Indie Flix: Dead on Appraisal (2014)

This anthology concerns a house that just sits on the market because of some rather mysterious occurrences that left a lot of residents dead and the cast a shadow over the house ever after. Real estate agent John Dante (Mike Pffaf) has been stuck with the property and despairs over his inability to sell it. Of course the vignettes all take place within the framework story as John relates all the horrible events that have taken place in the house and his ongoing ordeal to sell it once and for all. The house’s woes range from killer bugs to vets suffering PTSD and even includes an up and coming rocker who’s pickled himself. The house survives bombings, flamethrowers, an assault by armed robbers, a boozer party, and a goblin attack. Eventually the true source of the house’s trouble comes to light during an open house John is hosting with his girlfriend. Five years later and the real estate market is still a killer.

The cast pull double and triple duty through out the vignettes titled “The Morning After,” “Father Land,” “Freddie and the Goblins.” and “Closing Costs.” The acting isn’t horrible for an indie production at all with most giving a workable performance and no one really standing out as really good or truly terrible. The effects are a mixed bag of practical effects and makeup, stop animation and CGI. The effects can be shaky at moments and aren’t fantastic by any means but they throw buckets of the red stuff to try and help it work. The picture really struggles when it is subjected to a digital filter and looks like it is ready for Instagram. The puppets in “Freddie and the Goblins” really made my day though. Those things were awesome and reminded me of the creatures in Rock n’ Roll Nightmare.

While the movie isn’t going to wow with effects or story–the story is there it’s just not too exciting–it was an okay flick overall. The reappearance of players, the whackiness of the plot, the anthology structure itself and the heart everyone shows help make this a bearable film to watch. It is easy to see that the young filmmakers were eager and excited to produce this comedy horror collection. If you happen to come across this title and have nothing going on check it out. It’s an okay flick. Dead on Appraisal is released by Brain Damage Films and the special features include two trailers and two behind the scene featurettes. It’s available direct or through other retailers on DVD or VOD. The trailer is below.

Indie Flix: Treasure Chest of Horrors 2 (2013)

TREASURE CHEST OF HORRORS 2 promises “Six sick and twisted Tales of Terror” on the cover which is adorned by a busty red head in a bikini. Like video marketing since the dawn of the media this cover offers a whole lot more than the actual anthology. This is part of the reason some folks don’t give independent horror a chance. Sometimes filmmakers try to go tongue in cheek too much or in this case they schlock it up to the point of slapstick. The Phillips family shows up scattered through out all of the shorts cheesing it up big time. While not a fan of Shawn’s work, I have seen him in films, Moongoyle’s films THE LIMB COLLECTOR and THE DEMON OF CASTLEBURY come to mind, where he is used in small doses or reined in and it doesn’t compromise the overall picture. This may as well be the Shawn C. Phillips show, but I have to give the guy credit-he has to have some brass assed balls. That is for sure. Brace yourselves, at least one of these segments (“The Caged Girl?) has been sitting around for several years and finally found somewhere to land. Well allow me to be your Virgil through these six brief circles of hell.

In “Trendish” the entire Phillips family hams it up as they fuck up a short. Christmas is coming and their less popular son (Ethan Phillips) wants a hat to make him cool but they never get him anything he wants. So he flips out and goes on a murdering rampage when his brother Kyle (Shawn C. Phillips) gets all three DVDs he wanted.

“Baby Cakes” is about a baby from hell. This time it’s Shawn C. Phillips playing a grossly over sized baby that shits himself and eats female babysitters while murdering the males. His parents call on a celebrity baby trainer who also used to be an exorcist in South East Asia. Will his efforts be enough to give the parent’s some peace? If you’re that vested you should watch the thing.

“Bloody Hell” A group of friends load up into a van and head out into the country for a prospecting trip. They bring along a couple of shovels and seven feet of pipe to pull that black gold out of the woods while being stalked by a backwoods gork. No clue what was going on with the camera angles. Poorly shot. Terrible. Makes the other vignettes look competent in comparison. Probably because it looks like this was done by a bunch of twelve year olds who haven’t seen a horror movie.

“The Prom” Well “Bloody Hell” doesn’t really help make this one look competent. It’s Shawn C. Phillips again with M. Kelly. They play Don and Murph who have been invited to a prom and panicking about what to where to whatever prom they’ve been invited to for their reviews. It makes as much sense as…well I can’t think of anything. No one else is at the thing and they show up in graduation gowns and are menaced by someone with a plastic knife. All I can look forward to are two more vignettes…hopefully without any of the Phillips family…and ogling the hot red headed Penthouse Pet chick they have in the wraparound.

“The Caged Girl?” Well shit. M.Kelly is back along with Shawn C. Phillips in this one. So far we’ve seen Shawn in a diaper with a bib, a gown and now in a dress with a blonde wig. A trench coat wearing goon kidnaps her and locks her in his basement. Telling her what a good boyfriend he is while waving a knife (a real one this time) around and even feeds her sauerkraut for breakfast. At least there are some memorable quotes from Phillips, “I smell down there. Like fish” during a prolonged discussion about her smell.

“A Pain in the Gums” Shocker. It’s about a guy with mouth pain. The cause of the pain is a bacteria that talks to him and shouts things that only he can hear. The bad part (relatively speaking) is that I can’t understand what the hell the voice is trying to say. Eventually Oren (Kevin E. Scott) is driven to the point of self mutilation as he tries to make the voice stop. 

“Mona’s Movie Night” is the wrap around and stars Veronica Ricci as Mona Screamalot. She settles into a family movie night with her sideshow of a family. Each segment ends with the family mostly unimpressed and they tend to destroy the discs after each viewing. Some of you may recognize James Cullen Bressack as the pot head brother. 

This was not a good anthology. It wasn’t even so bad it’s good enjoyable so much as so bad it’s infuriating. Some segments were shot alright, the ones with some Phillips in them, while “Bloody Hell” and “A Pain in the Gums” were nauseating as it looked like someone handed the camera to an orangutan with an extra chromosome. Maybe watching with a group of drunk friends would help but I doubt it. Hopefully the first TREASURE CHEST OF HORRORS is better. Ya’ll know me. I’ll watch any ol’ thing once or twice. Definitely not for everyone but it did get a fairly deluxe release. The Wild Eye DVD is loaded with extras including a commentary with some of the principals, a three part behind the scenes for “Baby Cakes,” an interview with Shawn C. Phillips and M. Kelly, three extras for “The Caged Girl?” and a teaser trailer.