(Amazon) Prime Grime: A Rogues Gallery of Crap Part One

Direct to dvd madness was in full swing as the millennium kicked in the door like a drunk daddy on a cocaine binge. Video stores were stocked to high hell with bottom shelf loveliness mass produced for a hungry horror market. Slashers were cheap as hell to make, giant animals rendered to life with defunct digital effects shoddily attacked whatever washed up C-lister needed a paycheck. It was a second glorious age of budget crap…and the thing is, it never ended. Amazon Prime is the video store of a new generation and the shit horror which haunted the physical structures of yesteryear are still widely available but there’s new garbage floating in the river of sleazoid consumption. Join me as I swim, float and inevitably sink.

All the Devils Are Here aka Sleepwalkers (2014) (USA/Bahamas) **1/2 Amazon Prime: Somewhat enjoyable but mostly forgettable flick has a nice late 80s Italiano splatter vibe but kind of gets lost up its own ass and ends up feeling just a bit too forced. Five youngish folks head out to the prickish Owen’s family property in the middle of a central Florida nature reserve. Just so happens the area has recently run into trouble with what some locals think are demons from hell. They’ve come up from the ground and are pretty much ruining everything. Their bites are highly infectious and they don’t just kill you…they turn you into one of them. Our heroes eventually cross paths with a local gas station attendant (Dale DaBone who played Iron Man in the timeless Avengers XXX 2) and two recently escaped criminals. Poor decisions and bullshit heroics follow as one by one the humans become victims of whatever the hell these creatures are. Two cops stumble upon a cave and witness the graphic birth of one of these ugly bastards and eventually the film’s heroine is dragged to the same cave…yeah, that won’t end well. There’s some great gross outs throughout and enough fog the cause a dozen shipwrecks but unfortunately it never feels like it’s genuinely trying to be more than a homage. Close, but not quite there.

The Amityville Terror (2016) (USA) *1/2: A young married couple and their teenaged daughter (they must have been six or seven when they had her) move into a lovely Victorian house with the husband’s recovering alcoholic/drug addict hippie dippie sister. The daughter, Hailey, hates the house and is having issues with a clique of high school bitches (but she’s also finding love), Aunt Shea seems to be targeted by some malevolent force eating away at her mental health and mom and dad are arguing more and more. The house has a bad wrap in town and it’s looking like it’s a well deserved notoriety. A history of murder and creepy shit plays into the oncoming tragedy and the whole town is definitely harboring some secrets. A clunky and shitty stew of either annoying or boring characters (except for the sultry oddball property manager played by Tonya Kay), bad dialogue, worse shocks and poor decisions. Hilarious accidental incest, the aforementioned Tonya Kay, and laughably awful acting save the viewer from catatonia but by the time the painted up and possessed villain comes into play, you’ll be focused on something else, like replacing lightbulbs or dusting cabinets. It’s all more fun than dealing with this shit smear of a movie.

Axecalibur aka The Legend of the Mad Axeman (2017) (UK) **1/2 Amazon Prime: An undying, bearded urban legend stalks around a small English town wielding his trusty axe and making lame puns. An inexperienced reporter and an obsessive author track the supernatural madman but do little to curb the body count. Ultra cheap and somewhat charming budget horror is definitely not good…but that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s bad. If it didn’t drag so much in the middle portion it would be one video recorder away from a bonafide modern day SOV favorite. Unfortunately it runs out of steam for a good chunk of the run time. Brings it back in the climax and has a suitably dumb ending. Depending on your tolerance for no budget cinema, ya just may get a kick out of this goofy little Brit flick. And come on, that title is wonderful!

Bad Ben (2016) (USA) **1/2 A Brian Posehn looking man sinks every penny he has into a house picked up at auction. His plans to flip the house for a profit go astray when a malevolent force begins to make its presence known. Shot entirely from his phone’s camera and a variety of security cameras the previous owners left there, our hero begins to piece together the mystery of what negative energy lurks on his new property and what exactly is locked behind a door in his basement. Outside of some shitty special effects and less than convincing acting, Bad Ben is a creepy enough found footage flick. It’s good and bad simultaneously but in the end I did not regret my time spent watching it.

Steelmanville Road (2017) (USA) *** Amazon Prime: A happy young couple finds themselves homeowners after the wife inherits her biological mother’s giant house in an isolated part of New York. The husband’s friend installs security cameras for him after his wife hears strange noises and begins to believe the house is haunted by the ghost of her mother. Tensions come to head as the husband is less than believing and the young woman continues to become more and more convinced of a presence in the house. When unquestionable proof is recorded the young man attempts to figure out what the hell is going on and gets close when he comes into contact with a spiritualist who knows the origins of the presence (it ties in to the legend of the Jersey Devil and the cursed Leeds family). This prequel to 2016’s Bad Ben is far too ambitious for its budget and talent pool, Steelmanville Road is ridiculous. The acting is pretty bad across the board and the “special” effects are jaw-dropingly awful for how often they are used. The first film was mildly enjoyable but never fell on either side of the good/bad spectrum making it pretty damn average. Not so for its prequel. Endearingly bad in almost every aspect; you’ll either be in heaven or banging your head against the screaming walls of whatever personal hell you call home. It’s no masterpiece but I’d rather watch a well-intentioned failure than a purposefully bad ego stroking session any day of the week.

Stay safe out there, my pretties

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