31 December 2014

3 Bloggers, 5 Movies, 1 New Year's Blog-Party: END OF DAYS / GET CRAZY / THE POSEIDON ADVENTURE / NEW YEAR'S EVIL / FEAR ITSELF: NEW YEAR'S DAY

In April 2014, my friend Craig Edwards predicted that my little site would reach a million pageviews this year - and he was right! Three days ago, the Horror Movie Diary actually passed the incredible 1,000,000 mark!!! *woohoo*

To celebrate this occassion, I invited two of my bestest blog buddies for a very special New Year's post: Craig Edwards from "Let's Get Out Of Here" and Alec Pridgen from "Mondo Bizarro". The three of us, we're rambling about various New Year's Eve themed films from the 70s to the 00s. Pull out the bubbly, pull out the salmon, light the fireworks and party hard. It's 2015, bitches!! HAPPY NEW YEAR!!





Maynard ends all Days:

END OF DAYS

German Title:
End of Days - Nacht ohne Morgen

USA, 1999
Director: Peter Hyams

7/10








 From 1982 ("Conan The Barbarian") to 1994 ("True Lies"), Arnold Schwarzenegger was the greatest and most impressive action hero of all time, delivering one fun performance, one badass flick after the other. Then, between 1995 and 1997 the awesomeness ended and his career went into decline after starring in mediocre comedies ("Junior", "Jingle all the Way") and underwhelming big budget box office failures ("Eraser", "Batman & Robin"). Even worse, he had to stop acting for a while because of a heart surgery in 1997 to replace a defective, congenital aortic heart valve.


He finally returned in 1999 with one of the oddest films of his entire career: "End of Days", a slightly unique blend of action, horror-thriller and fantasy, following alcoholic atheist ex-cop Jericho Cane (cool name!) who tries to stop Satan himself from finding and mating with his chosen bride on New Year's Eve which would bring Hell onto Earth...

Originally, the film was going to be directed by music video director Marcus Nispel [from a script by Andrew W. Marlowe ("Hollow Man", "Air Force One")]. However, after creative differences and budget problems, Nispel left the project (he made his directorial debut in 2003 with the Michael Bay produced remake of "Texas Chainsaw Massacre"), and got replaced with legendary science-fiction / action director Peter Hyams ("Outland", "2010", "Timecop").


"End of Days" is obviously far from being one of Arnie's greatest efforts, but compared to what he did in the late 90s, as well as to the few lamefests he shot in the early 00s before he became Governor, it's certainly his most unusual, most interesting movie, not just beause it's pretty much the only horror-related film he ever did, but also because it's grittier and more grim than any of his other films, a bit in the vein of "Se7en" or "8MM", thanks to the superb photography which was done by Hyams himself.

There's lots of gripping tension and badass action going on - Love the insane opening with the assassinating priest or the breathtaking sequence with the subway crash - but there's also a very decent amount of eerie chills and thrills (satanic rituals, guy with sewn up eyes), lots of terrific kills (death by crucifix, torn out heart), blood, sex, fire, explosions and at least one scene (ceiling crucifixion) that reminded a bit of my beloved "The Exorcist III", at least in tone and style.


Schwarzenegger's performance is solid as always, delivering many fabulous one-liners ("You're a fucking choir boy compared to me! A CHOIR BOY!" / "Between your faith and my Glock nine millimeter, I'll take the Glock.") and highly amusing scenes, such as the one where he puts a slice of pizza, Chinese food, coffee, booze and a pepto-Bismol in a blender, because "They say breakfast is the most important meal of the day." I laughed my ass off!

Also, more great performances by Gabriel Byrne as Lucifer ("Something good happens, 'It's His will.' Something bad happens, 'He moves in mysterious ways.'"), Kevin Pollak as Arnie's buddy ("You're bleeding!" - "Of course I'm bleeding! You fuckin' shot me!"), Robin Tunney as Satan's bride, Udo Kier as Satan's best friend, Rod Steiger as priest, and cool-as-always CCH Pounder as detective.
Splendid music by John Debney ("I Know What You Did Last Summer"), and a rocking soundtrack incl. songs by The Prodigy, Rob Zombie, Korn or Limp Bizkit + "Oh My God", the first original Guns N' Roses tune in seven years.


There's some bad stuff too, like abysmal CGI effects, the rather ridiculous "Arnie cries" scene which just doesn't work, some weird editing, some far-fetched scenes / dialogue and an ending that is simply underwhelming (even though it's unique in Arnie's career because [SPOILER] his character actually dies) - but aside from that, "End of Days" is a fun way to celebrate the end of days...
um, the end of 2014 ;-)

Wiki ~ Imdb



Craig does a Threesome:

Happy New Year everyone! I hope 2015 is amazing for all! While we gear up for it - I thought I'd throw together some thoughts on three of my favorite New Year's movies for my guest appearance here!
 
1. Get Crazy (1983)

I found this movie on cable a million years ago - my buddy's HBO, specifically. We didn't have cable out in the boonies where I lived, but my movie pal Richard had it - and we started to see this preview for a wild looking movie about a rock concert. I took a VHS tape over to my brother's - who had both HBO and a VCR - which Richard's house lacked. I set up a timer recording and caught this movie
- Get Crazy.
It's New Year's Eve 1982 at the Palace Theater - run by legendary Max Wolfe. Max is planning a big concert to ring in 1983, and lines up a stellar list of muscial acts to play. But they have to get to the theater - fire marshal Conal O'Conal is prowling around trying to shut the show down - and evil Colin Beverly is trying to buy the theater so he can knock it down and put up his own rock arena. That's it for the story - but the movie is like a big live action cartoon with an incredible cast:
 
Malcolm McDowell (A Clockwork Orange)
Allen Goorwitz (Mother Jugs & Speed)
Daniel Stern (Home Alone)
Gail Edwards (TV's It's A Living)
Miles Chapin (Pandemonium)
Ed Begley Jr. (Pineapple Express)
Stacey Nelkin (Halloween III: Season of the Witch)
Bill Henderson (Clue)
Lou Reed (singer - Take a Walk on the Wild Side)
Howard Kaylan (singer - The Turtles)
Lori Eastside (Fear City)
Lee Ving (Black Moon Rising and lead singer - Fear)
John Densmore (performer - The Doors)
Anna Bjorn (More American Graffiti)
Robert Picardo (TV's The Wonder Years and Star Trek: Voyager)
Bobby Sherman (Teen idol of the 60's)
Fabian Forte (Teen idol of the 60's)
Franklyn Ajaye (Convoy)
Dan Frischman (TV's Head of the Class)
Mary Woronov (Rock n Roll High School)
Paul Bartel (Rock n Roll High School)
Jackie Joseph (Little Shop of Horrors '60)
Dick Miller (Nearly every Roger Corman movie from the 50's through the 80's)

It's hard to find - as not only are there complicated music rights issues - but director Allan Arkush says the original sound elements have been damaged or lost - so this is not likely to ever get a DVD release. That makes me very sad. I do own the movie on VHS, and it has apparently been on Amazon Prime streaming - so it can be found... highly recommended for sure.


 
2.  The Poseidon Adventure (1972)

I love this big 70's disaster movie produced by Irwin Allen and directed by Ronald Neame. A terrific "all-star" cast is on a big boat - it's New Year's Eve and the final voyage of the cruise ship Poseidon - when a 90 foot tidal wave capsizes the tub, the survivors have to work their way up to the bottom of the boat for a chance at rescue. Gene Hackman, Stella Stevens, Ernest Borgnine, Shelley Winters, Red Buttons, and Roddy McDowall are some of the names in the cast - and it's a terrific piece of entertainment. Forget the remakes - there are two, believe it or not - and stick with the original.

3. New Year's Evil (1980)

I first saw this slasher flick on Elvira's Movie Macabre three or four years after it played theaters. She made mericiless fun of it - and the movie kind of deserves it - as it's chock full of weird and/or silly elements. On New Year's Eve TV personality Diane Sullivan is hosting a lengthy New Year's Punk and New Wave TV show - crossing midnight in four time zones. Then a caller to the show tells Diane he's going to kill someone at the stroke of each time zone's midnight, then finish his killing spree on the last midnight by killing Diane. One thing about that plan - and something the movie's trailer isn't able to make clear either - the killer isn't travelling to each time zone to kill - he's on the West Coast where Diane is - he's just knocking someone off at 9pm (midnight Eastern time),10pm (midnight Central time), 11pm (midnight Mountain time) and finally midnight West Coast time. It's a goofy movie - but well worth watching. It stars Roz Kelly (Pinky Tuscadero herself!), Kip Niven, and Grant Cramer.



Alec gets Creative:

In honor of the start of the year 2015, I'm joining some other Film Bloggers for some fun.  We are all doing New Year's Eve/New Year's Day stuff like The Poseidon Adventure and others.  I've done most of the interesting stuff- like Terror Train and New Year's Evil- so I decided to get a little creative. 

Back in 2007, the success of Masters of Horror on Showtime led to two things: Fear Itself and Masters of Science-Fiction.  Both of these non-Cable Shows lasted more than a Season, but did produce some interesting stuff.  While neither show is remembered that well right now, we'll see if things change.  In the mean-time, let's take a look at Darren-Lynn Bousman's 'New Year's Day' Episode.  In it, a young woman wakes up on the beginning of a New Year to see just how bad things have become.  Who will live?  Who will die?  To find out, read on...


At around 4 am on New Year's Day, this young lady (the daughter of Greg Evigan) wakes up.  She hears glimpses of bad news, but only a little with the power out.  She sees blood on the hallways and...that can't be good.  As her bad morning unfolds, we get flashy flashbacks to the previous night.  She was at a Party (naturally) and she ran into some awkward company (read: her ex).


Speaking of awkward. the late Cory Monteith is here in one of his pre-Glee roles.  He's not bad here, really, but...can you blame me?  Ultimately, our heroine makes her way to her friend's house, but things get weird.  Why the gun?

As it turns out, she was infected from the get-go!  They just lied to us by only giving us her P.O.V.  Alright then.  The End.


Sadly, it is easier to see the problems here instead of the good points.  Let's begin with those though.  I liked the general idea of the Story and you do sort of feel for the heroine.  It is nothing ground-breaking, but it is solid.  Now here's where it all falls apart.  First- the constant mixing of Flashbacks.  Look- the day before is a bit important, but it gets almost equal time as the Horror of the Present.  The problem is that there is not enough build-up in these parts to make it worthwhile.  It just short-changes the Main Story.  

Secondly- the flashy Editing Techniques.  I don't dislike all of these modern Editing flourishes by any stretch of the imagination, but this one goes overkill on it.  Flashy strobe lights and super-quick cuts are par for the course here.  For me, they are just too damn big of a distraction and make the Story hard to follow.  If you like all that stuff, you won't have my issues.  This is obviously only one of the Episodes of Fear Itself, so I'm not exactly giving up on it just yet.  While there are no real losers here, there is one clear winner...


Hopefully your New Year's Day is better than her's.


28 December 2014

THE QUIET EARTH

THE QUIET EARTH

German Title:
The Quiet Earth - Das letzte Experiment

New Zealand, 1985
Director: Geoff Murphy
(as Geoffrey Murphy)

8/10







According to the LA Daily News (quote on the cover of my copy), this is "quite simply the best science-fiction film of the 80s" which is utter rubbish because, as we all know, that's undoubtedly "The Blade Runner". Nevertheless, I'd say it's definitely one of the most fascinating sci-fi-related 80s movies, and also one of the best New Zealandian non-Peter-Jackson-movies of all time.

"The Quiet Earth" is the loose adaptation of
Craig Harrison
's 1981 novel of the same name, directed by Geoff Murphy - the man behind silly 90s action fodder like "Freejack" or "Under Siege 2", as well as the second unit director of the "Lord of the Rings" trilogy!!! - based on a screenplay by Sam Pillsbury ("The Scarecrow"), Bruno Lawrence ("Smash Palace") and Bill Baer ("Bridge to Nowhere").


Slightly in the vein of classics like "The Last Man on Earth" or "The Omega Man", the movie follows a scientist who seems to be sole survivor of a failed global experiment that wiped out the entire mankind. He unsuccessfully tries to find any survivors and quickly starts to get completely bonkers, wearing women's clothes, declaring himself "President of this Quiet Earth" and "God", going on a rampage. Then, one day, he runs across another survivor, a woman, an encounter that changes everything...

It could have been a dull and uninteresting borefest, but thanks to Murphy's competent direction, "The Quiet Earh" ended up as compelling and somehow poetic post-apocalyptic drama about loneliness and madness, love and hate, guilt and atonement. The unthinkable scenario of being the last man on Earth was wonderfully illustrated by powerful symbolic images (playing Saxophone in the rain) and really unsettling scenes (standing on a balcony, talking like the Fuehrer to cardboard cut-uts of Hitler, Queen Elizabeth II or the Pope), delivering an intriguing portrayal of a man's breakdown.


In the second half when the scientist stumbles upon other survivors, the tone drastically changes, at times playful, at times depressing, illustrating an impossible love triangle, driven by desperation and confused emotions, always on the brink of destruction and dangerous envy. After an explosive climax, we get to see one of the most bizarre final scenes in history, a scene that has been discussed to death because it could mean everything and nothing. Whatever it means, it's an impressive and bafflingly beautiful scene.

The cinematography of James Bartle ("Death Warmed Up") is astonishing, lighting and editing are terrific, and the music by John Charles ("Utu", "Zombie Brigade") is simply amazing, especially the wonderful main theme. Acting-wise, we get fabulous performances by the great Bruno Lawrence (who died of lung cancer 10 years later), Alison Routledge (one of only 7 Imdb-listed movie performances) and Pete Smith ("The Piano", "Rapa Nui").


An excellent, thought-provoking sci-fi classic for fans of old-school science-fiction and dystopian cinema.

Wiki ~ Imdb

26 December 2014

THE WOODS WITHIN

THE WOODS WITHIN

USA, 2014
Director: Brandon Prewitt

7/10











Die-hard slasher fans who eventually become filmmakers just to produce their very own slasher flicks... well, these people never fail to impress me. Doesn't matter how good or bad their films turn out to be, these people are just admirable because it's them who keep the struggling slasher-genre alive and kicking, at least among indie circles. Brandon Prewitt is another one who tries his best to revive good old 80s slasher awesomeness - and fully succeeds by combining worn out slasher clichés with original and shrewd ideas, somewhere in the vein of new-school slasher filmmakers like Goltz/Sommerfield ("Don't Go to the Reunion") or Rosas/Sommer ("Billy Club").

"The Woods Within" (weird title) follows a few teenagers who spend the night in the woods to have a party before graduation. The next morning, they find one of their friends murdered and soon realize that this is just the beginning of a horrifying race for their lives, because there's a merciless killer lurking in the woods, passionately trying to kill all of them...


If you search for originality, search elsewhere. "The Woods Within" doesn't want to be original, it prefers to tell a well-trodden story about clichéd characters, but in new and unexpected ways with interesting and unforeseeable twists. Prewitt surprisingly doesn't rely on uber-gory and/or super-inventive kills, he spends way more time on creating the right amount of tension, suspense and atmosphere to lure you in and wreck your nerves.

The first 30-35 minutes are rather slow, but never boring. We get introduced to the characters (and their possible motives for murder), all quite clichéd, but unexpectedly all of them are somehow likable, even the assholes. Then suddenly all hell breaks loose and for the remaining 20-25 minutes (yes, it's only about one hour long!), I was on the edge of my seat, not just trying to find out who the killer was, but also trying to capture all the insanity that was going on. Dangerous traps, vicious kills, blood, screams, explosion and a killer wearing a cool mask that looks a bit "Burial Ground"-like.


The acting ranges from pretty great to pretty mediocre. Stand-outs: Tyler Riley, Tori Ahr and slasher-regular Hannah Herdt. Camera work and editing are decent, some cool gore effects, neat use of low-budget CGI and a rocking soundtrack. It could have been better with a few tweaks here and there (better sound editing, better acting, not-so-clichéd characters), but overall, "The Woods Within" is a fabulous little indie slasher that rocked my little world.


Thanks to Hannah Herdt and Roman Jossart for the screener!

24 December 2014

Merry Christmas - with "HOME FOR THE HOLIDAYS" (1972)

HOME FOR THE HOLIDAYS

German Title:
Unter Mordverdacht

USA, 1972
Director: John Llewellyn Moxey

7/10








In 1972, two years before acclaimed director Bob Clark directed the proto-Holiday-slasher "Black Christmas" (IMO one of the most overrated horror movies of all time, and often wrongly termed as first Christmas-themed horror film ever),
TV god Aaron Spelling ("Charmed"), screenwriting legend Joseph Stefano ("Psycho I & IV") and prolific director John Llewellyn Moxey (who worked on more than 100 movies and TV series between 1947 and 1991!)
created one of the very first Christmas-themed horror films ever (next to semi-classic "Silent Night, Bloody Night" which was made the very same year): "Home for the Holidays", a made-for-TV whodunit mystery-horror, following four sisters, summoned home by their ill, unbeloved father who needs their help because he suspects his wife tries to poison him...


It's a shame how underrated, overlooked and forgotten this little gem is. It might not be as remarkable and quasi-groundbreaking as other TV horror classics like "Don't be Afraid of the Dark", "Trilogy of Terror" or "The Night Stalker", but it's definitely one that deserves much more popularity. "Home for the Holidays" is a very well developed, stunningly paced and excellently written little suspense-fest, packed with gripping tension and intriguing atmosphere. The ending is a bit too predictable and the epilogue is rather lame, but everything else about it
is just splendid.

Two-time Oscar winner Sally Field leads a terrific cast, consisting of horror legends like Julie Harris ("The Haunting") and Jill Haworth ("Tower of Evil"), television legend Jessica Walter ("Arrested Development") and Walter Brennan, one of only three men to win three acting Oscars! The kills are only mildly gory, but they're all pretty suspenseful, and due to the killer's look (yellow raincoat, red gloves), they feel a tad Giallo-esque. What makes the movie even more interesting is the fact that there's no snow, only rain, rain, rain. Originally, there was supposed to be snow, but the shooting schedule was too tight and the budget wasn't exactly high, so they replaced the snow with rain - a wise decision, The movie's atmosphere is so grim, so sinister, it wouldn't have been the same as with snow.


People who don't like the original "Black Christmas":
go check it out ASAP, you'll love it!
Fans of the original "Black Christmas":
you will enjoy this one a lot more than you actually expect!

23 December 2014

THERAPY FOR A VAMPIRE (Der Vampir auf der Couch)

THERAPY FOR A VAMPIRE

Original Title:
Der Vampir auf der Couch

Working Title:
Im Schatten des Spiegels

Austria / Switzerland, 2014
Director: David Rühm

8/10





I first heard of this movie just a couple of weeks ago, and before I had a chance to read up about it, it already hit Austrian cinemas! Contrary to my rather low expectations - because contemporary German-language vampire-themed films are mostly bad (I'm looking at you, "We are the Night"!) - it was actually an unexpectedly pleasant surprise!

David Rühm's ("El Chicko") first feature film in 17(!) years
is a marvellously amusing horror comedy following vampire count Geza von Kösznöm who's visiting groundbreaking neurologist Sigund Freud because he's bored of his life and frustrated of the "eternally long" relationship with his wife Elsa who's constantly complaining about the fact that she's not able to look at herself in the mirror anymore.


With a splendid script, a stellar cast and huge amounts of charmingly quirky humor, Rühm created a wonderfully entertaining film full of splendid ideas, hilarious characters and funny dialogue, excellently paced and directed, beautifully filmed by Austria's currently most interesting, most exciting cinematographer Martin Gschlacht ("Goodnight Mommy", "Im Keller"), accompanied by the vibrant music of Bernd Jungmair ("The Wall").

"Therapy of a Vampire" offers some well-looking CGI effects, an unexpectedly high amount of very decent gore (no CGI, thank goodness!) and some of the most imaginative editing I've seen all year (Claudio Cea, "My Fight"). Cool cuts, terrific transitions - nice! The entire cast is fun, great chemistry, great performances, especially by Veteran actor Tobias Moretti ("The Dark Valley") as grumpy count, the stunningly gorgeous Jeanette Hain ("The Forbidden Girl") as badass countess, the underrated Karl Fischer ("Dead in 3 Days") as quaint version of Sigmund Freud + age-old Austrian acting legend Erni Mangold ("Before Sunrise"), cutie Cornelia Ivancan ("The Fifth Estate") and Lars Rudolph ("Run Lola Run").


If you enjoyed recent vampire comedies like "Only Lovers Left Alive" or "What We Do in the Shadows", you will definitely love "Therapy for a Vampire" too.
Austria ftw! :-)

22 December 2014

THE MACHINE (2013)

THE MACHINE

UK, 2013
Director: Caradog W. James

8/10











From the way-too-bright slightly "Terminator"-like cover, I expected this to be some dumb run-of-the-mill android-goes-insane flick, or something like that - far from it! The second feature of British filmmaker Caradog W. James is a highly intelligent, incredibly imaginative and stunningly stylish science-fiction film somewhere between "A.I.", "Metropolis", "Splice" and "The Blade Runner", following Vincent and Ava, two scientists working on groundbreaking artificial intelligence software for the military. When Ava unexpectedly dies, Vincent uses Ava's brain signature, her face and the software to create "The Machine", an A.I. robot with the feelings of a human and the strength of a super-soldier...


"The Machine" is something we don't get to see that often these days: a low-budget genre film that looks and feels like it was made on big budget, maybe produced by a major film studio. James and his filmmaking crew created a visionary indie powerhouse full of almost flawless-looking CGI, tremendous special effects, impressive visuals and marvellous-looking settings, all fabulously designed and filmed [cinematography by Nicolai Brüel, son of award-winning cameraman Dirk Brüel ("Truly Human")]. At no time I had the feeling I'm watching a film that was made on only £1 million.

In addition to James' masterful direction, the intriguing story and the brilliant script (only flaw: the somehow rather weak ending), there's also some amazing acting, especially the outstanding double role by Caity Lotz ("The Pact") who's wonderful as super-likable human, but even more impressive as human-like robot who tries hard to be a real human. More great performances by Toby Stephens ("Die Another Day"), Denis Lawson ("Star Wars V & VI") and Pooneh Hajimohammadi who looks like an on-steroids robo-version of Lisbeth Salander.


Also, even though it alredy got mentioned on countless reviews, the excellent synth score by Tom Raybould (who?) sounds like
outtakes from Vangelis' "Blade Runner" OST.
Chapeau, Mr. James. "The Machine" rocked my world much, much more than expected!


Wiki ~ Imdb

21 December 2014

THE SIGNAL (2014)

THE SIGNAL

USA, 2014
Director: William Eubank

2/10











Right after the opening scene which starts out very promising but suddenly ends abruptly (which was actually more frustrating than expected), I had a strange feeling about this movie, expecting it to be a letdown. 90 minutes later I realized that I just had seen one of the dullest and most stupid movies of this year. 

"The Signal" (not to be confused with the way cooler 2006 movie of the same name), is a muddled, incoherent and extremely aggravating hodgepodge of incongruous ideas, an annoying mishmash that has no fucking idea what it wants to be: Indie-thriller, horror-thriller, artsy fartsy sci-fi, over-the-top fantasy, semi-coming-of-age, alien abduction, found footage... *ugh* It's "Beyond the Black Rainbow" meets "Transcendence" meets "The X-Files" meets "Cube" meets thousands of other movies - and it's awful, awful, awful because nothing fits together at all.


William Eubank's direction is simply terrible because he tries so damn hard to make it all look way more clever than it actually is. It's horribly written, horrendously executed and the pacing is so fucking slow, you just wanna kill yourself. Laurence Fishburne gives another questionable "Colony"-like
I-don't-give-a-fuck-just-give-me-the-paycheck-already-performance and Brendon Thwaites comes off as if he constantly thinks: "I'm a really great actor!" - nope, you're not. Oh, did I mention the ridiculous over-usage of super-slow slow-motion? Mr. Eubank... seriously... is this a fucking joke or what?

1 point for the surprisingly impressive CGI effects, half a point for the music,
half a point for the bizarre scene with the cow. Ignore the oh-so-stylish cover: "The Signal" sucks!

19 December 2014

Xmas Letdown: MARCUS (2006)



MARCUS

USA, 2006
Directors: Bob Hardison
& Rich Robinson

4/10









What? You haven't heard of "Marcus"? Don't worry, you're not alone. I never heard of, or seen anything about this movie before - until I stumbled upon it on this "Ultimate Christmas Horror" list. According to Imdb Trivia, it had its fair share of problems regarding production and distribution: budgetary constraints, shortened shooting schedules and bankruptcy by its production company Polychrome Pictures which led to a belated DVD release in 2007, 3 years after the movie was actually finished!


The basic storyline of "Marcus" sounded intriguing enough to make me go check it out: together with his fiancee, his ex-girlfriend and an old friend, a troubled young man returns home for Christmas to reconcile with his estranged sister Brooke. At their arrival, they encounter a young man called Marcus who claims that he is the sister's boyfriend and assures them that she will be home soon. What they don't know: Brooke lies tied up and heavily injured in the bathtub - and Marcus is actually quite a pschopath who has sinister plans for all of them...

Damn, this could have been sooo good if written and directed by someone with a bit more experience in the film business (Fred Walton would have probably been the right choice for that) - unfortunately, it was made by the two debutants Bob Hardison and Rich Robinson who clearly struggled with their own screenplay, as well as with the tight budget/schedule.


It's not a bad movie. There's some badass gore and great use of christmas carols like "What Child Is This?" or "Carol of the Bells". The opening, the climax and several scenes in the middle are all solidly thrilling and show potential, but aside from that, there's too much bad shit going on. Lots of dull and pretty boring scenes, some really poor acting, a highly disapointing ending and... well, every single characters is an asshole, which is amusing at first, but soon becomes very annoying. Recommended only to die-hard fans of all things Yuletide horror.

18 December 2014

TUSK (2014)

TUSK

USA, 2014
Director: Kevin Smith

3/10











Before I share my thoughts about this movie with you, I'd like you to lean back, relax and click the Play button of the video below...



The 1979 song "Tusk" is probably the greatest and most impressive thing Fleetwood Mac have ever done. Three and a half minutes of sheer power and energy. A fascinating and intriguing alltime classic that will never lose its magical appeal, no matter how often I listen to it. Now this song is one of only very few great things about "Tusk", the latest movie by Kevin Smith, an overrated filmmaker that I despise for his arrogant I'm-so-fucking-cool-attitude, his childish attacks at critics who don't like his movie and his obvious overuse of weed...
an overrated filmmaker that I still respect for the way he revolutionized indie cinema in the 90s ("Clerks", "Mallrats").


"Tusk" follows Wallace, a successful podcaster ("The Not-See Party" podcast) who travels to Manitoba to do an interview with the internet celebrity Kill Bill Kid. There, he gets abducted by an insane walrus-obsessed ex-seafarer who wants to turn Wallace into a... um, Walrus by sewing him into a life-size Walrus-costume made out of human skin...


As ridiculous as it may sound, the basic storyline of "Tusk" is simply genius. When I first heard about it, I was immensely intrigued, immensely excited for it. Unfortunately, the final product is an incredible disappointment that feels more like an idiotic "Human Centipede" ripoff and surely is one of the worst films Smith ever did, maybe even his worst. What starts out as absurd, but slightly disturbing body-horror flick, soon becomes a stupid, unfunny and unenjoyable piece of low-grade horror-comedy junk. I'm not sure if Smith couldn't decide what tone/style/genre he wanted "Tusk" to be, or if he simply failed on successfully combining horror with comedy. Either way, the movie simply doesn't work.

Ok, there's definitely a good movie hidden inside "Tusk". I mean, the first half hour is pretty tense and eerie, especially due to the impressively creepy perfomance of Michael Parks (love the scene where he starts to sing "Itsy Bits Spider"). There's also some more neat acting by Justin Long and Haley Joel Osment, some fantastic music by Christopher Drake ("Batman: Under the Red Hood") and, as above-mentioned, Fleetwod Mac's "Tusk", accompanying one of the movie's few really superb scenes (Parks and Long fighting each other wearing Walrus costumes).


As for everything else... blech. The pacing is horrible. Most of the time, it's too dull, too slow, while several parts in the second half feel rushed and botched. Several monolugue/dialogue-heavy scenes seem to go on and on and on, especially the ones with surprise cameo Johnny Depp whose performance is so goddamn awful, it's embarrassing. The humor is dumb and there are hardly any scenes, gags, jokes that are funny, which is surprising considering the fact that Smith is actually an expert when it comes to laughworthy comedy.
The Walrus-costume looks so unbelievably stupid, it's about as annoying as Long's constant shrieking and screaming. Oh, and the supposed-to-be-emotional ending is just laughable.

Mr. Smith, next time you try to create a horror film, throw away the weed and focus on the only thing that counts: making/directing/writing a great film,
just like you did in the 90s.
"Tusk" could have been sooo much better if directed by someone like Tom Six, Frank Henenlotter or Brian Yuzna.

17 December 2014

ZOMBEAVERS

ZOMBEAVERS

German Title:
Zombiber

USA, 2014
Director: Jordan Rubin

8/10








Director Jordan Rubin said "This may very well be the most important film you will ever see about zombie beavers." I go one step further and call it the best zombie-beaver movie possible :) Several people told me that it sucks, even the boss of the /Slash Filmfestival advised me not to see it - but you know what? Not only did I check it out, I even loved the shit out of it. Yes, it's stupid, yes, it's ridiculous, but all in all, "Zombeavers" is one of this year's most entertaining creature features.


The basic set-up is well-trodden and not exactly original: 3 hot girls, 2 cool boys, a cabin in the woods and a horde of dangerous animals that are contaminated with toxic waste, in this case Beavers - and that's where the fun begins! Contrary to most other killer animal flicks of the last years (Asylum, SyFy etc.), "Zombeavers" focuses on good old practical puppet effects and makes rather sparse use of cheap CGI, which leads to loads of hilarious-looking beaver puppets and non-computer generated blood & gore effects, like severed extremities, dogs and humans eaten by beavers, death by axe or baseball bat etc.

But that's not all! Regarding the fact what kind of a movie this is, it's surprisingly well-directed, well-written and fabulously paced. Lots of fun and action, tension and badassness, no boredom whatsoever. There's numerous references to genre classics like "The Thing", "Jaws" or "Halloween", lots of obvious beaver-jokes, lots of tongue-in-cheek humor regarding typical horror clichés (no cellphone reception, bitten through landlines...) and, best of all, [SPOILER] there's not just Zombie Beavers, there's also... um, Beaver Zombies = people bitten by a Beaver get infected and transform into beaver/human-hybrids! Did I forget to mention the zom-bear and the zom-bees? Pure fucking awesomeness!


Surprisingly, the acting is solid too and all of the actors seemed to have a great time shooting this piece of high quality rubbish, especially Cortney Palm (whose boobs are god-like!), Rachel Melvin ("Boo!"), Rex Linn ("Django Unchained") and Peter Gilroy ("Breaking Wind"). Music and camera work are neat, the outtake-end-credits are simply wonderful and the Frank-Sinatra-like main theme is just genius. Can't get enough of that Zombeaver-stuff! Sequel puh-lease!

15 December 2014

SILENT NIGHT, BLOODY NIGHT: THE HOMECOMING

SILENT NIGHT, BLOODY NIGHT:
THE HOMECOMING

German Title:
Stille Nacht - Blutige Nacht

UK, 2013
Director: James Plumb

1/10







North Bank Entertainment is a British film company specializing in shooting shitty lowest-budget releasing them witch super-catchy covers under super-catchy titles, capitalizing on popular film titles, like "Night of the Living Dead: Resurrection" (semi-remake of George A. Romero's "Night of the Living Dead") or "The Amityville Asylum" (semi-spin-off of "The Amityville Horror").

Their newest trickery is this cinematic piece of turd: "Silent Night, Bloody Night: The Homecoming", an unbelievably unimaginative, horribly made and overall completely aggravating rehash of Theodore Gershuny's 70s classic "Silent Night, Blood Night" (Review here).

Compared to the original which is a creepy and tense little gothic-style chiller, the remake fails on every single level. Apart from the obvious fact that there's nothing remotely tense, scary or entertaining, it's also shoddily edited, terribly filmed (horrid camera angles, an overload of ugly close-ups), terribly lit
and full of laughable-looking gore, makeup and CGI effects, and ridiculously un-erotic sex scenes.


The story of the original (which made perfect sense) was changed into an incoherent and feeble-minded mess that makes no goddamn sense at all. The acting ranges from ridiculous (Alan Humphreys) to plain abysmal (Sabrina Dickens). The pacing is yawnably slow, the killer's mask looks unintentionally hilarious and - worst of all - "Friday the 13th"-legend Adrienne King's performance as "the killer's voice" is so bad, it's disturbing. Horror site "A Slash Above" nailed it by describing her vocal performance as: "(...) King shows how rusty she is by sounding like an amateur dramatics group cast her off after the first audition." Believe me: it's that bad!

Aside from some okay-looking gore, "Silent Night, Bloody Night: The Homecoming" is a horrible film in every possible way. Avoid!!!

AN AMERICAN TERROR

AN AMERICAN TERROR

USA, 2014
Director: Haylar Garcia

6/10











"An American Terror" is the second full feature of filmmaker & musician Haylar Garcia ("Do it for Johnny"), following three bullied schoolmates who try to turn the table on their tormentors by carrying out a massacre at their school's Homecoming Dance, but while they're preparing the bloodbath, they unexpectedly run into a disgusting and merciless killer who's much more brutal and perverse than their own ideas...


It starts out as captivating and surprisingly fascinating teen-revenge-chiller, somwehere between "The Final", "If..." and "Elephant". Gripping and tense, full of intense and rather unsettling moments, stunningly directed and written, revolving around three interesting and somehow likable misfits, played by three terrific actors (most notably: Graham Emmons' extremely believable performance).

Then after the first half hour, "An American Terror" takes a massive turn and descends into torture/slasher territories, which is both good and bad. Good because the sudden violence and brutality comes along like a hammer to your face - bad because what feels shockingly original at first soon becomes shockingly bland and lackluster, due to some annoyingly dull pacing, a sudden occurrence of predictability and an incredibly annoying killer that looks and feels like a mix of the fat guy from "Carver" mixed with the embarrassing Leatherface from "TCM: The Next Generation".


The brutal twist in the middle is basically a great idea, but it was developed in a really disappointing way. Focusing on the movie's Columbine-like elements would have been so much more powerful than merely including worn out torture clichés. The last third tries hard to get back to the intensity of the beginning: some shocks, some thrills and a pretty superb ending, but nothing special, nothing that could save the whole thing from falling into mediocrity.

An interesting film with fab acting and great use of punk & industrial music, but overall quite a letdown. It could have been sooo much better... *sigh*
Fingers crossed that Mr. Garcia gets it right next time!

Imdb

Thanks to Clint Morris for the screener!

12 December 2014

Too many /Slashes: V/H/S / V/H/S/2 / V/H/S: VIRAL

V/H/S: VIRAL

Alternate Title:
VHS Viral

USA, 2014
Directors: Marcel Sarmiento,
Gregg Bishop, Nacho Vigalondo,
Justin Benson & Aaron Moorehead

4/10






When I first heard that there would be another installment in the V/H/S franchise and that Rob Zombie would be involved in it, I was pretty hyped, hoping for some more badass insanity like we got in "V/H/S/2" - but then they announced the title: "V/H/S: Viral"... what? Videocassettes going viral? Ringu anyone?

Then they announced the directors: six not-that-special filmmakers
and NO Rob Zombie *sigh*
Then they announced that one segment was cut ("Gorgeous Vortex", directed by Todd Lincoln, the man behind the crapfest "The Apparition").
And then the reviews came in... almost all of them pretty negative.
Excitement level: zero.


Okay, now that I've seen it, I can wholeheartedly say that it's far from being as bad as I expected. Unfortunately, it's about as weak as the first one and nowhere near the awesomeness of the second one. "V/H/S: Viral" feels rushed, unfinished and messed up. The framing story - about an evil ice cream van and a viral video that has some kinda "Halloween 3"-effect on the viewer - is dumb, confusing and ultimately plain ridiculous, the three segments aren't connected to the wraparound, and even though it's only about 80 minutes long, it felt almost as dull as "V/H/S".

Segment #1 [-Dante The Great-] obviously isn't about Joe Dante, but about a magician called Dante who comes into property of an evil cloak that turns him into a Copperfield-like superstar. Aside from Justin Welborn's horrid performance and the fact that this segment is actually a mockumentary(!) which totally doesn't fit into the basic V/H/S concept, this was rather decent with lots of cool visuals
and a fun finale.


Segment #2 [-Parallel Monsters-] is badass, following a hobby-scientist who builds a machine that opens the door into a parallel dimension where satanic zeppelins fly around and people have flesh-eating monster genitalia. Original, inventive, entertaining, thrilling and batshit insane: this should be turned into a full feature!

Segment #3 [-Bonestorm-] is just stupid. A couple of obnoxious and unbearable skaterboys battling an armada of demonic ritualists. Awful CGI. Worst computer-generated fire I've seen in a very long time, also: why in god's name did they use CGI firecrackers??? Couldn't they afford real ones, goddammit?? In addition, it tries too hard to be oh-so-over-the-top and ends up really frustrating, the editing is all over the place, there's no suspense or scariness at all. Terrible.

 Not really worth checking out, doesn't matter if you're a fan or a hater of the V/H/S franchise.
V/H/S Viral Is Ridiculous And Lame.




V/H/S/2

Alternate Title:
S-V/H/S

German Title:
S-VHS aka V/H/S 2

USA / Canada / Indonesia, 2013
Directors: Simon Barrett, Adam Wingard,
Edúardo Sanchez, Gregg Hale,
Gareth Evans, Timo Tjahjanto & Jason Eisener

7,5/10


(Seen and reviewed at the /SLASH Filmfestival 2013)
As you can see below, I wasn't exactly a fan of the first V/H/S, which is IMO an overhyped and rather annoying film that tried too hard to be fresh and original. Fortunately, the sequel is much better and didn't annoy me at all. Of course, it's still far from being a masterpiece, but it's definitely a massive improvement over the first part.

The framing segments are once again pretty mediocre and Adam Wingard's episode [-Phase I Clinical Trails-] could have been good (and actually starts out really good) but ends up rather meh - though its basic 'kinda Google Glass with a twist' concept is ace. Gladly, everyone else fully delivers.


"Blair Witch Project" mastermind Edúardo Sanchez delivers an entertaining little funfest [-A Ride in the Park-] about a biker who rides into a horde of zombies, gets bitten, dies and resurrects as blood-hungry but still quite 'human' zombie - and of course, we all get to see it from a POV perspective which adds to the fun.
"Hobo with a Shotgun" mastermind Jason Eisener once again proves that he's currently the coolest and most creative filmmaker in the genre by kicking ass with a super-cool segment [-Slumber Party Alien Abduction-] about an intense little alien invasion that happens to a bunch of kids during a slumber party - incl. best dog-death ever!

The absolute highight is [-Safe Haven-] by Gareth Evans ("The Raid") and Timo Tjahjanto ("Macabre") which could be only described as totally and utterly insane. A few filmmakers want to make a documentary about a weird Indonesian cult who live in an incredibly huge and eerie-looking complex where they prepare for the arrival of an otherworldly creature. Starts out tense, uncanny and unsettling, and ends up immensely brutal, incredily gory, batshit crazy and hilariously over-the-top. Holy fucking shit!


A must-see for fans AND haters of the first part.
V/H/S 2 ~ Valuable/High-Class/Superb, 2 Thumbs up!



V/H/S

USA, 2012
Directors: Adam Wingard, Ti West,
David Bruckner, Glenn McQuaid,
Joe Swanberg & Radio Silence

4,5/10









(Seen and reviewed at the /SLASH Filmfestival 2012)
So, THIS is "V/H/S", this year's most-hyped, most-talked-about movie? I don't get it. What's so awesome about it? V/H/S is an overlong, poorly executed and spectacularly unscary found-footage anthology (that's where the originality ends...), consisting of 5 so-so epsiodes (VHS tapes) and an unappealing framing story. Nearly every single character is a douchebag, most of the shaky-cam is annoying as hell, and I hated the fact that none of the stories has a proper conclusion.


I got a kick out of the first episode [-Amateur Night-], mainly because of the cool use of webcam-glasses and the amazing performance by Hannah Fierman as succubus-like demon (badass make-up). I also enjoyed the uber-wild  last episode [-10/31/98-] which is basically a fun mix of "House Of The Devil", "Grave Encounters" & "Amityville Horror".

The rest is meh. Ti West's [-Second Honeymoon-] follows an unsympathetic couple on their... erm, secomd honeymoon, an episode that is about as slow and dull as most of his feature works. Episode 3 [-Tuesday The 17th-] introduces a mysterious killer that appears in some kinda tracking-error-form. Interesting premise, original concept, but completely un-frightening, way too long and ultimately frustratingly dumb.


Episode 4 [-The Sick Thing That Happened to Emily When She Was Younger-] starts out interesting (young girl with alien fetus in her arm), but ends up weird and disappointing. The framing segments are so boring, sloppy and stupid, I still can't believe that they were directed by Adam Wingard, the man behind the outstanding "A Horrible Way To Die".

V/H/S ~ Vapid/Hollow/Stale

Wiki ~ Imdb

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