The WTF? Worst Films Extravaganza Presents: Bloodrayne (2005)

Uwe Boll

Kristanna Loken - Rayne
Michael Madsen - Vladimir

Matt Davis - Sebastian

Michelle Rodriguez - Katarin

Ben Kingsley - Lord Kagan

Will Sanderson - Domastir

Billy Zane - Prince Elrich

Meat Loaf Aday - Leonid

Udo Kier - Regal Monk

Genre - Horror/Action/Vampires/Video Games

Running Time - 95 Minutes

PLOT - In the 18th Century, Rayne (Kristanna Loken) is a Dhamphir, born as both a human and a vampire. She's part of some traveling circus troop that showcases freaks, considering Rayne's DNA as a perfect sell for the circus. But this changes one night when one of the carnies attempts to rape Rayne, causing Rayne to defend herself by biting and sucking his blood. High on plasma, Rayne pretty much murders the rest of the circus and escapes.

Meanwhile, three vampire hunters (Michael Madsen, Matthew Davis, and Michelle Rodriguez) from the Brimstone Society are chasing after Rayne, seeking her help in overthrowing their main enemy, Lord Kagan (Ben Kingsley) - who happens to be the King of all vampires as well as Rayne's birth father. Wanting revenge on Kagan for murdering her mother when she was child, Rayne joins these hunters to collect certain relics that have been scattered across the world that would help in defeating Lord Kagan and ending his tyranny once and for all.


STORY - Man, what a cool film! So much great action, interesting drama, and cool blood effects! But enough about DAYBREAKERS. Let's talk about BLOODRAYNE.


Seriously, I don't know why I watch these Uwe Boll directed films. I know going in that they're going to be bad, yet I still manage to be quite surprised when I'm proven right. While BLOODRAYNE isn't Boll's worst film, it's still a terrible movie that takes a decent video game franchise and makes it less interesting than it really ought to be.

I'll talk about Uwe Boll's role a bit later, but right now, let's discuss Guinevere Turner's really horrible screenplay. Now let me get the good out of the way: at least BLOODRAYNE has a linear narrative I can understand. It goes from point A to point B to point C without much confusion as to why the film goes where it needs to go. Other than that, just really bad in almost every way.

For one, I don't understand why Turner would change the setting for BLOODRAYNE. For those who have played the games or even know something about them, BloodRayne took place in the 1930s during the time of Nazi uprising. Rayne is recruited to stop this from happening, due to her abilities to walk in daylight while being a vicious vampire in combat. I know eventually the movie franchise would deal with Nazis in BLOODRAYNE: THE THIRD REICH, but to not set that plotline up in the beginning seems kind of silly. I don't mind medieval settings, but that isn't BLOODRAYNE. So why change things? This also results in changing Lord Kagan's character, as he's not associated with the Nazi party, but just a normal vampire lord who rules an ancient land. In a way, this takes something away from Kagan, as the whole Nazi thing would have pushed the evil factor over the edge. Instead, it's just another medieval piece involving vampires. Been there, done that.

Another major flaw in the script is that things just happen for the sake of happening. There's no development at all in this film for the plot or its characters, making BLOODRAYNE less dimensional than the video game it's based on. Rayne and the members of the Brimstone Society must hunt down relics that would give Rayne great power to destroy Lord Kagan, but this sub-plot doesn't do much with this information. In the games, these relics were used to summon a demon that would help aid Adolf Hitler. But here? I have no real idea what they're used for other than granting someone power. To be honest with you, this entire quest sub-plot could have been edited out and not much would have changed in the film besides a couple of moments involving certain characters that could have been rewritten in the pre-production phase. It just feels like a cliche rather than something of substance. In fact, BLOODRAYNE is one big cliche - the villain is some evil King or Queen who has done wrong to the hero, different kingdoms must battle for dominance as they hunt down for some relic that holds great power, and of course sword and sorcery due to its medieval setting. It wants to be more epic than it actually is, which makes BLOODRAYNE more laughable and silly than anything else.

More random sub-plots: Billy Zane's Prince Elrich character - umm...why was he in the film again? He's in the film for maybe two minutes and he was just...there. Meat Loaf's character Leonid added nothing but bad acting and directing to an already terrible film. His character didn't have a point either and the scene felt like it was added in at the last minute. Plus, why did a certain member of the Brimstone Society decide to turn on his/her teammates out of the blue? It was slightly built up for five seconds and didn't feel logical at all. In fact, a lot of BLOODRAYNE involves scenes where you wonder why they're even in the film to begin with. Nothing feels natural in this film, but rather forced because these things have to happen in order for the film to work.

The characters aren't developed at all, besides Rayne really. Rayne wasn't exactly three-dimensional either, but at least she had a backstory and a logical revenge mission I could kind of relate to. In a way, this also reflects well on Lord Kagen since his character is very much connected to Bloodrayne. But what about the other characters? I had no idea who these people were! You had a group in the Brimstone Society that could have really made the story more effective and interesting [they're pretty anti-vampire, yet need the help of a vampire to defeat their main villain], but nothing is done with them. Vladimir is the gruff leader with a bad haircut. Sebastian is the young warrior who likes Rayne. Katarin is the tough chick who doesn't like authority, even though she seemed fine with it at the beginning. Other than that, I don't know enough about these people to care about their well-being! Even the villains were vague! Not everyone knows the story of the video game. This is the perfect script that needed fleshing out, yet Turner doesn't do that.

And let's not even get into the dialogue. It's atrocious and I felt bad for these actors for having to have to speak out their lines. It just felt forced and stilted. I wasn't convinced by anything these characters were saying and I don't think the actors were either. It was just unnatural sounding. I can't believe this was the same person who co-wrote AMERICAN PSYCHO in 2000. What happened? Even if Boll and/or the producers stepped in and put their own ideas into the script, the screenplay shouldn't have been this bad.

DIRECTION - Uwe Boll is known as the modern day Ed Wood with claims that he's the worst working director today. While his films do tend to be below average, Boll has directed worse films than BLOODRAYNE. The editing is good until the fight sequences, where the film looks a bit awkward and kind of there. The pacing could have been quicker, but it doesn't feel too slow. Mathias Neumann, who is the cinematographer for the film, does do a good job in making the film look really nice, as well as displaying some stylish and interesting shots. But other than that, the direction is okay at best. The film should have had more tension, suspense, and a sense of epicness. But it doesn't have any of that. But I don't think it's Boll's worst film. Not at all.

EDGE FACTOR - Since BLOODRAYNE deals with vampires and swords, the film is pretty violent. We get the usually biting into necks, and swords slicing throats, thrusting through torsos and guts, and even one impaling an eye. We also get some head cutting and stuff with arrows. There's definitely enough blood here.

As for sex, we get some boobs during Leonid's weird orgy. We also get to see Kristanna Loken's breasts during her sex scene with Matthew Davis. Those puppies sure woke me up when they made an appearance. Definitely worthy of an R rating.

ACTING - The acting is pretty poor in BLOODRAYNE. Kristanna Loken isn't great, but she tries to give a decent performance as Rayne. She definitely wanted to make the character work, but the script really wouldn't let her. I thought she was one of the better actors though. Michael Madsen looked embarrassed to be in the film. He probably had to pay some bills and did the film to make ends meet. Matthew Davis was just bland as hell. He's done better work than this. Michelle Rodriguez snarled as usual. Her attempt at a Medieval accent was interesting to hear. Ben Kingsley looked like he was having fun as Lord Kagen. Or maybe he saw his career flash before his eyes, I dunno. Billy Zane did well with his short appearance, as well as Udo Kier. Meat Loaf was just plain bad though. Talk about hamming it up! The film has an interesting cast, but doesn't give them much material to work with unfortunately.

is definitely WTF? Vault worthy, yet I've seen a lot worse than this one. The film is indeed bad and not worth wasting 95 minutes of your life over, but at least the direction is okay, the narrative is linear [even though everything else about it sucks], and Kristanna Loken tries her best with what she's given. I would seriously watch this film over ALONE IN THE DARK and IN THE NAME OF THE KING: A DUNGEON SIEGE TALE. So that's a positive in itself, I guess. Off to the Vault with you, BLOODRAYNE, but I'm not inviting you in to kiss my ass. I like my cheeks fang free, thank you!

1 Howl Outta 4


Klown Kamp Massacre (2010)

Philip Gunn
David Valdez

Ross Kelly - Philbert
Ashley Bryce - Valerie
Jared Herholtz - Edwin

Isaac Kappy - Buzter Pie

Mike Miller - Bonzo

Chris K. Payne - Puff

Genre - Horror/Slasher/Comedy/Clowns

Running Time - 84 Minutes

I always dread having to review a horror film involving clowns. While there are some decent-to-good ones, such as DRIVE THRU, IT, and KILLER KLOWNS FROM OUTER SPACE, a majority of them are pretty terrible. The last two films I've watched involving clowns, CHUCKLE'S REVENGE and ZOMBIE WOMEN OF SATAN, left bad tastes in my mouth. Hell, I hate clowns in general. Why do I bother even reviewing anything involving these spawns of Satan?

I guess when you see a title called KLOWN KAMP MASSACRE [which is being released on DVD by Troma Entertainment], you tend to be slightly intrigued...and horrified about the prospect of the film's quality. But I shouldn't complain too much. After all, I received the DVD screener free with all special features intact and without that distracting logo to stop people from putting the film on torrent sites. I also shouldn't complain about the film itself, as it actually happens to be a silly slasher film that's quite a lot of fun! Who knew? Smack me with a pie and let's review this surprisingly good clown flick!

A clown boot camp has finally reopened after 15 years, recruiting a few clowns who want to master their pie throwing and balloon animal making. During a campfire, the clowns learn of a legend about Edwin the Clown (Jared Herholtz), who 15 years prior was unable to make his clown peers laugh when a cell phone interruption disrupted his stage act. Edwin, being frustrated as he was seen as a joke and a failure, decided to murder his classmates viciously and go into hiding. Old Man Bonzo (Mike Miller), losing his television show because of the crimes, decided to reopen the camp to bring back its good reputation [which is now at "Death Curse" status]. However, Edwin learns about this and decides that he'll make sure the camp closes down again by murdering these rookie clowns in really horrific ways...for good!

Color me surprised, but KLOWN KAMP MASSACRE is a hoot of a slasher film. Paying homage to more popular slasher movies, such as 1978's HALLOWEEN and the FRIDAY THE 13TH franchise, this independent low-budget horror-comedy knows exactly what it is and works very hard in making sure the audience is aware of it. And I must say, while the film isn't perfect, KLOWN KAMP MASSACRE has a lot to be proud of as its success rate is a lot higher than one would expect, myself included.

Writers/directors Philip Gunn and David Valdez present a really silly, yet fun and kind of clever screenplay that just shows their love for the slasher sub-genre. On the surface, KLOWN KAMP MASSACRE is your typical slasher movie. The killer wants revenge because he feels scorned and is traumatized by something in his past. The scene of the crime is reopened or celebrating something that reminds the killer of the past, making him want to celebrate in his own way. The characters are pretty stereotypical, or in this case, variations of expected clowns you have seen before. There is also over-the-top violence and lots of sex and T & A. It's FRIDAY THE 13TH, but with clowns. So if that's your thing, then you should enjoy the main plotline of the movie.

What makes KLOWN KAMP MASSACRE stand out, however, is how far it goes with the clown motif. This movie could have just had a clown killer murdering other clowns just like your typical slasher. But the film happens to be much more structured than that. For one, it seems the world that KLOWN KAMP MASSACRE lives in revolves around the life of clowns. Very early in the film, we see that much of what's on television is related to what clowns do. The news reporter is a clown. There are hip-hop videos starring clowns. There are television shows and cartoons - all starring clowns. Even the magazine world showcases clowns. It's as if clowns have taken over in this universe, with regular "non-clown" people being the minority. It actually creates a silly, yet unique, atmosphere to the film. These clowns don't feel like outsiders when most of everyone else in the world is a clown, as it's a family tradition. I think it was a great touch to do this and made the film a lot more watchable, in my opinion.

I also liked the variation in clown characters. While the character development isn't all that deep [then again, how many slasher films have deep characterization?], the looks and personalities of each main clown character are all distinct. Valerie is a sad clown with pink hair and a tear and frown painted on her face. She's also the deepest character, as she doesn't want to be a clown but does it to please her grandfather. She also has deep skeletons in her closet that continuity bring trauma to her life. Philbert is the rookie clown. Butzer Pie is the Juggalo-looking clown who's a bit of a troublemaker, due to being from the streets. He looks like a member of KISS with his face paint, being the bad boy of the group. Puff is the magician clown, who actually has special powers relating to magic. And Edwin is the non-funny, messed up in the head clown who enjoys murdering others. There's also a cowboy clown, a nerd clown, a mentally slow clown, and even a pervert clown who wears a trenchcoat with not much underneath as he constantly masturbates, which you can tell by the silly sound effects that comes [no pun intended] with it. We also watch them doing typical clown activities, such as using whoopie cushions, throwing pies, and spraying seltzer water at each other. Some of these clowns get more screen time than others, but all of them are easy to identify and are fun to watch. I'm surprised none of them annoyed me, but I really liked watching all of them!

The homages to other slasher and horror films are also well done and a treat for fans who know these movies. Part of the opening theme sounds like a different take on the John Carpenter's HALLOWEEN theme, which quickly changes into one that sounds like the original FRIDAY THE 13TH theme. As a matter of fact, anytime Edwin is about to kill, we hear the classic "ki ki ki ma ma ma" but with a clown twist. The scene around the campfire, talking about the legend of Edwin, seems to be inspired mainly by FRIDAY THE 13TH PART 2. There's a "Death Curse" character that's obviously inspired by the first two FRIDAY THE 13TH films. Edwin has a cabin nearby the camp, like Jason Voorhees. There's a car chase scene that seems to be taken from HALLOWEEN 5: THE REVENGE OF MICHAEL MYERS. There's even a FRIDAY THE 13TH PART VI: JASON LIVES parody. And Butzer, doing his best Suicide from RETURN OF THE LIVING DEAD impersonation, quotes, "You think this is a fuckin' costume? This is a way of life!" A lot of these moments made me laugh as I was impressed that KLOWN KAMP MASSACRE managed to still be its own film even with all these nods to the past.

As for your typical slasher film, you definitely get a lot of gory violence and very sexual situations. The death scenes manage to be quite creative and funny. One clown gets scalped and has his brain squeezed so the juice can run down. We get a hitchhiker [spoofed from the original FRIDAY THE 13TH] on the way to the camp, who is murdered by getting her face squashed into a car window. One clown gets hooked and then grounded inside a haystack machine. Another clown gets a pie to the face, followed by a knife to the face. One gets hung by the neck. Another gets acid to the face, which melts it all off. We get a few decapitations, explosions, mallet bashings, throat slicings, gunshots, and even a clown getting sawed in half. For a low budget film, I thought all the death sequences looked really fantastic and very professional looking. I was quite impressed and even "ooh" and "ahh"'d at some of them. As for the sex, we get a ton of boobs, close to frontal male nudity, and even a really funny sex scene with clown noises. Pretty funny stuff.

The direction by Philip Gunn and David Valdez is really great. I would have thought this production had a bigger budget than it actually did - the movie looks that good. The editing is solid. The composition and framing is perfect for this type of film. There's also quite a lot of style here. For example, the opening sequence, which is supposedly shot on a VHS camcorder in 1991, is being watched on said VHS tape with grain, snow, and just worn out footage to make it look authentic. The flashback with Edwin is shot in black and white, almost noir-style. Even a lot of subtle touches, such as the blood stains that resembles a clown face on a mirror, to all the well-shot homages of previous horror films, are just well planned and well structured visually. Usually having more than one director could really screw up a project, but Gunn and Valdez obviously love the genre and were able to collaborate very well together to come out with a superior product. The film is called KLOWN KAMP MASSACRE and these two men give you exactly what you're expecting visually. I dug it.

I won't get into all the actors in the film, but they were all great in their roles. They were silly, over-the-top, and dedicated to each of their roles. I felt Jared Herholtz stood out as the killer Edwin, embracing the role. I also thought Isaac Kappy as Butzer Pie was very funny. And the cameo by Troma's own Lloyd Kaufman was great as well. I really liked the cast as they all worked well together to bring the script to life.

The DVD also has 2 hours of Special Features including:

- Audio Commentary by Co-Directors David Valdez and Philip Gunn and Executive Producer Darren Gunn
- Deleted Scenes

-"The Making Of..." Featurette
-6 Webisodes

- Trailer

Good stuff.


- Edwin scalped his roommate and squeezed his brains into the roommate's colorful cereal. Ironically, the Fruit Loop is Edwin himself.

- Some creepy dude warned the clowns not to go to Camp Sparkly Lake. I agree. Those TWILIGHT idiots live there. I'll take my chances with the mentally challenged mama's boy at the other lake.

- Edwin hooked the Southern Cowboy Clown and grounded his body into a machine that took grass and grouped it into a box. I guess the cops are gonna have to find a needle-dick in a haystack!

- One of the clowns had her boobs painted as puppies. This explains why her pussy is foaming at the mouth. Ew...

- A pie exploded in one of the clown's faces, killing him. This is usually a great thing...in bed.

Never judge a film by its title or cover, because KLOWN KAMP MASSACRE happens to be a lot of fun and well worth a look if you love slashers. The film looks great, the narrative is solid for the most part [not all the jokes work], the acting is pretty good, and the homages will leave horror fans with smiles on their faces. If you like your horror-comedies tongue-in-cheek, you'll get a kick out of this one. Just make sure you laugh often. You don't want a bitter clown leaving you a deadly whoopie cushion on your seat...

3.5 Howls Outta 4

Indie Horror Spotlight: Dave Reda of Elftwin Films

While I mainly do reviews on this fine blog, I also like to take time out to showcase independent filmmaking and the people who contribute in keeping horror alive for a lot of us. Today's spotlight is on a great guy, Dave Reda, who is part of Elftwin Films as the company's Director, Writer, Co-Editor, Co-Producer, and even stars in his own films! In 2006, Dave directed a feature horror film called BIT PARTS, that got some pretty positive reviews and can be rented from Netflix and any other rental service, as well as being bought on Amazon. Since the two of us are Facebook friends, he wanted me to promote his short films to get them out to a bigger audience, which I have no problem doing.

In 2010, Dave created a short horror-comedy called HORROR OF OUR LOVE: A LOVE STORY. Starting out as a typical scene in a slasher film, HORROR OF OUR LOVE then turns into a music video showcasing the killer's love for his Final Girl, murdering all of her friends and potential suitors to get her attention and prove his love to her. Supported by the band, LUDO, who provides the pretty comical, yet charming, love song for the short film, HORROR OF OUR LOVE is a great 6-minute short that takes the usual conventions we would expect in a slasher and turns them upside-down into something very sweet. In fact, the film actually won 8 out of 11 festivals it was played at. It's definitely worth a look or two.

Dave's newest short, MY UNDEADLY, stars Scream Queen Michelle Tomlinson and Dave himself as a member of the undead who terrifies poor Michelle until it's twist ending. The film holds quite a bit of nice tension and great camera shots, leading to a unique ending that I didn't even see coming. This 4-minute of awesomeness is currently playing in festivals, where I'm sure it'll win a few of those.

You can check out for more Dave Reda and his Elftwin Films production company at its website: Elftwin Films. He's even showcasing his work at this year's Shriekfest International Horror, Thriller, Sci-Fi and Fantasy Film Festival and Screenplay Competition on October 2nd in Sacremento, CA.

Let's show some support to Dave Reda by commenting on his videos and even liking Elftwin Films on Facebook and following the company on Twitter. Keep horror alive by starting where it originated from - the indie scene. Good luck, Dave!


The WTF? Worst Films Extravaganza & When Wrestlers Act Presents: End Game (2009)

Bruce Koehler

Kurt Angle - Brad Mayfield
Jenna Morasca - Carol Peterlake
Eric Wright - Detective Burke
atalie Bail - Beatrice
Sam Nicotero - Mackie

Larry Kozlowski - Bergman

Genre - Thriller/Serial Killers

Running Time - 92 Minutes

I remember watching the 1996 Olympic Games and seeing the Men's United States wrestling team defeat all other countries, being proud of my country. The main attraction was obviously an amateur wrestler named Kurt Angle, who won the Gold Medal by decision against Iran. Eventually, Angle would later gain mainstream popularity when he started wrestling professionally for World Wrestling Federation [now Entertainment], becoming one of the company's premier sport-entertainers. The guy could do it all - wrestle his ass off, talk on the microphone, and entertain the fans as both a face [good guy] and a heel [bad guy] with his charisma. He could be funny and dorky one minute and a true bad ass the next convincingly. The man was a star. Eventually drug addiction would take its toll on Angle - the man has had several bad neck injuries - which would lead him to leave WWE and head straight to TNA [now Impact] Wrestling as one of the company's main attractions to this day.

Like most wrestlers these days, Angle felt that he could contribute to the world of cinema as well. However, Angle decided to follow in the footsteps of John Cena, Kane, and Triple H rather than Roddy Piper, The Rock, and even Hulk Hogan. What I'm trying to say is that Kurt Angle's first starring vehicle, 2009's END GAME, is pretty much the equivalent of a wrestling jobber - a loser that's down for the three count and ready to be wished well on its future endeavors. If Kurt Angle expected to get a Gold Medal in acting, he was mistaken. END GAME wouldn't even qualify for the trials. Guess the WTF? Vault is back in biz-ness!!

Alex Miner, using the alias Brad Mayfield (Kurt Angle), is known as the Stranglehold Killer, creating quite the reputation in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Mayfield seems to enjoy giving random women the sexual equivalent of a German Suplex - strangling them while doing them doggystyle and creating the ugliest and most disturbing "O" face on film. That face would have murdered me on its own, with the choking being overkill. Anyway, Mayfield's latest victim was a wannabe ballet dancer named Beatrice (Natalie Bail), which makes lead detective, Burke (Eric Wright), to feel he's getting closer to capturing him.

The case seems to create friction between Burke and his wife, especially when Burke takes a liking to Beatrice's stripper roommate, Carol (Jenna Morasca). The problem is that Mayfield is also interested in Carol to make her another one of his victims. This creates a game between both Mayfield and Burke to see who can top the other as the body count rises. Will Burke finally have his END GAME with Mayfield? Will Mayfield Angle Slam his way out of this pursuit? Will you want to break your freakin' neck while watching this piece of crap? It's true. It's DAMN true!

I have three words for END GAME:


Seriously, END GAME has got to be the worst film I've watched in a very long time, especially for this blog. It's meant to be a crime thriller, but it's not thrilling in any way and the only crime it's committing is wasting people's times for even existing. I had a feeling a film involving a wrestler would bring back the WTF? Worst Films Extravaganza. But one starring the great Kurt Angle? Say it ain't so, Kurt! Say it ain't so!

I don't even know where to start with this piece of shit film since everything about it sucks. I guess I'll start with what's probably the worst part of the film: the screenplay. The first problem with the script is that Jim McCartney is an amateur screenwriter, especially since END GAME is his first screenplay. McCartney knows enough about what needs to be a serial killer/thriller movie. We have the usual suspects: serial killer once killed animals when he was a child, serial killer has a modus operandi when it comes to his murders, serial killer taunts hero over the phone to create tension and conflict, serial killer focuses on hero to ruin his life by hurting those around him, etc. But while McCartney knows what needs to be in a film like this, he has no idea how to structure it in a way that people will want to watch or even enjoy it.

The reason why the structure of the film fails is because of the characters, or should I say stereotypes, because they don't behave like real people. This is probably my main beef with END GAME because I couldn't believe any of these characters at all. In fact, I don't think I've seen any film, even most slasher films, where the characters are written to be dumb as fuck. Brad Mayfield isn't a genius, but the fact that he got away with a ton of shit for as long as he did proves that he's the least stupid of the cast. Still, even his "serial killer act" has so many loopholes that I'm surprised he's a big deal at all. For one, he uses disguises to get around his victims and authorities. While this is supposed to be seen as cunning and clever, it's really a joke when the latex masks he uses don't change his appearance much at all! Being bald, he'll use hair in one scene to trick people. Being in great shape, he'll pad his body to make him look heavier in another scene. He also dresses up as a clown at the end, which made Pennywise say, "Bitch please!" after he got a good look. Plus he changes his voice to a gruff one that sounds like he's been deep-throating every prisoner in Cell Block A, B, and probably C in the span of 6 hours. It's so ridiculous and people don't even know it's him! It's like the whole Clark Kent/Superman deal with the glasses! So fuckin' stupid! He doesn't even look normal because the mask is horribly put on his face. How can these characters be so dumb?

Also, Mayfield seems to work for some major company and murders one of his female co-workers. Now for a "smart" killer, wouldn't killing someone you work with after another co-worker knows you were the last one with her give you away? And Mayfield murdered her not because he was playing a game with Detective Burke. He killed her because he wanted to live in her house for a while to hide out from the cops looking for him!

*face palm*


The other characters are even worse. Detective Burke is probably the worst cop in history of cinema. Frank Drebin is fuckin' Harry Callahan next to this moron. I mean, Mayfield actually calls his house on the home phone. What does Burke do? Does he tap the phone to trace the call? Does he change his number? Oh no, Burke just talks to him like they're old pals. Hell, even Burke's wife enjoys her conversations with this "mastermind" serial killer, feeling he's more interesting and smarter than her cop husband. And no, I'm not making that shit up. She actually tells Burke that to his face and he doesn't even react to it. In fact, nobody in this film reacts to anything believably. But I'll get to that later.

Also for the "hero" of the film, Burke is a douchebag that no one will ever root for. Not only is he stupid, but he commits adultery without a second thought with Carol. For one, we have no idea why Carol has even a slight interest in Burke since it just magically happens! She knows he's married with a bored wife and SPECIAL NEEDS DAUGHTER. That's right - this cop has an autistic 7-year-old and instead of taking care of her, he's busy bagging some stupid bimbo who doesn't see a problem in destroying a marriage. Yeah, I'm supposed to want this dude to catch the killer. He should have been the first victim.

Carol is no better. Talk about the epitome of a stupid bitch, this lady [and I use that term as loosely as her private parts] really annoyed the hell out of me. For one, Mayfield [disguised as the fat Detective Bishop] enters her home and Carol allows him to take one of Beatrice's possessions without asking for a warrant or even identification. Then the real cops show up and tell Carol that Detective Bishop was probably the killer. Does she seem scared? Nope. Then someone tries to break into her apartment to murder her? Is she terrified now and protecting herself? Nope.

If someone had written a human being for this Carol character, she probably would have moved out, gotten some protection, or if she stayed put a bolt or chain to her door and change the locks - maybe even get a weapon to protect herself. Does Carol do any of these things? No, she's too busy fucking some cop and leaving her door unlocked so Kramer from Seinfeld could bumble his way inside. Not only that but she finally meets Mayfield and decides at a bar, "Well shit, he makes a really disturbing "O" face. Maybe I should go date him and let him take me on his boat to an area where there's no one else alive. That sounds like heaven!" Then she gets in trouble after she realizes who he is, yet we're still supposed to care about this and what happens to her dumbass?

Seriously, every character in this film acts indifferent to everything around them. A cop gets attacked by Mayfield before he escapes. Another cop shows up and doesn't even bother to help the fallen cop or see if he's even alright. Burke's wife has conversations with Mayfield without even telling her husband about them, even though she's fully aware he's a serial killer. She knows Burke is having an affair, but acts like it doesn't bother her at all. And when Mayfield kidnaps her daughter in his clown costume, she actually believes Burke sent him as a gift to her! Who read this script and thought this was a final draft? It's barely first draft material!

Don't even get me started on the dialogue. It's just God-awful in every sense of the word. These characters don't speak like regular people. They speak like bad screenwriting. Here's an example - Mayfield has kidnapped Burke's daughter and he punched Burke's wife into unconsciousness. Burke arrives hours later and discusses the situation with his wife.

Burke: "Who did this?"
Burke's Wife: "A clown."

Burke: "A CLOWN??"

Burke's Wife : "He took Chrissy."


I couldn't help but laugh at this exchange. And believe me, there are more like this in other scenes that will make you scratch your head in disbelief. Just a really terrible screenplay that could have been better if they had done a lot of editing and rewriting.

Since END GAME is supposedly a thriller about a serial killer [check out these rhymes, yo!], there are scenes of violence and death. It's low budget stuff, but it's not all that horrible I guess. We get strangulation, we get stabbings, we get gun fire, and even necks getting twisted. These violent acts are done quite well, I won't lie. But they won't save this film at all. Hell, I'll be surprised if most of you even watch this long enough to even see most of this stuff.

The direction by Bruce Koehler is awful. Just because your film is cheap doesn't mean it should look it. Yet, END GAME looks like a student film, but worse. Hell, I've seen adult movies with better production values - and better acting too. The editing is pretty bad. The composition isn't all that interesting. The way the actors block their scenes and recite lines to each other is cringe-worthy. I know the script being a total failure isn't his fault and no director could have probably saved this film, but as the visual "mastermind" of the story, Koehler fails. The lighting is terrible too, as most of the night scenes don't have light or are lit under some blue hue that just comes out of nowhere. Also, Koehler doesn't know what kind of film END GAME should be. Is it a thriller? Is it supposed to be a corny take of a serial killer story? Is the film supposed to be intentionally bad? We never know. And for a thriller, there's no tension. Suspense doesn't exist. Hell, this may be the first thriller to put people to sleep since it's dull as fuck. Just terrible.

The acting is atrocious on every level. Kurt Angle is the best actor in the film, but that isn't say a whole lot. He tries to make his character work, but Brad Mayfield isn't threatening or intimidating at all. Angle tries to act scary and creepy, but it comes across as forced and kind of funny. I'm sure he had fun in the role, but I had no fun watching his creepy "O" face and his bad impersonations under various disguises. Here's a man who is charismatic as hell inside the squared circle, but can't seem to translate that in a 90 minute movie. Pretty disappointing. The other actors are even worse. Jenna Morasca, of Survivor fame and would later join Angle in TNA Wrestling for a short stint, is dull as Carol. She doesn't know how to emote or has any idea who her character is. I didn't buy her at all, especially when she plays a stripper who doesn't actually take any clothes off. Eric Wright is terrible as Detective Burke. Here's a guy who can emote but doesn't know when is the right time to do it. He underacts in one scene and then overacts in the next. It's like he's bored for much of the film, making us bored watching him. It's not a great cast at all.


- One of Brad's victims likes to associate herself with an older, rich gentleman who will help pay her rent for certain services. I had no idea of the specifics of becoming a WWE Diva.

- Disguised as a detective, Brad asked Carol, the victim's distressed roommate, out to dinner while "investigating". Looks like he has a fourth "I" - Indecency.

- The girls at Beatrice's dance school were pretty bad. Unless they're next to a pole, these "dancers" have no talent.

- Some officer was standing in front of Tom's Diner instead of guarding Carol. I hope Suzanne Vega wasn't part of this production. It could explain the subject matter of "Luka" however, even though I don't condone domestic violence - like the torture I had to suffer watching this.

- Brad gets around cops and his potential victims by dressing up in different disguises. If there was ever a sequel for MASTER OF DISGUISE, Dana Carvey better watch his back!

- Even though Carol is being targeted and almost got killed inside her apartment, she still lives carelessly by ignoring cop messages and leaving her door unlocked. Is there any wonder how she even won her season of Survivor?

- Brad treated Carol like dirt. He must have seen her match against Sharmell in TNA. Don't blame him then.

- Brad disguised himself as Buffo, the World's Strongest Clown. He's no Pennywise, but he sure is a Bozo.

What else can I say about this turd otherwise known as END GAME? It's awful in every aspect of the word and must be avoided at all costs, even if you're a Kurt Angle fan. It's the biggest waste of time I've had watching a movie in a very long time and deserves to be added to any Bargain Bin to be ignored for the rest of its existence. It's just a massively cliche, plot hole filled, and horrible script with bad acting and dull visuals. I'm sending this movie into the WTF? Vault where I can END this GAME once and for all while it can...

Oh it's true. It's damn true.




The Slumber Party Massacre (1982)

Amy Jones

Michele Michaels - Trish Devereaux
Stille - Valerie Bates
Michael Villela - Russ Thorn

Andree Honore - Jackie

Gina Mari - Diane

Debra Deliso - Kim Clark

Jennifer Meyers - Courtney Bates

Joe Johnson - Neil

David Millbern - Jeff

Pamela Roylance - Coach Jana

Genre - Horror/Slasher

Running Time - 75 Minutes

As a proud member of the male gender, I'm probably not at liberty to discuss the things teenage girls do in their free time. It's not my business if they scratch each other's eyes out over who's hotter: Edward or Jacob. I could care less if they refuse to believe that Justin Beiber is from the Planet Lesbos, who has arrived here to destroy the universe. But I am sure that most teenage girls have hosted or been to a slumber party.

The slumber party - a time where young women can come together and discuss boys, music, their breast sizes, and how much...um..."stuff" they can shove down their throats before choking. And of course, there are those classic pillow fights that don't do any sort of damage to the participants.

However in 1982, Amy Jones and Rita Mae Brown wanted to change the blood amount to these get-togethers by creating and releasing THE SLUMBER PARTY MASSACRE, one of the many highlights of the Slasher Boom during the early 1980s. Hot girls, cold pizza, and a killer who uses a power drill as both a weapon and a phallic symbol? My guy friends are gonna be so jelly!

Trish (Michele Michaels) invites four of her basketball playing girlfriends over to her house for a slumber party while her parents go away to who knows where. However, new girl Valerie (Robin Stille) isn't liked by some of the girls, which causes her to decline Trish's invitation and babysit her annoying younger sister Courtney (Jennifer Meyers) instead. The other girls decide to have their party, which is interrupted by a couple of horny jocks (Joe Johnson, David Millbern) who want to join in the fun.

What these high schoolers don't know, or even care about, is that some nutjob named Russ Thorn (Michael Villella) has escaped from a mental institution and has decided to follow Trish and her friends. With his trusty power drill in hand, Thorn plans on making up for lost time by penetrating these young ladies. And I don't think a pillow is going to do a damn thing to stop him either...

THE SLUMBER PARTY MASSACRE isn't high art or Oscar-caliber cinema. It is, however, a fun watch due to its simplicity and humor. It's a slasher film through and through - mental asylum escapee killing people with a trademark weapon, hot girls who show their tits and ass, and stupid characters who do dumb things to get them into this horrible situation to begin with.

The screenplay for the film has been the subject of debate for many years due to its tone and intention. Originally, writer Rita Mae Brown was hired to write a parody of a slasher film. Since slashers were considered misogynistic, having a woman write one and play with the standard tropes that comes along with the sub-genre was thought be a good and funny idea. Eventually, the producers felt that Brown's screenplay was so good that it was believed that it could work as a more serious, straightforward slasher film with bits of humor added in to bring in a bigger audience. So THE SLUMBER PARTY MASSACRE comes across as a serious horror film sprinkled with cheesy humor. While this may not please serious fans of the genre, the mix of the two tones does work somewhat in the movie's favor. While this does make you question the actions of most of the characters in terms with deal with a psycho killer, having one of the characters eat a pizza over the delivery man's corpse as if it was no big deal is so odd, that it's actually funny. Plus a lot of the film's moments come across as ironically funny, like the hot telephone worker getting dragged into a van to die while students nearby don't even register that there's something wrong inside the shaky van [which I'm sure inspired Randy Meeks' death scene in SCREAM 2 years later]. And who can forget that classic dialogue where one of the girls states that "It's not how big your mouth is; it's what's in it that counts"? Sometimes it reads itself, folks. I think the humor is what makes THE SLUMBER PARTY MASSACRE sort of charming and still a fan favorite after almost 30 years.

The issue I do have somewhat of a problem with is the intent by Amy Jones and Rita Mae Brown to create a feminist slasher film. While this thought process is very ambitious and would bring something new to the genre, THE SLUMBER PARTY MASSACRE doesn't hold many feminist qualities whatsoever. Does having wimpy male characters qualify? They were borderline homoerotic, which was kind of funny. What about the killer and his obsession of using his power drill as a symbol for his manhood? What about these female characters being filmed in gratuitous ways, lingering on their boobs and butts? I don't have issues with that at all, but it doesn't really ring "feminism" to me. Sure the females fight back against the killer towards the end, but all slasher films do that. Besides, this killer wasn't much of a threat anyway. I'm surprised these women didn't get the upper hand sooner. Wouldn't you expect something like that if this was truly a "feminist" slasher? I think the attempt was there, with the majority of the cast being female and all. But execution wise, the intent was very vague.

And while THE SLUMBER PARTY MASSACRE is a fun film, it's still very generic, cliche, and very lacking in the character development. If you've seen any slasher film, you know what you're gonna get here. The sluttier girls end up dying first. The characters are oblivious to the killer's presence, even though there's a bunch of foreshadowing on newspapers and through radio about his escape. The killer escaped from a mental asylum [HALLOWEEN anyone?], using a drill to represent his manhood [until one of the female characters castrates the drill in half with a machete]. And it has a bunch of fake scares that only non-horror fans would probably jump at. How many times can I see a damn cat jump out of somewhere and still be scared by it? Not a whole lot. And all the characters had no depth to them whatsoever. Some of them seem to have a story that wants to be told, but the screenplay never allows it to surface. The characters still manage to be likeable, even if they are stereotypes. I also liked that they spoke and acted like teenagers, even if the actors were over the age of 25. I think the narrative could have been beefed up a bit to really make the whole situation more effective than it was. But you won't be bored by the film's story, so I can't complain about it all that much when I was entertained for the most part.

Since THE SLUMBER PARTY MASSACRE was done on a pretty low budget, and it shows, the gore effects aren't as good as those we can see in other similar films. Still, there's a lot of blood and violence going on through much of the movie. We get a lot of drill attacks - to the forehead, to the eyes, to the throat, and to the arm. We also have a decapitation, some stabbings, and a hand chopped off by a machete. Some of the kills are also off-screen as well, which I could have felt been better if they were actually on screen. But with the limitations of the budget, I understand.

The direction by Amy Jones is actually pretty well-done. A lot of the shots, like the killer's POV, are taken pretty much from HALLOWEEN and BLACK CHRISTMAS. The editing and composition works for the most part. Some of the shots have style, particularly the one where the killer is about to kill a victim and the camera lowers as he reveals the drill as sort of a phallic symbol to sexualize the situation. Jones also uses some slow motion and constructs cliche, yet effective scare scenarios. What really surprised me is that there is actually some tension and suspense during the film, especially during the High School scene where Brinke Stevens is hiding from the killer. The script doesn't really make you care all that much about these characters, but the direction sure does. I think Jones did a very good job behind the camera.

The acting isn't all that great, but it does enhance the cheesiness and entertainment factor of the film. Michele Michaels does well as Trish. Not my favorite Final Girl ever, but she was competent enough and I was convinced by her bravery and her fear of this maniac. Robin Stille, who unfortunately passed away in 1996 due to suicide, rocked it as Valerie. I wish the film focused more on her than Michaels, to be honest. Michael Villela was okay as Russ, the killer. While I don't think he was intimidating or imposing enough to make a memorable villain, Villela did the best he could with what was given. He was probably the least interesting part of the film for me, especially when his drill was more memorable. Joe Johnson and David Millbern were the comic reliefs as Neil and Jeff. They sort of had a "bromance" going on that made me wonder if they wanted to be part of the slumber party to share in pillow fights rather than see the girls naked. The only one who really annoyed me was Jennifer Meyers as Courtney. She really tested my nerves by playing the stereotypical obnoxious younger sister. I'm not sure if the character was written that way, but Meyers didn't help matters and I wish the killer had murdered her first. Just my opinion.


- Even though she's 18, Trish is still considered a "baby" by her mom. This opinion will stay the same until she hooks up with Hugh Hefner. Then she'll be considered a "great grandbaby" - but with a show on E!.

- A hot telephone worker got murdered in a van near a High School campus. If the killer just wanted to drill her, he could have just called her and asked politely. Some people!

- One of the girls was rattled by a freaked cat locked inside a closet. Ironically, it was R. Kelly who urinated in the litter box.

- Diane calls her boyfriend "Boo Boo". Looks like Yogi Bear is gonna be one less while eating the contents of that picnic basket for the time being.

- Diane's boyfriend got decapitated. Talk about some great head!

- Jackie ate a slice of pizza over the dead pizza man, claiming that "life goes on". The Ninja Turtles want to give this girl a bit of shell shock.

It had been years since I watched THE SLUMBER PARTY MASSACRE and it still manages to be a fun slasher film that's mainly fluff rather than deep. It has everything you would want in one of these films - hot ladies who do show T & A, people getting murdered, and cliche jump scares that breeze by within 75 minutes. The film isn't going to scare anyone. But if you love slasher films, especially from the 1980s, you'll most likely be entertained by this one.

3 Howls Outta 4


The Alphabet Killer (2008)

Rob Schmidt

Eliza Dushku - Megan Paige
Cary Elwes - Captain Kenneth Shine

Timothy Hutton - Richard Ledge

Tom Malloy - Officer Steven Harper

Michael Ironside - Captain Nathan
Tom Noonan - Captain Ray Guilikson

Bill Moesley - Carl Tanner

Genre - Thriller/Drama/Crime/Psychological/Supernatural/Serial Killers

Running Time - 98 Minutes

THE ALPHABET KILLER is very loosely based on the Alphabet Killer case, where murders took place in Rochester, New York between 1971 and 1973. Three young girls who had first and last names starting with the same letter were found after being raped, strangled, and found as their bodies were dumped in a nearby neighborhood with the same name as the victim. Even though the case was heavily investigated, the killer was never found.

The film itself keeps the important elements of the real case, but pretty much changes everything else. A young girl named Carla Castillo has been murdered and her body was dumped in Churchville, a town neighboring Rochester. Megan Paige (Eliza Dushku) is the lead detective for the case. Megan doesn't believe the three "Cs" involved in this murder are of any coincidence, involving herself very deeply into the case. In fact, she gets so involved that she starts seeing ghosts of the victims haunting her, especially Carla's. Megan, unable to deal with these hallucinations, attempts suicide. Luckily, she's rescued by her then-boyfriend and fellow detective Kenneth Shine (Cary Elwes) and Megan is diagnosed by schizophrenia.

Two years pass and Megan is recovering due to therapy, medication, and her mental health sponsor, Richard (Timothy Hutton). She's now assigned as a desk cop, doing mainly paperwork and taking phone calls, due to the city not being able to fire her. Soon enough, another young girl is murdered with the same profile - matching initials and her body being found in a neighbor starting with the same letter. Megan puts herself back on to the case, against Kenneth's [who is now captain] wishes, eventually succumbing to the ghosts of the victims. Quickly losing her mind again, Megan must solve the case before it's too late.


STORY - I really wanted to like THE ALPHABET KILLER. I'm a huge fan of movies that deal with serial killers, like SILENCE OF THE LAMBS, SE7EN, COPYCAT, and ZODIAC. Plus the film has an interesting cast with likeable characters such as Eliza Dushku, Cary Elwes, Timothy Hutton, Bill Moseley, and so on. Plus the film is based on a true case, so you'd think the film would follow it enough to make things interesting. Unfortunately THE ALPHABET KILLER ends up being a major disappointment, due to a really lame script that wastes all parties involved.

One of the major problems with the film stems from Megan's character. This brings the film down because she's the lead character and the only one in the film that has some sort of development and character arc going for her, while the other characters stand by the sidelines not doing much of anything interesting of note. And while she seems like a person devoted to her job, we have no idea why she's so obsessed with this serial killer case or why she's even seeing these little girls that may or may not be real. For one, obsession has to stem from somewhere in your psyche. What is Megan missing in her life that drives this woman to go to the lengths she does? She has a boyfriend in Kenneth, which is never developed. In fact, this lack of development creates problems later on - especially when Kenneth hires Megan back to the police force and eventually lets her handle the Alphabet Killer case - even though they have broken up over the fact that she went mental over this case to begin with. If you know her issues were triggered by this very case, why would you put her back on it? It makes no sense other than the fact that it has to happen for the story to work.

Plus, is Megan really schizophrenic or dealing with spirits haunting her into finding their killer? While I believe it's the latter, you're never really sure because we don't know anything about her. Does she have a history of mental illness? Is she a medium? Is it both? Who knows! The film never really explores Megan's struggles, using this plot device as a cheap way to make us watch Megan suffer so we can sympathize with her. It would have made the film, and Megan's character, stronger if the film had chose one. If she was schizophrenic, fine. If she can see ghost girls, fine. But don't confuse the audience by creating an unsolved mystery for both. This supernatural aspect takes away from the true life story to where it just exists as a time frame rather than a serious plot point. I wouldn't have minded the supernatural aspect if there were solid answers to back up its existence.

Speaking of the supernatural presence, the ghost girls look ridiculous. Instead of looking like actual spirits of the girls themselves, they reek of the overdone Asian horror ghosts that has infiltrated modern ghost movies. They look generic and not scary, making me wish Megan was just schizophrenic instead of a Ghost Whisperer.

What's also generic is the set up for the killer, which is funny since the real case is still unsolved. It could have gone the way of ZODIAC, where we kind of speculate who the killer is but we're never really sure. Plus the suspected killer in that film was developed enough for audiences to invest in the story. No such luck in THE ALPHABET KILLER. The killer is painfully predictable and obvious. What makes it worse is that we don't know what this person's motives were or what this person's background is to send him/her down this path. Sometimes it works if the killer is revealed sooner than later. But when the protagonists are searching for this person and the person in question doesn't appear and even have a significant presence until the very end, what's the point?

I will say that the dialogue, besides the horrible monologue at the very end, isn't all that bad. It's just generic and contrived. Plus the opening twenty minutes of the film are actually pretty solid enough to suck you in. It's the other seventy minutes that will try your patience and logic.

DIRECTION - The direction by Rob Schmidt, who directed 2000's SUBURBIA and 2003's WRONG TURN, is credible enough. For a low budget film, the production values are very solid as the film looks great. I liked how the colors weren't so vibrant, but washed out and very bleak. The darker scenes could have used more light, but it is what it is. The editing and composition for many of the scenes are also well presented. Unfortunately, Schmidt has no idea how to pace this kind of film, making it feel twice as long as it actually is. Plus the visuals can't compensate for a lost script that doesn't do anyone any favors. It's a nice attempt, but nothing all that impressive.

EDGE FACTOR - THE ALPHABET KILLER is pretty tame. The foul language is standard and the film isn't all that violent except for the final act and during a messed up hostage situation. As for nudity, you do get to see a quick glimpse of Eliza Dushku's boobs. But getting through this film to get to see that isn't really worth it.

ACTING - The acting is mixed. Eliza Dushku is a likeable actress who's protrayed some great roles. But she's completely miscast and over her head here as Megan. For playing someone supposedly suffering with a mental illness, Dushku had no idea what to do with that very important aspect of her character. Yes, she plays a good haunted and obsessed person - but it feels forced rather than inspired by what her character is going through. I wonder if Dushku was aware whether or not she was schizo or seeing ghosts - probably would have helped. When she's not dealing with this part of her character, Dushku is competent but it isn't her best performance by a mile. The other actors are likeable enough, but don't get all that much to do. Cary Elwes, Bill Moseley, Michael Ironside, and Timothy Hutton deserve better characters than what they were given, but take what they have and portray it well. I didn't hate the acting here, but coming from a cool cast like this, it's pretty disappointing that they weren't able to act their best due to the dud script.

I don't hate THE ALPHABET KILLER. It's not even close to the worst film I've seen, but it's still far away from the best. This thriller is below average due to a confusing and boring story with supernatural elements that only created more questions than answers. Plus Eliza Dushku deserved much better than this, since this particular role didn't fit her whatsoever. Can't really recommend this one except to those who like the actors involved. You're probably better off spelling words in your bowl of alphabet soup.

1.5 Howls Outta 4


Spiral (2007)

Adam Green
Joel David Moore

Joel David Moore - Mason
Amber Tamblyn - Amber
Zachary Levi - Berkeley
Tricia Helfer - Sasha
David Muller - Will
Annie Neal - Diana

Genre - Thriller/Psychological/Drama

Running Time - 91 Minutes

PLOT - Mason (Joel David Moore) is a quiet, antisocial telemarketer who's asthmatic, loves jazz music, and is a masterful painter by night. He also seems to have bad luck with the ladies he sketches. Mason's only friend is his office manager, Berkeley (Zachary Levi), who's known him for a long time. Berkeley is a not-so-subtle sexist and womanizer, yet is quite devoted to Mason and will do anything to help him.

Mason's world changes with the arrival of Amber (Amber Tamblyn) during one of their lunch breaks. Amber's interest in Mason's art and his awkwardness begins a friendship that breaks Mason somewhat out of his shell. But as the relationship progresses and Amber gets deeper into Mason's world, Mason's secrets begin to be revealed - which may not be good for anyone involved.


STORY - SPIRAL, even though it involves certain cast members from Green's breakout film HATCHET, is not a horror film. It's more like a character study in a psychological drama/thriller that just happens to be sometimes violent and bloody. It's really the complete opposite of HATCHET where the story moves slow in order for the audience to empathize with the main characters and see how and why they behave the way they do and what makes them tick.

And that's why SPIRAL really works - the three-dimensional characters. While there are a few people in the film, it's really a three character film. Mason's awkwardness and lack of social skills stem from a terrible childhood involving his parents, scared that he'll repeat his father's mistakes. He could be a stereotypical recluse, but Mason is a lot more than that. He's a telemarketer who's always late to work, even when he lives two-and-a-half blocks away. His passion is buying jazz records and listening to them as he sketches and paints women he's drawn to. But we know there's something wrong with Mason, as he constantly has nightmares about a certain waitress. He also wakes up with blood on his hands, convincing him that he's murdered these women once his secret has been revealed. Mason is a really complex character, yet the way he's written and even portrayed makes him easy to decipher and understand.

Mason's friendship with Berkeley tends to be a strange, yet realistic, one. The two really have nothing in common on the surface. Unlike Mason, Berkeley is a ladies' man - a sexist player who sleeps around with his female co-workers, not believing in settling down and is very confident about who he is and what he does. But in a way, Berkeley is also as anti-social as Mason. Mason is able to connect with people outside of the physical sense, which he does with Amber. Berkeley, even though he's physically intimate with women, doesn't [or can't] connect with people other than that. The only one he connects with on a broader scale is Mason, as if the two are Yin and Yang. The two are really best friends [almost like brothers], as Berkeley knows a lot of Mason's secrets, yet keeps them quiet and defends him to the end when others have bad words to say about him. The way they interact with each other is realistic, which makes the ending that much more powerful when the twist to the story is revealed.

As for Amber, we wonder why she's so attracted to Mason. Mason isn't the greatest looking guy. Mason doesn't have the most appealing personality or social skills. He's also a man who keeps his secrets, which would make anyone very suspicious. But Amber sticks by Mason's side, almost to the point of being needy and clingy. We don't know much about her past to really see why she would behave this way. In a lot of ways, she's more of a mystery than Mason is because we know more about him than her. This plays into the final act, which I kind of saw coming until the twist, but it's interesting to figure out why this cute girl with a charming personality would want to attach herself to someone who is the complete opposite.

SPIRAL is also a very dialogue heavy film, but it enhances the film and makes what happens towards the end more effective. The interaction in the film is mainly between Mason and Amber, which is quite good, as we watch both of their characters slowly change until everything falls apart. Even the stuff with Berkeley is compelling. The screenplay is very subtle, yet quite powerful.

DIRECTION - Adam Green and Joel David Moore direct a great film here, that feels almost Hitchcockian in a lot of ways. Moore had written SPIRAL originally as a short film with co-writer Jeremy Danial Boreing, but wanted Green to be part of the project due to their relationship working together on HATCHET as well as Moore having to be in front of the camera for much of the film. This allowed Moore to focus on the arcs of the characters while Green took care of the visual aspect. For a low budget production, SPIRAL looks anything but. It has a lot of atmosphere that's actually quite downbeat and depressing. It's cloudy for most of the film - a lot of scenes involve rain - and it doesn't offer anything optimistic at all. Even when Mason and Amber are enjoying each other's company, the mood around them tells us it won't end well. In a lot of ways, the setting [this was filmed in Portland, Oregon] and tone of the film represents Mason's character and state of mind. This is no more evident when Mason goes through several emotional episodes, where the camera begins shaking all over the place. There is also great framing and composition, especially when it comes to Mason's bathroom door - which is the brightest room in the entire film, but seems to be the one area where Mason is afraid of stepping into as if something horrible has happened in there. It creates suspense and curiosity as to what lies behind that door. It's just a very well shot film that displays style when the film needs it, but really focuses on the characters in order to let them tell the story. I think this may be Green's best work behind the lens.

EDGE FACTOR - SPIRAL is a pretty tame film for the most part. No one gets naked [the closest is Amber Tamblyn's back] and the language is what you'd usually hear in a PG-13 horror film. The violence is also tame, even though there are moments where confrontations become quite tense. This isn't really a film for blood and guts, letting the story be edgy in other places.

ACTING - Joel David Moore does a solid job as Mason. While he does do a bit of overacting at times, he's solid for the most part and is quite convincing as a creepy antisocial man. Moore gives Mason a sad and scary characteristic of an introverted individual who is so quiet that a single look makes him incredibly intimidating. Moore could have played the character Napoleon Dynamite-like, but Moore makes Mason realistic and quite unsettling - especially when there are people like this around us. Even though he's known for more comedic work, SPIRAL proves that Moore can handle drama as well. Amber Tamblyn is also quite good as Amber, creating a character who is the very opposite of Mason, balancing their scenes out quite perfectly. She seems like a normal girl - funny, charming, cute, and very outgoing - yet she's so obsessed with Mason. In a lot of ways, Amber is the perfect mate for Mason, giving exactly what he needs in his life. Tamblyn does well in creating almost an equal for Moore. Zachary Levi, who's probably best known as playing the title character on the show Chuck, is also quite good as Berkeley. He's pretty much a stereotype on paper, but Levi manages to flesh the character out by making him compassionate for Mason. SPIRAL has a very solid cast who truly deepen the script.

MUSIC - Some nice jazz music that set the tone and mood for much of the film. I dug it.

SPIRAL is a very solid film by up-and-coming filmmakers that deserves more than a cult audience. The story is interesting and well-written, the acting is great, and the direction is excellent. If you're into psychological thrillers/dramas, definitely check out SPIRAL if you haven't done so already. It's not for everyone, but if you give it a chance and be drawn into the story, you won't be disappointed. It's nice to see something intelligent and well-thought out for a change.

3.5 Howls Outta 4

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