30 July 2015

"MOON OF THE WOLF" (Chilling 20 Movies Pack, #14)

MOON OF THE WOLF

German Title:
Die Stunde des Wolfs

USA, 1972
Director: Daniel Petrie

5/10









"Moon of the Wolf" was one of the very horror-related films by Canadian director Daniel Petrie, a prolific filmmaker who was involved in more than 90 films (mostly made-for-TV stuff, but he also did theatrical films like "Cocoon: The Return" or the Oscar-nominated "Resurrection") and TV series between 1949 and 2001. This 1972 ABC Movie of the Week (based on Leslie H. Whitten's novel of the same name) takes place in a small Louisiana Bayou town where a werewolf roams around and goes on a killing spree.

It's everything you'd expect from a made-for-TV 70s werewolf flick. It's well-made and rather entertaining, but it's extremely bloodless, sparse in action and doesn't offer anything special or memorable. The kills are all off-screen, the supposed-to-be-tense scenes aren't really spectacular and the werewolf itself looks quite unscary, though I've obviously seen much worse-looking wolves before.


The cast is solid and nearly all of the actors deliver watchable, believable performances, especially David "Dr. Kimble" Janssen as cool Sheriff, the great Bradford Dillman ("Compulsion", "Piranha"), the wonderful Barbara Rush ("It Came From Outer Space") and ex-major league Baseball player John Beradino. Direction is okay, music and photography are good, but... well, there's just nothing in this 75 minute feature that stands out in any kinda way.

Hardcore Lycanthropy-fans might get a kick out of it. Everyone else will probably be as impressed as me.



29 July 2015

Remake vs. Original: RECKLESS + THE DISAPPEARANCE OF ALICE CREED

RECKLESS

Original Title:
Bloedlink

Netherlands, 2014
Director: Joram Lürsen

3/10








"Reckless" is the Dutch remake of the British 2009 thriller "The Disappearance of Alice Creed" (see below)... or in other words: "Reckless" is the pointless, needless and superfluous remake of a movie that didn't need to be remade. In an interview with ScreenDaily (click here), the film's producer Frans van Gestel stated that "Reckless" 'is aimed primarily at a Dutch audience' and that 'if you make a remake of a British film, it is not meant to travel around the world. It is meant to work really strongly in the domestic market' - yet, Artsploitation acquired the rights to this movie to distribute it all over America...


"Reckless" isn't a total shot-for-shot remake, but it's 'very, very shot-for-shot' 
and so incredibly similar to the original, it's just frustrating, especially because it doesn't offer anything new. A few scenes in the last half hour are a bit different, but nowhere near from what could have done with a proper "Alice Creed"-remake, like additional characters, switching genders, new unexpected plot twists, a radically different ending etc. etc. - Well, I guess none of the people involved wanted to create something new, and so "Reckless" ends up being as disappointing as similar too-similar remakes like Michael Haneke's "Funny Games U.S." or John Erick Dowdle's "Quarantine".

The acting is solid, but the chemistry is weak and the characters aren't remotely as believable as in the original. The direction is okay, but far, far, far from being as genius as J Blakeson's direction. Actually, there's absolutely nothing about "Reckless" that is better or more powerful than "The Disappearance of Alice Creed". It lacks the jaw-dropping intensity of the original and it possesses no tension whatsoever. Ever single scene makes you think about the original, makes you think about how much more suspenseful "Alice Creed" is, how much more thrilling and suspenseful it is, and, of course, how much better it is.


1 star for the acting, 1 star for Merlijn Snitker's score (that often feels a bit John-Murphy-esque), 1 star for the neat cnematography (Jasper Wolf). If you haven't seen "Alice Creed" yet, make sure to check it out ASAP. If you already seen it, there's absolutely no use in checking out this redundant rehash.

Imdb

Thanks to Ray (artsploitation) for the screener!



THE DISAPPEARANCE OF ALICE CREED

German Title:
Spurlos - Die Entführung der Alice Creed

UK, 2009
Director: J Blakeson

8/10








"The Disappearance of Alice Creed" is not just one of the very, very few shot-in-the-Isle-Of-Man films that I've seen so far, it's also one of the very few movies of the last 20 years (or so) where nearly every single plot twist hit me like a stampede of elephants - and believe me when I say that this movie has
many, many plot twists!


The directorial feature debut of British screenwriter/director J Blakeson ("The Descent: Part 2") is an extremely intelligent and masterfully done thriller following two ex-cons who kidnap a rich man's daughter and hold her captive in an abandoned apartment. At first, everything seems to go according to the plan, but then... well, before I start to spoiler, I stop telling more about the story. Just keep in mind: the 3 characters are not who you think they are, and they all hide secrets that get revealed in gobsmacking ways.

Blakeson's writing skills are about as awesome as his directorial skills and his visual style, and he perfectly manages to turn his superb script into a powerful, beautiful and exceptionally gripping film with an impressive energy and a casual, confident nonchalance that is frightening. Expressive images of rundown locations and eerie forests paired with strong shots of the panic-stricken Alice Creed and her inscrutable abductors, all accompanied by the intriguing and breathtaking musical score by video-game composer Marc Canham 
and the Nimrod Studio Orchestra.


Acting-wise, all three actors deliver teriffic performances: a remarkably intimidating Eddie Marsan, a strangely admirable Martin Compston and hit-or-miss actress Gemma Arterton in one of her best and most believable roles. Also: absolutely top-notch editing (Mark Eckersley, "Dredd") and the end credits song, "Holy Moly" by Cathy Davey, is just marvellous.

 [MILD SPOILERS] The way-too-moral, way-too-positive ending prevented me from giving it a 9/10 (damn, why didn't they end the movie after the scene where the one guy leaves the warehouse??). Apart from that, I just loved this movie!

28 July 2015

SHARKNADO 3: OH HELL NO!

SHARKNADO 3: OH HELL NO!

USA, 2015
Director: Anthony C. Ferrante

4/10











The latest entry in the surprisingly still uber-popular pop-culture-phenomenon "Sharknado"-franchise is also not as fun as the first one, but thankfully it's much, much better than the 2nd one. The basic premise is the same as before - sharks, tornados, insanity everywhere - but this time director Anthony C. Ferrante and screenwriter Thunder Levin did a bit more brainstorming and came up with a few damn funny ideas, every single one 10 times better than most not-fun-at-all crap-gimmicks in "Sharknado 2".


Ian Zierning is once again the hero of the nation, trying to save 'Murica from even more Sharknados (and some kinda Sharkicane), teaming up with his father, a retired NASA-worker, for a hilarious finale incl. a Space Shuttle, a trip to the moon and sharks in space. While the second one was just a lazy rehash of the first one, "Sharknado 3: Oh Hell No!" delivers the goods by limiting the run-of-the-mill chainsaw action and doing only a couple of rather remarkable stand-out chainsaw scenes (Golden chainsaw action, hand-chainsaw, Star-wars-like laser chainsaws...).

There's also various cool locations (White House, Daytona International Speedway, Universal theme park in Orlando + rad reference to Babs!), some fun lines ("Have you ever met someone who survived a Sharknado?" - "No, but my boy survived an alligator apocalypse. How 'bout that? Alligator."), neat performances from Frankie Muniz and Bo Derek (age 58) who looks sooooooo much better than Tara Reid (age 39) who didn't even try this time. At least, you can vote on her character's fate via a Twitter campaign for "Sharknado 4". Fingers crossed that she gets killed off this time #AliceDies


Next to an annoying-but-not-that annoying amount of cameos incl. George R.R. Martin or Chris "NSYNC" Kirkpatrick, as well obscure German TV hosts (Oliver Kalkofe WTF?) and Irish Eurovision artists (Jedward WTF??), an array of horrible no-talent-actors (worst of all: Ryan Newman), your average no-budget shit-CGI and countless of supposed-to-be-funny gags that just don't work, the most disappointing thing about "Sharknado 3: Oh Hell No!" is David Hasselhoff who gives a really lame paycheck-performance as stale and uninteresting character. Yes, the Hoff, the one guy who was able to save cinematic crap like "Piranha 3DD" or "Anaconda III"... *sigh* here, you could cut him out entirely and no-one would notice. A fucking shame.

Overall, a more satisfying sequel than its horrid predecessor, but... well, if they won't do anything hugely different next time (add snow, cats, dinosaurs, robots, etc.), I simply won't watch the upcoming 4th part. Take that, SyFy :-P

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..."
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