Review: The kids are not alright. In fact, in Jesse P. Pollack’s ‘THE ACID KING’, the kids are very screwed up.

Dan Jones and Jesse Pollack’s powerful The Acid King, the story of Ricky Kasso, an American teenager who murdered his friend, Gary Lauwers, in an alleged “Satanic sacrifice” during the summer of 1984, premieres On Demand.


Pollack’s gritty documentary takes the viewer through the story of Ricky Kasso, a disaffected teen who took the media by storm in 1984 when he stabbed a friend to death in an alleged “satanic sacrifice.”

You can see why the media sniffed around. The few glances of Kasso the viewer gets are thoroughly terrifying – he’s got a wide-eyed stared frazzled by drugs and years of neglect. Add in some heavy metal, debts, and even more drugs? You’ve got a recipe for a sensational murder that added fuel to the “satanic panic” bonfire of anxiety that plagued the Regan-era suburbs.

Pollack seeks to paint with a broad brush; interviews range from friends and acquaintances to artists who were later inspired by Kasso’s story. While this shows how influential and far-reaching this tragedy became, it also results in an incoherent narrative.

The documentary can’t decide if it’s about a kid who was repeatedly failed by his parents, about mental illness, or about the start of the satanic panic. It gives you a little bit of everything. Rather than bringing a voice to the victim behind this story, it focuses much more on the myth and legacy of Ricky Kasso. This documentary makes clear that the satanic elements of the case were sensationalized but simultaneously give a platform to some interviewees to further perpetuate these very myths.

The Acid King definitely reinforces the twisted legacy of Ricky Kasso, as well as giving some insights into the tragedies that may have supported his downward spiral. I just wish it had gone a little further, been a little more decisive, and left me with a few more answers.


On Demand November 9 from Wild Eye Releasing.


Review: ‘We Summon The Darkness’ makes satanic panic rock.

On the way to a heavy metal concert, Alexis (Alexandra Daddario) and two girlfriends hear a news report of a local murder believed to be tied to a series of satanic killings. After the show, the girls invite three guys to join them at the estate owned by Alexis’s father, a fire-and-brimstone preacher (Johnny Knoxville). What starts as a party suddenly turns dark and deadly in this devilishly entertaining thriller.

The amazing connection between heavy metal music and satanic worship in the ’80s is exploited to it’s fullest and most awesome extent in We Summon The Darkness. This film flips the script on the typical slasher film. Not only does it challenge religious extremism, but it puts the power in the hands of our three female leads. While we’re used to a final girl, this script does what few did back in the day. Some of my favorite genres films A Girl Walks Home Alone A Night and High Tension, take female characters that would otherwise seem the victim and make them the antagonist. We Summon The Darkness splits the difference.

The chemistry between Alexandra Daddario and Maddie Hasson is off the charts cool. You’ll find yourself rooting for something you never thought you would because it’s entertaining as hell, no pun intended. The kills are fun, which always sounds weird no matter how much horror I consume. We also get everything 80’s you ever wanted, iconic tunes, over-the-top decor, bitchin’ cars, big hair, and cocaine. It’s no surprise that with a team of Marc Meyers and Alan Trezza, We Summon The Darkness has, at the very least, sequel potential.

Saban Films will release the horror/thriller WE SUMMON THE DARKNESS on VOD and Digital HD on April 10, 2020.

WE SUMMON THE DARKNESS stars Alexandra Daddario (Baywatch, San Andreas), Johnny Knoxville (Bad Grandpa, Jackass), Keean Johnson (Midway), Maddie Hasson (“Impulse”), Logan Miller (Scouts Guide to the Zombie Apocalypse), Amy Forsyth (Hell Fest) and Austin Swift (Live by Night).  The film is directed by Marc Meyers (My Friend Dahmer) from a script by Alan Trezza (Burying the Ex).

Review: ‘Satanic Panic’ reaches (oc)cult classic status.

presents

SATANIC PANIC

SYNOPSIS:

Sam’s first day as a pizza delivery driver is not going according to plan. At the end of a long day and not enough tips, her last delivery turns out to be for a group of Satanists looking for someone to sacrifice. Now in a fight for her life, Sam must fend off witches, evil spells and demonic creatures, all while trying to keep her body – and soul – intact.

Poor Satanists, just trying to sacrifice a virgin to bring a hell beast to walk the earth. But that darn virgin keeps getting away! Satanic Panic has practical effects that are an awesome combination of mildly silly and completely, on-point disgusting. The sets and costumes absolutely rock. But, it’s the performances and writing that kick major ass. Rebecca Romijn is goddamn spectacular. Her commitment to physical comedy is pure genius and her timelessly gorgeous face is a delight to watch on-screen. Ruby Modine gets the best, rapid-fire dialogue in the film. She’s so nonchalant you’ll be fully immersed into the wacky plot- which actually has this unexpected emotionally redemptive element involved. It is classic occult set up at its finest with extra surprising moments sprinkles in. Haley Griffith as our ingenue Sam is refreshingly innocent. She is the representation of loyalty and street smarts. Seamlessly mixed into entertaining genre goodness, the film also takes aim at generational headbutting and classism. Director Chelsea Stardust guides Satanic Panic into the cult genre with humor and a bit of magic storytelling from Grady Hendrix and Ted Geoghegan.

RLJE Films will release the horror film SATANIC PANIC in Theaters, On Demand and Digital on September 6, 2019.

SATANIC PANIC stars Hayley Griffith (“The Loudest Voice”, “The Mysteries of Laura”), Ruby Modine (“Shameless”, Happy Death Day franchise), Rebecca Romijn (X-Men franchise, “Star Trek: Discovery”), Arden Myrin (“Insatiable”, “Shameless”) and Jerry O’Connell (Stand By Me, “Billions”). The film was written by popular horror author Grady Hendrix (“We Sold Our Souls,”  “My Best Friend’s Exorcism”) and directed by up-and-coming director Chelsea Stardust (“Into The Dark”, Seeing Green).

World Premiere at the 2019 Overlook Film Festival 

Official Selection of 2019 Fantasia Film Festival