Sunday, August 29, 2010
Kieran (Shauna Dooley) is coming home to visit her mother Beth (Neve McIntosh) on Christmas-and sees her having sex with a man. Kieran doesn't take kindly to this, and storms out. To make matters worse, a container has washed ashore, and it contains...something. The military now surrounds the area, having it ring fenced, and Beth must find her daughter before whatever creature this is gets her.
Made for a small budget, "Salvage" is an interesting and mostly engaging British film that manages to make the most of it's limitations via old techniques (not revealing too much of the monster) and using it's limited locations to an advantage. The use of limited locations manages to be effective, creating a strange quasi-realism to the proceedings, and adds to the sense of claustrophobia the film creates. It's also features some very strong performances, especially from McIntosh, who perfectly plays Beth as a flawed parental figure, but one that still loves her daughter and will do anything to ensure her survival. Also, while there is gore, the movie deserves credit for using tension and suspense over wall to wall splatter.
While I'm praising the movie, it does have it's flaws. For one thing, this is a rather low budget affair, so while the director makes a smart decision in not revealing too much of the monster, what we do see isn't all that frightening, and a bit of a letdown to be honest. The movie is also a too short at 76 minutes. I personally would have liked to see this go on at least 10 more minutes.
In the end, "Salvage" is a downbeat, tension filled treat that's a reminder as to why sites like Netflix are great. Give it a shot.
Saturday, August 28, 2010
Oh no, some of the girls from the Lambda Epsilon Zeta (get it?) are alone on the weekend, and worst yet, they are all obnoxious stereotypes (the pious girl, the slut, the lesbian, the idiot, etc.) Well what do ya know, a cook (Mark Hengst) from Hungary (THE HUNGARY COOK!!! GET IT YOU STUPID MOTHER FUCKER? HA HA HA HA!!!!!!!!!) is there to make food for them. Oh yeah, and he starts killing them off one by one, and feeding the unsuspecing sorority idiots the remains.
Nothing can save "The Cook", which is the bottom of the barrel as far as horror-comedy is concerned. I know it's hard to mix horror and humor, but come on, at least try. What's more amazing is the fact that three people wrote this, and it does certainly feel that way-that is, if said trio was made up of 14 year old boys who watched a marathon of straight to DVD "American Pie" movies decided to make a horror movie. In fact, the whole thing feels like a Cinemax late night movie with less sex, including plenty of T&A (not that I'm complaining, but when even that can save the movie) and a rather pointless sub-plot involving a lesbian (Penny Drake) seducing a religious zealot (Brooke Lenzi) that would be interesting if it wasn't so boring. The movie can't even make lesbian S&M interesting!
Nobody can act their way out of a paper bag either. Hengst tries his damnedest to do something with this, but he just mugs for the camera and yells a lot (foreigners sure are different!) Plus the script offers nothing for him or anyone else to do. It's sad to watch, as it feels like nobody is putting any effort in this. In a few ways, "The Cook" almost reminded me of the 1987 cult classic "Blood Diner", only without the devil may care, kitchen sink approach that movie used which made it so endearing to me in spite of it's obvious limitations.
This movie is just crap. The only crowd this will appeal to are dumb, acne ridden teenage boys with no standards whatsoever. This is an embarrassment to horror-comedy movies, and is worthy of a big fat
Wednesday, August 25, 2010
A disfigured man named Miguel (Alexander Waechter, sporting the least convincing make-up job since Al Adamson's "Brain of Blood") has been let out of a mental institution by his sister Manuela (Nadja Gerganoff), whom he has a bit of an incestuous relation ship with. Miguel has his eyes on a cutie named Angela (Olivia Pascal), and to make things worse, there's someone killing off beautiful girls in the local language school.
From the get go, "Bloody Moon" isn't a boring movie, but it is a mess. The dubbing is awful, the direction ranges from insipid to inspired and the script by Erich Tomek pays no attention to things like logic or story structure. So in other words, it's your usual Jesus Franco movie. What's also worth noting are the bad attempts at sex comedy, which come off as a poor man's attempt at "Porkys" with horny women instead of the other way around.
It's a slasher movie, so how do the kills measure up? Very well actually. The death scenes in "Bloody Moon" are gory and sadistic (obviously landing it into trouble with British censors, as it made the notorious "video nasties" list), not to mention hard to shake off. There's some ugly strangulation scenes, stabbings, a burning, a blade to the back exiting through a nipple (ouch!), and most memorable of all, a bloody as hell circular saw decapitation. When it comes to violence, Franco knows what slasher fans want, and he delivers the gory goods.
Apart from the murder set pieces and the fact that it was a video nasty, there isn't a whole lot to remember about "Bloody Moon", as it really isn't that different from other, more mediocre slasher movies from the period. Not one of the directors best, but I'll take it over crap like "Devil Hunter" and "Oasis of the Zombies" any day.
Fun fact: Franco had been told that Pink Floyd were going to do music for the movie, and I guess you can know how that went (hint: they didn't.)
Monday, August 23, 2010
"Road Kill" follows the exploits of four very stupid teens, who decide to check out the good old Outback. Well, a Road Train hits their car, totaling the bastard, and it's "driver" starts shooting at them. Well, being four very stupid teens, they decide to take the Truck, and the next thing you now, bad juju and supernatural evil raises it's ugly head.
Dumb, pointless and aggravating to the extreme, "Road Kill" is beyond the shadow of a doubt one of the worst horror movies of the year. Nothing in the movie is scary or disturbing, with director Dean Francis opting for surreal images (red eyed dogs, blood covered maggots) to try and convey a sense of menace, only to fall flat. Also, while I'm used to horror movies being strange and at times nonsensical, would it have killed director Francis and writer Clive Hopkins to make a movie that at least makes a little sense? Nobody in this movie behaves in a realistic manner, and whatever explanations are given to the horrors on display (including the revelation of how the Road Train is fueled) are stupid and nonsensical beyond words.
Then there's how dumb these characters are. Seriously, these kids are dumb even by the standards of a genre in which stupid behavior can be a given, and nearly everything they do is infuriating in it's stupidity. You want-no, feel the need-to see these dumb-asses die, and instead you get dumb decision after dumb decision.
Seriously, this is just crap. The only real reason to see any of this is if you are forced to in some kind of bizarre hostage situation which involves a terrible horror movie, and since there's a 99.99% chance that will never happen, you should consider yourself lucky. Avoid.
Sunday, August 22, 2010
-Apparently, there is such a thing as too much female nudity. The movie should have been called "BOOBS! Oh, and there's Piranhas too."
-Natural outbreaks can be brought forth by beer bottles hitting the bottom of a lake.
-Women can hold their breath underwater for a very long time while doing nude underwater ballet.
-More movies need a surrogate Joe Francis (the douche that created "Girls Gone Wild") played by Jerry O'Connell having their penis eaten by Piranhas. Because Joe Francis deserves it, don't you think?
-Christopher Lloyd will transform into Doc Brown's doppelganger when Piranhas are on the loose.
-Ving Rhames is great. He really is "The Obama of Piranha." That out of the way, Piranha 3D/Joesph Howell 2012.
-Apart from producing and directing, I think Eli Roth exists only to die a gruesome death in every horror movie he's in. Honestly, I'm jealous.
-If you are going to cast a nude model (Kelly Brook) and Porn Stars (Riley Steele, Ashlynn Brooke and Gianna Michaels) in a movie, know how to use them. Also, Brooks and Steele aren't bad in this.
-Also, if you are going to stage a massive orgy of blood and gore, do it right. This movie does it right in the last 30 minutes, and it's a glorious thing.
-Remember "Snakes on a Plane" and how it didn't deliver on it's promises? "Piranha 3D" is what that movie should have been.
-Is it the best movie if the year? No. It is the most fun I've had in a theater this year though. If you love this kind of movie, there is no reason not to see it.
Wednesday, August 18, 2010
Rose (late adult film star Marylin Chambers) ends up in a nasty motorcycle accident. Fortunately for her, she has a surgery performed on her that saves her life. Unfortunately for her, she's in a horror movie, so it was an experimental surgery. Said operation has left her with a parasitic growth on her armpit (no, really) that has caused her to develop a thirst for human blood. Also, her victims become rabid with a form of murderous rage, and the infection is spreading...
Before I go on to praise "Rabid", I will have to mention that it's not Cronenberg's finest achievements, and that if it does have a major flaw, it's the performances (save for Chambers-more on her in a moment.) Nobody else is really convincing or developed well enough. Particularly weak is Frank Moore as Hart Reed, who just comes off as really awkward.
Apart from that, "Rabid" is still a must see for Cronenberg fans. Chambers actually pulls off a fine performance that's a great mix between the predatory and the sympathetic. It's also a grim little offering that from the opening to it's nihilistic conclusion portrays a world ravaged by disease and murder without any hope or safety. There's also the trademark Cronenberg bursts of grisly violence and sexual body horror, and though it doesn't have the same impact of "Shivers" and "Videodrome", there's still plenty of the new flesh to celebrate. In particular is the orifice that hides the parasite-it looks very sexual, and is an effective precursor to what the director would offer in the future. Also, while it's not as explicit about it as "Shivers" or "Crash" was, the film offers a vision of an erotic apocalypse that's as dark as it is almost liberating at times, with Rose walking around, mostly attacking male victims like a sexual Praying Mantis.
I could go on and on about it's themes, but anyways, "Rabid" is a must for fans of Cronenberg's work, and Canadian horror in general.
Saturday, August 14, 2010
The movie starts in 1883, in which Molly Porter (Natalie Jones) and her husband Thomas Jenkins, and her infant child became vampires. Molly ends up having to put a stake in the long toothed tot, and all three are buried by the townspeople. Cut to 2006 in which some idiots remove the wooden stakes, and the vampire couple are back, looking for their child, which is in the possession of Shannon (Susanna Gibb) and Mikey (Reese Rios.) Also, they can turn people into zombies. How and why vampires would turn people into zombies and not you know, vampires is beyond me, but hey, I didn't write this.
I will give "After Sundown" this much: it's an improvement over "The Fangleys." Here, the acting is better and more convincing-not great mind you, but more believable nonetheless. It's also done with a bigger budget, and has a lot more ambition as far as story and execution is concerned. Hell, the direction is even a little better (the image of the dead walking in a frog drenched graveyard actually achieve a Gothic ambiance), and the effects have improved slightly.
And that's were all that good will ends. Sure, it's better than "The Fangleys", but it's still pretty bad nonetheless. For one thing, the script is all over the place, usually resembling a poor man's version of "From Dusk Till Dawn" and every Straight to DVD zombie movie you've seen with a bit of period piece action and even some tragic romance. Fine and all, except the budget can't capture all of that ambition the movie has. As a review on Bloody Disgusting says, there's a reason why this kind of low budget horror movies tend to avoid period pieces. Not once in this movie is any of the old west footage convincing. Then there's the tone of the movie, which clashes everywhere. At one moment, the movie wants to be a tongue in cheek horror romp, and then the next it wants to be a revisionist take on the vampire. The two just don't mix, though those behind it sure do try.
It's kind of a shame too, because again, its an improvement over the directors prior effort, and shows at least a little promise. It's just that in the end, there's just too many restraints holding it back from what it could have been. Give them a "A" for effort, but a "D" for execution.
Wednesday, August 11, 2010
Danny Sloan (Dylan Purcell) witnesses love at first sight in Laura Baxter (Cherilyn Wilson.) There's a bit of a problem though; Laura suffers from a sleep disorder called Parasomnia, in which she is asleep almost all the time, and people in the hospital want to do some testing on her. So Danny decides to rescue her, taking her to his home. There's a bigger problem though, in the malevolent Byron Volpe (Patrick Kilpatrick), a hypnotist who can control his victims to do his murderous bidding that has control over her, and wants her for his own nefarious plans. Oh, and Detective Garret (Jeffrey Combs) is always in pursuit as well.
A surreal fairy tale for adults, "Parasomnia" is unlike any other American horror movie to be released this year, and will most likely turn some off. For me, it's a great reminder of the kind of horror movies that slip under the radar, but are better than a lot of studio fair these days.
Visually, it's something else, with images ranging from the nightmarish to the beautiful running in every corner of Laura's mind and in the real world (especially in the arresting final act.) Acting wise, this is also pretty impressive, with Wilson doing a great job at mixing almost doe-eyed innocence with some serious mental baggage brought forth by Volpe. Speaking of Volpe, Kilpatrick does an excellent job, stealing the show by playing him as a menacing force of pure evil without overacting, and creating one of the best villains in a horror movie this year. Then there's Combs, who underplays Garret-which is a good thing, as the character is a nice throwback to the hardened detective characters of old. Add an original, thoughtful story, strong direction and a great score by Nicolas Pike, and you have a winner...with one exception.
That exception is Purcell as the protagonist. You can tell that Danny is supposed to be a shy and eccentric but ultimately likable character, but under the lead, he's just kinda creepy and awkward. Not exactly what I would want out of a lead hero.
Still, "Parasomnia" is an original, intriguing and all around arresting and creepy experience that's worth a look for those searching for something different. Recommended.
Oh, and yes, that's Alison Brie (Annie from the all around awesome show "Community") as Darcy, the cello player in red.
Sunday, August 8, 2010
Nurse Amy Nicholls (Calista Flockhart) has a new job at a rundown hospital, where what do ya know, mysterious events have been occurring. While befriending a little girl named Maggie (Yasmin Murphy), she learns of the story of a ghost known as the "Machine Girl" (who in no way has anything to do with the movie of the same name.) Thing is, this ghost may be all to real, and she doesn't want any of the children leaving the hospital, no matter what.
While not the knock 'em out scare machine that [REC] was, "Fragile" is a nice, understated little gem worth discovering. The acting is impressive throughout, with Flockhart making for a great lead who takes the material seriously and never acts like its beneath her, all while making you care for her and the plight of the children. Speaking of which, the child actors here are very good-better than they usually are in these kinds of movies-especially Murphy, who damn near knocks it out the park with her performance. Apart from that, the movie boasts some really nice scares, especially nearing the end in which the Machine Girl's presence is fully felt, and she's one pissed of lady, not to mention a really creepy one as well. Add some very strong direction and a great score by Roque Baños, and who have a winner.
But it's not a perfect movie. If the movie does have any minor hangnails, it's that the movie lifts a little too liberally from the kind of cliches you'd expect from Japanese Horror movies, and while the Machine Girl is an ominous figure, she doesn't feel all that original. Also, the ending was a bit too Hollywood horror for my taste, and it does have too many "She's real!" "No she isn't!" arguments among characters. I'm not asking for people to believe the character right away, but do we really need this "They learn when it's too late" stuff all the time?
While it didn't blow me away like [REC] did, "Fragile" is still worth a look for those like to look for hidden treats in the horror genre. Not totally fulfilling, but still impressive.
Saturday, August 7, 2010
Jonathan (Wes Bentley) has a lot to look forward to. He's a respected professor, has a gorgeous girlfriend in Rowena (Kaitlin Doubleday) and so much more. Then Ligeia (Sofya Skya) enters his life. She's beautiful, tempting, and she has him under her spell, and they move to her castle by the Black Sea. That is, until he finds out that she's been stealing souls to defeat a disease she has and gain immortality. And if she can't have Jonathan, nobody can.
There are a few things "The Tomb" gets right. Some (not all mind you) of the performances are good, especially Skya as Ligeia, who plays the character as an Gothic beauty with the right balance between erotic desire and deadly siren. Eric Roberts aka "Mr. Straight to Video" is also fine in his role, though one wishes you had gotten to learn more about his character. Also worthy of note is the fact that for a low budget horror film, the CGI isn't too bad. Finally, the score by Patrick Cassidy is a lot of fun, and reminded me of the best work from Richard Band.
And that's where all the goodwill vanishes. While first time director Michael Staininger certainly has an eye for visuals, none of the movie captures the kind of dread and madness that makes the writings of Poe so great. Instead, many of the scenes that are supposed to be creepy instead come of as goofy. Some of the other performances in the movie are rather weak as well, particularly Bentley and Michael Madsen. Bentley is more wooden than a 2X4 here (the less said about his rendition of "The Conqueror Worm" in the end credits the better-though I guess it's more dignified than being in "Jonah Hex") and Madsen can't relieved any of his lines properly to save his life, not to mention that it feels too much like he showed up on the set a few days and then left.
The biggest problem with the movie is the script. There are too many lapses in logic (okay, so your boyfriend leaves you for a hot Russian girl, and he comes back, and you just let him back?) and plot holes to count, and it feels more like a rough draft. The really disappointing thing about this though, is that it was written by John Shirley. While he's mostly known for writing the original script for "The Crow", he's also written some fine Science Fiction ("City Come a Walkin'") and horror novels ("Wetbones", "Cellars" and "Demons" to name a few.) For an author I enjoy so much to write such a bad script really sucks.
"The Tomb" really has no reason to be watched. Sure, it occasionally resembles the kind of enjoyable Gothic yarns Full Moon Studios used to make, but more often than not it feels like a Lifetime Channel horror movie than an Edgar Allan Poe Adaptation. The movie should have just been called "The Bore of Ligeia."
Thursday, August 5, 2010
Keith (Chris Makepeace-so Notwar then?) and his buddy AJ (Robert Rusler) are two sorority pledges who decide to go to a strip joint. They need a ride, so they buddy up with the nerdy Duncan (Gedde Watanabe-yes that one) to get their. One dancer has a significant effect-the exotic Katrina (Grace Jones-yes, that Grace Jones) who has AJ under her spell. Well, in an unexpected turn of events, it turns out that Katrina and everyone else who owns the bar are vampires. Oh, and let's not forget those thugs led by Snow (Billy Drago.)
"Vamp" is a light, campy horror flick that doesn't always manage to properly straddle the line between horror and comedy, but makes for some breezy entertainment. While Rusler is rather wooden as AJ, the rest of the cast Manages to be a lot of fun. Jones steals the show as Katrina, vamping up (pardon the pun) her role with a mysterious, almost pagan sensuality and menace. Makepeace, apart from the goofy name, is fine as our hero, and more than up to task to go with the material, as is Dedee Pfeiffer as his love interest. Then there's Watanabe, who manages to play Duncan as a helpless nerd without overdoing it, which is a relief. It also helps that some of the jokes work pretty well, and while not a splatter fest, the viewer does get some bloody moments, including some mean vampire bites and a ripped out heart. Another thing I really enjoyed the use of color schemes to the movie, which really added to the whole feeling it was aiming for, and added a sense of artistry to what's an otherwise fun but far from great movie.
If the movie does suffer, it's that it doesn't go far enough. Granted, this might be due to the restrictions of the MPAA at the time, but for a movie involving vampires and a strip club, it sure doesn't "go for the jugular" as much as it should so to speak. Also, some of the humor really doesn't work as well as they should, particularly the ending, which is supposed to be lighthearted and warm, but just doesn't work out as well as the director wanted. It also doesn't help that apart from a final confrontation with Katrina, much of the final act isn't as energetic as it should be.
As it stands, "Vamp" is a movie that could have been a little better, but usually works as a breezy slice of camp with some better than adequate performances. See it during a weekend afternoon.
Monday, August 2, 2010
Nami Tsuchiya (Miyuki Ono) has her own late night show. One night, she gets a video nobody would want to watch-a snuff movie. That out of the way, said video shows how to get to the location where said murder took place. So with a little help from a few of her co-workers (all the females played by adult movie stars), she goes to investigate. However, someone is starting to bump them off one by one, and the killer is not what they seem.
If it weren't for the Japanese cast and occasional lapses into 80's fixations (look for an aerobics video-complete with bad spandex-being filmed in the background), "Evil Dead Trap" is a movie you swear could have come from Italy in the 80's. I mean this as a good thing, as this is a nearly perfect tribute to the likes of Dario Argento and Lucio Fulci, with all the trademarks: ocular trauma, creative and artistically done murder set pieces (one in particular almost feels like something from the first "Saw" movie-I wouldn't be shocked it the makers of that movie saw this one), graphic gore, eerie atmosphere and tension over logic, a score very reminiscent of the work of Claudio Simonetti, and so much more. It also helps that it's a largely well acted film, with Ono making for a convincing heroine, and that the whole thing is very well directed and at times quite suspenseful to boot.
However, audiences might have a problem with the final 20 minutes, in which the movie veers into body horror era David Cronenberg territory. Some may feel that it clashes with the rest of the movie, but I didn't mind it at all. I thought it was also reminiscent of Argento's "Phenomena." I did have a bit of a problem with a rape scene however, which while not actually feeling totally out of place (this movie does involve a snuff film), does feel a bit too gratuitous.
I still recommend "Evil Dead Trap" though, especially for those wanting a fine tribute to Italian horror at it's most vicious and terrifying.