27 October 2011

DUMPLINGS

DUMPLINGS

Original Title:
Gaau ji

German Title:
Dumplings - Delikate Versuchung

Hong Kong, 2004
Director: Fruit Chan

8/10




In its first incarnation, "Dumplings" was one of 3 segments in the brilliant Asian anthology "Three... Extremes". For whatever reason, director Fruit Chan lengthened it into a full-length movie in the very same year - and surprisingly fully succeeded in doing so!
"Dumplings" is a stunning and pretty overwhelming piece of Asian cinema, and IMO also more satisfying than the original episode due to its longer runtime and much better plot development.


The acting:
The 3 main actors deliver absolutely stunning and extremely believable performances: Miriam Yeung as unhappy wife and ex-TV-actress, Tony Leung as cheating husband and the wonderful Bai Ling as splendidly entertaining self-employed dumpling-cook.

The plot:
A gruesome but highly intelligent and thought-provoking story about cannibalism, abortion, human dignity, incest and youth obsession. People who are able to 'enjoy' movies like "Audition" or "A Serbian Film" will love it. People who are squamish or easily offended should stay far away from "Dumplings"


Technical aspects:
The whole movie looks and feels beautiful, mainly because of the incredible camera work from Christopher Doyle (gorgeous shots, weird camera angles...), the haunting soundtrack from Kwong Wing Chan, fantastic editing and many great-looking locations.

Overall, a unique and impressive horror-drama without equal.

Wiki ~ Imdb

25 October 2011

COLD FISH (/SLASH Filmfestival 2011)

COLD FISH

Original Title:
Tsumetai nettaigyo

Japan, 2010
Director: Sion Sono

9/10








I'm slowly becoming more and more a fan of director Sion Sono, one of Japan's most controversial, yet most interesting directors of the last 10-15 years. I've only seen "Suicide Circle", "Noriko's Dinner Table" and "Exte: Hair Extensions" before, but I 'enjoyed' them all a lot.
And now: "Cold Fish", a completely wild and insane rollercoaster of a movie and another fine example of what an amazing filmmaker Sono is.

The whole movie is an entertaining, absurd, gripping and a bit disturbing inferno of crazy ideas, freaky plot twists, weird characters and brutal violence. Although it's almost 2 1/2 half hours long, it absolutely never gets boring, thanks to the excellent direction and a brilliantly paced script; impressive cinematography, stunning-looking set pieces and an extraordinary soundtrack.

The 2 major highlights:

I. The acting - Every single actor is pitch perfect, and I daresay that the performances from Makoto Ashikawa and especially Denden are 2 of the greatest in history. Ashikawa's transformation from loser to manic is breathtaking, and Denden's hilarious over-the-top businessman is mindblowingly awesome.

II. How extreme "Cold Fish" is - Nearly nothing in here is normal, everything's extreme and excessive, be it the outstandingly brutal and supersick gore scenes, the uber-hilarious laugh-my-ass-off-humor, the highly unsettling rape scenes, lots of intensely suspenseful moments and a few extremely emotional and/or depressing sequences.

A stunning and pretty overwhelming Asian masterpiece - not for the faint-hearted or for people who wanna relax to a movie.


 Wiki ~ Imdb


22 October 2011

EVIL THINGS

EVIL THINGS

USA, 2009/2011
Director: Dominic Perez

6/10











"Evil Things" is another pretty good found-footage flick. It's flawed and far from being perfect, but due to great atmosphere and some surprisingly intense scenes, I ended up pretty satisfied.

The flawed things:
The dialogue is largely terrible. The nice but boring characters are talking so much pointless rubbish, it's often pretty annoying.
The first half hour is a bit too slow-paced, the script is a bit messed up and there are definitely way too many open and unanswered questions. Plus: the title is completely misleading.


The great things:
The movie is very well built up: starts out as some kinda "Duel" in Winter, turns into an eerie "Blair Witch" variation and ends with a gripping quasi-slasher finale. The movie is packed with terrifying suspense-moments and a certain kind of atmosphere that is really, really unsettling.
The acting is neat and believable, the camera work looks great and the inserted background music is downright creepy.

Enjoyable handheld horror, recommended to every fan of this subgenre.

Wiki ~ Imdb

19 October 2011

GRAVE ENCOUNTERS

GRAVE ENCOUNTERS

Canada, 2011
Director: The Vicious Brothers

7/10











Nearly nothing wrong with this movie: "Grave Encounters" is a great found-footage indie flick from Canada that entertained me a lot. Just imagine something in the vein of "Last Exorcism", "The Tunnel" & "Boo!", and you get the idea.

In the beginning we get introduced to a young TV production team shooting an episode for a ghosthunter reality TV show in an abandoned . They're all in a good mood and have a great time.
Then after the first half hour, things take a dramatic turn and the movie becomes a highly suspenseful creepfest, including lots of eerie-looking locations (dark corridors, weird bathrooms), terrifying ghost appearances and shocking jump scares.


The actors all deliver solid and believable performances, camera work and editing are great, and the Vicious Brothers did a superb job on directing/writing.
Flaws: the ending is rather disappointing, 3-4 scenes could have been better paced.

Overall, a well-done little horror flick which is able to scare the shit out of you!

18 October 2011

KARATE-ROBO ZABORGAR (/SLASH Filmfestival 2011)

KARATE-ROBO ZABORGAR

Original Title:
Denjin Zabôgâ

Japan, 2011
Director: Noboru Iguchi

7/10








"Karate-Robo Zaborgar" is (as you can probably guess) some reeeaaally crazy Japanese shit. A super-funny and completely wacko funfest about Daimon and his robot Zaborgar, a Power-Rangers-like robot who's not only an expert in Karate, he's also able to transform himself into a cool-looking motorcycle.

The movie, which is based on a Japanese TV-series from the 70s (nope, not Zebraman 'gg'), is divided into 3 parts:
- A bad-ass hilarious 1st half packed with incredibly hilarious villains and weapons, such as the 'diarrhea robot', football robot-girls with bombs instead of tits and dragon-monsters coming out of their chests and butts, a bulldog-headed truck, etc. etc.
- An interesting but quite underwhelming and not so hilarious 2nd half.
- A kick-ass uber-entertaining finale.

Settings and camera work look terrific, the acting is pretty solid, direction and script writing are pretty neat, the soundtrack is great and it's full of quirky, campy dialogue.

A silly but highly entertaining over-the-top blast of a movie - turn off your brain and enjoy!


17 October 2011

Interview with director J.A. STEEL

Got the chance to ask J.A. Steel a few questions. She's the director, writer, editor and producer of "Salvation", "The Third Society", "Denizen" and the upcoming horror movie "Blood Fare".



- 1. How did you and Christian Koch came up with the story for "Blood Fare? What was your inspiration to do this kind of movie?

I grew up in Pennsylvania so from an early age you’re exposed to history, from the old buildings to finding bullets and arrowheads in the garden.  My Grandma had an old black and white photo of my cousin who fought in the Civil War in the dining room of her house.   We were always remembering our past and how it related to our present. I visited Gettysburg when I was little and got to see (and feel) first hand the sentiment that still resonates to this day back east of “Are you North or South?”.

I love history and the concept that the war was fought over States rights was always intriguing – much like the Civil Wars between the City States in Greece. History always repeats itself and when I heard tales of Lincoln’s dream before his assassination where he was lying in State with coins on his eyes. Coins on the eyes was a very Greek tradition to pay for passage into the underworld. So the scriptwriter in me filed it away until we had a chance to meet with distributors and make “Blood Fare”.

When we were naming characters Christian was like, “Didn’t your cousin fight in the civil war?” So we added the personal connection of my family name “Trout” (on my Grandma Steel’s side) as the name of the main character.  When the opportunity came to go to DC, I actually got to visit his grave in Arlington.

- 2. Which Civil War horror movies have you seen so far and how did you like them?

I have never seen a Civil War Horror movie.  During the pitch meetings with the distributors, I was actually recommended not to watch any. They wanted to see what I came up with on my own.

- 3. You produce, direct, write and edit your movies. You're doing the stunts and the fight choreography and you're sometimes even involved in stuff like camera- or music-department.
Gee, where do you take the energy from, to do this all?

It’s not really “energy”, it’s passion. I’m compelled to write – whether it’s songs or screenplays. I have to balance out the mental with the physical – hence the fights and stunts. You have to have balance in everything. 

I also have a great team that when we’re in production everyone operates at 200%.  Then we take a couple weeks off and move into the next phase of production, post, or pre-production.

- 4. What do you think, how will the average horror-geek/horror-fan react to Blood Fare? Will he love it? Will he hate it?


Depends on your definition of “horror”.  If you’re into the “Saw” style movies – you’ll hate it. If you like Hitchcock with a twist of William Friedkin – “Blood Fare” is for you.  We have some blood, we have a story and “Blood Fare” gets you in your head – especially when you’re digging for change for the parking meter.

- 5. Imagine you'd get the chance to shoot your #1 dream project with no
budget limitations, what would it be and whom would you cast?

I wrote a script awhile back called “Black Tide”, an environmentally responsible action/horror film about our world’s oceans.
My dream cast? Sigourney Weaver, Hugh Jackman, Milla Jovovich, Ted Raimi, Marton Csokas, Clint Eastwood, and of course, Gil Gerard.

Thank you, Ms. Steel!


16 October 2011

Thanks, Props & Shout-Outs (and a few search keywords)

HUUUGE THANKS to my blog buddy CineMarvellous who heavily promoted my blog by chosing me as one of his Top 3 Favorite Movie Blogs for the Pay It Forward Blogfest!





HUGE THANKS to the team behind the upcoming horror movie BLOOD FARE who put a link to my "Blood Fare - Press Release" onto their homepage!





HUGE THANKS to Portuguese director EDGAR PERA who shared a link to my "The Baron - Review" on his Facebook Page!




HUGE THANKS to the team behind the the super-entertaining zomedy "DEADHEADS" who shared a link to my "Deadheads - Review" on their Facebook Page.





Also, thanks to American director Lucky McKee who 'promoted' my not-so-good "The Woman - Review" by tweeting it out with the words Aw. How sweet. :)
Mr. McKee, I take this as a compliment! =D





Also, thanks to blog mate Kaijinu who managed to post more than 30(!) comments in the last 7 days!
Support him by following his awesome blog "Sticky Red: A Bodycount Compendium"





Finally, a few more of those hilarious 'search keywords'. If there's anyone who knows anything about "gothic albino shrooms", please let me know! :-)

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15 October 2011

APOLLO 18

APOLLO 18

USA / Canada, 2011
Director: Gonzalo López-Gallego

5/10










"Apollo 18" is a prime example of a mediocre genre-movie / found footage flick. It's not bad but it's not good either.
It's way better than mockumentary crap like "Gacy House" or "Paranormal Entity", but it's also far from being as brilliant as "The Poughkeepsie Tapes" or "The Tunnel".

The actors do solid jobs here, although their characters are a bit too shallow and unlikable. The direction is quite ok, the script is so-so. It's full of suspenseful and highly atmospheric scenes, but it's also full of boring and annoyingly tedious sequences.


I loved...
...the believable camera work which really make it look like some actual found footage, the clever editing, the basic plot idea and a few incredibly intense scenes (the Soviel lunar lander, the dark crater, the infection).

I hated...
...the weak-looking CGI creatures, all the scenes that just drag on and on, and the incredibly bad and stupid ending which includes a really lame conclusion, some silly over-acting and one of the biggest and most obvious plot holes in film history.

If you wanna see a good "moon horror movie", I suggest to watch the terribly underrated "The Dark Side Of The Moon" instead.

Paul Naschy's EMPUSA (/SLASH Filmfestival 2011)

EMPUSA

Spain, 2010
Director: Paul Naschy

4/10











"Empusa", the last film written by, directed by and starring legendary Spanish actor Paul Naschy R.I.P., is a weird and underwhelming lowest-budget quasi-tribute to the European exploitation-movies of the 60s and 70s.

 What's good:
Paul Naschy and Antonio Mayans deliver funny and highly entertaining performances (including many incredibly witty one-liners and dialogue lines). We get to see loads of super-hot bisexual vampire bitches and some great-looking gore. The pompous soundtrack is very well composed and the metal song in the credits (don't know band or song title) is just kick-ass.

What's bad:
The whole look of the movie is so extremely poor and cheap, it often felt like a home video. The script is very weak (too slow-paced, way too many tedious dialogue scenes) and the plot is a horribly confusing mess.
We get to see some terrible special effects, very weak camera work and a few uber-ugly set pieces.
Apart from Naschy & Mayans, the acting is mostly pretty bad, the ending is lame and there are many, many unintentionally hilarious moments in the film where I asked myself "Was this meant to be serious? Was this meant to be funny? What the heck was Naschy thinking?".

Could have been great with a higher budget and a better written script.
Pity that this has become Naschy's swan song. He died from pancreatic cancer after completion of "Empusa".


14 October 2011

13 October 2011

MONSTER BRAWL (/SLASH Filmfestival 2011)

MONSTER BRAWL

Canada, 2011
Director: Jesse T. Cook

7/10











Love monster movies? Love wrestling? Well then this is the perfect movie for you.
"Monster Brawl", 90 minutes of tough and cool-looking monsters fighting the hell out of each other in a bloody wrestling tournament that takes place on a gloomy cemetery.

Plot? Nope. A good script? Not really - but who cares? This is about monsters battling other monsters. It's silly, it's dumb and it's one helluva funfest :-)

We get to see the disgusting SWAMP GUT toxically attacking the ferocious WEREWOLF,
the beautiful LADY VAMPIRE testing out her medieval warrior tactics on the decrepit and rotting MUMMY,
the ancient CYCLOPS laser-eye-blasting the ugly WITCH BITCH back to hell
and the main event of the evening.
the king of the undead, FRANKENSTEIN vs. the gruesome, brain-eating ZOMBIE MAN!


The fights are all pretty fun and strongly reminded me of "Celebrity Deathmatch". It's also nice to see that every monster gets its own hilarious title card and backstory pre-film.
The 'acting' is fabulous: Dave Foley and Art Hindle as the commentators Buzz Chambers & Sasquatch Sid Tucker, Kevin Nash as Zombie Man's manager Colonel Crookshank, and the one and only 'Mouth of the South' Jimmy Hart as himself, plus: Lance Henriksen as nice narrator.

Best of all, the audience at "Monster Brawl" was amazing: everyone cheered and applauded and shouted things like "Let's go Werewolf!", "Let's go Frankie!" etc. It all felt a bit like watching live-wrestling - I had a really great time watching it.

I highly recommend to watch this at a theater or some festival because I'm pretty sure it's not that entertaining if you watch it at home.


Imdb


12 October 2011

THE UH-OH! SHOW (/SLASH Filmfestival 2011)

THE UH-OH! SHOW

USA, 2009
Director: Herschell Gordon Lewis

6/10










"The Uh-Oh! Show", a splatter-comedy about a Jeopardy-style game show where you lose your body parts if you answer the questions wrong, is everything you may expect from a Herschell Gordon Lewis movie: it's silly, campy and cheap-made, but it's also a whole lotta fun!

Pros:
It's gory as hell but in a funny, cartoonish and undisgusting way (beheadings, cut off arms, cut off legs, torn out intestines, skinned faces, cannibalism etc.) and it's packed with hilariously funny scenes and goofy dialogue, especially in the first and in the last third.
The acting is great, thanks to the entertaining performances from Brooke McCarter as cool Gameshow host, Kenny Rogers as sex-obsessed cameraman and some guy called Eclipse as the maniacal chainsaw-executioner "Radial Saw Rex", 
plus: amusing cameos from Troma-boss Lloyd Kaufman as pimp and Herschell Gordon Lewis himself as 'nice' storyteller.

Cons:
In the middle it gets pretty boring and unfunny, many scenes look way too amateurish and tacky, Joel D. Wynkoop is unbearable and I didn't like the plot which often concentrates more on the lame "Grim Fairy Tales" spin-off, than on the "Uh-Oh Show" itself.

Fans of Herschell, splatter and horror trash in general - watch this ASAP!
Everyone else - check out the trailer and then decide if you wanna see this or not :-)


Wiki ~ Imdb


11 October 2011

DEADHEADS (/SLASH Filmfestival 2011)

DEADHEADS

USA, 2011
Directors: The Pierce Brothers
(Bret Pierce & Drew T. Pierce)

7,5/10










"Deadheads" is a gorgeous and delightful little RomZomCom/road-movie that I really, really enjoyed.
Well, we all know that there will never be a zomedy as great as "Shaun Of The Dead" and "Braindead". Nevertheless, it's great to see that there are still filmmakers out there who try their best in creating a decently entertaining and original zombie film, like the Pierce Brothers did.

The plot - simple but great. 2 guys wake from the dead, still able to think, walk and talk like non-zombies, one of them driven by the desire to find his teenage love whom he wants to marry.

The cast - brilliant. Lead zombies Michael McKiddy and Ross Kidder are plain hilarious, Thomas Galasso as cool tough guy, Harry Burkey as stunningly witty old geezer, the beautiful Natalie Victoria as 'teenage love' and Markus Taylor as 'Cheese', one of the most likable zombie characters since 'Bub' from "Day Of The Dead".

The zombies - simply excellent. The 'human' zombies look a bit like junkies but all the other 'real' oldschool zombies look as if they just stepped out of a Romero-movie.
There's also lots of gory and amusing zombie action, incl. detached body parts, bitten throats and torn out intestines

The humor - amazing. Couldn't remember any quotes, but I assure you, there are loads of super-funny one-liners that made me LMAO. It's also packed with highly entertaining and extremely memorable scenes, f.e. the sequence at the drive-in, the forest scene, the school reunion and the intense finale.

Flaws - in the 2nd half the script runs a bit out of steam, plus: 2-3 charcters are often a bit too annoying.

All in all, I highly recommend this to everyone who loves zombie comedies and/or zombies in general. I'm sure you'll love it!


Wiki ~ Imdb


10 October 2011

IT IS FINE! EVERYTHING IS FINE. (/SLASH Filmfestival 2011)

IT IS FINE! EVERYTHING IS FINE.

USA, 2007
Directors: Crispin Hellion Glover & David Brothers

6/10










The evening of the penultimate day of the /SLASH Filmfestival was under the banner of Crispin Hellion Glover, one of Hollywood's strangest eccentrics, well-known for his performances in big-budget blockbusters such as "Charlie's Angels 1 & 2", "Back To The Future" or "Beowulf", but also known for creating his own bizarre universe whch consists of directing weird films, writing weird books and recording weird albums.

The evening consisted of Glover's "BIG SLIDE SHOW", a 'dramatic narration of 8 different profusely illustrated books' he made over the years,
a screening of "IT IS FINE! EVERYTHING IS FINE.", the second part of his "IT"-trilogy,
a lengthy Q&A and a book signing.

The 45minute live performance was pretty fun. We saw giant projections from the visually gorgeous-looking books while Glover told, read out aloud, shouted, whispered, hollered unny and grotesque texts about cathing rats and odd gardens.

The Q&A was... um, painfully tedious. Someone asked a simple question and he answered with a 15minute tirade. Ok, the answers were interesting but IMO way too extensive and detailed.


And what about the film, you may ask? Well, it's weird, disturbing, amusing, brilliant-looking... but far from being the arthouse masterpiece I expected.

I kinda enjoyed...

...the perplexing performance from Steven C. Stewart who suffered from Cerebral Palsy, playing a guy suffering from Cerebral Palsy who has a fetish for women with long hair whom he kills when they decide to cut it off. IMO the most bizarre serial killer in film history :-)

...the brilliant performances from Margit Carstensen and Lauren German.

...the fantastic overuse of Beethoven's "Symphony No7 in A Major, Op. 92", since its appearance in "Irreversible" my favorite classical piece of music. We get to hear it 3 times here.

...the stunning-looking set pieces (created by co-director David Brothers) which strongly reminded me of Argento and Bava's 60s/70s gialli.

...the surprisingly extremely graphic and quite unsettling sex scenes between Stewart and the girls.

I didn't enjoy...

...how boring the whole movie is. It's never really tense or atmospheric or entertaining. It just drags and drags and drags, which is obviously pretty annoying.

...that there are no subtitles for Stewart's dialogue. Due to his disease he's not able to talk in an intelligible or comprehensible way, although the characters all seem to understand him very clear.
So, we get to see Stewart talking and talking but we don't understand a word - which is definitely NOT enjoyable!

...the script (written by Stewart himself) which largely consists of him meeting attractive women whom he fucks and kills. Could be fun as some kinda slasher movie but not as an arthouse film.

Final verdict: a strange film. Good but nothing I would recommend or watch again.


Wiki ~ Imdb


DON'T BE AFRAID OF THE DARK (Remake - /SLASH Filmfestival 2011) / DON'T BEAFARID OF THE DARK (Original)

DON'T BE AFRAID OF THE DARK
(Remake)

USA / Mexico / Australia, 2010/2011
Director: Troy Nixey

7/10










As much as I was surprised of how much I liked the original after the 2nd watch (see below),
I was equally surprised of how much I enjoyed the 2011 remake, despite all the bad reviews and critics it got.

The movie is a bit flawed, no doubt. The pacing in the first third is a bit weak, the 'new' backstory on the house and the creatures didn't appeal to me, and I was surprised of how lame Guy Pearce's performance is.

Apart from that, the movie is pretty much everything you may expect from a Guillermo-del-Toro-produced haunted house flick:
It's tense, chilling and highly atmopsheric, including many incredibly suspenseful moments and a few stunning jump scares that creeped the shit outta me. The look of the old Gothic mansion is fabulous, camera work and lighting are just gorgeous, and Marco Beltrami & Buck Sanders' powerful score is just amazing.

Biggest surprise: the mind-blowing acting performance from Bailee Madison (best child acting since Isabelle Fuhrmann in "Orphan") and the really decent performance from Katie Holmes (waaay better than I actually expected).
Highlights:
the gruesome opening scene, the outstanding-looking design of the creatures and the eerie whispering voices that seemed to come from everywhere. I also love how true the movie stays to the original, especially regarding the bathroom-scene, the dinner-scene and the dark ending.

Overall, a well-made, good-looking and scary remake. Recommended to fans of "The Haunting", "The Others" and "The Orphanage".








(Review from 08/2011)

DON'T BE AFRAID OF THE DARK

German Title:
Gate Of Darkness

USA, 1973
Director: John Newland

7/10







2 years ago I watched this made-for-TV cult horror film for the very first time on YouTube - and I didn't like it. I don't exactly know why. Maybe I wasn't in the right mood for it or maybe it was the awful-looking blurry VHS-quality of the video. Fact is: I didn't like it.

Now, with all the fuzz around the Guillermo Del Toro produced remake (which I'm gonna see at the Viennese Slash Filmfestival in September), I decided to give it another try.
I got my hands on a copy in good quality which I decided to watch last Saturday during a massive thunderstorm outside - and finally it worked for me!


"Don't Be Afraid Of The Dark" is a creepy and thrilling little 70s chiller about an old mansion where a few small demons scare the shit out of a young woman.
The movie is a bit dated, especially in terms of the low budget and low production values, and I also think that the masks of the demons look a bit silly. As for the rest, it entertained me very well!

It is superly directed and written. Accompanied by an wonderfully haunting score, it starts out slow but becomes more and more eerie and intense until to an unforeseeable and surprising shock-ending. The old mansion looks terrific, especially the super-creepy cellar with that damned fireplace..
Kudos to the actors who all deliver fine performances (especially Kim Darby and William Demarest).
Highlights: the cool opening, the demons' eerie voices and the bathroom scene.

A nice little oldschool horror gem, best enjoyed while it's raining and thundering outside :-)

08 October 2011

Rest In Peace David Hess


A very sad today for us horror fans.
DAVID HESS, one of horror's greatest icons has died at the age of 69.

He will be remembered for his iconic performances as KRUG in Wes Craven's THE LAST HOUSE ON THE LEFT and as ALEX in Ruggero DeoDato's THE HOUSE ON THE EDGE OF THE PARK,
as well as for other roles in genre movies like BODY COUNT, SWAMP THING and HITCHHIKE,
and for his directorial debut, the christmas slasher TO ALL A GOOD NIGHT.

Just this year Ruggero Deodato started pre-production on a sequel to HOUSE ON THE EDGE OF THE PARK. Looks like this project won't see the light of the day.

REST IN PEACE DAVID HESS
1942 - 2011

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