30 September 2013

BAD MILO! (/SLASH Filmfestival 2013)

BAD MILO!

USA, 2013
Director: Jacob Vaughan

6/10











"Bad Milo!", the debut feature of director Jacob Vaughan, tells the weird story of Duncan, an average guy whose stomach problems materialize into a nice-looking but murderous demon that lives in his intestines, and everytime things get a bit stressful and hectic for Duncan, Milo crawls out of his body [of course, through his anus] and kills the people that are responsible for the stressful situations.

The premise is rad and freaky, but the final result is just a mildly amusing but somewhat bland and hollow horror-comedy that feels like as if a decrepit Frank Henenlotter did a knock-off of "Gremlins" or some other 80s creature feature. The movie starts off quite funny and entertaining, but after the first half, it all gets a bit stale and lackluster. Reason: Vaughan and screenwriter Benjamin Hayes ("True Blood") simply ran out of good ideas AND good jokes, and ended the film with a rushed and dissatisfying third act incl. a lame climax and an annoyingly unfunny feel-good-epilogue.


The acting is neat and most characters are pretty likable, especially Ken Marino as the lead and a hilarious Peter Stormare as nutty psychotherapist. The creature effects are excellently done and the design of Milo is just awesome. Love his cute saucer eyes :)
Cinematography and score are decent, and the gore looks okay, though there are a few drops of CGI blood that look ridiculous.

Overall, an entertaining little 80s throwback, but nothing really special.
Try to check out the Hemorrhoid-sploitation short film "Roid Rage" which is more fun than Milo.

29 September 2013

GOTHIC LOLITA BATTLE BEAR (/SLASH Filmfestival 2013)

GOTHIC LOLITA BATTLE BEAR

Original Title:
Nuigurumâ Z


Japan 2013 / 2014
Director: Noboru Iguchi

8/10








Noboru Iguchi is currently one of Japan's most prolific genre filmmakers, and he constantly surprises us with colorful, crazy, inventive and uber-hilarious films like "Dead Sushi" or "Machine Girl". His newest film "Gothic Lolita Battle Bear" is another absolutely striking explosion of originality and creativity, packed to the brim with amusing characters, silly jokes and things you've never seen on a big screen before.

The movie tells the story of Dame-ko, a young girl in Lolita fashion that merges with her pink Teddy bear and becomes super heroine "Nuigurumâ" who fights with pink nunchucks, deadly wool and colossal knitting needles against an evil space villain who wants to transform the entire human race into blood-hungry zombies.


It's obviously a typical Iguchi-flick with all the typical Iguchi trademarks (fart jokes, boob gunshots etc.), but I was surprised to see how "tame" it is compared to his earlier flicks, and I mean that positive! Instead of ridiculous gore and nudity overloads, we get a silly but surprisingly clever and fairytale-like story that deals with misfits and underdogs, single mothers and marginalized groups, friendship and survival.

Don't get me wrong: it's still as crazy as Iguchi's other works, but in some kinda way it felt mellower and more mature. Also, the rock / metal / pop soundtrack is ace, cinematography and editing are top-notch and the CGI is mostly pretty solid.
Can't say anything bad about it. "Gothic Lolita Battle Bear" rocks!!

RAZE (/SLASH Filmfestival 2013)

RAZE

Alternate Title:
Raze: Fight or Die

USA, 2013
Director: Josh C. Waller

2/10








 This was shown as Special Surprise Screening to the few peeps who supported the Festival through crowdfunding (like me), and like the Festival's official surprise film "Haunter", it was a fucking disappointment.

"Raze" is a movie about a bunch of tough chicks getting abducted by a mysterious organisation with Jigsaw-morals, and forced to do some kinda Mandingo-style Hunger Games. In other words: it's 90 minutes of unsympathetic girls beating the shit out of other unsympathetic girls.

Story and concept are paperthin, the direction is simply awful and the screenplay was probably only a few pages long. Ok, the cast is fucking ace (Zoe Bell, Rachel Nichols, Tracie Thoms, Sherilyn Fenn...), but that doesn't help a bit when all they have to do is playing charmless survivor girls with no personality and no depth, some of them too over-the-top, some of them whiny as hell.


The fight scenes are brutal and ruthless, but I wasn't able to enjoy them because
1) most fights end in a cliché-ridden and oh-so-overdramatic way
which is obviusly very annoying.
2) there are way too many fight scenes and they all look quite the same,
which is obviously very boring.
3) from the very beginning you know that Zoe Bell will be the final girl which is not only extremely predictable, but also damn frustrating.

Add a cookie-cutter electro-score, a god-awful ending and an embarrassingly bad performance by Doug Jones and you get one of the dumbest and most pointless films in 2013. Ugh!

Imdb

27 September 2013

RETURN TO NUKE 'EM HIGH VOL. 1 (/SLASH Filmfestival 2013) // CLASS OF NUKE 'EM HIGH

RETURN TO NUKE 'EM HIGH
VOLUME 1

Working Title:
Return to the Class of Nuke 'Em High

USA, 2013
Director: Lloyd Kaufman

8/10







This was part of a hilarious Midnight Double Feature at the /Slash, together with the 1986 original (see below) - and I'm not kidding when I say that this was one of the funniest, silliest, craziest double feature I've ever seen :-)

Lloyd Kaufman's return to the director's chair is a stunningly stupid but fabulously entertaining and ass-kicking trash masterpiece that perfectly sums up the essence of Troma Entertainment by delivering absolutely everything you want in a good Troma movie: buckets of gore and slimy goo, tons of atomic shit, lots of excellently offensive politically incorrect gags, fart jokes, hot boobs, uber-hot Lesbian sex scenes and Lemmy Kilmister as president of the United States
- not kidding!


The movie is so packed with outrageously amusing scenes and moments, it's simply amazing: a girl gets mouth-raped by a duck, people get turned into radioactive zombies by eating contaminated Tacos, the school's nerdy Glee Club transforms into the "Cretins" (the punk teens from the first part) who are now 'addicted' to sing classic Barbershop tunes like "Sweet Adeline", a Lesbian girl with a huge monster-dick runs around and slaps guys in the face with it, a young couple 'melts down' during intercourse etc.

There's a wonderful opening voice-over by Stan Lee, awesome slaspstick-performances by Kaufman himself as nutty boss of a weird food company, cameos by Troma-icons like Sgt. Kabukiman, huge amounts of cool pop-culture references, and a shitload of ace one-liners like "Miso soup, you so hungry.", "You can't even walk through this neighbourhood in a hoody and eating skittles without getting shot.", "Don't worry, it's just a school shooting." etc.


The acting is largely pretty solid (especially Asta Paredes), cinematography is gorgeous (Justin Duval, "Battledogs"), the editing is fun (Travis Campbell, "Slaughter Daughter") and the soundtrack is just badass.

"Return to Nuke 'Em High Volume 1", a movie that feels as if Nobori Iguchi made a remake of "Postal", or if Uwe Boll made a remake of "The Toxic Avenger".
Demented and goofy, but brilliant as hell. Can't wait for Volume 2!




CLASS OF NUKE 'EM HIGH

Working Titles:
Atomic High School / Nuke 'Em High

USA, 1986
Directors: Richard W. Haines
& Lloyd Kaufman (as Samuel Weil)

7/10







One of the best and most popular Troma flicks of the 80s: "Class of Nuke 'Em High", a super-silly but wonderfully amusing quasi-parody of "Class of 1984", packed with stupid but highly likable characters, glorious practical effects, radioactive stuff, sexy ladies, hot boobs and tons of hilarious dialogue.

There's a girl that gives birth to an atomic foetus-monster that kills people in school toilets and barrels of toxic waste, an oh-so-brutal punk gang, the "Cretins", that sell contaminated weed to innocent kids, people transforming into Toxic-Avenger-like creatures, and teenagers playing around with oh-so-dangerous lasers.


Despite a few lengths and some gaping plot holes, it's a superbly entertaining film with an amazing electro score and super-catchy tunes like Ethan & The Coup's "Nuke 'Em High", cool performances by Janelle Brady and Robert Prichard, silly one-liners ("Fuck the Fellini festival!" / "Time to diiieee!"), lots of camp and happiness, and an explosive finale.

A must-see for everyone who is into Troma and 80s b-movies.

DARK TOUCH (/SLASH Filmfestival 2013)

DARK TOUCH

France / Ireland / Sweden, 2013
Director: Marina de Van

9/10











My avid readers already know that I'm a huge fan of Marina de Van and that I absolutely adore her two features "In My Skin" (review here) and "Don't Look Back" (review here), so you can imagine how hugely excited I was for her newest movie - and damn! This woman seems to be unable to make a bad movie!  "Dark Touch" is another stunning work of art by this unbelievably gifted/talented filmmaker.


"Dark Touch" is a grim and unsettling variation of "Carrie" and "Orphan", telling the story of an 11-year-old girl with massive telekinetic powers, sole survivor of a brutal family massacre, and keeper of a dark secret. The movie deals with many uncomfortable topics like child abuse, social exclusion and childhood trauma, but in ways I've never seen it before. De Van knows how to shock, impress and galvanize her audience with striking images, captivating sequences and metaphorical scenes of psychological terror.

The acting is outstanding and I immediately fell in love with Missy Keating as the traumatized girl and Marcella Plunkett as foster mom. The score by Christophe Chassol ("The Incident") is gloomy and haunting, and perfectly accompanies the wonderfully composed images of solitary Irish landscapes, eerie buildings and gorgeous furniture that moves by itself, excellently filmed by John Conroy ("Burke and Hare").


Highlights: a few gory and shockingly aggresive kills, a disturbing scene involving a bunch of girls, fire and melting Barbie dolls, a gobsmacking scene where a bunch of school kids get trapped in a school building, and a fantastic finale that left me with my mouth hanging wide open.

A powerful, terrifiying and intense Euro-shocker. Once again, Bravo Ms. de Van!

A FIELD IN ENGLAND (/SLASH Filmfestival 2013)

A FIELD IN ENGLAND

UK, 2013
Director: Ben Wheatley

5/10











I'm not a fan of director Ben Wheatley and his wife / screenwriter Amy Jump, and I don't like their films which are always highly pretentious and annoyingly boastful. Their latest feature "A Field in England" is certainly better than the horribly overrated "Kill List", but not much. It has a bizarre but interesting premise (Civil war deserters wandering through fields, taking mushrooms, searching for a treasure, experiencing a nightmarish trip), though I would have preferred to see it made by some other filmmaker.

The cast is superb, the black and white photography looks excellent, the score is tremendously awesome (thrilling tribals, doom-laden music), and there a few surreal scenes that are totally gob-smacking, especially the one where the deserters try to pull out a wooden stake, the ones with the black sun, and, best of all, the one where a character walks in slow-motion out of a tent with a rope around him, and with an unsettling grin on his face - this scene is fucking mindblowing. I've never seen anything like that before.


Unfortunately, the pacing is slow and tedious, and there's hardly any tension or suspense. Lack of story doesn't help in getting you entertained, same for the shitloads of unanswered questions, and the annoying script which is all over the place - but the worst thing is this awfully pretentious style-over-substance kinda way the movie was shot in. Over the entire 90 minutes, I had the feeling the director's standing next to me, yelling into my face: "I am an outstanding filmmaker! I am better than you and I can do whatever you want!"

Not for everyone, especially not for me, but if you like weird and absurd films with no plot, then this is your movie.

26 September 2013

MY AMITYVILLE HORROR (/SLASH Filmfestival 2013)

MY AMITYVILLE HORROR

USA, 2012
Director: Eric Walter

9/10











There are plenty of good Amityvile-themed documentaries out there, but none is so powerful and fascinating like this one. Eric Walter's directorial debut "My Amityville Horror" focusses on Lutz-son Daniel who never got a chance to talk about his experiences in the Amityville house and now uses this chance to talk about it all: the haunting, his family, his life.

Daniel Lutz is an impressive but very difficult person. He tells the well-known story in his very own words, adding an interesting view on his stepfather George whom he hated like poison. Danny's fully convinced that there was something supernatural going on, something evil, something bad that changed him and his life forever.


The documentary doesn't give any answers to what was really going on. Whatever happened back then, it was a traumatic experience. Danny became a tough and awkward guy with strong religious belief and an obscure personality. He has a wonderful voice and a very believable narrative style that "forces" you to hang on his lips - but at the same time, he seems to be so confused and so messed up, it all could be complete nonsense too. Who knows?
At least, the things he told about his father were incredibly emotional and reminded me a lot of my own terrible experiences with my father, which definitely has something to do with the fact, why I found this doc so powerful.


"My Amityville Horror" was wonderfully filmed, excellently composed, brilliantly edited and accompanied with the beautful music of Herman Witkam ("Claustrofobia"). I loved to see all the gorgeous photographies of the Amityville house, the interview scenes with investigative reporter Laura DiDio and psychologist Susan Bartell are very intriguing, and the scene where Danny visits legendary parapsychologist Lorraine Warren is fabulously unsettling.

Not your average Amityville documentary. "My Amityville Horror" is a completely different monster.

THE COMPLEX (/SLASH Filmfestival 2013)

THE COMPLEX

Original Title:
Kuroyuri danchi

German Title:
The Complex - Das Böse in dir

Japan, 2013
Director: Hideo Nakata

3/10





It's sad to see how "Ringu"-director Hideo Nakata's career went down the drain over the years. Since his uber-fail "The Ring 2", he wasn't able to revive his career with anything innovative and/or worthwhile, and I'm pretty sure this won't change after his latest lamefest "The Complex", yet another Japanese ghost story buried knee-deep in trite, stale and cliché-ridden J-horror tropes.

The first 15-20 minutes start out slightly creepy, but as soon as you get introduced to the very first oh-so-original plot twist, it goes downhill, becomes unbelievably ludicrous, at times unintenionally hilarious, and due to the horribly slow pace, you finally end up bored to death, which is actually the only frightening thing about it.


Overall, it's a well shot film with gorgeous settings and good actors, but it's so poorly directed and so badly scripted, delivering one absurd scene after another, leading to a finale that is so annoyingly over-the-top, it made me facepalm more than once. Worst: for the bigger part, it looks and feels like something that was made in the 90s, but not released until now.

A huge missed opportunity, half-hearted, unimaginative and massively disappointing.

HAUNTER (/SLASH Filmfestival 2013)

HAUNTER

German Title:
Haunter - Jenseits des Todes

Canada / France, 2013
Director: Vincenzo Natali

1/10








"Haunter" was the surprise film of this year's /Slash Filmfestival. It's the latest film of director Vincenzo Natali, best known for his amazing debut feature "Cube".
I was surprised that Natali's last film, the monster-flop "Splice", didn't kill off his career - but I'm pretty sure that this one will do the job, and although I'm not exactly a mean person, I even hope that this one will be Natali's last movie.

"Haunter" is fucking awful and I hated it. Like, really hated it. There were some Natali-fanboys in the audience who dug the shit out of it, but there were also plenty of peeps who couldn't stand it all. It's a terrible movie, from the very first minute where we get to see a house in a thick, but horrid-loking CGI fog, until the very last super-dumb scene where a person opens a door and walks into a bright light, just like Kazan did in "Cube". Oh, how original...


The script is so terrible and so all over the place, it hurts. And it's also soooo predictable, it's really embarrassing. I figured out the ending within the first 10 minutes. Imagine a fucked up mix of "The Others" and "Groundhog Day", add some more ghosts and a stupid serial killer, shitloads of plot holes and a high amount of uber-cheap jump scares and you may get the idea of how crappy "Haunter" is.

Abigail Breslin's performance is poor, at times totally laughable. It's clear that she's completely unable to carry a whole movie on her own. Yet, the supporting cast is even worse: lousy acting by Peter Outerbridge, Michelle Nolden and David Hewlett, and... *sigh* what the hell happened to Stephen McHattie? Here, he's only a shadow of his former self.


The score is bland and boring, the over-use of music from "Peter and the Wolf" is incredibly annoying, the cinematography is trite and unimaginative, the movie looks more like direct-to-DVD fodder, and worst of all: the room of Breslin's character with all its huge David Bowie, The Cure and Siouxsie & The Banshees posters... sorry, but no teenager's room looks like that. It's so perfect and tidy and stylish, it looks like it was created for a mail-order catalog.

One of the absolute worst movies I've seen all year. Terrible beyond belief.

25 September 2013

THE BATTERY (/SLASH Filmfestival 2013)

THE BATTERY

USA, 2012
Director: Jeremy Gardner

9/10











Jeremy Gardner's $6.000(!) indie feature "The Battery" is a wonderful quasi-mumblecore-variation of a post-apocalyptic zombie movie (though the zombies are of marginal importance), focussing on two unlikely friends, wandering around, surviving, spending the days with playing Baseball, smoking, fishing and quarreling about trifles.

If you expect a gory zombie flick - go away. "The Battery" is more of a unique comedy-drama that has almost nothing to do with horror. It deals with topics like friendship and loneliness, human desires and emotions, as well as with philosophical questions like "What is the meaning of life?" or "What is the purpose of existence?" - but in a fun way!


Our two heroes Ben (played by the director himself) and Mickie (Adam Cronheim) are an odd and quirky couple. Ben is a self-assured and realistic nomad who constantly acts a bit worldly-wise, while Mickie is more of an unconfident but somewhat optimistic romantic who always hides behind his headphones and desperately tries to find a place where he/they could settle down and stay forever. They obviously don't match together, but they're able to make the best out of the situation - which sometimes works, sometimes not.

The movie is very slow and steady, but at no time boring or dull, thanks to the believable acting, the hilarious dialogue and many cool / funny / intense scenes. There are many stunningly amusing moments (Mickie masturbating to a hot-looking female zombie), as well as many grim and unsettling moments (Ben and Mickie meeting an armed and aggressive guy), all resulting into the grand final, an overlong but uber-genius sequence that takes place in one single car.


Cinematography and editing are great, and the make-up looks ace, but the best thing about "The Battery" is the soundtrack which consists of loads of insanely good indie / folk rock tunes. The movie wouldn't be as awesome without gems like "Anthem for the Already Defeated" by Rock Plaza Central,
or
"Voodoo You" by Sun Hotel.

Undoubtedly one of THE highlights of this year. A must-see!

HELLBENDERS 3D (/SLASH Filmfestival 2013)

HELLBENDERS 3D

USA, 2012
Director: J.T. Petty

3/10











The basic concept of "Hellbenders" is fun: a group of excommunicated priests, the "Hellbound Saints of Brooklyn Parish", live a life of sin and immorality in hope of getting possessed by a demon, so they can commit suicide and take the demon to hell with them :-)
Unfortunately, the execution is so unbelievably lame, the whole thing ends up as one helluva sleeping pill of a movie :-(

J.T. Petty, director of gems like "The Burrowers" and rubbish like "Mimic 3", tried way too hard to be fresh and original, by creating implausible characters that totally don't come off as cool as they're supposed to be, writing dialogue that totally doesn't come off as funny as its supposed to be. The direction is weak, the screenplay is trite, and there's no tension, no suspense, no atmosphere whatsoever.


Worst of all: the pointless 3D effects. There are a handful scenes where the 3D works, but overall, there's no reason for this movie to be shot in 3D. Also, the word "cocksucker" doesn't get funnier by repeating it over and over and over again...

The acting is solid, the CGI looks surprisingly good and the filming locations were well chosen - aside from that: potential wasted.

CHEAP THRILLS (/SLASH Filmfestival 2013)

CHEAP THRILLS

USA, 2013
Director: E.L. Katz

8/10











It wasn't as extreme as I hoped it would be, but it surely is one of the more extreme films of this year: "Cheap Thrills", the directorial debut of E.L. Katz, writer / producer of gems like "A Horrible Way To Die" and "Autopsy", based on a screenplay by Trent Haaga ("Chop").

The movie approaches the question "What would you do for money?" by showing us two financially troubled guys who get involved in a rich couple's macabre game, getting money for dares. What starts out as a fun night with lots of alcohol, drugs and money, ends up as terrifying nightmare, as the dares get more and more extreme, more and more more dangerous...


It's a powerful and brave little film, strongly written and directed, full of unexpected shocks and stunning plot twists. I love the fact that it's not only extreme for the sake of being extreme, but also very clever and thought-provoking, dealing massively with topics like envy and malevolence, frailty and vulnerableness
- and despite the high amount of gore, brutality and violence, it's even pretty entertaining and amusing, thanks to the delightful performances of Pat Healy, Ethan Embry and especially David Koechner who gives one of the greatest performances in his entire career. I even enjoyed the laid-back performance of Sara Paxton, an actress I'm ususally not a fan of.

The music is intense, all the dance / dubstep tunes are very enjoyable, and I love the sharp, effective editing. A few scenes didn't turn out as shocking as I expected, but overall, "Cheap Thrills" is a thrilling little gem, guaranteed to give you a 'good time', no matter if you like or dislike extreme cinema.

24 September 2013

HERE COMES THE DEVIL (/SLASH Filmfestival 2013)

HERE COMES THE DEVIL

Original Title:
Ahí va el Diablo

Mexico / USA, 2012
Director: Adrián García Bogliano

10/10








A movie that came almost out of nowhere and completely knocked me off my feet: "Here Comes The Devil", the newest film of prolific Argentinian horror director Adrián García Bogliano, a ravishing and breathtaking horror-drama about two kids who disappeared during a family trip and reappeared as completely different persons.

In terms of atmosphere and style, it surely is the creepiest and most unsettling movie I've seen all year. It's a bizarre and intimidating trip into the minds of two parents who slowly lose control of their lifes, desperately trying to find out what happened to their kids, trying to get back on track, but eventually they only sink deeper and deeper into a quicksand-like morass of guilt, shame and despair.


"Here Comes Thee Devil" deals with various difficult topics, such as child abuse, menstruation, incest or revenge murder, as well as with superstition, inexplicable supernatural occurences and the presence of a Satanic being, maybe Satan himself, resulting in an unique and outstanding piece of cinema that will inhabit your mind and manipulate your thinking.

As a massive fan of Peter Weir's "Picnic at Hanging Rock", I was delighted to see many references to this incredible movie: close-ups of scary-looking rock formations and sweaty faces, people climbing onto hills, people disappearing into crevices. Massive thanks to Ernesto Herrera's ("Penumbra") insanely impressive cinematography that perfectly captures the bizarre mood of the desolate-looking Tijuana settings, and also to Julio Pillado's weird but marvellous and highly effective music.


Highlights: two of the hottest sex scenes I've seen in a very long time, one of the goriest and most shocking kills I've seen in a very long time, the fantastic performances of Mexican singer/songwriter Laura Caro, Francisco Barreiro (best known for his performance in "We Are What We Are"), and the two kids Michele Garcia & Alan Martinez.

Prepare for awesomeness: here comes a masterpiece!

THE LORDS OF SALEM (/SLASH Filmfestival 2013)

THE LORDS OF SALEM

USA / UK / Canada, 2012
Director: Rob Zombie

9/10











[Thanks to my friend Bonnie who provided me with a copy of the movie in June this year, I already seen it two times at home and loved the hell out of it. However, now that I've seen it in a cinema for the very first time... hell, I love it even more now! This movie was made for big screens and loud speakers, made to blow the audience's minds away with its striking images and powerful sounds.

Below you find a slightly modified review of the one I wrote in June. I had to up the rating rom 8/10 to 9/10 and changed a few words, expressions and phrases.
Btw, the same thing happened last year when I became obsessed with the incredible "Livid" and eventually had to up its rating.]
 


One thing is for sure: the filmmaker Rob Zombie (not the musician... obviously)
is always at his best when he's telling his own stories. His two "Halloween" flicks were rubbish and I'm still pissed about both of them - but now after seeing "The Lords of Salem" (AND after listening to his latest really badass album), I forgive him. This is an unexpectedly great, wonderfully nostalgic and absolutely mesmerizing horror film. Throughout watching, there were many times where I caught myself staring at the screen with a big fat smile on my face.

No, "The Lords of Salem" isn't as iconic as "Corpses" and "Rejects",
and it actually doesn't want to be something like that. This is something completely different. It's Rob Zombie's love letter to the Satan-themed, Witchcraft-themed horror films of the 60s and 70s, as well as to 'artsy' European horror stuff of that time. In some kinda way, it looked and felt a lot like

last year's masterpiece "Livid".


There's a lot of Léon Klimovsky, Amando de Ossorio, Lucio Fulci and Dario Argento in here, but there are also certain scenes / sequences / images / things that reminded me a lot of forgotten 'classics' like "The Witches Mountain", "Bell from Hell" or "Messiah of Evil", and I'll be damned if there isn't some Alejandro Jodorowsky in here too. In a nutshell: it's a stunning-looking homage to oldschool horror, though it's gladly NOT retro for the sake of being retro (like Ti West's slightly similar-themed "House of the Devil"). Zombie simply gave a fuck about everthing and just made the film he wanted to make.

Ok, I admit the movie is a mess and far from being perfect, but it's such a well-directed and awesome-looking mess, it never bored me and kept me glued to the screen over the entire 100 minutes, thanks to some marvellous pacing, excellent editing, loads of brilliantly compelling atmosphere, a couple of cool characters, and shitloads of eye-popping images. The montage at the end with the masturbating priests and the naked, animal-masked ladies is mindblowing!


Sheri Moon Zombie still isn't an 'amazing' actress, but her performance here as Heidi Hawthorne (cool name!) is excellent and definitely her best one so far. Very likable, very believable, very intriguing - and omg, she stills looks sooo fucking hot, maybe even hotter than in her Firefly years. Gorgeous clothes, cool dreadlocks, hot tats - wow!
Bruce Davison is super-cool and highly sympathetic, Ken Foree is great fun, and Jeff Daniel Phillips reminded me a lot of Noah Taylor in "Red White & Blue".
Also: creepy performances by Meg Foster & Patricia Quinn, and a superbly entertaining Dee Wallace. Plus: super-short but nice cameos of Sid Haig and Michael Berryman.

The cinematography is beautiful and very intense (Brandon Trost, "The FP", "Crank 2"), the overall set design is simply badass (Lori Mazuer, "2001 Maniacs"), the soundtrack is superbly surreal (Marilyn-Manson-guitarist John 5) and the usage of The Velvet Underground songs ("Venus in Furs", "All Tomorrow's Parties"), as well as some awesome stuff by Mozart & Bach... well, almost perfect!


God may hate the "Lords of Salem", but I love them :)

ZOMBIE HUNTER [/SLASH Filmfestival 2013]

ZOMBIE HUNTER

USA, 2013
Director: Kevin King

4/10











"Zombie Hunter" is just one more oh-so-cool pseudo-grindhouse dumbfest in a long row of similar dumbfests that became immensely popular since Quentin Tarantino and Robert Rodriguez revived the exploitation movies of the 70s with their 2007 "Grindhouse" double feature. In fact, "Zombie Hunter" could be described as Robert Rodriguez fan-fiction, written and directed by a hardcore Rodriguez fan who seems to be obsessed with films like "Machete" or "Planet Terror".

Writer / director / producer Kevin King thought he could make a badass post-apocalyptic zombie trashfest by simply creating a few clichéd characters and over-using cheap editing gimmicks and shitty CGI effects. Of course, it doesn't work at all. King is a terrible director and an even worse screenwriter. The story is non-existent, the script is unfinished and crammed with gaping plot holes; there's nothing new, nothing original, nothing surprising - and nothing makes sense. What's with the chainsaw-wielding clown idiot? What's with the reversed crosses in the abandoned church? What's with the ugly-looking large zombie-monsters? Why is the ending is so stupid? Why is the whole film so stupid?


I enjoyed the performances of super-handsome Martin Copping as cool Zombie Hunter (and I loved hearing him repeating the words 'Stone cold silence'), hot chick Jade Regier as badass "Fast Lane Debbie", and of course, Danny Trejo as zombie-killing priest "Jesús" - though he only appears in a handful scenes and delivers more of a paycheck performance. Also, some ok gore effects and a nice soundtrack, but nothing we haven't seen or heard before.

Wanna see a good low-budget post-apo flick? Watch "Manborg" instead. You will thank me later.

23 September 2013

THE AMERICAN SCREAM (/SLASH Filmfestival 2013)

THE AMERICAN SCREAM
(Documentary)

USA, 2012
Director: Michael Stephenson

9/10










Michael Stephenson might not be the greatest actor on Earth ("A double-decker Bologna sandwich!"), but he's definitely a fantastic documentary filmmaker and I have a slight feeling that he totally could be something like the Michael Moore of Horror. His debut documentary "Best Worst Movie" was a wonderful document about the fans of, and the 'actors' who starred in "Troll 2". His follow-up documentary "The American Scream" follows 3 Massachusettsan families who dedicate their lives to the celebration of Halloween - and omg, I loved it.

In a slow but steady and unboring pace, Stephenson gives us an intriguing in-depth look into the households of [1] the Bariteau family who work hard to make their incredible Halloween decoration look as perfect and professional as possible, [2] the Souza family who work equally hard, but in a cooler and more easygoing way, and [3] the enthusiastic father-and-son-team Matt and Rick Brodeur who feel more like two brothers or two old friends.


Beautifully filmed and accompanied with a lovely score by Bobby Tahouri ("Echelon Conspiracy"), we get to see three heartwarming portraits of people who give everything to make their idea of Halloween as awesome and impressive as possible. There's lots of fun and laughter, but also lots of drama and sadness, due to the pressure and stress they all go through during October, but in the end we can see that it's all worth it because no matter how much blood, sweat and tears they shed, the people who visit their insanely impressive 'haunted houses" have a fantastic and super-scary time, and give their 'creators' the feeling they've done something great and important, something that is worth dedicating your life to.

Victor Bariteau nails it when he says "It's Halloween or nothing." - and when it comes to documentaries, I hope I nail it too when I say "It's Michael Stephenson or nothing" ;-)

22 September 2013

WILLOW CREEK (/SLASH Filmfestival 2013)

WILLOW CREEK

USA, 2013
Director: Bobcat Goldthwait

9/10











"Willow Creek" is not only one of the best and most believable found footage movies I've seen in a long time, it's also the absolute best Bigfoot-themed movie ever made. After decades of awful rubbish like "Snowbeast" or "The Curse of Bigfoot", Bobcat Goldthwait, director of the excellent "God Bless America", comes along as the very first filmmaker who is fully able to make a movie about the Sasquatch, that is not dumb or laughable or utter trash.

The movie starts out with a young couple shooting a documentary in the town of "Willow Creek", interviewing the inhabitants about the infamous Patterson-Gimlin-incident, and ends with them spending the night in the forests near Bluff Creek where Bigfoot was supposedly filmed in 1967.


Style and structure of "Willow Creek" reminded me a lot of found footage classic "The Blair Witch Project", at times it even felt like a tribute, though IMO it's a much more thrilling, much more entertaining and WAY scarier film, thanks to the 2 lovely and extremely believable main characters, wonderfully played by Alexie Gilmore and Bryce Johnson, Goldthwait's powerful direction, the slow but brilliantly intense build-up, and an almost 20-minute-long sequence where we get to see the couple lying in their tent, getting freaked out by bizarre noises and vocalisations - a sequence that also totally scared the shit out of me.

The ending is a bit weird, but it will stay with you long after you've left the cinema.
To me, "Willow Creek" is one of the biggest surprises of 2013. I never expected this to be that good. Bravo Mr. Goldthwait! Can't hardly wait for what you have in store for us in the near future.

20 September 2013

BLUTGLETSCHER (a.k.a Blood Glacier) [/SLASH Filmfestival 2013]

BLUTGLETSCHER

International Title:
Blood Glacier


Alternate Title:
The Station

Working Titles:

Gletscherblut / Glacius

Austria, 2013
Director: Marvin Kren

4/10


"The Glaciers are melting, the Mutants are coming!" - Hell, what a tagline. It's probably the cheesiest tagline for an Austrian film ever, but it sounds fun and it whets your interest. Director Marvin Kren's previous film "Rammbock" was one of the most impressive zombie films of the last years, and also a damn well Austrian/German horror film, that's why I was immensely excited for his second feature "Blutgletscher" (a.k.a The Station).

Unfortunately, what has been called "Austria's answer to Carpenter's The Thing" or "Austria's first monster movie", is actually a monstrously disappointing creature-feature-mess that takes itself way too seriously, which is quite a shame, because the film's basic concept is so ridiculous, it would have worked better as a trashy Troma or Asylum/SyFy flick..

[SPOILER: red-coloured organic substance affects the wildlife in the alps by transforming/morphing the animals into bizarre mutations, like a Fox-Bug, an Alpine Ipex with wings, or an Eagle-mutant armed with a sting]


"Blutgletscher" takes place in the beautiful alps of South Tyrol, and starts out pretty terrific, thanks to some fabulously grim atmosphere, a tense build-up and the strangely unsettling and bizarre-looking images of red-coloured glaciers. Yet, after the first 25-30 minutes, it all falls apart completely.

Nearly every single character is dumb, unlikable and uninteresting; most character decisions are highly questionable or just plain stupid, and there's at least one character (a female minister) that turns from serious to over-the-top badass in such an incredulously implausible and totally unbelievable way, it made me wanna spank the shit out of screenwriter Benjamin Hessler.
The only one who is somewhat sympathetic, is a grumpy and bearded drunkard with a weird attitude to life.


What's even worse is the fact that we never get a clear look on the monsters, due to super-quick jump cuts, harsh editing and dizzy-making camera effects - and all because the filmmakers desperately tried to hide the cheap and ugly-looking special effects.
This 'technique' reminded me a lot of Irish creature feature "Isolation" which showed its main monster, a mutated cow-fetus, in a similarly dissatisfying way - but while "Isolation" was able to compensate the cheap effects by focussing on creepy locations and interesting characters, "Blutgletscher" fully fails by coming off as unintentionally laughable, and even looking unfinished at times.

Gore and make-up effects look ace, the jump scares are highly effective, and I totally dug the scene where a swarm of flies emerged from one victim's shoulder.
The acting ranges from pretty good (Gerhard Liebmann, Michael Fuith) to pretty bad (Hille Beseler, Wolfgang Pampel). The dialogue is often way too stilted, several scenes are far too boring, far too tedious (the scene where they put a dog down is sooo fucking long, it's frustrating), and the ending is just meh.


If you wanna make a monster movie of epic proportions, make sure you have the budget and/or a good special / practical effects team. If you don't have either, make something else.

19 September 2013

/SLASH Announcement!

Ok, it's that time of the year again: FILMFESTIVAL TIME!!!
Yes, from Sept 19 - 29, good ol' Maynard's back in Vienna at the /SLASH FILMFESTIVAL, trying to see a shitload of movies and stuff. In fact,this year it's exactly 44 movies/series/etc. - and of course, I wanna see them all! Last year, I managed to see all 39, so 44 is definitely possible.

I'll try to keep you updated with fresh reviews and updates from the festival, like I did last year. If there aren't any updates on my blog, check my Twitter or my FB.

Pardon me for not answering your comments, or leaving comments on your blogs in the next 11 days. Experience has shown that there isn't so much time left between movies and sleep (or trying to get at least a few hours of sleep). I'll catch up with y'all in October.

Oh btw, I don't mean to brag, I don't meant to boast, but... holy crap! This year, my banner (designed by my good friend Lori) made it into the festival programme! I'm one of the festival's "media partners" which sounds way more important than it actually is ;-)


I'm also on the /SLASH Homepage, but here they call me "Cooperation Partner" which, of course, is also okay for me =D




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