Oct 31, 2014

30 of 31: The Pact (2012)

A vain attempt by a formerly prolific blogger to review 31 new (to me) horror films in the 31 days of October. We did it last year and it was a gas. Can we do it once more? Let's find out.

Platform: Netflix on Roku
Starring: Caity Lotz, Casper Van Dien

One more day til Halloween, Halloween, Halloween. One more day til Halloween, blah blah blah blah!

Our little experiment is winding down here, kids. And I have to tell you, I haven't been overwhelmed. Sure...I've found some diamonds in the rough. The Conspiracy, We Are What We Are, Willow Creek, Evil Dead, The Sacrament and The Taking of Deborah Logan were all top-notch. Four out of the six of those are of the found-footage variety. What ya gonna do. The state of the horror genre in the 2010's. I've got another one coming tomorrow, but I'm already thinking that one is gonna win the top prize. I try to save the best for last with these things, ya know.

The Pact has been cluttering up my Netflix queue for quite a while now. Or "My List" as they call it now for us streaming customers. Which bothers me because my Netflix queue was really the only reason I had to use the word "queue" on a somewhat weekly basis. And I dig that word. Sounds so much more posh than "My List". I picked it because it had a scary poster and it stars Caity Lotz, who is a semi-regular on The Arrow TV show, which I enjoy. Lotz proves to me that I have no specific type with women. I'm usually not a big fan of the freckly-faced, dimple-chinned, red-headed all-American type. But daaaaayum, girl! All that and a bag of freckly chips.

Here she plays Annie, a young woman with polychromatic eyes who has to deal with the funeral of her abusive mother as her older sister goes missing. She goes back to the old homestead, where everything looks like it was vacuum-packed from 1972. Terrible paneling, wallpaper, furniture and wall-to-wall carpeting. Pretty much my worst nightmare. Even the funeral home looks like it belongs in a Brady Bunch episode.

Crazy shit starts happening. Her cousin Liz disappears just like here sister did. Then she is attacked by some unseen force. Like unseen as in nothing was there. But she manages to escape the house with her young niece, Eva. She runs to the police who, of course, see some rather large holes in her story. Speaking of holes, she and the detective in charge of the case find a hidden room in her old home. With little peepholes into the other rooms of the house. Like someone was living there and spying on them while they were growing up. Cree...pee! With the help of a childhood psychic friend, we've all got one of those, she discovers a link to a serial killer named Judas who was never caught.

I managed to make it through the entire film even though I was staring lustily at Caity Lotz like the creepy fucking creep that I am. And even though I was warm to her form (eww), I couldn't help but notice that this was one chilling flick. Well made and often truly scary, at times. Certainly a worthwhile entry into this series.

Verdant Dude Rating: 4* out of 5 pumpkin ales.

*bonus points for this. I'm such a creep.

Oct 29, 2014

29 of 31: Grabbers (2012)

A vain attempt by a formerly prolific blogger to review 31 new (to me) horror films in the 31 days of October. We did it last year and it was a gas. Can we do it once more? Let's find out.

Platform: Netflix on Roku
Starring: A bunch of Irish folk

A group of villagers on a remote Irish island, including a police officer from the mainland, come under attack by what appears to be a bloodthirsty pack of tentacled sea creatures. Something fell/crashed out of the sky the night before just off the coast, with the sea creatures taking out an entire crew working on a fishing trawler. And then a bunch of mutilated dead whales wash up on the shore. And a local drunk lobsterman catches a small creature in one of his traps that is clearly not a lobster. In the evening, after his usual routine of getting absolutely hammered at the local pub, he is attacked by the small creature. He survives the encounter, kills the creature and dubs them "grabbers".

The local marine biologist, after examining the dead creature, deduces that they subsist on blood. That all they need to survive is blood and water. And he discovers that alcohol is toxic to them. Which is why the old drunk lobsterman was able to survive his encounter with the grabber, they theorize. And this is when the fun begins. Much like Simon Pegg and Nick Frost heading to the pub in Shaun of the Dead, the villagers decide to get their drink on. Makes sense to me. The only defense against these creatures is a solid bender.

I guess you can tell that this is in the comedy/horror genre rather than just straight horror. And what it lacks in actual frights, it more than makes up for in fun. The cast and the writing are both top-notch. I loved how they tested their theory and then deduced the proper amount of beer and whiskey that each of them would need to consume to fight off the beasties. Lots of fun.

Don't take it too seriously because it's not meant to be be taking seriously. If you like your horror with a side of comedy, of your comedy with a side of horror for that matter, then check this one out. And you may as well get pissed in the process. Just in case.

Verdant Dude Rating: 3.5 out of 5 pumpkin ales

28 of 31: Mine Games (2012)

A vain attempt by a formerly prolific blogger to review 31 new (to me) horror films in the 31 days of October. We did it last year and it was a gas. Can we do it once more? Let's find out.

Platform: Netflix on Roku
Starring: Briana Evigan, Julianna Guill, Joseph Cross

I almost said "fuck it" tonight and watched A Cabin in the Woods again. For the 15th time or so. God, I love that movie. But no, I'm trudging on. And in honor of ACitW, I'm watching a "cabin in the woods" kinda flick. An Aussie/American flick called Mine Games from 2012. And it is both exactly what you think it is and nothing what you would expect at all. Intrigued? Nah...me neither.

A bunch of handsome kids head to a remote cabin in the woods for a little party time in their oh-so-sweet rape van. Three girls and four guys. The perfect "three couples and another dude" situation that all these films require. Might be one more couple than necessary, but let's not quibble. In a great series of genre tropes, we see vague warnings of recent murders in the paper, they run off the road briefly by someone flagging them down in the dark, they run out of gas and then someone suggests they split up to find the cabin. They don't actually do that, but you have to admire the gumption for someone to even suggest it.

They make serial killer jokes, one of the guys who seems a bit off forgets his meds, and then the lights go off. But there has to be a generator, right? Right. And then they hear someone outside. Loud noises and bumps that go thing in the night. You know, this is really beginning to feel like A Cabin in the Woods. All we need is a basement full of nerds to run the show. Or a mine shaft full of nerds. Maybe just a mine shaft. Yup...we've got that covered.

What happens next? Well, I believe the famed West Texan philosopher Rustin Cohle said it best. "Someone once told me, 'Time is a flat circle.' Everything we've ever done or will do, we're gonna do over and over and over again."

All right, all right, all right...
All right, all right, all right...
All right, all right, all right....
All right, all right, all right....
All right, all right, all right....

Verdant Dude Rating: 2 out of 5 pumpkin ales

Oct 28, 2014

27 of 31: The Den (2013)

A vain attempt by a formerly prolific blogger to review 31 new (to me) horror films in the 31 days of October. We did it last year and it was a gas. Can we do it once more? Let's find out.

Platform: Netflix on Roku
Starring: Melanie Papalia

Ugh...I know I'm either going to either love this one or really hate it. Meet Elizabeth, she's a Mac. Already I'm depressed. Elizabeth is a grad student who is doing her thesis on online activities of the people that she meets through a website called "The Den." It's basically Chatroulette, which I thought wasn't really a thing anymore. She is on the website 24/7, recording everything for her thesis.

Besides her friends and relatives, she encounters pretty much who you would expect her to encounter on a webcam site. Freaks, creeps, children and freaky, creepy children. I'm not sure why anyone would ever use a website like that. One of the feeds shows a still selfie picture of a young woman or girl. After waiting a few seconds to see if anything happens, she switches to a new user. She winds up back to that feed shortly and receives an instant message telling her to not switch the feed, calling her a dumb cunt in the process. While she is sleeping, we see that someone has hacked her password for the site. The same feed of the selfie of the young woman. This time with an audio track of someone in pain and screaming.

Seems as if our young Elizabeth has found a bona-fide hacker/stalker psychopath. And that's our horror premise right there. The entire movie plays out on the webcam of our heroine and stalker victim. The most obvious thing that we experience through her experiences is that the internet is a scary fucking place, and maybe we aren't meant to live online like that. Online trolls are awful, imagine if they found a way into your real life as well?

I hated just about everyone in this film. It's a terrible, terrible way to live. I guess that's the whole point of the film. That the internet might not be as private as you would like to wish. But it could make for a interesting thriller, if you aren't sick of the "found footage" genre. I guess. It started to annoy me after a while. It's only 81 minutes long, but I was pretty much done with it after just half that.

Enter The Den at your own risk.

Verdant Dude Rating: 1 out of 5 pumpkin ales.

26 of 31: Kill List (2012)

A vain attempt by a formerly prolific blogger to review 31 new (to me) horror films in the 31 days of October. We did it last year and it was a gas. Can we do it once more? Let's find out.

Platform: Netflix on Roku
Starring: Neil Maskell, Michael Smiley, MyAnna Buring

Jay and Gal are a couple of former soldiers, back from Iraq and working as hit-men. While Gal is easy-going, Jay has been deeply affected by a mission of theirs that went bad. He hasn't worked in close to a year, and he and his family are running out of savings. Jay's wife arranges a dinner party with Gal and his new girlfriend, Fiona. She hopes that Gal can convince Jay to take another job and support his family.

The dinner party has it's ups and downs, but it ends with Jay agreeing to the new job. Not before Fiona, who resembles a bit of a Goth, carves a crazy Blair Witch-y symbol on the back of the bathroom mirror. Oh and collects some scraps of toilet paper that Jay had used to clean up some bloody nicks on his face after shaving. You know...normal dinner party stuff.

The hit-men meet their client, who somehow knows about the last job that they did and how it all went wrong. He surprises Jay by slicing his hand and insisting that they seal their contract in blood. That's always good. The contract is for three kills. The first goes fairly easy, although the target seems to recognize Jay. He also thanks him before the deed is done. Weirdo. Same thing happens with the second target, although that one is much more complicated due to some particular circumstances that are too horrific for even these dangerous men.

Things begin to unravel at this point. They and their families lives are threatened when they decide to opt out of the contract. You remember...that contract that they sealed with blood. So they agree to finish the job. Fates are accepted, destinies met, stuff like that. But not before it all gets really weird. Like Wicker Man meets Straw Dogs weird. I think I'll leave it at that.

It's a low-key film that probably could have benefited from a larger budget, and maybe a bit more exposition. The main character isn't very likable, in fact he's downright unlikable. So that's a bit of problem, even if his mate Gal seems OK. Well, they ARE hired killers, so... I kinda saw where the whole thing was headed early on. I say "kinda" because I was only kinda right. Did I mention that the film got really fucking weird in the third act? Yeah, there were a few things there I didn't see coming.

Check it out and enjoy the insanity of that last act.

Verdant Dude Rating: 3 out of 5 pumpkin ales

Oct 27, 2014

25 of 31: The Taking of Deborah Logan (2014)

A vain attempt by a formerly prolific blogger to review 31 new (to me) horror films in the 31 days of October. We did it last year and it was a gas. Can we do it once more? Let's find out.

Platform: Netflix on Roku
Starring: Jill Larson, Anne Ramsey

I'm admitting to knowing exactly bupkiss on this one when I picked it for this evening's entertainment. It was listed as being recommended for me by Netflix, and how often can that go wrong*? From the title alone, I'm assuming this has something to do with possession or kidnapping or something. Maybe they just take the titular (hehe) Ms. Logan to the DMV to get her driver's license renewed. Let's find out, shall we?

A film crew is invited to document the one woman's ongoing descent into the hell that is Alzheimer's disease. Yup, another entry into the faux documentary/found footage genre. Only about my 7th or 8th such type of film this month so far. After some initial hesitancy on the part of the subject, the film crew is invited into the Logan home to begin their project. The project involves documenting how Alzheimer's not only destroys the life of the victim, but also of the primary caregiver and/or the immediate family.

As the film progresses, Deborah falls deeper and deeper into madness and despair. But the film crew (and we the viewers) begin to notice some other things going on in the background. Supernatural things. It appears as if Deborah Logan is fighting this war on many fronts. For her body and mind with the Alzheimer's, and for her soul against whatever demonic force is trying to possess her.

That's a novel take for these types of films. Usually the victim is a child or a young woman. But Deborah Logan is a tough old bird. Raised her daughter as single mother after her husband died at an early age. She's the epitome of a strong, capable woman who has endured many trials and tribulations in her time. Her 40-something-ish daughter is not handling the current situation well, turning to the bottle as a way of dealing. Usually it's the parents in these films that go that route. So kudos to the filmmakers for taking something familiar and turning it on its ear.

Jill Larson, as Deborah Logan, is amazing in this character. I've seen her someplace before. A quick glance at her IMDB profile shows that she has mostly worked in television, daytime television at that. Soap operas and the like. But she truly shines here as a woman being destroyed from the inside and out. Her descent from early-onset dementia to full-blown possession is something to see. Pretty amazing stuff.

So some familiar territory, some originality. Some pretty decent frights mixed in as well. The backstory behind the evil entity is anything new though. Telegraphed from a mile away. So it's a bit of a mixed bag, but enough for me to recommend it. Check it out.

Verdant Dude Rating: 3.5 out of 5 pumpkin ales

*all the fucking time

Oct 26, 2014

Temporary Defeat (2014)

Just didn't have the will, energy or time to keep up with the 31 in 31 deal.

Consider this a temporary white flag. I may still rally during the week, double up some nights and finish this bad boy out.


Oct 24, 2014

24 of 31: The Sacrament (2013)

A vain attempt by a formerly prolific blogger to review 31 new (to me) horror films in the 31 days of October. We did it last year and it was a gas. Can we do it once more? Let's find out.

Platform: Netflix on Roku
Starring: AJ Bowen, Joe Swanberg, directed by Ti West

Another found-footage horror flick. I know...yawn. Been there, done that, re-wound that piece of footage. I'm not hater, but it's getting to the point where there has to be something special about the film for me to show an even rudimentary interest. Like with Willow Creek earlier this month. That was a movie I really wanted to see because of the director involved. Same this with this film. My interest is directly tied to the filmmaker.

Ti West is probably my favorite recent director in the genre. The House of the Devil, The Innkeepers, his segment in V/H/S. All great stuff. And I wasn't too interested in a found-footage film that mirrored many of the events of the Jonestown Massacre, but when I found out that Ti West was involved I knew I was all in. I have high hopes.

Here we have a fashion photographer whose sister is a recovering drug addict. She joined a religious community in the South someplace as a part of her recovery. After not hearing from her from quite a while, he receives a letter from him stating that all is well and hoping he could come visit her. The letter included a contact telephone number. When he calls, he's told by the man who answers that his sister had moved out of the country with the rest of the community and that she could only be reached, mysteriously, by helicopter. VICE magazine convinces him to let them accompany him on his trip to document the adventure, and the game is afoot.

They arrived at a commune named Eden Parish only to be met by armed guards who are perturbed at the appearance of a film crew. After some initial tense moments, they are allowed through the gates where they are greeted by the man's sister who shows them around the place. Have you read or seen anything about Jonestown? Yeah...it looks like that. Have your read or seen anything about Jim Jones? Yeah...that's the guy who runs this commune. A older Southern gentlemen who everyone refers to as "Father".

At first, of course, the commune appears to be a true Utopia. It's a beautiful place and everyone seems to be genuinely at peace, but the journalists can't help but feel uneasy about the whole situation. Father treated them well and with respect, but he also dominated them with the power of his charisma. His message to them had an undertone of real danger. Then a young mute girl hands one of the journalists a note that says "Please save us". And the facade begins to crumble.

It's ever bit as disturbing, violent and tragic as what we might imagine to have happened that day  in 1978 when a charismatic cult leader decided that mass murder was the final solution. There are some truly difficult scenes toward the end of the film. Hard to watch. But that doesn't mean you shouldn't.

Verdant Dude Rating: 4 out of 5 pumpkin ales

Oct 23, 2014

23 of 31: Last Light: An Irish Ghost Story (2011)

A vain attempt by a formerly prolific blogger to review 31 new (to me) horror films in the 31 days of October. We did it last year and it was a gas. Can we do it once more? Let's find out.

Platform: Amazon Prime on Roku
Starring: Some Irish folks

I haven't found too much written about this film, but what I have found has been slightly positive. Even though the film was supposedly made for around £200, that's British pounds. Might be the lowest-budget film I've ever heard of. The writer/director, George Clarke, wrote the screenplay in 3 days and filmed it in 12. Mostly with his family and friends. Set in real abandoned mansion in Northern Ireland that had been a hospital in WWII, and then a nursing home for the elderly. The townsfolk hire a handyman to board off the historical site to keep the local kids from breaking in and destroying the place that had already fallen into disrepair.

Here's the deal. This is an actual, well supposed, haunted mansion. The cast and crew allegedly encountered numerous instances of paranormal phenomena. George Clarke spent the three days writing the film at the mansion with a team of paranormal investigators and a psychic. Nearly everything that happens in the film is based on those events. Kinda cool.

The tiny budget in the film is a palpable thing. The only non-natural lighting used in the dark mansion is from a flashlight, a Zippo lighter and some matches. That's it. And since there was very little budget for special effects, the ghosts are played by actual people, giving a real physicality to their presence in the film. The handyman has a whole series of "Holy shit, get the fuck out!" experiences almost immediately, although he somehow convinces himself that it's just a bunch of local kids fucking with him. Pissed at that thought, he becomes determined to finish the job of sealing off all the doors and windows in the house.

But the ghosts and spirits don't want to be sealed in. So, while they've avoided him for his first couple of weeks at the house, they become angry and violent and very grabby as he prepares to finish the job. You can probably guess where this is all headed. Things do not go well for our intrepid handyman. Even though he had ample opportunities to go running home to his wife. Who, while being very skeptical, comes to get rescue him at the desperate urging of her sister.

I've seen haunted house films made on much, much larger budgets that weren't nearly as effective as this one was. Not saying that it's a great film or anything. But it was atmospheric and fun, and that's about all I need when it comes to paranormal horror. Give it a try. Absolutely amazing for how much was spent on the film.

Verdant Dude Rating: 3 out of 5 pumpkin ales

Oct 22, 2014

22 of 31: The Lords of Salem (2012)

A vain attempt by a formerly prolific blogger to review 31 new (to me) horror films in the 31 days of October. We did it last year and it was a gas. Can we do it once more? Let's find out.

Platform: Starz on cable
Starring: Sheri Moon Zombie, Bruce Davison

Rob Zombie loves horror films. I'll give him that. Occasionally he will turn that love into something brilliant like The Devil's Rejects. Sometimes he's like a hulking barbarian, wielding that love like a giant two-handed sword. Sloppily cleaving through the torsos of the horror icons before him, like he did with the Halloween franchise reboot. He's done serial killer families, cannibalism, unstoppable killing machines and with The Lords of Salem he is ready to take a hack at witchcraft. Not nature-loving Wiccans, but demon-worshiping witches.

Right away, I'm impressed. Taking a tip from the success of The Devil's Rejects, this film feels like it could have been made in the 1960's or early 1970's. Exactly what the subject matter requires, in my opinion. There isn't one digital effect in the film. Very cool. Odd camera angles, characters just walking off-screen on occasion, that certain graininess that permeated all those old great horror movies. It's about as old-school as it gets when it comes to the genre.

Sheri Moon Zombie and her naked butt play a DJ working in Salem, Massachusetts. You know...the place with the witches. After one show, an old recording is left for her at the station by someone called the Lords. It's some spooky mumbo-jumbo, incantations and the like. The recording gives the visions and the heebies to our heroine.

There's other creepiness afoot at the old boarding house where she lives. She keeps seeing a mystery tenant near a room that is supposedly empty. And she keeps NOT seeing some naked scary ghosts that inhabit the place as well. Plus there's the landlady and her "sisters"...a freaky, ahem, coven of odd birds. Zombie visualized the witches of Salem as Manson-esque hippies, a pretty cool concept.

This is a scary, visually exciting horror flick. Perfect for a cold, rainy, Autumn day like we've had here in the Northeast for the past few days. It also is a whole lot of fun as Zombie doesn't take it all so seriously. There may also be a much longer director's cut sometime in our future, as roles played by Sid Haig, Clint Howard, Udo Kier and many, many others wound up on he editing room floor. Probably a good idea. House of 1,000 Corpses could have used a stronger editing hand. A tidy hour and 42 minutes feels just about right for this one.

Unfortunately, for me, the film fell apart in the last act. All that restraint that Zombie showed in the first 2/3 of the film was gone. I think he sometimes forgets that the unknown is scarier than the known, that it's sometimes better to keep the audience in the dark. And he has that tendency to go over the top. For
2/3 of the film he was able to reign it in, but he finally had to let loose the hulking barbarian with the two-handed sword. Because he is who he is.

It's still worth watching, though. Even with the crap ending.

Verdant Dude Rating: 3 out of 5 pumpkin ales

Oct 21, 2014

21 of 31: Evil Dead (2013)

A vain attempt by a formerly prolific blogger to review 31 new (to me) horror films in the 31 days of October. We did it last year and it was a gas. Can we do it once more? Let's find out.

Platform: Starz on cable
Starring: Jane Levy, Shiloh Fernandez

In what would amount to pure heresy amongst horror film fans, I'm here to admit that I'm not a fan of Sam Raimi's The Evil Dead from 1981. I thought it was okay, but nothing on the level that most cultists feel. I liked the second movie a lot, and I LOVED the third film. But at that point they had moved on from horror to almost pure comedy. And Bruce Campbell is just the absolute grooviest. But that first film? Meh.

In the 2013 remake/reboot, instead of the tired "five college students vacation in a cabin in the woods" trope, we have what amounts to a voluntary intervention. Mia's brother and her friends go to the cabin to help her recover from her heroin addiction. She's a damaged kid who had to deal with her mother going to an insane asylum by herself because her brother bailed on the situation. He's trying to repair the damage he's done to her and reconnect with their friends.

Things start to go bad when they discover a cellar filled with animal corpses and ye olde evil book. One of them reads some shit out loud that he was warned not to read, and that's when the demons be possessing people. Mia is the first to be possessed, but one by one they all fall. All based on the prophecies written in ye olde evil book. Five souls needed to awaken something called the Abomination. Not. Good.

There's a lot more backstory in this remake. Both involving the characters and the demonic stuff going on at the cabin. There's also a hell of a lot more gore and violence. Just an absolute gore-fest of a film. I've read the original film used 50 gallons of blood. This filmed used over 70,000 gallons. Wow. It got a little too"torture porn-y" at times for my taste, but demonic possession will cause that. I'm guessing here. Nothing in my own personal history can confirm that. Ahem.

There are a whole mess o' winks, nods and loving references to the original film in this remake, including a post-credits cameo from Bruce Almighty himself. Groovy. And don't worry, the chainsaw makes an appearance. And a "holy fucking shit!" appearance at that. I know that a sequel is in the works for this one. And Sam Raimi has mentioned a fourth film in the original series. And then possibly another film bringing the two story-lines together. That would be interesting. For now, enjoy this fun gore-fest. It's about as entertaining as these things get.

Verdant Dude Rating: 3.5 out of 5 pumpkin ales.

Oct 20, 2014

20 of 31: Train (2008)

A vain attempt by a formerly prolific blogger to review 31 new (to me) horror films in the 31 days of October. We did it last year and it was a gas. Can we do it once more? Let's find out.

Platform: HBO Go on Roku
Starring: Thora Birch

Here's a weird concept. A group of American college wrestlers, male and female, are participating in tournament somewhere in Eastern Europe. After one of the matches, a few of them sneak out to go to a local rave/sex party that they were invited to by one of their opponents. They wind up missing their train with the rest of the team the following morning and they accept the offer of a strange woman to ride another train that will get them to Odessa with their coaches so they can meet up with the rest of the team. Seems sketchy, at best.

What follows can basically be summed up by calling this Hostel on a train. There are some vicious, sadistic fucks who operate the train, and they prey upon unsuspecting tourists like our wrestling team. You see, one of the cars on the train is a fucked-up torture chamber. I always check to make sure my train doesn't have one of those when I travel the rails. One by one, our intrepid wrestlers get snatched up and tortured by the train crazies. I'm not sure I understand the point of it all. Organ harvesting is the idea, but it's really poorly executed. Seems like a bit much, if you ask me.

I had read that this was originally going to be a straight remake of Terror Train from 1980 starring Jamie Lee Curtis. THAT was a fun horror flick. Lone psychopath out for revenge during a costume party hosted on a train. But the studio decided to go with torture porn, which was all the rage last decade. Bad choice. Fucking horrendous choice.

Hardly anything in this movie makes any sense. It's poorly written, plotted, paced, directed and acted. Do yourself a favor and skip this turd of a film. Easily one of the most ridiculous things I've ever seen.

Verdant Dude Rating: 0 out of 5 pumpkin ales. 

Oct 19, 2014

19 of 31: The New Daughter (2009)

A vain attempt by a formerly prolific blogger to review 31 new (to me) horror films in the 31 days of October. We did it last year and it was a gas. Can we do it once more? Let's find out.

Platform: Showtime on regular cable
Starring: Kevin Costner

I had no idea that Kevin Costner ever made a horror film. Just doesn't seem to be part of his oeuvre, if you know what I mean. And if you know what I mean, I'm glad. Because I'm not sure I'm using that word correctly. Bottom line...horror doesn't seem to be his bag. Baseball, rom-coms, grumpy action hero joints...sure. Just not horror.

In this one he plays a recently divorced man with a teenaged daughter and a younger son who moves them to a remote house in the country. Local rumors abound about the place, including tales of a woman who went missing around there. Plus there is a giant burial mound on the grounds of the property. Not good. Then the family cat goes missing and is found the next day mutilated. Already I'm pissed. No need to kill the family cat.

More freaky shit starts happening. The girl is oddly attracted by the burial ground, she winds up covered in mud and blood, Costner keeps finding an odd straw doll and the house seems to be infested by spiders. His daughter is becoming more and more unstable, and we soon see she has some weird scarring on her back and neck. Something to do with that burial mound. Possibly an old Native American burial ground.

Two tropes of horror films you should never mess with. 1) Don't move your family into an old creepy house in the middle of nowhere. 2) Stay far away from ancient Native American burial grounds. So Costner fucks up twice in this one. He discovers that the same stuff happening to his family happened to the previous owners. A young girl seemingly became obsessed/possessed by something in the burial ground, and bad shit began happening to the family.

History is going to repeat itself.

As has been a theme here on the Dude this month, this film is nothing new in the horror genre. But it offers some decent frights and good production values. And those are two things that can make even a bad horror film a whole lot more watchable. 

Verdant Dude Rating: 2.5 out of 5 pumpkin ales.

Oct 18, 2014

18 of 31: Willow Creek (2014)

A vain attempt by a formerly prolific blogger to review 31 new (to me) horror films in the 31 days of October. We did it last year and it was a gas. Can we do it once more? Let's find out.

Platform: Rented on Amazon for Roku
Starring: Alexie Gilmore, Bryce Johnson

If you had told me several decades ago that Bobcat Goldthwait would be a respected director, Hell if you had told me he wouldn't be working on Police Academy 13: Zed's Dead Baby*, well...I would have been pretty skeptical. I've seen several of his dark comedies and enjoyed them, even if I refuse to watch World's Greatest Dad, mostly just to piss off a friend of mine. I'm a dick like that. Willow Creek is his first stab at horror, and a pretty fun ride if you are in the mood for this kind of thing.

A young couple are off to the remote area of Six Rivers National Forest in Northern California. The dude is a Bigfoot enthusiast who has been dreaming of visiting the site of the infamous Patterson-Gimlin Bigfoot film that we've all seen countless times in our lives. She is a skeptic, someone who feels like the odds of discovering Bigfoot are roughly equal to those of discovering leprechauns.

Goldthwait seems to be a fan of the Bigfoot legends, as am I. He decided to make a straight-forward found footage film documenting this couple as they explore the town of Willow Creek and meet the eccentric locals. Their barely-contained glee at how serious some of the townfolk take the legends quickly turns to terror as they head out alone into the woods near Bluff Creek...the site of the Patterson-Gimlin footage.

The film doesn't break any new ground in either the genre nor the legend of Bigfoot. The big reveal toward the end has been the subject of previous Bigfoot films and fiction. But it's still a whole lot of fun. My favorite thing about the film is that there were hardly any moments where you wanted to scream "put the camera down and RUN, idiots!" That's a breath of fresh air.

I don't know if there are Bigfoots, er, Bigfeet running around there. I do know that two hipsters headed out into the remote woods of the Pacific Northwest with only the thin vinyl of a pop-tent to protect them is a pretty scary proposition. With or without giant bipeds running around.

Verdant Dude Rating: 3.5 out of 5 pumpkin ales

*There's a lesson in the importance of punctuation in there somewhere. Is the subtitle an homage to Pulp Fiction and Butch's famous line about the previous owner of the chopper? Or is it about Zed's dead child? I'd watch either film, frankly.

Oct 17, 2014

17 of 31: Shallow Ground (2004)

A vain attempt by a formerly prolific blogger to review 31 new (to me) horror films in the 31 days of October. We did it last year and it was a gas. Can we do it once more? Let's find out.

Platform: Amazon Prime on Roku
Starring: No one I've ever heard of.

The opening sequence depicts a blood-soaked naked boy with a large knife walking through a forest with images of some kind of taxidermic (is that a word?) shit going on or something. That's some fucked up shit to be starting a movie with, if you ask me.

The boy wanders into a local sheriff's station in the middle of Nowhereville, USA. A town with a clearly Irish dude as the sheriff, because that happens. The station, along with the rest of the locals, are on their way onto greener pastures as some kind of local dam project has been completed. Maybe the valley will be flooded? I don't know. This movie doesn't lend itself to explanations very well. The kid then writes "NO ONE LEAVES" in blood on one of the doors. So that's not a good sign.

This kid is weird. And not just "wanders around naked covered in blood" weird. I'm talking weird. He can read minds, control the flow of his blood with his thoughts and he communes with spiders. I don't like this kid. And he could be the unseen killer who is stalking and killing folks in the nearby woods. Or maybe he isn't. That's just part of the confusing fun.

OK...time for me to fess up. I stopped watching this after about 25 minutes. My heart just wasn't in it tonight, kids. I may check back in sometime in the future, but I had to bail.


Verdant Dude Rating: I for Incomplete

Oct 16, 2014

16 of 31: The Cave (2005)

A vain attempt by a formerly prolific blogger to review 31 new (to me) horror films in the 31 days of October. We did it last year and it was a gas. Can we do it once more? Let's find out.

Platform: Encore OnDemand
Starring: Cole Hauser, Lena Headley, Eddie Cibrian and a bunch of other folks.

I remember when this film came out and I openly mocked it on this very site. Actually, that post pre-dated the humble beginnings of this blog. It was on my buddy Slyde's blog. Whatever. Point is, I remember thinking that it looked like a great big pile of derivative crap. Something of a cross between Pitch Black, The Thing and Alien. And The Descent, of course. Even though Neil Marshall's excellent spelunking horror flick wasn't released theatrically here in the U.S. until after this film came out. The general feeling of the Internetz was that this borrowed heavily from that film.

Remember a while back this month when I mentioned that bad shit was always going down in the Balkans in horror flicks? Add the Carpathian Mountains to that list as well. Pretty sure there is a Black Metal band named after these mountains or the surrounding forest. Well this cave-dwelling film takes place in Romania, nestled snugly within the Carpathians. We've got a prologue that shows what appears to be a band of mercenaries thieves looking for something in a remote area of the mountains. They find the scariest old Christian church in the world. A place I would never walk into on my bravest day. Their leader is looking for a cave below the church, and they use explosives to try to get to it. Bitch move. The explosion causes an avalanche which buries the entire church with them trapped below in the cave. Trapped with some kind of growling beasties.

Skip ahead twenty years to the main action of the flick as a group of entrepid archeologist types discover the buried church and the cave system. As well as a massive underground river. So they need a team of spelunking cave divers to handle the exploration. After a brief explanation that the old church was built over the Knights Templar for God's protection over the winged evil demons below, the cave divers, well, dive right in.

There are few things I can think of that are more unpleasant to me as scuba diving through an underground cave system. Pretty much the combination of my worst two fears. Being trapped underwater and being trapped underground. If there were sharks involved, you could just stick an fork in me and call me Sally. But this is a horror flick, so the apex critter involved is much, much worse than a shark. Nope...not a naked mole rat. Worse. Okay, maybe not worse. Those fucking things are terrifying.

As I said, this film preys upon a few of my nastier fears. Throw parasites into that mix. Led to an enjoyable, scary if ultimately derivative experience for me. Certainly not a great film. Hell, it's probably not even a good film. But it picked at some of my more obvious scabs, and that's generally good enough for me.

Beware. Here there be dragons (not really).

Verdant Dude Rating: 2.5 out of 5 pumpkin ales

Oct 15, 2014

15 of 31: The Awakening (2011)

A vain attempt by a formerly prolific blogger to review 31 new (to me) horror films in the 31 days of October. We did it last year and it was a gas. Can we do it once more? Let's find out.

Platform: Netflix on Roku
Starring: Rebecca Hall, Dominic West

Florence Cathcart (Hall) is a paranormal skeptic and hoax exposer working in England after World War I. The premise of the film is that there were so many deaths in England due to war and influenza, and ordinary people turned to the supernatural in order to communicate with their departed loved ones. Which led to a rise of greedy charlatans and hucksters, looking to profit off of their grief.

A headmaster (West) at a boy's boarding school comes to London to beg for her assistance with a ghost problem that they may or may not have at the school. The ghost of a murdered boy has been making the rounds, possibly even involved in the death of one of the headmaster's students. Using his Dominic West-ish charm, he convinces her to come for a visit to investigate.

The boarding school is one of those remote, atmospheric, very British places where ghosts roam. At least in horror films. It was formerly a large country estate of some pre-War family. I'd be very surprised if there weren't a bunch of ghosts roaming the halls of a spooky joint like that. Despite a night of freaky freakishness that would scare the piss out the staunchest of staunch folk, Florence quickly deduces that some of the boys have been playing pranks. And the boy who died was being punished by one of his teachers for insisting he saw the ghost. A punishment that left him outside in the elements and susceptible to an asthma attack.

Case closed. Or is it?

Of course it isn't closed. Wouldn't be much of a ghost film if that were the case, now would it? I'll refrain from adding anything specific regarding the last two acts of the film. If you are interested in a well-made, moody period piece of a ghost story then give it a try. Nothing over-the-top, but a decent little ghost story with some good scares.

Verdant Dude Rating: 3 out of 5 pumpkin ales

Oct 14, 2014

14 of 31: We Are What We Are (2013)

A vain attempt by a formerly prolific blogger to review 31 new (to me) horror films in the 31 days of October. We did it last year and it was a gas. Can we do it once more? Let's find out.

Platform: Netflix on Roku
Starring: Michael Parks, Kelly McGillis, Ambyr Childers

People eating other people is a scary thing. Usually it's a one-off psycho kind of thing. But then there are the instances of head-hunting natives in the jungle, or pioneers trying to cross the Rockies, or some post-apocalyptic clan just fighting to stay alive. Fucking terrifying in every case. I can't think of anything worse than dying at the hands of some cannibal. Or sharks. Yeah...dying at the hands, er fins, er teeth of a shark would be horrible.

Somewhere in rural America, a woman dies suddenly while shopping for her family. Her autopsy reveals early signs of Parkinson's, or perhaps something else. Her husband is left to take care of their two daughters and son. We see almost immediately that he is a bit of a religious freak. And he appears to have kidnapped a woman and locked her in a room in the basement of his shed. I think I see where this is going. "All is forgiven in the eyes of the Lord." Yum, yum...eat 'em up!

The cannibalism that the family practices is of the ritualistic variety. Following an ancestor's diary that details the need for the family to resort to cannibalism to survive back in the pioneer days. What was good for Grandpa and Grandma, amirite? The youngest son seems oblivious, but the two teenaged daughters are thinking about a change in lifestyle. Dad's having none of that.

But he has to deal with effects of a powerful storm which has washed up some of the family's victims from a  burial site upstream. And a concerned medical examiner whose daughter disappeared mysteriously some time ago. And the local deputy sheriff who has eyes and other body parts for the eldest daughter of the cannibal clan. And the prying eyes and ears of the kind old lady (Kelly McGillis!!!) who lives next door. His family's secrets are on the brink of discovery by everyone around them.

I have to say that I was enjoying the movie all along. It was haunting, beautifully shot, tremendously acted and an incredible slow-burn of a horror story. But the last 10 minutes of the film got batshit crazy and made me fall in love with it. Holy crap! So insane! I did not see that coming.

Definitely check this one out and definitely stick with it until the ending. You won't be disappointed.

Verdant Dude Rating: 4.5 out of 5 pumpkin ales.

Oct 13, 2014

13 of 31: Hatchet III (2013)

A vain attempt by a formerly prolific blogger to review 31 new (to me) horror films in the 31 days of October. We did it last year and it was a gas. Can we do it once more? Let's find out.

Platform: Netflix on Roku
Starring: Danielle Harris, Kane Hodder

I'm nearly embarrassed to admit this, but I've seen the first two Hatchet films and I really loved them. Guys, I've told you several times now how much I love good bad movies. And these Hatchet films are right up that particular disturbed alley. A fairly straight-forward, tongue-in-cheek ripoff of the Friday the 13th franchise, starring everyone's favorite Jason, Kane Hodder. He plays Victor Crowley, the bayou bogeyman with the titular (hehe) hatchet.

This film takes place immediately following the events of the second film. With Marybeth (Harris) blowing Victor Crowley's head off with a shotgun. AFTER she chops it all to hell with the titular (hehe) hatchet. That should be one dead bogeyman, if you ask me. I mean, not much left to the imagination there. Unless that entire ending was a dream or an alternate reality or something. I'm genuinely intrigued as to how they decided to engage a third film.

As it turns out, he survives that. Only to be punched through the shotgun hole in the brain and cut in half with a large chainsaw by our blood-soaked heroine. She then grabs his scalp and heads off to the local police station. As one does. But it doesn't matter. Missing a head, cut in half...that don't bother Victor Crowley none. He's going to come back and kill and kill and kill once more. Practice makes perfect.

I've got a soft spot in my heart for the Hatchet franchise. They are a none-too-sly wink and nod at all the ridiculous slasher franchises of my youth. Michael Myers, Jason, Freddie...all of them are ridiculous and all of them are incredibly fun. These films honor that heritage, and even add to it if you are so inclined to check your brain at the door. They are unabashedly gory, ridiculously plotted, over-the-top, but extremely faithful and loving to the genre that they represent. And all the incredible horror cameos! So much fun.

I hold Hatchet III and the entire franchise in the highest regard. Seriously.

Verdant Dude Rating: 3.5 out of 5 pumpkin ales.

Oct 12, 2014

12 of 31: The Conspiracy (2012)

A vain attempt by a formerly prolific blogger to review 31 new (to me) horror films in the 31 days of October. We did it last year and it was a gas. Can we do it once more? Let's find out.

Platform: Netflix on Roku
Starring: Paranoia.

Two filmmakers decide to make a film documenting a local renowned conspiracy theorist named Terrence. Terrence is one of many conspiracy nuts who believe that our government or some other radical organization is controlling us in ways that we can't see or begin to comprehend. Unless we all wake up and take notice. Terrence goes out into the world, trying to spread his message to everyday, ordinary Americans. Armed with a megaphone, he's prepared to take on the powers that be. Alone if necessary, part of an army if possible. 

In the very early stages of the filming, Terrence disappears without a trace.

That's the setup and the central mystery surrounding this faux documentary. Sorry to spoil it for you, but yes...it's not a real documentary. I know you might be disappointed, but did you really believe that a real documentary was going to find its way into this series? C'mon! Yet it does feels like you are watching a real documentary about two men trying to figure out this mystery. The acting is first-rate, and the production is almost too good to be a real documentary. Except that many DO have high production values. So all part of the enjoyment of the film.

The missing Terrence was, of course, obsessed with the major conspiracy theories we've all read about. The sinking of the Lusitania, the Gulf of Tonkin, the tragedies of 9/11, secret societies and all that shit. One of the directors, in turn, becomes obsessed with Terrence's research. He discovers that Terrence had found a pattern of secret meetings of an secret society of powerful world and economic leaders called the Tarsus Club. Those secret meetings preceded just about every huge world event that has happened in the past century or more.

Using the internet to cull further information on this secret society, the filmmakers discover that they may have become targets themselves. Possibly just like Terrence. But who is targeting them? Is this potentially global conspiracy that they have stumbled upon actually true?

For me, this is an extremely fun, little horror film. Yes, I can see you shaking your head. "It's not horror!" you exclaim. I guess...maybe. But in the real world, what is more frightening? A global conspiracy to control you and everyone you know as a part of some secret agenda, or vampires? Reality has a way of being just as frightening, if not more so, than fantasy. Just take a look at the coverage of the Ebola outbreak in the world. A current, fictional movie about that would scare the fuck out of me right about now.

Then again...maybe it IS a straight-up horror flick. Check it out and decide for yourself.

Verdant Dude Rating: 4.5 out of 5 pumpkin ales

Oct 11, 2014

11 of 31: Midnight Mass (2002)

A vain attempt by a formerly prolific blogger to review 31 new (to me) horror films in the 31 days of October. We did it last year and it was a gas. Can we do it once more? Let's find out.

Platform: Amazon Prime on Roku
Starring:  A whole bunch of really terrible actors.

A little backstory first. About 8 years ago, I found a little horror novel by F. Paul Wilson named Midnight Mass.  I was a moderate fan of Wilson's work, having really enjoyed The Tomb and The Keep. Two genre-rich offerings of brain candy. Wilson, in the forward to his novel, bemoaned the fancy dressing up of vampires that had taken over the genre with Anne Rice and her cohorts. Vampires were meant to be evil and bloody and violent and really fucking evil. Not starstruck puppy dog losers in love. Wanting to get back to a more basic, evil vampire tale, he penned Midnight Mass. A quick, violent little enjoyable read. Bottom line: Midnight Mass the novel was a good read.

I'm going to bury the lede here. Midnight Mass the film is fucking awful!

That's the simple way to look at it, of course. A more complex review would be that it's so bad that it almost came around full circle and was awesome! Almost. This is a cosmically awful film. The story, which was way more than decent in the book, was pared down to basically one singular event. And it took about an hour and a half to give us this event. Mostly surrounded by ridiculous dialogue and needless exposition. The acting was epically awful. I've never seen any of the actors in this mess before or after. Many of them, including the lead actress, only have this film as a credit on IMDB. Although she does have her own website, which claims that she has received praise. Good for her.

The production value on the film is shockingly awful. Film quality, locations, audio, special effects. Some of the vampires look like they are wearing dime store Halloween masks. Back when, um, dime stores existed. Nice outdated reference, dick! And one of the most amazing things about this horrifically awful film is that is was kind of championed by the author of the book himself. Wilson co-wrote the screenplay and he actually appeared in the film in a cameo. I've read that he still hopes that a full feature can be made from the novel with a much higher budget, but he is at least partly to blame for this craptastically awful film.

In case you are keeping score, so far I've called the film "fucking awful", "cosmically awful", "epically awful", "shockingly awful", "horrifically awful" and "craptastically awful". That's a whole lot of awful right there. And yet I watched the entire thing. I actually started watching it on EpixHD, but the streaming feed kept stopping. A glitch with interface or something. I was a half-hour in and prepared to bail when I found it on Amazon Prime. I really wish I hadn't.

It really showed promise in the prologue. Through news clips we find that a nasty plague or virus has been spiraling out of control in certain parts of the world. Sound topical? America was the last place on the planet that was free of the plague, but it soon reaches our shores on both coasts. Then reports of bodies burning and exploding when hit by direct sunlight, the dead crawling out of mass graves in Eastern Europe, and plague victims feeding on the blood of the living. It's no plague, it's the Vampire Apocalypse.

Then it all goes to shit. And we are five minutes in. Vampires have taken control of the New Jersey shore. You know...getting wasted, scoring chicks, fist-pumping on the dance floor. How they do. A group of human goth fang-bangers (to borrow a term from True Blood) are out hunting for fresh victims for their undead masters. They drive an awesome fake convertable Caddy with a leopard-skin top. I want that car. These collaborators are called Vichys by the human freedom fighters. One of the many vampire to Nazi comparisons that we are beat over the head with in this film.

The vampires and their Vichy humans have taken over a local Catholic Church, where they have been performing nightly human sacrifices and having bad S&M sex. The freedom fighters want to take back this small piece of their world from these evil sons of bitches. They enlist the aid of an alcoholic disgraced priest who had been falsely accused of pedophilia. Does he have the faith left in him to get the job done? That's what the film is all about.

You see...there are elements of a good movie in there somewhere. Vampires as a Nazi allegory. The whole idea of Catholicism as a force of good against evil using transubstantiation and faith. The backstory of the Church's awful history of pedophilia. Even some discussion regarding Creationism vs. Evolution. In the hands of a talented screenwriter and director, this could have been a decent film. Maybe even a really good film.

As it is? Crap. Too much talky talky, not enough stabby stabby. But we do have one scene where the vampires hoist our slightly chubby female lead up high in the church like a flesh pinata. Easily my favorite scene in the film. But even that let me down. Not one of the vamps took a swing at her with a stick. I hate humorless vampires.

Verdant Dude Rating: 1 out of 5 pumpkin ales

Oct 10, 2014

10 of 31: Darkest Night (2012)

A vain attempt by a formerly prolific blogger to review 31 new (to me) horror films in the 31 days of October. We did it last year and it was a gas. Can we do it once more? Let's find out.

Platform: Hulu Plus on Roku
Starring:  An American guy, a Chinese/Malaysian guy and a bunch of Filipinos.

Ah, found footage horror. How do I love thee? Well, mostly love thee. Oh...sometimes I despise thee.

Here we have a joint American/Asian collaboration dealing with some found footage of a family that went missing over Christmas Holiday in the remote mountains of the Philippines. Originally based on a Malaysian urban legend, the filmmakers decided to move the location to the Philippines to avoid the sometimes random censorship of the Malaysian government.

A local Filipino television journalist created this "documentary" from videotaped footage found at the site of an unsolved 2003 crime involving an entire family gone missing at a mansion in some remote mountains. The film is a combination of current-day documentary footage, re-enactments and found footage, but mostly found footage. Basically what you would see on Dateline on a Friday night. But, ya know...Filipino.

We're met with some uncomfortable religious imagery almost immediately at this remote mansion. A statue of Jesus with it's head covered by a black cloth sack. Then dead birds beginning falling from the sky. Not what you would call "good omens" for the young-ish couple that is announcing their engagement to the family for the first time.

Everyone in the film speaks English, mostly flawless in fact. So there is little need for subtitles of any kind (although...), not that they were even available on this platform. A very American friendly film. They are also mostly atrocious actors. Which, in a way, works for found footage films. They aren't supposed to be good actors. But some of them are beyond found footage awful. Expecting more from a low-budget flick like this is probably expecting way too much, so I chose to ignore it as best as I could.

During Christmas dinner, we see what appears to be an earthquake of some kind. The power then goes out, including all the batteries in all the phones and all the vehicles outside. Everything EXCEPT the video camera used by an autistic cousin (Justin) to record all the action. The family begins to experience all kinds of supernatural phenomena. Mostly captured either visually or aurally by the video camera. Which seems to be supernatural itself, as they can't seem to turn it off.

Family members go missing, TV's turn on and off, horrific demonic sights and sounds from out in the woods, and a wide assortment of things that go bump in the night. When they find a French book titled "The Way of Baphomet", their fates have been sealed. Black magic, Satanism, evil cults. And I thought Christmas with my family was uncomfortable. Geesh...

What follows is both a lot of fun and very confusing. Remember how I said the film required no subtitles? Yeah...I wasn't taking into account the low audio production quality of the film. There were entire scenes that I had very little understanding of what was being said. But that low production value also gave the film a visually disturbing quality that would have been impossible with an HD camera. Trade off. I'd prefer a film that wasn't so indecipherable at times, but that confusion may have made the film that much more frightening.

Oh, and there's a pretty hilarious demonic birth scene in there as well. Hi-larious! Listen, it's a hot, confusing mess of a film. But it's also got a pretty high level of creepiness going on with it. I could see it becoming something of a minor cult classic in some circles. Creepy, awful, funny (unintentional) with the occasional real fright.

Give it a shot.

Verdant Dude Rating: 2.5 out of 5 pumpkin ales

Oct 9, 2014

9 of 31: Godzilla (2014)

A vain attempt by a formerly prolific blogger to review 31 new (to me) horror films in the 31 days of October. We did it last year and it was a gas. Can we do it once more? Let's find out.

Platform: Rented on Amazon for Roku
Starring: A giant lizard

I don't care. I really don't give a fuck. I've been watching crappy movie after crappy movie and I wanted to watch a good movie. Even if it's probably not going to be a true horror film. Amazon didn't even list it as Horror on their site. Again...fuck it. I need something good to cleanse my palate before I move on. 

I'm a big fan of Gareth Edward's previous film, Monsters. In fact, I reviewed it here and gave it 5 out of 5 stars. It wasn't October, so no pumpkin ales. With him involved, I have all the confidence in the world that I'm going to enjoy this re-boot of the Godzilla series. Certainly more than the Roland Emmerich disaster starring Matthew Broderick back in 1998.

And I did.

It was a throwback to a time and place when you didn't need to see everything on the screen all the fucking time. Remember Jaws? How much of the shark did we see in Jaws? Not very much. And it worked. You can watch it now, almost 40 years later, and it still works! Amazing in just about every single way. How about Alien? Remember that? It was the unknown that was the scariest part of that film. When we finally saw our beastie, well...he looked like a dude dressed up in an alien suit. The fear and the anticipation was in the shadows. And it worked that way.

That same quality works well here. Don't worry, you get plenty of visuals of Godzilla and the two MUTOs (Massive Unidentified Terrestrial Organisms), especially later on in the film. Godzilla looks great. The MUTOs look like a cross between a beetle, a cockroach and those aliens from Starship Troopers. And those were bugs too. So yeah...big bugs. They had interesting powers, though. They fed on radiation and they were able to harness that energy to create an EMP pulse. Not sure why that would have been a useful defense in the pre-fossil era of our planet, but that's what they do.

Oh...yes, pre-fossil record. These MUTOs, including Godzilla, aren't aliens or mutated creatures spawned from our post-WWII nuclear testing. No. These were dormant creatures who existed well before dinosaurs and pretty much anything in our fossil record. Those nuclear tests in the 1950's that caused Godzilla's creation in the original film? Nope. Here, those were explained as attempts at killing the creature. A novel take, I guess. Still don't know why MUTOs would need EMP powers to exist on our planet a billion years ago. It's a movie...let's move on.

There are an abundance of ridiculous coincidences regarding one family's ordeal with these creatures over a 15-year period. Wrong place at the wrong time on a consistent basis. Doesn't happen in real life. Then again, gigantic, radioactive, EMP-emitting angry bugs and/or lizards don't happen in real life either. So you'll have to suspend your belief on both counts to enjoy this film. I figured that out early on in my viewing and let it roll.

One of the best things that Gareth Edwards does is to make the viewer actually feel something for the "monsters" in his film. He did it in his previous film and he does it here. Godzilla is a hero of the people (I guess), and the MUTOs weren't so bad, right? They just wanted to hook up and make little baby MUTOs. And that's kinda sweet. Pretty much how I expected Edwards to handle this movie. Not huge on the frights, but somewhat intelligent and somewhat sweet. I really enjoyed it.

My best bit of advice for you regarding Godzilla is this: If you enjoy this film, give Monsters a shot. Or watch it again if you've seen it already. 

Verdant Dude Rating: 3.5 out of 5 pumpkin ales.

Oct 8, 2014

8 of 31: See No Evil (2006)

A vain attempt by a formerly prolific blogger to review 31 new (to me) horror films in the 31 days of October. We did it last year and it was a gas. Can we do it once more? Let's find out.

Platform: Showtime Anytime on Roku
Starring: Kane (Not Hodder)

A horror film produced by WWE Films starring the Demon Kane? Yes, please!

Dirty little secret time. I'm a fan of professional wrestling. Yup. All of my life. From watching Jimmy "Super Fly" Snuka fly off the top rope, to the Freebirds/Von Erich feud, to Mankind being broken in half at Hell in the Cell, to the Daniel Bryan Yes Movement. I dig it all. We even signed up for the WWE Network when it first was offered. So much fun content on there.

Now Kane isn't one of my favorite characters. Hell (get it?), he's one of my least favorite characters in wrestling. But the man who plays Kane, Glenn Jacobs, absolutely looks like a horror movie serial killer. So at least the casting makes sense. Here he plays Jacob Goodnight, a massive psychopath who like to rip the eyes out of his victims. He's introduced in a prologue when two cops arrive at an abandoned house only to find a screaming, bloody woman with her eyes torn out. Goodnight kills one of the cops and cuts the arm off of the other before he is shot and runs away.

Four years later, the one-armed surviving cop is escorting a group of young criminal offenders to a an abandoned hotel. The plan is to have the kids clean up the joint and turn it into a homeless shelter. Guess which maniac serial killer has been holed up at the abandoned hotel for the past four years? Yup, it's our man Goodnight. How nice of the one-armed cop to bring his favorite serial killer a fresh supply of bodies.

Wackiness ensues. There are a bunch of sub-plots. Two of the boys search for the hidden safe of the hotel's previous owners. One of the girls is re-united with her abusive ex-boyfriend, a drug dealer who got her arrested. The childhood backstory of the maniac. None of it really matters. Here we've got our standard slasher film recipe. Mix a bunch of teenaged sinners in with one psychotic killer. Grind.

Goodnight is a brutal killer. He snares his victims with a large metal hook and chain. Dragging them off to do with as he pleases. And what pleases him is ripping out their eyes with his bare hands. Honestly, the death scenes are much more brutal and violent than I would have thought for a WWE Film. I guess this was the period when they were R-Rated rather than PG, as a company.

What's most frightening about this flick is the utter lack of direction and supervision provided by the two adults guards. These kids wander about, do what they want, smoke weed, have sex. Basically anything other than actually cleaning up the hotel like they are supposed to do. Very irresponsible, if you ask me. Don't worry, those two irresponsible adults won't last long.

Nor should you. Skip this one.

Verdant Dude Rating: 1 out of 5 pumpkin ales

Oct 7, 2014

7 of 31: I, Frankenstein (2014)

A vain attempt by a formerly prolific blogger to review 31 new (to me) horror films in the 31 days of October. We did it last year and it was a gas. Can we do it once more? Let's find out.

Platform: EpixHD* on Roku
Starring: Aaron Eckhart...who really should know better.

Again, this one goes against all my better judgment. When I first began seeing trailers for this film last year, I immediately began shaking my head. Felt as if the film was going to give Frankenstein's monster the Van Helsing or Underworld treatment. In fact, this film is based on graphic novel written by Kevin Grevioux. A great fucking name, but he was one of the co-creators of the Underworld franchise. A sin for which he shall not be forgiven.

The Frankenstein mythology here is intertwined with those of demons, angels and gargoyles. Because stitching together the parts of a dead man and bringing him back to life just isn't interesting enough. After a quick prologue which summarizes the monster's creation, we find him being attacked by a variety of demons. He kills one of them, but soon falls to their superior numbers. He is saved by some nearby gargoyles who have never seen a "human" kill a demon before. These CGI gargoyles revert to human-like form after they dispose of the demons. They bring the monster back to their queen, who explains about the un-ending and brutal war between mankind and Satan's demon horde. The gargoyles were placed on Earth by the Archangel Michael to defend humanity. Basically they are an order of angels. I don't know why we don't just call them angels. Because they're clearly angels.

I'm already exhausted, and it's only been 10 minutes.

The queen gives the monster a name (Adam) and weapons to fight against the demons that are pursuing him. He declines sanctuary with the gargoyles and heads out on his own to do battle with the demons. He discovers during this time that he doesn't age like humans. A final curse from Victor Frankenstein. Over 200 years pass and he finds himself in today's world, still doing battle with his outer demons. Yeah, I had that outer demons pun in mind almost immediately when I started watching the film. Couldn't wait to use it. Shut up!

The demon prince who has been pursuing Adam has has also been posing as a human businessman who is funding a scientist who is looking to replicate Victor Frankenstein's work. Even if she believes that the old stories are nothing more than myths. All a part of his super-evil plan to re-animate thousands of human corpses with the souls of demons that have been "descended" in their war with the gargoyles. In the film, when demons are defeated they descend to Hell. When gargoyles are defeated, they ascend to heaven. Up and down. Good and bad. Black and white. Jack and Coke. You get the drill.

Basically, Adam is torn between fighting for the humans who have always shunned him or walking away from the battle. It's really not that much of an internal battle. He was always going to do the right thing. Because he's the city's White Knight. Or am I confusing Aaron Eckhart movies now? Whatever. His motivations really don't matter. It's just a silly, fun ride. Lots of action, lots of fighting, lots of special effects. A horror film only by the subject matter, it's really more of a fantasy/action joint. So don't plan on being frightened. Unless Bill Nighy scares you. He scares me. Ugh.

Perfectly fine if you are looking to check your brain at the door for an hour and a half.

Verdant Dude Rating: 2.5 out of 5 pumpkin ales.

*You can sign up for a free 14-day trial of Epix on their website, even if your cable provider doesn't include Epix as a channel. This is the second time I've done a free trial, using different email addresses. The last time my 14-day trial period lasted for about a year. Yup.

Oct 6, 2014

6 of 31: Cassadaga (2011)

A vain attempt by a formerly prolific blogger to review 31 new (to me) horror films in the 31 days of October. We did it last year and it was a gas. Can we do it once more? Let's find out.

Platform: Hulu Plus on Roku
Starring: Louise Fletcher (supporting), that odd-looking dude from True Blood.

Here's something that sounds like a lot of fun. A young woman is tormented by the death of her younger sister. She seeks comfort at a spiritualist community named Cassadaga and eventually finds herself at the mercy of a sadistic serial killer named Geppetto. There's a lot going on in those previous three sentences, so take a breath and let's see where this takes us.

We begin with a boy who likes to wear dresses and play with marionettes. I'm going to go ahead and assume this is young Geppetto. His mother beats him, rips the dress of of him, and then cuts it to shreds with a pair of scissors. The boy reacts...well, I'm not going to tell you how the boy reacts. Except to say that it's probably not what you think, and it's WAY more disturbing than what you think. Let's leave it at that. Please.

Our main character is deaf, except I'm not really sure why the filmmakers decided to maker he so. She talks perfectly fine as she wasn't born deaf, and she can lip read, so there isn't a lot of sign language involved. Frankly, the only time you will notice that she is deaf is when she or someone else mentions it. Odd choice, if you ask me. There's even a scene where she visits a medium to "hear" from her dead sister. Which she does. By placing her fingers on a old Victrola phonograph. She can read lips AND hear from the beyond with her fingertips. This is one handi-capable deaf person.

That visit with the medium didn't turn out so well. She starts experiencing some heavy "from beyond" shit almost immediately. Ghosts, maggots, greenhouses filled with weed. Her new boyfriend is there to help out as much as he can, until some family court stuff intervenes.

But that's boring, so let's jump to Geppetto. He's one twisted fuck. While pretending to be a handicapped man, he lures joggers by throwing his voice like a ventriloquist. He then saws off their limbs, only to re-attach them with artificial joints so that they resemble human marionettes. Oh...and then he kills them. Nice, right? Oddly deaf girl and this insane serial killer are on a collision course. His victims and her dead sister are leading her toward her date with the madman. Not nice of those ghosts, if you ask me.

The whole deal, frankly, feels like it could have been an episode of The X-Files or Fringe. I'm pretty sure Fringe was able to wrap up their serial killer/marionette story in one episode. This, while fine, just took too damn long. Mostly by adding a bunch of stuff that really didn't need to be in the mix in the first place. Final analysis: Too much time spent on oddly deaf girl's visions and not enough time spent on Geppetto.

Verdant Dude Rating: 2 out of 5 pumpkin ales

Oct 5, 2014

5 of 31: Odd Thomas (2013)

A vain attempt by a formerly prolific blogger to review 31 new (to me) horror films in the 31 days of October. We did it last year and it was a gas. Can we do it once more? Let's find out.

Platform: Netflix on Roku
Starring: Anton Yelchin, Willem Dafoe

I was a bit hesitant to give this one a shot, for several reasons. First, it's based on a series of books written by Dean Koontz. I'm not a fan. Second, it's directed by Stephen Sommers, of Van Helsing, The Mummy and GI Joe: The Rise of Cobra fame. Again...not a fan. Third, I couldn't really tell from the summary if it's really a horror film or some mash-up of mystery, thriller and/or comedy. I'm fearing the worst.

But I'm tired and it's only an hour and a half long. I know...most horror films are around that length. Shut it. I needed SOME excuse.

Odd Thomas (Yelchin), actual name, is a gifted psychic living in a small town in California. And like that creepy kid that hung around with Bruce Willis in that movie that one time, he sees dead people. They come to him and hunts down whomever wronged them when they were living. He may see dead people, but then, by God, he does something about it. That's the tagline for the film, by the way. I would have tried to be more clever. Without succeeding, mind you. But I would have tried.

Odd tries to live a fairly quiet life. He most likely inherited his gifts from his mother, and she was institutionalized as a crazy person. Wanting to avoid that, he keeps a low profile, working as a short-order cook at the local diner. But he has help in his true calling in the form of the local police chief, Porter (Dafoe). Porter knows of Odd's abilities, and they work together to right the wrongs of their idyllic community. Working just alongside the merry fringes of the law.

Besides dead people, Odd can also see supernatural creatures called Bodachs. They are crappy CGI wraiths who flock to evil the way I flock to bourbon. And he soon encounters more Bodachs than he's ever seen before. Portending an evil event of apocalyptic proportions. You know what? This film is feeling an awful lot like Peter Jackson's The Frighteners. In both tone and it's frantic pacing and directing.

I think those reservations that I had were spot-on. It's not a good movie, but it's not really a bad movie either. And it's certainly not a good bad movie. That would have been sweet. No, it's just a kinda crappy, kinda decent diversion. My biggest problem is that it's definitely not the kind of horror film that I was looking for this month.

It does feature a woman with pleasantly large breasts running for an extended period around the 50-minute mark. If you are into that kind of thing.


Verdant Dude Rating: 2 out of 5 pumpkin ales

Oct 4, 2014

4 of 31: All the Boys Love Mandy Lane (2008)

A vain attempt by a formerly prolific blogger to review 31 new (to me) horror films in the 31 days of October. We did it last year and it was a gas. Can we do it once more? Let's find out.

Platform: Netflix on Roku
Starring: Amber Heard

I'm watching this flick for three reasons:
  1. I remember hearing something about how the film was stuck in studio release purgatory. It was completed in 2006 and hit a couple of low-level film festivals that year. Then it was given a theatrical release in 2008 in the UK, but not here. Then it was stuck in said purgatory before some kind of deal was made to give it a limited theatrical release last year while hitting VOD at the same time. Had me thinking it had to be really good or really bad. Either way...win.
  2. The title sounds like some made-for-TV Saturday night flick on ABC from back in the 1970's. Or just what my childhood memory of what those flicks were called back then. But it definitely has a 1970's vibe going on in the title. Again...either really good or really bad. Either way...you know the drill.
  3. Amber Heard is in my absolute favorite movie of all-time. Drive Angry with Nicolas Cage. I'm not kidding. My favorite movie of all-time! OK...maybe that's a stretch. But there was a year or two there that I watched it whenever it was on. Literally! I saw that movie maybe 25 times in that year or two. And I fucking loved it every time. If you don't have enough room in your heart for how awesome Drive Angry is, well...then maybe you don't have enough room in your heart for me. And I'm a little sad for you. Because I'm all class.
Let's kick the tires on this bad boy.

Mandy Lane (Heard) is a loner high school student who, apparently, has become an insta-hottie over the summer break. Because there's even the smallest chance that Amber Heard wasn't always the prettiest girl in whatever room she has ever walked into in her entire life. Whatever. This new-found hotness has attracted all the best douche-bag dudes in her school. Who says beauty has no price? Alpha douche-bag invites her and her puppy dog male bestie over to his house for a pool party. Shenanigans occur, leaving one dead alpha douche-bag after he drunkenly attempts to jump from his roof to the pool to impress Mandy. Too bad...so sad.

We flash forward nine months and find that Mandy Lane is now running with the popular crowd. She's gone as far as setting her little puppy dog male bestie loose. He's just heartbroken without her. She and a group of her oh-so-popular running mates take a weekend trip for a party at a cattle ranch in the middle of nowhere. Oh, how very Texas Chainsaw Massacre of them all! And all the boys are trying to get with our titular (hehe) heroine, Mandy Lane*. Hence the title, apparently.

*Quick sidenote: I'm not all the way through the film yet, but everyone in the film, including Mandy Lane herself, refers to her as Mandy Lane. Not Mandy, Mandy Lane. "Hi, I'm Garth.", "Hi, I'm Mandy Lane." We don't know his last name. We don't know anyone's last name in the entire film except for her. I call bullshit. Ahem...

Mandy's peer group is a clear cross section of the popular crowd. Two hunks/jocks (one black, one white), two sluts/sluts (one blonde, one brunette) and the rich stoner kid. Because it's his father's cattle ranch, of course. Ya gotta keep one of those kids around. Especially in a 1970's-ish/grindhouse-ish horror homage. But where's darling Franklin? Clear missed opportunity.

What happens next? Well, someone starts gobbling up lovely Mandy Lane's popular buds. But who? You'll have to watch it yourself to find out, but it's more about the journey than the destination. If you know what I mean. Pretty standard slasher/grindhouse fare, but that doesn't mean it's not a fun ride. Or at least it WAS a fun ride. The first half, maybe. Then the oh-so-obvious killer is revealed, and then the twist. Wouldn't be a modern horror story without a twist. I'm beginning to despise the twist. Devil's Rejects didn't need a twist. Sigh.

I really had high hopes for this one early on. It was dark and moody and atmospheric. The acting was decent and the soundtrack was vaguely fun. But it all dissolved into silliness and crap in the second half. I'm not really sure why it all went down the way it did, to be honest. More to the point, I didn't really care. And that's a shame, because things could have turned out so much better. Not for the popular kids. Nope...they are going to die either way. I meant as a viewing experience.

As it is? Meh.

Verdant Dude Rating: 2 out of 5 pumpkin ales.

Oct 3, 2014

3 of 31: The Seasoning House (2012)

A vain attempt by a formerly prolific blogger to review 31 new (to me) horror films in the 31 days of October. We did it last year and it was a gas. Can we do it once more? Let's find out.

Platform: Netflix on Roku
Starring: Rosie Day, Sean Pertwee.

Anytime you see a horror movie that is set in the Balkans, your skin should immediately begin to crawl. Seems like there is some bad shit always going down in the Balkans. A place that I probably couldn't find with a map. Southeast Europe, right? Serbia, Bosnia, Romania...maybe even Turkey and Greece? So it's a large area of Europe. Just seems like a place with bad shit going down constantly. Perhaps why so may scary myths and legends arose from that region.

Then there is the name. The Seasoning House. Sounds like something you do to meat. Like tenderizing or aging. Someplace where some awful butcher or local legend madman might live. There's definitely going to be some bad shit going down in that house. Just not the kind of monsters I was expecting.

The "seasoning" in this case has to do with young women who are kidnapped and forced into the sex trade. Rough sex trade. Angel is a young deaf mute with a disfiguring birthmark on her face. Her captor decides to use her as an assistant instead of a prostitute. She prepares the girls and rooms each day by fixing their makeup and giving them drugs. Afterwards, she cleans the girls up after most have suffered through violent rapes.

It's not a cheery kinda existence, to say the very least.

Angel even has a creepy way of keeping safe and getting around this awful place. At night, she travels through the walls and crawlspaces of the house using the floor vents if she needs to enter or quickly exit rooms. It's almost as if she becomes a living version of a ghost wandering the house from inside the walls. Quietly preparing the "meat" each day to be served by her captor's terrible clientele. So not a cheery existence.

But then a new girl arrives. Vanya, recently abducted from wherever these dudes abduct these young women from. Vanya knows sign language, so Angel befriends her as best as she is able. Until the military squad that abducted Angel and killed her family arrive one evening for a night of violent "fun" at the house. Angel witnesses one of the soldiers rape and kill Vanya, and then the revenge killings begin. Using her stealth skills and her knowledge of the crawlspaces and the walls, she eludes and kills her abductors. Eventually escaping the house with the soldiers and her captors in strong pursuit.

I'm not a fan of these type of torture porn or rape porn or revenge porn flicks. Sure, the revenge part is great. Who doesn't like a good old revenge killing on some scumbag who so clearly deserves to be dead. And these scumbags get what's coming to them. I've got not problem with that. It's all the nastiness that leads up to it. Feels too "real" to me, and like to enjoy my horror flicks. Not grimace my way through them. 

It's raw and emotional and surprisingly well done. Some of the scenes are about as gruesome and disturbing as any horror film I've ever seen. You will find yourself rooting for Angel against these awful men. It's just not my particular brand of bourbon.

Verdant Dude Rating: 2.5 out of 5 pumpkin ales

Oct 2, 2014

2 of 31: Thale (2013)

A vain attempt by a formerly prolific blogger to review 31 new (to me) horror films in the 31 days of October. We did it last year and it was a gas. Can we do it once more? Let's find out.

Platform: Amazon Prime on Roku
Starring: A bunch of Norwegian cats. 

I'm loving some Norway right now. TrollHunter was so much fun as a Norwegian found-footage horror film. They have ice hotels in the Winter in Norway, and I wanna stay in one of those things one day. And Black Metal. Glorious, glorious Black Metal. OK...not much of a fan of Black Metal myself, but Gia loves it. And I get a kick when we have friends over for a ramble and we have a nice soft mix going on with our iPOD when all of a sudden...BLACK METAL!!! So much fun.

Thale is a Norwegian horror film based on Norwegian myths and legends starring Norwegian people with names like Silge and Morten. So I knew I was in before I even clicked play.

The film focuses on two regular guys named Elvis (nervous and empathetic) and Leo (taciturn and unflappable) who run a crime scene cleanup business. They come across an especially gruesome death scene and discover what appears to be a young woman-ish kind of creature who seems to have been held captive in the basement. Thale, as she is called, is a most definitely NOT human. From a tape player at the scene, they learn of her life in captivity and about the medical experimentation that was performed on her to make her appear more human.

That's because Thale is most likely the living embodiment of a Norwegian legend called huldra. Tall, female, seductive, woodland creatures with animal characteristics such as hooves and cow tails. Also with superhuman strength, longevity and supernatural abilities. She was found in the Norwegian woods as a baby and raised by her savior/captor/protector/mutilator. It's his death that our lunky schmoes have come to clean up. And who knows how long he had been dead or how long Thale was alone.

The simple drama of the film is finding out exactly what Thale is, and what is the extent of her abilities. And that there are those who are trying to find her. Either to exploit those abilities or, perhaps, to save her from captivity.

Thale was made on an extremely low-budget of around $10,000. Most of the action takes place in a cellar and the woods surrounding the cabin. But it's well-done, even when compared to much higher costing horror films. No immense frights or gore...well, some gore. But it's power as a horror film comes from it's claustrophobic setting and the fear of the unknown experienced by our protagonists. Nothing ground-breaking, but a nice, little horror film. Perhaps even a sweet horror film. You decide.

Norge er kjempebra!

Verdant Dude Rating: 2.5 out of 5 pumpkin ales

Oct 1, 2014

1 of 31: State of Emergency (2011)

A vain attempt by a formerly prolific blogger to review 31 new (to me) horror films in the 31 days of October. We did it last year and it was a gas. Can we do it once more? Let's find out.

Platform: Showtime Anytime on Roku
Starring: No one of consequence. 

So...here we are again. Just you and me and my underpants. Well, maybe you aren't aware of my underpants. But I assure you...they are there. Or maybe they aren't. Intrigued, right? But let's not get caught up in whether or not I'm wearing said underpants. It's October, and that means that one thing and only that one thing matters. And it's not underpants. You know what? I don't even say underpants in real life. I definitely say underwear. Or boxers. Or boxer briefs. Or anything BUT underpants. Why the hell am I typing underpants over and over and over again? I can't begin to fathom it.

What was I saying? Oh yes...October, and the one thing that matters. Pumpkin Ale. No, wait a minute. That's not it. Flannel shirts? Nope. Black cats? Well...they ALWAYS matter. Ah yes, horror films. And this is the first offering in what hopes to be 31 days of extreme mediocrity. When it comes to reviewing mediocre horror films, that is. I'm hoping to find 4 or 5 diamonds in the rough, mind you. But one never knows. Do one?

I've got a penchant lately for apocalyptic horror. I've been reading plague and zombie apocalypse novel one after the other. I tell myself that I'm trying to get ready for the inevitable purge, but I think I just dream of a world in which 99% of the people I know die miserably. Wait...did I just admit that to the world? Fuck it...but, of course, I hope YOU are part of the 1% that lives. I'm jake like that. Me and YOU alive, and everyone else dead. As Louis sang, ah yes...what a wonderful world.

I'm five minutes in to the film and I'm already giddy that our hero has stumbled into a farmhouse after some bio-tragedy has been unleashed against humanity. And he finds a TV set with rabbit ears that he spends a half minute playing with...to watch what is ABSOLUTELY a CNN-ish cable news program. It's both brilliant and ridiculous. I applaud everything about it. Gimme more anachronistic silliness. Maybe use a CB radio to dial in Pandora or Spotify or something. I want it all.

I kid because I love. What follows is actually a pretty decent low-budget version of 28 Days Later. Crazy bio-plague turns normally fun-loving humans into flesh-eating monsters. You know the drill. The acting isn't quite first-rate, but it's a low-budget horror film. In fact, the second male lead might be one of the worst actors I've ever seen. I guess you get what you pay for. In this case...crap acting. What ya gonna do?

The survivors actually find a pretty solid place to hold up against the inevitable zombie apocalypse. An old tobacco warehouse with strong loading bay doors and no windows. Wish I had one of those in my backyard. As it is, I've just got a shed (not even ours) and too many cats. So I'm fucked. But these guys could hold up for weeks, as long as the water and electricity keep running. Never a given.

I'm not saying I'm not recommending this fairly standard, harmless horror flick. But I'm not NOT saying it, if you know what I mean. Watch it if it's on and you got nothing else happening in your life. But don't go actively seeking it out. And my God...I hope you have something else happening in your life. Because it would be pathetic if this was the only thing.

I'm sorry for your pathetic life. Really I am.

Verdant Dude Rating: 1.75 out of 5 pumpkin ales