Thursday, 31 January 2013

Friday The 13th (2009)

"Friday The 13th" (2009, Marcus Nispel, Michael Bay, Paramount Pictures, New Line Cinema, Platinum Dunes) is the remake of the first four original "Friday the 13th" films, pretty much, all mashed into one.

Well, what can I say other than, as usual, Michael Bay's stamp has once again brought mostly disappointment to a classic reboot which had so much potential. Although, it's not really his fault. He didn't direct it. It's the man behind 2003's "Texas Chainsaw Massacre" remake, Marcus Nispel, who did all of that.

I'm just venting here. The main problems with this film is the sheer uncreative pitfalls which it falls into.

I love films which involve teens, cabins, woods, mishaps and murder. But, I also like a little bit of something different in there, too. "F13 Reboot" only goes through the motions and ups the sex and gore. The kills aren't tense or scary, and the characters are too same-y and obnoxious. I refuse to believe that all floppy haired boys in America are complete douche-bags!

The kills feel like they are just checking off the list and often I found myself sighing audibly and just waiting for the scene to end. I'm usually the relishing type. 

Jason is excellently played by Derek Mears, a mountain of a man, who gives us a faster-moving, thinking Jason Vorhees, still with menacing demeanour. The main fault in the Jason character is his severe lack of good lurking. Sure, he's lurking but he's too obvious, and where's the creepy 'from Jason's perspective' bits?

The film starts at the end of the original film, but also covers two separate groups of teens.The characters are disposable as hell, which is handy as they get disposed of as fast as hell!

The grounding point of the original F13 films is that Jason died because camp counsellors were drinking and having sex, instead of looking after him. And so, there's plenty of boobs and there's more sex scenes than horror... And who doesn't like a bit of beer pong and (slightly safer than real life) danger can?

The gore is good, even if the kill scenes themselves are just boring, long and nothing to write home about. But there's too much going on and just generally the film feels like an empty, oversexed gore-fest without any real comedic breaks (even if they do try hard to create this in three characters).

Of course, I can't really fault the acting, which, for an F13 film is excellent. Mainly because the actors playing the 2 Dimensional slasher fodder this time are actually known. Oh, and naturally, I do love Jared Padalecki, who makes this film flow a lot better than it would have otherwise as he searches for his missing sister (from the set of teens who were camping).

Now, I'm not saying it's anything worse than some of the other "F13"s out there, because, like all horror franchises, they jumped the shark so high they ended up in space... Quite literally, see 'Jason X'. 

Plus, we get to have the hockey mask!

But it's nothing new, and apart from being a vehicle for some young actors, a string to the director's bow and a fab creative project for the special effects guys, this film holds nothing I care about and probably doesn't even appeal to the teens of today, who should, in my view, really be made to watch the originals anyway! Give me a grainy, dirty, low budget slasher flick over this film any day.

First they beheaded his mother, now they're stealing his wild-growing weed!


Wednesday, 23 January 2013

April Fool's Day (1986)

"April Fool's Day" (1986, Fred Walton, Paramount Pictures, Hometown Films).

Muffy St. John (Deborah Foreman) is having a birthday party/April Fool's Day party at her family's large summer home (for 'home', see 'mansion'!) on a private island. She's invited a variety of college friends, some of whom are good friends amongst themselves, and some who don't know anyone else there.

Like all teen slashers, the basics of 'nerdy bookish type', 'dickhead', 'jock', 'kind of slutty girl', 'nice couple', 'outsider' and 'funny guy' are all covered, but unlike some other slasher movies, the characters don't seem so generic. While I don't feel any connection in particular with any of the characters, they seem almost like real people and I found myself beginning to enjoy their witty (and admittedly sometimes not so witty) repartee.

It isn't long into the film that we see both trickery and bloodshed, and while some of the key plot points seem a bit too convenient and unnatural, as a horror viewer, I've come to expect much worse and didn't judge these moments too harshly!

It seems, one by one, the guest list is being shortened, and Muffy begins to act strangely, making her surviving guests all the more nervous. Is the killer someone smuggled on the island, stalking the teens? Or is it someone they know?

Some gloriously 80s gore, engaging acting from a recognisable cast and some twists along the way, this film is good fun.

The ending is an area of contention amongst viewers, and while it's not the favourite of some, I find it quite enjoyably different from most slashers, letting this film stand out from the crowd.

More of a slasher-themed mystery movie, "April Fool's Day" is worth your time at least once!

[Image: Paramount Pictures]


Wednesday, 9 January 2013

Evil Dead II

"Evil Dead II" (1987, Sam Raimi, De Laurentiis Entertainment Group, Renaissance Pictures, Anchor Bay Entertainment) is the second original "Evil Dead" film, which coincidentally happens to also be a bigger budget remake of the original film.

Ash Williams (Bruce Campbell) and his girlfriend Linda (Denise Bixler) are on their way to a remote cabin in the woods for a little romantic weekend. During their celebrations they come across a tape recorder and Ash decides to play the recording aloud. The recording is by the archaeologist who owns the cabin. He has uncovered a text known as the "Necronomicon Ex-Mortis" or book of the dead, and reads it aloud on the recording. The reading summons the evil spirits of the Deadites, who possess the living, turning them into evil demonic creatures. Linda becomes infected by the spirits and, while defending himself, Ash is forced to kill her.

Heartbroken and terrified, Ash attempts to avoid the evil spirits as he begins to spiral into madness in the cabin. But his descent into the crazy is interrupted when the archaeologist's daughter Annie (Sarah Berry), her boyfriend Ed (Richard Domeier), Jake (Danny Hicks) and his girlfriend Bobby-Joe (Kassie Wesley) join the party. They soon wind up as demon fodder, as they try to survive and kick some demon ass.

A humorous version of the original film, small details like book titles add some nicely placed snigger points throughout. Where the first version was loud, the second is louder, but much more self-aware. Ash's character is more developed and likeable, and the action is gory and fun. I do love a bit of Bruce-Campbell-Vs-Bruce-Campbell, and also, there's less on-screen tree rape in this version, which I have admit is a plus point for me.

Campbell excels in this film with a truly brilliant performance and a high, to the brink of lunacy, energy. He seems to relish the role. Plus, his arms are pretty toned. I have to appreciate these things in life!

By far my favourite of the three "Evil Dead" films, I could watch this one over and over again!

Who's laughing now?!
 [Image: Anchor Bay Entertainment]

Evil Dead: Army of Darkness

"Evil Dead: Army of Darkness" aka "Evil Dead 3" aka "Bruce Campbell vs Army of Darkness" (1992, Sam Raimi, Dino De Laurentiis Communications, Renaissance Pictures, Universal Studios) is the third original "Evil Dead".

Since the "Evil Dead" remake is on the horizon, I thought I'd rewatch the awesomeness that is the original 3 films. As a Bruce Campbell fan and a Sam Raimi fan, it's obvious that I would rate these three films highly on my list, but I defend this as so:
  1. Bruce Campbell is awesome
  2. Sam Raimi is awesome
  3. Evil Dead is awesome
'nuff said ;)

Oh, ok then.

I'm starting backwards. Partially because I've seen all 3 so many times it won't make a jot of difference to my viewing experience, and partially because I want to watch no. 1 before I watch the remake of it (regardless of how many months premature my viewing will be!).

"AOD" is my least favourite of the three, but it is by no means bad. Turning completely WTF-crazy and funny, this film finds our protagonist, Ash (Bruce Campbell) trapped in the medieval past after being sucked through a time vortex along with the evil in the second film. He is captured by some knights, who have mistaken him for one of their enemy's men, and is taken back to their castle and forced to face off against a deadite.

Poor old Ash, not only is he lost in time, without one of his hands, captured by knights and forced to do battle (yet again) with the demonic undead, but to add to his woes he is found to be the man from the prophecy who is to rid the world of the Deadite scourge!

Ash is saved from death, and instead sent to retrieve the 'Necronomicon' or book of the dead, so that he can a) get rid of the Deadites and b) be returned to his own time.

Unfortunately, being Ash, he makes a bit of a mess of the whole thing and winds up; amongst battling miniature versions of himself, accidentally spawning an evil twin and almost being sucked into the abyss; accidentally raising the army of the deadites to do battle against the humans. Oops?

Can the humans defeat the undead? Can Ash finally put those college science books to good use? Will he get to do the nasty with lovely lady Sheila (Embeth Davidz)?! All I can say is "Hail to the king, baby!"

Manic, funny and violent, this film is a light hearted nod to the franchise. Ash is supremely awesome in that charismatically hectic kind of way. The whole film is a big cartoon-like laugh with some fairly impressive fight scenes (fakey skull masks not withstanding).

This version of the DVD has the real ending which Raimi preferred. As much as I like the happy ending, it doesn't fit with Ash's fatal character flaw of being overly cocky and never paying attention, so I have to side with the Raimi in this one! Ash would definitely have screwed it up.

Funny and nuts, this film is less horror and more action gore, but B-movie gold regardless! If you haven't seen it, I recommend!

That, is his boomstick.
[Image: Universal Studios]


Tuesday, 8 January 2013

Children of the Corn

"Children of the Corn" (1984, Fritz Kiersch, New World Pictures) is based on Stephen King's story of the same name, but is not identical story-wise.

The children of Gatlin, Nebraska have rebelled, killing all of the adults and following the teachings of a strange Preaching boy named Isaac (John Franklin) who tells of a demon named "He who walks behind the rows". The demon is responsible, so says Isaac, for the failure of the corn crops and desires to be worshipped with the blood sacrifice of adults. Gatlin, previously a farming community, has become a backwoods cult deadzone, where no adult is safe from Isaac and his blood thirsty followers, even those who have grown up there...

Burt (Peter Horton) and his girlfriend Vicky (Linda Hamilton) stumble upon the town when given bad directions from a local garage owner who's paid off by the Gatlin kids to send straggling adults their way.

With the help of two non-believing children, Job (Robby Kiger) and Sarah (Anne Marie McEvoy), can Burt and Vicky avoid being lead to slaughter? And can they defeat Isaac and his right hand boy, Malachai (Courtney Gains)? And is there really a demon back there behind those rows of corn?! Well, watch and see.

While dated and a little slow in places, this film doesn't disappoint with sudden action. From rampaging, murderous children to road accidents, there's a lot going on. There's a small amount of gore, and a fair few parts always make me think this story must have inspired some of the storyline in "Silent Hill", but on the whole it's hardly a shudderfest and is best approached with relatively low expectations and an understanding that it is, afterall, a B-Movie.

[Image: New World Pictures]

Monday, 7 January 2013

Omen III: The Final Conflict

"Omen III: The Final Conflict" (1981, Graham Baker, 20th Century Fox, Harvey Bernhard Productions, Mace Neufeld) is the the third "Omen" film, following the life of Damien Thorn: son of Satan.

Damien (a young, pre-fame Sam Neill) is now head of the Thorn Corporation, but has set his sights on the position of US Ambassador to Great Britain. His 'father' would have been proud... Had he not been brutally murdered by young Damien in the first film...

When the current US Ambassador 'randomly' commits suicide, Damien manages to manoeuvre himself into the position and then proceeds throughout the rest of the film to flirt with a journalist called Kate (Lisa Reynolds), sour the mind of her son Peter (Barnaby Holm) and try to avoid assassination by Monks, led by Father DeCarlo (Rossano Brazzi), who have become aware that a holy star sign.... Star of Bethlehem much?... has announced the rebirth of Damien's arch-Nemesis; Jesus Christ!

Sam Neill gives a good performance, but I can't help but feel that this view may be coloured by my enjoyment of his work in other films and TV...

All in all, this is the weakest of the three real original "Omen" films (We don't count that made-for-TV 'fourth' one), with only one thing really going for it; that it ends the character arc of Damien, who has now become a self-aware, anti-bible bashing daddy's boy.

The gore is pretty good and there's a fair amount of shocking ideas in the film (child murdering and  rape being two examples), but similarly to the second film, "The Final Conflict" is long and dull in places, allowing the viewer's mind to wander and lose interest.

If you can bare to not finish the series, I would say skipping this film wouldn't really be a bad thing...

[Image: 20th Century Fox]


Saturday, 5 January 2013

REC 3: Genesis

"REC 3: Genesis" (2012, Paco Plaza, Canal+ España, Filmax) is the third installment in the 'REC' franchise. This sequel takes the setting out of the house in Barcelona, and instead to the wedding of Clara (Leticia Dolera) and Koldo (Diego Martin) in a large country estate. The film setting is in parallel with both first and second "REC" films.

The first thing which struck me about this film was that it has taken an almost "Evil Dead 2" turn into gory comedy! The film does still use the 'Found footage' film technique, whether it be by mobile phones, the professional wedding camera man's footage or Koldo's cousin Adrián (Àlex Monne)'s camera. However, for some of the film, they have resorted to a normal third person filming style.

I liked this film. It was funny, gory, linked and yet completely separate from the other films in the series. You could happily watch this film as a stand alone. The two main characters are good fun and the action remains high energy. Although, they maybe tried a little too hard to create a "Resident Evil" 'Alice' character in the form of Clara.

I would say that this film loses something for the franchise, but as a film alone, it's pretty entertaining but not really very scary.

[Image: Canal+ España]

Friday, 4 January 2013


"REC 2" (2009, Jaume Balagueró, Paco Plaza, Magnolia Pictures, E1 Entertainment) is the sequel to the 2007 Spanish found footage masterpiece, "REC".

The film takes place 15 minutes after the first, when Dr. Owen (Jonathan Mellor) from the Ministry of Health and several members of a GEO team enter the house in order to control the outbreak of the zombie infection.

While the first film primarily went for the virus and enzyme explanation for the outbreak, "REC 2" plays more upon the demonic and religious side of zombies (this was, however, alluded to in the first film on the tape recorder, so it's not that much of a leap), having the doctor shouting bible readings at the infected to control them, or talk to the main infected girl/demon through the others "Exorcist"-style.

This film also consists of 'found footage', but is this time split into 3 areas, the GEO team cameras, the camera of a group of teens who have found themselves inside the building and Pablo's camera from the first film.

This film goes down a more supernatural path, making new rules for the zombies as demonic creatures. While this kind of changes the game in regards to the plot, it doesn't diminish the high energy pace and scares in the film. The gore is in a greater abundance and the ending is yet again, scary and also gross to the point of sickening.

Worthy of your time.

[Image: Magnolia Pictures]

Thursday, 3 January 2013


"REC" (2007, Jaume Balagueró, Paco Plaza, Filmax International) is a Spanish 'found footage' zombie-esque horror.

Ángela Vida (Manuela Velasco) is a TV reporter for a local show in Barcelona called "While You're Asleep". She and her cameraman, Pablo (Pablo Rosso), are following the local Fire Crew for the night. The first segment of the film primarily consists of her interviewing firemen and complaining about how boring it is, and how she'd like an emergency call to come in. Lucky her, one does!

They set off with firemen Manu (Ferrán Terraza) & Álex (David Vert) to the house where an old woman has become extremely aggressive and the police have shut down the building with all other tenants trapped inside. The crew enter along with a couple of policemen, an officer (Vicente Gil) and a younger cop (Jorge-Yaman Serrano). It soon becomes apparent, however, that even the policemen aren't completely aware of the situation.

When they try to confront the woman she attacks them, and we delve into a zombie house of horrors.

While the story itself isn't anything new, the confined space of the building, excellent shaky-cam work and disjointed filming work really well. A lot of the jumps happen in the dark when either the camera comes back on just in time of an oogie-boogie moment, or when Pablo sticks on the nightvision, showing us the full grotesque image of the creatures.

I'm not usually a found footage fan, but 'REC' really kicks the action up a notch and makes for quite a thrilling ride! The ending is also very effective and leaves the audience wanting more. Just remember, it's in Spanish so expect to have to read some subtitles!

[Image: Filmax International]