Saturday, February 27, 2016

Biohazard (1985)

Fred Olen Ray has had a long career so far. Originally known for making movies like "Hollywood Chainsaw Hookers", 'Scalps" and "The Tomb" among others, he mostly makes softcore porn for Cinemax aka "porn for people too afraid to look at actual porn" these days. Another one of the earlier films he's known for is "Biohazard", which is one of many creature features made in the 80's to piggyback off the success of "Alien". It also isn't a good movie-or a particularly interesting one at that.

The plot deals with a "matter transfer device" (and if you are thinking "that sounds like something out of a 50's science fiction movie"-that's kinda the point-more on that later) that materializes a strange metal box. So, "what's in the box?" as Brad Pitt said in "Seven"? Well, it's not Gwyneth Paltrow's head (what, it's been over 20 years. It doesn't really count as a spoiler at this point), but a pint sized alien creature (played by the director's son) that does what alien beings do in horror movies. Now, it's up to a psychic (Angelique Pettyjohn) and a bunch of characters you don't really give a shit about to stop the beastie.

Though it features a cast of B-Movie vets (including a slumming Aldo Ray), a clear love for 50'sci-fi movies and an shockingly fun ending, "Biohazard" is a chore to sit through. There's a little bloodshed and some female nudity, but none of it is particularly interesting. The creature itself looks cheap as all get out (you even see the zipper on the suit at least two or three times) but lacks charm or personality. The acting is awful, as several of the actors involved seem like they wish they could be anywhere else but here.

Oh, and there is padding in the movie. So. Much. Padding. The dialogue often feels rudimentary, and even the attack scenes and attempts at humor feel halfhearted attempts to pad out what's essentially a ball of nothing. Oh, and the blooper reel in the end credits that never seems to end. You know what I really hate? Blooper reels at the end of horror movies. It's the epitome of laziness.

Unless you are a masochist or have to watch every monster movie from the 80's, then there is no reason whatsoever to watch "Biohazard", as it represents most of what was bad about these movies. Amazingly enough, there was a sequel made nine years later. You watch it. I wouldn't dare to.

Rating: 1.5/10

Sunday, February 21, 2016

The Devil's Wedding Night (1973)

To be honest, I am not exactly a man of complex taste. Give me some basic, exploitable elements and a movie that won't bore me to death, and I'll probably find some merit in it. Case in point: Luigi Batzella's* 1973 vampires plus Satanic horror show "The Devil's Wedding Night" It has it's flaws, but I did find myself enjoying it.

The plot, to tell the truth, is dumb even by the standards of Eurohorror: Franz (Mark Damon) decides to spend some time at a local castle. Oh, and this Castle is called Castle Dracula, and the Countess de Vries (the gorgeous Rosalba Neri) runs the joint, and is preparing a Satanic ceremony that requires virgin blood. Good news though, as Franz has a twin brother who must try to save the day.

As I said, the plot is pretty dumb. The movie also gets a bit too chatty for it's own good, sometimes relying too much on exposition. However, in spite of that and the stupid nature of it, I found this to be a fun movie-kind of like a mix of a 70's Hammer vampire movie and a more competent Jess Franco. For one thing, the thing is dripping with atmosphere, and thankfully manages to get away with it thanks to some striking visuals (such as the Countess bathing in blood in a fog drenched set piece) and some strong cinematography from the one and only Joe D'Amato. That and all the offbeat moments (the zombie like maid, the weird, almost Igor like dude that pops up) which manage to keep the thing from dragging too much (though as I said, it does drag a bit at places)

Then there's the final third act, in which things really pick up. Without giving too much away, let's just say there is an abundance of female nudity, some pretty gory violence, and a satisfying (not to mention darkly funny) conclusion. Really, it's hard for me not to eat a lot of this up.

To be honest, "The Devil's Wedding Night" won't make anyone's top Italian horror movies of all time list. I doubt it will make any top ten lists to tell the truth. However, it is a lot of Gothic fun, and should be of interest of the trashier side of 70's horror.

Rating: 7/10

*Among other things, this is one of three horror movies Batzella directed. The other two-"The Beast in Heat" and 'Nude for Satan"-aren't really worth it, so this is his best horror film. His other directorial credits include "Django's Cut Price Corpses" and the wonderfully titled "God is My Colt .45"

Sunday, February 7, 2016

Visions (2015)

At this point, Jason Blum is the king as far as horror producers are concerned. The dude has three or four franchises under his belt ("Paranormal Activity", "Insidious", "The Purge" and "Sinister") and is largely the force behind many a low budget, widely released horror is concerned. Then there are the movies he produces that either don't get a big release, or go straight to video and Netflix. Movies such as "Visions".

Months after surviving a car wreck, Eveleigh (Isla Fisher) and her husband David (Anson Mount) move into a vineyard to start a new life. Whilst there, a now pregnant Eveleigh starts to see, well, visions of horrific things and ghostly entities. Is this just a result of her pregnancy as her doctor (Jim Parsons of all people) says, or is it something more?

There really isn't much that's terrible about "Visions", but the whole thing is about as generic as it's title. Sure, the acting isn't bad (including a pretty good Gillian Jacobs and a barely in the movie Eva Longoria), but the whole story is as bland as they come. Nearly everything that you expect to happen-protagonist sees evil apparitions, plenty of jump scares and characters who may or may not have hidden agendas-are all present. It's like a checklist of how to make a by the numbers horror movie. The only thing that stands out story wise is the conclusion, and not for a good reason. Remember the French horror film "Inside"? Well, you get a poor man's version of that too.

In the end, there isn't much to say about this one. It's about as generic as they come, and while it won't make you mad, you won't remember any of it by the end of the week either. It's the definition of milquetoast.

Rating: 3/10

The director is Kevin Greutert, whose other directorial efforts include the sixth and seventh entries in the "Saw" Franchise, and the equally forgettable (and more racist) "Jessabelle". He's also an editor, whose credits include direct to video films like "Room 6" and "The Thirst", the third through fifth entries in the "Saw" franchise, "The Strangers" and the better than it had any right to be "The Collection"

The writer of the movie was Lucass Sussman, who prior to this did the underrated 2002 horror movie "Below"