Thursday, September 30, 2010

Frozen (2010)

frozen2010.jpg picture by sikomike
Don't you just love the snow? That cold hand of death in the air. It just brings cheers to my eyes. Well, for three college friends, the cold is about to turn them into icescream with a bit of frost fright on top!
   Best buds Dan and Joe are having fun at the mountain ski resort for the day with Dan's new girlfriend Parker.   Joe feels that he doesn't get to spend enough time with Dan, who he has been friends with since childhood, since Dan now wants to spend most of his time with Parker.  It starts getting dark and the resort is about to close for the week since they are only open Friday-Sunday. Dan, Joe, and Parker decide to take one last run and talk the chairlift operator into letting them take one more slide down the mountain.  While they are halfway around the mountain about a fifty feet in the air, the chairlift operator has to leave and lets another guy know that there are three people left to come down before they can close. Three people slide down the mountain and the guy operating mistakes them for being Dan, Parker, and Joe. The man then shuts down the chairlift, unaware that Dan, Parker, and Joe are stranded  fifty feet in the air.  It gets colder with a storm approaching and frost bite sets in. The three friends try to stay calm, but decide to do whatever it takes to survive the harsh condition, even if it means worse agony than remaining seated and freezing to death.
    I will begin by saying that I loved Adam Green's new film Frozen and thought it was downright chilling.  Adam Green is a filmmaker that I truly admire because he can handle a little bit of everything when it comes to movie genres. He has made a very hilarious and gory horror/slasher flick with 2007's Hatchet, a psychological suspense Hitchcock style thriller with 2008's Spiral, and now an emotional survival thriller. And plus, I love this man's short films especially his Halloween short "The Tiffany Problem" and his holidays short "The Fairy Tale Police".   I truly have to say though that while all of his previous stuff has been really good, Frozen is by far his best work.   The scariest part of life for me is death and most importantly a very deadly situation where you know that if you don't get out of this position soon, you're going to die. That is true horror and Green is the man who can pull it off!
     The screenplay written by Adam Green from start to finish keeps you invested with what these poor people are going through. It almost felt like I was right there with them. I was that hooked and couldn't look away from the undeniable horror that I was witnessing right before my very eyes.   Green wrote such a smart and clever script. I could definitely tell that this script was a page turner for sure.  But, it's just "Open Water" on a chairlift or a rip off of "Alive" some have said. I do agree that it can be compared and has the similar theme of those two films, but it carries its own weight.   I actually thought that this was superior to Open Water. Don't get me wrong, I love Open Water, but this film had a bigger impact on me. 
        The characters are very sympathetic here. Dan and Joe are like brothers, they have known each other their whole lives almost. Dan gets a girlfriend and the two guys kinda split apart a bit. Joe holds a little bit of a grudge towards Parker because he wants to spend one on one time with his best friend.  While Dan is a one woman guy, Joe is a flirt and usually just has flings with women he meets. We do find out later in the film that Joe got his heart broken by a girl he was in a relationship with his freshmen year of college and is just scared of history repeating itself.  It's easy to relate to these characters, which makes the horror that comes that much more intense.   There's a scene in the resort where Parker even offers to give the two guys time to hang out, which shows that she is a loving and caring girlfriend that any guy would be lucky to have.   
       When the three get left behind on the chairlift, things slowly begin to get worse and worse.  After waiting several hours for help to come by, Dan decides to do the unthinkable and jump fifty feet down to seek help any way possible.  Dan leaps out of the chair and we see in horror where his legs bend, crack, and the bones pop through the skin, leaving Dan laying there in shock and screaming to the top of his lungs as tears come out of his eyes.  As if that wasn't horrible enough, a pack of hungry wolves are attracted to the scent of Dan's blood and savagely rip him apart as he screams up to his friend Joe to not let Parker watch as Parker screams and cries in Joe's arms.
    This leaves only Parker and Joe left. At first, Joe angrily shouts at Parker since he kinda blames her for all of this. The two finally get to know each other and open up, making them become closer.   The next morning, Joe finally decides to climb the wire down to the pole with a ladder to climb down and seek help.   I don't want to go any further because it would spoil the film for those of you who haven't seen it. The big question is who will live and who will die? Will they both live? Or, will they both die?
     I can truthfully understand why people fainted at the Sundance Film Festival. The special FX in this film look as realistic as possible.  We get frost bite, skin so frozen that it peels off, bones breaking through skin, and a guy getting torn apart by wolves. Yeah, this definitely disturbed me in the realism of it all.
  The music by Andy Garfield definitely added to the intensity of the film.
 Adam Green regular Will Barratt did an amazing job as director of photography. The guy definitely has a gift at visuals because the movie looked fantastic.  It didn't even look like an independent film at all.
The acting was absolutely amazing. Kevin Zegers was great as Dan.  I felt so bad for what that dude went through and his death was so fucked up! Shawn Ashmore was probably my favorite as Joe. He brought a great sympathetic character to the screen that I truly felt sorry for. I could definitely relate to him.  Zegers and Ashmore also had great chemistry as best friends because in real life they had known each other since childhood.  What a perfect match up!  I've been a huge fan of both Ashmore brothers.  Plus, Shawn was Ice Man in the X-Men films!  I've also been a big fan of Kevin Zegers, especially in that Dawn of the Dead remake from 2004.  And Emma Bell was both very hot and the ideal girlfriend as Parker. I felt so much sympathy for this young woman. That scene where she is grieving over Dan's death is very emotional and sad. She also had great chemistry with the two guys and could definitely cry and scream really well. Bottom line, I bought everyone of these actors' performances and they definitely deserve more work and Frozen is proof of how great they are. We also get some really fun cameo appearances. If you've seen anything that Adam Green and his company Ariescope Pictures have done then you can expect a few cameos. There's a cameo by Joe Lynch (director of Wrong Turn 2: Dead End), Adam Green himself, Kane Hodder (who also was the stunt coordinator), and there's even a cameo by Adam Green's wife.  Also, I find it funny that Shawn Ashmore's character's name is Joe Lynch, named after Wrong Turn 2's director who is really good friends with Adam Green.
The direction by Adam Green is absolutely fantastic and stunning. I have to say that Green has balls for doing this movie the way he did. I can't think of many filmmakers who would actually shoot a film like this during a snow storm for several weeks. Yes, Frozen was filmed on an actual mountain in real snow during real snow storms. I also highly respect the cast for sticking through the harsh conditions because they wanted to make a damn good movie even if it meant a little frost bite and getting sick to make it happen.  I admire and respect Adam Green for making his movies for both himself and the horror fans. I'm definitely excited to see what he does with the long awaited sequel Hatchet II.  Definitely show this man the respect that he truly deserves!
 Overall, Frozen is a chilling, horrifying, emotional, and gripping movie watching experience. You love real terror? Well, Frozen is your film.  This is definitely the kinda film to chill you to the bone.
For the first time in my afterlife, I am truly speechless. Probably because I made the mistake of licking a frozen  telephone pole.   As Jack Frost would say, " I'M COLDDDDDDDDD!!!!!!!!!!!!!"
3.5/4 STABS

Friday, September 24, 2010


In 1988, a teen murdered his family around midnight. Twenty years later, college student Nick is taking an abnormal psychology course where his professor, Professor Carpenter, gives a lecture on the 1988 case. Unfortunately, Nick and the rest of the class don't take the story seriously and try to compare real life murderers to the iconic horror slashers such as Michael Myers, Norman Bates, and Freddy Krueger. Professor Carpenter gets agitated by Nick's sarcasm and warns him that bad things will happen if he doesn't take psyche seriously. Nick shrugs it off and is planning to attend his buddy Steve's Spring Break rave before the students head off to Florida for two weeks. Nick's girlfriend Taylor however thinks that Steve is a dick and so Nick goes to her house that night to try to convince her to come with him to the rave. What Nick and Taylor don't know though is that the Phantom killer has escaped from Craven Asylum and has arrived in their hometown of Virginia. He slowly stalks the couple turning a night of harmless fun into a night of terror!
This is the first short film I ever did. It was a college film project that we had a lot of fun making. I plan to turn this eight minute short into a feature film. The feature film will be way different though and will revolve around more "Satanic Cult" meets "Teen Slasher" style. Plus, it will be done more professionally. But, for now, I hope you guys enjoy my first effort at no budget horror filmmaking!



Shock Theatre: "BLIND DATE"

One night at the Delta Omega fraternity party, college freshman Caitlin is sexually assaulted by the frat's sadistic leader Frank. One year passes and everyone has forgotten the sadistic crime that occurred that night. The frat's new pledge Ricky has a blind date with a young woman named Rachel, who he met online in a chatroom. Frank tells Ricky that he must seduce Rachel and video tape it in order to prove his loyalty to his brotherhood. What Frank doesn't know is that someone wants the Delta Omega boys dead. Is it Caitlin out for revenge? Or, is there someone else?

Sorry about the bad lighting and audio. I only have a hand held standard definition camera right now. Anyways, I hope you enjoy the show. Again, sorry about some of the tech problems. I wish I had better equipment to work with.

Siko Mike's BLIND DATE (2009)

Siko Mike'S BLIND DATE MySpace Video

Shock Theatre: "BLACK OUT"

Jay loves horror comics. One night, while Jay decides to stay up late to read some "TALES FROM THE CRYPT", the power mysteriously goes out, leaving Jay in the dark. Was it just an outtage or is there something evil lurking in the dark? Jay will soon find out that monsters aren't just in movies and comics. THEY'RE REAL!

BLACK OUT (2009)

Mike Huntley MySpace Video

Friday, September 3, 2010

The Final (2010)

thefinal2.jpg picture by sikomike
Hello class. I'm your ghoul shrieker Mr. Jester and I'm going to teach you outcasts how to make your bullies' lives a living Hell!  But first, we have an independent film to regrue called The Final. It looks like Dane and his pals have come up with the perfect plan to teach those popular kids a real lesson in pain.   Class dismembered.
    High school outcasts Dane, Ravi, Jack, Andy, and Emily are sick of being tormented and humiliated by the popular kids.   Dane comes up with a plan to get back at those who have caused him and his friends so much misery throughout their entire lives.  The outcasts send out fliers of a big costume party being held out in the countryside.  Having only a week to get things set, the outcasts set up Dane's uncle's warehouse for the party.  All of the popular kids and their friends end up at the big costume bash. They drink. They smoke pot. They party hard. What these jackasses don't know is that their drinks have been drugged. They awake to find their hands and feet chained to the floor followed by the outcasts announcing what is going on, who are disguised in masks/costumes reflecting their dark alter egos.  That night, the outcasts plan to torture their abusers by inflicting pain and dismemberment that will scar them for the rest of their lives.
  Bullying is a harsh part of growing up. I'm pretty sure that we have all had a bully of some sort in our lives. I know damn well that I've had to deal with jackasses more times than I would have liked to.  Middle school and high school are the main two parts in a person's life where bullying is most visible.  The truth is that everybody has a different side. We all think that bullies are just mean kids, but never question really why they pick on others. Mostly it is because they feel that they have power that the victim doesn't have and can do it because the victim doesn't stand up to them.  Yes, this is true. But, there have also been cases where the bully him or herself was at one time a victim of bullying  and they take out their anger on others to make themselves feel the power they have been craving.  There have also been cases where the bully turned out to be gay, but was too scared to come out of the closet since he was on the football team and would be judged differently.   In the end though, there really is no excuse for treating people like shit just to make yourself feel in control.  Bullying is not worth it. Not only will people look down on you for being stupid, but some may even try to get revenge on your tormenting the hard way.
       Bullying can have severe consequences and I'm not just talking suspension/expulsion/detention either. I'm talking about the victim trying or in some cases actually killing the bully or bullies.  There's only so much humiliation and torment that a kid can take before they snap.  Look at movies like Stephen King's Carrie, Tamara, Bad Reputation, Christine, Slaughter High, Valentine,  and Sleepaway Camp. Kid got bullied and kid got revenge by killing tormentors in gruesome ways. Okay, maybe that wasn't a good example. Those are just horror movies after all. Okay, how about let's discuss real life horror. At Columbine High School, a group of teens went to school with guns and shot, wounded, and murdered a lot of students and faculty members.  Back in the Spring of 2007, a disturbed student walked into Virginia Tech armed and murdered about thirty people. Is that real enough for you? It was just before I graduated high school when I heard about the shooting. Being a Virginia resident myself, it was extremely shocking to know that this happened only a few hours from me. I couldn't believe that that psychopathic bastard turned a peaceful community into a fucking nightmare. 
      The point is things like that occur in this world, which is scarier than any horror movie. With horror movies, we know that we are safe. But, things like this get to me because they can and most likely have happened in our world.  We have seen a few movies try to reveal events such as a school shooting. Filmmaker Gus Van Sant directed a film titled Elephant that revolved around the day that a school shooting would take place and the everyday lives of the students who went to that school before their lives were changed only a few hours later.  Most filmmakers won't make movies revolving around teen violence because it happens in real life or may give disturbed kids ideas.
      Since 2007, After Dark Films along with Lionsgate have been holding a Horrorfest where they pick eight independent horror films and release them theatrically as well as on DVD.  This past year, the After Dark Horrorfest 4 picked up an independent psychological thriller titled The Final. It dealt with the horrors of high school cruelty and the consequences that come with it.  The Final received a lot of negative reviews by mainstream critics as to be expected with the content and dark nature of the film.
     The screenplay written by Jason Kabolati was really strong and very clever in my personal opinion.  I was really digging the characters. This is the kinda movie where there is no definite hero or villain.  You just don't know who to root for: the outcasts or the popular kids.  Now, I know most horror fans will say that they root for the outcasts to get their revenge. On the other hand, the outcasts are doing far worse to the popular kids than the popular kids ever did to them. I mean, I would have loved to get revenge on these assholes too, but not in this way. There are plenty of ways to get revenge that don't result in killing or violence.  Make it look like the jocks are on steroids so they lose their football careers.  Give the popular bitches a chocolate bar that makes their ass get REALLY fat.  Put something in their make-up that makes their skin break out. Or just find a way to make them walk out in front of a bus. It's not your fault that the bus driver is old and blind. 1000 Points Bia-tch!  See, now was that so hard? We didn't have to turn to killing or fighting to get payback. BUT, this is a horror film after all and not real life, so I would be pissed if these popular swats didn't get fucking tortured Saw/Hostel style.
  The outcasts are relatable. Dane is the leader obviously and is totally obsessed with doing some dismemberment.  We see that he comes from a very disfuctional family and that his parents fight a lot. He's also on the verge of committing suicide.  Ravi is constantly tormented because he is Indian. The jocks always tease him like most racists do. They broke his camera and call him Slumdog Millionare, Vin Ladin, and various other names in a racist fashion.   Jack is the quiet one of the group who plays his banjo Deliverance style and feels rejected by his own family. There's a sequence where he is trying to talk to his own father, but his dad continues to work on his truck without responding or noticing that his own son is even there.  Andy is the science expert. And Emily is harassed by the three most popular girls in school because she is quiet and virginal.  It pissed me off sincerely to see how these poor kids were treated. 
The popular kids were the scum of the Earth in this film. Bradley was the star football player, who took pleasure in making Dane and Ravi's lives Hell.  Bernard was Brad's lackey and joined in focusing his torment more on poor Ravi.  Heather was a stuck up and slutty fucking bitch that would put Regina George from Mean Girls and Kathryn Merteuil from Cruel Intentions to shame. The only person that she cared about was herself. She took great pleasure in taunting Emily just to make herself feel powerful.  And her friends Kelly and Bridget were evil too. Bottom line is that what goes around comes around.  They hurt people and it came back to tear their bodies up in the end.
     There are some people that believe that the outcasts should not have gotten their disturbing revenge like this and in real life, I would say that they are right. This however is a movie. A fictional movie dealing with a realistic problem. This is like a warning and reflection on what bullying does to the victim. It turns them crazy over a period of time. It is psychological and emotional. There have been cases where victims of bullying have actually killed themselves because they couldn't deal with the pain anymore.   Bullying makes people do crazy things folks. It can be prevented, but people don't do anything to stop it. Teachers watch and don't do anything. Other students see it happen and keep to themselves. If you see a teen or child being bullied then you have the ability to stop it from happening. Bullying will never go away, but it can be toned down and treated. 
    This movie is not as violent as you would think it is and that is a good thing.  Kabolati reflects more on the psychological aspect of the characters and the story rather than on the gore, which is good. Judging by the posters and trailer, you would think that this film becomes like Saw or Hostel with kids being tortured and killed. I like that the outcasts never kill the popular kids and that this film isn't a school shooting type of movie. It could have easily gone into slasher territory, but it doesn't and I'm damn happy about that.  It shows that the filmmakers care more about the story and characters and how they are affected in the end.    As for the violence, I did dig how the outcasts scarred their bullies. A guy gets sharp pins stuck into him while he is paralyzed, yet can feel every bit of pain.  Some girl is tied to a chair in front of all of her classmates, ball gagged, and has acid in the form of a shaving cream looking substance smeared all over her face that will eat away at her beautiful and "perfect" skin.  A football star has his spinal cord severed. There are some cutting off of fingers.  And one dude gets shot with a spike from a cattle gun in his face. All in all, the film is violent, but not too violent.
      The directed by first time feature film director Joey Stewart was very good. Stewart really did a great job of setting everything up and then unleashing the chaos in the last two acts. 
      I thought the acting in this movie was fantastic by everyone involved. Marc Donato was great as Dane. You could tell this guy had totally lost it. I loved his mask that was basically a gas mask with a voice changer.   Vincent Silochan was excellent as Ravi. His outfit was fucking great as the evil clown. I felt really bad for this guy. Lindsay Seidel was great as Emily.  I loved her costume too.  Travis Tedford was good as Andy. Loved the whole Nazi outfit. I never dreamed that Spanky from The Little Rascals movie would hurt anyone until now.  Eric Isenhower was good as Jack. Loved the scarecrow outfit.  Justin Arnold had the asshole football playing  jock role down perfectly as Bradley. I fucking hated that character and have known guys just like him from back when I was in high school.  Daniel Ross was a douche bag as Bernard. What a racist dick that character was! Ryan Hayden was a douche as Miles.  Preston Flagg was good as Riggs.  Julin had the stuck up and slutty bitch role down perfectly as Heather. I hated this character and her torment was awesome.  But, she was also VERY hot and I would definitely bang her regardless.  Whitney Hoy was good as Bridget. She was the bad girl who did bad things, yet kinda felt bad for doing it type that we've seen before in movies like this. Laura Ashley Samuels was also good as Kelly, the other bitch lackey.  I really liked Jascha Washington as Kurtis, who was basically the hero of the film. He wasn't a bully or an outcast and just happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time.  I liked him a lot. It's not often that an African American is the hero in a horror or thriller flick.  All in all, great cast.
  I did have a few issues with the film though. The first is that there's a sequence where three of the popular jocks get pulled over by a cop on their way to the party. I just didn't understand the purpose of this sequence since it didn't really do anything to add to the film.  And the ending was a little bit of a downer. This is the kinda movie that starts where it ends then goes back and reveals what all happened to get to that point. I also wish that the first act that revolved around the bullying had been longer, so we would feel more what these outcasts had been feeling. Other than that, I had no complaints.
Overall, The Final is a really good psychological thriller dealing with the harsh world of high school and bullying. It reveals how bullying can go so far that it sets the victims over the edge. Some will like it. Others will hate it. But, it is a film with a deep and strong message. It's not about violence, but consequences of violence and how it leads to more violence. I wouldn't show this film in a Health course, but it strangely enough could be educational. It is the dark part of high school that people don't like to talk about. If you like what I've said above then you will most likely enjoy this film for what it truly is.  The horrors of the demon inside ourselves released when pushed to the limit.
I always knew that high school was Hell.  Looks like Dane and his friends got their revenge after all.  A good lesson could be burned here. An eye for an eye and a finger for a finger.  Well, time is up. Hand in your fingers and eyeballs class.  Until the next screaming, have a nice fright! HEHEHEHEHEHAHAHAHAHA!!!!!
3.5/4 STABS