This graffiti is scrolled on the bare wall near door 147, and sits there, stark at we begin our film
Someone’s taking a beating out there from Carlos, a Sort of Indian gangster type who heads into the bar. There’s a couple people there. All ordinary architects. Selfie girl, a dopey blonde with her token gay friend, bartender, and preppies after a business deal. There’s a stage for band’s, but nobody’s playing tonight, just the jukebox it sounds like
Carlos gets a little obnoxious with the girls, Although I gotta say, the verbal Pacing is a bit off, And that’s something that crumb should be able to catch by now in the edit.
The business deal isn’t going to well either. The 2 guys were trying to sell porn to a distributor… except the guy is just a drunken mess, and the dialog just gets increasingly bizarre.
Thanks to the little stranger from there, and we learn a valuable lesson – never arm wrestle with somebody who’s getting belligerent with you. Things get a little stabby, and a fight breaks out. But that’s just normal bar side shenanigans. What isn’t, is the guy at the end of the bar Suddenly coughing blood and dropping dead.
And there’s the set up. 6 strangers in a bar with a dead body. And things are gonna get a lot uglier before they get any better, as all the secrets come out.
The shotgun blast to the leg, and the stabbed arm are good, bloody effects. Exactly what I expect from Crum, but the photography is off. The whole thing is run off of a very shaky stedi cam, And the framing is wild. People’s heads are constantly getting cut off, the camera isn’t panning and following enough, I understand this you’re supposed to come off as stylized, but to do stylized, you have to do It with style. This comes off as sloppy.
It’s an interesting subject with slightly more elevated material, and Crumb is swinging for the fences here, trying to make a tense thriller. It’s all about these people trapped together, who’s gonna take the blame, who was the murderer and who is innocent. It’s a locked room mystery. That’s smart too, Crums using his resources efficiently with a small cast and a single setting, but I’m not certain that hes quite talented enough to pull it off. There’s still a lot of his grindhouse horror style pervading it. Basically hes sticking with what he knows. In a lot of ways, it feels very similar to VFW, but with smaller stakes and a more closed space. It’s one of those movies where I’m glad I saw it, but I can’t imagine seeking it out if I weren’t specifically watching this director’s catalog. Still, it’s the sort of thing where I still want to watch Crum grow, and see where he goes from here.
Anna Two aka The Devil’s Fairground aka Freaky Links
Anna two starts off with something horrible happening in the dark. I’m not sure what, because it’s too dark. Flash over to a graveyard where our hero in glasses (Jacob, part of our pair of heroes from the previous film) is standing over someone’s freshly dug a grave. He then mournfully rides his bike off into the sunset. Or the credits. We appear to be in the middle of a pitch session for Freaky Links – the YouTuber’s site name. Flash back to the previous film, to get us context… But this time they’re off to a haunted amusement park… after the crashing a rival ghost hunters investigation.
Turns out, that this group, Spooky Links, used to work with them… They were all employed by Ryan, the gentleman in the grave from the beginning. He left the business and equipment a Spooky Links and Freaky Links are not real happy about that. But now they’re also trying to bury the hatchet, on the anniversary of Ryan’s death, and maybe recruit them to all work together to tackle the park.
They start things off with a stop along the way to visit a demon possessed girl. It kind of goes badly.. there’s blood on the ceiling, gory make up and several gags thrown in. Apparently you don’t make holy water just by soaking a Bible and a bowl of water…
I mean, you kind of can, but it seems to more just piss them off. They’ve definitely got the evil’s attention now, even as they defeat the possessed girl, the haunting follows them to the Local bar.
Anyhow it’s time to investigate the devils fairground.
Inside, the fairground looks more like your local Haunted House than an actual amusement park. It’s ramshackle buildings with smoking lights and lots of bloody, grotesque monsters. Crumb is going for uglier and more shocking monsters than he’s ever done before. It’s all about imagery. Seriously, we’ve left story well in the rear view mirror. But something interesting happens around the hour mark.
We got some foreshadowing a while back about the ghost hunters wondering what ghosts really are… What happens when you cross over… That sort of stuff. The third act attempts to explore that, sending a team into Crumb’s vision of the netherworld. It’s a bold move, the sort of thing we see very rarely, Hellraiser two, or The Beyond. He attempts to pull this off with sheer audacity and force of will, and while he doesn’t entirely succeed, he doesn’t entirely fail either. It requires a normal suspension of disbelief, but at this point I’m kind of ready to cut him some slack. He also has a good sense not to linger too long before moving onto the next threat, and get back to ghost hunting.
Or is it that the ghosts are hunting them?
You know, this is actually a better movie then it seems like. It’s got flaws, massive flaws, but there’s some interesting stuff to unpack and you can actually see the development of Crum as a filmmaker. I kind of want to revisit around Halloween when I’m hitting the haunted houses, because the imagery is just so familiar. It’s one of those movies were I’d kind of like to see what he could do with a bigger budget, I think he’s almost ready for it.
Lake Fear 3
You know how a lot of the times, these dollar store movies have a spectacular cover that the film can’t possibly live up to? Sometimes it’s the opposite, and the cover just doesn’t do the movie justice.
At first glance, Lake Fear 3 looks like it’s going to be a ghost hunters knock off. We begin with spooky intro credits from one of those ghost hunting shows on discovery, complete with a goofy cameraman doing his thing. We pull out of the TV and into a bar where people are watching the program. A man wanders in, ripped shirt, and bloody. His name is Remmington and he brings some surprise gore and demons with him. While I’m confused and don’t know for the life of me what’s going on, I sure do like it.
We cut to the credits burning in the sky over a spectacular drone shot, and switch to a desolate phone booth and gas station. A girl is trying to post “missing” posters in this one horse town, and one of the locals tells her that if the person in those posters was lost around here, she’s just dead.
The next 10 minutes are full on, gore fueled, relentless, monster attacks. It’s largely practical as well, with Aftereffects really only providing glowing elements to the whole affair. And just when you think they can’t keep this pace up, they do.
Vincent and Remmington toss Chloe into the backseat, bandaging her up as best they can and head out. No one‘s talking much, everyone’s pretty well in shock. Everyone that is, except Remmington. It’s not enough to flee though, monster Revol materializes in the car and goes after Chloe again. The evil is following them. A quick shotgun blast to the face is enough to propel her through the window and out of the car, but monster Revol picks herself up and puts her self back together, getting ready for another go around.
46 minutes in, we get our explanation. Apparently Remmington went on vacation to a cabin and unleash some unspeakable evil from the TV that now follows him (The flashback is inexplicably told in a bizarre and cheap looking flash animation). Now his plan is to lure it back to its own home, and he’s going to need Vincent and Chloe to help.
I’ve read in several synopses that Revol is looking for her sister who originally went to the evil cabin… I can only assume they’re referring to one of the four girls in the original film, because this movie was shot in Texas (and it LOOKS like Texas), where as part two is obviously in Florida. Still, the connection is never firmly made, and the film could’ve benefited from a stronger tie to the original Lake Fear. Likewise, I’m perplexed at why our flashback scenes were these weird flash animations rather than simply cutting to shots of the original film. It’s been the same distributor all along, I would hope that that would smooth over any rights issues.
The filmmakers very much wear their influence on their sleeves, you can totally see Evil Dead and The Thing represented here. While I criticize the make up in the original, Gerald Crum’s creature FX in this are stunning and excellent. The monsters are every bit as chaotic as what we see in Carpenters The Thing, and many of these effects shots are comparable. There’s a definite Evil Dead vibe once we get to the cabin, but these creatures supersede anything that I ever saw in Raimi’s classic. I love it when people succeed, and Michael and Gerald Crum have both knocked it out of the park with this one. It’s astonishing what a difference four years makes.
Of the three films, this is far and away the best, and worth sitting through the first two to discover this one, And it’s enough to actually make me want to go back and take a second look at the original Lake Fear!
Fall of Grace
Fall of Grace starts off well enough. Interesting credits that shiver and shake over news reports of a demonic attack. There’s a weariness about our characters, as a fight goes on under a blue filter. They don’t waste any time getting our victem possessed on the other side of the credits. She talks through a mirror to a shadow behind her, and it’s painfully casual.
We fast forward to a month after the horrifying events and the parents are still recovering. Mom’s drinking and dad studying the occult. Dad tells Mom he’s going to get their daughter back… as he plunges the knife into his arm. She’s drunk enough that it doesn’t even phase her. He heads out to the garage and draws a circle in blood and begins a ritual. The effects are bloody with flashes of scary imagery, and really the exact thing that Crum excels at.
Chainsaw. Threats. Time for real exorcists to get involved. We have an old priest and a young priest! Of course kid exorcist’s elder tells him it’ll never work. You can’t trust evil. It doesn’t matter, he’s going to try and rescue the girl. For a spiritual battle though, this is awfully physical, with some serious violence going on… And a flair for the fantastic.
Nicely creepy doll for this, and it actually looks like the one on the cover. You get points for that. Also get points for not including any horror posters or dvds in our character’s room… Romcoms on the shelves, typical books and stuff. They lose points though for the shot on video tape look and the warning at the beginning that it’s “based on a true story”.
It’s a bare room… It looks like somebody tried to make up a basement space as a set. The sleeping girl finds the evil doll next door… And weird sounds.… It’s all just a very very bad memory.
A couple of paranormal fanboys discovered that the doll has been removed from the house and put in a paranormal museum. They take the tour, distract the guide and swipe the doll.
Turns out they are YouTubers… They’re going to do the seven days with a haunted doll. Except nothings really happening. Suddenly, they certainly realize the problem is, all the victims have been women.
They hit the bar and pick up a lady that just might be a working girl, and invite her back. She shows up in their basement hang-out early, while the guys are out grabbing a couple last-minute supplies. She chucks the doll out the door, and that’s when things go wrong. She killed in a disjointed blaze of images, and then vanishes. As far as the guys know, she just never showed up, and their next trip is out to a local witch. The witch summons the spirit of the doll, who kills and possesses her, a bizarre and bloody spectacle.
The guys wake up dazed and trapped in the witches underground basement layer… With the doll sitting in the corner and a message written in blood. “Find her, kill her”.
Time to put their paranormal tools to work. The Witch has been turned into a bizarre, head splitting monster that walks on all fours and is hunting them. The problem is, they can’t leave. The basement has trapped them, and the doors don’t actually lead out. It turns into a cat and mouse game in a possibly large seller, with occasional interesting set pieces.
The doll agrees to let them go if they’ll send her more women. They agree and run away, hoping to figure out something or just escape. They then visit a psychic to see if she can exorcise the doll, but she just becomes another victim. The monster in the house is growing, and when the guys realize their mistake they break back in to try and rescue her. But the monsters aren’t playing games anymore.
This feels to me like it was made by haunters. The maze-like quality of the cellar sets and the bloody set pieces, the dark and slimy monsters, the back lighting, it all feels like haunted house techniques. These guys are very good at their set pieces and I feel like this would be a great Halloween party movie… Plenty of creepy imagery that you can enjoy with the sound turned off.
The story is just about adequate, but never quite knows what it wants to be. They drift back-and-forth between horror and humor, never quite blending the two and frequently falling short with the humor. I feel like these guys have read some of David Wong’s books like John Dies at the End, and they wanted a couple of slacker losers as their funny main characters. It never quite tracks though. They’re held back by their location as well. It feels like they really only had some person’s basement to shoot in, and were constantly re-dressing it.
It’s worth seeing if there’s nothing better on television, and really for some of the effects. However, it fails to be funny or scary, and that’s a shame… Because in better hands, this might just be something.
Allegiance of Powers
“Groups of super powered people begin a war that will bring the city they live in crumbling down. Allegiances of super powered people fight for control of a young girl, who holds the ultimate power to control anything and everyone in the city. They will begin a war that in the end could bring the entire city crumbling down.”
Flat out, I’ve been looking forward to this one. Allegiance to powers from its description and cover looks very much like a big departure from what Crum has done before. He begins in a heavily edited green screenshot of our heroes legs arriving in 2025. He seeing the aftermath of a battle. That’s when we flashback and we see the bomb drop. It destroys entire city intimate press of stock footage.
But that’s kind of what I’m talking about, Crum’s trying something different (in fact, it’s feels more like what I would expect from Daniel Armstrong – the post-apocalyptic punk feel). Trying to elevate this film and throw his ring in to the post-apocalyptic superhero fare, with something that at first glance there’s a passing resemblance to Roger. The credit fly over the post-apocalyptic, masks and goggles and grim looking people, then plug it into some more abstract imagery before coming out the other side of the moon pulling back on a badly rendered CG city and landing on our heroes.
They all deliver soliloquies to try and give us some context, in this in enormously filtered hyper-real environment. It’s almost the sort of video game looking environment that we see in films like Sucker Punch and Sin City. Interesting designs, and some impressive use of digital effects, but we need some story and fast.
It’s a very confusing beginning. Talk of innocents, and deadly red rain, introduction to characters and super fights, but no context. It’s a high concept an art film, but not necessarily ready for prime time.
We seem to be watching this song is it worth a video replay, I think that he was trying to figure out what happened… And he’s searching for a special young woman – actually I know that from the IMDb description. But the way things are still nonlinear and disjointed, it’s for a very difficult watch.
That’s really the big thing that disappoints me here. This really should’ve been a few YouTube videos, some short films. Because it seems like the entire point of this is to dive into digital FX and experiment with superhero concepts. This could be really interesting, even in its stylized form if there was just a good solid script here. The problem is, there’s not.
It’s brilliant visuals in dazzling eye candy, but it’s also the same feeling as watching a video game, and there’s sadly nothing of substance here. Visually and may becomes strongest work, and yet he magically it’s also probably his weakest.
The first main obstacle is a foggy river with no passable bridge. It’s really just an excuse to strip the girls down to their underwear… There’s no nudity in this film… But at the same time, the filmmakers are going for some symbolism as well, they say the girls are crossing the river Styx. That may be just a touch too pretentious for this film, but I certainly do see how it marks them leaving the normal world and crossing over into whatever darkness is fueled by the evil cabin. Symbolism yes, but mostly, girls in their skivvies.
Finally, they emerge from the woods into a clearing, and spy the cabin in the distance. There’s still plenty of light, but the day is fading and nobody is there. Fortunately, the door has been left unlocked for them.
As night falls, cat girl is the first to get it. While one of the girls is outside and exploring the outbuildings looking for a place to relieve herself. She finds a creepy button a doll, and this seems to kick off the bad juju. Cat girl wanders outside looking at the foggy night air, and starts to see a figure, moving unnaturally in the woods. This flickering ghoul lures her deeper into the night, where she sinks into the wet darkness and mud, ultimately dispatching her.
The other girls are asking where cat girl has gone and noticed some strange footprints on the wood floor of the cabin.
There’s screaming outside.
They go to investigate, trying to best to find Cat girl. A tape recorder starts to play in another room, ala Evil Dead. It warns of the evil presence in the cabin, and yet when the lights go out, they’re still convinced it’s just a power outage. In the living room, the TV flickers showing images very reminiscent of The Ring. The girls are almost hypnotized by it, and in the corner, The doll watches. Jordan collapses and Tina rushes over to her, she notices a figure in front of the TV… and a ghost girl with dirty long hair turns menacingly, then charges her. We cut and see Tina staring aimlessly, Jordan looking strange, and weird lights continue from the TV along with unnatural movements. There’s more people now in the cabin then we started with, in the haunting itself gets strange… Disjointed . There’s flashing lights and crawling and chains and strange haunted house noises going on all around. Kathy trips and falls and gets a rotary saw stuck in her hand. The doll is sitting in this corner as well, and there are rubber monsters With slimy teeth in the dark.
We cut to zombie cat girl with a zipper face dragging Tina out to the woods, covering them both with blood. Tina breaks free, swinging a large stick and fleeing back in to the cabin with Jordan. The tape player continues to recite it ominous commentary. The TV shines with such brightness and fog that it is practically a portal now. In the kitchen, a bloody figure strokes for dolls hair, and quick flashes of eyeless faces keep us off balance. Headless bodies, bodiless heads, random dire inserts coming from the television. And the girls are hypnotized again, until the fiendish creatures around them start to go wild. They’ve finally had enough and smash the TV.
At this point, our hero Remmington shows up… he’s a strapping young man with prodigious sideburns and a very Texas belt buckle and he informs them that when they smashed the TV, they let the evil out. He explains that he was the one who trapped the evil in the television. I’m not entirely sure how that works, but even more confusing is where Remmington came from. I don’t understand. Was he also stuck in the TV? Was he just walking by? Did aliens drop himdown the chimney with Santa Claus? This sudden inclusion of another character, our demon fighter, is confusing to say the least, especially happening as it does, at the 56 minute mark of an 81 minute film.
Remmington and the girls are in for the fight of their life, in this blue tinted horror cabin with Demons sensuously dancing and crawling around them. We get some stitch face make up and the horrifying spectacle of a tongue split on naked blade, before Remmington gets fed up with this nonsense and flat out stabs the demon in the head.
There’s blood and monsters and blue fog all around them. The demons move in jerky staggered ways, taunting them in disturbing, distorted voices.
And the rag doll sits and watches.
Remmington does his best Bruce Campbell, slashing and slicing through the demons and getting hosed down by various color fluids.
“It looks like we’re about to get a lot better acquainted” he says, then turns to the doll. “What else you got?”
That’s really about it as far as the plot goes. But this movie is not about the plot. Sometimes I’ll notice that a movie got made because there’s a bunch of make up artists who really want a vehicle to showcase their talents. These movies tend to be over the top in gore, and they tend to linger on the fantastic shots of torn flesh and bloody carnage. You can spot one of these by the lack of story and the bad acting. This film is in the same mold, only in this case, we’ve got some people who know some visual effects and want to show off their time lapse warps and quick cutting skills in the editing bay.
They brought on some people who kind of know make up and lighting, but it ends up being sufficient, but never quite professional. It’s haunted house skills… Minor make up with blood and stitches… Even an honest to God super face. Stark lighting that gives color but not mood. I genuinely felt like I had walked out of a haunted attraction after this movie.
The end result is they managed to create some interesting imagery, but never create a story, or develop enough sympathy with these characters for me to care when they get knocked off. It’s the sort of thing you put on in the background at a nightclub because there’s great visuals, and no story to follow. Unfortunately, Lake Fear is just a disappointment.
How the heck are there two more of these???