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Short Reviews

Below are some quick thoughts on shit that I have checked out for the first time within the last few days. This includes some relatively more mainstream media, recent random finds, and my usual weird fare. Unlike my other reviews, I have only watched these things once. As these are mostly knee -jerk reactions, all are subject to me completely changing my mind on a second viewing, absolute misunderstanding on my part, or a full "review" at a future date.

3 from Hell (2019)

It took me a while to get into the other two that preceded this one. I have been a fan of Rob Zombie's music for as long as I can remember, but my relationship with his films have been more complicated. If I’m honest, I’m still not feeling the Halloween redux series, but after The Lords of Salem (2012), and some self-reflection, I have been fully converted on the House/Rejects duo. With some well-timed rewatching, I have enjoyed them quite a bit and for strikingly different reasons. Three from Hell takes a little from both cinematic melting pots but once again switches the motivations. This newest entry follows the “rejects” after they escape from prison and embark on a pointless, gruesome road trip to Mexico. And when I say pointless, I absolutely mean it. There is no turnaround to add a layer of reasoning or a message to these acts. Bad guys are the main characters, and they do violent, terrible bad-guy things. It's not much for a story, but I had a fucking blast. It smashes away the picture-perfect ending of the second chapter less than ten minutes in and then continues to laugh at logical conclusions. Dee Wallace goes fucking nuts in unfamiliar territory and kills it. I’m always glad to see her in anything but would have never imagined the transformation here. I hope there are more atypical roles for her down the road. Richard Brake fits into the Firefly family naturally enough, although the severe lack of Sid Haig is chronically felt through most of the trip. The few existing moments with Captain Spaulding are still a highlight, no matter how brief. By technical terms, 3 from Hell is rough compared to the previous film and lacks the attention to detail, but the nihilistic road trip thrived best with simple grime. It’s probably not my favorite of the trilogy (in fact it may come in third) it is, however, the most original of a tribute laden group, if only for ruthlessly disregarding expectations. I have a feeling it might lose a few fans; it certainly divided the small, faithful crowd that attended here in the Mormon desert. Either way, that isn’t something I call a negative indicator.

Adrenochrome (2017)

Going in blind, I was taken on a derived ketamine trip in Venice Beach California, with visions blatantly borrowed from a range of classics. All at once, elements of The Lost Boys (1987) and Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas (1998) crowded the screen on top of opening credits torn from a 70s motorcycle flick. Sooner or later, the swirl of callbacks and drug themed stylization stumbled into its own, becoming a hyperactive crime caper with lackluster shoot-outs. I found a lot to get into, but it helps that I have dreamt of joining a nefarious surf crew since I saw Point Break (1991) on TNT as a child. The pacing keeps some energy into the second half, and the titular psychedelic chemistry functions on several layers outside of aesthetics or shock which I dug. If anything, I could have done without the Hunter S.Thompson impersonator. Also, the fact that the gang leader looks and acts like a tan, coked-out Eli Roth was a little distracting.
(IMBD - On Amazon)

No Good Heroes (2016)

 This one sat unwatched for more than a year, but fit the bill one night when I got a hankering for some sci-fi. I purchased it back then, based on the synopsis, which sounded like a leftover X-Files episode. While those feelings carry over into the actual film, it was otherwise a complete surprise. It’s much heavier than I imagined, applying answerless questions of morality to cheesy common “what ifs.” It is a little hokey at times but often spins that into a nice balance of lovable corn and dark concepts. The practical effects are solid even with the extraterrestrial’s abundant exposure. I would recommend this if you’re looking for some hearty, small scale sci-fi or just need an alien fix.
(IMBD - On Amazon)

Birth Rite (2003)

I found this one in the reject box I've recently gained access to at the Catholic thrift store (presumably because I’m more responsible than the general public). It had earned its place there due to the late 90s album style pentagram used on the cover. It looked terrible, but I recognized it as a Full Moon feature I hadn’t seen yet (under the Shadow Films banner) with cameos by Julie Strain and Brinke Stevens. That was more than enough reason to take it home, so I grabbed it along with The Antichrist (1974), and my fifteenth copy of Night of the Living Dead (1968). There was this whole David DeCoteau circa 2010 vibe which gave me a pretty good idea about what I would be watching. It’s not my style of sleaze, but I have no problem admitting I've watched through at least three “1313:” films to catch a cumulative thirty minutes of my favorite scream queens. Indeed, in Birth Rite, a lot of dudes take their shirts off, so I was half right, but it came out as less cable softcore porn and more a bad Charmed/Buffy rip-off. If I didn’t know the date, I would think it was trying to cash in on Twilight with some witchcraft. I went in with low expectations knowing damn well I wasn’t the target audience, and I didn’t have very much fun. Really this all says more about me than it does the movie.
(IMBD - On Amazon)

Good Omens 

I put it off out of fear, but I knew I would watch this sooner or later. When someone recommended this book to me in the early 2000s, calling it Douglas Adams meets The Omen, I tore through it multiple times in a year, fully engaged in the layers of silly detail. As is the problem with adaptations from loved literary sources, I already have some strong imagery developed in my head, and there is little chance it could line up. In the end, that was a factor, but before I knew it, I had mostly stopped picking it apart to ride along. Is it different? Fuck yes. Not only has the story changed, but it’s nowhere near what I personally imagined while reading it. But at the same time, the love for the book can be felt as if everyone involved, put in a piece of their own sparked imagination. Even with the shit CGI, the world it depicts is engaging, complete, and strange enough to remind me of the prose. It’s not without flaws, but it’s an example of a worthwhile adaptation, and that feels rare sometimes.
(IMBD - WIKI - On Amazon)

Short Film

Night of the Axe (2019)

Shawn Wright’s debut Night of the Axe is a bite-sized slasher released to the web in April this year. While checking as many boxes in its twenty-something minute run-time as possible, the project proudly performs a basic rendition of the classics with loving admiration. The practical no-budget gore gets some excellent execution, including a pretty gnarly fried-face and disembowelment. There are also unnecessary showers, grilled cheese, and a killer wearing a sack, all portioned just right for some guilty indulgence between meals. It’s not a scary horror movie but also avoids the parody routine. It’s just a campy, slightly sleazy, backyard ax murder. Whether it’s the return of bag-head-ax-man or another creation, I can’t wait to see more from those involved. You can check the whole thing below on Vimeo.
Night Of The Axe from Facemelt Features. on Vimeo.

If you have a short film available online and would like to see it on VideoReligion shoot me an email at submit@videreligion.net

New full review coming soon. In the meantime stay spooky, watch weird shit and be sure to follow VideoReligion on every social media outlet for daily, fucked up film appreciation.


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