Friday, 31 August 2012

From Dusk Till Dawn

"From Dusk Till Dawn" (1996, Robert Rodriguez, Quentin Tarantino, Dimension Films, A Band Apart, Los Hooligans) is a gore fest action/crime/comedy/horror from Rodriguez and Tarantino.

From the onset, the film appears to be about two criminal brothers who are on the run from the feds and police, and are also in the middle of a heist worth a lot of money if they can get to Mexico and meet their contact, Carlos.

The brothers are Seth Gecko (George Clooney), the smooth, arrogant and haughty 'leader' and his younger and more sinister brother, Richie Gecko (Quentin Tarantino), who is a volatile sex fiend, rapist, murderer and all 'round crazy person!

We meet the brothers as they attack a petrol station/liquor store clerk (John Hawkes) and his only customer, the local Ranger McGraw (Michael Parks) after Richie begins to feel a bit twitchy. I always remember this scene the best, as when I was younger I was particularly intrigued with the 'shot through the hand' bit. Gross!

They move on to a motel, leaving a mess in their wake, and extract the terrified bank cashier lady from their car trunk. And we get to find out just how crazy Richie really is!

Soon the guys need a ride, and some innocent looking 'friends' to help them get across the border, and so they kidnap an ex-minister, Jacob (Harvey Keitel) and his two children, adopted son Scott (Ernest Liu) and daughter Kate (Juliette Lewis). Jacob is having a crisis of faith after his wife died in tragic circumstances and has dragged his kids on the road with him in his motorhome...

After getting over the border, they head to a biker/trucker bar called 'The Titty Twister' which has a lurid and entertaining luminous sign, and wait there drinking 'whisky' (I'm Scottish, I can be snobby about what's whisky and what's not! Although, I drink bourbon myself...) while they wait on Carlos (Cheech Marin, who also plays quite a few parts in this film, I noticed!).

But this bar is not all that it seems, and there is a specific reason for it closing at dawn.... Everyone from the exotic dancers to the Machete dude (Danny Trejo) behind the bar are vampires... everyone except the clientelle, that is! When the feeding frenzy begins, our two murderous thieves, their kidnapped friends, a biker called Sex Machine (Cheech Marin again) and a Vietnam trucker called Frost (Fred Williamson) have to team together as best they can to try to survive.

Will anyone make it out? And when the hell will Carlos get there!?!

A tongue in cheek gorefest with some very 90s SFX and a lot of boobies. One of the sleaziest biker vampire movies on my shelf; it's just hilarious! And isn't it funny how vampire chicks suddenly get really ugly when they let their true nature show?

Danny Trejo makes an excellent vampire man in his little leather... whatever that was mean't to be! A vest? A tunic? Heck knows!

Clooney makes an excellent bad guy in this film, being both threatening and also likeable in that charismatic dickhead kind of a way.

Tarantino is terrifying as the psychotic rapist brother. He's a scary dude! I would not cross him!

Lots of body parts fly, there's a corpse guitar and a shed-load of corny, tongue in cheek violence (to go along with the truly Tarantino-esque beginning scene). Really, the vampires are entertaining and sure get an impressive kill scene, but damn it the humans are way scarier!

I'm sure this film has some kind of message, but all it says to me is that no matter how much of a jackass you are, vampires will eat you...? Oh, and rock music is awesome. And snakes are cool. Yep, deep film...

[Picture: Dimension Films &]

Thursday, 30 August 2012

The Fog (1980)

"The Fog" (1980, John Carpenter, AVCO Embassy Pictures) is the original and best version of the eerie seaside tale of vengeance, pirates and ghosts.

The plot is simple, there's a small fishing town called Antonio Bay which is celebrating it's 100 year anniversary. On the eve of the anniversary, however, a bad fog rolls in and a lot of unusual disturbances begin to happen across the whole town, some of which prove fatal. Ignoring these signs, the townspeople continue to prepare for their Centennial.

The strange glowing fog returns, and it soon comes to key members of the town's attention that "Something is in the fog!"

A good example of some of John Carpenter's work such as the original "Halloween" and "The Thing", the jumps are infrequent and well paced, always catching you when you're least execting them. There is next to no gore in this film, mostly Carpenter gives you an idea of what's happening and your mind does the rest! I really appreciate this in some films, and find it both classic and exciting as my mind always outdoes most horror film in grossness anyway!

The key townspeople are against the clock to try to stop the fog and its deadly contents. But when digging into the town's history to try to apease it, they might not like what they find out!

Although dated by the film quality and clothes of the day, this film is still a great experience and can still grab your attention when it needs to!

The ghosts are damned polite, knocking before killing you; how considerate!!! And Jamie Lee Curtis gets very friendly with an older man, Tom Atkins. Adrienne Barbeau also showcases her sexy radio voice.

Highly recommend!

[Picture: AVCO Embassy Pictures]

Tuesday, 28 August 2012

Witchfinder General

"Witchfinder General" (1968, Tigon British-American International, Michael Reeves) is a British witch trials-centred horror starring the horror master, Vincent Price.

Price plays The Witchfinder, Matthew Hopkins (an actual man in British History, who was responsible for many atrocities in his time, but wasn't sanctioned by the government or church, unlike this tale).

The year is 1645, the time of The English Civil War, and law and order are virtually non-existent. Belief in witches is rife, and the scapegoating of women for everyday ills and unfair treatment is commonplace. Hopkins spends his life travelling the length and breadth of the country 'hunting', torturing and exacting justice on 'witches' with his team of followers.

Vincent Price is terrifying in this film, even by today's standards. Hopkins is insane, determined, evil minded and has the power of 'god' behind him... The church of the day supported this kind of behaviour, so no one was safe.

A lot of screaming goes on in this film. A lot. It's virtually a screamfest. I had to turn it down to avoid annoying my neighbours!

Despite there being pretty much no gore at all, the tense, suspicious feeling this film creates is tangible. There are also some hanging scenes which are disturbing in their simplicity.

Being a later film of this type, they felt the need to bring in some boob shots and a lot of shots of the whoring and activities of the menfolk. And we all know the priest's neice is in for some trouble after her pre-marital sexcapades with her betrothed! Also there's some rape. Thankfully off camera, but rape nonetheless.

Hopkins rolls into town to accuse the Priest of being in league with Satan (and all his little wizards if you watch 'Blackadder'). His neice is distraught and bargains for his safety with her virtue (little does Matthew know she's not actually a virgin...). When her soldier fiancé finds out, he races back to save the day!

As I mentioned, a lot of screaming and hangings (and other real witch finding tortures; pricking with needles, dooking in water, the ladder over fire....). There's little gore, but some very red blood. The story is simple and effective (I have never read the novel, so can't comment on trueness to plot) and as I mentioned, Price is an excellent villain in this piece! Even his own men hate him!

A surprisingly brutal film, with some remarkably true points on witch hunting in Britain in this era, as well as a good yarn. Oh, and no actual witches. This isn't a supernatural film!

[Picture: Tigon British-American International]

Monday, 27 August 2012

Sorority Row (2009)

"Sorority Row" (2009, Stewart Hendler, E1 Entertainment, Summit Entertainment) is the misguided remake of the 1983 teen slasher, "The House on Sorority Row" (Mark Rosman).

The 2009 version follows the plot of the original in some ways:
  • Graduating sorority girls (I always thought it was spelled 'sorrority'! But, there you go!)
  • Girls want a party
  • House mother says no
  • Prank goes wrong
  • Oops someone's dead!
  • Can't spoil the party!!!
  • I know, we'll hide the body!
  • Oh crap, someone (or something) is taking it's revenge on us!
  • Aaaah!
  • Brutal death scenes...
Other than that, rip it up. This film is just an excuse to get a bunch of bitchy, scantily clad beauties to cavhort around and make smart ass remarks. Oh, and there's some drugs and some sleeping with older men, too. I'm not saying the '83 version is the best film ever, far from it, but it was a classier production.... And it was the low-budget teen trash horror of its day!

In this version, the girls accidentally kill someone (different 'someone' to the original, which I liked actually as I wasn't expecting that!) and hide the body. And the whole thing is started by one of the girls finding out that their boyfriend has been cheating on her. Also, the new weapon is a pimped-out tyre arm, not a pimped-out walking stick...

Unlike the original, not much effort is put into making the killer very creepy... And other than the effective use of modern special effects and gore, the film generally falls a bit flat and sticks mainly in the realms already well trodden by much more worthy pieces, e.g. "I Know What You Did Last Summer" and also, of course, The Scream flicks...

With an obvious and badly revealed twist, or two... the film doesn't give me the creeps, more like the sleeps.

Poor Carrie Fisher (my dad's ideal pin-up girl back in the 70s & 80s, and he's not even a 'Star Wars' fan!), played the only likeable character in the whole film! Which is unsurprising, considering her excellent career... how she ended up this misadventure is a complete guess!

Probably a hit with the younger horror audience of say, young teens, this film is best avoided unless you're:
a) a dude looking for some pretty girls to oogle or
b) you're a teenager looking for some gorey, slasher fun and don't have a copy of "Halloween", "Friday the 13th" or "The Texas Chainsaw Massacre" handy...

Not a hit with me, I'm afraid.

[Picture: E1 Entertainment, Summit Entertainment]

Sunday, 26 August 2012

Lake Placid

"Lake Placid" (1999, Steve Miner, Phoenix Pictures, 20th Century Fox) is an American monster movie with a monster which is more believable than the likes of King Kong or Godzilla. I think that's one of the things that makes the idea of this film scary. But maybe not the film itself.

The start of this film is nicely gory, and if you don't know what you're going into it's a good shock. Of course, not that many people would go into this film without knowing that it's about the 30-foot man-eating crocodile that time forgot but... imagine you didn't.

After the death of a police officer in the lake and the witness of the attack by the local game and fish officer, Jack Wells (Bill Pullman), a team is assembled to find out what is in the lake and to get rid of it.

Finding a tooth in the body of the officer which appears to be prehistoric, they send for a specialist from the Natural History Museum. The museum sends Paleontologist, Kelly Scott (Bridget Fonda), who has recently been dumped by her cheating lover and boss...

A typical film of this kind, the team don't get on and there are many disputes between the cops, wildlife officers and Kelly. Then they are joined by an eccentric crocodile expert, Hector Cyr (Oliver Platt), who is adamant that that is what the creature is. What d'ya know? He's right!

Betty White gives an enjoyably creepy performance as sweet little old Delores Bickerman, a crazy lady living on the lake who has a supremely nasty side, and takes being an animal person to a whole new level...!

Pretty much, this film is "Jaws" in a lake. The water scenes are tense, the special effects are good for the 90s, the acting is satisfying, there's a small twist or two and the scenes are mildly funny. I can't fault this film because it serves exactly what it aims to; a monster film about a gigantic man-eater in a lake and a rather dysfunctional group of people sent to sort it out. Whether it's mean't to be satirical of 'nature-bites-back' films or not, is really up to the viewer.

Oh and a cow gets flying lessons... Anyone who wants anything more should really go watch another film!

[Picture: 20th Century Fox]

Thursday, 23 August 2012

Wasting Away

"Wasting Away" aka "Aaah! Zombies!!" (2007, K5 International, Wasted Pictures, Matthew Kohnen).

Continuing with the theme of unusual zombie films for tonight's viewing, I treated myself to a re-watch of the excellent zombie comedy, "Wasting Away".

A group of four friends, Mike (Matthew Davis), Cindy (Betsy Beutler), Tim (Michael Grant Terry) and Vanessa (Julianna Robinson), are hanging out in the closed bowling alley where Mike works talking about their futures and doing typical young-person-in-the-movies kinds of things, when they realise that the fresh beer kegs have arrived!

Being a creative eater, Tim decides to pour some of the beer into the ice cream machine to make what he christens 'alecream'. Unfortunately for them, the beer and icecream have been sitting outside and have been accidentally laced with the government/army's new 'super-soldier serum' which had turned out to be a failed experiment which had been en route to the ocean to be dumped, when a tenacious 'super-soldier' knocked it off course, causing it to crash nearby (hence the spillage into the alley's supplies).

Dismissing the luminous green colour of the 'alecream', the gang tuck in merrily. Feeling suddenly quite ill, they try to find help but discover that other people either run away or attack them, and also now they appear to be super strong and unkillable!

They bump into the 'super soldier' who caused the truck to crash. His name is Corporal Nick Steele (Colby French). He explains to the concerned youngsters that they are in fact 'super soldiers', like him. And they accept this.

Unbeknownst to our 'heroes' they are infact the shambling undead. But they take a while to catch onto this despite Tim finding a love of a new delicacy...human brains...

The film is easy to follow: when it's black and white, it's reality and you can see the teens for the undead creatures that they are. When it's colour, it's from the zombie perspective, and they believe that everyone else is infected with some kind of sped-up craziness.

Tim takes it upon himself to be the zombie messiah and to lead the zombies to their new 'home'.

A hilarious take on the genre with some enjoyable performances from the main actors as both 'super soldiers' and zombies. And a perfect amount of comedy gore and slime!

This movie really covers all the areas: romance, action, brain eating, self discovery, government experiments, loneliness, growing up... and of course, the all important lesson - being completely rat-arsed allows you to converse with zombies normally!!!!

A really fun film which is both humorous and self-aware. I especially liked the way they showed you how the zombies see something and then how it really is, for example when Steele is 'stealthily sneaking' about when in reality he's clumsily falling around. And be prepared for some overzealous gross-out zombie snogging!

A very imaginative and modern film which even the biggest hater of zombie movies is bound to smile at!

And the ultimate question: will those crazy kids ever get together and live *cough* sorry, 'unlive' happily ever after?!
[Picture: Wasted Pictures]
"Must be *zombie* Love, Love, Love. Da, da!"


Tuesday, 21 August 2012


"Colin" (2008, Marc Price, Nowhere Fast Film Production, Kaleidoscope Entertainment) is the  British zombie movie famously filmed for the grand total of £45! Whether I truly believe that to be the total cost of the film or not, is besides the question. The real thing is, is it any good?

The film follows the last few moments of life, death and zombie rebirth of Colin (Alastair Kirton); a young man in English suburbia. We begin with Colin entering his home, bleeding. He calls for his flatmate, Damien (Leigh Crocombe who also did the special effects), who appears to not be home, and then tends to his wounds. Then, enter Damien, now a zombie, and begin a kitchen battle!

Whether he kills Damien or not doesn't matter, as Colin has already been infected. I like that this film doesn't give any explanation of the zombies, very reminiscent of Romero's masterpiece; "Night of the Living Dead". They're just there. And Colin's doomed. And that's that!

We witness Colin's 'slow' and agonising (note, it gives the impression of being slow, in real time he turns into a zombie within the first 10 mins!) transition into death and then zombiehood.

This is a film which featured, and did very well, at the Cannes Film festival. Ergo, it's arty. So we get a lot of creative shots: through wine bottles, from odd angles, with cool effects added...

We then follow Colin the zombie on his little discovery tour of his local area. Colin is quite a smart zombie, as zombies go. He can open doors, recognises some things and seems vaguely coherent. Kirton plays the character very convincingly, and almost slightly autistic, giving me the impression that he has studied more that simply other zombie movies to create his character. Colin seems to learn and move onwards, giving the impression that in his own stumbling, aimless sort of way, he is infact heading somewhere.

Colin soon learns that people are tasty, but he doesn't attack them outright, being more generally a scavenger.

Many things happen to poor Colin as he stumbles through the streets:
  • He's mugged for his shoes (who the hell wants zombie trainers?!)
  • He's found and saved by his sister, whom he then bites... Lovely!
  • He eats a guy's face!
  • He stumbles across an amateur film maker... or what's left of him....
  • He finds a zombie party
  • He's hunted... Captured.... Locked up.... Escapes...
  • He even finds himself stuck in a basement at one point
  • He chases after a girl that apparently reminds him of his girlfriend
  • He also appreciates himself a good tune by stealing some poor sod's mp3 player after eating him!
Colin's an active guy!

With such a low budget, I was impressed with some of the effects. Using old fashioned techniques and prosthetics (which I love by the way!) Price has created a wonderful, artsy, gritty and poignant piece which is groundbreaking in its own way, as well as a great homage to the genre.

Some truly scary scenes are in this flick. A basement full of blinded, tortured zombies being one of my favourites. And a house party gone so wrong!

Constant firework-like explosions go on in the background, along with alarms, screaming and general zombie noises. Price really put his all into the little things; from the disgusting, cracking of freshly dead fingers during reanimation, to the wet, sickening sound of broken bones.

Some fairly adventurous gore scenes and clever editing can let you almost completely forget how low-budget this film is! From the ripping out of spines to the breaking of teeth, these guys have really filled this film with those fantastic squirmy moments everyone used to enjoy before films like "Saw" and "Hostel" deadened us all!

Colin slowly becomes more decomposed and slow-witted. Here Kirton really excels at manipulating his body, and adds a feeling of pain to the zombie. The film is both moving and sinister, with a tense almost white-noise feeling that keeps you watching the background for more threats (at first you're looking for zombies, and then I swear you join Colin's team and start looking for human threats!).

Clever placement of newspapers, flashbacks and very minimal dialogue keep you up to date on what's been going on without ever having to explain what's going on (a common error in the B-Movie realm).

Colin eventually leads us back to where his adventure began, giving us an insight into how his own personal story started.

By the end, you're thinking the humans are more monstrous than the zombies with their brutal attack squads and culling of the bitten. Although I did like the dude who had resigned to his fate and was just getting trashed on as much Bucky -that's Buckfast for those who don't know- as he could before he died! Classy!

Although slow progressing, this film isn't boring and really brings a new aspect to a genre which is just chalk full of samey films. Very well done guys!

A surprisingly adventurous and engaging film which relies less on words and more on scene progression. Definitely worth your time!

[Picture: Nowhere Fast Film Production & Kaleidoscope Entertainment]


Monday, 20 August 2012

The Vault of Horror

"The Vault of Horror" (1973, Roy Ward Baker, Amicus Productions, 20th Century Fox) is a British horror anthology made after "Tales From The Crypt" but before "Creepshow" and based on the horror EC Comics. The cast were all famous names from the day.

The main story follows five men entering an office building in London and one by one entering a lift (or 'elevator' for all you non-British types). The lift quickly passes all of the floors the men had previously selected, and takes them instead to a sub-basement level.

The men enter this strange floor to find a table set with beverages and chairs, and also that the lift has no call button, meaning that they cannot now leave.

Being Englishmen, they decide to make the most of it and sit at the table to enjoy some free alcohol. Good on them, I say!

Being in a somewhat odd situation at the moment, their conversation soon comes to an odd theme: recurring nightmares. Each man describes his own hellish nightmare, each resulting in that man's death. They tell each one in great detail, and state how real the dream always is.

There are five stories, one for each man.

Midnight Mess
Harold Rogers (Daniel Massey - best known for being in "Roads to Freedom") kills his sister Donna (played by Daniel's realife sister, Anna Massey - best known for being in "Hotel du Lac") in cold blood in order to claim her inheritance. He then goes for spot of dinner in a local restaurant. Unfortunately for him, Donna's not the girl she was and this particular restaurant would rather serve him for dinner, than serve him dinner...

A nice little tale to start up the stories. A few nice touches such as the hilarious tap for blood letting. Story let down by terrible vampire fangs!

The Neat Job
Arthur (Thomas Terry Hoar-Stevens aka Terry-Thomas - best known for his many roles as the typical toffee-nosed Cad in British film, but I personally recognise him from "Those Magnificent Men in Their Flying Machines" and "Munster, go home!") is a neat freak. His poor wife Eleanor (Glynis Johns - fondly known as the mother in "Mary Poppins"), a young wife who is not a neat freak, has a terrible time putting up with his constant nagging and increasingly violent (by the day's standards) outbursts. She eventually can't stand anymore....

Excellent build up, I knew what was coming, but I loved every minute of it! Eleanor's tears were very believable, and I loved the neatly labelled jars and elongated maniacal laughter!

This Trick'll Kill You
Sebastian (Curd Jürgens - "The Spy Who Loved Me") is a magician/illusionist on holiday with his magician's assistant wife, Inez (Dawn Addams - "The Moon is Blue") in India. After publically humiliating a local illusionist in front of his audience, Sebastian is later intrigued by the illusionist's assistant who is a rope charmer. When she will not sell him the trick, he talks her into coming to his hotel room to show his 'sick' wife. He then kills the girl and tries to charm the rope. Unfortunately for him, the rope has a mind of its own and has taken a severe dislike to him!

A good, well paced short with some impressive scenes of the rope moving on its own. The scenes where it attacks Sebastian are not great, but this is the 70s!

Bargain in Death
A man, Maitland (Michael Craig), is seen awakening in his coffin. He slowly begins to remember how this situation occurred. Safe to say he's made a grave (get it?) error in trusting his pal Alex (Edward Judd)... Things turn for the worse when two young medical students turn up with a grave robber to steal Maitland's corpse!

Really good. The scenes inside the coffin are excellent and the ending is worth a smile!

Drawn and Quartered
Moore (Tom Baker - known to most people as Doctor Who - the 4th Doctor) is a struggling artist in Haiti. He learns from an acquaintance that his paintings which he had sold for virtually nothing to a London art dealer after terrible reviews and rejections, are now being sold for a lot of money! Furious when he learns that he has been cheated by the art world, he visits a local Voodoo Priest and asks for a way to pay them back for the wrongs they have done to him. His wish is granted, but he should be more careful how he uses it and what he paints in future.

An excellent story which takes voodoo out of the zombie territory and into a more "Dorian Grey"-esque realm. There's even some lovely gore, but remember it's a 70s British horror, this ain't no "Driller Killer"! Don't expect too much blood.
Very well paced and my favourite of the lot, not just because Tom Baker is a legend!

The film ends with a nice twist, where the lift doors open to reveal a graveyard, and we learn of the men's true fate and their reason for meeting.

Nicely haunting and well laid out, this film encompasses everything that horror comics did/do. I recommend!

[Picture: 20th Century Fox]


Friday, 17 August 2012

Troll Hunter

"Troll Hunter" (2010, André Øvredal, Filmkameratene A/S, Film Fund FUZZ) is a Norwegian fantasy film with some horror elements. It is the story of some, now "missing", University students who are filming for a project. The film is comprised of their film footage.

They believe that they are on the trail of a bear poacher who is killing rampaging bears all over Norway. What they soon find is that they are on the trail of the one and only Troll Hunter who is hunting rampaging trolls all over Norway, killing them and then planting bear carcasses so as not to let the general public know that trolls exist.

I've been to Norway before. It's beautiful, I highly recommend a visit. I went up in a funicular to the Troll visitor centre. Trolls are a native story to the region, and are present in many Norwegian folk tales. At the visitor centre there is a giant stone Troll, fabled to be the remains of a real creature, who was caught in sunlight.

In this film only the eldest trolls will turn to stone when in sunlight....or faced with UV tanning lights, apparently. The younger ones explode! This leads to a lot of exploding troll scenes, which I'm appreciative of!

The film brings in a level of realism which, if you allow yourself to be sucked into it, can keep you in a state of suspended acceptance. They explain why trolls react and die in sunlight/UV light, they explain troll habits, they describe and show many race of troll, and advise on troll protection. They mark out territories and describe behaviour...

The teen film crew are made up of Thomas (Glenn Erland Tosterud), who is the group leader and presenter of the video, Johanna (Johanna Mørck) who is the sound girl and wears some very snazzy hats and camera man Kalle (Tomas Alf Larsen), and then later camera woman Malica (Urmila Berg-Domaas).

The film is completely displayed as 'found footage', but manages to be watchable and clear, unlike 'The Blair Witch Project'. The characters are very realistic and the banter between them is reminiscent of most Uni project groups I've worked in as a Design student.

They begin by interviewing legal bear hunters, who are up in arms about the dead bears, accusing the mysterious man, Hans (Otto Jespersen, who is a Norwegian comedian, I believe), of poaching. Then the team decide to begin following Hans and his grubby caravan full of smelly oddities. At first he is dismissive, angry and avoids the teens, but he eventually allows them to film him and join him on his hunt.

Hans explains that he is miserable, sick of his job and disenchanted with the whole thing. He has been asked to kill all trolls, no longer just ones which are out of control or out of their designated territory.

The film is creative and funny with some tense moments, improved beyond a doubt by the filming technique.

Trolls can smell Christianity, apparently. I muse that as Norway is a predominantly Christian country, the trolls were hunted mainly by Christians, maybe? And as a defense, have learned to smell them out. My friend and I had just begun discussing whether it was strictly Christianity, or a general belief in God (i.e., would a Muslim or Jewish person also be at risk from Troll attack) when the film handed us the answer! Oh ironic timing :) However, maybe trolls were just simply meant to be evil and so could smell 'good'? I'm not sure. In this version, the trolls just appear to be unusual but natural creatures, of no high level thoughts whatsoever.

"Troll Hunter" is both lighthearted, and a comment on wildlife conservation. The 'Troll Security Service' or TSS, is the secret department in charge of keeping trolls under control.

The action is good, there is little gore (except for explosive trolls) and most of the scary bits are strictly tension. The special effects are good, too. The trolls do look like realistic creatures, and blend into the landscape nicely. And they all have the distinctive comically large noses seen in old fairy tale books.

We watched "Troll Hunter" in Norwegian with subtitles, if you're a bit unadventurous I suppose it wouldn't take much away watching it dubbed over, but I like to see it in its native tongue.

Some twists are present in the plot, but my favourite one had you expecting a 'zombie' style bite-related disaster!

Not technically a horror, but jumpy when it needs to be and very awesome all round.

[Picture: Filmkameratene A/S]


Wednesday, 15 August 2012

Jeepers Creepers

"Jeepers Creepers" (2001, United Artists, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, Victor Salva) is a modern monster movie and the first in the ever faltering series of "Jeepers Creepers"-es.

Set in the countryside of Florida, two twins, Trish (Gina Philips) and Darry (Justin Long), are on their way home for spring break from college. May I point out now that Trish is driving a Chevy Impala, made famous in my eyes as Dean's car in "Supernatural"!!! Ok, sorry, geeking over.

During this long and boring trip, they spot someone throwing some suspiciously bloodstained-looking, body-shaped sheets down a tube... Then they are almost suddenly run off the road by the suspicious figure in his digusting old rusty truck (also a Chevrolet) with a cryptic number plate: "BEATNU". Which could either be 'Beating You' or 'Be Eating You'. You decide.

The twins are shaken and annoyed, but recover and return to their journey. But Darry soon convinces his sister that they should go back and investigate where the 'body' was being dumped, now that the trucker has driven off. You know, in case someone needs help or a morgue or something... So they return to where they saw the Creeper with the sheet.

They investigate, the Creeper returns in his rattling old banger, and they flee. But they just can't seem to shake him off. Can they survive the time the Creeper has left in which he has to feast?

There's also a psychic lady, Jezelle (Patricia Belcher), who is an interesting  and creepy character but is clumsily laced into the plot, I always think...

A good 'show you little' kind of flick for the most part. The Creeper is creepy as hell. His long coat, big hat and lack of much else visible really keeps the tension up. The fact he cannot be killed while it's still within the alloted 23 days of the 23rd spring allows for excellent carnage scenes. And his disgusting regenerations are both graphic and hidden enough to get your imagination in gear.

The twins are capable characters who manage not to annoy the hell out of me, and both Philips and Long have good 'Holy shit' faces!

The death scenes are gross and there's a fair few bits of dark screened tension scenes with a good jump here or there. This film has 'future classic' written all over it. It makes "I Know What You Did Last Summer" look like "Sabrina the Teenage Witch" in the world of 90s and early 00s teeny horror. The major flaw in this film? Showing too much! Why did they do it?

Now, I'm a prosthetics and props lover. And I love monster movie costumes. I'm the kind of person who puts pictures up of famous classic monsters in my livingroom and collects books on the subject. Yes, I truly am that sad! But showing the monster stopped him being so damn creepy and just made him look like a cross between Predator's little cousin and the Fear Demon from 'Buffy The Vampire Slayer' (but not so tiny).

If you've ever watched "The Midnight Meat Train" you may feel that some direct comparisons can be made between both this film and that one. A really disappointing few scenes where they over-share can ruin an otherwise excellent monster movie. Unless the film happens to be "The Wolfman" (1941), "The Creature from The Black Lagoon" or a "Hellraiser" kind of film.

Some effort is made to claw back the creepiness with the end scenes though, and for some part it does succeed.

Much, much better than the second film which just flat out forgot how to use mystique to its advantage. Worth 87 minutes of your time.

I hear "Jeepers Creepers 3" is on its way sometime next year. Can't say I'm too excited, but I'm always up for a sequel to a film I like, even if it promises more cheese than a readymeal macaroni!

[Picture: United Artists]


Sunday, 12 August 2012


"Rubber" (2010, Quentin Dupieux, UFO Distribution) is a French film. In essence and appearance, the film is about Robert, a car tyre who becomes sentient and begins rolling along destroying things and people in its wake with its psychokinetic powers.

In reality, the film is a clever, but none too subtle, comment on modern film making, modern audiences and the industry as a whole.

Put it this way, everyone who's ever watched this movie, has went in to see a living, lunatic car tyre kill people. And Dupieux has successfully made every single person instead watch his comments on life and film. If that doesn't make you respect the man, nothing will!

It is based in the American desert where a group of strangers are gathered to watch the events of the film in real time. We are meant to just accept that they can see everything as clearly as we, through their binoculars. And you will accept that fact, and that's the point.

A long and dead-pan introduction from Lieutenant Chad (Stephen Spinella) pretty much summarises this film's point. He explains that every film has something happen in it for "no reason" and that life contains infinite elements of "no reason". And for that reason, audiences will accept absurd things happening for "no reason". His very arrival to the scene already proves this fact (watch it, it's weird) as does the binoculars as stated above.

I won't give too much away, but don't be put off by this film's interesting story telling technique. It's very quiet and slow paced, but is not a long movie, so the pace only feels slow. The film is intriguing and there's some good gore.

Also, Robert the tyre finds a love interest in the form of Sheila (Roxane Mesquida), an odd young French woman travelling across America in her snazzy red convertible. Although, being a psychopath, Robert instead decides to stalk her while he kills everyone else.

What I think Dupieux is saying in this film is that modern movies, and especially B-movies, try too hard to be 'out there'. The very end scene of this as we roll towards Hollywood not only sets up a possible sequel (something almost every film does these days) but also gives us the impression that Robert is taking his anger to the home of film.

The entire movie was filmed with digital camera, and all of the special effects were the good old fashioned kind; remote control, puppeteering, fake blood, explosions, clever filming techniques and editing.

I enjoyed the randomness of this film and the sheer WTF moments. This film will intrigue and confuse you and on some basic level you will 'get it'. I think what I like about "Rubber", other than all the exploding heads and random events, is that you can really take out of this film whatever you want! If you want to go away thinking it was a deep message about society accepting whatever's put in front of them, you can. If you want to go away thinking it's about a psychopathic tyre, you can! And if you want to go away thinking it was a meaningful message about men in wheelchairs having some kind of second stomach, then you can indeed do that!

A strange and entertaining film. The actors gave a convincing performance as either confused or confusing characters. The bland and sparse setting also really added to the feel of the film.

I loved the reference to 'pirating films' and also the brilliant scene with the maid finding the tyre in the shower; an excellent homage to every bathroom-centred horror ever.

Also, when Robert is learning how to roll, the bottle of water he crushes is a brand I actually recognise (I feel special because you don't often get things like that happen in movies filmed in America, when you're British).

Not an obvious comedy, this film could be seen as an arty kind of movie. But the sheer volume in which my friend and I errupted into laughter at the clever and random scenes, is a comment on how masterful this seemingly simple, very absurd and extremely deadpan film really is. So many different levels to watch, this film doesn't just knock on the fourth wall, it batters it down and jumps into your livingroom!

A film within a film within a film. Something any Grindhouse fan would enjoy, too. Totally worth £1.50 on Amazon!

[Picture: UFO Distribution]


Kickstarter project for "The Selling"

Not a film review I know, but I will be posting one today after I've watched one! Promise!

I just backed my first Kickstarter project: "The Selling". To help it get a proper release!

It's an indie film about a guy trying to sell a haunted house. It looked entertaining and right up my street :)

Also, they used snippets of Vincent Price from the opening scene of "The House on Haunted Hill" (1959) in their advert :) A bit of Mr. Price will always get me on your side!

To watch the video and also back the project, please go to this link:

Also, Howard (Simon Helberg) in "The Big Bang Theory" and Harry Groener (The Mayor from "Buffy the Vampire Slayer") and Brad Majors from "The Rocky Horror Picture Show" (Barry Bostwick)  have cameos in it!!! Now would all of the awesome people back a bad project? I think not!


Saturday, 11 August 2012


"Seven" or "Se7en" (1995, David Fincher, New Line Cinema) is a modern detective story about a methodic serial killer who carefully kills his victims in vicious and inventive ways to depict their own personal 'Deadly Sin'.

Now, I presume I don't have to list the 7 deadly sins for you, but just in case and for consistency: gluttony, greed, sloth, wrath, pride, lust and envy.

Detective David Mills (Brad Pitt) has recently transferred to a city in America (it doesn't say which, but wherever it is, it rains more than Glasgow!) to work with, and then replace, the retiring and jaded Detective William Somerset (Morgan Freeman). The city is depressing, suffering from urban decay, social decay and general unhappiness. There's a lot of violent crime, homelessness and drugs. Even the flat which Mills and his wife Tracey (Gwyneth Paltrow) - and their two dogs - have moved into is depressing. The camera lens has a brownish hue which captures the decaying essence of the place. Plus, they live above the subway so every 10 or so minutes, *rattle, shake, rattle*.

Mills and Somerset are brought into the unusual death of a morbidly obese man, who has been sadistically forced to feed himself until he died. This scene is dark and creepy. The body in the dingy apartment and the sheer neglect of everything is very sad. There is the word 'Gluttony' written in grease behind the fridge. This is where the discovery of the murders begins, but for John Doe (Kevin Spacey); our friendly neighbourhood psychopath acting out 'god's will' in his masterpiece of gruesome and horrific 'justice'; the wheels were set in motion long ago. It becomes apparent early into the detectives' investigation that Doe is letting them find the murders when he is ready. He basically points them in the direction once he's finished. He is methodical, disturbed and determined. Everything that is scary about psychopaths.

The deaths build up day upon day, with some alarming scenes. The bodies are gruesome and lots is shown without showing much, if you understand my meaning. The scenes are haunting because the camera work shows some gorey close ups in flashes, giving you the jist of the scene, before coming back to the investigation. It's very artfully done, and keeps you watching.

Each death is related to the sin the victim was most guilty of, the cruel but beautiful woman who chose death over being disfigured, the greedy lawyer who had to give up a literal 'pound of flesh'... and so on.

The film is very dark, and very quiet. Pitt's character begins as the keen, bright-eyed detective, fresh on the scene and ready to fight for justice. Mills is an uncomfortable man, in a new location with new colleagues. His wife is lonely and unhappy. His career is not what he thought it would be. His attempts to win over his new partner are fruitless, and he is easily affected by the murders and the injustice of the whole situation. By the end of the film, he is not the same man.

Somerset has already been jaded by life and working in the city. His hope for humanity is gone, and he hates that about himself. He is ready to retire, but has nothing left to live for; no family, no love life, no happy thoughts (no fairy dust...). He is a 'straight to the point' man, and knows his job well. Freeman plays the character as both disappointed in life, and yet still hanging on in there for something good to happen. You can see that he's still trying to keep a hold of some hope for humanity.

The killer, John Doe (excellently and accurately portrayed by Spacey) finally gives himself up to the cops, but is this just all part of his plan?

An intelligent film with enough gore to please and some good one-liners from Pitt "Excuse me, sir, but do you happen to be a serial killer?".

The end scenes can be a bit of a shock for those not expecting the twist, I remember being completely dismayed as a teenager when I saw this film for the first time! Not completely a horror film, but a good film worth watching.

Oh, and look out for Dr. Cox from "Scrubs" (John C. McGinley) playing a recurring minor character!

[Image: New Line Cinema]


Wednesday, 8 August 2012

Tucker and Dale Vs Evil

"Tucker and Dale Vs Evil" (2010, Eli Craig, Eden Rock Media, Magnolia Pictures) is a hilarious horror comedy which takes on the typical 'some-kids-go-to-a-cabin-and-are-killed-gruesomely-by-a-(insert scary thing here)' story and turns it on its bloody congealed head!

Of course the plot starts in the same way that all 'cabins in woods' stories start; see there's these college kids, and they're on their way for a summer camping trip in the woods! They stop to buy some beer at a local roadside shop and bump into some creepy looking hillbilly locals.

But from the other perspective, there's these two guys, Tucker (Alan Tudyk - another of my favourite Whedon alumni!) and Dale (Tyler Labine). The two are on their way to Tucker's new 'vacation home', a fixer-upper log cabin in the forest. Dale, a self depricating character, spots the pretty freshmen girls and is instantly lust struck. He's dared by his well-meaning bestest buddy to talk to the kids, see if he can strike up some conversation with the pretty girls. Only, being preppy college chicks, they aren't impressed and are obviously instantly terrified as he's holding a scythe! As you do...?

Anyway, this sets the kids on edge, and when skinny dipping later that night, they are shocked to find Tucker and Dale are nearby fishing. One of the girls, Alison (Katrina Bowden), falls into the water in suprise upon catching sight of the two men. Dale, worried for Alison's safety, jumps in and pulls her unconscious form into their boat.

The others, mistaking this for a kidnapping, run off and later regroup to attack the 'evil' hillbillies.

And so the hilarity begins, with some misunderstandings, a lot of goofs and some terrible attack tactics!

I liked the concept of this film a lot. I don't know of anyone who's watched an 80s camping slasher who actually likes the victims! They're almost always 2D preppy little meatheads doing the things that get you killed in horror movies; having sex, smoking weed and getting completely wankered on alcohol. Or all three in most cases! This film takes these characters and takes them out of limelight. It takes these typical horror movie stereotype victims and makes them the bad guys.

Poor old Dale and Tucker were just planning on going up to their cabin, doing some fishing and drinking some beer. Instead they're being attacked by apparently suicidal teens!

The kids keep launching themselves haplessly at the two men (who are acting rather suspiciously to be fair, but completely accidentally, of course!) and keep unintentionally killing themselves with their own weapons or rank carelessness.

Some excellent gore, a lot of blood and hilarious death scenes keep this film fast and energetic. The two hillbilly characters are portrayed skillfully and you are on their side from the get go!

The teens are purposefully played to be generic, and are quite convincing as dumbass youngsters with the wrong end of a very gorey stick by Chelan Simmons, Travis Nelson, Brandon Jay McLaren, Christie Laing, Alex Arsenault, Adam Beauchesne and Joseph Allan Sutherland. They're terrified and confused, and useless! Very enjoyable. You feel for them, for the poor misled idiots that they are; judgemental as they may be!

But it's Chad (Jesse Moss) who joins Tudyk and Labine in keeping the show on the road. His character is unlikeable, even before he loses control. He's a dick and a miserable git and a chauvinist. His descent into complete sack o' hammers-land is quick and sudden. He's a loony from the onset, but you know, I think it works.

Tudyk and Labine's friendly hillbillies are funny and lovable. They're not simple, they're just trying to have a holiday! Dale is actually the kind of guy you want to have in your pub quiz team and Tucker reminds me a lot of the Chris Chambers character in "Stand By Me" who was played by River Phoenix. Tucker's just looking out for his friend, giving advice and trying to keep his confidence up, because he sees a different side to Dale than most people do. The fact that most of his advice is pretty terrible... well.... that's life, isn't it?!

Anyway, the gore is funny and will make you do that silent 'eww' thing reserved only for cutting jokes and slasher flicks, and the humour, although obvious, isn't over the top.  The film takes every cliché in the book, and plays it back to front! Therefore, taking away the whole overdone cliché thing almost completely!

This film gets to stay on my shelf along with the 'Evil Dead' trilogy, the 'Best of Bruce Campbell' collection, 'Fido' and my 'Lost Boys' set. It's something you'd watch more than once!

[Picture: Magnolia Pictures]
Missing: 1 torso with attachments


Tuesday, 7 August 2012

Vampire In Brooklyn

"Vampire in Brooklyn" (1995, Wes Craven, Paramount Pictures) is a horror comedy taking some elements of Dracula and general vampire lore and applying them in modern day New York with Eddie Murphy as the vampire. It's also so 90s you could die!

The plot takes the generic Dracula story and alters it to suit its ends. Craven's good at this, and the plot flows quite well. It's main fault being, however, that this genre is overflowing and it's been done better before and since.

Maximillian (Eddie Murphy) is a master vampire who lands by boat (full of snacks and by snacks I of course mean, crew members) in New York. Murphy plays the part well, showing that although he's become more well-known as voicing smart-ass (see what I did there?) donkeys and OTT family movies with a one-man cast, he actually is two things 1) funny 2) a good character actor. He also looks good in the part.

Being an Eddie Murphy movie, he of course has to play several different characters in increasingly silly costume. However, at least in this movie, he is a master vampire, transforming into different people to confront the female character. So there's a bit more of a reason for him to keep doing this!

Maximillian is a vampire from the Caribbean. He has been living in the Bermuda Triangle, Craven's explanation for the missing people in this infamous spot being that vampires are eating them. He has come to realise that he will perish before the end of the next full moon, and has come to NY to find a specific woman; a half-vampire daughter of a Caribbean vampire. Unfortunately, said woman is a NYPD cop called Rita (Angela Bassett. Who was also in "Critters 4" might I add!). Rita doesn't know her origins and her mother, who was mentally ill (probably caused by vampire mind tricks. I'm just saying!), has recently died, affecting Rita greatly. Rita also gets visions and paints them. So, just your typical troubled horror maiden, really.

Max finds himself a 'ghoul' (a Renfield character) to be his man-servant. The ghoul selected is a down-on-his-luck NY man called Julius (Kadeem Hardison), who's in trouble with some of the local Mafia. Julius acts as comedic foil to Murphy's straight man. Julius' uncle Silas (John Witherspoon) is also a funny character, bouncing off of the Julius character as a bit of a double act. He's all too aware that his nephew is in league with the undead (apparent as he is not surprised or overly concerned when Julius begins to decay at a rapid rate, despite still being 'alive'!).

With some vampire trickery, aforementioned transformations and other comedy-horror plot turns, Max attempts to woo Rita. Despite the chemistry between Rita and her work partner Justice (Allen Payne).

Traditional vampire lore applies:
  • Wolf transformations
  • Blood drinking
  • No reflections
  • Renfield-esque assistant
  • A Mina character
  • A dislike of garlic
  • Mind tricks
  • yadda yadda
The film is updated with setting, behaviour, music, humour etc... but by today's standards is dated by it being oh so 90s.

Not a horror in the true sense of the word, but a nice family film from the great Wes Craven. And a typical family-comedy movie happy ending for at least 2 of the characters.

Special effects are typical 90s, and my main annoyance was being able to see where Eddie Murphy's wig was glued to his scalp!

90s comedy horror. What more can I say?

[Picture: Paramount Pictures]


Monday, 6 August 2012

Critters 4

"Critters 4" (1992, Rupert Harvey, New Line Cinema) is the final movie in the "Critters" franchise and is based in space (as where else would you end a franchise about aliens?!)

Our hero Charlie (Don Keith Opper) has awoken from hypersleep in the capsule where he was meant to leave the Critter eggs at the end of "Critters 3", to find himself in deep space in the year 2045 on a "Firefly"-esque ship, crewed by a bunch of thieves, salvagers, raggamuffins and space drug addicts who have unwittingly brought him and the menaces aboard thinking the pod to be valuable.

The whole set-up is very familiar if you've seen "Firefly" or "Serenity". The country and western-ish background music is also very reminiscent of the show and movie. I can't help but wonder if Mr. Whedon is a "Critters" fan!

Even the crew includes a balshy, but dick-headed (definitely not a Cap'n Mal character) captain aptly named Rick (with a silent 'p', I think!) played by Anders Hove.

You also have your tough chick, female crew member, Fran (Angela Bassett), young keen teenager Ethan (Paul Whitthorne), super geek Al Bert (Brad Dourif) and drug addict tough guy, Bernie (Eric DaRe).

The crew have called the pod in to the Terracorp Council to try and receive a reward, and have boarded the space station head quarters to find them deserted and run by a worn down and malfunctioning supercomputer named Angela (voiced by Martine Beswick). Angela will only carry out orders if told not to (the crew don't have access, see, so if they say not to do something, she clearly has access to do that.... logical!?!).

It's all very interesting taking the last surviving Critters back into space. The crew aren't well developed characters, but are surprisingly rounded for B-movie horror characters. The setting is very dated, but carries well with the plot and the kills are gorey and fun like they should be.

Ug (Terrence Mann) returns after having been promoted to the place of Counselor Tetra. He seems to have changed with this promotion and become quite devious. One might think he orchestrated poor Charlie's misfortune in leaving Earth!

This film follows directly after the Third movie, and feels as such.

The Critters are lesser in number, but the film takes the story in a slightly different angle (without losing the charming gore-soaked-hand-puppets angle that we know and love).

Like most sequels closer to five than one, it's just not got the same feel to it that 1 and 2 did. But on the whole, is a nice roundoff to a fun, low budget series of killer porcupines. And the characters are on the whole, a lot less stupid than the ones seen in Grover's Bend and in the tenement building! Although, I suppose they are space men...

Definitely a must see if you've seen the previous films!

If you've seen "Android" you may also recognise at least one clip in this flick, too!

[Picture: New Line Cinema]
Baby Critters just don't inspire the same 'aww' factor that most creatures do!


Sunday, 5 August 2012

Critters 3

"Critters 3" (1991, Kristine Peterson, New Line Cinema) is the third installment in the "Critters" fanchise, and takes the story out of Grover's Bend and instead into an unnamed city, in the tenement house of our main characters.

Also, this was Leondardo DiCaprio's film debut! Long before he was running around on the Titanic saving rich red-haired women from iceberg-induced-doom, he was running around a tenement block saving people from spiky-alien-pirhana-hamsters-of-doom!

Some kids bump into what they think is a raving lunatic, but is actually Charlie (Don Keith Opper),...-so they were right- who warns them of the Crites.

The critters manage to lay some crazy-Crite eggs under the car of Clifford (John Calvin), an uninterested and unmotivated father, who has lost his wife some years before and is evidently in depression. He has two children; teenager, Annie (Aimee Brooks) who is distressed at her father's behaviour and is trying to shake it out of him, and her young brother Johnny (Christian & Joseph Cousins; a movie trick of the trade to use identical twins for young parts as children tend to be tired or grumpy after a long day).

The family drive home to their building where all of their fellow tenents are slowly leaving due to caretaker, Frank (Geoffrey Blake) and owner Briggs (William Dennis Hunt) refusing to fix anything so that they can sell to a land developer without having to pay the tenents relocation fees. Briggs and his stepson, Josh (DiCaprio) arrive to push the tenents further by turning off the power and cutting the phone lines. Josh is against this plan however, and soon joins the side of the tenents.

The Crites hatch and attack the building, and Charlie shows up to save the day again! With the help of a telephone repair woman, Marcia (Katherine Cortez), an overweight lady, Rosalie (Diane Bellamy) and an elderly couple, the Menges (Frances Bay and Bill Zuckert) and the kids he battles the Crites.

The action is again, quite gruesome and funny. The Critters develop little evil personalities and have some fun with the tenents and the washing up liquid. Not as good as the first two, but when has a 'blah blah 3' ever been? But the plot is more centralised and the characters are more developed than before. Charlie is entertaining as the hero of the piece. His interesting space and junk gadgets are peculiar but suited to the film.

I appreciated the scene with Marcia dangling from the telephone wire; "No! No! No!... Yes! Yes! Yes!"

And DiCaprio's really sweet as a teen actor. The other child actors are also very good, especially the little twin boys portraying Johnny (such cute little kids!)

The pace is good, the gore is funny and plentiful and the overall story is centralised enough to keep moving without becoming complicated.

All in all, a valiant comedy horror sequel with a lead in for a direct follow on in "Critters 4". Only thing that was missing was more from Ug who only appears as a cameo at the tail end!

[Picture: as marked]


Saturday, 4 August 2012

Critters 2

"Critters 2: The Main Course" (1988, Mick Garris, New Line Cinema) is the second installment of the Critters series. I reviewed "Critters" back in April of this year, so maybe check out that review before reading this one! Also, I enjoy that this film came out the year I was born!

I liked "Critters" but "Critters 2" is way better! Pretty much, poor old Bradley Brown (Scott Grimes), the boy (who cried wolf) from the first movie, has returned to Grover's Bend to visit his grandmother. But, as in all horror movie sequels, his return spells bad news for the town as the Crites return for another snack!

Two eejits have found some mysterious looking eggs in the old Brown residence and have decided to sell them as Easter Eggs. Did I mention this film is set at Easter? No? Well, now you know!

The eggs are, you've guessed it, Critter eggs and soon begin to hatch little headghog-rat-pirhana aliens of doom!

Charlie McFadden (Don Keith Opper), the town drunk from the first movie, has become an alien bounty hunter joining our two alien bounty hunters Ug (Terrence Mann) and Lee (faceless dude at this point, but later transforms into Roxanne Kernohan) from the first film. He returns with his shape-shifting cronies to save the day!

The writers have by this point realised their place in the market as a funny and rougher-edged Gremlins and capitalise on this nicely. Some of the Crites begin to develop personalities and the deadpan and slapstick antics of the hungry, hungry hand-puppets are entertaining and gorey.

The acting's even less wooden in this sequel, and the story is a lot more clean cut and with a love interest, Megan (Liane Alexandra Curtis) for Brad.

Ug and Lee come into their own as characters, too.

The townspeople in these movies are just generally not too bright... the amount of WTF moments is quite high.

Some hilarious and quite brutal death scenes, my favourite has to be the bunny costume one! But you have to watch to see!

Really funny, not really scary and a brilliant sequel to a hilarious B-movie monster comedy. And remember, lots of heads in a ball are better than one, right?

[Picture: New Line Cinema]


Thursday, 2 August 2012

She Lives by Night

"She Lives by Night" (2001, Brett Hull, Trax Productions) is about a beautiful vampire woman who gets amnesia and forgets who and what she is.

Angela (Liliana Cabal) is a vampire vixen doing her nightly rounds of flirting with, and then killing, stupid men who think more with their sexual organs than their brains, when she is accidentally knocked down by Roger (John Woodhouse) on his way home from work. The force of the crash should have killed her, or at least damaged her stylish high heels, but she is pretty much unscathed, except for forgetting who she is. Roger, fearing for the poor woman, and because she refuses to seek any medical help, talks Angela into at least spending the night at his home. Or several nights....

Pretty soon Roger, who had up until this point made a point of avoiding serious relationships and limiting himself only to meaningless one night stands, finds that he and this mysterious woman have some chemistry and soon the pair are falling in love.

Angela has some flaws, though. She still can't remember much about herself and can't shake a horrid feeling that she has some "skeletons in the closet". She suffers mood swings and can't stand sunlight. She sleeps most of the day and is restless at night. She has bad dreams. She wont eat Roger's proudly served bolognase, and most of all, she begins to feel crappy. Plus, she hates wine! What's up with that?!

A chance encounter with a cut finger ignites Angela's instincts and soon she finds she must prey on Roger's nearest and dearest, as she cannot bring herself to feast on her lover.

Naturally, Roger notices this and discovers that the only woman he has ever truly loved is a vampire and a murderer.

Is that not a beautiful plot?! What a shame the film had so little budget to fully realise that plot's potential!

It's not a terrible movie though, by any means. The acting is fine, not oscar worthy, but excellent for this type of film. The main issue is that the film is very quiet, very slow paced and with some poor quality recording. The special effects are moderate, but I had never expected this film to be gory, anyway. The whole feeling of the film is quiet and tense. You keep expecting poor Roger to catch on, or for Angela to lose control and kill him.

Roger's friends and his life are a bit dull, and by the end when he's given a choice between vampirism or to stay human, I'm left thinking he took the wrong option!

Liliana Cabal gives an excellent and eloquent performance as the confused young woman and also as the predator. Not to mention there's something very Rose McGowan about her. She has a very expressive face and acts more with her features than her voice. Which is perfect for the role, as what can a vampire really say when they can't remember that they're a vampire?

John Woodhouse has a nice voice. Unlike most B-movie performances he has an expressive voice and his performance doesn't seem wooden. I appreciate this.

All in all, this film suffers from being quiet and having a small budget, but the story is compelling and the end is sad. Give it a chance, it deserves your appreciation!

Strange for a vampire to wear a cross, though, isn't it?
[Pictures: Trax Productions]


Wednesday, 1 August 2012

Hell Asylum

"Hell Asylum" (2002, Full Moon Pictures, Danny Draven) is one of my favourite comparison films. It is just a wild mix of promising and terrible!

On one hand the ghosts appearing on camera during set up in the background is excellently done (minus first shitty attack scene), the 'pop-up' and 'pop-out' action of the ghosts throughout the film is actually jumpy and the actors inside the big hoods have really got the spooky movements down! The story behind the film is ok, as far as reality TV style haunted house stories go, and just generally some things it does do well!

On the other hand, they only had two special effects for gore; fake leg bones in blood and non-descript tendrils. Someone's head gets eaten? Tendrils. Someone's guts get ripped open? Tendrils! Back of the head opened so the ghost can use you as a ventriloquist dummy? Tendrils all over the place! You get eaten off screen up a chimney? Many leg bones all come falling out along with a bucket of blood and, for good measure, tendrils! Hm... I could be wrong but I thought I only had two legs... and I'm pretty sure that brains look like brains not tendrils!

But I get ahead of myself: the plot! The plot is simple, Max (Tim Muskatell) has pitched, and been allowed to pilot, a new Reality TV show called 'Chill Challenge'. Taking the idea behind 'House on Haunted Hill' and others of that ilk... the aim of the game is to survive the night in the haunted house and receive $1 million! Wow!

Max's plan to make the thing marketable is to use only sexy female competitors and have a diversity by selecting 'different' kinds of girls to appeal to the whole demograph. Clever...

So we have:
  • Goth Girl, Rainbow (Sunny Lombardo) who's aim is to see real ghosts and not to die a slow agonising death...
  • Bitchy 2-faced chick, Paige (Debra Mayer) who's aim is to shag her boyfriend, Max, and use him to become famous
  • Scaredy Blonde, Stacey (Stacey Scowley) who's main aim is to please her mother by being an attention whore on TV
  • Bimbo slut chick, Amber (Tanya Dempsey) who's main aim is to be noticed on TV and walk off with the money
  • Sporty chick, Marti (Olimpia Fernandez) who was there to win
See? Diverse! Not...

Ok, so they get to the house... which is my main problem with this film. It's not a house. It's not even a mansion. It's clearly a municipal-church-building-thingy or perhaps a high school. It's not the 'country manor' that they wanted, and I think they should have changed the script to reflect the surroundings, rather than try to pretend that it matched and hope we didn't notice.

They're introduced to the game and told the horrid story of the house's history (always a fun little adder) and then left in a weird painted hall on some uncomfortable looking furniture.

Max's mouth on a TV screen calls out each girl at a time to complete a challenge. But things don't go to plan and it turns out the house really is haunted! Dun dun dun! Just not by tortured Chinese mail order brides as the story suggested. Actually more by some angry cloaked dudes with blue faces... who like to eat people... unconvincingly....

The dialogue is better than some low-to-no-budget films I've seen, but the acting is typical of this calibre of film. I like to claim this as the worst movie I've seen because it actually had some promise, it just didn't have the gusto or the props budget to quite make it a reality. Also, when watching it with other horror-loving buddies, we usually (unfairly) pair it with a classic horror, this is an error. This film should be watched alongside schlocky goodness like 'Puppet Master Vs Demonic Toys' and 'Switchblade Romance' because it touches on the qualities of both; it's funny and crappy (in an awesome way) and it's got lots of blood sprays and jumpy stuff going on.

Be prepared for dodgy camera work, remember this is meant to be a 'caught on cam' Reality Show. And the ending with the fat cats liking the film and deciding to air is tacky. Surely the film would be in some evidence file somewhere, considering no one survived the house? (I'm presuming the last remaining character eventually dies from her injuries..., of course).

So give it a go. It may annoy you as much as I that this cheesey, and frankly terrible film, could have made more of itself had it had better funding...and a better name.... and a better location. Ok, it could have been better! A lot better! But hey, it was worth 20p in the 'Pound Shop'!

[Picture: Fool Moon Pictures]
Oh, and I forgot to mention that one girl has to strip down and get soaked in true B-Movie style