Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Flight of the Living Dead: Outbreak on A Plane




Flight of the Living Dead: Outbreak on A Plane 2007
Director: Scott Thomas
Writers: Sidney Iwanter, Mark Onspaugh and Scott Thomas
Starring David Chisum, Kristen Kerr, Kevin J. O'Connor, Richard Tyson, Erick Avari, Derek Webster, Raymond J. Barry, Dale Midkiff and Brian Thompson

AFter the much ballyhooed Snakes on A plane (which I thought was a pretty crappy movie) came out there were many knock offs and clones of that film like Snakes on a Train, but Flight of the Living Dead is the best of these film and the one that should be remembered most fondly rather than the stunt casting of Samuel L Jackson in the Snakes film. The concept of zombies running amok on a plane you wouldn't think would have much steam, but the film really runs with it and keeps it running till the fiery end. And what a ride it is, this is just a fun movie with some nice bits of humor, some cool characters and great zombie devouring action. The film was done on a small budget but it really works wonders with it. The effects are solid and they do not overuse the CGI which is many a downfall of a good movie (I am talking about you, I Am Legend). The setup in the film is setup well and followed well throughout the entire film. It is also good that it follows the genre rules of most other zombie films, shoot them in the head and they die and if you get bitten you become one. The 2 standard rules and they stick closely to that. This came out at a time when zombies were on the rise in popularity and even virus laden films seemed to imitate the zombie form, so it was nice to see a tried and true zombie film and not something that was trying to reinvent the zombie wheel.
The plot basics are this, on a average flight from L. A. to Paris a group of renegade scientists are smuggling a container holding the sick body of a fellow scientist. She is infected with a highly infectious and deadly virus. This virus cause the dead to reanimate. At first he flight is uneventful until, the flight hits some turbulence due to a electrical storm and this causes the cryogenics in the container to malfunction and the stricken person awakens and is shot to death by a guard watching it. She does not stay dead long and soon rises and begins to munch on her assailant and anyone else who crosses her path. The scientist feel something is wrong with their cargo and all but one (Avari) goes to check it out and they are attacked. Soon, the plane becomes overrun by the infected and it is now a race for survival for the few remaining living. It all comes down to a con man (O'Connor), a FBI agent who is entrusted with him (Chisum), a Air Marshall (Tyson), a stewardess (Kerr) and a professional golfer (Webster) are all that stand in the way of the zombies and the rest of humanity. They must find a way to stop them before the plane crashes into a populated area.
This is a great little zombie film. The direction by Thomas is solid. The movie actually starts out as if it is a comedy but soon it spirals into a zombie film and he does that deftly. I love the way he sets up the zombie attacks, one of my favorite scenes is when the one girl gets pulled through the mirror in the restroom. He makes you think the attack will be coming from somewhere else but surprises you with the final assault. The script is solid as well. There is a lot of great character throughout the entire film. My favorites being Long shot, the golfer, Paul Judd the air Marshall and Frank the con artist. They all have great character arcs with my favorite being Frank, he as all the best lines and steals every scene he is in. The cast does a great job as well. O'Connor is the standout performance. He is sarcastic and very funny throughout the entire film. It was also nice to see Tyson again as I have not seen him in anything since he played the heavy in Kindergarten Cop and he does a great job here. Webster as the golfer is great too with some great one liners and he really brings forth the action quotient too. The SFX and effects are done very well. They use a lot of CGI, but it never seems to much or too fake. The blood flows copiously and I especially loved when the one zombie got thrown through the plane's engine, that was some brutal stuff. For any fan of zombie cinema this is one that is well worth seeking out and I think one of the better zombie films in the last few years.
This one gets 4 out of 5

Monday, February 22, 2010

Cannibal Holocaust



Cannibal Holocaust 1980
Director: Ruggero Deodata
Writer: Gianfranco Clerici
Starring Robert Kerman, Francesca Ciardi, Perry Pirkanen. Luca Barbareschi, Salvatore Basile, Ricardo Feuntes and Carl Gabriel Yorke

There are very few films that live up to their notoriety, but Cannibal Holocaust definitely lives up to it's reputation. It is a film that is unflinching in it's showing of brutality and every time I view it the film still hits me like a sledge hammer. It is a film that really goes with the documentary feel and makes it it's own. People believe The Blair Witch Project to be a gripping and realistic pseudo horror documentary but Holocaust did it first and better. This is a film that has graphic depictions of real animal torture and even though that is reprehensible for being shown on screen, if you don not watch that footage in the film it loses some of its power. It is a film that really shows the brutal reality of human nature and you really loathe the characters in the film and truly feel that they deserve the actions that are taken against them. This is a important film that should not be just seen as another grind house exploitation film about cannibalism but a film that has something to tell us about human cruelty and its repercussions.
The plot basics are this, Professor Harold Monroe (Kerman) a anthropologist form New York heads to the wilds of the amazons to search for answers to what happened to a group of documentary filmmakers who have disappeared without a trace. He comes in contact with two primitive tribes and discovers the remains of the crews bodies along with the footage they filmed. He is able to make a deal with the chieftain and gets the footage and returns with it to New York. He views the footage in detail which chronicles the travels of Alan Yates (Yorke), Faye Daniels (Ciardi), and their 2 cameramen, Jack Anders (Pirkanen) and Mark Tomaso (Barbareschi) through the Amazonian forest. It appears that they terrorized the tribes to get the best out of their footage. Monroe is approached by TV executives who wants him to edit a watchable version of the documentary, but he tries to talk them out of it as they have not watched the final footage he has witnessed. Finally he gets them to watch it and the unspeakable acts that happen on screen and they see the error of their ways.
This is a powerful film. The direction by Deodata is strong and powerful and he is unflinching with his camera work on showing all of the brutality and violence. It has a grainy documentary feel that really works and the film would not have worked as well without this visual style. The script is tight and fast. It sets up the story very well and it is great how it goes from the adventure of Monroe in the Amazon too what Yates and company does in the jungle. The maliciousness and cruelty of Yates and his crew is palatably sleazy and evil that the viewer really begins to loathe these characters. The cast is very good. Kerman is very good and is really the heart of the soul of the film trying to bring back some humanity in what he is a witness too. Yorke is great as the sleazy director Yates. With each scene he antes up the cruelty of his character and it really pays off. Ciardi is also exemplary as Faye and at first you think she may be a sympathetic character but it soon becomes clear that she is on board with whatever Yates has planned for the natives. The acting of Pirkanen is great too, he does a great job of adding to the depravity of the film crews actions. The SFX and effects are brutally realistic. The most glaring example of this is the native the crew finds that is impaled from anus to mouth, that is a brutal visual that will stay with you long after witnessing the movie. The use of the animal torture and cruelty needs to be spoken of too. Though it is horrible to watch, to really witness the entire achievement of the film it needs to be seen as a crucial part of why this film works. The score by Riz Ortolani is a integral part of the film as well. It is haunting and melancholic and when they play it as the film crew is tormenting the natives is really powerful stuff. This is a film that any connoisseur of grind house and exploitation films should see, though they may be scarred internally after witnessing it.
This one gets 5 out of 5

Friday, February 19, 2010

Friday Flashbacks: The Lost Boys



The Lost Boys 1987
Director: Joel Schumacher
Writers: Janice Fisher, James Jeremias and Jeffrey Boam
Starring Jason Patric, Corey Haim, Dianne Wiest, Barnard Hughes, Edward Herrmann, Kiefer Sutherland, Jamie Gertz, Corey Feldman, Jamison Newlander, Brooke McCarter, Billy Wirth, Alex Winter and Chance Michael Corbett

This is for many the epitome of great vampire films, and I have to agree, it is only surpassed by The Horror of Dracula in my book. People who think Twilight is a good vampire film are doing themselves and the horror genre a disservice by not seeing this film and giving it the proper respect that it is due. This is a film with a wry sense of humor and vampires with no compunction about killing. It is a film that really works well with the idea of putting a vampire story in small town USA. Doing that, it makes it easy for the vampires to run the town and have their pick from its ample food chain. The allusions to Peter Pan and immortality are another ingredient that really make the film work. It also has one of the greatest twist endings I have ever witnessed in a film. M. Night Shamaylan could take a cue from Schumacher here. The film has a solid cast, a great premise, a addictive and mesmerizing score and some outstanding special effects which all come together to make this film a seminal horror classic.
The plot basics are this, a divorced mother, Lucy (Wiest) and her two sons, Michael (Patric) and Sam (Haim) move in with their oddball and reclusive grandfather (Hughes) in the sleepy town of Santa Clara. The town is plagued by bikers and mysterious deaths. Sam is drawn too 2 brothers (Feldman and Newlander) who run a comic book shop and purport to be vampire hunters. While Michael becomes entrenched into a gang of bikers run by the enigmatic David (Sutherland). Meanwhile, Lucy has met a older gentleman, Max (Herrmann) and they begin to date. Michael is entranced by the girl (Gertz) who is entrenched with the bikers and after he drinks something he begins to sleep all day and only go out at night. It seems that he is being transformed into a vampire and this causes Sam and the vampire hunters to spring into action to find the head vampire and kill him before Michael transforms completely into one of the undead. This all leads to a epic showdown at Sam and Michael's grandfather's house that will end bloody and violently.
This is a outstandingly well done film. Schumacher's direction is really tight and I feel is by far his best directed piece. He really balance well the sense of terror of vampires with the caustic sense of humor that pervades the film. His use of the locales is great too, I especially love the underground cave where the vampires sleep and the scene where Sam and the Frog brothers hunt down the vampires there is a phenomenal scene. The script is a true masterpiece. It is funny as hell, but still does not lose the sense that this is a horror film. The suspense of who the master vampire is, is kept till the nail biting end and it is the strength of the script that really pulls it off. The characters of the Frog brothers and Sam provide most of the humor in the film, and they do it well, though it never takes away from the scary aspects of the film. The cast is exemplary. The standout performances are by Sutherland and Feldman. Sutherland makes a great evil and appealing character and you can really understand why Michael is attracted to his way of life. Feldman is great as Edgar Frog and steals every scene of the film he inhabits. One of the best examples of this is when he discovers Michael is a vampire and is ready to slay him then and there. Haim and Patric are great as the 2 brothers too. Patric plays a good tortured hero type. While Haim is excellent as the brother who is out of his depth when he finds out what his brother is turning into. Wiest gives a great performance as the clueless parent. Herrmann gives yet another one of his solid performances as Max. Hughes is great as the kooky grandfather who may know more than he lets on. The SFX and effects in the film are outstanding. Greg Cannom does a great job. The blood and slime flies copiously and there is no better example of this than the bathtub filled with holy water scene. The final ingredient in this great vampire tale is the music. The music sticks with you long after you watch the film and if you ever hear the opening chords of "Thou Shalt Not Kill" your memory immediately goes to the opening scenes of the film. That is very powerful stuff. This is a film any self respecting vampire fan must see.
This one gets 5 out of 5


Thursday, February 18, 2010

Jennifer's Body




Jennifer's Body 2009
Director: Karyn Kusama
Writer: Diablo Cody
Starring Megan Fox, Amanda Seyfried, Johnny Simmons, Adam Brody, Sal Cortez, Ryan Levine, Juan Riedinger, Chris Pratt, Kyle Gallner, J.K. Simmons, Amy Sedaris and Cynthia Stevenson

This was a film I had been itching to see for awhile, as it looked like it was hearkening back to the 80's style of horror films such as Night of the Demons and Sorority Babes in the Slime Bowlarama. I am happy to say it did not disappoint, I really felt as if I was transported back to the 80's in this film. What is funny is you think the best thing about the film would be Megan Fox but I believe Amanda Seyfried really out shined her. The writing helped a lot too, it was as if they combined the 80's style of horror films with the writing style of Joss Whedon. This could have easily been rewritten as a lost episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. It also touches upon the theme of disintegrating relationships that run rampant through high school. It shows that even if Jennifer had not become a demon that the friendship between her and Needy would have fallen apart anyway, as they really had no connection with each other. I think that is one of the distinguishing things about the film that really makes it work and not make it feel like every other throwaway horror film.
The plot basics are this, Needy (Seyfried), a reserved bookworm and Jennifer (Fox), a arrogant and full of herself cheerleader are beyond all reasons best friends. They have nothing in common and this changes even more when after going to a rock club to see a band that Jennifer is obsessing over and she agrees to go along with the band in their van. Jennifer then appears at Needy's house covered in blood and not looking well at all. She disappears but Needy sees her in school the next day as if nothing strange has happened. Jennifer has changed though, because now she has a taste for human blood and begins to sate her appetite for destruction with any boy who will jump at the chance to bed down with her. Needy begins to investigate and discovers that the band she was with are Satanic followers and tired to make Jennifer a virgin sacrifice, but she was not a virgin and somehow the demon they were sacrificing too inhabited the shell of her body. Needy tires to tell her boyfriend, Chip (Jimmy Simmons) about her discovery, but he does not believe her. Needy must now find a way to destroy Jennifer's demonic rampage before it devours her boyfriend.
This is a funny and thrill filled film. The direction by Kusama is very colorful. The film is made with a very broad stroke filled with vibrant colors. It really makes the film come alive. The way the blood drips off the screen is palatable. She also has a keen eye for what works visually in the film and that makes it all the more entertaining to watch. The script by Cody, is razor sharp and you can really see what a true love she has for the horror genre. There are many touches of homages in the story, such as Carrie and Night of the Creeps. The characters are nicely crafted too, especially when it comes to Needy. The film would not have worked as well as it did without her narration. Also, her transformation from nerdy bookworm to ass kicking anti heroine is a great point of the story. The cast is great, Fox is sexy as always and plays a great demonic presence in the film. The shining star of the cast though is Seyfried, she really carries the film and has a great presence that you will keep thinking about long after the film. I loved when she explained what a "kicker" was. It also has some great supporting performances in J. K. Simmons, Amy Sedaris and Cynthia Stevenson. They really play totally clueless adults marvelously. The SFX and effects are pulled off bloody well. The bile spewing scenes are some of my favorites and remind me a lot of Evil Dead 2. The soundtrack to the film is also a major point for the film. They picked every song used in the film accurately well and I do not believe the film would have worked as well as it did without the musical cues. This is a film that really brings back the glory days of the 80's high school themed horror films and is well wroth checking out even if you cannot stand Megan Fox.
This one gets 4 out of 5

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Saw VI



Saw VI 2009
Director: Kevin Greutert
Writers: Marcus Dunstan and Patrick Melton
Starring Costas Mandylor, Betsy Russell, Tobin Bell, Shawnee Smith, Mark Rolston, Peter Outerbridge, Athena Karkanis, Samantha Lemole and Tanedra Howard

The Saw series seems to get a lot of negativity and I just do not see why that is. With each succeeding film it builds on the last one, creating a rich tapestry that gets deeper and more complex with each film. I would say that this is a series that most viewers need to be on the ground floor with or they will certainly be lost. The latest in the franchise, I think is the best one yet. It has some great twists and turns and does not end in the way you expect it will. Tobin Bell is back giving even more layers to Jigsaw and the social commentary on health care could not have come at a better time. The traps are creative and decidedly bloody as always. The most important thing though is seeing how everything fits together and it gives the viewer a great pay off at the ending. In my book, this is the only horror franchise that is still running strong and I cannot wait to see where the next film goes.
The plot basics are this, it picks up immediately after the ending of Saw V, where Hoffman (Mandylor) has finally got the better of his pursuer Peter Strahm and it seems as if now that his continuing of the legacy of Jigsaw will go on uninterrupted. That is until JIll (Russell) reveals what was left in the box John (Bell) left her. It also seems that their is a deeper investigation into Strahm, spearheaded by agent Lindsay Perez (Karkanis) and this will put a damper on Hoffman's latest victim William Easton (Outerbridge) a health insurance agent who has a tendency to deny anyone who doesn't fit his specific formula of coverage. Now, Hoffman is meting out his brand of justice on Easton, for what he has done to countless people who needed help, such as John. As Easton goes through his lessons, it seems that Hoffman is getting led astray by the investigation on Jigsaw and it seems as if his incognito status may be gone. It all leads to a ending where all parties re converge and it does not end well for many of them.
This was a phenomenally well done film. Unlike the last Saw Film which was for most parts a dark and depressing affair, this one has a wicked sense of humor to it, and it really seems to revel in it. The direction by Greutert is tight. He sets up the traps well and films them beautifully. The best example of this is the merry go round trap[ which was just beautifully evil. He also does great with the quieter moments, such as the discussion between Jill and John over their life. The script is smart and witty. You see more unseen sides of Jigsaw in the film, and that is surprising, as you would not expect to see anything new after the character has been dead for 3 films,. The characters of Jill and Hoffman are utilized well too. The cast is exceptional. Mandylor really makes you loathe Hoffman and really hope he does get caught. Russell is great as JIll and gives a great layered performance, not something you would expect from the actress who is best known for Private School. Bell is amazing as always and gives a great performance that really makes you feel the anger for the health care system that he does. It is nice to see Smith back again too and she gives the viewers some revelations that you do not see coming. The SFX aned effects are amazing. They are brutal and mesmerizing to watch. The final trap is the icing on the cake. It is something so original and creative that you cannot believe you are seeing it. This is a great addition to the series and I just hope that the Saw series continues to surprise me in this fashion.
This one gets 5 out of 5


Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Orphan



Orphan 2009
Director: Jaume Collet-Serra
Writer: David Johnson
Starring Vera Farmiga, Peter Sarsgaard, Isabelle Fuhrman, CCH Pounder, Jimmy Bennett, Margo Martindale, Aryana Engineer and Rosemary Dunsmore

The child as a evil entity ala "the Bad seed" is a tried and trued formula for both the horror genre and the psychological thriller genre and Orphan is the latest model of this. IT is not your typical version of this kind of film, but at first you believe it is. Though , in the final act of the film it drops a bombshell of a twist that will make you gasp and will make you slap yourself for not figuring out as all the signs were there to point it out to you. This is the 2nd Dark Castle film by Collett-Serra and just like House of Wax this is a film that surprises you and also thoroughly entertains you. It is anchored by 2 great performances in Farmiga and Fuhrman. The film pushes you in one direction, but then pulls the rug out from under your feet and takes you in a entirely new direction. The film also is very Hitchcockian, it sets up the suspense very well and knocks the viewer senseless in the direction the violence takes in the film. The tension is palatable in the film and it really works because you care about the characters in the film. They are not one dimensional, but characters that are fully realized and well rounded with all their strengths and weaknesses.
The plot basics are this, Kate (Farmiga) is recuperating from a horrible miscarriage and to help her recuperate from that , her and her husband, John decide to adopt a older child at a local Catholic orphanage. they meet Esther (Fuhrman), a Russian girl who is very personable and really connects with them. They take her home to meet their other children Max (Engineer), their almost deaf young daughter and Daniel (Bennett). Daniel is hostile to her, but everyone else is warm and inviting to her. Certain incidents begin to happen that revolve around Esther and Kate is beginning to believe that Esther is manipulative and twisted. But John does not believe her and thinks she is dropping back into her post partum depression. Kate contacts the nun (Pounder) who set the adoption wheels in motion and informs her that Esther has a troubled and mysterious past. Esther sees what is going on and takes steps to remedy the situation. While Kate is still apprehensive about Esther and she will soon discover that what is lurking behind her facade is far worse than she could ever dream of.
This is a intense and taut film that really surprises the viewer. The direction by Collett-Serra is done aptly well. He uses the methods of his direction very well. He also films the scenes of blood and carnage very well. One prime example of this is the opening scene where Kate is reliving her miscarriage, it is both bloody and harrowing and really sets up the tenseness that you will feel watching the film. The script is another solid ingredient in the film. The character of Kate is really the main viewpoint of the film and she is handled ably well. You believe that she has many issues, but slowly you come to her line of reasoning as you see what Esther is capable of. Esther is a excellent villain for the film. At first she is personable and engaging, but as you delve deeper into her character you see that something is not quite right there. The scene in which she threatens to castrate Daniel is a great example of this. The cast really does wonders in this film. Farmiga is captivating to watch as you see her fight her bouts with recurring alcoholism and her paranoid fears about Esther. Fuhrman really creates a very memorable horror icon in Esther. She is engaging and yet decadently malevolent. She really steals many of the scenes she is in. Sarsgaard is good as well, but he is overshadowed by the other two performances. The SFX and effects in the film are done brutally well. The one scene involving a arm in a vise is very cringe inducing. This is definitely one of the best horror films to have come out last year and a very original one at that. This will be a film I will continue to revisit.
This one gets 5 out of 5




Saturday, February 6, 2010

Shattered Lives




Shattered Lives 2009
Director: Carl Lindbergh
Writer: Carl Lindbergh
Starring Lindsay Lieno, Joe Stezar, Skyler Caleb, Ellyse Deanna, Wendy Dominguez, Gary Kohn, Brianna Nakutis, Christina Rosenberg and Lucia Sullivan

This is yet another in what seems to be an interminable glut of DTV horror films from Lionsgate. I was hoping that this one would be better than Psycho Ward, but somehow this film is even worse. As if that is even possible. The film starts off really well, with a great opening of some dumb college guys getting slaughtered, but then it switches to some ABC after school special about bad parenting. The lead characters in the film are unsympathetic to say the least and the cake has to go to the mother of the little girl. I have not seen such an appalling mother figure since Faye Dunaway in Mommy Dearest. But, at least that is a entertaining film. This film seems to plod around aimlessly and you wonder if it is ever going to make a point and when it finally does you think to yourself "this is why I wasted 90 minutes of my time?" The use of the clowns at first I thought would be a nice touch, but all they are were annoying and added little if any suspense to the film. This is just a shoddily made film, and it seems no one knew what the hell type of film they were making.
The plot basics are this, 2 college buddies are watching a movie when someone comes to their door.. It is someone in a mask and it immediately begins to viciously kill the 2 men. We then meet Rachel (Lienn) a little girl with a mother (Deanna) who seems to resent her daughter at every turn. It seems the mother, Lisa, feels like she is in a horrid marriage and has been sleeping around with anyone she finds just to ease the boredom of her life. This makes Rachel very unhappy and she wants for her father and her to be happy, but her mom is a miserable person, who it seems is unable to love anyone, let alone herself. This starts to cause psychological problems for Rachel that develops in the appearance of 2 imaginary friends, clowns to be exact. At first they seem harmless, but not long afterwards they start talking Rachel into carrying knives around and goading her into attacking her mother. She finally succumbs to the clowns and kills her mother. Flash forward years later and Rachel is trying to come to terms with the clowns and what they have done to her mind. She thinks she is cured but they reappear. The question is will they cause her to snap or will she be strong enough to fight the urge to kill someone else?
This is a poorly shot and framed film. The direction by Lindbergh is laughable at best. The film changes direction so many times after a while you do not even care what happens, you just want the film to be over. The opening scene seems like it was shot with a fisher price camera and when he decides to throw a arbitrary sex scene in the film it just seems totally pointless. The script is even worse. The characters seem to have no motivation. For instance, Lisa, the mother is a horrible bitch but there is never any explanation for this, she just is. I would have liked to have seen some reasoning behind this. Also, the whole demonic clowns thing seemed pointless as they never did anything and whenever you thought they would the story switched to some other pointless and tertiary thing within the plot. The cast is not much better. Except for Lienno as the little girl they are all forgettable. She is a very good child actor and portrays all the varied emotions a girl going through these problems should show. I hope to see her in better things than this. Deanna as Lisa has by far the most laughable performance. She tries to be balance being mean and spiteful with being sexy and she fails miserably. They should have gave her part to Tara Reid instead, she would have given a Oscar worthy performance compared to the horribleness that Deanna subjects the viewer too. The SFX and effects are pretty atrocious too. The main use of them is in the opening scene and the kills are amateurish and cheesy looking. The clowns makeup made them look like bad rip offs of Pennywise. All in all, this is a poorly made film that leaves nothing to recommend it to anyone. Stick with Uwe Boll movies if you want bad but entertaining horror films.
This one gets 0 out of 5

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Psycho Ward




Psycho Ward 2007
Director: Patrick McBrearty
Writer: Christopher Lee Thompson
Starring Jaqueline Bettis, Bobby Horvath, Liam Card, Tim Clark, Sandy Lai, Nicole Brown, Nick Montgomery, Sabrina Couture, Eva Redpath, Ryan Barrett and Jim Kosmenko

Psycho Ward is yet another addition to the interminable list of low budget DTV horror films that Lionsgate seems to glut the shelves with. And this is by far one of the worst ones I have ever had the displeasure of watching. This is a film that rips off many great horror films, and quite badly I might add. The film has shades of See None Evil, Saw and Session 9 just to name a few. The film really has no likable or sympathetic characters and after I was finished viewing the film, I thought what was the whole point of this film. The whole exercise is pointless, especially when they make this big deal of the final girl making out of the asylum and yet she still loses. It seems to me that they were breaking one of the cardinal rules of the slasher film. You really need one girl to survive or the entire crux of the chase and conflict of the film is rather pointless. The one thing good I can say about the film is the kills and the gore scenes were pretty good. But overall this is by far one of the worst horror films I have seen in awhile.
The plot basics are this, a group of college students are on a research outing and are planning on doing a documentary on the sordid history of a long closed psychiatric ward. They plan on studying and examining the area where some supposed urban legends took place. Little do they know though is that one of the residents (Kosmenko) of the ward still resides there. They somehow get lost and locked inside the asylum and are randomly picked off one by one. Soon, there are only 2 survivors, Professor Richard Magellan (Card) and a member of his filming crew, Lisa (Bettis) and now they have to use their wits and ingenuity to evade the maniac and to try to find a way out of the nightmare that they have become embroiled in.
This is a really poorly done film. The direction by McBrearty is really shoddy, as he has no style of his own and just tries to ape films like Saw and the Texas Chainsaw Massacre remakes. The use of filming the proceedings too reminds me of Blair Witch Project and by comparison that film is now Citizen Kane. The script is not much better. It has the standard tropes of a slasher film, but there are really no characters that the viewer can grasp and side with. They are all annoying and forgettable caricatures. The killer you do not see much of and he has no discernable mannerisms that make him any different form any other number of would be slasher villains. The worst transgression of the script though, is the ending it was just a shoddy and poorly framed ending and by the time you get to that point, it is like who really fucking cares anymore. The cast does not fare much better. Bettis does a decent job as Lisa, but she really doesn't have much to work with. Basically all that is required of her is to run and scream a lot and too look fetching in a tight T-shirt. Card as the heroic lead tries to put up a good front but his acting style makes William Shatner look restrained. Kosmansky as Darrell Coombs does a decent job as the killer though, he really puts no defining mannerisms into the character, all he does is portray yet another hulking and lumbering brute. The SFX and effects in the film are the only shining star of the film. The blood flows copiously and they do not shy away from having the camera leer at it. The best example is when Sandy Lai is ripped apart and guts fly everywhere. It was a nice touch, but was too little too late for this travesty of a film. If there is one thing I can say to all horror fans out there, avoid this film like it was the fucking bubonic plague.
This one gets 1 out of 5

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

The Legend of the Bog




The Legend of the Bog 2009
Director: Brendan Foley
Writer: Brendan Foley
Starring Vinnie Jones, Jason Barry, Nora-Jane Noone, Adam Fogerty, Gavin Kelty, Amy Huberman, Shelly Goldstein, Olga Wherly and Charlene Gleeson

Time for my latest look at one of the many STV horror flicks that Lionsgate keeps cranking out onto DVD. This one I mainly rented because I am a big Vinnie Jones fan and really that is the best thing the film has to offer. It is really a laughable film. The so called Bog monster looks like a reject from the WWE. The film also plays off mainly as a comedy more than a horror film. With the 2 main characters bickering like a married couple for most of the film. The film really only comes to life when Jones makes an appearance and for that reason alone, I actually give this one a favorable review. Also, the film uses Irish folklore really well and gives you a interesting take on their legends. The gore and kills in the film are pretty entertaining too, but they do not rewrite the horror film. Really this is just a film that is a good pick to waste 90 minutes on.
The plot basics are this, In Ireland, Professor David Wallace (Barry) is on a lecture circuit and wants to check out some archaeological areas where he is looking to find any Bog bodies, which are bodies that are buried in the bog by ancient tribes for doing something profane within these tribes. He has a tour guide, Saiorse Reilly (Noone) and she does not care much for Wallace and does not bother hiding it. It seems that a bog creature (Fogerty) who has been laid untouched for 2,000 years has been awakened by land developers and is now on a rampage and Wallace and Saiorse become entangled with it. Along with another disparate group of people they seek refuge in what seems to be an abandoned hunting cabin, that is until the owner (Jones) arrives and he plans on hunting down and dispatching the bog monster. Soon, the Bog monster starts to dispatch many of the people and soon it is just down to Wallace, Saiorse and the hunter.
This is a very bizarre film, it does not seem to know if it wants to be a horror film or a comedy. The direction by Foley has this problem too, there are many tonal shifts that just don't gel as you watch the film. The chase and attack scenes of the Bog monster are done well. But some scenes like the monster looking for water in a convenience store were just laughable. The script has some good points. All the parts about the history of Bog monsters is quite interesting. Though, as far as characters go the only interesting one is the Hunter. The 2 leads seem like they belong in a romantic comedy rather than a backwoods Irish horror film. The cast does not fare much better. The strongest performance is of course provided by Jones, he brings a stoic gravity to his role and is the only redeeming quality of the film. Barry and Noone are just badly miscast and really do not work in the film. And Fogerty just makes me think of Goldberg with every scene he is in. The SFX and effects are one of the few things that are pulled off flawlessly well in the film. The kills are bloody and the transformation of the Bog monster coming to life is one of the better scenes in the film. I also really enjoyed the climax of the film and Jones use of the shotgun, very creative and fun to watch. For the most part this is a fairly forgettable film. But, I will give it a slight recommendation for anyone who is a fan of Vinnie Jones.
This one gets 3 out of 5

Monday, February 1, 2010

Horrible



Horrible 1981
Director: Joe D'Amato
Writer: George Eastman
Starring George Eastman, Annie Belle, Charles Borromel, Katya Berger, Hanja Kochansky, Ian Danby, Edmond Purdom and Ted Rusoff

Joe D'Amato is one of the most notorious names in Italian horror with films such as Beyond the Darkness and Anthrophagus under his belt. He also made a few Emmanuelle films which enjoy a very popular cult film status. Horrible is his take on the slasher genre but pushed to the nth degree. This film is very bloody and the plot is just there as a setup for all the carnage that ensues. This film is over the top bloody and has some great kills in the film. The best one has to be the oven death of the babysitter, which is a prolonged and painful death scene to watch. As it seems like the camera just loves to leer over it and to subject the viewer to as much depravity as is humanly possible. The film really has a gritty atmosphere to it which is really helped along with a score that reverberates through your very bones during the malicious kill scenes. At best this film is a fun slasher film that follows many of the tried and trued rules of most slasher films and at its worst it is just a absurdist horror film and if you do not take it too seriously you will have loads of fun with it. The final 20 minutes of the film are nail biting suspense filled and really make the film worth watching.
The plot basics are this, Mikos, (Eastman) a homicidal maniac, somehow miraculously survives a accident and also seems to have the ability to regenerate blood cells. He awakes in a hospital bed with a reinvigorated zeal to kill anyone in his way. While on his destructive path he has hot pursuit on his heels by Sergeant Ben Engleman (Barromel) and a priest (Purdom) who discover that his ability is due to a nuclear accident. Mikos escapes onto the grounds of a family who is out for the night but left in the home is their sick daughter (Berger), their young son (Kochansky) and their babysitter (Belle). Mikos then goes on a path of destruction trying to kill all who are in his path. The question is will the Sergeant and the priest show up in time or will the sick girl have to find a way to defeat the monster?
This is really a fun little slasher film. The direction by D'Amato is tense and suspenseful. He sets up the kills with a skilled eye and some of the best examples of this are the drill scene and the aforementioned oven scene. He takes his time with these scenes and they payoff very well for the viewer if they can stomach their way through it. He also uses the landscape of the film well, he has a keen eye for what works and what does not. The script is fairly simplistic. It is mainly about moving the plot forward. There is little explanation for Mikos miraculous healing factor and not much characterization for any of the characters. But, slasher films are more about the body count and the kills than anything like the actual story. So, the script does it's job ably well. The cast is good. Eastman makes a great lumbering slasher and he leaves a indelible impression on the viewer as they watch him leave his swath of victims. Purdom as the priest is quite hammy in his overacting and that works really well. Berger as the young girl who must combat Mikos, does extremely well as she really carries those last 20 suspenseful minutes of the film. Especially when she is trying to get out of her harness before the killer comes back to dispatch her. The SFX and effects are very good. They are quite bloody and graphic, such as the drill scene or when Mikos scales the wall of the house puncturing his stomach with his intestines slipping out. It is vile and sleazy and that is why the film is so damn enjoyable. The score by Carlo Maria Cordio really accentuates the film, especially during the kill scenes. The music is so jarring that you know something bad is about to happen and the film never disappoints you in that matter. This is a fun slasher film that most fans will like as long as you are not expecting anything with a serious tone to it. Just grab a bag of popcorn and watch the mayhem fly.
This one gets 4 out 5 drills to the head