Psycho Goreman (2020)

Psycho GoremanIt’s the early 90’s (I assume) in a small middleclass suburbia where the siblings Mimi (Nita-Josée Hanna) and Luke (Owen Myre) are out in the backyard playing Crazy Ball. Yes, would you even imagine that there was a time when kids could have fun without a smartphone? My oh my. Luke is the the quiet and reserved one while Mimi is a fearless sociopath with some strong Tiny Tina demeanours (that crazy girl from Borderlands). She’s mean, sassy, demanding, animated and loves to pick on her brother. Later that evening they decide to dig a big hole in the yard, because that is what kids did back in the day when they couldn’t sleep. After a few feet down they find some pink/purple-glowing mystical artifact that’s clearly not from this planet. Another thing from space is an alien, played by Matthew Ninaber, covered in a full latex costume from toe to top. He’s from the planet Gigax and has telekinesis powers, the ability to throw big fireballs from his hands, and looks like a mishmash of all B-movie monsters from the 80s and maybe early 90s. For my part he reminded me more of Wishmaster.

 

Mimi and Luke encounter the alien in some abandoned shoe factory where they also stumble upon his first victims, a group of hobos with their bodyparts placed on the wall like a morbid David Fincher crime scene (the most graphic moments where the grittyness is concerned). They don’t seem that scared, though, but more thrilled. We get a whole flashback scene that tells us his origin story and how he came to Earth, but the most important thing to know is that he’s here to kill all mankind. Why? Because why not. The one and only thing that could hold him back is the glowing artifact (also called The Gem of Praxidike) we saw earlier, which Mimi luckily have in her pocket. When the alien gets the sight of it, he freezes. Because you see, those who holds the artifact can command the alien to do what they want, like John Connor did with Arnie in Terminator 2, so to speak. As the kids they are they see him as a big new toy and gives him the catchy name “Psycho Goreman”, PG for short just to play ironically with the title in case the film would end up with a PG-rating, which instead got unrated. Oh, well.

 

So, where does the plot go from here? A lot of shit happens, but not in the way you’d probably imagine it. Since Mimi outshines the entire cast with her energetic and manic presence and seems to be as psycho as Goreman himself, it would be easy to picture these two as a deadly duo going on an epic genocide crusade-mayhem while being chased by tanks, choppers and the military. Hopefully in a sequel. Mimi and Luke doesn’t know much about what to do with him other than first disguise him in some clothes, like in Frankenstein: The College years (for the few that have seen that film) and hope he gets accepted by their mum and dad. They forgot to cover his face though, but no one would notice such minor details, lol emoji. I couldn’t care much for the scenes with the parents. They’re just there with their own marriage issues to make us know that the kids aren’t orphans. Their goofy deadbeat dad (played by Adam Brooks) has some comedic nuggets here and there, and yeah, he alone got some chuckles out of me. His best scene is where he gets a mental breakdown while taking a dump. Meanwhile when Luke and Mimi gets along with PG as they start  a garage band together with PG on drums, play videogames and what kids would do with a huge toy as PG, the council from his homeplanet sends the galactic warrior Pandora, an angelic creature with small wings as eyes, to save us Earthlings from PG’s destruction.

 

Psycho Goreman is written and directed by Steven Kostanski, a young man from Canada who seems to dedicate his film career with his production company Astron-6, by producing a pastiche of  low-budget, 80’s-centric films with titles such as Manborg, The Void, Father’s Day, Leprechaun Returns to name some. With his latest feature he takes inspiration from the early 90s with films like Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Power Rangers, Transformers, Star Wars, the epic intros from the Saturday-morning cartoons from the 80s, martial arts, some spices of Troma and everything from the obscure corners from the 80s, puts it all in a grinder and out comes Psycho Goreman. So, how does it taste? Hmm..

 

There’s not as much blood and gore as the title would make you believe, though. If there was some malfunction with the grinder, I don’t know, but the result is more sweet, more innocent and light-hearted that you’d expect. The film relies more on slapstick, goofy fight scenes, and overall a showcase of impressive, if not charming, make-up effects/costume designs and a handful of references. There’s something for everyone to like here, I personally have a weak spot for Death Trapper, a walking meatgrinder filled with body parts. And then we have a giant, wobbling brain with some terrified eyes. The miniatures seen in PG’s flashback scene were nothing but gorgeous which also gave some Mad God vibes. The musical trio Blitz/Berlin adds a fitting retro soundtrack to enhance that fuzzy feel of nostalgia. And then there’s probably a drinking game of references. The most notable are the  scenes with the council on PG’s homeplanet which clearly mocks the political nonsense we had to sit through in A Phantom Menace that still seems to haunt us. We also have a reference to Steven Kostanski’s favourite film Phantasm with an extended dream sequence. So, yeah, there’s a lot to chew on here and get inspired by, and with its colorful cartoonish and over-the-top silly, naive tone, Psycho Goreman suits perfectly for the the whole family to enjoy with pizza, coke and root beer on a Friday night.

 

Psycho Goreman is available on DVD/Blu-ray on Cd Universe and can be watched on various streaming sites.

 

Psycho Goreman Psycho Goreman Psycho Goreman

 

Writer and director: Steven Kostanski
Country & year: Canada, 2020
Actors: Nita-Josée Hanna, Owen Myre, Matthew Ninaber, Steven Vlahos, Adam Brooks, Alexis Kara Hancey, Kristen MacCulloch, Anna Tierney, Roxine Latoya Plummer, Alex Chung, Scout Flint
IMDb: www.imdb.com/title/tt11252440/

 

Tom Ghoul

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Last Will and Testament of Rosalind Leigh (2012)

The Last Will and Testament of Rosalind LeighLeon is a young man who deals with antiques, and inherits his estranged mother’s house and belongings after her suicide. He arrives at the house, and takes a look at the inventory, all the while we get a narration delivered by the deceased. Rosalind Leigh, the mother, gives a monologue about her life where she describes the overwhelming loneliness she felt after her son rejected her due to their difference in faith and his negative religious experiences throughout his childhood. She describes how she, during the remainder of her life, feared he would never regain his faith or return to her, but she kept waiting. While wandering through his mother’s old house and her belongings, he discovers that it was actually she who was his anonymous benefactor who bought all the items of antiquity he sold. The more he looks through his mother’s belongings, the more he feels that he is surrounded by sinister figures and starts having hallucinations that rocks his skeptic foundation to the core.

 

The Last Will and Testament of Rosalind Leigh is a horror movie directed by Rodrigo Gudiño, and is one of those typical horror films that is bound to have very split opinions: you’ll either think of it as a sluggish, boring snoozefest, or you’ll be intrigued by the atmosphere, underlying messages and metaphors. And while I have to agree that the film didn’t really tap into all the potential it could have had, I still enjoyed its ominous feeling of unease which was blended so well with the main character’s surroundings. In fact, Rodrigo drove around Toronto looking at houses, until he found one that was owned by a mother and daughter who were eccentric Collectors. And it sure was a perfect fit. It’s filled with knick-knacks, huge statues, old dolls and whatnot. The imagery, cinematography and lightning are all spot-on, and the voice-over by the deceased woman is an excellent touch, with her moody and husky voice.

 

There are a few flashback scenes presented, where the mother starts seeing a demonic cat-like entity concurrently with her failure to deal with her loneliness. Rosalind appears to have sought some kind of comfort from joining a religious cult, some kind of “angel cult”, taking her religious beliefs and eccentricities to another level. I personally wish this could have been explored a bit further, but we never really got to know too much about this cult she was an apparent member of. We do get more than a few glimpses into Rosalind’s gradually destroyed psyche, however, which is not directly in correlation with the cult, but rather how her faith overpowers her despite being the sole reason for the destruction of the relationship with her son. Leon, on the other hand, is clearly struggling as well. While wandering the house and pretty much attacked with ptsd-triggers all around, he keeps calling his girlfriend psychologist. There’s suffering and sadness all around, coming from both perspectives.

 

Overall, The Last Will and Testament of Rosalind Leigh is an atmospheric, gothic ghost story and sombre tale about loneliness and the monster it can turn into, and how faith can not only bring people together, but also bring them completely apart. It’s definitely intended for a mature audience, very low-key, vague and a bit up for interpretation, and we all know that this kind of recipe doesn’t always taste well for everyone. However, it can hit the right strings if you can appreciate this sort of film, and you might find it intriguing and delightful. A pure slow burner indeed, but the atmosphere is plentiful with the creepy house and all the collectables inside.

 

The Last Will and Testament of Rosalind Leigh The Last Will and Testament of Rosalind Leigh

 

Writer and director: Rodrigo Gudiño
Country & year: Canada, 2012
Actors: Aaron Poole, Vanessa Redgrave, Julian Richings, Stephen Eric McIntyre, Charlotte Sullivan, Mitch Markowitz, Sarah Illiatovitch-Goldman, Rodrigo Gudiño, Bob Dorsey, Rogelio Gudiño,
IMDb: www.imdb.com/title/tt2332831/

 

 

Vanja Ghoul

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Gutterballs (2008)

In this little 80’s throwback slasher and rape/revenge-flick Gutterballs, we spend time in a bowling hall with two groups, getting ready for a bowling contest. But the plan for that night goes down the toilet when a fight escalates. The individual that stands out is the unhinged Steve, a sadistic bully with some serious anger issues. He screams desperately for attention in every scene, spews out a world record list of obscenities, one of them being over 600 fuck-bombs (yes, someone actually tried to count them). I wouldn’t recommend the drinking game for obvious reasons, but at least we have some other use of colorful words to play with such as cunt, bitch, motherfucker, whore, pussy, etc…

 

The plot and the boners thickens when Steve and his group of friends gang rapes Lisa, the girl whom left Steve for some other guy in the other group. The next night the two groups hook up again in the bowling hall to start over. Lisa is still there, that poor girl, but reserved behind some, big dark sunglasses. And when the bowling-match is about to settle, a mysterious, unseen player by the name BBK is shown on the score monitors. They soon learn that they’re being terrorized by a killer wearing a bowling bag over its head and using sharp bowling pins to penetrate the victim’s private parts.

 

THE MOST OFFENSIVE FILM EVER, many calls it. Well, at least it’s far from being boring. But yeah, it’s hard to not agree that the characters are a bunch of insufferable fucks performed by the bottom of the barrel actors from Troma, and you can’t wait to see them get brutally killed. And let me tell you, Gutterballs doesn’t disappoint in that aspect. Some dude gets his head crushed by two bowling balls, another’s head gets blown to smithereens by a shotgun, we get a nasty close-up castration, sodomizing, face melting and even more. The most memorable scene is the couple getting killed while having a steaming 69 in the bathroom. Sadistic and perverted fun for the whole family.

 

Writer and director Ryan Nicholson has since the mid 90s primarily worked as SFX artist on titles such as Ghost Rider, Stargate, Transformers, X-Files and the list goes on. Special effects is clearly his main focus, but despite the film’s limited budget, he also manages to lit up the bowling hall with the use of neon light to enhance some of the 80s atmosphere. He followed up with the sequel Gutterballs 2 for his cult-followers in the underground horror movie community, and also made films such as Dead Nude Girls. Sounds fun. Gutterballs seems to be his most approachable film for the masses, and if you like raw, trashy and silly 80s slashers like Intruder, Chopping Mall, Savage Streets and Troma in general, this one will surely please you.

 

Gutterballs Gutterballs Gutterballs

 

Writer and director: Ryan Nicholson
Country & year: Canada, 2008
Actors: Alastair Gamble, Mihola Terzic, Nathan Witte, Wade Gibb, Candice Lewald, Jeremy Beland, Trevor Gemma, Nathan Dashwood, Scott Alonzo, Jimmy Blais, Danielle Munro, Stephanie Schacter, Saraphina Bardeaux, Dan Ellis, Brandon Dix, Ryan Nicholson
IMDb: www.imdb.com/title/tt1087853/

 

Tom Ghoul

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fear of the Dark (2003)

Ryan is a young boy who is afraid of the dark, and believes that there are sinister entities hell-bent on getting their claws on him once he finds himself outside the protection of light. And of course…no one believes him. One evening, Ryan’s parents are going out on a date, and his big brother Dale is going to babysit him. And what happens? There’s a power outage, of course! And Dale, who previously used to mock Ryan for his fear of the dark, soon experiences that this fear is not at all unfounded. The good old phrase “there’s nothing there in the dark that isn’t there in the light”, which Dale has told Ryan to tell himself over and over, now also lose its power over Dale as well when it becomes evident that there is indeed something there in the dark after all…

 

Fear of the Dark, with its cheesy ghoulish dvd cover and simple concept, pretty much gives you exactly what it promises: this is a “horror” film for a younger audience, and could pretty much be seen as a long Goosebumps episode, and perhaps as being a little reminiscent of Are you afraid of the Dark, which was also a horror series for a young audience which is considerably lesser known than the aforementioned one. With that in mind, and without any expectation of getting some real scares here, it can be a decent enough watch. The story is simple enough: when it gets dark, the boogeymen are coming after you. Something that is easily identifiable for many of us, as a fear of the dark is something a lot of children have experienced (and mostly, thankfully, grown out of). But not for this film’s protagonist, of course…here, the boogeyman is real, and there’s not just one, but several of them. They come off as some kind of mix-up with Freddy Krueger and the aliens from Dark City, wearing long coats and hats. Not scary in the slightest, but maybe a little for the kiddies, and the ghoulish appearance of the boogeymen kind of fits with the film’s otherwise slightly cheesy tone.

 

There’s not really all that much to say about a movie like this, and if you’re looking for a scare, then, well…this is definitely not the movie you should watch. If you’ve still got enough of your child in you to appreciate a movie aimed for a younger audience, then Fear of the Dark can be an okay experience if taken for what it is.

 

Fear of the Dark Fear of the Dark

 

Director: K.C. Bascombe
Writers: K.C. Bascombe, John Sullivan
Country & year: Canada, 2003
Actors: Kevin Zegers, Jesse James, Rachel Skarsten, Charles Edwin Powell, Linda Purl, Daniel Rindress-Kay, Derrick Damon Reeve, Charles-Etienne Burelle
IMDb: www.imdb.com/title/tt0308252/

 

 

Vanja Ghoul

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hunter Hunter (2020)

Joseph lives in the remote Canadian wilderness together with his wife Anne and their daughter Renee. They try to make a living from selling the fur of the animals they trap, which isn’t much but enough to make them go by. They feel threatened when a lone wolf starts eating the animals they’ve trapped, and Joseph decides to track down the wolf and get rid of what is threatening both their livelihood as well as their safety. When hunting down the wolf, however, Joseph comes across something far more dangerous and threatening…

 

Hunter Hunter is a slow burn thriller, which is offering quite an amount of atmosphere due to the cinematography and feeling of isolation in the remote wilderness setting. There are always those people who want to live away from the hustle and bustle of modern life, in remote areas and in total or near total isolation, Mountain Men-style. This kind of lifestyle is almost always very hard, where just making a living requires hard work (and some luck). The characters in this movie is no exception to this, but Joseph appears to be the most determined to never return to the comforts of modern life, while the wife (Anne) is thinking about their daughter whom she thinks should grow up under more… normal circumstances, going to school and meeting friends. With the wolf ruining much their livelihood as well, things have become harder than usual. But things won’t be as easy as just getting rid of the wolf, of course…

 

The film does suffer a bit from a slow start of what initially appears to be a simple man vs nature/beast story, but when you’re becoming aware of how much of a darker turn it takes, it manages to keep the tension on track. The acting feels believable and realistic, and while the characters themselves doesn’t really offer much personality or traits to make them memorable, their performances heightens the build-up of tension and foreboding.

 

Now, the movie’s ending is inevitably what has gotten most people’s attention, and yes…it really does pack a punch with its vicious brutality, and probably gives it the extra bite it needed. It’s not a movie for those who are not fond of slow-burners, but overall it’s a tense thriller which provides a few surprises and twists along the way.

 

WARNING: watch the trailer at your own risk, there’s a lot of spoilers…

 

Hunter Hunter

 

Director: Shawn Linden
Country & year: Canada, 2020
Actors: Camille Sullivan, Summer H. Howell, Devon Sawa, Nick Stahl, Gabriel Daniels, Lauren Cochrane, Jade Michael, Erik Athavale, Karl Thordarson, Blake Taylor, Sarah Constible
IMDb: www.imdb.com/title/tt2226162/

 

 

Vanja Ghoul