Written by: Scotty
Welcome to Los Angeles, the City of Angels, the land of movies, super stars, Super Heroes and yes, Zombies. A band of super heroes have joined forces to secure the Paramount movie studio to provide safe haven for those in the city that have not been infected by the virus. The affectionately named "Mount" has living and farming quarters to house a number of survivors left in the city, but there is not enough food or supplies on hand to sustain this way of life. Supply runs become vital to the community and with Heroes at their backs, the people feel secure in all of their ventures outside of the walls.
On the group’s latest supply run, they encounter something that they have never seen before, road blocks with cars piled six to eight high. Dismissing this as an act of desperation from the other non-dead group that inhabits Los Angeles, St. George, aka the Mighty Dragon tears the detour apart so the group can continue on their run without being attacked by the undead. The zombies are called Exes, from the last presidential address concerning the outbreak, Ex-Living, Ex-People, the term was adopted. Besides the unexpected road block, the supply run goes according to plan, until their return home.
The other undead group in L.A., the Seventeens hit the supply group by disabling their truck and using a signal jammer to cut off any communications back to the Mount to call for reinforcements. The group battles the Seventeens and the Exes and tries to survive until any type of help will arrive. St. George is impervious to gunfire and bites, and with his super strength, he leads the charge in protecting the group. Cerberus, a woman in a cybernetic suit takes up arms against the attackers as well utilizing her strength to battle off the Exes while her suit still contains a charge, or until help arrives.
When help finally arrives, the big guns are drawn out and the attacking Seventeens and Exes are mowed down in the streets. Upon the groups retreat back to the Mount, they manage to obtain two survivors from the Seventeens to be held for questioning. The two are not very helpful in the long run, as they both commit suicide in their holding cells. When they reanimate however, they do not respond as normal Exes, instead of trying to bite and kill, they only want to relay a bone chilling message from their leader...a villain with super powers and a member of the undead.
Ex-Heroes will take you on a thrilling ride through post apocalyptic Los Angeles. Two groups battling for survival, dominance and revenge. Following the group from the Mount, you see the battle unwrap from the eyes of the super heroes that only want to protect the living. The leader of the group, Stealth, a smart, attractive and athletic woman who is rarely wrong, St. George who has the power of flight and super human strength, Zzzap, who can only be qualified as a very tiny G-Class star and Gorgon, who can drain the energy from his intended by making eye contact with them. Trying to survive the attacks from the undead and now the Seventeens, Gorgon has a price on his head from embarrassing their leader before the world changed. There will not be peace between the two groups until this super hero is turned over to the group and their revenge has been served.
Super Heroes versus Zombies, who could ask for anything better? This is just a fun read that takes you into battle with those you believe to be invulnerable and see how they handle the destruction and protection of a city. You also get battles with Super Villains, undead Super Villains that have embraced their change and fight for their type of justice. Comic book fans out there, it is not DC or Marvel, but you get some great young characters in this book and their battle with the undead is just a joy to read. Picking this book up will not disappoint, but may leave you longing for the next one.
Written by: John Edward Betancourt
Everything comes to an end, whether we like it or not. Be it something as simple as an incredible evening with good friends and those we love or something as complex as a human life. Some of us completely fear the end, while others don't even consider its existence. One way or another however, we will face the end of something and someday we must all say goodbye to the life we have lived.
But this week the theme of the films we look at here at Girls of Geek all revolve around a simple question; what if? What if we could recognize a direct threat to our life? What if we could escape the moment that death came calling? These are two questions posed in the iconic horror film; Final Destination.
Young Alex Browning has his whole life ahead of him, with his senior year of high school coming to an end he intends to cap it off by joining his classmates and friends on a senior trip to Paris, France. But once aboard Flight 180, Alex has a horrible vision, one that shows his friends dying one by one as the airplane breaks apart right after takeoff. This vision and the subsequent panic from it leads to Alex and a few other students being removed from the flight. Shortly after they return to the terminal, it turns out Alex's vision was a premonition as Flight 180 explodes in the sky above. As Alex tries to move on with his life, the other survivors of Flight 180 begin to die, and Alex quickly learns that escaping death's clutches comes with consequences.
Ironically enough, I managed to see Final Destination on the road, two days before flying home to Denver. While watching it on the big screen I enjoyed every second of it, and did not regret my experience until I was settled into my seat aboard the plane home as we started to taxi toward the runway. The explosion of Flight 180 is that brilliant and that terrifying as it plays out on screen, it truly stays with you. In fact that scene helped this movie kick off a powerhouse franchise, to date spawning four sequels that all work off of one founding principle; creative kills.
Granted there a lot of nifty kills out there in the horror genre, but I've yet to see any other franchise provide us with the incredible Rube Goldberg style that the Final Destination employs. It is these creative kills that keep the franchise rolling, but there is one other element that makes the first film stand out above the rest, the slick script based off of a story written by Jeffrey Reddick. Reddick's style brings the characters to life, giving them enough personality and depth so that their kills actually have meaning. But the script doesn't stop there, Jeffrey brings forth a new villain in the horror genre, by making death a functional villain, one that is always watching and waiting.
All of these elements make this film a must own. It is the best of the series, it is has plenty of thrills and chills and it stands as a modern classic because it brought so many original ideas to the table.
Written by: John Edward Betancourt
At some point we have all taken a moment to ponder the past when it comes to a new home, apartment or hotel. Rarely does it become our top of mind, but there is always that little voice that goes to a dark place in our imagination, taking that single moment to wonder if something terrible happened in the room we now sleep in. Thankfully our imagination will rarely take us beyond that point, and with good reason, the odds are against such possibilities. But that's the beauty of horror, it gives us the chance to see the awful answer to "what if?" and that's the focus of The Perfect House.
Set in Anytown, U.S.A. The Perfect House picks up as we meet a young couple in the market to buy a new home. The home they have chosen, despite the fact that it clearly fits all their needs, has a horrible past. That's the basics to the film as this flick brings us an anthology style terror tale in the vein of Creepshow or Tales from the Crypt by giving us three tales of terror from the house's dark past while using the prospective buyers as the wraparound story.
The film itself is pretty standard fare, with plenty of splatter to please, but we felt the need to review it for one particular reason, the second story in the film revolving around a killer named John Doesy. In this tale, we are trapped in the basement of the house with a young lady who is being groomed for her death by Doesy, played by Jonathan Tiersten. It is this story that is the absolute highlight of the film, all because of Mister Tiersten's performance. His portrayal of this madman is utterly terrifying. John Doesy is without remorse and without emotion, until the moment of the kill. Once the opportunity arises to open up another human being do we see a twinkle in the eye of this sick little man and at no point can you look away.
In fact Jonathan has won multiple awards for his performance in this film and he deserves it, only because every second he is on screen you are left uncomfortable. See it as soon as you can, simply for this outstanding performance. It will haunt you, and it will disturb you enough to let that part of your imagination linger a little longer on what might have happened in our homes before any of us set foot in them.
Written by: Scotty
A young man is found crucified and decapitated with the mark of the Gemini on his left palm. The work of the Gemini killer as suspected by the police force, but this cannot be since the Gemini killer has been dead for over a decade. Lieutenant William Kinderman is called into to investigate the heinous crime. Kinderman is not alone in believing that there must be a reasonable explanation for this gruesome murder, but is unable to put his finger on it before leaving the scene of this gruesome murder, a boat house.
William Kinderman is a highly regarded member of the police force, even though he is getting high up in his years of service. Always speaking his mind and most of the time saying what he believes before his mind has a chance to stop him. This earned him a reputation of being senile around the department, even knowing this; Kinderman never let it affect his work. Father Joe Dyer knew this about the aging lieutenant, but would never hold it against him. The two had been friends for many years and had always been able to find common ground to stand on, even when their religions had to cross paths.
For a new murder has been called in, a priest was found decapitated in his confessional, yet none of the parishioners seemed to see anything. Kinderman is called to the scene once again, only to find the same M.O. as the youth suffered in the boat house. Trying to wrap his head around the two murders of two completely different victims, Kinderman turns to his friend Father Dyer once again. The father is laid up in the hospital, but willing to help as always. The father receives a new doctor, Vincent Amfortas, who is ready to retire to pursue his studies in pain suppression, but the first questioning by Kinderman left the doctor as a suspect, until the lieutenant saw a face from his past.
Blatty’s Legion takes you on a journey into the realm of faiths, beliefs and possession. Kinderman is challenged by an unknown force that will put him at odds with his department, friends and family. Without knowing who or when an attack will be coming or who the intended victim will be, Kinderman has to look deep inside of himself and try to think as his foe would to protect the next target.
Legion is a fantastic read, a thriller that will keep you on the edge of your seat. You get to see the world from the eyes of a disgruntled doctor, an aging lieutenant along with the spirit. When Kinderman asks the spirits name and the response is, ‘Legion, for we are many’, the hair still sticks up on the back of my neck. The novel will keep you thinking up to the very end of who the killer really is and how the murders were managed by one individual, even if he were supposedly locked up for the entirety.
Written by: John Edward Betancourt
I would like to think that when it comes to zombie movies I have seen it all. I don't know if I have achieved this epic goal as of yet, but I can tell you this, I've watched a ton of movies about reanimated corpses and there have been amazing ones and there have been terrible ones. It's the yin and the yang of every genre. But there is one particular zombie movie that came up the other day that I wish I had managed to forget about; Burial Ground.
This one is a foreign living dead film, which left me curious the first time I saw the VHS cassette hanging out in the video store. After all, The Blind Dead were an excellent addition to the zombieverse and Lucio Fulci's Zombie was impressive on so many levels, so naturally I thought it would be worth my time, and holy crap, I regret being this wrong. The plot, if you can call it that, revolves around a bunch of friends meeting in a lovely home out in the boonies, as many a horror film is wont to do. Somewhere along the way they discover zombies and well, it's a mess past that point.
The main characters are vapid beings, devoid of personality. So when the dead begin to attack, we could care less. Yeah, there is splatter, yeah it's cool but, I never thought I would say this, it is boring and repetitive. Those two words really summarize the film nicely, as since the characters basically run around to avoid the living dead, only to find them in another location.
But what truly makes this film terrible, and no I'm not making this up and please be sitting down as you read this; the subplot involving incest. Yeah, this movie goes there. Long story short, one of the characters is a single mother and her "teenage" son has an oedipus complex. To make matters worse, the filmmakers clearly cast a little person well into his forties to play the "kid". Don't believe me? Then enjoy this.
Fact of the matter is, this is a weird little movie without any solid identity and it really is just plain awful. My advice is to steer clear of this one, but if by chance you are curious about how bad this is and decide you want to see it, I beg of you, don't. Go take a walk outside, put together a puzzle, or simply stare at the wall. All of those things would be more worth your while than watching what I have to consider to be the worst zombie movie that I have ever seen.
Written by: John Edward Betancourt
Normally I would spend a little time telling you how the instant a remake of one of my favorite films is announced, I cringe inside and ponder the greatest question one can ponder when it comes to a remake...will it stink?
But that was not the case with today's review, because of two names; Bruce Campbell and Sam Raimi. They were involved every step of the way and these two men care dearly for the franchise they brought to the screen, and the chances of them letting their fans down were slim to none. My trust was well rewarded with an incredible horror film that stands up to the classic. In fact, let's get it out of the way now, expect the unexpected with this film, because to put it bluntly, this ain't your daddy's Evil Dead.
Clearly being a remake, the basic core of the plot holds true. We have college kids in a remote cabin, we have the Necronomicon, complete with new name and design, and of course the ever evil deadites, but that is where the comparisons to the original disappear. Director Fede Alvarez has put his unique stamp on the Evil Dead saga bringing to life characters who are truly in the wrong place at the wrong time despite their best intentions.
But there is one question we all want answered, is this movie scary? The answer is a resounding hell yes. There is a painful tension that builds in this film as it lulls you into a sense of security before unleashing utter terror and the scares keep coming. If the word to describe Sam Raimi's original was simplicity, the word to describe this version is disturbing. I say that because I can guarantee you will squirm in your seat and cringe from the horrible things that happen before your eyes. Don't believe me? Well we all know how much I watch horror movies and they rarely get under my skin, but when the lights went down, I was squirming and cringing. On a quick side note, specifically for the hardcore Evil Dead fans, you need to stay in your seats for an incredible surprise after the end credits. Just trust me, it is so worth it.
This movie is a proud addition to the saga, and with a sequel on the horizon, I can't wait to see what happens next. But until it arrives, I, and my friends wil have to watch this one over again. I certainly hope that you will...join us.
Written by: John Edward Betancourt
Despite my newfound love for Sam Raimi's Evil Dead series in my teenage years, I actually saw the third film in the saga during my middle school days. You see, I did not head down to the video store alone every Friday, my family went with me. My siblings and I would pick out something to watch for when our homework was done and we would all pick a movie for the family to enjoy on Friday night.
There were no restrictions on the movie that we rented and before anyone freaks out over the fact that my folks let us kids watch R rated movies in their presence, know that they sent us out of the room when things became inappropriate. But one night we did rent a movie about a man with a chainsaw for a hand kicking ass in 1300 A.D. but it quickly left my memory, until I found out that the sequel to Evil Dead II was the incredible Army of Darkness.
We won't spend much time on the plot because I just described it, in fact we will spend more time on just how excellent this little horror/comedy really is. Taking elements from its predecessor, Sam Raimi brings us the sharpest production of the Evil Dead saga to date with slick jokes, incredible one liners and as always stunning camera work.
Yet those elements only enhance the true draw of this movie, Bruce Campbell as Ash. He finds his groove with the character here, and shows off his versatility by playing not one, but two versions of Ash. Yet while Ash is quite the hero in this film, his act first and think later mentality remains and only enhances the plot.
If by chance you have yet to see this cult classic, make sure you find any edition on regular DVD or Blu Ray that features the alternate ending simply to understand the vision that Raimi had for the film.
It should also be noted that while the Evil Dead saga works as a trilogy, the truth is each film can stand on its own. With the first being a true horror film, the second playing it straight but leaving you with laughs and this picture flat out being a swashbuckling adventure. You'll find creepy moments in this flick, but the action, adventure and jokes truly make it the best of the series.
Written by: John Edward Betancourt
My encounter with The Evil Dead haunted me in all the right ways, simply because I wanted more. I knew at my local video store there was a sequel sitting next to the original and sadly, with school on the agenda I had to wait a week to see where the story went next. How did Ash get out of this mess? Where could they go from here?
So imagine my excitement when Friday rolled around knowing that I could finally get my hands on the surprising sequel; Evil Dead II.
Now I say surprising not because the film was bad, but because I was completely unprepared for the fact that this was a hybrid on so many levels. It was part reboot, part remake, part sequel, part horror, part comedy. Truly, this film was a cornucopia of elements and every last one of them worked. While the plot may seem similar to the original, it really is not. The only remaining elements from the first film are the cabin, Ash and the finding of the Necronomicon. Everything past that point is pure horror/comedy gravy.
Once more Sam Raimi dazzles as director, and Bruce Campbell truly shines as Ash. In fact let's take a moment to talk about the fact that Bruce is an incredible stuntman. For those of you who haven't seen this one yet, you'll be amazed at how much physical abuse he takes in this movie, yet Campbell does it in style. We all know this was likely take after take after take to get the right stunt on camera and Bruce is clearly a warrior. His portrayal of Ash this time around is no longer a mousey college boy unsure of what to do, this Ash kicks plenty of ass.
The fact of the matter is, this movie is a blast. There are scares, there are laughs and incredible one liners that only cement this film's status as a cult classic. There really is something for everyone here and Sam Raimi gets major kudos for not giving us a true "direct" sequel because the end result is original and absolutely incredible.
Written by: John Edward Betancourt
I remember the first time I came across The Evil Dead. I was a teenager and believe or it not folks, video stores still existed. This one was just up the road from where I grew up and on this day, like every time I visited the store, I was parked in the horror section. I made it a habit to rent something new every week and for some reason, I had missed this title, until this particular day.
I lifted up the box and read the description and while it seemed like a generic synopsis, I gave it a shot, took it home and never looked back. Only because Sam Raimi's The Evil Dead left me in awe.
Set in the middle of nowhere in a remote cabin, five college kids have decided to get away for the weekend. But their discovery of a hideous book bound in flesh and inked in blood leads to an evening of unbridled terror when their curiosity of the book unleashes an unrelenting evil.
If there is one word to describe this film, it is simplicity. Shot on a shoe string budget The Evil Dead is clearly a labor of love from Sam Raimi and Bruce Campbell who used their lack of funds to fuel their imagination in so many different ways, starting with how the movie was filmed. Raimi uses the camera itself as a special effect, disorienting you at times, making you completely uncomfortable before something horrible happens with the monsters on screen.
Yet that is only the beginning. The story itself is equally as simple. No powerhouse back story for the evil that roams, or the characters for that matter and that too lends to the movie's magic. By not knowing these people we are merely observers for the wholesale torture that they go through and that somehow makes it worse. We don't know if these are good human beings or bad ones, just that they are being torn apart and that unique twist is what makes the film so incredibly scary.
The Evil Dead has been called "The ultimate experience in grueling terror" and that label is pretty damn accurate. For the majority of it's 85 minute running time we are as trapped as those poor people in the cabin, and our consolation prize for stepping out into the sunlight is wondering what that noise was outside once the sun has gone down.
Written by: John Edward Betancourt
The dust has settled. Woodbury is empty. The Governor is on the run and the prison is safe, for now. Season Three of The Walking Dead came to a close Sunday night with the controversial and polarizing "Welcome to the Tombs" and the either "loved it or hated it" mentality seems to apply to all of this season. This was a season that took plenty of chances and in the process completely engaged us, at times enraged us and even left us in tears. So let's take a moment to reflect on all the good and the bad from our first year at the West Georgia Correctional Facility and reminisce about a little town named Woodbury.
The Good: I said it before in my midseason review, and I will definitely say it again now that we have seen the season end, the character development this year was pretty damn close to outstanding. In fact the two top story arcs were Rick Grimes' journey from Ricktator to broken man to hero once again and Philip "The Governor" Blake's journey from scumbag who tries to do good to a man possessed by revenge to complete and utter madman and they were both beautifully handled. David Morrissey was clearly the right choice for the job as Philip, and I give the show incredible kudos for taking the time to take us through the complete genesis of a villain. To watch the Governor evolve the way he did was an absolute treat.
We also need to take a moment to discuss the fact that this year provided us with by far the best episode in the series' short life in "Clear". The phenomenal acting from Lennie James as Morgan and how that episode played out clearly shows that Scott Gimple will be a great show runner as he takes over duties from Glen Mazzarra and that he gets the concept of the damage the end of the world would do to every day people.
Credit is also due to the show this year for producing an incredible amount of tension week in and week out. I honestly cannot think of an episode where I was sitting comfortably in my chair because of the incredible sense of danger that hung over every episode. This felt like a sprawling horror movie and I hope they continue this next season.
The Bad: To me there is one glaring issue of Season Three that needs to be addressed...Andrea. It almost seems like through three years of this show no one has had a clue what to do with her. Her suicidial tendencies made sense in the first season but were quickly resolved in the finale. Season Two revolved around her trying to find her place in the new world and she seemed to be on pace to a be strong character at last until Season Three came along. In fact her story this year was a mess and it overshadowed her death completely. I get that she wanted to save lives and it is quite a nobel cause but none of us really had a clue that was her endgame until those final moments when she explained it.
It's truly unfortunate because Laurie Holden is an incredible actress and her presence will be missed on the show and we can now add Andrea to a long list of characters who needed more focus on the show. It's something I've talked about numerous times and I am hoping that since Scott Gimple's strength is characterization it will improve next year.
The Verdict: This really was one amazing season. Which means that next year will have to be just as amazing as this year to keep our attention. My hope is that Season Four will top this one and one reason it may do just that is the sheer fact that the Governor is still out there and most certainly hungry for revenge. But until then, The Walking Dead on blu ray will have to tide me over. See you all in the fall!