October 17, 2014

SIN CITY 1 + 2

SIN CITY: A DAME TO KILL FOR

Alternate Title:
Frank Miller's Sin City: A Dame To Kill For

USA, 2014
Directors: Frank Miller & Robert Rodriguez

7/10








Holy fuck, what a disaster. "Sin City: A Dame To Kill For", the sequel to Frank Miller and Robert Rodriguez' 2005 super-hit "Sin City" (see below) became one of this year's biggest box office bombs. While the original made about 160 million dollars worldwide, the sequel only grossed about 40 millions.
The reasons for this are simple: the 9-year-gap was way too long (especially considering the fact that the sequel first was announced in 2005/2006), the marketing campaing was simpy horrible (very mediocre teasers/trailers, and virtually no-one had any idea that when it was supposed to hit theaters), the fact that its release date was pushed back from October 2013 to August 2014 (everyone who was excited for it in 2013, virually forgot about it, or lost interest in it in 2014), the title sucks (why not just "Sin City 2"??) and Frank Miller & Robert Rodriguez both lost large parts of their fanbase over the last nine years,

Rodriguez because his movies gradually became weaker and weaker, Miller because he's a fucking idiot.


So, with all that crap in my mind and with absolutely zero expectations, I went to the cinema, expecting it to suck like hell. To my surprise, I had one helluva time with it, loving it way, way more than I ever thought I would. Of course, "Sin City: A Dame To Kill For" (stupid title) is far from being as awesome as the first part, but in terms of entertainment, violence, sexyness and stylish b&w awesomeness, it fully delivers, not just because it's one more awesome-looking and super-stylish comic-book-trip, but also because it's in marvellous high quality 3D.

In style and structure, it's very true to the original. Similar music, similar b&w cinematography, similar non-chronological way, delivering stories, incidents and events that happened before and after "Sin City", plus: many of the actors reprise their roles, which means more Mickey Rourke, more Rosario Dawson, way more Powers Boothe, mini-appearances by Bruce Willis and Jaime King, as well as a Jessica Alba who's not just as hot as in 2005, but who also manages to successfully transform her Nancy character in a tough-ass
Lisbeth-Salander-like avenging angel.


In addition, we get an incredible... INCREDIBLE performance by Eva Green, the woman who currently possesses the absolute hottest boobs in Hollywood and whose acting is similarly impressive as Scarlett Johansson, a damn terrific Josh Brolin, fun cameos by Christopher Lloyd or Stacey Keach, way more gore, way more explosions, and lots of badass one-liners
("I favored your mother, she was a whore, and not a very good one" / "Do me one last favor, lover? Stay still long enough for me to blow your brains out." / An atom bomb goes off between my legs.").

Flaws are few, but present: it's way too long, the card game segment is often too tedious, the whole thing doesn't flow as good as the first one, a couple of CGI effects look poor and having Devin Aoki replaced with Jamie Chung... blasphemy! Aside from that, I enjoyed the hell out of "Sin City: A Dame To Kill For" (stupid title) and recommend it to every fan of the original,
at least to the open-minded ones ;-)




SIN CITY

Alternate Title:
Frank Miller's Sin City

USA, 2005
Directors: Frank Miller, Robert Rodriguez & 'Special Guest Director' Quentin Tarantino

9/10







When this came out back in 2005, it was like an explosion to my face. Never in my entire life have I ever seen anything like that. A movie that looks and feels like a comic book even though it's not animated - what the fuck? With the help of green screen, high-definition digital cameras and neo-noir black-and-white post-conversion, Robert Rodriguez and comic book creator Frank Miller turned three books of Miller's very own "Sin City" graphic novel series into an epic piece of awesomeness, telling the stories of a muscular ruffian who's searching for the person who killed the love of his life, an aging cop who tries to protect a young girl from a demented paedophile, a guy who teams up with a gang of prostitutes to fight against corrupt law enforcers, and a hitman trying to make a little cash.


"Sin City" is an outstanding movie, next to "Desperado", the absolute best and most impressive thing in Rodriguez' colorful career. It's brutal and violent, gory and shocking, but also unbelievably entertaining and witty, at times highly emotional and slightly depressing. The way it was written, directed, paced and told (in a Tarantino-esque non-chronological way) is almost perfect. There's nothing dull, nothing boring, it's thrilling and barn-storming from start to finish. Ironically, the only scene that feels a tad too long is the drive-to-the-tar-pits scene which was 'special-guest directed' by Maestro Tarantino himself.

The stark black-and-white photography is eyegasmic and the few splashes of color (yellow face, red dress, golden eye...) are gimmicky and striking at the same time. Rodriguez' editing is spot on, the noir music is excellent and fits the dark scenery pefect [composed by Rodriguez, Graeme Revell ("The Crow") and John Debney ("The Passion of the Christ")], and with a cast like that, nothing can go wrong.


Mickey Rourke delivering the best performance of his entire career as Marv, a huge and violent street brawler with a heart of gold ("She smells like angels ought to smell. The perfect woman... the Goddess."), Bruce Willis as John Hartigan, a selfless and 'stupid old' cop with a cross-shaped scar on his forehead ("An old man dies. A young woman lives. A fair trade."), Elijah Wood as mute, inhumanly fast and cannibalistic serial killer Kevin, Clive Owen as cool but highly mysterious Chucks-wearing Dwight McCarthy ("My warrior woman. My Valkyrie. You'll always be mine."), Benicio del Toro as misogynistic Detective Jackie Boy ("I have never hit a woman in my life."), the uber-hot Rosario Dawson as uber-dominatrix Gail ("We'll go to war.") and the equally uber-hot Jessica Alba as stripper Nancy Callahan ("It has always been you. All these years.").

Also very worth mentioning: the adorable Carla Gugino and her pitch-perfect-looking breasts, the supersexy brutality of Devon Aoki's character "Deadly Little Miho", cool small/smaller performances by Nick Stahl, Powers Boothe, Britanny Murphy, Jaime King, Rutger Hauer, or Josh Hartnett, the dinosaurs at the tar pits, every single prostitute in Old Town, the heart-shaped bed, Clive Owen jumping out of a window because fuck vulnerability, Bruce Willis' anti-strangulation maneuver because fuck death etc. etc.


"Sin City" is a fantastic movie and IMO everyone should love the hell out of it. If anyone tries to tell me that he/she doesn't like it... "Oh, sugar, you just gone and done the dumbest thing in your whole life." ;-)

Wiki ~ Imdb

PUZZLE [/Slash Filmfestival 2014]

PUZZLE

Original Title:
Pazuru

Japan, 2014
Director: Eisuke Naitô

4/10








The trailer looked amazing and everything I heard about "Puzzle" beforehand made me go very excited for it: there's a group of sunflower-mask-wearing maniacs who take over a school, kill and torture several teachers and pupils with slightly "Saw"-like death traps and other violent methods. What seems like an act of terror is actually something more complex, involving revenge, puzzle games and more.

Sounds rad, right? Unfortunately, the Eisuke-Naitô-directed ("The Crone") adaptation of Yusuke Yamada's novel of the same name ended up as crude and dissatisfactory low-budget mess that tries too hard to shock and entertain the audience without delivering some serious tension or scariness. The opening madness is ace and delivers plenty of fun with remote-controlled cars, toy torture and super-unexpected kills, but afterwards, it gets more and more dull with every single minute.


The acting is thoroughly good and the playful score is excellent, but it's all just too long and too lenghty. The non-linear narrative is rather pointless and IMO rather badly developed, making "Puzzle" just more and more confusing and ultimately pretty annoying. Also, the cheap made-for-TV look obviously doesn't help much. Not recommended.

October 15, 2014

A HAUNTING AT PRESTON CASTLE

A HAUNTING AT PRESTON CASTLE

Alternate Title:
Preston Castle

USA, 2012
Director: Martin Rosenberg

2/10








Martin Rosenberg is a visual effects artist and cinematographer who worked on an amazing amount of alltime movie classics. Looking at his Imdb profile is quite mindblowing: "Saving Private Ryan", "Avatar", "Star Wars Episode 1-3", "Mission: Impossible", "Ghostbusters II", "Willow", "The Hunt for Red October", "Back To The Future II", "Men In Black" etc. etc. - holy shit!

Now, after working in Hollywood for more than 30 years, he finally delivers his very first directorial work - and fails so goddamn hard, it's ridiculous. Very loosely based on several mysteries that surround the slightly infamous, supposedly haunted Preston School of Industry, "A Haunting at Preston Castle" follows three teenagers who enter an abandoned reform school, wander around the building for hours and hours until they all get killed by oh-so-evil ghosts. The end.


Nearly nothing about this unbelievably dull borefest is any good: there's hardly any story, the script is a lazy, lame-ass slapdash piece of rubbish, all three main character are bland, boring and forgettable, there's no atmosphere and no suspense, no thrills, no scares, no nothing. The few supposed-to-be-scary scenes are either clichéd, highly predictable or unintentionally hilarious, due to some horridly cheap-looking CGI effects.

Speaking of clichés... *sigh* we've seen it all before millions of times. Weird noises, closing doors, dark corridors, ghosts walking by in the background, people getting dragged into the darkness, yada, yada, yada. It would have been better if they'd have released it as "The Haunting in Connecticut 3: Ghosts of Preston Castle", or something similarly original.


1 point for the rather neat acting, 1 point for the effective camera work (film camera, camcorder and smartphone camera). As for the rest... ugh!
What a ghost wreck.

Imdb

Thanks a bunch to Kelly Williams (Greenleaf + Associates) for the screener!

THE WOLVES OF SAVIN HILL

THE WOLVES OF SAVIN HILL

Working Title:
Days Full Of Night

USA, 2014
Director: John Beaton Hill

7/10








What may sound like a werewolf-themed film, is actually a non-horror blend of dark crime-thriller and emotional friendship-drama, written and directed by young filmmaker John Beaton Hill who leads us to the underworld of Los Angeles and the sinister streets of Boston, telling the story of two childhood friends, Sean, a ruthless cop and Tom, a miserable alcoholic who both share a dark secret. After the strange death of Sean's wife (murder? suicide?) who is actually Tom's sister, the two friends reunite with each other, but not the way they both expected...


Hill's debut feature is an impressively made and stunningly ambitious film that tells a slightly well-trodden but very complex and quite innovative story in an unexpectedly fresh, unexpectedly intriguing manner with a very-well-developed and completely unpredictable narrative. In terms of  clever editing, it reminded me of early 90s Tarantino, but without the humor. In terms of gripping atmosphere and intense close-ups, it reminded me a lot of Adam Wingard's "A Horrible Way to Die", but without the Horror.

The colorful cast is strikingly awesome; fantastic performances by David Cooley (I'm totally jealous of his ace-looking beard), Brian Scannell ("The Alphabet Killer"), veteran actor Jack McGee ("The Fighter") and Marco Verdier as fun rasta-criminal. Even better, the really unbelievable soundtrack, consisting of amazing songs by Pink Floyd ("Fearless", "The Great Gig in the Sky"), James Brown ("The Payback") or Bob Dylan ("Tell Ol' Bill"). The movie's absolute highlight: a collage of old home video recordings, accompanied by Beethoven's "Moonlight Sonata" that suddenly segues into the submarine-like pings of Pink Floyd's epic "Echoes", a baffling and totally outstanding moment!


It's not without its flaws: the editing is often a bit too over-the-top, the attempt in focussing on too many characters at the same time is often a tad annoying, and IMO the movie could/should have been 10-15 minutes shorter. Nevertheless, "The Wolves of Savin Hill" is a remarkable debut and I highly recommend it to open-minded fans of all things thriller, drama and arthouse.


Thanks to October Coast PR for the Screener!

SONS OF LIBERTY

SONS OF LIBERTY

Alternate Title:
C.T.U Special Ops

USA, 2014
Director: Drew Hall

4/10








Now this was awkward - and irritating. Why? Because what looks and feels like a stand-alone film, is actually the third part in a low-budget action-franchise by director Drew Hall, following the movies "Skyhook" (2012) and "The Phoenix Rises" (2012). Without John Cellabos' informative review,
and without this interview, I would have been cluless and hopelessly confused, thanks to the fact that neither the DVD nor the movie's Imdb site offer any hints that this is actually a threequel *grrr*

"Sons of Liberty" is a poorly constructed and rather tedious action-thriller about a special operations unit that tries to prevent a group of radical mercenaries (part terrorist, part revolutionary) from creating a potentially devastating doomsday device. It's a simple story, told in an odd and unnecessary complicated way, including clichéd oh-so-tragic backstories and a completely expandable sub-plot about a brutal serial killer.


Direction and pacing are both weird, the screenplay is a mess and the story is frustratingly confusing, not just because of all the references to events and incidents that happened in the previous movies, but also because Hall and his screenwriters Jeff Etheridge & Denny Wilkins created a classic case of 'Too many cooks spoil the broth' which resulted in the fact that "Sons of Liberty" feels as if three completely different films were cobbled together in a haphazard way.

Camera work ranges from excellent to uber-shaky, and most of the acting is mediocre and/or wooden. Thank goodness, after an hour of boredom and confusion, the last half hour delivers plenty of awesome action scenes, stunningly stylish slow-motion sequences, superb-looking sets and excellent explosions. Seriously, the last half is at times so good, you wonder if someone accidentally edited scenes from some high-budget action film into this strange mess. Also, worth mentioning: a few cool tunes like "Company Man" by Rival Sons or "Kettering" by The Antlers.


Dear Mr. Hall, next time you make a movie, ignore your previous films and don't try to create any over-complicated stories. Just make something that is packed with badass action, cool characters and even cooler music. It will work so much better than this, I'm 100% sure. Thanks for your attention.

Imdb

Thanks a bunch to Kelly Williams (Greenleaf + Associates) for the screener!

October 14, 2014

IN SEARCH OF ANCIENT MYSTERIES

IN SEARCH OF ANCIENT MYSTERIES

USA, 1973
Director: Fred Warshovsky

7/10












I think many many of you old-school TV freaks still remember "In Search Of...", the popular Leonard-Nimoy-narrated documentary series about all kinds of mysterious phenomena, which ran on American Television between and 1977 and 1982 (6 seasons, 144 thirty-minute-episodes) - but do you also remember the 3 one-hour-long documentaries that provided the basis for "In Search Of..."?

Between 1973 and 1975, television jack-of-all-trades Alan Landsburg produced and co-created the documentaries "In Search of Ancient Astronauts" (1973), "The Outer Space Connection" (1975), and this one, "In Search of Ancient Mysteries" (1973), all based on books by Erich von Däniken, all narrated by the great Rod Serling ("The Twilight Zone").


"In Search of Ancient Mysteries" (finally out on DVD Oct 24, thanks to the fabulous Film Chest Media Group) is an entertaining and rather quick-paced documentary examining the unprovable but extremely fascinating theories about the possibility that alien species / extraterrestrials visited Planet Earth
in ancient times. 

Rod Serling's smooth voice tells us intriguing and fascinating stuff about about the Nazca Lines (possible UFO runways?), the mysteries of the Bolivia-based site Tiahuanaco, the Tower of the Winds in Athens, the massive Ollantaytambo fortress in Peru, the rust-resistant Iron Pilhar of Delhi, or Ezekiel's wheels, an UFO sighting in the bible. Serling combines hard facts with possible theories, ambitious hypotheses and all kinds of thought-provoking questions.


It may be a bit too short (only 52 minutes long) and at times a bit too quick-paced, but aside from that, I liked it. It's not as dated as I expected, and in some kinda way it's still semi-up-to-date. The melancholy music fits all the well-shot locations and objects very well, the editing is excellent, the camera work is fine + pretty great picture quality. If you're a fan of all things ancient and/or extraterrestrial, as well as 70s/80s docos, this is a must-see / must-have!

Wiki ~ Imdb

Thanks a bunch to Kelly Williams (Greenleaf + Associates) for the screener!

October 13, 2014

THESE FINAL HOURS [/Slash Filmfestival 2014]

THESE FINAL HOURS

Australia, 2013
Director: Zak Hilditch

5/10











During the hey-days of Ozploitation (1970s & 80s), many Australia filmmakers focused on creating movies about dystopian, apocalyptic or post-apocalyptic futures, for example the "Mad Max" trilogy or films like "The Chain Reaction (1980)", "Dead End Drive-In (1986)" or "Hard Knuckle" (1987).
With his newest film "These Final Hours", young filmmaker Zak Hilditch tries to revive this end-of-the-world-as-we-know-it era, not in a wild and over-the-top way, but in a surprisingly calm and emotional way, set 12 hours before a 'tsunami of fire' (caused by the impact of meteors) destroys the entire world...

The movie's tone reminded me a lot of the still extremely underrated "Carriers".
There's lots of unbelievably amazingly filmed landscapes and areas in and around Perth, many great performances by cool actors like Nathan Phillips ("Wolf Creek") or Sarah Snook ("Sleeping Beauty") and a few highly thrilling scenes at the biggest, best and very last rave-party (Russian roulette, Psychotic Ecstasy-addicted bitch...).


Nevertheless, "These Final Hours" ends up as rather disappointing, due to the awkward pacing which is way too slow and way too dull, the bland screenplay, a few unnecessary and pretty pointless moments of uber-violence, boring, lackluster cardboard characters and an ending that is visually striking, but feels rushed and even a bit annoying. I suggest to watch "Carriers" instead.

ESCAPE FROM TOMORROW [/Slash Filmfestival 2014]

ESCAPE FROM TOMORROW

USA, 2013
Director: Randy Moore

6/10











"It is not possible that this film exists!" - oh no, it IS possible. Randy Moore's debut feature "Escape from Tomorrow" was shot at Disneyland and Disney World without permission, which makes it one of the most unique guerrilla films in history. The movie follows an average family with two kids on their last day of vacation visiting Disney World one last time before going home. During the visit, the father (who found out earlier that he was fired) slowly loses his marbles. He starts following two underage French girls, has disturbing visions, cheats on his wife, encounters strangely eerie characters and imagines being part of a huge conspirational experiment...

"Escape from Tomorrow" is unlike everything that has ever been made before in the history of cinema. A wild and surreal succession of bizarre scenes and sequences taking place in an anti-amusement park that seems to be trapped somewhere between dream and reality, all filmed in beautiful, slightly sombre black-and-white, accompanied by a kitschy 40s/50s Hollywood music. Acting is good, the CGI effects look pretty neat and Moore's direction is highly inventive.


However, even though it's full of marvellously creepy incidents and occasions, amusing oddballs and weirdos, the whole thing never figures out what it really wants to be (horror? comedy? drama? arthouse?) and ultimately ends up as slightly underwhelming movie experiment. Uncanny moments of insanity with impressive and inventive imagery alternate with tedious or repetitive scenes, at times semi-mildly amusing, at times downright boring.

Nevertheless, I just have to praise the way the movie was filmed and edited.
I mean... damn, I'd never dare to shoot a film illegally on Disney territory. "Escape from Tomorrow" might be pretty flawed, but all in all, it's still a really remarkable career start. Hope we get to see more of Moore in the near future (maybe a sequel set in Legoland? ;-)

Wiki ~ Imdb

October 12, 2014

ANNABELLE

ANNABELLE

USA, 2014
Director: John R. Leonetti

6/10











As expected, "Annabelle" is far from being as scary, impressive and amazing as last year's "The Conjuring" (in case you didn't know, it's a direct prequel to "The Conjuring"), and more of a quick cash grab on the popularity of that damn creepy doll. Nevertheless, it's a solid and decently entertaining, slightly old-fashioned horror chiller, telling the highly predictable but still pretty neat story of a young couple that gets terrorized by frightening supernatural occurencies, all seemingly caused by a weird vintage doll...

John R. Leonetti is a terrific cinematographer ("Dead Silence", "Piranha 3D", "Insidious 1+2", "The Conjuring"...), but a quite lousy director - at least, that's what his earlier directorial efforts made me think (the shoddy "Mortal Kombat: Annihilation" and the super-boring "The Butterfly Effect 2"). His direction in "Annabelle" is still not exceptional or award-worthy, but definitely stronger and way more effective than in his previous efforts.


Next to a couple of scenes that seem to be ripped off of "Insidious" (couple moves house, sudden appearance of a demon's hideous face...), the movie's weakest spot is its screenplay (Gary Dauberman, "Swamp Devil") which is packed with rather generic or plain uninteresting characters, too many jump scares and lots of worn out horror tropes / horror clichés (rocking chairs, closing doors, vintage baby strollers, satan-worshipping sect, inscrutable priest...).

To my surprise, it all still worked rather well. Certain scenes like the opening or the basement/elevator-sequence are really, really suspenseful, at times even nerve-wracking, a few of the jump scares gave me nightmarish heart attacks (no matter how foreseeable these scares were), and, best of all, they fortunately didn't turn Annabelle into a Chucky-like monster. She's just sitting there, smiling, staring, looking like a freak...


Also worth mentioning: sublime camera work by James Kniest ("Maron"), neat music by regular James Wan collaborator Joseph Bishara, and nice performances by Annabelle Wallis and Alfre Woodard. Overall, "Annabelle" is nothing special or remarkable, but worth a look if you like creepy old-fashioned doll horror.

Wiki ~ Imdb

October 10, 2014

BLOOD WAS EVERYWHERE

BLOOD WAS EVERYWHERE

USA, 2011/2014
Director: Jason Torrey

8/10











"Blood Was Everywhere" is the second full feature by director / writer Jason Torrey, and contrary to my low expectations (because of the bland cover and the somewhat generic title), it's far from being a cheap or dumb gorefest, it's actually one of the most interesting, most unusual slasher variations of the last years, following a few average people in a small Massachusetts town who all suddenly get stalked and threatened by an anonymous, merciless,
non-mask-wearing killer...


This films seemingly came out of nowhere and somehow managed to knock me off my socks completely. It's actually so good, I wonder why I haven't heard of it earlier. Imagine a dark blend of suspenseful old-school slashers like "Halloween" or "Final Exam", combined with the gripping brightness of Simon Rumley's
"Red White Blue"
...

a mysterious killer without identity in an area where average people struggle with everyday life... it's an intriguing scenario, not that original, but developed in an immensely interesting and extremely fascinating way, taking place over the span of two days, starting with Day 2, going back to Day 1, returning to Day 2.

The slightly "Final Exam"-like killer is an excellently vicious motherfucker and his straight-forward attitude is highly refreshing, especially compared to all the recent and super-lame we-try-so-fucking-hard-to-create-a-new-franchise-maniacs. Nearly all of the kills are gorgeously gory, and look/feel very realistic. Torrey's flawless direction in combination with the Haneke-like sparse use of music and the effective editing by Nolan Ball, it all gives the movie a mesmerisingly sinister and really uneasy tone, oh, and nearly all of the actors deliver splendid performances, most notably the great Larry Holden R.I.P ("Memento", "Insomnia", "Batman Begins"...), Ashley Arnold and Phillip Ristaino.


Aside from the rather meh title (the title from that ol' Korn tune "Dead Bodies Everywhere" somehow fits better), "Blood Was Everywhere" is an absolutely terrific flick. In terms of "unexpectedly surprising", this movie rocked my world as much as last year's similarly underestimated "7th Day". Yeah!

Imdb

Thanks to Simply Legendary Publicity for the screener!

October 9, 2014

IT FOLLOWS [/Slash Filmfestival 2014]

IT FOLLOWS

USA, 2014
Director: David Robert Mitchell

9,5/10












At this year's /Slash Filmfestival, there were only two movies that scared me half to death: one was "The Babadook", the other one was "It Follows", the second feature of director / writer David Robert Mitchell ("The Myth of the American Sleepover"), a powerful, immensely uncanny and highly original horror-chiller about an evil, violent and seemingly unkillable entity that haunts, stalks and follows its victims until it gets them.

The entity spreads itself from one person to another via sexual encounters, means if you're haunted by it, you can only get rid of it by having sex with another person and passing the entity on to him/her. Okay, you actually can't get rid of it, because once you've haunted by it, you will still be able to see it following others. How does it look? Um, it looks different everytime it appears. It can look like someone you know, or like some random stranger, at times normal, at times disfigured, but it will always appear in human form...


"It Follows" is a true miracle of a horror film, fantastically written and directed, stunningly developed and scary as hell. Dayum, I get goosebumps just thinking about several scenes where it walks towards its victims, slowly coming nearer and nearer. The eerie old woman in the nightdress, the tall guy who enters one girl's bedroom at night, or the weird woman at the beach... brrr!!

Mitchell makes striking use of seemingly unscary Suburban schools and neighborhoods, as well as of abandoned, rundown areas in and around Detroit, all fabulously filmed by Mike Gioulakis ("John Dies At The End") who seemed to be massively influenced by Dean Cundey's work for "Halloween". The cast is thoroughly good, especially the performances by Maika Monroe and Jake Weary, the special effects are all great, and the music... the music...
THE UNBELIEVABLE MUSIC. Holy stalker, that was the absolute best film score I heard all year. Several people at the festival had massive problems with the 80s-infested synth score by Rich Vreeland (a.k.a Disasterpiece), declaring that it took them out of the movie - while others (like me) praised it, and completely fell in love with it. Imagine the score of "Drive", only ten times better. Yes, it's that good (at least, that's what I thought).

Did I mention the spooky opening? The poetic ending? The striking scene at the public pool? The fact that several scenes frightened me so hard, I ended up as sweating and slightly shivering wreck? Oh, "It Follows", what an amazing movie you are. Can't hardly wait to see you again. I'd follow you whereever you go...

October 8, 2014

DRACULA UNTOLD

DRACULA UNTOLD

USA, 2014
Director: Gary Shore

2/10











No, this movie is not about "Dracula". It's about an X-Men-like semi-superhero who possesses the powers 1) to transform himself into a 'bat storm' whenever he wants, and 2) and to manipulate huge bat swarms into attacking hordes of Turkish soldiers - and believe me when I say that this bat-swarm/storm-thingy is basically the only enjoyable thing about this movie, next to the solid performance of Luke Evans and the bombastic monk-choir score by Ramin Djawadi ("Pacific Rim", "Game of Thrones").

"Dracula Untold" wasn't made for fans of all things vampires (doesn't matter if old school or new school), wasn't made for admirers of Bram Stoker's fascinating creature Count Dracula, wasn't made for people who enjoy watching a good horror film to get some chills and thrills.
"Dracula Untold" was made for an audience that doesn't care about movies, that doesn't care about Dracula, vampires or Horror per se, that goes to the cinema to eat shitloads of Nachos and play with their smartphones.

"Dracula Untold" wasn't made by people who care for the Horror genre, who care about Horror fans, who, or who simply wanna create a good Horror film. It was made by money-hungry men in suits who couldn't give a bat's ass about movies and just wanna fill up all the countless Multiplex-Gulags with bland, dumb and worthless CGI shit.


Director Gary Shore's debut feature will hopefully be his one and only film. It's an incredibly unimaginative and aggravatingly lackluster lamefest that doesn't offer anything enjoyable. Everything looks and feels like it was merely recycled from other more or less epic movies, be it the "Lord of the Rings" trilogy, mediocre stuff like "Solomon Kane" or shit like "Snow White and the Huntsman". Clichéd army attacks and awful love scenes, pathetic one liners and oh-so-emotional speeches, hardly any blood and lazy CGI sun-burns-vampire scenes. None of the actors get the chance to show their talents, and in terms of historical facts, it's so fucking inaccurate, it makes you wanna stake-rape the two idiot-screenwriters Matt Sazama & Burk Sharpless.

"Dracula Untold" is a piece of stinking Crap-ula that should have
never ever been told.

October 7, 2014

I AM ZOZO (a.k.a Are You There?)

I AM ZOZO

Alternate Title:
Are You There?

USA, 2012
Director: Scott Di Lalla

4/10








A couple of weeks ago, I was kinda flabbergasted when I saw my blog buddy Karina posting on FB about a movie she just recently found in the bargain bin... a movie I've never heard about before: "Are You There?", something about creepy girls playing with Ouija Boards. According to the taglines, it's "A demonic tale of the occult" (hm...) and "Based on true events" (meh...).

After some investigation, I realized it's a movie I actually have heard of before:
"I Am ZoZo" (shitty title), which was retitled to the rather generic "Are You There?" for the European DVD release. Karina hated it so much, she didn't wanted to have the DVD in her flat anymore, and so she sent it to me, because she knows that I watch basically everything :)


So, did I like it? Hm, not really, though to my surprise, I ended up enjoying it a lot more than I expected. Based on a weird ghost theory about a mysterious specter called "ZoZo", the movie follows five teenagers who spend a Halloween weekend playing with a Ouija Board, accidentally attracting the attention of a
weird demonic presence.

What could have been something as awesome as Kevin Tenney's 80s classic "Witchboard" is sadly just a poorly developed and highly predictable lowest-budget flick, full of annoying cardboard characters, untalented actors, boring ghost-talk scenes and horrendous dialogue, like:
"Now for the last time, put your hands back on the planchette and shut your facehole!" - "Dayum! Look at the possessed girl. My facehole is gonna get a cold beer." - "Fine." - "Shut your facehole?"
or: "I am terrified of elevators. How embarrassing." - "No, don't be embarrassed. I'm terrified of the dark." - "So, if we were trapped in an elevator and suddenly the lights went out, we would be done for." - "Exactly!"


Scott Di Lalla's direction is unfocused and really awkward, the screenplay is a convoluted mess that can't decide between ghost flick and some-teenagers-having-a-good-time-lamefest, and seriously... who thought it might be scary to show a planchette go from "Z" to "O" over and over again?

Nevertheless, there are a few things that made it watchable: the fact that it was entirely filmed on Super-8 which gives it a wonderfully grainy retro-look, two scenes that are actually quite eerie (the bathroom scene, the entire ending incl. kitty pumpkin + wiccan girl getting attacked), and the unbelievably awesome score, consisting of some awesome music by BC Smith, as well as fascinating tunes like "Heaven" by Blood Warrior, "Solo Con Te" by London Below or "Heron Blue" by Sun Kil Moon.

Not zo good, not zo bad. Okay, I guess. Thanks Karina! =)

Wiki ~ Imdb

LATE PHASES [/Slash Filmfestival 2014]

LATE PHASES

USA, 2014
Director: Adrían García Bogliano

8/10











No, Spanish director Adrían García Bogliano's newest film is not as amazing as his 2013 masterpiece "Here Comes The Devil" (Review here), but it's nonetheless a wonderful movie that once again proves what a talented and creative filmmaker Bogliano is. Based on a screenplay by Eric Stolze ("Under The Bed"), Bogliano's English-language debut "Late Phases" follows Ambrose, a blind war veteran who moves with his dog into a retirement community, not knowing that this place is plagued by werewolves...

It might not be the most original movie of all time, mainly because it shares many similarities with other classics like "Bubba Ho-Tep" (retiree vs. monster), "Wait Until Dark" (blind person vs. intruder) or "The Howling" (person comes to a werewolf-infested place), but due to Bogliano's oddly interesting approach to characters and narrative, as well as to the stunning cinematography/camera work, "Late Phases" ends up as fresh and smart take on the Lycanthropy genre, delivering plenty of unforseeable twists and turns, lots of unexpected drama and emotions, and shitloads of hilarious scenes / sequences / dialogue (Ambrose saying "Good luck with your vegetable." to an old woman whose husband lives in an iron lung got the loudest laugh from the audience).


Nick Damici's ("Stake Land") performance as blind badass is exceptional and very award-worthy, just like the rest of the terrific horror all-star cast, conisting of Lance Guest ("Halloween II", "Jaws 4"), Ethan Embry ("They", "Cheap Thrills"), Tina Louise ("The Stepford Wives"), Tom Noonan ("Wolfen"), Rutanya Alda ("Amityville II") or Jack-of-all-trades Larry Fessenden.
We get to see some of the coolest old-school practical-effects werewolf transformations in ages, the werewolves look like someone crossed 70s Paul Naschy with Austrian Perchten costumes, music and editing are simply top-notch.

Ignore the rather bland title: "Late Phases" is definitely a must-see horror highlight, highly recommended especially to fans of old-school werewolf awesomeness.

October 6, 2014

BORGMAN [/Slash Filmfestival 2014]

BORGMAN

Netherlands / Belgium / Denmark, 2013
Director: Alex Van Warmerdam

10/10











If there was one film at this year's /Slash Filmfestival me and my buddies couldn't stop talking about, then it was "Borgman", the 9th feature of Dutch director / writer / actor Alex van Warmerdam, a rather obscure filmmaker who's working in the film business since the late 70s, but hasn't gained much poularity outside of the Netherlands... so far! Since last year, "Borgman" got lots and lots of praise from arthouse critics AND horror critics, making its festival rounds from one country to the next, which resulted into van Warmerdam's very first
Cannes Palme d'Or nomination - and quite rightly so!


"Borgman" follows a weird and beardy vagrant called Camiel Borgman who infiltrates the life of a wealthy and pretty tasteless family in a way that is simply baffling, fascinating and shocking at the same time. Borgman seem to have mysterious quasi-supernatural powers, is able to hypnotize people and/or to live off their energy, and together with a few strange helpers/followers/family members/whatever, he quickly turns the family's life into a perplexingly
surreal nightmare.


Alex van Warmerdam created an incredible masterpiece that is somehow comparable to David Lynch's works, because: even though I didn't understand it, I loved the hell out of it. "Borgman" feels as if van Warmerdam created a complex but comprehensible story, based on German folklore (the "Alp", Grimm's fairy tales) and biblical elements (archangel Chamuel) - and then, when the story was finished, he seemingly took out several rather important and declarative elements, and turned the 'rest' into this movie. In the hands of an inexperienced filmmaker, the whole thing would have ended as total disaster, but in the hands of van Warmerdam, "Borgman" ended up as stunningly grotesque, incredibly mesmerising and totally unique cinematic puzzle, not comparable to anything
I've ever seen.

The movie possesses a bizarre, but nonetheless hilarious humor that made me ROFL many, many times. From the weird opening where we get to see Borgman and two of his followers living in small burrows somewhere in the woods, to the scene where they turn the family's garden into a complete and utter mess with mini excavators and shit, to the scenes where they kill several people, cement the dead bodies' heads in buckets and throw them headfirst into a lake... yes, it's a massive succession of scenes that make you go WTF?? over and over again. The helpers that seem to be able to shapeshift into greyhounds (or not?), the scene where a little girl unexectedly kills a job candidate, Borgman sitting on the wife's chest, giving her nasty nightmares... hell, I could go on and on and on. One striking and remarkable scene after another.


Next to Van Warmerdam's pitch-perfect direction and terrific screenplay, I also have to praise the marvellous cinematography by Tom Erisman ("Waiter", "Grimm"), the sparse but super-effective music (composed by the director's brother Vincent Van Warmerdam), and the amazing cast, most notably Jan Bijvoet as Borgman himself, Hadewych Minis & Jeroen Perceval as married couple, as well as Tom Dewispelaere, Eva van de Wijdeven, the director himself and his wife Annet Malherbe as Borgman's followers (+ Sara Hjort Ditlevsen and her wonderful boobs ^^).

An extraordinary piece of artsy, amusing and unsettling weirdness. The best Dutch movie since George Sluizer's "Spoorloos". I mean it!

Wiki ~ Imdb

P.S. Posters of the year? Yup, posters of the year.


P.P.S Thanks to Manuel & Leifp for the nice online Borgman discussions :-)

October 5, 2014

ABCs OF DEATH 2 [/Slash Filmfestival 2014]

ABCs OF DEATH 2

Alternate Title:
The ABCs of Death 2

USA / New Zealand, 2014
Directors: see below!

8/10








"The ABCs of Death" (Review here) was one of last year's biggest surprises. One huge anthology consisting of 26 individual segments, "each helmed by a different director assigned a letter of the alphabet. The directors were given free reign in choosing a word to create a story involving death." A simple but highly effective concept, resulting into one of the most entertaining
'crowd / party films' of the last years.

Now, the ABCs are back with 26 new segments, and once again, it's time to party. The overall tone is a bit darker and not as wacky as the first one, and to my surprise, there are much less "cult directors" on the list, but overall it satisfied me about as much as the first one.
Hop with me into the classroom and get to know why ABC is much funnier and easier than 123 ;)

A is for AMATEUR, directed by E. L. Katz ("Cheap Thrills) - 8/10
Great way to kick off. Hot chicks, tough guys, boobs, cocaine, loud electro music - and a hitman in the ventilation shafts trying to accomplish a murderous mission. Stylish, thrilling and superbly edited.

B is for BADGER, directed by Julian Barratt ("The Mighty Boosh") - 6/10
Semi-found-footage clip of a film crew getting attacked by radioactively mutated badgers whilst shooting a documentary. Lots of fun and hilarious lines, but the camera work is way too shaky and there's not enough badger action.

C is for CAPITAL PUNISHMENT, directed by Julian Gilbey ("A Loney Place to Die") - 9/10
A radical act of lynchlaw gone completely wrong. A sinister and extremely disturbing segment with a message, tense as fuck, full of gruesome gore, brutal, emotional, depressing. I loved it!


D is for DELOUSED, directed by Robert Morgan ("The Cat with Hands") - 7/10
Grotesque-looking figures, bizarre blood transfusions, even weirder cockroach-transformations. I had no idea what's going on here but I somehow enjoyed to see the darker side of Claymation :)

E is for EQUILIBRIUM, directed by Alejandro Brugués ("Juan of the Dead") - 8/10
Two guys shipwrecked on an island, enjoying life as good as it gets - then, suddenly, a woman arrives. Slightly misogynistic, but nonetheless wonderfully entertaining and incredibly well-made. Fun!

F is for FALLING, directed by Aharon Keshales & Navot Papushado ("Big Bad Wolves") - 8/10
Intense and highly suspenseful little chiller about a Palestinian boy trying to kill a female Israeli soldier whose parachute got entangled in a tree. Stunningly directed and paced, the open ending is unsettling and depressing.


G is for GRANDAD, directed by Jim Hosking ("Renegades") - 7/10
Extremely odd but quite amusing tale about a snotty teenager who lives together with his eerie grandpa. Delivers unforgettable images of old man's genitalia and how to sleep IN a mattress.

H is for HEAD GAMES, directed by Bill Plympton ("Guard Dog") - 7/10
Odd but interesting and pretty cool-looking animated and dialogue-free short of a kiss that turns from romantic to deadly. Haven't seen anything like that before.

I is for INVINCIBLE, directed by Erik Matti ("Tiktik: The Aswang Chronicles") - 4/10
Legacy hunters try to kill a seemingly invincible age-old woman. Starts out fun, ends up bland and frustrating. Some nice gore though.


J is for JESUS, directed by Dennison Ramalho ("Ninjas) - 9/10
A powerful and intriguing shocker about homosexuality, religion, murder and tattoos, stunningly shot and edited, eerie and thrilling from start to finish, full of excellent acting. Wow!

K is for KNELL, directed by Kristina Buozyte & Bruno Samper ("Vanishing Waves") - 8/10
People in a tower building get transformed into aggressive semi-zombies. Slightly sophisticated version of "The Horde", creepy and frightening. Not everyone dug the poetic ending, but I simply loved it.

L is for LEGACY, directed by Lancelot Oduwa Imasuen (Nollywood filmmaker) - 4/10
My first encounter with Nollywood cinema, an incoherent tale about African tribes and bloodhungry creatures. Weirdly paced and full of horrendous CGI effects. Meh.


M is for MASTICATE, directed by Robert Boocheck ("Horrific") - 10/10
The rightful winner of the "M is for..." competition: a vivid and explosive slow-motion short following a batshit crazed man dashing through a crowded street. Fantastically developed, beautifully filmed, accompanied with a fabulous rock tune. Wahoo!

N is for NEXUS, directed by Larry Fessenden ("Habit") - 5/10
Various costumed people on Halloween, all involved in a chain of events that ends deadly. Great make-up, gorgeous cinematography, but ultimately vapid and completely forgettable.

O is for OCHLOCRACY (=Mob Rule), directed by Hajime Ohata ("Henge") - 8/10
Fresh, original and super-witty take on the zombie genre, taking place in a world where the undead took over the humans. Full of amusement and unexpected twists, excellently written and directed.


P is for P-P-P-P SCARY!, directed by Todd Rohal ("The Catechism Cataclysm") - 7/10
"Oh Brother, Where Art Thou" meets "The Three Stooges" meets "J is for Jidai-geki". 3 dimwits with speech defects, Irish dancers with wacky faces - nothing makes sense, but for whatever reason it all made me lol :)

Q is for QUESTIONNAIRE, directed by Rodney Ascher ("Room 237") - 8/10
Starts out with: A man. A woman. A one-on-one quiz. Ends up with: An operating room. A brain surgery. A gorilla. Fun and entertaining, gory and brutal, baffling and surprising. Very nice!

R is for ROULETTE, directed by Marvin Kren ("Blood Glacier") - 9/10
Unbelievably suspenseful black-and-white nervewracker dealing with a game of Russian Roulette in a basement and an unbeknownst horror waiting outside. Awesome-looking, gripping as hell, superbly directed and fantastically acted. Roulette rules!


S is for SPLIT, directed by Juan Martínez Moreno ("Game of Werewolves") - 9/10
Incredibly powerful home invasion shocker with a nasty and completely unexpected plot twist. Amazing use of split screen and fast-cut editing, excellent direction, terrific acting, great music and camera work. Yeah!

T is for TORTURE PORN, directed by Jen & Sylvia Soska ("American Mary") - 6/10
Solid segment about mysogyny porn shoot and a woman's slightly Lovecraftian tentacle revenge. Neat acting and lots of wild strobe-light-action, but it feels to short, too rushed, the ending is a letdown.

U is for UTOPIA, directed by Vincenzo Natali ("Cube") - 8/10
Natali back to form with a very well made dystopian vision of a society that has developed a cruel but effective way to get rid of 'subhumans'. Cold look, fantastic effects, brilliant direction.


V is for VACATION, directed by Jerome Sable ("Stage Fright") - 9/10
Two douchebags on vacation, alcohol, cocaine, prostitutes, and the dangers of video-calling your girlfriend at home. Nasty and brutal, crazy and violent. Considering the director's more into musicals and shit, this was a colossal surprise!

W is for WISH, directed by Steven Kostanski ("Manborg") - 9,5/10
Two boys get drawn into a 80s/90s-like commercial for kids' fantasy toys and end up in medieval-like world where nothing is fun. Unbelievably creative and highly original, packed with splendind practical effects, ace-looking creatures and super-cool music. Be careful what you wish for!

X is for XYLOPHONE, directed by Julien Maury & Alexandre Bustillo ("Inside") - 9/10
The masterminds of Horror back again with La Dalle, delivering a super-gory, super-entertaining segment about a babysitter going killer, exploring the similarities of xylophones and human bones. Starts out fun, ends up harsh. People who don't like kids (like me) will love this!


Y is for YOUTH, directed by Soichi Umezawa (Japanese make-up artist) - 9/10
The troubles of puberty, annoying parents and misunderstood children going completely over-the-top with giant cocks, murderous electric guitars and huge killer hamburgers. Super-weird but super-fun, crazy Japanese shit at its best!

Z is for ZYGOTE, directed by Chris Nash ("Skinfection Trilogy") - 10/10
Hands down, the absloute best segment. An original, inventive and gob-smacking hardcore shocker that takes body-horror to a new level, following a pregnant mother who decides to keep her child in her womb a little longer. A disturbing, but also immensely fascinating little film, full of really gross stuff and mindblowing special effects. Genius!


According to the credits, 
"ABCs of Death 3: Teach Harder" is coming in 2016 - can't hardly wait!!

Total Pageviews

:-)

:-)