27 July 2015

EXTINCTION (2015)

EXTINCTION

Working Title:
Welcome to Harmony

Spain / Hungary, 2015
Director: Miguel Àngel Vivas

4/10








Since I first saw director/writer Miguel Àngel Vivas' gobsmackingly shocking "Secuestrados" (a.k.a "Kidnapped") in 2011, I was waiting for this guy to make another movie, hopefully one that would equally shock me out of my socks. Well, the good news: he made another movie! The bad news: I didn't like it.


"Extinction", based on the 2010 novel "Y pese a todo..." (=And despite everything...) by Spanish writer Juan de Dios Garduño, takes place 9 years after a devastating zombie outbreak wiped out most life on Earth, in a forgotten, snow-covered town called 'Harmony' where, a father, his 9-year-old daughter, and their grumpy neighbor try their best to survive. For a long time, their only enemies are the hunger and the cold - but then one day, one of the flesh-hungry zombie creatures finds them and immediately destroys the harmony...

While "Secuestrados" turned the home-invasion genre upside down and sorta revolutionized it, "Extinction" adds absolutely nothing new to the genre and ends up as unnecessarily overlong (110 minutes!), annoyingly dull and bitterly disappointing post-apocalyptic lamefest. At times, it feels like a botched best-of
of end-of-the-world/survival flicks like "The Mist", "Stake Land", "The Quiet Earth" and "Mutants" - at other times, it makes you think that it's simply a prequel to the equally underwhelming "The Colony".


Although the cinematography is really gorgeous (Josu Inchaustegui, "Open Graves"), Vivas' usually-striking visual style is almost non-existent. I was shocked (the only shocking thing about "Extinction"...) about how generic the whole movie looks. Deserted towns, abandoned buildings, well-made CGI snow... that's all very well, but they way it was done here... man, we've seen it all before thousands of times. There's nothing innovative here, nothing that makes it stand out of all the other zombie movies of the last 50 years, or so.

Wait... did I say zombie movie? "Exctinction" actually feels like a family drama about neighbors at loggerheads with some zombies thrown in. The basic story about why the neighbors are quarrelling is interesting, but also very foreseeable, too "Walking Dead"-esque, and therefore damn frustrating. The acting is good (Matthew Fox from "Lost", Jeffrey Donovan from "Burn Notice"), but the characters are either one-dimensional or plain annoying (Quinn McColgan, you little brat!).


Anything else to say? Well, Sergio Moure's ("Kidnapped", "Game of Werewolves") epic score is a marvellous treat for the ears, the tense 10-minute opening is simply fantastic and I love the scene where one of the characters passes by an abandoned cinema that was playing "At The Mountains of Madness" - yet, overall, "Extinction" is a massive, massive letdown.


Thanks to Jacki St. Thomas (Prodigy PR) for the screener!

26 July 2015

Horror Movie Diary quoted on the cover of "VOLCANO ZOMBIES" :-)

In March, I got a screener for a low-budget horror rubbish called "The Burning Dead" involving volcanos near Donner Pass, evil spirits and lava-filled zombies. The movie sucked and I gave it a 2,5/10. Pretty much the only good thing about it is the performance by DANNY TREJO, that's why I wrote in my review "...none of (the cast) is as great as Danny Trejo".


Last week, the movie was officially released in Austria, Germany and Switzerland on DVD and BluRay under the title "Volcano Zombies - Die Toten brennen nicht" (=Volcano Zombies - The Dead Don't Burn)... and now look who got quoted on the backcover? Me!

For whatever reason, german distributor Ascot Elite thought my Trejo-mention is quotable, and so they put the sentence "Danny Trejo ist grossartig." (=Danny Trejo is great) and "Horror Movie Diary" onto the cover. Why, thank you! :-)


Review: Click here!


24 July 2015

A FANTASTIC FEAR OF EVERYTHING (+ some trivia about "Kula Shaker")

A FANTASTIC FEAR OF EVERYTHING

German Title:
Die fürchterliche Furcht vor dem Fürchterlichen

UK, 2012
Directors: Crispian Mills,
Chris Hopewell (co-director)

7/10






Kula Shaker... you know them, right? What? You don't know Kula Shaker? How could you? Well... ok, they aren't that famous anymore, but for a short time in the 90s, they were one of the biggest and most popular Britpop bands, reaching the #1 position in the UK charts in 1996 with their brilliant debut album "K", selling 250.000(!) copies in one week.


After a few Top 5 singles (hits like "Tattva", "Govinda" or the famous Deep Purple cover "Hush") and a second album (the brilliant "Peasants, Pigs & Astronauts", sadly nowhere near as successful as its predecessor), they split in 1999 - only to reform in 2006 and subsequently release two more albums ("Strangefolk", 2007 & "Pilgrims Progress", 2010).
You may ask why I'm telling you all this trivia (aside from the fact that I'm a HUGE Kula Shaker fan...)? Well, because just a couple of years ago, the singer of Kula Shaker, Crispian Mills (son of Golden Globe awarded actress Hayley Mills) collaborated with music video director Chris Hopewell (Radiohead, The Killers, Franz Ferdinand...) and everyone's favorite British comedian Simon Pegg to create his very first feature film "A Fantastic Fear of Everything", an odd and really silly but pretty darn entertaining horror-comedy (admittably more comedy than horror), following a children's author turned crime novelist whose intense research about Victorian serial killers has turned him into an anxious and paranoid wreck.


If you watch it without expecting it to be the next "Shaun of the Dead", you get rewarded with a nicely amusing Brit-comedy, full of quirky humor, bizarre ideas, cool-looking dream sequences, splendind animations and many, many hilarious lines ("I didn't mean to become a children's author. It was a terrible accicent!"). Simon Pegg delivers a fabulous over-the-top performance that sometimes reminded me of classic Louis de Funes, sometimes of Steve Martin in "The Man with Two Brains". He's grinning, screaming, making outrageous grimaces, trying to keep his cool by wearing awkward coats, mumbling Gangsta Rap tunes whilst at the same time being deeply afraid of laundrettes, accidentally superglueing a kitchen knife to his hand, accidentally burning his laundry in the oven etc. etc. It's all a bit absurd, but it works because Pegg is simply a genius.

There's lots of great musical choices throughout the movie like "I See You" (The Pretty Things), "The Final Countdown" (Europe) or "Wrong Nigga 2 Fuck Wit" (Ice Cube). More great acting from Paul Freeman ("Hot Fuzz"), Clare Higgins ("Hellraiser 1+2") and some cool bloke named Alan Drake as serial killer Perkins. Pacing and direction are good, and apart from a few rather annoyingly tedious scenes in the third act, there's nothing boring going on here. Kudos to the beautiful production design (done by Hopewell himself) and the lovely cinematography by music-viceo-cameraman Simon Chaudoir ("Come to Daddy" by Aphex Twin / "Only You" by Portishead).


If you're a fan of Pegg or Kula Shaker or British comedy per se, you should definitely check this out. If not... well, you should still check it out. It's fun! :)

22 July 2015

The INSIDIOUS Trilogy

INSIDIOUS: CHAPTER 3

German Title:
Insidous: Chapter 3 - Jede Geschichte hat einen Anfang

Canada / USA, 2015
Director: Leigh Whannell

3/10








After the disappointment that was "Insidious: Chapter 2" (see below), I had absolutely no expectations towards the third installmment, partly because I thought there was no use for yet another "Insidious" flick, partly because I didn't like the way-too-over-the-top trailer which looked even worse than the "Poltergeist" remake. Surprise, suprise: "Insidous: Chapter 3" is not just worse than "Poltergeist", it's even worse than the 2nd chapter, a poor and worthless prequel that is actually NOT a prequel, but just a lame ghost story that takes place before the events in the first two parts and includes all kinds of characters from, and nods to the first two parts.


It's understandable that James Wan didn't want to direct the third one after he already wasn't too keen on doing the second one - but passing on to his friend and screenwriting partner Leigh Whannell was a decision that is about as awful as Whannell's very own screenplay for this mess of a movie. I'm serious when I say that I can't decide what's worse: his incredibly muddled script or his unnervingly insipid direction. Lackluster and really unsympathetic characters talking pointless nonsense to each other, stumbling through a flawed and uninteresting plot that possesses more holes than a piece of Swiss cheese, and more unanswered questions than "Lost". A father that seems to be unaware that he is constantly switching between good dad and bad dad, an oh-so-Internet-obsessed girl that actually isn't Internet-obsessed at all and totally doesn't get how unbelievably rude her semi-BFF is, a love-interest-character that appears and disappears faster than you can say 'kisses', an (asthmatic) ghost who makes all kinds of shenanigans, but the audience never gets to know who he is, where he comes from and what his problem is etc. etc.


In addition, the movie is boring, at times because it's rather predictable, at times because it's so badly directed. There's no atmosphere, no suspense and most certainly no scariness at all. Whannell makes the same fucking mistake than other recent garbage like "Ouija" or "The Woman In Black 2" did: jump scares, jump scares and even more jump scares. Christ goddammit, is that all what young filmmakers are able to do nowadays? Like Steven Spielberg once said while talking about the legendary head-scene in "Jaws": a movie can have only one major scare moment, because afterwards the audience will be on guard against the film. Know what? After the very first scares, a more or less not-so-effective variation of the bus scene in "Final Destination" and the 'hand scare' which was basically the only neat thing in the movie's trailer but didn't work in the film because I've seen it too many times before, I was not just on guard, I was actually unnerved and bored because from the second scare on, I knew that the rest of the movie would be just an endless succession of shitty Boo!-moments.


Ok, admittably, it's not all jump scares. Whannell also tried to include as many emotional scenes and sentimental moments as possible... um, I meant, TOO many emotional scenes and sentimental moments, and they all feel forced, like he's standing behind you, telling you to feel sad right now, to cry right now, to be emotionally involved right fucking now. Of course, that just does not work that way, and it works even less when the viewer dislikes almost every single character, when the viewer doesn't care if someone's partner/mother/etc. died, when the viewer just wants this disaster to be over.

In a nutshell:
The things I liked - Lin Shaye whose powerful performance saves the movie from being a complete crapfest, Tucker & Specs (fun as always), some nice camera work by Brian Pearson ("Final Destination 5").
The things I hated - everything about the main girl and her father, too much scenes in the Further (*yawn*), yet another séance (*yawn*), the insanely high amount of rubbish jump scares, the forced emotionality, weak-looking CGI effects, god-awful dialogue, no "Tiptoe Through The Tulips" even though it was prominently featured in the trailers WTF?, a surprisingly dull score by Joseph Bishara and the worst final jump scare since the 2013 "Carrie" remake. Bleh.




INSIDIOUS: CHAPTER 2

USA, 2013
Director: James Wan

4/10












(Review from October 2013)
One of my most anticipated movies of 2013 turns out to be a major dud. After the absolutely incredible "The Conjuring", James Wan and his screenwriting partner Leigh Whannell fully disappoint with a preposterous and unnecessary sequel that tries to be innovative and super-clever, but falls completely flat due to the absence of originality, atmosphere and legit scares, an annoyingly convoluted and pretty incoherent story that is all over the place, and [SPOILERS] too many nods to classics like "The Amityville Horror" or "The Shining" (good daddy becomes bad daddy with a baseball bat swinging), "Sleepaway Camp" or "Psycho"
(mother forces her boy to be a girl), nods that would have worked better if done more subtle, but eventually don't work at all because these nods are so in-your-face, it's just frustrating.


The movie starts out excellent with a fantastic opening scene and a few super-creepy scenes (piano room, woman in white, baby toy), but after the first 30-40 minutes, it gradually gets more and more silly and nonsensical with interesting but poorly executed retcon sequences, many unintentionally ridiculous scenes, a dumb kind of humor that doesn't work for me at all, as well as many predictable and unscary jump scares, the totally pointless return of Lin Shaye and her ghostbusters, a climax that feels extremely rushed, a laughable open ending that screams Part 3, an insane amount of boring horror clichés (abandoned hospital, ghost in elevator, Ouija-like dice, pulling out teeth...), pointless and somewhat senseless time-travel rubbish, and hardly any tension.

Most of the acting is as great as in the first one, with the exception of Patrick Wilson who exceeds his performance by turning his character into a stunningly creepy baddie (love the scene where he's grinning like crazy), and Rose Byrne who is surprisingly way weaker than in the first part. There's nothing to complain about Joseph Bishara (score) and John R. Leonetti (cinematography) who once again deliver top-notch quality work.


Nevertheless, the good stuff didn't help in making me enjoy this mess at all, even though I really tried hard to like it. To me, it felt like Wan was just re-using scenes and ideas that didn't make it into "The Conjuring" (or maybe a possibly planned extended version of "Insidious"??), as well as if Wan just lost interest in making/creating/finishing the movie during shooting. Fail!




INSIDIOUS

USA, 2010
Director: James Wan

8,5/10











(Review from July 2011)
Does it deserve the hype? Yes, it does!
"Insidious" is a wonderful oldschool kinda-haunted-house flick in the vein of "Poltergeist" or "The Changeling", thrilling, highly atmospheric and stunningly scary, but also pretty entertaining due to a few amusing scenes and characters.


For the greater part the movie is just creepy as hell. After an eerie and impressively unsettling introduction, it gets creepier and creepier by the minute. Lots of scenes that gave me the willies ("It's not the house that is haunted. It's your son."), lots of scenes that frightened me to death ("Dalton scares me when he gets up and walks around at night." - getting goosebumps while writing this), many scenes that made me jump outta the cinema seat (whenever the red face pops up, the smiling ladies standing by the pendulum clock, etc.).

The last third may be not as scary as the first 2 thirds, still it's powerful and very gripping, thanks to plenty of kick-ass action and Leigh Whanell's fantastic script which provides a few amazing and totally unpredictable plot twists.


The cast is absolutely top notch. Awesome performances from the terrific Patrick Wilson (still an extremely underrated actor - hope that will change soon), the wonderful Rose Byrne and the fabulous Lin Shaye as some kinda Zelda Rubinstein 2.0 ;-)
Massive kudos to John R. Leonetti and David M. Brewer for their outstanding camera work. Enormous amounts of impressive-looking and/or superscary images (the ceiling fan, the ceiling lamp, handmarks pressed on a window, the old lady with the candle, the horrifying gas mask, weird dream sequences...), fabulous tracking shots and cool aerial shots - a feast for the eyes!!

Furthermore, we get to see lots of super-gorgeous settings (house #1, the red room, the attic), a stunning Darth-Maul-look-a-like demon and a few frightening Shutter-like ghost photographies.
The pumping violin-driven soundtrack is magnificent and the disturbing usage of Tiny Tim's weird novelty classic "Tiptoe Through The Tulips" is IMO simply genius.
 

With "Insidious", James Wan fully proves that he's not just a one-hit-wonder, but a talented and gifted director who's able to reinvent himself and create more awesome horror stuff. Thumbs up!!

18 July 2015

"THEY CAME FROM BEYOND SPACE" (Chilling 20 Movies Pack, #13)

THEY CAME FROM BEYOND SPACE

German Title:
Sie kamen von jenseits des Weltraums

UK, 1967
Director: Freddie Francis

5/10








In case you don't know: Freddie Francis was a highly regarded cinematographer who won two Oscars (for "Sons and Lovers" in 1961 and for "Glory" in 1990) and regularly worked for uber-directors like David Lynch, Martin Scorsese or Jack Clayton. He was also a prolific director who created many still-popular classics for British film studios Amicus and Hammer, like "Dr. Terror's House of Horrors", "Dracula Has Risen from the Grave" or "Tales from the Crypt".


Unfortunately, he also made a couple of cinematic misfires, like this one:
"They Came from Beyond Space", a silly and unintentionally amusing sci-fi potboiler, adapted from Joseph Millard's novel "The Gods Hate Kansas" (cool title), dealing with meteor showers in V-formation, alien lifeforms crashlanding on Moon, a mysterious "crimson plague", people getting possessed by aliens and a scientist with a metal plate in his head who tries to handle all these
outer-space shenanigans.

I'm not saying it's bad movie, but it's so weirdly executed and so oddly paced (first half neat, second half dull), the plot points / story elements range from pretty cool to damn ridiculous, and the low budget is way too obvious, resulting in many tacky plastic effects and cheap settings. Contrary to most other Amicus productions, this one looks really cheap. The movie was released as a double feature with "The Terrornauts", and according to Francis, Amicus has spent the majority of the budget on "The Terrornauts", leaving nothing left for "They Came from Outer Space".


Still, it's a watchable little b-flick that somehow reminded me a bit of H.P. Lovecraft's "The Colour out of Space" (mysterious meteors landing on a rural farm) and Stephen King's "The Tommyknockers" (crash-landed spaceship, people getting possessed by aliens, main character with metal plate in his head). At times, you could even call it 'Body Snatchers light'.

There's neat and creepy shots of foggy forests, and people infected with the 'crimson plague' (I'd rather call it 'acne of death'...), as well as silly-looking but well-filmed spaceships travelling to moon and back, lots of gleaming disco-light rocks, and people wearing cullender-like anti-alien helmets. The acting is thoroughly good, most notably Robert Hutton, Jennifer Jayne and a hilarious-looking Michael Gough as "Master of the Moon". The cinematography is very decent (Norman Warwick, "The Abominable Dr. Phibes") and the jazzy soundtrack by James Stevens... well, ok, it doesn't really fit, but its liveliness managed to make the movie a lot more entertaining.


Recommended to fans of cheesy 50s/60s science fiction. NOT recommended to Amicus and Hammer fans.

16 July 2015

"TORMENTED" (Chilling 20 Movies Pack, #12)

TORMENTED

Promotional Title:
Tormented ...by the She-Ghost of Haunted Island!

Alternate Title:
Eye of the Dead

German Titles:
Der Turm der schreienden Frauen / Tormented Terror - Turm der schreienden Frauen

USA, 1960
Director: Bert I. Gordon

6/10


Considering its low Imdb rating, its general bad reputation and the fact that it was even parodied by MST3K... well, I thought that this was actually pretty decent, even though it was directed by schlockmeister Bert I. Gordon a.k.a "Mr. B.I.G", better known as the hack behind rubbish like "The Food of the Gods" or "Empire of the Ants".


Based on a script by George Worthing Yates ("Earth vs. The Flying Saucers"), "Tormented" tells the story of a Jazz pianist who "lets a former flame fall to her death" (I love that Imdb description!) from a lighthouse, so he can marry his new girlfriend without any interference or disturbance. Unfortunately, the flame's ghost returns and starts to haunt, to unsettle, to torment him...

It's a cheaply made film, full of really hokey special effects (the "levitating" heads and hands are simply hilarious!) and a few rather silly scenes (the photograph... silly as hell!). The direction is so-so, several scenes are a bit too slow and the story is quite foreseeable - but you know what? Aside from that, I really enjoyed this. It's tense and entertaining, at times even pretty damn scary. The scene where the washed up body "transforms" into seaweed and tang, the scene with the "Tormented"-record, of the whole wedding sequence... holy ghost, creepy shit!


The music is a bit over the top, but camera work and cinematograpy are both gorgeous and fabulously effective (Ernest Laszlo, Oscar for "Ship of Fools") and the cast is quite marvellous: Richard Carlson ("It Came From Outer Space") as the piano player who slowly gets more and more insane, the stunningly beautiful Lugene Sanders (her only feature appearance), the surprisingly terrific child actress Susan Gordon (the director's daughter), and the ever-amazing Joe Turkel ("The Shining", "Blade Runner") as blackmailing ferryman.

Believe me when I say that watching "Tormented" is not a torment!



14 July 2015

"LASER MISSION" (Chilling 20 Movies Pack, #11)

LASER MISSION

Alternate Title:
Soldier of Fortune

West Germany / USA / South Africa, 1989
Director: BJ Davis
(as Beau Davis)

LOL/10







What may sound like a futuristic sci-fi/action movie with lots of lasers and shit, is actually one of the dumbest and silliest action/adventure/comedy/whatever-flicks of the 80s - and with no lasers at all. Under the pseudonym Beau Davis (sounds like a gay pornstar), stuntman BJ Davis created an unbelievably shoddy hoot of a movie, centered around a freelance mercenary, hired by the CIA to find a quirky old scientist who developed a dangerous laser technology that could be used for wrong purposes if it falls into the wrong hands.

Man, I laughed my ass off. There's Brandon "The Crow" Lee, son of Bruce Lee, in his second leading film role (after "Legacy of Rage"), as Michael Gold (sounds like a gay pornstar), an oh-so-funny semi-action-hero who constantly delivers dumb one-liners like "I just dropped in to say... Bon Appetit!" or "I don't work for America. I work for money.", and even gets the chance to say "Let's get out of here!" three fucking times (Hi Craig!).


There's Ernest Borgnine (1 Oscar, 1 Golden Globe) as grinning German Professor Braun who talks with an accent that sounds more like his character is Italian or Yugoslavian. Debi A. Monahan ("Shattered") as oh-so-super-tough blonde who talks with an incredibly annoying Helium-esque voice and makes the word "asshole" sound as if some old bum spits out chewing tobacco. Graham Clarke ("Gor") as unintentionally amusing clichéd Russian villain named Colonel Kalishnakov (sic!). Werner Pochath ("Breakthrough") as nasty and nazi-like Austrian hunter who collects human heads.
Worst of all: Maureen Lahoud and Pierre Knoesen as... um, comic reliefs, playing Cuban soldiers who constantly switch between Cuban, Italian and German accents - dafuq??

The direction is horrid and the pacing is simply absurd. The action scenes are mostly way too fast and way too "wild", while other scenes are boring as hell and seem to drag on for hours. The action... at times, it feels like straight outta some 70s / 80s Bud Spencer & Terence Hill comedy (yay!), at times, it feels like German made-for-TV crap (nay). You know, "Alarm für Cobra 11" or shit like that. The tone is all over the place, sometimes dark and serious, sometimes batshit over-the-top, especially the fight scenes which are so uber-crazy, it's... *sigh* it's just painful to watch. The music, composed by David Knopfler, isn't bad, especially because it sounds a bit David-Gilmour-like. However, the movie's theme song - Knopfler's "Mercenary Man" - gets played so often (6 times!), it's so fucking unnerving, and so damn cheesy, and so fucking repetitive (Listen HERE!).


Highlights: the embarrassing kiss between Lee and Monahan (she looks like she so don't wanna kiss him). The Colonel that doesn't die. The head collection. Every single scene where a car explodes or drives/falls into the ocean. The stupid scene where that one soldier realizes that the androgyne Sergeant is actually a woman ("Sergeant? You are no sergeant. You are a woman!" - "Loco, I've always been a woman.") Oh, and the scene where both Lee and the Austrian fall from a really high building. Lee survives with only a few scratches - the Austrian falls on the spikes of a fence and obviously dies.

No, "Laser Mission" isn't good at all, but if you're able to enjoy bad-movie-classics like "Creeping Terror" or "Troll 2", this is a total must-see, best enjoyed with a few beers and a HUGE bucket of popcorn.

Wiki ~ Imdb

P.S. I have no idea why they called it "Laser Mission". This movie should have been titled "Mercenary Man". Why? Well, because
"He's a Mercenary Man.

Mercenary Man.
Mercenary Man.
Yeah, Mercenary Man.
Mercenary Man.
Mercenary Man..."
ad inf.


12 July 2015

"THE LAST MAN ON EARTH" (Chilling 20 Movies Pack, #10) - THE OMEGA MAN + I AM LEGEND + I AM OMEGA

THE LAST MAN ON EARTH

Alternate Titles:
The Damned Walk at Midnight

Alternate German Title:
The Last Man on Earth - Der Beginn der Legende

Italy / USA, 1964
Directors: Ubaldo B. Ragona,
Sidney Salkow (uncredited)

9/10



Vincent Price was an incredible workaholic who appeared in countless theatrical and made-for-TV features, TV series and TV shows as actor or narrator. Although I have only seen a fracture of his work, I'd say that this is the most impressive performance of his entire career, if not the best: "The Last Man on Earth", the very first adaptation of Richard Matheson's 1954 sci-fi novel "I Am Legend", following scientist Dr. Richard Morgan, the only survivor of a world-wide plague that wiped out Earth's population only to resurrect them as undead and vampiric semi-humans. Morgan spends his days searching for survivors and killing these creatures. One day, he finally stumbles upon a young woman who seems to be as normal as him. Little does he know that she is actually something different, something new...


The production history of "The Last Man on Earth" is quite fascinating. Originally, the film was supposed to be produced by Hammer Films, based on a screenplay written by Richard Matheson himself. For some reason, British censors didn't allow the production, and so Hammer sold the script to producer Robert L. Lippert (Lippert Pictures / Regal Pictures / Associated Producers Inc.) who decided to shoot the film in Italy, simply to save the money.

The film was directed by some guy called Ubaldo Ragona (writer and director of only four films between 1955 and 1966) and low-budget filmmaker Sidney Salkow ("Twice-Told Tales") who, for whatever reason, remains uncredited. Matheson was quite unhappy with the final product, as well as with all the script re-writes by William F. Leicester ("Lawman"), director Ragona and some guy called Furio M. Monetti, he eventually decided to use a fake name in the credits: "Logan Swansson", according to Wikipedia "a combination of his wife's mother's maiden name and his mother's maiden name".


Ok, enough with all the trivia. How is the movie, you may ask? Oh my goodness, it's just awesome. I daresay, "The Last Man on Earth" is one of the greatest post-apocalyptic movies ever made. It's excellently directed, beautifully written, brilliantly paced. It's tense, gripping, suspenseful, and as I already mentioned, Price's performance is overwhelming. Seeing him in the opening crawling out of bed, mumbling the lines "Another day to live through. Better get started."... Seeing him carrying the dead bodies into his car's trunk and later throwing them into a burn pit, wearing a creepy gas mask... Seeing him watching old 'home videos' of his family at the circus, starting laughing hysterically until he breaks down into tears... *goosebumps* Price delivers a gobsmackingly chilling performance as lonesome and devastated creature who desperately tries to continue doing the same things over and over: waking up, gathering his weapons, searching for survivors, killing the vampires, removing the bodies, going back home, defending his house from intruders, going to sleep. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat ad infinitum.


The whole movie possesses an intriguing, almost hypnotic atmosphere, thanks to all the haunting-looking abandoned buildings all over post-apo L.A. (actually, Rome...). The opening sets the mood, showing depressing images of forlorn places with dead bodies lyring around. Kudos to the fabulous photography by Franco Delli Colli ("Macabro", "Zeder") and the wonderfully dramatic score by Paul Sawtell ("The Fly") and Bert Shefter ("Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea"). Also, very fine acting by Emma Danieli, Giacomo Rossi-Stuart and Emma Danieli + an unexpectedly shocking and super-depressing ending.


Yet, the most interesting thing about "The Last Man on Earth" are the vampires, or let's say, the not-so-vampiric vampires. Of course, their behavior is highly vampiric (they hate garlic, they only come out at night, they hate to see their own reflection in the mirror...), but the way they move, the way they walk towards Morgan's house, the way they try to get in... no, these aren't vampires, these are zombies and everything about them just screams "George A. Romero". I'm not saying Romero copied them for his groundbreaking masterpiece "Night of the Living Dead", but I'm sure this undead semi-humans influenced and inspired him. Also, the scenes where the army disposes of dead bodies look slightly "The Crazies"-esque to me...

A way too underrated, way too overlooked 60s gem everyone should see. One of many examples that prove how great these movie packs are. Thanks Mill Creek :-)




THE OMEGA MAN

German Title:
Der Omega Mann

USA, 1971
Director: Boris Sagal

6/10








"The Omega Man" is the second adaptation of "I Am Legend" - though it's hard to call it an adaptation because it differs so much from the source material, even author Richard Matheson didn't bother. Screenwriter couple Joyce Hooper Corrington (who holds a doctorate in chemistry!) and her husband John William Corrington (both were responsible for the horrid "Battle for the Planet of the Apes") replaced the zombie-vampires with a REALLY weird albino-mutant cult-like 'sacred society' called "The Family", replaced the deadly bacteria with biological warfare as the cause for the plague, and turned the desperate, depressed scientist into a funky one-liner-delivering semi-action-hero. And that's where the film's getting
a tad dissatisfying.


Prolific director Boris Sagal's (who died a horrible death 10 years later - read here!) feature isn't exactly bad. It's well directed, very well produced and contains a fabulous cast (sole exception: Eric Laneuville who is just annoying). Unfortunately, it's at times really silly, its tone is all over the place and there's hardly a moment where you're able to experience a sense of tension or creepiness. The music is way too bombastic, way too over-the-top, the albinos with their oh-so-eerie contact lenses look unintentionally hilarious, and aside from a few bleak scenes in the beginning, I never got the feeling that humanity is extinct and Charlton Heston's character is the last man on Earth.

That said, it's a massive joy to see Heston acting the hell out of his version of the 'last man on Earth', whether he's playing chess with a bust of Napoleon, talking to his own image on a TV screen ("Hi Big Brother, how's your ass?"), doing some car shopping ("How much for a trade-in on my Ford? Oh, really? Thanks a lot, you cheating bastard."), imagining dozens of payphones ringing simultaneously around him, or simply sitting in a movie theater watching "Woodstock". Brilliant!


There's also a splendid and super-hot Rosalind Cash as badass Black Power activist ("If you just have to play James Bond, I'll bust your ass."), a cool Anthony Zerbe as cult leader Matthias ("Definition of a scientist: a man who understands nothing until there was nothing left to understand."), as well as some more nice performances by Paul Koslo and Lincoln Kilpatrick. Plus: lots of fire and gun action, blood and ugly dead bodies, and a terrific finale.

Far from being a real classic, but decently entertaining. Just don't expect Vincent price awesomeness.




I AM LEGEND

USA, 2007
Director: Francis Lawrence

7/10












I remember when this came out, many people wondered why I didn't wanna check out "I Am Legend". The reason is simple: back then, I just couldn't stand seeing anymore Will Smith solo outings. He's a good actor, but he's terribly overrated IMO, and after the lame "Men in Black II" and the even more lame "I, Robot",
I just needed a break.

So, aside from my ID4 rewatch last year, this is actually my first Will Smith movie since 2004 - and to my surprise, I enjoyed it way more than expected! The third adaptation of Richard Matheson's novel is a pretty cool new version, better than "The Omega Man", more in tune with "The Last Man on Earth", especially when it comes to atmosphere, dread and suspense. It's a quite gripping movie with lots of really intense sequences (the hunt for the deer in the dark building... creepy as fuck!), emotional scenes (dog transformation) and terrific action (explosive and nervewracking climax).


Contrary to Boris Sagal, director Francis Lawrence ("The Hunger Games 2 + 3") puts great value on a world that is abandoned and clear of Humans. I had absolutely no doubt that Will Smith's character is the only person left alive, and omg, I loved how all the streets in New York are overcrowded with empty cars, overgrown with plants, and that there are lots of animals running around,
like deer or lions.

Smith was a surprisingly good choice for the main character, and it was an even better choice to give him a dog - even though me as a cat-person would have preferred a cute kittie ;-) We've already experienced a lonely last man two times before, so it was a nice change to see him interacting with and caring for that nice German Shepherd. Also, Smith's performance is really awesome and extremely believable, maybe one of his best performances in entire career + great music by James Newton Howard ("Batman Begins", "The Dark Knight") and beautiful cinematography by Andrew Lesnie ("Lord of the Rings" & "The Hobbit" Trilogy).


3 issues prevented me from giving it a higher rating:
Too much CGI (at times decent-looking, at times just plain horrid), Alice Braga (hot girl, but weird, dissatisfying performance, and her character is just dumb - doesn't know Bob Marley, but knows his son Damian? WTF???) and the frustrating, slightly implausible ending.

Other than that, "I Am Legend" is a great contemporary post-apocalyptic sci-fi movie, entertaining from start to finish. Well done, Will! ;-)

Wiki ~ Imdb



I AM OMEGA

USA, 2007
Director: Griff Furst

4/10











Similar title? Shitty cover? Same release year? Yup, "I Am Omega" is obviously just another direct-to-DVD mockbuster, produced by the notorious The Asylum studios to capitalize on the success of "I Am Legend". It's not a good film, boring and cheaply made, but compared to most other Asylum crap, "I Am Omega" is surprisingly quite okay.

Based on a screenplay by regular Asylum contributor Geoff Meed ("The Amityville Haunting"), Asylum's ex-resident-director Griff Furst ("Universal Soldiers", "100 Million BC") created something that feels like a Best-Of of "Last Man on Earth", "Omega Man" and "I Am Legend", combining various elements and plot points from all three films into a mildly diverting lowest-budget post-apocalyptic flick.


The first half is pretty okay, thanks to main actor Mark Dacascos who gives a rather solid performance, playing a character that could be described as Vincent-Price/Charlton-Heston mash-up, and a few slightly tense, slightly atmospheric scenes. The second half ranges from ok to god-awful, due to the horrid performances of Jennifer Lee Wiggins and writer Geoff Meed himself. Also, a few shitty-looking CGI effects and a bunch of really lame zombies - no match for any of the previous films' creatures, be it semi-vampires, cloaked mutants or zombie-like monsters.

One of the better Asylum / Furst films, but far from being a must-see.

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