Sunday, May 24, 2015

TRICK 'R TREAT

Trick 'r Treat Movie Review

Trick 'r Treat is an anthology of stories unraveling during one Halloween night in a small town in Ohio. The stories involve a Halloween-obsessed man and her Halloween-hating wife, a school principal who moonlights as a killer, a group of teenage girls trying to find the perfect man for their shy virgin friend, a group of school kids playing a prank on a slow classmate, and a grumpy old man who hates everybody. All the stories are connected by the various characters and a devilish little guy named Sam.

Hello Sam!

I first saw this film in 2009, I've watched it at least once a year since, and I think I love it more with each viewing. The cinematography is very slick in this film, it moves at a fantastic pace, the opening is absolute gold, and the connections between the stories are clever. The acting is pretty good as well, something you don't expect from this sort of film, with Dylan Baker as Steven the killer principal and Britt McKillip as lead mean girl Macy turning in particularly good performances. To me, however, the stories themselves are the main attraction here. They are smart, horrific, have genuine scares, and, as previously mentioned, contain good twists. This movie has become a regular at my household every Halloween, and I believe it to be the best horror anthology since the original Creepshow. I highly recommend this to any horror fan.

On A Scale Of One To Ten: 9

Trick 'r Treat Movie Trailer

THE LAND UNKNOWN

The Land Unknown Movie Review

Three military men and the obligatory damsel in distress fly to Antarctica to investigate a strange global pattern--tropical conditions. Once there, they crash into a previously unknown part of the continent that essentially takes them back in time, all the way to the age of the dinosaurs. This 1957 film is one of many "lost in time" creature flicks of the time, and it actually isn't too bad. The acting is pretty standard--nothing fantastic, but nothing terribly bad. The standout would be Shirley Patterson (aka Shawn Smith) as the aforementioned damsel, Maggie Hathaway, who is not only stalked by the dinosaurs, but also by a "cave man" who has been trapped in the land for ten years, as well as a man-eating (or woman-eating, as the case may be) plant. The real stars of the film are the dinosaurs, and the hilarity of them. The behind-the-scenes story of this film is that is was intended to be a huge, high budget flick. So off the bat they spent a ton of money on a mechanical dinosaur...

this guy...

...but then they decided they spent too much money already and cut the budget significantly. This resulted in one of my new favorite characters in film history, an absolutely outstanding rubber suit T-Rex...

this guy...

...leading to more budget cuts, and the inevitable superimposed lizard doubling as a menacing dinosaur...

this guy.

Of course none of this is a terrible distraction to me as I am quite a fan of these type movies. I feel like they could have done more with "cave man", the movie has a very slow start, a poor ending, and the dinosaurs are tragically underutilized--other than that, I like this movie quite a bit and recommend it to fans of this genre.

On A Scale Of One To Ten: 6



The Land Unknown Movie Trailer (this trailer is fantastic!)

Friday, May 22, 2015

ZOMBIE LAKE (aka LE LAC DES MORTIS VIVANTS)

Zombie Lake Movie Review

A group of Nazi's return from the dead--and the bottom of a lake--to terrorize a small village in France. This 1981 French film is known as one of the worst zombie films ever made, and for good reason, but I have to be honest and say to me it was so bad it was good. The zombie green makeup looks like it came from a post-Halloween clearance bin somewhere. The continuity errors are fantastic--at one point a team of volleyball players get naked and go into the cursed lake. We get a shot of them standing thigh-deep in the water, splashing at each other and having fun. The next shot is under the water as the zombies approach, and the girls are now in water so deep they are kicking their legs to float. The next shot? Thigh deep again. The dialogue was dull, but there was so little of it you can overlook it with ease. In fact, there was so little talking in this film I wondered what it would have been like as a silent film (I concluded it likely would have been much better). There was also stuff that was just...weird. One of the zombies was the father of a little girl living in the village, and they have a relationship that reminded me of Frankenstein's Monster and the little girl from Frankenstein.

A touching zombie-daughter moment

This guy, who we are introduced to in an extended flashback scene that made this as much a war movie as a zombie film, becomes a pseudo good guy--even though he is not only a zombie, but a Nazi zombie! The zombies, when they do attack, are far more vampire-esque than zombies as they bite the necks of their victims (in a particularly hilarious scene a zombie looks more like he's trying to give his victim a hicky than trying to chew into her), drink some blood, but do not eat that bodies. And when exactly does this movie take place? When they tell the story of the zombie soldiers being dumped into the lake, it is said to have happened "ten years ago", which would make this movie set in the 1950s, but the van, cameras, clothing, etc., all look like they are from the late seventies. And if it IS set in the late seventies/early eighties, the Nazi's daughter would be in her thirties. Many of the shots are absolutely inexplicable. The zombies are determined to be indestructible, yet one is scared of knives. Yes, this is a bad, bad movie, but if you like such things in movies, you will find a great deal of enjoyment here--I did.

On A Scale Of One To Ten: 5

Zombie Lake Movie Trailer (this is the English language trailer. I saw it in French. Warning: there's lots of nudity in this trailer, but oddly, the woman who comes in yelling about the lake has a shirt on, and in the movie she is topless.)

Thursday, May 21, 2015

[REC] 4: APOCALYPSE

REC 4: Apocalypse Movie Review

Picking up where the first REC movie left off, this one finds television reporter Angela (Manuela Velasco) being rescued from the infected building and moved to an oil tanker to be quarantined with other people who may have come in contact with the virus. Once there, naturally, the virus outbreak occurs once more. There are a couple things that will pop out almost immediately to fans of this series--first, though this takes place beginning the day after the original film, Angela appears to have aged about ten years.

Maybe 12...

This is not unexpected as the same actress plays the part and the movies were shot seven years apart, but this is the risk you run in having the film follow this story. Velasco does a really good job in this movie, as she did in the first, so the whole aging thing can be overlooked. The second thing fans will notice is that for the first time in the series no part of the movie is shot as a found footage film. I am a fan of this series, especially the first film, but I was a little disappointed in this outing--not that it's a bad film (it's not), it just didn't quite live up to the punch delivered by the first film. The characters are uninteresting, and Angela is in it way too little. The gore and horror are there (it may do for boat motors what Dead Alive did for lawnmowers), but it doesn't come close to really being "scary" (the first one was terrifying) and it suffers from poor performances (Velasco notwithstanding). Still, this is a film that I did enjoy, and seen as a stand-alone film, it is fairly enjoyable.

On A Scale Of One To Ten: 7

REC 4: Apocalypse Movie Trailer

Saturday, May 16, 2015

CURSE OF THE SWAMP CREATURE

Curse of the Swamp Creature Movie Review

Mad scientist Dr. Simond Trent attempts to further evolution by creating a creature that is a combination of human and reptile. When a group of criminals and an oil surveyor cross his path he sees the opportunity to experiment on even more people. This 1966 creature feature is a true throwback to a simpler time in horror: this film contains no excessive profanity (or ANY profanity for that matter), no blood, no gore, a creature in an unintentionally hilarious rubber mask, bad acting, questionable dialogue, poor audio, continuity errors, a villain who resembles Hunter S. Thompson, a group of locals doing "the snake dance" for what turns out to be no real reason at all--what else could one ask for? This is the kind of thing I loved to watch as a kid late Friday nights, and I couldn't help but smile watching this one. My only real complaint with this movie is that you only see the creature at the very end, and its appearance is tragically brief. I didn't expect this movie to be a great movie, and it certainly wasn't, but I loved it for what it was.

On A Scale Of One To Ten: 5

Curse of the Swamp Creature Entire Movie

THIR13EN GHOSTS (aka Thirteen Ghosts)

Thirteen Ghosts Movie Review

Family man Arthur Kriticos (Tony Shalhoub, Monk, Wings) inherits a creepy mansion from his late uncle Cyrus and finds it holds more than they bargained for. I will say upfront this is a favorite horror film of mine--that said, it is not without faults. With the exception of Matthew Lillard (Scream, SLC Punk!) as Dennis, the acting in this film is pretty bad--even Shalhoub, who I consider myself a fan of, is off in this film, and his kids (Shannon Elizabeth and Alex Roberts) border on unbearable. The dialogue is pretty weak and cheesy (maybe an ode to the original?) and you get the idea the best lines in the movie were improvised by Lillard. All that said, this movie has a lot going for it. The ghosts are absolutely terrifying. I remember seeing this in the theater when it came out and genuinely being creeped out by some of the ghosts, in particular The Hammer and The Jackal.

Mr. Hammer

Mr. Jackal

Really all twelve of the ghosts (I know there are thirteen, but I don't want to spoil anything for anybody who has not seen it) are really well done and frightening. The house itself is jaw-dropping in its detail, and the special effects are really good for its time (2001). Some of the death scenes are gory, and the opening sequence sets a good mood for the rest of the movie. There is also a really cool nod to the original 13 Ghosts--in the original, to "see" the ghosts in the film audience members had to put on a pair of special glasses. In this one characters in the film itself could only see the ghosts if they were wearing special glasses. Thir13en Ghosts will never be considered a masterpiece of horror in anybody's book, but it is a movie I enjoy quite a bit and recommend highly.

On A Scale Of One To Ten: 8

Thir13en Ghosts Movie Trailer

Friday, May 8, 2015

13 SINS

13 Sins Movie Review

Recently fired loser Elliot Brindle (Mark Webber) receives a phone call one night to participate in a game. If he completes thirteen tasks, which at first seem harmless, he will be awarded enough money to pay for his wedding, his soon to be born child, and to take care of his ailing father and half-retarded brother. But as the tasks become more risky, Elliot looks for ways out. This is a remake of the movie 13: Game of Death, a 2006 movie from Thailand that I have yet to see. Webber does a good job as Brindle, making the viewer truly care about this poor guy. He also delivers the comedy in a subtle way that is effective. The tasks themselves range from really cool to boring and uninteresting, but you can't expect the tasks to get too out of hand before the reveal of how far it will go. Pruitt Taylor Vince (Identity, Natural Born Killers), one of my favorite character actors, does a good job in his limited role, playing Vogler, a paranoid guy who seems to have all the answers.

It's always the "crazy guy" who has the answers

There are some twists and turns throughout the movie, though one, unfortunately, can be seen coming a mile away. The death scenes are few, but the ones that are there are pretty bloody. One thing that really brings this movie down for me is the comedy. While Webber does a decent job, it seems terribly forced with the rest of the cast. I wish they had made this a straight horror/thriller flick, but alas, it's not. 13 Sins is not a masterpiece by any stretch of the imagination, but I was pleasantly surprised and once it gets going, it's actually a fairly decent movie.

One A Scale Of One To Ten: 7

13 Sins Movie Trailer

ALYCE KILLS

 Alyce Kills Movie Review

After accidently pushing her best friend Carroll (Tamara Feldman of Hatchet fame) off the roof of a building, Alyce (Jade Dornfeld) begins to fall into a world of drugs and madness. The beginning of this movie is dreadfully slow--the first twenty minutes or so introduce the characters in a drunken evening and does little to draw you in. After the accident, the movie gets very repetitive--Alyce does drugs, has visions of Carroll, visits her drug dealer to get more, repeat, repeat, repeat. Though this portion of the film tends to drag, and is absolutely filled with drug movie clich├ęs, it does show Alyce's descent fairly well. So an hour and fifteen minutes into this film you may find yourself regretting watching this movie, but those last fifteen minutes the movie...oh those last fifteen minutes. Brutal does not begin to describe what the last fifteen minutes of this movie presents. It is violent, gory, and even contains some humor (albeit very dark humor). The acting in this movie is pretty good for what it is, and James Duval (John the Mod from SLC Punk!) even shows up. This is a movie where you really have to take the good with the bad, and unfortunately, there is a lot of bad that precedes the good. Another major issue with this movie is Alyce herself--the character is simply not likeable or sympathetic, so it's hard to cheer for her or care about her fate. In stealing a lot from a variety of previous films, Alyce Kills is a somewhat unique film, though I can't go so far as to recommend it.

On A Scale Of One To Ten: 5

Alyce Kills Movie Trailer

SADAKO

Sadako Movie Review

Many years ago, a girl named Sadako was murdered and thrown down a well. Now Sadako returns, via a viral video on the internet, to posses and kill anybody who dares watch. This is a continuation of sorts of the Ringu series (the inspiration for The Ring), which brings us from the age of VHS to that of the internet, and like so many other things, the new can't compare with the old. This movie was done in 3D, and that is really obvious when watching it at home--I can't say how this looked in a theatre, but watching on Netflix, the 3D stuff is very distracting, and worse, it looks cheap. The special effects are also bad, and when paired up with the 3D it creates an absolute mess.

This gives you an idea

It really is a shame that visually it is such a bad movie because otherwise, it really isn't. The acting is solid, the things coming out of the well were creepy (they would have been more so had the effects been better), and the story was a decent modernization. Sadako does seem more Americanized than previous Japanese horror films in that it tends more toward quick action, death scenes and gore as opposed to the slower build we have become accustomed to from such films. I wanted to like this movie as I am such a fan of Japanese horror, but unfortunately the poor presentation made that impossible. Still, the story itself may make it worth your time, and if you're a fan of the Ringu series this is worth a viewing to at least say you've seen them all.

On A Scale Of One To Ten: 5

Sadako Movie Trailer

Sunday, May 3, 2015

A HAUNTING AT SILVER FALLS

 A Haunting At Silver Falls Movie Review

Following the death of her father, Jordan (Alix Elizabeth Gitter) is sent to live with relatives in Silver Falls. Once there, she sees the ghost of a murdered girl and discovers the town is hiding some dark secrets. This film, to me, was largely a pint of Stir Of Echoes with a shot of The Ring and a dash of Hot Fuzz and The Stepford Wives thrown in, but, somehow, it works. The acting is nothing spectacular, yet nothing terrible, with Tara Westwood turning in the best performance as the chilling Anne Sanders. One face you will likely recognize is Erick Avari (The Mummy, a million other things), and he does his usual good job. This film was shot on a fairly small budget, but the look, feel, and special effects are decent for what they had to work with. The ghosts are somewhat scary here, though some of the movements and actions of them are a bit silly. The movie starts off pretty slow, but if you can stick it out, it does pick up and shift directions a couple times along the way. My major complaint about this movie is that it leaves SO MANY questions unanswered. It's possible this was done to leave an opening for a sequel, but unfortunately, it instead leaves this movie flat in that area--this ordinarily wouldn't be a major deal, but the stuff left unanswered, unlike in so many other films, was actually interesting and could have resulted in so much more. As it is, these unanswered questions only harm this movie, leaving it just a few steps above average--this is still more than I was expecting from this film, so I was ultimately left pleasantly surprised.

On A Scale Of One To Ten: 7

A Haunting At Silver Falls Movie Trailer