of silly gore is peppered over an abundance of logical lapses while boredom creeps in. Been there, done that… - Michael Mackie

2007 – NR – 104 Minutes
D: William G. Macrides
S: Jim Modrall, Matt Turner
DVD Courtesy of Guinea Pig, LLC
Extras: Interview with director, photo gallery, music video

Filmmaker William G. Macrides brings more of a lecture than a docudrama to the screen with this project. Much of it is based on the puzzling (and admittedly interesting) story of Steve and Beth Lee, who might be victims of a bizarre U.S. Government experiment. Might be, I said. The movie goes on to cover the possible dangers of government tampering in our lives by covering everything from UFO theories, to the Taos Hum, to hologram projections, to downright human rights abuse. The project tries hard to link almost every conspiracy theory imaginable together and blame it on those in charge, namely the bigwigs from the governmental agencies. I don't know. Maybe the filmmakers are right, maybe they aren't. Look, I'm not knocking the premise here. We all should know by now that something is fishy in our government. Come on, if nothing else, there are a slew of unanswered questions regarding the embarrassing mishandling of justice by the Bush administration. However, this production is unlikely to win converts, but it will probably get conspiracy buffs nodding their heads “yes” to every “what if” theory that it states. – Craig Hamann

2008 – NR – 100 Min.
D: Danny Draven
S: Marina Resa – Shirley To – Rick Irvin
DVD courtesy of Dark World Pictures
Anamorphic Widescreen / Dolby Digital 5.1

Alyssa (Resa) has had enough of hurried city life and takes an out of the way job as a housekeeper to start life anew and hopefully leave all her worries behind. Most of those worries stem from her psychotic ex-boyfriend who has become a dangerous stalker. Alyssa’s new job lands her in the home of Miss Wu (To) in the midst of Ghost Month, the time when spirits are allowed to leave Hell and roam the Earth freely. It’s explained that most spirits are content to simply look in on loved ones, most spirits… The closest neighbor, Blake (Irvin), had a mysterious relationship with the previous housekeeper and, according to Miss Wu, a violent one. Now, Blake seems interested in Alyssa. She doesn’t take much notice though, since she is preoccupied with the ghostly visitations that have begun to torment her; they are trying to tell her something, something important. Draven has crafted an attractive film. His subtle use of color brings to mind several Italian classics of the past. More a supernatural mystery/thriller than a horror movie, Ghost Month is an interesting idea that doesn’t solicit enough thrills or emotional involvement to be anything more than a not-too-disagreeable way to dispose of 100 minutes which, for the record, is a bit too long. The actors deliver decent enough performances, though they rarely rise above the level of a well-produced soap opera. That isn’t necessarily an insult as much as a point of reference. Ghost Month is an interesting effort, competent and pleasing to the eye, but generally unspectacular. However, Draven has come a long way as a director and it’ll be interesting to see what he’s capable of in the future. – Michael Mackie

2008 - NR - 77 Minutes
D: by Yuichi Kanemaru
S: Goshu - Hiroyuki Ikeuchi - Saaya Ishikawa
DVD Provided by Switchblade Pictures
Anamorphic Widescreen/Stereo 2.0
Extras: Trailers

It may seem like Asian Horror Cinema has run out of stock when it comes to ghostly images, especially when that latest titles resort to haunting dead pigeons to tell its story. And in many cases, most of us genre fans would agree, but GUN-KYU has just enough originality and twists to keep it somewhat interesting. Something is killing off people at that local college and marine bioligist Kanako is haunted by what seems like demonic pigeons. Soon she connects the droppings (literally as her car is constantly bombarded with birdshit) to the murders , World War II, the janitor and a water well. There's some decent atmosphere, some serious eye gore that goes on and on in disgusting close up and too many scenes of cheap pigeon CGI. There's a nice, "What the...?" during the finale and a Japanese World War II history that is fascinating. It all makes for a decent enough sit through but not quite enough to warrant multiple viewings, so unless you are seriously still into the overplayed Asian ghost genre, this is definitely worth a rental but not too much more. If you get a chance check it out. - Mark Engle

India/2007 – NR – 75 Minutes
D: Wilson Louis
S: Zachary Coffin, Nilesh Diwekar, Elena, Vaibhav Jhalani, Tarun Mehta
DVD Provided by Verve Communication
Widescreen/Dolby Stereo
Extras: Screener - None Available

The U.K. Paranormal Center assigns researcher Carol Blaire with the job of making a documentary of a haunted house at India's GHAT: THE HILL STATION (so that’s where the title comes from). Oh, by the way, Carol is very pretty, sexy beyond belief, and likes to go swimming alone late at night in a dark pond next to a place where murders have occurred. She takes a group of weirdoes along with her to help shoot the documentary. Most of them, such as their jittery and inept guide Rambharose, seem to be more comedy relief than essential to the expedition. Urmi, another journalist, is pretty and sexy like Carol, but she won’t go swimming in the dark pond. Overall, the story is simplistic and offers few real surprises or plot twists. But, folks, let me tell you, don’t miss this little horror gem. After an intense opening scene, filmmaker Wilson Louis just keeps hitting the viewers with one spooky image after another. Cinematographer Pushpank Gawade really helps things out with excellent natural lighting and first rate photography. Look, this is a horror film. It’s not perfect, but it delivers the goods in creepiness, jump scares, and spine-tingling scenes. Aside from Verve Communication’s idiotic decision to place “FOR SCREENING PURPOSES ONLY” across the screen in bold letters for the entire freakin’ film (and that’s while their logo was incredibly pasted on the right side of the screen), this was a fun watch. I highly recommend it for fright fans. – Craig Hamann

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