March 4, 2015

VANISH (or "VANish")

VANish

Alternate Spellings:
VANISH / Vanish


Working Title:
v8

USA, 2015
Director: Bryan Bockbrader

7/10





Don't get fooled by its not-so-punny title: this movie is actually much better than you'd think it'd be. "VANish", the debut feature of young filmmaker Bryan Bockbrader, follows two buddies and a war vet who kidnap a young Mexican woman in order to demand ransom from her wealthy father. The supposed-to-be-easy trip to the place of delivery soon becomes a freaking hell ride when the buddies start to royally botch things up, while their hostage slowly brings the situation more and more under her control...


"VANish" entirely takes place in a van, a gimmick that could have gone horribly wrong in the, um, wrong hands - but Bockbrader handles it with a nonchalance that is almost scary. It works perfectly from start to finish. At no time, I was bored or annoyed by it - but that's not all, because "VANish" is first and foremost a brilliant homage to classic action exploitation, as well as to the early works of Tarantino and Rodriguez, complete with an ace pseudo-grindhouse look, lots of blood, gore and violence, lots of shootouts, brutal kills and harsh injuries.

The basic story isn't exactly original, but it's told in a powerful and gripping way, thanks to Bockbrader's terrific screenplay that's full of excellent and unexpected plot twists, interesting and likable characters, hilarious and super-witty dialogue:
"You know, under different circumstances, I think we would have made a helluva couple." - "I would have killed you in your sleep." - "My kind of girl!"
/ "I was climbing and the cord broke and my face violently kissed a boulder." - "Hehe, lucky boulder."
/ "Seriously, I've never been around a bigger group of pussys in my entire fucking life. Can we please just get this shit over with, so I can watch my dad put a bullet through your whiny-ass brains, please?"


The cast is thoroughly good: a stunning Maiara Walsh ("Desperate Housewives") as tough-ass uber-chick, very solid performances by first-time actors Austin Abke, Adam Guthrie and Bockbrader himself + a wonderful Tony Todd ("Candyman") as unbelievably cool cop (haven't seen him that great in quite some time) and a rad Danny Trejo as leader of a drug cartel who goes completely batshit insane when someone tries to hurt/kill him (haven't seen him that impressive in like forever).

Some scenes could have been paced a bit quicker and the ending was slightly underwhelming. Yet, overall, I really enjoyed it. Who needs exploitation rubbish like "Machete Kills" or "Zombie Hunter" when you can have gems like this? It's far from being perfect, but in terms of entertainment, it's just VANtastic ;)


Thanks to Bryan Bockbrader for the screener!

March 3, 2015

THE BURNING DEAD

THE BURNING DEAD

Working Title:
Volcano Zombies

USA, 2015
Director: Rene Perez

2,5/10








So, there's an age-old volcano near Donner Pass which becomes active again and soon starts to erupt. For whatever reason, there are also evil spirits inside the volcano who possess the power to reanimate dead people - and since there seem to be countless people buried everywhere around the volcano, the whole area becomes overrun with... um, lava-filled(!) zombies. Fuck physics. Fuck logic.


Even though indie filmmaker Rene Perez' 9th feature is an obviously tongue-in-cheek throw-your-brains-out low-budget blend of disaster movies like "Volcano" or "2012" and zombie trash à la "Zombie Apocalypse" or "Rise of the Zombies", it's still an immensely terrible film that totally doesn't know how to properly deal with its utterly ludicrous concept. Instead of making an entertaining silly-but-fun trashfest, Perez created yet just another laughable and forgettable cookie-cutter piece of SyFy-like CGI nonsense *yawn*

It's poorly written and directed, horribly paced, tedious and annoying. The cliché-ridden storyline is so incredibly predictable, it hurts (burns?); camera work and editing are amateurish as hell, and the CGI... ugh! The lava looks like an oversized melting Pizza, and the volcano eruptions look like the absolute worst kind of Naïve art (I hate Naïve art). Don't get me started on the... um, the zombies' glowing Lava-eyes...


The cast is pretty much the only decent thing about it. Solid acting by veteran Robert F. Lyons ("Murphy's Law"), Moniqua Plante ("Nashville") or Thomas Downey ("Dracula's Curse"), though none of them is as great as Danny Trejo. Like in most of 'his' movies these days, he's only in for a couple of scenes - but in these few scenes, he's just fun, delivering a hammy but sweet performance as story-telling Cherokee. Oh, there's also some neat nudity and some good gore, but nothing we haven't seen before.

Only recommended to hardcore Trejo fans. Everyone else: stay far, far away
from this blazing turd.

Imdb

Thanks to October Coast PR for the screener!

March 2, 2015

RED EYE (2005)

RED EYE

German Titles:
Red Eye - Die Angst fliegt mit / Red Eye - Nachtflug in den Tod

USA, 2005
Director: Wes Craven

7/10







The 00s weren't a great decade for horror legend Wes Craven. He started out with the horrid "Scream" threequel (2000), continued with the awkward werewolf hokum "Cursed" (2005) and a weird segment for the anthology "Paris, je' t'aime" (2006), and concluded with the promising but ultimately immensely disappointing
"My Soul to Take" (2010)...


...but in between all of this rubbish, there was at least one more flick, and this one gladly reminded us of the fact that Craven was once one of the most interesting, most surprising, most versatile American genre directors: "Red Eye", surprisingly not a horror film, but more of a traditional thriller in the vein of films like "Nick of Time", "Narrow Margin" or "Cellular" (and maybe "Turbulence"), following a young hotel manager who gets kidnapped on a routine red-eye flight by a stranger who's involved in the assassination of the US Deputy Secretary of Homeland Security.

"Red Eye" is neither original nor groundbreaking, but it's definitely a wonderfully exciting thrill ride and undoubtedly Craven's most entertaining film since the first two "Scream" installments, gripping and suspense-packed over its entire super-short length (only 77 minutes long!). The script feels amateurish and uneven (Carl Ellsworth, "Disturbia"), and the characters all seem pretty unbelievable, but Craven perfectly managed to turn the medicore source material into a top-notch piece of entertainment that's actually hard to not like.


Driven by strong pacing and a gripping score by Marco Beltrami ("Halloween H20"), "Red Eye" captivates you from the beginning and never lets go. Cillian Murphy gives a flawless performance as fascinating villain who's charming and scary at the very same time, Rachel McAdams is solid as always, and Robert D. Yeoman's ("The Grand Budapest Hotel") camera work is just cool.

At one point, there were talks about a "Red Eye 2". Unfortunately, it never came to fruition. Pity, I would have loved to see some more Craven-esque
flight suspense...

March 1, 2015

R.I.P LEONARD NIMOY

The great, great Leonard Nimoy, actor, director, singer, writer and photographer has died at the age of 83 due to a chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.

Nimoy became famous for portraying the half-human, half-Vulcan Spock in all 79 episodes of Gene Roddenberry's legendary TV series "Star Trek" (1966-1969), a role he later repised in "Star Trek: The Animated Series" (1973-1973), six "Star Trek" feature films (1979-1991), a two-part episode of "Star Trek: The Next Generation" ("Unification", 1991) and in both films of the "Star Trek" reboot series (2009-2013).

Outside of Star Trek, he starred in two seasons of "Mission: Impossible" (1969-1971), appeared in various episodes of "Night Gallery" (1972), "Columbo" (1973), "T.J. Hooker" (1983), "The Outer Limits" (1995), "Invasion America" (1998), "The Big Bang Theory" (2012) and "Fringe" (2012), he hosted and narrated 38 episodes of the documentary series "In Search Of..." (1976-1982) and made an appearance in the sci-fi uber-classic "Invasion Of The Body Snatchers" (1978).

Nimoy also had a brief directing career between 1973 and 1995. He directed two Star Trek films ["Star Trek III: The Search for Spock" (1984) & "Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home (1986)],
light-hearted comedy features à la "3 Men and a Baby" (1987) or "Funny about Love" (1990), and episodes for series like "Night Gallery" (1973) or "T.J. Hooker" (1983).

I've always enjoyed Nimoy as an actor, though I wouldn't call myself a hardcore fan. If you wanna read something more emotional than my ramblings, you should check out my friend Christian's eulogy which is really excellent: CLICK HERE!

Rest in Peace, Leonard Nimoy.
May your soul Live Long And Prosper.

1931 - 2015

February 26, 2015

THE ZOMBIE DIARIES 1 + 2

THE ZOMBIE DIARIES

Alternate Title:
Zombie Diaries

UK, 2006
Directors: Kevin Gates
& Michael G. Bartlett

6/10







"The Zombie Diaries", the debut feature or British filmmaker duo Kevin Gates and Michael G. Bartlett, could be described as found-footage depiction of a zombie outbreak in England, divided into 4 parts [Diary 1 - 'The Outbreak'
/ Diary 2 - 'The Scavengers" / Diary 3 - 'The Survivors' / Epilogue]
,
following various groups of people in the British countryside (Hertfordshire),
hiding, searching for food, killing zombies and filming all the events.


This was shot and released before the found footage craze kicked off in 2007/2008, and yes, even before horror legend George A. Romero's "Diary of the Dead" which is rudimentarily the same thing. Unfortunately, it didn't leave a positive and/or lasting impression with horror audiences, mainly because the
shite marketing tried to convince people that it's "The best Zombie movie ever" (it's not!) and "Better than Danny Boyle's '28 Days Later'" (it's not!), although it's actually a rather calm, slow and ungory film - which led to an universally and unfairly negative reception.

Admittably, it's a rather amateurish, full of flaws and obviously made on a very low budget. Writing and direction are at times spot-on, at times just poor. Several scenes don't hit the right spot and are either pointless, needless or simply tasteless (the sex slaves in the barn). The pacing is a bit too odd, most of the acting is wooden and nearly all of the characters are one-dimensional, unsympathetic jerks.


Aside from that, I have to praise the movie's stunningly intriguing, rather realistic and super-bleak atmosphere. Even though it all looks a bit tacky, there's a certain raw and Blair-Witch-y feeling about it that makes "The Zombie Diaries" look and feel rather unique, especially compared to most other low-budget zombie flicks of the late 00s. Same goes for all the brilliant-looking old-school zombies (ace make-up!) and a couple of well-chosen eerie locations (abandoned towns and farmhouses, dark forests). Also worth mentioning: the first two diaries contain many splendid moments of utter suspense, and the music... I don't know. It's very minimalistic and far from being remarkable, but in some kinday way, it perfectly sets the dark, depressing mood. Kudos to composer Stephen Hoper!

Final verdict: it's no Romero, but IMO it's definitely worth checking out!



WORLD OF THE DEAD: THE ZOMBIE DIARIES 2

Alternate Titles:
World of the Dead: The Zombie Diaries / Zombie Diaries 2: World of the Dead / Zombie Diaries 2

UK, 2011
Directors: Kevin Gates
& Michael G. Bartlett

3/10




5 years after the first part, Gates and Bartlett returned with one of the most unexpected sequels (considering how unpopular the first was and still is),
yet also most pointless, most superfluous sequels of the last 20 years or so: "World of the Dead: The Zombie Diaries 2", a dull and tedious piece of postapocalyptic boredom that briefly follows the events of the original, focusing on a band of soldiers and civilians searching for food and shelter, wandering through landscapes overrun by zombies.


Compared to "The Zombie Diaries" which somehow felt at least a tad innovative and original, "World of the Dead" is just bland, incredibly unimpressive and completely disappointing. It seems as if the two directors didn't actually care about the film and just made it because the Weinsteins threw a few more dollars at them. Together with "Children of the Corn: Genesis" and "Hellraiser: Revelations", this was the last flick that was released via the "Dimension Extreme" label - I think that says it all...

The storyline is pretty much non-existent, there's absolutely no character development whatsoever, all characters are either assholes or dumb jerks, and there are so many rape / attempted rape scenes here (incl. some douche raping a zombie...), "I Spit On Your Diaries" would be a much better fitting title, especially because... well, there's actually no more diary concept. It's just people wandering through forests, shooting zombies, occassionally interrupted by footage that probably took place between the first and the second film. Also gone: the gritty, raw look of the first part, here replaced with a bland and much more
polished look.


Zombie make-up and gore effects all look neat, the moody score by Pete Renton is pretty chilling and there are at least a handful of decently tense scenes, like the creepy opening or the slightly intense zombie attack in the barracks. Yet, overall, this movie is so hollow and so irrevelant and so not worth checking out.

CREEP (2004)

CREEP

Working Titles:
Cellar Dweller / Here Kitty Kitty / One Track Mind / Piccadilly Nightmare / Runt

UK / Germany, 2004
Director: Christopher Smith

3/10







Have you ever been to London? Oh, it's such a wonderful city. A bit overcrowded with tourists, but apart from that, it's packed to the brim with beautiful sights, amazing attractions and super-cool places such as the uber-cool Camden markets, the beautiful Whitehall area and, of course, the Tube, probably Europe's most impressive underground system. Acclaimed British genre director Christopher Smith ("Triangle", "Severance") chose this stunning location for his debut feature "Creep" where a woman gets chased through the tunnels by a deformed and bloodthirsty maniac.

I first saw this movie in 2005 after I came back from a 10-day-holiday in London. I was enamoured of London and spent the following weeks checking out all kinds of movies that take place in this marvellous city, like "Sliding Doors", "Layer Cake" or this one. Unfortunately, as cool and fun as its premise is, "Creep" was a major letdown for me; I didn't like it at all.


Now, 10 years later, I decided to give it another chance... and unsurprisingly, I still don't like it. "Creep" is a weak, badly written, awkwardly directed flick that never exploits its full potential and ends up as frustratingly dumb gorefest that feels more like an untalented film student's failed quasi-remake of 70s classic "Death Line". The gore is solid, music and cinematography are fine, but that's it.

Franka "Lola" Potente (who is actually a great actress) is not just clearly miscast, she also gives a performance that constantly switches between non-believable and unintentionally laughable, and her character is so incredibly unlikable and stupid, you just don't care about her, especially after she tries to save the life of a man who previously tried to rape her. I so wanted to root for the bloodhungry maniac, but... well, that too didn't work out for me, since he looks like Gollum's mentally ill cousin and makes noises as if he's caught a massive cold


The pacing is way too dull, many scenes and sequenes go on for way too long, and aside from the eerie opening scene, everything that was supposed to be scary or frightening ends up either lame, boring or completely uniteresting. Even worse: "Creep" is so full of unexplained whys and unanswered questions, it's insane. [SPOILERS] Why is there a surgery room in one of the tunnels, and why has no one discovered it before? It's actually pretty easy to find *shakes head* Who is the maniac and why does he hide down there? What is his purpose? Why is he so powerful, almost superhuman? Certain people get killed, certain people get caged up - why?? What's with the jarred fetusses? Who's the doctor in the ominous black-and-white photo? Did this guy made illegal experiments with aborted fetusses? Or is he the maniac's father? What's with the homeless people in their hideout? Why hasn't the killer found them before? etc. etc. etc.

Imdb user "billsonbob" nailed it in his "100 Things I learned from Creep" post:

Not even the ending could placate me. Social commentary? Really?? Nah.
Go away "Creep", we don't want you here.

February 24, 2015

NEXT (2007)

NEXT

USA, 2007
Director: Lee Tamahori

3,5/10











Nearly all film adaptations of works by legendary American sci-fi writer Philip K. Dick were turned into impressive all-time-classics, like Ridley Scott's "Blade Runner", Paul Verhoeven's "Total Recall", Steven Spielberg's "Minority Report" or Richard Linklater's "A Scanner Darkly".
However, there's at least one that ended up as a mere disaster: semi-acclaimed action-thriller filmmaker Lee Tamahori's ("Die Another Day") adaptation of Dick's short story "The Golden Man". A stupid, bland and disastrously ludicrous piece of PG13 no-logic-at-all trash, at times dumb, at times laughable, at times so frustrating, you just wanna kill yourself.


Admittably, the story of a magician who gets pursued by the FBI because he's able to see two minutes into the future, is downright fascinating, and actually, the movie starts out pretty good. Nicolas Cage's performance is a bit quirky, but he gives a solid and somewhat believable character, and seeing him "trying out various futures" is really fun. There's also a neat cameo by the great Peter Falk, a pretty okay Jessica Biel and a catchy score by Mark Isham ("Kiss the Girls").

Everything else, especially almost everything in the movie's second half, is either lame, bad or downright awful. Tons of horrid looks-like-no-budget CGI that brutally raped my helpless eyes, an immensely disappointing paycheck performance by Julianne Moore (about as lame as in "The Forgotten"),
some more bad acting by Thomas Kretschmann and Nicolas Pajon as oh-so-evil European cliché-terrorists, an unbelievably lousy script that has almost nothing to do with its source material [written by Gary Goldman ("Big Trouble in Little China", "Total Recall"), Jonathan Hensleigh ("Jumanji", "Armageddon") and Paul Bernbaum ("Halloweentown")], lots and lots of huge plot holes and illogical plot points, an implausible romance...


...and one of the WORST plot twists in history. An aggravating and insulting excuse for an oh-so-original ending that is nothing but crap, crap, crap. Oh my goodness, I was so mad when they suddenly pulled the good old everything-you-just-seen-wasn't-real tomfoolery out of their shabby hats. It reduces most of the action that took place prior to the twist to an insanely imbecile level of utter absurdity. Poor Philip K. Dick rotates in his grave like a gas turbine.

Recommended only to die-hard fans of Dick and Cage

February 23, 2015

THE AMBULANCE (1990)

THE AMBULANCE

German Title:
Ambulance

USA, 1990
Director: Larry Cohen

6/10








Man, look at the poster! Awesome, huh? In case you haven't seen it before, it's the German theatrical poster and back in the 90s, it was undoubtedly one of my absolute favorite VHS covers. Almost everytime I've been to the local rental store (a.k.a the playground of my youth), I had to take a peak at this stunningly designed cover... the creepy-looking ambulance car... the hand crashing through the windshield... the frightened face behind the surgical mask... wowsers!


Unfortunately, the movie itself is far from being as awesome as the poster. It's not bad, but it's not great either. "The Ambulance" is a solid early 90s thriller, tense and atmospheric, but a bit too goofy for my taste. Cult filmmaker Larry Cohen ("It's Alive", "God Told Me To") tells the weird story of a mysterious but well-organised group of fake-doctors and fake-nurses driving across New York in a 70s Cadillac Ambulance, abducting diabetics and killing everyone who stand in their way.

Cohen couldn't decide whether he wanted to make an action-comedy or a horror-thriller and so he tried, but failed to combine both worlds. The result is a truly bizarre, but quite unique and decently entertaining flick with a brilliant score by the highly underrated Jay Chattaway ("Maniac", "Maniac Cop 1+2") and gorgeous cinematography by horror legend Jacques Haitkin ("A Nightmare
on Elm Street 1+2").


Main actor Eric Roberts delivers a rather bonkers performance, at times hilarious, at times really annoying. The rest of the cast is way more "bearable", especially Red Buttons as highly amusing reporter, James Earl Jones as cool police officer and the insanely beautiful Janine Turner as Roberts' love interest + cameo by Marvel legend Stan Lee! There's lots of badass chase sequences and an explosive finale, but also lots of cheesy dialogue and a few extremely illogical and/or
quite pointless scenes.

A must-see for Cohen fans. Worth checking out if you're a fan of slightly obscure 80s/90s thrillers.

February 19, 2015

AVENGED (a.k.a "Savaged")

AVENGED

Alternate Title:
Savaged

USA, 2013
Director: Michael S. Ojeda

8/10








Warning: everyone who is NOT into rape'n'revenge exploitation films, should stay far away from this film. Everyone else: welcome to "Avenged" a.k.a. "Savaged", the second feature film of cinematographer Michael S. Ojeda, an intense, brutal and surprisingly clever low-budget semi-supernatural revenge-horror-thriller, following a deaf woman who gets captured by a couple of vile and abhorrent hillbillies who rape, torture, and bury her alive. Gladly, a local Indian finds her half-dead body and brings her back to life by using Indian magic. During the reanimation, the spirit of a vengeful Apache warrior accidentally enters her body and turns her into an avenging angel, ready to take revenge on her tormentors...


The movie's low budget is very obvious and the few CGI effects look pretty weak, but aside from these trifles, "Avenged" turned out to be a real gem, in tone and theme similar to revenge films like "Night of the Scarecrow", "The Crow" and
"I Spit on Your Grave". It's stunningly directed and paced, tense and atmospheric from beginning to end, and it possesses a fascinating, very well developed and excellently structured storyline.

To my surprise, the movie doesn't focus on the gore / torture / brutality parts even though there's lots of gruesome and shocking scenes - no, "Avenged" focusses on a detailed and quite complex storyline full of interesting plot points and twists, as well as many unexpectedly multidimensional characters. Even the most unbearable assholes here have more depth than in most other similar films. Also, the fact that the movie touches all kinds of difficult topics like social marginalization, discrimination against women, handicapped people, native americans and afroamericans, misogyny and gun fanaticism almost makes this a piece of Anti-America exploitation - remarkable!


Main actress Amanda Adrienne is just marvellous. Seeing her as deaf woman transforming into a wild and rampant force of nature is just breathtaking. Love the scene where she pulls the cop's intestines out, or the insane finale where she fights against a chainsaw-wielding uber-hick. Similarly great: the performances by Brionne Davis, Joseph Runningfox or John Charles Meyer. The music by César Benito is terrific, at times aggressive, at times immensely emotional, cinematography and editing (both done by Ojeda himself) are spot-on, and the make-up effects look badass. A movie as raw as a punch in the face - wow!


Thanks to October Coast for the screener!

February 18, 2015

STORM WARNING (2007)

STORM WARNING

Alternate German Title:
Storm Warning - Überleben kann tödlich sein

Australia, 2007
Director: Jamie Blanks

8/10







After "Urban Legend"-director Jamie Blanks' second feature "Valentine" bombed badly at the box office in 2001, he turned his back on Hollywood and returned to his homeland Australia, spending time with his family for a couple of years - until 2007 when he finally started working on a new film, together with legendary screenwriter Everett De Roche, the genius behind Oz-classics like "Razorback", "Patrick" or "Road Games".


Based on De Roche's "Straw Dogs"-influenced script which was originally written in 1982(!), Blanks created his absolute best film so far (IMHO): "Storm Warning", a highly suspenseful and pretty gruesome Ozploitation semi-backwoods-flick, following a nice yuppie couple on a fishing trip who get lost in a marsh and seek refuge in an isolated farmhouse where they get terrorized by its inhabitants, a raunchy hick and his two slightly demented sons...

What may sound like a textbook example of run-of-the-mill backwoods-horror, is actually a clever and cunning little shocker somewhere between "Wolf Creek", "Texas Chainsaw Massacre" and the above-mentioned "Straw Dogs". Starts out slow but atmospheric out on the sea and in the marshlands, gets dark and grim in the farmhouse on the island, and ends with a terrifying climax full of badass action, glorious gore and pretty insane violence.


There's a scene in the begining where we get to see the couple drifting deeper and deeper into the marsh. It's only 3 minutes long, accompanied by moody music and without any dialogue, but it's so goddamn intense and it perfectly sets the mood for what's to come [SPOILERS]: a huge marihuana plantation, a house full of nude posters, sex dolls and... um, bestiality, dead kangaroos, blood-hungry Rottweilers, death by fishing rods/hooks, death by hovercraft, or - best of all - semi-castration by some kinda self-made "vagina dentata". There's lots of blood, gore and shocks throughout the film, but the anti-rape penis-destruction scene
is just genius!

The farmhouse settings and the eerie marsh-locations on French Island look just marvellous. Cinematography is great (Karl von Moller, "Long Weekend"), the editing is terrific (Geoff Hitchins, "The Outback") and Blanks' very own score is simply marvellous and effective as hell. The entire cast is awesome and all of the 5 actors deliver stunning performances, especially the incredibly grgeous Nadia Farès ("The Crimson Rivers"), the outstanding John Brumpton ("The Loved Ones") and David Lyons ("Swerve").


If you like Australian horror or Ozploitation in general, this is a must-see.

Wiki ~ Imdb

February 17, 2015

GOAL OF THE DEAD

GOAL OF THE DEAD

France, 2014
Directors: Thierry Poiraud & Benjamin Rocher

8/10










Watching a Soccer match can be truly horrifying, for example: when the team you're rooting for loses, when the match is so boring you almost fall asleep, when the referee is a fucktard - or when you get forced to watch a match (by your bf? husband? boss? some other jerk? etc.) even though you don't like Soccer at all. 
Now, French filmmakers Thierry Poiraud ("Atomik Circus") and Benjamin Rocher ("The Horde") give us another reason why Soccer can be really horrifying:
because Zombies! 


"Goal of the Dead" follows the premier league team Olympique de Paris on their way to a small team's homeground (Caplongue) for a cup game. There, the supposed-to-be-ordinary match turns into an extraordinary massacre when one of the local players, who accidentally got injected with infected steroids, turns the whole stadium into a living-dead-nightmare...

The basic premise may be a bit silly, but to my surprise, it works much better than expected, thanks to the very well executed concept of splititng the movie into two "halves" (like in a real soccer match), each directed by a different director, as well as by packing it with highly sympathetic characters, great actors like Alban Lenoir ("Gibraltar"), Xavier Laurent ("The Monuments Men") or the gorgeous Tiphaine Davot, and lots of wonderfully hilarious humor. Actually, in terms of humor and badassness, the whole movie somehow feels like a mix of "28 Weeks Later"
and "A Little Bit Zombie".



There's some exceptional cinematography, tons of super-stylish, eye-catching and very well composed shots/images, stunningly-filmed fog-laden stadium settings (Mathias Boucard), an astounding and powerful electro-score with many damn catchy passages (Thomas Couzinier, "Home Sweet Home"), hordes of ace-looking zombies, superb make-up effects, gore, explosions and shit. The two-hour runtime might be a bit too long, but overall, I ended up highly entertained, not bored at all. Thumbs up, France!

Wiki ~ Imdb

February 14, 2015

Vampire Day Soiree: The FRIGHT NIGHT Films

Haven't participated in a proper blogfest in quite some time, and since I had no idea for any Valentine-themed posts, mostly because I already did my share of Valentine Horror Reviews (here, here, here, here and here), I thought joining Holly's Horrorland's 4th Annual Vampire's Day Soiree is the perfect opportunity to do a frightful quadruple-feature-review about the fang-bulous "Fright Night" franchise. Yes, there are four of them and at least three of them are very watchable

Enjoy reading and Happy Valentine! :-)




FRIGHT NIGHT
 
German Title:
Die rabenschwarze Nacht - Fright Night

USA, 1985
Director: Tom Holland

10/10









After the massive popularity of Vampire-/Dracula-themed films in the late 50s,
the 60s, and the early 70s, the vampire-genre faltered after the unexpected success of religion-themed horror films like "The Exorcist" (1973) or "The Omen" (1976). In 1978, John Carpenter's "Halloween" kickstarted the slasher genre while George A. Romero's "Dawn of the Dead" revived the zombie genre - both movies/genres killed the audiences' interest in bloodsuckers and for the greater part of the 80s, theaters were ruled by masked maniacs and rotting corpses,
at least in terms of Horror.


Then in 1985, writer/director Tom Holland ("Child's Play") came along and single-handedly reanimated AND revolutionized the vampire genre with the uber-amazing horror-comedy "Fright Night", one of the greatest and most entertaining vampire-themed movies of all time, following teenage horror/vampire-fan Charlie Brewster who realizes that his new next door neighbor is actually a blood-hungry vampire. Since nobody believes him, he teams up with an elderly actor who once played a Van-Helsing-like vampire killer and together, they try to erase
the bloodsucking danger...

I have no idea how often I've watched this movie in my entire life. 20 times? 30 times? I have no idea, and I don't care. "Fright Night" is one of these all-time favorites I could watch over and over without ever getting tired of it. It's a fang-tastic movie, fabulously written, flawlessly directed, at times incredibly suspenseful, at times stunningly creepy, but most of the time so fucking hilarious, it makes me laugh just thinking about it.
 

It was the first vampire film that spent one million dollars on effects - and you can totally see that: it's packed with excellently developed and splendid-looking special / make-up effects, as well as amazing vampire-to-werewolf transformations. Also: brilliant production design, a glorious synth score by the great Brad Fiedel ("Terminator 1+2"), awesome cinematography by Jan Kiesser ("Beowulf & Grendel"), and shitloads of remarkable, unforgettable scenes, like the infamous "dance sequence" or the final battle in the basement.

Best of all: the perfect cast, consisting of William Ragsdale as horror geek Charley Brewster ("Where do you keep your coffin? Or do you have more than one?"), Stephen Geoffreys as the ridicuously amusing Evil Ed ("Oh, you're so COOL, Brewster!" / "Kill me! Kill me, Charley... before I turn into a vampire and... GIVE YOU A HICKEY!!"), the legendary Roddy McDowall as "Peter Vincent, the great vampire killer" ("Back, spawn of Satan!" / "Nobody wants to see vampire killers anymore, or vampires either. Apparently all they want to see are demented madmen running around in ski-masks, hacking up young virgins."), and Chris Sarandon as super-cool, and wonderfully charming vampire Jerry Dandrige ("Welcome to Fright Night. For real." / "Mr Vincent. I've seen all of your films. And I found them... very amusing!"). Also worth mentioning: Amanda 'Marcy' Bearse as Charley's girlfriend and Jonathan Stark as Dandrige's daytime protector.


As much as I love "The Lost Boys" or "Near Dark"... I can't help it: I love "Fright Night" the most; an unbelievable and unbeatable masterpiece!



FRIGHT NIGHT PART 2

German Titles:
Mein Nachbar, der Vampir / Fright Night II - Mein Nachbar der Vampir

USA, 1988
Director: Tommy Lee Wallace

8/10








The unexpectedly huge success of "Fright Night" (second highest-grossing horror film of 1985) led to the making of a sequel - unfortunately one that was doomed from the start, involving a drastically slashed budget (only $3 million
- part 1 had $9 million...)
and an extremely limited theatrical release, which makes "Fright Night Part II" one of the most overseen, most underrated and most forgotten horror films of the 80s - a fucking shame because it certainly is one of the best horror sequels of that decade.


Written by Tom Holland, Tim Metcalfe ("Kalifornia") and Miguel Tejada-Flores ("Beyond Re-Animator"), and directed by Tommy Lee Wallace ("Amityville II" / "Halloween III"), "Fright Night Part II" follows Charley Brewster and Peter Vincent who encounter a group of vampires, led by super-hot vampire chick Regine Dandrige, who seeks revenge for the death of her brother Jerry and desperately wants to turn Charley into a vampire so that he can face his punishment for all eternity.

The plot may be not that original and it's almost unexcusable that Stephen Geoffreys didn't reprise his role - but apart from that, it delivers almost everything you want in a good sequel and perfectly lives up to its predecessor. Roddy McDowall and William Ragsdale are back together and in some weird kinda way, they're performances are even better than in the first part. Stunningly intense chemistry, very well attuned to each other, constantly delivering ace dialogue
("I am after a vampire, my friend. No, a REAL vampire! Not one of those fantasy ones." / "What do you mean low grade melodrama? Did you SEE 'Bloodsuckers from Beyond'?? Then you don't know what you're talking about, do you?")
Also, fantastic performances by hottie Julie Carmen as the blood-hungry Regine ("Let's talk about blood, Mr. Vincent. It's very precious to me.") and cutie Traci Lind as Brewster's new girlfriend ("Communion wafers? The stuff you get from the church? Am I going to hell for this?").


There's once again lots of ace-looking special effects, ghastly gore, terrific vampire make-up, and a few other hilarious creatures, such as the silly, slightly lovey-dovey wolfman, the Roller-Vampire who looks a bit like Michael Jackson or the goofy insect-eater. Wallace's direction is spot-on, Mark Irwin's ("Scanners", "Videodrome") camera work is marvellous as always, and Brad Fiedel's music is once again excellent.
Highlights: the very first bite scene, the super-cool vampire party and the outstanding finale - which is even better than the one in the first part - involving coffins, communion wafers, fire, explosions, drama and elevator action. Awesomeness!


If only all sequels would be as great as this one... *sigh*
Oh btw, at one point there were plans for a third film, but sadly, they never came to fruition (read about it here).




FRIGHT NIGHT

Alternate Title:
Fright Night 3D

USA, 2011
Director: Craig Gillespie

3/10









A 3D remake of one of the greatest horror films in history? There was no way this could work out, and eventually, it didn't work out - at all. The 2011 reboot of Tom Holland's classic turned out to be a charmless, lifeless, dull, vapid and entirely forgettable piece of boredom that feels as if director Craig Gillespie ("Lars and the Real Girl") and screenwriter Marti Noxon ("I am Number Four") took a rejected script draft for an unrealized "Disturbia" sequel that, and turned it into a "Fright Night" reboot for whatever reason.


There's hardly any suspense or atmosphere, the pacing is way too tedious, the movie plods along at snail's pace, the oh-so-amusing geek humor totally doesn't work, and due to the fact that it's packed to the brim with unbelievably awful-looking CGI effects and slightly sterile settings, it's an eye-insulting flick that probably causes eye-cancer, or something like that.

The acting ranges from okay to unbearable, and nearly every character is a douchebag, especially Peter Vincent 2.0, a frighteningly terrible Russell-Brand-imitation, played by the horribly overrated David Tennant, a terribly miscast Christopher Mintz-Plasse as awfully unfunny Evil Ed 2.0, Anton Yelchin as unlikable and douchy Brewster 2.0 and a surprisingly embarrassing Colin Farrell as unintentionally laughable wifebeater-shirt-wearing serial-bloodsucker who's performance is almost aggravating.


I also hated the supposed-to-be-cool Indie-soundtrack that totally doesn't fit. In fact, all the songs from 'oh-so-hip' artists like 'Foster The Kids' or 'Young The Giant' feel as if they were just randomly thrown in. I dug the pretty gorgeous cinemaotgraphy by Javier Aguirresarobe ("Blue Jasmine"), a couple of okay scenes in the first half and a cool cameo by Chris Sarandon - other than that, "Fright Night" is a worthless, superfluous and forgettable rip-off.




FRIGHT NIGHT 2: NEW BLOOD

German Title:
Fright Night 2 - Frisches Blut

USA, 2013
Director: Eduardo Rodriguez

6,5/10









I have no idea why, but apparently someone thought it's a great idea to greenlight a sequel in-name-only sequel to the reboot of Tom Holland's 80s classic "Fright Night", or in other words: another(!) remake of the original including several elements of the 1988 sequel, set in Romania where Charley Brewster 3.0 encounters good old Countess Báthory...

Sounds awful, huh? Surprisingly, it's not as awful as expected. Director Eduardo Rodriguez ("Stash House") and screenwriter slash sequel-expert Matt Venne ("White Noise 2" / "Mirrors 2") created a decent little vampire flick that works as a homage to the 80s, as well as a stand-alone film - and it's obviously way better than Craig Gillespie's bad re-crap.


It starts quite lame and boring, gets better and better in the middle and ends with an incredible finale in a blood-filled bathing pit. The acting isn't perfect, but nearly all of the actors deliver solid performances, especially Will Payne as Brewster 3.0 (lightyears better than Anton Yelchin), Chris Waller as Evil Ed 3.0 (lightyears better than Mintz-Plasse), Sean Power as Peter Vincent 3.0 (lightyears better than the insanely overrated David Tennant) and super-mega-hottie Jaime Murray as Báthory. Sacha Parkinson is rather mediocre as Brewster's GF, but when her character becomes a vampire, she's suddenly really, really impressive. Great looks, great mimics, splendid performance!

The CGI effects are absolutely horrid. Gladly, there's still enough 'real' blood and gory kills to enjoy. There's lots of eerie and tense scenes (Báthory in the subway, the chase through the catacombs, Brewster hiding in a coffin, the animated History-of-Báthory scene), as well as many ridiculously awesome moments (Evil Ed's "Cross App", Evil Ed's pizzaface). The camera work is ok but could have been more imaginative, but I really liked the violin-driven score
by Luis Ascanio ("Curandero").

Oh, and did I mention all the wonderful nudity? Lots of boobs, lots of super-hot pole dancers and strippers... Heaven! ;-)


A surprisingly diverting re-remake, highly recommended to everyone who hates rhe remake about as much as me :)

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