Friday, June 29, 2012

The Aggression Scale (2012)

Now this was a bit of a surprise. When I first saw the trailer for "The Aggression Scale", I was intrigued but worried. That's because while it looked interesting, I also knew that it was directed by Steven C. Miller, whose directorial credits included "Automaton Transfusion" and "Scream of the Banshee", and that it was written by the guy who did an awful film called "Satanic." Well, I was shocked to say the least, when I found myself actually impressed by this twist on the home invasion movie.

Bellavance (the always reliable Ray Wise) has enlisted Lloyd (Dana Ashbrook), Chissolm (Derek Mears), and two others to get $500,000 dollars he's lost. The problem: that money is in the possession of newlyweds Bill (Boyd Kestner) and Maggie (Lisa Rotondi.) So, no problem right? Its not like their kids will put up a fight? Well, Owen (Ryan Hartwig) will, and by that, I mean he's a lot more dangerous and cunning than he appears.

Most reviewers have described this movie as "'Home Alone' for horror fans", and that description is mostly true. That out of the way, you could throw in "Rambo" too, because Owen is more like a middle school version of that character. The reason for this is because he doesn't just make traps: he makes traps that are designed to maim and kill. Thankfully, this is accentuated by Hartwig's performance. He plays Owen not just as a young killer, but as a silent one as well. There's a brooding intensity well above the actors years in this performance, and he makes this kid seem like a credible threat.

It also helps that this is a tense and violent movie that thankfully avoids the post "Strangers" style of home invasion movies (though I do like that movie.) It easily could have gone the wrought of films like "Saw IV" or "The Collector", but instead opts more for tension, suspense and pitch black humor. Miller shows some serious improvement as a director here, offering up several suspenseful set pieces punctuated by bursts of visceral mayhem and strong acting, as well as a sense of dark irony. The latter part falls on Chissolm, and Mears thankfully manages to make his predicaments blackly comic without overacting. Add a strong ending and a brisk pace, and you've got yourself a nice little sleeper.

I can't call "The Aggression Scale" a flawless movie (the score is rather bland, and theirs a few editing choices that felt off to me), but this is the kind of horror flick that makes digging for worthy titles so much fun. Check it out if you have a chance.

Rating: 7.5/10

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Knife Edge (2009)

The good news is that "Knife Edge" marks the horror genre return of Anthony Hickox. The bad news is that it sucks.

Returning to England, Wall Street trader Emma (Natalie Press) has married Henri (Matthieu Boujenah), and the two and their son move to a large mansion. This being a horror movie, it turns out that the mansion has a dark history, and Emma soon starts seeing visions of murder and hearing menacing voices in the halls. But is she really seeing this (she is) or is she going crazy? Why is their son acting so weird? Why should you care about any of this.

If I could describe "Knife Edge", it would be "Very boring and poorly put together." Sure, it's got plenty of atmosphere and a suspenseful score, but none of the movie is suspenseful or scary. It all thing plays out more like an R-rated Lifetime movie than it does an effective haunted house yarn. Here, every cliche (murderous ghosts, blood filled bathtubs, the caretaker who knows too much, etc.) are all touched, and not surprises are available. The acting is also poor, with Boujenah in particular coming off as wooden and unnatural in his delivery. Add to some lame plot twists, uninteresting characters and an ending that feels rushed, and you have something that's wastes your time more than it is a time waster.

The biggest sin however, is how badly directed the whole thing is. Watching this, it's hard to believe that this is from the man that gave the world movies like "Sundown: The Vampires in Retreat", "Waxwork" and it's sequel. This has none of the energy and fun of those movies, and instead feels like it was made by an inexperienced first time director instead of someone who delivered entertaining genre movies. I can understand Hickox wanting to do something a little more serious, but he comes off as out of his league here, unable to do anything interesting with the material and confused as to what to do with it.

If you want to see a good Anthony Hickox movie, then go watch "Waxwork" or something. If you want a good British haunted house movie, then watch "The Innocents" or "The Legend of Hell House" instead of this.

Rating: 2/10

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Slime City Massacre (2010)

Did the world really want a sequel to Greg Lamberson's "Slime City"? It's a fun movie  that has a devoted cult following, but in comparison to other oddities from the late 80's ("Brain Damage" and "Street Trash" for example), it's relatively obscure. Hell, I'm sure that if you asked many horror fans about it, the answer would usually be "Hmm, never heard of that one." Nonetheless, Lamberson saw it fit to do a sequel, and the end result is "Slime City Massacre."

In the future, New York has been attacked by a dirty bomb, leaving an area called "Slime City" evacuated...except for the homeless. Squatters Alexa (Jennifer Bihl), Cory (Kealan Patrick Burke), Mason (Lee Perkins) and Alice (Debbie Rochon) go looking for food, and find some tasty elixir and yogurt...which is actually the essence of an occult leader known as Zachary (Robert C. Sabin.) As they begin to turn into mutated, slime covered beings with a hunger for sex and violence, a greedy developer (Roy Fumkes) wants the population of Slime City wiped out so he can build something out of it. This all leads to a last stand between the mutating squatters and a mercenary team.

Like the prior movie, "Slime City Massacre" does have it's share of flaws. While a few are expected from such a low budget (namely some uneven performances) here it's the use of social commentary. I appreciate that Lamberson seems to be trying to touch on issues like the mindset of post 9/11 America, the effects capitalism has on the homeless, and out countries apathetic approach towards it's homeless, but its mostly handled in a rather sloppy manner. I also didn't care for many of the songs used, as I thought they were a bit lacking and kind of annoying. Then again, that's just a personal preference, so that's not a major complaint.

All of that being said, there's also quite a bit to like here. One of the things this movie has over the previous one is that the lead performances are actually good, especially from Perkins and Rochon. Hell, the characters they play might not be the most complex ones, but at least they kept my interest. I also liked the retro style score, which uses actual guitars and synthesizers for a change. It's refreshing to hear that instead of the usual "Let's use Pro-Tools and Garage Band in an attempt to sound retro" sound you usually get from movies like this. Oh, and don't worry, Lamberson hasn't forgotten the real reason you want to watch this-blood and monsters, and he delivers in spades, with a third act massacre and a nice little surprise nearing the end involving brains that brought a smile to my face. Hell, it even has a cameo from Lloyd Kaufman that's actually funny for a change.

As a whole, nobody is going to hail this as a game changing classic, but that's okay. It never sets out to be that. If you are a fan of the original "Slime City", of 80's exploitation, the whole Neo-Grindhouse thing, or odd low budget genre movies, then this will certainly be of interest.

Rating: 6.5/10

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Blood Diner (1987)

I've been wanting to do this movie forever. Hell, I've been waiting for this movie - Jackie Kong's "Blood Diner" - to come to DVD since I first saw it. I still remember when I first saw it, and that when it ended I was absolutely slack jawed. Who on Earth was Jackie Kong (Who from my knowledge, it sthe only Asian-American woman to direct exploitation movies), and what the hell had she made? Why did it feel like it was made under the influence of all kinds of drugs - okay, there's an easy answer to that question. Needless to say, I've been asking for a DVD, and a special edition was announced a while back, but so far, it's been delayed (dammit Lionsgate.) Still, it is on DVD nonetheless, as one of six movies featured in a collection of horror movies available for cheap at Walmart DVD bins, and it comes in pristine anamorphic widescreen, so I can't complain too much.

When they were children, George and Michael Tutman saw their Uncle Anwar gunned down. As (very stupid) adults, they've dug his brain up, and what do ya know, it talks! Oh, and they need to perform a ritual that will awaken an Egyptian goddess called Shitaar. To do this, they must kill a variety of women (virgins, whores, topless aerobics instructors) for their parts, so Shitaar will have a vessel to live in and for a "blood buffet." Thankfully, there's plenty of girls around, and they run a vegetarian restaurant, so there are plenty of ways to get ready. However, they run into trouble when a New York Cop (who inexplicably has an Australian accent) and her would be playboy partner are trying to solve the mystery behind the rash of murders. Oh, and there's a wrestler named Lil' Jimmy Hitler.

I could go on and on about the flaws in "Blood Diner" (little of it makes any sense, most of the performances range from wooden to terrible, a few of the jokes bomb), but I just don't care: "Blood Diner" must be seen to be believed. It is one of the most insane blends of horror and comedy ever made, and is so jovial in it's efforts to gross out, offend and all around entertain that I can't help but love it. To say it has a plot would be somewhat inaccurate, as it mostly feels like a series of vignettes loosely stitched together so that it will resemble a movie. Oh, but what scenes they are! Among the highlights:

  • George and Michael try to get into a club, and when the bouncer says no, they shove him aside. A hydraulic car then crushes said bouncers head - and everyone laughs. One guy even asks "Hey, are you alright?"
  • The boys bring two girls home. Michael offers one of them a sexual favor called a "Battered Girlfriend." He proceeds to slather her naked body in batter - and dunks her head into a frier. She tries to escape, but her head now resembles a large, fat broiled nugget, which is then decapitated via a broom.
  • George finds a fat bum in the street, and runs him over with the boys trusty van. It doesn't work the first time, so he tries again. It still doesn't work, get the idea. I think it's worth mentioning that mambo music plays during this.
  • A naked girl who knows Kung-Fu.
  • A rival diner owner has his hands chopped off. He proceeds to try to escape via trying to drive away. It doesn't go well for him.
  • The conclusion, which has weird rock music, exploding heads, zombies and Shitaar herself, who has sharp fangs, shoots lightning bolts from her fingers and has a vagina like orifice on her stomach.

As you can tell, this isn't a movie concerned with narrative and deep social commentary. And that's just fine. This is from someone who wants to give exploitation fans what they want, and who mostly delivers without offering anything resembling unnecessary exposition. Also, special mention should go to Carl Crew as the adult George Tutman. His performance is so over the top and hilarious that I laughed my ass off at just about everything he does. It's a shame he hasn't gone on to do much else, as he has a lot of what it takes to be a fun character actor in horror.

I can't say that you'll enjoy "Blood Diner" as much as I do. Hell, I can't say if you'll enjoy it at all. I however, love it, and hope for that special edition someday. Hell, it's a pipe dream, but I'd love to write linear notes about the thing. Or at least appear as a fan in a documentary.

Rating: 8/10

Richard Lynch: 1940-2012

Saturday, June 16, 2012

The Slaughter (2006)

It's harder to do what I like to call "horror fluff" than it looks. Horror fluff, for lack of a better phrase, is a horror movie that doesn't tax your braincells, has a dumb sense of humor, and wants nothing more than to entertain you with the three B's-boobs, blood and (sometimes) beasts. "Slaughter Night" from director Jay Lee (who went on to direct "Zombie Strippers") almost gets it right, but falls short.

The premise deals with a ritual that's supposed to awaken a dark goddess that will bring forth Armageddon. Or something like that. Dana (Jessica Custudio) and her wannabe Revolutionary brother Iggy (Zak Kilberg) and some other folks are there to clean up a house in which these Rituals took place, and what do ya know, they engage in what Gob Bluth would call "a huge mistake" and awaken a demon that will could finish things up. Cue zombies, blood and dumb jokes.

The problem with "The Slaughter" is that it almost feels afraid to commit to it's own stupidity. It's got female nudity, zombies, gore, monsters and occult rituals, and it never takes itself too seriously. Hell, most of the performances are okay and Tom Savini show's up for a cameo as a sheriff. It's clear that this has all the ingredients to be some entertaining horror fluff ala "Night of the Demons" and "Chopping Mall." However, it ends up defusing itself?

How? For starters, the out of place social commentary. Now, I hate the previous administration as much as everyone else does, but random jokes like "This is the worst thing since the Bush administration" doesn't really fit the narrative of the film, nor does it's staunchly anti-Republican stance on about everything-and this is coming from somebody whose far from a Republican. Speaking of which, the character of Iggy was annoying as hell. He reminded me of every obnoxious college student I knew of that thought they had the whole world figured out and wore a Che Guevara shirt without a hint of irony (Guevara would have hated such a thing.) Finally, there's some of the second act and the whole the third act, in which everything just falls apart. Here, the humor goes from dumb but tolerable to just plain awful, with jokes and one liners that would make the fat guy from "Night of the Demons" cringe, and a conclusion that feels rushed.

It's a shame too, because as I said, it almost get's it right. With a bit more work on the script, this could have been a decent little time waster. Instead, it's a movie that misses the ball by *that* much.

Rating: 5/10

The Cave (2005)

Everyone knows of "The Descent", in which a group of spelunkers went into an underground cave and encountered creatures that weren't the least bit friendly. However, I'm sure some of you forgot that a year earlier, we got another "monsters in a cave" movie that got a wide theatrical release that was christened with the original sounding title "The Cave." It can best be described as "Well, it's like "The Descent", only not good."

Years ago in Communist Romania, a church caved in for some reason, and went underground in the process. 30 years later, Jack (Cole Hauser), his brother Tyler (Eddie Cibrian) and a group of fellow scientists (Lena Headey, Morris Chestnut, Daniel Dai Kim and Piper Perabo among them) decide to explore the cave that swallowed everything. However, when an explosion traps them, they find themselves being hunted by large, flying creatures that live in the cave.

There are a few things in "The Cave" that work. For one thing, the creatures themselves are great. Best described as mistakes of evolution, they manage to come off as a credible threat and have a great look to them as well thanks to Patrick Tatopoulos. The cave also serves as a great place, full of ominous dread and the unease and unfamiliarity of a place holding creatures man didn't know existed until now. Finally, there are a few moments in that manage to be suspenseful, the highlight involving Charlie (Perabo) being trapped by a flying creature.

That out of the way, this isn't a good movie. While most of the performances are good, Hauser and Cibrian are rather bland, with Hauser in particular coming off as wooden. Meanwhile, the characters are rarely interesting, and mostly feel like sketches of people trapped in a cave, and once things start to turn south, it becomes a little hard to invest yourself into their plight. It also just feels dull at times, with people just arguing with one another or saying inane lines of dialogue like "They fly! They frickin' fly!" Oh, and the ending is really bad. When it turns out that the creatures also wanted a way out, you can't help but throw your hands up in annoyance as the film ends up becoming another "Alien" clone.

I can't really say that I hate this movie, but that's because there's little that's actually here. It's the kind of thing that serves as the definition of mediocre. Apart from the ending, there's nothing that made me angry, but that's because little here that the viewer will remember years from now.

Rating: 4.5/10

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

House of Flesh Mannequins (2009)

In the field of independent horror, it's usually refreshing to see something that's original. There are so many slasher movies, zombie movies, vampire movies, "Saw" clones-the list goes on and on-that when you see something different, you can't help but really take notice. Domiziano Cristopharo's "House of Flesh Mannequins" is just that-a very different movie. Too bad the end result doesn't hold up as well as it should.

Sebastian Rhys had a rough childhood. As a kid, his dad tortured him-mentally and physically-and filming the actions. Now an adult (Domiziano Arcangeli), Sebastian likes to work with cameras, and unsurprisingly, is a bit fucked up. He finds solace-or at least at first-in Sarah (Irene A. Hoffman), who has a blind father (Giovanni Lombardo Radice.) However, her relationship with Sebastian leads to a downward spiral in which the line between reality and fiction blurs, and Sebastian begins to go crazier.

First things first: "House of Flesh Mannequins" is not what one could call an easy viewing experience. This is largely due to the titular place, which hosts sex, self mutilation, and other such acts. The thing that adds to the disorienting experience is the fact that these acts are all real. When people fuck and perform oral sex, they are really doing it, and the torture and scarification is done by real body performers. That being said, most of the gore is fake (such as a nasty scene with a power drill), but the subject matter-voyeurism, abuse, snuff movies and much more-makes for an uneasy time.

I certainly don't hate this movie. In fact, I appreciate that Cristopharo has made an indie movie that is more ambitious than so many other titles. Here, the influences are extremely diverse. Sure, we expect some to be influenced by the garish cinematography of Dario Argento and the nihlism of Lucio Fulci, but the voyeurism of Michael Powell's "Peeping Tom"? The surrealism of not only David Lynch, but Salvador Dali and Luis Buenel? The extreme violence of Fred Vogel? The more artistic side of pornography? That I wasn't expecting. This is a movie made by a man that really loves movies, and it's a bit refreshing to see something directed by someone whose more than just a fan boy.

That being said, while he can create some really striking images, Cristopharo's Achilles heel seems to be directing actors, writing dialogue and offering a compelling narrative. Outside of Radice, none of the actors here are what you'd call good. Arcangeli in particular is weak, coming off as stiffer than wood and offering little reason to care about him other than his past. The dialogue is also often bad, and comes off as a really poor attempt at being poetic. Worst of all is the fact that the narrative isn't all that interesting. Sure, this is a movie in which the imagery is meant to take center stage, but after a while, Sebastian's downward spiral starts to feel tedious, and the conclusion the film reaches doesn't hold up to snuff (pun intended.)

In the end, more adventurous horror fans with extra strong stomachs might like what "Mannequins" tries to accomplish, but I can't say that they'll fall in love with the end result. This is ultimately a film that's easier to appreciate than like.

Rating: 5.5/10

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Madison County (2011) and Bloodlines (2007)

In my review of "Whale Watching Massacre", I mentioned that Tobe Hooper's seminal horror film "The Texas Chainsaw Massacre" is one of the more imitated films in the genre. You could say the same for something like the "Wrong Turn" series. Since the first one came out in 2003, we've gotten a sway of backwoods horror movies that all seem to follow the same ingredients: Gore, torture, incest, backwoods hillbilly stereotypes, and nothing in the way of originality. That's the formula that "Madison County" and "Bloodlines" go with.

In "County", a group of college kids go to a backwoods town to find the author of a book about a killer known as Damien. Well, the old lady who runs a diner says the author is long gone and that Damien is nothing but a folk tale-but of course, we know that's bullshit, because then there wouldn't be a movie.

I will give "Madison County" this much: Nick Principe (Chromeskull from the "Laid to Rest" movies) does a great job as Damien. While this may be yet another slasher played by this actor, Damien is actually a rather creepy creation, and isn't the near unstoppable killing machine that Chromeskull was-he's a bit more human. I also really liked the score by Igor Nemirovsky, which perfectly fits the movie and even features some "Texas Chainsaw" style musique concrete.

Apart from that, there's nothing to write home about. The rest of the cast is uninteresting, and the whole thing is so paint my numbers that it's more boring than anything else. Speaking of which, the movie's biggest flaw is that it thinks "slow moving" automatically counts as "atmospheric." That sometimes can be the case, but when you know whose going to live and whose going to die, and how the whole thing is going to play out. why should you give a damn.

Slightly better is 2007's "Bloodlines." Here, Billy Bob Hackford (Jason Padgett) is the head of a clan that must clean up there bloodline. How do they do this? By kidnapping unsuspecting women for the purpose of mating-and for the occasional fight to the death with one another. However, two girls they kidnap are a bit tougher than the others-and they've got brothers who are war veterans.

There are things I liked about "Bloodlines." The acting here is better, with Molly Berg in particular standing out as Billy Bob's psycho sis. I also liked the family dynamic between the protagonists, which is something that's usually missing from these kinds of movies. Finally, the direction from Stephen Durham and Henry Kingi Jr. is decent, and I enjoyed the score by Amy Marie Beauchamp and Jose Cancela.

That being said, that doesn't mean I liked it-if anything, I almost liked it. Unfortunately, the make-up effects aren't up to snuff, and the gore effects and kills are nothing you've seen a billion times before. In fact, the exploitation elements in the film feel too muted, as it never really goes as far as it should with such an outrageous premise. Finally, so much of it is so "done before and done better", with the usual tropes (torture, abduction, rape) that you always get from movies like this. It has potential to be different, but it doesn't bother to try.

In the end, I can say that "Bloodlines" is at least worth a rental, as there's a few things going for it that make it worth watching once. "Madison County" on the other hand, just bored me, and is worth tracking down for backwoods slasher junkies only.


Madison County: 3/10
Bloodlines: 5/10

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Jersey Shore Shark Attack (2012)

As of this moment, "Prometheus" is in theaters. I loved it, and I feel that over time, it will be considered a classic within it's genre. Well, I'm not here to review that. No, I'm reviewing "Jersey Shore Shark Attack", the latest from the SyFy channel, and the first movie in this year's "Summer of SyFy." The end result resembles-well, it resembles what you'd expect from producer Fred Olen Ray and the director of "Chupacabra Terror."

A gang of Guidos meant to be a spoof of the hit show "Jersey Shore" (With names like "Nookie", "The Complication" and "Paulie Balzac") are having a bit of a problem-Nookie sees Complication with another man (Dear God, I can't believe I just wrote that. I feel stupid already.), some preppy kids are coming into their territory, and to make things worse, sharks are eating people. So, they have to stop this menace, save the Shore...I'm not going to explain the rest of the plot for this. I am going to mention that Paul Sorvino, Tony Sircio and William Atherton are in this. I wonder what was going through Sorvino's mind, seeing that he's in a movie produced by the director of too many Cinemax movies to count.

I will say this much about this movie-I don't hate it as much as I did "Piranha 3DD." I actually did get a laugh when Joey Fatone shows up, only to become shark chow right before he sings. That, and Atherton and Sircio at least seem to be trying here. You can't say the same about everyone else, especially Sorvino, who clearly does not want to be there and is only around for a paycheck. The rest of the movie mostly plays out like your usual SyFy channel movie. Young, not particularly talented actors are there to serve as fodder to either be monster food or to explain the plot to the audience. Actors from SyFy channel shows or veteran actors slumming it for some quick cash are there for a brief period of time. Bad CG effects rule the day. You get the idea.

The biggest problem with the movie, is that it wants to be for three different audiences, yet it can't or won't deliver. Fans of "Jersey Shore" will probably be annoyed with the sub-MadTV style humor and parody on display (though they'll be happy that Vinny has a small role as a TV reporter-and those that hate the show will be happy that a shark gets him in the end.) Exploitation fans will be annoyed because it's a TV movie, so apart from two scenes of practical gore, there's not much there in the sex or violence department. Fans of bad movies will be annoyed because this is a movie that knows it's bad, and tries to get the audience in on the joke. The problem is that 99% of the time, that doesn't work. Bad movies are entertaining when the people who make them don't go out of their way to make a bad movie. When they do, it's just really sad. There's nothing worse than a fool that knows when to make fun of himself.

I didn't have any expectations for this movie, so I guess I can't complain too much. It's another SyFy channel movie, and a rather annoying one at that. There's really nothing to see here.

Rating: 2.5/10

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

The Theatre Bizzare (2011)

I tend to get interested in anthology films. Not every segment will work-hell, sometimes none of them do-but at the end of the day, it's nice to see a different series of stories. With "The Theatre Bizzare," seven directors each have a tale to tell-some erotic, some surreal, some poetic, but all tied to the horror genre.

The framing segments come from Jeremy Kasten ("The Wizard of Gore" remake and "The Attic Expeditions") deal with a girl named Enola Penny (Virginia Newcomb) walking into a theater, where host Peg Poett (Udo Kier) and his marionettes host a series of gruesome tales.

First is Richard Stanley's ("Hardware" and "Dust Devil") "The Mother of Toads", in which a couple run into a seductive witch (Catriona MacColl.) When the man in the relationship get's curious, things start to get a little eerie.

I have mixed feelings on this segment. On one hand, it has several shots of nature that end up feeling redundant, the ending is predictable, and apart from MacColl, the acting isn't all that good. On the other hand, it's very well directed, has some unbelievably striking visuals, and tons of atmosphere reminiscent of the best Italian horror films. Not a hit, but not a total waste. Rating: 5.5/10

Segment two is "I Love You", which comes from Buddy Giovinazzo ("Combat Shock.") Here, a man wakes up with a wounded hand, and looks back at the events that may have lead up to this-events that involved a broken marriage, infidelity and jealousy.

This is the tragedy story, which relies more on performances than it does atmosphere and gore. Fortunately, the performances are strong, and the film does a great job capturing the stages of dead romance and guilt. The ending can be seen a mile away, but this is still good stuff. Rating: 7.5/10

Our third tale is "Wet Dreams", which is directed by make-up effects legend Tom Savini (who also directed the remake of "Night of the Living Dead.") This is the story of Donnie (James Gil), who keeps having nightmares about losing his manhood. To seek help, he goes to a psychiatrist (Savini), who might know the key to his fears. However, he's going to learn that hell hath no fury like a scorned wife (Debbie Rochon)-and that sometimes, the remote isn't all that important.

Though it features some choice gore and a fine performance from Rochon, I found this to be the weakest segment. It tries to be a "Tales From the Crypt" type of darkly comic moral tale, but the humor is neither creepy or all that funny, and the lead is just plain annoying. Plus, in comparison to the atmospheric first segment and the dramatic second, this feels a bit too slight. Rating: 4.5/10

Next is "The Accident", which comes from Douglas Buck (director of the disturbing short "Cutting Moments" and a remake of De Palma's classic "Sisters.") Our tale is a conversation between a mother and her daughter about life and death, which is spawned after seeing a road accident.

The least traditional of the shorts, "The Accident" is also the best. Here, we get something that feels more like a poetic art film about the nature of life and death through the eyes of an adult and a child that nonetheless manages to be atmospheric and provocative at the same time. That out of the way, those hoping for shocks will be let down, as this isn't that kind of horror tale. Rating: 8.5/10

"Vision Stains" was filmed by Karim Hussein ("Subconscious Cruelty.") This one is about The Writer (Kaniehtiio Horn), who likes to take the liquid from the eyes of women so she can see their memories. However, when she tries to do this to an unborn child, she learns that sometimes, it's best not to meddle with certain things.

Though hurt by an really annoying narration, "Vision Stains" is some creepy stuff, with plenty of ocular trauma, some disturbing imagery and strong direction. Best of all is the atmosphere, which reeks of urban decay and horror. Rating: 7/10

Finally is "Sweets" by Douglas Buck (the underrated "Plague Town.") It opens with Estelle (Lindsay Goranson) breaking up with her boyfriend Greg (Guiliford Adams), whose relationship consisted of a food fetish. However, she's not done with him yet, as an eating festivity hosted by Mikela (Lynn Lowry) offers a little surprise.

The grossest of the tales, "Sweets" is also what "Wet Dreams" should have been. Here, the pathetic boyfriend is kind of funny, the black humor fits to a T, and the ending punchline is nasty and quite memorable. That being said, you might lose your appetite watching this, as it makes food look pretty gross. Rating: 8/10

As a whole, "The Theatre Bizarre" won't appeal to everyone, but those looking for something different and at times a bit more out there in the genre will most likely get a kick out of it. Besides, it's refreshing to see something that's at least somewhat different.

Rating: 7.5/10

RIP Ray Bradbury

You know, out of all the obituaries I've posted, this one makes me the saddest thus far. I don't want to imagine a world without Bradbury.

Friday, June 1, 2012

Classic Poster Art: The Incubus (1982)

Piranha 3DD (2012)

I normally don't review movies whilst they are in theaters, but I'll make an exception in this case. Plus, it's available On-Demand too, so...

I really enjoyed 2010's remake of "Piranha." It was a rare type that managed to not only work as a stand alone movie, but delivered everything that it promised: boobs, gore, and comedy. It was also well directed, acted, and had a level of wit within the proceedings.Well, the studio decided that it was a movie that warranted a sequel, and decided to hand over the reigns to the guys that brought you "Feast." Well, with it's small (about 75 theaters) theatrical release and On-Demand run, it's easy to see why it's not getting a whole lot as far as promotion is concerned: it's a really shitty movie.

Taking place one year after the events of the first movie, the movie opens with a cameo from Gary Busey and Clu Gulagar becoming food for Piranhas that come out of a dead but still flatulent cow. Yes, that is the level of humor we are dealing with. Brace yourself, because it get's worse.

The next day, Maddy (Daniel Panabaker) is in a bit of a disagreement with her stepfather Chet (David Koechner) because he's turned the family water park (called "The Big Wet") into a more adult oriented place with strippers as lifeguards. However, the piranha's are back, and headed to the pool via the pipe system. Her friends Barry (Matt Bush) and Kyle (Chris Zykla) must now try to do something to stop the upcoming onslaught-and you can guess how that goes. Meanwhile, Shelby (Katrina Bowden) is ready to lose her virginity, but a baby piranha goes up, lady parts. Also, Ving Rhames, Paul Sheer and Christpher Lloyd return, and David Hasselhoff shows up as himself.

 Note to future writers and directors: Simply going "Hey, it's David Hasselhoff" is not funny. In fact, it was never funny to begin with.

The best word I can think of describing "Piranha 3DD" (ha ha) would be "lazy." The direction by "Project Greenlight" graduate and "Feast" director John Gulagar ranges from pedestrian to just plain bad, with murky underwater shots, poor editing and no clue how to direct moments of violence or any of the actors. Here, you have people who have proven themselves to be good to decent actors delivering awful performances, with some (in particular Rhames) seeming to be embarrassed to be there. In their defense, they are working with a script that feels like it was written by 8th graders. This is a movie where people do things that are dumb even by the standards of horror movies, and characters change motivations (Kyle goes from being an alright guy to a total asshole just completely out of the blue) without any attention to consistency.

So, does the humor work? Well, as you can tell from the third paragraph, no. There's one moment that's funny, but most of the movie plays out like something you'd get from a really bad comedy (stuff like "Fired Up!") with gore and female nudity. This is movie that thinks a piranha going up a fat man's ass is great comedy. How about the gore? It's pretty tame compared to the last movie, with the inevitable water park massacre feeling anemic in comparison to the all out slaughter fest of the last movie. Sure, there's decapitations and blood in the water, but it's nothing you haven't seen a billion times before.

Now I know, I know. "It's supposed to be dumb!" you might be saying. Hell, I enjoy dumb entertainment as much as the next guy. This however, is the bad kind of dumb entertainment. The kind that makes no effort whatsoever, and expects you to go along with it because hey man, tits and ass and gore! I'm sorry, but it takes more than that to make a good trashy movie. This is the kind of thing that gives trash a bad name. Being dumb is no excuse for being lazy.

It's really no surprise as to why this didn't get a wide theatrical release and has gotten next to no promotion-it fucking sucks. Everything about this feels like a really bad direct-to-video sequel, and that the studio had no idea what to do with it. This is a movie that's best left avoided. Just watch the previous one, or the original.

Rating: 0/10