Review: The Blackwell Ghost

The Blackwell Ghost ReviewWith shows I used to love like Ghost Adventures and Ghost Hunters fading from popularity among viewers due to obvious stunts or just the cheese factor, it was a bit refreshing to see a film like The Blackwell Ghost show up on my recommended feed.  At first glance, I thought this would be a film along the lines of Grave Encounters or other movies of the genre that try to emulate the feeling of watching a “true” documentary ghost show gone wrong.  In fact, I was sure that’s what it was, even after performing some light research before spending 3 dollars on the Amazon rental.  I mean, no one is making real documentaries about ghosts!  This couldn’t be the ONE true documentary where the shit hits the fan and it’s all caught on film……right?

I won’t go into too much detail on the plot since this documentary (which is what I will continue to call it) only clocks in at a tight 59 minutes.  This is a story about an average Joe who just really wants to find proof that ghosts or an afterlife exist.  The protagonist meets a man who claims to live in a haunted house in suburbia Pennsylvania.  The protagonist and his wife are invited to stay a few days to investigate, and that is our setup. This is a dude, with a normal wife, with normal equipment.  There are no gimmicky heat sensors or voice boxes used here folks.  This documentary takes ghost hunting back to its roots with a few handheld cameras, night vision effects, and nothing else.  Think Paranormal Activity (the good one), but you just never really know if the whole thing is a farce or not.

This is a documentary about a normal dude, with a normal wife, with normal equipment.  There are no gimmicky heat sensors or voice boxes used here folks.  This documentary takes ghost hunting back to its roots with a few handheld cameras, night vision effects, and nothing else.  Think Paranormal Activity (the good one), but you just never really know if the whole thing is a farce or not.

In the beginning, I just thought the main character was a doofus and played it up too normal to be believed.  But then, the documentary uses actual examples of “ghosts on film” that have gone viral over the years and sucks the viewer into this world of mystery and, believe it or not, hope, that this other world exists.  I’ll post one of the examples used in the documentary that we all probably know as enthusiasts of the paranormal.

Like I said, this documentary only has a runtime of 59 minutes, so I will not get into the details but head straight into my final thoughts.  If you are remotely interested in the subject matter of ghost hunting, do yourself a favor and rent this movie today.  It has laughs, genuine moments of fear, excellent lore, and the end of it all is truly nail biting without being over the top.  This is a VERY believable movie.

The funny part is, I have been having a hard time trying to find out further information that would lead to my knowing whether it is fact or fiction.  Honestly, I’m okay with either way and have opted to stop digging.  This was a very fun time and even watching it during the day, I was extremely uneasy.

Funny personal note:  After the documentary ended, there was a crash in one of the back rooms of our house.  Being the tough man that I am, I looked at my wife and told her to look. This movie got to me, and that is why I highly recommend it.

This is not a jump scare movie, nor one with a big budget at all.  It is a very simple haunted house documentary that achieves its goal of telling a great story and scaring the pants off of viewers.

Take out your three bucks and put it towards The Blackwell Ghost.  You won’t regret it.

Blood Drive Episode Recap: Welcome to Pixie Swallow

Pixie Swallows, AZ…where the Corn Dogs are cut fresh.
Photo credit: Syfy

Last week was the bloody and brilliant premiere of Syfy’s latest television series “Blood Drive.”  Metroplague was thrilled to be introduced to gritty yet fun characters like Grace D’Argento, The Gentleman, Julian Slink, and The Scholar.  Other main characters like Arthur Bailey and Christopher Carson (Thomas Dominique) fell a bit short on the excitement scale; but luckily for Syfy, boring characters are in short supply in the world of “Blood Drive.”

Episode two, “Welcome to Pixie Swallow” opens up with the introduction of customers enjoying their meals at the hoppin’ Arizona food joint, Pixie Swallow Diner; a restaurant connected to the local motel.  An upbeat, attractive, blonde waitress is shown serving meat dishes, flirting with customers, and making out with the janitor before stepping into the diner’s backroom kitchen where the audience sees the chef, her father, grinding a human leg into a meat grinder (Not a spoiler, this was in the episode preview on the network).  It is now clear that viewers are in for the cannibal content that can only be enjoyed in a Grindhouse production setting.

After the credits, it is discovered that the competitors of the annual Blood Drive have deemed Pixie Swallow as the latest stopping point to “refuel,” relax and imbibe for the night.  With this introduction to the episode’s setting, our protagonists, Arthur and Grace step in for a bite to eat.  Arthur is still intent on exposing Heart Industries after finding out they are pulling the strings behind not only the Blood Drive but society itself.  Grace is still intent on winning the race prize money to help her sister Karma, who the audience still knows little about.  Despite their risque achievement during the “climax” of episode one, both characters are still at opposite ends of the moral spectrum.  Without any spoilers, very quickly madness and cannibalistic violence ensue, and our “heroes” are forced to step up and save another member of the Blood Drive after the family of cannibals has tampered with their vehicle.

This episode also included two subplots; one involving Julian Slink, the other, centers on the fate of Chris Carson, who was captured by a secret society at the end of episode one.  Both of these stories were among the weakest portions of the episode when there really could have been more focus on the Blood Drive competitors war with the cannibal clan.

Julian Slink, at your service, for better or worse.
Photo Credit: Syfy

Carson’s plot point was completely unnecessary and trivial, coming off as an attempt at the show’s creators to make a dull character more interesting.  Unless Carson’s misadventures in the secret lair of the baddies lead to a major turning point, it may have been better to just off the character in the previous episode.

Slink’s solo venture in the plot makes sense since he technically broke the rules and allowed Grace and Arthur to live after their loss during the first leg of the Blood Drive.  The meat of Slink’s portion of the episode involves him in Heart Industries waiting room where audiences get a comedic glimpse at the depths of depravity this character is willing to go in order to get his way.

The Good:

Chef Carl grinding up the latest Filet…
Photo Credit: Syfy

The entire portion of the episode involving Pixie Swallow and the inhabitants of the diner was highly entertaining and gave viewers the violent spectacle that was expected after the pilot episode.  There was also quite a bit of body humor (pun intended) that just worked for the plot and made a tense situation for the protagonists a good time.

The latter half of Slink’s storyline was also filled with dark humor and violence but unfortunately, the action came a little too late, but not by any fault of this sections plot.

One of the shining characters on the show is Grace D’Argento, played so slickly by Christina Ochoa.  In each scene she is in, Ochoa brings a presence that fans of Grindhouse cinema will clamor for in hopes for more.  With each one liner, innuendo, or kick-ass fight scene, Ochoa proves she was born for the genre.

The Bad:

While the pilot episode shined with a look that went beyond the average Syfy production, something about the camera quality and direction seemed different and off this episode.   It wasn’t terrible production quality, but it was obvious that more money was spent on the pilot episode than “Welcome to Pixie Swallow.”  Hopefully, this was just an episodic fluke and audiences will have the slick look of the pilot episode back in no time.

Another area that hurt the show every now and then was Arthur’s dialogue.  Yes, Grindhouse dialogue is meant to be cheesy, but it wasn’t the cheese that smelled bad, it was Ritchson’s delivery of his serious lines.

While this episode overall had quite a few low points, these bad marks should not be enough to bring the Blood Drive to a screeching halt.  Sure the transmission of the show stumbled a bit this episode, but audiences were promised a deeper look into Grace’s interesting past in episode three.

Look out for weekly recaps and thoughts from Metroplague as “Blood Drive” plays out its first season.  Be sure to catch the show on Syfy Wednesday nights at 10 PM EST/9 PM CST or on Syfy.com.

Blood Drive Episode Recap: The F…ing Cop

Syfy has not been known to produce anything remotely close to top-quality when it comes to their original productions, and frankly, that’s fine.  It’s Syfy for crying out loud, the television channel that spawned production companies like The Asylum.  However, with their latest venture into shock value entertainment, Blood Drive, they may just have a gem on their hands.  With a title that promises violence, Syfy delivers the blood in bulk, and that is not the only good thing to say about this production.

Metroplague is proud to cover recaps of this show for its dear readers without spoiling any of the gory details.  So, for the first episode, titled The F…ing Cop, here is a brief rundown of the story.

The setting for Blood Drive is a dystopian 1999.  Seemingly most of humanity has gone to hell in a handbasket and even the cops perform their duties with an air of bloodlust.  Enter Arthur (Alan Ritchson), the “last good cop in Los Angeles,” who stumbles upon the opening ceremonies of the nastiest race in the nation, Blood Drive.

One scene leads to another and Arthur is forced against his will to participate in the race with his equally unwilling partner, badass, sailor-mouthed, Grace D’Argento (Christina Ochoa).  The two must now race to the finish of the competition, where human body parts are used for fuel, and one of the main rules is “do what you like to the competition, just don’t purposely kill them.”

The inaugural episode finds our two protagonists on their first race from Los Angeles to Arizona.  On the way, Arthur and Grace share some witty banter that is placed just to show Arthur is the “good guy” and Grace is our anti-hero that we are all going to root for.  The two characters cross paths with fellow competition, “The Gentleman” and “The Scholar,” cheesy dialogue and more insanity ensue, with a climax that really pushes this show to an extreme that most audiences may see coming but still be surprised about.

Christina Ochoa, playing the mysterious lead, Grace D’Argento.
Photo Credit: Collider
The Good: For a Syfy produced show, it is obvious that some care was put into the production value of Blood Drive.  This show looks, for the most part, like a movie of the Grindhouse genre that it is striving to fall under.  With over-the-top characters that have names like “Slink,” and “Fat Elvis,” Blood Drive really blends into the genre with ease.

The special effects are also top notch, and audiences will find themselves wincing with gross-out pleasure throughout.

Grace and Slink (the ringleader played devilishly by Colin Cunningham), are two characters that are sure to be developed in some interesting ways as the show drives along.

The Bad:  At first glance of the synopsis, Blood Drive really seems like The Asylum’s version of Death Race 2000 or its more modern re-boots.  From the racing theme in general to some of the devices used to keep racers in line with the rules, the similarities could throw some people out of the show’s overall originality, and turn them off completely.

This is meant to be a Grindhouse show, but some of the acting from the supporting characters, one of which is sure to be recurring, was just flat-out bad.  Fortunately, the showrunners were intelligent enough to keep these poorly acted pieces to a minimum, taking up 5-7 minutes of the hour-long spectacle.

Just fueling up!
Photo Credit: Yahoo
The Ugly: Okay, this is it, let’s talk violence and language.  The lengths that Syfy is able to go with both areas in Blood Drive are astounding.  This show really straddles the line between standard cable and premium pay channel content.  In the first episode alone, 7 F-bombs were dropped, multiple faces were mutilated, and there were no less than 4 sexual situations.  This show is definitely not one to watch with the kids, and viewers really ought to know what they are getting into before jumping into the passenger seat of this show.  Sex, Blood, and Rock n’ Roll are what Blood Drive is all about, and if Grindhouse entertainment is what viewers are scrambling for, the first episode delivers in bulk.

Look out for weekly recaps and thoughts as Blood Drive plays out its first season.  Be sure to catch the show on Syfy Wednesday nights at 10 PM EST/9 PM CST.

This Ain’t Your Childhood Mummy Movie

 

Photo Credit: Universal Pictures
Metroplague was lucky enough to catch a late night advanced screening of Universal’s “first” foray into their Dark Universe, The Mummy.  Going into this movie we had seen critics and other fans alike jump all over this movie like a plague of locusts.  Based on the buzz, we thought it was going to be bad and went in with the lowest expectations possible for the latest reimagining of the classic story.   Continue reading “This Ain’t Your Childhood Mummy Movie”

Help Us Shape the Future of Metroplague

I want YOU to make US better!

Since we started Metroplague a mere two weeks ago, it has already been a whirlwind of a journey with SO much support from the Goth and arts communities on a local, national and international level.  We have now simply become Metroplague.com and have several new topics coming your way.  Continue reading “Help Us Shape the Future of Metroplague”

Review: Is Raw Best Served Tartare, or Does it Require a Little More Sizzle?

The 2016 film Raw got some major headlines as it chewed its way through film festival screenings worldwide.  From theaters providing “Barf Bags” to viewers needing ambulatory assistance during the film, there was a lot of hype behind Raw that hadn’t been seen in a proper Horror film since the days of Hitchcock. Continue reading “Review: Is Raw Best Served Tartare, or Does it Require a Little More Sizzle?”

Kayako Vs. Sadako is a “Ringer” that Doesn’t Leave Viewers with a “Grudge”

To say that Sadako Vs. Kayako (The Ring Vs. The Grudge) is something that J-Horror fans will be pulling their hair out for out of glee is simply put, a mother lovin’ understatement.

It’s never good to hold a grudge…

The 2016 film, directed by Koji Shirairshi brings Sadako and Kayako, our favorite long-haired spirits against each other in the now unavoidable “Vs.” trend in films that stems from the cult favorite Freddy Vs. Jason.  The plot is about Continue reading “Kayako Vs. Sadako is a “Ringer” that Doesn’t Leave Viewers with a “Grudge””