Just your everyday classic tale of redemption, love, and demonic bounty hunters. But seriously, after you peel away the outer layer of low budget production and the annoying score, this movie really starts to shine.
Like I earlier mentioned, this movie has almost a "made for t.v." type production style, but don't let that turn you off, the story alone was more than enough for me to stay interested. It features a plot based around escaped occupants of Hell running from demonoid bail bondsmen, all the while our "on the lamb from hell" main character is multi-tasking his way towards an answer to the mystery of his missing girlfriend, of whom he happens to be accused of killing. Well acted, eh, I wouldn't quite go that far, but I will say that the dialogue is well written and the cast is endearing enough to make up for any miscues they might have. And the small bits of comedy tossed around for good measure don't hurt the film in the slightest.
Make-up effects are limited, with the "bounty hunters" just being grey faced humans with dark eye shadow, but the gore is good, despite most of it being played around a lot of slight of hand and angle playing to avoid any direct shots of the carnage, just bloody and simple. There is however a bit of CGI, but I'll give 'em a pass because they didn't lean on it too heavily throughout the film.
Now, I'm goona go out on a limb and say that probably somewhere around half of you that read this will like this movie, it's definitely not super accessible, but I liked it and I'm standing by it.
7/10 detached retinas
This movie is proving fairly hard for me to put a label on. I'm torn between it's low budget SyFy-esque exterior and it's semi ambitious plot. Those two things combined are a little confusing to me, but I will attempt to sort them out with the following.
Now the setting and the characters and acting and all of those sorts of "unimportant" things are all ranging anywhere from sub par to terrible . Its set in a mental institution- boring. The best actors (most well known anyway) in the movie are Tony Todd of Candyman, and James Marsters who played "Spike" on the legendary Buffy the Vampire Slayer series, and a few semi attractive females.....accomplished. And as far as the dialogue goes, pshaw, fugedabowtit. But the actual story goes into some interesting areas, centering around the removal of bad memories as a way of rehabilitation via a "mind wipe". Apparently at some point during one of said "mind wipes" something went wrong and the smoke monster from Lost was summoned and decided to try to disguise himself by wearing a mask and pretending to be a shadow and why the hell am I going on in this much detail.........?......... This movie was terrible! NEXT!!!
3/10 detached retinas
How I ever forgot I watched this movie will remain a mystery to me. Between the sadistic animal cruelty montage (all actual real life footage borrowed from PETA's archives) that opens the film and the mercilessly twisted and bloody pace that it keeps up through the films later half, I really can't figure out my oversight.
Uwe Boll wrote and directed this borderline masterpiece which came as quite a surprise to me considering his history of making terrible films i.e. House of the Dead, Alone in the Dark, Alone in the Dark II, BloodRayne, BloodRayne II: Deliverance, and In the Name of the King: A Dungeon Siege Tale......all, in my opinion, worthless films (and yes I am admitting I've seen all of them). Now this one is not all great, the script at times is asinine with cops getting offed in the most obviously avoidable ways, but I'm just gonna set most of that aside because as a whole this movie really does shine. Well acted for the most part, and well cast with some recognizable faces. The story is not in any way original, just that of a mindlessly sadistic killer doing his thing until he's caught and executed (not very well obviously) at which point he returns to wreak his vengeance upon his captors/executioner, with a decent little ending sequence that wont be making our villian too many friends. It's just the next level achieved by the some of the other elements of this film that make it a winner.
Now our villain in this one is fairly nondescript being a classic patchwork hood/mask wearing faceless monster of a man that we've all seen plenty before in slasher film after slasher film. The fear factor all boils down to the acts committed, headlined by a six plus minute scene in which he slowly caves in a woman's skull by taking multiple, just hard enough, swings at it with a small, blunt on one end, hatchet......ruthless scene that, even for me, was kind of hard to watch. The general gore is very well done and well placed throughout the film. There wasn't much to complain about at all where these things were concerned.
So, for you weak stomached "teen scream" horror movie fans out there I would say maybe avoid this one. But if you think you've got the stomach for it......watch it already, it is gruesomely awesome.
7/10 detached retinas
Yup, gaze upon the glory that is the "Shapeshifter" movie poster. If you haven't already figured out whether or not you want to watch it from that artistic masterpiece, well, I guess keep reading then.
This flick starts with blood and boobs flyin' around at a pace that set a nicely gore filled premise early, while it did slack off a little from there, it didn't disappoint from a gore fanatic standpoint. The monster however was not all that awesome turning out to be a kind of half hearted attempt at the Djinn from "Wishmaster" and the crated beast from "Creepshow" hybrid. He just ended up looking very suited up and a little wrinkly which is a major wrench in the workings of attempts at villian legitamacy as far as I'm concerned.
The story was kind of interesting set in a prison type environment, with russian gypsy mafia references and explanations for the presence of our shapeshifter. But when coupled with our crew of rejected from late night cinemax "actors" the story gets a little lost in bad one liners, inexplicable heavy breathing and terrible eastern european accents. It is humorous though, accidentally so, but still.
Now I would never tell you to go out of your way to see this silly little film, that being said, if you do happen to run across it with time to waste.......give it a shot. It's not terrible.
5/10 detached retinas
I sometimes wonder why and how some horror movies even get made, is it because they are a "gateway" movie for young directors to get their foot into the door and hopefully move on to bigger and "better" things, a.k.a. just another bullet point on the ol' resume? I ask this because of the general lack of pride and passion in a lot of this genres recent releases (especially within the American films). While some of these movies may do one or two things well, they can't help but feel a little rushed and dull.
This movie is pretty much just you same old cookie cutter crap for the first half or so, group goes on vacation in woods, group tells spooky story around campfire, story turns out to be real.....with one twist of which I only guessed half of before it was revealed. The characters at first are likeable while extremely token, and decently acted until the killing begins, at which time they all become as generic as the rest of this film.
Now this is where the lack of passion becomes most apparent, the violence. It is so frustratingly scant and minimalist that I almost started cursing aloud at the screen. I understand that not every horror movie has to be buckets of blood and guts, but if you aren't going to go in that direction you'd better have a damn cerebral mindf**k of a story to make up for it, which this movie in no way, shape or form does.
If your hearts not fully in it do us all a favor and let someone else who is into it take the reigns, believe me when I say the horror movie community will thank you.
4.5/10 detached retinas
Apparently New Zealand needs to re-up on its zombie research, considering "Braindead" (titled "Dead Alive" in the states) was given life there you'd think that would be all the template needed for them to make another great zombie experience.... you'd be wrong.
Early on in this one it seemed as if they were more concerned with making some sort of low budget music video than a zombie movie, with all sorts of overbearing and annoying music played over atrocious montages of not well thought out "zombie apocalypse" activities. At points it seems in this movie there isn't any sort of scourge going on at all, the electricity is all still working, the streets are sparklingly clean, no ransacked buildings or signs of your usual end of the world type struggles, and the zombies are rarely seen outside of their specifically tailored scenes. But its not all bad, there are bits of silly dialogue here and there that are laugh worthy, and the general camaraderie throughout is fun enough. The story is uninspired, but not bad, and I didn't mind the characters at all (while not loving them either).
Now here is where more problems arise, plenty of blood, almost no gore......it's a zombie movie, not good. Even when perfect opportunities for it arise, they are squandered with either a silly screen wipe or generally obscured by the zombie horde, frustrating. And the zombie make up is abysmal.....that is all I will say, just terrible.
Whatever, they can't all be winners.....
4.5/10 detached retinas
Classically delicious, from front to back this movie is good ol' slashing fun. Sometimes you've just got to keep it to the fundamentals to have success in the horror genre. There's nothing new here, and that is a good part of why I liked it.
I know I have seen this story somewhere before, I just can't place where..... Eh, who cares? It's a good enough story to see repeated. The cast is serviceable while not all that likeable, most everyone in this film had "kill me please" written all over them. And the main heroine/victim is a real c**t to boot....although she does start to come around by the end.....but then again, don't they all? One of the only beefs I did have was with the writing because of the lack of any explanation or back story for our killer, they do give you some clues but it is all so vague that it became a little frustrating by the end.
One of the most successful parts of this picture was the killer (thus why the disappointment over no back story) who is a sort of "toxic avenger" meets "The Lord of the Rings- Golem" type fella who screams like Dani Filth (Cradle of Filth) and pantomimes surgery, oh, and likes long walks in sewer tunnels along with rat raising and white wine (<maybe not...but who knows). The violence is decent, but a little short on the shock side, a lot of blood, just not a lot of "money shots".
All in all this ones a pretty successful effort by our buddies from across the pond (UK). I'd suggest it to most.
7/10 detached retinas
Tentacles, testicles and parasitic zombies OH MY! This movie has got it all, from accidental comedy to sexual organ removal to messages promoting the overuse of alcohol. It's been a long while since I have seen one of those horror movies that was so accidentally funny that it actually changed my opinion of the film halfway through. This film did just that.
Right from the start this movie reeks of generic, overused plots and creative inefficiency, but the acting and dialogue are so awkwardly bad and hilarious that it makes you forget or just not really care that you've seen this situation in movies so many times before. Haplessly misused ones liners and ridiculous logic executed by a stand out/drop out cast of the worst/best "actors" for their roles gave this movie life through self-parody. Not that this movie was really meant to be serious in the first place, but even their attempts at comedy are so far off base that they come all the way around to indirectly being funny again.
The violence and creature creation are a whole other story. They had good ideas here just not quite the budget to pull them off. Tentacled & virgin born face grabbing parasites, ballsack replacing/dwelling alien fetuses and brain leeches are some of the more entertaining efforts along with some run of the mill low end zombies. There's some decent low budget gore, autopsies and the like thrown around for good measure so the movie definitely doesn't disappoint on that end.
Wrapping this one up I realize it's not going to be everyones cup of tea, but if you're a longtime horror fan and don't mind a few laughs at the expense of others, by all means this movie is for you.
6/10 detached retinas
This movie was abysmally frustrating, and not just because it had David Caruso in it (he was surprisingly not half bad in it). It just never did or solved anything! Horror film that start out slow are sometimes some of the best either because they are making you feel something for the characters through their development or they just want that element of surprise when the shit actually hits the fan, but for that to work the shit must actually hit the fan at some point.
The story here is a basic tale of a man at his breaking point confronted by outside influences that push him over the edge, plenty of wind left in those sails, but this movie missed that boat entirely. There are bits and pieces of believable and semi-intriguing dialogue throughout the film, but most of it falls on deaf/bored ears after awhile because you are just waiting for them to actually do something. And when 4/5ths of the way in stuff actually does start going down, disappointment town is right there waiting around the bend. No gore, nothing gets shown, a small amount of blood is pooling here and there but there is nothing redemptive at all here on that end of things.
If you are going to attempt to make a psychological horror film without the use of very much violence you had better hope you have and intriguing plot to back it up, or else you're in for the same failures this movie endured.
3/10 detached retinas
It almost feels to me like I already reviewed this film considering the similarities it holds to fellow British horror movie "Severance". But there are subtle differences. Mainly the fact that this movie isn't a comedy at all, and the story revolves more around revenge driven retaliation than a bunch of random slayings by war sickened ex-military individuals (although the killer in this picture actually is ex-military).
The story is entertaining (albeit not all that original), that going along with the interesting characters, who happen to be a cutthroat group of youth prison inmates sent to a remote island to "learn a lesson" or something of the sort, gave me pause to stay tuned. For the most part it is a well acted affair, with good plot twists and unpredictable behavior keeping you guessing throughout.
But where this movie truly succeeds is with the violence(which also smells of "Severance") but is totally brutal and masterfully executed. Canine disembowelment, ultra violent beheadings, various dismemberment and stabbings.... the usual fodder just very well done.
So in going with the assumption you haven't seen "Severance" (which I found out actually came out in the U.K. within two weeks of this film) I would recommend this movie highly to a very wide audience, and if you have seen it....watch it anyways it's good.
7/10 detached retinas