Monday, November 30, 2009

The Butcher

The Butcher 2007
Director: Kim Jon-Win
Writer: Kim Jon-Win
Starring Kim Sung-Il and You Dong-Hun

Korean horror films seem to be some of the best ones coming out of the Asian market these days. I had heard a lot about his film, about how brutal and shocking it was, and it did not disappoint. This film is an assault on the senses and one of the most mind numbing films I have seen since Inside. It is a unflinching and brutal look into the world of snuff filmmaking and it grabs a hold of your psyche and does not let go until long after the film ends. It uses the technique of the hand held camera very well and it does become nauseating, but I think in this case that is what the filmmakers were aiming for. The conceit of switching between the POV of the makers of this film atrocity and the victims are a great idea and it is handled wonderfully in this film. This is one of those films that after viewing it you cant believe you were able to endure it. But, after thinking about it the film grows on you. It is kind of the same way that I was affected by seeing Cannibal Holocaust for the first time. That is now one of my favorite films, so you never know what kind of impression a film of this type will make upon you.
The plot basics are this, at a undisclosed location, the film opens in a slaughterhouse where it seems some anonymous people are going to begin making a film. This is no ordinary film though, as the filmmakers are preparing to torture and kill some unsuspecting couple for the amusement of someone who is willing to pay for this experience. The filmmakers put cameras on their victims heads, so they can witness the POV of them as they torture, degrade, rape and kill them in the most profane ways. The director makes a deal with the husband and shockingly he takes it at the shock of his wife, just so he can survive. He then makes his escape and does whatever is humanly possible to survive this ordeal, regardless of how much of his sanity and morals are left intact at the end.
This is a very well executed film. It is not a fun thing to watch, but the direction by Jon-Kim is captivating till the bittersweet ending. The way he balances between the POV's of the filmmakers and the victims are jarring and it works very well. The film has a short running time, but the director knows that the viewer does not need to be subjected to theses horrors any longer than what is necessary. The script is really good. You feel the terror of the victims and the sheer depraved joy that the filmmakers get out of inflicting these horrors. The cast is good, they convey all the senses that the viewer needs in a tense and shocking film such as this. The way they portray the roles without giving the viewer too much too latch onto really makes the viewer a kind of sick voyeur in the process and that works really well. The SFX and effects are very good. The blood is jarring and the torture scenes are really quite effective. The best example of this was when the female was killed, it was sickening but you could not look away. This was a original and creative take on both the Hostel type of film and the hand held camera horror film and is well worth seeking out for horror fans looking for something different to whet their appetite with.
This one gets 5 out of 5

Sunday, November 29, 2009

It's Alive 2008

It's Alive 2008
Director: Joseph Rusnak
Writers: Larry Cohen, Paul Sopacy and James Portolese
Starring Bijou Phillips, James Nurray, Raphael Coleman, Skye Bennett, Owen Teal, Ty Glaser, Arkie Reece and Todd Jensen

This was a remake I was looking forward to seeing because I was never a big fan of the 1974 original film. When I think Larry Cohen I usually think of The Stuff, that is my favorite work of his. I am pleased to say that this is a superior remake and in my estimation loads better than the original. It has a great cast which is well anchored by the performance of Bijou Phillips, a solid story with a nice and plausible explanation of why the baby is a mutated aberration and great gore and splendid kills. I think another reason the film worked so well was the dynamic of the mother protecting her child at any costs no matter what the cost. This made the film had a lot of similarities to the recent baby shocker Grace. But, where that film was mainly interested in skewing and satirizing things like new age fads, It's Alive was more interested in being a scary and suspenseful horror film. And I believe it really succeeded on those terms. This was one of the big surprises in horror I have seen recently, I was not expecting much but this film really delivered the goods.
The plot basics are this, Lenore (Phillips) is in college and expecting her first child and she decides to take a leave of absence to have the baby and raise it a bit before returning to her studies. She goes to live out in the country with her architect boyfriend Franck (Murray). Everything is going well until the fetus had doubled in size and then the doctors have to go ahead and perform a Caesarean. Everything goes well until they cut the umbilical cord and the baby kills everyone in the surgery room except for Lenore. When she comes out of the room Lenore is questioned by the police but she remembers nothing and is allowed to go home. Though, the police want her to talk to a psychologist to see if they can discover anything she may remember. Soon, the baby bites her, while she is breastfeeding and discovers a taste of blood and soon Lenore is covering up the trail of bodies her baby is leaving behind him. Lenore refuses to believe her baby has something wrong and it comes down to Franck and his wheelchair bound brother (Coleman) to put a end to the insanity.
This was a great horror film. Rusnak's direction is taut and palatable. He sets up the tension of what the baby might be and slowly reveals it scene by scene. He films the attack scenes very expertly, and you never see much of the baby attacking and that works really well. The script is very well done too. The viewer really gets to feel the pain and discomfort Lenore feels as she tries to protect her homicidal newborn. Also, the explanation of why the baby is mutated is handled really well and I totally accepted Lenore's reasoning. The cast is good, I loved Phillips as Lenore, she was the anchor of the film and you felt everything that she felt and sympathized with her. I also liked Bennett as her college friend, she was very annoying and I think that was how she was supposed to come across and I think that is why her death is the most fulfilling for me. The SFX and the effects are great too, you never see much of the baby and that really works well for the film. The deaths were bloody and fun, especially when Bennett gets killed and you see the baby's hand come out of her mouth. This was a great film and it proves what can happen when a remake makes the story it's own. You sometimes come back with a superior story.
This one gets 5 out of 5

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Dead Air

Dead Air 2009
Director: Corbin Bernsen
Writer: Kenny Yenkel
Starring Bill Moseley, Patricia Tallman, David Moscow, Corbin Bernsen, Dan Lauria, Elle Travis, Susan Ruttan, Larry Drake, Lakshmi Manchu and Federico Dordei

This was a film that piqued my interest mainly due to the fact that Bill Moseley and Patricia Tallman were in it. It sounded like a very cool concept, a besieged late night radio talk show besieged by zombie attacks. The film did not disappoint it was like Talk Radio combined with 28 Days Later. The film is anchored by the excellent performances by Moseley and Tallman, they are always a delight to watch and here there is no difference. The film has a very isolationist and claustrophobic feel and it works very well. It also feels a lot like a 3 person play and I could definitely see it played on the stage. Also, the idea of terrorist biological warfare is a theme that everyone can relate too in these modern times. All of these conceits are melded together well and it ends up being a great little horror film.
The plot basics are this, it seems to be another average night for late night radio talk show host Logan Burnhardt (Moseley) who decides to talk about paranoia tonight, but that seems to be a prophetic choice of topics. When a group of terrorists unleash a biological attack on the city, he sees things begin to unravel and soon he is the only person on the air that is able to warn people about what is happening. It seems that the infected begin to act like zombies and anyone who is outside will be torn to pieces. Not long after, one of the terrorists (Dardei) breaks into the station and holds Burnhardt captive along with his co worker and ex girlfriend, Lucy (Tallman). It seems the terrorist wants to take over the broadcast and trick the city's denizens into going outside so more people are infected and now it is up to Logan to find a way to stop him before more blood is shed.
This was an exceptional film. Bernsen's direction is taut and suspenseful and there are lots of times where you feel nothing is going right for the characters. They way he filmed it reminded me a lot of Talk Radio and that is one of my favorite Oliver Stone films. The way Burnhardt eggs on and goads both his audience members and his coworkers is mesmerizing to watch. Bernsen also films the attack scenes very well they are frenetic and quick and that works well in propelling the film forward. The script is great too, you really get into the head of Logan and see how his brain machinations work. He can be thoughtless and rude, but you also see sparks of his humanity in there and that makes him more than a stereotype. The cast is phenomenal, Moseley steals every scene he is in and when he goes on one of his diatribes on the air, you are transfixed. Tallman is another great member of the cast, you watch as she tries to get the humanity to come out of Logan, and you can see it is an uphill battle, yet she still perseveres. The SFX and effects in the film are quite effective, there is not much but what is used is used effectively. The film is more about mood and atmosphere and that works really well in this film. If you want a original and fresh take on zombie films with something to say, definitely seek this one out.
This one gets 5 out of 5

Friday, November 27, 2009

Friday Flashbacks: Poltergeist

Poltergiest 1982
Director: Tobe Hooper
Writers: Steven Spielberg, Michael Grais and Mark Victor
Starring Jobeth Williams, Craig T. Nelson, Beatrice Straight, Dominique Dunne, Oliver Robins, Heather O'Rourke, Zelda Rubinstein and James Karen

Haunting films are getting really popular of late, and all of them seem to take a nod from Poltergeist, which in my book is the best haunted house film. A lot of people are more fans of The Haunting, but I think the everyday family feel of the film puts it a step above that film. It is a film that I get more enjoyment with every viewing. It has a great story, excellent cast and some excellent special effects. The film is really anchored by the heartfelt performance of Jobeth Williams as the mom that will do anything to keep her family safe. Another great thing about this film is how it has given many viewers phobias of clowns. I never looked at them the same way after watching this film and it has the most terrifying clown until Pennywise from IT. The film has a real casual feel to it, so from the opening shot you are pulled in and it doesn't let you go till the final frame of the film.
The plot basics are this, the Freelings (Williams and Nelson) live in a idyllic housing division and everything is going great. Until their youngest daughter Carol Anne (O'Rourke) begins connecting with otherworldly beings through their TV set. At first it seems to be innocuous pranks but soon it takes a horrifying turn and Carol Anne is taken by the spirits and they will not let her go. The Freeling's then get a group of ghost hunters and they bring in a medium to rescue Carol Anne and exorcise the home of its demons. At first it is a resounding success, but then the house attacks the family yet again and tries to prevent Diane (Williams) from saving her kids. It all leads to them finding out the secret of the building of their house and why they have been besieged by vengeful spirits.
This is a near perfect film. Hooper's direction is flawless, the mundane feeling of suburban life he sets the film up with feels completely natural and the way he slowly cranks up horror elements is a work of greatness. It is like each scene is like making a cake and he is adding another layer with each scene. The script is great as well, you really feel the dilemmas the family faces as the combat this spectral attack on their well being. The characters of the mother and father are crafted very well and before all the horror falls upon them they are built up as very full and sympathetic characters. The cast is amazing. The lynchpins of the cast are of course Williams, O'Rourke and Rubinstein. Williams is the moral and emotional anchor of the film and this is by far her best role. O'Rourke is great as Carol Anne and she really portrays the precocious and frightened little daughter very well. Rubinstein's role is not much more than a extended cameo, but she is such a vital part of the film that it would not be the same without her. The SFX and effects by ILM is stupendous. The scene that always sticks with me is the ghost hunter who peels his face off in the bathroom, that still freaks me out. The climax of the film with Williams in the pool surrounded by corpses is gut wrenching as well. The score by Jerry Goldsmith is the final piece of the film that brings it all together. The score is at times both harmonious and ethereal. It really fits the film and if you hear the first few notes you know exactly what kind of film you are seeing. This is a great Haunting film with a great sense of a family sticking together and fighting to overcome all the obstacles in their way.
This one gets 5 out of 5

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Bird Flu Zombies

Beast Within 2008
Directors: Wolf Wolf and Ohmuthi
Writer: Wolf Jahnke
Starring Anna Breuer, Phillip Danne, Marvin Gronen, Thomas Heubeck, Jesse Inman, Nikolas Jurgens, Joost Siedhoff and Birthe Wolter

This is yet another entry into the ever burgeoning zombie genre with some modern health scare terror in it thanks to the avian flu. This makes the film seem more potent than it normally would be, combining a zombie outbreak with the bird flu. It is kind of surprising no one had thought to combine these two disparate devices and make a new kind of horror. It comes together well in this film and the way the film plays out it has elements of both Night of the Living Dead and John Carpenter's The Thing. It works really well. The bleakness of the film is another great part about this film. There is never any feeling that anything that happens in the film is going to end well and that is refreshing. It is nice to see a horror film that is unrepentantly dark and with totally unsympathetic characters that you cannot wait to see die horribly. I wish we got more American made horror films like this.
The plot basics are this, a professor discovers a new strain of avian flu that when it infects humans they become ravenous zombies. He is attacked and killed and not long after a group of twenty something's looking to have a good time, arrive at his home where his grandson (Danne) is going to sign some papers to take over the home. It has been a long time since he has been there and he does not seem very welcome by the local authorities. Soon, many people get infected with this zombie strain of bird flu and now they are all fighting for their lives. But, there is infighting between the group and this leads ultimately to their doom and it looks as if this zombie virus will spread worldwide.
This was a damn good film. The direction is very good, unlike most modern zombie films it is filmed as a movie and not as some viral video, which seems to be the norm these days. It is very classic in its style. The direction really plays well within the style of the classic zombie siege film. The movement of the zombies and their attack styles are fun and exciting to view. The script is quite good too, I loved the conceit of a avian flu variation that creates zombies. The characters were interesting too. I especially liked Patrick, he was hysterically paranoid and that made him a delight to watch as his psyche unraveled. The cast was good too, with a special nod to Gronen as Patrick, he really relished his part and was by far the best actor in the film. The SFX and effects are great too, they never look too fake and always bring out the desired effect in the viewer. This was definitely one of the better zombie films that I have seen recently and well worth a look for zombie fans.
This one gets 4 out of 5

Monday, November 23, 2009

Until Death

Until Death 1987
Director: Lamberto Bava
Writers: Lamberto Bava and Dardano Sacchetti
Starring Gioia Scola, David Brandon, Giuseppe De Sando, Roberto Pedicini, Marco Vivio and Urbano Barberini

Lamberto Bava is one of my favorite of the Italian horror directors, not on the level of his father Mario, but very good nonetheless. My personal favorite of his is Demons. So, when I caught a look at this one over at Netflix, I grabbed it up pretty quickly. It was nothing amazing but still an entertaining film nonetheless. It was a combination of a Hitchcockian suspense film with a supernatural twist at the end. It kept that twist under wraps till the very end, for the most part you think the film is following the general rules of a suspense film until the final act comes along and reverses everything. IT has a steady and brisk pace that carries the viewer along for the ride and also makes you care for what will happen to most of the characters. Bava sets up the dilemma well in the beginning and ratchets up the tension with each scene till the tension becomes so heavy that you know something is going to break under the weight of all this anticipation. Bava balances all these ingredients well and it forms into a nice potboiler of a film.
The plot basics are this, Linda (Scola) has killed her husband with the aid of her lover, Carlo (Brandon) buries the body and hides this nefarious deed from all. Linda is pregnant with her son and much time passes, six years in fact and everything seems to be going well until a drifter (Barberini) appears at their doorstep. This drifter becomes helpful but soon Linda begins to fear that he knows something and is trying to bring back the old nightmares of disposing of her husband. This causes a rift between her and Carlo and things begin to turn violent between them. It soon seems that the drifter is not who he appears and the justice that has long eluded Linda and Carlo is coming for its comeuppance and not even death will stop it. Will Linda come to terms with her foul deed or will she perish herself?
This is a finely crafted film. Bava's direction is taut and suspenseful. The more time that progresses in the film and the higher the levels of tension get till it permeates every scene. I like how Bava tries to start a love triangle within the film but then pulls the rug out from under you and goes in a different direction. The script is good too, the only complaint I would make is the film would have benefited more from just being a straight suspense film and really did not need the supernatural twist at the end. The main story was good enough it did not need that. The cast is good too, Scola reminds me a lot of Sophia Loren and she has a musky sexuality that permeates all her scenes. She also has a good acting range that she is able to show all the emotions needed when she finally breaks down at the end. Brandon is also great as the scummy and amoral lover who doesn't care about anything but his own base needs. Barberini is the drifter is very good too, he makes you sympathetic for him from the get go, but deep within you know he is plotting something. The SFX and effects are good, there is not much but what there is shown and used very well. The fire at the end of the film is probably the best effect in the film. This is a solid suspense film that would be a great film if not for the unnecessary supernatural angle at the end.
This one gets 3 out of 5

Sunday, November 22, 2009

All Sewn Up

The Seamstress 2009
Director: Jesse James Miller
Writers: Mark Garbett, Bob Hume and David Andrew Lloyd
Starring Lance Henriksen, Kailin See, David Kopp, James Kirk, Lara Gilchrist, Sarah Mutch, Richard Stroh, Kevin Mcnulty and Andee Frizzell

I had seeked this film out mainly due to Henriksen being in the film and I am glad I did. It is a original and tense horror film that I think more people should see. It has a very cool monster that is very original and creative. The film has some great kills in it and it also makes great use of the isolationist location of using a island. It is a film that works on many levels> As a revenge film, as a supernatural horror film and finally as a suspense film. What is best about it is how all these things combine to make it a solid film that is well worth repeated viewings. It has a great cast that is anchored by Henriksen and I also dug Frizzell as the Seamstress, her voice was really quite freaky and was used for excellent effect. This is a great alternative horror film to fans who are sick of the remakes and the sequels. It uses the classic archetype of a horror film. A bunch of people in a isolated area that discovers something horrible is happening to all of them.
The plot basics are this, Allie (See) is searching for her father who has disappeared after delving into a story. Allie investigates and talks to a local sheriff (Henriksen) and discovers where her father went too and decides to investigate the island where he disappeared too. She brings a bunch of friends to help her and things begin to get strange. It seems a vigilante mob cruelly killed a seamstress (Frizzell) who they thought had killed some local people and now she has risen from the grave to exact revenge on the members of the mob. This is bad for Allie and her friends because they have ended in the middle of all this and are all potential victims for the Seamstress. The 2 remaining members of the mob show up on the island and Allie learns the truth and the question is will she preserve her innocence or enact her own bloody vengeance?
This is a great film. Miller's direction is great. He makes excellent use of shadows and lights and you never know what to expect from scene to scene. He slowly unravels the films, so the more you get into it the deeper the mystery gets. He sets up the attack scenes of The Seamstress effortlessly. The script is good too, it really gives you a well rounded look at all the characters of the film. No one seems to be a stereotype and all have reasons for what they do in the film. The cast is very good too, Henriksen steals every scene he is in as usual. I also really liked Frizzell as The Seamstress, she had a real ethereal and spectral quality to her scenes and it really sent chills down your spine. See was a good lead protagonist who had her own weaknesses which made her character much more than the "white hat" of the piece. The SFX and effects in the film were phenomenal, the kills by the Seamstress were gory and macabre and definitely a highlight of the film. The scene where the one guy has his eyes and mouth sewn up and hung upon a tree like a crucifixion scene was really amazing. This one gets a high recommendation just for being a original piece of horror cinema.
This one gets 5 out of 5

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Bloody Greetings

Deadly Little Christmas 2009
Director: Novin Shokiba
Writers: Jeremiah Campbell and Novin Shokiba
Starring Felissa Rose, Barbara Jean Barrielle, Anthony Campanella, Eric Fischer, Leah Grimsson, Samuel Nathan Hoffmire and Monique La Barr

This was yet another in the expanding sub category in horror films of the Christmas horror film. I mainly sleeked this one out because it stars Felissa Rose and I have always liked her work since Sleepaway Camp. The film borrows a lot of its plot elements from Halloween and that does work in its favor. It pretty much follows the beat of that story until the last act of the film which turns it all on its head at the end and it works really well for the film. There is not much originality in the film but I think the performance by Rose really pushes this film past being another mediocre horror film. The kills are quite good too and the ending is quite pleasing and is they definite ending you want for this type of film. It is a very low budget film, but I think it really works in its favor and does not detract from my enjoyment of the film.
The plot basics are this, a family is celebrating Christmas and everything goes well until the young boy in the family goes crazy over not getting to play with his sister's gifts and for that grabs a knife and brutally kills his father and his nanny, who his father was having an affair with. We flash forward 15 years later and Devin (Hoffmire), the young boy is grown now, and in a psychiatric asylum. He is brooding and seems to be waiting for something. His mother )Rose) is visiting him and is distraught that he is spiraling into madness. While his 2 sisters Taylor (La Barr) and Noel (Grimsson) are far from this and planning a Christmas play. Soon, Devin escapes and begins killing anyone involved with the family in gruesome ways and working his way to his family, or so it would seem. This all leads to a showdown between all the family members and the truth is uncovered. What this all leads too will shock the sisters and will end with a dramatic ending.
This is a fun slasher film. The direction of Shokiba is very good, he does the killer POV scenes very well and also sends the viewer into great misdirection till the final act. But, as you think about what you saw it becomes clear to you that this was where it was headed from the beginning. The script is good, if somewhat predictable. The characters are all pretty stereotypical, but still entertaining. The cast is good, but the shining star of the film is the performance of Felissa Rose, she really digs into her part and really hams it up. She is a delight to watch especially when she is berating the staff of the hospital when her homicidal son escapes. Hoffmire is good as Devin too, he has a quiet intensity that reminds me of John Sheperd as Tommy Jarvis in Friday the 13th: A New Beginning. The SFX and makeup effects are very well done. The kills are extreme and very bloody. I especially liked the bullet to the head scene, that was excellently done. This is a fun Christmas horror film, but not on the par of my favorite, which is Santa's Slay.
This one gets 3 out of 5

Friday, November 20, 2009

Friday Flashbacks: Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2003

The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2003
Director: Marcus Nispel
Writer: Scott Kozar
Starring Jessica Biel, Jonathon Tucker, Erica Leerhsen, Mike Vogel, Eric Balfour, Andrew Bryniarski, R. Lee Ermy, David Dorfman, Lauren German and Kathy Lamkin

This was the first of the modern remakes to really make a killing at the box office and I think really started the trend of remaking just about every horror film that has come down the pipeline. Though the film does not hold a candle to Hopper's seminal classic, I think it is a solid and good horror film. I think what helps it the most is Ermy's portrayal of Sheriff Hoyt. He steals all the scenes that he is in and to me he is more diabolical and evil than Leatherface. I also think it did not help that Bryniarski is a weak Leatherface, he has nowhere near the presence that Gunnar Hansen has and it really shows in this film. The film also relies much heavier on gore than its predecessor and though it works well for the film, the less is more approach of the original is better. The cast of victims is good too, I personally really enjoyed Biel as the final girl in the film and it didn't hurt that she fills out a tank top so well. The film has many pros as well as a fair number of cons.
The plot basics are this, five youths are traveling through Texas on their way to a Lynryd Skynyrd concert, when they stop at the side of the road and pick up a hitchhiker (Leerhshen) who seems to have been through hell. They try to get answers out of her, but before they know it she pulls a gun out of her dress and puts a bullet through her head. They then freak out and stop, and look for help from the locals and soon they meet the local Sheriff (Ermy) and all is not well. Soon, they begin to get picked off one by one by a disfigured maniac with a chainsaw (Bryniarski). With the malevolent sheriff on her heels it is left to one lone survivor (Biel) to outwit the maniac and his family. But will she retain her sanity when all is said and done?
This is a expertly crafted film. Nispel's direction is taut. It is very atmospheric and scary. He sets up the scenes very well, one of my preferred scenes is right before the hitchhiker puts a hole through her head. The scene is dripping with dread until the moment when she pulls the gun out. It is a great scene that uses the viewers dread to accentuate what will happen. The script is good. It is similar to the original but different enough to be seen as its own film. It gives you some character development with some of the lead characters, such as Erin and Kemper. Which makes it all the more tragic when Erin finds out what Kemper was planning to do that fateful weekend. The high point of the script though is Sheriff Hoyt, he is by far the most memorable character in the film. The cast is good, especially Ermy he relishes every scene he is in and commands all of the viewer's attention with every moment. Biel is a good protagonist. The only real failing cast wise is the poor choice of Bryniarski as Leatherface, he just brings no personality to the character, and that is a shame. The SFX and makeup effects are quite amazing in the film and definitely one of my favorite things about the film. The hole in the hitchhiker's head dripping with blood is a personal favorite. The amputation scene toward the end of the film is great too. The score by Steve Jablonsky is great too, it uses the score from the original well but also builds on it and makes the music its own. This is not the best remake, but I think is a damn good one.
This one gets 4 out of 5

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Flesh, TX

Flesh, TX 2008
Director: Guy Crawford
Writers: Guy Crawford and Kathleen Benner
Starring Kathleen Benner, Wendy Crawford, Dale Denton, Joe Estevez, Melinda Evans, Jimmy Flowers, Davina Joy, Jada Kline and Eleni C. Krimitsos

This is yet another film that follows in the veins of Texas Chainsaw Massacre and House of a 1,000 Corpses. It is not a bad film, but not a very good one either. Like most films that follow the same formula s these films it adds nothing new. It odes have some good performances and some very bloody kills and if that is enough to appease you, you may find yourself entertained by this film. It seems to meld together characters like Baby from Corpses and Sheriff Hoyt from the new versions of TCM. It does this very well and you are intrigued and interested to see what will happen with these characters, but they are never given much of a spark of life, so there is no real empathy for them. That is a shame because the film would have really shined if they had put in the extra effort.
The plot basics are this, Donna (Krimitsos) is traveling with her daughter, Abigail (Kline) across state lines planning on starting a new life with her after divorcing her husband. They stop in a backwater town and as they stop at a gas station a beguiling lady, Sugar (Benner) talks to Abigail and gets her to run out and then she abducts her. Donna complains to the Sheriff (Denton) but it does not seem to d any good. It soon becomes clear that he is in league with Sugar and that they are all harboring a deep dark secret that Donna will be shocked to uncover. It would seem that Sugar beguiles unsuspecting victims to her family's house and they then kill and cook them. Will Donna be able to rescue Abigail and escape in one piece or will they be the next item on the family's menu?
This was a decent film. Crawford's direction is good, he has the feel of a back woods horror film down pat. The opening scene that sets up the modus operandi of the family is executed very well. It sets the stage and you know exactly what kind of film you will be seeing. The script is decent as well. As I mentioned before it cribs well from other films but does not add anything new to the mix. So if you enjoy seeing the usual genre trappings for this sort of film, I think you will enjoy it. The cast is good. Brenner as Sugar really channels Sheri Moon zombie in her performance and to me that is not a bad thing. Denton as the patriarch of the family reminds me too much of R. Lee Ermy in Texas Chainsaw Massacre. His acting also reminds me a lot of Kevin Gage. Both fine actors to emulate but he doesn't;t really give it his own touch. I also really liked Estevez as the town drunk, he was the most entertaining character in the film. The SFX is exceptional and really grabs your eye whenever someone gets killed. The opening kill is one of the best in the film. This was a fun diversion, but nothing groundbreaking or a film I would revisit too much.
This one gets 3 out of 5

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Staunton Hill

Staunton Hill 2009
Director: Cameron Romero
Writer: David Rountree
Starring Kathy Lamkin, Cristen Coppen, David Rountree, Kiko Ellsworth, Christine Carlo, Paula Rhodes, Charlie Bodin and C.J. Hendricks

This one piqued my interest for it being the directorial debut of George Romero's son Cameron Romero. It is one that is well worth a look. It is ably directed with some nice characters and some great gore scenes in it. The main problem with the film is that it adds nothing new to this genre. It is very reminiscent of films like Texas Chainsaw Massacre and House of a 1,000 Corpses. It of course has a lot of attractive young people and they all die in some pretty gruesome ways. It has some great performances, especially the performance by Lamkin as the matriarch of the Staunton family. It was nice to see her in a lead role and she really chewed the scenery with every scene she was in.
The plot basics are this, the time is the fall of 1969 and a group of friends are traveling the countryside by hitchhiking and they meet up with a young man at a salvage yard and hitch a ride with him. But, soon his truck overheats and they are stuck at the side of the road and they begin to search the area to look for a place to rest for the night. They soon find what appears to be a abandoned farmhouse and they decide to sleep in the barn. When they awake in the morning they discover that it is a farmhouse owned by the Staunton family and they all seem very cordial and nice at first. But, it is soon revealed that they are harboring a deep dark secret and that they are harvesting body parts for diabolical reasons and the question is will anyone survive in one piece.
This is a very good film. Romero's direction is very well done, at first it plays out like a typical teenager comedy but soon veers into darkness once they reach Staunton Hill. He sets up the scenes of horror very well and the kill scenes are very brutal and shocking. The script is good, but as I mentioned before it does not add anything new to the genre. It seems to borrow things from everything to Texas Chainsaw Massacre, House of a 1,000 Corpses and American Gothic (the film not the TV show). This did not bother me too much, but if you are looking for something original you will probably be disappointed. The characters are pretty stereotypical and are not very fleshed out. The cast is good, especially Lamkin as the Matriarch of the Staunton Clan. She is very fun to watch her revel in her role. I also really liked Hendricks as Buddy, the slow witted son of the clan. He plays this type of character very well. The teen leads are all pretty interchangeable and do not really bring anything memorable to the film. The SFX in the film is very good and it is some of the best parts about the film. I especially liked the scene where the one girl is divvied up on the operating table, that was ghoulish and perverse at the same time. For fans of 70's style horror you can do far worse than this film. I just hope Romero goes more into unknown territory with his next film.
This one gets 4 out of 5

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Motel Hell Lite

Gnaw 2008
Director: Gregory Mandry
Writers: Michael Bell and Max Waller
Starring Hiram Bleetman, Carrie Cohen, Nigel Croft-Adams, Sara Dylan, Gary Faulkner, Rachel Mitchem, Oliver Squires, Julia Vandoorne and Jennifer Wren

This was yet another addition to the overflowing genre of backwoods cannibal horror genre. Thankfully it was entertaining but it really added nothing new to the genre. It cribs a lot from films like Motel Hell, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre and The Hills Have Eyes. If you are fans of those films this will add nothing new and the film does not explore any new ground and I also think it is way too short to really touch upon the central themes of films of that caliber. It has some brutal deaths and the blood flies very freely in the film and for a gore hound like myself that is the main pleasure I can extract from this film. As the characters are not very fleshed out and the main killer reminds me too much of Farmer Vincent from Motel Hell to be coincidental. Though the film is done very well, so I hope to see the writers and director touch upon something that has not been harvested upon so much as this sub genre of horror films.
The plot basics are this, six young friends trek out into the British countryside for some vacation time. They head to a isolated farmhouse that has scrumptious food set out for its visitors. It seems to be an idyllic vacation getaway. They are served by the seemingly kindly Mrs. Obadahia (Cohen), but not all as it seems. It seems one of the girls Lorrie (Dylan) has a secret admirer and as she delves into who that his, her friend Jill (Mitchem) goes on the hunt for her missing boyfriend. This ends badly for Jill as it seems that they are in the midst of gourmet cannibals who use humans as meat for their cooking and their business. Soon, all Lorrie's friends are dispatched and she is now fighting for her life, but they want more from her than just food. It seems they need new breeding stock, the question is will Lorrie prevail or be dragged down to do their bidding?
This was a decent film. Mandry's direction is very good, he sets up the tension in the kill scenes very well. I think his pacing could have been better though, as the movie moves way too fast. The script serves it's purpose, it moves the story ahead but at the detriment to it's characters. I would have enjoyed it much better if they had dug deeper in fleshing out some of the characters. Most of them were just the usual stereotypes you see in a horror film. The cast does a decent enough job with what they have to work with. Cohen is great as the matronly Mrs' Obadahia and she really cranks it up a notch when she shows her malevolent side. Bleetman as the killer was great too, he did a great job of conveying everything he needed too without speaking. The rest of the cast services the film well, but that's about it. The SFX is top notch in this film, very bloody and atrocious. Especially the scene where the one nude girl gets gutted and she watches in abject horror as her organs are pulled out. For the most part this is not a great film, and most things that are done in it has been done better in superior films. But the gore moves it up a notch and that is the main reason I liked it.
This one gets 3 out of 5

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Serial Killer 101

How To Be A Serial Killer 2008
Director: Luke Ricci
Writer: Luke Ricci
Starring Dameon Clarke, Matthew Gray Gubler, Ryan Smith, Laura Regan, George Wyner, Douglas Dickerman and Mary Jo Catlett

This looked to be like an intriguing film, another farce it seems on the slasher genre. With a setup that makes it look like a infomercial and the lead portraying Tony Robbins if he went psychotic. It really fires on all cylinders. It is very witty and funny and has some great performances by the 2 leads of the film, who really carries the films till its hilarious ending. This is definitely the best slasher satire film I have seen since Behind The Mask: The Rise of Leslie Vernon. Though, it does not reach the heights of that film, it still supports itself ably well. I was laughing throughout the film and really enjoyed watching the travails of the lead as he tried to instruct someone in the art of being a serial killer.
The plot basics are this, Mike Wilson (Clarke) is a articulate, intelligent and charismatic man who has found his true calling in life, to be a serial killer. He now wants to pass on all his expertise onto anyone who wants to follow in his footsteps. He finds a nerdy guy, Bart (Gubler) and decides to instruct him in the way of killing to make him a better person. Mike trains him in the ways of killing, the ethics of the serial killer and the disposing of the bodies. Everything is proceeding well until Mike's girlfriend Abigail (Regan) discovers Mike's deep dark secret and this sends Mike into a deep spiral of killing anything that disrupts his way of life. The question is will Mike escape the law and will Bart follow his instructor and become the next great serial killer?
This is a great film. The direction by Ricci is great, I love how the movie starts out like any late night infomercial you would see and then digs into the training of Mike's protege. The script is great too, very sharp and witty and it definitely keeps you enthralled in the characters till the ending. Mike is really very likable and you like him despite he kills people for the sheer hell of it. The cast is really great for a independent film like this. Clarke is great as the serial killer mentor, he is charismatic and funny as hell. Gubler is very good too as the neurotic serial killer in training. He reminds me a lot of Steve Buscemi. I also liked George Wyner as the psychologist who tries to explain why Mike does what he does. He lends a great gravity toward the film and you know that Mike is on a road that leads to nowhere with his inclusion in the film. The SFX is very nominal in the film as the film relies more on the writing and performances than the spectacle of the film. If you are a fan of slasher satires like Behind the Mask or Scream definitely check it out.
This one gets 4 out of 5

Friday, November 13, 2009

Friday Flashbacks: Cannibal Ferox

Cannibal Ferox 1981
Director: Umberto Lenzi
Writer: Umberto Lenzi
Starring John Morghen, Lorraine De Selle, Danilo Mattei, Zora Kerowa, Walter Lloyd, Meg Fleming and Robert Kerman

The sub genre of the Italian cannibal film is one that I think is an acquired taste. I really only think that fans who are more open to the extreme nature of the subject matter are open to these types of films. These films tend to revel in the outrageousness of animal torture and human depravity. Cannibal Ferox would be number two on my list, right behind Cannibal Holocaust. It is still a gruesome and shocking film, but I think Holocaust pushes the envelope more and the way it portrays the film as a documentary film makes it much more realistic. Ferox actually bounces back and forth from being a cannibal film to a Policia. I think these transitions take you out of the film at times, they are too jarring and do not seem to really fit. Especially the jarring disco music it plays whenever it takes place in New York City. This film has many strong points though, the best example of this being John Morghen, he steals every scene he is in and just exudes vile evilness. The cannibal attack scenes are shocking too, especially the nipple hanging and the head lopping and brain eating scenes. But people with weak stomachs should stay away as they have scenes of real animal cruelty in the film. These are horrible but I feel that you don't get the full power of the film without seeing those scenes.
The plot basics are this, Gloria (De Selle), Rudy (Mattei) and Pat (Kerowa) are traveling in the Amazons, so Gloria can refute that there is such a thing as cannibalism for her PhD. While in New York, mobsters are looking for Mike Logan (Morghen) who has absconded with a ton of their money. Soon, the travelers meet up with Mike in the Amazon and as they travel with him they see how cruel and twisted he is. They soon find out that he is running from the mob and has been unnecessarily cruel to the local natives. Gloria and Rudy decide to leave but then the men of the native tribe come back and exact bloody vengeance upon them. Gloria begins to go mad and wonders if she will survive the atrocities that are inflicted upon her and will she be able to tell her story or die in the jungle and feasted upon by the cannibals.
This is a shocking and jarring film. Lenzi's direction hooks you from the very beginning. He makes great use of Amazonian scenery and sets up the scenes of abject horror very well. The script is good, it sets up the story very well. There is not much depth into any of the characterizations, but that works for the film's benefit. The cast is good, especially Morghen, he steals every scene he is in. The sleaziness of his character is very palatable and you cannot wait for him to get his comeuppance. The SFX is very good too, it is very bloody and disgusting, which really works in the context of the film. It really makes everything seem more realistic. The score by Carlo Maria Cordio is very good, the music used during the jungle scenes is very haunting and stays in your head long after you see it. I recommend this to fans of extreme genre films.
This one gets 4 out of 5

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Blood The Last Vampire

Blood: The Last Vampire 2009
Director: Chris Nahon
Writer: Chris Chow
Starring Gianna, Allison Miller, Liam Cunningham, JJ Feild, Koyuki, Larry Lamb, Colin Salmon and Andrew Pleavin

I had been wanting to see this, as I am a big fan of the original anime and I was wondering how it would translate to a live action medium. The transition from anime to live action film is handled very well. This version of the story reminds me in some aspects of both Kill Bill and The Machine Girl. It has wild action sequences and very bloody moments. Some of the elements of the story are also very reminiscent of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. The whole high school motif and the whole idea that there is a shadow group that is behind the war on vampires, while protecting the human race by keeping them in the dark. The cast is very good too, Gianna is a great presence as Soya and Miller is very reminiscent of Amber Tamblyn. The fights in the film are fast and frenetic and have you transfixed throughout the entire battle. It is also great how creative some of the fighting is.
The plot basics are this, it is 1972 in Japan and a new student, Soya (Gianna) enters the high school in a U.S. military installation. She is not what she seems though, she is far older than she looks and is on a mission to destroy all vampires and is hunting Onigen (Kyoko), the master of all vampires. She comes to the rescue of the General's daughter, Alice (Miller) who is attacked by 2 vampires that are posing as high school students. Soon, Soya has created a bond with Alice and they are now united together to stop the vampires and to finally defeat Onigen. There are many obstacles, from more vampires too a betrayal of Soya from the Council member that is moving up his own agenda.
This was a fun as hell film. Nohan's direction is great, he has a real touch for action scenes and also uses the dark and the alleyways of Japan very well. The scene outside the bar is an excellent example of this, it is dynamic and pulse pounding. The script is taut as well, the relationship between Soya and Alice is very humanistic and you really empathize with them. The villains are quite good too, especially the slimy Council member who tries to eradicate Soya. The cast is very good, Miller is very good as the human center point, Alice. You feel her issues and root for her. For the most part Gianna plays Soya as a cipher and that works really well. I also liked the small part Salmon played as the fencing coach, who is more than you think. The SFX is amazing, they use both CGI and practical effects really well. With plenty of blood flying this will be a great treat for grue fans. For fans of the original anima and vampire films in general this one is highly recommended.
This one gets 4 out of 5

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Cultish Shenanigans

The Fiend 1972
Director: Robert Hartford-Davis
Writer: Brian Comport
Starring Patrick Magee, Ann Todd, Tony Beckley, Madeiline Hinde, Suzanne Leigh, Percy Herbert and David Lodge

This film caught my eye when I saw it as a recent new release on Netflix, so I thought I would take a chance and rent it. I would have to say, it is definitely a look see. It is a film that combines Alfred Hitchcock's Frenzy with Psycho. Just with a far more sleazy and exploitative bent to it. The main thing that interested me was that it had Patrick Macgee of A Clockwork Orange fame in a central role. I have always dug his work, and was curious to see him playing a sinister religious pastor in this film. This is also a film that is very timely, as it's central theme is the fanaticism of religious zealotry. With what is happening in the world today, I think that theme really hits home in this film. Also, one of the main characters is diabetic and has their life put in danger due to the habits of the religious doctrine, with no regards to their health issues. That really struck a nerve with me, since I am also a diabetic. The film also relies heavily on sexual sleaze and exploitation, which really works in its favor. I think without that touch the film would not be as memorable or as exciting.
The plot basics are this, in London a sinister sect of Christianity that calls themselves "the Brethren" and lead by a controlling and unfeeling minister (Magee), has been rising in popularity. The Minister has a controlling aspect over Birdy Wemsy (Todd), who is a diabetic and has periods where she is unsure of her reality. She is watched over by her son Kenny (Beckley), who is spiraling into madness. He begins to stalk young girls and killing them, rationalizing that he is baptizing them for the Lord. We then meet Brigitte Lynch (Hinde) a reporter who decides to investigate "The Brethren" and soon discovers the bizarre things that Kenny is doing. While this is happening the Minister coaxes Birdy into fasting and her being a diabetic, could make that fatal for her. As Kenny spirals deeper into his depravity and madness, his mother goes off the deep end with the Minister and who knows what this will drive Kenny to do?
This is a good film. Hartford-Davis direction has a slow build of menace throughout the film. It definitely takes its own leisurely pace to get going and that kind of pacing may not be for everyone, but it worked very well for me. He stages the murder scenes very well and I did enjoy how he went back and forth from one murder to a baptism, making a great analogy there. The script is very good too, it is all about the manic zealotry of fringe cults and the themes are never beaten over your head, but are just a organic development of the development of the story. The cast is the best part of the film. Magee is dynamic as the sinister Minister of "The Brethren". He commands the screen with every moment he is on screen. Beckley as the psychotic Kenny is very good too and reminds me a lot of Anthony Perkins as Norman Bates. I also liked Todd as Birdy, she was really the only character you felt any sympathy for. You really hoped she woke up and saw what the Minister was doing, but she was just too deluded and too ensconced in the cult of "the Brethren" to get past it. There is not much SFX in the film, it is more about mood and atmosphere than showing in full bloody revelry the grisly murders. If anything, this film relies on T & A more than any thing else and it does that really well. I recommend this to exploitation film fans and for fans of Hitchcockian films.
This one gets 3 out of 5

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

The Killing Room

The Killing Room 2009
Director: Jonathon Liebsman
Writers: Gus Krieger and Ann Peacock
Starring Chloe Sevigny, Peter Stormare, Timothy Hutton, Clea Duvall, Nick Cannon and Shea Whigham

The Killing Room is yet another variation on the Saw and Cube type of locked room horror film, but unlike a lot of it's wannabes, this is one is executed perfectly. It has a great conceit, with a great script, director and a exemplary cast. It really makes you think and the film definitely has some shocking moments in the film. Liebsman is really blossoming into a great genre director, his first film Darkness Falls had a great idea but was ultimately flawed and from that he went on to Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning, which is the far superior of the modern entire in that series. I aloes think the film is really helped by the anchor of Stormare as the main heavy and he always brings his A game to anything he does. This is a film that you discover more with each repeated viewing and it actually benefits the locked room genre rather than detract from it.
The plot basics are this, four disparate people meet in a stark white room. They have all agreed to be part of some psychological testing for monetary gain. They are all given a large questionnaire to gauge their psychological insight. Once they finish it the one in charge of the test, Dr. Phillips (Stormare) tells them that they will go through a rigorous series of psychological tests. He wants them to all come up with the same answer or there will be dire consequences. Phillips watches this all with rapt attention while boning up a new military scientist (Sevigny) on what he wants to achieve here. She is unsure what to make of his diabolical plans and has a crisis of conscience if she should go along with it or put an end to the charade. While the beleaguered people in the room are trying to work together and all survive intact. But, will that work or are they all doomed to failure?
This is a tense and tightly woven film. Liebsman direction is very claustrophobic and intense. He sets up the stage for what is to happen and then pulls the rug out from the viewer effortlessly. The script is very taut as well, you get feelings for all the characters and actually sympathize with most of them. There are many twists in the films that are shocking but really work well in the context of the film. The cast is great, Stormare is the high point of the film. He just exudes the oily used car salesman persona in this role and he is delightfully maniacal. Chloe Sevigny is great as the scientist who has moral dilemmas about what is happening right in front of her. What was really surprising was the great performance that Nick Cannon gave, this is miles above his horrible performance in the Day of the Dead remake. I did not even recognize him, he fit into his role that well. The SFX in the film is very good too, there is not a lot but what is displayed is used very well. This was a great film in the vein of Saw and Cube, but different enough to be it's own beast.
This one gets 5 out of 5

Friday, November 6, 2009

Nut Up or Shut up

Zombieland 2009
Director: Ruben Fleischer
Writers: Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick
Starring Jesse Eisenberg, Woody Harrellson, Abigail Breslin, Emma Stone and Bill Murray

The zombie genre is one that has become inundated with many entries and many of them are not so memorable. I was hoping Zombieland would remedy this problem and it really does it very well. This is definitely one of the best entries in the genre I have seen in a long while, and many compare it to Shaun of the Dead, but they are only easily compared as they are both comedies involving zombies. Whereas Shaun at it's heart is a romantic comedy, Zombieland is a road trip film and it fires on all cylinders within that film convention. The comedy and the heart of the characters is what really propels the film and you really care for all the characters. There are no stereotypes in this film and that is an amazing thing to see in a horror film. It has some genuinely scary moments, but goes more for laughs throughout the film and almost always succeeds. This is a great hybrid of horror and comedy, and is well worth repeated viewings.
The plot basics are this, it is present day and civilization has been brought down to its knees by Mad Cow Disease and has affected humanity and turned most people into mindless flesh eating zombies. We meet Columbus (Eisenberg), an neurotic ex college student, who survives by his own book of rules and is trying to get back to Columbus to see if his parents are still alive. He meets up with Tallahassee (Harrellson) a zombie ass kicker, and they hook up, since they are both going the same way. Along the way they meat 2 girls, Wichita (Stone) and Little Rock (Breslin) who are sisters and are trying to get to a amusement park on the West Coast that they believe is zombie free. After a few misadventures they had to California and that is when a huge zombie attack is upon them and one wonders will Columbus be able to man up now or keep going with his neurotic ways?
This was an amazing film. The direction by Fleischer is amazing. He shifts from seems of over the top humor to quick and frenetic zombie attacks with great ease. It also never seems as if the 2 themes in the film are separate. The voiceover narration in the film is a great touch as well, probably the best use of a narration in a film since Blade Runner. The script is solid too, it is gut wrenchingly funny, and also has a very humanistic element throughout the film. It is a film with a lot of heart and it never feels like it is forced on you it just comes organically from the story and the performances by the cast. The cast is amazing as well, Harrellson really steals the film and this is by far his best performance since Natural Born Killers. Eisenberg as the lead is very good too, he gives a performance that never annoys you, which I am sure would have happened if they got someone like Jon Hader or Michael Cera for the part. The little bit with Heard is great as well, she is definitely one of the up and coming genre actresses with roles like this and All the Boys Love Mandy Lane. The SFX in the film is phenomenal. It has some great zombie effects, my personal favorites being Heard and the clown zombie. Definitely the best zombie make up work I have seen since the Dawn of the Dead remake. The soundtrack that the filmmakers chose is great too, every song really hits the notes that they want the viewer to feel. They have the right feel of what music works like the music in a Rob Zombie film. This is a great zombie film and a hilarious comedy as well. I highly recommend this one.
This one gets 5 out of 5

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

A Treat For Fans of Halloween

Trick 'r Treat 2008
Director: Michael Dougherty
Writer: Michael Dougherty
Starring Dylan Baker, Anna Paquin, Rochelle Aytes, Quinn Lord, Tahmoh Penikett, Leslie Bibb, Brian Cox, Lauren Lee Smith and Monica Delain

This is a film I had been anticipating seeing ever since I first saw the trailer when I picked up the 300 DVD. I was worried it would not hold up to all the hyperbole and anticipation that it has garnered. I am happy to say that, this actually beats Drag Me To Hell as my favorite horror film of the year. This is a film that just fires on all cylinders. It is like a hybrid of Creepshow and Pulp fiction and it flows together flawlessly. This is a film all about the traditions of Halloween and how they have been disregarded and abused over the years. For fans of the holiday, this is a must see film and though it is a short film, clocking in at 82 minutes it is the perfect running time and I think any longer and it would have overstayed its welcome. It has a great ensemble cast that really plays off of each other well.
The plot basics are this, it is Halloween and a couple (Pinikett, Bibb) are returning from a party and the female decides to wrap up her holiday decorations. However, her man tries to dissuade her saying that it is bad luck to remove it till after Halloween but she does it anyway. Next we meet Steven (baker) a school principal who is a stickler for the traditions of Halloween and a dark secret. We now flash to Laurie (Paquin) who is hunting for a costume and seeming to try and lose her virginity on Halloween. Next we meet some teenagers, who are mesmerized by a horrible school bus accident and decide to go to the crash site and have some fun with a slow girl in the process. Finally we meet a hermit of a old man, Mr. Kreeg (Cox), who has a disdain for Halloween and is soon besieged by a psychotic trick 'r treater (Lord), and is fighting for his life. In the end all these characters and stories intersect.
This is an amazing film. Dougherty has a fine flair for visuals and what is scary. The film has both a sense of dread and fun permeating throughout the entire film.. He stages everything well and half the time you are taken into a completely different direction than you thought you were headed. The script is great as well, it is great how it bounces back and forth in time without seeming disjointed or confusing. The twists in the film are surprising and feel completely organic to the story. All the characters are really well rounded and fully realized. The cast is amazing, Baker as the somewhat crazed Halloween traditionalist is amazing. Paquin is very good as the innocent heroine, or so you think. Cox is great as the disgruntled Halloween Scrooge and you never expect his ending to turn out the way it does. The SFX is very good, it is very gory and splattery and it never looks cheesy or gratuitous. The werewolf transformations are in particular, amazing. The score by Douglas Pipes is very atmospheric and really plays well within the parameters of a Halloween themed film. This is a great appreciation and adoration of the Halloween holiday and any horror fan needs to see this film.
This one gets 5 out of 5

Monday, November 2, 2009

Stay Far Away!!

The Return of the Boogeyman 1994 Review
Director: Deland Nuse
Writer: Jack Smight
Starring Kelly Galindo, Suzanna Love and Omar Kaczmarczyk

I finally saw this after purchasing the double DVD set of it and the original Boogeyman and I was hoping this would be on the caliber of the moody original. Sorry to say, that this is not the case. This could actually be the worst horror film I have ever seen. 90% of the film is filled by archival footage from the original film and the rest is wrapped around some horrible plot about a woman having dreams about the things that happened in the original. This might have worked if any of the people working on the film were at the least competent. This is just a shoddily done film on so many levels. The camera work is like what a family member does for a Christmas video, it is just laughable.
The plot basics are this, Annie (Galindo) is having a horrible time sleeping. Every time she nods off, she has horrible dreams about someone with a masked face killing people. She soon comes to realize that her dreams are not just that but predictions of the future. She goes to see a psychologist Dr. Richard Love, (Kaczmarczyk) who tires to help her with her dreams and to find out if they are real.. Soon, Annie comes to realize that she is the only one that can stop the Boogeyman, but will she be too late to stop his reign of terror?
God, I cannot even begin to go into depth on how bad this film is. The plot actually makes it sound like a decent film, but such is not the case. The direction by Nuse makes Uwe Boll look like the next John Carpenter in comparison. It looks like all the added footage made for the film was shot in someone's bedroom. The script is not much better. My description of the plot is really all the detail the script goes into, the 2 main characters are mainly just there so the director can utilize as much of the footage from the original film as he can. The cast is pretty bad too, at least in a Troma film the acting is supposed to be bad, but Galindo and Kaczmarczyk actually think they are doing a great job. It is really painful to watch. There is no SFX to be seen in the film unless you count what is culled from the original, so that is not an issue here. This was just a bad film on so many levels and well worth avoiding, like a semi truck on the highway. You will be better off avoiding it.
This one gets 0 out of 5

Sunday, November 1, 2009

The Boogeyman

The Boogeyman 1980
Director: Uli Lommel
Writers: Uli Lommel, David Herschel and Suzanna Love
Starring Suzanna Love, Ron James, John Carradine, Nicholas Love, Raymond Boyden and Llewelyn Thomas

This is one of the horror films I grew up watching, as it was on continuous rotation on TMC for most of that decade. So, when I saw this for 3 bucks at Big Lots I had to sang this bad boy up and see if my memory was still accurate. Because I have seen many of Lommel's recent films and they are pretty horrible. But, after watching this it seems he blew his wad on this film, because this is his only film that runs on all cylinders and is a pretty damn good horror film. It is really neat how it combines the slasher genre, with haunting's and demonic possessions. You would not think those things would mesh together well, but they fit together flawlessly in this film. The killer is very creepy, and he never has to say anything, you are freaked out just by looking at him. The deaths in the film are great too, some of the bloodiest I saw as a kid, and it definitely got me hooked on horror films.
The plot basics are this, we meet Lacey and Willie, who live with their single mom, who is a lush and likes to sleep around. The man she is sleeping with now is cruel and depraved. He ties up Willie and then goes to have sex with the mother. Lacey grabs a butcher knife and cuts Willie loose and he takes the knife and stabs the man to death while his sister and mother watches in terror. Flash forward 20 years later, and Lacey (Love) is grown up and married and has a small boy. While Willie (Love) has never spoken since that fateful night. Lacey keeps having nightmares so her husband takes her to the house where she grew up and she takes a mirror from the house with her and when she gets home she starts to see the lover of her mother in the mirror. She freaks out and breaks it, and it seems the lover was trapped in the mirror and now is a vengeful spirit and begins to control things and begins to kill people indiscriminately, but is ultimate goal seems to be to possess Lacey. A priest (Thomas) gets involved and must combat the evil spirit and try to save Lacey's immortal soul.
This is a damn creepy and fright filled horror film. Lommell's direction is very good here, he uses the killer POV very well in the film and all the hunting and killing scenes are staged very well. The script is pretty good, with some decent characterization and some very tense filled scenes. Though, it seems little effort was to give the story much depth, which has its charms, but does make some of the film seem rather hollow. The cast is adequate at best, really the only shining star of the cast is genre stalwart John Carradine, he gives a nice hammy performance as the psychologist trying to help Lacie. Suzanna and Nicholas Love do a decent job but nothing earth shattering. The SFX in the film are pretty good for the time the film was made and has some very nice gore effects. My favorite bit was when the girl is kissing her dead lover in the car and a knife comes through his mouth and enters hers, gives new meaning to the term French Kiss. This is a very good horror film and definitely one fans of the slasher genre should see.
This one gets 4 out of 5