Pieces of Entertainment – A Review of Pieces of Talent

 

piecesoftalent2

There was a time, long before the internet, that I went out of my way to find out absolutely anything about a movie I was excited about. I begged my parents for issues of Fango, mailed away for catalogs, actually read the entertainment section of the newspaper, literally anything I could do to get information about a movie. Here we are, years later, and all of that information is literally in our hands at any given second, and I find myself going out of my way to not know anything about a film going into it. Word of mouth, hype, false praise, etc. run rampant these days and nine times out of ten, I find myself in total disagreement with the vast majority, be they positive or negative. We’ve all got our own taste in things, and there’s nothing wrong with that. As such, I like to form my own opinions. Having said all that, you may be thinking to yourself about all the wonderful things you’ve heard about Joe Stauffer and David Long’s Pieces of Talent, and getting the feeling that it didn’t quite thrill me the way it did seemingly everybody else on Earth. You’d be right.

Synopsis from IMDB:

This story centers around Charlotte, a struggling young actress who can’t catch a break. In an effort to support herself and her hopeless mother, Charlotte holds a job as a cocktail waitress at a seedy, local strip club and hates every minute of it. During a cigarette break late one evening she witnesses an altercation between an overzealous bouncer and an unfortunate passerby, David. David makes movies and given Charlotte’s career interests a friendship quickly develops. Soon enough, David mentions a project he has in the works that she would be perfect for and an excited Charlotte agrees to take part. She has no idea what she has signed up for.

That synopsis would lead you to believe that a girl named Charlotte (Kristi Ray) is the main character here, and while it’s true she would probably be considered the protagonist, the film most certainly doesn’t center around her. She plays second fiddle to the film’s villain David (David Long, who also co-wrote). Pieces of Talent is basically David just running around seemingly at random killing people as a part of an “artistic” film he’s working on. It feels like somebody is attempting to put together a large puzzle here, using different pieces from other, different puzzles. By the end, David attempts to explain a plot that interconnects all the victims, but as the concept had been completely ignored up until that point, 80 minutes into the 90 minute runtime, it felt forced and wasn’t particularly satisfying.

That sort of thing can be forgiven in some instances, particularly in the (groan) “torture porn” genre, as long as when it comes to the kills, they’re at least equal parts brutal and entertaining. Sadly, Pieces of Talent drops the ball in this regard also. That’s not to say there isn’t blood though. There’s blood, plenty of it. The disappointment comes in when David takes the time to build elaborate sets for the kills, then doesn’t even utilize them. For instance, he straps one guy into a chair, with his wrists restrained out in front of him, a large pendulum looking contraption, with all kinds of saw blades and the like on it, swinging ominously above them. When it comes down to the kill though, all we get is David smashing the guys writst with a small hammer and a quick cut away. That friends, is the very definition of a tease, and Pieces of Talent is full of them.

Things aren’t all negative though, this is a very well made film. It’s well shot, the acting is good, David Long in particular turns in a fairly creepy performance as David. That smile will haunt me for a couple of days. As mentioned there’s blood, and at times the film does exhibit a pretty substantial mean streak, I was just constantly left wanting. There was so much wasted potential. Couple that with a plot that at first appears to be non-existant then attempts to throw itself together at the last minute, before concluding in a highly unsatisfying manner, and you’ve got yourself the movie equivalent of going into an underground massage parlor and not getting the happy ending you paid for in advance.

 

5.5/10

Posted in Movies, Reviews | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Blu-ray Review – Drive Hard (IMAGE)

drivehard

Drive Hard is a straight-to-video action/comedy, starring John Cusack and Thomas Jane. I didn’t expect much from it, but as it turns out, it was actually quite entertaining. I’m not saying that this is some sort of Triple-A title. It’s very much what you think it is, with both lead actors teetering somewhere between playing themselves, and phoning it in for a paycheck, but it’s funny enough that if you see it somewhere on the cheap, there are worse home video purchases you could make. The story follows Peter, a former NASCAR racer, who has settled down with a wife and child in Australian suburban hell. Peter gives driving lessons for a career now, so when Simon(Cusack) shows up, he assumes that will be the extent of his day. As it turns out, Simon knows very well who Peter is, and has picked him for a reason. See Simon is on a quest for revenge, which involves stealing 9 million dollars in bearer bonds from a corrupt “bank” and he has chosen Peter as his unwilling getaway driver.  Continue reading

Posted in Movies, Reviews | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Blu-ray Review – The Blob 1988 (Twilight Time) SOLD OUT!

theblob

It’s somewhat weird to review a release that I know anyone that happens to read this will be unable to buy anywhere other than the scalper market. But by the time I received my review copy, and found a quiet moment within October to watch it, it had already happened. So unfortunately, if you are reading this, you will be unable to purchase this Blu-ray, unless you pay a premium on ebay to buy it from one of those nasty scalpers. That being said, this is one Blu-ray I have been waiting for since the format was launched. There’s a reason why, if you were to find yourself in a conversation about the best horror remakes that have been made, The Blob ’88 will almost always be mentioned. The Thing, The Fly, and The Blob are three remakes that are universally heralded as “the best”. Some would consider all three of these remakes to be superior to the films they were based on, and I am included in that group of people. Add in Alexandre Aja’s remake of Wes Craven’s The Hills Have Eyes, and Martin Scorcese’s The Departed, and you’ve rounded out my list of the top 5 remakes of all time. It was an absolute pleasure to revisit Chuck Russell’s 1988 remake of The Blob in high definition.  Continue reading

Posted in features, Movies, Reviews | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Blu-ray Review – Dolls: Collector’s Edition (Scream Factory)

dolls

Dolls is one of Stuart Gordon’s most ballyhooed directorial efforts, next to Re-Animator and From Beyond, of course. It was a Charles Band production, under Empire International, and produced by Brian Yuzna. It has been so long since the last time that I watched the film, that the only thing that I could remember about it, was the front cover of the VHS tape. This means that I don’t really have a DVD experience with Dolls, for which to compare the Blu-ray transfer of the film to. After revisiting the film, I can’t say that it is my favorite Gordon film, but it is highly entertaining for what it is. Dolls predates the Puppet Master series, which Band would later become known for, and is infinitely more enjoyable than any one of those films. I recently re-watched a couple of the Puppet Master movies, and none of them contain the quality of production and storytelling that Gordon’s Dolls has.  Continue reading

Posted in features, Movies, Reviews | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

DEADtime TV: Week of 10/19/14

IMG_0739

We’re still playing catch-up after all of the Halloween celebrations, and we’re having a tough time with it. So far,  Kevin will continue his Stalker coverage as well as covering for Gotham again this week. He’ll also add Grimm. I’ve got American Horror Story: Freak ShowSleepy Hollow, and Resurrection still. Shawn will be posting a separate update with his updated coverage of Z-Nation, The Walking Dead, and more. Also, be on the lookout for a complete overhaul of the formatting of DEADtime TV. 

Continue reading

Posted in Reviews, T.V. | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Scream Factory Brings CANDYMAN FAREWELL TO THE FLESH To Blu-ray On 1/6/15

candyman

So, Candyman isn’t on Blu-ray yet, mostly because it’s a SONY title, and Twilight Time have had dibs on it for what seems like 3 years now. That’s not stopping Scream Factory from bringing us the sequel, however. Today they announced the street date, as well as the bonus content that would be included, in their Blu-ray release of Candyman: Farewell to the Flesh, hitting store shelves on January 6th, 2015. Check out the press release below, for all of the disc specifics, and click here to pre-order your copy today.  Continue reading

Posted in features, Movies, News | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

DVD Review: The Taking of Deborah Logan (Millennium)

taking

Prior to the DVD showing up in my mailbox, I had never heard of The Taking of Deborah Logan, formerly known as The Taking. No press release was sent out, no promotional still, posters or trailers, just an ominous notification from FedEX(or UPS, I can’t remember) that a package from Millennium was en route. After asking several colleagues, it would appear that almost everyone I know in the world of genre journalism, had this mysterious DVD en route. Most of us had already written it off, due to the generic sounding name, and the even less-effective front cover. A movie we’d never heard of, seen advertised, that was being pushed out without a request process? Surely that can’t be good. However, once word started trickling down from the first couple of brave souls that took it on, that the film was not only worth watching, but that it was actually pretty damn good, I instantly became intrigued. To add fuel to that fire, a week prior to the DVD release date, the movie was streaming in HD on Netflix. Apparently Millennium really wanted people to see This creepy little movie, but didn’t have the money to spend on an advertising campaign. That’s unfortunate too, because I think if this would have received a theatrical release, with a better name, poster and an effective trailer, this would have put some asses in theater seats. Continue reading

Posted in Movies, Reviews | Tagged , , , , , | 1 Comment

BB – Exclusive Interview with Writer/Director CJ Wallis

bbmovie

For any of you who may still be unfamiliar, BB is the new project from CJ Wallis, owner of FortyFPS Productions. His work is synonymous for outstanding camera work and cinematography, as well as a signature modern, yet classic look. BB is his return to the horror/thriller genre after taking time away to do documentary filming for hip hop artist Curren$y and his JetLife record label. Continue reading

Posted in Articles, features, News | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Blu-ray Review – The Doctor and the Devils (Scream Factory)

doctoranddevils

Unlike most of what Scream Factory puts out there, this would be my first exposure to The Doctors and the Devils. I had never even heard of the film, if I’m being entirely honest. One thing I like about the label is that every so often, they challenge my prejudices when it comes to the type of films I usually watch. I’ve always gone out of my way to avoid period movies, unless there is a really good reason to watch them. Depending on the subject matter, and the period that is being recreated, of course. Anything that takes place during the 1800s, that isn’t about Jack the Ripper, is going to have a hard time keeping my attention. Continue reading

Posted in Movies, Reviews | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Don’t Let Him In! – A Review of The Babadook

thebabadook

Nothing gets me more pumped for a movie than an effective trailer, as I’m sure is the case for a lot of us. When I first saw the trailer for Australian writer/director Jennifer Kent’s The Babadook, I knew I had to see it. If the movie ended up being even half as creepy as the trailer was, we’d have ourselves a shudder-inducer on par with anything that James Wan has ever attached his name to. Believe me when I tell you, that’s high praise coming from me. Continue reading

Posted in features, Movies, Reviews | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Toronto After Dark 2014 – These Zombies Are Gassy – A Review of Wyrmwood

wyrmwood

Let’s just agree right off the bat that we aren’t going to get into “the infected are vs. the infected aren’t” zombies argument, k? People are passionate about their beliefs on the subject. We get it. I’m not even going to say which side of the argument I fall on. That said, Wyrmwood is a new Aussie zombie flick, of the infected variety, from first time director Kiah Roache-Turner, who also co-wrote it with brother Tristan Roache-Turner . It promises to be “Mad Max meets Dawn of the Dead”, and if you ask me, that’s pretty much making the bold statement that this is probably the best thing ever. Can it even be expected to deliver entertainment on that level? The short answer is no, the longer answer is below. Continue reading

Posted in features, Movies, Reviews | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Blu-Ray Review – Nightbreed: The Director’s Cut (Scream Factory)

nightbreed

The day is finally here. Some of us have been waiting decades to catch a glimpse of Clive Barker’s intended vision of his 1990 epic monster movie, Nightbreed. Some of us got close with the Cabal Cut, but that still wasn’t his intended vision. It was long-thought to be an impossibility, thanks to both studio interference, as well as mishandling of the original elements. Hell, when Scream Factory announced the title, most of us assumed we would be getting the Cabal Cut, including the awful-looking footage sourced from VHS. I feel like, when the announcement was made that all of the materials they needed were located in a vault somewhere, a big enough deal wasn’t made. I see people every day, disappointed that The Cabal Cut isn’t what we’re getting with this release. These people don’t understand that Barker’s Director’s Cut is superior to the Cabal Cut in every way. You see, in that cut of the film, we basically get everything that was shot, shoehorned into the theatrical cut. So even scenes that were never intended to be kept were present, no matter how unwatchable the quality. In this Director’s Cut, we get Barker’s original vision, cut together from the original elements, and supervised by Barker himself. This is the version of the film we’ve all been waiting for.  Continue reading

Posted in features, Movies, Reviews | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Decompressing Exhumed Films’ 24 Hour Horror-Thon Part VIII

24hourhorrorthon

Exhumed Films 24 Hour Horror-Thon Part VIII – Design by Haunt Love

For years now, my good friend James Harris, proprietor of Doc Terror, has urged me to make the trip to Philly for Exhumed Films’ 24 Hour Horror-Thon. It sounded like an amazing time, but Philly is such a long drive for me that it never seemed reasonably possible. My wife and I discussed a way in which we could make it a trip for all of us. So, her and my son, along with her mother, came up and went on the Hershey tour, while I got my horror-thon on. With 4 people in the car, a ton of stops are going to be made. In total, it took us probably 13 and a half hours to make it to the hotel. I had only a few hours to sleep, before I would leave the hotel, en route to the Philly International House, where the event is hosted. There is a line to get in, but it’s really not a big deal. There are friends to meet up with, and wares from both DiabolikDVD.com, as well as design artists with tons of great posters and prints for sale.  Continue reading

Posted in Articles, features, Movies, News, Reviews | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

DEADtime TV: Week of 10/12/14

IMG_0739

This week, we’re very late with DEADtime. Sorry about that – the month of October is really busy and it’s hard enough to keep up with all of the other stuff going on! This week, Shawn got his Walking Dead review done but the other stuff will be added to next week’s recaps. Kevin is taking over his Gotham review for this week, along with Stalker. I’ve got the rest.

Continue reading

Posted in Reviews, T.V. | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Devil’s In The Detail – A Review of The Demon’s Rook

 

The-Demons-Rook-Poster

To prepare myself for viewing The Demon’s Rook, I sat down and watched writer/director James Sizemore’s short film “Goat Witch”. From that, I took away that even if Rook was terrible, I was going to be in for some spectacularly gory practical effects, and probably some nudity. People, sometimes that’s all I’m looking for in my horror movie. I’m pretty easy to please, what can I say? As it turns out, The Demon’s Rook is exactly that, a practical effects showcase with just a bit of an identity problem that prevents it from being truly good.  Continue reading

Posted in Movies, Reviews | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Blu-ray Review: Squirm – Collector’s Edition (Scream Factory)

squirm

Squirm is a cult classic, because its premise is utterly ridiculous. A town is under siege by an army of killer works, surfaced by a downed power line that apparently nobody thought to contact AEP about. Seriously, that line flopped around and spat sparks for what? Days? It didn’t set any fires, and nobody thought that it was something that probably needed to be taken care of? In all seriousness, worms are creepy little crawling assholes, and a movie about killer worms is going to make most viewers feel a little uneasy. I know it certainly had that effect on me, and based on the fact that almost 40 years later, we’re still talking about it, I have a hard time believing that I’m alone. Scream Factory’s Collector’s Edition Blu-ray release of the film will serve multiple purposes. It will allow those of us old enough to remember it, to revisit an uncomfortable viewing experience from our youth, and it will give allow newer genre fans to carve another notch in their horror-movie-bedpost.  Continue reading

Posted in Movies, Reviews | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Blu-ray Review: The Vincent Price Collection II (Scream Factory)

price

The first Vincent Price collection from Scream Factory was a pure treasure. When October rolls around, almost nothing puts me in the Halloween mood like a constant stream of Vincent Price films on my TV. Never did I think that Scream could improve upon their original price collection, but when the films that would be included in this new set were announced, I was shocked. The first Vincent Price Collection has some really solid Price films, mostly of a Poe nature, and it was one of the most exciting releases of the year for fans of classic horror. The second set, drops the Poe theme(mostly), and includes some of Price’s most famous, well-regarded films, including a couple of my favorites. The list of films is impressive, and there are extras on most of the films. The packaging is consistent, and equally pleasing to the eyes. Scream Factory’s Blu-ray release of the Vincent Price Collection Volume II is a must-own, especially for those of us that go crazy during October, trying to squeeze in as many horror films as possible. We get House on Haunted Hill and The Last Man On Earth in one set, people. Click here and buy this thing, already.  Continue reading

Posted in Movies, Reviews | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Toronto After Dark 2014 – Movie Review: Late Phases

LP_Posters11x17.indd‘Late Phases’ tells the story of Ambrose (Damici) a wounded war veteran, now blind who along with his guide dog is moving into a retirement community and about to begin his first night there. Upon arrival, he and his son (Embry) unload his things and at first appearance, the community seems like a wholesome and peaceful place. Even Ambrose’s neighbor is extremely friendly and welcoming, kindly welcoming him to his new home. While settling in for his first night, he begins to hear a commotion and what sounds like a possible attack next door and he tries to investigate. His guide dog (also clearly disturbed by something in the near vicinity) ends up confronting a huge beast (to us horror fans, quite obviously a werewolf) and after being severely injured, Ambrose is forced to put down his friend and guide. Soon he begins to question the goings on in the community and discovering these attacks are a steady frequency occurring nearly every month, a day which just happened to be a full moon as well, Ambrose begins to put the pieces together and try to prepare for the next month’s attack which is sure to occur like clockwork if his assumptions are correct. Continue reading

Posted in Reviews | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Toronto After Dark 2014 – Movie Review: Dead Snow 2: Red vs. Dead

deadsnow2

Dead Snow 2 played to a sold-out crowed at Toronto After Dark 2014, and from what I’ve been told, the crowd loved it. I loved it too, and so did contributor Mitch Reaves. Mitch is helping me out a bit, and below is his review of the film. Jeff will be back later with more from the ground-floor of the event, and I will have a couple more reviews today myself. I  hope you’re enjoying our coverage of the 2014 Toronto After Dark Film Festival.

When director Tommy Wirkola’s Dead Snow (Dod Sno) was nearing it’s US release in 2009 after what felt like an eternity, there were some pretty high expectations for it. Horror sites had been covering it heavily, and many people, myself included, couldn’t wait for a chance to see it. When it finally did hit, as with any movie with so much hype surrounding it, it seemed to fail to meet some viewers’ expectations. It delivered the gore, there’s no denying that, but I think the comedic elements were maybe a bit unexpected for some. Fast foward to 2014 and the sequel, appropriately titled “Dead Snow 2: Red vs Dead” has arrived, and it does everything a sequel is supposed to do. There’s more comedy, more Nazi zombies, and more splatter gore than you can hurl your own entrails at. Continue reading

Posted in Articles, features, Movies, Reviews | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Toronto After Dark 2014 – Movie Review: ABCs of Death 2

the-abcs-of-death-21At the heart of the ABCs of Death series is something I absolutely cherish about horror cinema; the ability to take a short story and convey an idea that terrifies (or if we’re lucky grosses out). It strips out the bullshit ie all those love plots and pieces of character development that are wholly unnecessary to a good horror story. Horror shorts, anthology films and portmanteaus truly are my favorite way to watch horror fiction. From Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark to Stephen King’s Night Shift. From Dead of Night to Creepshow.  Bite size stories to tell around a campfire or underneath the covers or to read on the beach, that’s the way to consume horror in small portions.

ABCs of Death was comprised of 26 filmmakers creating horror fiction based on a letter of the alphabet and the sequel follows suit. No wrap story just right on into the sequence, and I can assure you by the end of this one no one is singing, “next time won’t you sing with me”. They’re all dead.  As I did with the first collection I will rate each movie individually and give either my approval, disapproval or my “what the fuck did I just watch”. ranking. Each will be color coded, and by the end I hope to have established a basic opinion for each of the stories and percentage of good to shit segments Without quantifying it, I will simply tell you that ABCs of Death 2 is superior to the original. It has more solid entries though there are plenty of stinkers too. Again, these are not full reviews of each of the shorts, and I expect you to watch the movie. These are just feelings; general opinions.  Green is liked/loved it. Red is disliked it/hated it. Orange is what the fuck is this crazy shit? Check it out after the jump.

Continue reading

Posted in Festival Coverage, Movies, Reviews, Toronto After Dark | Tagged , , | Leave a comment