Movies Galore takes a look at director Takeo Nakamura’s animated classic “Nutcracker Fantasy” from 1979!

Written by David Strege

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When your a kid and your mother sticks you in front of the tv you get to watch many strange cartoons at an impressionable Age in the 80’s and Takeo Nakamura’s (a Japanese animation artist who’d worked on the Rank/Bass production Santa Claus Is Coming To Town as well) Nutcracker Fantasy was one of them from Sanrio Film.

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At the time I hadn’t realized how many people that were recognizable names but such a weird concoction of voice actors and actresses.  I also had no idea Japan had anything to do with this stunningly Dark and beautiful underworld backstory to the Nutcracker tale very loosely based on Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky’s ballet “The Nutcracker” a russian tale? Told by Japanese animationists? Intriguing…

Not to say Laura Ingals Wilder, Hammer Film’s Dracula and Cornelius from Planet of the Apes is involved as well as the First Lady of Radio combined to tell the tale of Clara and her imagined world of rats, Princesses and danger…

The tale begins with an old wives tale not that unlike the tale of the Sandman but in here they call him “The Ragman” a hunched creature with a sack moving through the night to snatch you up if you weren’t asleep… of course I remember this film being a heck of a lot more grainy learning that Discotek had released this film and mastered it again I am floored at how clear it is now and it is every bit as dreary as I remember it.

The story itself is narrated by Michele Lee whom has the perfect narrating voice for this story of Clara (Gilbert) who spent her summers at her uncle Drossselmeyer (Lee) and her Aunt Gerda (Tuttle) it is when Clara stumbles on her Uncle Drosselmeyer’s true passion for making dolls her uncle and aunt allow her to have  a Nutcracker with buckteeth to sleep with.  He is imperfect but Clara likes him.

During the night Clara wakes to find some mice trying to steal her doll and after chasing them away they seem to disappear inside the clock that Clara’s Aunt keeps saying needs fixing but then a two headed Rat Queen Morphia (Worley) comes out to help steal the doll but when Clara is hurt the doll defends her.  When she awakes the doll is gone and no one believes her tale so little Clara decides to go ito this world to save her doll…

This is where it gets a little weird a pink rose rises in the mist and inside the rose is an unanimated ballet dancer but she is also pretty and so begins some out of focus slow motion dancing along with some random dancing from Clara seemingly making use of one dancer to signify a dreamlike world.

And actually it’s her Uncle Drosselmeyer that she has followed behind the clock where she finds a painting of a girl who looks like her a princess Mary.

As it turns out there was once a battle of dolls where as one kingdoms soldiers of dolls orchestrated by strings and the other army by windup dolls but also the problem of breaking the curse of the slumber of princess Mary and her ratly-like features. When wiseman come from all over the world and only think of themselves Clara goes off in search of the Queen of Time (Gabor) which her voice reminds me of the blue fairy I believe from Disney’s Sleeping Beauty.  What the Queen of Time tells her is that Queen Morphia harbors a shell of Darkness around her heart where her evil powers lay and that the pearls of light, a certain sword has the power to crack this shell and must be wielded by someone of pure heart.

Clara takes the sword to Franz and he takes up the sword vowing he will take a chance try to save the Princess or die.  I’m glad I chose to pick this up it’s it’s own form of weird darkness wrapped up in an odd Christmas nutshell.  You have some rare moments of hearing Christopher Lee sing.  For an animation much of this film is oddly amusing.

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I love and is absolutely one of my favorite animations of its time.  I’d certainly recommend this film for those whom are into films of this nature where yes much of it isn’t real but you can imagine the world as it is with this kind of claymation in its creative beginnings. The film was nominated for the 1980 Saturn Award for Best Fantasy Film and the 1980 Young Artist Award for Best Motion Picture featuring youth and won the 1980 Young Artist Award for Best Musical Entertainment so this must count for something.

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Starring Michele Lee as Narrator (voice), Melissa Gilbert as Clara (voice), Lurene Tuttle as Aunt Gerda (voice), Christopher Lee as Uncle Drosselmeyer / Street Singer / The Puppeteer / The Watchmaker (voice), Jo Anne Worley as Queen Morphia (voice), Ken Sansom as Chamberlain / The Poet Wiseman (voice), Dick Van Patten as
King Goodwin (voice), Roddy McDowall as
Franz / Fritz (voice), Mitchel Gardner as
The Indian Wiseman / The Viking Wiseman (voice), Jack Angel as The Chinese Wiseman / The Executioner / Gar (voice), Gene Moss as Otto Von’Atra / The French Wiseman / Clovis (voice), Eva Gabor as Queen of Time (voice), Joan Gerber as Mice Voices (voice), Maxine Fisher as Mice Voices (voice), Robin Haffner as Princess Mary (voice), Kin’ya Aikawa as Executioner (voice), Hisao Dazai as Chamberlain (voice), Arihiro Fujimura as French Wiseman (voice), Shunji Fujimura as Indian Wiseman (voice), Atsuko Ichinomiya as Queen Morphia (voice), Ichiyô Itô as Prussian Wiseman (voice), Shirô Kishibe as Corpulent Rat (voice), Haruko Kitahama as Gypsy Fortuneteller (voice), Shinji Maki as British Wiseman (voice), Kiiton Masuda as King Goodwin (voice), Shûichirô Moriyama as Poet (voice), Hiroyuki Nagato as Doctor of Letters (voice), Shizue Natsukawa as Aunt Gerda (voice), Kô Nishimura as Uncle Drosselmeyer / Strange Old Woman / The Puppeteer / Watchmaker (voice), Jirô Sakagami as
Chinese Wiseman (voice), Tarô Shigaki as
Franz / Fritz (voice), Kaoru Sugita as
Clara (voice), Yukari Uehara as
Princess Mary (voice), Takao Yamada as
Shunruru (voice), Kyosen Ôhashi as
Russian Wiseman (voice).

 

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Movies Galore takes a look at director Chris Peckover’s “Better Watch Out” from 2016!

Written by David Strege

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What surprises me with this holiday horror film is distributed with Well Go USA which normally dishes out films that are martial arts related or of foreign origins with subtitles whether action, sci-fi or martial arts with drama/ espionage, in association with Storm Vision Entertainment with Best Medicine Productions director Chris Peckover which I have his film “Undocumented” but I haven’t seen it yet so give me time but I’ll try to relay this one without as many spoilers as I have with some films.

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Think babysitter… asked to do a job before moving away… slightly 80ish styled with an omen-like home alone twist.  This movies was brilliantly fresh least I think so.  Ashly (DeJonge) is very pretty has been looking after Luke Lerner (Miller) since he was a child so she spent expect a thing when things started happening in the home to make her feel like an intruder was in the house…

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I honestly never really had a true baby sitter my mother was always sort of a stay at home mom myself but if I had and I’d had a baby sitter as comely as Ashley I might have even of had a tiny crush.  Honestly Levi Miller kinda reminded me of the gangly youth playing Bruce Wayne on Gotham David Mazouz but I know it’s not him.

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I think what disturbs me the most about about Levi Miller’s Character Luke is one moment he seems like such a normal kid but there is an element of a psychopath we right beneath the surface.  I believe that can stem from having a spoiled life and yet the parents were quite snippy at each other.

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I think that the director was able to look at a slasher through the eyes of Kevin McAllister of Home Alone but mash it with a little bit When A Stranger Calls.

I enjoyed this film it wasn’t that it was scary I think that I liked how much planning went inside the mind of Luke I felt for him as I know his character really did like Ashley… I think she was going away he’d fallen in love and couldn’t let her go.  I certainly enjoyed this film what I didn’t expect was the horror film the two were watching was also not a real movie so it’s almost like we were watching snippets of a different slasher, a movie within a movie…

I think horror enthusiasts would get a kick out of it over a one time watch what do you think?

Starring Olivia DeJonge as Ashley, Levi Miller as Luke, Ed Oxenbould as Garrett, Aleks Mikic as Ricky, Dacre Montgomery as Jeremy, Patrick Warburton as Robert Lerner, Virginia Madsen as Deandra Lerner, Alexandra Matusko as Scary Movie Girl, Georgia Holland as Scary Movie Girl, Beau Andre as The Mangler, Michi Fifer as Christmas Caroler, Tara Jade Borg as Christmas Caroler, Tricia Mary Hennessy as Christmas Caroler (as Tricia Hennessy), Mary Clearkin as
Christmas Caroler, Hugo Monotti as
Christmas Caroler, Brendan Clearkin as
Christmas Caroler, Christopher Moriarty as Police Officer, Theresa Duong as
Police Officer, Matteo D’Agostino as
Police Officer, Lisa Thornquest as
Police Officer, Mark Cronin as Ambulance Paramedic, Simon I. Proud as Ambulance Paramedic (as Simon Proud), Neil Sharma as Pizza Delivery Man, Ben Ward as
Snowman Boy (voice), Elizabeth Matusko as Snowman Girl (voice), Steffanie Siebrand as Ashley’s Mom (voice), Ian Keiner as Horror Movie Victim (voice), Ken Tillman as Horror Movie Victim (voice), Leo B. Ramsey as Horror Movie Victim (voice), Rachel Murphy as Horror Movie Victim (voice), Daniel Peckover as
Horror Movie Victim (voice) (as Dan Peckover), Alexis Brown as Horror Movie Victim (voice), Jase Ricci as Ambulance Paramedic (voice), Jeremy Shipp as
Ambulance Paramedic (voice).

 

Movies Galore takes a look at director Michael Dougherty’s “Krampus” from 2015!

Written by David Strege

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After the success of his horror themed anthology from 2007 “Trick ‘R Treat” director Michael Dougherty went on board with Universal Studios to film Krampus in 2015.

The film begins in the credits with an almost perfect sequence of Black Friday shopping madness as people are fighting eachother, grabbing presents from one another, Stepping over and even includes the unbelievably cruel idea of a mother and father forcing their child to get pictures with Santa and the child of course is squirming to get away…

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The main story centers around a grandmother, a boy and his family of degenerates who’ve lost the spirit of Christmas…. Max (Anthony) all he wants for Christmas is to have his family start acting like they used to “a little nicer.”

He writes it up in a letter which at Christmas dinner with his girl cousin has snatched and reads aloud to his family.  Upset Max goes to his room.  A little while later the power goes out and Max’s sister Beth goes and checks on her boyfriend which as she’s being chased by an unseen creature Krampus sends one of his toys after her and she is thought to have been killed… Meanwhile back at the house the two fathers go out to look for Beth but get chased by a creature beneath the snow and return.

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A ginger man drops through the chimney and drags a cousin through the chimney and out… and Omi the grandmother shortly afterwards tells the family when she was a girl she’d called on the Krampus to take her family. This part is told in some kind of animation as she watches the Krampus kill everyone except  her as she is then given the bell, in which we see Max has been given the same, as a parting gift before she immegrated as an orphan over to the US.

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Long story short toys, gingerbreadmen, creepy evil elves and Krampus go after the rest of the family including afunny moment where the family pitbull eats a cookie to help kill these rampant ginger cookies ultimately ending in a final stand off between Omi and the Krampus creature, Max goes after the Krampus creature and then as thebowels of the earth opens up and swallow him he wakes up with the rest of his family as all of a sudden as Max opens a present where the bell that says Krampus resides they all look up suddenly remembering the events that happened or sowoukd you believe as the scene makes you think they are all inside a snow globe now in Krampuses workshop along with some thousands of others collected…

I really enjoyed the cgi animation in this film it wasn’t as entirely used or over the top relied upon on by as some major films seem to use.  I do think that through the family members treated eachother like shit at first you did begin to respect some of the characters as the film went on.  I do however believe if I’d been a parent.  Beth sneaking off wouldn’t have even happened she’d of been watched plus she looked rather young to have any kind of a boyfreind yet.   I will say even though I enjoyed her performances in “The Sixth Sense” Toni Collette as Sarah the mother in the family seems to be rather too old for her role I think she could have been recast as someone younger in my mind. She just seemed out of place other than this though the animation was unique for Oma’s tale I feel this was not so much as a creative move so much as a time constraint decision where they didn’t have even film role left to film an actually real film scene location with real actors but they had to keep it pg-13 so I understand the animation but I still feel as if it was some kind of Cop Out.

Other than this I enjoyed the (Tolman’s) Aunt Linda’s fighsty comeback after her kids were being taken from her was pretty cool as well as once you finally got to see the Krampus creature in its full entirety I feel that Dougherty had a very real sense on what he wanted his Krampus to lookand feel like.

I think this feature had its pros and it’s cons definitely had some things and people it could have changed  but you kinda just have to sit back down enjoy this film s the comedy it was meant to be.  Aren’t you supposed to be ble to watch a movie and not pick it apart really till the end? These are just my thoughts on the film why not just go see it yourself and come back and tell us different.

I think that horror enthusiasts true horror film lovers actually enjoyed this film I think a lot of people need to just sit back and watch films and goin open minded as I think a lot of people go in judgingly thinking films are going to be bad when actually they are impressive. I’d certainly recommend this film to see in the holiday spirit! Enjoy!

Starring Emjay Anthony as Max, Adam Scott as Tom, Toni Collette as Sarah, Stefania LaVie Owen as Beth, Krista Stadler as Omi, Conchata Ferrell as Aunt Dorothy, Allison Tolman as Linda, David Koechner as Howard, Maverick Flack as
Howie, Jr, Queenie Samuel as Jordan, Lolo Owen as Stevie, Sage Hunefeld as Baby Chrissy, Leith Towers as Derek, Curtis Vowell as DHL Man, Luke Hawker as
Krampus, Seth Green as Lumpy (voice), Breehn Burns as Dumpy (voice), Justin Roiland as Clumpy (voice), Brett Beattie as
Der Klown, Mark Atkin as Ketkrókur, Amy Brighton as Þvörusleikir, Trevor Bau as
Hurðaskellir, Ravi Narayan as Kertasníkir, Felicity Hamill as Gáttaþefur, Sophie Gannon as Bjúgnakrækir, Kelly Lily Marie as Giljagaur, Clare Odell as Gluggagægir, Gareth Ruck as Stekkjarstaur, Ivy George as Perchta the Cherub (voice), Teddy Klaue as Teddy Klaue, Tik Tok as
Tik Tok, Collin Dean as Ruprecht the Elf, Pascal Ackerman as The Yule Goat, Skye Broberg as The Yule Goat, Jessie Carson as
The Yule Goat, Thor as Rosie the Dog, Adam McArthur as Dark Elves / Gingerbread Men (voice), Jon Bailey as
Dark Elves (voice) (uncredited), David W. Collins as Dark Elves (voice) (uncredited), Gideon Emery as Krampus (voice) (uncredited), Sean Fleming as
Christmas Shopper (uncredited), Sophie Fulton as Screaming Kid (uncredited), Chi Jiajia Lim as Extra (uncredited), Chong Sin Lim as Security Guard Opening Credits (uncredited), Eric Lopez as Dark Elves (voice) (uncredited), Alexander Polinsky as Dark Elves (voice) (uncredited), Byron Schepen as Various (uncredited).

 

Movies Galore takes a look at director Thomas Veys short film “Damnwich” from 2011!

Written by David Strege

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Not to be confused with “The Damnedwich” short film by Pungent Studios this short film was brought to us by the UCC Film Soc with Splatterbox productions director Thomas Veys.

The film begins with a homicide detective and his female partner arriving on the scene of a crime where a victim is found dead and the only thing nearby a sandwich, I think his partner vanished but next we see that a Zombie Apocalypse happens over a 26 day span and apparently the detective oblivious to all that is going on never really solves his crime meanwhile his Zombie partner seems to follow him everywhere.

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The fact that there are pillow fight, attacks, people beating eachother up even a newscaster in the back ground being chased by these undead creatures is enough to emit a little bit of laughter, including the people dancing behind him along with some random dude in a banana suit.  I think that this film was made for the heck of it wasn’t meant to make any sense but apparently it’s a sandwich that will start the Apocalypse folks.

I liked the fact the detective spoke like the old time Perry Mason detective stories kinda like the old black and white whodunnit mysteries I enjoyed this short film for what it is stupid but not totally makes ya kind of go WTF? In any case seek it out if you like it is on youtube….

Starring Thomas Veys as Vicitim/Banana King, Athoulis C. Tsiopani as Greek Zombie, David O’Donochud as Homicide Detective, Emilia Aro as The Partner, Brian O’Mahony as News Gentleman, Lorna Buttimer as Food Gatherer, Richard Toolan as Falling Zombie, Christine Dilworth as Pillow Fighter/Dancer, Jonathan Twomey as Pillow Fighter/ Dancer, Amy Dennehy as Taxi Driving Zombie/ Drunken Auntie Dancer, Ellis Couchlan as Zombie/ Dancer, Niamh Costelloe as Small Zombie, Rocksy “Chipstick” as Balboa The Cute Cat himself.

Movies Galore takes a look at director James Amthor’s short film “The Damnedwich” from 2017!

Written by David Strege

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Brought to us by Pungent Studios hailing from Illinois director James Amthor of “Time Toupee” this short film is the studios second project and thought I’d touch on it. You kinda just have to go with the flow on this one…

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Trixie and Tracy (Black and Starr) are roommates hanging out together and Trixie is making soup which doesn’t seem to agree to be a meal to Tracy.  Next we have a segment of Sandwiches, live pigs, anatomy, blood and what looks like a body being dragged to a cut off pigs head all put to an old song I think early 1920s not sure of it’s title.

Anyways its date night with Sid and Trixie and Tracy’s beginning to feel like the third wheel when their lives were interrupted at three in the morning by a new Deli down the street called “Deli”Ver us From Evil.

So the next morning the girls go down to the Deli to get a free sandwich and when they do this quirky guy and this is the part worth seeing is he pulls out an almost twenty foot long sub and slams it on the table.  Tracy can’t wait to eat it but three days later she is still eating the sand which and is acting really strange.

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When taken to the doctor the doc thinks she’s a walking corpse as she has no pulse.  Trixie is really worried about her roommate and as the sandwich seems to have spoiled all the food and when Trixie tries to take the sandwich from Tracy her head twists around tells her to get out and a priest is called in to do an exorcism.

Ulimately I enjoyed this film because of the fact it was some really bad acting but a situation that would definitely not have happened normally I think the hand puppet of the sandwich was hilariously goofy.  It’s not that this was scary at all but it was definitely a spoof off the Exorcist and entertaining as it went along at least to me.

I think if your a no budget lover of crazy fucked up stories your will definitely love this nonsensical film. I recommend that you seek this film out if you can even if for a one time watch definitely not bad for a 300 dollarish budget. I also thought that Pamela Starr’s acting wasn’t too bad… she played the slobbish friend well…

I will however say that Trixie did seem like she did everything for her wanna be black man, white boyfriend Sid.

Here is the trailer:

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Starring Kimberley Black as Trixie, Paloma Starr as Tracy, Tony Kozina as Pastor Troy, Mathew Wenzel as Sid, Joshua Robieson as Natsa, Emily Robertson as The Hipster Eating, James Amthor as The Hipster’s Boyfreind.

Movies Galore takes a look at director Brad Sykes feature “Mad Jack” from 2001!

Written by David Strege

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Brought to us by Vista Street Entertainment’s director Brad Sykes brings us this film about his Psycho “Mad Jack.”

The film begins with music and we are introduced to Jack (Wareing) who slightly looks like a cross between Iggy Pop and a blond Doctor Daniel Jonas from Days of Our Lives as he’s smoking a cigarette and apparently remembering a woman who either left or abused him.  Next we see him in a hotel allowing a lady of the night to undress him as he starts getting rough she starts to fight back as it appears he strangled her.

Meanwhile a couple Peter and Angel who’d just got married are driving along the same road  Jack is as it looks like they almost hit eachother, I think Jack acts stunned and more hurt than he is as they take him in and into town.

Things escalade as Peter gets jealous over how nice Angel is treating Jack even though it was Peter who almost hit the man.  Peter almost hits Angel and I think that’s when things slightly change a little and they realize things aren’t going to be all rain or shine.

Meanwhile Jack hitches a ride and ends up at the same restaurant the couple stops and eats at and it seems the touches and glances Peter gives Angel reminds Jack of someone else…

It would seem that quiet Jack has a power over women as even the house cleaning staff at the cheap motels undress for him as he can’t seem to stop killing.

Jack just seems to rub Peter the wrong way but there definitely seems like there’s a trust issue between Angel and Peter.  Ultimately Peter gets jealous, hits Angel which pushes her towards Jack who ends up having an obsession after stabbing Peter will Angel leave with her life?

I’ll be honest the film didn’t have the greatest audio in the beginning but there were definitely some moments in the film that were bloody enough for that kind of drifter slasher kind of film.  But this was one where the flashbacks make you almost feel for the character of Jack’s for if you love someone and they love you they should never cheat of you…

Though I don’t understand why Angel would have allowed Jack to try to kiss her if she was truly in “love” with Peter as she said she was…

Ultimately this film was entertaining although I expected a few more bodies to have piled up Jack played Jack well… though Wareing seemed more like a surfer dude whom preferred body building…

This also showed that you don’t need a ton of cast members to pull off a Kind of Hitchhiker type slasher…

I’d definitely recommend that you who are horror fans check this feature out it wasn’t half bad… though I wish Angel had more aid a chest on her a lady who looks like a boy just isn’t natural there has to be at least some tits to grab for my liking… up to you in the end…

Here’s the trailer:

Starring Angela Ford as Angel, Mark Overholt as Driver, Christopher Rydman as Peter, Jack Wareing as Jack, Jeff Whitaker as Gas station attendant.

 

Movies Galore takes a look at director Brad Sykes feature “The Zombie Chronicles” from 2001!

Written by David Strege

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Brought to us by Sterling Entertainment and Razor Digital Media is a Zombie anthology film directed by Brad Sykes from 2001 that was originally filmed in 3D. Being this was one of his earliest films I like to start at a film makers earliest beginnings if I can. Before you go damning this film as well it was making some very early advances in some newer 3D tecnology at the time… in fact this quite possibly was the first Zombie feature in 3D ever…

The film begins with a dream-like sequence as a woman in a pink night gown is wandering an abandoned building when up from some floor boards maybe three or four fulci looking Zombies attack her she screams but then she wakes up.

As with most of Sterlings productions as I’ve seen so far the credits seem scattered though out the beginning thirty minutes of each film that being said I’ll continue…  the woman Tara Woodley (Smith) who’d been dreaming is lost on her way to finding the town of Scokes-borough when she runs over a strange man by the name of Ebenezer Jackson played by director Joe Haggerty of his own films, whom seems to have a voice that reminds me of a space rpg game from the early 90s by the name of Roger Wilco, which she could have killed but somehow he got up like nothing phased him and so hitches a ride with Tara.

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I’m actually enjoying the banter that Ebenezer gives as each couple of moments he calls Tara a nickname from periwinkle to Sherlock Holmes but after driving for a bit they end up at the abandoned building from Tara’s dreams as Ebenezer tells her a tale.  He tells of three bodies found in 1971 a couple diving to a campsite’s car breaks down, the man being ex military goes in search of a gas station he thought is up the road… after almost being raped back by the road the woman follows the Sgt. we find out his name is Draper and soon is kidnapped and tied to homemade explosives as the sarge is put through drills by an unknown person. Turns out the past can come back to haunt you in more ways than one…

Ebenezer has time for one more tale so he tells of Custer, Indian’s and three teenagers Jason, Buzz and their female romp freind are on their way to a campsite but instead find their way onto the grave site of on “Wild Jim Conklin” said to have rose up and killed every man and woman in a church in 1894.  You know what they say about disturbing one’s grave… but it seems his descendants are not quite dead or done…

The third tale is that Ebenezer the man telling Tara these tales isn’t quite alive either for evidently he was killed 25 years ago in a drunken accident… I was told that this was a bad film but strange as it may seem I rather enjoyed it… I think the second tale had more of a “Mama” kind of tale going on and had more natural looking special effects like I have said an almost Fulci-like look to the creatures.  I think the acting was decent it wasn’t as bad as some basement films I’ve seen but I like the fact there is a little offness at the end.  I enjoyed it.  Maybe I just like bad films.

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I certainly think that if you are a gore enthusiast definitely check this film out it seemed like these weren’t just zombies they had a spirit element too which is different. At least give it a chance on a one time watch.  I didn’t think it was entirely too bad, I’ve seen worse. Seek it bout if you wish…

Also from what I understand Joe Castro of Terror Toons was in the film and had a hand to play in the special effects area I thought what was done was clever so well done!

Starring Greg Brown as Pvt. Wilson, Garrett Clancy as Sgt. Ben Draper, Michael Coen as Jason, Brian C. Donnelly as Main Zombie, Matt Emery as Man #1, John Kyle Grady as Buzz, Joe Haggerty as Ebenezer Jackson, Janet Tracy Keijser as Melinda (as Janet Tracey), Beverly Lynne as Marsha, Joe Myles as Man #2, Jarrod Robbins as Geeter, Emmy Smith as Tara Woodley.