Author: Matt Raub

Horror Review: ‘Trackman’

trackman boxSynopsis:

A perfect bank heist turns deadly when the robbers and their hostages flee to the abandoned underground subway station where they encounter the Trackman, a deformed madman that prowls the darkness. It becomes a fight for survival as the mysterious monster picks off the people, both good guys and bad, one by one.


Remember the days when horror films didn’t need a twist ending? When Freddy Krueger never turned out to be Nancy’s father, or Michael Myers was never just a part Laurie’s subconscious? Those were the good old days, but since the genre has been changed by things like Saw or the trend of remaking Japanese horror, it’s almost like a rite of passage to have a “mind-altering” twist at the end of the film, and quite frankly, its getting old.

Trackman has some great slasher movie elements to it, buried deep inside of a poorly edited and badly shot film. Having that the film was made in Russia, I may not be up to speed on how things are shot and edited there, but I’m pretty sure taking a page from Zack Snyder’s book of “unnecessary slow motion” is universally unacceptable. At least when Snyder does it, it’ during a moment of deep(ish) drama to accentuate the moment, and not just establishing shots of dark hallways slowed down to fill time. The film weighs in at 80 minutes, but if you were to dump the slo-mo shots, we’re looking at more like an hour.

The beginning kicks off with a very “Inside Man” feeling, with two men going over the plan for a bank robbery. The robbery goes on, some unneeded blood was shed, and the robbers escape with a few hostages for good measure. Their plan, for some reason, involves roaming around an abandoned tunnel system where (here’s when things get fun) they come across the Trackman.

The origin of the “monster” is done through about two lines of dialogue and something about Chernobyl, but is vague and pretty borders on being convoluted. The great thing about the Trackman is that he had just about all of the elements that made Jason Voorhees so scary for decades: covered face, skulky, had the ability to appear and disappear when needed, wielded a pretty big weapon, and even had a memorable rattle (replacing the Ch-Ch-Ch-Ka-Ka-Ka with some pretty heavy footsteps). The twist in the end of the film, however, negates all of this as we learn that the monster may not be all that monstrous.

The gore is done on a pretty low budget for the film. The big shtick that the Trackman has is a makeshift eye-scooper that he uses to rip out the eyes of his victims and keep. The act of scooping is done all off camera with screams, and even the more gory slasher-type kills are done off camera. A bit of a rip off for the fans of the genre who remember the days of Jason hacking away pieces of campers.

While the film does have its flaws, it makes up for it by bottling what we all loved about the slasher films of the 80s. There are some great moments of suspense and horror, and there may even be room for a return of the Trackman, provided they can find another reason to go into an abandoned Russian mining tunnel.

Overall Rating: 6/10

Scare Factor: 4/5

Horror Review: ‘The Substitute’

substitute boxSynopsis:

The sixth grade students of a small town begin to realize that their new substitute teacher is an alien. When the parents don’t believe them, they are forced to take matters into their own hands. It is later revealed that the alien’s goal is to understand Earth’s concept of love and destroy the planet, because her planet knows only of war.


It’s funny how many one-word horror titles are out there and have the ability to sound so ominous. “[[[The Substitute]]]” has been used a good amount of times to intimidate, if you count the 1996 thriller starring Tom Berenger about a militant sub who straightens out an urban high school(which spawned two sequels), or Martin Donovan’s 1993 TV movie about a substitute teacher with a dark past, or even the sequel to 1990’s Class of 1999, in which a robotic substitute assassinates a group of punks. This film, produced in 2007, certainly attempts to live up to it’s name, but sadly falls short with some poor acting and a confusing plot.

The film hails from Denmark, which means you have the choice of watching the DVD in it’s original language with subtitles (which is horrible for genres like comedy and horror which rely on timing), or you can watch the film with the English dubbing, which due to the cartoonish voices for the children, will make you laugh more than intended. While most of the actors in the film are children, the responsibility to hold things together is on the shoulders of veteran Danish actress Paprika Steen. She may be a big deal over in Denmark, but her overacting as the alien substitute with a hunger for live chickens is outlandish at best.

alien handsWith a plot synopsis reading “an alien takes over a sixth grade class”, there aren’t many places you can go that won’t deliver as obtuse or puerile, but this film manages to go in the opposite direction and take the “confusing and pretentious” path. The end of the film consists of the substitute teacher taking the students on a field trip to her point of origin with plans on doing something malevolent. The first time they arrive, the children plan an escape and almost get away, if it wasn’t for time rewinding twelve hours and nobody remembering anything. They then go for “ending #2” and fight the alien. The rewind ending made no sense and left me trying to figure out what had happened, rather than watching the ending, which was subpar as well.

The special effects are done pretty well in parts, which is good because it’s hard to sell an alien horror film with a weak budget unless your last name is Wood and you’re BFF’s with Bela Legousi. There are a few moments where the computer graphics look a bit wonky, but overall, there was no problem in believing that this substitute was just an alien with a tendency to overact.

With the script by Ole Bornedal, the same guy who brought us a great concept like [[[Nightwatch]]] and let it fall into confusion and obscurity, it only makes sense that a great concept like this film can fall apart inside of the first half hour. The overall moral towards the end was supposed to be that “love conquers war”, but really, didn’t we already know that? It doesn’t take a chicken-eating Danish cougar to explain it to us through a bunch of sixth graders.

Overall Rating: 3/10

Scare Factor: 3/5

Horror Review: No Man’s Land – Rise of The Reeker

Horror Review: No Man’s Land – Rise of The Reeker


In this sequel to 2005’s [[[Reeker]]], a sheriff and his son try to apprehend bank robbers on their way to Mexico only to find that they are being stalked by a far more deadly enemy – the fire-wielding Grim Reaper known as The Reeker. Things start to get weird when the group—both good guys and bad—realize that they may not be on this plane of existence anymore, let alone the rest stop in Nevada.


Ever since [[[LOST]]] hit the airwaves, writers of both television and film have tried to capture the essence of an ensemble cast brought together, seemingly for a reason, to fight some big mysterious element. It’s a disorienting concept, meant to confuse and fool you, but in the end, it all comes across as a bit trite. [[[No Man’s Land]]] walks that line but is able to fall back on the idea of not taking itself as serious as a story like LOST.

Taking place after the 2005 film Reeker, a group of strangers try to survive after being trapped in a travel hotel in the desert and strange things seem to happen, like a creature with a flamethrower chasing them. While this is a sequel, it isn’t necessary to be caught up on the first film in order to enjoy this one. The background of this film’s characters are explained in the beginning of the film, keeping this story pretty self-contained. If you had seen the former, the ending may come across as a bit predictable, seeing as how it is almost the same movie.

The special effects in the film are pretty impressive, seeing as how they are meant to give the feeling of complete confusion and intensity, such as a disembodied pair of legs running away, or a bird on fire flying though the air. Of course, the antagonist running around with a flame thrower added a nice touch, (and even a bit scary, too), and there is certainly plenty of blood and feces in the film for you to squirm in your seat.

Obviously, the story doesn’t take itself too seriously, given the fire-wielding baddie and the fact that since they are in purgatory, nobody can really die (this explains the torso-less legs running around in the film). There are some fun campy moments from the sassy casino robbers, and even a fight scene with a resurrected fried chicken (yup!)

Overall, film did have it’s dragging moments in the story, but the twist ending made it all a bit worth it, leaving us clues strategically placed throughout the film. Fans of mysteries and horror will enjoy this, if they enjoyed the twists and turns of any given Saw film.

Overall Rating 6/10

Scare Rating: 4/5

Horror Review: [[[Dance of the Dead]]]

Horror Review: [[[Dance of the Dead]]]

dance-boxDance of the Dead Synopsis

On the night of the big high school prom, the dead rise to eat the living, and the only people who can stop them are the losers who couldn’t get dates to the dance. Filled with a plethora of high school stereotypes, the group takes on a town for of brain hungry zombies and vow to save what’s left of the town from the adjacent power plant that seems to be the cause of the recent resurrections.


Those in the mood for a great zombie flick should pick this one up. Other critics have been quoted saying this film “makes [[[Carrie]]] look like [[[Pretty in Pink]]]”, though if you were to truly classify it, it’s much more like [[[Shaun of the Dead]]] meets [[[Breakfast Club]]]. Any fan of film who has seen dozens upon dozens of zombie movies knows the feeling of “how much ass they would kick if zombies were real”. Well, this movie does it for you, bringing out the Sci-Fi nerd in all of us as a group of high school freaks and geeks take on a town full of zombies.

The group is filled with just about everybody you would need in a zombie uprising: the Jackass-style bad boy, the heroic yet sassy wiseass, the ditzy cheerleader, the know-it-all class president, the stoner rock band, the militant gym teacher, and of course the pack of nerds. Each member has their fifteen minutes as a hero, and then dies off or becomes second banana to the main love story between the wiseass and the class president. That’s right: the zombie comedy has a romantic twist, and you’ll enjoy it.

The actors in the film do a pretty good job of playing the high school outcasts. Though there are a few “[[[90210]]] moments” where a few supposed teens look to be in their late twenties or early thirties rather than high school ages, but they all play their parts well. There were a few moments when the wiseass of the group was doing his schtick, and didn’t come across as very funny, but he was the hero, so we let it slide. The hardest thing is trying not to think of the preexisting characters that a few of the nerds are trying to portray. One actor feels like he watched [[[Napoleon Dynamite]]] a few dozen times before squeezing into his role, and it only distracts from the zombie kickassery.

dance-promoThough the movie takes itself about as serious as anything produced by Troma in the last 30 years, there is a bit of story inconsistency throughout the film. Strictly looking at this like a zombie movie, the fact that certain zombies are the infamously slow-moving Romero creatures, while others are literally jumping from the grave and chasing down teens is a bit hard to swallow. At least in Shaun, all zombies were lurching monsters, which they used to their advantage. Outside of this, the movie is loads of fun to enjoy.

The camp factor is just off the charts for this film, which, thankfully, is what they were going for. Fans of the genre get everything from zombies driving cars, to a zombie sex scene, and even the ever loved line “BRAAINS!” Of course, the most important rule taken from the film is that zombies are intoxicated by rock music. That’s right, next time you are plagued by zombies, just throw on some Zeppelin and you can waltz right out of danger. This film has got “cult classic” written on it from the get-go. This is the kind of movie that friends in a dorm room will gather around and enjoy years from now, which could be a good or a bad thing.

The special effects are on the better side of most other flicks in the genre. There’s lots of ripped flesh, and some nice effects with eyes going cloudy. Probably the most expensive scene is in a graveyard when the undead literally leap out of the graves. This was pretty well done, and the movie as a whole doesn’t skimp on any of the effects or attempt things that are outside of the budget.

This movie is certainly worth a watch, and probably worth buying if you are a fan of the genre. I expect good things to come out of this team after this, and if the end of the film is any indicator, that could be very possible. You may not be scared more than once or twice, but you will laugh out loud in the times you didn’t.

Scare Factor: 3/5

Overall Rating: 8/10

Horror Review: Dark Floors


A father, concerned for his autistic daughter’s health, sees her immediate removal from the hospital as her only option. An elevator break-down prevents a smooth exit and renders them trapped with others. This is only the beginning of their descent into hell. When the doors finally open, the hospital appears mysteriously deserted. As mutilated bodies are found, creatures from a dark world start a frightening attack. It soon becomes clear that the survival of the group may rest solely on the little girl.


The one thing that needs to be known before watching [[[Dark Floors]]] is that this film is primarily a showcase for the Finnish metal band Lordi. Those unfamiliar with the band should consider them like Rob Zombie meets [[[GWAR]]]. The international subtitle for the film is even “[[[The Lordi Motion Picture]]]”. The band, along with the leader Mr. Lordi, came up with the idea for the film, and star as all of the “monsters” in the film (in quotes because if you see a picture of the band, you know that this is what they normally look like, professional makeup and all). The members of the band are essentially playing themselves in the film. This film is to the members of Lordi like Moonwalker is to Michael Jackson, without anybody turning into a car. Sadly, this is probably the coolest part of the film. The plot takes itself a little too seriously, and with a weak and confusing resolution at the end, it really should have just been about the band members.

The effects are pretty well done, and just about on-par with a music video, which makes sense, seeing as how the director has also directed all of Lordi’s videos. The film is currently the most expensive movie made in Finland, weighing in at 300,000 Euros (which is about $390k). The monster makeup is great, but if you ever seen images of the band itself, this is pretty much how they look 24/7. Not knowing that the film is about the band makes for a confusing ride. You’ll find yourself asking why the monster has a goatee and dressed like Meatloaf circa 1984.

Being written by a Finnish metal band and directed by a Finnish director makes it pretty hard to take place in the United States. The leads of Noah Huntley ([[[28 Days Later]) and Dominique McElligott are both from the UK and they begin to lose their American accent about halfway through the film. The brooding band members do a great job brooding and Skye Bennett does a great job as the precognitive-but-creepy little girl, Sarah.

lordiThe fact that the film takes itself serious while the primary antagonists are members of a metal band should show how campy the movie is overall. If you are in on the joke of this film, it can be pretty funny, like “Hey look, the guitarist is chasing that lady down a hallway, he must be terrible!”. So beware: if you watch this film without that knowledge, you may fall into the trap of taking it too seriously.

Overall, the film looks gorgeous and will keep you entertained with a “time loop” plot twist. Though the main plot comes off as a little pretentious, the fact is that this is essentially from the mind of a Finnish metal band about the characters they portray, so you’ll be scared as much as you’d laugh if it where the Hall & Oats chasing you around an abandoned hospital.

Scare Factor: 3/4

Overall Rating: 6/10

Yo Gabba Gabba! Coming to the Big Screen

gabba gabbaIt looks like those, like myself, in love with the children’s show Yo Gabba Gabba! will be enjoying your favorite monsters on the big screen. According to producer Charles Rivkin, there is currently a confirmed plan for a feature film. Seeing as how Pee Wee’s Playhouse can stem three films, there’s no reason why a bunch of monsters and a robot can’t.

For those who have yet to experience then madness which is Yo Gabba Gabba, a children’s show on Nickelodeon airing in the time that people over 20 probably aren’t watching television, let me explain. Imagine Sesame Street meets Electric Company meets Pee Wee’s Playhouse but done by pop culture nerds and filled with bizarre celebrity cameos. The show is about DJ Lance Rock, a man in a bright orange jumpsuit with a boom box full of action figures that come to life. Each of these action figures are colorful monsters (and a robot) with the intellect of toddlers who learn a lesson or two throughout each episode.

If you are thinking to yourself "Why would I care about a kid’s show?" Well, its not just a show for kids, folks. Right off the bat with the name; it’s taken from the Ramone’s chant "Gabba Gabba Hey", which itself pays tribute to the 1932 film Freaks. The show is produced and created by lead singer of The Aquabats Christian Jacobs and his partner Scott Schultz. The show also has some pretty mind-blowing cameos for a children’s show. Hosting the segment "Mark’s Magic Pictures" is Mark Mothersbaugh from Devo, while Biz Markie stops by for the "Beat Box of the Day". Season one had some impressive cameos as well from Tony Hawk, to The Shins, to Elijah Wood and kicking off season two, other names like Jack Black, Amy Sedaris and 30 Rock‘s Jack McBrayer are scheduled to make an appearance. Catch or DVR the show weekdays at 11:30am EST on Nickelodeon.

Ghost House Underground Reviews

ghost houseIn the coming days leading up to Halloween, we will be reviewing each film collected in Lionsgate’s Ghost House Underground Collection. In the set are eight films hand picked by "Horror Kings" Sam Raimi and Robert Tapert who have produced films such as The Grudge, Evil Dead, and 30 Days of Night.

Each of the films encompasses a different aspect of the Horror genre, from zombies on down. The first film; No Man’s Land: Rise of the Reeker deals with a group of people trapped in a deserted rest stop who are hunted by a Grim Reaper-looking figure. In Dance of the Dead, a group of teens are the only ones left when their town is infested by zombies…on prom night! Dark Floors revolves around the balance of dark and light and some pretty gruesome monsters who terrorize people in a hospital. Brootherhood of Blood takes place in a world where vampires and humans are at war, while two come together to fight a darker evil. The Substitute is about a malicious alien that terrorizes a bunch of sixth graders. Trackman is about a group of bank robbers on the run get grabbed and tortured by a madman. Room 205 revolves around an apartment haunted by a ghost with unfinished business. Finally, Last House in the Woods is a Blair Witch type film about a group of cannibals picking off unsuspecting campers in the middle of nowhere. Each day, we will be bringing you reviews on each of these great movies, leading us up to the biggest day of the year for watching horror movies: Halloween!

Because we can’t rate these movies like we would Spider-Man 3, we are issuing a special criteria in rating each film. Each of the movies will be rated in Acting, Plot, Special Effects, and Campiness. Now, seeing as how campiness usually draws a negative connotation, understand that in the horror genre, a film that doesn’t take itself too seriously can make it a cult classic, just look at the Evil Dead series.

Normally, our rating system at ComicMix is numerical out of 10 for the film overall. Here, because we are rating horror movies, we will be giving each film an overall rating, as well as a Scare Factor, on a scale of one to five; just how scary the movie is, and those fans of the genre out there know that this could be a deal breaker for for most horror films.

Interview with Robert Tapert

ghost-dvdI recently got a chance to sit down and chat with legendary producer Robert Tapert, who you know best as Sam Raimi’s better half working with him on things like Hercules,  Xena, Evil Dead, and even producing some great horror films to hit theaters in the past few years such as The Grudge and 30 Days of Night. I talked to Rob about some of his newer projects, including The Ghost House Underground Collection, a collection of eght horror films hand picked by Tapert and Raimi, which we will be reviewing here in the coming weeks. We also chatted about his newest TV project,  Legend of the Seeker, and even a possibility of an Evil Dead remake.

ComicMix: The Ghost House Underground Collection recently was released on DVD and they are slated as being "hand selected by Rob Tapert and Sam Raimi". Is that true?

Robert Tapert: Sam and I picked the bulk of them. we are partnered with two other guys [Barry Brooker and Stan Wertlieb] who come from a long line of building DVD libraries. There was some guidance that was needed so that we didn’t pick all foreign flicks and had a wide enough variety to make the collection worth while. Overall, though, most of our picks made it into the final box set.

CMix: Were any of the eight films in the box set produced by your and Raimi’s production company, Ghost House Pictures?

RT: When we created GHP, [Sam and I] would be approached by dozens of directors and agents and young filmmakers who wanted to be hired. After a while we would follow up with them and hear terrible stories about how they got ripped off and lost tons of money through distribution. Then a little over a year ago, Barry and Stan came to us and told us that there is a business to be built in creating a Ghost House Underground consumer brand for direct-to-DVD movies. [Sam and I] were worried about becoming just another distributor who wouldn’t help these young filmmakers, but Barry and Stan said "as long as you pay the filmmakers what their due — wouldn’t you have been happy being payed what you were due when working on Evil Dead?" We agreed and have been happy with the outcome thus far. These films, and probably for the next incarnation are pre-existing films that are sent to us or we’ve at festivals or thousands of other ways.


Warner Bros. Releases Complete Flintstones Box Set

flintstonesThose of you who are like me and impatient when it comes to the World of DVD’s knows what it’s like to buy each season of a TV show on DVD and then miss out on a glorious looking box set with better extras and a shinier box for your collection. Well, out next week is definitely one box set you won’t want to miss, as Warner Home Video is realasing The Complete Flintstones Series on DVD. The set will include all 166 episodes from six seasons (1960-66) on a whopping 24 DVD set in a cool looking "stone age" style box. No word on whether the box will include any of the films such as A Man Called Flintstone, but you can still hold your inner child over with hours of bonus footage never before seen on DVD.

Here you can check out a clip from one of the extras where the original writers and animators of the beloved series discuss how The youngest Rubble, Bam-Bam came to be and how the voice talent created the characters we know and love to this day. 


You can finally get your Yabba-Dabba-Doo on with the box set on October 28.

Hulk Smash RiffTrax! For Free!!

hulkRemember sitting through any particularly bad episode of The Incredible Hulk and thought to yourself, "Boy, this would be great for Mystery Science Theater!"? Well, look no further because Mike Nelson and his band of riffers from have decided to take on the very first episode of season one entitled "Final Round".

RiffTrax, for those not in the know, is a website where you can buy MP3’s of the cast of Mystery Science Theater 3000 (Mike Nelson, Bill Corbett, and Kevin Murphy) doing what they do best for movies that deserve it. After purchasing the Riff MP3, you then synch it up to the movie you purchased, like a makeshift commentary. With a selection ranging from Plan 9 From Outer Space to Ben Affleck’s Daredevil, you can purchase each "podcast" and watch it along with your DVD in the comfort of your own home. In a new deal, Rifftrax has partnered up with Overcast Media who will pre-synch the RiffTrax onto content posted for free by This episode of Hulk is being offered for free as a Beta test and those who check it out are asked to give their feedback on how the service worked.

In the episode, Bruce Banner, going under the name David Benson (ugh) gets saved from muggers by local boxer "Rocky" (no relation) . Later Banner becomes Rocky’s friend and corner-man and uncovers a plot by Rocky’s manager for him to mule drugs. Not only do we get Martin Kove playing "Rocky", who is best remembered as the instructor who told Johnny to "sweep the leg" in Karate Kid, but we also get Ferrigno in green jumping in the ring to beat on the baddies!

Enjoy the full episode with RiffTrax commentary here.