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Daniel Jolley "darkgenius" (Shelby, North Carolina USA)
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Snow Shark
Snow Shark
DVD ~ Sam Qualiana
Price: CDN$ 14.95
18 used & new from CDN$ 2.51

1.0 out of 5 stars An abominably bad movie, July 3 2015
This review is from: Snow Shark (DVD)
Any self-respecting quest to seek out the worst movie ever made must go through Snow Shark: Ancient Snow Beast at some point. While this isn’t the worst movie I’ve ever seen, it is bad – really, really bad. But, heck, you know that already based solely on the title. Now don’t go picturing deep Arctic snowdrifts in your head – this ancient snow beast, despite its significant size, somehow swims beneath two or three inches of snow on the ground. Even the rapidly decreasing hick population of the town doesn’t believe in the snow shark, despite the fact that a local teenager claimed he shot and killed one twelve years earlier. The evidence was destroyed in a fire, you see. Nothing kills tourism like wild stories about snow sharks.

It all started with an earthquake (presumably, that awoke the prehistoric shark from his millennia-long nap). Soon after, a scientific team came to investigate why all of the local forest animals seemed to have disappeared – and disappeared themselves. Now, twelve years have passed, and the snow shark is back. The mayor calls in a biologist, a cryptozoologist, and a famed hunter to find and neutralize whatever is killing local citizens on a daily basis. Locals ammo up and go on the hunt themselves. Yes, there will be blood – lots and lots of fake blood strewn across the snow.

I can’t point to any positive aspect of this film. All of the outdoors scenes look like they were filmed in somebody’s back yard. The acting is just horrible all across the board – which may be for the best given the fact that the script and dialogue is so stilted and abysmal. You can’t look forward to the shark attacks, either – they usually just amount to somehow hollering as “blood” is thrown across the camera lens. On the occasions when we do get to see more than the fin of the shark, you end up wishing you could have just left it to your imagination because it’s not impressive in the least. Even the scene with a couple of topless women coming out of a Jacuzzi is hard to watch – frankly, I found the shark more attractive. Unless you are determined to seek out the very worst movies ever made, just leave Snow Shark alone.

UFO's: Above and Beyond [Import]
UFO's: Above and Beyond [Import]
DVD ~ James Doohan
Offered by OMydeals
Price: CDN$ 65.46
8 used & new from CDN$ 12.55

2.0 out of 5 stars James Doohan is the only good thing about this documentary, July 2 2015
Like several other reviewers, I only watched this documentary because it was hosted by James Doohan. Having watched it now, I would say that James Doohan is the only reason you would want to watch UFOs: Above and Beyond. I am convinced that Earth is being (and has long been) visited by extraterrestrials, but this video doesn’t make a very strong case for UFO reality. Some of the photo and video evidence may have been presented here for the first time, but virtually all of it is familiar to anyone with an interest in ufology today. Indeed, a lot of it goes back to the 1950s and 1960s. Those types of grainy images are far from conclusive, and you don’t get a lot of time to study anything you’re seeing. It appears obvious that the makers of this documentary tried to cram in as many images as possible; these things come at you faster than the chocolate came at Lucy and Ethel on that classic episode of I Love Lucy. More unfortunate still is the fact that two of the few times the video slowed down to focus on a single witness, the subjects were Bob Lazar and Billy Myers, neither of whom are given any credibility among ufologists. I really can’t recommend this documentary to anyone apart from James Doohan fans. It’s not going to convince anyone that UFOs are real.

San Andreas Quake
San Andreas Quake
Price: CDN$ 16.98

4.0 out of 5 stars Another entertaining Asylum knockoff disaster film, June 26 2015
This review is from: San Andreas Quake (DVD)
Once again, The Asylum shows why it is the king of low-budget knockoffs. Sure, the story is old and formulaic, some of the CGI effects are pretty bad, and some of the acting doesn’t measure up, but I still think this is a pretty darn good Asylum disaster movie. I sort of feel sorry for those who can’t just sit back and get some enjoyment out of a silly little film like this. I, for one, love Asylum disaster movies, and this one has all of the standard Asylum elements: one or more parents – one of whom has detailed knowledge of the natural disaster taking place – fighting to reach and save a child, a scientist with information no one takes seriously, “on the road” conversations about how bad the traffic is when we the viewers never see another single car going in either direction, periodic “news updates” on the deepening crisis, and, of course, the wholly predictable ending.

Molly Dunn (Jhey Castles) is a seismologist who has developed a system capable of predicting earthquakes up to several hours before they hit. Unfortunately, her inability to back up those claims several years earlier means that no one believes her – not even her step-daughter Ali (Grace Van Dien). As a series of increasingly large quakes begins to strike the Los Angeles area, though, Molly alone knows and believes that the long-dreaded “big one” is going to decimate Los Angeles within just a few hours. Even though she has a strained relationship with her step-daughter, she insists on trying to reach Ali in downtown L.A. and usher her to safety. She doesn’t go alone, but the identity of her companion and Molly’s interaction with that person is a major part of the story I don’t want to reveal.

I really like Grace Van Dien, and not just because she looks like a hot clone of Avril Lavigne in this movie. She’s a promising young actress I hope to see more of in the future. Molly’s traveling companion also turns in a good performance. As with pretty much all Asylum films, there are several goofs and mistakes – but I actually find these little things sort of endearing; they’re like the Asylum’s calling card. Still, the whole zoo-related scene is really pretty bad – terrible CGI and one shot against blatantly wrong scenery. Now, I understand that most people do not share my appreciation of the Asylum’s body of work, and I readily admit that some Asylum movies do indeed merit one star only – but San Andreas Quake really isn’t a bad film. I say try it – you might just like it.

Willow Creek
Willow Creek
DVD ~ Alexi Gilmore
Price: CDN$ 8.88

5.0 out of 5 stars Easily one of my all-time favorite "found footage" films, June 24 2015
This review is from: Willow Creek (DVD)
Willow Creek easily lands itself a spot in my top five “found footage” films. This, my friends, is found footage done right (and, as for Bigfoot films in general, Willow Creek is the new champion). I was rather shocked to learn that Bobcat Goldthwait wrote and directed this gem, but it’s clear that the funny man knows how to make an effective horror thriller. Rare indeed are the films that can invoke an element of the creeps in this horror veteran’s bones, but Willow Creek succeeds in doing just that with one of the most atmospheric and uncomfortable (not to mention longest) scenes I’ve seen in years.

The first half of the movie comes across as pretty formulaic. Jim (Bryce Johnson) and his girlfriend Kelly (Alexis Gilmore) head off to Willow Creek, California, to fulfill Jim’s lifelong dream of exploring the very area where Roger Patterson (alongside his buddy Bob Gimlin) filmed the most compelling video footage of Bigfoot ever captured. Kelly isn’t really the outdoors type, and she does not share her boyfriend’s belief in the existence of Sasquatch, but she agrees to go along just to make Jim happy. That right there is love, people. First, of course, they do the whole tourist thing in Willow Creek – grabbing a Bigfoot Burger, filming landmark signs and statues, and interviewing locals for Jim’s documentary of the trip. For those interested in Bigfoot, it’s a lot of fun stuff, including a little Tom Yamarone performance of his tune “Roger and Bob (Rode Out That Day).” A couple of locals do warn the couple not to go into the forest, but Jim’s not about to give up on his dream. Once they do hike deep into the woods, this film hits a whole new gear, best exemplified by an unforgettable twenty one and a half minutes long “one take” scene. Goldthwait peels back all the layers of modern horror theatrics to expose the audience to raw, gradually building terror. It’s brilliant – it really is.

Another positive aspect of this film is the fact that it’s not wrapped in the trappings pervading this particular genre. There’s no introductory bit with law enforcement asking for help with the case, no news report of anyone getting lost in the woods – none of that crap that tends to reveal what is going to happen. The ending of the film is also praiseworthy – and not just because it is well-done by all involved. It also starts some neurons firing, leading you to suddenly grasp additional insight into what you’ve seen well after you finished watching the movie.

If your high hopes for Bigfoot: The Lost Coast Tapes were dashed or if you generally enjoy “found footage” films, I highly recommend that you give Willow Creek a try. This film avoids all of the mistakes that afflict so many films of this genre. I know I’m going to enjoy returning to this movie again and again in the future.

Sasquatch Hunters by Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
Sasquatch Hunters by Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
DVD ~ Fred Tepper
Offered by JnP Store Canada
Price: CDN$ 27.32

4.0 out of 5 stars A surprisingly serious and entertaining low-budget Bigfoot movie, June 6 2015
In a world full of low-budget Bigfoot movies, Sasquatch Hunters stands pretty tall among its peers. Some may complain about the special effects (a combination of CGI and costumes), but I thought they were pretty good. More importantly, the acting is excellent and the script is quite good – and surprisingly serious. Okay, the main character’s background is mentioned but never explored, but there’s very little cheesy dialogue and the characters continually react in believable ways to the frightening situations they find themselves in. Also, unlike most Bigfoot movies, the story doesn’t cram the whole Bigfoot thing down your throat. Heck, three-fourths of the way through, the characters are still trying to figure out just what they’re up against. I only remember hearing the word Bigfoot once, and the film’s original title was Primeval rather than Sasquatch Hunters. Of course, the latter title really poses the question as to just who is hunting whom here.

Apparently, it takes five rangers to escort three scientists deep into the woods in search of unusual bones or fossils. The discovery of an unidentifiable, gorilla-like bone matching a decades-old sample in museum archives sends paleontologist Helen Gilbert (Amy Shelton-White), anthropologist Ethan Edwards (Gary Sturm), and a student photographer on a quest to find more evidence of the mysterious creature. Former Ranger Roger Gordon (Matt Lattimore) joins his old boss and three young Rangers on the mission. After a couple of days hiking, the group arrives at the investigation area, where they find a burial mound stocked with unusual big bones – possibly an undiscovered relative of Gigantopithecus, according to the anthropologist. Unfortunately, something in the woods also discovers the party of humans – something big, dark, hairy, loud, and seriously pissed off. The excitement of the scientific discovery soon turns to fear as these intelligent creatures begin to make their displeasure crystal clear.

The film is almost completely free of campiness, which is why the story plays so well. I genuinely liked the characters and did not want to see any of them harmed. There’s some harmless flirting early on, but there’s no nudity or sexual overtones to distract from the story. There’s not much in the way of gore, either – although a poacher does meet his end in a rather enjoyable way at the very beginning. Most of the real action takes place at night. The lighting is well done, allowing you to actually see what is going on while still preserving a strong “we’re being hunted and picked off one by one by Bigfoot in the middle of the woods at night” feel throughout. I also liked the fact that no one really comes out and says “it’s Bigfoot.” The whole subject matter is treated here with a level of seriousness you won’t find in most films of this genre. This really is one of the best low-budget “Bigfoot” movies I’ve seen.

Witness To Roswell
Witness To Roswell
by Thomas Carey
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 16.74
13 used & new from CDN$ 16.00

4.0 out of 5 stars The truth about Roswell according to those who were there, May 30 2015
This review is from: Witness To Roswell (Paperback)
Witness to Roswell is one of the best books out there concerning the crash of a flying saucer outside Roswell, New Mexico, in July 1947. It helps to have basic knowledge about the events surrounding the Roswell Incident before reading it, however, as it doesn’t lay out the story of what supposedly happened in a linear fashion. Instead, it presents different aspects of the case from the perspective of those who witnessed them somewhere along the line. Perhaps the main strength of the book is the authors’ revelations of the most recent deathbed confessions of several witnesses and participants in the cover-up, men such as Brigadier Generals Arthur Exon and Thomas Dubose who held fast to their oaths of secrecy until the end of their lives. Dubose, who served as General Ramey’s Chief of Staff in 1947, stated in recorded interviews as well as a signed affidavit that a weather balloon was switched for the actual material from Roswell in advance of Ramey’s famous press conference to kill the flying saucer story – and that the orders for the cover-up came from Washington, D.C. That is powerful testimony that the Air Force has essentially ignored in its third and fourth official “explanations” for the Roswell Incident.

Unfortunately, any evaluation of this book begs the question of Donald Schmitt’s credibility. No researcher has worked harder or longer at researching the Roswell Incident and attempting to get the most reluctant of witnesses to finally tell their stories. At the same time, he has hurt the very case he is trying to make by initially lying about his education, accomplishments, and research methods -- which led directly to the end of his research partnership with Kevin Randle. Through his partnership with fellow researcher Thomas J. Carey, Schmitt has worked hard to restore his credibility over the past two decades. Unfortunately, his involvement with Jaime Maussan and the laughable “Roswell slides” fiasco has once again left his credibility in tatters – and dealt ufology another serious black eye. Although he makes a point in this book about dismissing all of undertake Glenn Dennis’ testimony after learning Dennis had knowingly given them a fake name for the nurse that told him about the alien bodies, he does continue to put faith in some witnesses whose testimony has been questioned elsewhere. To their credit, though, the authors do not even mention the extravagant claims of Philip Corso. All of that being said, I do not believe that Schmitt and Carey put forth any information in this book that they do not believe to be true – but I can’t in good conscience give the book five stars.

If you want to know the names and testimonies of any and everyone involved in the Roswell incident, from those who saw the debris field and crash sites to those who guarded and transported the material and bodies from Roswell to Fort Worth and Wright Field in Ohio, you will find all of that information – and more – in Witness to Roswell. The book really represents the most timely of statements as to what those involved with the Roswell Incident – with the obvious exception of those who chose to take whatever they knew to their graves – had to say about their experiences. If nothing else, it puts the lie to each of the official explanations offered up by the Air Force over the years.

Icetastrophe [Import]
Icetastrophe [Import]
Price: CDN$ 24.13
20 used & new from CDN$ 9.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Baby, it's cold outside, May 23 2015
This review is from: Icetastrophe [Import] (DVD)
I pretty much live for bad, low-budget disaster movies, and with a name like Icetastrophe (or Christmas Icetastrophe, as it was called when it originally aired on SyFy), you know this one definitely qualifies. I was initially disappointed to learn that the film was not a product of The Asylum, but I needn’t have worried – Icetastrophe hits on just about every bad movie cylinder. It’s built on particularly ludicrous scientific foundation, features unknown actors portraying characters you hardly know and do not care very much about, delivers tons of CGI icy destruction that really doesn’t look all that bad for the most part – and, of course, you have the obligatory romantic subplot about the town’s very own version of Romeo and Juliet. On top of that, just for laughs, the story takes place at Christmas and features characters with the names Crooge, Marley, and Ratchet.

So here’s the deal. A small meteor splits in two just before colliding with Earth. The bigger chunk plows into Main Street of whatever town this is, then somehow begins to grow and initiate increasingly destructive flash freezing storms all over the place, turning those who get in its way into human ice-kebabs and plunging the whole area into sub-Arctic temperatures. It’s up to local Charlie Ratchet (Victor Webster) and plucky astrophysics grad student Alex Novak (Jennifer Spense) – who comes to see the strange meteor she had been tracking for weeks – to save the whole world from an icy holocaust while everybody else tries to find shelter despite their own stupidity.

I think my favorite aspect of the movie is Ratchet’s amazing ability to find anything he might need in his pockets or on the ground beside him – heck, he even has the ability to keep using a lighter he gave his son early on in the movie. That tells you just about everything you need to know about Icetastrophe. It’s just your average, run-of-the-mill SyFy disaster movie: a slightly amusing little romp for fans of bad movies but an insufferable viewing experience for those who expect their movies to actually make sense and tell a decent story.

Missing 411-Western United States & Canada: Unexplained Disappearances in North Americans that hve never been solved
Missing 411-Western United States & Canada: Unexplained Disappearances in North Americans that hve never been solved
by David Paulides
Edition: Paperback

5.0 out of 5 stars Now we know why Yosemite Sam always carried two six-shooters, May 17 2015
Having heard numerous radio interviews with David Paulides, I finally decided that I had to buy all four of his books on strange disappearances in our national parks. He really only sells his books through his website, so ignore the ludicrous costs you see on this site (from 3rd party sellers) and just go to canammissing dot com to find them. Missing 411: Western United States and Canada is the first of the books, detailing hundreds of unexplained – oftentimes bizarre – disappearances that have taken place in the western United States and Canada over the past century or so – in or in close proximity to national parks. This includes some of the most fascinating cases you may have heard him discuss on the radio – such as Stacey Arras’ disappearance from Yosemite National Park in 1981 and Charles McCullar’s disappearance from Oregon’s Crater Lake National Park in 1976 (and the eerie nature of his remains when eventually discovered). Paulides breaks all of the cases down by region, identifying obvious clusters where disappearances most commonly take place, notes similarities in many of the cases, and discusses time and again how the bureaucracy of the National Park Service seemingly tries to keep the lid on the truth by failing to keeps lists of missing persons (or so they claim), illegally refusing to turn over public information via Freedom of Information Act requests, and failing to add their missing persons to any national missing person database. At times, it’s hard to tell which is scarier – the unknown mysterious truth of what is happening inside our national parks or the government’s attempts to cover the whole thing up.

The information contained in this book is the result of untold hours of investigation by Paulides and his team – scouring newspaper and magazine articles, submitting numerous and sometimes unsuccessful FOIA requests, speaking to nearby law enforcement personnel and individual national park rangers, etc. Simply finding out the names of those who have gone missing over the decades is a terrific chore because the National Park Service itself claims that they don’t even keep lists of the missing. Only rarely does Paulides speak with the family members of the missing, simply out of respect for their loss – but when he does speak to those directly involved in the disappearances and searches, some truly disturbing facts often emerge.

While people of all ages are among the missing, it is the story of the missing young children that are the most disturbing. They often disappear in close proximity to their parents or other children, and those who are eventually found only serve to deepen the mystery. Many small children are located miles away from where they disappeared, at much higher elevations, and in remote and oftentimes fairly inaccessible regions they couldn’t conceivably have reached on their own – or else they are found in an area that Search and Rescue teams have thoroughly searched already. Many have no memory of what happened, or tell strange stories that make no logical sense. When the remains of some children and adults are eventually found, they add even further to the mystery. Children are found with shoes, socks, and sometimes pants missing; adult remains often consist of only a few scattered bones alongside weirdly organized bits of clothing. Pants are sometimes turned inside out, boots are often never found, and jawbones and femurs seem to turn up alongside socks full of tiny bones. None of these findings are consistent with animal attacks.

Paulides does not attempt to explain what is happening to these people or to offer his conjectures. Indeed, how could anyone possibly explain something like the overwhelming preponderance of serious storms occurring to hinder search efforts in the immediate aftermath of so many disappearances? He details the facts of each case and offers his observations about certain clusters, patterns, and similarities between them. The next book, where Paulides discusses disappearances in the eastern United States and Canada, should really be seen as a companion to this one. Indeed, both started out to be one book – but there was too much information to include in just one gigantic book. That being said, Paulides does make reference to a number of eastern cases in this book, so you will want to get both books to get a better picture of the depth of the mystery that Paulides is bringing into focus here.

The Last Days on Mars / Les Derniers jours sur Mars (Bilingual)
The Last Days on Mars / Les Derniers jours sur Mars (Bilingual)
DVD ~ Liev Schreiber
Price: CDN$ 25.47
7 used & new from CDN$ 5.00

5.0 out of 5 stars An excellent science fiction film with strong horror overtones, Jan. 16 2015
The plot may not be all that original, but I think The Last Days on Mars is a showcase of excellent science fiction filmmaking. This is the type of science fiction movie I keep looking for but rarely find, and I enjoyed every minute of it. The colonization of Mars is such a fascinating subject in and of itself, but man’s struggle to survive in such an alien environment ratchets up by several factors when the mission is threatened with catastrophic failure. I just wish we could stop having to imagine what might happen on Mars – but man’s long-overdue journey to Mars looks like it may not happen in my lifetime, and that’s a bitter disappointment.

So it’s 2040-something, and eight astronauts are just wrapping up a six-month mission on the surface of Mars. All but the two main scientists have had all they want of the Red Planet and can’t wait for the arrival of the spacecraft Aurora to pick them up. It would seem that the folks back at the International Space Commission (or whatever it was called) could have done a little more in the way of psychological testing, though. Kim Aldrich, upset that she has failed to find any signs of life, is a real queen you-know-what who pisses everyone else off continually. Unlike Kim, scientist Marko Petrovic keeps his thoughts to himself. He makes up an excuse for one last outside mission in an attempt to hide his own discovery of a bacterial lifeform on Mars, and that sets a whole series of events in motion. The team leader’s a good man, but he won’t assert himself or make snap decisions on his own. The psychologist in the group is pretty useless to begin with and becomes even more so when things turn ugly. The only two people with solid and dependable characters are Rebecca Lane and Vincent Campbell (although even Vincent sometimes struggles with claustrophobia). Live Schreiber really makes this movie his own with his understated portrayal of Vincent. He is the only character who always thinks clearly and consistently acts to save himself and his crewmates from what becomes the most unimaginable of dangers.

Those who dismiss this as a horror movie do the film a disservice. Certainly, there is a strong element of horror on display here – and a somewhat clichéd horror at that – but The Last Days on Mars is first and foremost a science fiction film. The mission itself is all about the search for signs of life on a sister planet and man’s commitment to scientific discovery and progress. I really don’t understand how some viewers can say the film has no real plot or purpose. These are human beings struggling to survive and make it home to their loved ones. You’ve got the innate human struggle to survive in an alien environment, the psychological effects of unimaginable stress on characters who are supposed to be of the most sound of minds, and the complexity of interrelationships changing in the most trying of circumstances. It all adds up to a fantastic movie, in my opinion.

Puppet Master 3: Toulon's Revenge [Import]
Puppet Master 3: Toulon's Revenge [Import]
DVD ~ Ian Abercrombie
Price: CDN$ 12.89
6 used & new from CDN$ 4.35

5.0 out of 5 stars Best entry in the Puppet Master series, Dec 31 2014
Puppet Master 3: Toulon’s Revenge is a surprisingly strong entry in the series, providing us with the gripping backstory that lies behind everything we have seen so far. It also gives us the first opportunity to openly root for the puppets as they go about their killing business. This time around, the victims aren’t greedy psychics or innocent paranormal investigators – they’re bloody Nazis. We also learn the origins of the puppets Blade and Leech Woman – and, indirectly, all of his other puppets. The story makes for quite a transition from the previous film, as here there is nothing evil about Anton Toulon or his puppets. Yes, the puppets do become vicious killers, but there is nothing innocent about their victims – and I daresay no one could possibly blame Toulon for taking such strong measures in the wake of what happens to him here.

The original movie opens with Toulon killing himself just before two Nazis arrive to take care of him and his puppets in 1939, but the date of his death changed to 1941 in Puppet Master 2. This third film takes us back to that momentous year in order to fill in the story of how Toulon escaped from Nazi Germany and managed to make his way to California. He had procured the secret of animating his puppets in Cairo way back in 1912, and 1941 finds him continuing to put on puppet shows featuring his amazing string-free marionettes. Rather foolishly, these shows feature a Hitler puppet and a story mocking the German Fuhrer. That’s a really dumb thing to do in the heart of Berlin, especially if your wife is Jewish. Fellow puppeteer and Gestapo driver Lt. Erich Stein attends one of these shows – and sneakily discovers the fact that Toulon has found a way to animate the puppets. This brings him to the attention of Major Kraus, who has been overseeing the efforts of a Dr. Hess to come up with a way to reanimate the corpses of dead soldiers on the eastern front. During a raid of his home, Toulon’s wife Elsa is killed, while Toulon (and a test tube full of his animation liquid) are captured. With a little help from his friends, Toulon manages to escape. Wife his wife murdered, the only thing Toulon cares about is exacting revenge on Major Kraus and his men, and so begins his and his puppets’ merciless campaign for justice.

Puppet Master 3 isn’t just some cheap horror movie featuring killer puppets. There is a great deal of true drama to this story, and it even has something of a historical value, as well, in terms of its portrayal of the Nazi reign of terror. The acting is quite good indeed, and Guy Rolfe makes for a most sympathetic Toulon. The film as a whole adds a whole new dimension to the entire Puppet Master series. I should also add that, once again, the puppet movements are very well done.

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