Blood Conscious


Rated: R | Running Time: 81 Minutes
From: Dark Sky Films
In Theaters and Digital/VOD Platforms:  August 20, 2021
Get it via : Amazon

DeShawn White is Brittney. She's afraid in Blood Conscious.

As the credits started to roll during “Blood Conscious,” all I could think was here is a movie that just tried to do too much. Creepy movie set in the secluded woods with a lake? Check. Possible demon possessions? Check. Dumb people in a horror movie? Check. Movie trying to make a social statement? Check. Cheeky one-liners? Check. Ending that isn’t really an ending but tries to force you to make your own conclusions? Check.

The problem? It didn’t really do any of them well. Bummer.

Yup, “Blood Conscious” opens with a group of people, a young brother (Kevin, played by Oghenero Gbaje), older sister (Brittney, played by DeShawn White), and the fiancé of Britney (Tony, played by Lenny Thomas) in a car. Driving down deserted forest roads, they are on the way to a family gathering at the secluded cabins in the woods.

Upon arrival they stumble upon everyone murdered, and of course, none of them thinks to immediately call the police. Uh oh, here comes a dude with the shotgun (The Stranger, played by Nick Damici), who asks, “Are you humans, or are you demons?” “We’re on vacation,” is the reply.

And, so, every classic horror film things starts to happen. They escape from The Stranger, they catch The Stranger, The Stranger might be dead, they keep splitting up, and rather than try to make it to town during daylight, they hang around murder-ville until it’s dark and decide maybe a visit to town might be a good idea, but only if they split up.

Ugh!

Goodness, how are they going to survive the night? I know, start drinking beer in the fridge!

And when you think things are calming down, let’s bring in some mysterious lady, Margie (Lori Hammel)!

With Margie we really begin to get the “social statement” because, well, our trio is black and Margie is not. Up until this point it really didn’t matter, and it was better that way with them just being normal, stupid people in a horror movie. Instead, now, we’ll try for some obligatory Margie questioning Kevin for going through her purse well, because he is black and if our trio were white, well, I suppose Margie would be okay with it. Also, they are all in the middle of a mass murder, and Margie is somehow worried about how she is treated by “you people.”

Yea, things are completely messed up, dawn arrives, and rather than take the roads to town our heroes decide to use the rowboat to get across the lake. I won’t ruin the best part of the movie, but that happens when our folks stumble upon some townsfolk, and the question is asked “What are you?”

Roll credits.

Yup, you come up with your own ending!

Man, “Blood Conscious” just seemed like a movie where Timothy Covell, the writer and director, tried too hard. The fact that the “heroes” in the movie were black didn’t really matter until the film folks made a fuss about it. I would have preferred they just be dumb, horror movie people, as most horror movie people are. There is also a point where the stupidity just needs to end with heads being blown off or limbs being dismembered. That didn’t happen as you are supposed to eventually wonder if our heroes are, in fact, possessed and are now demons. The cheesy one-liners weren’t that cheesy, I wasn’t ever in suspense, and at the end of the day, for me, “Blood Conscious” gets 2 stars out of 5.

I wanted to like the movie more since the look of the movie was pretty good, and Oghenero Gbaje did some nice acting, but horror movies don’t always need to have a social message, just make them scary and bloody, or at least suspenseful and funny.

That’s it for this one! L8R!!

7 Yards: The Chris Norton Story


Rated: Not Rated | Running Time: 94 Minutes
From: Virgil Films
Available on Digital Platforms:  February 23, 2021
Get it via : Amazon | Apple TV

Cover are for 7 Yards: The Chris Norton StoryThe worst nightmare for parents of an athlete, in my head, is seeing your child get injured. Usually it’s just scary, the daughter or son gets up, and all is well.

On the day Chris Norton went down following a tackle at a college football game, everything was not well. Chris hit the turf, he couldn’t move, and in a small town a helicopter is a bad sign, and on this day it was the sign Chris’ injury wasn’t the type he would just be able get up from.

This is the start of “7 Yards: The Chris Norton Story,” a documentary about the struggles and triumphs Chris had following his injury, and his journey to walk seven yards down the aisle at his wedding.

So, Chris goes down, and in simple terms, Chris injured his neck and was given a 3% chance of any being able to move again. And so the journey begins.

The documentary leans heavily on hope and progress. Sure, there are glimpses of Chris going through mental challenges, but when he was able to move his arm a little, he had hope, when he was feeling down a nurse came in and said, “You will beat this,” and Chris had hope. Even when a doctor came in with no hope, dismissing as a “phantom” feeling Chris’ explaining to said doctor that he had some feeling in his big toe, Chris had hope and was determined to prove the doctor wrong.

Chris put it, “I was naive to believe in myself.” Sure enough, the doctor was proven wrong.

As the documentary progresses, it’s on to the next stage of Chris’ inspirational recovery. He’s out of the hospital and back to “normal” life after being discharged following months of therapy at The Mayo Clinic. Sure, he’s still in a wheelchair, but is a little bit more mobile in his upper body and has some leg movement.

Eventually Chris finds love with Emily, and we get to what would lead to Chris becoming a national news story – He wanted to walk across the stage at his college graduation.

At this point watching the documentary, we know we can’t put anything past Chris as, sure enough, following intense training, there he was, walking, with a little help, to get his diploma. No, it wasn’t like Chris was bouncing across the stage doing summersaults, but yes, I got weepy even knowing the scene was coming.

As Chris’ video of determination and hope goes viral with over 300 million views, Chris finds himself on the national stage, and maybe you might think the story is over.

Nope.

What happens when you have a great person by your side, and you want to spend the rest of your life with them? Yup, Emily accepts Chris’ proposal ,and it was on to Chris’ next goal of walking with Emily, arm and arm, down the aisle, seven yards, after the vows are said.

You see, up until this time, when Chris walked, someone was leading in front of him as it was more stable, but that wasn’t what Chris wanted. He wanted to be by Emily’s side, and well, with Chris’ track record of progress, it was going to happen.

And, oh yea, we also find out Chris and Emily decide to become foster parents, then adoptive parents, of five kids.

How’s that for being an inspiration, or at times for me, my sitting there going, “Crap, what a lazy, complaining slug I can be?”

“7 Yards: The Chris Norton Story” is about as inspirational as an inspirational documentary can get. It recreates some of the earlier parts of Chris’ life, those that didn’t have footage, especially since it wasn’t like the minute Chris went down someone said, “We have to film everything for a move ten years from now!”, intermixed with actual footage of Chris’ journey, and countless interviews of those around him.

The documentary does a good job spotlighting the many people around Chris who helped him in his progress from the injury, and really is a feel-good film. About the only thing that bothered me was the length. It clocks in at an a little over an hour and half, so sometimes there is the “Alright already, we get it, Chris is an inspiration. Show him walk across the stage!”

It’s 3 1/2 stars out of 5 for “7 Yards: The Chris Norton Story.” I did get weepy a few times along Chris’ journey, and his story is quite the inspiration for anyone going through struggles. Go ahead, watch Chris, and then try to complain about your life because it probably doesn’t have nearly any of the challenges Chris has overcome. Maybe you’ll be inspired to try just a little harder, too.

That’s it for this one! L8R!!

Synchronic


Rated: R | Running Time: 101 Minutes
From: Well Go USA Entertainment
Available on Digital Platforms:  January 12, 2021
Available on Blu-Ray: January 26, 2021
Get it via : Amazon | iTunes

Box art for the movie Synchronic.

It’s always a problem when there is a new party drug in town, and this time it’s a drug called Synchronic.

But here comes Dennis (Jamie Dorman) and Steve (Anthony Mackie).

They are paramedics and keep stumbling upon folks who find themselves dead, or in completely bizarre situations that are seemingly unexplained, and somehow stuff from different periods of time show up.

The link appears to be Synchronic, and “Synchronic” is also the name of the movie.

So, yea, we’ve got our heroes, or well, just a couple of dudes living their lives, but things start to go really weird. First you get Steve who finds out he has health issues, then you’ve got Dennis with daughter issues, and then you’ve got dead, or almost dead people, with items from the past or animal bites from animals that no longer live in New Orleans.

First they are all like, “Yea, it’s just another party drug gone wrong!”, but then Dennis’ daughter, Brianna (Ally Ioannides) becomes part of the mix, disappears, and Steve wants the drug off the street.

Enter Dr. Kermani (Ramiz Monsef).

He’s the dude who invented Synchronic, and he explains to Steve how it works, and that time travel is involved.

Yup, let’s do some time travel and try to find Dennis’ daughter!

Lucky for Dennis, and his daughter, that Steve is also kind of a scientist, able to analyze the time travel trips, so yes, Steve begins to hone in on being able to hopefully find Brianna.

And once we find this out, and that the good Doctor is dead, well, the ending is all but secure.

Time travel movies are always tricky. I mean, there is always the “I can go back in time and change things” aspect, or the “Is today the result of the going back?”, but “Synchronic” doesn’t dwell too much on the true metaphysical aspects of traveling through time, only hitting up a couple of sequences for Steve to understand how the drug works.

The movie also has a lot of limiting aspects to the drug so that it really stays focused on one thing, getting Brianna back.

I will say that “Synchronic” is an interesting look at time travel, and visually looks great when the time travel scenes take place. There is some sociological stories going on, especially with Steve being African American and traveling back into the days of slavery, and there is also some psychological aspects of death, but the movie doesn’t get too bogged down in those, instead focusing on Steve’s task at hand.

Don’t get too wrapped up into the flow of time thing, just treat the movie as a sci-fi thriller of a a man trying to find a lost girl, and you’ll be fine. Well, most of you should be fine except for one scene when Steve returns to the present day where I was just completely sad. I believe you may be sad, too, but I’m not telling so you can embrace your sadness.

At the end it’s 3 1/2 stars out of 5 for “Synchronic.” A nice sci-fi thriller for you while stuck inside. The Blu-ray has some fun commentary, making of, and things like that, but for me, the Blu-ray is worth its price of admission for the “Alternate Ending.” It was perfect.

That’s it for this one!  L8R!!

Spacewalker


Rated: Not Rated | Running Time: 137 Minutes
From: MPI Media Group / capelight pictures
Available on DVD and Digital Platforms:  January 19, 2021
Get it via : Amazon | iTunes

Let me start this review with a helpful hint: Watch “Spacewalker” with the language set to “Russian” and have the English subtitles. I know, no one really wants to “read” while watching a movie, but the voices in English of the folks who dubbed the movie were so far off from what you probably imagine the characters sound like, that, well, it can almost ruin a wonderful film.

Yes, “Spacewalker” is a wonderful film.

Let’s get to the movie.

So, here we are, in the 1960’s and it’s the full-blown, “United States v. USSR,” space race. There’s a win for one country here, a win for the other there, and the next step, other than the ultimate destination, the moon, is to have someone “walk” in space. The United States had their timetable to get a man out of the capsule and hang around in the emptiness of space, but the USSR needed the win. What to do? Accelerate their timeline.

But how?

Enter Alexey (Evgeniy Mironov) and Pavel (Konstatin Khabenskly), with some help from Sergey (Vladimir Ilin). How? Well, the USSR has been working on a spaceship with the capability for a spacewalk, but things are moving slow, and quite frankly, they need someone who loves danger combined with someone with a steady hand, to pilot the thing. Alexey is the daredevil and Pavel is the steady hand, and although their personalities compete at times, they also become the perfect cosmonauts for the job.

As is the standard case with movies detailing anything space in the 60’s, there is peril at every turn, safety corners get cut in the name of getting the rocket in the air, and there is always something that goes wrong where the crew might die. “Spacewalker” is no different. Yup, even though you know things will get hairy, and you will fear for the lives of the cosmonauts, rest assured movie folks aren’t really making these films where the heroes die.

So, yes, there is the backstory of Alexey growing up and our learning how he became fearless, we cheer on the aging Pavel, and feel for Sergey in that horrible position of wanting to please his boss, Leonid Brezhnev (Valeriy Grishko), while maintaining the safety of the crew.

It’s the perfect, “based on a true story” story, albeit not as “Hollywood” looking as you might want. Nope, “Spacewalker” may not have the special effects you might expect, but it doesn’t need them, the story has the suspense it needs to have you cheering on the cosmonauts, even if they are on the other “team.”

Now, back to my first comment.

For years I have complained in my head whenever I had to “read” while watching a movie, meaning it’s a foreign film, without an English dubbing, so I had to read subtitles.

I’ll never complain again because “Spacewalker” has some of the worst dubbing of actors I have heard. Simply put, when you think USSR and cosmonaut, especially for the bosses, and even looking at the actors, you think, “rough and gruff” voices.” Let’s just way that the English voices dubbed into this movie were nothing “rough and gruff,” and they really started to ruin the movie. To confirm I wasn’t wrong I rewatched the beginning of the movie with the original voices of the actors, in Russian, with subtitles, and the voices fit the men and women so much better. Lesson learned, and my advisory for you, again, to like the movie a lot better, read the subtitles and listen to the actual actors.

So, ignoring my mistake of listening to the dubbed voices, “Spacewalker” is really a wonderful movie. It did a great job showing the danger the cosmonauts faced, the odd friendship of two different personalities, and nicely showed the backstory of Alexey and how he became fearless. You get upset at the government folks who don’t really seem to care about the people, you get nervous even though you are fairly certain the outcome will make you feel good, and in the end “Spacewalker” does a great job of sending you back to a time when pride came in accomplishments and not in conquering.

It’s 4 stars out of 5 for “Spacewalker.” 

That’s it for this one! L8R!!

Summerland


Rated: PG | Running Time: 99 Minutes
From: IFC Films
Available on DVD and Digital Platforms:  November 17, 2020
Get it via : Amazon

Box art for the movie Summerland

Gemma Arterton plays Alice. Alice is a writer and researcher kind of person. She is also a recluse. She also lives in Southern England.

That seems fine.

The problem is that people don’t like her, and kind of rightly so. How so? Well, not to give an early scene away, let’s just say that Alice has the opportunity to be a nice but, just as you think she might not be that bad, she takes all the items from the counter at the corner store.

Welcome to the movie “Summerland.”

Yup, Alice doesn’t seem to care about people. Combine that with her being a recluse and, well, she also gets tormented by the local kids who think she’s a witch, or a nazi, or that woman who will kill you in your sleep.

Enter Frank (Lucas Bond).

Frank is a young lad who is an evacuee from London, and Alice is being made to temporarily adopt Frank. You see, when London was being bombed during World War II, many children were evacuated to the outskirts of England so they wouldn’t die in the bombings while their parents stayed behind to be part of the war. Yay, save the children!

Well, here is Alice, a woman with no motherly instincts nor any desire to appreciate nor help anyone, now stuck with a young lad who is scared yet still adventurous as young lads might be.

Poor Frank.

Frank works to get acclimated for it’s unsure how long he’ll be away from his parents, and what better way than at a school. There he teams up with a girl named Edie (Dixie Egerickx), kind of the tomboy/outcast kind of girl, who is freaked when she finds out that Frank has to stay with the “witch and maybe Nazi,” Alice.

Life is weird for Frank.

As the movie moves along we get flashbacks to Alice in her young woman days, finding love with someone she can’t spend her life with, and we begin to see how Alice progressed to the jaded woman she has become.

The problem for Alice, though, is Frank, because Frank is actually interested in what Alice is researching and writing about, and yes, you can guess, they venture into a friendly relationship with Alice trying to figure out some of the motherly things she isn’t ready for.

The thing is that up to this point I’m mostly enjoying the movie. It’s progressing as a nice story of how Frank is able to get Alice to live life again and care about people, and most things are easy to figure out as you have the flashback stories of Alice in love with someone in the wrong era, a boy away from his family during war, then loss, then survival.

Then the “Oh, come on!” moments begin as it seems everything tries too hard to make you weepy.

I mean, if you didn’t see the foreshadowing leading up to Frank’s father dying, I apologize for that spoiler, but that seems so obvious from the arc of the story that it was inevitable. And that was fine, but then the progression to my going “Nice going, Edie!” started to lead to the story going where I didn’t think it needed to.

Gosh, this is so hard to write without giving things away, but let’s just say that I was happy with Alice and Frank just helping each other with life that I didn’t need other people to show up nor attempted plot twists to make the story more creative.

This was a little too bad for me because it made the movie kind of a mess at the end, trying to add too many things to “happily ever after” instead of just Alice bonding with Frank in circumstances no one would desire.

The movie, is, however, well done in terms of acting and looks. Gemma does a wonderful job transitioning from the recluse to the woman whose heart opens back up to people, and Lucas does good work playing a young lad just looking for stability in the craziness. The movie also looks beautiful, especially with the scenery of England, although the war scenes in London seem a little stagey.

Look, I can understand how some will find the “tying everything together” super sweet and tear-jerky, but I really just wish they would have let the movie get through the sadness then let Alice and Frank develop as a family. At the end it just seemed to try too hard.

It’s 3 stars out of 5 for Summerland. It’s nice, you might get weepy, but you also might just say “I didn’t need that plot twist.”

The Blu-ray had some extras, a weird behind the scenes that was just “outside” video of the movie sets, with no narration, and it’s got the standard interviews if those are your cup of tea. Not a huge reason to search for the Blu-ray, so feel free to nab this on the digital formats.

That’s it for this one! I’m Andy! L8R!!

Bliss

Rated: Not Rated | Running Time: 87 Minutes
From: Dark Sky Films
Available in Theaters and VOD: September 27, 2019
Get it via : Amazon | iTunes

Just the other day I was saying to myself, “Self, whatever happened to George Wendt? You know, Norm from Cheers?” Sure, I could have Googled him, but it turns out I didn’t have to as it turns out Mr. Wendt was part of the cast for the horror flick, “Bliss.” I was excited to see where he fit in. As the movie is a horror film, I wish I could say things ended up well for “Norm,” I mean “Pops.”

Anywho, “Bliss” gives us Dezzy (Dora Madison). She is your basic starving artist, late on her rent, dropped by her agent, and fears she may have lost her painting mojo. Yup, she has painter’s block, and she likes to say every variation of “fuck” a lot.

What to do? Why go out for some drug-fueled partying, of course?

What should you have? Why, Bliss, of course?

Continue reading Bliss

Echo in the Canyon


Rated: PG-13 | Running Time: 82 Minutes
From: Greenwich Entertainment
Available on Blu-ray and DVD:  September 10, 2019
Get it via : Amazon | iTunes

Fiona Apple from radio station concert, Q101 Twisted 3 in 1996.

A picture of Fiona Apple popped up on my digital picture frame the other day. It spurred a question in me, namely, “What ever happened to Fiona Apple?”

Then, there I am watching “Echo in the Canyon,” a documentary about the music that came out of Laurel Canyon in California in the 1960’s, and who shows up? Yup, Fiona Apple! Now I know, she is still making music! Yay!

Okay, let’s get to the documentary…

“Echo in the Canyon” is a look at how the California music scene of the mid to late 1960’s blew up, thanks mostly in part to many of the influential artists who would go on to make that music settling in a spot in Los Angeles called Laurel Canyon.

Continue reading Echo in the Canyon

Nekrotronic


Rated: R | Running Time: 99 Minutes
From: Momentum Pictures
In Select Theaters VOD, and digital HD:  August 9, 2019
Get it via : Amazon | iTunes

Monica Bellucci is Finnegan in Nekrotronic.

Apparently demons and necromancers (demon hunters) have been fighting each other for, well, forever. They used to use crude weapons, then more advanced weapons, then laser type blasters, but damn, don’t touch my Internet.

Guess what? They touched my Internet.

So, we get Howard (Ben O’Toole). He works in the port-a-potty business sucking up crap, literally. He’s got a bumbling partner, Rangi (Epine Bob Savea), who is obsessed with a new video game on his phone. Low and behold the demons, well, head bad person Finnegan (Monica Bellucci) has developed this game as a way to suck souls thereby increasing her power in demonville.

Continue reading Nekrotronic

Bachman: Special Edition


Rated: Not Rated | Running Time: 78 Minutes
From: Filmrise / MVD Entertainment Group
Available on DVD and Blu-ray:  May 10, 2019
Get it via : Amazon | iTunes | MVD Group

I am embarrassed to admit that I didn’t realize Randy Bachman was a member of The Guess Who. Sure, I knew the songs “American Woman” and “These Eyes,” but I never knew Mr. Bachman was a part of that magic.

Enter “Bachman: Special Edition,” a documentary of Randy Bachman, out on Blu-ray and DVD.

Maybe you didn’t realize Randy Bachman was a part of The Guess Who, either. I’m guessing most of us think Bachman-Turner Overdrive when we hear his name. Also not realized might be that he is in his 70’s now, still making music (check out the most-interesting “By George – By Bachman”), and he was never the stereotypical partying kind of rock and roller. He just wanted to play guitar and make great music.

Which he does, and a lot of it.

Continue reading Bachman: Special Edition

White Chamber


Rated: Not Rated | Running Time: 89 Minutes
From: Dark Sky Films
In Theaters and VOD: March 29, 2019
Get it via : iTunes

I get so mad at myself when I don’t see the plot twist coming. I also secretly applaud the film folks when they pull it off. And so I must applaud the film folks of “White Chamber” when the big reveal came towards the end of the movie because I just didn’t see it coming.

It was a wonderful “Ahhh!”

I won’t give this moment away, so let’s get to the story.

It appears the United Kingdom is in a civil war. Somehow the military has taken over, led by General Zakarian (Oded Fehr). Enter Ruth (Shauna Macdonald), or whatever the woman’s name is. She wakes up in this white room, a.k.a. chamber, completely lit up, and with a bump on her noggin.

Continue reading White Chamber