Thursday, March 31, 2016

Review: INNSMOUTH (2015)

by: Chelsea Opperman

The fabled town of Innsmouth, romantically named after H.P. Lovecraft’s fictional coastal town where rot and decay reign, is hiding something dark.  Something sensual.  
The story starts as many do, an unexplained murder, a tenacious detective and a mystery to decipher.  But that is where the archetypal gumshoe tale ends.  We follow Detective Olmsted into a 10-minute-long odyssey into the underbelly of Innsmouth, one that seduces and destroys.  As far as the welcome she’ll receive, her cup runneth over.
The house in which the majority of the short is shot is a beautiful, yet crumbling Victorian, ripe with antiques, dusty taxidermy, and a lingering feeling of something stale.…. something tells me these things have been in this family for a long while.  And something needs to feed.    
As in all her films and stage performances, Tristan Risk commands the attention of the audience.  She exudes a tasteful sexuality, and something darkly sinister.   She fearlessly commits to the role of Alice Marsh, the unexplained but yet recognized head matron of this creepy seaward town.  You are drawn to her, you are seduced by her, you can’t take your eyes off her…and she can’t keep hers off of you.
To tell more would spoil the magic of this film, and oh yes, this is one to remember.
The story behind Innsmouth and its erotic, feverish rituals leave the audience wanting more of the story, more of the lore, the way a short film should.  Also, be on the lookout for a director cameo.  Izzy Lee is a talented indie film maker with a fiercely political and female centric agenda, and she breaks all the rules. 


Please join us Monday, April 4 for a free screening of INNSMOUTH at Screenland Armour in Kansas City, Missouri.   More info HERE.

Monday, March 28, 2016

Review: HARVEST LAKE (2016)

by: Chelsea Opperman

In ancient Greek Mythology, the primordial deities were the first gods and goddesses born from Chaos, the primeval void, the first thing that has ever existed.  From these deities, Eros was created - the god of love, sex, and erotica.  Scott Schirmer’s HARVEST LAKE (2016) takes us deep into the watery birth of carnality, a reverse evolution into the salacious, and a trip down the rabbit hole.  This otherworldly Eros bewitches those who swim in his waters and with that first dip into Harvest Lake, we fall down a well of sexual desire - one where mushrooms take erotic shapes, “Eat Me” sugar cubes lead to newfangled experiences, and love is found in the unknown.  Follow the white rabbit you go.

In the beginning of this twisted celluloid, two naked and vulnerable humans leave Eden and descend into the lake.  They are leaving godliness and purity, banished from Olympus, plummeting into a psycho-sexual Wonderland...and there is definitely a crafty caterpillar calling the shots.   Soon after, a road-tripping Scooby Doo van filled with young adults looking forward to a relaxing weekend at the cabin arrives.  And with that, veteran scream queen Tristan Risk yells “Zoinks!” and the party begins.

Risk captivates as the confident raven-haired nymph, while Ellie Church brings the Alice - the blonde, doe eyed innocent girl whose nocturnal activities are becoming curiouser and curiouser.  Paired up with 2 men following their own steamy agendas, this party is about start.  The slow burn of this film is needed: we learn to care for our protagonists, we meet a mysterious stranger, and are slowly lured into the depravity of the Lake.  Coupled with intense special effects creatures and an erotic gaze, this film is very well balanced and a beacon for independent filmmaking.  Schirmer captures the atmosphere perfectly - it is eerie and enticing, wanton and haunted.  An Alice in Wonderland on porn.

This is a film, and an ending, to remember.  Enjoy your swim.

Please join us next Monday, April 4th at Screenland Armour in Kansas City, Missouri for a FREE screening of HARVEST LAKE and short film INNSMOUTH.  Click here for more info.

Review: MONSTERS (2015)

by: Chelsea Opperman

The masked stranger is one of horror's most terrifying archetypes.  Why do they scare us more than creature features and zombie flicks?  Perhaps it’s the anonymity of the figure.  Or maybe it’s the lack of motive that emits a sense of helplessness, seen often in home invasion and kidnapping films. “Is this meaningless violence?” questions the audience. The victim himself asks, “What did I do to deserve this?”  When you are snatched by masked fiends from your creature comforts, there is almost a figurative castration - any sort of control you thought you had has been seized and exploited, you have resorted to a crying, mumbling shell of humiliation.  You are at the villains’ mercy.  This is a very real fear, deep rooted in the America today, ripe with gun control politics, police brutality, racial tension and violent outbursts, leaving us asking, “Who are they, and why me?”

Jacob Barrett's beautifully shot short film is a pleasure to the eyes and ears.  The lighting and cinematography are the real stars here, along with the jarring and eerie music, successfully evoking dread in the pit of the viewers' stomachs and fear in their minds.  And with these razor sharp elements, the film puts forth the question...who really are the Monsters?


Please join us Monday, March 7th for a free screening of MONSTERS at Screenland Armour in Kansas City, Missouri.  Event info HERE.

Review: CHOMP (2014)

by: Chelsea Opperman

Insanity is a bitch.  And this granny is, too.  Deranged elderly women will always be scary as hell.   In the horror genre, they seem to be better than anyone else at terrorizing couples, worshiping Satan, wielding machetes, and baking pies.  The youngsters in these films are often no match against the unsettling elderly demeanor ripe with rampant paranoia and blood lust.  And when you add humor to the mix, you get the delicious mash up called Chomp.

This short has a lot going for it:  The quirky leads are spot on with their over-the-top reactions to the laughable and ludicrous. The whimsical music and title credits create a sharp juxtaposition to the dog bowls of grandpa gore, creating a feeling of disgust and subversive pleasure.  The meta-television advertisements are reminiscent of the dizzying disorientation felt while watching Requiem for a Dream – embodying a screaming personality you are forced to comply with while sold insanity inducing propaganda.  What senior citizen doesn’t love QVC?

And mostly, director Lynne Hansen has us effectively chained to the narrative while her grandmother figure “Millie” catches herself a real life zombie boy.  It’s a good thing Millie’s read up on all her books.   Chomp, chomp. 


Please join us Monday, March 7th for free screening of CHOMP at Screenland Armour in Kansas City, Missouri.  Event info HERE.

Thursday, March 3, 2016

Review: DON'T GO IN THE LAKE (2015)

by: Chelsea Opperman

Debauchery, Diving, and D-Cups

Whenever you see a bunch of half-naked "co-eds" diving into dark water, you just know something dreadful is about to happen.  What is it about this scenario that is so delicious?  The decades old tale of teens skinny dipping brings a sense of nostalgia to horror fans.  This theme has been lovingly played out by the grisly slashers of the 70s and 80s, splatter films, and B list exploitation movies. These are the films of the past, the cassettes chipped and tape run thin, shoved in the ratty VHS boxes, and piled in the closet.  Why is this genre so loved?  Boobs and Blood.  The kids are naked, horny, and the last thing they are expecting is anything that's not an orgasm.  This vulnerability has the audience squirming in their seats...just waiting for the big scare. Sex and violence are always crowd pleasers.

To the point, this short film by Corey Norman is a whole lot of fun.  4 minutes is not a long time to create atmosphere, let alone a film, but Norman successfully evokes the Camp Crystal lake charm of lazy summer nights, trying to get laid, warm beers, and carnage.  Only this time, it's 30-somethings trying to relive that youthful, carefree feeling...but they won't be finding what they were looking for, rather something else will find them. Horror fans across genres will enjoy this throwback to campy hits of yesteryear with a fresh twist.


Please join us Monday, March 7th for a free screening of DON'T GO IN THE LAKE at Screenland Armour in Kansas City, Missouri.  Event info HERE.

Review: BANJO (2015)

by: Chelsea Opperman

“Make like a tampon and get the hell out of my bloody hole” – Mr. Sawyer

We have all been there.  Stuck in a meaningless job, surrounded by complacent co-workers, and intimidated by an overbearing boss.  However, we may not have been in this circle of office hell that Liam Regan’s Banjo slams us into: A dizzying color palette of stark reds and fluorescent overheads shine light on that fact that good-hearted Peltzer Arbuckle’s megalomaniac boss could possibly be the devil.  Clad in a garish red vest and wielding a golf club pitchfork, this boss takes asshole to a new level.  He terrorizes the brilliantly acted Laurence R. Harvey to the breaking point, sleeps with Peltzer’s girlfriend, and relentlessly bullies his employees alongside his cruel corporate cronies.

Now, what is Peltzer going to do about this? This is where the fun begins.  Break out your Ouija Board.

This film is a like love-letter to Troma movies.  With allusions to the Toxic Avenger, ridiculous cake-scarfing montages, “I Heart Tromaville High School” bumper stickers, and even a cameo by Lloyd Kaufman himself, Banjo has affectionately borrowed key characteristics of the Troma films themselves.  From the beginning child-like innocence of protagonist Peltzer Arbuckle, to the cartoonish villains who thrust his virtue into nonexistence, Banjo embraces Troma’s surrealistic nature, reoccurring narrative themes of revenge-based horror, and shocking imagery fans have come to love.
This picture can definitely also be grouped into British exploitation film territory.  Bloodgasm geysers and eye-watering barf factors have us both laughing and cringing hard, grindhouse style.  The John Waters style of bad taste oozes throughout, the Bugs Bunny-like gags delight, and it seems Drop Dead Fred has an evil new playmate.  There is even an office romance that tenderly winds its way around the body count. 

And lest we forget the bouncing bosom and sexual exploits of goth torturess, Deetz.  They are way over the top, and gentlemen, you don’t ever want Deetz on top.

The lewd and the ludicrous fuse here in a blood-spattered, pulpy cult classic in the making.  It is gory, funny, has the ability to pluck at our heartstrings and *gulp* even our banjo strings.  Regan has some serious talent here, watch out UK, watch out world. 

Please join us Monday, March 7th for a free screening of BANJO with director Liam Regan in attendance!  Screenland Armour in Kansas City, Missouri.  Event info HERE.