Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Monday, December 26, 2011

Dead Cert (2010)

There are times that when you read a premise on paper that seems fun, you actually aren't surprised when it doesn't turn out to be particularly good. At least I'm not. I've already seen countless movies that had fun premises-"Shadow: Dead Riot" for example-that didn't live up to said potential. A recent case in point: "Dead Cert", which wants to be a mix of a tough British gangster movie and "From Dusk 'Til Dawn", and wastes said potential.

In the East End of London, Freddie "Dead Cert" Frankham (Craig Fairbrass, who seems to be forever cast as a big, tough guy from the East End) ends up getting mixed up in the affairs of Romanian Gangster Dante Livenko (Billy Murray) and his gang. Well, it turns out that Dante is a vampire known as the wolf, and to make matters worse, the local strip club Freddy and his pals frequent is now overrun with the bloodsuckers.

To be fair, this movie does feature some decent to good performances, especially Murray, whose a lot of fun as the villain. The problem though, is that it takes too long to get to the good stuff, so to speak. It's not until the fifty something minute mark that the club is overrun, and until then, the movie is mostly just a bunch of talk with the occasional act of violence padding out time. Speaking of which, after the vampires come out to play, we get more talk. In fact, there's so many scenes of people arguing and conversing that you kind of wonder why the filmmakers decided to include vampires at all.

Which leads to the movies biggest problem: it doesn't go far enough. Sure, there's bloodshed and the make up FX look good, but they aren't anything you haven't seen before. In fact, for a movie that has strippers turning into vampires, the movie feels sort of tame. It takes itself too seriously, doesn't offer the bountiful female nudity and gore one would hope for, and the final battle between humans and vampires feels pretty anemic.

I went into "Dead Cert" with low expectations, and guess what? Mission accomplished. There's nothing here that sets this apart from other crappy vampire movies or British crime/gangster movies. Your better off just watching "From Dusk 'Till Dawn" again instead of this generic soup.

Rating. 2/10

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Best Sleeper Movies/Guilty Pleasures of 2011

2011 gave us plenty of movies that accomplished a lot, but unfortunately, some went on to be ignored. Here's a look at the limited releases and straight to video movies of 2011 that are worth checking out, but few seemed to talk about, in no particular order.

Best Sleepers

-I Saw The Devil-Of all the genre movies released this year, this has to be my favorite. A look at the nature of revenge and the possibility of man becoming a monster, this is harsh, unblinking stuff, with unflinching, brutal violence, bloodshed and several sprinklings of the blackest of black humor.

-Dream Home-The housing crisis in China gets the horror treatment in this intelligent, blackly comic slasher splatter movie, with a particularly strong performance from lead Josie Ho as a woman hard on her luck, pushed to the brink.

-We Are What We Are-A tale of a cannibalistic family that doubles as an allegory on politics, sexuality and the fracturing of a family, "We Are What We Are" is an honest, intelligent drama that deserves more fans.

-Julia's Eyes-Though I wasn't thrilled with the conclusion, this Guillermo Del Toro produced film straddles the lines between an old school, De Palma style thriller and an artful Giallo. Definitely worth a look.

-Prey-A angry, wild boar is a catalyst for generational conflict in this entry of what I like to call the "Pigsploitation" genre. Nothing groundbreaking, but worth a look.

-Rambock: Berlin Undead-Of all the "Bloody Disgusting Presents" movies, I feel this hour long take on the zombie apocalypse has been unjustly overlooked, as it's an interesting look at a man who is looking hard and wide to reconcile with his ex amidst apocalyptic panic.

-Phase 7-Another overlooked "Bloody Disgusting Selects" movie takes a look at the aftermath of a pandemic. What sets it apart though, is the tone, which veers more towards the darkly comic than it does the typical straight faced approach.

-Kidnapped-What looks on the surface like another "home invasion" movie is actually an interesting spin on it, as it uses split screen techniques and interesting plot twists to create a nihilistic but better than usual twist on the sub-genre.

-Seconds Apart-The best of the "After Dark Originals" takes a look at two murderous twins with telekinetic powers, and how the rigors of high school life and blossoming sexual interests can affect sibling relationships. A thoughtful take on the "killer kids/twins" movie.

-Muay Thai Fighter-Yes, it's more of an action/drama with more emphasis on the latter, and yes, it's too long. That out of the way, this is a surprisingly well acted, choreographed and directed movie that exceeded my low expectations.

Better Late Than Never

-The Dead Matter-The self-distributed directorial debut (say that seven times fast) from one of the men behind musical group Midnight Syndicate is an assured blend of Gothic horror and tongue-in-cheek humor that relies more on atmosphere than it does gore. One of last year's biggest sleepers, which took me by surprise this year.

-Primal-Far from a classic, this pastiche picture is at least entertaining for what it is, and offers some choice laughs for good measure.

Guilty Pleasures

-The Taint-While it's way too self aware for it's own good, this tasteless, disgusting micro-budget movie also feels more like a Troma movie than many of it's kin does.

-Pleasures of the Damned-By all accounts, I should hate this micro-budget, sub-Troma satire/homage to trashy Grindhouse movies, which feels like it was made by a mediocre sketch comedy troupe. And you know what? I laughed hard at it many a time, though it does run out of steam within the last 20-15 minutes. The guiltiest "Pleasure" of the year.

So there you have it.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

The Worst Movies of 2011

Every year, we get cinematic trash heaps that one could have gone without seeing. Here is the worst, most forgettable, and most disappointing movies of 2011


-Sucker Punch-Some people really shouldn't write their own movies. While I've enjoyed Zack Snyder's movies up until this point, here he made a colossal disaster that was M. Night levels bad.

-Repo Chick-What if somebody did a "Tim and Eric" style sketch, only without anything funny, and stretched it out to feature length? Then "Repo Chick", a preachy, confusing and confused offering from Alex Cox, is what you get.

-The Bleeding-The worst attempt at trying to make a modern "Grindhouse" movie yet, "The Bleeding" makes "Bitch Slap" look like "Lawrence of Arabia" by comparison.

-The Roommate-"Hey, let's make "Single White Female", only for the teen and tween set, and make it so bad they'll hate it!"

-Straw Dogs-I'm a bit more forgiving towards remakes, as I've defended the "Friday the 13th" and "House on Sorority Row" remakes as guilty pleasures, and I really enjoyed "Fright Night." This however, is awful, and a slap to the face of the original.

-The Reunion-By far the worst WWE movie I've seen so far, "The Reunion" is a mirthless bore. You know, I like Amy Smart, and I wish she could get better work than this.

-Shark Night-An example of genre movie making at it's absolute worst, "Shark Night" is a cliche filled, gore and entertainment free slog-well, except for the always awesome Donal Logue.

-Season of the Witch-Nic Cage sleepwalks through this drab PG-13 medieval outing, with only Ron Perlman offering a fun performance.

-Dylan Dog: Dead of Night-The popular Italian comic gets a movie treatment that the ScyFy channel would look down on. At least wrestler Kurt Angle seems to be having fun.

-Blood Oath-Terrible no-budget slasher #379 from Troma. I almost feel bad adding this here, but this is a pain to sit through.

-The Dead and the Damned-At some point, you gotta wonder why nobody has made a good "zombies in the old west" movie.

-Vanishing on 7th Street-Brad Fuller finally makes a bad horror movie with this redundant, poorly written and poorly acted movie that feels like a bad rough draft turned into a movie.

-World of the Dead: Zombie Diaries 2-It's "military men vs. zombies" movie #255, with added shaky cam and rape.

-The Task-The worst of the "After Dark Originals" features one of the worst conclusions in a fright film this year.

-Blood Out-Bad straight-to-DVD cop/action/crime movie I lost the count from Lionsgate has the distinguishing trait of being dull as dirt and poorly directed and written and edited etc. to boot.

-Helldriver-Yoshihiro Nishimura's latest can best be described as the low budget splatter equivalent of a "Transformers" movie. Sure, there's plenty of gore and weird moments, but the whole thing feels tiresome and altogether pointless.

Most Meh

-Battle: Los Angeles-This is the definition of the kind of movie you see that you watch, and while you don't hate it, you won't remember anything about it. It's bland, but far from bad really.

-Grave Encounters-This however, is bland and bad, and feels like a case against making found footage horror movies.

-House of the Rising Sun-It's kinda like "Blood Out", only not as bad, but still pretty bad nonetheless. Oh, and again, poor Amy Smart.

Most Disappointing

-Conan the Barbarian-What makes this movie all the more disappointing is the fact that there's some real pluses here-a great star turn by Jason Momoa, some fun action scenes and a few one liners that are actually good. Unfortunately the bad direction, uneventful script and awful story keep it from becoming the fun movie it should have been.

-ChromeSkull: Laid To Rest 2-How do you not do a sequel to an entertaining slasher movie? You add corporate infighting, government conspiracies and poor explanations.

-Tetsuo The Bullet Man-The most disappointing movie of the year though, goes to the long awaited third film in the "Tetsuo" series, which is a hyper-edited, poorly written Hodge-podge of ideas that barely feel finished.

Future Bad Movie Cult Favorite

-Hyenas-If there's any movie that deserves the same kind of infamy "Troll 2" and "Shark Attack 3" have, it's Eric Weston's hilariously ill-conceived "Hyenas", which made me laugh more than any other bad movie this year did. A must for bad movie fanatics.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Riot on 42nd St. (1987)

Tim Kincaid is a lot of things. A good director is not one of them. After gaining notoriety for the gay porn movies he directed in the 70's (no, I have not seen any of them), he went on to direct some of the absolute worst in 80's horror, science fiction and exploitation-"Breeders", "The Occultist", "Robot Holocaust" and "Bad Girls Dormitory" were among his movies outside of the world of pornography. With all that out of the way, "Riot on 42nd St." is of minor note, because it is a peon to the times in which cheap sex, violence, drugs and exploitation movies ruled that part of New York, and was one of the last of the dying breed of Grindhouse movies. That's not to say that it's any good.

Glenn Barnes (John Hayden) is a tough as nails ex-con who is paroled from prison, and wants to start a riot on 42nd street. There's a bit of a problem in rival club owner Farrell (Michael Spiro), who will do anything he can to keep Glenn from reaching his dreams. After Farrell's ferocious flunkies kill everyone off in the club's opening night, Glenn decides to go out for vengeance-even if that means going back to his old, violent ways. Also, Jeff Fahey shows up for some reason. While him showing up in a bad exploitation or genre movie wouldn't be out of the ordinary today, at the time he was something of a rising star, so it's a bit odd to see him here.

On paper, "Riot on 42nd Street" looks like it should be a lot of fun. It's got plenty of female nudity, some nasty violence and gore (the highlight involves a decapitation and said head ending up in the garbage), and it's clear that Kincaid has his heart in the right place. At the end of the day however, the whole thing is just bad. Granted, a lot of old exploitation movies are bad, but they still manage to be entertaining.

However, the problem is that Kincaid is a bad director and writer. The story makes little if any sense, and is full of continuity errors and lapses in the most basic logic, not to mention the poor cinematography, awful acting, awful music, and lack of any real edge. Sure, it's sleazy and gory, but in this case, nostalgia for the old days of trash cinema can only get you so far, especially when your movie doesn't have much in the way of story, characterization or motivation. Besides, the movies it wants to be like had good to decent directing. This feels like it's being directed on autopilot.

To say that this is Kincaid's crowning achievement isn't saying very much. If you are going to see one urban exploitation revenge saga-Then for crying out loud, go watch "Vigilante" or "Savage Streets" or "The Exterminator."

Rating: 4/10

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Razortooth (2007)

There's a television channel called "Chiller." You probably know what it is. They're dedicated to horror, and while they occasionally show one of the classics (albeit usually in edited form), they also like to show movies that studios like Viviendi, Anchor Bay, Image and Lionsgate like to dump straight to DVD. I mention this because if there was ever a movie for that channel, it would be Patricia Harrington's monsters-snacking-on-rednecks movie "Razortooth."

Set in a small Southern community, "Razortooth" deals with a giant eel that's snacking on the locals. Delmar Coates (Doug Swander) and his ex, Sheriff Ruth Gainey (Kathleen LaGue) are on the case to see why the towns people are disappearing. I've already explained why, so let's just get down to it: there's also some kids who are accompanied by a scientist (Simon Page), whose responsible for the big man-eater.

There isn't much in "Razortooth" that's particularly good or memorable. Oh sure, it occasionally feels like the kind of regional horror fair you used to get, and there's moments in which score is decent, but that's it. The acting ranges from bland (our leads) to bad (the kids) to over the top and obnoxious (the townspeople, who are a bunch of actors hamming it up with fake Southern accents.) The gore is your standard "blood shooting from prop bottles" nonsense, while the eel itself is a stiff moving CGI creation that looks like something from a SyFy Channel movie.

That's what the movie feels like too. I know that this is an independent movie with a budget of $3,000,000, but I've seen so many horror movies made for less that look better, are more ambitious, and offer more entertainment than this. There's little here that resembles a movie anyone would give a damn about. For something that's being touted as being from 'A producer of "The Devil's Rejects"', this feels pretty anemic.

If you crave CGI monster movies of all kinds, then you might enjoy this. Everyone else will feel like this is a waste of time, and not worth the 90 minutes.

Rating: 2/10

Oh, and one of the cast members is Josh Gad, whose found success recently for his role in the Broadway musical "The Book of Mormon."

Friday, December 2, 2011

ChromeSkull: Laid to Rest 2 (2011)

Some readers may remember a while back when I reviewed Robert Hall's slasher movie "Laid to Rest." I found it to be a good time, but it didn't lend itself to be some kind of classic-not that it was trying to be one-and little about it seemed like it needed a sequel. Well, fans demanded it, so Hall decided to give them one. The end result...is not too good.

Starting where the original left off, we see ChromeSkull (Nick Principe) left for dead, his skull crushed. However, he's not dead yet, as Preston (Brian Austin Greene-yes, that one) brings him back to a shady government building, where he is put back together. Now he's disfigured (he should at least be glad he's alive), but Spann (Danielle Harris) has plans plans for him-and is in a bit of a power struggle with Preston, whose hellbent on becoming the new ChromeSkull. Soon, a girl named Jess (Mimi Michaels) and Tommy (Thomas Dekker) from the last movie are at the mercy of two killers...

The first mistake "ChromeSkull" makes is that it reveals too much about the killer. Sure, we don't know his history or why he does what he does, but when it turns out that he works for some large corporation, it ruins the character. One of the reasons ChromSkull (or as he will be called from here on out, Skully) was so interesting in the original is that we knew nothing about him other than the fact that he was a killer with a camera, a chrome skull mask and an assortment of sharp weapons and creative ways to kill people. That's all we needed to know about him. By making him an employee of sorts, it kills whatever mystique he had. Plus, there's so many plot-holes in the movie. What does this corporation do? How are they financed? We end up getting more questions than answers, and it's frustrating.

It also doesn't help that the story is so uninteresting, and the various sub-plots are kinda lame. We don't need two people in a corporate power struggle. We don't need a boring police procedural. We especially don't need someone moonlighting as a killer. We need protagonists that are interesting and a story that doesn't feel convoluted. Oh sure, we've got great kills and gore, as well as an effective Industrial Rock score and good performances, but when the plot is weak and the side-story is lame, you don't really care all that much. When a weak "final girl" moment and a plot twist after the end credits that's insulting in how stupid it is is what you have, then what's the point of watching?

It really sucks that a movie with potential and such a great slasher ended up becoming a mess, but lo and behold, that's what you get. The ending leaves room for a sequel, but if you ask me, they should stop here.

Rating: 3/10

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Attack of the Giant Leeches (2008)

In Bill Gibron's review of this movie, he mentions that Gene Siskel had a good point: why remake good movies when there's plenty of not particularly great ones that could benefit from a remake? Why bother remaking "Halloween", "The Texas Chainsaw Massacre" or "The Wicker Man" when they are perfect as they are? Why not remake "Lair of the Minotaur" or in this case, "Attack of the Giant Leeches"? The original is watchable, but it's far from a classic, and remaking it makes sense. So who decided to take this on? Brett Kelly, a micro-budget wunderkin whose garnered a small following for his nearly budget-free films.

The plot is somewhat similar to the original, or at least in spirit. When people from a swamp town begin to turn up missing, a local sheriff begins to investigate. Someone says they saw giant leeches, so Bucky turns to a difficult park ranger, whose also having an affair with his ex-girlfriend. Soon, more people start to turn up missing...

Kelly could have gone two ways with this-he could have made a straight up homage to the original, or he could have gone the splatter-comedy route. Instead, he makes a direct, 21st century style update, only without anything that's memorable or interesting. The problems? Well for one thing, the audio and video quality resemble that of a Youtube video. I know this was made for next to nothing, but it all looks mostly like Kelly didn't put a whole lot of effort into it. The characters are dull, lacking anything that would make the viewer interested in the final product-hell, the original at least had Yvette Vickers. Then there's the leeches themselves. Sure, they look slightly better than the ones from the original, but that's not saying a whole lot. In fact, I prefer the original's "men in industrial sized trash bags with suckers attached to them." They at least had a campy appeal.

That's the movies biggest flaw-there's little if anything in it that's appealing. Sure, there's girls in bikinis and lingerie, but while that would appeal to audiences of the pre-grindhouse exploitation market, but this was made in 2008-it takes a little more than that to make your movie work. What we get instead is something lacking anything resembling wit or charm. It's a movie that's ultimately lifeless.

As it stands, even fans of micro-budget horror movies will find this to be sorely lacking. If you're going to see one movie about giant leeches-watch the original "Attack of the Giant Leeches." At least you won't feel like falling asleep.

Rating: 1/10

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Conan the Barbarian (2011)

When it was announced that a remake/reboot of one of my favorite action movies, the John Millus sword n' sorcery classic "Conan the Barbarian", I was one of many that was unsure of the idea. I mean, on one hand, I think it's not the best idea, but on the other, the 82 movie is more Millus and Oliver Stone's take on "Conan" than it is the Robert E. Howard creation. I didn't see the movie in theaters, so now that it's on DVD and Blu-Ray, let's take a look.

Opening with a prologue narrated by Morgan Freeman (okay then...), we learn that Conan was born on the battlefield. By that, I mean his father Corin (Ron Perlman) delivered a c-section on his mom during battle. Why a pregnant woman is fighting in war is beyond me, but hey. Years later, young Conan (Leo Howard) watches his village and people become destroyed, and his father killed by warlord Khalar Zym (Steven Lang) and his men.

As an adult (Jason Momoa), Conan is a thief and pirate, who finds Lucius (Steven O'Donnell), who was one of Zym's men that he disfigured as a child. After getting some information out of him about the whereabouts of Zym, he finds out that he's a name known across Hyboria, and he and his daughter Marquis (Rose McGowan) are searching for the pure blood princess Tamara (Rachael Nichols) so they can bring back Zym's wife and enslave humanity. So now, Conan must save the princess and save the world in the process of his quest for vengeance.

If there's anything the new "Conan" really gets right, it's the casting of Momoa as Conan. Simply put, he feels more like the Conan of the stories, as he's not just some brute. He's intelligent, hatches plans, has goals, and can talk fluently as well as he can go into violent rage. The action scenes are also very well done, and bloody as hell, while the sets look like the Hyborian age of the stories. Also, Perlman does fine work as Conan's father, and Lang delivers a fun (albeit scenery chewing) performance. McGowan meanwhile...she's not good, but she vamps it up so much that I kinda liked her. Finally, while it's nowhere near as great as the original, the score by Tyler Bates does it's job-I especially like the Celtic touches.

Sadly, that's where the positives end. For one thing, the direction by Marcus Nispel (whose "Friday the 13th" remake I enjoyed) is the definition of nondescript, as little of it feels epic or fun, and lacks the edge of the original. The story meanwhile, is incredibly dumb, and feels like it was rejected by the SyFy channel, while the script is filled with holes and bad dialog (while Momoa is great, I had to cringe when he delivered lines like "I don't want your gold-I want your head!") The conclusion is also lacking, as it feels anticlimactic, while the rest of the performances-especially Nichols-are all pretty poor.

Which leads to my biggest complaint-the movie lacks fun for the most part. Sure, the action scenes look great, and there's moments that let us know how much of a badass Conan is, but as a whole, it doesn't have the adventurous, pulpy greatness of the original stories. This is a movie with a man who doesn't take any shit, has a code of honor, and is an all around certifiable bad motherfucker who gets girls, kills villains and is tougher than nails. Yet, while it has a great Conan, the story, direction and plotting feel beneath such a character. The end result feels more like a studio patch-job in which they went "Okay, we've got a well known property, let's do make a movie with it" without doing much and ignoring what the final product might look like.

It's a real shame too, because there's some stuff I really like here, and there's a fun movie hidden somewhere. However, the end result just feels lukewarm, and isn't anywhere near as enjoyable as it should be.

Rating: 4.5/10

Friday, November 18, 2011

The Wrong Turn Series

2003 was the year in which backwoods and redneck horror made a comeback, with "Cabin Fever" (my favorite of that years bunch), Marcus Nispel's remake of "The Texas Chainsaw Massacre" and Rob Zombies directorial debut "House of 1,000 Corpses" coming to theaters. Then there was "Wrong Turn", which took a basic concept (pretty young people are stalked in the woods by inbred cannibals) and managed to make it entertaining again-and brought forth a franchise. Here, without further adu, is a look at said franchise.

The first "Wrong Turn" deals with Chris Flynn (Desmond Harrington) who ends up taking a different route and crashes into a car that has some kids-Jessie Burlingame (Eliza Dushku), Carly (Emmanuelle Chrique), her husband to by Scott (Jeremy Sisto) and couple Evan (Kevin Zegers) and Francine (Lindy Booth.) It turns out though, that there was barbed wire on the road-planted by Three-Finger (Julian Richings), Saw-Tooth (Gary Robbins) and One-Eye (Ted Clark)-three deformed, inbred killers with cannibalistic intents.

The first "Wrong Turn" is pretty by the numbers plot wise, but it makes up for it with energy and enthusiasm, as well as better than usual performances and some choice kills. It also helps that director Rob Schmidt clearly knows what he's doing-a throwback to 70's and 80's horror-and manages to give it a modern sheen without betraying the roots of the backwoods sub-genre. All in all, an enjoyable little slice of slasher cinema. 7.5/10

Though it wasn't a huge theatrical hit, it proved to be successful enough on DVD to warrant a sequel. This one takes place in the woods again, in which a reality show called "Apocalypse: Ultimate Survivalist" is being filmed, and is hosted by former Military Colonel Dale Murphy (Henry Rollins.) It's contestants: loner Nina Papas (Erika Leerhsen), former high school football player Jake Washington (Texas Battle), Iraq war vet Amber (Danielle Alonso), obnoxious skateboarder Jonesy (Steve Braun), and slutty model Elena Miller (Crystal Lowe.) Long story short, it turns out that this family is bigger that we thought it was, and they're hungry for seconds.

Going the route of 80's slasher and splatter movies, "Wrong Turn 2: Dead End" takes a horror/comedy route, with amplified black humor, nudity and gore-and thankfully, director Joe Lynch takes advantage of the "Unrated" status for this direct to DVD sequel, which also features some good performances (Rollins in particular is great, clearly having a blast with his role) and inspired kills (this sucker is filled with them.) Best of all, it manages to tell a story about the family without ruining them. Though it does have a few flaws (Braun is really annoying), this is a rare sequel that improves on the original. 8/10

Unfortunately, the law of diminishing returns ends up being the case from here on out, as "Wrong Turn 3: Left For Dead." It opens strong enough, with some always welcome female nudity and gore, only to go route to a broken down prison bus, with Nate Wilson (Tom Fredrick) running into Alex Hale (Janet Montgomery), who survived an attack from Three-Finger (Borislav Iliev.) While the cannibal hunts the prisoners and officers down, the crew needs to know who they can trust, as Carlos Chavez (Tamar Hassan) is losing his mind, and the fact that Three Fingers' son was killed isn't helping matters.

Though it boasts some fine kills and a nice performance from Hassan, "Wrong Turn 3" feels a bit too by the numbers. Having two killers on the loose instead of three or a whole family kind of take some fun out of it, as does the bad CG effects and lifeless direction from Connor James Delaney. It's your basic straight-to-DVD sequel and nothing more. 4/10

A very minor improvement is Declan O'Brien's prequel "Bloody Beginnings", which starts twenty nine years before the original. Here, we learn that Three Finger, Saw-Tooth and One-Eye were originally in an asylum, where all hell broke loose and they killed the doctor and nurse. Cut to winter years later, and a few months before the original, in which a group of college kids go to the now seemingly abandoned asylum...

Thankfully, there's less CG in this one, and the amplified gore and nudity of the first sequel returns. Unfortunately, this skips on the black humor and inspired mayhem of that movie, and ends up being yet another entry in a franchise that should probably end already. The acting is mostly bad (same with the prior entry), and much of it feels as if it's going through the motions. Not essential viewing unless you love all three of the prior movies. 4.5/10.

So there you have it, a look at all four entries in the "Wrong Turn" franchise. If you must, watch the first two, and skip the rest.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

The Dead and the Damned (2011)

In the world of movies, imitation is a given. After "Animal House", there was "King Frat" and "Van Nuys Boulevard." After "Halloween" and "Friday the 13th", you got a whole bunch of slasher movies. I think you get the point. So with the likes of "Shaun of the Dead", the "Dawn of the Dead" remake and the TV series "The Walking Dead" to name a few, it's a given that zombies are hot property. With that being said, a lot of the zombie movies you are going to get-especially nowadays-are pretty poor to forgettable films that go straight to video. Films like "The Dead and the Damned."

Mortimer (David A. Lockhart) is on a mission to capture a Native American man named Brother Wolf (Rick Mora), and plans on using Rhiannon (Camille Montgomery) as bait. Meanwhile, a meteor has crashed onto Earth, and is found and sent to town. After it's cracked open though, it lets forth a toxic chemical that turns the townspeople into zombies. Can Mortimer and co. survive?

Made with a budget of $30,000, "The Dead and the Damned" is the kind of movie that defines uninspired. I can't fault it for having such a low budget and poor production values, but I can fault it on having no idea what to do with that budget, as well as horrible acting. The movie tries to make Mortimer and Wolf sympathetic figures, but the stories given to them are as cliche as they come. Sure, the zombie make-up looks good, and there's nudity, but it's nothing you haven't seen before, not to mention done better. Also, while there's gore, it's also of the "seen it a billion times" variety, with unconvincing prosthetic limbs, machetes to the head, and cheap looking splatter filling time.

I'd also be more forgiving if it felt like writer/director/composer/editor Rene Perez had done a movie with more effort put into it. For all I know, he put all he could into it. However, the end result feels like something made without any passion so it can con a dollar or two out of the viewer. It would also help if he knew how to tell a story, because nothing in the story presented is particularly interesting or investing.

I wish "The Dead and the Damned" was a better movie, as I really like the idea of mixing a western with zombies. However, this is just a bore to sit through, and isn't worth your time.

Rating: 1/10

Saturday, November 12, 2011

The Hazing (2004)

Rolfe Kanefsky has never made a great horror film. That's okay though, as he clearly has no intention on making a classic. His horror movies ("There's Nothing Out There", "Nightmare Man" and "Corpses") are clearly made with adolescent interests-boobs, blood, beasts and more boobs-in mind, not to terrify you or make deep social statements. Is he always successful? No, but these movies, if you are in the right state of mind, can be amusing wastes of time, such as tonight's entry, "The Hazing."

Professor Kapps (Brad Dourif) has some evil intentions in mind-intentions that involve a staff (get your mind out of the gutter dammit) and a book. Meanwhile, a group of sorority pledges are in the midst of a hazing, when Kapps finds Marsha (Tiffany Shepis.) To make a long story short, he ends up dying-sort of. You see, he can now possess people, and he begins to knock off the pledges one by one.

As you can see, there's nothing in the head of this movie, as it's pretty much the same "kids run into evil in a house" premise you've seen in "Hell Night" and "Night of the Demons", which are clearly influences here. That's fine however, since the acting here is better than it was in "Demons" (Dourif, Shepis and Perry Shen in particular are great), and Kanefsky has some fun with some stereotypes, such as the blonde Delia (Nectar Rose) not being the dumb blimbo she seems to be. That out of the way, it's blood and boobs you want from a movie like this, and it delivers. Nearly every woman here gets topless, and the kills are largely pretty good. The highlight however, is a possession that ends with a tongue becoming extra elongated, which really brought to mind that aforementioned "Demons."

There are problems though. First of all, while some of the jokes work, others-especially some awful puns and a really unnecessary fart joke-fall really flat. Also noticeable are some awful CG effects, though I'll let that slide a bit considering that this is clearly a low budget movie. Finally the conclusion didn't work for me, as it's not as fun as the director thinks it is.

A part of me feels the same way I did about a no-budget movie called "Pleasures of the Damned", in that when you get down to it, the jokes eventually run out of steam, and it's in no way good. That out of the way, for a Netflix rental or stream, you could do a whole lot worse, and it's clear most involved had a good time.

Rating: 6/10

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Grave Encounters (2011)

I'm not what you'd call a fan of reality television. If you are, then knock yourself out. Me? I'm spoiled by certain comedies from NBC ("Community" and "Parks and Recreations") and plenty of cable dramas, so I tend to lean towards stories and actors. That out of the way, reality shows have become a boom for horror, as everything from backwoods cannibals ("Wrong Turn 2") and found footage movies ("7 Nights of Darkness") have exploited the trend. Let's take a look at another "found footage" movie that's taken on reality television in "Grave Encounters."

Lance Preston (Sean Rogerson) and his motley crew are a part of a supernatural/ghost hunting show "Grave Encounters." They are now filming in Collingwood Psychiatric Hospital, where supernatural phenomena has talked about for years. Of course, they don't believe any of this, but little do they know...

Apart from a few effective moments (the most striking involving hands sticking out of walls), the most notable plus in this movie is the way it perfectly captures the stupidity of "ghost hunting/haunting/paranormal" shows. I've seen enough clips of these things to know how full of shit the creators are, so it's amusing to see a movie take a jab at that.

Apart from that, this isn't a particularly rewarding movie. It's clear that writer/director team The Vicious Brothers (yes, that's their names) are influenced by the wave of paranormal reality shows, but the movie does little that makes it stick out in the long rut of recent "found footage" movies. If you've seen any of the "[REC]" or "Paranormal Activity" movies, as well as "The Blair Witch Project", then you've seen this. It also doesn't help that most of the performances here are poor, especially Merwin Mondesir as always freaking out T.C. Finally, while there are some frightening images, there's also so many things you've seen before (people not putting the fucking camera down, something in the bathtub, ghosts that are like a mix of the infected in the "[REC]" movies and the murderous ghosts in the remake of "House on Haunted Hill") that it becomes difficult to care about what's going on.

"Grave Encounters" is a movie with pluses (a few okay scares, the fact that the Brothers Vicious show some potential), but left be unsatisfied by the time it was over. A noble attempt, but little more.

Rating: 4.5/10

Monday, November 7, 2011

Brides of Blood (1968) and Mad Doctor of Blood Island (1968)

If you are aware of exploitation movies from the Philippines, you are aware of the name Eddie Romero (no relations to George.) If you aren't: He was a director who found a niche in directing exploitation movies from the 60's to the 70's, then went on to do more "respectable" movies. Well, we aren't here to talk about the latter, we're here to talk about trash, and that's exactly what the "Blood Island" trilogy was-unapologetic exploitation made for drive-in's and Grindhouse theaters. Let's take a look at movies one and two in the trilogy (part three isn't really worth talking about IMO.)

First is "Brides of Blood", in which Jim Farrell (former teen heartthrob John Ashley), Dr. Paul Henderson (Kent Taylor) and his libido fueled wife Carla (Beverly Powers) have ended up on Blood Island. Here, man eating plants fill the jungles, and a monster created by radiation maims and rapes women who are offered as virgin sacrifices.

Though it suffers from some serious pacing issues, "Brides" is fun for what it is. This is a movie with cheap looking plants, one of the goofiest looking monsters of all time, and some minor gore and topless beauties. In fact, the thing that makes this (and it's sequel) so interesting is the fact that these are essentially 50's style monster movies that have fallen into the trappings of late 60's exploitation. The monster and plot elements are dated, but they manage to work thanks to it's seedier elements.

Meanwhile, "Mad Doctor of Blood Island" is a sequel in name only. Here, Dr. Bill Forester (Ashley again) ends up in Blood Island, where a monster created by Dr. Lorca (Ronald Remy) is slaughtering people in gruesome manners. Can the monster be stopped? What happened to the man-eating plants? Will Forester be able to nail Sheila Ward (Angelique Pettyjohn)? What's with the mother and son who seem to have an almost incestuous attachment?

I find "Mad Doctor" to be the best of the "Blood Island" movies. Here, the pacing is better, as the movie moves at a decent clip. Also, the exploitation elements have been ramped up, as we get more nudity, and more gore. Severed limbs, decapitation, mutilation and exposed innards are the name of the game here. Also, while "Brides" tends to get a bit talky, "Mad Doctor" is more dedicated to action and cheap thrills, which is a big plus. That out of the way, some of the camerawork is suspect, especially the zooming in and out that occurs whenever the monster attacks.

As a whole, I don't think you can call these good in the traditional sense. However, as far as trash is concerned, these are pretty fun, and serve as good introductions to the more horror related side to Filipino exploitation.


Brides: 7/10
Mad Doctor: 7.5/10
Now, without further adu, the monster from "Brides of Blood."

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Shark Attack 3: Megalodon (2002)

I'm amazed it took me this long to do a sharksploitation movie. Anyway, in 1990, Claudio Simonetti directed "Troll 2", a sequel nobody asked for that became a cult classic because of how bad it was. Twelve years later, David Worth (who apart from this, is known for directing the Jean Claude Van Dam movie "Kickboxer") gave a new generation it's own "Troll 2" with "Shark Attack 3: Megalodon."

In something that never happens in movies, a shark (in this case, a prehistoric one called a Megaladon) is killing people, and Ben Carpenter (John Barrowman) wants it dead, while researcher Cataline Stone (Jenny McShane) wants to study it. Well, they kill it, but it's mom is pissed, not to mention huge. Also, this movie taught me that sharks roar.

To watch "Shark Attack 3", you have to understand that this was a part of a series of movies that were going straight to DVD and video in the earlier parts of the last decade-shit, Tobe Hooper directed one called "Crocodile." What's notable about these is that they predated the kind of movies the ScyFy channel (then called the Sci-Fi Channel) and The Asylum now make. So look at it as a something from a very minor part of movie history.

Also, you watch this movie is to know that this is the antithesis of what one calls a good movie. This movie is a mix of minor practical gore, lots of stock footage (the mama shark attacks are a superimposed shark "swallowing" people), embarrassing CG effects, more embarrassing acting, the pointless inclusion of government cover ups, shallow villains, nudity and so much more. At the same time, it's a movie that's impossible to hate, simply because it's the kind of thing that's not supposed to be bad (at least I don't think), and becomes hypnotic after a while. You just find yourself amazed at what you are seeing, laughing from time to time at the ineptitude presented. It really must be seen to be believed.

Of course, I can't go on without mentioning "the line." Long story short, Carpenter (who really isn't that likeable of a character to begin with-he's kind of a douche to be honest) tells Catilina "But you know I'm really wired. What do you say I... take you home and eat your pussy?" The next thing you know, they are having sex in a shower.

"Shark Attack 3" is the kind of movie that defies any sort of proper rating. Fans of bad movies already are aware of it's existence, which makes me wonder what this decade's equivalent of this movie will be. Time will tell.

Rating: I Don't Know

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Goblin (2010)

To be honest, I didn't want to do a review tonight. October was fun, but after reviewing twenty something movies for that month, I figured "Hey, you could use a break!" Well, so much for that, as I'm reviewing the SyFy Channel movie "Goblin."

The movie actually starts out promisingly enough, opening on Halloween of 1831. Here, the townspeople throw the deformed baby of the town witch into a fire. Of course, they are now cursed, and the baby-which was a Goblin (obviously) now feeds on babies every Halloween. Cut to present day, where the Perkins family are moving into town, and what do ya know, it's Halloween, and the monster is hungry.

If there are any bright spots to be found, it's the fact that the kills are surprisingly gory for a TV movie, and character actor Gil Bellows does a fine job as the father. That's about all I can say that's positive though, because "Goblin" is a bore to sit through. The monster is a bit lame, and is never convincing with the bad CG effects enhancements they offer. In fact, none of the CG effects looks any good, and wouldn't look out of place in a bad video game with cheap graphics. Even the direction by Jeffery Scott Lando* (so where's Han Solo?) is uninspired, and offers nothing that distinguishes itself from other ScyFy Channel movies.

Then there's the mythology of the film. The movie is actually rife with potential on what it could do with the monster's back story-how did it come to be, what could it's connection to the woman who feeds it-but the answers you get are everything you've seen before. This is a movie that lacks inspiration, and tends to be dull even by ScyFy Channel standards. At least some of the channel's movies can be watchable in a cheesy way. This is just boring and nondescript.

Unless you are a hardcore SyFy Channel movie junkie, you don't need to bother with "Goblin." This is nothing that you haven't seen from the channel before, and done better in the past believe it or not.

Rating: 2/10

*Lando's prior directorial credits include the giant bug movie "Insceticidal", the vampire movie "Thirst" (which is in no way related to the great Korean vampire movie), the backwoods horror movie "Savage Island" (which I remember some praising a while back) and the sequel "Decoys 2: Alien Seduction" (which had Tobin Bell.) He's also done the TV movies "House of Bones" and "Super Tanker."

Monday, October 31, 2011

Zombie (1979)

Ah, Lucio Fulci's "Zombie." Released in Italy as the unofficial sequel to "Dawn of the Dead" (with the title "Zombi 2"), it launched the director's career as the master of Italian splatter movies, and brought forth a wave of zombie movies from that country. I may not think it's the best Italian zombie movie ("The Living Dead at Manchester Morgue" and "Cemetery Man" are better) or Fulci's best movie ("City of the Living Dead" is), but it is the definitive Italian zombie movie, as well as the movie that went on to define the director's career.

The plot is pretty simple: Peter West (Ian McCulloch) is investigating some strange goings on, when he runs into Ann Bowles (Tisa Farrow), whose father has gone missing in the Caribbean-or so she believes. Meanwhile, an epidemic of walking, flesh hungry corpses has overtaken that region, and Dr. David Menard (Richard Johnson) is at the center of it, trying to figure out the cause (it's voodoo), as well as dealing with his increasingly angry wife Paola (Olga Karlatos.) In the process, Peter and Ann are headed to the Caribbean to find out what happened to her father, and Brian (Al Cliver) and Susan (Auretta Gay) are coming with them.

To be honest, the story here isn't that important, and the acting is largely pretty bad. However, on a purely visceral level, "Zombie" succeeds with flying colors. This is a movie that's unapologetic about over the top it is, with flesh munching zombies, gratuitous nudity and legendary moments such as a zombie fighting a shark that exist simply to make the audience go "holy shit, did you see that?" Also, it's gory as hell, with torn out throats, maimed flesh, and even a stomach churning moment in which Paola's eyeball is impaled in close up. It helps that the effects here are impressive, with excellent cinematography by Sergio Salvati and a wonderful electronic score by Fabio Frizzi complimenting the proceedings nicely.

The other reason "Zombie" sticks out is that it's atmospheric as hell. The dead here are the best looking zombies in movie history, covered in dirt, worms and maggots, and damn near looking like real live walking corpses. The scenes of them walking en masse and rising from their graves are positively spine tingling. Even notorious moments like the eyeball impalement are terrifying, as they are drawn out in grueling detail, leaving first time viewers to think "No way. They aren't going to show that!" And then they do, and you can't shake it off.

Simply put, this is a must for anyone who says they love zombie movies, and is the movie that made Fulci the cult sensation he is today. Absolutely essential. Also, the new re-release by Blue Underground looks and sounds incredible, and is a no brainer as far as purchases are concerned.

Rating: 9/10

Saturday, October 29, 2011

House of Blood (2006)

Olaf Ittenbach's career as a director is an interesting but usually not good one. He started out directing low-budget splatter films like "Burning Moon", "Black Past" and "Premutos: Lord of the Dead", which got him a cult following. He then graduated to doing make-up and gore effects for things like Uwe Boll movies, and directing larger budgeted movies like "Legion of the Damned", "Garden of Love" and "Dard Divorce", which were attempts at doing more mainstream friendly horror. Another one of these attempts is 2006's "House of Blood" (originally called "Chain Reaction"), which suffice to say, is pretty bad.

Dr. Douglas Madsen (Christopher Kriesa) has been taken hostage by a group of escaped convicts, who decide to take refuge in a cottage. Inside said cottage is a strange family that speaks in Olde English and also seems to double as a religious cult. The family then turns into bloodthirsty demons (is there any other kind?) and kills the criminals, but Dr. Madsen is saved by local girl Alice (Olaf's wife Martina), and ends up being interrogated by police (one of the officers is played by J├╝rgen Prochnow), and of course, they don't believe his story, so he ends up taking a bus ride to a prison with some inmates. The bus crashes, and you can guess what happens next.

I'll say this much about "House of Blood": The gore and splatter FX are pretty impressive, the cinematography is good, and Kriesa delivers a good performance. Unfortunately, he delivers the only good performance, as everyone else is terrible, mostly just shouting profanities and pointing guns at each other. They are all supposed to be from America, and this is supposed to take place here, but most of the cast speaks with Germanic accents, and it was clearly shot in Germany. Also, while the gore is effective, there isn't enough, as the viewer has to wait for what feels like a very long time for the splatter to hit-until then it's a lot talking and yelling at one another.

Then there's the fact that the direction, editing and script (which Ittenbach co-wrote with Thmosat Reitmar) are all pretty poor. If this was from a rookie director, it would be more acceptable, but Ittenbach has been making movies since 1989, and that this is his tenth movie. None of it feels like something that was directed by a man whose been making movies for seventeen years. It just feels like something directed by a hack looking to make a quick buck.

All around, this is a terrible movie, with very little to recommend. If you want to watch a movie from Ittenbach, watch one of his earlier splatter movies. Those aren't great, but at least they're directed by someone who gave a damn about what he was making.

Rating: 2/10

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Atrocious (2010)

The last "found footage" movie I saw was "The Zombie Diaries 2: World of the Dead." To say it left me unsatisfied would be an understatement, as I thought it was one of the worst horror films of the year. Now I get "Atrocious", which is one of the latest from Bloody Disgusting Selects.

The story goes like this: police have attained 36 hours worth of footage that may explain the murder of a family. In this footage, amateur paranormal explorers Cristian (Cristian Valencia) and July (Clara Moraleda) have joined their family on vacation in Sitges. They've also brought their cameras with them, as they are going to investigate the legend of the Girl in the Garraf Woods. When the family dog is found dead, it turns out that this legend might be true.

I found "Atrocious" to be a better movie than "Zombie Diaries 2" (or the first "Zombie Diaries" movie for that matter.) It's a movie that actually offers at least two genuinely scary moments, and a knock out conclusion. It also has better defined characters than that movie did. Here, we get to know them as people, giving their eventual fates more investing.

However, the film is ultimately hurt by the "amateur found footage" gimmick. Here, the viewer is given constant-and I mean constant-footage of the two running around outside, complete with lots of heavy breathing and shaky cam. Movies like "[REC]" and the like were able to take the found footage gimmick and deliver something that felt like a complete movie. This movie thinks constantly running around in an outdoors maze and people yelling and muttering makes for a scary time, when in reality it's kinda tedious. Then there's the scene nearing the end revolving around police procedural photos. I know it was meant to add weight to the family's death, but it just felt distracting and kinda annoying to me.

I want to like "Atrocious", as I'd hesitate to call it a bad movie, and because I love the Bloody Disgusting website. However, this ended up being a movie that could have been better than it ultimately was.

Rating: 5.5/10

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Classic Poster Art-Hardgore (1974)

Too lazy to post a review today. Will do so tomorrow.

Monday, October 24, 2011

City of the Living Dead (1980)

After "Zombie" was released, Lucio Fulci's career went through a bit of a boost. He had gone from being a director known for dabbling in comedies, westerns and Giallo films, to a man who pushed the envelope as far as zombies and gore were concerned, earning him the name "Godfather of Gore." So, how did he follow that up? With three occult tinged tales with zombies, curses, gore and lots and lots of splatter. The first of these was "City of the Living Dead", which is also my favorite Fulci movie from this period.

In Dunwich (which here is said to have once been called Salem-logic isn't really this movie's strong suit), Father William Thomas (Fabrizio Jovine) has hung himself. Since then, bad things have been happening-people are found dead, blood pours from walls, maggots fall from the sky, Father Thomas is killing people in gory and disgusting ways, and the dead walk the Earth. Now, only psychic Mary Woodhouse (Catriona McColl, who became the female lead in Fulci's trilogy) who saw this death at a seance, reporter Peter Bell (Christopher George), psychologist Gerry (Carlo De Mejo) and his patient Sandra (Janet Agren) can stop this horror and close the gate of hell that has been opened.

While it does have a few unintentionally amusing moments (apparently, Dunwhich suffers from an infestation of howler monkeys), I find this to be the strongest of Fulci's "Gates of Hell" trilogy. Here, the direction, editing and cinematography are all top notch, the lapses of logic never become slightly annoying (people not aiming for the zombie's heads in "The Beyond") or lazy (a few moments in "House by the Cemetery", which I feel is the weakest in the trilogy), and perfectly accompany the nightmarish feeling of the movie, in which anyone at any given moment can die in the worst way imaginable. It also packs a fine score by Fabio Frizzi (though "The Beyond" remains his finest work) and even a few good performances (George in particular does a fine job.) Also noteworthy are the zombies in this movie. Yes, they eat human flesh and tear brains out of skulls, but they also teleport, giving then an almost ghostly quality.

With that of the way, I won't deny that the movie is mostly known for it's gore and atmosphere. This is the most disgusting movie Fulci directed, with two scenes in particular-town pervert Bob (Giovanni Lombardo Radice aka Italian horror's favorite whipping boy) getting a large drill rammed through his head, and a woman vomiting her entrails-standing out. Apart from that, you get plenty of rotting, worm covered zombies, maggots, worms, mud (both are shoved in a woman's mouth), brain ripping and more make you lose your lunch.

At the same time, this movie is also unbelievably creepy. The atmosphere is enveloped in death and pure evil, creating an air of inescapable horror. It also boasts what I think is the best set piece in Fulci's career, in which Peter must rescue a thought to be dead Mary out of a coffin via a pick axe. It's a purely suspenseful, Hitchcock-like moment that scared the shit out of me when I first saw it on VHS years ago, and still packs a punch today.

If you are interested in the oeuvre of Fulci, this probably isn't the best place to start-that would be either "Zombie" or "The Beyond." This however, is a very logical next step, and remains gross and disturbing to this day.

Rating: 9/10

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Zombies! Zombies! Zombies (2008)

You more than likely remember Jay Lee's 2008 movie "Zombie Strippers", which starred Robert Englund and porn icon Jenna Jameson. What you probably did (or didn't) know is that another strippers vs. zombies movie was released that same year-granted, I believe it was made two years earlier, and only came out in 2008 to capitalize on said movie's reputation. Anyways, Let's take a look at Jason Murphy's film "Zombies! Zombies! Zombies!"

Dr. Stewart (Michael Clinkenbeard-quite the name) has made a new drug, one that won't make you sick. Actually, it will make you sick-and by that, I mean it turns people into flesh craving zombies. Now, a group of strippers working and hookers, as well as assorted would be lovers, brothers and a pimp, must seek refuge at a strip club called "The Grindhouse" (ugh) and band together to stop the undead menace.

As you can tell, plot isn't the biggest thing on the mind of this movie. This is the kind of movie that can best be classified as a "dumb horror comedy", or a mix of horror and comedy that appeals to ones baser instincts and never exercises your thought patterns. To be fair, some of the performances are decent, the make-up effects look good, some of the jokes actually work (love two of our characters finding out that there was a chainsaw in the back of the truck the whole time), and it has an amusing opening with horror vet Tiffany Shepis.

That out of the way, the movie still comes up short. I don't want to rip on it, because it's heart is in the right place, and it doesn't want to be anything else but dumb entertainment. However, While there's some better than expected performances, you do get some weak ones as well. There's some fun kills, the impact they have is minimal because much of them are accomplished via weak CG effects. While there are funny moments, there's also plenty of moments that aren't as funny as they want to be-in particular a line that ribs on "Snakes on a Plane." Worst of all, while there is nudity, there isn't enough. This is a movie with strippers and hookers fighting zombies. You should all out embrace the seedier aspect this kind of movie should offer, not cover it up with bad jokes and bad CG.

There's little about "Zombies!" that's actually detestable, as this seeks out to be a dumb horror comedy and nothing more. That out of the way, it should have gone further, making it a light but unfulfilling snack.

Rating: 5/10

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Boy Eats Girl (2005)

High School can be hell. The awkward moments of erections and falling asleep in class. The bullies. The rude, apathetic teachers. The zombies. Okay, that last part has never happened (or at least best to my knowledge...), but that and teen love are the theme of Stephen Bradley's zombie comedy "Boy Eats Girl."

After Nathan (David Leon) has a bit of a misunderstanding with his no.1 crush Jessica (Samantha Mumba - remember when she was a pop star?), he ends up accidentally committing suicide. His mom ends up stealing a book of voodoo spells from the local church - why the local church would have such a book is beyond me and is never explained - she brings him back. Unfortunately, he's now a zombie, and after he bites a bully in a fit of rage, then infection starts to spread.

It's obvious that "Boy Eats Girl" is trying to ride on the coattails of "Shaun of the Dead." Like that movie, it tries to mix romantic comedy - in this case the teen variety - with the oft used zombie genre. Unlike "Shaun", there's little here that distinguishes this from other zombie comedy movies. It follows the usual "friends must band together to survive a zombie outbreak" mold that's been used to many times in the past, and doesn't give the viewer much as far as surprises are concerned. You know who will live and who will die, you get the usual "zombies eating flesh" moments, and by the time it's over, it will all feel familiar to you.

That out of the way, this isn't a particularly bad movie. In fact, it's kind of a cute one, with likeable main characters, and some surprisingly good performances to boot. It's also got some nice moments of gory mayhem, with the highlight being a "Dead Alive" inspired zombie massacre with a combine harvester instead of a lawnmower (though to be honest, the combine harvester massacre in "Evil Aliens" was funnier.) Best of all, the humor here hits more than it misses. This is a movie that clearly has comedy more on it's mind than horror, and the jokes and gags here actually made me laugh, which I can't say for the likes of say, "Bloodlust Zombies" or "Dead and Deader."

I doubt "Boy Eats Girl" will make anyone's top ten lists as far as zombie comedy movies are concerned. It is however, a sweet little mix of bloody carnage and teenage love that's a decent little time waster.

Rating: 6/10

Friday, October 21, 2011

The Brain That Wouldn't Die (1962)

To really enjoy the trashier side of cinema, you have to look at it's lurid past. Before the likes of "I Drink Your Blood" and even the works of Herschel Gordon Lewis, there were several seedy movies-mostly nudie flicks-that catered to the baser aspects of human demands. Not in the mood for one of the cinematic greats of old? Then how about Dwain Esper's hilariously bad "Maniac!", or in this case, Joseph Green's shot in 1959 but not released until 1962 oddity "The Brain that Wouldn't Die"?

Dr. Bill Cortner (Jason Evers) has run into a bit of a conundrum-he and his girlfriend Jan (Virginia Leith) got in a car wreck, and only her head came in tact. No worries though, because with the wonders of science, he's able to keep her head alive in a pan. As he goes looking for a new body, it seems that Jan in a Pan (thank you MST3K) isn't too grateful for Billy keeping her alive, and begins to plot revenge. Oh, and she has telekinetic powers and uses them to read people's thoughts and communicate with the monster in the closet.

I know it was featured on Mystery Science Theater. I know that the acting is mostly terrible. I know that at the end of the day, this is a bad movie. And you know what? I don't care. "The Brain That Wouldn't Die" is a fun example of pre-Grindhouse era exploitation with gore (a torn off arm, surgery and a ripped out throat) that, while not a big deal these days, was back then. It's also got women in either lingerie or bathing suits, sleazy jazz music, melodrama, questionable science, despicable characters, an ugly monster and so much more that helped set the standard for what would become favorites in the likes of 42nd Street New York. Best of all, it clearly isn't taking itself too seriously, with the likes of gratuitous cat fights and a great last line.

If it does run into any problems, it's that it gets really talky. I normally don't mind dialogue in movies, but there are several conversation scenes that could have been shorter. Also, there are several plot holes here. Where are the police? Why is it called "The Head That Wouldn't Die" at the end credits? Maybe that was the original title.

I digress though, because this is exactly what a "so bad it's good" movie should be, and then some. Fans of cinematic garbage, this is a must. Everyone else-well, why would you be reading this review anyway?

Rating: 7/10

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Slices of Life (2010)

Oh boy, this is going to be a bit difficult to review.

"Slices of Life" is an indie anthology film that has a lot going for it. Director Anthony G. Sumner shows a lot of promise, and clearly has talent. The make-up and gore effects are very impressive for a movie with such a low budget. Best of all, it has a lot of ambition, as this clearly wants to be better than the usual no-budget anthology film, and it actually has ideas. However, while I don't think it deserves all the one star reviews I've been seeing on IMDB and Netflix, it still ends up being something of a disappointment.

Our film opens with an amnesiac (Kaylee Williams) waking up next to a seedy hotel run by a strange older woman (Helene Alter-Dyche) and her helper Tiny (Marv Blauvelt.) Here, she finds three books-"Work Life", "Home Life" and "Sex Life"-which each contain the tales for our anthology.

Our First Story is "W.O.R.M." Here, William Robert Moss (Jack Guasta) has a shitty life at work. Everyone treats him bad, his boss denies him a raise, and even girls on web cams mock him. So, he creates a new nano-technology that will make people like him. It does-and it turns them into zombies.

"W.O.R.M." is the most tongue in cheek entry, as well as the weakest one. While the zombies actually look great, and there's some memorably gooey imagery, it's not as funny as it wants to be (the company is called "N.I.M.R.O.D."), and to be honest, Bill just isn't that likeable. We're supposed to sympathize for his loneliness, but he just comes off as a whiny snot who always feels bad for himself.

Next up is "Amber Alert", in which pregnant Vonda (Toya Turner) is being haunted by ghosts. Her husband isn't much help, as he's kind of a dick, and isn't around much. Oh, and then there's the killer whose abducting and murdering little girls...

There's some decent moments here and there (Vonda's first encounter with a ghost is actually kind of creepy), but "Amber Alert" is hurt by an incredibly obvious twist and a sense of predictability, as well as some very unnecessary (and poor) CG effects.

Finally there's "Pink Snapper." This one is the tale of Susan (Deneen Melody), whose is sexually abused by her uncle on a regular basis. After, knocking him out and running off with her boyfriend, they end up in a house with a kidnap victim named Elizabeth Nadasdy (Judith Lesser.) However, she's got a bit of a nasty secret downstairs, and her father Edgar (Bruce Varner) wants to make sure she doesn't kill again.

Though this one is also predictable, I actually found myself liking this segment. The practical gore effects are plentiful and absolutely disgusting, and Deneen Melody actually delivers a sympathetic performance. Oh, and the conclusion is great.

The problem with "Slices of Life" aren't the usual flaws that you find in micro-budget horror movies (bad acting-though this has an abundance of that-and poor editing), but the fact that while it has ideas, it ultimately has too many ideas. Little asides about things like Countess Bathory and briefly mentioned, but altogether forgotten, while other ideas are ultimately due to budgetary restrictions. There's also little jokes ("Fux News"? Really?) that might have seemed amusing at first, but are more groan inducing than anything else. Finally, the wrap-around segment feels anticlimactic, as if Sumner and his co-writers ran out of ideas in the last minute.

I really want to like this movie. The director shows some real promise, and I'd like to see what he'll do next (I believe it will be a remake of the Grindhouse favorite "Don't Look in the Basement!") However, the flaws end up weighing out the good points, leaving the final product to be disappointing.

Rating: 5.5/10

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Class of Nuke 'Em High (1986)

After "The Toxic Avenger", Troma went from another studio making and distributing exploitation movies (mostly teen sex comedies few people remember) to the new name in trashy genre films. Sure, they had released movies like "Mother's Day" in the past, but they weren't the hit "Avenger" was. So the question for Lloyd Kaufman and co. was most likely "So, how do we follow that up?" Well, they did that by doing "Class of Nuke 'Em High", which kept the offbeat humor, gore and nudity of "Avenger", and kept a keen eye on what it did in the past.

The plot goes like this: Ever since a power plant was built next to Tromaville high, strange things have been going on. Like how what was once the honors society is now a gang of horny, violent cretins called...um, "The Cretins." Well, they get a hold on pot that's been dosed in nuclear energy, call it "an Atomic High", and sell it at a party. When lovebirds Chrissy (Janelle Brady) and Warren (Gil Brenton) get a hold of it, and have sex-things start to turn bad, because Warren's now prone to turn into a vengeful green mutant, and Chrissy got pregnant-and puked out said baby, which is a mutated tadpole of some sort. After somebody flushes it down the toilet, it starts getting bigger down in the basement...

To tell the truth, this isn't a good movie in the traditional sense of the word. The acting is mostly bad, some of the jokes and supporting characters are grating, and most of the cast is pretty one dimensional. That out of the way, it knows what kind of movie it is, and revels in it. This is pure cinematic garbage that's pretty entertaining to boot, with enough bloodshed, gratuitous breast shots, and can do spirit to boot. It's also got a great monster at the end, and The Cretins themselves can get pretty sadistic at times-and one of them gets one of the best lines in Troma movie history in "Hey, that's what you get when you date a yuppie baby!"

Also noticeable is the fact that it fully embraces the teen sex comedy genre. While this would sometimes show the downfall of a movie, here it works, as it fits the campy vibe the movie has. Then there's the fact that, while nobody would mistake it for having good taste, it's rarely that mean spirited. Compared to later movies like "Toxic Avenger IV" and "Terror Firmer", this isn't a movie that scraps the bucket for pure gross out gags and tedious shock tactics. In fact, it kind of has a good nature to it. Besides, while the actors playing them aren't good, It's hard not to like Warren and Chrissy. They're just two sweet kids in love, and you things hope turn out good for them.

If you ask me, "Class of Nuke 'Em High" remains one of Troma's best accomplishments. Nobody's going to mistake it for a work of high cinematic art, but as cinematic junk food, it really tastes great.

Rating: 8/10

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

High Lane (2009)

Mountain climbing is not something that's on my "to do" list. The mere idea of it freaks me out. With that out of the way, I'm surprised that there haven't been many horror movies set around the world of this activity. I mean, it involves a large, natural setting in which anything bad can and could happen, so it seems like this and horror would go hand in hand. Anyway, director Abel Ferry's feature length debut "High Lane" tries to mix the two, even though the end result wasn't something I fell in love with.

Five friends-Chloe (Fanny Valette), Loic (Johan Libereau), Guillaume (Raphael Lenglet), Fred (Nicolas Giraud) and Karine (Maud Wyler) decide to go on a mountain climbing expedition-which has been closed due to repairs. Of course, this turns out to be a bad idea, as tensions mount, friendships are tested, and a killer (Justin Blankaert) is on the prowl.

The first half of "High Lanes" is pretty effective. We don't know what or who it is in the woods, and there's some genuinely suspenseful moments-the highlight revolving around a wire bridge. However, once the killer finally makes his appearance, some of the good will goes on the wayside. Up until then, this has been a well directed tale of suspense that relies more on volatile shifts in relationships and the menace of the natural world to build a sense of horror.

Then the killer is revealed, and when this happens, it becomes yet another "people trapped in the woods with a backwoods psychopath" movie. It even has the typical "victims are tied up" scenario that's been done a thousand times. If the movie has stuck with the original "people trapped in nature" style, this would have won me over, but it ends up being a erratically edited and cliche as they come movie. Also, what was with the sudden flashes to the hospital?

There's things to like about this movie, which makes it's shortcomings all the more frustrating. It's a case of a movie looking like it's going to hit the ball out of the park-only to strike out instead.

Rating: 5/10

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Blood Junkie (2010)

These days, there's tons of nostalgia for the slasher movies of old. Ask the likes of Adam Green (Hatchet), Robert Hall ("Laid to Rest") and Frank Sabatella ("Blood Night: The Legend of Mary Hatchet) for example. Their movies bleed a love and yearning for a return for the age of gory, nudity filled slasher films of old. Another name you can add to that list is Drew Rosas, whose $7,000 slasher opus "Blood Junkie", which goes far enough to be set in the 80's.

Laura (Sarah Luther) and Rachel (Emily Treolo) can't wait to have fun in the woods with Craig (Nick Sommer) and Teddy (Mike Johnson.) Unfortunately, Laura has to take care of her little brother Andy (Brady Cohen), so she ends up bringing the kid with her. Unfortunately for them, there's a killer (Andrew Swant) with a thing for human blood in the local abandoned factory, and he has his eyes on them.

Everything about "Blood Junkie" bleeds nostalgia and love for the slasher movies of old-the killer is clearly modeled after the one from "My Bloody Valentine", while the dumb humor could have come from any of the "Friday the 13th" sequels. It even has a retro electronic score, a grainy look (some movies have a thing for doing that since "Grindhouse") and the same fashions and accessories from the 80's. So, does Rosas recreate the slasher movies of that decade? Yes and no.

For one thing, the tone and look of the movie is spot on, as it really does feel like you are watching a slasher movie from 1989 at times. The kills are bloody, but only one is really that graphic. Hell, the killer could have come from that part of the decade. Whilst guys like Hatchet Face and Chromeskull feel like slasher villains on steroids, the Blood Junkie really is a legit throwback to that part of the decade. All of that out of the way, the film ends up feeling too gimmicky for it's own good, with several of the jokes and references running on nostalgia and little more. After a while, one wants there to be more than just "Hey, we love 80's horror!" Also, the conclusion has a terrible twist at the end that soured the movie a bit for me. I'll just put it like this: if you've seen "High Tension", then you've seen an ending similar to the one here.

Is "Blood Junkie" worth a look? Well, it's certainly one of the better micro-budget slasher movies I've seen-it's probably the best I have seen. You might like it if you go into it with low expectations, but don't expect to be amazed either.

Rating: 6/10

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Hell Night (1981)

After "The Exorcist II", Linda Blair's career didn't exactly recover. Sure, she had guest appearances on TV shows like "MacGyver" and a cameo in "Scream", but she also ended up in movies like "The Chilling", "Grotesque" and "Witchery." In short, strong roles in prominent Hollywood movies were a thing of the past. That out of the way, she did star in three genre faves-the revenge movie "Savage Streets", the women in prison classic "Caged Heat", and today's entry, the 1981 slasher "Hell Night."

Blair stars as Marti Gaines, who along with three other fraternity pledges, must spend the night in an old, Gothic looking house where a series of family murders took place years ago. Some of the frat members decide to fuck around and scare the pledges, but little do they know that the sole survivor of the Garth family-a deformed man with murderous intentions-is stalking the house.

"Hell Night" is, as you can tell, another movie that tries to capitalize on the success of "Friday the 13th" and "Halloween" (it's even from the producer of that movie.) That out of the way, this has some notable differences from some of those movies. First of all, while the characters are all people we've seen in slasher movies before (the sexpot, the horny guy, the sweet girl and her love interest), the movie actually invests some time with them, making them likable in the process-it helps that most of the performances are good too. Also, while there's some decent kills here, this is a movie that's not particularly interested in things like wanton bloodshed, and instead uses the decor of the house and the legend surrounding it to build a sustainable atmosphere, something some slasher movies of the time lack. Add a nice twist to the old "the police aren't doing anything" trope, an effective score by Dan Wyman, and a great conclusion, and you've got a quality horror movie.

To be fair though, there are two flaws with the movie. As I mentioned, I found most of the performances to be good. Blair is kind of hit and miss here, as she sometimes does a good job with the material, while other times she seems to not want to be there. Also, while I really enjoyed this movie, it probably could have had a few minutes trimmed, as it doesn't really need to be 101 minutes long.

That out of the way, "Hell Night" is a blast to watch, and I can see why the movie is considered a slasher movie classic to this day. Check it out if you have a craving for a fun 80's horror movie.

Rating: 8/10

Friday, October 14, 2011

The Child's Eye (2010)

The Pang Brothers are mostly known for two earlier movies in "Bangkok Dangerous" (they also directed the remake) and a horror film called "The Eye", about a blind girl who gets an cornea transplant, only to see ghosts afterwards. There's been three sequels since then, with the latest getting released in China last year, and in 3D to boot. Well, it's been released here in the states by Lionsgate in 2D, and not with much fanfare, and after watching it, I can see why.

The plot deals with a group of friends who are looking to have some fun in Thailand. Well, political protests are going on, so they end up in a dismal looking hotel instead of the one they wanted to go to. Of course, it turns out that the hotel has some dark secrets and a darker past, and it soon becomes apparent that it doesn't want them to leave.

"The Child's Eye" does have a few things going for it. There are some genuinely eerie moments that take place-the highlight involving a girl hiding from a human/dog hybrid-that managed to catch my attention, and the score by Origin Kampanee is fine when the more horror centric moments take place. Also worthy of note is the fact that the Pang Brothers decide to opt for an atmosphere which at times resembles that of a house of horrors, with bad events and twisted situations lingering within each corner.

The problem however, is that they don't always know what to do with these events. Sure, there's a few nice moments, but most of the horrors on display range from the usual "Asian ghost movie" cliches, to moments such as a tormented husband that feel like a parody of said genre. The acting-well, it's not bad, and the actors, God bless 'em, do what they can with the material given to them. However, the material doesn't give them very much to do other than look scared, thus failing to give a reason to care about them. The ending of the movie is pretty poor as well, with terrible dialogue ("You have to let go of your hate") and a lame "Oh shit, what's that" conclusion. This, plus the abundance of cliches really cause the movie to fall apart when it so clearly wants to be a scare fest.

In the end, "The Child's Eye" isn't a terrible movie. I don't even know if I could call it a bad movie. It's just an exceedingly average movie that brings little to the table, and is mostly forgettable as a result.

Rating: 5/10

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Nightmare Alley (2010)

I try to be more forgiving when it comes to micro-budget horror movies. These DIY efforts are usually labors of love, made for almost nothing usually by amateur filmmakers who are passionate enough about what they do. However, I can't forgive "Nightmare Alley", a vile, pointless and all around painful anthology film that feels more like a bad extended pilot for the worlds worst cable access television show, and has a host who delivers one liners that would make even the worst horror host cringe.

Our film begins with a segment with two jack-offs going on about how people are pussies and constantly calling people fags (believe me when I say the rank homophobia gets worse later on.) Well, they meet a hobo who gives them a comic book-the latest issue of "Nightmare Alley"-and then are thankfully offed by the hobo.

Now on to the segments of this anthology.

A Fistful of Innards
-Three cowboys come across a meteor, and want to sell it for cash-until one of them betrays and shoots the other two. Unfortunately for him, they immediately come back as zombies and consume his flesh. They then kill a bunch of people off screen.

This sucker is as painful as they come, with dire acting (I normally don't bitch about poor acting in movies like this, but nobody here seems to be putting forth any effort) and even worst writing. Amazingly, this is the best of these segments.

Rebellion-A doofus with a ponytail buys a rubber rat from a novelty store, which possesses him to kill women for the purpose of sucking out their souls and growing large to take over the world. One of the dork's victims escapes, only to become the rats slave instead.

I admit that I was mildly amused by the use of the phrase "penis wrinkle", but this is a segment that shows no knowledge as to how humor works. It also happens to be pretty misogynistic, so with this and the homophobia of a prior and later segment, I seriously think there's something wrong with directors Laurence Holloway and Scarlett Fry. Yes, two people directed this.

Death Chat
-A man is caught cheating by his wife, who walks out on him. So, he decides to try an online sex chat to get laid, only to be hacked up by the vengeful ghost of a jilted lover.

I have nothing to add other than the fact that the man is supposed to be twenty six, but he looks like a redneck in his early 40's.

Meat-A trashy Bettie Paige look alike meets a fat guy who never wears a shirt and loves to rub his nipples. When she takes him home, her husband (played by the dude who knocked out Danzig) finds them, and when the guy leaves, she kills her husband. Six hours later, he comes back, and she feeds him the flesh of her hubby.

This segment feels way too much like a short movie even Troma would neglect. Also, her husband is also fat, which makes me believe she digs prime cuts.

Closet Case-A man is hit on by a gay guy, then kills said gay guy. He then takes a gay porno magazine, and masturbates to it.

This is the worst segment of them all, and is the biggest proof that the people behind this have serious problems. You know, in the segment "Rebellion", the main character wears a shirt that says "asshole." This is exactly what the people who made this are.

The Great Damone-In a riff on Roger Corman's "A Bucket of Blood" and Herschel Gordon Lewis' "Color Me Blood Red", a put upon painter kills his wife, and uses her blood and body parts to create his work. This works at first, but after his second piece of art offends people, he is taunted from beyond the grave by his ex. He then kills himself and ends up in hell.

This segment bugged me in particular because it actually has a neat premise. However, everything about it (the acting, the direction and the gore) feels incredibly lazy.

Slash of the Blade-The ghost of Jack the Ripper goes around killing people in broad daylight. That's it.

First of all, this has what may be the worst Jack the Ripper costume ever. Second of all, there's a series of Jack the Ripper like killings going on, and the police to nothing about any of the complaints. Okay then.

There's nothing about "Nightmare Alley" that's worth a damn. I've noticed some people have defended this movie, saying things "Come on, it's a B-movie!" and "But it's like, horror man, and it was made outside of the Hollywood system!" To that, I have this to say: Fuck you. People like you are the reason horror fans get a bad rep. I enjoy B-movies-shit, this blog is pretty much dedicated to them. But this is not fun at all. This is the worst kind of bullshit imaginable. The kind of shit I wouldn't even recommend to my worst enemies. Just because a movie doesn't take itself seriously and is a B-movie is not an excuse. Fuck you, fuck this movie, and fuck the people who wrote and directed it.


Wednesday, October 12, 2011

World of the Dead: The Zombie Diaries 2

The found footage genre is all the rage nowadays. From 2008's "Cloverfield", "[REC]" and "Diary of the Dead" to the likes of the "Paranormal Activity" movies and "The Last Exorcism", people love watching horror films about horrific events caught on camera. Back in 2006, we a little movie called "The Zombie Diaries", which told stories of people with a camera filming their lives as the world fell through a zombie epidemic. I wasn't too wild about the movie, but it did good enough for a sequel to exist. Too bad said sequel seriously sucks.

The movie starts out in fine form, as we catch a night in the lives of a family trying to live on in a world in which the dead walk. Too bad it's only footage that was found by military types. Said soldiers find a civilian named Leeann (Alix Wilton Reagan), as well as possible hope when talk of a boat rescuing survivors. However, this may be at long reach, as our intrepid soldiers must not only survive the walking dead, but also murderous survivalists, and the possibility that salvation isn't going to turn out the way they wanted.

I'll give the movie this much: the acting is good, but that's the only compliment I can give this movie. The first (and probably biggest) problem with "The Zombie Diaries 2" is the fact that you really don't care about anyone here except maybe the family in the beginning. That's because there really isn't any characterization here, as these are just your typical stock survivors and army people trying to survive, to the usual psychopaths that stalk a apocalyptic world. Everyone here feels like a facsimile of a person. The direction also feels a bit "meh", as it's all edited erratically and the usual shaky cam that shows up in these movies makes some of the action a bit confusing. There's a bit of gore, but it's the usual shotguns blasts to the head and flesh munching that you've seen in so many other zombie movies.

Which leads to my next complaint-there's nothing here that sets this apart from other found footage horror movies or zombie movies. The whole thing feels uninspired, with no real reason to care about who lives or who dies, or what happens next. Also, did we really need three rape scenes?

You've seen this kind of movie before, so there's really no reason to bother watching it. You're better off watching "Day of the Dead" or waiting for the next season of "The Walking Dead" than sitting through this.

Rating: 1.5/10

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Queen of Blood (1966)

We were all about space in the 60's. There was the space race, science fiction novels popping up everywhere, and of course, movies and television. Space operas, aliens, stations on the moon, wacky gadgets that never came to be, robots-you name it, we were obsessed with it. Well, you'll find some of that in the Roger Corman/Samuel Z. Arkoff produced film "Queen of Blood", which like Mario Bava's classic "Planet of the Vampires", mixes blood suckers with aliens and space.

I'm sure you remember that we didn't have stations on the moon and whatnot in 1990, but that's the case here. Anyways, an alien spacecraft has landed on mars, and a rescue team lead by Allen Brenner (John Saxon) is out to see it. They find an alien girl (Florence Marly) there, and take her on board. Big mistake, as she's hungry for blood, and after she drains Paul Grant (Dennis Hopper), it's clear that she will feed again...

"Queen of Blood" isn't a classic, but it's fun for what it is. The direction by Curtis Harrington is solid, as he manages to conjure up a tangible atmosphere throughout the proceedings that's reminiscent at times of the aforementioned "Planet of the Vampires", especially in it's sense of pervading dread and horror. I also enjoyed the theremin and moog heavy music on display, which has a sense of kitschy fun to it. And kitsch is exactly what the main draw of this movie is. Every cardboard and paper mache set, every optical effect, and the goofy hairstyle of the queen herself adds to the campy exterior on display.

If there is any flaws with the movie, it's that it takes way too long to get to meet the vampire/alien girl. For a while, it's a lot of talking and shots of cheap sets, with a bit of stock footage thrown in, and while that can be fun, I started to wonder "when does the queen of blood show up" several times. Also, a minor and somewhat selfish complaint, but I wish Dennis Hopper was the lead instead. He's one of my favorite actors.

Complaints aside, this is a fun slice of sci-fi schlock from back in the day, and fans of these kinds of movies should check it out. Now if only we could have space stations on the moon...

Rating: 7/10

Monday, October 10, 2011

Slaughter Night (2006)

The past is probably the biggest antagonist in slasher movies. From Freddy Krueger's prior life as a child murderer to the jilted ex-lover of "The Prowling", tumultuous events of yesterday are usually the case for a killer to go on a rampage. Where am I going with this? I have no fucking idea, but it plays a part in the Dutch slasher movie/supernatural possession tale "Slaughter Night."

After she's caught in a night of partying, Kristal (Victoria Koblenko) ends up in a car wreck that kills her father. Well, she and her friends decide to visit a mine were a child killer
Andries Martiens (Robert Eleveld) was stopped for good. Well, not for good, as they make the mistake of bringing an Ouija Board with them, and the next thing you know, his ghost starts possessing people...

There's nothing about "Slaughter Night" that's original, as it feels like a hybrid of the 80's slasher movie with more modern slashers. While it does have it's strong points (some great kills and gore, and some better than usual acting), it still falls apart. One of the reasons for this is the fact that the script is riddled with plot holes. For example, when the lift starts working, why don't any of these kids use it? Why would they bring an Ouija Board with them? Why is one guy stabbed, impaled, etc., yet comes back as if nothing happened? Why would somebody go into a supposedly haunted mine after being in a car accident? Nothing is explained here. It's also extremely by the numbers, and offers nothing you haven't seen a billion times before. Sure, that can be fun, but here it just feels lazy and pointless.

The biggest flaw however, is the editing. While the gore and kills are all great, all of the violence is handled with really distracting use of shaky cam. If the two directors had done this movie without that, I would have been more forgiving, but because I had trouble telling who the victims were and what they or the killer were doing because of the editing, I damn near got a headache.

There's worse slasher movies out there, but that's not saying very much. "Slaughter Night" is a mess, and left me thinking "I could have just watched "The Burning" again instead of this."

Rating: 3.5/10

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Vigilante (1983)

After directing porn, Bill Lustig went on to direct exploitation movies outside of that spectrum. The resulting first three movies-"Maniac", today's movie "Vigilante" and "Maniac Cop"-stood out for two reasons. The first was the sheer respect they had for the Grindhouse/exploitation scene and the movies they produced, and the other was how they depicted pre-Giuliani New York. In these films, the streets are a world of corruption, drug pushing, prostitution, murder and other niceties that run rampant, and that are sometimes punished. "Vigilante" is a look at what happens when people are pushed too far in this city.

Nick (Fred Williamson) and others have had it with the pimps, dealers and filth that routinely threaten the lives of their families and loved ones, and have formed a vigilante group to deal with what the police and law can't and won't deal with. Eddie Morino (Robert Forster) doesn't want to get involved-then his wife Vickie (Rutanya Alda) is fatally wounded and his son is killed by a gang of thugs. When the law doesn't work his way and he ends up in jail, Eddie realizes that vengeance is the only solution, and Nick's posse are the answer.

Though it doesn't exactly break new ground in the revenge genre, "Vigilante" is a very entertaining and well directed slice of gritty action movie making. The acting is fine, especially from leads Forster and Williamson, and the villains are pure scum that are clearly meant to be hated and picked off one by one. The electronic score by Jay Chattaway complements the action well, and the action scenes themselves are violent but never veer too far into sadism. This is also a more accessible movie than Lustig's prior work "Maniac", as it isn't filled with sleaze and ugliness. This is a pretty standard movie in comparison.

Also worthy of note is the sheer love the movie shows for it's exploitation brethren. You can tell that this movie is heavily inspired by the Italian cop and revenge movies, especially the way the violence is handled, while the color scheme at times harkens the works of Dario Argento. In this sense, it's a logical successor to "Maniac", as it shares that movies affinity for violent exploitation and it's depiction of New York as a city that's rotting away at the core.

If you're a sucker for revenge movies, then "Vigilante" is a must. It's also a given for those interested in 42nd Street Fair from the 80's, so check it out.

Rating: 8/10