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10/03/2012

Exit Humanity




    
       Stephen McHattie (Pontypool, Shoot 'em Up) just collected a paycheck for grunting his way through a role that would have normally required speaking lines, were anyone but him to play it.....and that is why he is Stephen McHattie. There are some personalities who can do no cinematic wrong, in my eyes, Stephen is one of those select and under appreciated few, it's just too bad he was criminally under utilized in this picture.

     This movie didn't quite turn out to be what I had pictured upon first learning of it. While all the elements that sparked my interest in the first place (civil war era zombie plague, to be specific) were present, I wasn't expecting the "docu-drama"-esque package they ended up being delivered in. It was a bit of a double edged sword for me. On the one hand, the freshness of the docu-drama aesthetic was very welcome, and well executed....but on the other hand, like most docu-dramas, it was a bit hard to feel close to any of the characters due in part to the constant narrative distractions. Most of the protagonists roles are suitably acted, and the non zombie antagonists characters (namely Bill Mosely: Devils Rejects, Rogue River)  are highly entertaining, but mostly for their seemingly illicit drug influenced performances rather than anything they did right in any traditional acting sense. Like I earlier mentioned, the setting is one of the best parts of the film. The gloomy aura of the post Civil War South in winter provides a fantastic backdrop for a zombie outbreak. The story within the setting, however unorthidox it was, still boiled down to the same one used in modern zombie fiction. Man loses family, zombies, man gives up on life, zombies, man finds reason to live, zombies, man finds secondary adversity, zombies, survival, zombies....etc.
 
   The zombie make-up and gore effects are on par with everything else in this flick, great at times, and a leaving a bit to be desired at others. I only say that because, despite the generally great look of the ghouls, they decided to put a very obviously chalky and non disease/post-mortem occuring substance on a lot of their faces and I found it to be a bit off putting. The gore however, was fine, nothing too special but solidly executed by a clearly professional crew.

    I find this film a bit confusing to put a rating number on, while I find it to be highly recommendable due to it's efforts and successes at originality, I also have a hard time awarding it much more than an average rating because of the general lack of passion it inspired in me to feel as I watched it. Aren't first world problems a bitch?!


6.5/10 detached retinas
 

9/26/2012

Borderland



   
   So, Rider Strong (Cabin Fever, Boy meets World) a Paul Walker look alike (Jake Muxworthy)and a Jim Caviezel look alike (Brian Presley) walk into a bar in Mexico.....I dunno if this joke has a punchline, but if it did it'd probably have something to do with them all being Hollywood 'D' listers, or something to that effect.

   All jokes aside, this movie is pretty damn good, despite being a part of the 8 Films To Die For collection, which isn't always filled with terrible films, but when it is.......The three earlier mentioned characters find themselves joined by  a pretty favorable cast of no names, apart from Sean Astin (Encino Man, Lord of The Rings) who plays a role not originally thought by me to be in his wheelhouse. Tobacco chew spitting psychopathic cult follower just doesn't scream Sean Astin to me, but he did a pretty fair job. As did most others in the film. The three main characters are a bit cliched in the way they were written, making them a little bit less sympathetic, but they get the job done without ruining any of the stronger points in the film. The story is loosely based off of a drug cartel kingpin who performed human sacrifices in the name of Satan to further his drug running success, so you can imagine where the story here goes. Good subject matter, although not the most original, aptly handled by the screenwriters, and not too badly handled by the cast.

   I really enjoyed the style in which this film was shot. It really did justice to the desperate, sweaty, hot, bloody and dusty area that is the Mexican American border. The grit and hopelessness of the story came through very well visually, lending the film a degree of evil that it may not have attained without the production.

   The gore in this one is, by far, its most winning aspect. While it's not a full on torture porn, it still has a good amount of those types of scenes. People being liberated of their eyes, scalping, tongue removal and much more. To go along with the more captive and intimate violence is a healthy dose of action movie gore, gun fights and machete battles are strewn everywhere across this hellish Mexican landscape leaving any would be tourists who watch this movie with second and third thoughts.

  This is definitely one of the better, if not second best (behind Frontier[s]) movie associated with the 8 films.... franchise. While it's not re-inventing the wheel, it's doing some fun stuff that is made all the more creepy by its association with actual events.


7/10 detached retinas
 

9/24/2012

V/H/S




  Well, once again the hype machine has struck. And this disappointed reviewer has fallen for their shit yet another time. I've been buzzing in anticipation of this flick for a couple of months now. Finally get the sucker queued up and slowly but surely all remnants of said buzz are slowly washed out of me with each passing moment of this unimaginative and all too cliche waste of time. The film has moments where I regathered hope and interest and thought to myself "Well, maybe if they finish the rest of this picture off strong, they can justify some of these other, more glaring issues." But each time a moment like that arose it was crushed soon thereafter by another, more glaring issue than the past.

   This anthology has a lot of the elements you need to succeed when making a variety platter type film, but they are so disjointed and amateurishly thrown together that it's hard to credit anyone for their creative input. A couple of the early stories were interesting and had a very realistic feel to them. Being a found footage anthology, all of these stories are shot on home video and the first two stories really did a good job of capturing the essence of what the scenario would be like for the person filming.....no unnecessary story prompt scenes that take you out of the moment or unrealistic camera work. Good gore was in both of these shorts, with a really great creature make-up that will stick with me for awhile. I commend the directors of both of these shorts and wouldn't be adverse to viewing anything else they have to offer. But from there things start going severely downhill.

   The next story is an absolute bomb, terribly acted, shot, written and just plain aggravating. The entire time the camera is freaking out and harsh feedback assaults the ears while the picture cuts in and out.....this could have been forgivable if the premise was interesting, but it wasn't.....at all.

   Following by far the worst story of the film is the strongest story conceptually, a bit weak on visuals, but a good premise. The lead actress of this story is a pretty fun shepherd for this little journey, and despite the purposely confusing ending, it still left an easily swallowed taste for my movie viewing palate.

   Next up we've got the resolution of the host story, which has been going on throughout the film, before and between the other stories. The characters in this do a pretty great job of acting like assholes, so there a bit of justification in their demises, but I really don't even have any idea what the hell happens to them in the end. It's poorly shot, on purpose, but it doesn't make it any more authentic feeling.....just nauseating.

   The final story of the film is about as generic and cliche as has ever been in an anthology style movie. Ghost/exorcism/ jump out scare crap. But by the time we had made it to this point of the movie none of us watching it were invested enough to care that the scares were even going on. There's not much to this story, just a group of guys saving a girl, running....etc. Really weak stuff. And roll credits.

   The true gravity of my disappointment didn't completely hit until a few minutes after the movies end as I went through what I had just seen and weighed the sum of its parts, which didn't add up to much. Even the good moments of this film weren't really good enough for me to recommend this movie to anyone. But that what the hype machine is for. Step 1. throw the most visually striking moments in a trailer. Step 2. get people talking. Step 3. ????? Step 4. PROFIT! Whatever, I guess I'm just bitter.


4/10 detached retinas

9/09/2012

Juan of the Dead



   The inevitability of Shaun of the Dead comparisons to this film is almost as certain as gravity, so purely for the sake of avoiding redundancy, I'm going to do my level best to steer clear of any and all unnecessary associations between the films. I feel, as strong as this movie was, it would be a grave injustice to try and make it meet the kinds of successes its nearly perfect British counterpart met.  Juan of the Dead is obviously and defiantly its own film, and anyone disappointed by it's lack of similarity to Shaun.... is completely missing the point.

   From the opening scene of this film on, it is abundantly apparent that the characters in this film are not going to be the usual type of protagonists one may have gotten used to seeing on screen over these last few decades in which the zombie revolution has slowly but surely taken hold. This ragtag band of Cuban heroes are much more prepared for a bloody end through their already unstable and semi desperate lives. Living under the banner of 3rd world communism has given these cats a survivors leg up and enough of a skewed moral compass to be perfectly suited for the environment they are soon to be thrown into. They knock the Zomedy ball out of the park as well, line after lulzy line of goofy, language barrier crossing wit fills this movie to bursting. All of the characters are wildly over the top, but in an endearing and easily relatable way that makes this movie all the more fun to watch.
 
   Plot wise, there's not a lot of new stuff going on here. You've got a band of survivors on a zombie infested, communist run island. After a few tries to monetarily gain from the situation, they decide it's not worth it and that maybe it's time to get the f**k off of said island. Standard, solid and unapologetic.

  Gore, oh that zombie flick gore, it really is the brightest part of an already glowing genre. This film does nothing to change that, great scenes of limbs flying, jaws ripping, faces being lacerated, torsoes getting crushed are all through this movie, complete with ridiculous action sequences resembling some sort of slapstick Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon hybrid in which these wounds are delivered. All in all, despite some minor CGI issues that really aren't worth getting into, the action, visuals and violence in this film lived up to every other part.
  
   In closing, I'd like to mention that this film may get a few zombie purists up in arms, as it doesn't always perfectly fit with the exact mold of what a zombie film should and shouldn't do. But I'll tell ya right now, anyone complaining about those aspects of this film is splitting hairs. This movie is a comedy...... a comedy that's chock full to exploding with "Dissident" zombies, but a comedy first and foremost. And a uproariously entertaining one at that. Put any preconceptions you may have about this film aside, open your mind, watch the hell out of it and be all the better for it. Cheers.


8/10 detached retinas

8/07/2012

Cinema Dumpster


    It's time for some promotion of one of my other ventures. This is a podcast that myself and a couple of buddies do in which we watch what we hope will be awful movies and then get together to give them a healthy ration of dumping on. If you have some time to spare to listen to three highly unqualified cinematic minds pontificate on the finer points of goofy films, head on over and check it out, it's some pretty silly stuff. Cheers.

http://cinemadumpster.podomatic.com/
or like us on facebook @
http://www.facebook.com/CinemaDumpster

7/14/2012

Cold Sweat (Sudor Frio)





   Argentina have solidified themselves, in my mind, as horror movie heavy hitters now that I have witnessed a few of their offerings with the latest of them being the giddily fun Cold Sweat. A perfect showing of old school horror ideals while still throwing in enough current satire and culture to keep this more technology driven generation entertained.

   With the story, the makers meld what resembles a sort of T.C.M. captive torture type of plot with one of modern morality vs. old school values and ideals, and it works flawlessly. References are made to the Argentinian Revolution to create a context as to why the events in this film are taking place making for an element of realism and possibility that many horror films don't strive very hard to attain. Comfortably acted as well, no one in this film stole the show or gave a particularly memorable performance, but the the story is strong enough that you will likely remember them (for more than just their/her exquisite breasts) anyway.

   The violence factor was great.....a little lacking in quantity as I couldn't help feeling that they missed a few golden opportunities to really let the gore faucets flow, but that's probably just me being a gorehound. There was some cool little artistic tweaks they through into this one as well, with a panoramic slow motion explosion that was as visually engaging as any I've ever seen. All around the visualls in this one were good, bordering on great.

   In closing, I'd like to suggest that everybody pick a country at random from the catagories of whatever avenue you use for movie viewing and pick a horror film (or just any film) from that country to watch. I think sometimes we, as Americans, get so used to being spoonfed the crap that the powers that be want us to watch/consume that we forget there are other countries, who haven't sold their souls to money guzzling movie producers, that still strive to make great cinema. argentina is one of those countries, bravo.



7.5/10 detached retinas
  
 

6/25/2012

The Host




    Monster movies are a far too seldom visited semi-secret pleasure of mine that, were there more quality releases within the genre, I would probably visit more often. This Korean treasure is the example personified of why I have this fascination in the first place. It harkens back to a day where scale models of Tokyo were decimated weekly by a giant lizard with questionable alliances, while adding it's own, more modern, highly entertaining and infinitely better written spin to the mix.

   It had been awhile since the first time I saw this movie, around four or five years I'm going to guess. But I remembered really enjoying it on the first go around, luckily my memory is better than I usually give it credit for, because this one was just as good the second time. This flick has a variety of faces ranging from slapstick comedy to the more serious epic quest inclined "rescue of the innocents" storyline . The characters are all extremely vivid, lovable, engaging and just as varied as you would hope from a movie that goes in as many directions as this one does. And storywise, despite it's resemblance to it's other, less intellectually layered predecessors, it shines... eliminating a small portion of the damage that the SyFy channel has been working so diligently to cast upon the genre.

   I may sound like a flip-flopper when I say that I really liked the CGI in this film *gasp*, I know, it's hard to even say. But considering the genuinely organic feel that they managed to create for this creature, I come away feeling much less dirty for having praised a computer generated monster. The art direction and concept behind said monster were something to behold as well. Asian monster creators take the cake for originality and for thinking "outside of the box". This thing was equal parts salmon, alligator, lamprey, basilisk and orca.....not an easy creature to picture, but once you see this abomination, you'll understand.

   This movie has a little something for everyone, and you don't even have to turn it off when the kids are around, or mom shows up. "Family friendly movies on this review-blog?" you ask. Yea, it's not gonna happen very often.......unless a bunch of monster flicks on par with this one start popping up, which, come to think of it, would not be a bad thing.


8/10 detached retinas
    
  






4/25/2012

Outcast



    'Dat Gypsy Magic' just became my new catchphrase. No, It's not a quote from this film, I just couldn't stop saying it whilst watching this movie. Don't know how applicable it'll become to everyday life, but I'm gonna try and make it stick.

     This film is not your average horror film, and it instantly shows. From the very beginning it's confusing as to who the real 'bad guys' are. Pikey justice was theme of this one, but said "justice" is being served to the seemingly innocent protagonist and his ultra protective mother, making for an immense grey area that blankets most of the flick. The plot is a ride, to put it lightly. Scenes of ancient Irish occult and pagan ritualism are all through this one as the "hunters" use it to find the "hunted". A battle of magical wills is waged that won this viewer over with it's seeming realism and dark nature. The casting is great as well, tortured, gritty and lifelike characters populate this film and do wonders for what could have merely been a cheesy cult oriented picture. Not to leave out the filming style, which did more than its fair share for the ambiance of this film, darkening up the joint with a desperate and impoverished feel that resonates straight through until the films end. There are a few unexplained bits as far as the legend and magical practices go that could have been followed up on a bit more to really sell the story, but considering the thickness of some of the Irish accents in this one, I may have never completely understood anyways.

      Violence and make-up, I'll give it a ground rule double, versus a home-run. The violence, by itself, is fantastic.....uber-bloody and viciously realistic. But the make-up on the monster character, or as I like to call it "Chupahulkenstein", was a weird mix of prosthetics and tripped out visual effects, interesting but a bit distracting at the same time. He looked damn cool at times, but others he was blurry and obviously computer altered, taking me out of the movie world they worked so hard to create and into over analyzing critic mode.

      In closing, I'd like to thank Bloody Disgusting for helping to release all these new, original and fun Indie and Foreign horror flicks. And also thank Netflix for picking up what seems to be the bulk of their catalogue. It's making this reviewer one satisfied horror junkie.


7.5/10 detached retinas
 

4/24/2012

The Pack




     They tricked me! I thought this was going to be a French version of your classic pack of biker/werewolves (because that's apparently the only fringe group of people a werewolf can blend in with) chasing a young girl across the countryside. But instead what I got was a movie about some sort of age old curse in which the people whom the earth has swallowed become its bloodsucking, blind, subterranean zombie-like minions and require blood sacrifice to satiate their gore-starved mother Earth. There are some pretty silly and stereotypical bikers in this film, but no werewolves......which, looking back, was just fine by me.

     The premise, as I earlier mentioned, has a certain ancient feel to it, almost the sort of thing fairy tales are based around. But it works well in a modern setting, brought to life by an engaging and easily likable lead character. Her interactions with what appeared to be the French Benicio del Toro and the few other sparsely placed humans throughout this films landscape, are as resembling of the real world as one would expect from a movie about underground dwelling, curse zombie, mutants, and maybe more so.

    The gore is great, although sparse, at first. They don't try to push it and risk losing the audience with unnecessary violence, but when the blood does start flowing, it's in rivers.....not drops. All very well done too; dismemberings, exploding torsos and general zombie-esque carnage is represented, right through until this films twist riddled ending.

    This ones kinda hard to give a number to, considering the sum of its parts seems to be greater than the final product. The math just doesn't add up. I liked this movie, but not as much as my earlier comments in this review may lead one to believe. There was maybe one or two unnamed things keeping me from 'loving' this film, but I've yet to put my finger on 'em.....just thought you should know.




6.5/10 detached retinas


4/16/2012

Mum & Dad



   If I was forced to come up with a one word descriptive word to sum up this British torture horror flop, it would be "Ugly". This film tries it level best to make the viewer uncomfortable, and generally succeeds with that. But there seemed to me to be a real lack of any other redeeming elements within the film. If you're going to make torture flicks for a horror market that is currently over saturated with forgettable films, you had better find a way to push the envelope, either by going for the gusto and really shocking your viewers, or by at least writing a highly engaging script. This film failed to do either.

  The concept for this film centers around a "family" that captures, tortures and tries to assimilate new members into their sadistic fold. The family comes complete with a violent and vindictive mother figure, a perverse overweight and mouth breathing father figure, a completely brainwashed and starved for attention sister, a mentally broken and submissive brother along with a few other "siblings" who are sparingly seen throughout the film. These characters have recently come across a new possible addition to the "family" and this film is the story of her struggle to survive. The characters aren't horribly developed, although they are a bit over the top, and maybe even a little uninspired. The real problem with the story is in its lack of structure. The film just seems to be a series of scenarios bent on disturbing the audience rather than being a cohesive or driven tale. Their victim is sympathetic, don't get me wrong, but not enough so to really drive the development of the plot. Once the films climax rolls around, there's more relief felt in knowing this movie is almost over than is felt for the protagonist being free of her torturous bonds.

  The gore was just as dull and uninspired as the rest of this flick. This film has gross out moments, but they all have been seen done far better in other, more moving and genre defining films. Jerking off into a what I think was either a kidney, or maybe a liver....doesn't compare to the 'decapitated head giving head' scene in High Tension. The physical torture the heroine is meant to endure doesn't compare to anything endured by the casts of the Hostel or Saw franchises...much less the what the lead victim in Martyrs is forced to suffer through. There's some semi worthy content here, but not enough to drag this film past anything more than average.

  I was really hoping for a good British horror comedy when I began this film, but was obviously disappointed by the half-assed and all together far too average, borderline torture porn I got. Oh well, I've said it before and will again, many times I'm sure....."they can't all be winners".


5/10 detached retinas

4/10/2012

Phase 7



    My girlfriend has been on my case to watch this movie for months now, and I didn't want to. From the description given, it sounded like it was going to be a rip-off of the [rec] movies, and not a very good one at that. But, I've got to give it to Jen (my lovely lady), she picked a winner. This flick is anything but a rip-off. It's funny, endearing, edgy and wildly entertaining.

    It didn't take us getting very far into this movie for me to see how wrong my initial gut feelings were about this film. The characters were immediately relatable and had great on screen chemistry with each other, be they central figures or just passing interactions. And the story, despite its slight similarities to other viral outbreak and quarantine oriented scripts, had plenty of its own moxie to get viewers interested early, and to keep them interested throughout the films progression. It's not a zombie film, so most of the drama between characters is derived from the human reaction in the face of extreme stress and emergency situations. And, comedic relief aside, they did a fantastic job of portraying the cut-throatedness of humanity and the basic breakdowns of social order that one may experience in such a scenario. The comedic elements were fantastic too, a great mix of slapstick and dialogue driven wit that flourished even through the language barrier (this film is Argentinian and was subtitled). All around a great flick from both the plot and acting standpoints.

    The violence was more than satisfactory as well. The lack of any kind of zombie/plague monster characters didn't slow the roll of this one at all, considering the tenants of the quarantined building did a fantastic job of killing each other off without them. Your basic, modern, person versus person violence peppers this one, knife wounds, shotgun blasted bodies and heads and other sorts of well done gore are all through this picture. It doesn't even begin to disappoint from this angle. I just hope that when the shit finally does hit the fan, the people surrounding me, aren't of the same nature as the folks in this film....save one or two of the main characters.

    All I have to say in closing this one out, is 'thank you', to Jen for making me watch this unassuming little Argentinian gem. Sometimes I get so caught up in the fact that everyone seems to be trying to bank on the success of already established films, that I don't give a good film a chance due to the fact it might be a rip-off. Glad we gave this one a shot....finally.


8/10 detached retinas

4/02/2012

Devils Playground



   "Parkour Zombies in London" might have been a better title for this English outbreak flick. At the very least naming it that would have cleared up any confusion as to which Devils Playground it was.

    There's virtually no new ideas within this film, everything in it has been done time and time again. But, if originality were a criteria for success in zombie films, then 98 percent of them would fail. This movie does what it does, original or not, fairly well. Good characters, interesting enough dialogue/ human interaction and plenty of interest worthy plot points and twists to keep the viewer engaged for most of this movie. Danny Dyer (Severance, Doghouse, Dead Cert), Jaime Murray (Botched, The Deaths of Ian Stone) head up a cast of memory teasing British B-rates that do the job as well as can be expected. As far as script and star power is concerned, there's not a lot of allure here nor is there any large turn offs.

   Now the zombies are definitely the most remarkable part of this one, but not for any traditional reasons. Their uniqueness lies in that they are born of performance enhancing drug trials gone wrong, making them not only fast and vicious, but prone to unnecessary stunts. As you watch this movie, you will notice, as I did, that the ghouls always seem to take the most athletically challenging route to get to the victims, i.e. vaulting a dumpster they could just run around, or leaping down two flights of stairs, and virtually every time there is a wall around, they choose to do a a footplant or jump kick off of it......All of this is fairly amusing, but given the general seriousness of the rest of the film, it's also very distracting. The make up is generic, at best, featuring your run of the mill overly discolored veins popping out on all of the infected and decent bites and other fiend attack related wounds. The one main disappointment I had with the violence was the feeding piles, usually you find the best gore work within these scenes in zombie films. But this move chose to cop out and cover up all the happenings with the writhings of way too many ghouls. Disappointing.

 This film isn't going to make any converts out of those who don't enjoy zombie horror, but it's not going to too badly disappoint those who already are, either.  All in all, just another movie that's kinda takin' up space.



6/10 detached retinas
 

3/06/2012

Dead Girl



   "From the producers of Hellraiser and Heathers" may not be the least confusing endorsement ever, but it is fitting given the nature of this film. The seemless fusing of a world where teen love and necrophilia can co-exist (even if not all that gracefully) harkens back to bits and pieces of both of the afor mentioned movies while not stealing in the slightest from either.
    I have to say right off the bat, If you're not a fan of sadistic sexual deviance, don't bother watching this film. While there is a clear moral line drawn complete with dire and moving consequences, a lot of the scenes are still very unsettling, rape oriented and just plain twisted. But if you think you're up for it, I strongly suggest you power through this one. It is one of the strongest and most engaging scripts of any of the films I have reviewed thus far. The whole feel of the film is strong, the ambience is solid, the situaltional awarness and realism is top notch and the general look and flow is spot on no matter what emotion is trying to be portrayed. I don't want to get in specifics about the story, because it's a good one that just needs to be watched to be explained, but just know......you haven't seen this story or one like it in a movie before.
    The gore is on par with the rest of the film, telling what needs to be told in a messy but not excessively so, way. Professional wound make-up complete with festering sores that bring the gag reflex to full attention and they don't stop there. The main "monster" as I'll call it endures and doles out some hefty punishment and it's all brought to life (and death) perfectly by the effects team. Solid, professional work.
    While not a movie that you're ever going to show your mom, or girlfriend, or pastor or even your dog, it is a movie that you can show that sicko friend that likes to watch shit that no one else will admit they watch or like, and aren't those really the BEST kinda friends?


8/10 detached retinas

2/15/2012

The Dead



    It's too bad people can't get a bit more creative in titling zombie films, I realize that putting some sort of 'the dead' reference in your movies title lets the watcher know that they're in for some flesh eating ghoul action. But at this point, with the myriad of weak zombie films flying at us viewers, something as pedestrian and unoriginal sounding as "The Dead" almost begs to be ignored. Luckily I had seen a trailer for this randomly some time ago, and was interested, otherwise I may not have had the chance to enjoy the pleasure this zombie gem was offering to those curious enough to watch.

   The situation is a familiar one, the dead have come back to gorge on those unlucky enough to still have their lives, what's not familiar is the setting.....Western Africa, and I think that's where this movie garners a good portion of its success from. The combination of a merciless and mindless foe with the unforgiving and barren African savannah/desert make what could have very well been 'just another zombie film' into something very worth watching. But the location is not the only thing this film has going for it. The lack of dialogue (there is some, but it's definitely not a focal point of the film) makes for a much more somber and reflective film than most modern genre films, no unnecessary one liners, no hokey comic relief and a general lack of unsolicited human interaction. Another nice addition to the plot of this one goes back to the location but in a slightly different avenue, it's in western Africa, as I mentioned, which as most of us know is one of the more war ravaged places on the globe, and this film touches on that very subject in a way that gives a sliver of  hope for humanity.

   There's should be nothing remarkable about the zombies in this film, especially now that rabid/rage/sprinter zombies have evolved into the new, more terrifying breed of horde forming undead killers. But there's still something to be said for the slow, relentless, glass eyed denizens of old. And this movie shows what it is, creating virtually make-up-less creatures that still sell the creep factor as good as any frothing rage victim, just in a completely different way. These guys aren't monsters....they're dead people, and they look like dead people, who eat living people by the village-ful with the emotion of a professional poker player and the thousand yard stare of the most ruined of Vietnam vets.

   The violence in this one is great as well, despite the fact there is some CGI scattered throughout. It's classic brutal zombie fodder, but not forced or glorified, just natural, animalistic and unblinking. The reason I give this film a pass for using CGI is that they sparingly use it and when they do it's cleverly hidden and subtle, barely noticeable even. All things that make this guy one happy camper.

  All zombie fans, this is that once a year treat that you may have heard of but weren't too sure about whether or not to watch, do it you'll like it. And to you casual viewers, I'd say give it a watch too, there's a lot of good this film has to offer.


7.5/10 detached retinas

2/06/2012

Welcome to the Jungle




  I still haven't been able to come to a definitive stance on the semi-recent outbreak of 'found footage' films. On one hand I love the realism and desperate aura that they create, but on the other, a lot of them seem cheap and the pace at which these types of films are being flung at consumers is a bit overboard. Whatever conclusion I do come to on where I stand on this new genre.... this film isn't going to have a huge impact on it. Not that it was horrible by any means, it just didn't sway me to either side of the argument.

  It starts out like many modern horror films do, with privileged white (although not all Americans) twenty somethings in a third world country on vacation, who then decide, for whatever reason, that merely enjoying the safety of the designated tourist areas isn't enough of a holiday and promptly proceed on an ill prepared shoddily thought out journey into the nearby jungle to meet whatever denizens await. The characters aren't nearly as bad as many associated with this young 'found footage' craze, yea they all still get annoying, but there's a genuine realism to the way they interact that puts what could have been a very generic cast a bit above some of this films counterparts. And the plot, If you haven't figured it out, is centered around cannibals, nothing super original here, but it definitely didn't lose me due to  overplayed-ness.

  The gore factor is excellent, although it takes a good three quarters of the film going by before it really starts spurting. There was definitely homage being paid the original 'found footage' cannibal gem Cannibal Holocaust with one specific scene, I won't get into it, but if you've seen the latter and watch this, you'll know what I'm talking about.

   This movie is definitely entertaining, although I can't give it a great rating due to it's unoriginality and the handheld camera movie overload of late. Give 'er a shot, and don't hesitate to let me know what you think.


6.5/10 detached retinas

1/31/2012

The Cottage




   What a treat this movie mas! Riotously funny, generously gory, well written and just plain solid from minute one to minute ninety one. The English know how to do horror comedy as good as any country in the biz, and this movie proves that statement ten-fold.

    This story expertly blends a blunder filled crime caper with a classic cannibal, inbred, rural farmhouse slasher. I know, you're thinking; "Not another Tejas Chainsaw rip-off!". Don't worry, despite it's obvious similarities to the countless other movies trying to cash in on the success of Tobe Hoopers' untouchable masterpiece, there is plenty of originality and redeeming features to this picture. This film has a good cast, starring a few semi-familiar British faces and even including a brief but effective cameo from the legendary Doug Bradley (Hellraiser). The dialogue in this film is brilliantly executed. I have always been a fan of the slapstick side of horror comedies given the fact that it creates a sense of comic realism to these types of films. I mean, let's face it, most of us would be complete bumbling jackasses when faced with the kinds of scenarios that the characters in these movies are subjected to. And this film falls nothing short of a bulls-eye when it comes to this element.

    The gore can sometimes be an afterthought in these movies, but that is not the case here (although it does take them a minute to get to the really good stuff). When the guts start flying though, it doesn't slow down until this movies final brutally funny frame. Variety, quality, quantity and originality (better known as "the big four of gore") are all present and accounted for, and it is a beautiful sight to behold. The one gripe I had with this whole movie was the monster make-up on the villain, while it was fairly well done, it wasn't up to the bar set by the rest of the film. But truthfully it's really a non-issue considering the rest of the films considerable greatness.

    Got a hankering for laughs and lopped off heads? Look no further than this underrated and underexposed British gem.


8.5/10 detached retinas

11/15/2011

Husk



   Cornfields, killer scarecrows, generic characters, predictable story.......I feel like I should hate this movie on principle alone, but I can't. There was something about it that kept me entertained the whole time. Not to say this was a great film by any means, just very watchable.

    Like I said, the story isn't all that creative in general, there are some small aspects of it though that give it a certain degree of legitimacy and individuality, but lets face it, when you've got a bunch of ghost powered zombie scarecrows trying to exact their murderous intentions on a group of very token characters you are not going to win any awards for originality. But the acting redeems a good portion of what the story lacks, once again, not award winning acting by any means, but solid none the less.

    The visual feel of the film was definitely one of the better parts, it was glossy, crisp and professional. Not that a well done gritty B rate production can't be just as good or even better in many cases. But for movies as simple as this, I just like to see whats going on in full HD quality detail.

   Which brings me to the violence, once again (at the risk of sounding like a broken record) good but not quite great. A lot standard of hack and slash stuff, well done, but nothing to scream about. I remain a bit confused as to how the scarecrows inflicted as much damage as they did with only a handful of carpentry nails, but whatever, they got the desired effect.

    Sometimes playing it safe on a movie isn't absolutely horrible, and I think that is whats going on here. Never will this picture blow anyone away, but giving it a watch ain't gonna hurt nothin' either.


6.5/10 detached retinas

11/14/2011

Botched






     Botched is another one of those films that I had the pleasure of going back and watching again because, at the time I first watched it I had not begun reviewing movies yet. I had hoped going into this second watch that it was as good as I remembered, and it answered that question with a resounding YES!

    I've mentioned before what a fine line it is to walk when trying to write a good horror comedy. I may be wrong, the creators of this film make it seem effortless. Stephen Dorff  (Blade, The Gate) leads a mostly unknown but still all-star (at least in my mind) slapstick cast through a tale of robberies gone wrong, murderous Russian cultist weirdos and other general hilarity. The story is completely ridiculous, but it doesn't matter, In fact it adds strength to the script as it creates a lot of room to play with the characters and their situation without losing the audience to unbelievability. And play they do, with characters being murdered mutilated by one of the most hilarious villains I have ever seen. The funny isn't just brought by the villain either, the victims themselves are pretty riotous as well. But, by far the standout roll among them is the security guard......I think I probably will never be able to hear the phrase 'alpha male' again without laughing.

    With all the comedic success this film enjoys one might think going into this that they may have skimped on the violence, well let's just say, one would be wrong. This movie is unrelenting in the splatter department. Miles of entrails, skinnings, beheadings and boatloads of other gory delights are all through out this picture. It really is glorious.

    Get this movie, that's all  I can really say. You're missin' out if you don't


8.5/10 detached retinas

11/04/2011

Prowl



     
    Even though this movie wasn't really all that great, I'd still sit through it a thousand times over before I watched any of the Twilight films even one more time. I say this because I am in absolute opposition to the softening of image and mainstreaming that has been happening to the genre of late. Prowl, despite being poorly executed, at least gave the vampires a piece of their dignity as monsters back, and I commend its creators for that.

   I could tell there was a concerted effort here to have a strong plot, it's just too bad so many of the other factors in the film took away from what could have been a real winner of a vampire flick. Mostly to blame is the acting and dialogue. Nobody really had any on screen chemistry with anyone else for the majority of this film, and the script didn't give them any help with that, throwing awkward lines at the actors and into the works like so many metaphorical wrenches. The story is solid and even bold at points, with some good twists and turns up until the very end where it kind of trails off almost as if they had written themselves into a corner, a corner that seemed pretty easy to write ones self out of, but never the less, that's the feeling I got.

   Gore, yea, it's here and it's decent stuff. Not enough to overcome the films other flaws by any means, but still deserving of its due.

  Bottom line, this movie wasn't that good, and yet somehow I came away from it feeling like the world was a better place for it, because every movie featuring vampires in their rightful monstrous for is a small victory against the mega market Hollywood tragedy that is.... you guessed it......Twilight........Twilight hater much, you ask? You better f**ckin' believe it!


4.5/10 detached retinas

11/01/2011

Heartless




    This is another one of those movies that I feel like I should have liked more than I did. It was both classic and fresh with a story that resembled that of a fairy tale and yet was not tired or overdone at all, it was foreign, well acted for the most part and had really interesting and at times really brutal visuals. But for some reason certain scenes and actions by the characters, mostly the main one, kept rubbing me the wrong way and kept this film from really shining as brightly (or darkly) as it could have.

    I think a big part of my dislike for the main character comes from his over the top view of his own misfortune. Pining away over his disfigurement and how it will keep him from ever attaining love, which considering his affliction is merely a purple discoloration on his eye and shoulder I'm thinking he's better off without any females that would find enough issue with that for it to be a relationship deal breaker. Had he had some sort of real disfigurement like a severely cleft palate, or an abnormal growth on his face or anything a bit more extreme than what he did, I may have had a bit more sympathy for him, but as it stands......I didn't, call me an a**hole but I've known people much worse off than him over the years who weren't half as depressed. BUT, as much of and issue as I took to that, it is about my only real issue with this film, the rest of it is very well done. The story centers around this young and unfortunate fella who lives in a morally decaying version of the U.K. and encounters some fiendish gang types who may be responsible for it. After several encounters with these ghoulish hell raisers (in which one of his mother is killed) he decides,in a rather cliched manner, "to take matters into his own hands" at which time an offer that is just as cliche comes up from a devilish character and.......you guessed it, he can't refuse it, at which point he discovers he's been tricked by the devil (really?!) and is forced to do some unspeakable things. Despite the clicheness of alot of this, these encounters are all organic and entertaining with alot of the characters being very engaging and well developed. And the story does have a certain freshness to it despite the way I may have painted it.

   The violence in this film is kind of a weird entity, seemingly brutal in retrospect and yet it never really got much of a rise from me as I watched it, It all seemed a bit routine and disengaged me at points. But it was quality work nonetheless. It's just a bit strange that a movie included violence at this level and yet all I can remember really being all that gross was the fact the main character was always drooling all over himself.

   I think I may be alone in a lot of my opinions on this one but I'm sticking to my guns on this one. This film had a lot of potential, and a lot of elements of success, but fell way short of anything I can really get behind.


6/10  detached retinas

Red State

 

   "A horror film by Kevin Smith".....whether or not this movie is truly a horror film is up for discussion, but, that being said, based on the subject matter this is one of the more terrifying films I've seen this year.

    I'm thinking Kevin Smith may have missed his calling, after the failures of his last few attempts at comedic and dramatic films, I had chalked him up to being done. Looks to me like he would have had a lot more successful last few years had he jumped on the darker side of things a bit earlier. And he didn't even have to completely abandon his patented wit and knack for dialogue to enjoy that success either. This film almost feels like Coen brothers doing horror because of the expert blending of levity and misery, that along with a perfectly selected cast of individuals who are all fair game as far as life expectancy goes makes this even more shocking and unpredictable......much like, well.....a Coen brothers film (and the presence of John Goodman in the cast does nothing to quell those comparisons). The plot is brilliant, multi layered and very socially applicable dealing with an ultra- right wing 'christian' group that resembles a truly worrisome hybrid of the Branch Davidians and the Westboro Baptist freaks (yea, the "god hates fags" guys but with a literal arsenal) who take 'god's will' into their own hands by capturing and dispatching of gays and other such 'sexual deviants'.  At some point the government gets involved, and the movie kind of takes a turn from the horror side of things and heads more into a government cover-up, bureaucratic war of morals, stand-off type of deal. But at no point does it lose any steam, staying just as brutal and engaging from minute one to minute eighty eight.

   Just as intense and engaging as the plot are the phyical aspects of this film, great ultra realistic violence is all through this film, with people getting offed at a clip that made my head spin. Like i earlier mentioned, no one is safe in this film and when they meet their respective demises there is no apologizing or skirting the issue, Mr. Smith makes damn sure of that.

   If you're into a really smart, super brutal and not traditionally scary film, look no further than this one. I look eagerly foward to Kevins next offering to the genre.


8/10 detached retinas
  

10/26/2011

Before the Fall (3 Dias)



  This is one of those movies I'm very happy to have stumbled across. I could have very easily gone my whole life without knowing this Spanish gem existed. But, thanks to technology, I found it, and loved it.

  The story here is not your classic mindless horror fare, in fact for most of the film, you don't get much of a horror vibe at all from this one. It's not until very late in the film that things get really dark and the terror element creeps in. But don't get me wrong, this film isn't all lolly pops, fairies and carousel rides followed by a bloody ending, It is grim. Interestingly set in a world who's clock is running out due to an impending meteor strike, the desperate last activities of humanity frame the central plot beautifully setting a bleak and hopeless landscape for the characters to dwell in. The central plot itself is a deep and emotional one, dealing with a main character who finds himself lacking a purpose in life and frankly doesn't seem all that broken up about the worlds demise. Ale (main character) is then thrown into the middle of a situation involving his family and their ties to an escaped prisoner that has it out for them due to the fact they were the reason for his incarceration. After certain events occur it is up to him to come out of his depressed, self loathing shell and protect his missing brothers children from this madman. Fantastically written, superbly acted and emotionally engaging, the subtleties of film making were not lost on the creators of this one.

  When it comes to violence there are different ways of creating success in these types of movies, you can get dirty and go for added shock and risk losing a chunk of your audience who may be squeamish, or you can walk the just as tricky tightrope of implying violence and rely on creative camera angles and character performance to make your film scary. This flick does the latter, to perfection. There is violence in this film,don't get me wrong, and what violence there is is very well done, but it's not on the level of some of the French shockers I've reviewed in the past, and yet it still enjoys the same level of success. Kudos to this flicks creators for keeping this gore hound happy without a single disembowelment, skinning, beheading or compound fracture.

 Give this film a watch. It's not that often that movies so closely toeing the horror line are this good and easily enjoyed by all, you don't want to miss em when there here.......do ya?


8.5/10 detached retinas

10/04/2011

Zombies of Mass Destruction



   I've been contemplating watching this movie for quite awhile now. Now that I have, I can't really say whether or not it was worth the wait. There's plenty of good things about this film: good comedy, decent zombie make-up, great mid to low budget gore and a fairly charismatic cast. I'm thinking the only thing that really kept me from liking this picture more than I did was the tired references to terrorists and other Bush era overused terminology. In this post 9/11 world I have become numbly grumpy toward such subjects through their overexposure and abuse. I guess I should have thought about that before watching this, considering how apparent the title makes that association, but truthfully it never really crossed my mind.

  Personal rant aside, this is a solid zombie comedy, definitely achieving the same class status as such genre films as Dead and Breakfast and The Mad, while falling a little bit short of the big dogs such as Shawn of the Dead and Slither. Good casting definitely helps with its success, featuring main characters Tom and Lance (yeah, they sound gay because they are) leading a crew of randoms consisting of some religious zealots, an unjustly persecuted second generation Iranian girl "Frita" and a handful of others, towards what they hope is survival.

   The violence and make-up in this are exactly what you expect and hope for in these types of films. Goofy, bloody, over the top, borderline gross out stuff. All of the content in this aspect of this movie is well done. And the disembowelment via weedwacker scene is certainly the gem of the bunch. Bravo.

   Pay no mind to my small personal issues with this movie and its content, they are my own problems and really don't affect the quality of this film. Solid zombie fun......nuff said.


7/10 detached retinas
  

10/03/2011

Left Bank (Linkeroever)




   Belgium just became a legitimate blip on my radar that I will be paying closer attention to after this seeing this film, They threw a great combo of real life everyday drama in with a twisted and highly engaging element of paganism and human sacrifice.

   This movie is rather slow, mostly due to the real life drama I earlier spoke of, but even though it slows the film down, I can't really complain about its inclusion in the film. It is so well written and acted that despite its seemingly boring exterior it is still very watchable, and the constant presence of creepy individuals and mysterious occurrences breaks up the would be doldrums nicely. The story is one of depression, regret and the need for validation because of years wasted obsessing over things that don't matter ......all of this is woven through a mystery involving disappearances, pagan sacrifices and demonic legend all set in Brussels "left bank" which is basically their version of "the projects" and has been for centuries.

   This film has a really smooth and professional look but with care to keep the images soft and not too sterile, just like most of it's other European counterparts. The gore and make-up (although it takes a good while for them to get around to it) are both A+ quality. The main character gets a knee injury midway through the film that progressively gets worse as the film goes on turning from merely bruised and scraped to some sort of plague/frostbitten looking mess with huge course hairs growing randomly out of it.....it is really pretty disturbing looking. And there is a demon type creature near the end that was very intriguing, I just wish they would have given me a better look at it.

   This is a flick that anyone who doesn't mind reading subtitles (horror fan or not) can get into and enjoy, it's got a good story, great acting and an interesting setting. And it's got something for horror fans too. So there's no excuse for any of y'all to not watch this one.....In fact, I'm expecting everyone that reads this review to write a report on this film and carry it on them at all times until I next see you.....or just e-mail it to me ;)


7/10 detached retinas
  

9/27/2011

Battlefield Baseball




   Or known in some other, more obscure, circles as 'The Mask is a Dick', well, probably not but it seemed appropriate. It'll be hard to put joking aside while trying to write this review, because that is exactly what this movie was, a (really effing funny) joke. An hour and a half trip on the Asian train to goofy town will make some people go nuts quick style, but this guy had a great time!

  I thought going into this that it may just be another rip-off of Shaolin Soccer, but I was far from the truth. this film makes what some may consider the absurd scenes in Shaolin Soccer seem tame in comparison. There's a complete lack of effort to make this anything resembling a traditional film: musical numbers thrown in with ultra goofy and gratuitous gore, people dying only to be brought back to life over and over again and a bizarre setting in which everything important in the script seems to happen in precisely ten minute increments are just the tip of this nut job of a scripts iceberg.

   There's really not a lot I can say about the content of this film that will sound sane on any level, but I can however, strongly promote the watching of it. It is rioutous, unpredictable, assinine and classic all at the same time. If you can deal with the pure lunacy that can be asian culture at times, I suggest you get yourself a copy of this, watch it, and try to avoid foamy or carbonated beverages while doing so.


7/10 detached retinas

9/26/2011

Hells Ground



   I thought this was a freakin' zombie movie! Even though the trailer I watched for this was a good five minutes long, the story was barely less of a mystery to me upon watching this then it was before watching the trailer. But I'm not complaining, despite my being misled into thinking this movie was about the undead, it still entertained me to no end!

  Pakistan, yeah you heard me right,Pakistan is the country responsible for this....this....well I'm not very sure what "this" is, but it's awesome! I guess it's sort of a ripoff of a lot of things, but it isn't annoying because of the culture gap between the makers of this film and most of the films one could say it 'ripped off'. The story feature five young adult-ish Pakistanis on an adventure to go see "the hottest band in Pakistan", on route the get predictably lost and briefly run into some zombie plague victims (the reason I rightfully thought this was a zombie film) but they escape the fiends and continue on their confusing journey. All while speaking English half the time while the other half is subtitled, don't ask me why or how, but it worked. They then get into the meat (no pun intended) of the story after getting more lost. They meet the killer and his lovely family upon stopping to ask for directions...... Like I said, it's sort of a ripoff, It's just the antics, cultural differences and similarities, that make this so watchable. The killer ^^^that guy on the poster^^^ or burqaman (fantastic name b.t.w.) is freaking AWESOME! Apparently he is the product of a widowed mother who decided at some point that he was her daughter and not her son. So at an early age, he was made to dress like a female, and thus a killer was born. Old news, I know, that is how most killers are born you're saying right now......I'm aware of that fact, but it's still awesome so shut up. Also there is a good eco-conscious not so subliminal message around the reason for the zombie outbreak, showing extended scenes of the garbage devastated water supplies in the region and the filthy conditions most in that area are subjected to living in (a truly sad and disturbing note within a tongue in cheek film)

  Apart from the entertainingly and badly acted story, there is still sooooo much good stuff in this movie. The gore is amazing B-rate stuff, grisly, messy, butcher store stuff. When you're killing people with what looks like 45 lbs of morningstar, it's gonna have some splatter effect. The zombies, are classic Romero -esque stuff, but still fun, and their horde even includes a dwarf which is a great addition to any zombie scene/film if you ask this guy. All around grade A... B grade, to say the least.

 Get culturized, if for no other reason than watching your first Pakistani film. And why NOT this one? My guess is ninety percent of the rest of the movies from there aren't even half as entertaining as this one!


8/10 detached retinas

9/19/2011

Inside



   This film made me feel like a 13 year old version of myself, watching a horror movie for the first time. Not to say I was scared, just exhilarated, blown away and almost overwhelmed. This movie was non-stop sensory punishment, in all of the the most successful and asked for ways. Any mothers to be or aspiring to be, my suggestion is that you wait 'til your baby is safely outside of your body to watch this one, otherwise you will not be sleeping for the rest of your term, and we don't want that.

   France..... I don't know what's in the water over there, but they keep killing it over and over and over again, every time I think they have maxed out the potential of the horror genre, they come back with something so above and beyond what I thought possible and completely reprogram the parameters of the genre. Inside is no different, taking what should be a simple and straightforward concept and warping it into something the devil himself would have a hard time stomaching. That's what they (the French) do, when they aren't completely owning original story lines, they take the tired elements from classic horror fare and breathe some sort of cursed and most certainly godforsaken life back into them, and when you get results like this....I am anything but complaining.

   Every character is played to perfection, although apart from the killer no one else really had to do much but get killed, scream, whimper, gurgle and cry. But Beatrice Dalle, the killer, was captivating and disgusting all at once, creating a very intimate nightmare with her psychopathic bedside manner and her oddly maniacal beauty.

   The gore in this film was masterful, and even that is a sad understatement. It's rare that movies that take themselves this seriously throw the sheer volume of gore that this one did at the viewers. But then again, this is not most movies, and I praise every ounce of un-apologized for blood and severed flesh that covered nearly every cubic inch of this set.

   I would love to try and get everyone and their mother to watch this film, but the fact is it is far too intense for the greater portion of society and 99.7 percent of mothers (<true fact I Googled it), but if you do decide to brave it I commend you, for this is a brilliant film!


10/10 detached retinas

Scarce



   I've got to give it to these guys, they take their craft seriously (to the point of seriously injuring themselves), and maybe with time they could be significant contributors to the horror genre. But for now they're a ways off from getting it completely dialed.

   For the first part of this movie I was fairly certain I was gonna hate this film, it screamed "RIPOFF!" from the get go. But as it progressed and I witnessed the physical torture the makers/actors endured in real life (extended and plentiful scenes of them running through the snow and freezing creek beds barefoot and in their skivies) to get this film made I started to come around by way of their commitment. The story is, like I earlier said, a ripoff of any number of cannibal films set in the rural United States, complete with a group of city boys given purposefully bad directions in an effort to get them to an area in which they will be dispatched by said cannibals. Nothing noteworthy there, but I will say that the acting and camaraderie between the group of friends was pretty entertaining, they did a good job of recreating the banter and conversation that most dudes in their age bracket partake in.

  The gore and violence in this film was decent stuff, it got the point across and even induced a shout or two out of me at points mostly via a great shotgun chestsplosion and a few other nicely executed bits of carnage.

  I wouldn't go out of my way to see this one, but if you're wanting to get the jump on viewing the early work of some possibly future big time players in the horror genre, by all means check it out.

6/10 detached retinas
 

9/05/2011

Stag Night




   Boooooorrrrrrrriiiiiiiinnnnnnngggggg. this word was ringing in my head the whole time I was watching this movie. If only I had been in the room when they pitched this to the studio, I'm sure it would have sounded a lot like this:
creators:"Ok, so we have this great idea. So, you know how good The Hills Have Eyes remake did, right?"
studio:"yea"
creators:"Well, we're thinking of stealing that story, changing the setting to a New York subway system, and making it all happen to a bunch of guys at a bachelor party instead of a family, what'dya think?"
studio:"sounds stupid."

   Now, at this point I think that they probably had to go with their ace card because there aren't a whole lot of redeeming points to their "script", and they were quickly losing steam.

creators:"Well, what if we told you that the villains butcher the people they kill and feed em to dogs?"
studio:"...still stupid"
creators:"....and look like Rob Zombie circa 1999?"
studio:"Oh shit.... that might work, he looked f**kin' scary back then!"

  And with that another piece of boring, plagiarised, American cinema dung rolled out of studios and into living rooms and a select amount of theaters nationwide.

3.5/10 detached retinas

Feed




  Gross, that's what this movie was, but in all the right ways. Focusing on humanities depraved sense of sexuality. Bringing to light how the powers that seek to control and censor are usually just as depraved as the ones they seek to stifle. Not quite so in this particular case, but not a far stretch.

  I was enormously impressed with some of the acting in this movie, most of all by the villain who lines consisted of some of the best soundbites I've heard in a long while. While not everything was acting gold, the way the movie plays out makes up for it, and the general bizarreness of the films concept really keeps any acting issues out of the viewers focus.

  This movie was a little hectic in the way it was shot, alot of scenes were cut and pasted together in a semi confusing fashion that, until the end of the film, made it slightly hard to follow, but the end cleared most of the random flashbacks up well. Overall the movie looked good, as good as a movie featuring mostly naked 600 plus pound women can anyways.

  This movie may feel to most like it was created for one reason, to gross the audience out, and it will, there is some really raunchy vomit and piss-stained material in this film. But all of that is just the package that the creators social commentary is wrapped in. I'm not going to tell you what I got out of it, I'm going to leave that for those of you who watch this one to decide. I just think, for a shock based film, this one had a deeper message than most of its counterparts.

  This one needs a bit of a warning prior to recommending, I'd love to tell everyone that they have to see this film, but I have a feeling that a few of you upon watching it may take your disgust out on me at a later date. So, all that being said, I recommend this movie to everyone that thinks they've got the meddle or are at least trying to prove they've got it. Bon appetit


7.5/10 detached retinas

8/31/2011

Trollhunter



  Can anyone say ADVENTURE?! Because that's what this movie boiled down to, pure, monster inspired adventure. Making the absolute most out of a slightly worrisome (at first, for me anyways) PG-13 rating,  trading carnage for suspense set in an epic and very believable world.

   I realized while watching this film that outside of the trolls shown in Lord of the Rings and a few other much less remarkable movies, I really haven't seen very many trolls in cinema before. Which was nice going into this one as it made for a clean slate as to what trolls should look and act like. And I really like the direction they took these creations, there was a certain amount of innocence given to them that made them more of an animal than a monster, lending them a sympathetic light while they still retained their intimidation through their sheer size, animal instincts and strength. And the "science" they used to back up these creatures throughout the film was fascinating, creating an even more believable aura to the film, scientifically explaining legend and myth with an ease rarely seen. The subspecies mapping and categorization was great as well, giving them the ability to create and explore many different animals rather than limiting themselves to one or two. On that same note, they did a fantastic job with the cover-up angle as well, wiping away all reason to complain about why the general public is unaware of these behemoths existence.

   The film is set as a sort of impromptu documentary shot by students who follow our "trollhunter" under the assumption he is a poacher, and are then waist deep in a land they never even knew existed. And everyone plays their part immaculately.

   Now, there are a few minor details that may distract some who watch this film. I know there's a large group of people who aren't fans of the handheld camera films, and the trolls from time to time are obviously CGI, but for me those points became non-issues considering how great the rest of the film was. And personally I don't think this film would have been half as good as it was had it not been shot by handheld.

  Small amounts of blood coupled with the presence of CGI usually makes this guy a not so happy camper, but in the case of this film, I've got to give credit where credit is due. Definitely one of the best monster movies of the last ten years, maybe ever.

9/10 detached retinas
   

8/30/2011

The Violent Kind



    Outlaw bikers, greasers and buckets of blood? I'm thinking a good portion of the people I know and associate with will be fairly intrigued, if not in love with this one. And the plus side is, despite this movies obvious niche marketing it was well funded, and more importantly, well executed.

     Now it seems that this film was looking to cash in on the success that Sons of Anarchy has enjoyed over these last few years, but it does so in a way that's not annoying nor does it really rip anything off, plus by the end of the film you've forgotten, for the most part, that the main characters/victims were even bikers in the first place.

    The cast in this films acting skills ranged anywhere from "good enough" to "phenomenal" hero and villain alike. The greasers especially, their leader was a young Giovanni Ribisi look alike who completely stole the show with his 'giddy at the prospect of the earths violent demise' performance.
    As far as plots go, this one was a winner. Seemingly a possession flick at first, then turning into a captive torture flick....and finally ending with a bizarre turn of events that I'll just say had a certain Hitchcockian element to it. All elements that by themselves aren't all that original, but when successfully fused make for a really entertaining film.

   The Violent Kind doesn't disappoint as far as it's title goes either, bringing the blood and mutilation at every opportunity. And it's all quality stuff, exploded torsos, facial lacerations and the like all done as good as this reviewer could ask for.
    In closing, this is one of the more solid, in the classical horror sense, films I've seen in awhile. I'm thinking that everyone from the casual viewer to the hardcore fans will enjoy this one.


7/10 detached retinas

8/26/2011

Stake Land



  I could taste it, and it tasted so damn good! Right up until the end, this movie had me salivating with its near perfect blending of the post apocalyptic and vampire film genres. Reminding me a good deal of what a mixture of The Road and John Carpenters: Vampires might look like. But there were a few minor issues toward the end of this one that kept it off my all time list.

  Nick Damici plays the quietly charitable and heroic vamp slaying "Mister" and in doing so became one of my favorite post apocalyptic lead men to date. The rest of the cast pulled their weight as well, villains, monsters and survivors alike.

  The story here is well written and inventive, full of commentary on how humanity and religion could (and most likely will) play a large part in how things will unfold once society crumbles. Showing that not only do we need fear the "plague" itself (or whatever catalyst may bring about our end), but also we must fear those who believe that "plague" is their gods will. It made for some highly entertaining story lines and created a world outside of and around what the main characters were dealing with at any moment. At points you could almost forget about the vampires as they became almost a backdrop for the larger issues of human on human violence.

  The vampire make-up was well done, not amazing but welcome considering they looked more like animalistic vamp/zombies than a bunch of stylish pasty faced "dreamboats" for once. The violence was rather hit and miss featuring some great stuff mixed with some no-nos, namely a couple of scenes that had obviously computerized bloodspray, but all in all it was fairly solid stuff.

   The only real issue I had with this film was the break in consistency near the end in which one of the vampires suddenly has reasoning and speech capabilities whereas every other bloodsucker in the film is dumb as rocks and basically frenzied beyond any capabilities of anything resembling revenge. And the Bond villain-esque explanation given was pretty unconvincing.

    Despite the couple of small issues I had with this one, all things considered this was a damn good movie that I would suggest that everyone dedicate an hour and thirty eight minutes of their life to. Adventure, vampires, religious freaks and the apocalypse? duh......

7.5/10 detached retinas

8/23/2011

Hobo with a Shotgun



    I went into watching this film with what I at first thought were high expectations, come to find out I undershot the pure awesomeness that is this film by a wide margin. Every aspect of this movie was seemingly tailor made for the splatter/horror/grindhouse fan that I have become. From the Oscar worthy performance of Rutger Hauer (it's probably a good thing they don't let me vote for those awards), to the oil tanker loads of blood and guts, to the ridiculously spot on retro low budget eighties art direction, and it even included a score that Goblin would have been proud of.

    Rutger Hauer (Blind Fury, Blade Runner), to me, has always been an underrated part of the acting community, and his acting chops show brighter than ever with his portrayal of the endearing title character in this one. With movies like this it's easy to lose an audience's support amidst the all cheesy one liners and campy carnage required of these films. But Hauer brings this character to life with one of the most charismatic and sympathetic revenge movie performances I've seen almost ever. Nailing the homeless hero act with authority. And everyone else in this movie? They don't disappoint either. Everyone in this flick seemed to be on board with and well studied in the fine art of grindhouse picture success, knowing their roles and hitting their cues all in a way that made the cheese factor less of a cheese factor and more of a reality of their world. Also amazing are the "last straw" villains (you know...those dudes villians always call when they're outclassed by the forces they're up against ala Danny Trejo's knife throwing character in Desperado) or "The Plague" as they are called in this one.... a couple of robotic bounty hunter types that just dripped with B-Movie badassness.

   The story is simple: homeless man arrives in town, homeless man tries to blend in, homeless man is repulsed by the abhorrent acts being committed by citizens and police alike, homeless man gets shotgun and takes matters into his own hands. But there were more important parts to this script than just the basic outline. social messages that although subtle, couldn't be ignored....especially with where our country is (and is heading) these days.

    The violence in this film doesn't require a whole lot of introduction, Just know that there is alot of it and Troma films had better watch they're collective asses, because this movie may just have stolen from them the title of best violence in a B-Movie.

    While I realize I may be one of the only people who like this flick as much as I did, it remains to be said that everyone needs to see this film at least once. Cause you all know you're just gonna be curious until ya do!


10/10 detached retinas

8/22/2011

Sutures



   After watching this movie I realized that a lot of horror films could benefit from simplifying their story line, while I applaud writers for applying new ideas most of the time, there is a fine line between originality and just plain over doing it. This film fell into the latter category, with a "twist" filled ending that looked to tie up loose ends that no one could have possibly know existed, or much less even cared about.

   One recognizable face resided within this one, Jason London of Dazed and Confused fame (glad to see he's doing well.....) supported by a not horrible but far from good cast of unrecognizables. And like I earlier mentioned, the story was looking to overachieve and promptly failed. I feel like they should have just embraced their Hostel rip-off aspirations that shown through so glaringly rather than trying to shoot for a shock factor storyline.

    There is however a ton of violence in this film, and what it lacks in quality it makes up for in sheer volume. Mostly all surgery/torture based stuff with side dish of slasher as well, definitely a fun mix that gave this one a couple more ounces of watchability for me.

    Summarizing this one is kind of overkill at this point, I can't bring myself to tell anyone they should watch it, but the same holds true for the opposite. So, I guess ya'll are on your own.


5/10 detached retinas

8/09/2011

[REC] 2



    For those of you who haven't had the pleasure of watching the first film in this series, get out there and do it. It's a great rage style "zombie" flick with some originality and oomph, but beware if you are prone to motion sickness, it's a shaky camera ride from hell.

    And for those of you who have watched the first offering from these Spanish sickos, you are not going to want to miss the second installment. They didn't do away with the helmet/handheld camera element, but that (for once) is most of the basis for the amount of success this film had. The pure adrenaline coursing through this films veins escapes through the screen and gets into the viewers bloodstream.

    The story starts exactly where the last film left off, with a few tough-guy S.W.A.T. officers set to escort a "doctor" into the quarantined apartment building. From there all parties involved are quickly introduced to the fact that they and the rest of humanity are royally screwed if their mission is unsuccessful. The characters are all well played, bringing to the screen a great representation of situational awareness, going from manly military types to psychologically broken wrecks within minutes of realizing the gravity of the scenario.

    Also, this film features a plot twist not really (unless you are really paying close attention at the end) eluded to in the first film, the reason I put "zombies" in quotations earlier in this review. A departure from traditional fiend films that was both fresh and classic all at once. Lets just say religion plays a larger role in this offering than in the first film to avoid spoiler status.

    The violence and make-up in this flick were just as good and quite possibly even better in this film, featuring bloodspray on a scale that puts most genre films to shame. Masterfully executed are the attacks and general grisliness of this one.

    If I had to sum up this film in one word I would have to go with "whiplash" for the breakneck speeds it attains and the car wreck like shocks it portrays. This is one balls out badass horror movie!


8/10 detached retinas