March 27, 2015



USA, 2015
Director: John Portanova



How many more Bigfoot/Sasquatch/Yeti-themed movies do we need? This slightly awkward subgenre has spawned hundreds of features, short films, documentaries and series over the last 70 years, though only a handful of them are good, like "Willow Creek", "The Legend of Boggy Creek" or "Night of the Demon". Most of the other stuff is either below average or just plain unwatchable.

For his directorial debut feature, screenwriter John Portanova ("The Invoking") took yet another turn on this worn out topic and created a watchable, yet pretty forgettable forest-chiller about a father, his son and two friends who fight for their lives against a bunch of angry Sasquatches deep in the Washingtonian forests...

"Valley of the Sasquatch" isn't a bad movie, but its executed in such a trivial and nondescript way, you already forgot about it before it's even over. Portanova tries his best to carefully develop the 4 main characters and get us acquainted with their backstories - unfortunately, 3 of them are so unlikable and/or irrevelant, you just don't care about them, and the 4th one is so unobtrusive, you wonder
why he's even in.

The pacing is way too slow, especially in the first half, the few twists and supposed-to-be-surprising plot points are all highly foreseeable, and Jon Bash's score is way too loud, way too aggressive and totally doesn't fit in. The music should have been much way more subtle.

On the positive side, most of the acting is really good, especially the performances by indie darlings like Jason Vail ("Gut"), D'Angelo Midili ("The Invoking") and jack-of-all-trades Bill Oberst Jr. ("Circus of the Dead"). The sasquatches behave in a very realistic way and the costumes look really believable, the gore effects are well done and David Philips' editing is terrific. Other than that, "Valley of the Sasquatch" was quite a letdown for me. Recommended to die-hard Bigfoot fans only.

Thanks to John Portanova for the screener!

March 26, 2015

Project Terrible: ROLLERGATOR

Alec (Mondo Bizarro) told me about this movie so many times, I really got curious and desperately wanted to see it. Fortunately, he was so 'kind' and gave it to me for this round. So, is it really as bad as he said? Maybe even worse than "Skeleton Key 2"? Or would I end up loving it?

Well, I didn't exactly love it, but... erm, I somehow enjoyed it!


USA, 1996
Director: Donald G. Jackson


"Rollergator" is one of 24(!!) movies directed by Donald G. Jackson between 1990 and 1999. Jackson had one hit movie in 1988: the bizarre but entertaining "Hell Comes to Frogtown". After that one, his career went down the drain and he become the "Ed Wood of the Video age", shooting one lowest-budget crapfest after the other - like this one which follows a young teenage rollergirl who tries to help a purple-colored jive-talking AND rapping(!) baby alligator(!!) hiding from a greedy carnival owner and a skateboarding Ninja woman(!!!), and bringing him back to his rightful owner, a slightly demented Swamp farmer...

In terms of technical aspects and production values, it's a totally dreadful movie. Jackson obviously made this on a "zero budget" basis, which means: shot on shitteo, unbelievably amateurish editing, non-existent sound mic/editing, no lighting or decent make-up, laughable puppet effects, poor acting, imbecile direction and an uber-zany script, written by some guy called Matt X. Lawrence who wrote two more things for Jackson: "Baby Ghost" and "Little Lost Sea Serpent" [Alec, please try finding these!]. Worst of all: the unnerving soundtrack which consists of a neverending acoustic guitar instrumental and some
more-than-mediocre surf rock.

Nevertheless, there was something really charming about "Rollergator": the Gator itself is constantly talking or trying to rap, which is at times annoying, but at times also really funny. Call me an idiot, but I laughed at some of his lines, be it rubbish like "I don't believe it! A talking Alligator!" - "I don't believe it. A talking nimrod!", or "You've seen the Dark Ninja?" - "You mean DORK Ninja!", or "I'm a mean Motor-Gator, a Rock'n'Roll skater. Tryin' to catch me now, I kick your butt later (...) I live in the swamp but I'm no Forrest Gump. I'm gonna be illin' if I'm not chillin'".

Also, one time actress Sandra Shuker is a real cutsie (Imdb-user gridoon2015 nailed it, calling her "such a sweetie-pie"), Joe Estevez (brother of Martin Sheen) transforms into a Gator-monster, "Plan 9"-legend Conrad Brooks delivers a silly-but-bearable performance, and there's also a cameo by one of the Frogtown mutants. "Rollergator" is a bad movie, but... no, it's not so-bad-it's good, it's actually so-bad-you-can't-help-enjoying-it :-)


Oh btw: according to the announcement in the end credits, Jackson really wanted to sequelize this...

March 25, 2015

Project Terrible: DREAM WARRIOR + RAGE

Robert (Gaming Creatively / Mondo Bizarro) gave me something which isn't exactly terrible, but also far from being good. At least, it made me check out some other film and eventually turned this one-movie-review into a double feature...


Working Title:
A Man called Rage

USA / Croatia, 2003
Director: Zachary Weintraub


No, this has obviously nothing to do with "A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors", and no, aside from following a character called 'Rage' in a post-apocalyptic world, this is no remake of the Italian "Rage" (a.k.a "A Man Called Rage" - see below). "Dream Warrior" is more like a post-apocalyptic version of "X-Men", set in a distant future where mutants with superhuman abilities get hunted and killed by human leader Parish who wants to wipe out everything impure of the planet - until mutant leader Rage comes along
and thwarts his plans...

Doesn't sound too original, huh? Well, as you can guess, "Dream Warrior" is a lame paint-by-numbers low-budget post-apo flick without substance or surprise. I'm not sure what Zachary Weintraub wanted to achieve because "Dream Warrior" clearly fails as both a homage to and reboot of classic 70s/80s post-apocalyptic exploitation films. The story is well-trodden and foreseeable, the plot twists are extremely predictable, the pacing is way too slow and tedious, and Weintraub's direction is just poor.

The movie looks like it was made for TV and nearly all of the filming locations were filmed in a weak and unimpressive way. There's no atmosphere, no tension, nothing that stands out or comes off as impressive or interesting. The few action scenes are all quite mediocre, the few special effects (levitating grenades, electric rays) are all rather laughable and the scenes with the goth queen in the orphanage and the blue-eyed baby were so unintentionally hilarious, I laughed my ass off completely.

The acting ranges from good to really, really bad. Lance Henriksen ("Aliens") delivers a solid performance, yet fails to make a lasting impression. Sherilyn Fenn ("Twin Peaks") and Richard Norton ("The Octagon") are both decent. Everyone else is either meh [especially main actor Daniel Goddard ("BeastMaster") and a highly underwhelming Isaac Hayes ("Escape from New York")] or just plain terrible, especially one-time-actress Zahra Swetz who delivers
one of the worst acting performances I've ever seen, even worse than Dominique Swain in "Fall Down Dead"

Not terrible, but very, very lame.


Original Title:
Rage - Fuoco incrociato

Alternate Title:
A Man called Rage

German Titles:
Rush 2 - Final Game / Rush Part 2 - Final Game

Italy / Spain, 1984
Director: Tonino Ricci
(as Anthony Richmond)


The false rumours about "Dream Warrior" being a remake of "Rage" made me curious, and so I checked out said movie. Well, aside from having a main character called 'Rage' doing stuff in a post-apocalyptic world, and an opening scene that consists of atomic bomb stock footage clips, "Rage" and "Dream Warrior" have absolutely nothing in common - and, as expected, "Rage" is a much better movie!

The story isn't good: a couple of good guys (Captain Strike a.k.a Rage and a couple of survivors) and a couple of bad guys (some guy called Slash and a couple of survivors) both try to optain a stash of Uranium which could help save mankind. That's it. Meh. Gladly, "Rage" delivers plenty of fun stuff that makes this flick a must-see, especially for Italo-freaks.

There's lot gun action and shoot-outs, lots of fist-fights and car chases, lots of fire and explosions There's radioactive zones and forbidden lands, magnetic hurricanes and lands of trembling rocks, gangs of cut-throats and deformed mutants. It's simply impossible to get bored by all these exploitation-shenanigans. Director Tonino Ricci usually was quite a terrible filmmaker (watch "Bakterion" and you know what I mean), but "Rage" surprisingly turned out to be a very solidly directed action romp that entertains from start to finish.

The acting is pretty much exactly what you expect from films like that: far from great, but decent and watchable, especially Ricci-regular Bruno Minniti (a.k.a Conrad Nichols), hottie Taida Urrozola, baddie Stelio Candelli ("Demons") and infamous Austrian genre-regular Werner Pochath ("Laser Mission"). Camera work and cinematography are thoroughly great (Giovanni Bergamini, "Cannibal Ferox") and the score is classic old-school Italo-epicness (Stelvio Cipriani, "Nightmare City") - aside from some bonkers disco music that totally doesn't fit in.

All in all, a super-cool Italo-gem, best enjoyed as a double feature together with "Hands of Steel".


Fun Fact:
In Germany, "Rage" was released as a sequel to "Rush", a movie directed by Tonino Ricci one year earlier, also with Bruno Minniti as the main actor.

March 24, 2015

Project Terrible: DEATH RACERS

Alec (Mondo Bizarro) did it again. He gave me something really, really terrible, hateable and despisable... *sigh*


German Title:
Death Race 3000

USA, 2008
Director: Roy Knyrim


It's not the worst movie I have ever seen (that's still the unwatchable "Skeleton Key 2" and the even more unwatchable "Dating a Zombie"), but it comes very close. Holy racecar, now THIS is what I call terrible. "Death Racers", a lousy, imbecile and aggravating z-grade cash-in on Paul W.S. Anderson's excellently entertaining "Death Race" (2008), directed by some honk called Roy Knyrim... no, he's not a honk. He's actually a make-up & special effects artist who worked on countless horror films like "2001 Maniacs", "Trapped Ashes", "Toxic Avenger 2+3", "Wishmaster 2-4", "Children of the Corn 4-6", "Night of the Demons 3" etc. etc.

...but in terms of directing Knyrim is definitely a honk. And everyone else who was involved in creating this piece of garbage which revolves around a cross-country death race in a desolate city that was turned into a huge prison camp
("Escape from New York" anyone?). I'm actually surprised that this was produced by The Asylum. It doesn't look like your average Asylum production, more like something from Tony Watt or Bill Zebub.

The cast features untalented non-actors like WWE-star Scott Levy a.k.a "Raven", models Anya Benton and Teri Corcoran, Muay Thai KickBoxing World Champion Damien Puckler and.. erm. Violent J and Shaggy 2 Dope, better known as the Insane Clown Posse. I have nothing against ISP or their fans, the infamous Juggalos, but I sooo don't like their music - several of their songs get played throughout the movie OVER and OVER and OVER again! - and they obviously have no clue about acting. They're just posing, looking dumb, delivering stupid lines the entire fucking time. Annoying as snot on your sleeve.

All characters are idiots, the cars look shite and dialogue like "It's a Lotus, and it can go from 0 to 'Suck My Dick' in 4.1 seconds." could have worked in other movies, but here it's just awfully unfunny. The action scenes are all horribly edited and look just god-awful, the whole movie looks unbelievably tacky, especially the crappy CGI effects. Pacing is painfully dull, direction is dreadfully trite, and whenever I heard this ear-shattering voice screaming "DEATH RRRRRAAAAACE!!!!!" like a piss drunk hobo... I just wanted to cut off my ears.

"Death Racers" is a horrible, horrible movie and I beg you to avoid it at any cost. Thanks, Alec. You bastard.

March 23, 2015


Michele (The Girl Who Loves Horror) has a track record of giving me supposed-to-be-terrible movies that aren't terrible at all - but this time, she finally gave me something that I really, really disliked. Yes, it's a Roger Corman film... and no,
it's not good at all...


USA, 1961
Director: Roger Corman


I wouldn't call myself a die-hard Roger Corman fan, but I can wholeheartedly say that I dig most of his directorial efforts, be it his monster flicks, Poe-adaptations or his horror-comedies - but this one... uh-uh. No way, Jose. I couldn't do anything with this piece of junk.

Looking through all the reviews on Imdb and other sites, I seem to be in good company as it is obviously Corman's most unpopular movie. There are a couple of peeps out there hailing it as Corman's most underrated, most misunderstood movie - but the majority couldn't care less. "Creature from the Haunted Sea" 
is a real stinker, failing to be both a parody on spy/secret agents films
and monster movies.

The movie was the last of three horror/comedy-collaborations between Corman and screenwriter Charles B. Griffith. The first two collabos were both super-hilarious films that eventually became all-time genre classics ("A Bucket of Blood" & "Little Shop of Horrors"), but this one ended up as a disaster, cinematically and financially, mainly because the marketing sold it as mystery thriller, complete with misleading taglines on the posters like "What was the unspeakable secret of the SEA OF LOST SHIPS?" and "Please do not give away the answer to the secret."

There's a guy who only talks in animal noises, one of the most ridiculous-looking monsters in film history (just look at the ludicrous Ping Pong eyes!!), lots of unfunny shenanigans with silly gangsters and even sillier Cuban governments, a stupid running gag with a sleeping man who constantly knocks himself unconscious etc. etc. It's all supposed to be amusing, but I wasn't able to laugh at all this rubbish. The funny parts aren't funny at all, the pacing is dreadfully slow, and the direction is just shoddy.

The two only good things about it: the animated opening and some fun with names ["The big cheese was Renzo Capetto, alias Capo Rosetto, alias Ratto Pazetti, alias Zeppo Staccato alias Shirley Lamour. (...) Mary-Belle Monahan, alias Mary-Monahan Belle, alias Belle-Mary Monahan, alias Monahan Marybelle."]. As for the rest, this is actually such a bad movie, it's shocking. Corman WTF??

Wiki ~ Imdb

March 22, 2015


Hello and welcome to another round of Project Terrible! Round 17 and the 13th round for me. 13! Ouch! Bad luck! While Round 12 was one helluva funfest, Round 13 turned out to be far more terrible than expected. This time, I got to see five fucking films, three from PT-boss Alec (Mondo Bizarro), 1 from Michele (The Girl Who Loves Horror), 1 from Robert (Gaming Creatively).
Starting off with something that looks way more fun than it actually is *bleh*...


German Title:
Temple of Skulls - Der Tempel der Totenköpfe

USA, 2008
Director: Mark Atkins


The only Quatermain-themed movie I've ever seen was "King Solomon's Mines" from 1985 (the third of 5(!) adaptations of Henry Rider Haggard's novel of the same name), which was solely made to cash in on the success of the Indiana Jones films. Not exactly a great movie, but a decent one - made on a budget of
around $11 million.

Now, I got to see my second Quatermain movie: "Allan Quatermain and the Temple of Skulls", the fifth Solomon-adaptation, produced by the notorious Aslyum studios, solely made on a budget of about $50.000 to... erm, 'cash in' on the super-lame but super-successful "Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull" - need I say more?

It's an awful film, about as terrible as most Asylum stuff. Ok, amongst all of the hacks that work for Asylum, Mark Atkins isn't the worst one (I enjoyed his somewhat neat "Battle of Los Angleles"), but this is definitely the worst thing he's made so far. With a story that has nearly nothing to do with its source material, a screenplay that is packed to the brim with plot holes, plot illogicalities and tons of batshit stupid rubbish (Earthquakes out of fucking nowhere, bee swarm out of fucking nowhere, going on an adventure with regular street clothes...), abysmally amateurish editing and an incredibly awful cast, this all feels more like as if a bunch of completely untalented film students wanted to reenact their favorite adventure films.

Sean Michael is okay as Quatermain, but non-actors like Natalie Stone (grins like an idiot), Christopher Adamson (constantly looks as if he just escaped the loony bin) or Wittly Jourdan (looks cute, but has no clue of acting) are just a torture to watch. Same for all the horrendous CGI, stock footage of wild animals and nearly all of the clothes which don't look like they fit into the time the movie's supposed to take place. Also, as you can see below, there's hardly any skulls in the movie. So much for your "Temple of Skulls"...

I appreciate the fact that this was actually shot in South Africa and I also thought that the musical score - as generic as it may be - was better than most Asylum scores. Other than that, this movie - which actually includes NO "Temple of Skulls" whatsoever! - is just terrible.

March 20, 2015



Spain / USA, 2014
Director: Nacho Vigalondo


Just when you thought Elijah Wood's post-Frodo-career film career gets more and more interesting (especially after great performances in genre gems like "Maniac" or "Grand Piano"), he and his production company SpectreVision deliver a movie that is so unbelievably shitty, it's shocking. Overrated Spanish one-hit-wonder Nacho Vigalondo ("Timecrimes") reduces the found footage genre to absurdity by making a one-trick-pony rubbish-thriller that was entirely filmed from the POV of Elijah Wood's character looking at a laptop, looking at an endless array of video streams, video players, browser windows opening and closing.

A lousy and unoriginal gimmick turned into a god-awful and indescribably unnerving piece of terribleness, poorly made and developed, at times unintentionally ludicrous, but most of the time, so bad, bad, bad, you wanna sue the hell out of everyone involved. There's a convoluted storyline about celebrated actresses, website designers, mysterious hackers and weird conspiracies hidden in it, but since you're forced to constantly look at windows opening, closing, opening, closing ad infinitum, you quickly start to so NOT care about any of the characters or events and just hope and pray it may end soon - which it doesn't do because this crap is almost 100 minutes long... *sigh*

None of the events make sense or seem to be any kind of plausible, it's all just balls-to-the-wall bonkers, but not in a good or fun way. None of the characters seem to be at least mildly intelligent, everyone's just batshit stupid. Car chases that are totally boring and seem to go on forever. Plot twists that are so inane, you wanna take Vigalondo and throw him out of the window. Elijah Wood seemed to be uninterested in the role and gave a surprisingly weak and eye-rollingly lame performance. Even worse: porn actress Sasha Grey who's just embarrasing and a super-laughable Neil Maskell ("Kill List").

Vigalondo once was hailed as THE next big thing - but after mediocre stuff like "Extraterrestrial", unferwhelming segments for "The ABCs of Death" or "V/H/S Viral", and this atrocity, I lost all hope in him. He's neither talented, nor gifted. The awesome "Timecrimes"-days are long gone. He's a one-trick-pony, just like "Open Windows", a movie that I originally wanted to give a 1/10, solely for Sasha Grey's beuatiful boobs... until I finished writing this rant and realized that this movie doesn't deserve such a high rating. 0/10 is just right for this
cinematic disaster.

March 18, 2015



USA / UK / Germany, 2006
Director: Lucky McKee


My frequent readers probably know that I'm not exactly a fan of Lucky McKee's work. Ok, I adore his 2002 cult flick "May" (love letter review here) and I enjoyed his contribution to the first season of the "Masters of Horror" series, but all of his other works didn't do anything for me, especially the love-it-ot-hate-it shocker "The Woman" (I hated it) or the dreadful "All Cheerleaders Die" - and now that I finally seen his "May" follow-up "The Woods", I can add one more McKee flick
to the "Lucky Hall of Shame".

"The Woods" is a trite, dull and tiresome supernatural horror film about an all-girls private high school which is led and controlled by a coven of witches and a haunted forest. The basic premise is cool and intriguing, but the way McKee and screenwriter David Ross ("The Babysitters") handled it is rather lousy. The movie is obviousy influenced by Dario Argento's "Suspiria", though it's baffling how nearly every reviewer on the internet is solely comparing it to "Suspiria", when it actually steals and borrows from many other movies too, especially from "Picnic at Hanging Rock" (all-girls schol, pupils disappearing, the school's reputation struggling), "La Residencia" (all-girls school, new girl arrives, girls disappear) and "The Faculty" (teachers acting very weird, people disappear).

The whole thing already starts out weird and never really gets going. There are some tense and mildly eerie scenes, but for the greater part, "The Woods" plods along at snail's pace, hops between moments of silliness and utter frustration, shenanigans with balancing stones, unintentionally amusing-looking CGI tree-attacks, unnerving ghost voices, truckloads of open / unanswered questions, and - worst of all - a couple of uber-comedic scenes, all involving Bruce Campbell, that totally don't fit in. Don't get me wrong: I love Bruce Campbell, but he and his character are completely out of place. The entire movie is dark, serious and very gothic-y - but suddenly, good ol' Bruce pops up, delivering some of his well-known "Evil Dead" shtick which is actually so odd and inappropriate here, it completely took me out of the movie.

Although I didn't exactly like any of the characters, I admit that most of the acting is just splendid, especially the performances of Agnes Bruckner, Rachel Nichols, Marcia Bennett (whose character's head is constantly twitching - fun!), and the fantastic Patricia Clarkson. Also, some nicely done scenes involving leaves or milk, and a few cool 60s tunes (all by Lesley Gore). Other than that, "The Woods" is a gargantuan mishap, only recommended to die-hard McKee fans or to people who - for whatever reason - enjoy stuff like "The Moth Diaries" (ugh!).

March 17, 2015

MAY (2002)


German Title:
May - Die Schneiderin des Todes

USA, 2002
Director: Lucky McKee


Back in 2002 when director / writer Lucky McKee was shooting his second feature "May", I think he wasn't aware of what an incredible film he was making. With a budget of only about $500.000 and a cast that considered mostly of no-name indie actors & actresses at that time, McKee involuntarily created one of the best, most impressive, most influential horror films of the 00s.

"May" tells the story of loner and social misfit May, an odd woman with a lazy eye and a troubled childhood whose only 'friend' is a creepy-looking glass-encased doll named Suzie. May works at a veterinary hospital and leads a calm life, until the day she falls in love with Adam, a local mechanic who at first seems to be interested in her, but rejects her when he realizes that May is much weirder than he originally expected. From this moment on, May's life slowly goes downhill. She snaps, her behavior becomes more and more awkward, flirts with a lesbian co-worker and some random punk dude end deadly, and when her 'friend' accidentally gets broken, she decides to create a new one... Frankenstein-style!

Calling "May" a mere horror film is quite improper, because... well, it's actually soooo much more. It starts out as shrewd mix of comedy, dramedy and semi-rom-com and ends us as bizarre bastard of psychological drama, horror-comedy and fun-slasher. Blending so many genres/sub-genres together could have ended as disaster of epic proportions - but McKee managed to blend all these various types into each other as if it's the easiest thing in the world. While he completely failed to do so with later works like "The Woods" or "All Cheerleaders Die"... with "May", he fully succeeded in creating one of the wackiest, yet most perfect genre mash-ups in movie history, a mash-up that's amusing, entertaining, shocking, heartbreaking and thought-provoking at the very same time.

The main reasons why "May" works so fucking good: the deeply fascinating character of May and the incredible performance of Angela Bettis. I don't exaggerate when I say that Bettis' May is one of the greatest, most breathtaking, most mesmerising, most fascinating acting performances I have ever seen and it's a mystery to me why Bettis hasn't become an actress of the caliber of a Cate Blanchett or Tilda Swinton. They way she moves, the way she looks, her ambigious expressions, her often inscrutable demeanor. Her adorable smiles, but also her frightening temper tantrums. A loner that desperately needs help before things start to get very, very ugly. What I love most about Bettis' performance that she never lets May become unlikable. Even when she's in super-psychotic mode, you're still rooting for her because, like her, you hope and somehow believe that everything will work out right...

The rest of the cast is almost equally fantastic: there's Jeremy Sisto ("Wrong Turn") as May's love interest who involuntarily becomes the catalysator for the tragedies to happen. Anna Faris ("Scary Movie 1-4") as Lesbian who seems to care about May, but actually doesn't care about her at all. Nichole Hiltz ("In Plain Sight") as blonde bitch, James Duval ("Donnie Darko") as silly punk, Kevin Gage ("Heat") and Merle Kennedy ("Night of the Demons") as May's parents.

"May" is also packed to the brim with visually stunning images of May's eerie doll or her very own... um, 'creation', with remarkable stand-out scenes like the one with the blind kids accidentally hurting themselves on the shards of glass, the one with the bloody kiss or all the gorgeously gory kills... though nothing comes close to the awesomeness of the final scene which is funny, shocking, depressing and tear-jerking at the very same time. Seeing May, at first unwilling to grasp what terrible things she did, then quickly realizing that there's something totally wrong, breaking down in tears and ultimately doing something unspeakable to herself - hell, this scene and the final image which can be only described as magic, it gets me every time. I'm getting goosebumps, I'm close to tears, I wanna reach into the screen and pull May out of this misery *sigh*

The soundtrack is terrific, consisting of fabulous tunes by The Kelley Deal 6000 (the adorable "When He Calls Me Kitten"), Tommy James & The Shondells ("Hanky Panky"), The Breeders ("Do You Love Me Now?") and Jammes Luckett's unbelievably eerie "Deviation on a Theme". The cinematography is excellent (Steve Yedlin, "Looper"), editing, costumes and the entire art direction are splendid, and McKee's direction is just frigging perfect.

Yes, it's weird film, but... well, I like weird. I like weird a lot!

Wiki ~ Imdb

March 16, 2015



USA, 1993
Director: Dominic Sena


With a cast like that - Brad Pitt, David Duchovny, Juliette Lewis - you wouldn't think that this movie bombed at the box office... but it did, and quite massive too: it only made about $2 million on a $9 million budget, and now more than 20 years later, it's still an incredibly underrated and overlooked movie that deserves
so much more attention.

The debut feature of Dominic Sena ("Swordfish", "Whiteout") is a grim and deeply fascinating road movie/thriller, a bit in the vein of slightly similar-looking movies like "Natural Born Killers" or "Thelma & Louise", following a journalist and his girlfriend who travel across America to visit and document famous serial-killer sites, unaware that one of their two white trash companions is a serial killer himself...

"Kalifornia" is a slow movie that demands attention and patience. There's lots of talking and driving around with not much action going on, but if you let yourself get fully into it, you'll get rewarded with a stunning high-class thriller that will thrill you and shock you and ultimately tear you apart with its intensity. The first half constantly switches between entertaining, puzzling and gripping, while the second half is just brutal and gets and darker and more unsettling with
every single minute.

Sena perfectly turned Tim Metcalfe's ("Fright Night 2", "The Haunting in Connecticut") excellent screenplay into a pretty unique and surprisingly clever powerhouse of a movie by keeping the pace calm and steady, the tension palpable and running high, whilst mesmerising the audience with beautiful images of empty deserts and abandoned buildings.

The characters are all very believable and the chemistry between the 4 main actors is simply outstanding. Brad Pitt delivers one of the most impressive performances in his entire career as seeminlgy stupid hick who's actually more intelligent that you might think and who's also extraordinarily dangerous because he gives a flying fuck about any kind of rules and only does whatever he wants, be it theft, rape or murder. Juliette Lewis is equally impressive as the killer's girlfriend, a naive but somehow adorable and pitiful 'white trash beautiful'. Duchovny gives a subtle and slightly inscrutable semi-yuppie, but he gets completely outclassed by the unbelievably hawt, unbelievably talented, unbelievably underrated Michelle Forbes whose performance as cynical photographer, who gradually gets more and more frightened and uneasy, is simply flawless. Bravo!

"Kalifornia" is undoubetly one of the best and most interesting serial-killer films of the 90s. I urge everyone who still hasn't seen it to check it out ASAP. If you don't trust/believe me... well, Roger Ebert gave it 4/4 and said about Sena's direction "(...) he shows the kind of mastery of material here that I've seen in other early films such as Martin Scorsese's 'Mean Streets', Terence Malick's 'Badlands' (or) John McNaughton's 'Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer'." 
Eat that!

March 12, 2015



German Title:
Frozen Ground

USA, 2013
Director: Scott Walker


Just when you thought the acting careers of Nicolas Cage and John Cusack went down the drain, this little gem comes along and proves you totally wrong, because acting-wise, they're both more alive and kicking than ever, at least here in the debut feature by New Zealand based filmmaker Scott Walker (not to be confused with the other Scott Walker a.k.a one of the greatest singers of all time), a dark and unsettling motherfucker of a thriller, based on the case of real-life serial killer Robert Hansen who kidnapped, raped and murdered more than 30 women in the Alaskan wilderness between 1971 and 1983.

"The Frozen Ground" focusses on state trooper Jack Halcombe (Nicolas Cage) who investigates the case and teams up with a young prostitute (Vanessa Hudgens) who escaped the hands of the cold-blooded killer (John Cusack). Seriously, I haven't seen a Cage-performance like that in a very long time. He's absolutely mesmerising here, delivering some of the strongest acting ever. Forget about crap like "Season of the Witch" or the dreadful "Ghost Rider" flicks. THIS is the Cage we all fell in love with, long before he started to accept every single fucking role he got offered.

Equally impressive: John Cusack who's simply brilliant as deeply disturbed family father slash serial killer and - even more surprising - Vanessa "High School Musical" Hudgens as extremely believable and immensely troubled woman. There's also some more neat acting by 50 Cent as... erm, as pimp (what else?), Jodi Lynn O'Keefe as helpful prostitute, and Dean Norris as cool police sergeant.

Aside from all the great acting, there's huge amounts of gripping, nail-biting suspense, plenty of visually stunning images of incredible-looking snowy Alaskan landscapes, or the grimy, seedy underworld of Anchorage, lots of striking and very memorable scenes, such as the one with the moose, the intense semi-showdown in the middle of fucking nowhere, [MILD SPOILER] or the moment where a frighteningly wild Cusack shouts "You little cunt!", as well as many unsettling and disturbing moments. Walker's direction is flawless and his script is just wow. Whenever I thought "Ah, I know where this is going to.", the movie took a completely unexpected turn that I totally wouldn't have predicted. Especially the ending was a huge surprise. I expected a clichéd loud Hollywood-like finale, but it actually ends with a calm, yet unbelievably tense and nerve-wracking finale with Nic Cage in top form.

Furthermore, the fact that this is an early 80s period piece is also very worth mentioning. The whole thing really feels as if cast & crew actually traveled back in time to shoot this + the violin-laden score by Lorne Balfe ("Assassin's Creed III") and Paul Bakija ("The Tripper") is too good to be true. In its greatest moments, it reminded me of Morricone's "The Thing" score, at least in terms of atmosphere. Hell, I can't praise this movie enough. "The Frozen Ground" is the absolute best 90s serial-killer-thriller not shot in the 90s. Strongly recommended!

Shameless Promotion for Julien Maury and Alexandre Bustillo's "AMONG THE LIVING (Aux Yeux des Vivants)"

In 2013, I supported the crowdfunding campaign for Julien Maury & Alexandre Bustillo's "AMONG THE LIVING (Aux Yeux des Vivants)" with about 35 dollars. As a thank you, I received a DVD of the film, a CD of the film's soundtrack and an entry in the end credits *YAY*

That, the fact that I'm a huge fan of Maury & Bustillo's work, and the fact that director Maury called me a producer during the interview I did with him at last year's /Slash Filmfestival, made me aware that I have to support this movie a little more and do at least one more post about it.

No, "Among The Living" isn't as mindblowing as the directors' previous masterpieces "Inside" and "Livid", but it's still a fantastic little piece of Euro horror that also works perfectly as homage to 80s classics like "Stand By Me" or "The Goonies". Since last year's /Slash Filmfestival (Review here!), I saw it three more times and I still like it as much as I did in the first place

To all of you who are/were talking/asking about any release information on various Imdb/Facebook boards: yes, "Among The Living" is already out on DVD in France and in Germany/Austria/Switzerland. Unfortunately, if you live outside these countries and wanna buy/order/import one of these DVDs:

- The French DVD only has French subtitles / language options.
- The German DVD only has German / French language options and German subtitles.

No English options whatsoever. Quite a bummer for non-German/French fans of Maury & Bustillo's work, especially because there's some really cool features on the DVD, like "Bedtime Stories", a comic book in the vein of "Tales from the Crypt" or "The Vault of Horror"...

 ...and a fascinating selection of storyboards, pre-production artworks and promo posters.

 The official DVD artworks are neat...

...but there are actually better-looking promo / fan posters to find on the internet, like these:

There are rumours about a possible US release close to Maury & Bustillo's upcoming "Leatherface", but... well, rumours are rumours. Until then you either have to wait patiently, or try to 'quick-learn' German / French ;-)

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