Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Midnite Media is DEAD...

Heya, Hipsters.

This is it.  After five long years of blogging, MIDNITE MEDIA is officially dead.  It has, unofficially, been dead for the last nine months or so, as you can tell if you have been monitoring my output since the start of 2014.  I suppose I have just grown tired of the way things are around here, and it was too much hassle to repaint.

However, the good news is that I am taking up residence elsewhere, with a whole new game plan.  If there are any readers left out there in blogger land, I urge you to please join me at FLAG ON THE MOON.

Midnite Media will remain online for archival purposes, but will no longer be updated.  Please come on over to the new clubhouse, and let's have some fun.

Thank you all.

--J/Metro


Sunday, April 27, 2014

Movie Review: Stage Fright (2014)

Stage Fright
STAGE FRIGHT - Poster Image


Written & Directed by Jerome Sable

Kylie Swanson...Minnie Driver
Camilla Swanson...Allie MacDonald
Buddy Swanson...Douglas Smith
Roger McCall...Meat Loaf

"The following is based on true events. While the names have been changed to respect the victims and their families, the musical numbers will be performed exactly as they occurred."

Ten years after would-be Broadway sensation Kylie Swanson is brutally murdered following the opening of the musical The Haunting Of The Opera, the disgraced producer is resurrecting the show. It's off-Broadway, this time. Way, way off. In fact, it's taking place at a summer camp for theater kids known as Center Stage.

STAGE FRIGHT - Camilla and Buddy

But is the show cursed? Just before the revival show's opening night, the director is murdered. The camp is in a panic, but the producer dubs the obvious crime scene an unfortunate accident, and, as you've heard a thousand times before, the show must go on. And for P.R. purposes, it is Kylie's talented but unsure teenage daughter Camilla headlining the marquee.

Like with all good things, this show has a few detractors. One of them, however, just so happens to be wearing a kabuki mask and wielding any number of deadly weapons.

I'm not much of one for standard musicals or Broadway-type shows. Slasher flicks, though, I can get behind with a vengeance, and I'll even support the odd rock opera. This, thankfully, is a fantastic blend of all that kept me rooted in my seat the entire time.

STAGE FRIGHT - Kabuki Killer

The saccharine show tunes actually have a bit of subversive bile beneath the surface, and they are tempered by the shrieking rock numbers that the killer delivers when he's on scene. He is imposing, and yet amusing, and the violence is fast and vicious.

The performances are strong all around, though there is such a large cast that we scarcely get to know many of them. As this is a theater camp, the musical numbers seem at least slightly more organic than they otherwise would. For the genre fan, there are clever nods to other films (including Carrie and Texas Chainsaw Massacre), and enough violent turns to keep you interested through to the end.

Equal parts Glee, Avenue Q, and Sleepaway Camp, I had a hell of a good time with this movie and fully expect it to become a cult favorite within a few years time.

2014
Rated R
89 Minutes
Color
English
Canada

"Isn't it wrong to sing and dance when someone just died?"
--J/Metro

Friday, April 11, 2014

Movie Review: HazMat (2013)

HazMat

Written & Directed by Lou Simon

Jacob...Norbert Velez
Scary Dave...Todd Bruno
Brenda...Aniela McGuinness

Scary Antics is a cable television show along the lines of Scare Tactics, where malicious practical jokes are played on unsuspecting people in an attempt to terrify them and drum up ratings. The latest episode is all set up to take place in an abandoned chemical factory that is rumored to be haunted, and the mark is a disturbed young man whose friends are setting him up in an effort to bitchslap him back to normalcy.

Solid plan, guys.

This being a horror movie, things obviously do not go according to plan. It addresses the question that has always plagued me when watching shows like Scare Tactics: when it comes to the fight or flight response, what happens if the subject chooses fight?

It's not a long way to fall for an already disturbed man to completely lose his grip, and so this little prank quickly devolves into a manic slasher film that should please many fans of the genre.

I wasn't sold on the premise when the film began, and some of the acting at the onset was a bit shaky, but it quickly found its legs. The kills may not be the most original, but they are shocking and surprising enough to keep you guessing. Most slasher flicks are a little light on plot, and this one is no exception, but it's still a fun and memorable entry in the indie killer canon.  Definitely worth a watch.

--J/Metro

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Movie Review: Bloodlust! (1961)

Bloodlust!
BLOODLUST! - Movie Poster

Written & Directed by Ralph Brooke

Johnny Randall...Robert Reed
Pete Garwood...Eugene Persson
Dr. Albert Balleau...Wilton Graff

BLOODLUST! - Title Screen

Four young people on a pleasure cruise find themselves stranded on a desert island when their boat captain passes out drunk.  They are taken in by Albert Balleau, a wealthy recluse, whose intensity is somewhat intimidating, and given a room to stay the night.  They find out in short order that Balleau is a madman who hunts humans for sport, and they are the next targets in his most dangerous game.

BLOODLUST! - The Kids

Booby traps, hidden rooms and jungle action fill in the empty spaces of this less-than-classic drive-in flick.  It starts off with an almost admirable innocence, but that innocence is shattered when the low budget gore effects kick in.  The story is very familiar to pretty much anyone who has ever watched movies, but there are enough wacky elements to keep your interest for the abbreviated running time.  The cast is pretty good, though, with Wilton Graff chewing up the scenery like a Bond villain crossed with a Hungry Hungry Hippo, and the rest of the principal cast taking a slightly more grounded approach.

BLOODLUST! - She Ain't Swimmin'

This is by no means a must-see film, but if you have an hour to spare, a few beers, and a bag of popcorn, you could do much worse.  Enjoyable enough for what it is--a down-and-dirty cheapie for the exploitation fan.  You've surely seen this movie before, but I'll bet that you've never seen it with Mr. Brady.

Special thanks to Film Chest Media for the screener, who will be releasing the HD restoration of this film on March 4, 2014.

1961
Unrated
68 Minutes
B&W
English
United States

"The Foulest Passion Of Them All!"
--J/Metro

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Short Film: Chatter (2010)

After an argument with her boyfriend, Liz (Karoline Stemme) uses a little alcohol to make herself feel better and a Chat Roulette-type website to take her mind off her problems.  She discovers a brand new set of problems, though, when she watches the girl that she is chatting with being attacked by some unseen force.  Almost as if on cue, Liz's power goes out...and when it comes back on, she is not alone.

I stumbled across this short film completely by accident, but I sure am glad that I did.  This was a fantastic 8-minute ride, chock full of creeps.  Were it expanded a bit, and the format altered, this would be right at home in the next entry of the V/H/S franchise--and it would probably be one of the better segments, too.

Take ten minutes out of your busy life, turn down the lights, and give this puppy your full attention.

Chatter from Espen Gjelsten on Vimeo.

--J/Metro

Friday, January 24, 2014

Movie Review: Devil's Due (2014)

Devil's Due
DEVIL'S DUE - Poster Image

Written by Lindsay Devlin
Directed by Matt Bettinello-Olpin & Tyler Gillett

Samantha McCall...Allison Miller
Zach McCall...Zach Gilford
Father Thomas...Sam Anderson

After a lost night on their Mexican honeymoon, newlyweds Samantha and Zach McCall discover that they're going to have a baby. This isn't Knocked Up, though, and that ain't no normal baby. She's carrying the antichrist in her once-taut tummy.

I traditionally avoid spoilers in my reviews, but I feel that I can get away with this one because although they don't tell you it in the trailers, they basically tell you within the first 10 seconds of the movie.

DEVIL'S DUE -"I didn't kill her"

Samantha dies.

We know this because the movie opens up with a blood-covered Zach in an interrogation room. "I didn't kill her," he says. And even if he didn't, someone or something did.

This pointless opening which gives away the fate of our main character is my primary qualm with this movie. We know she dies, and because it's a movie about giving birth to the antichrist, we're pretty sure we know when, too. All we don't know about her final fate is the how, and you'll probably figure that out well before the movie ends, too.

Found footage films have a lot of detractors. They have ever since The Blair Witch Project burst on the scene. I, for one, am a proud supporter. I would say that I am a found footage apologist, but I feel no need to apologize. When done correctly, they draw me into the story and keep me there, offering up a semblance of "reality" that a more cinematic approach would have difficulty achieving on what is typically a lower budget. The wife and I both thoroughly enjoyed this film, and it will probably join the Paranormal Activity films on our shelf once the DVD drops.

DEVIL'S DUE - Redecorating for the baby

All that being said, Devil's Due does not bring much of anything new to the table. It hits all of the notes that I expected it to hit, but it did so well enough that I didn't mind too much. There were enough scares and creepy imagery scattered about to keep me interested, and I was never pulled too far out of the movie (though in hindsight, I do have to wonder just how all of this footage from multiple cameras was supposedly assembled).

All in all, any horror flick that I can enjoy with the wife is all right by me. It didn't rewrite the rules or redefine the genre, but not everything has to. Sometimes one can find comfort in the familiar.

2014
Rated R
89 Minutes
Color
English
United States

--J/Metro

Monday, January 13, 2014

Movie Review: Big Bad Wolves (2012)

Big Bad Wolves
BIG BAD WOLVES - Poster Image

Written & Directed by Aharon Keshales and Navot Papushado

BIG BAD WOLVES - Police Brutality

When a police detective's brutal methods allow a murderous pedophile to go free, said detective is suspended from the force. Without the badge holding him back, he's able to travel right over the edge to get his man...but he's not the only one. The father of the latest victim is on the case, too, and he's willing to do whatever it takes to find out where the pervert hid his daughter's head.

BIG BAD WOLVES - Hammer Time

It seems everybody wants a pound of flesh, but the question is: is there enough to go around? This dark, violent, and gory revenge flick shows just how far family will go for blood--to protect their own, and to spill somebody else's. There are enough atrocities onscreen to make you look away, and enough flip-flopping of allegiances to keep you guessing right up to the end.

BIG BAD WOLVES - Guilty?

And who is the Big Bad Wolf here? It's not just the suspected pedophile, and it's not just those who are seeking bloody vengeance. It's all of them together, three very different men on a roadway straight to hell.

This stylish and very-darkly comic thriller is the Israeli equivalent of Eli Roth directing Reservoir Dogs.  It is more of a crime piece than it is a horror flick, but there are bucket loads of Hostel-type horror scenes here, which more than qualifies it for inclusion in any genre fan's watchlist.  This was one of my favorite discoveries this past year, and I'm hoping that it will find its audience when it hits V.O.D. and select theaters on January 17th.

Special thanks to Magnolia Pictures for the screener!

--J/Metro

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Movie Review: Besties (2012)

Besties
BESTIES - Poster Image

Written & Directed  by Rebecca Cutter

Sandy...Olivia Crocicchia
Ashley...Madison Riley
Justin...Christopher Backus
Danny...Corin Nemic

When 14-year-old Sandy's father goes out of town for the weekend, high school senior Ashley is asked to babysit. Sandy has always idolized Ashley, so when the older girl decides to throw a party, she goes along with it.

Justin, a dangerous one-time fling of Ashley's, shows up and begins making inappropriate advances on Sandy. Things spiral out of control, and soon the girls are left with a corpse to dispose of.

Secrets like this pull people together and push them apart. The secret--and Ashley--become the center of Sandy's world, digging herself deeper and deeper into a world of darkness and obsession.

BESTIES - Friends 4-Ever

Sandy's fascination with Ashley is the real backbone of this story, as it is what allowed everything to unfold in the first place. This could very well be the pre-history of a Single White Female situation.

It's a decent little thriller, sort of horror-lite, almost ready for broadcast TV. It's likely not to please the hardened genre fan, but drama lovers who enjoy a side of darkness should be pleased.

As far as the characters go, the usual teen tropes apply. They don't talk like real teenagers, they talk the way that movies believe teenagers talk. That being said, they're not quite as obnoxious as teenagers are usually depicted, and Olivia Crocicchia turns in a great performance as the bumbling, awkward Ashley. She carried the film admirably.

BESTIES - Olivia Crocicchia

The finale is a little open-ended, but it works with this film. I can't say that I'm necessarily a fan of the movie, but I'm sure there are a large number of tween girls who would be pleased to munch popcorn on the couch while this is playing on the television.

Besties will be available for VOD on January 21.
Special thanks to Phase 4 Films for the screener!

--J/Metro

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

2014: The Year of Fear

Well, horror hipsters, 2013 has come and gone, and 2014 is just beginning. I'm not the type to make New Year's resolutions, primarily just because I'm too damned lazy to try to improve myself. However there are a few things that I'm hoping (not resolving) to accomplish this year.

I'm going to keep on plugging away with the fine folks over at The Crypt as an official contributor, plus behind the scenes as a somewhat less official beta tester. There's already some great stuff there, and even better things will be coming our way in 2014, so if you don't have the Crypt app on your iPhone yet, get on it. (Android and web platforms coming soon).

I'm going to try to post more often around here, even if not a full-fledged review, at least a few inane ramblings and updates.

I am also currently attempting to nail down some concrete concepts for a NEW project that I'm tossing around, which will (I hope) give my reviews and writings a more viable voice, focus, and direction, and will reignite my passion for the horror genre.

So stay tuned, everyone. And let's make 2014 the Year of Fear!

--J/Metro

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