Friday, March 26, 2010

DEAD SNOW

 Dead Snow Movie Review

A group of friends on a ski vacation come across a group of Nazi zombies in search of treasures. Norway brings us this comedy horror and it brings it strong! After a very cool opening there is a bit of time spent building up the story and getting us acquainted with the characters, most of whom are actually pretty likable. Once the zombies appear, though, it is a non-stop onslaught to the end.

Nazombies

There is tons of blood and gore, a few laugh out loud moments and some fairly cool mentions of horror classics. The zombies alternate between looking really cheap (in a good way) and utterly scary. There are some very memorable scenes here too, included a self-amputation that is a must see. The movie does have a few plot holes and other minor flaws but they are not nearly enough to take from the fun of the film. I enjoyed it quite a bit and recommend it.

On A Scale Of One To Ten: 8

Dead Snow Movie Trailer (It's not in English, but a trailer this awesome doesn't have to be)

Sunday, March 21, 2010

THE FOURTH KIND

The Fourth Kind Movie Review

This movie starts off with actress Milla Jovovich (Resident Evil Series, Chaplin) informing you that she is an actress portraying psychologist Abigail Tyler and what you are about to see is real. What we see is largely Jovovich and other “actors” portraying real people as “actual footage” of the “real people” plays along next to it, as well as scenes with the “actual” Abigail Tyler doing interviews and “actual recordings”, all of this surrounding an unusual number of alien contacts in Nome, Alaska.

And this owl

The first thing I will address here is the question of how much of it is real. Honestly, I don’t care if it is 100% real or 100% fake. The reason for this is that I thought the “actual” audio and video were pretty intense, so either way, it works. If you are coming into this movie and you will base how much you like it on how “real” or “fake” you think it is, you are costing yourself dearly. It is a pretty good and interesting story, with a good performance from Jovovich, some very creepy scenes, and I think they did a good job with the fear factor by not actually showing any aliens, leaving that all to your imagination. The way they approached the film was interesting, showing the split screen stuff quite a bit, which is usually pretty impressive but a couple times, when the split screen shot does not involve “real” footage, it gets distracting.

The Abigails

The Fourth Kind is not without it’s flaws, but I actually enjoyed this film quite a bit and recommend it, assuming you don’t get hung up on if it is real or not.

On A Scale Of One To Ten: 8

The Fourth Kind Movie Trailer

SUBSPECIES 4: BLOODSTORM

 Subspecies 4 Movie Review

We pick up right where Subspecies 3 ended (but this was filmed four years later so Michelle looks fairly different and Radu looks very different), with a doctor named Ana (Ioana Abur) finding Michelle (Denice Duff) on the side of the road after a car accident. He takes her to Dr. Niculescu (Mihai Dinvale), a scientist who is also a vampire. Radu (Anders Hove) is also in possession of the bloodstone now and is searching for Michelle. Along the way he runs into Ash (Jonathon Morris) and Serena (Floriela Grappini) from the movie Vampire Journals—Ash is loyal to Radu but Serena, who is loyal to Ash, wants to destroy Radu, to whom Michelle is occasionally loyal. Niculescu also wants Radu dead so he may have the bloodstone.

Wait...what?

So yeah, this final installment of the Subspecies series is an absolute mess when it comes to the plot (and I won’t even mention the detective who returns from part 3 but is now a vampire also). Not that having a more thorough story line is a bad thing, but here it fails in that there are simply too many vampires and some of the things in it just don't make sense. To give just one example (of many I could give)--the detective, who has just become a vampire, can withstand direct sunlight and only be mildly annoyed with it while Radu, who is supposed to be the ultimate vampire in this story, struggles mightily when he is hit with the light from flashlights! There are some good spots here—a few really cool (and some surprisingly gory) scenes and a solid performance from Grappini as Serena that kind of steals the show. Another huge setback here though is Dinvale as Niculescu. This guy is a horrid actor, turning in a performance that easily lowers the score a full point. It is so bad I cringed every time he appeared (and for some reason he appeared a lot). The first three parts of this series were pretty enjoyable, and honestly they should have stopped after part three, which had an ending that would have wrapped up the series nicely. If you are thinking of watching the series, skip part four completely and be happy with the series as it should have been.

On A Scale Of One To Ten: 4

Subspecies 4 Movie Trailer

Monday, March 15, 2010

THE VANISHING

The Vanishing Movie Review

Kiefer Sutherland (Stand By Me, The Lost Boys, 24) plays Jeff Harriman, a man who is on vacation with his girlfriend Diane (Sandra Bullock, Premonition, Crash). They stop at a gas station, where Diane is kidnapped by Barney Cousins (Jeff Bridges, The Big Lebowski, Seabiscuit), a strange teacher and family man. Jeff obsesses with finding Diane for three years, hanging posters everywhere, until he meets Rita Baker (Nancy Travis, Becker, Chaplin) and falls in love with her. Eventually he goes back in search for Diane after receiving an offer to write his story of searching for her. Director George Sluizer remakes his 1988 movie of the same name here, and while this film had a lot of potential, it failed to live up to it. Sutherland, who is one of my favorite actors, seems really uninterested in this movie and sort of phones in his performance. I find Travis to be one of the most irritating actresses in Hollywood history and wanted to reach through the screen and choke her in this movie. And here is a sentence I thought I would never say (or type): Jeff Bridges was horrible in this movie.

He's shocked too

I'm not sure what he was going for with his performance of the character but it failed. I did get a bit of joy in a couple scenes where I could say, “hey, I’ve been there!” (parts were filmed in Seattle). The story itself is an interesting one, and I wish it would have focused more on Jeff, less on Barney, and would have cut out Rita entirely. This is not a horrible movie and the original is supposed to be pretty good--maybe I will track that one down.

On A Scale Of One To Ten: 5

The Vanishing Movie Trailer

Sunday, March 14, 2010

SUBSPECIES 3: BLOODLUST

 Subspecies 3 Movie Review

Picking up where part 2 left off, we see Radu has Michelle, who now wants to be taught all the secrets of being a vampire, as her sister Rebecca tries to rescue her. There are fewer special effects and more story involved in this film, making it a bit slower than the previous two. The only thing that really separates this installment is the interaction between Radu and Michelle, as he is seemingly falling for her as she is torn between wanting to be a vampire and wanting to return to a normal life.

A love story

This one seems a bit bloodier at times as well. All in all this is pretty much what you expect from the series at this point, and the ending is pretty cool as well.

On A Scale Of One To Ten: 6

Subspecies 3 Movie Trailer

Saturday, March 13, 2010

STANLEY (From Gore House Greats)

 Stanley Movie Review

Chris Robinson (not the singer) plays Tim Ochopee, a nature and animal loving loner living in the Everglades in Florida. Tim's only friends? Snakes.

They're good for cuddling too

A group of hunters come around his area to hunt for snakes to make belts out of, forcing Tim, aided by his best friend Stanley (a rattlesnake), to defend the snakes and eventually lose his mind even more. The parallels to Willard are obvious: Tim (Willard in Willard) is an oddball loner who befriends a bunch of snakes (rats in Willard), favoring one (Stanley here, Ben in Willard) over the rest. This movie is not nearly as good as Willard but it does have it’s moments--one scene, which sees Tim throwing snakes into the bed of a terrified couple, is particularly creepy. The snake attack scenes are so fake that it made me laugh a bit, and the fact that of all the characters, Stanley (yes, the rattlesnake) is the most moral. I must say that if you are scared of snakes this movie may scare you quite a bit—unfortunately I am not afraid of snakes (I used to own one after all), so that was no fear factor for me. It runs a bit long but still, I liked it a little.

On A Scale Of One To Ten: 5

Stanley (Not so much a trailer, but a look)

Monday, March 8, 2010

BOO

Boo Movie Review

A group of college kids go into an abandoned, haunted hospital on Halloween for some scares--no points for originality. While there, they encounter ghosts, while the lead character, Jessie (Trish Coren), has visions of her dead mother--and other ghosts. This is an absolute mess of a movie that could have been so much better.

Mess

First and foremost is the awful acting. From top to bottom, the acting in the movie is absolutely terrible, especially Coren, which is most unfortunate as she is the lead. I have honestly seen much better acting in home movies. Not all is lost here, however, as some of the special effects are pretty good and some of the ghost images look cool. With more money to put into talented actors and a bit better effects, this could have been a really good movie. Instead, it is pretty run-of-the-mill.

On A Scale Of One To Ten: 4

Boo Movie Trailer

Thursday, March 4, 2010

THEM (aka ILS)

Ils Them Movie Review

Clementine (Olivia Bonamy) and Lucas (Michael Cohen) are terrorized and chased through their house, the woods, and a drainage system by a group of hooded assailants. French film Ils (known as Them in The States) is based loosely on actual events, so that adds a bit of credence to the story, but not nearly enough to save it.

Behind you!

Unlike many recent French horror films, this one forsakes the gore for more of a suspenseful feel, which at times is actually pretty effective, but ultimately this film suffers from lack of story and seems really drawn out (a sad statement for a 77 minute movie). The “shock” ending really isn’t that shocking (maybe I read it somewhere before?) and was pretty disappointing, though the very final scene is a pretty good visual that leaves one a bit uneasy. Too much stuff happening in the dark, strobe like lighting and lack of plot also add to the disappointment of the movie. This is not a terrible movie but not one worth watching either.

On A Scale Of One To Ten: 5

Them Movie Trailer

SUBSPECIES 2: BLOODSTONE

 Subspecies 2 Movie Review

We pick this up the day after Subspecies (I assume this because the dead bodies from the original are still lying where they died) as the subspecies help bring Radu (Anders Hove) back from the dead. Michelle (whose hair has grown quite a bit over night) awakens to Radu standing over her, having just killed her lover (his brother). Michelle (now played by Denice Duff) takes the bloodstone and is soon on the run from Radu as she comes to grips with now being a vampire herself. This installment is a step up form part one. The budget seems to have been increased for this sequel and, mercifully, the subspecies creatures are not around much here (and look better when they are).

A little better

Radu is once again a very effective vampire, though his behavior here is somewhat odd and quite different than in the original. Duff makes a much better Michelle as well. The main problem with this movie is the pace is just way too slow at times and, again, some things don’t make sense--one being that Radu is now affected by sunlight--in the first one he was not. They stepped up the special effects in this one, though one thing, the shadow effect, is well overused. Comedy plays a larger role in this film than the first, and usually it is painfully bad. This movie would have highly benefited from being cut by about 15 minutes. Still, the movie wasn’t too bad, and as I said, it's a bit better than the first.

On A Scale Of One To Ten: 6

Subspecies 2 Movie Trailer

SUBSPECIES

Subspecies Movie Review

Vampire Radu (Anders Hove) returns home to a small village in Romania to claim the bloodstone, something that will give him endless powers. When he arrives he has to face off against an old man who knows Radu’s history, three girls there to study, and his own brother. This 1991 film has several things going against it, including very bad special effects of the subspecies creatures that help Radu, some really bad acting, a very slow pace, and scenes that just make no sense at all. But not all is bad here. Radu is a very cool looking vampire, complete with ugly makeup and long fingers--certainly a bit of a throwback to Nosferatu (there are also a couple scenes that give a nod to that classic). I loved this series when I was a kid and I have always said that THIS is what a vampire should look like, not like the vampires of today (The Vampire Diaries, Twilight, etc).

Radu, not sparkling.
The scenery is pretty nice in this film as well. Unfortunately, this movie isn’t quite as good as I remembered (and I still have the 3 sequels to go), but I still enjoyed watching it again.

On A Scale Of One To Ten: 6

Subspecies Movie Trailer

Monday, March 1, 2010

BRUCE CAMPBELL VS ARMY OF DARKNESS

Army Of Darkness Movie Review

We open with a summary of Evil Dead 2 and the events that lead to Ash (Bruce Campbell) being in the year 1300 AD, complete with a third different Linda (Bridget Fonda here) and a bit of a change from the end of Evil Dead 2--the warriors bowing down to Ash before are now capturing him to kill him. Ash must now retrieve the Book Of The Dead in order to make it back to modern times. This third and final installment of the trilogy moves away from the horror and gore and more to a slapstick comedy with a lot of special effects. I am not a fan of The Three Stooges and unfortunately this movie borrows a lot from them, so to me some of the comedy is just not funny. That said, there is a LOT that is funny here and, again, that all falls on Campbell, who is brilliant in this role.

Boomstick

The version I have is the director’s cut, which features about 15 more minutes than the standard version, and also includes the original, more appropriate, and far better ending. The third outing is certainly a step down from the first two films but it is still an outstanding film.

On A Scale Of One To Ten: 8

Army Of Darkness Movie Trailer

EVIL DEAD 2

Evil Dead 2 Movie Review

This movie starts out with Ash (Bruce Campbell) taking his girlfriend Linda (Denise Bixler) to an abandoned cabin in the woods. There they find the Book Of The Dead and recordings left by the previous tenant. Sound familiar? For some reason the makers of this film did not have the rights to use clips from the first The Evil Dead, so they had to re-shoot the happenings from that movie, and did so in a way that was different from the first, in the same cabin that is not the same cabin. Confused yet?



Based on this, a lot of people believe this to be a remake of the original—it is not. Once we get past the summary of the first and “start” the sequel we see that Ash is going crazy and is himself at times possessed by the spirits. The previous tenants’ daughter, her boyfriend and two country people who lead them there soon visits Ash. The haunted woods soon begin the carnage. I personally prefer the first one when it comes to the effects and the demons but this one is much funnier than the first, as it focuses pretty much on Ash throughout, allowing Campbell to shine. The ending is terrific and nicely sets up the finale of the series. It's over the top, outrageous and loads of fun--I absolutely love this series and have to recommend it.

On A Scale Of One To Ten: 9

Evil Dead 2 Movie Trailer

HIGH TENSION (aka Haute Tension)

High Tension Movie Review

Marie (Cecile De France) and Alex (Maiwenn Le Besco) go to Alex’s family’s country house for a vacation. While there, a killer invades the house, kidnapping Alex and killing her family as Marie attempts to stop him. This French film is known for two things: the gore and the twist. First the gore—while it is pretty well done it is really nothing groundbreaking, though the throat-slitting scene is a bit disturbing. There is a ton of blood, including one scene where the blood sprays all over the camera, creating a pretty cool (and unplanned, as this was an accident) visual.

This scene

Now about the twist--I obviously will not say what the twist is--I will only say that it has set off tons of discussions and arguments among people who have seen the movie. It seems that almost everybody either loves it or hates it. The people who love it way overrate it, those who hate it usually don’t get it--I fall between these general groups. After first watching it a couple years ago I didn’t get the twist, mainly because I didn’t pay much attention to the very start of the film. After the second viewing I completely get the twist, understand it all, even made excuses for the obvious shortcomings of it. That said, I love the IDEA of the twist; it is the execution that falls way short, and it takes a lot from the movie to the point that it makes it seem like a waste of the time you spent watching the film.
One really strong point here is the acting of De France as Marie. Like I said, most people who watch this film either love it or hate it with few falling in between, so watch at your own risk. I am one of the few that fall in the middle.

On A Scale Of One To Ten: 5

High Tension Movie Trailer