Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Shivers Down Your Spine - Movie Review - Dead Lantern Pictures

"Shivers Down Your Spine" is the latest feature film from Dead Lantern Pictures. Written and Directed by Mathew Kister, the film is an anthology with nine short stories with a wrap around story.

Shivers Down Your Spine

Out of the Lamp - The film opens with Jeff (Steve Eaton) unexpectedly finding a genie lamp. He proceeds to sit down and rub the lamp, somehow managing to look fairly relaxed at first as purple smoke billows forth. Then a smile appears as he waits with anticipation of things to come. From the lamp emerges... Sabiah (Megan Shepherd), a beautiful semi-nude djinn offering to fulfill the wishes of the mortal. Here's where things take a left turn as Jeff quickly tells her to put on some clothes. Wait... What.. was both the reaction of Sabiah and myself. Much to her surprise, he uses his first wish to have Sabiah make him a pizza. Jeff eventually uses his second wish to task Sabiah to tell him a combination of nine scary and funny stories and then in a comical way, proceeds to break the fourth wall. The story of Jeff and Sabiah is a wrap around piece with scenes appearing between the short stories. 


Megan Shepherd Shivers Down Your Spine
Sabiah the djinn

Deadbolt - Our first story is a cautionary tale about a girl who finds herself home alone and is terrorized by something evil. Set on Halloween, we have Cora (Jenny Chambers) who mentions to her mother (Tina Schmidt), over the phone, that she forgot to buy candy. She manages to appease one child (Genevieve Schmidt) by giving them fortune cookies. Afterward she turns off the porch light to dissuade any other trick-or-treaters. Of course the doorbell rings again. Cora opens the door to find that there is no one there. Shortly after, it happens again. Only this time we see the lock on the door open. Again, no one is there when she opens the door. Later that night things escalate and Cora realizes it's not just someone playing a prank. 

I thought the story was okay and the acting was fair. There were a few nice effects done like the pillow on the sofa. My biggest gripe with this story was that it had some good build up, but the payoff was lacking.  

RATING: 2.5/5 

Convention Girl - The next story finds Justin (Steve Eaton) being woken up by a frantic phone call from his friend, David (T.J. Roe). Justin goes to his friends room where he finds the body of a prostitute (Ali Aguilar) who has been stabbed with a stake. David explains how she got to his room and that she turned out to be a vampire. I won't spoil the ending but let's just say things do not go well. 

The story and acting were okay. There were a couple funny lines. The practical effects looked good. I also wish I knew what was said at the end of the story. That question is referenced in the following wrap around segment, which made me laugh. One other thing I wondered is, when Justin is on the phone with the police, unless I'm mistaken, the only room number he gives did not belong to David. I'm not sure if that was Justin's room number or not. Not that it really matters. It is just something I noticed. 

RATING: 2.5/5

BIRTHDAY DINNER - We open with a couple (Eric Moyer and Michelle Schrage) eating dinner at their daughters birthday party. However, their daughter is not present as she had been bad earlier, as the couple mentions over dinner. After a bit of talking, a terrible secret is revealed. 

This one was pretty short but had a wickedly good ending. I thought the story was going somewhere else, so it was a nice surprise. I found the acting to be pretty good. There is something about the story that took me back to the 80's TV shows, "Tales From the Darkside" and "Monsters". I really did enjoy everything about this film. Cast and crew did a fine job. My only complaint is I wish I was a little bit longer. But maybe that is just me being greedy.


Shivers Down Your Spine

WHISPERING BOARD - In this film, we find three sorority girls trying to communicate with Tiffany's (Julia Farrell) deceased boyfriend, Jerry. Alexis (Jazmyne Van Houten) is adamant that they should not be using the spirit board. Bryce (Chianna) is more willing to help Tiffany try and find some closure. Soon after the trio begins to use the board, we learn that Jerry was having an affair and with who. Things then take a very dark turn. 

I enjoyed this film because it kept you on your toes and had a few surprises in store for viewers. The acting, I thought, was done well. While not able to fully see everything going on in regards to the practical effects, what we did see looked good. 


Taylor Melone Shivers Down Your Spine

I DREAM OF DJINNI - This is a tale revolving around Sabiah from our wrap around story. This film opens with Robert (Jesse Hapke) looking at pictures online, so he can eventually 'get off'. The doorbell rings and we see, Spike (Kevin Casey) from Bareback Mountain Delivery, holding a package. Despite his claim of not ordering anything, Robert accepts the package anyway. John sits down to open the box where he finds a brass lamp. It is only a matter of time before we see the purple smoke come forth and Sabiah (Megan Shepherd) appears. After dispensing with the formalities, Robert starts making his wishes. First he wishes for money, which arrives via a debit card. Next he wishes for his ideal girl (Taylor Melone). Robert gets his wish but she's not exactly what he was expecting. He finally makes his third and final wish and things go south. The lesson here is, be careful what you wish for. 

The basis of the story is something you may have seen before. Someone gets an opportunity to make a wish or wishes, they don't quite word things properly and trouble ensues. However, with what was done with the story, this was a fun film with some funny, twisted and dark moments. The actors did a good job, especially Kevin Casey playing the creepy delivery man. I think a particular sound effect played just ahead of the video, the crunching sound effect near the end, but since I viewed this screener online, it could have been the reason. Otherwise the audio seemed okay.

RATING: 3.5/5

Joanna Kingsbury Shivers Down Your Spine

SHORTLY AFTER NIGHTFALLA noir type thriller finds hitman Josh (Justin Milani), heading to do a job when he stops to pick up a confused looking woman (Joanna Kingsbury) standing along the side of the road. Interesting that it was raining before and after he picks her up, but not during. Lucky gal? Anyway, she asks for his help and says that she just wants to go home. Josh pulls up outside the OxBow Motel and offers to put her up for the night. While he gives her time to think over his offer, he proceeds to get a few items from the trunk of his car. When he finishes, he sees that the woman is no longer in his car. Inside the motel he meets with Dennie (Kevin Casey) who proceeds to hire Josh for a job. Josh goes to room 5 where he finds the woman who says her name is Jennifer. She then gives Josh and us, a glimpse of her past. Let's just say Josh learns that Jennifer is no ordinary woman and the mystery surrounding her is revealed. Josh does resolve the issue at hand and there are brutal consequences. 

A good story with some fine acting as well. This one was a nice surprise! One negative thing was from the flashback in which a character is slapped. Maybe it was me, but it looked as convincing as some punches in a professional wrestling match. But I wouldn't hold that against the film. The black and white look really added to the noir style of the film. From the camera work to the lighting, a really nice job done by all.


A BAD HEART - Jane (Christina Olson), who was stabbed in the heart by The Cupid Killer (Mark Popejoy) on Valentine's Day, decides to get back into the dating game. She meets Peter (Dailen Cowden), a kind young man, who happens to have had a bad heart. It doesn't take long to see where this one is going. 

Even though it is somewhat predictable, I still enjoyed the film. The acting was fine for the most part. I noticed that the volume of the audio fluctuated at times. At one point the dialogue became difficult to hear but what sounded like a knife sharpening, became louder as if the mic had been moved. The practical effects looked good. But there should have been a lot more blood. It does have a humorous ending that viewers should enjoy.


Jazmyne Van Houten Shivers Down Your Spine

LAST BREATH - Here we meet Beth (Jazmyne Van Houten), a young lady who seems to be very depressed and suicidal, who makes a couple of attempts to harm herself. She reads through a journal and looks at photographs, becoming even more upset and her mental state further deteriorates. We then see some flashbacks which attempt to fill in some gaps in the story and show what was really going on in the mind of Beth. Will Griffey also stars, playing Beth's boyfriend Greg. 

I thought the story was interesting, but I just could not get into it. I think this one has that love it or hate it factor. Jazmyne Van Houten did a very good job as Beth. The technical aspects of the film, including the cinematography, lighting and audio were all fine. 


Shivers Down Your Spine

A CHRISTMAS HORROR STORY - A group of teens decorate a theater on Christmas Eve while a crazed killer in a Santa suit roams the streets. The final story, an 80's themed tale that is an homage to EC Comics. After some brief introductions, it doesn't take long before the kids start meeting their demise. This film stars Jazmyne Van Houten (Melissa), Jim Brodhagen (Billy), Dailen Cowden (Steve), Cody McDowell (Kyle), Ted Perez (Jerry), Kerrie Waybright Smith (Lauren) and Dale Schumacher Jr. (Santa)

The story and actors do a great job of making you feel as though you're watching a film from the 80's. The characters look the part with their outfits, which include one looking like he is from "Miami Vice", one wearing and referencing his Members Only jacket and a girl that looks like she stepped out of a workout video. Thankfully the dialogue matches quite well. I love that this short film has a shot on beat-up VHS look. The synth score is a very nice touch as well.  There's a bit of a twist to the end of this one. This was a fun film that made me wish it was feature length. 


IN CONCLUSION: Overall I found "Shivers Down Your Spine" to be a pretty enjoyable anthology. I've seen much worse from large studios and production companies. Everyone involved in the project should feel proud of what they accomplished. I wanted to add that the total running time for the film is a hefty 2 hr 13 min 59 sec. 

Here is a glimpse of what the cast and crew had to work with to get this film made:

The film was shot over the course of 4 years, beginning in the summer of 2011. The budget was a grand total of $750 bucks and all but two of the films were shot in Nebraska. All films were shot in less than 2 days.

Pretty impressive, right?

Here is some info on the Blu-ray and DVD release for the film.

The DVDs and Blu-rays will be available on DeadLantern.com in September (DVD $10 free shipping, Blu-rays $15 free shipping)

DVD/Blu-ray Features include:

  • 90 minute outtake reel
  • 5 audio commentary tracks
  • Bonus short film "Midnight Kiss"
  • "Clean" version of A CHRISTMAS HORROR STORY
  • Production photos
For now you can get more information on their Tumblr page or official site.