Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Green Eyed Monster

Green Eyed Monster 2007
Director: Gabriel Barboza
Writer: Gabriel Barboza
Starring Michael Lee Arnold, Andrea VanEpps, Estella Gomez, Nicholas Barton, Kwame Okeene, Akron Watson and Tyler Clark II

Greed is a powerful plot device and when you combine it with Hispanic magic folklore it comes together to make a really palatable supernatural horror film. The film combines elements of The Treasure of the Sierra Madre with The Blair Witch Project. This is a film peppered with greedy and opportunistic characters and they are really characters you come to loath as you are drawn into the film. There is really only one character you care about and the way the film moves that is really all you need. As the characters begin to divide and suspect each other, you really get a sense of paranoia and that really helps when the supernatural aspects begin to raise their ugly head, The film has a uneasy almost Evil Dead aspect to the proceedings and that really plays well with the sense of propriety and greed that the characters portray. This is a tenses and frightening film that to me does far more right than The Blair Witch Project ever did.
The plot basics are this, a group of friends hear a rumor about a amount of $10,000 dollars of cash is buried at a abandoned farmhouse and they decide to investigate and see if they cannot rustle up the cash. They discover the cash but as the trip progresses they discover something else. Something horrible happened at this location years ago, and now it seems as if something supernatural and unreal has come back to enact its revenge on all of them. Soon, people start disappearing along with their ill gotten money and they all point fingers at each other and their paranoia and suspicions run rampant. It seems as if a malevolent spirit is picking them off and they need to learn to trust one another if any of them will get out of this ordeal alive.
This was a tense and frightening film. Barboza's direction is very tense and from the opening scene, he sets the mood well. The way he films all the characters you can see that every one has a hidden agenda and their own scorecard to keep track of. He films the scenes in the woods well and when the supernatural stuff starts to happen you can really feel it. The script, also by Borboza is tight. He fills the story with characters you really loathe and cannot wait to see die. The one that stands out the most to me is Frankie, (Michael Lee Arnold), he is just in general a douche bag and gets more abrasive as the film progresses. The script also keeps the supernatural apart hidden so you never know if it is truly happening or all part of the characters suspicions and paranoia. The cast is excellent, Michael Lee Arnold as Frankie really carries the film with his distasteful character. Andrea VanEpps plays Sandra, really the only likable character and the true protagonist of the film. She is the voice of reason that no one seems to listen to, and that is why you gravitate towards her throughout the entire story. The SFX and effects of the film are minimal but used quite effectively. Such, as the opening scene with what originally happened at the farmhouse. The score by Anders Petersen is a nice touch too, as it sets the claustrophobic and isolated mood that the film portrays. This is a fine film that combines the elements of a curse film with the elements of the treasure hunting film. And it does so expertly.
Tis one gets 4 out of 5

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

The Garbage Man

The Garbage Man 2009
Director: Hart D. Fisher
Writer: Hart D. Fisher
Starring James Meredith, Greg Hill, Tracee Scott, Desseari Shepston, Rick Canning, Joe King and Erik Adams

There are few horror films that are truly disturbing. Films like Henry: Portrait Of A Serial Killer and Cannibal Holocaust come immediately to mind. The Garbage Man is another one of those films. Any film that is written and directed by the man behind the controversial Jeffrey Dahmer comics of the 90's , you know is going to be explosive, and this film does not disappoint. When a film opens with a man body punching a bound and half naked woman, you know you are not watching a safe movie. This film leaves a bad taste in the viewers mouth and never leaves you with any easy answers. It is more like it makes you think why did I watch this, and what does it all mean. The film follows a garbage man, who moonlights as a serial killer who has disturbing visions in his mind that cause him to kill. Though, he is brutal and at times unlikable, there are scenes throughout the film where you actually sympathize with him. That is what makes the film so potent and powerful. It bears many similarities to Henry , Portrait Of A Serial Killer as just like that film it follows the viewpoint of a un repentant killer as if the viewer is a fly on the wall. This is a film that leaves you with some unease and unpleasant feelings afterwards.
The plot basics are this, Tom (James Meredith) is a garbage man who works hard during the day, but when he is done with work he has a dark side. It seems that from a twisted upbringing he has grown into a dark and malevolent person. He patrols the city looking for victims that he can dominate and the unmercifully kill. Anyone who rubs him the wrong way is a target as well as any female who gets his libido going. He has mental issues where he hears voices and has disturbing images that force him to go on the hunt.
This was a disturbing and shocking film. Fisher's direction is sparse but it works. The film has a grainy, almost documentary feel to it and it really sells the film. The viewer actually believes that this could be real. Fisher's script is just as solid. His character study of Tom (James Meredith) really carries the film and without it the film would be just another cheap exploitation film. The way the character bounces around and interacts differently with various characters really makes you want to see what will happen next. The cast is quite good, especially James Meredith as Tom, he reminds me a lot of Michael Rooker's performance in Henry: Portrait Of A Serial Killer. The film hinges on his performance and he supports it effortlessly. The SFX and effects in the film are nominal, as this is more a film about emotions and atmosphere than just plain grue. All in all, this is a disturbing and shocking film that really needs to be seen by fans of films of these types.
This one gets 4 out of 5

Monday, April 12, 2010

Dismal: Eat Or Be Eaten

Dismal: Eat or Be Eaten 2009
Director: Gary King
Writer: Bo Buckley
Starring Bill Oberst Jr., Lydia Chandler, Tim Morris, Jack Harrison, Jade Arnold, Capel Kane, Laurie Kimsey, Brent Lovell and Meagan Reedy

The genre of backwoods cannibal family films is a sub genre in the horror field that seems to get constantly mined. Dismal is the latest on this subject and it is really a paint by the numbers effort. If you have never seen The Texas Chainsaw Massacre or The Hills Have Eyes I would say it is worth a look. But, if you have seen any of the classic films of the genre this film really adds nothing new. The film has a twist or 2 in the final act that was surprising, but it did not save the film from it's pit of mediocrity. The film pretty much follows the basic plot line of any backwoods horror film where, a group of good looking people end up on the wrong side of the people living there. The film does have some excellent gore and kills in the film. I especially liked the use of a grappling hook in one of the kills. The cast is uniformly good too, they just have a really weak story to work with and they are never able to vault over that detriment.
The plot basics are this, Dana (Lydia Chandler) is failing biology in college. She decides to go on a field trip that the professor's assistant, Curt (Tim Morris) is supervising to help boost up her GPA. She goes along with several other students to a place called The Great Dismal Swamp, which is teeming with life, but it also seems as if something unnatural is stalking them like prey. For other than the wildlife, there is a family of cannibals looking to add to their meat locker any people foolish enough to venture into the swamp. It will only be through Dana's (Lydia Chandler) wiles and survival skills that she may survive this horrendous deal.
This is a very mediocre film. The direction by King is very pedestrian. It does not seem like the shots are staged well and there are times where you cannot figure out what is really happening. Never a good sign for a horror film. He also has a great location for a horror film but he never seems to be able to shoot it at its best advantage. The script does not fare much better. The plot is way too familiar to anyone but a complete novice on the structure of horror films. There is a twist towards the end I didn't see coming but the film was so poorly done, it was already past the point of no return. The cast is one of the few decent things about the film. Tim Morris is quite good as Curt, he portrays the assistant with a aloofness and a awkwardness that really comes across well. Lydia Chandler also portrays a great heroine, who really develops and branches out in the final moments of the film. The SFX and the effects of the film are somewhat good too, though it would seem that some of the CGI blood effects were rushed and not finished properly as they look really fake. All in all, I would not recommend this film. If you have not seen any backwoods horror films I would instead tell you to seek out The Texas Chainsaw Massacre or The Hills Have Eyes rather than this turkey.