Category Archives: Movie reviews

MARVELOUS MANDY – a movie review

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MARVELOUS MANDY
http://www.imdb.com/title/tt5323092/

Watch the trailer here.

Marvelous Mandy –
You Can’t Unlove Her!

marvelous-mandy-dvdI first met Director Chase Dudley on a SECRETS AND SINS film set in Louisville, KY where I was playing one of the party guests.  Although Chase was not directing that set (SECRETS AND SINS),  I became interested in a 2017 project he was doing called PAYDAY and noticed that he was also in the process of releasing MARVELOUS MANDY.  Once the MANDY trailer came out, I knew I had to watch it.

MARVELOUS MANDY is a story about a single father – Harvey Fowler (Jonathan Stottmann) and his quest to find love with a deranged psychopath claiming to be Mandy Simpkins (Paula Marcenaro Solinger), author of the Marvelous Mandy children’s book series.

Harvey has self-esteem issues from being a single dad and a failing stand-up comic, and is desperately seeking a mommy for his daughter Clementine (Kenna Hardin). Clementine is having problems in school but finds solace in the Marvelous Mandy stories.  She asks Daddy to find a Marvelous Mandy book for her. Hoping to cheer her up, he looks for the books everywhere but is having trouble finding them because they are out of print.  This eventually leads him to a bookstore where he surprisingly discovers the series author works there.

Excited that a customer is interested in the Mandy books, a bizarre chemistry begins to form between Mandy and Harvey.  Unfortunately, since Harvey is so desperate, he initially overlooks that Mandy might just be too good to be true.  As Mandy’s life begins to come apart, Harvey begins to realize that he might be in over his head…and that he could be in a situation that is impossible to escape.

MARVELOUS MANDY is a low-budget horror film that had solid directing and great writing behind it, and Paula Marcenaro Solinger’s portrayal of Mandy is spot on and eerily disturbing.  This is an intelligent horror flick.  Keep in mind that the lower budget means that some of the camera work and lighting might not be ‘Hollywood standards’, but it is still a movie you will want to watch. MARVELOUS MANDY keeps you glued to the end to see just who will make it.

Pick up a copy of MARVELOUS MANDY from Legless Corpse Films.  You will be supporting indie horror while rewarding yourself with a very interesting and entertaining movie to watch.

Highly recommended. – GARY LEE VINCENT

 

 

 

 

 

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STUCK ON NEAL (aka BENT OVER NEAL) – a movie review

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STUCK ON NEAL
http://www.imdb.com/title/tt5509522

I was first introduced to the work of Faustus McGreeves and Aaron Gum via their production of the horror film ENDOR. Being genuinely impressed with the quality and talent coming from this Omaha-based team, I was interested in seeing other films that the team may have produced.

I learned that ENDOR was the team’s second feature film.  Their first was an ultra-low budget romantic comedy called STUCK ON NEAL.  Genuinely interested in seeing what could possibly be made on pretty much talent alone, I requested a screener of the film, as it is only now being toured in the Midwest as I write this.

So, let’s get to the review…

**WARNING–THIS REVIEW CONTAINS SPOILERS**

STUCK ON NEAL is a story about friendship at its core and how sometimes we love our friends in a way that surprises us, especially if we lose them suddenly.  No, this is not a story about a friend dying but about going through a midlife crisis and rethinking one’s identity and place in life.

The film centers around Rob (played by Faustus McGreeves) and Neal (played by Darrick Silkman), two old pals (not really ‘old’, but thirty-something friends) who knew each other for years.  We learn that Rob is married to Neal’s sister Lisa (played by Chelsea Wagoner) and that Neal is a lonely single guy stuck in a rut.  Neal and Lisa also recently lost their father to cancer, making things hard for both of them.

One of Rob and Neal’s annual rituals is to go camping.  This is their 17th year doing the trip.  During this outing, Neal reveals that he wonders if he might be gay because of how much trouble he has meeting the right woman.  Rob tries to reassure him that he isn’t but Neal presses Rob to ‘experiment’ and try kissing a guy.  Since the two are out in the woods, Rob agrees to Neal’s experiment and the two kiss.

Neal realizes that was probably a bad idea, but this leaves his buddy Rob confused.

Another thing developed during the camping trip was that Neal wanted to see if Rob could ‘hook him up’ with Lisa’s best friend Ariel (played by Andrea Erickson) to give dating another try.  Rob agrees and that is that.

Neal and Ariel quickly hit it off, and as a consequence, Rob begins to see less and less of his friend.  This affects Rob and has collateral impact on other areas of Rob’s life, like his marriage, his kids and his social routines.

The acting dynamic between Rob and Neal (McGreeves and Silkman) is really good.  Equally acted is how Neal and Ariel (Erikson) work on camera with each other as a boyfriend/girlfriend growing in love and how McGreeves and Lisa (Wagner) reflect their emotions as a married couple dealing with issues.  In other words, strong acting and believable drama.

Rob must go on with his life, but some emotions are destructive, which in turn creates true challenges with the people who love him, and ultimately causes real and serious issues with Neal, but you will have to watch the film to understand how this plays out.

I started this review by classifying the film as a romantic comedy, but it is equal parts drama and great story telling at its core.  I am pleasantly surprised that STUCK ON NEAL took this type of subject matter (friendship love versus real love versus unexamined life issues)  and presented it tastefully and with dignity.  This is a very well made film and considering the very low cost to make, I am genuinely and pleasantly surprised with how well it delivered.  It is well written, well shot and well acted.

If you are a fan of solid stories, independent film and are looking for something a little bit off the beaten path, this film won’t let you down.

Highly recommended. – GARY LEE VINCENT

(Reviewer’s note: the film’s original title was BENT OVER NEAL, but was updated during editing to remove more explicit scenes and appeal to a broader viewing audience. The film I screened was the softer STUCK ON NEAL edition of the film.)


ENDOR is intense! My movie review.

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It has been a while since I posted a review on my blog, but every now and then something comes along to jar me out of my slumber and get to writing. Today, I would like to talk about ENDOR, the 2016 feature film by AG Productions / SkullDuggery Theater Films. Directed by Aaron Gum and Faustus McGreeves.

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt4171892/

I first learned about ENDOR from a crowdfunding campaign on Indiegogo. I always appreciate and support the independent arts, and after reading the project profile, felt deep down that this was a project that needed to happen. In the interest of full disclosure, I sponsored the campaign as an Associate Producer but note that my review is unbiased; if it was bad, I would tell you.  However, ENDOR did not disappoint!

I had the pleasure of working two days on set helping with a night scene at the “Poor House” and being featured as a church member during the opening and closing sequences.

ENDOR is Faustus McGreeves modern adaption of the “Witch of Endor” story from the First Book of Samuel (Chapter 28) in the Holy Bible. The biblical account describes how Saul disobeyed God’s explicit instructions and ultimately was destroyed.

In the movie, “Endor” is the Church of Endor, a God-fearing, Bible-thumping church who firmly believes in the fire and brimstone God of judgment of the Old Testament. We are given a glimpse of one of their services during the start of the film, where the congregation is angry over those not in attendance—the heretics who would rather live in sin and hang out at the local bar than live righteously and go to church. During a feverish sermon by the Reverend of Endor (played by Doug Rothgeb), one of the church members – Owen Matthews (played by Darrick Silkman) – abruptly stands and leaves the service.  We later learn that he was possessed by a spirit of vengeance and that God will use him to exact judgment on all sinners in his path.

Once Owen’s possession is established, the movie follows a young couple – Keira (played by Julia Farrel) and Russ (played by Dustin Smith) – who are on a road trip in Nebraska to visit Russ’ family. The story of their young love is well written and acted.  A good portion of screen time is given to allow the viewer to feel for these characters and even though ENDOR eventually becomes a blood-bath slasher flick that does not let the horror genre down, this character development is a welcome addition to payoff for the viewer.

We learn that Keira used to be a believer in God, but due to a series of personal tragedies, has become an atheist and no longer believes. We don’t completely know if Russ believes or does not, but the fact that he doesn’t get killed right away lends to the possibility that he is redeemable.

During a run of bad luck (as is often the case in horror films), the couple find themselves almost out of gas. After stopping by a closed station, they are forced to look for gas at one of the nearby farms.  While Russ is looking around the barn for a gas can, Keira witnesses the farmer getting killed by Owen in the pasture.

Owen sees Keira and the chase is on!

What could be considered a slow start is quickly remedied from this point forward. We are led on a very elaborate cat and mouse chase that lasts from the afternoon and throughout the night.  Nearly everyone in Owen’s path is killed with the exception of a small few, who may be deduced to be believers based on their behavior and dialogue.

While we eventually realize that God’s chosen target of retribution is Keira, Owen seems to toy with her and Russ, all the while killing off all of the sinners he encounters in a most brutal way. He uses a lot of farm implements to create a blood bath that will have critics talking about the special effects work of Wetworks for years to come.

ENDOR is intense! It does not disappoint.  To prevent spoiling some of the more gratifying scenes in the film, I will not disclose how the film ends or the surprises the couple encounter while hitting the local bar seeking refuge, but I will say… do not miss ENDOR if you are a fan of horror!

I give ENDOR two enthusiastic thumbs up!  FIVE STARS all the way!
GARY LEE VINCENT

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