March Madness: Beast of the Water

I popped into my local Family Video today to return some movies and browse a bit. I had been there a few times this past week but somehow missed a lone copy of Beast of the Water. I noticed a familiar face on the cover, Tyrus (Impact Wrestling, WWE) and immediately picked it up to read the back. I also noticed that EC3 (NXT, WWE, Impact Wrestling) was in it. I somehow missed the fact that he is also featured on the cover. I don’t know how it had escaped me so many times before and I was wondering how I didn’t know of the movie prior. I did know the movie albeit under its original title Enuatti.

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Beast of the Water is about a small team of researchers, headed by Dr. Grey who are studying an area of Ohio where the Ininkwe, a lost first nation tribe were believed to live. The legends tell of water with interesting properties that may be the fountain of youth. They also warn of a water spirit known as enuatti. Dr. Grey unfortunately loses the funding for his anthropological expedition and is forced to cooperate with AESIV. AESIV is a strange corporation with it’s hands in many aspects of military and civilian enterprise. Dr. Grey and a handful of the corp’s security detail head into the Ohio forests to collect samples but things go FUBAR.

Beast of the Water happens to be directed and written by some of the reality show Face-Off from SyFy’s contestants. Face-Off is a special effects make up competition where participants show off their prowess in effects work. It’s really interesting to see what all they are capable of on the show and this film gives them a chance to showcase their skills not only as SFx artists but as directors and writers as well.

EC3 and Tyrus both play AESIV security in the film. EC3 is Harris the team leader, who is a real piece of work, he is known for accomplishing missions by any and all means necessary. He isn’t the most enjoyable person to work with according to his fellow security member, Bateman, played by Tyrus. Bateman is a much more likable character in the film compared to Harris. The security detail is made up of three other individuals, Torres, Evans, and Febles. Out of those three Torres played by Christina Fuentes was my favorite. Her dynamic with Bateman is well showcased and her and Bateman are much more developed characters than the rest of the security guards.

The researchers who assist Dr. Grey are interesting characters as well but that’s not usually the draw when it comes to a creature feature, which Beast of the Water largely is. The creature effects are well done and so are the rest of the special effects. It’s hard to forgive a film like this when the creature isn’t well done but Beast of the Water doesn’t have to worry about any of that.

EC3 does a fine job portraying Harris, who mostly glares at other characters, and throws his weight around with a cocky attitude. He’s perfect at this as is evidenced by his work in Impact Wrestling and now WWE. He looks the part as well. EC3 also did some background work as an extra in House of the Devil from 2009. Tyrus is imposing physically as it is so to see him play the sympathetic Bateman was an interesting angle. Tyrus has been in other movies such as No One Lives (2008) and the more recent Supercon. He also has a small part in the Netflix original series G.L.O.W. He is excellent here as Bateman and gets to show that although he is more level headed than most of his co-workers he can also beat the crap out of someone when the need arises.

I enjoyed Beast of the Water but I can understand why some people may not. There are some interesting narrative choices in the film and it is fairly low budget. That should not deter you from seeking it out though as it’s a fun little B-movie that is well made with fun special effects. You can find Beast of the Water on Amazon and other streaming outlets such as Vudu.

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EC3 as Harris, center

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Tyrus as Bateman

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March Madness: Stormageddon

I had found out about Stormageddon which stars John Morrison( WWE), last year and bought what I thought was the U.K. DVD of it. Even though SYFY UK had the rights to broadcast it in the United Kingdom it was never actually released on DVD there. The movie I had picked up was a movie starring Reggie Bannister whose English DVD title was Stormageddon even though it’s original title was Disaster Wars: Earthquake vs Tsunami. It’s even more confusing since the two posters both feature storms on the front. Stormageddon was released in Germany and Japan on DVD. I was gladly surprised when I came across Stormageddon on Amazon Prime because this meant I didn’t have to import it to watch it. 

 

 

Stormageddon is a made for TV film directed by Nick Lyon. Nick Lyon is no stranger to films with wrestlers in them as he directed Isle of the Dead (2016) which stars former WWE Diva champion Maryse and Hercules Reborn (2014) which also stars John Morrison. I reviewed Hercules Reborn before here. When US owned drones start to mysteriously attack cities and government buildings, Molly, a scientist’s daughter receives a mysterious package from her deceased father.  Inside the package is a piece of jewelry she was given when she was younger, and a VHS tape that instructs her to find Thomas Kelso. She is to refer to Kelso as Adam which will let him know who has sent her to find him. A computer program, Echelon, has gone rogue and is planning to destroy humanity by controlling the weather. The program is behind the drone attacks and only Adam knows what needs to be done to stop Echelon.

Thomas Kelso/ Adam is played by John Morrison and is along with Molly, the main protagonist. He seems to know more about Molly’s father than she herself knows. It turns out he helped her father during the Echelon project. He was murdered by the government when the project was shut down after his partner sold him out. Adam is the only hope for shutting down the program.

The movie sees Adam and Molly racing against not only the US Government but also a mysterious robot who masqueraded as a government agent, Cain Smith. The government wants her because of her link to her father who created the program and Cain wants them because he is the one who is behind the Echelon takeover and acknowledges that Molly and Adam can stop him.

John Morrison is great as Adam and is given the chance to showcase his physical abilities in his fight scenes with Cain. Morrison is becoming a bit of a staple in low budget outings made for TV. I own a few movies he has been in so I’m bound to review some more of his work. I enjoy seeing him in movies and he plays the character of Adam well. I can’t even think of a replacement for him in this film as it feels like a natural fit for him.

This film, despite what I imagine to be not the largest budget, manages to look great. The effects for the robots and storms are more than passable to me. So many times a movie like this will have large aspirations and no way to visually portray them in a believable manner when it comes to CGI or practical effects.

The storms don’t seem to have much purpose in the plot. It’s supposed to be a race against their landfall to stop Echelon but so much of the movie takes place inside that I didn’t feel like they were a significant enough threat. Other than that I really enjoyed this movie. I will be picking up a copy as soon as I get the chance to because I’ve watched it two days in a row already. I’m a big fan of direct to video and made for TV films so that may have played a factor in my enjoyment, however, if you enjoy films with killer robots, government failings, and pro wrestlers you’re in for a good time.

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John Morrison as Thomas Kelso/Adam

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March Madness: Leprechaun Origins

I absolutely love the Warwick Davis fronted Leprechaun films. I was so obsessed with them that I decided that I was going to hate the reboot Leprechaun Origins no matter what because you can’t have a leprechaun film without him. On my first viewing of Origins when it hit VOD in August 2014, I disliked it so much I referred to it as Leprechaun Snor-igins. I wish I could go back in time to tell myself that I was being unfair but at least now I’m a bit wiser and more understanding when it comes to movies.

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Leprechaun Origins is about two couples; Sophie and Ben, Jeni and David,  who travel to Ireland to see the sights. They come across a small village where they are offered to be taken to see the Clocha de na Naithe by Hamish while enjoying a few pints. These Stones of the Gods are located in a cave a ways from the pub so Hamish and his son Sean take them to a small cabin for the evening.

Unfortunately, for our protagonists, the village harbors a dark secret. The folks mined the cave for gold and the creature had been terrorizing the villagers, who find the only way to keep it at bay is to offer up outsiders for food. Hamish and Sean lock the four teens in the cabin and as the couples soon discover something is outside.

They find a way out of the cabin when the creature gets in and make a mad dash all over the countryside in an attempt to survive the night. Gold earrings are ripped off ears, tongue studs tore out, and legs are chomped. The couples are pretty dysfunctional so that’s an interesting dynamic as well.

That’s not really what draws me to this movie though, the leprechaun is played by former WWE wrestler, Hornswoggle. Dylan Postl’s portrayal of Hornswoggle in the WWE was mostly comedic with very few words spoken  He largely relied on his silly antics in the ring. I’ve had the pleasure of meeting Hornswoggle a few times at Absolute Intense Wrestling shows. He’s always happy to talk about his work in film, with him playing the leprechaun in this film and his role in Muppets Most Wanted. I would enjoy seeing him do more film work in the future.

It’s kind of funny that Swoggle was a light hearted leprechaun in WWE whereas he is a bloodthirsty creature in this film. The creature does not speak and portrays it’s emotions through physicality mainly through its facial expressions. I mostly get a vibe that the creature is curious throughout the movie but it is also always a very real threat. 

Dylan’s leprechaun is not the comedic type and is more of a feral creature. I really like the creature in Leprechaun Origins, I just wish they didn’t obscure it so much through out the movie. There is a feature on the costume and special effects on the DVD that show the costume better and I really enjoyed that.

This is a fantastic creature feature and if I could smack the old me and tell him to stop being an elitist idiot about films I totally would. There is plenty of gore in this film and although most of the movie is dark it is well displayed. The action in the film is usually under the moon light, head lights, or flashlights, which adds an eerie feel to it all. What is lying past our field of vision? Is it one of the villagers or the creature itself? Both are large threats to the teens.

I’d also like to point out that the actor who plays David, Brendan Fletcher, was also in Freddy Vs Jason. This is interesting to note as Rey Mysterio does stunt work in the film as Freddy himself. If you enjoy creature features you should definitely check out Leprechaun Origins. If you happen to have not seen the Warwick Davis fronted films perhaps watch Origins first and then original franchise so as to not have the bias I ran into.

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Hornswoggle, practicing his movements for the film

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Swoggle and I at an AIW show, November 2018

 

March Madness: Selling Stupid

I’m glad that I started collecting movies with wrestlers in them because it’s forced me to watch stuff that I used to shy away from, I probably wouldn’t have even given a film like Selling Stupid a shot 5 or 6 years. However, nowadays I’ll give anything and everything a shot even if it doesn’t star a wrestler. It’s really enriched my life.

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Selling Stupid is a small budget film about two women in advertising who are thrust into a competition with two male co-workers to see who can come up with a better campaign for a well known designer’s game, One World. The problem is they don’t know the first thing about video games! These two women are Sloan, played by Roni Jonah and Evie, played by Tonia L. Carrier.

I had no expectations coming into Selling Stupid, mostly because I had just found out it existed last month due to a gif of the movie Roni posted on Facebook. I purchased a copy this month from the director and watched it today.

Tonia and Roni are not only the stars of the film, they co wrote the film along with Amy Austin. Tonia directed the film and Roni edited it. Roni Jonah is a former pro wrestler and current director and actor. I’ve covered her acting in Shark Exorcist before on this site and I’m excited to see more of her work, especially the upcoming Powerbomb which has had two premieres, one in Cleveland and one in Toledo.

Sloan and Evie work with a real special bunch of guys, by special I mean 98% of them are assholes. Their boss Eddie is a sexist pig, Chris has no clue how to treat women like human beings, and Dan is basically an incompetent lackey most of the time. Their wildly gay friend Jonah and Evie’s crush Joey are pretty much the only tolerable men in their office. The girls want to start their own advertising firm but Evie isn’t quite ready to leave her job at Eddie’s firm behind. Their journey to understand what makes video games so appealing not only brings them closer as friends but brings them a greater understanding on why people love video games!

Roni and Tonia are extremely likable as SlEvie and seeing their characters fumble their way through the film as they try to beat the boys is a joy to see. Tonia is especially charming as her interactions with her interviewees in the film are as heartfelt as they are awkward. Roni is hilarious and inappropriate as Sloan. I love her little interaction in the coffee shop when Sloan after realizing all the men in the shop are playing video games performs a saucy striptease in an attempt to see if one of the male patrons will even notice. He eventually does and her oh so smooth quip of, “Is it hot in here or is it just you?” had me laughing out loud.

This movie is full of laughs and infuriating idiotic male characters. I was either laughing, smiling, or ready to punch a dude through the film’s entire run time. Jason Crowe is one of my favorite dudes to see play a character because he takes a role and runs with it. His portrayal of Jonah is silly but endearing and he was one of my favorite parts of the movie. There is a very interesting scenario with roofies in a bar in this film that ends with some karmic comeuppance.

If you’re a fan of low-budget comedy or character development in movies, you should check out Selling Stupid. The DVD also includes a music video for the title track Game Over which I’m sure will be stuck in my head for a week and a drunken commentary that is pretty fun! Selling Stupid is a “FONTING” good time and I have a feeling I’ll be pulling it out to show some friends as well as just enjoying it by myself in the future.

 

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From Left to Right; Roni Jonah as Sloan, Tonia L. Carrier as Evie 

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Jason Crowe as Jonah, left

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March Madness: The Refractor

Back in 2016, a few wrestlers from a promotion near me called Real Action Pro Wrestling appeared in a movie called The Refractor. The director Kwai Daniels also appears in it as The Refractor. To promote it they had an in ring appearance by The Refractor who had a altercation in the ring with one of the actors. It was a really cool thing to see live and I’ve been wanting to see it ever since. I didn’t get a chance to make it to the premiere in November of that year but I did finally get the opportunity to see it when I bought my copy from the director himself, this month.

 

The Refractor is about a man, who, after an accident at a steel mill where a furnace blows up, gains super powers that allow him to withstand great physical stress. He stops a major drug deal in the 80’s but retires. He comes out of retirement to clean up the city once again when a tragedy that hits close to home for him occurs.

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Refractor is a beautifully shot movie, I was blown away by the quality of the visuals throughout the film. The story is well done and it made me care about the character of Refractor and his buddy, Billy Bob. The action is fun to watch, especially the flashback to the 80’s that features RAPW‘s stars, Bouncer, Curt Fury, Joey Vincent Martini, Flea, Aftermath, and Danny Doyle. They play a bunch of thugs and they square off one by one against the Refractor. Flea is barely seen but I believe he is the driver for one of the baddies. One of my favorite parts is when Curt Fury starts doing what I’ve decided to call his Curt-rate taunt.

The movie has a nice balance of action, heart-rending story, laughs, and some violence. The part where Jim Gessner’s character visits a very rich man from India who is obsessed with Hollywood seems out-of-place but is hilarious and helps break away from the serious tone the film shifts to in its second half. The actors are all believable in their roles and it feels and looks like a lot of passion, love, and dedication went into this film.

The film was shot entirely in Youngstown, Ohio if I am not mistaken and there is supposed to be a sequel as well. All in all I had a lot of fun with The Refractor. Its concept of a hero that arises from a steel town tragedy is unique and I like that it has that comic book feel without it being completely removed from reality. If you are a fan of independent films, I recommend picking up a copy.

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Curt Fury on the left holding a pistol, Flea to his right, Bouncer with chains. Aftermath on far right holding a pistol, to his left is Danny Doyle, and behind him is Joey Vincent Martini

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Doyle, Bouncer, and Aftermath among a group of criminals

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Curt Fury, far right, Flea is the Driver in the background

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Kwai Daniels as The Refractor squaring off against Danny Doyle.

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Curt-rate!

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Joey Vincent Martini

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