31 August 2011

BURKE & HARE (2010)

BURKE & HARE

UK, 2010
Director: John Landis

7/10











I'm surprised about all the hate for John Landis' comeback movie "Burke & Hare".
Totally don't understand it. I really, really enjoyed this gorgeous little morbid comedy. It's not perfect but it's by all means a superbly entertaining and well-made fun movie.

- - -

7 Reasons why I enjoyed "Burke & Hare":

I adore this guy. He's one of the funniest and most brilliant comedy actors of all time, whether alone ("Run Fatboy Run", "How To Lose Friends...") or together with his partner in crime Nick Frost ("Hot Fuzz", "Shaun Of The Dead", "Paul")
- and of course, his performance here as lovestruck graverobber is also absolutely brilliant.

# 2. The Cast
Next to Pegg, we also get a shitload of other amazing actors:
Andy "Gollum" Serkis, Tim "Pennywise" Curry, the ever-amazing Sir Christopher Lee, Tom Wilkinson (Full Monty), stand-up comedian Bill Bailey, Hugh Bonneville (Notting Hill), Jenny Agutter (Child's Play 2), Isla Fisher, long-time comedian Ronnie Corbett and a cameo from the one and only Ray Harryhausen!!


# 3. Soundtrack
A wonderful pastiche of violin-driven Irish folk songs and Scottish bagpipe folk music - plus: a splendid old-fashioned strings/brass score and the Proclaimers' uber-hit "I'm Gonna Be (500 Miles)"!!


# 4. Hilarious Dialogue/One-liners
Just a few examples:

"She's an actress, not a whore." - "What's the difference?"

"He's dead." - "(...) What do you mean 'dead'?" - "I mean deceased. He stopped living and died." - "Are you telling us he's dead?" - "As a doornail!"

"You know William, I had confidence in a fart once... and I shat all over myself."

"Your new students, are they enjoying your lectures?" - "Er, not as much as I understand they're enjoying your wife, sir."

"Excusez-moi..." - "You're not coming in wearing those. (points at the shoes)"
"But they are French!" - "Exactly. So, sling your hook."
"Pardon?" - "Sling your hook."
"Hook?" - "Your hook."
"Hook?" - "Your hook. Sling it!"
"???" - "Out!"

# 5. The Look
Everything about the whole movie looks just marvellous: the costumes, the settings, the interiors, make-up, camera work, photography... a visually stunning feast for the eyes!


# 6. For the gore-hounds: there's some nice-looking blood, a few dissected bodies, severed body parts, and a super-disgusting maggot-infested corpse.

# 7. Landis' direction is solid and credible. Of course no American Werewolf or Blues Brothers, but it's patently obvious that he's still able to entertain his audience.

- - -

Only a few flaws (mediocre script, weak pacing in the last third) but overall a delighting British comedy that deserves more attention and respect!

Wiki ~ Imdb

Press Release: "COMFORTING SKIN" - Trailer Release

Thanx to producer Justin James who provided me with lots of information about "COMFORTING SKIN", an upcoming indie supernatural film from Canadian director/writer Derek Franson that looks pretty interesting. Check it out!






Comforting Skin is a supernatural thriller that follows Koffie, a lonely young woman’s who's desperate need for emotional and sexual companionship draws her into a surreal and ultimately destructive relationship with a shifting and whispering tattoo she has willed to life on her skin.




Comforting Skin  was shot last spring on a budget of roughly $250,000. Additionally much of our equipment, crew and locations were donated as well. The slithering, shifting tattoo character was brought to life through the use of digital animation and compositing techniques, requiring custom code developed by our VFX Supervisor Ollie Rankin. We are now in the final days of completing the film with just a few effects shots left to fine-tune and finish. 




The film stars Victoria Bidewell in her first starring role, along with Tygh Runyan, Jane Sowerby and Phil Granger. Victoria not only performed the lead part of Koffie, but voiced the tattoo character as well. Derek, Justin James and Andrew Webster produced the film. Our cinematography was handled by Adam Sliwinski, who did an amazing job for us, as did our editor Lenka Svab and Production Designer Elena Dubova. The film's haunting music was composed and conducted by Alain Mayrand, who despite our miniscule budget was able to assemble an impressive group of orchestral musicians to record the score.




Official Website: www.comfortingskin.com
Vimeo Trailer: www.vimeo.com/26816043

30 August 2011

ATTACK OF THE GIANT LEECHES (1959)

ATTACK OF THE GIANT LEECHES

Alternate Titles:
The Giant Leeches / Demons Of The Swamp / Attack Of The Blood Leeches

USA, 1959
Director: Bernard L. Kowalski

2,5/10





I just couldn't resist watching this Roger-Corman-produced piece of junk from the late 50s.
"Attack Of The Giant Leeches", a lame low-budget suckfest (pun intended) about 2 radioactively mutated leeches (yeah, there are only 2 of them) that look like men in large, black garbage bags (or large, black sleeping bags), terrorizing a hillbilly swamp community.

Most of the time it's pretty boring, due to Kowalski's slack direction and a whole load of uninteresting dialogue scenes. The acting is weak, the soundtrack is unintentionally funny and the few leech-scenes all look laughable.

1 point for the goofy characters, 1 point for the hilarious sucking-the-shit-out-of-some-random-people-in-some-underground-cave-scene and a half point for the nice last shot that wants me to believe that it's not over yet (or so).



28 August 2011

"GRAVE OF THE VAMPIRE" (Pure Terror 50 Movies Pack, #28)

GRAVE OF THE VAMPIRE

Alternate Title:
Seed Of Terror

German Titles:
Die Gruft des Grauens / Die Gruft der Dämonen

USA, 1974
Director: John Hayes

3/10




A super-daft and unintentionally funny low-budget vampiresploitation flick, at times so silly it was really hard to take it seriously.

The basic story is pretty interesting (vampire rapes girl - girl gives birth to a boy - boy searches vampire father to kill him) and the first half hour was pretty fun due to a cool graveyard scene, 2 nice kills and a hilarious vampire baby that sucks blood out of mother's breast.

The rest is pure garbage: 
An awfully schmaltzy soundtrack, many boring and dull scenes, many lengthy dialogue scenes, cheap-looking vampire teeth, lame kills, an unimpressing kinda-seance, a campy I-knock-the-fuck-outta-you!-climax and a stupid end twist. Main actor William Smith is completely incapable of acting and the other actors aren't much better.

Avoidable.

"THE VAMPIRES' NIGHT ORGY" (Pure Terror 50 Movies Pack, #27)

THE VAMPIRES' NIGHT ORGY

Original Title:
La orgía nocturna de los vampiros

Alternate Titles:
Orgy Of The Vampires / Grave Desires / Vampire Night Orgy

Spain, 1974
Director: León Klimovsky

4/10


The good thing about this Spanish vampire-exploitation flick: it's my very first León Klimovsky film (Klimovsky was a spanish cult director who shot an awful lot of western and horror films between the 40s and 80s).
The bad thing: it seems as if it's one of his weaker "works of art".

"The Vampires' Night Orgy" starts out quite interesting with an eerie mountain village setting, a tense bloodsucker-attack and a fancy score that changes from ethereal to synth-driven panic mode in no time.
Unfortunately, after the first half hour it gets completely downhill: many long and tedious scenes, many hilarious dialogue lines, ugly and laughable vampire make-up, an annoying little girl, a dumb guy who constantly chops off limbs from the villagers and an unimaginative ending ripped off directly from "Two Thousand Maniacs".

Some decent acting, some nice nudity and 2 neat-looking maggot-infested corpses, the rest is forgettable.

27 August 2011

The FINAL DESTINATION Series

FINAL DESTINATION

USA / Canada, 2000
Director: James Wong

8/10











"Final Destination" is IMO the very definition of an "alltime horror movie favorite" - no matter how often I watch this modern classic (already watched it 6-7 times), it never gets old and it never fails to entertain me.

It's tense and thrilling from the first to the last minute, including many super-suspenseful scenes and a few quite eerie moments. The script is tightly written, paced and full of brilliantly unexpected twists and turns, the whole Death-has-a-plan-story is fascinating and highly original, and James Wong's direction is absolutely fabulous.
Kudos to the beautiful cinematography and an effective soundtrack.


Nearly all of the characters are likeable and believable, and the actors all deliver solid performances, especially Devon "Stan" Sawa, Ali Larter and Seann William Scott (amusing as always) - plus: an awesome cameo from the terrific Tony Todd!

Highlights:
-- Every single death scene, especially the cruel bath strangulation, the shocking bus crash, the funny train-decapitation and (my favorite) the uber-amazing kitchen scene.
-- The cool-looking opening credits which foreshadow all the deaths.
-- The stunning opening scene with the infamous plane crash and all the mysterious hints (number 180, John Denver, etc.)
-- The outstandingly suspenseful and action-packed 'electric' climax and the completely unpredictable ending twist.

Top notch horror entertainment and surely one of the most original horror flicks from the noughties!




FINAL DESTINATION 2

USA / Canada, 2003
Director: David R. Ellis

7/10











 When I first watched Part 2 back in '04, it totally blew me away. I remember liking it even more than the first part.
Well... after watching it a couple more times, I realize that it's obviously NOT as good as the original - still, it's an extremely entertaining, extremely well-made over-the-top sequel that satisfies gore-hounds as well as tension freaks.

The flaws are obvious:
It's not as thrilling as the original due to a few pacing problems in the middle. Furthermore, the plot is pretty silly, it's packed with stupid dialogue and at times, it's a bit too predictable.


Gladly, the deaths here are so fuckin' kick-ass, it's easy to forget about the flaws.
I mean, the infamous vehicle pile-up is probably one of the most stunning openings in horror history, and the completely unforeseeable barbecue kill is definitely one of the most hilarious kills of all time.
Other highlights: the stunning death by glass slab, the fabulous death by airbag, the supergory death by barbwire, the elevator beheading and the outstanding, eye-popping kitchen sequence.

The direction is top notch; you can literally feel how Ellis, and everyone else involved in this, really enjoyed shooting it. There's also plenty of good-looking camera work, another sweeping soundtrack from Shirley Walker and a few brilliant performances from the super-gorgeous Keegan Connor Tracy, the nice A.J. Cook and the cool David Paetkau - plus: 2 more great appearances from Ali Larter and Tony Todd.

A brilliant sequel that totally delivers the goods!




FINAL DESTINATION 3

USA / Canada / Germany, 2006
Director: James Wong

7/10










When I first watched FD3 I didn't like it that much, probably because it's not as over-the-top as Part 2. However, over the years I watched it again and again and again, and omg, it totally grew on me and now I love it as much as the first part. "Final Destination 3" is a splendid, very well made and highly entertaining threequel mainly for the following reasons:

-- Plotwise, it's faaar better than Part 2. I adore how they upgraded the "Death-has-a-plan"-theme with the simple but effective and intriguing photograph-concept that keeps you guessing what will happen to the photographed survivors.


-- The deaths are once again amazing.
Apart from the excellent rollercoaster-crash opening, we also get a super-brutal death by tanning bed scene (Aerobicide fans will love it), a guy's head crushed by gym machine weights, another guy's head sliced open by a truck engine, a gruesome nailgun scene and many bisected and/or squashed victims.

-- It's well-paced, well-scripted and well-directed. Cinematography and soundtrack are great as always, the special effects look cool and the acting is pretty cool (especially Mary Elizabeth Winstead and Kris Lemche).
Oh, and the opening credits look marvellous!

Another brilliant sequel, as awesome as its predecessors!




THE FINAL DESTINATION

Alternate Title:
The Final Destination in 3D

German Title:
Final Destination 4

USA, 2009
Director: David R. Ellis

6/10 (3D)
4/10 (2D)




Watching Part 4 in theater was a slightly amusing experience, though it was pretty obvious that it would probably suck without the 3D.
Now after I watched it at home in 2D, I can truly say: yes, it sucks. Part 4 is without a single doubt the weakest and most pointless entry in the FB-saga, and the reasons for this are simple:

 -- The whole movie was made just for the sake of being a 3D movie, without any plot or originality.
-- The whole movie was supposed to be funny - but actually, it isn't funny at all.
-- The CGI looks awful.
-- There's hardly any tension or suspense.
-- Ellis' direction feels limp and lackluster.
-- The soundtrack is so incredibly boring, it makes you wish Shirley Walker (who sadly died after the 3rd part) would rise from her grave to kick Brian Tyler's ass.
-- Most of the death scenes are lame and unamusing.
-- What's with all the spoiling premonition crap before every death scene?
-- Come on... the title sucks.


Ok, the actors did an ok job (although they all had to play dumb or annoying characters), some parts of the dialogue are quite fun, opening and end credits look terrific, and at least 2 of the death scenes are pretty cool (salon and car wash).
Apart from that, it's just a disappointing and unnecessary mess. Shame on you Mr. Ellis!




FINAL DESTINATION 5

Alternate Titles:
Final Destination 5 in 3D / Final Destination 5 3D

USA, 2011
Director: Steven Quale

8/10

Wow! Wow! Wow!
After the disappointing 4th part, my expectations for another FDin3D flick were very, VERY low.
Yet, to my surprise, this one turned out to be the best sequel of the whole series!! Director Steven Quale
 and script writer Eric Heisserer created an amazing movie which is totally on a par with the very first Final Destination, not only in terms of tension and suspense, but also in terms of action, fun and entertainment.
Everything that made me enjoy the first 3 parts, and everything they forgot to put into Part 4, is in here.

- It's super-thrilling and highly suspenseful from beginning to end. Only a few almost unnoticeable pacing problems in the first half.
- The acting is superb (Nicholas D'Agosto, Tony Todd, the smart "Tom Cruise look-a-like" Miles Fisher, the hyper-gorgeous Jacqueline MacInnes Wood...) and the characters are all quite believable.
- The awesome blend of gimmicky 3D and in-depth-3D looks almost perfect.
- Great camera work and editing, terrific soundtrack. 


Highlight #1: The Deaths
Hell Yeah, FD5 delivers a few of the best death scenes since the 2nd part,
f.e. the mega-gruesome gymnastics scene, the stinging/fiery asia spa scene, the painful laser eye surgery, various crushed heads and of course the incredibly impressive supergory bridge-collapse opening massacre.

Highlight #2: The Ending
!!MAJOR SPOILER!! Best ending I've seen in a very long time - I mean, who would have thought that Part 5 is actually a kinda-prequel to the original? My goodness, the moment when they showed a few characters from the 1st movie and I instantly realized that this is Flight 180, was easily the biggest OMGWTF???-moment of the year. Mindblowingly awesome!

An absolutely kick-ass Final Destination movie. Definitely one of 2011's biggest surprises!

Wiki ~ Imdb

Btw: be sure check out this information packed Final Destination Wikia Page!


25 August 2011

THE DAY OF THE TRIFFIDS (1962)

THE DAY OF THE TRIFFIDS

Alternate Title:
Invasion Of The Triffids

German Titles:
Blumen des Schreckens / Angriff der Mörderpflanzen


UK, 1962
Directors: Steve Sekely, (uncredited) Freddie Francis

7/10



During my inquiries about the Apes-movies, I somehow stumbled upon another huuuge childhood favorite of mine:
"The Day Of The Triffids", the adaptation of John Wyndham's classic novel of the same name. One of the very first horror films I ever saw and definitely my first ever film about walking and man-eating space-plants :-)

The plants were the main reason why I loved this little 60s-gem so much. I already knew killer-plants from an episode of "The Real Ghostbusters" and from countless issues of my favorite comic "Gespenster Geschichten" (= Ghost Stories),
but to see them in real on the TV in the glorious Austrian afternoon program, was an unforgettable experience.
I annoyed my parents for weeks by talking about the Triffids :-)


Watching it nowadays as a grown-up in a CGI-age is of course a quite different experience. "Day of the Triffids" has many flaws that I didn't noticed as a child, f.e. many large plot holes, many shoddy effects, one of the most underwhelming-looking train crashes ever filmed and a lame, rushed ending.

However, I'm surprised how well this movie has aged, despite its weaknesses.
It's tense and thrilling throughout the whole runtime including a few stunningly intense suspense-scene, f.e. the opening, the escape in the fog, the scene in the greenhouse and the climax in the lighthouse. Camera work and editing are fine, the soundtrack is pretty effective and the acting is neat.


Highlights are (of course) the well-designed and quite scary-looking killer plants (I love the screeching sounds they make!), the cool.looking meteor shower and every single scene where the blind walk like zombies through the streets of London (probably a source of inspiration for Romero?).

Overall, a highly creative and well-entertaining sci-fi/horror flick, especially recommended to fans of post-apocalyptic cinema and 50s/60s genre stuff in general!

Note: 2 made-for-TV remakes were made in 1981 and 2009 which I haven't seen yet.
They both look quite interesting but I'm sure they're not as charming as the original.

23 August 2011

4 early works from Patrick Rea

Once again Patrick Rea provided me with a few short movies from his extensive filmography. This time I got a few of his earlier works from 2006/2007:


CAFE AT THE CROSSROADS
(9minute short)

USA, 2006
Director: Patrick Rea

9/10





Absolutely brilliant post-apocalyptic and kinda Twilight-Zone-esque film about a sky gone red, a lifeless earth and a handful of visitors who all keep dark secrets.

Rea's direction is top notch and his script is perfectly written and paced (as always) - in terms of pacing and build-up to the twist, it reminded me a bit of his later masterpiece "Next Caller".
Ryan S. Jones' brooding soundtrack is very fitting and effective, the acting (especially Roger Strong) is marvellous and I just have to praise the whole look of it, due to well-designed settings and the cool cinematography/photograhy from Hanuman Brown-Eagle (I adore the close-up of the vinyl record).

Simply stunning!




EMERGENCY PREPAREDNESS
(7minute short)

USA, 2006
Director: Patrick Rea

8/10





Funny and highly amusing short about a guy dealing with the end of the world, paranoia and the propensity to exaggerate.
John Wilson delivers an amazing performance as goofy main hero, mainly because of his cool grin and a couple of cool cliché one-liners, f.e. "These things picked the wrong man to mess with.", "No-one knows where they came from - personally, I don't give a shit." etc.

Like most of Rea's films, this one was also beautifully filmed, brilliantly edited, well-scripted and well-paced, plus: Ryan S. Jones once again proves to be a superb soundtrack composer,
and the completely unpredictable ending twist is incredibly hilarious!




SHED OUT OF LUCK
(11minute short)

USA, 2007
Directors: Patrick Rea & Kendal Sinn

9,5/10




Wow, "Shed Out Of Luck" is an almost perfect Rea-highlight!
It's tense and thrilling, and it kept me on the edge of my seat from beginning to end. There are also a few funny scenes in it, 1-2 cool, gory moments and an absolutely mindblowing ending.

Again, I was treated with an almost flawless script, some terrific camera work, wonderful lighting and an awesome main actor (Kurt Hanover, who also appeared in "The Fluff").
I adore how the whole movie was told in a way that makes it impossible to figure out what's going on with the guy in the shed and the animals - until finally the twist kicks in and literally knocks you off your feet.

Nothing short of fantastic!



COPY
(5minute short)

USA, 2006
Director: Patrick Rea

10/10






Mr. Rea saved the best for last:
"Copy" - only 5 minutes long but worth every second!

The excellent little story about a nice employer, a weird job candidate and a prophesying copy machine.
The acting performances from the gorgeous Jennifer Plas and Andy Stowers are just great, the story is excellent, the cinematography is terrific (lots of awesome close-up shots) and the twist is just outstanding.

Nothing short of perfect!



21 August 2011

Jack Messitt's MIDNIGHT MOVIE - Original vs. Killer Cut

The guy on the left is Jack Messitt, director, writer and long-time cinematographer - and I need to give him a huge THANK YOU because he sent me a copy of
'Midnight Movie: The Killer Cut', the new version of his debut movie 'Midnight Movie', a cool and original 80s-style slasher that I really enjoyed when I first watched it 2 years ago.
Excited to see how this new cut turns out!






MIDNIGHT MOVIE (USA, 2008)
MIDNIGHT MOVIE: THE KILLER CUT (USA, 2011)
Director: Jack Messitt


"Midnight Movie" is a cool and entertaining modern-day / 80s-tribute slasher, that I really, really enjoyed, mainly because of 2 key features I always love in horror films:
1. It's a film about a fictional film (like 'Hills Run Red' or 'Cigarette Burns').
2. It takes place in a movie theater (like 'Popcorn' or 'Demons').

The fictional film is "The Dark Beneath", and oldschool exploitation shocker from the 60s/70s in the vein of "Texas Chainsaw Massacre" about a demented killer with a creepy mask who kills off a bunch of hippies.
The movie is shown to a couple of people at a run-down theater where suddenly the killer 'jumps' off the screen and starts to kill off the movie-goers one after another.

Messitt did a great job on writing and directing. It's tense, suspenseful and hardly ever gets boring, due to lots of great action, many fast-paced scenes, some great gore and a few brilliantly unexpected twists.

Highlight #1: The Cast
"Midnight Movie" surely is one of the few slasher movies where not only nearly every single actor delivers a great performance, but where also nearly every single character is likeable and believable.
Standouts:
The beautiful Rebekah Brandes as tough main heroine, Stan Ellsworth as supercool biker, Daniel Bonjour as nice guy, Melissa Steach as cool biker girl, Michael Swan as casual doctor and the gorgeous Brea Grant as sluggish employee.


Highlight #2: The Killer
Not as iconic as Jason or Michael, but still a great-looking and impressive villain, especially because of his skull-mask, his sharp corkscrew/spiral-like weapon of choice and his awesome ability to transfer himself out of the screen into reality.


Highlight #3: The fictional film "The Dark Beneath"
We get to see plenty of grainy b&w footage from that fake film, which really looks like some kinda lost 70s grindhouse flick, not only because of its grimy look, but also because of the dumb characters, the bad acting and the cheap-looking settings.
There's even a highly amusing fake-trailer for it on the Killer Cut DVD.


Highlight #4: The Kills
Never too gory or gruesome but always pretty cool-looking, shocking and inventive. I enjoyed every single one!




Differences/Improvments

The Killer Cut of Midnight Movie is not comparable with your average Director's Cut/Extended Cut.
It's more of an enhanced version, pretty close to the original but definitely better, especially because of a few newly added and awesome-looking special effects, new scenes/shots and a tighter pacing.

Examples:

Newly added CG images

Better-looking Killer-transfers-into-reality scenes


Better-looking Killer-transfers-out-of-reality scenes


Better-looking and more believable 'bad quality' of 'The Dark Beneath'

The amazing new opening

The DVD itself is also pretty awesome as it is packed with fabulous extras
incl. a great and highly informative audio commentary from Messitt himself, a few making-ofs, deleted scenes, bloopers, trailers, cast/crew featurettes and a cool storyboard comparison.

Only flaw - the Menu from the German DVD (left) looks IMO a bit cooler than the one from the Killer Cut.


Final verdict:
If you wanna see a cool and highly entertaining modern-day slasher treat, try "Midnight Movie". I'm sure you'll love it!
Basically it doesn't matter which version you choose as they are both great - however, I'd definitely recommend the 'Killer Cut', mainly because it's the better-looking version.

Midnight Movie - 7/10
Midnight Movie: Killer Cut - 8/10

Wiki ~ Imdb

www.midnightmovie.com

P.S. Mr. Messitt, bring up the sequel ASAP!!


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