July 3, 2015

THE TREATMENT (2014)

THE TREATMENT

Original Title:
De Behandeling

Belgium, 2014
Director: Hans Herbots

9/10








Watching a Belgium film that deals with pedophilia is like watching an Austrian film that deals with cellars: it's unpleasant and slightly bothersome - but if done by a talented and intelligent filmmaker, such a film can also be gripping and fascinating, like "The Treatment", the fifth feature of Belgian director Hans Herbots, based on the British bestselling novel of the same name by Mo Hayder.


"The Treatment" follows solitary police officer Nick Cafmeyer who investigates in a weird case where a mother and father have been bound and beaten, and their young son is missing. His investigations lead him to similar cases that happened in the past, brutal tragedies where the parents were forced by a cold-blooded psychopath to harm and abuse their own children, who then vanish - as well as to his own childhood when he witnessed the kidnapping of his very own brother. Cafmeyer becomes more and more obsessed with the investigation, sinking deeper and deeper into a swamp of secrets, lies, violence and pedophilia...

Hell, it's a great year for dark, gritty thrillers! After "The Frozen Ground" and "Marshland", this is now the third absolutely amazing thriller I've seen this year. A masterfully directed, excellently paced and stunningly developed shocker, deeply intriguing, at times highly unsettling and maybe even a bit disturbing. Although more than 130 minutes long, it's never dull or boring, thanks to Herbots' impressive sense of detail and visual storytelling that slightly reminded me of the "Millennium trilogy", the works of David Fincher and Denis Villeneuve's "Prisoners". I'm not sure if Herbots was inspired by these films, but if he was, I have to praise him even more, because instead of copying or stealing from these films, he seem to have picked out various elements and characteristics, and made them his very own.


The screenplay is equally amazing, packed with unpredictable and astonishing twists, turns and surprises. At no time, I was able to foresee any of the events, especially not the ending which is so unexpectedly bleak and depressing, I was gobsmacked. Main actor Geert van Rampelberg, who was already terrific in the Oscar-nominated Dutch masterpiece "The Broken Circle Breakdown", delivers what I'd call the performance of a lifetime. He's so unbelievably believable, delivering a fantastic character with many rough edges and flaws, with a fucked up past, the liability to workaholism and a big, big heart. I loved Inspector Cafmeyer so much, I wanted to hug him all the time :)

There's more superb acting by Ina Geerts (splendind actress with a remarkable face), Dominique Van Malder (scary as hell), Laura Verlinden (very gorgeous), Johan Van Assche (there's something really eerie about him), Tibo Vandenborre (reminded me of Steve Buscemi) or Ingrid De Vos for whatever reason, she reminded me of Nelly Frijda). A subtle, yet effective score accompanies the whole scenery. Editing and camera work are pitch-perfect, lots of dark, Fincher-esque images, scenes and settings.


The only thing about it that is critizable is the solving of the mystery. Like Imdb-reviewer Dries Vermuelen said, it's "a little far-fetched, going as far as raising an unintended smile", but since everything else about "The Treatment" is so fucking great, this minor, minor flaw doesn't do any harm.

Sick of bad movies? "The Treatment" will cure you, I promise ;)


Thanks to Ray (Artsploitation) for the screener!

Bruno Mattei's "TERMINATOR 2"

TERMINATOR 2

Alternate Titles:
Terminator II / Shocking Dark / Alienators / Aliens 2

German Title:
Contaminator ...die Mordmaschine aus der Zukunft

Italy, 1990
Director: Bruno Mattei

3/10




Exactly one year before the world got amazed by the greatest and most impressive action film of all time, James Cameron's "Terminator 2: Judgment Day", our favorite Italian schlock-filmer Bruno Mattei ("Hell of the Living Dead") already did a... erm, sequel to the groundbreaking 1984 stunner
"The Terminator"...


"Terminator 2" (also know as "Shocking Dark" or "Alienators", two titles that actually much, much better...), a super-silly piece of low-budget sci-fi trash, taking place in a polluted future Venice that is packed to the brim with weird monsters and awkward cyborgs. Beware: this is NOT a sequel to "The Terminator"! It's more like a blatant and brazen ripoff of "Aliens", including many scenes and sequences that were ripped off of "Alien" and "Terminator", plus some recycled footage from Mattei's very own action-fest "Double Target" (1987).


"Terminator 2" is actually 80 minutes of fog, bright lights, people with guns running through endless corridors and hallways, more fog, dumb dialogue, even more fog and some of the goofiest alien-creatures I've seen in a long time. The direction is as weak as you expect it from 80s Mattei, and the poorly written screenplay of Claudio "Troll 2" Fragasso is an absolute disgrace. If you look for originality, look elsewhere. You won't find it here.


It's fun to see how Mattei desperately tried to create some tension out of the laughable script, but due to the fact that most scenes are identical to "Aliens", and due to the fact that we've all seen "Aliens" millions of times, none of the supposed-to-be-tense scenes work because we basically seen them all before. "Shocking Dark"? Nah, shockingly boring AND shockingly predictable.

Furthermore, all of the characters are hilariously terrible "Aliens"/"Terminator" knock-offs: Ripley and Newt became Sara and Samantha (both played by ultra-lame one-time actors), Vasquez became Koster (poorly played by Geretta Geretta from "Demons"), and non-actor Christopher Ahrens gives a ridiculously bad T-800 imitation. Hell, they even turned the Weyland-Yutani corporation into the Tubular corporation (Mike Oldfield anyone?).


Make-up and special effects all look terribly cheap, the score is a lousy synth-keyboard cacophony (Carlo Maria Cordi, "Troll 2"), and the editing is simply laughable. Aside from some mildly gorgeous shots, some eerie settings and a few quite entertaining scenes, there's not much worth mentioning.

Wanna see a good Italian "Terminator" ripoff? Watch "Hands of Steel".
Wanna see a good "Aliens" ripoff? Watch Mattei's very own "Zombies: The Beginning".

Wiki ~ Imdb

July 2, 2015

THE SUICIDE THEORY

THE SUICIDE THEORY

Australia, 2014
Director: Dru Brown

8/10











Australian cinema never fails to surprise me (at least, most of the time...
I'm looking at you, "Fury Road"...) with interesting variations of well-known, well-trodden concepts, and this movie makes no exception. "The Suicide Theory", the second feature film of young filmmaker Dru Brown, is a fascinating, remarkably unique and totally non-Ozploitative drama-thriller, telling the amazing story of Percival, a marked, suicidal man who hires a depressed, unhappy serial killer in order to kill him. To Steven's shock, Percival survives the assault. Even weirder, Percival is deeply convinced that he is unable to die and can't get killed, even though he wishes to die so, so hard. Steven tries and tries and tries, but Percival always comes to life, every time sadder and unluckier than before. They build a bizarre, yet strong friendship that changes both their lifes in ways they wouldn't even dream of...


From the very beginning, I was drawn into the odd, but immensely intriguing plot, not just because it's so unique, but also because it's told in a really intelligent, highly intriguing and refreshingly serious way, carefully introducing the viewer to many unforeseeable and staggering plot twists along its way to an emotionally super-shocking ending. The twists aren't your average cheap, gimmicky "Gotcha!"-turns. They all possess a tremendous quality and come off as really clever, thanks to screenwriter Michael J. Kospiah who seems to be a damn smart cookie!

I loved the eclectic storyline, and I love how complex the two main characters are. Percival is not just an odd guy with some kinda superpower, he's actually a sensitive and very vulnerable homosexual guy whose life became a disaster after his boyfriend got killed, and obviously got even worse after he tried to kill himself over and over again, until he realized that he is basically 'unkillable'. Percival's a broken man with countless scars, not just in his face, but all over his damaged soul, and he just wants to die.


Same for Steven. At first he seems to be just another clichéd serial killer, a lonesome wolf with a stone-cold heart who kills for money and doesn't care if the things he does are wrong or right - but then we get to know that he was once a normal happy guy, until his pregnant wife got road-killed, an incident that turned him into a shell of a man who's extremely anxious of crossing streets and who takes way too many trips down memory lane.

Thanks to Brown's very competent direction, the dialogue-heavy film never becomes boring, even though a few scenes might be a tad too tedious, but the sympathetic characters and the extraordinary build-up perfectly manage to keep you glued to the screen. I was also very impressed by the movie's sinister atmosphere that is so incredibly non-Australian (if it wasn't for the dialect, this could take place in every other megacity...), the brooding electro music and the mesmerizing cinematography. Also, acting-wise, everyone gives a very solid performance, especially main actors Steve Mouzakis and Leon Cain.


"The Suicide Theory" is an odd but tremendously compelling movie from down under. Highly recommended!


Thanks to Rob Fleming (Prodigy PR) for the screener!

July 1, 2015

Project Terrible: SPACE MUTINY

The last movie of this terrible round was given to me by Michele (The Girl Who Loves Horror). For whatever reason, stupid me expected this to be an entertaining fun-fest. Guess what? Yup, it wasn't fun and it wasn't entertaining. It was just terrible...

SPACE MUTINY

Alternate Title:
Mutiny in Space

South Africa / USA, 1988
Directors: David Winters,
Neal Sundstrom (uncredited)

1/10







No, this is not an in-space version of classics like "The Caine Mutiny" or "Mutiny on the Bounty", and no, this is not a funky 80s sci-fi-fest. "Space Mutiny" is just another movie that has been an integral part of the Imdb Bottom 100 for many years (currently at #23), parodied by MST3K just 9 years after it was released, and rightly considered as one of the worst movies ever made.


This South-African piece of space turd (where's Neill Blomkamp when you need him?) desperately tries to be "Star Wars", "Star Trek" and "Battlestar Galactica" at the same time, following the crew of generation ship "Southern Sun" that tries to find and colonize a new planet, but is unable to do so (for whatever reason) which understandably pisses off some of the crew's more unsympathetic members. Guess what? Yup. Mutiny. Sabotage. Hi-jacking. The bad guys doing bad things and the good guys trying to save the day. Boom! Bang! Fire! Explosions! Happy end. Oh-so-surprising cliffhanger epilogue. End credits.

"Space Mutiny" is the worst and dumbest science fiction movie I've seen since "The War of the Robots", though while this Italian lowest-budget disaster was at least pretty darn entertaining, "Space Mutiny" is so mind-numbingly nuts, it's insane. Okay, there was some trouble during production: David Winters ("The Last Horror Film") had to drop out in early stage of filming due to a death in the family. He was replaced with Neal Sundstrom ("Howling V: The Rebirth") who tried his best to finish the film. He obviously wasn't pleased with the end result and refused to be credited as the main director. Of course, that isn't a proper excuse for why this movie is so fucking bad. While the bonkers storyline is somewhat tolerable, everything else about it is just... Aaaaargh! Stupid, stupid, stupid!


Veteran actor Cameron Mitchell looks like a 'crossbreed' between Santa Claus and Gandalf (that beard... that beard!!). Reb Brown, who looks like Dolph Lundgren's demented brother, constantly screams, or looks panicked out of his mind (sometimes he tries to look sexy too, but he obviously fails horribly). Graham Clarke looks like WCW-wrestler Sting 'disguised' as Billy Idol. Though that's nothing against John Philipp Law's utterly ridiculous performance as oh-so-bad guy who laughs and giggles all the time like Eric Freeman in "Silent Night, Deadly Night Part 2", calls everyone on board an idiot, and says shit like "It was cruel fate to be born in space, but I have vowed we will not die here. It is my destiny to set my feet upon a real world to accumulate wealth and power beyond our wildest dreams. I have offered the people of the Southern Sun a rich, new life, and now they have no alternative but to accept my generosity and alter course for Corona Borealis." in such a laughable way, it wasn't sure if should laugh, or if I should jump into the film and smack the shit outta him.


ALL (yes, all of them) space battle scenes were edited in from old "Battlestar Galactica" episodes and obviously, this footage is the only thing in "Space Mutiny" that looks good, compared to all the ugly brick wall(!) spaceship sets (yup, most of the film was filmed in an old industrial building...) and the goofy-looking bumper-car-like golf carts. There's also the most awful disco I've ever seen (people in the future still love playing/dancing with hula hoops...), there's some weird semi-sexy girls, called Bellarians, constantly playing around with plasma globes (where's Tesla when you need him?) and... well, is it just me or do all the extras scream as if they're losing their mind when they get killed?

 Ugh. Watch "Wing Commander" instead. Yes, I know, it has a bad reputation, but believe me: compared to this crap, "Wing Commander" is a Star-Wars-like masterpiece.

June 30, 2015

Project Terrible: DANIEL DER ZAUBERER (=Daniel the Wizard)

I got this from Alec.
In case you didn't know, Alec is a real bastard.

DANIEL DER ZAUBERER

Literal English Title:
Daniel the Wizard

Germany, 2004
Director Ulli Lommel

-1,5/10








So far, "Skeleton Key 2: 667 Neighbor of the Beast" and "Dating a Zombie" were the absolute worst movies that I have ever seen, both for different reasons,
but both equally unbearable.

Since June 17, 2015 (the day I watched and somehow managed to survive this piece of dick), a new stinking piece of crap has claimed the top spot and is now officially the absolute worst movie that I've ever seen. It's currently on #16 of the Imdb Bottom 100, but in the past it has been on #1 for many, many months - and quite rightly so, because main actor Daniel Küblböck and director Ulli Lommel both are free of any talent.

The slightly androgynous Daniel Küblböck achieved short-lived celebrity after he became third in the German version of "American Idol / Pop Idol" in 2003. His voice was beyond terrible, but his weird, wacky behavior impressed teen girls all over Germany, Austria and Switzerland so much, his awful debut single "You Drive Me Crazy" made it to #1 in Germany. After the release of his debut album, a couple more quite successful singles, and a questionable appearance in the German version of "I'm a Celebrity... Get Me Out of Here!", German director Ulli Lommel persuaded him to participate in a full length semi-documentary about him, his life, his success, a one-armed magician and a couple of idiots who want to kill him. The movie was a monster-flop. It was watched by 13,834 viewers in total and most cinemas pulled it from their programm after the first week. Wow.

Director / actor Ulli Lommel's career started out very promising in the 60s and 70s when he worked together with acclaimed german filmmaker Rainer Werner Fassbinder and American artist Andy Warhol. He also created the disturbing, critically acclaimed biopic "The Tenderness of Wolves" about German serial killer Fritz Haarmann.
Lommel's decline began after his "Halloween"-ripoff "The Boogeyman" in 1980. After that one, his movies gradually became more and more terrible. Instead of making more Fassbinder-esque quality indie films, he shot countless lowest-budget horror, sci-fi, action and exploitation films, worked together with great actors like Klaus Kinski or Tony Curtis on unwatchable crapfests like "Revenge of the Stolen Stars" or "BrainWaves", often under pseudonyms like Mario van Cleef or Steven Sondberg (sic!). He reached the bottom of the barrel in the 00s with a streak of serial killer and horror films that all have Imdb ratings between 1,5 and 2,5 + "Daniel der Zauberer" (2004) and "Zombie Nation" (2005) are in the Imdb Bottom 100 for like ages.

So, what do I think of "Daniel der Zauberer" (German for: Daniel the Wizard)? Well, it is indescribably terrible. The movie is only 77 minutes long, but it feels like it's hundreds of decades long. It looks like a crappy home video tape and is paced so slowly, you just wanna kill yourself by smashing your own head against the screen so often until it finally explodes. Küblböck is allowed to sing many of his songs, one stupider than the other with atrocious lyrics like "Hey hey, I'm a man in the moon. Watching your world from a big balloon." or "I cried myself to sleep so many nights, my bed was slowly drifting out to sea.". When he's not looking like a complete wimp, he's over-acting so hard, it makes you feel sick. Though, he's actually not the worst actor in this cinematic piece of shit: that's non-actress Adele Eden who delivers the worst acting performance I have ever seen (step aside, Dominique Dunne). The movie looks ugly, was edited in an absolutely inane way. Lommel's direction is beyond horrible, and even worse, he's also doing some acting - needless to say, his acting skills are even worse than his direction. There's also bad, bad, bad acting by Küblböck's real-life father and Peter Schamoni, the film's producer who plays a Grandpa who absolutely despises Daniel, but then after seeing Daniel live for a couple of minutes, he instantly becomes a die-hard fan of the awful singer. Ugh! Ugh! Ugh!


The worst, worst, worst, worst, worst film I have ever seen. Horrible, terrible, makes you wanna kill yourself.

Wiki ~ Imdb

June 28, 2015

Project Terrible: BABY GENIUSES + SUPERBABIES: BABY GENIUSES 2

My, erm, buddy Christian knows how much I hate kids and babies in general, so he thought there's only one film in the Bottom 100 that perfectly fits my distaste: "Superbabies: Baby Geniuses 2" (ugh). When my other, erm, buddy Robert saw what Christian gave me, he instantly knew that this screams for a, erm, baby-tastic double feature and so he gave me its predecessor "Baby Geniuses" (ugh).

Christian... Robert... to quote from a "Happy Endings" episode: "My revenge will be served like the tennis serve of a seventh grade girl: slow, out of bounds and I will pull balls out of my skirt." ;)))

BABY GENIUSES

German Title:
Die Windel-Gang

USA, 1999
Direcor: Bob Clark

3,5/10








I'm not a fan of Bob Clark's work, but I admit that he and his filmography utterly fascinates me. I mean, this guy switched between genres with such an ease, it's hilariously impresive: low-budget horror flicks ("Children Shouldn't Play with Dead Things", "Dead of Night"), Sherlock Holmes mystery-thriller ("Murder by Decree"), teen sex comedies ("Porky's I + II"), or comedy-dramas ("Tribute",
"From The Hip").

He also made two of America's most popular Christmas films of all time, the Christmas-themed proto-slasher "Black Christmas" and the critically acclaimed still-uber-popular "A Chrstmas Story" - but he also made crap like the Silvester Stallone / Dolly Parton musical "Rhinestone" (won 2 Razzies, nominated for 6 more Razzies), the critically panned Gene Hackman / Dan Aykroyd box office disaster "Loose Cannons" (has a 0% rating on RT), and toddler crap "Baby Geniuses" (2,5/10 on Imdb) and its sequel "Superbabies: Baby Geniuses 2" (widely consideres as one of the worst films of all time | 1,9/10 on Imdb / among the Top 20 of Imdb's Bottom 100 for like ages | 4 Razzie nominations).


"Baby Geniuses" follows two scientists who study super-intelligent "genius-babies" to fund their popular baby-themed theme park, while at the same time trying to decipher the code to "baby talk", a super-sophisticated language which allows intelligent toddlers to communicate the knowledge of the secrets of the universe, because... well, according to the scientists, all babies are born possessing vast, universal knowledge... um, yeah.

I admit, the movie's basic concept isn't that bad. You could perfectly use it for a horror film in the vein of classics like "Bloody Birthday" or "It's Alive". Unfortunately, Bob Clark and the 4(!) other people who worked on the movie's story / screenplay turned it into an extremely silly family-oriented comedy that just doesn't work because for the most part, it's super-dull and just not funny.


The whole thing feels like an awkward mix of "Look Who's Talking" (annoying talking babies) and "Rugrats" (even more annoying talking babies) with elements of "Problem Child" (typically 90s over-the-top characters) and "Honey I Shrunk The Kids" (kids-aimed semi-scifi), at times mildly entertaining, but most of the time just boring and unnerving.

Great actors like Kathleen Turner (nominated for an Oscar, won 2 Golden Globes), Kim Cattrall (won 1 Golden Globe) or Christopher Lloyd (won 3 Primetime Emmys) making a fool out of themselves, delivering solid but completely unremarkable and totally forgettable performances. Clark's direction is odd, the pacing is too tedious and the rather high amount of supposed-to-be-amusing action-movie clichés is simply tiresome.


A few scenes were quite okay, like the ones were the babies talk about Pavlov's Dog and New World Order stuff, or one that was clearly inspired by "Home Alone". Music and camera work are neat, some nice tunes like Taco's "Puttin' on the Ritz" or Bee Gees' "Stayin' Alive" and a couple of lines that made me chuckle ("Have you said 'Dada' yet? They'll love that." -  "I've decided the first words I want to say will be 'The Gettysburg Address'). Overall: pretty bad,
but watchable, I guess.




SUPERBABIES: BABY GENIUSES 2

Working Title:
Baby Geniuses 2: Return of the Super Babies

Australia / New Zealand / UK / USA, 2004
Director: Bob Clark

1/10







Believe it or not, the first part was successful enough to warrant a sequel, so just 5 years later, Bob Clark returned to helm the follow-up, this time making a kid-friendly version of Nazisploitation by letting a few of the oh-so-genius babies team up with Kahuna, a legendary baby that is part superhero, part super-spy who once saved East-Germany Berlin from a a Nazi commander called "Kane" (where is Batman when you need him?), and is now back to save the world from the insane media mogul and children-kidnapper Bill Biscane... who is actually Kane! Mind blown.


Part 1 was bearable. Part 2 is pretty much unbearable and it's fully understandable why it's considered one of the worst films of all time. Ok, I've seen many, many movies that are FAR worse than this... still, this one's really one helluva turd. It's way more over-the-top, way dumber, way more bonkers and way more inane than the first one. Mildly funny lines? Mildly neat scenes? Forget it. This is just an endless of succession of fucking brats talking completely unfunny shit, while idiotic Superbaby Kahuna constantly dropkicks oh-so-stupid not-really-villains who are all plain retarded.

Not once did I chuckle. Not once did I smile. I just sank deeper and deeper into my seat, because the movie's so unbelievably dull and boring. The CGI effects, which were semi-okay in the first part, are all bad and look totally unconvincing, direction and writing are beyond awful, Jon Voight (won 1 Oscar & 4 Golden Globes) gives the worst performance of his entire career as dumb Nazi with a HORRID semi-German accent, and the other actors (Scott Baio, Vanessa Angel, Skyler Shaye...) are all incredibly wooden.


There's not much more to say about this stupid piece of baby shit. In case you wonder why I don't give it a 0/10... well, the movie looks at least kinda solid, mainly because of the insanely high $20 million budget, and the one scene where a baby crawls around on the ceiling somehow felt like a tribute to my beloved "The Exorcist III". Aside from that, "Baby Geniuses 2" just sucks and deserves to be forever in the Imdb's Bottom 100.

June 27, 2015

Project Terrible: THE APPLE

Hello and welcome to yet another round of everyone's favorite blogfest "PROJECT TERRIBLE" - Round 18 and the 14th round for me. This time, we did things a bit differently: all members of this round were allowed to choose a certain theme for what kinda flicks they wanna receive. Also, next to PT-boss Alec (Mondo Bizarro), Michele (The Girl Who Loves Horror), and Robert (Gaming Creatively / Mondo Bizarro), we have a new member: my /Slash-buddy Christian (who blogs in English "A life in 24 fps" and in German "fictionBOX").

My theme for this round is actually "Movies from the Imdb Bottom 100", but since Christian and I love/hate each other, we gave each other a terrible bonus film. He got "Manos: The Hands of Fate" (MWAHAHA) and I got a 'gem' from the early Cannon Films era...

THE APPLE

German Title:
Star Rock

USA / West Germany, 1980
Director: Menahem Golan

5/10








As I already mentioned in my "Little Shop of Horrors" review, I'm totally not into musicals or musical films at all. I dig the ones with Travolta and thought Joel Schumacher's "Phantom of the Opera" was pretty nice, but that's about it. So, getting a musical film for this round of Project Terrible...
*ugh* I expected the worst.

To my surprise, this one turned out to be big fun, mainly because it's a batshit stupid, yet pleasantly entertaining flick. "The Apple" was made by notorious and super-prolific filmmaker Menahem Golan (co-owner of legendary filmstudio Cannon / Golan-Globus) only to cash in on the success of box office hits like "Saturday Night Fever", "Grease" or "The Rocky Horror Picture Show", yet ultimately failed to capitalize on the then-waning popularity of disco music and bombed at the box office in 1980 as hard as other bad musicals, such as "Xanadu", "Can't Stop The Music" or "Popeye".


The movie takes place in an oh-so-futuristic 1994 and tells, or tries to tell the story of young Canadian singer / songwriter couple Alphie & Bibi who take part in the Worldvision Song Contest (Eurovision anyone?). They unfairly got beaten by the glam-disco-pop-rock-group BIM (=Boogalow International Music), however their sneaky manager Mr. Boogalow (who is actually Satan himself) still offers them a record contract which turns their lives upside down: Bibi quickly becomes a superstar, but gets also dragged into the wild, drug-induced BIM-lifestyle. Alphie resists and tries hard to get Bibi back. I won't spoiler the ending, but... ah, fuck it. The movie ends with an armada of hippies in the forest and God coming to Earth
in a white sportscar.

Holy sing-a-song! I perfectly understand why "The Apple" developed a cult following over the years. It's a bad movie, but in a really good way, delivering enough questionably silly and uber-bonkers stuff that should make for a perfectly diverting Saturday night. It's not exactly "Troll 2", but it has the charm of a bad movie that isn't aware of how bad it is, and ultimately satisfies with an array of ridiculous characters, even more ridiculous songs and a huge amount of scenes and sequences that are either hilarious, unintentionally hilarious
or just plain laughable.


There's the stupid but catchy opening where the glitter-tastic BIM do some glam-ulous glam-pop-rock, singing "Hey! Hey! Hey! BIM's on the way!" over and over and over. There's a goofy Vladek Sheybal with a holographic BIM-sticker on his forehead, singing "Like a puppet on a string, like a monkey on a swing...", performing together with go-go girls, clowns, drag queens and an Incredible Shrinking Man in what looks like the world's most charmless
shopping mall.

There's the scene where a record company office suddenly transforms into a campy green-and-red-lit version of hell where Allan Love plays around with a huge plastic apple and sings lines like "Magic apple. Mystery apple. Take a little ride. Let me be your guide through the apple paradise! Juju Apple. Voodoo Apple. Take a little bite. Spend a splendid night in our garden of delight!" or "It's a natural, natural, natural desire... Meet an actual, actual, actual vampire!"


The scene where Catherine Mary Stewart looks like she's trying to imitate Agnetha AND Anni-Frid at the same time, whilst singing "Speeeeeeeed! Speeeeeeed!" so often, it makes you wonder if she herself was on Speed during shooting. The scene where we get to see countless couples in countless beds perormfing countless sexual acts, whilst Grace Kennedy's moaning like crazy and singing "Cooo-ming... coming for you!". And, best of all: the outrageous scene that takes place during "BIM hour", some sorta Orwellian public fitness program in which everyone has to participate ("The national fitness program is watching you!"), where a group of disco-tastic firemen has to stop quenching a burning house and do disco dancing instead.

Yes, direction and writing are awful, most of the singing is lame, and it's all so over the top, it's ludicrous. Nevertheless, if you dig camp, musicals (doesn't matter if good or bad), and Cannon films in general, "The Apple" is an absolute must-see. No, this is not terrible, and yes, I do recommend this movie!

R.I.P Patrick Macnee

*sigh* Another amazing legend passed away. The great PATRICK MACNEE has died at the age of 93 of natural cases.

Macnee is most famous for starring in all 139 episodes of British TV series "The Avengers" (1961-1969) and all 26 episodes of its sequel "The New Avengers" (1976-1977) as secret agent John Steed. He also made memorable performances in "A View To A Kill" (1985), the last James Bond film with Roger Moore, in Rob Reiner's rock-music rockumentary "This Is Spinal Tap" (1984), or in countless TV-series (Columbo, Hart to Hart, Frasier, The Love Boat, Battlestar Galactica, Studio One, Murder She Wrote...).

He is one of the few actors who have portrayed both Sherlock Holmes AND Dr. Watson on screen: as Holmes in "The Hound of London" (1993), as a man who believes he's Holmes in the "Magnum P.I." episode "Holmes Is Where the Heart Is" (1984), and as Watson in "Sherlock Holmes in New York" (1976), "Sherlock Holmes and the Leading Lady" (1991) & "Incident in Victoria Falls" (1992).

He also appeared in numerous horror-themed films and series, such as "The Twilight Zone" (1959), "Night Gallery" (1971), "Dead of Night" (1977), Joe Dante's werewolf classic "The Howling" (1981), "Tales from the Darkside" (1984-1985), "Waxwork" (1988) and its sequel "Waxwork II: Lost in Time" (1992), "Transformations" (1988), "Lobster Man from Mars" (1989), or the Edgar Allen Poe adaptation "Masque of the Red Death" (1989).

Rest in Peace, Patrick Macnee
1922 - 2015


June 25, 2015

THE REMAINING

THE REMAINING

USA, 2014
Director: Casey La Scala

3,5/10











When I first heard of this movie, I already knew I wouldn't like it, but some strange curiosity in me decided to check it out either way. Well, as expected, I didn't lke it: "The Remaining" is a Christian horror/disaster-film following a couple of friends who seek shelter in a church and try to survive the worst catastrophe in history of mankind: the Rapture! Yes, good old God pulls out his trumpets and turns the entire world into one huge bad-weather area.

No, this movie clearly wasn't made for me. I consider myself as a liberal but cynical 'agnostic atheist' with little or no interest in all things god, bible or church. "The Remaining" was clearly made for theists and (hardcore) christians who believe that it makes sense to choose god and to live a Christian life. From the very beginning of the movie, director Casey La Scala (who co-produced a few damn fine movies over the last decade, like "Donnie Darko" or "Cypher") and screenwriter Chris Dowling (who hasn't done anything worthwhile so far) let us know that this is a movie about church life, about belief, about god. If you're into this, you might have a good time but I was quickly annoyed by it, especially during the second half where the religious talk goes on for like forever.


The catastrophe scenes look all excellent and rather believable (hail, fire, earthquake, winged demons...), the entire movie is very well shot with stunning cinematography and gorgeously composed images by Doug Emmett ("Paranormal Activity 4") and sublime half-bombastic-half touching music by Nathan Whitehead ("The Purge 1+2") - but that's where the awesomeness ends. Nearly all of the characters are pretty unsympathetic, most of the acting is pretty lame (especially cutie Liz E. Morgan who didn't even try), there's hardly any tension/suspense, lots of badly paced and ultra-boring scenes, and the few found-footage-style scenes look like they were simply ripped off of "Cloverfield" and "[REC]".

If you're a religious person, believer, bible-thumper etc. and/or if you're a fan of 'Rapture-sploitation' in general ("Left Behind", "The Leftovers" or, erm, "Red State"...), you obviously have to see this. Everyone else: stay far away.

R.I.P James Horner

JAMES HORNER, one of the greatest film composers of all time, died on Monday in a plane crash at the age of 61.

Like many other well-known contemporary filmmakers, Horner started working for Roger Corman, composing scores for b-movie cult classics like "Humanoids from the Deep" (1980) and "Battle Beyond the Stars" (1980), as well as for other genre flicks like Wes Craven's "Deadly Blessing" (1981), Oliver Stone's "The Hand" (1981) or the (still) underrated werewolf-classic "Wolfen" (1981).

After his breakthrough 1982 with the stunning score for "Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan", he became THE go-to guy for high-profile big budget blockbusters. He went on composing for movies like  "Krull" (1983), "Gorky Park" (1983), "Star Trek III: The Search for Spock" (1984), "Cocoon" (1985) or "Commando" (1985) before he received his very first Oscar nominations in 1987 for James Cameron's "Aliens" (1986), as well as an Oscar nomination AND a Golden Globe nomination for Don Bluth's "An American Tail" (1987).

Between 1990 and 2010, he won 2 Oscars and 2 Golden Globes for his work on James Cameron's "Titanic" (1997), and received 5 more Oscar nominations & 7 more Golden Globe nominations for contemporary classics like "Legends of the Fall" (1994), "Braveheart" (1995), "Apollo 13" (1995), "A Beautiful Mind" (2001) or "Avatar" (2009).

Rest in Peace, James Horner
1953 - 2015


June 24, 2015

THE NUMBER 23 (2007) + 23 (1998)

THE NUMBER 23

German Title:
Number 23

USA, 2007
Director: Joel Schumacher

6/10








After his lush and quite impressive movie adaptation of Andrew Lloyd Webber's successful "The Phantom of the Opera" musical (which I enjoyed quite a lot, even though I'm actually a notorious musical hater), director / writer Joel Schumacher decided to return to his favorite genre, the mystery/horror-thriller, and delivered this interesting, but flawed and slightly underwhelming film that follows Walter Sparrow, an amiable animal control officer who becomes obsessed with the 23 enigma after finding a weird book, entitled "The Number 23", that deals with a detective who's completely crazy about the number 23, and paradoxically shares many similarities with Walter...


"The Number 23" isn't a bad film, but it suffers from too many script problems, and it also suffers from the fact that it came several years too late, because plot-wise, it's very similar to movies like "Fight Club" (1999), "Memento" (2000), "The Machinist" (2004) or "Secret Window" (2004), and therefore, it's extremely foreseeable. The first hour is pretty tense and superbly atmospheric, very well built and paced. I was intrigued by the constant rise of paranoia and anxiety, and couldn't wait to find out what was going on. Unfortunately, in the last third the whole build-up collapses like a house of cards: the supposed-to-be-shocking plot twist is lame and disappointing, the tension vanishes into thin air, everything gets explained in a frustratingly explicit way, and the semi-open ending (I assume it was supposed to be shocking too) didn't impress me at all.

Furthermore, I had the feeling that Schumacher struggled a lot with giving the viewer proper insight into the main character's '23 paranoia', because in the second half, there's lots of odd talk about the number 23 that felt and sounded as if 23 is actually a virus or an autonomous creature, which is obviously ridiculous and removes any scariness, seriousness and credibility from the movie. The slightly similar-themed German 90s movie "23" (see below) does a much greater job in delivering a character that is obsessed with the number 23 in a believable way (no wonder, "23" is actually based on true events...).


Visually, it's simply beautiful, thanks to the awesome-looking blood-red apartment of the Sparrow family, many eerie and excellently edited sequences that reminded me a bit of Schumacher's very own "8MM", as well as of David Fincher's "Se7en". Same for the music by Harry Gregson-Williams ("The Chronicles of Narnia 1+2") that often sounds a bit "Se7en"-esque. Virginia Madsen is as great as always, and I highly enjoyed Logan Lerman's surprisingly strong performance. Jim Carrey is good too, though throughout the entire movie, I thought that John Cusack would have been a much better casting choice for this role. Don't get me wrong: I like Carrey and I like his performance here, but... I dunno,I thought he was
miscast here.

Overall, a solid film, but far away from the quality of Schumacher's earlier genre flicks ("The Lost Boys", "Flatliners" etc.)




23

Alternate German Title:
23 - Nichts ist so wie es scheint

Germany, 1998
Director: Hans-Christian Schmid

8/10









Although "23" and "The Number 23" are radically different from each other, they have at least one thing in common: some guy who is obsessed with the number 23, though while Joel Schumacher's "The Number 23" is a work of fiction, the German film "23" is based on real events that happened throughout the late 80s in Germany, following the two young leftist and politically active hackers Karl and David who come in touch with a drug dealer and a deserter, ending up hacking into big companies and foreign systems for the KGB.

The movie focusses on Karl, a maniacal fan of Robert Anton Wilson & Robert Shea's "Illuminatus!" trilogy, whose obsession with the 23 enigma and the assumption that there's a massive conspiracy behind it, as well as his increasing consumption of Heroine, lead him into paranoia and delusion, unable to tell the difference between dream and reality.


The third feature of German filmmaker Hans-Christian Schmid ("Distant Lights") is a stunning and delightfully fascinating drama-thriller, that deals with the hysteric and alarming atmosphere of the Cold War era between 1985-1991 (Chernobyl disaster, rise of Colonel Gadaffi, assassination of Olop Palme...), the early stages of the global network (access via Network User ID and Acoustic coupler) and the collapse of a young man who made a few wrong decisions that turned his life into an irreversible downward spiral.

I love how the movie constantly jumps between light-hearted scenes, dark drama, thrilling eerieness and factual expertise without ever feeling awkward. There are parts that will make you laugh out loud, such as the scene where the two hackers smoke weed and loudly sing songs in a dining car, but there are also parts that will make you feel uncomfortable, such as the powerful scene where Karl tries to jump out of a driving car because he thinks he's attacked by military aircrafts.


The cast is excellent, especially August Diehl ("Inglourious Basterds") who delivers a flawless and very believable performance. Throughout the movie, he looks so goddamn whacked, you start to assume that Diehl really was on drugs during shooting. The soundtrack is absolutely ace ["Child in Time" - Deep Purple / "The Passenger" - Iggy Pop / "Eighties" - Killing Joke...], lighting, editing and camera work are all fantastic, and omg, the ending is fucking depressing.

If you're into German thrillers like "The Experiment" or "The Wave", this is definitely worth checking out too!

June 23, 2015

Stephen King's SECRET WINDOW

SECRET WINDOW

German Title:
Das geheime Fenster

USA, 2004
Director: David Koepp

7/10








Although Johnny Depp's career sky-rocketed to the absolute top of the a-list after the first "Pirates of the Caribbean" movie in 2003, he has made so many odd role choices since, and he also had so many box office bombs since, it's hard to take this once-so-praised actor seriously anymore, which is obviously a fucking shame (I hope he finally recovers with the upcoming "Black Mass"...). One of his oddest, yet most interesting choices of the last 15 years was starring in the movie adaptation of an old Stephen King novella ("Secret Window, Secret Garden"),
just a few months after "Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl" wrapped.

Written and directed by David Koepp ("Stir of Echoes", "Jurassic Park 1-3"), "Secret Window" follows the writer's-block-suffering mystery writer Mort Rainey who one day gets threatened by a mysterious stranger who calls himself John Shooter and claims that Rainey has stolen one of his short stories, changed the ending ("I can't decide what's worse: stealing my story or ruining the ending.") and published it under his own name. While Rainey desperately tries to prove that he is the rightful originator, Shooter becomes more and more violent and aggressive, quickly turning Rainey's life into a horrible nightmare.


The original story (one of four stories in King's novella collection "Four Past Midnight") is a dark and tense story that suffers from a weak ending. The movie adaptation is a solid horror-thriller that stays pretty close to its source. It may be a tad too long (96 minutes - IMO 75/80 minutes would have been enough) and is often a tad too comedic, but thankfully, Koepp DID got the ending right, turning King's weak epilogue into an unexpectedly stunning final bang
incl. a cool nod to "Children of the Corn".

Depp is great and delivers a versatile performance, at times haunting, at times silly, but fortunately never too over-the-top. Love his couch-potato-look and his hair that look like you could use it as a feather duster, and he also delivers many really hilarious lines ("I killed a mirror... and my shower door."), as well as two of the best, most powerful final lines ever:


"You know, the only thing that matters is the ending. It's the most important part of the story, the ending. And this one... is very good. This one's perfect."
&
 "I know I can do it," Todd Downey said, helping himself to another ear of corn from the steaming bowl. "I'm sure that in time, every bit of her will be gone and her death will be a mystery... even to me." 

Yet, John Turturro gives an even more impressive performance as Depp's creepy counterpart, making you uncomfortable whenever he appears on screen (Tell me, why did't he won an Oscar yet?) A gorgeous Maria Bello, a very solid Timothy Hutton and a highly entertaining Charles S. Dutton round out this fine cast.


Aside from several unnecessary scenes and the above-mentioned 'over-length', the movie's biggest problem is its plot twist. In 1990, when King's story was published, this kind of twist felt fresh and was a huge surprise, but in 2004, filmmakers already have overused it (though not as much as in 2007 when Joel Schumacher bored us with the same twist in the underwhelming "The Number 23"...), so here in "Secret Window", it's really easy to predict (you probably figure it out within the first 15-20 minutes) and comes off as unoriginal and slightly annoying.

Still, "Secret Window" is a neat little chiller that every fan of Depp and/or King should check out. It's worth it!

Wiki ~ Imdb

Oh btw, in one scene, the movie pays tribute to René Magritte's famous painting "La Reproduction Interdite" (= Reproduction Prohibited, or: Not to be Reproduced):


Also, in one scene, Hunter S. Thompson's novel "The Rum Diary" is visible lying on a table. In 2011, Johnny Depp starred in the film adaptation
of "The Rum Diary"...



June 22, 2015

Richard Powell's BOX CUTTER Trilogy: WORM (2010), FAMILIAR (2012) and HEIR (2015)

HEIR
(14minute short)

Canada, 2015
Director: Richard Powell

6/10










"Heir" is the third and final entry in Richard Powell's "Box Cutter" trilogy, following seemingly average family man Gordon and his son Paul who embark on a road trip to meet Gordon's old college friend Denis. What Paul doesn't know: Gordon and Denis share a dark and disturbing passion. What Gordon doesn't know: Denis is actually an extremely dangerous monster in disguise...

In Summer 2013, I got the chance to read the script for "Heir". I was surprised about how different it turned out to be compared to is predecessors "Worm" and "Familiar" (see below), but I also got immensely excited for the film because from what I read, "Heir" promised to be a killer of a film, dealing with secrets and lies, pedophilia, and body horror, but this time giving us two characters who try to hide their dark side from the outside world. Hell, I loved the script, wrote an in-depth analysis for Mr. Powell, donated a few bucks to the "Heir" Kickstarter campaign, and counted the days until the film was finished...


...and now that it's finished and I've finally seen it (three times), I'm confused and a bit shocked. "Heir" is not just a surprisingly odd adaptation of a masterful script, it's also a strangely mediocre and surprisingly unimpressive film that totally doesn't fit into the trilogy, mainly because it lacks the sinister tone, tension and atmopshere of its predecessors. The fact that there's no voice-over (like in "Worm" and "Familiar" doesn't help either.

The basic ingredients are splendid: Robert Nolan is back, once again delivering a terrific, yet unexpectedly calm performance as secretive and slightly insecure father. Co-starring is the awesome-as always Bill Oberst Jr. as cynical and super-creepy villain. Camera work is fantastic (Michael Jari Davidson, "Sick), the brooding electro score gets under the skin (Christopher Guglick, "The Last Halloween") and the practical effects are all brilliant.


Unfortunately, apart from the above-mentioned flaws, the film feels WAY too rushed (as if Powell just wanted to get the film over with), the build-up is awkward, and the suspense never gets a chance to properly unfold. "Worm" (21 minutes long) and "Familiar" (23 minutes long) both took their time to give the viewer full insight into plot and characters, while "Heir" (only 13 minutes long!) is over so soon, it's frustrating. Also, after re-reading the script, I noticed several important, pivotal scenes and moments that would have made it so better, as well as at least one scene (decomposing hands) that was a true shocker in the script, but in the finished film, it's almost unnoticeable and has no effect on the viewer whatsoever because you only get to see it for 2 seconds!

Ok, "Heir" isn't a bad short, but compared to "Worm" and "Familiar", it's a massive disapointment. Bummer!




FAMILIAR
(23minute short)

Canada, 2012
Director: Richard Powell

10/10










"Familiar" is the second entry in Richard Powell's "Box Cutter" trilogy, following John Dodd (twin brother of Geoffrey Oswald Dodd, main character in "Worm"), a bored and jaded middle-aged family father, whose extremely negative inner voice tells him to despise, hate and destroy his family, and demands to do awful things to his wife.... but is it really just his own inner voice? Or is
it someone else?


"Familiar" is an intriguing and outstanding little shocker that is basically as mindblowing as its predecessor "Worm". The first half is dark and gloomy, focusing on all kinds of unpleasant things, like boredom, monotony, everyday routine and depression, as well as making an unexpected foray into abortion. In the second half, the movie takes an unexpected turn and suddenly becomes a brutal Cronenbergian body-horror-fest, full of gory, scary and disturbing realistic practical effects. 

Director Richard Powell handles the bizarre but fascinating story with great care and attention to detail. The build-up is simply fantastic and the payoff is absolutely excellent. The characters are interesting and highly believable, and the acting is just amazing, especially Robert Nolan's breathtaking performance and his super-creepy voice-over. I get goosebumps whenever I hear him saying "The world is different when people are asleep... better. I wish they would sleep forever... but they always wake up... and ruin everything."


Camera work and cinematography are super-stylish (Michael Jari Davidson), the eerie music is superb and super-effective (Bernie Greenspoon), and the top-notch editing is just wow (Navin Ramaswaran & Tom Mountain). Final verdict: "Familiar" is a very well made, visually stunning and pretty shocking must-see. One of the greatest short films I've ever seen!




WORM
(21minute short)

Canada, 2010
Director: Richard Powell

10/10










"Worm" is the first installment in Richard Powell's "Box Cutter" trilogy, following high school teacher Geoffrey Oswald Dodd (twin brother of John Dodd, the main character in "Familiar") who absolutely hates and despises himself and his life, his work, all of his fellow teachers and nearly all of his pupils with an uber-negative passsion that is insane - with the exception of only one of his pupils, a teenage girl he is madly in love with.


Powell's second short film (the first one, "Consumption" (2008), is not a part of the trilogy) is a terrifyingly intense and gobsmackingly powerful shocker, flawlessly written and directed, incredibly tense and atmospheric, with pitch-perfect camera work (Breandan Uegama, "Monster Brawl") and a brilliant score (Bernie Greenspoon). The first half manages to be dark, depressing and entertaining at the same time, while the second half is just grim, grim, grim. I was a complete wreck when the credits rolled

Highlight: Robert Nolan's absolutely gobsmacking performance. My goodness, this guy is awesome! Almost on a level with De Niro or Michael Douglas, Nolan delivers a jaw-dropping performance as one of the most miserable creatures I've ever seen. The negativity of his character seems to be absurdly and ridiculously over-the-top at first, but the minute you realize, how fucked up this guy really, the laughter gets stuck in your throat.
Just watching him saying / thinking things like "I hope your mother and father rot from cancer." or "Thieving pig... keep eating and maybe you'll have the second heart attack." or "I can't wait to see the look on your dirty little faces when your friends' brains splash across your $200 running shoes. Then I'll blow my brains out all over the chalkboard." gives me the creeps.


"Worm" is a stunningly made and surprisingly upsetting little masterpiece, and just like "Familiar", one of the greatest short films I've ever seen!



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