Monday, February 28, 2011

Virus X (2010)

Hi, how are ya? How did you spend your evening last night? Did you watch the Oscars? I didn't. I spent my time watching a shitty movie called "Virus X", released by Lionsgate. Maybe I should have stuck with what George C. Scott once called "a meat parade."

Danita Herrington (Sybil Danning) wants a virus, and she wants it now! Why? For world domination of course! I wish I was making that last part up, but I digress. Anyways, Dr. Graveman (indie horror vet and Timo Rose regular Joe Zaso) has it made-an advanced stain of the H1N1 virus that kills in 3 days. Well, it ends up infecting a group of medical scientists, so they need to be quarantined and all that jazz. Can they survive? Why does Jarren (Domiziano Arcangeli) have such laughable hair? Will you be able to stay awake?

While I'll give it minor points for the cinematography, color tones, nasty gore effects and the ambient score by Shawn K. Clement, "Virus X" is just a bore to sit through. The acting ranges from non-existent (Arcangeli) to over-done (everyone else.) In fact, so many of the performances feature actors overacting as if they have guns to their heads that it almost becomes unintentionally amusing in that aspect. There's also no real reason given to care at all about the medical scientists, as we aren't given any real back story about them, and so many of them are such bad actors. The movie also has an intriguing element to the plot-well, everything except Jarron and Herrington-what with the viral fears that seem to pop up every few years, but the movie is unable to do anything with them. It just ends up feeling like a rough draft than an actual movie.

There's no reason to see "Virus X", except for the interviews that serve as a special feature. They are all done for a show called "Eye on Entertainment", hosted by a bubble headed blond named Dawna Lee Heising, that feels more like a parody than it does the real thing. I even looked it up after watching said interviews to see if it was real, and sure enough, it is.

So yeah, I've seen worse this year (hello "Season of the Witch"), but that's no real excuse. By the time the whole thing is said and done, the only thing you'll catch from "Virus X" is boredom. Next time, I'm sitting with the cool kids and catching the Oscars or something. It can't be as bad as this.

Rating: 2/10

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Primal (2010)

Sometimes, horror fans-myself included-tend to bemoan the fact that there isn't much originality in the horror genre, in spite of the fact that it's been self-cannibalizing for God knows how long. "Oh look, another zombie movie" or "Yep, more dumb kids getting killed by a hulking, masked psychopath." You get the idea. Yet sometimes, a movie without any originality whatsoever comes by, and you say "to hell with it, this is fun for what it is." Case in point is 2010's "Primal", which could best be described as what would happen if you took "The Evil Dead", "Cabin Fever", "The Descent", "The Ruins", and some Roger Corman produced alien movie from the 80's with a pinch of a 21st century zombie movie, mixed them in a blender, and then dumped them in Australia.

Anja (Zoe Tuckwell-Smith) and five of her pals join anthropology student Dace (Wil Travel) to study some remote ancient rock paintings. Well, Mel (Krew Boylan) feels sick after skinny dipping in a waterhole, and the next thing you know, she's sporting really sharp teeth and hunting down and killing anyone who isn't like her. Why? It turns out that there's something in the water that causes you to become a primal, almost mutated and super fast killing machine, and to make things worse, it begins to spread. Oh, and there's that thing in the cave...

"Primal" is not a great horror movie. The unnecessary slow motion and a bad sex joke near the end feel out of place, the score is unremarkable, and the CGI effects are atrocious. Plus, there's the fact that you've seen it all before. There isn't one thing in this movie that's original, and the title "Cliche the Motion Picture" probably would have been more fitting. And in spite of all of that, I still found myself having fun for the large part.

It's clear that writer/director Josh Reed knows what he's doing-a pastiche of other, better horror films-but as far as pastiche pictures go, this isn't that bad. While a few jokes fall flat, more of them actually work, and I got a few hearty laughs out of some of the situations (a bit involving a kangaroo being tackled and killed is especially funny.) There also aren't any real scares available, but there's plenty of bloodshed, a bit of nudity from Boylan, and enough energy and enthusiasm to help it get along. It also helps that while nothing excellent, the performances get the job done, and the actors manage not to annoy the viewer or embarrass themselves with pointless mugging.

Is "Primal" some kind of classic? Very far from it. It is however, a fun little "beer and pizza with your friends" horror film, and proves to be a decent little time waster. Maybe sometimes, just sometimes, originality is a bit overrated.

Rating: 6.5/10

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Psych: 9 (2010)

I have to give it to Lionsgate: they have had not one but two notable divisions/series devoted mostly to releasing independent horror films either in small, very brief theatrical runs or for the DVD market. While the former (After Dark Horrorfest) is the more well known of the two, the one made exclusively for the DVD and Blu-Ray market is Ghost House Underground, and just like that more well known venture, the series have offered some bombs ("Dark Floors" and "Offspring"), some hidden gems ("Dance of the Dead"), some letdowns ("Last House in the Woods") and some seriously awesome movies ("The Children.") So, where does Andrew Shortell's feature length debut "Psych: 9" land?

Roslyn Hanniger (Sara Foster) has agreed to work alone at night in an abandoned hospital to copy records and relocating files. She doesn't have any company save for Beth (Coleen Camp) and Dr. Irvin Clement (Cary Elwes), who has a psychological fascination with Roslyn, who has a troubled past, and who keeps witnessing strange, seemingly supernatural events in the hospital. Plus, to make matters worse, there's a killer running loose...

A mix of supernatural horror and psychological drama about the past, "Psych: 9" is a movie with lots of potential. The performances (especially Foster, who steals the show) are fine, the direction is good, the atmosphere is chock-loaded with dread, and the score by James Edward Baker is evocative and eerie. So why does the end result end up not clicking.

For one thing, the script is a bit problematic. The revelations and horrors of Rosalyn's past could have worked, but everything about them-including the unnecessary flashback scenes-feel too much like something from a Lifetime movie. It also doesn't help that many of the scares, especially those of the specter like variety, are things that audiences have seen before, and seen done to death. How many more times can a scary ghost pop up on camera or on a monitor? The final 15 minutes of the movie though, are the biggest letdown. In trying to wrap up the various plot points, the movie ends up rushing itself. The big revelation of who the killer is, as well as the reason for his actions can also be seen coming miles away, and while it doesn't necessarily feel like a cheat, I couldn't help but say to myself "that's it?"

To be fair, "Psych: 9" is far from a terrible movie. The problem is just that what should have been a nice sleeper kind of horror film ends up becoming a missed opportunity. I will say this much: the director shows some promise, and I'm interested in what he can do next.

Rating: 5/10

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Cold Prey (2006)

The thing about slasher movies is that it sometimes feels like it can be hard to find one that stands out in today's world. While movies like "Behind the Mask: The Rise of Leslie Vernon", "The Hills Run Red" and "High Tension" have managed to stand out in the crowd, others like "Dark Ride" and "Blood Night: The Legend of Mary Hatchet" failed to do anything for me. So, that's why I'm thankful for "Cold Prey", which actually managed to keep me invested.

The plot is simple: Five friends-Jannicke (Ingrid Bolsø Berdal), Morten (Rolf Kristian Larsen), Eirik (Tomas Alf Larsen), Mikael (Endre Martin Midtstigen) and Ingunn (Viktoria Winge) go on a snowboarding vacation when Morten breaks his leg. They end up taking shelter at an abandoned hotel, and discover said hotel was closed in the 70's due to the disappearance of the manager's son. Unfortunately, somebody still lives there...

Okay, so the story is nothing out of the ordinary, and it certainly isn't "...the most perfect slasher movie" that one critic called it. However, it's what the movie does do that counts, and thankfully, it gets a lot right, such as characters. While nothing spectacular as far as characterization goes, it is refreshing to see a slasher movie that relies more on investing time with the kids, and what do ya know, they are actually pretty likable. A note to future horror writers and directors: actually give the audience victims they actually care about. It also helps that directer Roar Uthaug (who in spite of his name, was not raised by bears) is a fine director, and manages to make the most out of the frozen Norwegian landscape (with Magnus Beite's score complementing it well), as well as understanding how things like suspense work.

Speaking of which, those hoping for a slasher movie with lots of gore and creative kills might be let down by this movie. This is a slasher movie that is more interested in creating a sense of fear and suspense instead of dousing the audience with blood. I applaud that though,as I find it refreshing to see someone make a slasher movie that's more about suspense than buckets of red stuff. That out of the way, it must be said that actress Winge does look fine in a tank top and panties, if I do say so myself.

For horror fans who want something more character and scare driven in their slasher movies, "Cold Prey" is a pleasant surprise. Check it out if you want something different in the endless run of modern slasher films.


Also, while there's been horror in the country before, this seems to have opened a new wave of horror in Norway, with two sequels to this movie, as well as the Zombie-Comedy "Dead Snow", the backwoods flick "Manhunt", and the underrated psychological tale "Hidden" serving as a few examples.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Stag Night (2008)

Subways are more common in horror than most would think. From Gary Sherman's "Raw Meat" to Christopher Smith's "Creep" and the Clive Barker adaptation "Midnight Meat Train" to name a few, subway systems and sewers have been a place were the worst can happen. It makes sense really, as they are dark, claustrophobic and mysterious places where anything could happen far from the world upstairs. Well, Peter A. Dowling (writer of the thoroughly mediocre Jodie Foster film "Flight Plan") gives the world his take on this with 2008's "Stag Night."

Mike (Kip Pardue) isn't having the best night. His asshole brother Tony (Breckin Meyer) has gotten he and his pals gets them kicked out of a strip club, so now the guys and a stripper named Brita (Vinessa Shaw) end up in the subway. Things soon go from bad to worst though, when they find themselves being hunted by a gang of cannibals that look a lot like Rob Zombie if he never showered.

"Stag Night" is the kind of movie that has no real originality to speak of, and wears the "influences" it has-"The Descent", "The Hills Have Eyes" remake, "Judgement Night" and every evil in the subways movie imaginable-on its sleeve. To be fair, Pardue and Shaw do fine work, the gore is plentiful, and Dowling actually does a fine job with making the subway system a menacing place.

Too bad everything else about the movie falls flat. Nobody else here really makes any impact, with Myer in particular being annoying. In fact, when the movie tries to get us to root for him fighting against the cannibals, Meyer overplays the character so much that you just want him to die already. The direction and editing also tends to get grating, with so much emphasis on erratic jump cuts and slow-motion shots clearly meant to make some sort of emotional impact, but failing to do so. Then there's the fact that so little is explained. Who are these killers? What's with the homeless people sacrificing people to them? Why are they doing that? How do they cram all that gram? Nothing in it is sufficiently explained, and it just makes the movie confusing to sit through.

I have seen much worse in the "people pursued by cannibals" genre, but that's no real excuse. Its easy to see why it took so long for "Stag Night" to find distribution, as its a poorly directed and dull hodgepodge of things we've seen before.

Rating: 2/10

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Lake Dead (2007)

A while back, I reviewed "The Graves", and said that it was easily the worst of the After Dark "Films to Die For." I still hold onto that statement, though it's had some serious competition along the way. That's right, films like the torture film "The Final", the family with a secret tale "Slaughter" and Matthew Leutwyler's extremely misguided creature feature "Unearthed" have all tested my patience. You can also take George Bessudo's Backwoods horror movie "Lake Dead"-please, take it!-as an example of a bad "Horrorfest" movie.

The plot deals with three sisters and their friends decide to take a road trip to gain inheritance after their grandfather's death. Thing is, it turns out grandpa and his family had some dark secrets. Secrets revolving around Kane (Trevor Torseth) and Abel (Christian Stokes) Lake, their mother Gloria (Pat McNeely), and their brother Chuck (James C. Burns), who happens to be the Sheriff, and is having a sexual relationship with momma.

Take one part "Wrong Turn", one part "The Texas Chainsaw Massacre" remake, a pinch of "Just Before Dawn" and a huge bowl of badness, and "Lake Dead" is what you get. Except for Pat McNeely as Gloria Lake, everyone here can't act convincingly. Burns tries way too hard as Chuck, and it's hard to care too much about any of the victims or sisters, since they are all vacant, annoying slasher movie stereotypes without any purpose other than to be raped, murdered or serve as poor plot devices. Oh, and then there's Kane and Abel (how cleaver) Lake. The actors playing them aren't bad per say, but the characters don't look threatening at all. In fact, they look a lot like the Geico Cavemen. I'm amazed the characters didn't start complaining about how undignified it is that Hollywood presents inbred rednecks as murderous, simple minded rapists.

Speaking of rape, there's an ugly undertone of misogyny running throughout the movie. Except for Gloria Lake, all of the women here are dumb, weak beings who can barely fight for themselves, always need a man to help them, and are put through torture and rape constantly. There's not even a "Final Girl" moment in the movie. The whole thing is more than a bit bothersome, and ended up giving me a bad taste in my mouth.

There's very little (a few decent kills, McNeely's performance) to recommend about "Lake Dead", unless you've never seen a backwoods horror movie or have some unpleasant views towards the female sex. Avoid.

Rating: 1.5/10

Sunday, February 13, 2011

The Dead Matter (2010)

It's a bit weird to me when a movie that's less than a year or at least a year old passes me by, or that I've heard of it but haven't seen it. Case in point: last year's "The Dead Matter." Directed by Midnight Syndicate main man Edward Douglas, and a remake of sorts of his earlier film of the same name that was shot on camcorder, I had heard good things about this movie, with Fangoria, Arrow in the Head and FEARnet singing its praises. So, does it live up to the hype? For the large part, yes.

The plot goes a little something like this: Gretchen (Sean Serino) is morning the loss of her brother, so she and her buddies-Mike (Tom Nagel), Jill (C.B. Spencer) and Frank (Christopher Robichaud) hold a seance to bring him back. Well, what do ya know, Gretchen finds an ancient relic that can bring back and control the dead. Thing is, two warring vampire lords-Vellich (Andrew Divoff) and Sebed (Tom Savini) want possesion of the relic, and vampire hunter McCallister (Jason Carter) wants to destroy it.

If there's anything that harms the movie, its the fact that the actors playing our heroes don't do a good job. Serino tries her hardest, but she's just not that convincing as our lead protagonist, no matter how hard the movie tries to make us care about her plight. Meanwhile, Robichaud is hit and miss as the science loving Frank-sometimes admirably goofy, but other times kind of flat, while Nagel and Spencer feel like they're just kinda there.

Apart from that, "The Dead Matter" is a lot of campy fun, and one of those movies I find myself disappointed that I didn't see it sooner. A fun mix of Gothic atmosphere and tongue-in-cheek black humor, the plot and events usually play like Hammer meets a horror-comedy from the 80's ala "Night of the Creeps" with vampires and zombies. Speaking of which, the dead here are interesting-the zombified Mark (Brian Van Camp) is amusing with his drinking beer and other goofy antics that thankfully don't suck, but most of the dead here of of the more haunting, specter like variety ala "Carnival of Souls." I find it refreshing to see someone who thinks outside of the box instead of constantly feeding us the typical zombies eating yards of intestines type of movie.

Also, while our heroes are bland, everyone else does a fine job. Divoff is a hoot to watch (bad fright wig and all), while Savini makes the most of his time as his vampire rival, and Carter is a lot of fun as the vampire hunter out to stop them. Oh, and while not a gore-fest, you still get some nice scenes here and there (including an awesome bit with a jaw being torn off), though I must say the director must also be commended for not going overboard with splatter.

So, will "The Dead Matter" win any awards for originality? Probably not. It is however, a refreshing little sleeper that shows what plenty of gumption and can-do spirit can accomplish, and for that, I applaud it. Check it out if you dig your Gothic horror with a sense of humor.

Rating: 8/10

Thursday, February 10, 2011

I Spit on Your Grave (2010)

When it was announced that Meir Zarchi's infamous rape-revenge film "I Spit on Your Grave" was getting the remake treatment, the reaction from me wasn't "why" as much as it was "how?" I mean, I can see people giving their hand at remaking films like "The Toolbox Murders" and "The Amityville Horror" because when you get down to it, those are easier films to remake. How in the world do you remake a film with a long gang-rape scene, and a revenge that includes a memorably nasty castration? It seems to be impossible. Well, in the case of Steven R. Monroe, you do it by making the gang rape shorter, and add some modern elements such as prolonged torture of the rapists. Amazingly enough, it works better than you'd think.

The plot is pretty much the same for the most part. Jennifer Hills (Sarah Butler) is a writer on retreat in a cabin in the woods, where she's raped by a pair of hillbillies-Johnny (Jeff Branson), Andy (Rodney Eastman), Stanley (Daniel Franzese) and the mentally handicapped Matthew (Chad Lindberg). In case you're wondering "were are the police?", well, sheriff Storch (Andrew Howard) joined them. Thing is though, they didn't kill her, and Jennifer's going to get violent, painful revenge for what they did to her.

If there's anything that hurts the movie (other than the fact that most will hate it or avoid it), its that nobody other than Sarah Butler and Tracey Walker as Earl, the lone good man in the movie, is a particularly good actor. While the rapists are sick and repellent as they should be, the actors seem to try too hard to make them backwoods rednecks, at times making them look almost like caricatures. Its probably authentic (I can totally buy them sitting by their trailers, drinking beer at 10:00 AM and listening to Southern Rock) in the way they act, but hearing the unconvincing Southern accents and poor dialogue the actors are given, its hard not to chuckle when we see them in their daily lives.

Apart from that, this is bleak, nihilistic stuff-which is pretty much the same tone as the original. Sure, there are differences, but the movie itself largely complements the ugly, grimy feeling of the original while still feeling like its own movie. The sexually assaults may not be as graphic or prolonged as they were in the original (I remember fast forwarding it back in the day, and still feeling violated), but they are still incredibly grueling to sit through. It helps that Butler does such a good job as Jennifer. She's a smart, sympathetic girl whose actually given some back story this time around (another difference from the original), and you just can't help but root for her as she knocks off each rapist in graphic, gruesome fashion.

Speaking of her payback, I have heard people say that the film ends up resembling something like a slasher movie or a "Saw" style torture flick. While her payback is much more graphic than it was in the original, I accepted that, realizing that this is ultimately a remake, so some things are going to be changed and made more graphic. Plus, it fits the unrelenting nature of the movie, as each of these guys are ultimately getting what they deserve.

I can't say its as disturbing as the original, but the remake of "I Spit on Your Grave" is a movie you'll either be able to sit through or not. Me? I wanted to turn it off during the rape scenes, but then I remembered "hey, fast forward is much quicker than it used to be" and used that. That out of the way, it does end up being a sadistic yet strangely watchable revenge movie on its own right, and shouldn't piss off those that can stomach it.

Rating: 7.5/10

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Hatchet II (2010)

The first "Hatchet" is a love it or hate it movie. Some loved its love for the old school slasher movie, its dedication to all out gore, and the unapologetic tits and irreverent humor. Others found it to be terrible, sophomoric, and too much like a movie from a fan-boy than the real deal. Me? I always found it to be easier to appreciate than actually like. To me, "Hatchet" is a movie with its heart clearly in the right place, and it has some fun performances, amusing humor and spectacular gore, but it ultimately a movie that wants too much to be loved by horror fans, and feels a bit hit and miss. Needless to say, Adam Green followed that up with the psychological drama "Spiral" and "Frozen" (which I recommend), two movies that couldn't have been further from the over the top nature of "Hatchet." However, fans of that movie were pining for a sequel, and that's what Green gave us.

"Hatchet II" takes place right where the first one ended: Marybeth (now played by Danielle Harris) is in the hands of Victor Crowley (Kane Hodder), but manages to escape. Meeting with Reverend Zombie (Tony Todd), she learns that her family has a connection. That out of the way, she still wants payback, so Zombie gets together a crack team made up of Justin (Perry Shen), brother of the previous film's Shawn, a gang of hunters, horny redneck Layton (A.J. Bowen), a tough guy in Trent (R.A. Mihailoff), and Marybeth's Uncle Bob ("Fright Night" and "Child's Play" director Tom Holland) to put an end to Crowley's reign of murder once and for all.

There are things that I do like about "Hatchet II". The score by Andy Garfield is great, the kills and gore and more over the top and graphic, a few of the jokes are pretty funny, and a few of the performances (especially Todd, whose great) are fine. Plus, it's impossible to hate a movie that uses the song "Just One Fix" by Ministry. The highlight however, is the big finale, which actually made me stand up and cheer, and rewind the movie.

All of that out of the way, the film ultimately ends up being hit and miss. While Green clearly means well, it feels too much like he's making a movie for the fans, but forgot about other viewers. Yeah, if you loved the first one then you'll love this one, but if the first movie left you thinking "that wasn't bad, but it could be better", then this one won't blow you away either. Also, many of the performances are actually pretty poor. Harris, God bless her, tries her best, and I normally like her, but the ridiculous southern accent and poor dialogue given to her doesn't help matters. That out of the way, she's better than Colton Dunn as Vernon, whose just plain annoying, as is Holland as Uncle Bob. Whoever told him "hey man, you can act!" should probably reconsider their casting decisions.

Speaking of which, you spend too much time getting to know these characters, but you don't care about any of them, save for Marybeth and Justin. Plus, the movie isn't as funny or cleaver as it thinks it is. A scene where Bowen and Alexis Peters having sex is supposed to be funny, but its actually pretty lame (save for what happens after Bowen is killed-that was kinda funny.)

Like the first "Hatchet", I wanted to like this movie more than I did. I know fans will eat it up, and some readers might think "you just don't get it." Maybe I don't, but that's still no excuse. "Hatchet II" is a movie that's eager to please, but can only do so sometimes, and I wanted more than sometimes.

Rating: 5.5/10

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Monsters (2010)

One thing in the field of horror that's refreshing is originality. It's there-it just happens to be hard to find usually, and I don't just mean in Hollywood. One thing that seems to be absent in a lot of today's indie horror is originality. Director's and distributors are more interested in exploiting current trends or more often than not trying to pay tribute to the movies that came before them. I guess that's why Gareth Edward's debut picture "Monsters" is such a nice breath of fresh air, as it takes a well worn genre (giant monsters) and does something new and altogether original with it.

Six years ago, NASA discovered the possibility of alien life. So after a probe meant to collect samples crashed onto Earth, new, gigantic lifeforms emerged and half of Mexico was quarantined. Six years later, American journalist Andrew Kauldner (Scoot McNairy) agrees to escort shaken American tourist Samantha Wynden (Whitney Able) through the infected zone to safety in the U.S. Border.

To be fair, "Monsters" really isn't a horror film-its a Science Fiction film. Also, those who go into it expecting a film like "District 9" or a giant monsters destroying buildings type of film will be sorely disappointed. Nope, this is more of a character drama about two people who slowly get to know each other, and its actually not a boring one either. That's largely because McNairy and Able are so convincing in their roles, and because Edwards doesn't rush things. In fact, each situation is fascinating and at times tense, and because these two are so well written, you actually care about them. As for the meat that genre fans want-how do the monsters look? Well, they look spectacular. Edwards has a background in special effects, and it shows here, as he manages to take a movie that cost $800'0000, and makes everything-from the gorgeous scenery to the dazzling effects work-look at least 10 or more times its budget. Its a testament of low budget ingenuity and skill, and it deserves to be applauded for it.

If there are any problems, it would be that the film does at times feel a bit too "indie" for its own good, and by that I mean that it falls through a few indie movie trappings. Scenes like Samantha running from Andrew after spotting him with another woman felt a little too "cute" to me, though I probably wouldn't have minded that if it had been explored more later. Also, as I said, those hoping for more traditional giant monster fair aren't going to like this. This is the type of movie you watch with an open mind.

That out of the way, those looking for something that's more original and rewarding in what feels like an increasingly predictable independent movie atmosphere will be pleased with "Monsters." Its nice to see a movie that subverts genre expectations in such a good way, and rare as well.

Rating: 8.5/10

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Howling III: The Marsupials (1987)

To say "Howling II:...You're Sister's a Werewolf" did bad would be an understatement. Critics savaged it, horror fans were pissed, everyone else was confused as to what kind of movie they had seen, and the movie tanked in the box office. So, did director Philippe Mora own up to the movie being a disaster?

Of course he didn't.

Like many directors whose movie was poorly received, Mora said it wasn't his fault. Nope, it was the studio and the producer's faults, as they compromised his vision. Well what luck for him-the studio wanted nothing to do with the series after "Howling II", so Mora could now make a second sequel, and this time, he could do it in his vision. He could show those studio execs what's what, and he could show the world that the failure of the previous movie wasn't his fault.

It didn't work out that way.

Oh sure, like "Howling II", it was a bigger hit on video than it was in theaters, and it's gained a cult following, but also like that movie, it was poorly received by horror fans, critics and the general audience alike, and did poor box-office, only this time it killed any chances of another "Howling" sequel getting a theatrical release. So, is it bad like everyone says it is? In a word: yes.

Having nothing to do with the prior movies, "Howling III" revolves around a strange Australian race of werewolves that are part man, part wolf and part marsupial. You can't say there isn't any originality in this movie. Anyways, Jerboa (Imogen Annesley) is trying to escape her tribe after her stepfather attempts to rape her. Traveling to the city, she meets Donny (Leigh Biolos), whose the assistant director for a horror movies called "Shape Shifters 8." Donny offers her a role, and they soon fall in love. However, it soon becomes apparent that something other than her lycanthropic tendencies is acting up, and to make matters worse, Professors Beckmeyer (Barry Otto) and Sharp (Ralph Cotterill) are after them. Then there's that Russian Ballerina Olga (Dagmar Bláhová).

Like "Howling II", much of the humor here falls flat-the only times I laughed are when Olga kills her ballet partner and the poster for Mora's "The Beast Within" hanging on Donny's wall. In fact, the humor here is even worse than the prior effort's. Say what you will, but at least "Howling II" tried to come off as a horror movie. Here, Mora goes for a full on satire of horror movies, but none of his jabs at the genre (such as a fat, Alfred Hitchcock looking director played by Frank Thring, and a few parody movies and a tribute/spoof of the original's conclusion) hit the mark. As it's been said a billion times, balancing horror and comedy is a tricky thing, and there's nothing wrong with opting more for laughs. However, when most of the jokes are bad, why should you care? When Dame Edna and a town called Flow (ha ha) are all you got, and even werewolves disguised as nuns can't be interesting, your movie has problems.

It also doesn't help that only Annesley stands out as far as acting is concerned. Everyone else here ranges from mediocre (Biolos makes for a bland love interest) to terrible (Thring is really annoying and all around bad as main director Jack Citron), and they don't really do anything to warrant a reason to care about them. To make things worse, Mora's direction is even worse this time. Watching this, it was hard to believe that this came from the same director of "Mad Dog Morgan" and "Communion", as he shows none of the skill those movies offered.

Needless to say, the four sequels that followed it went straight to video, and it somehow manages to be slightly worse than "Howling II." At least that movie had moments of inspiration. This movie will mostly just inspire fits of boredom.

Rating: 2.5/10