30 April 2015

"GERMAN ANGST" (/SLASH 1/2 Mini-Festival, 2015)

GERMAN ANGST

Germany, 2015
Directors: Jörg Buttgereit,
Michal Kosakowski & Andreas Marschall

7,5/10










It's not that German horror films don't exist, it's just that there are so few good ones out there, you get the impression that German horror is more of a myth than reality. Unless most other European countries, Germany never really had, what I'd call, 'a real horror wave'. Aside from the expressionist horror classics of the 1920s ("Nosferatu", "The Golem", "Dr. Caligari") and the Edgar Wallace Krimis of the 1960s, the German horror film always had a hard time keeping up with current horror trends and mostly ended up with carbon copies of Hollywood productions.

Reason enough for three (more or less) well-established German genre directors to collaborate on a epic 2-hour horror anthology and create something that might kickstart a new German horror wave (hopefully, one that will last...):
~ Jörg Buttgereit, one of the very few German directors of the last 30 yers who was able to create highly original contemporary horror classics ("Nekromantik 1+2", "Der Todesking", "Schramm").
~ Andreas Marschall, Blind Guardian's super-talented 'personal' cover artist and director of the shamefully underrated neo-Giallo "Masks".

~ Newcomer Michal Kosakowski, director of the critically acclaimed documentary "Zero Killed".


First segment "Final Girl" was directed by Buttgereit (who hasn't done a feature film in more than 20 years) and although it's a good one, it's not as good as I hoped it would be, mainly because it suffers from the same old pacing issues, that already affected Buttgereit's classics which are all great, but too slow and tedious for my taste. The story which deals with child abuse, patricide and guinea pig misconception is very well developed and directed, written and told in a subtle but intriguing way, delivers plenty of fabulous close-ups and some really nasty gore (castration, beheading), but... I dunno. I was slight bored by it because it was simply too slow for my taste,
plus: the girl's voice = most annoying voice-over ever. - 6/10


Kosakowski's segment "Make a Wish" is a lot more harsher and brutal. The Poland-born director (who grew up in Austria before he moved to Germany) tells a disturbing story that deals with xenophobia, neo-Nazism, social exclusion of disabled people and some kinda 'soul swap', following a deaf-mute couple that gets terrorized by a group of ultra-nasty fascists. This was a tough watch, partly because of some really unsettling gore and brutality, partly because the actors who play the neo-Nazis do such a frighteningly realistic job (especially Andreas Pape). Okay, the segment felt a bit too long, and the over-acting of Martina Schöne-Radunski is so fucking unnerving, it's aggravating - aside from that, I, um, 'enjoyed' it, especially because of the sinister ending - 7/10


Save the best for last: Andreas Marschall's "Alraune" is not just the best segment of "German Angst", it's actually so freaking great, I'd love to see this released separately (maybe an extended cut?). The mastermind behind the incredible "Masks" delivers a fantastic little film that revolves around the magic and hallucinogenic powers of the Alraune (German for: Mandrake), a weird secret society that is devoted to this mysterious plant, and a young photographer who falls in love with an Ukrainian goth girl who's connected to this odd Alraune-club. By using elements from 60s/70s Italo-horror in the tradition of Bava, Argento or Avati, the above-mentioned German expressionism and contemporary non-PG-13 horror, Marschall created a powerful and extremely impressive masterpiece, tense and atmospheric, creepy and gory, packed with mesmerising scenes and images of sex and violence, love and hate, blood and murder, incl. semi-trashy monster plants, ghastly nightmare visions and one of the most shocking self-mutilations I've seen in a long time. Also worth mentioning: the incredible performance and voice of Milton Welsh, and the super-hot bodies of Désirée Giorgetti & Kristina Kostiv. Wow, fantastic! - 9/10

Overall: "German Angst" is not perfect, but it is nonetheless a striking horror statement that proves that Germany horror is alive and kicking. Let's hope there will be more stuff like this in the near future - and let's hope that Andreas Marschall will soon make another movie in that vein. Hell, this guy is great!

29 April 2015

Line-up: /SLASH 1/2, 2015


/SLASH 1/2, the little brother of the /SLASH FILMFESTIVAL, is back and ready to rock Austria with a very fine line-up!
3 days. 3 nights. 4 star guests. 12 films from 8 countries. Awesomeness!!

/SLASH 1/2
April 29 - May 1, Filmcasino Vienna

Special Guest:
German Horror-God JÖRG BUTTGEREIT!!!

Wednesday, April 29

GERMAN ANGST
- Directed by:
Jörg Buttgereit ("Nekromantik"),

Andreas Marschall ("Masks")
and Michal Kosakowski ("Zero Killed")
- Germany, 2015
- Screening in the presence of the three directors!

Jörg Buttgereit Double Feature:
NEKROMANTIK
- Germany, 1987
SCHRAMM
- Germany, 1993
- Screening in the presence of the director!

AMOR ETERNO (a.k.a EVERLASTING LOVE)
- Directed by: Marcal Forés
- Spain, 2014
- Screening in the presence of the director!

Thursday, April 30

THE GUEST
- Directed by: Adam Wingard ("You're Next")
- USA, 2014

LOST RIVER
- Directorial debut by Ryan Gosling ("Drive")
- USA, 2014

WYRMWOOD: ROAD OF THE DEAD
- Directed by: Kiah Roache-Turner
- Australia, 2014

THE MAN IN THE ORANGE JACKET
- Directed by: Aik Karapetian
- Latvia / Estonia, 2014

Friday, May 1

SPRING
- Directed by: Justin Benson & Aaron Moorhead ("VHS Viral")
- USA, 2014

CUB (a.k.a WELP)
- Directed by: Jonas Govaerts
- Belgium, 2014

LA ISLA MÍNIMA (a.k.a MARSHLAND)
- Directed by: Alberto Rodríguez
- Spain, 2014

THE DEAD LANDS
- Directed by: Toa Fraser
- New Zealand, 2014

28 April 2015

SWIMMING POOL (2001)

SWIMMING POOL

International Title:
The Pool

Alternate German Title:
Swimming Pool - Der Tod feiert mit

Germany, 2001
Director: Boris von Sychowski

6/10





After Wes Craven awoke the horror genre from a deep slumber in 1996 with the 80s slasher homage "Scream", everyone wanted a slice of the cake by making a film based on Craven's 'Slasher 2.0' formula (a bunch of beautiful teenagers, one or two masked killers, a school/college/university etc.) and dumping it to theaters or VHS/DVD. It all worked very well for a couple of years with a couple of decent and successful slasher knock-offs, like "Urban Legend" or "I Know What You Did Last Summer" - but after box office bombs like "Valentine" (2001) or "Do You Wanna Know a Secret?" (2001), the slasher revival was pretty much done.


Germany made its foray into the slasher genre in 2000 with "Anatomy" and "Flashback", the former a huge success, the latter only mildly successful. In 2001, another German slasher saw the light of the day: "Swimming Pool",
an entertaining run-of-the-mill teen-horror flick, centered around a couple of friends from the International High School in Prague who celebrate their exams by throwing an illegal party in a public indoor swimming pool, not knowing that a skull-mask-wearing killer is lurking in the dark, waiting to kill them off one by one with a big Machete...

Despite semi-aggressive marketing for the movie, highlighting the involvment of three songs by the then-popular German pop-punk-band "Donots" [the German trailer looked more like a Donots music video - see here!], "Swimming Pool" was a huge flop, killing off German mainstream horror (at least, for the next 4-5 years) AND the directing career of feature debutant Boris von Sychowski - a bummer. Of course, the movie isn't exactly great, but fun enough and definitely pretty enjoyable, especially when you're into these kinda flicks.


"Swimming Pool" is obviously far from being original and uses way too many elements from "Scream", like the opening scene where a Ghostface-like Killer jumps through a window to murder a girl who's just preparing dinner and waiting for her boyfriend, or one girl who's still worrying about the death of her father years ago. Even worse: at one point, there's a girl telling her boyfriend "I know what you did last summer." - I mean, WTF?

The acting is so-so, some deliver excellent performances, like James McAvoy ("X-Men: First Class / Days of Future Past") in his very first feature role, or Jason Liggett (who, according to Imdb, only appeared in 5 films) - some are just embarrassing, like Paul Grasshoff or the immensely untalented Elena Uhlig [at least, she's a hot babe and is allowed to say fun stuff like (after winning a drinking contest): "I win. You lose." - "Damn, you can really put them away." - "Women always put it where it belongs!"]
Not forgetting to mention the very first feature appearance of Isla Fisher
("Wedding Crashers"), though [SPOILER] unortunately, she gets killed off 26 minutes into the movie.


Ok, the soundtrack is shoddy (I hate the Donots), there's lots of really horrid dialogue and many pacing issues in the first half, but aside from that, "Swimming Pool" perfectly satisfies by delivering plenty of fun and entertainment, thanks to a stunning killer (cool masks, great movements), a few awesome kills (Highlight: the scene where a girl gets slashed while coming down a water slide - see above!), some terrifically suspenesful stalking scenes (opening scene in the villa, the sequence where the teens have to crawl through ventilation shaft...), and at least two scenes that feel as if von Sychowski actually wanted to pay homage to the 80s: a cool weight-lifting scene ("Happy Birthday to Me", 1981) and a suspenseful toilet scene ("Maniac", 1980).

I also love the stylish look of the entire pool, the gorgeous cineamtography by Notker Mahr who perfectly captures the majestic beauty of Prague, as well as some more hilarious lines ("You goddamn Argentinians! Always sneaking up and attacking me. I feel like the Falkland Islands!" / "You know, I always give the car a polish before I go, you know that." - "I don't know what you're polishing, Diego, but it ain't the car.")


Stupid but super-entertaining fun, a must-see for every hardcore slasher fan!


The killer is quite a brutal guy, but hey: at least, his machete is friendly!

I wonder why he has no luck with women...

27 April 2015

EX MACHINA

EX MACHINA

UK, 2015
Director: Alex Garland

9,5/10











Even though I'm not much of a fan of the British 2007 science-fiction/horror film "Sunshine", written by author / screenwriter Alex Garland ("The Beach") and directed by Danny Boyle ("Trainspotting"), I'm thankful that this movie exists because it (almost) single-handedly revived the classic old-school 70s/80s science-fiction-film and led to widely acclaimed new-school "thinking man's sci-fi" à la Duncan Jones' "Moon", Christopher Nolan's "Interstellar" or last year's
Blade-Runner-homage "The Machine".


After his collabos with Danny Boyle ("28 Days Later" & "Sunshine") and screenplays for Mark Romanek ("Never Let Me Go") & Pete Travis ("Dredd"), Garland finally dared to enter the director's chair to create his very own debut feature "Ex Machina", a staggering science-fiction drama that follows Caleb,
a young programmer who gets the chance to spend a week at the private mountain retreat of Nathan, CEO of the world's largest internet company 'Bluebook', to participate in a fascinating, but also quite dangerous experiment in which he must interact with the world's first true artificial intelligence in the body
of a gorgeous robo-girl...

It's a shame that this movie didn't came out in the 80s or 90s where it surely would have made a bigger impact on audiences, than it does now where the constant amount of plot-less big budget blockbusters numb the cinemagoers into apathy
(I overexaggerate, but I think you get what I mean). So, in this day an age, a movie like "Ex Machina" doesn't work as mainstream cinema, but rather as an semi-indider's-tip for true movie geeks who get a kick out of intelligent slow-pace science fiction, be it old-school ("Blade Runner") 
or new-school ("Under The Skin").


From the very first minutes, you get the feeling that this isn't a film for the masses, but a film FOR smart people made BY smart people. Not only did Garland provide his best and most flawless script to date, he also managed to do a magnificent director's job that should give him lots and lots of attention in the near future. Stunning visuals, slow but intriguing and absolutely breathtaking pacing, a fascinating, extremely thought-provoking and very well developed storyline with lots of totally unpredictable plot twists, many moments and scenes that keep you on the edge of your seat, a climax that is simply gob-smacking, and one of the coolest settings I've seen in a very long time: an ultra-modern facility made of wood, glass and chrome with lots of dim lights, mirrors, and Jackson Pollock paintings #dreamhouse #shutupandtakemymoney

Newcomer Alicia Vikander delivers an outstanding performance as sexy but inscrutable A.I. whose behavior is impossible to decipher. Similarly great is Domhnall Gleeson as quiet and slightly naive computer programmer, and Oscar Isaac as arrogant millionaire-slash-drinker. Cinematographer Rob Hardy ("Boy A") perfectly captures the dark and intense mood of the story, while godfather Geoff Barrow (the genius behind Portishead, one of the greatest bands of all time) and BBC composer Ben Salisbury accompany all the intriguing images with a haunting, brooding electro score. Also very worth mentioning: incredible CGI effects, brilliant sound effects, ace nudity, OMD's "Enola Gay", fun references to Depeche Mode & Ghostbusters + greatest disco dance scene ever!


Who needs unnecessary rubbish-projects like "Blade Runner 2" when you can have fresh, original and unbelievably thought-provoking sci-fi films like
"Ex Machina"? Go Alex. Prove that you're not a a one-trick-pony and mesmerize us with more stuff like that!

22 April 2015

"THE TERROR" (Chilling 20 Movies Pack, #4)

THE TERROR

Working Title:
Lady of the Shadows

Alternate Titles:
The Haunting / The Castle of Terror / The Night of Terror

German Titles:
The Terror - Schloß des Schreckens / The Haunting - Vision des Grauens / Terror House - Das Haus des Todes / Die Dame aus dem Meer

USA, 1963
Directors: Roger Corman,
 Francis Ford Coppola (uncredited), Monte Hellman (uncredited), Jack Hill (uncredited),
Jack Nicholson (uncredited)

7/10


According to an interview with German newspaper "Die Zeit" (click here),
renegade filmmaker Roger Corman called "The Terror" '(...) the craziest movie that I've ever made'. Looking at the movie's weird production history, it's pretty obvious what he means.


After Corman wrapped his adaptation of Edgar Allen Poe's "The Raven",
he realized that there were still a couple of shooting days left before the Raven-sets were torn down, and so he decided to shoot another film on the spot. Based on a commissioned Poe-like screenplay by Leo Gordon ("The Wasp Woman") and Jack Hill ("Blood Bath"), Corman shot the bulk of the movie within a couple of days on the sets of "The Raven" and "The Haunted Palace".



Due to lack of time and several other reasons (directors guild etc.), Corman wasn't able to finish the movie, and so he hired Francis Ford Coppola ("The Godfather 1-3") to shoot additional exterior footage. Several other scenes were directed by Jack Hill, regular Corman-collaborator Monte Hellman ("Silent Night, Deadly
Night 3")
and main actor Jack Nicholson himself!


9 months later, Corman and editor Stuart O'Brien ("Dementia 13") finally cobbled the footage and the directing styles of 5 different people together. Result: a super-weird but interesting, entertaining and quite satisfying mess of a movie. The plot is all over the place and doesn't make much sense (something about a French lieutenant, a creepy baron, a mysterious woman and an old witch), but that doesn't matter because everything else is just great.


The cast is simply killer: Jack Nicholson in one of his very first roles, his only wife Sandra Knight, horror god Boris Karloff and Corman-regular Dick Miller. There's tons of stunningly suspense-laden and breathtaking scenes, like the eerie opening or the scene where Nicholson explores the castle, as well as some other remarkable scenes like the bird attacks or the amazing finale where people get struck by lightning, bodies quickly rot into skeletons
and a whole crypt gets flooded.


The sets all look beautifully creepy and were perfectly captured by the magnificent camera work of John M. Nickolaus Jr. ("Attack of the Giant Leeches") and Floyd Crosby ("House of Usher"), and the musical score by Roland Stein ("Spider Baby") is ravishing, powerful and simply excellent. Oh, I forgot to mention the delightful-looking opening credits sequence. They don't make 'em
like that anymore...



Not a perfect movie, but definitely way, way better than its reputation. A must-see for fans of everything Corman, Poe, Hammer, Amicus etc.

Wiki ~ Imdb


21 April 2015

John Carpenter's CHRISTINE

CHRISTINE

Alternate Title:
John Carpenter's Christine


USA, 1983
Director: John Carpenter

9/10









When people talk about their favorite John Carpenter fims, they mostly
mention / talk about "The Thing", "Halloween", "In the Mouth of Madness" or "Big Trouble in Little China", but only in rare cases you stumble upon someone who really loves "Christine", a movie that isn't exactly forgotten or underrated, but... well, I think it never really got the love that it actually deserves.


Carpenter's adaptation of Stephen King's novel of the same name is definitely one of the director's coolest flicks and also one of the best car-themed horror films ever made AND one of the few King-adaptations that is better the book. "Christine" was actually the very first King-book I ever read. I remember liking it, but not so much as the film which is IMO so much better, thanks to some great major changes made by Carpenter and screenwriter Bill Phillips ("Fire with Fire").

"Christine" revolves around the friendship between the jocky Dennis and uber-nerd Arnie which is in danger of falling apart after Arnie bought and restored an old red Plymouth Fury, nicknamed Christine. Arnie is so completely in love with the car, he spends more and more time with it and slowly starts to change into a cocky and rude semi-greaser, not knowing that it's all the fault of Christine who seems to be alive, has a mind of its own and quickly starts to get jealous when Arnie starts to date the school's most beautiful girl...


In the book, the car is possessed by the ghost of a previous owner, a rather annoying character that always irritated me during reading. Gladly, there's no such ghost in the film. As the glorious opening scene in the car factory shows, "Christine" is more of a living creature than a simple car, born evil and ready to kill, almost invincible and able to restore itself. Ok, it's not that evil. It also wants to be loved by the right owner, shows him its love by 'talking to him' via playing old rock tunes from the 50s and it kills all of its owners' enemies.
Oh Christine, you sweet bitch!

Compared to all of Carpenter's other 80s horror flicks, "Christine" is the calmest and most subtle one, which is probably one of the main reasons why people often forgot about it. There's hardly any deaths and kills, hardly any gore and violence. Hell, it's not even a typical horror film. Yes, the movie's main attraction is a killer car, and yes, there are a few people get murdered, but that's not what this movie is about. It's more of a character piece about love and hate, popularity and outsiderdom, envy and jealousy, justice and revenge, friendship and loneliness.


The movie's atmosphere is captivating and mesmerising, thanks to the competent direction, the stunningly beautiful cinematography by Donald M. Morgan ("Starman"), some of the best-looking lens flares in cinematic history (Screw you, JJ Abrams, that's how it should be done!), and a subtle but eerie and immensely effective synth score by Carpenter himself. There's also lots of fabulous rock tunes, like George Thorogood's "Bad to the Bone", Little Richard's "Keep A-Knockin'", Larry Williams' "Bony Moronie" or the Rolling Stones'
"Beast of Burden".


Acting-wise, everyone does great work, especially Keith Gordon who delivers a remarkable Jekyll-and-Hyde-like performance, John Stockwell as worried and slightly rattled jock, a wonderfully lovely Alexandra Paul, a wonderfully grumpy Robert Prosky, a solid-as-always Harry Dean Stanton and a bafflingly creepy performance by Roberts Blossom (best known as the old man in "Home Alone").


Highlights: the incredible special effects work when Christine restores herself (who needs CGI anyway?), the supersexy scene where Christine 'shows her body' to Arnie ("Show me!"), the gas station explosion, burning Christine hunting down one of the bullies, Christine slicing one of the bullies in half in a forklift bay, the football match knock-out, the super-bright choking scene and the fantastic bulldozer vs. Christine finale.

She'll possess you. Then destroy you. She's death on wheels.
She's "Christine", one of the coolest women... erm, cars in horror history! :)


Wiki ~ Imdb

Oh btw: as you can clearly see below, "Christine" obviously influenced filmmaker & music video director Jonathan Glazer on his video
for Radiohead's "Karma Police"...



 ...and, hey, why not conclude this post with pics of John Carpenter and producer Richard Kobritz cutting a "Christine" cake? :-)



20 April 2015

R.I.P RICHARD DYSART

Yet another acting legend has passed away. The great RICHARD DYSART has died at the age of 86 from Cancer.

To horror fans, Dysart is best known for his role in John Carpenter's masterpiece
"The Thing" (1982) as grumpy Dr. Copper ["They're not Swedish, Mac. They're Norwegian."]. He also performed in sci-fi/horror b-movies like "The Terminal Man" (1974), "Prophecy" (1979) or "Warning Sign" (1985).

Outside of Horror, he is most famous for his role as Leland Mckenzie in all 171 episodes of "L.A. Law" (1986-1994) which garnered him a Primetime Emmy in 1992. He also worked together with other legendary directors, like John Schlesinger ("The Day of the Locust", 1975), Hal Ashby ("Being There", 1979), John Schlesinger ("The Falcon and the Snowman", 1985), Peter Bogdanovich ("Mask", 1985), Clint Eastwood ("Pale Rider", 1985), Oliver Stone ("Wall Street", 1987) or Robert Zemeckis ("Back to the Future III", 1990).

Rest in Peace, Richard Dysart
1929 - 2015


19 April 2015

"NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD" (Chilling 20 Movies Pack, #3) + 1990 Remake & 2006 Remake

NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD

Working Titles:
Night of the Flesh Eaters / Night of Anubis

German Title:
Die Nacht der lebenden Toten

USA, 1968
Director: George A. Romero

9/10





Nice to see that there's always 1 or 2 classics in those Mill Creek boxes, and this one is undoubtedly one of the greatest and most popular horror film classics ever made: Maestro George A. Romero's "Night of the Living Dead", obviously not the first film about undead people, but definitely the one that defined/redefined them as bloodhungry and cannibalistic bastards, better known as "Zombies" - even though this word wasn't actually used in the film, they call 'em "Ghouls".


Shot on a shoestring budget of only about $114.000,- over a period of 7 months in 1967 and released in the autumn of 1968, Romero's debut feature became a super-important game-changer for the horror genre by introducing a completely new kind of terror: average Americans who suddenly turn into slow and unintelligent, but ruthless and aggressive cannibals, harbored by an insatiable hunger for human flesh - and the only way to properly kill them is to destroy their brains (Boom Headshot!), a huge deviation from the 'Haitiian folklore zombie' who is just a mindless corpse, reanimated by Voodoo witchcraft and shit.

There's no doubt that Romero is an innovative, imaginative and visionary filmmaker. His directing style is genius and he has a wonderful eye for detail and composition, light and atmosphere. Due to the low budget, he decided to shoot "Night of the Living Dead" on 35mm black-and-white-film, and it was a marvellous decision. The cemetery in the beginning of the film looks bleak as fuck (even bleaker than the one in Albert Band's "I Bury The Living" which obviously had an influence on Romero), the interior of the farmhouse looks scary as hell, and when we first get to see the zombies eating human flesh... damn, it's pretty disturbing. Several colorized re-releases (1986, 1997, 2004 & 2010) prove the same: this movie needs no colors.


Like all of Romero's zombie flicks, "Night of the Living Dead" isn't just a simple horror film. In fact, Romero had the guts to combine classic horror tropes (fear of the unknown, creepy house/basement/cemetery etc.) with subversive critique on the America of the 60s regarding racism (even though this wasn't attended, according to Romero), international Cold War politics, the situation in Vietnam, and factitiousness of society, especially on capitalism and the oh-so-unquestionable functionality of the nuclear family. This was quite a first in horror. Until 1968, Horror was merely used for "entertainment". With NLOTD, the horror genre suddenly had a message.

Next to the top-notch direction and effective pacing, there are other things worth praising, such as the stunning script - written by Romero and John A. Russo ("Santa Claws") - which is full of excellent twists and turns, the powerful cinematography, the effective editing (both by Romero), the moody music which was largely compiled of stock music from the extensive music library of Capitol Records, music that was previously used in films like "Teenagers from Outer Space", the eerie zombie make-up, the look and usage of blood and gore (actually, chocolate syrup and roasted ham!), and of course, one of cinema's most unexpected, most devastating shocker endings. I guess back then, only "Planet of the Apes" was more shocking (interestingly, this was released the very same year - what a great year!).


There's also some great acting going on here: Duane Jones as the ill-fated hero Ben (first time a Black actor starred in a mainstream horror film), Judith O'Dea as Barbra (impressive actress, but her character is just useless, which is probably the movie's only annoying flaw), Karl Hardman as choleric and hot-headed semi-smartass Harry, Marilyn Eastman as Harry's wife, Romero-regular Bill Hinzman as the cemetery zombie, and Kyra Schon as scary zombie-kid.

It might be a bit dated, it might be a bit too un-graphic, especially for younger audiences, but that won't hurt its reputation as one of the most important, most influential horror films of all time. Thanks George!

Wiki ~ Imdb





NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD
(Remake)

German Title:
Night of the Living Dead - Die Rückkehr der Untoten

USA, 1990
Director: Tom Savini

6/10







The directorial feature debut of legendary FX/make-up artist and cult actor Tom Savini is - like Imdb user MisterWhiplash perfectly described - a "Remake of something that didn't need to be remade, but it's still alright". I have no idea how and why this remake came into existence, but... well, it seems as if everybody involved was freaking excited about it.


George A. Romero re-wrote his original screenplay for this remake and even served as its executive producer, Tom Savini, who was make-up effects artist on Romero's "Dawn of the Dead" and "Day of the Dead", ended up directing it, and the whole thing was co-produced by John Russo (co-writer of the original 1968 screenplay) and Russell Streiner (producer of the 1968 original).

It's a neat flick, but absolutely nothing special. Savini's direction is quite bland, there's hardly any tension or atmosphere, the pacing is way too slow, and the absence of the original's super-effective black-and-white photography is sorely missed. Also, Paul McCollough's ("The Majorettes") score is unbelievably boring. They should have used some stock music instead...


What's really, REALLY good is the cast: my goodness, Tony "Candyman" Todd is simply amazing as Ben, and Patricia "Babylon 5" Tallman just kicks ass as Barbra 2.0, a badass zombie-killer-babe who knows how to survive the apocalypse. More great performances by the ever-so-fabulous Bill Moseley ("Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2"), William Butler ("Texas Chainsaw Massacre 3"), Heather Mazur (who disappeared into TV-land) and Tom Towles ("Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer"), though his character, a nasty re-interpretation of the original Harry, is fucking unbearable.

Also, terrific-looking zombies, ace gore effects, an unexpectedly epic explosion, and a surprisingly grim ending, not as shocking as the original's ending,
but still pretty wow!
Overall: okay. I've seen worse remakes, I've seen better remakes. Whatever.




NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD 3D

Alternate German Title:
Night of the Living Dead 2007

USA, 2006
Director: Jeff Broadstreet

3/10








Not just another completely unnecessary remake, but also a stupid, unnecessary and expendable one. Jeff Broadstreet, director/writer of low-budget rubbish like "Dr. Rage" or "Sexbomb" thought it's a good idea to shoot a 3D knock-off of Romero's horror classic. As expected, it turned out to be pretty crappy. Note: I've only seen it in 2D, but according to many, many critics and reviewers, it doesn't matter if watched in 3D or 2D. Both versions are equally un-entertaining.


Broadstreet's direction is simply awful. He has absolutely no idea how to create any form of tension or suspense, and he obviously had no clue what was going on before the camera - or maybe he simply didn't care. Screenwriter Robert Valding tried so hard to be oh-so-funny and oh-so-inventive - but due to the fact that he's just a god-awful writer, it all came off as huge mess.

The (non-)actors stumble around, dropping unimportant dialogue, doing this, doing that, doing nothing. Even the zombies seem to be bored to death (pun intended). The make-up effects range from ok to plain laughable, the few CGI effects are horrid (incl. most ridiculous "Bullet Time" scene ever created) and the music
is just lame.


The only one who delivers a terrific performance is obviously Sid Haig, one of the few actors who is able to turn a god-awful movie into a mildly watchable one (like he did in "Creature" or "Hatchet III"). There's also, a few cool kills, decent cinematography, an ok opening, and I loved the scene with Sid Haig's zombie father. Other than that, an awful and superfluous remake.

16 April 2015

Stephen King's DREAMCATCHER

DREAMCATCHER

USA / Australia, 2003
Director: Lawrence Kasdan

4/10











The 1999 novel "Dreamcatcher" is definitely one of the weirdest and weakest books Stephen King has ever written. It's silly, it's confusing, it's boring and it's way, way too long (620 pages). Hell, even the King himself doesn't like it. In a 2014 interview, he said:
"Well, I don't like "Dreamcatcher" very much. "Dreamcatcher" was written after the accident. [King had a bad car accident in 1999]
I was using a lot of Oxycontin for pain. And I couldn't work on a computer back then because it hurt too much to sit in that position. So I wrote the whole thing longhand. And I was pretty stoned when I wrote it, because of the Oxy, and that's another book that shows the drugs at work."

Yet, to my surprise, the 2003 film adaptation turned out to be even worse. It's a bizarre story about 4 friends on a camping trip in a small town that is plagued by an armada of aliens that incubate in the human's intestinal tract and exit the body through the anus (dafuq??), and in some weird kinda way, it all seems to be connected to their childhood friend Duddits, a kid with down syndrome and telepathic powers. The book was already a tough read, but in its film form, it's just dumb, annoying and frustrating.


"Dreamcatcher" actually starts out rather good. The first 50 minutes are mostly tense and thrilling, thanks to a fantastic cast with incredible chemistry (Thomas Jane, Timothy Olyphant, Jason Lee & Damian Lewis), lots of "It"-like atmosphere, a few "Stand by Me"-esque flashbacks, beautiful settings, gorgeous cinematography (John Seale, Oscar for "The English Patient") and one of the most suspenseful "toilet scenes" in movie history (Jason Lee trying to keep an alien worm under the toilet lid - I shit you not! ;)))

But then after the 50 minute mark, the whole thing goes down the drain and the remaining 75 minutes are mostly just bad. Clichéd-looking CGI aliens possessing people by 'exploding in front of them' and turning them into grinning idiots, a completely miscast Morgan Freeman who hardly leaves his helicopter and constantly delivers oh-so-badass lines like "I'm here to kick some ass." or "I think we're on the same page, pissin' in the same latrine.", a snake alien bites into a penis (stupid scene that sounds more amusing than it actually is), lots of REALLY awful-looking CGI crap, countless scenes that are either boring or tedious as hell (why the heck is this movie 135 minutes long???), not enough scenes with Donnie Wahlberg as Duddits...


...and a craptacular ending that completely contradicts with the ending in the book and doesn't fit at all because it's batshit retarded and makes no sense. [SPOILER] They actually filmed two endings: the one from the book where Duddits kills the main alien and dies, and a new one where Duddits reveals to be an alien himself and fights the main alien until they both explode - WTF???
They didn't use the original ending and went with the fucked up new one - which obviously is a totally ridiculous decision. The book ending is on the DVD as a bonus feature and it's sooooo much better. If they would have used this, I would have given "Dreamcatcher" a 5/10...


Wiki ~ Imdb

15 April 2015

WHITEOUT (2009)

WHITEOUT

USA / Canada / France, 2009
Director: Dominic Sena

6/10











Dominic Sena was one of the most prolific music video directors of the late 80s and early 90s, directing more than 40 music videos for superstars like Janet Jackson, Sting, Tina Turner or Fleetwood Mac. He even received a Grammy for the Janet Jackson video "Rhythm Nation". In 1993 he quit making music videos and shot his very first feature film "Kalifornia", an incredible road-movie/thriller
that sadly became a big box office flop.

After a 7-year-hiatus he returned to directing and shot 5 features between 2000 and 2011. Domestically, two of them disappointed at the box office ("Gone in 60 Seconds", 2000 + "Swordfish", 2001), two were massive box office bombs ("Whiteout", 2009 + "Season of the Witch", 2011) and then there was also a TV pilot that never made it into a series ("13 Graves", 2006) - so, all in all, it didn't exactly work that well for Sena after he left the music video business...


His biggest bomb was "Whiteout", a 2009 mystery-thriller with action and horror elements, based on the comic book of the same name. It grossed only about $18 million worldwide against a budget of $35 million. The reason for this failure is simple: shitty marketing. The trailers/teasers were over-aggressive and desperately tried to make it look like a horror film in the vein of Carpenter's "The Thing", while the frozen-Beckinsale-face poster artwork (see below) looked just lame. Also, like Box Office Mojo correctly claimed, "the ads (...) made the mistake of assuming that Beckinsale was a draw herself, presumably because she has appeared in some popular movies."

The movie itself isn't particularly bad, but it's pretty flawed and uneven. It's very well shot and solidly directed, but also highly predictable and foreseeable, due to the muddled screenplay [written by Erich & Joen Hoeber ("Battleship"), Carey & Chad Hayes ("The Conjuring")] which is packed with unoriginal plot twists, uninspired plot points, mediocre dialogue and a couple of rather boring characters. Yet, the most irritating thing about it is how many genres they tried to stuff in: even though it's a run-of-the-mill mystery-thriller, there are several scenes that look like they belong into a slasher film (maybe "Cold Prey"?), some action-related sequences, some emotional drama stuff, some disaster-film stuff - and nothing really fits together.


That said, it's still a quite entertaining film with some decently tense scenes, such as the entire Vostok Station scene or the sequence with the Russian cargo plane, some fairly good-looking CGI, lots and lots of super-gorgeous antarctic landscapes, a neat score by John Frizzell ("Alien: Resurrection"), as well as some great lighting and editing. Kate Beckinsale is a solid lead, though nearly all of the other actors deliver far better performances, especially Gabriel Macht, Columbus Short and Tom Skerritt.

Nothing special, but definitely a solid watch - and obviosuly far, far, far better that Sena's other uber-bomb, the horrible "Season of the Witch".

Wiki ~ Imdb

*yawn*

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