January 30, 2015

DESECRATED

DESECRATED

USA, 2015
Director: Rob Garcia

3/10











With that title and that cover, I expected this to be another run-of-the-mill slasher flick - though actually, it's more of a California-based paint-by-numbers ripoff of "Wolf Creek", not so much in terms of eerie atmosphere and brutality, but definitely in terms of people coming to a secluded location where a nice, helpful and unsuspicious guy, who is actually a cold-blooded psychopath, kills them off one by one - in this case, a couple of rich kids who spend the weekend on an isolated ranch where they come into conflict with the caretaker, an ex-marine who takes 'propery protection' a bit too serious...


The rich kids are so fucking annoying, it's ridiculous. To say that they're all unlikable is an understatement. A bunch of stupid, obnoxious and/or unbearable spoiled brats. I hated them all so much, I just wanted them to be dead. Thankfully, they "desecrate" a place that is sacred to the wacky caretaker, and before one can say Mick Taylor, the caretaker goes into killing mode and takes care of all these douchebags. Good.

"Desecrated" delivers not one bit of originality or good filmmaking. There's hardly any suspense or tension, the pacing is way too dull, most of the acting is rather weak, the writing is lame, the direction is amateurish, there's nothing special about cinematography, music or editing, the settings look unremarkable... yada, yada, yada. I could go on and on. There's simply nothing that stands out or grabs your attention or makes you go "Wow!"...


...nothing - except for Gonzalo Menendez, not just the only capable actor in this lamefest, but also the only one who's able to give a performance that is so entertaining, it actually enhances the movie. Okay, he's not the most talented actor out there, but he's the only one here who at least tries. His character Ben is a disturbed and sociopathic psychopath, but he is so cool and charming, I just had to root for him. I cheered whenever he murdered one of these dumbfucks, be it sniper-like with a shotgun or with a landmine.
He also delivers many amusing lines, like: "I see you! One wrong step around here, darling, and you are gonna go Boom!" or "I do not like assclowns. You are an assclown. Shut up."


Oh btw, I forgot to mention that the great Michael Ironside is in here too, but only for a couple of minutes, adding nothing to "Desecrated". Final verdict: quite a disaster, but thanks to Gonzalo Menendez, a bearable one.

Imdb

Thanks to October Coast Publicity for the screener!

January 29, 2015

AUTEUR (2014)

AUTEUR

USA, 2014
Director: George Cameron Romero
(as G. Cameron Romero)

2/10










It's always hard to follow in your father's footsteps, especially when your father is the "god of zombies" George A. Romero. And it's even harder when you're not blessed with the talent of your father, in this case the talent of filmmaking. George Cameron Romero's 2009 effort "Staunton Hill" (Review here!) wasn't exactly good, but it was decent enough to watch it, tick it off and forget about it without. However his newest film "Auteur" is so frigging bad, you'll never forget about it.


Based on an interesting screenplay by James Cullen Bressack ("Hate Crime") 
and his regular collaborator JD Fairman, Romero created an immensely awful lowest-budget quasi-mockumentary about a dumb young documentarian in search for a legendary horror filmmaker who mysteriously disappeared after completing his latest feature "Demonic".

Bressack blatantly ripped off of similar-themed movies like "The Hills Run Red" or "Cigarette Burns", but in an intriguing and fascinating way. His screenplay could have easily turned into a damn great film. However, Romero botched it up so bad, the final result is terrifyingly frustrating. No tension or suspense whatsoever. Dull, tedious and way too slow. An odd kind of humor that isn't funny at all. Supposed-to-be-eerie scenes that aren't eerie at all. And - worst of all - some of the most horrid acting I've seen since "Dating a Zombie".


B.J. Hendricks (who played the retard killer in "Staunton Hill") constantly looks as if he has no fucking clue what he's doing here. Ian Hutton seems to have a really hard time deciding between acting and pretending to act (for the greater part of the movie, he prefers to pretend). Eli Jane and Madeline Merritt both don't even try to pretend: they simply have no idea how acting works. And what about the great Tom Sizemore ("Natural Born Killers")? He's just here, playing himself,
waiting for his paycheck.

I could go on and on, but I won't waste your and my time: aside from some atmospheric music, a couple of great shots and the cool story,
"Auteur" is just atrocious.

Imdb

Oh btw, it's hard to take a movie serious that mistypes his very own star attraction. I guess "Seize" matters...


Oh btw:
Cameron's dad has a little 'cameo' ;-)


Nevertheless, thanks to James Cullen Bressack for the screener!

STAUNTON HILL

STAUNTON HILL

Alternate Title:
Cameron Romero's Staunton Hill

German Title:
Romero's Staunton Hill

USA, 2009
Director: George Cameron Romero
(as Cameron Romero)

4/10




In German-speaking countries this was released as "Romero's Staunton Hill" to make it look as if it was made by Horror godfather George A. Romero himself, when in fact it is the second feature of his son Cameron George Romero.
Fuck you, German distributors.

"Staunton Hill" is yet another entry in Horror's most unoriginal sub-genre "redneck backwoods horror", set in 1969 (for no reason whatsoever), following a couple of cardboard teenagers travelling through Virginia and spending the night at a supposedly abandoned farm that is actually inhabitated by an inbred hick family, consisting of a trigger happy fat Momma, her wheelchair-bound Moonshine-addicted mother and her ugly, constantly horny and bloodhungry retard-son.


Sounds familiar, huh? Right, it's just another carbon copy of movies like "The Texas Chainsaw Massacre", "Mother's Day", "The Hills Have Eyes", "Wrong Turn" or "House of 1.000 Corpses", adding absolutely nothing to this worn out sub-genre: average teens, your average token black guy, secluded rural settings, racism, cannibalism and mental retardation. Bleh. We've all been there before thousands of times.

Cameron's direction is okay, but he's unable to pull off anything special and to turn the super-weak story / screenplay into something worthwhile. There's nearly nothing that grabs your attention, no surprises, every single semi-plot-twist is foreseeable, especially the one at the end is uber-easy to figure out. Check the scene in the car at the 12-minute mark and you will know how it ends.


Fortunately, it's not totally bad. There's lots of excellently done and gruesome-looking practical gore effects (hands, arms and feets amputated, skinning, decapitation, scalping, electrocution, impaling etc. etc.), a nice guitar-laden score by video game composer Jesper Kyd ("Assassin's Creed"), the pacing is okay, most of the acting is decent and Kathy Lamkin (better known as tea lady in "TCM '03" & "TCM: The Beginning") is once again simply marvellous. All in all: watchable, but far from being a must-see.

January 28, 2015

BABYSITTER WANTED vs. THE HOUSE OF THE DEVIL

BABYSITTER WANTED

USA, 2008
Directors: Michael Manasseri
& Jonas Barnes












One year before Ti West made a horror film about a babysitter alone in a creepy house (see below), TV actor Michael Manasseri ("Weird Science") and filmmaking buddy Jonas Barnes already made a slightly similar film which also deals with a babysitter alone in a creepy house, in this case a young religious student who works on a babysitting job at a remote rural farm. Everything seems to work just fine... but then she receives several weird anonymus phone calls... and then she realizes there might be an intruder in the house... and the she realizes that there's something wrong with the boy she's sitting... and then she realizes that there's something wrong with his parents too...


Hands down, "Babysitter Wanted" is one of the best, most surprising, most unpredictable indie horror flicks of the 00s. A shrewd and nifty little gem that successfully manages to mix sub-genres like home invasion, torture porn, cannibal horror and satanism-themed horror into one nasty bastard that somehow feels like a blend of "When A Stranger Calls", "The Omen" and "Motel Hell". What starts out as run-of-the-mill semi-teen-slasher, soon descends into total madness, delivering so many twists and turns, it's dizzying. Whenever you think you figured it all out, the movie takes another turn and goes into a completely different direction. Furthermore, in terms and tone of atmosphere, it's a wild but highly satisyfing rollercoaster ride that manages to be amusing, thrilling
and shocking at the same time.


The movie possesses a dark and gritty look that reminded me a bit of S.F. Brownrigg's works. Great lighting, great set design and terrific photography by Alex Vendler ("Kurt & Courtney"); some ace-looking gore, cool make-up effects and a couple of very well done jump scares (the one at the school almost gave me a heart attack). The cast consists of talented youngsters like Sarah Thompson ("Cruel Intentions 2") or Kai Caster ("Children of the Corn: Genesis"), and veteran actors like horror legend Bill Moseley or Bruce Thomas (who played one of the Mini-Ash's in "Army of Darkness"), and they all give fabulous, believable performances. Best of all: the barnstorming and, at times, incredibly scary score by Swiss composer Kurt Oldman ("Neighbor").




THE HOUSE OF THE DEVIL

USA, 2009
Director: Ti West













One year after Michael Manasseri and Jonas Barnes made a horror film about a babysitter alone in a creepy house, Ti West made a slightly similar film which also deals with a babysitter alone in a creepy house, in this case a young student that takes a very strange babysitting job that coincides with a full lunar eclipse... a babysitting job that becomes a frightening nightmare when the student realizes that she was just set up to take part in a Satanic ritual...


"The House of the Devil" is an okay movie that pays good homage to the Satan-themed horror cinema of the 70 and 80s, no more and no less. I know that I'm pretty alone with my opinion, because everyone seems to love the hell out of it, doesn't matter if average horror fan or serious film critic (Roger Ebert gave it 3 out of 4 stars!). It's not bad and it's not overrated, it's just... hm, I think, this just wasn't exactly made for me. As you may know, I have my share of problems with most of Ti West's output, mainly because of his super-slow slow-burn style, that not just feels boring to me, but also quite pretentious, as if he wanna say: "Look, I know Horror better than you!"


Okay, it didn't exactly bore me, but there are many, many scenes that are way too dull, way too slow, scenes where not much is happening, scenes that seem to go on forever. I also though that the ending, which actually starts out gripping, quickly becomes odd, unnerving and ultimately highly underwhelming. That said, there's plenty of stuff that I enjoyed about it: the acting is great, especially the performances of Tom Noonan ("RoboCop 2"), Mary Woronov ("Silent Night, Bloody Night") and Greta Gerwig ("Frances Ha") who somehow reminded me of the glorious P.J. Soles. Production design and all the little nods to 70s/80s cinema (old-school opening credits, frequent zooms...) look just awesome, cinematography (Eliot Rockett, "The Innkeepers") and music (Jeff Grace, "Stake Land") are terrific, thumbs up for The Fixx' "One Thing Leads To Another", and scenes like the shot-girl shocker or the ritual-girl-wakes up sequence...
bloody brilliant filmmaking!





"The House of the Devil" may be the better-looking, better-produced movie, but "Babysitter Wanted" is so much more entertaining and so much more tense with faster pacing and a more straightforward direction. I also think that story and screenplay of "Babysitter Wanted" are so much more intriguing and fascinating, so much more twisted and so full of unforeseeable surprises. "The House of the Devil" is an interesting and stunningly gorgeous-looking movie, but lacks in susbstance and originality.

BABSITTER WANTED  -  8/10
THE HOUSE OF THE DEVIL  -  6/10


January 26, 2015

BENEATH (2013)

BENEATH

German Title:
Beneath - Abstieg in die Finsternis

USA, 2013
Director: Ben Ketai

7/10








Behind this unbelievably trite and worn out title hides a tense and well-made chiller, in terms of tone and style slightly similar to underground horror à la "The Descent" or "My Bloody Valentine". The second directorial feature of filmmaker Ben Ketai ("30 Days of Night: Dark Days / Dust to Dust") follows a group of coal miners who get trapped 600 feet below after a disastrous collapse. Cabin fever, madness, toxic air and unexplainable phenonema turn their struggle for survival into a deadly nightmare.

"Beneath" is far from being perfect, due to a [SPOILER] slighty frustrating "Don't Blink"-like no-explanation-ending, a few rather ridiculous scenes and a couple of far-fetched plot elements. Apart from that, I had a scary good time with this flick. It's suspenseful from start to finish, especially in the second half, full of well-developed jump scares and rather brutal kills; claustrophobic, well-lit and eerie-looking locations and many, many really creepy images.


Main actress Molly Hagan's performance felt strange at first, but once her character arrives down below, she suddenly transforms into a force of nature, delivering powerful and extremely believable acting. Rest of the cast is thoroughly solid, most notably genre legend Jeff Fahey ("Psycho III", "Planet Terror"), Brent Briscoe ("Mulholland Drive") and Eric Etebari ("2 Fast 2 Furious"). Camera work and editing are very good. The music is neat, though it should have been
a tad more intense.

All in all, a nice little creepfest that didn't got the recogntion it deserved. Go
check it out, it's worth it!

January 25, 2015

SPLINTER (2006)

SPLINTER

USA, 2008
Director: Toby Wilkins

6/10











Before he botched his directing career with the abysmal "The Grudge 3", Toby Wilkins was one of many late-00s filmmakers hailed as the next big thing in Horror, thanks to his low-budget debut feature "Splinter", an interesting but IMO ultimately underwhelming creature feature about a bizarre parasite/mold-like organism terrorizing a young couple, an escaped convict and his white trash girlfriend at an abandoned gas station.


The organism's behavior unlike everything I've seen before: it gains control over its host (humans or animals) by infecting it with tiny splinters, building some kinda mycelium and seeking out for food. If the host is dead, the organism reanimates it. If necessary, it even mutates the host. Doesn't matter if the host is 'complete', or if it's only a hand or leg. Sounds rad, huh? Sadly, it's basically the only original thing about it, and due to the fact that nearly all of the infections / transformations / infected-attacks are filmed in a distracting quick-cut-style (very similar to "Isolation" or "Blood Glacier"), I just wasn't able to fully enjoy this flick.

"Splinter" is basically a mash-up of "The Mist" and "The Thing". It's well-directed and rather well-paced, at times entertaining, at times gripping, but never fully satisfying. There's always something wrong, be it certain utterly stupid character decisions (I was yelling at the screen several times, "Go away!" or "Close the door!" or "Are you deaf?!"), some really unnerving shaky-cam camera work, lack of chemistry and a couple of scenes that are either too long (opening) or too short/quick (showdown). When the film ended after only about 80 minutes,
I was like "What? That's it?"


The acting is neat, especially Shea Whigham's performance (he reminded me a bit of the fabulous Andrew Howard), cinematography is gorgeous (Nelson Cragg, "The Canyon"), music is intense (Elia Cmiral, "Wrong Turn") and most of the creature / gore effects / scenes are fine, especially the one where the couple tries to cut off the convict's infected arm with a boxcutter and a cinder block - brutality at its finest! However, overall, this wasn't exactly my cup of tea. "Splinter" is a decent watch but nothing really special. At least, it's lightyears better than Wilkins' follow-up movie...

Wiki ~ Imdb

January 22, 2015

THE ALPHABET KILLER

THE ALPHABET KILLER

German Title:
Alphabet Killer

USA, 2008
Director: Rob Schmidt

5/10








After the success of "Wrong Turn" [I'm not a big fan of it, but everyone else seems to love it, and I guess that's okay] and well-received episodes for horror TV series "Masters of Horror" ("Right to Die") and "Fear Itself" ("The Spirit Box")
[I loved them both], director Rob Schmidt was hailed as the horror genre's next big thing. Unfortunately, his career went completely downhill afterwards:
his follow-up feature "The Alphabet Killer" became a critical and commercial flop, the planned Stephen King adaptation "Insomnia" never came to fruition, and the production of the horror comedy "Bad Meat" was so troubled that Schmidt left the director's chair - and maybe even the film business because he hasn't directed anything since. Sad.


I may be not the biggest fan of his features, but there was something about his work that made me curious about any project he was attached to. I felt he had (has) the ability to create something great. When I first heard about "The Alphabet Killer", I was intrigued because it sounded so, so good. Loosely based on the Alphabet murders that took place between 1971 and 1973 in the Rochester, New York area, the movie follows a mentally fragile detective who investigates in a mysterious case where three young girls were raped and strangled; each of the girls' first and last names started with the same letter and each body was found in a town that had a name starting with the same letter as each girl's name...

Unfortunately, this excellent concept was executed in a bland, lackluster, unexciting and IMMENSELY predictable way, not just because of Schmidt's strangely haphazard direction (as if he had difficulties deciding what kinda movie he wanted to make), but also because of Tom Malloy's awkward writing. Hell, the script feels more like a sloppy re-interpretation of Friedrich Dürrenmatt's "The Pledge", packed with far-fetched and quite feeble-minded plot points / twists, and the killer is so badly obvious, I figured it out within the first couple of minutes.
I won't spoiler it, but... well, pay attention during the opening credits and you might figure it out too. It's easier than you think!


"The Alphabet Killer" isn't boring due to some tight pacing, neat 90s-like atmosphere, many beautifully filmed locations, a couple of effective scares and some decently tense scenes, but... I don't know. The whole thing is neither fish nor fowl. The cast consists of veteran actors and genre legends like (the above-mentioned) Timothy Hutton, Cary Elwes, Bill Moseley or Michael Ironside who all deliver solid performances, but to me, they all felt either miscast, or unsure about what they're doing here. Main actress Eliza Dushku is a beauty who tries hard to act the shit out of herself. Unfortunately, she's not the most gifted/talented actress in the world, and the harder she tries, the more ridiculous it looks. Her character is supposed to be a delusional and unstable person, but afer a while, it looks more like a freaking parody.

In addition, some supposed-to-be-creepy-but-not-creepy-at-all CGI ghost girls, uninspired music and an odd unhappy ending that tries hard to make the audience go "Oh, how shocking!", but only left me shrugging. Meh? Meh.

January 21, 2015

SEE NO EVIL 1+2

SEE NO EVIL 2

USA, 2014
Directors: Jen & Sylvia Soska

2,5/10











The Soskas a.k.a the most overrated horror filmmakers of the world are back, and as expected, they totally don't deliver. The moment I first heard of a Soska-directed direct-to-DVD sequel to "See No Evil" (why?), I instantly assumed that this would be pure trash - and yes, it obviously IS trash. Haha at all the annoying Soska-fanboys/girls whose expectations weren't exactly met :-P


"See No Evil 2" (which follows directly on from part 1, taking place in a morgue) actually starts out pretty good. The first 15-20 minutes are pretty suspenseful and atmospheric, thanks to a couple of rather gripping scenes and the eerie look of the morgue settings which reminded me of slightly similar sequels like "Cold Prey 2" or "Halloween 2".
 

Then, a few annoying cardboard characters arrive, good ol' Kane comes back to life, and suddenly it all goes downhill and ends up as generic, unimaginative and predictable run-of-the-mill slasher that offers nothing but surprisingly lame and non-creative kills, endless scenes of forgettable victims running through endless corridors for like forever, imbecile character decisions, bad lighting, no story whatsoever, way too many flashback-clips from the first part and a Jacob Goodnight that for whatever reason seems to constantly imitate other killers. Sometimes he walks and moves like Leatherface, sometimes like Jason, sometimes like the one from "Dark Ride" etc. etc. How original...


Contrary to my expectations, it's Danielle Harris ("Halloween 4+5", "Hatchet 2+3") who delivers the movie's strongest performance, while Katharine Isabelle ("Ginger Snaps 1-3", "American Mary") puts another nail in her already struggling career by giving one of the absolute worst performances in 2014 as oh-so-campy, oh-so-quirky over-the-top super-dumb and super-drunk chick. Embarrassing, laughable, unnerving. Horrible, Ms. Isabelle, horrible! The rest of the cast is quite medicore, but far from being as bad. Even non-actor Kane.

Anything else to say? Hm, some ok gore, some neat camera work,
Danielle Harris... nah, that's it. Dear Jen, dear Sylvia: not only did I not see anything evil, I also didn't see any talent...




SEE NO EVIL

Working Titles:
Eye Scream Man / The Goodnight Man / Goodnight

USA, 2006
Director: Gregory Dark

4/10







"See No Evil" is one of these movies I'm completely unable to like, but also completely unable to hate, simply because it's such a goofy and stupid dumbfest, it's almost fun - and the fact that there were many unexpectedly weird people involved, makes it even more entertaining.


This WWE-produced (kinda) neo-slasher - directed by Gregory Dark, porn filmmaker ("The Devil in Miss Jones 3-5", "Night of the Living Babes") and music video director (Linkin Park's "One Step Closer", Cherry Poppin' Daddies "Zoot Suit Riot") - follows a group of delinquents sent to clean up an old abandoned hotel. Unbeknownst to them, there's a huge and pretty insane psychopath roaming the hotel corridors, searching for victims to gauge their eyeballs out...

Wrestling star Kane (a.k.a I-have-no-acting-skills-at-all) plays one of the silliest killers in slasher history, constantly looking like a pissed off potato, killing off a whole bunch of unlikable and lackluster douchebags. I didn't feel sorry for any of them. There's hardly anything tense or suspenseful going on, the entire film is as predictable as an erection and looks about as bland and polished
as a "Step Up" installment. Camera work is way too over-the-top and the music is rather unnerving.


There are a few really hilarious kills, like the Eat-your-own-mobile-phone scene, or the insane sequence with the girl hanging on the rope getting devoured by dogs - but when it comes to eyeball awesomeness, "See No Evil" fully disappoints, delivering weak-looking eye-gougings and not-great-looking eyeless victims. Want some really badass eyeball gruesomeness? Watch the "Black Christmas" reboot, now THAT one delivers

Good? Nope. Watchable? Yeah, but only if you have nothing else to do ;)

Wiki ~ Imdb

January 20, 2015

VIRUS (1999)

VIRUS

Alternate German Title:
Virus - Schiff ohne Wiederkehr

USA, 1999
Director: John Bruno

4/10








John Bruno is a visual effects artist who created and designed visual / special effects for Hollywood directors like James Cameron ("Terminator 2", "True Lies", "The Abyss" "Titanic" & Avatar"), Tobe Hooper ("Poltergeist"), Tom Holland ("Fright Night"), Ivan Reitman ("Ghostbusters"), Tim Burton ("Batman Returns") or Renny Harlin ("Cliffhanger"). He received an Oscar for his work on "The Abyss", as well as 5 more Oscar nominations. I guess you can say that Bruno's quite pre-eminent in his field.

In 1999, he got the chance to direct his very first movie... his first and ONLY movie, thank goodness! Bruno might be an excellent effects artist, but when it comes to directing, he is quite a hack (no offense). "Virus", the feature adaptation of the comic books of the same name, is a dumb, dull and ho-hum sci-fi/action/horror-flick, following a tugboat crew who boards a Russian research ship which is infected by an intelligent and murderous alien life form...


You may think with a budget of about $75 million(!), a top class cast consisting of Jamie Lee Curtis, Donald Sutherland and William Baldwin, and an armada of super-talented effects artists like Joel Harlow (Oscar for "Star Trek 2009") or Eric Allard (the creator of "Number 5"), this has just to be awesome. Unfortunately, "Virus" is far from being a good film, it's unoriginal, unintentionally silly and unimaginative from start to finish - and it also became a massive box office bomb (only $30 million worldwide).

The movie is packed with tons of really fantastic-looking special / visual / make-up effects and great-looking set pieces. Unfortunately, aside from that, it's shallow, bland and boring. Bruno is a terrible director, unable to create thrills or chills, unable to entertain the audience. The screenplay isn't much better. It's as if Dennis Feldman ("Species") and Chuck Pfarrer ("Darkman") threw all of their favorite movies into a blender... um, a defective blender. Imagine "Alien", "Aliens", "Terminator", "Hardware", "Saturn 3" and "Moontrap" taking place on
that silly ol' 1980 "Death Ship" - that's "Virus" in a nutshell.


There's absolutely no chcracter development and most of the acting is rather wooden. Curtis and Baldwin are okay, but Sutherland's performance is so silly, so bonkers, so incredibly laughable, it's (almost) fun. You can see how much he didn't care about his own character (alcoholic asshole ship's captain) 
in every! single! scene! he's! in! Imdb user "bob the moo" nailed it: "Sutherland (...) is completely off his tits! He clearly has decided to see how far he can push his performance before his director spots that he is taking the piss - and it looks like the director never spotted it!"
Also: horrid performance by Polish actress Joanna Pacula as completely non-believable Russian officer. Where's Milla when you need her?

In a 2003 interview with IGN.com (see here), Jamie Lee Curtis said about "Virus": "It is so bad that it's shocking... That would be the all time piece of shit...
It's just dreadful."
Okay, I beg to differ. It's definitely NOT that bad. Mrs. Curtis starred in movies that are way worse ("Beverly Hills Chihuahua", "Christmas with the Kranks"...). "Virus" is watchable, especially if you like watching cool special effects and/or stupid throwaway sci-fi shit. Other than that, don't bother checking it out.

January 19, 2015

SCREAM (1981)

SCREAM

Alternate Title:
The Outing

German Title:
Scream - Der Schock des Übersinnlichen

USA, 1981
Director: Byron Quisenberry

3/10





Before "Scream" there was... erm, "Scream"! Yes, one and a half decades before Wes Craven revived the Slasher genre with the outstanding "Scream" + three sequels, a young filmmaker called Byron Quisenberry already shot a slasher flick under the same title, which follows a group of stupid and unlikable friends on a rafting trip ("Deliverance" anyone?) who stop in an old ghost town to spend the night. What they don't know: there's a mysterious killer lurking in the dark, waiting to kill them all one by one...


Believe me: even though the premise sounds really awesome, there's a reason why this is one of the most unpopular 80s slashers, especially among die-hard slasher fans who frequently call it one of the worst slashers flicks ever made. I don't hate is as much as others do and think that films like "Berserker", "Hollow Gate" or "They Don't Cut The Grass Anymore" are way worse than this. Still, I have to admit: it's far from being good.

The entire cast is plain awful. None of the actors are able to deliver a somewhat convincing performance, not even veteran actors like Pepper Martin ("Superman II") or Hank Worden who appeared in 17(!) movies with John Wayne. As you can imagine, their characters aren't much better. From macho to annoying wisecracker, from old geezer to fat dumbass... no matter what cliché you're expecting, it's all in here *sigh*


Quisenberry's direction is horrible, the pacing is as slow as syrup, the story (which starts rather promising) ends as inept and completely incoherent mess, the script feels unfinished, all the kills are poorly executed, there's hardly any gore... hell, there's so much wrong with this movie, it's shocking. Why do I still give it a 3/10? Well, it has a very decent, slightly creepy synth score by longtime TV composer Joseph Conlan ("The Equalizer", "Simon & Simon"), the ghosttown looks bloody great and the weird opening with the butcher, baker & candlestick maker wax figures is somewhat really wow! Also, in some odd way, it's a really charming flick. I can't really describe why... it just feels charming.

As for the rest: meh, meh, meh. "Yawn!" would have been a better title. Only recommended to die-hard slasher freaks.

Wiki ~ Imdb

Oh btw, holy shit! Look at the German VHS cover (right) - sooo much more badass than the U.S. VHS cover (left)!

January 16, 2015

BEFORE I GO TO SLEEP

BEFORE I GO TO SLEEP

German Title:
Ich. Darf. Nicht. Schlafen.

UK / France / Sweden, 2014
Director: Rowan Joffe

6/10








"Before I Go To Sleep", the debut novel of English writer S.J. Watson, came out in 2011 and surprisingly became an immediate worldwide bestseller. Cult director Ridley Scott soon acquired the film rights and hired writer / director Rowan Joffe ("28 Weeks Later", "The American"), son of Oscar-nominated filmmaker Roland Joffé ("The Killing Fields", "The Mission"), to turn it into a movie. Subsequently, three excellent and popular actors were hired to star in it: Nicole Kidman, Colin Firth and Mark Strong. Jeez, what could go wrong?


Well, actually... a lot because despite of all the big names involved, "Before I Go To Sleep" bombed like a nuke, in the USA as well as in Europe. Was it the bland-looking posters? The not-so-impressive trailers? The super-weak marketing? To me, it seemed as if audiences simply didn't realized that this movie even existed. Even I hardly didn't notice the movie's existence.

Well, in the end, it doesn't matter that much. "Before I Go To Sleep" is a neat and watchable mystery/horror-thriller, but far from being a must-see, far from being rewatchable. The movie follows a woman who suffers from a rare form of amnesia and wakes up every morning with no memory of the last 15 years of her life - until one day when she realizes that there's something weird, something suspicious about her husband. The storyline isn't that original and often reminded me of similar-themed movies like "Memento" or "50 First Dates", but Joffe's direction is good enough to lure you in and there are also plenty of twists, turns and eerie/tense scenes/moments that keep you on the edge of your seat, at least for the bigger part of the movie.


Unfortunately, in the last third "Before I Go To Sleep" quickly becomes really, really frustrating. Plot holes and illogicalities galore, a muddled, convoluted and slightly far-fetched reveal, a finale that feels rushed and unfinished, a boring and overlong epilogue that goes on and on and on... *yawn* The acting is splendid (especially Colin Firth), music and camera both work very well, but overall, it all can't help the movie from ending up as rather mediocre and forgettable.
(Re)Watch "Memento" instead.

January 15, 2015

Stephen King's THE SHINING (1997)

STEPHEN KING'S THE SHINING

Alternate Titles:
The Shining / Stephen King's Shining

USA, 1997
Director: Mick Garris

7/10








Although there are many really bad Stephen King adaptations out there (like "The Mangler" or "Graveyard Shift"), none of them made the Maestro so fucking mad, like the one that's universally considered as one of the best: Stanley Kubrick's "The Shining", a mindblowing epic masterpiece that basically everyone loves - aside from King himself who stated it's the only adaptation of his novels that he could "remember hating",
calling it "a film by a man who thinks too much and feels too little" and "it's a great big beautiful Cadillac with no motor inside, you can sit in it and you can enjoy the smell of the leather upholstery - the only thing you can't do is drive it anywhere."

About 17 years later, King decided to finally get things right. He teamed up with TV network ABC and director Mick Garris (who previously adapted King's dystopian "The Stand" into a 4-episode-miniseries), and together they created a 3-episode-miniseries (written and produced by King himself), that is basically a one-to-one adaptation of King's 1977 novel.


It would be ridiculous to compare the 1997 adaptation with the 1980 adaptation, because they're two radically different movies. Stanley Kubrick's theatrical "The Shining" was made for aficionados of the director's work, for horror buffs and for fans of Jack Nicholson, while Mick Garris & Stephen King's made-for-TV vanity project "The Shining" was made for fans of King, for fans of the novel and for people who don't like / don't care about Kubrick's work.

As you may know, I'm a die-hard fan of Kubrick's version, but... yes, I also like this version, because it's definitely one of the most faithful King-adaptations and very true to the book, and it also gets perfectly in line with other great 90s Stephen-King-TV-miniseries like "It", "The Langoliers" or the above-mentioned "The Stand".


Watching all three 90-minute-episodes in a row can be quite exhausting, though thanks to Garris' solid direction and King's splendid screenplay, I never got bored. It's all very well paced and executed, no scene seems to be long. It all just works. The 'new' Overlook Hotel (actually the Stanley Hotel in Colorado which inspired King to write the novel in the first place) isn't as eerie and eyegasmic as it should have been, but it still looks good enough. Pretty much the same could be said about the movie's music (Nicholas Pike, "Critters 2") and cinematography (Shelly Johnson, "Jurassic Park III"): both could have been a tad more intense,
more powerful.

The cast is great, especially the ever-so-gorgeous and still-so-underrated Rebecca De Mornay who gives a very believable Wendy Torrance, Steven Weber as father who slowly becomes more and more batshit insane (love seeing him blood-smeared and grinning like crazy) and Melvin van Peebles as cool-looking cook. Also, lots of great cameos, like Stephen King as band conductor, Sam Raimi as garage attendant, or Mick Garris himself as attendee at an AA meeting.


Next to some really shitty-looking CGI, too many objects that were moved by ghosts, and some plot twists and turns that bugged me, the absolute worst thing about this mini-series is Courtland Meat. I'm not saying that he isn't capable of acting, but it's hard to focus on his acting performance because of how ridiculous he looks. I now that it's not fair to call him the ugliest and most annoying child actor I've ever seen, but... damn, he IS the ugliest and most annoying child actor Ive 'ever seen. His semi-deformed lips give him a rather retarded look, and it obviously doesn't help that he is unable to ever close his mouth. In addition, I'm quoting some hilarious but fitting descriptions from these Imdb threads:


"For some reason this kid drives me nuts (...) When I see him, I think of a duck. He irritates me."
"The kid has a face which I would love to pound for hours. Heck, after 4 hours I was rooting for Jack to bash his face in."
"He does (...) look like a cabbage patch doll, and his lips look like you could stick him on the window in the back of car!"
"I don't think he was born that way at all. It looks like he has thumb-sucker's mouth and a denture put in to replace his mishapen upper teeth. That would explain why his upper teeth look so perfectly uniform yet his upper lip is pushed up so high. Someone didn't stop the thumb sucking before
it could ruin his mouth. Sad." 

All in all, a successful adaptation of the novel, but obviously no match
for Kubrick's version.

January 14, 2015

The TRANSFORMERS Quadrilogy

TRANSFORMERS: AGE OF EXTINCTION

German Title:
Transformers - Ära des Untergangs

USA / China, 2014
Director: Michael Bay

7/10








I'm not exactly sure what happened to Michael Bay after the god-awful 3rd "Transformers" flick (see below), but I assume something in him simply realized that his movies became generic horseshit. He went on to shoot "Pain & Gain" in 2013 which ended up as the best thing he did since "Bad Boys II" - and right after that, he shot this: "Transformers: Age of Extinction", the absolute best entry in that fucked up franchise.

No more Shia LaFuckface, no more ahaha-oh-so-funny-idiot-humor, no more un-Foxy cripple fingers and no more shittier-than-horseshit-plots. Bay's 4th "Transformers" flick may be as stupid as an ox, but it's a certain kind of stupidity he hasn't done in a very long time. The kind of Bay-90s-stupidity where you just need to turn of your brain, fill your helpless body with alcohol and shitty food, lean back, stare at all the gargantuan explosions and laugh your goddamn ass off.


By replacing Shia LaDumbfuck with an absolutely excellent Mark Wahlberg (now that's an action hero!), by spanking screenwriter Ehren Kruger's arse in order to write something half-decent, by toning down the dumb-as-shit humor, by making the Autobots really sympathetic for the very first time, by including cool motherfuckers like Stanley Tucci & Kelsey Grammer, AND by including lots and lots and lots of so-bonkers-it's-awesome stuff, "Transformers: Age of Extinction" turned out to be up as one helluva balls-to-the-wall action-fest. This is the "Transformers" film I always wanted to see.

Okay, it starts out rather slow, dull and boring, and the fact that nearly the entire first half hour seems to only consist of sunrises and sunsets [The Cinema Snob, who surprisingly loved it, said: "It takes place on the planet 'Magic Hour' in the country of Tony Scott." LOL]... well, it obviously looks beautiful, but it's also somehow annoying. But then Grammer and a surprisingly brutal Optimus Prime appear, and from now on, TF4 started to fucking rock.


The shocking scene where T.J. Miller gets grilled to death by a heatwave (incredible scene!!), the reveal of the shapeshifting "Transformium" metal, Tucci's temper tantrums, the amazing-looking Dinobots, the finale where Autobots and Dinobots storm into the city, nearly every single fight/battle sequence (all better developed and structured than in its predecessors), nearly every single scene that takes place in China, and of course, the hilarious scene where Wahlberg accidentally destroys some guy's car with a spaceship. The guy's like: "Sir! You better have insurance." which makes Wahlberg go ballistic: "Insurance? It's a freakin' spaceship! You go get insurance on a freakin' spaceship! That's your car? (grabs a bottle of beer) Huh? (opens it, takes a sip, throws it away) Sweetie, hand me my alien gun." LMAO

Also worth mentioning: top-notch CGI, superb cinematography and a fucking mindblowing score, probably the best thing Steve Jablonsky has EVER composed.
I can't help it, I love shit like that!




Michael Bay's previous Transformers flicks:

 TRANSFORMERS

USA, 2007
Director: Michael Bay

5/10











There's a scene where we get to see a mother and her son sitting in a car, watching two Transformers fighting above them. The mother seems to be frightened, but the boy is totally excited, pointing at the bots, saying "Cool, mom!" That little boy... that's Michael Bay, ot at least, that's how he makes his TF movies, that's how he looks on set.
He creates shiny, gimmicky Autobots, Decepticons and other robo-stuff, tons of explosions, awesome slow motion scenes, goofy characters doing or saying goofy stuff - and he creates it all with his eyes and mouth wide open, constantly saying "Cool, mom!". At least, that's what I think he's doing. I could be wrong and he's just rubbing his dick whilst staring at Optimus Prime ;-)

I've always been a fan of Michael Bay's films, at least of his action / sci-fi films ("The Rock", "Bad Boys 1+2", "The Island", "Armageddon"). Unfortunately, "Transformers" wasn't exactly my cup of tea. I guess it has something to do with the fact that it just wasn't made for me, because I've never been a fan of anything Transformers-related, neither the animated series / films, nor the toys. I originally expected this to be more serious, and not as silly, semi-funny and teenager-like as it is. Oh well, it's a Steven-Spielberg-produced adaptation of a Hasbro toy. What did I expect? ;-)


Ups: I enjoyed all the fight / battle / explosion scenes, especially the ones in slow-motion (Bay, you slow-mo God!). The climax is simply breathtaking and the transformations are all fantastic. The designs of the Transformers all look simply badass and the CGI is pretty much incredible. Excellent cinematography (Mitchell Amundsen, "Transporter 2"), terrific score (Steve Jablonsky, "TCM Remake" + "TCM: The Beginning") and lots of fabulous tunes ("Drive" - The Cars /
"Battle without Honor or Humanity" - Toyomasu Hotei / "Sexual Healing" - Marvin Gaye...)
.


Downs: Shia LaBeouf just isn't an action hero and it's so annoying to constantly hear him shouting "No! No! No! No! No!". Megan Fox just can't act, and seeing her crippled thumbs always gives me the creeps. The humor is unfunny; stupid piss and masturbation jokes. The entire movie is way, way too long. The way the TFs are talking is extremely annoying. Oh, and as far as I remember, there aren't any likable characters (god, how I hate the parents...).

Seen it. Thought it was okay. Immediately forgot about it.

Wiki ~ Imdb



TRANSFORMERS: REVENGE OF THE FALLEN

German Title:
Transformers - Die Rache

USA, 2009
Director: Michael Bay

4/10







In some kinda way, this was the same thing as the original, just a bit louder, dumber and unfunnier... MUCH unfunnier. LaBeouf and his character's parents are still annoying as hell, Fox still can't act, her thumbs are still ugly, the Transformers still talk in an incredibly unnerving way (especially the Autobot Twins... ugh!), the entire humor is simply horrid, and it's also way, way too long (150 minutes!!). There also a few more new unlikable characters (college guys & gals) and not enough good tunes ("21 Guns"? "New Divide"? Fuck that shit.).


I loved the super-hilarious Jetfire bot, the only non-annoying bot in the whole film. The scenes with the Devastator are mindblowing, because the Devastator is SO FUCKING BADASS!! CGI and action scenes are once again amazing, music (again, Jablonsky) and cinematography (Ben Seresin, "Pain & Gain") are terrific, and the entire finale just rocked.

Nevertheless, this sequel is about as necessary as diarrhea. Oh btw, as stupid as the whole thing may be: am I the only one who thinks that it's actually pretty confusing? The whole thing with "The Fallen"... maybe I'm too stupid for this shit, but it was all a bit enigmatic for me. Who cares. It's a dumb popcorn blockbuster, no more and no less.




TRANSFORMERS: DARK OF THE MOON

German Title:
Transformers 3

USA, 2011
Director: Michael Bay

2/10








Apart from the insane sequence with the Driller (almost better than the scene with the Devastator), a few pretty dark scenes and the fact that Megan Fox was replaced by Rosie Huntington-Whiteley, this movie was pure fucking crap, almost as painful as similar action bullshit like "Battle L.A.". Way too long, way too dull, way too tedious, way too much stupid-ass dumbshit humor, way too much Shia LaBullcrap, way too much unfunny robo-crap and a plot that is even stupider, even more confusing than everything in the second part.


I won't waste anymore of my energy on this turd, and so instead of using the words "way" and "too" over and over again, I just give you a few quotes from The Cinema Snob's review, because that guy just nailed it!

"This movie sucks big floppy venereal-diseased fucking dick. Oh my fucking god, is this a piece of shit. (...) This movie is for someone who's fucking five. (..) I really don't like this piece of fucking shit!"

"(...) Shia LaBeouf being a douchebag fucking dickhead in this, more so than he was in any of the first two thrown together, and I always thought he was fucking unlikable. In this, he's the fucking Anakin Skywalker pussy-whiny douchebag-motherfucker who has nothing to do with anything going on in this goddamn movie. None whatso-fucking-ever. He's in this... the beginning of this, whining, whining, pissing and moaning, fucking whining about "Oh, I'm a hero. I saved the world." He didn't do dick in the other movies! He didn't do dick in this fucking movie!
(...) That's my two cents."

"(about the opening) 45 minutes of Shia LaButtfuck looking for a fucking job, as if I give a shit."


(The awesomeness starts at 0:39)



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