Breakfast: Short Movie Review

You all remember Dinner, right? It’s a short film made by the talented Aleksandra Svetlichnaya. I wrote about it here. Breakfast is the follow-up. I wrote about the trailer here. And, while Breakfast is not yet available for public viewing, the Aleksandra gave me advanced access to see it. Can you believe it? Little ol’ me. She’s the best, you guys.

Dinner clocked in around 12 minutes. Breakfast decided that wasn’t long enough, so it clocks in at a shade over 26 minutes. Once again, we spend the bulk of our time with Dylan (Svetlichnaya), Oscar (Josh Kachnycz) and Hamilton (Ricardo Segarra). Dylan fills the role of Buffy, while Oscar and Hamilton are basically sub-replacement level Scoobies. I guess they’re Scrappies? I need to consult Joss Whedon on this important matter.

Oscar and Hamilton go to a comic shop and find an unfinished comic. Too dumb to heed the warnings of the shop owner – and apparently desperate to start the apocalypse – they steal the comic, run out of the shop and head into the woods.

Meanwhile, Dylan finds herself caught in a time loop. She wakes up, checks her phone, brushes her teeth, puts her hair in a ponytail and declares, “Okay. Breakfast time,” only to exit the bathroom and find a masked attacker. She defeats him, only to find herself waking up in her bed for the same routine over and over again.

What exactly is going on with the unfinished comic? Why is Dylan caught in a time loop? How will she escape? Will Oscar and Hamilton ever actually get a chance to eat breakfast?

These events set up the rest of the film, and it’s an absolute blast. Svetlichnaya’s love for Buffy is on full display here. It’s not totally in-your-face, but there are enough nods to get you thinking in that direction. And, of course, it’s impossible to see a blonde woman kicking faces and not think of Buffy, so my mind would have gone there even without the subtle nods.

Like Dinner, this is a really fun watch. Also like Dinner, this was made on next to no budget, so certain limitations come up. Still, it’s pretty easy to get past that. While I like how Oscar and Hamilton play off each other, I spend most of my time waiting for Dylan to come back and destroy people/monsters/demons.

Breakfast is a fun short with a tremendous ending. Make sure you stay for the scene in the credits. It had me rolling.

I’m a huge fan of what Svetlichnaya is doing. Can’t wait to see what she’s got in store next.

As it turns out, I’m not the only one excited about what Svetlichnaya is doing, as Breakfast is going to San Diego Comic Con 2017!

Underworld: A Love Letter

This post contains a ton of spoilers about the Underworld series. You’ve been warned.

You know what I love about the Underworld series? Pretty much everything.

It starts off as a solid vampire/werewolf (or lycan, in the parlance of the movie) action-horror series, taking story cues from Romeo and Juliet and visual cues from The Matrix. The first movie is a fun action movie with monsters that takes itself entirely too seriously. I will fight anyone who says otherwise.

They get into some of the mythology and history behind the centuries-old vampire/lycan war in the first movie, but they really delve into the insanity in Evolution. From the first movie, we learn that Michael – Selene’s arm candy and direct descendent of Alexander Corvinus, the king of the monsters – is the first ever vampire/lycan hybrid and we are straight up told that no one really knows what his powers are. They could be limitless. Or they could not be. Who knows? *vampire shrug*

Selene also gets some of Alexander Corvinus’ sweet, sweet monster-king blood. That blood also has undefined powers.

These two things together really form the crux of the insanity the series embraces. Having two sets of undefined powers gives the writers carte blanche to make them up on the spot. Can Selene’s blood give her a lot of sweet fighting moves? Sure! Does it allow her to stand in the sunlight? You bet! Can it bring vampires back from the dead? I guess. Does it make her a really good baseball player? Never fully explored, but, if I were a betting man, I’d say she and Michael would kill Mike Dexter and his stupid Twilight vampire team.
What about Michael? Can he survive a punch that leaves a manhole cover sized hole in his chest? You bet your sweet bippy he can. Does it make him an accomplished chef? Maybe.

Throughout all of this we get a lot of history of how vampires and lycans came into existence and how they’ve changed, and why the war started and all that fun stuff. Apparently I’m a sucker for a convoluted history of monsters in my action-horror.

They double-down on that history in the third movie, Rise of the Lycans. We actually get to see why the war was ignited. Of course, it was over a love torn apart by a father who hated love and thought that cross-species breeding was an abomination. And also sunlight. And he also probably hated the insanely-dangerous cliff-sex that his daughter was having with a filthy (but also kind of handsome) lycan, but we never got his specific views on that.
I feel like they could have added a few minutes into the movie for him to talk about that, but that’s probably just me. “Before I open this roof hatch through a series of levers and let the sunlight in to kill you, my daughter, I want to bring up the cliff-loving you engaged in with this animal who is currently in human form and has a nice set of abs.”
On second thought, maybe it was good they left that part out.

Then we jump forward to Awakening. It takes place 6 months after the events of Evolution and humans have discovered the existence of vampires and lycans. So, in true human form, they decide to hunt them down and kill them. Selene and Michael decide to run away together in a boat, but are hit with a cryo-bomb which freezes them in time. Apparently the magic blood doesn’t defend against being frozen in time. So there are limits to their powers, I guess.

In a fun little twist, Scott Speedman declined to reprise his role at Michael, so they cast an actor who kinda/sorta/maybe looks like Speedman if it’s dark and you squint and his face is always moving.

Anyway, Selene wakes up 12 years later and finds out she’s being kept in a lab run by lycans and one of them kind of looks like a knockoff Chris Martin (fun fact: that guy is in a show called Lost Girl and it’s awful. He’s fine in it, I guess).

Michael is still frozen, but they have a hybrid child together (Eve) somehow, and the lycans are after her blood because it’s SUPER magic and protects them against silver and probably other stuff. You wouldn’t even believe how magic her blood is, you guys. She’s the first pure-born hybrid which means that her powers are really limitless. Like, for real this time. She probably can’t be frozen in time like her dumb parents.

The science-loving lycans are all wiped out (NERRRRRRRRRRDS!) and Michael escaped from his frozen container thing but now he’s on the run. Or he escaped in a helicopter. Or he was kidnapped by a lycan who looks like Tommy Wiseau and drained of his blood, and now Wiseau is shooting up the blood like it’s heroin and is getting all kinds of powers from it.

It’s the last one. Michael is dead now. His powers are limitless, but apparently you can just hang him upside down and slit his throat and he’s done.

That brings up an odd thing in these movies. Vampires and lycans are immortal creatures. They go to great lengths throughout the course of the series to highlight the ways they can be killed. The lycans developed special UV rounds that burn up vampires from the inside out. The vampires countered with bullets filled with liquid silver so the lycans can’t just dig out the bullets. The lycans do everything they can to harvest the blood of Michael and Eve to make themselves impervious to silver. Yet, despite all that, vampires and lycans alike are killed by something as simple as a broken neck or strangulation by way of metal wire. Human food is toxic and will totally kill them. Regular bullets don’t kill them, but it can cause enough blood loss to kill them. So, basically like humans, except a nice steak would explode their stomach or something. Even Alexander Corvinus – the father of all vampires and lycans – is killed by blood loss. I mean, technically he’s killed by a massive explosion, but he was dying when he exploded the ship he was on.

As near as I can tell, the sole benefit you get from being a vampire or lycan – besides super cool titles like “Death Dealer” – is that you can live a long time if you’re super careful. It seems that most things that would kill a normal person would also kill a vampire or lycan. What’s the point of silver bullets? Just cut their brakes and they’ll die in a car crash.

Now, for the latest entry in the series: Blood Wars. It’s the weakest in the series and also the dumbest but also still awesome. It still takes itself entirely too seriously and it pretty much forces everyone to have an intimate knowledge of the rest of the series to understand everything that is happening. I had no trouble following along, but I can guarantee you that very few people have seen this series as many times as my wife and I have.

As I talked about above, the lycans have killed Michael and now they’re looking for Eve’s blood for reasons. Selene does not know where Eve is, so she is off on her own, engaging in some sweet lycan-killing, but also being hunted by both vampires and lycans. Eventually we discover that there is a hippie vampire coven on the top of a snowy mountain and they know how to transport themselves over short distances and also maybe know where Eve is or something. It’s confusing. There’s also a sexy evil vampire who answered a casting call that asked for, “Just kind of be like Eva Green, ya know?” Anyway, she nailed it.

The Nordic vampires have white hair and hate violence and swear that lycans will never breach their walls because it’s too cold, but then lycans totally breach their walls and kill a lot of vampires. So many vampires.

There’s another showdown and the vampires prevail. Selene accidentally gets some of Wiseau’s blood on her lip and she sees that Michael was killed and then she drinks her own blood to bring back her memories of Michael and Eve and then she pulls out Wiseau’s spine and I was so excited I screamed in the theater.

Now Selene is a vampire elder even though they all hated her 30 minutes ago. The end.

I’ll be honest with you: I don’t know why you read this far. I have no idea what this post is supposed to accomplish. These movies have gotten steadily more ridiculous with each installment, yet they take themselves so seriously I can’t help but smile when I watch them. The black leather, industrial soundtrack and stony faces feel a little out of place in 2017, but I can’t imagine watching an Underworld movie with jokes and bright colors. Just keep it rolling, man.

If there ends up being another installment in this series, here are four things I can guarantee you:
1. I will rewatch all the previous movies again before it comes out.
2. It will be terrible.
3. I will be in the theater opening night.
4. I will love it.

Anyway, if you ever have any highly specific Underworld questions, you know who to ask.

The Barn: Movie Review


On Halloween, 1989, six high school seniors  – Sam, Josh, Michelle, Chris, Nikki and Russell – head out from their small town of Helen’s Valley to see their favorite band (the wonderfully named Demon Inferno). On the way, they stop off in Wheary Falls and awaken three murderous, flesh-eating demons. To stop the demons, they may have to follow Sam’s roundly mocked Rules of Halloween.



My thoughts:
The first thing that’s important to know about this film is that it is designed to be a throwback to 80s horror films. That’s evident from the setting to the music to the grainy film. If you watch the trailer, it’s perfectly clear what kind of movie this is. Because of that, I went in knowing exactly what kind of movie I was going to be watching.


I already started with the big stuff in the synopsis, but let’s flesh it out a little. The movie starts in Wheary Falls in 1959. (Both Wheary Falls and Helen’s Valley are fictional towns and we’re never told what state they are in. But, since the movie was filmed in Pennsylvania, let’s assume we’re dealing with two rural Pennsylvania towns.) We learn of the legend of The Barn: a nondescript red barn that holds three demons. If you knock on the door on Halloween and say, “Trick or treat,” the demons will emerge. It’s like Bloody Mary or Candyman, except you have to deal with three of them and they love eating flesh. They adore it.


Anyway, two kids sneak out after church to try it out. Sweet little Shirley gets a sharp instrument through her head, and George takes off running.


Let’s meet our demons – complete with their modus operandi – courtesy of Sam.


The Boogeyman: “Wants to crack your back, cut you into pieces to carry in his sack.”


Hallowed Jack: “Wants to carve out your head, slash you with his vines until you’re dead.”


The Candycorn Scarecrow: “If you get scared, don’t you cry, or The Candycorn Scarecrow will surely eat your eyes.”

The design of the demons was incredible. I was a particularly huge fan of the candles inside Hallowed Jack’s pumpkin head and the rotted candy corn teeth of The Candycorn Scarecrow, but they all looked great. It was a bit odd to feel nostalgia over something in a brand new movie, yet here we are.
Actually, that last statement could apply to this entire movie. I felt a massive wave of nostalgia for this entire movie.


We jump forward into 1989, when our six heroes find themselves in Wheary Falls on Halloween night. Once again the demons are awakened. Sam – our main character – has a set of rules that need to be followed on Halloween. He explains that these rules have been culled from a variety of traditions he had read about in books. He lays these out while sitting at a campfire outside The Barn, and, though his friends make fun of him at the time, we know they’re going to need these rules in order to survive.


Sam is a high school senior who is perceived to love Halloween a bit too much, both by the adults in his town and by his friends. To outsiders, it appears as though he has a hard time letting go of his childhood love of Halloween, but it’s more than that. He believes that Halloween traditions go deeper than just, “kids trick or treat because they want candy.” He believes that these traditions were put in place to protect us. He has taken these traditions and broken them down into 6 Halloween rules. He believes that each of these rules is a sort of contract that we must honor. If the rules are broken, bad things can happen.


Because this is a horror movie – more specifically an 80s influenced slasher – we know the rules won’t be followed by everyone, which will lead to a lot of killing. It starts off with fairly typical slasher fare; after summoning the demons – but before any of the characters actually see them – the friends separate a bit, allowing them to be picked off one-by-one without alerting the others. After the first few kills, all hell breaks loose and the fun really starts.



In a particularly fun scene, the three demons lay waste to a room full of people enjoying the rockabilly stylings of The Legendary Hucklebucks. The Hucklebucks themselves are killed, then the blood really flies as all in attendance are laid to waste. Heads are crushed, faces are eaten, throats are slit, eyes are popped out a la Friday the 13th Part 3, faces are melted via boiling water, limbs are ripped off with abandon, and so much more. And it’s all set to a rockabilly soundtrack. The demons really get creative with their killing, and it’s beautiful. It’s a bloody, gleeful scene, and I won’t deny that I watched the entire thing with a grin on my face.


In fact, “gleeful” is a good way to describe this movie. It’s an homage to 80s slasher/monster movies without a hint of irony. This is not done while winking at the camera. This is not a parody, and it’s certainly not meant as a deconstruction of the genre. This was a movie made by a guy who grew up loving that era of horror and desperately wanted to make a movie of his own that would fit in with the films of that time. Justin Seaman – the writer/director – came up with the idea for The Barn when he was 8 years old, and that shows here. The youthful exuberance and love for all things Halloweeny and gory is on full display.


If you’ve ever wanted a full movie that captures the atmosphere of the trick or treating scene in Halloween III: Season of the Witch, this is it. It perfectly captures the spirit of Halloween, and will surely find its way into my yearly Halloween movie rotation. I love this movie completely.


The young cast is great. The cameos from Linnea Quigley and Ari Lehman were great. The entire movie is an absolute blast. Make yourself a bowl of popcorn, throw this movie on and get ready for a fun night.


Rating: 5/5

You can buy DVD for The Barn – as well as a ton of other great stuff – on their merch page.

Dinner: Movie Review

Dinner is a short film written and directed by the very talented Aleksandra Svetlichnaya.

It’s fun and short and you can watch the entire thing below.  Make sure you give her a follow on Twitter as well.

Dinner follows Dylan as she walks through a deserted town filled with chain-link fences and burned out buildings.  She’s on her way to a date, but there may be something sinister lurking in the shadows.  Every glance over her shoulder could reveal something dark advancing towards her.  Every turn down an abandoned street could be filled with monsters.

I don’t want to give away too much – clocking in at 12 minutes, I could spoil the twists and turns simply by synopsizing it – so I’ll stop.

I really enjoyed this short film.  The term “no budget” was thrown out by Aleksandra, and that’s exactly true, but the lack of a budget doesn’t mean there’s a lack of style or substance.  The opening scene of Dylan walking down the street – in glorious black and white, no less – is stunning, creepy and filled with tension.
The lack of budget doesn’t even really show up with the make-up.  The monsters look great.
It does show up a bit in the fight scenes, but that’s because “no budget” means it’s hard to make it look like you’re burying an axe in someone’s skull without actually doing it.  The fact that some of these actors weren’t willing to sacrifice their lives for the sake of a movie really makes me question their commitment.

Dinner is a really fun short film, featuring a leading lady I would gladly have on my side in any kind of scrap.  And by “scrap” I mean “me hiding behind something while she kicks everyone in the face and tells me when it’s safe to come out.”  Man, Dylan is the best.

Watch this movie.