Odessa (Short Film Review)

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Odessa (2015) won Grand Jury Award for Best Short Film at the Gaspirilla International Film Awards.

Odessa (2015) won Grand Jury Award for Best Short Film at the Gasparilla International Film Awards.

This taut, gripping, short film horrified me more for its relevant, real-word authenticity than its well-written suspense. Odessa (2015) won Grand Jury Award for Best Short Film at the Gasparilla International Film Awards in Tampa. It’s only 13min long but packs a powerful punch. The submission came rather mysteriously, but I’m hopeful for everyone involved that a possible TV series comes from this.

Directed by: Sean Michael Turrell of Toronto Canada (www.SeanMichaelTurrell.com)

Written by: Doug Johnson of New York (www.DoJoWrite.com)

Starring: Ricky Wayne (The Walking Dead), Grace Santos (Dhoom 3),Will Haze (Banshee), and Anthony Escobar (Prison Break).

Trailer:

Odessa (2015) will also be showing at Cannes’ Short Film Corner this May 2015, along with two other of Grace Santos’ productions: A Tricky Treat (directed by Patricia Chica) and Election Night (directed by Tessa Blake).

The story is about a desperate young mother’s harrowing escape across the Texas border after the Texas Secession. There’s not a lot of dialogue, which adds to the film’s suspense and nail-biting claustrophobia. We watch her sneak onto an army base and steal gasoline. We don’t know why she’s doing this, but her leg is bleeding and her eyes are sharp with fear. By the time we see the Texas border fence, the situation becomes clear and we fear even more for the woman as she crawls on her hands and knees as Texas Republic border patrol officers shoot guns at her, killing her companion. In the final minutes of the film, the audience is shown what the perilous border crossing and gasoline was all for. I won’t spoil it for you, but my god, it’s heartbreaking.

Once the credits rolled by I found myself stewing in contemplative silence for several long minutes. I live in Texas. I realized it could happen here. That it does happen here. And I appreciated Odessa’s exquisite speculative slant on border town issues.

More information about the film/series:

Official Website:

http://www.odessa-theseries.com

Social Media:

http://www.Facebook.com/Odessa-TheSeries

I’ll definitely keep my eye out for these filmmakers. If and when the series is greenlit, I’ll be back again with another review. A+++

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GISHWHES Registration Time!

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It’s that magical time of year where like-minded nutballs come together showing off creativity, madness, and fun all across the globe. Who presides of this week of hysteria? Actor Misha Collins of the show Supernatural. Yes, he creates the most insane challenges for teams all over the world to do like make a dress out of kale or have a storm trooper clean your pool.

But it’s for a good cause! I promise! Throughout the week teams are also given challenges to do random acts of kindness like last year there was a challenge to become a bone marrow donor!

I participated last year and I had a blast! I met some interesting people from all over the USA and still keep in contact with a couple. I hope we can be on the same team this year. Read about my little adventure HERE

Anyway, I recommend that you all register and be part of breaking world records and bringing awareness to a number of great causes.

Sites:

https://www.gishwhes.com/g_blog/what-is-gishwhes/

https://twitter.com/gishwhes

https://www.facebook.com/officialgishwhes

“Alien Tampon”….Really?

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Ok…So I was flipping through 9gag.com one day and stumble upon a gif that said “Alien Tampon”. What followed was a number of flashes of a glowing tampon, a girl inserting said tampon, and turning into a mutant monster thing. I thought, “Well that’s weird.” But I didn’t think it was a real thing…until I read the comments.

Yes, ladies and gentlemen, Alien Tampon is an actual movie! I haven’t seen it but the trailer was enough for me. Maybe next time Damsel Cannibal and I get together we’ll check it out.

The basic plot is aliens come crashing to earth and the Government takes them out. Enter the mean girl of the school being her usual bitchy self. She drops her tampon in a puddle of the alien’s blood outside a rave and decides to use it. I say again, she uses a glowing neon green tampon! After inserting it, she turns into this alien/zombie/mutant thing that’s terrorizing the world. So it’s up to the rest of the girls to arm themselves and destroy that mutant bitch.

There’s bad CGI, even worse acting, silly plot, and a very questionable use of feminine products. It sounds like it’ll be hysterical! I’m a little grossed out but it sounds like a movie you can enjoy will your buddies when there’s nothing else one TV.

Sites:

https://www.facebook.com/Alientampon

http://www.alientampon.com/

Trailer:

Let’s get geeky with taxidermy!

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Their jobs might be macabre, but these ladies at Chicago’s Field Museum and Afterlife Anatomy are dismembering bodies for science.

Katie Innamorato is a Taxidermist in Residence at the Morbid Anatomy Museum in Brooklyn NY. Image source from http://afterlifeanatomy.com/pages/about

“The Descent” into Creepy Unexplored Caves!

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Director/Writer: Neil Marshall

Starring: Shauna Macdonald, Natalie Mendoza, Alex Reid, Saskia Mulder, MyAnna Buring, Nora-Jane Noone

Nothing says “adventure” like gathering your closest friends and saying “Here’s a creepy undiscovered cave that we should explore and NOT tell the park rangers where we’re going. YOLO!!”

A year after the devastating loss of her husband and daughter to a car accident, Sarah’s friends decide to take their once adrenaline-junkie pal out for some extreme cave exploring. Everything goes according to plan until a rock blocks the way they came in so the only way out is to keep going forward. But as the explore farther into the cave, they soon realize that they aren’t alone.

As much as I hate watching people do something obviously stupid, this was actually a pretty good movie. It did a good job in keeping the suspense up by throwing out the dangers of investing in such a sport. Claustrophobia sets in, darkness causing you to question every move you make, paranoia pushing you to mistrust the only people who can help you survive, and the lack of supplies make the situation even more desperate. This was enough to make you fear for the characters you almost didn’t need the creepy Nosferatu running around trying to eat them…well, almost didn’t need them. Let’s face it, it wouldn’t be much of a horror movie without creepy humanoid cave-dwellers.

There were a couple of things that I didn’t like about the movie. The first was the very obvious love triangle between Sarah, her husband, and her best friend Juno in the beginning which they bring up toward the end of the film. Was a petty fight really necessary with all the shit that was going on? I didn’t think so. But it was satisfying to see Sarah pull a Shane Walsh(The Walking Dead) and leave Juno to her demise. The second thing I didn’t like was that the endings were different between the original and the American release. The American version ends with Sarah escaping alone then later seeing a bloody mutilated Juno riding shotgun then BAM…end credits. That was for a jump scare and it was tacky. The original version had that same scene but more was added where we see Sarah wake up still in the caves with a fading torch while echoes of the cave monsters close in.

All together, i loved this movie and I give it an A-

The “Teeth” in her vagina should bite harder!

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[Trigger Warning: Rape]

Writer/Director: Mitchell Lichtenstein

Starring: Jess Weixler, Hale Appleman, John Hensley 

It took me four years to watch Teeth (2007). My husband refused to watch it. In fact he didn’t even want to be in the same room if it was on, which left a very small window for me to sit down and enjoy the film in its entirety without interruption. The movie has a lot of concepts that I really like (ahem, like the cave sex scene that freaked out my husband) but ultimately fails to push beyond its severed penis gags to discuss rape and violence against women with any seriousness. But I admit to cheering with misandrist glee after each killing. This movie seems to strike a nerve with male viewers and its easy to see why. Trailer below.

[!!!!] This post will talk frankly about rape–if you’re sensitive to that please tune out now [!!!!]

The story follows Dawn, a high school girl, who loves Jesus and wants to maintain her virginity until marriage. She meets another boy from her high school abstinence club, however when they go on their first date he ignores her wishes to wait and rapes her. Dawn discovers her vagina can bite off men’s penises. And so the reverse-gendered horror and hilarity begins.

Dawn is raped/molested a lot in this movie. Like…a lot. She’s raped by every major male character, including her stepbrother. Even the “hero” drugs her, waits until she’s unconscious, and proceeds to have sex  while she is unable to consent. But Dawn is able to defend herself by biting off her rapists’ penises. The moral of the movie (I think?) is not to rape women. Is it scary? No. But it does challenge views about sex and women’s roles in horror films.

Let’s face it. Most horror movies are marketed towards men and their sexual frustrations. The monster/killer/bad guy is almost always male, violent, and harbors a special bloodlust for female victims. The female character always has the bloodiest death, usually after just engaging in sex or equally provocative act. Erotica and horror are a potent, powerful mix, which is why it so happens to be my favorite sub-genre of horror.

Horror movies are a safe way sexual people can vicariously relieve ourselves. I get it. You get it. We all like the violence in horror movies. But that’s precisely why Teeth is so great! For once the female character isn’t tripping over her own breasts or waiting to be rescued. Dawn rescues herself.

What peeeved me most about Teeth is that it didn’t go far enough. It’s hard to call Dawn an “empowered” character when she is raped and molested throughout the entire film. Not once is she in control of her sexual choices, her rapist is.

Teeth is still a movie for and by men, but I think women might enjoy this movie for its attempt to reverse gender politics. Four years was worth the wait. Giving this one an A and also adding it to my collection.

RIP Horror International Film Festival Adds a New Category

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Now hear this! Now hear this!

We all know that February is Women in Horror Month but the RIP International Film Festival decided that maybe more should be done for the ladies in horror. So What brilliant idea have they come up with? The RIP International Film Festival is adding a new category to their lists. Ready? It is the Best Female Filmmaker Award!

Festival Founder, L.J. Rivera says,

“I want to contribute to the empowerment of women working in the business for the advancement of the horror genre. Award winning female filmmakers like Maria Olsen, Adriana Polito, Patricia Chica, and Jessica Cameron are making the difference. We want to support the achievements of outstanding filmmakers like these who are creating some of the most exciting and innovative work in the genre, as well as promote undiscovered talent waiting to explode onto the scene,”.

Well I’m super excited! It may not seem like much, but this is a great start to show that The Business is taking women seriously.

Social Media:

https://twitter.com/RIPHorrorFest

https://www.facebook.com/RipHorrorFilmFestival?ref=hl

http://riphorrorfilmfest.com/

Articles:

http://anythinghorror.com/2015/03/07/over-at-rip-women-in-horror-month-lasts-all-year-long/

Shit sandwiches, the Hugo Awards, and PuppyGate

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I must live in an alternate reality where white straight male writers never win the majority of literary awards, and white straight male narratives are appallingly underrepresented in science fiction, fantasy, horror, and speculative fiction. I mean, whenever I walk into a bookstore or library I have to search for more than an hour just to find one book (JUST ONE) about a white straight guy saving the world. I wish there was just one strong example in scifi/fantasy/horror where the main character was white. And if I want to see white straight men on the silver screen, I can’t without attending those special artsy cinemas that show indie stuff with subtitles.

This must be the alternate reality I live in. A toxic subset of manbabies think white straight male writers have struggled for centuries from what they call, “literary affirmative action” and therefore can’t win Hugo Awards without sabotaging the election process and kicking all the icky gays, racial minorities, and women out. I mean, it’s only fair, right? Because what science fiction, fantasy, horror, and speculative fiction needs more of is less diversity and we can thank the fine folks at Sad Puppies for making this our reality in fucking 2015.

Taken from Book Riot:

Along with the Nebula Awards, the Hugo Awards are considered to be one of the two major awards for science fiction and fantasy works. While the Science Fiction Writer’s Association nominates and votes on Nebula Awards, the qualifications for the Hugos are more lenient. One only has to buy a supporting membership to WorldCon in order to vote.

In recent years, the nominees and award winners for Hugos have begun to diversify. The world is changing, both in and out of publishing. As our world becomes more embracing of diversity, our reading and awards are reflecting that. More women and authors of color have been nominated and are winning. Unfortunately, not everyone sees this as a good thing.

Enter Sad Puppies, a small group of authors and fans that have decided the Hugo Awards were not accurately reflecting the tastes of science fiction and fantasy fandom. (You know, the people who were already voting on the awards.) So Sad Puppies, led by Brad Torgersen, created their own nominee list and encouraged people to vote for them. The list is significantly less diverse that it has been the last few years.

According to Torgersen, the Sad Puppies effort is to fight what he sees as an “insular” fandom of voters at Worldcon. Part of his defense of these choices, however, is more telling:

Along the way we fairly skewered the concept of literary affirmative action — that works and authors should be judged on the basis of author or character demographics and box-checking, not the audience’s enjoyment of the prose…

In a worst-case scenario (which is far too often fact in situations like these), this is coded, aggressive, anti-diversity talk. For the sake of argument, let’s take Torgersen at his word. If he’s speaking plainly, then he’s ignoring a big problem: the publishing industry (especially in science fiction and fantasy) is skewed heavily toward white, male writers.

Torgersen is right in one regard: awards should be handed to the best novels and their writers, regardless of race, ethnicity, or gender. No one thinks otherwise. But if we’re not reading diversely, the pool of books we nominate will not be diverse, either.

It’s a common straw-man argument against reading diversely: “I read what I like, regardless of the author’s race or gender.” We at Book Riot see this all the time. This argument would work if the publishing industry were fair. If the genders and races of published authors were equivalent to the actual demographics of the world, then sure, that argument holds water. But since the publishing industry isn’t fair, that argument falls apart.

Further Reading:

Elizabeth Bear

Chuck Wendig

io9

George R. R. Martin also weighed into this fight. His response is taking the limelight right now, so I thought I’d also include it HERE.

The general consensus among authors and readers is this: Sad Puppies’ hijacking of the Hugo Awards is a shit sandwich and spells future disaster for booklovers and writers alike. No, Damsels with Chainsaws is not a SJW blog, but we do want to see good stories. ALL good stories. Expanding fiction for everyone is not going to hurt the SF/F/H community. If anything, I think it’ll make our readership stronger.

“Frankie’s Army” Has Monsters of Epic Proportions

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Director: Richard Raaphorst

Writers: Richard Raaphorst, Miguel Tejada-Flores

Starring: Karel Roden, Andrei Zayats, Luke Newberry, Joshua Sasse

The Netherlands has reminded us what good special effects is. I’m not saying CGI is the worst filmmaking tool, I’m just saying that less is more in some cases. Frankenstein’s Army is the perfect example how a little makeup and fabrication work can create awesome monsters.

Set in WWII, a group of Soviet soldiers are on a mission to rescue their comrades from behind enemy lines. However, the farther they go into Nazi territory they realize that the Nazis are the least of their troubles. Monsters constructed by a mad scientist terrorize the both sides of the war giving the Soviets little chance of surviving.

Like I said earlier, old Hollywood magic is what made this movie so entertaining. As grotesque and gory as the movie is, the monsters were like individual works of art. The creativity was astounding. You had some that had propellers for heads, power drills for noses, saws for hands, etc. There was blood, guts, and brains! You’ll see what a mean about about the brains…that scene was hilarious!

Here’s some of the Concept Art:

Although “mockumentary” films are overused, I thought it made the movie fun. It had a vintage feel to it and I do like a shaky camera to add to the confusion of a horror scene. Not too shaky, of course, but the disorientation adds to the horror.

Was the plot silly? Yes. Was the ending predictable? Absolutely. But you’re not going to watch Frankenstein’s Army for the plot. It’s all about the monsters here and I know that you’ll enjoy each and every one!

Am I the only one who thinks this would make a great video game?

Trailer:

Mamula or Killer Mermaid or Nymph or…whatever

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This Serbian movie has like 10 different names. Regardless what it calls itself, though, it still sucks.

Killer Mermaid (2014) is a misnomer. The mermaid doesn’t kill anybody but just eats  human chum her boyfriend catches and feeds to her.

 

Director: Milan Todorovic

Writers: Barry Keating, Marko Backovic

Starring: Kristina Klebe, Franco Nero, Natalie Burn, Dragan Micanovic

Add another campy b-movie to your Netflix watchlist if you want. Killer Mermaid (2014) has gloriously bad acting, accents so thick you need the killer’s hatchet to cut through it, and of course, bikini-clad girls who scream lustily in terror for 94min. It’s a summer horror flick about two American girls on vacation who find themselves marooned on a prison island with their boyfriends. What separates this basic plot device from other terrible b-movies? There’s a killer mermaid! Sort of…

No, actually, the “killer” is actually the mermaid’s boyfriend…sort of. See, the mermaid has mind control powers and she drives all the men on the island to kill for her. Supposedly she eats the men and human bait they bring along with them, but we don’t actually see her off anyone on screen. There’s a convoluted explanation about the island, Mamula, and its WWII past but…yeaaaaahhhh I lost interest after the first half of the movie. But there are bikinis! And running! And tunnels! And much running through these tunnels! So much running…

I don’t think the director tried, honestly. But I will give them this, the set is amazing! What a beautiful place Serbia is. If I can take anything positive from this movie, it’s that I want to visit the Mediterranean sea. If you’re terribly bored and want to hear Serbian and Italian actors play unconvincing Americans, go ahead and watch this.

Giving this one a D.