Cleaning Out The DVR: The Sandman (dir by Peter Sullivan)


(Hi there!  So, as you may know because I’ve been talking about it on this site all year, I have got way too much stuff on my DVR.  Seriously, I currently have 189 things recorded!  I’ve decided that, on January 15th, I am going to erase everything on the DVR, regardless of whether I’ve watched it or not.  So, that means that I’ve now have only have a month to clean out the DVR!  Will I make it?  Keep checking this site to find out!  I recorded The Sandman off of the SyFy on October 14th!)

Madison (Shae Smolik) is a little girl who appears to have some issues.

For instance, her father just died under the most mysterious of circumstances.  One of the last things that he did before he died was get paranoid when a police car drove by him.  He was carrying a gun when he died, as well.  Also, he died right in front of Madison.

Madison ends up at the hospital, where she has violent nightmares and struggles so much with the doctors and the orderlies that she has to be strapped down.  Since both of her parents are dead, a call is made to her Aunt Claire (Haylie Duff).  Claire is willing to adopt Madison but Child Protective Services is a bit less enthusiastic.  Claire is unmarried and hasn’t always been the most responsible adult.  She currently works as a photographer, taking pictures of aspiring Bettie Pages in her garage.  Can Claire not only prove herself to be a good mother but also solve the mystery of what happened to Madison’s father?

You probably read that plot description and thought to yourself, “That sounds like a typical Lifetime film.”  And certainly, there is a bit of Lifetime to be found in this SyFy movie.  Peter Sullivan has produced, written, and directed several films that have appeared on both SyFy and Lifetime.  Haylie Duff is a regular Lifetime actress.  For a financially struggling photographer, Claire certainly does live in a nice, big house, which is one of the most familiar signs that you might be watching Lifetime film.

However, make no doubt about it, this is definitely not a Lifetime film.

You see, the reason why Madison is a nightmare to deal with it is because she’s linked to a monster.  The reason why Madison is an orphan is because the monster killed her father.  And now that Madison is living with Claire, the monster is coming for both of them.

And what a monster!  Seriously, the Sandman is about as frightening as a SyFy monster can get.  As you can probably guess from the name, he’s made of sand. The best way to avoid him, of course, would be to go some place where there is no sand but good luck with that.  SAND IS EVERYWHERE!  The Sandman pops up whenever Madison is in danger.

Nosy neighbor wants to know about Madison’s father?  Here comes the Sandman, pouring in through the kitchen faucet!

Hospital doctor planning on recommending that Madison be institutionalized?  Sandman!

In fact, anyone who poses a threat to Madison, whether real or perceived, can expect a visit from the Sandman.

Tobin Bell plays Valentine, a government agent who thinks that Madison could be weaponized.  He’s probably right but seriously, everyone should know better than to mess with the Sandman.  That said, it’s always fun when Tobin Bell is in one of these movies.  He’s just such a good villain.

The Sandman was a good mix of Lifetime family melodrama and SyFy horror.  As the aunt and the seriously disturbed niece, Haylie Duff and Shae Smolik were believable and sympathetic and the Sandman made for a memorable monster.  Watch this movie the next time you’re planning on spending a weekend at the beach.

Harbinger Down Goes International


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Kickstarter, GoFundMe, Indiegogo are just a couple of ways the general public have been able to crowdfund things they really like. Crowdfunding has even entered film production with a film set for release being one of my more anticipated films of 2015.

Harbinger Down is the brainchild of Practical FX artists Alec Gillis and Tom Woodruff, Jr. As more and more studios begin to rely heavily on CGI-effects for their films the practical effects and make-up FX industry has taken a major hit. We’ve already seen practical effects master Rick Baker announce his retirement from the industry and many smaller effects studios either close shop or sold to larger studios.

The film by Gillis and Woodruff, Jr. looks to bring back practical effects as not just a viable option for films looking to create fantastical creatures and effects, but also show that practical effects is an art form that lends a certain level of realism to those very fantastical ideas.

From the look of the trailer it looks like Harbinger Down takes some inspiration from two classic scifi horror films of the past with Alien and John Carpenter’s The Thing. With legendary genre veteran Lance Henriksen headlining the ensemble cast, Harbinger Down is something genre fans deserve.

Trailer: Harbinger Down (Official)


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Last summer something caught my eye while scrolling up my Twitter feed. People I had been following were retweeting a Kickstarter campaign for an independent film. No, this wasn’t a Veronica Mars deal or Zach Braff begging the public for millions so he could make his own film. This was for a scifi-horror film that was going the whole practical effects route.

Harbinger Down is the brainchild of practical effects masters Alec Gillis and Tom Woodruff, Jr. whose own special effects studio Amalgamated Dynamics were instrumental in creating some of the practical effects for films such as the latest Godzilla and the underwhelming prequel for The Thing. It was their practical effects work for that prequel being replaced by CGI monsters at the very last second which convinced the two men to try and make a film using nothing but practical effects to show Hollywood bean counters and studio heads that there was still a place for the practical instead of going all-CG.

Their Kickstarter campaign to raise the funds to start Harbinger Down succeeded and in addition to the $387,000 or so raised and their own money and studio time the film began principal photography this past January. A rough trailer was shown around MArch, but now we have the first official trailer to Harbinger Down which looks like a love letter to Carpenter’s very own The Thing.