30 April 2014

"FELICIA'S JOURNEY" - R.I.P BOB HOSKINS

FELICIA'S JOURNEY

German Title:
Felicia, mein Engel

UK / Canada, 1999
Director: Atom Egoyan

8/10








As much as I love Bob Hoskins' performances in "Who Framed Roger Rabbit" (private detective), "Brazil" (heating engineer) or "Hook" (henchman), I'm 200% sure he delivered his most impressive performance in "Felicia's Journey",
Atom Egoyan's stunning adaptation of William Trevor's prize-winning novel of the same name.


Ignore the drama-like title. "Felicia's Journey" is an intriguing, unsettling and slightly disturbing thriller about Felicia, a naive Irish girl who travels to England where she desperately tries to find her boyfriend who left Ireland after making her pregnant. In Birmingham, she runs into the extremely polite middle-aged catering manager Mr. Hilditch who helps her in searching, not knowing that Hilditch is actually a troubled psychopath and ruthless serial killer...

It's a real shame that this movie isn't better known. It's a unique and fascinating chiller, highly thrilling, highly suspenseful and full of eerie scenes and flashbacks that will give you massive goosebumps. Norman Bates would be jealous of Hoskins' character, an eccentric, lonely old man who spends the days watching old black-and-white tapes of his deceased mother's cooking show, cooking uber-opulent meals, helping vulnerable girls and "laying them to rest" when they decide to leave him.


As I already mentioned, Hoskins is simply amazing. The way he looks at Felicia, the way he watches TV (with opera glasses!), the way he says things like "Mothers can be different." - absolutely adorable! The other actors are also simply brilliant, especially Elaine Cassidy as Felicia, the gorgeous Arsinée Khanjian as psycho mother, and Claire Benedict as annoying missionary.

Egoyan's direction is spot-on and powerful. The filming locations all look simply awesome (Birmingham, London and Glanworth, County Cork), the soundtrack is excellent and very well fitting [atmospheric music by Mychael Danna (Oscar for "Life of Pi"), cool tunes by Malcolm Vaughan ("My Special Angel") or Kate Bush ("The Sensual World")] and Paul Sarossy's ("Chloe") camera work is superb.


The ending could have been a bit more tense, and I actually prefer its German Title "Felicia, mein Engel (=Felicia, my Angel) - but aside from that, I have no issues with "Felicia's Journey", a cinematic journey very worth taking.

Wiki ~ Imdb



Just yesterday, Bob Hoskins passed away at the age of 71 after suffering from Pneumonia.
He received tons of awards (Golden Globe, BAFTA Award, Palme d'or...) and an Oscar nomination for his performance in "Mona Lisa", Evening Standard British Film Awards for "The Long Good Friday", "The Lonely Passion of Judith Hearne" & "Who Framed Roger Rabbit", and, among many other prizes, a Genie Award for "Felicia's Journey".

Rest in Peace, Bob Hoskins
1942 - 2014

29 April 2014

TRANSCENDENCE

TRANSCENDENCE

USA / UK / China, 2014
Director: Wally Pfister

3/10











"Transcendence" is a trainwreck of epic proportions. A movie so slow, it makes you wanna watch "Turbo" instead. The story sounds fascinating and the trailers look quite cool - but the movie itself is undoubtedly one of the most boring theatrical releases I've seen in quite some time. Remember 56k modems? Yup, it's as slow, as annoying, as expendable.

Who's to blame?


~ Wally Pfister. He is a fantastic cinematographer ("Inception", "Dark Knight Trilogy", "The Prestige"), but as a director, he's just terrible. He seems to be so much in love with images of dew drops and solar arrays, that he completely forgot about creating any kind of tension or suspense, and he was also completely unable to create any chemistry between the actors.

~ Jack Paglen. His script is a bloody mess, packed with ridiculous plot holes, charmless characters and stupid lines. The whole thing feels as if Terrence Mallick and the imaginary brother of Christopher Nolan wanted to create a survivalistic and anti-technology prepper-prequel to Harlan Ellison's "I Have No Mouth, and I Must Scream" (one of the greatest sci-fi short stories of all time).


~ Johnny Depp. Even though it's refreshing to see him in a non-quirky role, I was shocked how wooden, stale and lifeless his acting is. Imagine Kristen Stewart as a man... that's how frustratingly bland and unimpressive his performance is. Everyone could have played that. Well, he got a salary of $20 million (a fifth of the movie's production budget!!), so I guess this was just a simple paycheck role for him. A shame what happened to this once so incredible actor.

The rest of the cast? Rebecca Hall is good. Paul Bettany is meh. Morgan Freeman and Cillian Murphy are completely useless. Kate Mara is simply terrible. Mychael Danna's ("8MM") music is dull and uninspired. The CGI efects are solid, but nothing that makes you go 'ah' and 'oh'. The cinematography is good but nothing special (Jess Hall, "Hot Fuzz").

Worst thing about "Transcendence"? It's so empty, shallow and nondescript, I already forgot about it.

28 April 2014

"DR. TARR's TORTURE DUNGEON" (Chilling Classics 50 Movies Pack, #41)

DR. TARR'S TORTURE DUNGEON

Alternate Titles:
The Mansion of Madness / Edgar Allen Poe: Dr. Tarr's Torture Dungeon

Mexico, 1973
Director: Juan López Moctezuma

6/10







*sings* "Just what you need to make you feel better,
just what you need to make you feel..."

Ah! Oops sorry, but whenever I hear or think of Dr. Tarr or Prof. Fether, I have that awesome tune from Alan Parsons in my ears :)

"Dr. Tarr's Torture Dungeon", a pretty bizarre adaptation of Edgar Allen Poe's short story "The System of Doctor Tarr and Professor Fether", is the debut film of Mexican director Juan López Moctezuma (best known for his surreal 1977 classic "Alucarda") and tells the story of a super-strange mental asylum where the patients took over, kinda like in S.F. Brownrigg's "Don't Look in the Basement".


The whole movie is very, very weird, at times Jodorowsky-level weird, at times just plain bonkers. The first half works pretty good, mainly because of a pretty unique tone that manages to be hilarious AND creepy at the same time. The asylum (which looks more like a factory) is filled with lunatics who constantly act in outrageous and over-the-top ways, like "Mr. Chicken", a guy who thinks he is... um, a chicken(!), the "Marshal" who thinks he's on a ship which forces him to constantly scream "Ship ahoy!", or the monk-like old guy who's hunting one of the inmates, constantly shouting out names of the devil "Vade retro Satanas! Vade retro Lucifer! Vade retro Beelzebub! Astaroth! Asmodeus! Vade retro Baphomet! Belphegor! Vade retro Astaroth! Behemoth! etc."

Unfortunately, the weirdness gets tiring and annoying in the second half, especially due to the absence of any important or remarkable scenes or sequences, the absence of any thrills or chills, too much rather dull dialogue, a foreseeable ending and a climax that could have been so much better if done in a more serious and/or more violent way. At least, we get to see lots of ace nudity, but as you can imagine, that's not enough to fully save the movie.


The acting is thoroughly good, especially the performances of Claudio Brook and Arthur Hansel. The cinematography is stunning (Rafael Corkidi,
"The Holy Mountain")
, but the music is way too silly, way too excessive (Nacho Méndez, "El Topo").


Odd, but worth checking out if you're a 70s horror buff, or a hardcore Poe fan.

Imdb


"THE BLOODY BROOD" (Chilling Classics 50 Movies Pack, #42)

THE BLOODY BROOD

Canada / USA, 1959
Director: Julian Roffman

3/10











"The Bloody Brood" is the first of only two directorial efforts by Canadian filmmaker Julian Roffman (the other one is the 1961 3D-romp "The Mask"), and despite its gonzo title, it's a rather tame and lame matter. Imagine Alfred Hitchcock's "Rope" playing in a cellar bar, packed with annoying Beatniks and even more annoying Bongo drums.

Fans of Beatnik-sploitation might get a kick out of it, but I couldn't do it anything with it. All the silly Beatnik-talk is just unnerving, nearly all of the characters are unlikable douchebags, and the lack of any tension doesn't help either. I enjoyed Peter Falk's performance (one of his very first roles) and the jazzy score by Harry Freedman ("The Pyx"). Everything else about is just forgettable.



25 April 2014

SONNO PROFONDO

SONNO PROFONDO

International Title:
Deep Sleep

Argentina, 2013
Director: Luciano Onetti

9,5/10








Over the last few years, a few European filmmakers tried their best to render and pay homage to the "Giallo", Italy's most fascinating, most influential horror/thriller sub-genre, by creating films that are true to the styles of Italian grandmasters
like Dario Argento or Mario Bava,
for example: Hélène Cattet & Bruno Forzani's "Amer", Andreas Marschall's "Masks" or Federico Zampaglione's "Tulpa"...


...but so far, no-one came as close to the look and feel of classic Gialli like Argentinian director Luciano Onetti. His directorial feature "Sonno Profondo"
is... damn, I'm almost at a loss for words. It's simply incredible. It totally
looks and feels like a lost or forgotten early 70s Giallo by Sergio Martino, or maybe Paolo Cavara.

Compared to most post-"Planet Terror" neo-grindhouse or neo-exploitation films that are cheesed up to the brim with fake-flicker and fake-scratches, "Sonno Profondo" really looks like it was made in the 70s, and the version that I saw is actually digitally remastered from an old 35mm copy :) No scratch too much, no color saturation or film grain that is in any way overdone. Amazing!


The story is simple, but interesting and its told in an intriguing and mesmerizing way. There's a mysterious killer, traumatized by unsettling childhood memories, always wearing black leather gloves, using kitchen knifes and razorblades to kill his victims - and this killer suddenly gets hunted by a mysterious figure who knows who he is, who saw what he did, and who desperately wants to kill him...

With a runtime of only 66 minutes and with almost no dialogue, Onetti created a surreal and surprisingly experimental hunter-becomes-prey thriller, using (not over-using) all kinds of classic Giallo elements and tropes, such as intense close-ups of eyes, dolls, rotary phones or various cutting tools, as well as erotic shots of licking lips or women masturbating through panties. The cinematography is delightfully excellent and the POV camera work is as effective as possible. Almost no found footage flick is able to create such an intensity as Onetti's old-fashioned killer-view does.


There aren't much kills, but the few one we get to see are ace, not only because they're all stunningly suspenseful, but also because the blood looks as stylishly cheesy as in thousands of European horror films of the 60s and 70s. You know what I mean? A thick liquid that looks like diluted watercolor. Haven't seen something like that in ages.

Yet, despite of all that, the absolute best thing in "Sonno Profondo" is the music. Holy Lambrusco! A wild and whirling mix of classic, energetic 70s prog-rock (heavy on drums and bass), eerie violins, trippy synths, hammering pianos, haunting flutes and ephemeral Dead-Can-Dance-like moments. Eargasmic.


3 words to perfectly describe "Sonno Profondo": Pure fucking awesomeness.
The best and most impressive Latin American horror film since "Here Comes The Devil", and also the best post-80s Giallo since "Sleepless".

Wiki ~ Imdb
Official / FB

Thanks to producer Nicolás Onetti for the screener!

24 April 2014

THE LASHMAN

THE LASHMAN

USA, 2014
Director: Cameron McCasland

5/10











Director / writer Cameron McCasland seems to be a big fan of classic 80s backwoods-slashers like "The Burning" or "The Final Terror", which obviously motivated him to shoot a little homage to this still immensely popular sub-genre. The result: "The Lashman", a watchable but unfortunately rather underwhelming lowest-budget slasher-flick about a few teens who spend the weekend in a cabin in the woods (*yawn*) where they get terrorized by a bullwhip-swinging killer
called "Lashman"...


The movie spends way too much time on the build-up and on the five stereotypical main characters, and definitely not enough time on blood, gore, action and a decent payoff. After the cool double-murder opening, we have to wait for more than 50 minutes until we get to see a second kill and the Lashman's first proper appearance. The first 50 minutes... well, they're not bad, they're just a little too long and too dull. Just 5 cardboard teens doing teen-slasher stuff: drinking, fucking, swimming, having a BBQ etc. We've seen this thousands of times before.

The remaining 22 minutes... well, there's much more tension, suspense, blood, action and Lashman, but not enough to fully fulfill my slasher needs. Also, the lighting is awful and you can't see shit during the night scenes; editing and camera work are too amateurish.


The acting is pretty fun, especially the performances of Stacey Dixon (who reminded me a bit of Paris Hilton in certain scenes), David Vaughn and - surprisingly - Shawn C. Phillips! I usually get annoyed by his Don't-mind-I'm-just-a-fat-guy-acting, but here, he's really good! There's also lots of supersexy nudity by Kaylee Williams and Alea Jordan, an excellent score by Tom Berdinski, and the kills are all well done.

Nothing you haven't seen before, but worth checking out if you're
a die-hard slasher fan.

Imdb / FB

Thanks to Cameron McCasland for the screener!

23 April 2014

Random Rubbish: DEAD HOOKER / NEW MOON / CATWOMAN / ACID HEAD / SWAMP SHARK

More mini-reviews of bad movies I watched lately. Time for some venting. Enjoy ;)

DEAD HOOKER IN A TRUNK

Canada, 2009
Directors: Jen & Sylvia Soska

1/10











Oh. My. Goodness. So, THIS is the movie that kickstarted the mystifying 'career' of the Soska Sisters? Are you fucking kidding me? Is this a goddamn joke? "Dead Hooker In A Trunk" is a god-awful Tarantino/Rodriguez ripoff that tries soooo hard to be an ultra-cool grindhouse/exploitation flick, it's frustrating, annoying and aggravating as fuck.


All the characters are unnerving and completely unlikable douchebags, the acting is mostly weak, and nearly everyone gives a terrifyingly  terrible performance, especially Jen Soska. The supposed-to-be-cool dialogue isn't cool at all, editing and cinematography are highly amateurish (wow, trunk-shots, how innovative...), there's hardly anything tense or thrilling, the whole thing plods along at snail's pace, and even though some of the gore scenes are fun,
the effects all look cheap as hell. Ugh!

Wiki ~ Imdb



THE TWILIGHT SAGA: NEW MOON

German Title:
The Twilight Saga: New Moon - Biss zur Mittagsstunde

USA, 2009
Director: Chris Weitz

2,5/10








 To some extent, "New Moon" is almost as awful as its predecessor "Twilight": no chills, no thrills, boring and/or annoying one-dimensional characters talking about bland and nondescript rubbish, dreadful performances by Kristen "I have only one facial expression and I'm perectly okay with that" Stewart and Robert "I look like a zombie and don't care about it" Pattinson, laughable special effects and a storyline that could be described...ah, fuck descriptions.
The story is just stupid.


Yet, to my surprise, it wasn't as awful as expected, thanks to some really cool performances by Michael Sheen and Dakota Fanning, decent pacing, a much better screenplay, and again, a pretty solid soundtrack (Thom Yorke,
Muse, Editors...)
.
Don't get me wrong: it wasn't an easy watch and for the greater part, it bored the fuck out of me, but it was way more bearable than the first one. Not sure if I will check out "Eclipse", but hey, never say never =)




CATWOMAN

USA, 2004
Director: Pitof

2/10











 French director Pitof's "Catwoman" is.. *sigh* I'm at a loss for words. Can't remember the last time I've seen in a movie that is so ridiculous, so dumb, so goddamn retarded. How could Warner Bros. and Village Roadshow just greenlight this piece of shit? And who was responsible for allowing the completely untalented CGI-addict Pitof to direct this dreck?

Who thought that the craptacular screenplay by John D. Brancato, Michael Ferris ("Terminator 3 & 4", "Primeval") and John Rogers ("The Core") is good enough to get turned into a full-length movie? And who thought that it's a really good idea to clutter "Catwoman" up with outdated 90s R'n'B bullshit?


Who thought it makes sense to give non-actor Benjamin Bratt a leading role? And holy cat food, what the fuck happened to Halle Berry??? Just 3 years after she got an Oscar for her role in "Monster's Ball", she delivers a performance that is so embarrasingly awful, it's almost disturbing.

Several scenes are unintentionally hilarious and somewhat entertaining and as avid cat lover, I loved to see so many super-cute kitties throughout the entire film + Sharon Stone is still effing hot. Other than that, "Catwoman" is just cat turd.

Wiki ~ Imdb



ACID HEAD: THE BUZZARD NUTS
COUNTY SLAUGHTER

Canada, 2011/2012
Director: Tony Watt

0/10










Holy nutcase! Finally a film that comes close to the crappiness of John Johnson's "Skeleton Key 2" a.k.a the worst movie ever made, and if it wasn't for some decent tits, ass and pussy, this would have been the second movie in the history of the Horror Movie Diary to get a -1/10.

Tony Watt, lowest-budget Canuxploitation cult-director of flicks like "Frankenpimp" or "Kracula!", created one of the most imbecile movies I've ever seen. Hundred-fucking-fortyfive minutes long, packed to the brim with non-actors playing ugly, unsympathetic idiot characters, delivering oh-so-funny-hahaha-fuck-you dialogue, packed to the brim with crap-ass so-bad-it's-bad CGI, and an unbelievable amount of unbelievably annoying lalala-so-so-funny sound effects, I wanted to cut my ears off. You see someone driving around, you hear F1 sounds. You see a naked chick dancing, you hear people cheering and applauding. You see someone talking about his ass, you hear fart sounds. Et cetera, et cetera, et fucking cetera. It's like Watt took the radio scenes from "The Lords of Salem" (you know, the ones with all the wacky sound samples) and blew them up to a 145 minutes supposed-to-be-oh-so-amusing cinematic shitfest

Aside from the above-mentioned female genitalia, this was totally unwatchable. Nevertheless, thanks to Mr. Watt for the screener...

Imdb



SWAMP SHARK

German Titles:
Hai Attack / Swamp Shark - Der Killerhai

USA, 2011
Director: Griff Furst
(as G.E. Furst)

3/10







The basic premise sounds fun - Louisinia swamplands get terrorized by a bloodhungry shark - but the movie itself is just another uber-lame SyFy-produced killer-animal-lamefest, directed by Griff Furst who brought us such 'masterpieces' as "Arachnoquake", "Lake Placid 3" or "I Am Omega"...

There's not much to say about it. Kristy "Buffy" Swanson + a bunch of meh-actors (Robert Davi, D.B. Sweeney) + non-actors (Natacha Itzel; Sophie Sinise, daughter of Gary Sinise) stumbling through a god-awful screenplay which is basically a Cajun-infested mash-up of "Piranha" and "Jaws".


There's tons of horrendous CGI effects and amateurishly edited kills that all consist of a ridiculous-looking CGI shark and lots of CGI blood in the water. Some scenes are surprisingly tense, some scenes like the Gator Fest finale are mildly amusing, but in the end, it's just another superfluous made-for-TV shark-schlock.

22 April 2014

THE HANOVER HOUSE

THE HANOVER HOUSE

USA, 2013
Director: Corey Norman

4/10











After seeing Corey Norman's cool short fim "Natal", I was pretty curious about his future projects. In March, I stumbled upon a news post on Dread Central about Norman's debut feature "The Hanover House", shot in a real haunted farmhouse(!) in Maine, starring the criminally underrated actress Anne Bobby(!!), best known for her great performance in Clive Barker's "Nightbreed". Sounds badass, huh?

Unfortunately, "The Hanover House" didn't do anything for me. It's a beautifully shot and eye-catching movie with tons of powerful and striking images, but it's so unbelievably slow, lenghty and boring, and the story of a husband who accidentally enters an evil house where he gets forced to battle against his inner demons... eh, it's a neat story, but it feels as if it was originally written as short film, and then later blown up to a feature, which could have worked if done in a much more thrilling and suspenseful way.


The first half hour is more of a family-drama with lots of slightly soap-opera-y moments and a few really tedious scenes. Then, we enter the house and suddenly we're knee-deep in trite haunted-house-clichés, such as un-creepy ghost girls, blood-smeared faces, oh-so-important flashback sequences, people going batshit insane Jack-Torrance-like, and for no apparent reason, scenes that were kinda ripped off of  "The Amityville Horror" (bees on the window, daddy's chopping wood, blood flowing out of the wall).

The acting ranges from superb (Brian Chamberlain and a sadly completely under-used Anne Bobby) to downright mediocre (Casey Turner, Erik Moody). The music is eerie and effective (Anthony Lusk-Simone), the cinematography is great (Ken Gonneville, "Natal") and I love the director's intriguing visual style, even though his direction is weirdly unappealing, at times completely all over the place.


Final verdict: "The Hanover House" should have been a short film. I recommend to check out "The Invoking" instead, a slightly similar indie-feature that deals much better with troubled characters and their inner demons IMO.

Imdb / FB

Thanks To Corey Norman for sending me a screener!

An extreme Double Feature from Hell: ERASERHEAD meets LOVE ACTUALLY

This post was exclusively written for the blogfest "Guts and Grog presents: Two Extremes - Double Features From Hell". You can check it here on my site, or you can check it on the Guts and Grog site (CLICK HERE!).



Eric a.k.a. Guts-and-Grog-mastermind is probably one of the weirdest horror-guys I know. There are times when I don't get to see anything of him for months, and then suddenly he's back alive and kicking and with a terrific blogfest-theme at his hands.
I already participated on his themes "Horror with Training Wheels" (Hocus Pocus) and "Extreme Week" (Irreversible, Feed). This time, it's getting completely bizarre:

"2 EXTREMES: DOUBLE FEATURES FROM HELL"

This is hilarious, but also damn brilliant. Let me explain: it's a double feature to confuse your senses. Unlike previous themes, this has nothing to do with genre, or even a theme. Basically, Eric wants us to pick two movies that should not be watched together, and eventually watch them together! The possibilities are endless. "A Serbian Film" with "Babe: Pig in the City" as the follow up. "Texas Chainsaw Massacre" with "Friend Green Tomatoes", "Glitter" with "Subconscious Cruelty" etc. etc. 

After racking my brain over and over, I finally came up with a double feature that is really, really extreme: surrealistic arthouse body-horror meets romantic christmas-comedy. David Lynch's "Eraserhead" meets Richard Curtis' "Love, Actually". A match made in hell? No, a match made in a bizarre industrial landscape... with tea, christmas decorations and lots of love :-)))))

19 April 2014

Happy Easter - with "EASTER BUNNY, KILL! KILL!"

EASTER BUNNY, KILL! KILL!

USA, 2006
Director: Chad Ferrin

7/10











Another year, another Easter, another Bunny-themed review :) "Easter Bunny, Kill! Kill!" [not to be confused with Russ Meyer's 60s "Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill!" ;-)] is a silly but surprisingly highly diverting little grindhouse-like holiday-themed semi-slasher that takes place in a suburban house where a few sleazy characters get terrorized by a brutal killer with a bunny mask.

Contrary to all the crappy post-Death-Proof/Planet-Terror flicks, Chad Ferrin's feature debut is a neat lowest-budget homage to classic 70s grindhouse-gorefests like maybe "Savage Weekend" or "Don't Look in the Basement", and proves to that you don't need any fake scratches or blurs to get the typical grindhouse feeling. All you need is a talented filmmaker that knows the genre well enough and knows what he's doing.


Ok, "Easter Bunny, Kill! Kill!" is far from being perfect. The first half is way too long, way too tedious. It takes a lot of time until we finally get to the action and gore, and there's also a few scenes that are too stretched out (Mexican guy on the toilet, boy playing a silly record).

Everything else about it was a very welcome suprise: the killer is a merciless bastard and his mask looks way creepier than the animal masks in "You're Next" (I mean it!). The kills are all extremely gory and violent: people getting their heads drilled or hammer-smashed, their throats slashed or stabbed, one gets choked to death with a broomstick, one gets burned to death etc.


The characters - whether they're good or bad - are all entertaining and slightly ympathetic (even the ones that are meant to be total assholes), and the acting is just fine, especially the gorgeous Charlotte Marie as long-time single mother, Ricardo Gray as amusing but also quite believable mentally handicapped teenager, Timothy Muskatell as nasty and disgusting uber-arsehole, David Z. Stamp as even more disgusting pederast, and Kele Ward + Amy Szychowski as hookers (nice boobs, ladies!).

I was close to give it a 6/10 or 6,5/10, but then I got to see the ending with its two insanely amazing plot twists, and I knew, I just have to give it a 7/10. "Easter Bunny, Kill! Kill!" isn't for everyone. True slasher fans may be disappointed by it, but fans of oldschool exploitation and renegade indie-horror sure will get a massive kick out of it!



17 April 2014

R.I.P ATHENA BAUMEISTER

Just a couple of months ago, I got to see Peter Dukes' terrific short film "Little Reaper". In my review I praised the performance of main actress ATHENA BAUMEISTER, calling her 'uber-gorgeous' and her acting 'excellently delightful'.

And now just this morning, I saw the press release on the FB site of the film's production comapny Dream Seekers Productions:

"Last night Athena Baumeister, the lead actress of our film "Little Reaper", passed away. A beautiful soul, taken way too soon. A tremendous loss. We adored her and will miss her greatly. Our thoughts go out to her loved ones.

Rest in peace, sweet girl. Until we meet again...
"

This is so, so sad. Athena was just 16 years old, and she was so unbelievably talented.

At the the tender age of 12, she made her directorial debut with the short
"Who Is Suffering More". Right after, she started acting in all kinds of short films and web series, started writing screenplays for several shorts, and even helped as production assistant on the making of the short film collection "What I Did Last Summer".




REST IN PEACE, ATHENA




THE DINOSAUR EXPERIMENT

THE DINOSAUR EXPERIMENT

Original Title:
Raptor Ranch

USA / Russia, 2013
Director: Dan Bishop

3/10








I have no idea why the title was changed from "Raptor Ranch" (sounds fun) to "The Dinosaur Experiment" (sounds meh), but actually, it doesn't matter because Dan Bishop's debut feature is just bad, no matter what title it has. Shot in L.A., Texas and... um, St. Petersburg, Russia(!), the movie follows a few nutty characters who end up on a remote cattle ranch called Fossil Ridge which is actually the breeding ground for blood-hungry Velociraptors...


Starts out rather entertaining, but after the first half hour, it quickly becomes boring, foreseeable and tiring, thanks to Bishop's lame direction (he tries way too hard to make it look like an oh-so-ambitious horror-comedy), the weak and idea-less script [written by Bishop, Will Raee (Exorcist Chronicles) & Shlomo may-Zur ("Broken Path")], and all the terribly forced humor that isn't funny at all. Ok, I admit, I chuckled twice: during the scene where a girl slips and falls on a puddle of blood (hihi), and during the scene where some guy called 'Beast' has a hard time saying the word Acrocanthosaurus ("A crack... a crackin'... hoe... a crackin' hoe saurus!").

I've seen much worse CGI in my life, but still, the CGI dinosaurs here... poor, laughable and slightly embarrassing. There's also lots of horrendously amateurish editing, especially during the action and gore scenes, which is pretty frustrating because it makes the kills look as if they were censored. The soundtrack ranges from schmaltzy country-shit to lame-ass 90s Big-Beat imitations, and the camera work isn't worth mentioning.


Why do I still give it a 3/10? Well, 1 point goes to the wonderful Lexy Hulme whose performance in "Lord of Tears" mesmerized me. Here, she plays an over-the-top semi-goth-chick and delivers some really fun acting.
Second point goes to Lorenzo "Lance" Lamas, simply because it's Lamas! His character is under-used and you can see that he has no idea what he's doing here. Still, solid performance.
Point numero 3 goes to the hotness of Jana Mashonee. She can't act at all (like most of the other actors, most notably the awful Cody Vaughan), but she looks so damn hawt and it's a pleasure to watch her.

All in all, an unrecommendable low-budget piece of dino-rubbish.


Thanks to Kelly Williams from "Greenleaf + Associates, Inc." for the screener!

16 April 2014

BUTCHER BOYS

BUTCHER BOYS

Alternate Title:
Bone Boys

USA, 2012/2013
Directors: Duane Graves & Justin Meeks

4,5/10








"Butcher Boys" was written and produced by Kim Henkel. If you're not familiar with this name, he was the one who wrote the awesome screenplays for the two Tobe Hooper classics "The Texas Chainsaw Massacre" and "Eaten Alive" - but he also wrote and directed the awful sequel "Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Next Generation", one of the absolute worst sequels of the 90s.

After this turd, he 'left' the film business and started teaching screenwriting at the Rice University in Houston, Texas. There, he became friends with the two students Duane Graves and Justin Meeks. In 2010, they decided to collaborate on a horror film about a couple of teens who get chased by a gang of brutal cannibals, based on Jonathan Swift's satirical essay "A Modest Proposal (1729)".


The result: a rather entertaining, but also pretty underwhelming low-budget horror flick that tries way too hard to be an homage to "Texas Chainsaw Massacre" and ultimately fails to stand on its own. The first half is horrible: 4 of the most unbearable idiot characters since "Aftershock", lack of any tension, to much predictability and a set-up that feels like botched mix of "The Violent Kind" and "Five Across The Eyes".

The second half is way better. Lots of unexpected twists and plot surprises, hilariously entertaining interaction of several outrageous villain characters, more tension, more suspense, some ace violence and a freaky finale that made me giggle like hell. Also, I love the tribal-laden soundtrack by Josh Morrow and the powerful editing by Graves himself.


However, aside from the weak first half, "Butcher Boys" could have been so much better without all the TCM references. I mean, yeah, it's fun to so many
ex-TCM-actors in one film (Marilyn Burns, Edwin Neal, John Dugan, Teri McMinn from TCM 1 - Bill Wise, Bill Johnson from TCM 2), but their cameos are all completely pointless. Same for all the other rather annoying references (chainsaws, a Leatherface-like creature, dinner scene, certain musical cues from the TCM soundtrack etc.).

Overall, "Butcher Boys" is absolutely nothing special. It's a watchable but also quickly forgotten flick.

At 6ixes and 7evens

After passing the 600.000 mark in January, the Horror Movie Diary passed the 700.000 mark just today! Yay!


Although, actually, I enjoyed reaching this mark much more ;-)


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