Tuesday Terrors: The Sinister Review (Mania.com)

By:Tim Janson
Date: Tuesday, March 19, 2013
Source: Mania.com

Welcome back to Tuesday Terrors your regular Mania fix of all things horror!




International Trailer for Penthouse North.  In the film, Sara Taylor (Michelle Monaghan), a photojournalist blinded in Iraq, is forced to play a deadly game of cat and mouse with the sadistic criminal Hollander (Michael Keaton) – a man who will stop at nothing to get a fortune of stolen diamonds hidden in Sara's penthouse apartment. Although Sara claims to not know where the diamonds are, Hollander utilizes psychological and physical torture in an effort to break Sara's resistance. But Sara fights back. As the suspense builds to a shattering climax, Sara gains the advantage. But will it be enough to save her?


American Horror Story Season 3 has a name.  American Horror story co-creator Ryan Murphy as confirmed that the third season of the show will be titled “Coven” and it will be shooting in New Orleans.


Official Trailer for Kiss of the Damned.  Beautiful vampire Djuna (Josephine de La Baume) tries to resist the advances of the handsome, human screenwriter Paolo (Milo Ventimiglia), but eventually gives in to their passion. When her troublemaker sister Mimi (Roxane Mesquida) unexpectedly comes to visit, Djuna's love story is threatened, and the whole vampire community becomes endangered...on VOD March 28. 


Dragon Wasps coming to DVD April 9th.  ***correction*** In my last column I reported that Dragon Wasps would be out on DVD March 7.  The correct date is April 9th.  When her father mysteriously disappears on an expedition, beautiful entomologist Gina Humphries and her fiery assistant, Rhonda, set out to search the rain forests of Belize. Due to numerous robberies and assaults in the jungle, they are escorted by heavily-armed soldiers. Guerillas, lead by the infamous Jaguar, ambush the convoy and incite a bloody shootout. Just when things can’t get worse, a horde of murderous Dragon Wasps, massive flying bugs that shoot flame from their abdomens, swarms the soldiers. Now the military must defeat Jaguar’s bandits and survive the fearsome insect onslaught as they venture inside the Dragon Wasps’ hive. 


U.S. Trailer for American Mary.  American Mary follows the story of medical student Mary Mason (played by Katharine Isabelle of the Ginger Snaps franchise) as she grows increasingly broke and disenchanted with medical school and the surgeons she once admired. The allure of easy money and notoriety send Mary into the shady world of underground surgery and body modification.


Walking Dead Bust Bank coming in August.  Based on one of Michonne's chained walkers from the hit AMC TV show The Walking Dead, The Walking Dead Michonne's Pet Zombie 2 Bust Bank stands 8-inches tall atop the famous The Walking Dead logo. This bust bank has been crafted in durable vinyl with a slot in the back for loose change. This The Walking Dead Michonne's Pet Zombie 2 Bust Bank features detailed sculpting and paint applications, making it not just a cool bank, but an amazing bust, too!


The Black Dahlia Haunting finds a distributor.  Zeroinside Films and Pinnovating Productions have revealed The Black Dahlia Haunting - written and directed by Brandon Slagle - has been picked up by Origin Releasing for North American distribution…The film stars Devanny Pinn, Britt Griffith, Noah Dahl, Alexis Iacono, Cleve Hall, Jessica Cameron and Sarah Nicklin.  The film which nabbed Best Director, Best Actress, and Best Monster at Shockfest in Hollywood this past November will hit stores, VOD outlets, and other markets in the third quarter of 2013.  Here’s the trailer!


New vampire flick Byzantium gets release date.  Byzantium, is poised to debut on June 28th from IFC Films.  Gemma Arterton and Saoirse Ronan star as two mysterious women who seek refuge in a run-down coastal resort. Clara meets lonely Noel, who provides shelter in his deserted guesthouse, Byzantium. Schoolgirl Eleanor befriends Frank and tells him their lethal secret. They were born 200 years ago and survive on human blood. As knowledge of their secret spreads, their past catches up on them with deathly consequence.


Munsters Uncle Gilbert figure.  The Munsters are back with this Munsters Select Uncle Gilbert Action Figure! An essential Series 3 Munsters Select figure, Uncle Gilbert stands 7-inches tall, is fully poseable, and includes 1 piece of the staircase at 1313 Mockingbird Lane.


Trailer for new zombie film State of Emergency.  After an explosion unleashes the contents of a military bio-weapons plant, the unsuspecting populace is transformed into a roaming army of flesh-eating zombies. Trapped in the quarantine zone, Jim finds himself cut off, confused and fighting for his own survival. Contacted by a small band of others unaffected by the toxins, Jim sets out to reach their besieged warehouse. Becoming the survival group's de-facto leader, he struggles to keep order as they hunker down, fortify their stronghold and arm themselves against the attacking mutants. Fragmentary radio reports from outside hint at a last-ditch government rescue plan.  Coming in April.


X-Files like “Occult” coming to A&E.  In addition to Bates Motel, A&E is dropping another genre show on fans called Occult.  Occult revolves around an FBI agent who has returned from administrative leave after going off the deep end while investigating his wife’s disappearance. Eager to be back on the job, he is paired with an agent with her own complicated backstory who specializes in the occult. Together, they will solve cases for the newly formed occult crimes task force.  No word yet on a debut date.


Last Kind Words arrive in May.  17-year-old Eli has just moved with his family deep into the backwoods of Kentucky to work on the isolated farm of a local recluse.  Inexplicably drawn into the strange forest that lies beyond the farm, Eli encounters the beautiful, sweet and mysterious Amanda– seemingly the perfect girl. But with the discovery of decaying bodies hanging from the trees, he realizes that the forest...and Amanda...are harboring some very dark secrets. Suddenly, Eli is living in a waking nightmare where the lines between life and death are scrawled in blood, and there is no escaping the terror from beyond the grave.  Coming to DVD May 21 from Image Entertainment.




Badass: Ultimate Deathmatch Book Review (Morrow) Ben Thompson

Grade: A


This book is subtitled “Skull-Crushing True Stories of the Most Hardcore Duels, Showdowns, Fistfights, Last Stands, Suicide Charges, and Military Engagements of All Time” and that about says it all.  This is part history book, part encyclopedia, laced with Thompson’s sharp wit and salty vernacular, as it relates tales and facts of some of the biggest badasses of all time.


Author Ben Thompson sections the book chronologically beginning with ancient battles of the BC era like the Battle of Salamis in 480 BC which relates how the Persian ruler Xerxes invaded Greece “with an obscene amount of arrogance, some daddy issues, one of coolest names in history, and three hundred thousand warriors…intent on spear-humping the face of every man, woman, and child in Greece.”


Then there is the story of The Battle of Teutoburg Forest (also referred to as the Varian Disaster) when an alliance of Germanic tribes ambushed and decisively destroyed three Roman legions.  The Germanic tribes were led by a hard-as-hell warrior named Arminius—A Conan the Barbarian-style hellraiser who allegedly could cleave a man from head to groin with one swing of his massive axe.


Read about the blood-soaked invasion of England and the British Isles by Ivar the Boneless, commander of the Great Heathen Army, referred to as such because of the immense armada of dragon-headed ships that he led.


Thompson regales us with tales of Medieval knights, deadly Samurai, pirate-battling sea captains, Prussian cavalry soldiers, Wild West gunfighters, ace fighter pilots, to modern day soldiers.  The regular chapters are accented by shorter anecdotal sections which cover stories of great duels like Alexander Hamilton Vs. Aaron Burr and Nolan Ryan Vs. Robin Ventura.  This is an absolutely enthralling blast!


Sinister Blu-Ray Review (Lionsgate) Rated R

Grade: B-


Ethan Hawke plays true crime novelist Ellison Oswalt who moves his wife and children into the home of a family who hung themselves months earlier.  The only survivor was the youngest daughter who disappeared and was never found.  Ellison seeks to find out what happened to the youngest daughter.  Ellison finds a box in the attic that contains a projector and several reels of 8 mm film.  Ellison discovers that they are snuff movies depicting families being murdered in various ways: having their throats slit in bed, being burnt to death in a car, drowned in their swimming pool, and being run over by a lawn mower, and the hanging that occurred in the house.  Throughout the films he spies a mysterious, demonic figure looming in the background of each.


Due to his strained relationship with law enforcement over his previous books, Ellison is reluctant to alert the police to his discovery but does confide in one deputy who is a fan of his books.  A strange symbol is also seen throughout the films.  The deputy refers Ellison to a local professor, Jonas (Vincent D'Onofrio), to decipher the symbol in the films. Jonas tells Ellison that the symbols are that of a pagan deity named Bughuul (Nick King), who would kill entire families so that he could take their children into his realm and consume their souls.  The deputy soon makes the connection that every family had previously lived in the house where the last murder took place, and each new murder occurred shortly after the family moved into their new residence.  Ellison has placed himself and his family in line to be the next victims.


Sinister’s premise is so silly that it is hard to take serious.  Those Babylonian deities sure are pesky!  Director Scott Derrickson stuffs as many jump-out-of-your-seat moments as he can throughout the nearly two hours but eventually you know exactly when to expect them and they lose their effectiveness.  But the film is bolstered by Hawke’s tense performance.  He isn’t the macho dad of so many horror films who pushes on regardless of the horrors being inflicted on his family.  When all hell breaks loose he’s the first one to say, “let’s pack-up and get out!”  


The other thing you have to appreciate about Sinister is that unlike most other modern horrors there’s no twist ending…no swerve, not thinking that everything is ending happy only to have something pop up.  As much as I hate the expression the film is true to itself.  The title describes the film’s mood perfectly from beginning to end.


The Asylum Tapes DVD Review (Revolver Entertainment) Unrated

Grade: B-


This new found footage film comes from Sean Stone, son of renowned director Oliver Stone. I can’t think of too many settings more terrifying for a horror film than an abandoned mental hospital. When we were in our teens, my friends and I frequented one near where we lived…a sprawling complex of about a dozen buildings, all connected with tunnels that went underneath them all. They are inherently terrifying places!


The younger Stone makes a somewhat uneven attempt to try and document a true life experience, even down to himself and his co-stars Alexander Wraith and Antonella Lentini, playing themselves in the film. It begins at a dinner with them all gathered along with Oliver Stone and discussing the ominous Greystone Psychiatric Hospital in New Jersey, an actual asylum that dates back to 1876 and was closed in 2003. Alexander entices Sean by his tales of patients being tortured with electroshock therapy and lobotomies and stories of patient’s records being erased so the doctors could perform experiments on them. 


Despite the fact that Sean has just met Alex, he and Antonella decide to accompany him to the facility to explore it, and of course, document the entire episode on their camera. What follows is an hour of the trio meandering about the decrepit walls of the facility, jumping at every noise and shadow. Sean begins to suspect that Alex is leading them into something dangerous yet apparently isn’t smart enough to turn around and leave. 


The film becomes unfocused though when Stone introduces several supernatural elements during the last half hour including an apparent ghost or demonic entity that traps two more friends in a room and tosses them about like rag dolls before pulling off a remarkable trick by making them disappear without a trace. Greystone Park is a muddled found footage, supernatural horror, and slasher film (in the guise of a patient who escaped and was never found again) and none of them work to full success because Stone doesn’t commit to any single one. It’s a wasted opportunity.  Still there are a number of unsettling and creepy moments throughout and the setting is absolutely spot on.


The Shadow People Blu-ray Review (Anchor Bay) Rated PG-13

Grade C+


The Walking Dead’s Dallas Roberts stars in this new Psychological/Supernatural horror film that even incorporates documentary aspects.  Roberts is Charlie Crowe, a late night radio host in a small market.  Charlie dreams of getting into a bigger market through syndication.  He receives a call from a desperate young man who shoots himself dead while on the air.  Before committing suicide the man had left a package of information on Charlie’s doorstep, hinting at malevolent spirits who can paralyze and kill people in their sleep.  


As Charlie digs into the movie several other mysterious deaths take place eventually prompting the CDC to send an investigator named Sophie Lacombe (played by Alison Eastwood, Clint’s daughter) to see if the deaths are the result of some type of virus.  Eventually Charlie and Alison track down the name of a doctor who performed some bizarre experiments in brain waves during the 1970s.  This leads them to a hidden film of the experiment in which all the subjects died and shadows were seen moving about.  Charlie begins to have his own night terrors which leave him temporarily paralyzed as an ominous shadow moves towards him in his bed.


The film includes interviews and footage with what the film claims is the real life characters from the film.  I don’t know if this is true but either way these do not add any value to the film.  In fact they seem to impede the film’s momentum repeatedly.  Since we don’t get a lot of depth of development from the film characters why would we care about the real life people?


Shadow People is a Frankenstein Monster of a movie, cobbled together with parts from many other films such as “The Ring”, “Apparition”, and “Pulse” to name a few.  It’s too bad as it wastes a good performance from Dallas Roberts.  There was an interesting idea to explore here but too much time was wasted on the documentary elements.


Funko’s Walking Dead Pop Vinyl Figures

Grade: A


Funko Toys has produced an array of their extremely cool Pop Vinyl figures on everything from Disney and Masters of the Universe to Game of Thrones and Marvel Comic’s heroes.  With their latest line they turn their attention the cable zombie hit, The Walking Dead with figures of Rick Grimes, Daryl Dixon, RV Walker, and Bicycle Girl Zombie, all available from Entertainment Earth (www.entertainmentearth.com)


If you’re unfamiliar with the Pop Vinyl figures, they all stand around 3 3/4” tall and manufactured in sturdy vinyl.  Daryl Dixon is dressed in blue jeans and his cutoff shirt.  He’s got his ever-present crossbow loaded and ready to take out there nearest walker.

Officer Rick Grimes is in first season look, still wearing his sheriff’s uniform complete with shirt, pants, shoes, badge, and cowboy-style hat, also with badge.  Rick has his service revolver drawn as he prepares to fire off a well-placed shot at a walker.  And note that look of determination upon his face!

The RV Walker is grimy and rotting his mouth is torn into a horrid, teeth-baring grin and his head is dotted with gaping, gory wounds.  Worst of all a screwdriver is buried deep into his left eye socket, thanks to Andrea.  He’s dressed in tattered but casual clothing and his decomposing arms are marked with deep gouges.


Finally, Bicycle Girl Zombie from season one and perhaps the most favorite zombie in the entire series from an effects standpoint.  Her boy is torn away at the waist down as she slowly crawls forward hoping for a fleshy meal.  She’s is horridly deteriorated, ribs are exposed, and with grimy hair.

Follow Mania on Facebook and Twitter. If work has you blocked out, download our app on iTunes for your iPhone and iPad.