October 31, 2014

Halloween Triple Feature: HACK-O-LANTERN / PRIMAL RAGE / JACK-O

Every single year, I try to review the entire "Halloween" series - and every single year, I fail to do so because there's so much other things to do, there's never enough time to dive into the Michael-Myers-awesomeness. At least, I found the time to write about three lesser-known Halloween-themed flicks this year.
Enjoy reading and HAPPY HALLOWEEN!!! :-)


HACK-O-LANTERN

Original Title:
Halloween Night

German Title:
Halloween Night - Satan lebt!

USA, 1988
Director: Jag Mundhra

4/10





This obscure little straight-to-video satanic semi-slasher was shot under the moniker "Halloween Night", but released under the rather hilarious title
"Hack-O-Lantern", following Tommy, a young innocent boy who grows up to a seemingly powerful badass satanist, thanks to his grandfather who is the leader of a satanic cult and wants the boy to be the next Satan (or something like that) with the help of special Halloween rituals and other shenanigans...

To be fair, "Hack-O-Lantern" is pretty bad, at times downright laughable. No wonder, it was directed by not-that-talented Indian exploitation filmmaker Jag Mundhra who started his career shooting low budget horror films in the 80s, before he 'descended' to erotic thrillers and softcore flicks in the 90s and 00s. I've never seen any of his lewd films, but I've seen "Open House (1987)" which is undoubtedly one of the silliest slashers ever made.


Back to Hack. It's a really cheesy flick with a story that isn't exactly spectacular, based on a pretty unimaginative mess of a screenplay. The direction is weird and very pedestrian; there are times when I thought it was actually directed by an armada of disorganized film students. Although there's lots of rather eerie atmosphere, "Hack-O-Lantern" stutters along, never gets going, eventually ends up dull and frustrating.

Fortunately, there's enough fun shit that makes fans of 80s schlock (like me) very happy, especially the scene where grown up Tommy has a dream of playing guitar along with heavy metal band D.C. Lacroix performing "The Devil's Son" (catchy!) when suddenly a black bikini girl arrives, beheads Tommy and kills the band members with laser beams from her eyes (watch it here!).


There's also a few more gory kills, masked figures, rituals in an old barn, pumpkins, pentagrams, hot nudity, cemetery sex, family drama, bizarre plot twists and a few lines that made me giggle like crazy: "Mom, I like the taste of blood. Grandpa says it's good for me." / "Check out that cemetery. There's yet another grave overturned." - "Sure, sarge. I know it's a 'grave' situation, but... I get to the bottom of it." / "Trick or treat! Give me all your candy or I'll blow your head off." - "Would you learn how to talk nicely to your sister?" - "Bang Bang! You're dead."

Obviously no must-see, but very worth checking out if you dig 80s trash like that. Hope it gets a DVD release soon...




PRIMAL RAGE

Original Title:
Rage - Furia Primitiva

German Title:
Animal Rage

Italy / USA, 1988
Director: Vittorio Rambaldi

5/10





Okay, I admit this isn't exactly a fully Halloween-themed movie, but the entire story builds up to a 20minute finale furioso that takes place at a huge Halloween party, so IMO this makes it a perfect wach for Halloween... this, and the fact that it's quite an entertaining piece of late 80s horror trash. "Primal Rage" is one of only 4 directorial efforts by Vittorio Rambaldi, son of legendary special effects artist Carlo Rambaldi who received Oscars for his work on "King Kong (1976)", "Alien" and "E.T.".

"Primal Rage" was written by Italian horror legend Umberto Lenzi ("Nightmare City", "Cannibal Ferox") and tells the story of some kinda "rage virus" that spreads among the students at a Florida university and transforms them into bloodthirsty killer beats. What may sound like a blue print for "28 Days Later" and
similar virus-themed movies, is actually 'just' a prime example of good ol' stupid late-80s Italo-cheese.


The whole movie is a gargantuan mess that never knows where to go. The first half is more of a teenage romance comedy interruped by a few grisly horror moments, while the second half constantly switches between party film and over-the-top gorefest. I'm not saying thar Rambaldi's direction is bad. He's able to create captivating atmosphere and he knows how to execute supposed-to-be-frightening scenes, but he's awful when it comes to direct no-name actors and lets them say lines like "Listen, you dildos!" or "I'm warning you, I know Kung fu!". The acting could have been so much better, but Rambaldi obviously didn't care about any of the actors and preferred to focus on the horror and on helping his father creating gruesome-looking practical effects.

Also, the editing is often too over-the-top, too choppy, the cheesy title song is horrible ("Say the Word" by some group called "The Facade Band" who even get the chance to perform this piece of aural rape at the Halloween party) and nearly every plot twist / turn is either weird or AYFKM?-kinda bad.


Yet, aside from all these flaws, there's shitloads of great moments that makes this rather entertaining, most notably the entire last Halloween party which includes three infected rapists with awesome-looking Grim Reaper costume killing their way through the party, and shitloads of party guests wearing really amazing costumes (oversizes nose-heads, a Janus face with water faucets, a guy with a huge saw stuck in his head...).

There's also other ugly-looking infected people with yucky blood-bursting wounds, lots of brutal and gory kills, excellent "Shakma"-like ape-on-the-loose action, a powerful electro / metal score by grandmaster Claudio "Goblin" Simonetti and some neat camera work by Antonio Climati ("Mondo Cane"). All in all, a solid piece of Italo trash that will give you a good time... if you're able to ignore classic Italian filmmaking incompetence ;-)




JACK-O

Alternate Title:
Jack o'Lantern

USA, 1995
Director: Steve Latshaw

3/10








Don't get fooled by the super-cool cover: this is not "Trick 'R Treat" level, this is just a lame and immensely disappointing slasher-attempt, actually one of the very last old-school slashers before Wes Craven rebooted the genre in 1996 with "Scream". Based on a story by trash-god Fred Olen Ray ("Biohazard") & Brad Linaweaver ("The Brain Leeches"), as well as on a screenplay by Patrick Moran ("Biohazard: The Alien Force"), director / writer Steve Latshaw ("Return of the Killer Shrews") created a dumb flick about an age-old creature, Jack-O, the Pumpkin Man, which accidentally gets brought back to life on Halloween and immediately starts to kill everyone that crosses its path...


The basic concept is fun and promising, but due to Latshaw's terrible direction and the overall horrible execution, "Jack-O" ends up as trainwreck par excellence. A weird opening, followed by even weirder character introductions, "guest appearances" by ex-acting-legends John Carradine and Cameron Mitchell via unused archive footage, an endless succession of unimportant, uninteresting characters getting killed by Jack-O and an ending that is just meh, meh, meh.


The acting ranges between solid (Linnea Quigley) to downright awful (Maddisen K. Krown a.k.a Rebecca Wicks), same for the special effects which are at times cool, at times dreadfully bad. I love the iconic look and design of Jack-O with his huge head and the glowing eyes [1 point], love all the nudity, all the few gory kills [1 point] and the wonderfully haunting score by Jeffrey Walton [1 point]. Everything else about is plain forgettable. No need to Jack this one out ;)

October 29, 2014

DON'T BLINK

DON'T BLINK

Working Title:
Last Stop

USA, 2014
Director: Travis Oates

7/10








It might be unfair of me to give this movie such a high rating because it's pretty flawed, it often feels as if it might be unfinished, and at times, it seems as if the filmmakers involved didn't care about putting too much thought into a proper ending. However, the greater part of the movie impressed me so damn much, I couldn't help giving it a 7/10.

The feature debut of Travis Oates follows 10 people arriving at a secluded mountain resort to find it completely deserted. While seeking shelter and searching for other people, they fall victim to an unknown force, and one by one, they start to disappear without trace...


"Don't Blink" reminded me a lot of time-paradox films like "Triangle" or this year's fascinating "Mine Games", maybe combined with themes from plot-twist-classics like "Identity" or "Ten Little Indians", and for quite some time, it actually looks like the movie builds up to a satisfying climax, maybe some major surprise ending that explains everything. [SPOILER] Unfortunately, the movie ends in the most frustrating way imaginable: no ending, no clarification,
no explanation, no nothing. Meh.

Now why do I still give it such a high rating? Well, on the one hand, it's a very well made movie, fabulously paced and developed, superbly directed and excellently filmed by Jayson Crothers ("Coldwater") who delivers some breathtaking camera work, including great use of cool camera angles, splendid camera tricks and at least one amazing round shot where the camera moves around our main characters standing around, not noticing that one of them suddenly disappears.


On the other hand, the whole disappearance-thing... as frustrating as the non-ending may be, it's at least highly thought-provoking and allows your mind to come up with certain super-wild interpretations and theories that could explain it all, like time travel, dimension hopping, apocalypse, rapture etc. Within the last 10 minutes, I noticed several elements related to loneliness, solitude and outsiderdom, elements that could lead to a theory nowhere mentioned on any of the Imdb explanation-threads. I won't reveal anymore about
this theory (wanna talk about it? shoot me an email), but I assure you, it made enough sense to satisfy me.

Most of the acting is great, especially  the intense performances from Zack Ward, Joanne Kelly and Brian Austin Green. Mena Suvari is neat as always, though sadly, she's in for only about half an hour. Also, some decent gore, a beautiful, slightly Bernard-Herrman-esque score by Mike Verta ("Ultra Galaxy Legends") and some fantastic editing (Lana Wolverton).
Overall, a flawed but highly interesting movie. Recommended only to fans of the above-mentioned movies.

Imdb

Thanks to Zack Ward as well as to Kelly Williams (Greenleaf + Associates) for the screeners!

October 28, 2014

HAUNTED TRAILER

HAUNTED TRAILER

Alternate Title:
The Haunted Trailer

USA, 2014
Director: Chuck Norfolk

6/10








Oh, my goodness this is undoubtedly the stupidest movie I've seen all year so far. It's packed to the brim with dick jokes, fart jokes and masturbation jokes, with trailer park hicks farting, shitting, wanking, talking about wanking and boobies, drinking beer, looking ugly. Yeah, it sounds a lot like that despicable crapfest "Skeleton Key 2"... but you know what? It surprisingly wasn't that bad!

"Haunted Trailer" is the latest feature of Chuck Norfolk (writer of last year's "Conjoined"), taking place in a mobile home where a goofy hick family (hysterical redneck Momma, the two continuously masturbating brothers Aaron & Elvis, and the constantly horny blonde Prissy) gets haunted and shat all over by an ancient Montezuma-like demon, played by porn legend Ron Jeremy! Yeah, the chubby little hedgehog every male American has jacked off to at least once in his life. American, not European. Us Europeans, we don't watch porn because there's enough nudity in our arthouse films ;)


As I mentioned above, it's a really stupid movie, but stupid in an amusing, highly diverting way. There's shitloads of so-bad-it's-good Asylum-like CGI effects (flying melons and teddybears, Aphex-Twin-Windowlicker-like grimaces...), and outrageously funny fake ads for "Teaxs Thunder Light - Good fuckin' beer" or "Penny on a Tape - fer fixin thangs". The hick family feels like a conglomerate of my beloved Flodders and Lloyd & Harry, and all the actors' performances are damn well, especially "Conjoined"-director Joe Grisaffi as Momma whose blaring voice made me laugh every single time like an idiot.

In terms of dialogue, there's tons of awfully funny lines, mostly delivered in broad Texan accent:
"Alright, Mother Earth. Lubricate your pussy 'cause one nasty little demon is gonna shove his tree trunk right up into it... balls deep." /
"If you boys wanna see girls, you come inside and help your momma

shave her legs again." /
"Have you been putting popsicles up your brother's ass and made him shit

all over your sister again?"/
"Elvis, the ghost! He took a dump in your sock!" - "This time,

it's personal, ghost!" /
"Momma, come here! There's a devil in my poo-poo!" - "Oh baby, it sure

does smell like it." /
"Me and your brother got some business to take care off. (*pulls out a pan*)"

- "Is that non-stick?" - "I'm gonna stick it straight up your ass. I'm gonna knock your dick in the dirt!"


I won't go into detail about all the shit (no pun intended) that takes place throughout the movie, but I assure you, the quotes above should give you good insight as to what's happening, and if you ever wanted to see Ron Jeremy coming out of a man's ass as burning fart, or as piece of shit getting flushed down the toilet, this is your movie. "Haunted Trailer" is stupid fun!

Imdb

Thanks to Chuck Norfok for the screener!

October 27, 2014

THE DANCE OF REALITY [/Slash Filmfestival 2014]

THE DANCE OF REALITY

Original Title:
La danza de la realidad

Chile / France, 2013
Director: Alejandro Jodorovsky

10/10








One of my personally most anticipated movies of this year gladly turned out to be one of the absolute best ones, and IMO, it is also THE comeback of 2014: 23(!) years after his last feature "The Rainbow Thie (1990)", Alejandro Jodorowsky, probably Chile's greatest director of all time, finally returns with yet another masterpiece: "The Dance of Reality", a breathtaking return to his old form, an epic and very personal tale about Jodorowsky's childhood and his difficult family, a tale about love, family values, coming of age, heroism, patriotism and communism.


"The Dance of Reality" feels as if Jodorowsky has never been away from the world of cinema. He's still fully able to create images, scenes and sequences that no-one has ever seen or dared to create before. The movie speaks a cinematic language that feels like an updated version of Jodorowsky's works of the 70s, a "The Holy Mountain 2.0" with "Santa Sangre"-like insanity and slightly "El Topo"-esque atmosphere. At times, it feels more like an opera, not just because one of the main characters constantly communicates in opera arias (unbelievable performance by Pamela Flores who's constantly naked and performs the most impressive urinating-scene I've ever seen), but also because the whole buildup and setup feels a lot like classical European opera.

Next to the above-mentioned Flores, we get to see more really incredible performances by Brontis Jodorowsky (Alejandro's oldest son), child actor Jeremias Herskovits and Bastián Bodenhöfer. The music by Adan Jodorowsky (Alejandro's youngest son) is eargasmic, Jean-Marie Dreujou's ("Two Brothers") strikingly colorful photography is just marvellous and even though I'm not a fan
of lo-fi CGI, I have to admit that Jodorovsky's very first use of CGI is surprisingly well-looking. Some really cool visuals he wouldn't have been able to create with practical means.


I could tell you more about the arm- and legless freaks singing about dynamite, about skull-faced bystanders, shop-promoting dwarfs and horse-loving dictators, but... why should I? This is something you have to experience for yourself. Deciphering the work of Jodorowsky isn't easy, it's actually a tough piece of work, but it's worth it because it will blow you away like nothing you've ever seen. Climb "The Holy Mountain", drink la "Santa Sangre", or dance "The Dance of Reality"... if you do it right, it will change you and your view on cinema forever. I promise!

October 25, 2014

+1

+1

Alternate Titles:
Plus One / Shadow Walkers

German Title:
Party Invaders

USA, 2013
Director: Dennis Iliadis

7/10





"+1" is obviously not about Google's failed attempt in creating some kinda Anti-Facebook, it's a movie based on a idea that could be described as 'original', 'genius' and 'plain stupid' at the same time, because... well, it IS original, genius and plain stupid. Imagine going to a huge over-the-top student party with incredible amounts of booze, loud music, strippers and insanity - and suddenly, all of the party guests get duplicated, so there's two of everyone! The cause of all this comes from outer space, though it's unclear if the whole duplication-thing is well- or ill-intentioned. Doesn't matter. Once the originals meet their doppelgangers, the party descends into chaos...


There are some plot elements we already know from the "Body Snatchers" films, the "Butterfly Effect" franchise or gems like "The Broken", but overall, it's a really unique film and it seems to be impossible to compare it with something else. It starts out as teen rom-com, turns into a party flick, transforms itself into a weird kind of science-fiction movie and ends up as powerful horror-thriller. Surprisingly, for the greater part, this genre mish-mash works pretty good, thanks to the solid direction by Dennis Iliadis (his first film since the 2009 "Last House on the Left" remake) and the well-developed screenplay by Bill Gullo.

The movie has a few hiccups: a few dull scenes in the first half, a few mildly annoying characters, and an ending that is actually interesting, but feels a bit as if the filmmakers ran out of ideas. As for the rest: nothing to complain. Rhys Wakefield (basically the only good thing in "The Purge") delivers a pretty cool performance, and I highly enjoyed the acting of Logan Miller, Ashley Hinshaw or the super-cute Suzanne Dengel (and her similarly cute twin sister Colleen Dengel - or is it the other way around?).


The soundtrack consists of many killer dance & hip-hop tunes, there's lots of hot nudity, the entire house looks awesome and was fabulously designed / decorated, the lighting is superb, the CGI looks decent and the photography is fine (Mihai Malaimare Jr., "Twixt"). All in all, "+1" is a super-cool flick that definitely deserves more attention!

Wiki ~ Imdb

October 24, 2014

MUTANTIS

MUTANTIS

USA, 2014
Director: Kelly Fitzgerald

3/10











Mark Leake, writer of last year's awesome "7th Day", writer and producer of this year's "Mutantis" told me in an email: 'Just a precautionary note here. Since I know you liked "7th Day" a lot, be warned: "Mutantis" is completely different. A lot of people find this film perverted, disgusting, and idiotic. For these reasons, I completely love it, but if you have no taste for such trash, feel free to slam "Mutantis" in your review. (...) If you love "Mutantis", seek psychiatric help immediately.'

With these words in mind, I tried to watch "Mutantis" as unbiased and open-minded as possible - which wasn't easy. The debut feature of Kelly Fitzgerald follows weirdo-scientist Father Joy, adventurer Dr. Fury and a few other questionable characters, fighting against a sex-crazed papiermaché monster that looks like a cross between the turkey creature from "Blood Freak", the "Swamp Thing" and a smaller version of the giant crab from "Island Claws".


Phew, that was quite a tough watch, even for me. "Mutantis" tries its best to pay tribute to shitty no-budget monster movies of the 60s / 70s ("The Mighty Gorga" comes to mind) with hilarious and inventive supposed-to-be-stupid-looking practical effects, intentionally laughable dubbing, intentionally dumb fake mustaches, wigs, costumes etc. and the fabulous design of Mutantis itself, most notably its genius bisexual genitalia (basically a vagina with a retractable dick).

Unfortunately, the whole thing is badly paced, way too slow, at times boring, at times tiresome, and it's also repetitive as hell, constantly delivering oh-so-gross and/or uber-gory monster-rapes-human scenes over and over again. Don't get me wrong: all the rape-scenes were very well developed, but... well, if you've seen one, you've seen them all.


Furthermore, the direction is ridiculous and too over-the-top, the story is meh, nearly every single character is a pure pain in the ass, and even at a length of only about 73 minutes, the movie simply too long. As I mentioned, the effects are all excellent and Paul Joyce's ("Father's Day") fits all the nonsense very good. Nevertheless, aside from that , "Mutantis" wasn't up my alley at all - which means there's no need for me to seek psychiatric help *yay* ;-)


Thanks to Mark Leake for the screener!

WOLFCOP [/Slash Filmfestival 2014]

WOLFCOP

Canada, 2014
Director: Lowell Dean

6/10











"WolfCop" is like a joke that is actually quite amusing, but loses its comedic effect if it's told too often. I first heard about it when the movie's IndieGogo campaign went viral. It looked and sounded like a really badass project with massive cult potential - but with every news update, every press release, every teaser/trailer that followed, the whole thing somehow became more and
more unspectacular.

The final product isn't bad, but it's not awesome either, not as badass and
over-the-top as it should have been. The third feature by Canadian director Lowell Dean ("13 Eerie") is a solid horror-comedy romp about miserable alcoholic cop Lou Garou (lol) who becomes a better "man" when the bite of a werewolf turns him into a lycanthropic policeman [a hairier version of Dirty Harry ;-)))]...


...but as solid as it maybe, it eventually is an underwhelming and unfortunately highly forgettable movie, mainly because it doesn't deliver anything special, remarkable or memorable. The cast is good, the special effects are all pretty nice, music, editing and camera work are all cool, but there's nothing that stands out, nothing that grabs your eyeballs and glues them to the screen. Even though it tries hard to be a cult classic, it eventually fails because it's much too tame,
much too lame.

Next to a few cool on-duty scenes, a hilarious opening and decent wolf-transformations, the movie's only real highlight is a wolf-tastic sex scene, accompanied by Gowan's terrific (and a bit guilty-pleasure-esque) "Moonlight Desires". Other than that... well, it's an okay movie, but far from being as awesome as other 2014 werewolf highlights, like "When Animals Dream" 
or "Late Phases".

October 22, 2014

BILLY CLUB

BILLY CLUB

USA, 2013
Directors: Drew Rosas & Nick Sommer

7,5/10











When I first heard of "Billy Club", my initial thought was: oh crap, someone tries to create a new slasher icon... AGAIN *sigh*
Gladly, the directorial debut collaboration from Drew Rosas ("Blood Junkie") and Nick Sommer is far from being slasher-dreck like this year's "Sledge" or "Acid Head", it's actually an entertaining and pretty smart homage to masked-maniac flicks of the 80s and especially 90s, following four friends reuniting to commemorate the deaths of their Little League baseball coach and two fallen team members, not knowing that the killer ist still out there, waiting to even the score...


"Billy Club" starts out as slasher comedy, focussing on the chemistry between our four main characters and the arrival of a brutal killer wearing an old umpire mask, using a baseball bat with nails and a bayonet blade in it. There's a few wonderfully badass and excellently gory kills, as well as many quite hilarious scenes such as the pizza fail or the dinosaur ride, but there's also plenty of meant-to-be-amusing-but-not-amusing-at-all scenes, annoyingly unclear character's motivations and a few sequences that are just dull.

Fortunately, the entire second half completely saves the movie from falling into mediocrity, and turns it into a quite remarkable chiller, due to a sudden and completely unexpected, but unbelievably well-developed shift from fun to serious horror-drama, one of the coolest guy-on-drugs-in-a-horror-movie sequences I've seen in years, [Mild Spoiler] one of the most surprising AND most touching outings in movie history (I mean it!), a slightly shocking flashback scene [SPOILER] that makes you go root for the killer because we suddenly get to know that he is actually quite a tragic figure, and a finale that could be described as "bizarre, gripping and fascinating".


In addition, most of the acting is really superb, especially the performances by Erin Hammond (super-talented + awesome boobs), Max Williamson, Al Bardin and Marshall Caswell, music and cinematography are very good, the killer's entire outfit looks just amazing and I love all the nods to great horror classics like "A Nightmare on Elm Street" (opening scene showing the killer creating his outfit) or "The Shining" (guy running around, screaming 'Danny!').

Despite its flaws, "Billy Club" is a terrific, non-clichéd little slasher flick from two filmmakers who try to pull things off a little differently. Bravo!

Wiki ~ Imdb

Thanks to Uncork'd Entertainment & October Coast PR for the screener!

GHOST BRIDE

GHOST BRIDE

New Zealand, 2013
Director: David Blyth

2/10











Holy bridesmaid! I had no idea that New Zealandian filmmaker David Blyth is still around. I've only seen one of his films, the 1984 sci-fi/horror flick
"Death Warmed Up", which is one of my alltime guilty pleasures, and based on that, and the fact that New Zealand already delivered two amazing genre films this year ("Housebound" & "What We Do In The Shadows"), I got extremely excited when I found a screener for "Ghost Bride" in my mailbox. Unfortunately, it turned out to be a major, major dud

The movie follows Jason, a young Chinese immigrant who is supposed to marry a mysterious woman called May Ling [not to be confused with badass Bai Ling ;)))], even though he's actually in love with a Kiwi girl. Things get scary when he realizes that May Ling is actually an evil and vengeful ghost that tries to destroy him, his girlfriend and his entire family...


The basic premise - Chinese immigrants keeping up with their family traditions in New Zealand - is interesting and could have turned into something really sublime. However, due to Blyth's unbelievably uninspired direction, his equally unimaginative screenplay and way too many scenes that look like they were ripped off of the "Ju-On" / "The Grudge" films, "Ghost Bride" ends up as lifeless
and frustratingly dull borefest.

It obviously doesn't help that the film looks like a 90s made-for-TV movie and that most of the acting ranges between meh and awful (sole exception: Geeling Ng, best known for her performance in David Bowie's "China Girl" music video).
Also, many unintentionally hilarious scenes (ghost blowjob, laughable semi-funnel-drinking...), abysmally bad CGI and Valium-like music.
A few ok moments in the beginning, a few ok moments in the end. Everything else about "Ghost Bride" is just bad.

Imdb

Thanks to October Coast PR for the screener!

October 21, 2014

WHEN ANIMALS DREAM

WHEN ANIMALS DREAM

Original Title: 
Når dyrene drømmer

Denmark, 2014
Director: Jonas Alexander Arnby

8/10









Without any expectations, I went to one of our local arthouse screenings to see a film I've never heard of before - and to my great joy, it turned out to be a shockingly great film. The feature debut of Danish filmmaker Jonas Alexander Arnby follows a young girl in a remote fishing village who thinks that she has inherited the same strange disease that keeps her mother bound to a wheelchair - until she realizes that it's not a disease: she's "simply" turning into a werewolf!

By combining elements of the Swedish "Let The Right One In" (loneliness, outsiderdom) with the coming-of-age arc of the Canadian "Ginger Snaps" trilogy, Arnby delivers a powerful and impressive take on the werewolf genre; probably a bit underwhelming for gorehounds and hardcore werewolf freaks, but highly satisfying for people who enjoy the artsier side of horror. "When Animals Dream" feels almost as if directed by a young Thomas Vinterberg.


The movie is calm and slow, but never boring or tedious, thanks to Arnby's excellent direction and the intriguing story / screenplay by Rasmus Birch ("Brotherhood"). It starts out slow, but slowly becomes creepier and creepier until it culminates in an unexpectedly uncommon and highly interesting finale. Cameraman Niels Thastum perfectly captures the solitary landscapes and beautiful rugged coasts of the small village, and composer Mikkel Hess ("All For Two") stunningly accompanies the fascinating cinematography with sinister strings and vibrating electro music.

The performance of main actress Sonia Suhl (one of her very first on-screen roles) is simply mindblowing. Aside from looking damn gorgeous, she's an absolutely fantastic actress and has terrific screen presence. Next to her, we get to see some more fine acting by Lars Mikkelsen (brother of Mads), the wonderful Sonja Richter, the somehow mean-looking Gustav Dyekjær Giese, and Esben Dalgaard as super-beardy bad guy.


"When Animals Dream" is not a groundbreaking movie, but it's definitely an excellent turn on the werewolf genre, and together with "Late Phases", it proves that this genre is far from being dead. Arthouse horror at its best!

October 20, 2014

3 Times Patrick: "PATRICK" (1978) / "PATRICK STILL LIVES" (1980) / "PATRICK" (2013)

PATRICK

German Titles:
Patrick's Höllentrip / Patrick's Höllentrip - Eine Reise in die Ewigkeit

Australia, 1978
Director: Richard Franklin

6/10







"Patrick" is one of the earliest films of acclaimed director Richard Franklin ("Psycho II", "Road Games") and his long-time writing partner Everett de Roche ("Long Weekend", "Storm Warning"), telling the story of a weird comatose hospital patient who is able to kill, move things around and communicate via psychokinetic powers. Sounds familiar? Yup, Roger Christian's awesome
"The Sender" (1982) seems to be highly influenced by it.


I'm quite a fan of Franklin and de Roche's work, as well as of things 70s / 80s Ozploitation per se, though I admit that this one is pretty weird and far from being one of my Aussie favorites, mainly because it's too long (almost two hours), and at times way too dull and boring - even though there are also a handful of scenes that are nervewracking and stunningly suspenseful, thanks to Franklin's great talent in building gripping tension. The scene with the matron going to the cellar or the typewriting sequences - genius!

Also, great performances by the super-lovely Susan Penhaligon ("The Land That Time Forgot"), the super-eerie Julia Blake ("Snapshot") or the slightly amusing Robert Helpmann ("Chitty Chitty Bang Bang") as quirky doctor. Contrary to other people, I wasn't intrigued by Robert Thompson as Patrick himself, mainly because I thought he looks unintentionally ridiculous.


The intense and highly Bernard-Herrmann-esque score by Brian May ("Mad Max 1+2") is terrific and Donald McAlpine's ("Predator") cinematography is a treat for the eyes. Love all the nods and references to Hitchcock's "Psycho" (hospital looks like Mrs. Bates house, eye-catching neon sign...), as well as the bizarre opening and various absurd "gimmicks" like the doctor's frog fetish, Patrick's erection or the old man who pisses himself.

Overall, an interesting but much too unspectacular film. Everything Mr. Franklin made in the 80s is better than this.

Wiki ~ Imdb

Fun Facts:
* Franklin and de Roche wrote a sequel called
"Patrick II: The Man Who Wasn't There" which sadly wasn't filmed.
* The German VHS Title "Patrick's Höllentrip" (="Patrick's Hell-Trip") was an attempt to cash in on the success of Ken Russell's "Altered States" which was called "Der Höllentrip" (="The Hell-Trip") in German-speaking countries.
Same for the sequel-remake which was called "Patrick lebt! - Der Höllentrip geht weiter" (="Patrick's alive! - The Hell-Trip goes on").




PATRICK STILL LIVES

Original Title:
Patrick vive ancora

Alternate Title:
Patrick Is Still Alive

German Title:
Patrick lebt! - Der Höllentrip geht weiter

Italy, 1980
Director: Mario Landi

6,5/10


For whatever reason, "Patrick" was so popular in Italy that filmmaker Gabriele Crisanti ("Burial Ground", "Malabimba") decided to produce another Patrick-flick. The result: "Patrick Still Lives", NOT a sequel but more of a remake... no, a gory softcore re-interpretation, written by prolific Italian exploitation screenwriter-legend Piero Regnoli ("Nightmare City", "The Vampires", "The Hills Run Red") and directed by Mario Landi ("Giallo in Venice").


In some kinda way, the Italian "Patrick" reminded me a lot of other Italian low-budget horror flicks that were released the very same year, like "Alien 2: On Earth", "Contamination" or "Anthropophagus": they're all dumb, ridiculous and flawed like crazy, but due to a certain Fuck-You-attitude, the final result turns out to be so freaking over-the-top, you just have to love it. The original "Patrick" is the better-made movie, but "Patrick Still Lives" is much more entertaining.

The direction is weak, the screenplay is an insane hodgepodge of half-assed ideas and most of the actos are either lame or unintentionally hilarious, but... well, in this case, all these flaws don't matter, because everything else is so much fun.


We get to see 4 beautiful women, all completely naked, all hot as hell [Mariangela Giordano ("The Sect"), Carmen Russo ("The Porno Killers"), Andrea Belfiore ("The Adventures of Hercules II") & Anna Veneziano], one of the sexiest non-porn masturbation scenes I've ever seen in a horror film, a super-silly catfight sequence, a Patrick that is more of an unconscious horndog than a comatose patient, lots of amusing insults ("Screaming women make me nervous." / "I usually bang women, not Whiskey bottles." / "The drugs turned you into a faggot."
- "Die alone, whore!") and some outrageously tacky-looking special effects (the floating eyeballs... ROFL).

Though, that's nothing compared to the gory and inventive kills: one guy gets boiled alive in a swimming pool, another one gets stabbed and hung on a hook, one woman gets decapitated by an electric car window, another woman gets attacked and half-eaten by German shepherds (laying dead on the ground, naked, it looks like one of the dogs eats her pussy *grins*) and - undoubtedly the best of all - one woman gets impaled on a fire poker rammed into her vagina (very graphic with blood squirting) and out of her mouth. This scene is so shocking, I'd say it's on the same brutality level as Joe D'Amato's fetus-eating or Ruggero Deodato's impaled cannibal girl. Wowsers!


Fan of subtle horror should avoid this one, but for fans of all things
Italo-exploitation, "Patrick Still Lives" is undoubtedly a must-see!


Fun Fact:
This was shot in the same mansion where zombie-classic "Burial Ground" took place. Throughout the entire film, I had the feeling I've seen the settings before. Thanks Wikipedia! ;)



PATRICK
(Remake)

Alternate Title:
Patrick: Evil Awakens

Australia, 2013
Director: Mark Hartley

6/10







The good news: the "Patrick" remake is a much better attempt in recreating oldschool Ozploitation than Jamie Blanks' underwhelming
"Long Weekend" remake.
The bad news: it's far from being as awesome as it could have been, and also doesn't live up to the over-the-topness of the Italian semi-sequel.


The 2013 version of "Patrick" is the feature debut of filmmaker Mark Hartley, an expert when it comes to shoot documentaries about the Australian AND the Philippine film industry ("Not Quite Hollywood", "Machete Maidens Unleashed"), but an amateur when it comes to reboot Australian exploitation. It's not a bad movie, but to me, it felt as meh as the original.

Screenwriter rookie Justin King created a few fantastic update on the story, added depth and complexity, made a few of the characters more interesting (doctor + daughter), focused on important stuff and eliminated everything that was unnecessary in the original. The clinic here looks a lot more creepier, legendary horror composer Pino Donaggio ("Carrie", "Don't Look Now", "Trauma") created a gripping and really stunning score, photography and editing are both top notch, and hey, you can't go wrong with a cast like that: creepily gorgeous Rachel Griffiths ("Blow"), veteran actor Charles Dance ("Alien 3"), sweetie Sharni Vinson ("You're Next") and hottie Peta Sergeant ("Crawlspace").


Unfortunately, the whole thing is packed to the brim with silly and often pretty laughable looking CGI effects that ruin a lot of the film's greatest moments (cliff, electrocution, finale etc.). There's also way too many jump scares (effective in the first half, predictable and tiring in the second half), lots of unintentionally goofy computer & smartphone shit, and the guy who 'plays' Patrick is shockingly lame. All in all, an interesting but way too unspectacular re-do of an already unspectacular film.


Fun Fact:
After the credits, two words apear on the screen: "PATRICK VIVE", probably a tribute to the Italian semi-sequel, orignally titled: "Patrick vive ancora".

/Slash Filmfestival Anime Triple Feature: THE GARDEN OF WORDS / PATEMA INVERTED / THE TALE OF PRINCESS KAGUYA

Note: In terms of Japanese Anime, I'm not an expert and I have hardly any idea about the history and cultural importance of all things Anime / Manga / Hentai / etc. It's not me who watches these fims, it's a younger version of me, a clueless and inexperienced 10-year-old Maynard, the little boy who spent all day sitting in front of the TV watching animation series after he finished his homework ;-)

THE GARDEN OF WORDS

Original Title:
Koto no ha no niwa

Japan, 2013
Director: Makoto Shinkai

9/10








"The Garden of Words", the newest film by Anime pioneer Makoto Shinkai ("Children Who Chase Lost Voices") is the very first /Slash-film that brought me to tears, not kidding (I guess I'm getting old now). Shinkai tells the bittersweet story of a young, aspiring shoemaker who falls in love with a mysterious, slightly older and uber-beautiful woman who spends Japan's rainy season (whichs lasts from June to July in Japan) sitting alone in a park, drinking beer and eating chocolate...

It's a simple but wonderfully intriguing story, told in a surprisingly enigmatic way, ending up with a super-sad revelation that made me cry like crazy. Screenplay and direction are flawless, the two main characters are very believable and extremely adorable, the pacing is pitch-perfect, thanks to an unbelievably short runtime (only about 46 minutes!), and the look of the animation... *sigh* I'm at a loss of words. Breathtaking? Mindblowing? Otherworldly? I don't know. Go see it for yourself ASAP, you will love it, I'm sure! 

Wiki ~ Imdb



PATEMA INVERTED

Original Title:
Sakasama no Patema

Japan, 2013
Director: Yasuhiro Yoshiura

8/10








"Patema Inverted" is in some kinda way an Anime variation of the 2012 sci-fi drama "Upside Down", set in a dystopian world, telling the complex and fascinating story about the friendship between two youngsters who are separated by opposite gravities: a girl from a civilization that lives underground in a system of caverns and tunnels, and a boy who lives in a totalitarian regime on the outside.

An impressive concept, very well developed, entertaining and mesmerising, due to many extremely and totally unoreseeable plot twists, a lotta interesting and/or sympatethic characters and Yasuhiro Yoshiura's ("Time of Eve") energetic direction. The animation is a bit too old-fashioned, often rather underwhelming, but apart from that, "Patema Inverted" is a fantastic film, full of excellently thrilling moments and lovely humor.




THE TALE OF PRINCESS KAGUYA 

Original Title:
Kaguyahime no monogatari

German Title:
Die Legende der Prinzessin Kaguya

Japan, 2013
Director: Isao Takahata

7/10





Based on the Japanese folktale "The Tale of the Bamboo Cutter",
legendary Anime director Isao Takahata ("Grave of the Fireflies") created his first film in 14 years, an epic and touching, yet slightly overlong story of a girl who was found in a stalk of bamboo and rapidly grows into a gorgeous, exquisite and highly desired princess...

I was surprised about how amusing and heartwarming that film starts out, though I was even more surprised about the sad, depressing ending which I totally didn't see coming. The hand-drawn animation is stunning, I haven't seen anything like it before, and Takahata's direction is powerful, emotional and quite stirring. Still, it's simply too long (about 140 minutes) and would have worked so much better if 20-30 minutes shorter, because several scenes are too dull, too tedious.

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

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