30 June 2014

HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO ME!! 5 YEARS HORROR MOVIE DIARY!! The Ultimate Birthday Post incl. 5 Videos, 1 Guest Video, Silly Pics and lots of other Nonsense



Seen this? Oh my goodness, my buddy Craig Edwards from LET'S GET OUT OF HERE made a video for me that includes congratulations from the main actress of "Friday the 13th 1 + 2", the killer of "I Know / Still Know What You Did Last Summer" and the director of 80s classics like "Chopping Mall" and "The Lost Empire"! Awesomeness to the max!

You may ask what congratulations? Well, I'm celebrating the 5TH BIRTHDAY OF my little HORROR MOVIE DIARY!!! Hallelujah, 5 years!! I've never thought I'd last that long :-) 5 years, more than 1.700 published reviews, about 800.000 pageviews and 275 followers! I know, a man's praise in his own mouth stinks, but today, I don't care about smells and odors. Today I'm gonna party like it's Two Thousand And Nine, that's when I started to blog (first post - see here!).


Last year - 4th Birthday - I did an overlong interview-video, answering 20 questions by my buddy Craig.
This year - 5th Birthday - I invited a few more blog buddies and they all gave me some fun questions which I tried to answer in 5 more-or-less overlong videos. If you have the time and if you don't mind, watch the vids and "enjoy" all my ramblings.
Prepare for bad English and an overuse of phrases like "I hope I say his/her name right" and words like "stuff" or "super-cool" :-)

Video #1 - Introduction + Questions by EMMA ["LITTLE GOTHIC HORRORS"]



Video #2 - Questions by CINDY PRASCIK [CINDY's FB BLOG & RANDOM MEXICAN] + KARINA BAMBER [MUNDANE RAMBLING]



Video #3 - Weather Break & More questions by KARINA [MUNDANE RAMBLING]



Video #4 - Questions by MICHELE EGGEN [THE GIRL WHO LOVES HORROR] + ERIC MARTIN [GUTS & GROG] + ELIZABETH KATHERYN GRAY [FB FILM GEEK CIRCLE]
Apologies, video is a bit out of sync in the middle.



Video #5 - Questions by KWEENY TODD + FREDDIE YOUNG [FULL MOON REVIEWS] + Outroduction
Apologies, video is WAY too dark.




Thanks to everyone who ever visited my blog and checked out my tiny reviews, or at least looked at the screenshots. Thanks to everyone who likes or dislikes my stuff. Thanks for tolerating my mediocre English. Thanks for all, you rock :-)


Thanks to EMMA [LITTLE GOTHIC HORRORS], her cat Phoebe and her family for everything, as well as for the silly party-hat pics :-)

Thanks to ALEC PRIDGEN & ROBERT [MONDO BIZARRO]. Thanks to KAIJINU [STICKY RED]. Thanks to CHRISTIAN SIEGEL [FICTION BOX]. Thanks to CAT LA BELLE + MICK [THRILL & KILL]. Thanks to KALAFUDRA [STUFF]. Thanks to NATHAN HAMILTON [SON OF CELLULOID]. Thanks to DANIEL HERNANDEZ [RANDOM MEXICAN'S MOVIE REVIEW EXTRAVAGANZA]. Thanks to MELISSA BRADLEY [MELISSA'S IMAGINARIUM]. Thanks to REBECCA QUENNEVILLE HUDEC [GOTHIC FLAMINGO]. Thanks to YVONNE PATTERSON [WINTER MOON]. Thanks to MELANIE [A HORROR DIARY]. Thanks to MITCH REAVES [TALES FROM THE BATCAVE]. Thanks to RYNE BARBER [THE MOON IS A DEAD WORLD]. Thanks to JOEL ELVIS HARVEY [PORKHEAD'S HORROR REVIEW HOLE]. Thanks to BRIAN BANKSTON [COOL ASS CINEMA]. Thanks to ZENA [REAL QUEEN OF HORROR]. Thanks to BRAD JONES [THE CINEMA SNOB]. Thanks to ANNIE WALLS.

Thanks to LORI MOZ. Thanks to BONNIE KNAPP PAVONE. Thanks to JJ GREGORI. Thanks to MINA LOBO. Thanks to LULU KELLOGG. Thanks to MORGAN RANKIN. Thanks to PATRICK REA. Thanks to ANTHONY THURBER. Thanks to JEREMIAH KIPP. Thanks to KEVIN SOMMERFIELD. Thanks to STEVE GOLTZ. Thanks to ERIC KING. Thanks to KELLY WILLIAMS. Thanks to THE CYN.

Special Thanks to my friends TAMARA, JUDITH, FLORIAN, SABINE, CHRISTIAN A., MARKUS KEUSCHNIGG, THOMAS VÖLK, MAGDALENA, MANFRED, ANDREA, MARIA, SILKE, ASTRID, DANY, SIGRID, TWINI & STEIN. Thanks to MONIKA. Thanks to my MOM.

Thanks to everyone I forgot to mention!



29 June 2014

BERBERIAN SOUND STUDIO

BERBERIAN SOUND STUDIO

UK, 2012
Director: Peter Strickland

9/10












[Prepare for another one of my ridiculous comparisons. Ready? Ok, here we go:] Imagine a Giallo film written by Frank Kafka and Sofia Coppola, directed by Mario Bava and David Lynch, produced by Alejandro Jodorowsky. Yup, that's "Berberian Sound Studio" in a nutshell, the insane second feature film by British director / writer Peter Strickland. Compared to the "neo-Gialli" of Hélène Cattet & Bruno Forzani, Andreas Marschall or Luciano Onetti, Strickland didn't try to make a modern Giallo film. He pays tribute to this still-popular Italian sub-genre by deconstructing and recomposing its elements and trademarks, creating a wonderfully artsy and visually stuning cinematic puzzle without equal.


The story follows middle-aged sound engineer / foley artist Gilderoy (an expert on creating sound effects by using vegetables and household items) who slowly loses his mind whilst working on an Italian Giallo film called "The Equestrian Vortex" (awesome title). What starts out as filmmaking-related semi-variation of "Lost in Translation", ends up as surreal and nightmarish trip into madness, somewhere between "Mulholland Drive" and "Suspiria", as well as Kafka's novels "The Trial" & "The Castle".

The best thing about "Berberian Sound Studio" is the fact that, aside from the opening credits, we never get to see any scenes or visuals from that bizarrely-titled Giallo. Instead, we get to hear creepy descriptions of various scenes, get to see various dubbers imitate nuns, witches and goblins, get to see Gilderoy smashing watermelons, pulling the leaves from a radish, or pouring oil into a frying pan to create realistic sounds for brutal torture and kill scenes
(melon = head cracking, radish = hair ripped out, frying pan = a red hot poker inserted into a vagina).


There are Bava/Argento-like colours everywhere, close-ups of black gloves, rotten fruit and screaming women, a flashing and slightly dangerous-looking red "Silenzio"-sign, super-strange letters from Gilderoy's mom, eerie spiders, tons of awesome vintage analogue equipment, a fantastic retro-score by British post-rock band "Broadcast" and a couple of  adorably enchanting scenes, like the one with the lightbulb-UFO or the strangely sexual sequence where the Italian director force-feeds Gilderoy a grape, telling him
"where I come from, we swallow the seeds".

The cast is simply fantastic, especially Toby Jones as the pitiful sound engineer, Antonio Mancino as weirdly rude Italo-director, the strikingly hot Fatma Mohamed as tormented dubber, Jean-Michael van Schouwburg as Goblin-impersonator, and Cosimu Fusco as the film's producer. The editing is pitch-perfect (Chris Dickens, "Shaun of the Dead"), the cinematography is outstanding (Nicholas D. Knowland, "Simon Magus"), and the overall production design is a feast for the eyes (Jennifer Kernke, "Angels and Insects").


Amazing, astonishing, mesmerising, mindblowing. "Berberian Sound Studio" is a miracle of a movie.

Wiki ~ Imdb

P.S. Something for your eyes: a super-cool poster for "The Equestrian Vortex", as well as some shots of its opening credits.

27 June 2014

A MEASURE OF THE SIN

A MEASURE OF THE SIN

USA, 2013
Director: Jeff Wedding

3/10












Over the last few months, I stumbled about sooo many uber-positive reviews for this movie, I got more and more excited, even though I had no idea what to expect. Sadly, now that I have seen it, I feel like a complete kill-joy, because even though I tried hard, I wasn't able to enjoy it - and what started out as a review, ended up as massive rant...

"A Measure of the Sin" is an (over)ambitious and strangely unsympathetic semi-arthouse drama (with so little horror elements, I'm still surprised that most critics call it a "horror film") about a young woman, her mother and several other women trapped in a farmhouse, controlled by a fierce old man. It's what my friend Lexa would call "film students gone wild". It tries too fucking hard to be unique and mystic, symbolic and ivory-tower and artsy-fartsy-to-the-max, and ends up as interesting but ultimately underwhelming and highly dissatisfying hodgepodge of not-really-coherent plot ideas, weakly executed and awkwardly cobbled together.


To me, it felt as if David Hamilton ("Bilitis") and Jess Franco did a PG-13 re-imagining of Adam Mason's "Broken", based on an unfinished script by Cliff Green and Terrence Malick. What may sound absurd, isn't as absurd as other reviewers who claim that this is "extraordinarily unique" or "a bold vision in arthouse horror", because it's not. It actually feels as if the director has seen a couple of European arthouse films (Ingmar Bergman, Andrew Birkin, Philippe Muyl...), and thought that he could do the same - but failed. Unique? Nonsense.

I respect Jeff Wedding's decision to shoot "A Measure of the Sin" on 16mm which adds to the film's dream-like and melancholy atmosphere, but adds nothing to the thin and unspectacular story. Yeah, it's nice to see naked girls dancing and shaving each other in some kinda semi-soft-focus look,
but apart from unintentionally looking like "Tender Cousins having a Picnic at Hanging Rock", these scenes seem to be in the movie just for the sake of having some ethereal erotica here.



The acting is good (especially the performances by Stephen Jackson and Katie Groshong) and J. Alan Morant's music is simply superb - but that obviously doesn't help when everything else is so boring and tedious, so dull and un-entertaining, thanks to Wedding's slightly narcissistic style-over-substance direction. He is just too busy making it all look oh-so-beautiful while forgetting to create at least some tension or suspense, some thrills and chills, something that keeps you glued to the screen, something that keeps you interested. The basic concept could have turned into a dark and sinister horror film, but Wedding preferred to give it an unnecessary obstruvely touch which failed to impress me. Surprised about critics calling parts of it unsettling, brutal and shocking - I couldn't find anything shocking about it.

Three scenes within the first half hour made it impossible for me to ever get fully into it, because they actually took me out of the movie instead of drawing me in [SPOILERS]:

- The opening where Samantha's mother dances naked with a silk cloth in such a ridiculously grotesque way, I couldn't help laughing like crazy. If this is supposed to be ethereal and/or evocative, then I'm Enya.

- The scene where young Samantha and her mother doing some gardening. We hear Samantha thinking "Mother didn't seem to need me to be silent anymore, so I sang away running through my dictionary of terms." and then we get to see her dropping random garden-related words: "Worm... beetle... soil... root... seedling... potato... tree... oak... pine... flower... vegetable... ground..." etc. etc. If directed the right way, it could have been a somewhat intriguing scene, but the way Wedding directed it... *sigh* it makes Samantha look like she's a complete retard.

- Samantha is the only person in the house who repeatedly sees a... um, bear (probably a metaphor for a lotta things). There's a scene where the bear enters her bed and rapes her. Obviously supposed to be rather disturbing, but the bear is just a man in a very obvious bear costume. They try to hide the fact that it's a cheap costume by using fast quick-cut editing, but that doesn't help much. You can clearly see the "Mighty Gorga"-like bear-thing and it looks so laughable.

I know, I'm in the minority, but I can't help it: I just don't like this thing. *leans back, awaits shitstorm*

Imdb

Thanks to Jeff Wedding for the screener.

25 June 2014

"SLASHED DREAMS" (Chilling Classics 50 Movies Pack, #44)

SLASHED DREAMS

Original Title:
Sunburst

USA, 1975
Director: James Polakof

2/10









So, there's a young couple visiting a mutual friend (the great Robert Englund in one of his very first roles) who dropped out of college to live as a hippie-hermit in the wilderness. They wander and climb around, do some skinny dipping, and spend the night in a cabin, where they get attacked by two hillbillies who try but fail to rape the girl, mainly because one of them has erection problems and doesn't want the other to rape her, so they leave.

Next day, good ol' Englund appears, makes tea for the girl and tells that everything happens for a reason, even rape(!!) - while her boyfriend manages to find the hillbillies and chases them away with an axe. The end. Don't get fooled by the cool-looking cover and the oh-so-brutal title. No-one gets killed or slashed here.


The debut feature of director / writer James Polakof ("Satan's Mistress") is quite an embarassing piece of dreck with a poor storyline, a very questionable message, a slightly bizarre cameo by legendary crooner Rudy Vallee and 6 of the most abysmal folk-pop-songs ever written and recorded, sing by a singer called Roberta Van Dere, constantly dropping god-awful lines like:
"Next time you slip on a banana peel, think of a cat caught up in a tree (...) Next time you hit your head and roll with pain, think of a turkey drowning in the rain. (...) Remember animals are clumsy too." UGH!



The acting is decent, especially the performances by Englund and the super-gorgeous Kathrine Baumann, and there's a pointless but somewhat fun bear-scene. Everything else about it simply sucks. "Deliverance ultra-light" would have been a better title.

"THE HOUSE OF THE DEAD" (Chilling Classics 50 Movies Pack, #43)

THE HOUSE OF THE DEAD

Alternate Titles:
Alien Zone / Last Stop on 13th Street

Working Title:
Five Faces of Terror

USA, 1978
Director: Sharron Miller

5/10





- Massive Thanks to my buddy Craig ("Let's Get Out Of Here") for some help with the quotes! -

No, this has nothing to do with the Uwe Boll film of the same name, let alone the video game it was based on. "The House of the Dead" is an immensely obscure 70s horror anthology, a few years later re-released (and now widely known) under the super-shitty title "Alien Zone" which makes absolutely no sense, since there are no aliens or alien zones whatsoever. I assume it has something to do with the then-popular Alien-madness. Duh.

The movie has a quite interesting moral theme that reminded me a bit of anthologies like "Dr. Terror's House of Horrors" or "Twilight Zone: The Movie", but due to the rather terrible execution that makes most of the movie look like it's an unfinished made-for-TV flick, and due to the shoddy, flawed, and stupid screenplay by David O'Malley ("The Boogens"), "The House of the Dead" eventually comes off as rather frustrating, because it could have been sooo much more and sooo much better (Remake please!?).


The framing story starts out promising - guy who cheats on his wife winds up in the house of an embalmer who tells him some freaky stories - but ultimately leads nowhere and ends up with a lame and foreseeable ending. At least, Ivor Francis' slightly eerie performance is pretty neat.

Segment 1: home-invasion mini-chiller about a child-hating teacher getting frightened, attacked and killed by a bunch of weird-looking monster-kids. Creepy and atmospheric, but the story is paperthin and the ending just sucks. Judith Novgrod's overacting is unintentionally hilarious.


Segment 2: semi-found-footage mini-thriller about a pervert who invites girls to his home where he kills them and films their deaths. Worst segment, dull and tedious, no tension, no suspense, no pay-off, nothing. Meh.


Segment 3: easily THE highlight of the movie. Britain's greatest detective competes with America's greatest detective for the title of "world's leading criminologist". Incredibly witty, highly amusing and wonderfully entertaining. Packed with excellent dialogue ["You're from England, right?" - "Last time I checked, yes." / "You didn't deduce my whereabouts through calculated assemblage of relevant clues?" - "No. This time I just duped plain ol' common sense and asked. I do that quite often actually. It's less dramatic, but much more direct."], and the performances of Bernard Fox ("Titanic") and Charles Aidman ("The Twilight Zone") are both just amazing. Whoo!


Segment 4: not too bad. Egocentric businessman gets trapped in an almost "Saw"-like abandoned building and transformed into a drunk, filthy individual. Starts off lame, but ends up with a bang. Totally didn't see the badass ending coming. Also, top notch performance by Robert J. Midfelt.


Overall, a mediocre but still quite watchable obscurity. I just realized that I forgot to mention the neat theme song "The Sound of Goodbye" by Steve March. Listen to it below:



Imdb


23 June 2014

BUNNYMAN + THE BUNNYMAN MASSACRE

THE BUNNYMAN MASSACRE

Working Title:
Bunnyman 2

Alternate Title:
Bunnyman Massacre

USA, 2012/2014
Director: Carl Lindbergh

6/10






"The Bunnyman Massacre" is Carl Lindbergh's sequel to his indie-backwoods-slasher "Bunnyman" (see below!). It's a bit better than the first one, but not much, even though it tries hard to improve on the original which focused more on the characters while the sequel is more about the Bunnyman and his new companion Joe, the gun-crazy hick shopkeeper of the first part.


It's a fun little blood feast, a bit more thrilling and entertaining, though also a bit more daft and illogical, thanks to Lindbergh's poor script which feels unfinished and half-baked, mumbled and jumbled. The tone is all over the place; at times it seems as if Lindbergh wanted to turn it into a much darker direction, at times it's just plain stupid. Also, it's packed with horrendously dumb plot points and slightly frustrating open/unanswered questions, the second half is often way too tedious, and overall, it's just too long (104 minutes).

You may ask why I still give it a 6/10? Well, because there is so much awesome stuff in here that makes it pretty easy to ignore all the flaws. Compared to the first part, we get to see much more "Bunnyman" and hell yeah, that kewt costume still rocks, still makes me giggle whenever I see it. There's also many, many scenes with David Scott who gives another kickass performance, as well as some more nice acting by Julianne Dowler (who reminded me of Cécile de France in "High Tension"), Marshal Hilton as Sheriff and 'horror veteran' Maria Olsen as bus driver.


It's arguable if Lindbergh is an eager tribute-payer or just an unimaginative thief, because next to offering even more references to "The Texas Chainsaw Massacre" (musical cues, more chainsaw, similar atmosphere), as well as movies like "Wolf Creek" (redneck with gun killing backpackers) or "Cabin Fever" (pancakes), he even re-enacts full scenes, like the sleeping bag kill from "Friday the 13th Part VII: The New Blood" or the barrel roll from "Two Thousand Maniacs!". Surprisingly, these scenes work really, really fine, especially because they're longer, gorier and somehow more elaborated. There's also a nice drill scene, similar to the infamous one in Fulci's "City of the Living Dead", as well as a cool Sergio-Leone-esque showdown + a terrific school bus massacre and some great boobs :)

Too flawed, too stupid, but still fun enough to give you some great Bunnyman-time. Just don't expect perfection or innovation.


Thanks to October Coast PR for the screener!



BUNNYMAN

Alternate Title:
The Bunnyman Massacre

USA, 2011
Director: Carl Lindbergh

5/10








Is it a Rabbit? Is it a Lepus? No, it's "Bunnyman", a pretty bonkers and solidly entertaining backwoods slasher that feels like a parody of "The Texas Chainsaw Massacre" and "Duel", including elements of "Deliverance", "Wrong Turn" and David Lynch's "Rabbits", following a couple of friends driving through a desolate area, being chased and harrassed by an old truck, driven by a psychopathic killer who wears a kewt bunny-costume (how sweet!), as well as by his completely demented hunchback-companion.


If you search for originality and inventiveness, search elsewhere. Director Carl Lindbergh's third feature doesn't offer anything new or groundbreaking. It's basically just a smorgasbord of well-trodden backwoods-clichés, stereotype characters and oh-so-eerie deserted locations - but due to the fact that the movie doesn't take itself too seriously, it surprisingly turned out to be much more entertaining
than I expected.

The acting is ok, though aside from David Scott's badass performance as gun-crazy hick, none of the actors is able to deliver a stand-out performance. Several scenes are a tad too dull, several sequences are way too predictable, there are lots of stupid plot points / plot holes, as well as lots of really stupid dialogue - but you know what? It didn't annoy me at all, mainly because of 3 things that really placated me:


- The effective and stunningly suspenseful truck-vs-car opening, an excellent homage to Steven Spielberg's 70s classic "Duel".
- The two-time usage of Ludwig van Beethoven's "Symphony No. 9", since "Irreversible" my absolute favorite piece of classical music.
- The "Bunnyman" himself, one of the most hilarious-looking killer-outfits in horror history. It's nice to see bodies getting chainsawed, dismembered and ripped in half, but it's so much much nicer if done by a big fluffy bunny (choke on that,
Takashi Shimizu!)
.


Certainly no classic, but if you're open to some silly indie-slasher-fun, "Bunnyman" should give you a fun time.

22 June 2014

Stephen King's THE LANGOLIERS

THE LANGOLIERS
(TV mini-series)

Alternate Title:
Stephen King's The Langoliers

German Titles:
Die Langoliers - Die andere Dimension /
Langoliers - Verschollen im Zeitloch


USA, 1995
Director: Tom Holland

7/10



Constantly baffled and surprised by how unpopular this one is, at least among horror buffs. No, it's not "The Shining", "Carrie" or "It", but it's definitely a well-made and very entertaining made-for-TV adaptation of Stephen King's novella "The Langoliers", directed and adapted by the great Tom Holland, one of Horror's most overlooked filmmaker.


"The Langoliers" tells the story of a few passengers on an overnight flight who discover that almost all of their fellow passengers + the entire crew are gone. An ex-captain successfully manages to land the plane, but that's when things start getting even weirder. The airport is desolate, the air feels and smells funny, a businessman suddenly goes batshit insane, babbling about evil creatures called 'Langoliers' - and what's with that weird sound in the distance that keeps getting closer and closer?

Compared to most other King adaptations out there, "The Langoliers" is one of the most faithful ones. Holland stays completely true to the novella, keeping almost every single character and every single event in. Only a few minor changes, no dream sequences and one completely unimportant character gets omitted.


I admit, it has a few unnecessary lenghts, certain plot holes / problems, and in some kinda way, it looks too TV-like for my taste, but aside from that, I enjoyed it a lot. Holland's direction is solid and despite the 180 minutes overlenght, he manages to keep the pace brisk and the tension taut. Nothing special about editing or cinematography (aside from a few neat group shots), but the score by Vladimir Horunzhy ("Elves") is quite moody and has a few really nice moments, especially this little piece:



Nice, huh? :)


The characters are as likable/unlikable as in the book, and the actor all deliver superb performances, especially David Morse ("The Green Mile") as pilot, the beautiful Patricia Wettig ("City Slickers 1+2") as school teacher, veteran actor Dean Stockwell ("Dunwich Horror", "Blue Velvet") as mystery writer, and the uber-hot Kimber Riddle who inexplicably only appeared in a handful of films.

Though, none of the cast is as impressive as Bronson Pinchot ("True Romance"). Holy stock market! His performance as demented broker Craig Toomy is simply outstanding. The way he looks, the way he shouts, the way he moves... damn, I love absolutely everything about him!
Further, cool cameos by Stephen King and Holland himself, an aggressive John Griesemer as Toomy's father (who reminded me a bit of Corbin Bernsen) and - despite the cheap-looking 90s CGI which still looks much, much better than your average SyFy / Asylum effects - the cutest on-screen monsters since "Critters" :-)


One of the better Stephen King made-for-TV adaptations, still as good as when I first saw it in the 90s.

Wiki ~ Imdb

21 June 2014

THE HUMAN RACE

This review was written for Film-Arcade.net (click here!). Thanks to Anthony Thurber and Katrina Wan PR for the screener.

THE HUMAN RACE

USA, 2013
Director: Paul Hough

0/10











It's very rarely that a movie gets absolutely everything wrong, but when that does happen, it's completely and utterly unwatchable. No, I don't talk about "The Room" or "Manos". I talk about "The Human Race", the stupidest, most pointless and absolute worst movie I've seen in a very long time. Ok, I know, I say something like that pretty often (well... everytime I see a REALLY bad movie, which actually doesn't happen that often ^^) but this time... *sigh* this time I'm almost speechless.

The debut feature of British filmmaker Paul Hough gives the word "unwatchable" a new meaning by mixing "Battle Royale", Stephen King's "The Long Walk" and recent survival-crap like "Raze" into a convoluted superfluous and almost offensive mess of a movie, following a group of 80 people that mysteriously get ripped out of their everyday life and thrown on a race track where they're forced to compete against each other in a "Human Race".


Before they find themselves on the race track, they all get to see a dream sequence of the race track with a voice-over telling them the rules: "The school, the house, and the prison are safe. Follow the arrows, or you will die. Stay on the path, or you will die. If you are lapped twice, you will die. Do not touch the grass, or you will die. Race or die."

Aside from the fact that we get to see this sequence three(!) times within the first 20 minutes, the rules are obviously rather silly, especially the "lapping rule" which is the reason for countless obvious continuity problems, plot holes
and other goofs. Also, the buildings are not safe because we clearly get to see people die in one of the buildings. But hey, these things are just trifles compared to all the other rubbish.


The direction is beyond terrible, and the screenplay is so all over the place, it's baffling. I have no idea what Paul Hough wanted to achieve with this film, and I assume that even he had no idea what he was working on. At times it feels like a message-laden survival-drama that begs for more tolerance towards handicapped people and/or foreigners (cast involves a one-legged man, a deaf couple, non-English-speaking Japanese kids etc.), at times like a misanthropic semi-antichristian hate-fest (You trust and/or believe in god? You die first!),
at times like a "Saw"-like black-and-white-thinking moral-schlock (This guy/girl is bad, it's fair to kill him/her. This guy/girl is good, it's not fair to kill him/her etc.)



Hough is also completely unable to create any form of tension, suspense or atmosphere. There was absolutely nothing that remotely thrilled, scared or entertained me. Nothing. Whenever someone leaves the path, his/her head explodes (bad CGI btw). It's fun when you see it one or two times, but... when you get to see 30 or 40 head-explosions (and they all look the same), it's not fun.
It's just boring and annoying.


More stuff I couldn't stand [SPOILER]:
The 9-minute opening scene that follows a girl that gets to know that she has cancer. She curses god, starts doing sport like crazy, goes to the doctor who tells her that the cancer has disappeared. She thanks god, suddenly appears on the race track and dies first - What the heck? What's the point?
The scene where the deaf couple (no offense, but both their acting is just awful) talks about wanking to porn magazine for a couple of minutes. Pointless and unnerving.
The attempted rape - oh-so-provocative. The death of the pregnant black woman - even more oh-so-provocative *yawn* The omnipresent voice that counts down the remaining survivors (Hunger Games anyone?) - annoying like hell. The purgatory. The angels. The uber-absurd ending... gaah, stop me!


In addition, most of the acting ranges from so-so to god-awful. The music is boring and unimaginative. The gimmicky editing is nerve-stretching. The camera work is weak. The effects look shoddy. The pacing is horrible. The whole look of "The Human Race" is too bright, too white. And so on, and so on, and so fucking on.

Final verdict: a horrible film. Avoidable, expendable, forgettable.

Imdb

20 June 2014

THE BORDERLANDS

THE BORDERLANDS

German Title:
The Borderlands - Eine neue Dimension des Bösen

UK, 2013
Director: Elliot Goldner

8/10







Wow, what a pleasant surprise! The last British found-footage-themed flick I've seen was "Hollow" which wasn't exactly my cup of tea - but this one, "The Borderlands"... this one totally knocked me off my socks. The debut feature of British director Elliot Goldner (not to be confused with the 2007 horror-thriller "Borderland") is a stunningly intriguing and highly entertaining ff/mockumentary-like little shocker, unnexpectedly entertaining but also
excellently frightening.


The story is simple but brilliant: good old Vatican sends a team of investigators to a rural village to investigate supernatual incidents in an ancient church which are believed to be godly miracles. Equipped with head camera and CCTV, they try their best to prove that the whole miracle-thing is just a hoax. Little do they now, that there is something really, really evil at work, something that turns their life into a freaking nightmare...

If you expect this to be a lousy and predictable lamefest, you will be shocked at how un-clichéd, how unforeseeable, how goddamn well made it is. The story unfolds with a surprise around every corner, with genius plot twists, amazingly tense scenes and some terrifying shocks (the burning lamb... horrible!). Whenever you think you figured it all out, something completely unexpected happens, pulls at your heartstrings and and draws you more and more into the mystery of that creepy old church where something sinister dwells in the dark.


The acting is terrific and nearly all of the characters are somewhat sympathetic, even the grumpy ones. Adore the performances of Robin Hill as slightly atheistic blabbermouth and Gordon Kennedy as semi-devout drunkard. Editing and cinematography are fantastic, as is Goldner's powerful direction. Nearly every single scene inside/outside/on/under the church is scary as hell, the stories about the Brazil-incident are eerie as hell, and the ending... well, it may be a bit silly, but I just loved it, simply because it's such an incredibly stunning, incredibly surprising What!The!Fuck!-moment, though I admit, it's a love-it-or-hate-it-ending.

Overall, a bloody awesome scarefest, striking from start to finish. Strongly recommended!

Imdb

18 June 2014

Jeremiah Kipp Double Feature: ALEX / ALONE (by Edgar Allen Poe)

ALEX
(6minute short)

USA, 2014
Director: Jeremiah Kipp

10/10





I've seen my fair share of impressive Jeremiah-Kipp-shorts, but this is undoubtedly the best one, in some kinda way even better than the breathtaking
and super-surreal "Drool".


For about 6 minutes, we get to see a young woman checking into a hotel, entering a hotel room, getting drunk and taking a trip down memory lane. She sees her parents. Her strict and over-punctual father. Her vain and perfectionist mother. Her childhood wasn't perfect and it seems as if her parents wanted to change her into something that she isn't and never wanted to be.


She starts to cry, gets mad, gets angry, freaks out and eventually breaks down. The memories overwhelm her. Her father drinking Whiskey. Her mother ranting at her. Young Alex running away.

At first, I didn't fully realize what's so bad about these memories, but then I got to hear Alex saying:
"It is only the smallest of cruelties that chased me away. Things that I cannot really remember and can never truly forgive." - and then I started to understand that there is more to it than meets the eye.


We only get to see the smaller cruelties, but thanks to the clever editing and the even more clever use of old footage showing happy / not-so-happy families (according to the credits: "Found footage provided by the glorious streets of New York City"), we get to see the bigger picture. I have no idea how often I've watched "Alex" now. 15 times? 20 times? I don't know - but what I know: with every single viewing, I got to see more of Alex' somehow tragic life. Certain unspectacular images that suddenly looked creepy or depressing to me.
Certain reactions of Alex, certan looks, certain gestures - damn, I could analyse this little film to death :-)



Kipp's direction, in combination with the beautiful cinematography (Kenneth Kotowski) and the stunning editing (Kelsey Gall), is simply pitch-perfect. The acting is terrific, especially the powerful performance of Kieran Sequoia, as well as Susan Adriensen (what a hottie!) and Bob Celli as the parents - though the absolute best thing about "Alex" is the unbelievable music. Holy shit! Next to some melancholy piano music, I got completely and utterly blown away by one of the greatest and most overwhelming pieces of classical music since Beethovens's "Symphony No. 7" - and according to main actress / producer Kieran Sequoia, it's actually from a collection of royalt-free stock-music!! It's pompous. It's dramatic. It's gob-smacking. Wow!

"Alex" is 6 minutes of cinematic perfection. Alex-cellent ;-)

Imdb



ALONE
(2minute short)

USA, 2014
Director: Jeremiah Kipp

8/10




A super-short but very well made and rather remarkable adaptation of Edgar Allen Poe's dark and depressing 22-line-poem "Alone", written by Poe when he was only 20 years old.


Actor / voice artist Adam Ginsberg is the narrator of this haunting little short, standing in front of an old chimney, looking straight into the camera, reciting every single line with an amazing intensity. It's a pleasure hearing him saying eerily awesome lines such as "From the thunder and the storm, and the cloud that took the form - when the rest of heaven was blue - of a demon in my view..."

In between, there are lots of beautiful images of churches and winter landscapes, a woman with bandaged eyes, a man burning a bundle of paper, and the devilishly sexy Kelly Rae LeGault ("Baggage"), all accompanied by sinister string music.


Mr. Kipp, I hope we get to see more Poe in the future. What about "Lenore" or "The Raven"? :)



17 June 2014

YOU AND THE NIGHT (/SLASH 1/2 Mini-Festival, 2014)

YOU AND THE NIGHT

Original Title:
Les Rencontres d'après Minuit

France, 2013
Director: Yann Gonzalez

7,5/10








"You and the Night", the debut feature of French director Yann Gonzalez is a pretty bizarre but highly unique, incredibly beautiful and unbelievably charming mix of sex-comedy, romance-drama and arthouse-fantasy somewhere between "Shortbus" and "The Breakfast Club", about a group of misifts who meet in a futuristic apartment to actually hold an orgy, but end up sharing their life stories, discussing all their inner demons.


It's a strange movie, but it's so gorgeous, so lovely, so touching, you just have to love it. At times, it's a bit slow and tedious, but that's quite bearable, thanks to the awesome production design, all the excellently designed sets, lots of fantastic synth-pop tunes by French band M83 (all played by a fascinating machine that plays the right music in response to the user's mood. It's basically 'touch and play' and that's just awesome. I WANT THAT MACHINE!!), and a colorful cast of super-likable characters.

There's Nicolas Maury as adorable transvestite maid Udo, the beautiful Kate Moran and Niels Schneider as her undead lover, soccer legend Eric Cantona as "The Stud" with XXL penis, hottie Julie Brémond as squirting "Slut", ultra-hot milf Fabienne Babe as "The Star", Alain-Fabien Delon (son of Alain Delon) as cute "Teen" and the great Béatrice Dalle as hilarious domina.


"You and the Night" offers lots of fun and amusement, romance and emotion, sensual erotic, tear-jerking drama and even a handful of rather eerie moments. It's obviously not for everyone, but if you generally like French cinema and if you have no problems with on-screen gender mishmash (hetero, gay, lesbian), this is a must-see!

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