Saturday, September 19, 2015

WYRMWOOD: ROAD OF THE DEAD

Wyrmwood: Road of the Dead Movie Review

A meteor shower leads to a zombie outbreak in Australia. Now Barry (Jay Gallagher), joined by a band of misfits and weirdos, is on the road in search of his sister Brooke (Bianca Bradey), the victim of a kidnapping at the hands of a military outfit working for a mad scientist (Berynn Schwerdt). This Australian comedy/horror is some strange hybrid of The Evil Dead, Mad Max, and Shaun of the Dead, and, for the most part, it works. The film primarily presents itself as a horror film in the beginning, with humor dropped in subtly here and there before becoming almost completely comedy, and finally finding a nice balance toward the end. This film attempts to introduce new things to the genre to mixed results--somehow (it's never really explained) things that were once flammable (gasoline) no longer are, but the gasses the zombies breathe out, as well as their blood, are.

Flammable zombie

Thus, in order to drive around, they have to find a way to use the breathing zombies to fuel their vehicle. Also, for other reasons never fully explained, the zombies stop breathing this stuff out at night, instead choosing to use it to fuel their own movements, making them faster. And somehow, somewhere in the story, the hilarious mad scientist...

this guy
 
...gives a girl...

this girl

...the power to control the zombies. So yeah, there's a lot going on in this film to keep you interested. On top of that it is filled with blood, gore, and absolute madness. The major drawback of the film for me is the heavy reliance on bad CGI for the gore and fire. Also, while the directing is really good for the most part, a lot of times it comes off as a direct rip-off of Edgar Wright and Guy Ritchie. Unfortunately, the movie may lose the viewer somewhat when it leans too far toward the comedy--some of it is just too obvious and not funny. Ultimately Wyrmwood comes across as a film most will either love or hate--if you're expecting a frightening zombie flick in the vein of 28 Days Later you will be disappointed--if you are expecting a zomedy as funny as Shaun of the Dead you will be disappointed--but if you're looking for a film that is a lot of fun and doesn't take itself too seriously, while still adding some gore and surprisingly touching moments, I recommend Wyrmwood.

On A Scale Of One To Ten: 7

 
Wyrmwood: Road of the Dead Movie Trailer

Sunday, September 13, 2015

MONSTER ON THE CAMPUS

Monster on the Campus Movie Review

Professor Donald Blake (Arthur Franz) brings a prehistoric fish to his lab on campus, but while carrying it he cuts his finger on a tooth, exposing him to--something--in the fish that makes him temporarily devolve into a savage Neanderthal. This 1958 film is a fine example of B-horror/science fiction film of its time--it has a plot that is straight out of left field, hilariously bad acting, fantastic dialogue (even mentioning the ever-dreaded gamma rays), and a very rubbery monster.

Hyde

We find out early in the film Blake is the killer, but we don't see him in all his primitive glory until close to the end. Leading up to the end we learn it is not just humans that are changed by contact with the fish, it's also other living beings.

Like this dragonfly on a string 

Adding to the awesomeness of the visuals is the fish itself, which actually does look pretty scary.
As I said before, the acting in this movie is pretty awful, so you have to take that for what it is. Some of the things in the movie make no sense whatsoever--for example, Blake cuts his finger on the fish's tooth because he decides to carry it by putting his hand in it's mouth.


Observe the mouth

Another thing that is unfortunate about this film is how much it borrows from classic movies that came before it--the Jekyll and Hyde and Frankenstein comparisons are inevitable. Had they decided to leave these bits out of the film it would do much better as a movie that stands apart--as it is, this is really an average movie from the golden era of creature features, but one that is fun to watch nonetheless.

On A Scale Of One To Ten: 5


Monster on the Campus Trailer

Saturday, September 12, 2015

AVENGED

Avenged Movie Review

Zoe, a deaf/mute woman out on the road alone, is kidnapped, beaten, raped and murdered by a band of evil-doing rednecks who, living in the middle of the desert, have nothing better to do I guess. When an old Indian medicine man finds Zoe's body and attempts to save her, the soul of a vengeful Apache inhabits her body, giving him the opportunity to avenge the deaths of his people at the hands of the evil white man.

It's avenging time!

Yes, this movie is similar to The Last House On The Left and I Spit On Your Grave only, you know, not nearly as good. Putting aside the inevitable comparisons, even as a stand alone movie this is still not a good film. The dialogue is uninteresting, the special effects are on par with a typical SyFy original (minus the humor), and the outcome is predictable and boring. The acting is pretty bad across the board, with the possible exception of Amanda Adrienne as Zoe. The film is also bogged down by cliché after cliché (one of the redneck bad guys is a cop, the Indian is all-knowing, a heart keeps beating after being pulled out of a chest--you get the picture).

"Yours?"

The positive things about this movie are few, but they are there. Zoe looks pretty wicked once she is possessed, and Adrienne goes a good job via her facial expressions, making the character look scarier. There is a good bit of gore--unfortunately, it is often laughably bad (the intestines being pulled out especially). I'm replaying the entire movie in my head, trying desperately to think of something else positive say--I'm sorry, I have nothing.
  
On A Scale Of One To Ten: 3



Avenged Movie Trailer

Thursday, September 10, 2015

UNFRIENDED

Unfriended Movie Review

Exactly one year after one their classmates commits suicide, six friends are talking to each other via Skype when a mysterious seventh person, who is controlling the dead girls Facebook page, joins the party. The teens now find themselves in a race against the clock as they attempt to figure out who the person is---and stay alive while doing so. One thing everybody who has not seen this film yet should know right off the bat is that the entire film is shown from the point of view of lead character Blaire's computer--in other words it's a lot of

this...

this...

and this. 

This is a very unique approach to making a film, and to be honest, it is really hit or miss. On one hand you get the sensation that it feels real and you are seeing something you shouldn't be--it almost gives the feeling that you, as the viewer, are hacking into Blaire's computer yourself to watch the events unfold. On the other hand, if you are watching this film on a television, either hope you have a very large tele, or sit really close to it--some of the words on the screen are really small, and with such a large part of this film being silent as you read, it can feel overwhelming in that there are SO MANY words on the screen--all over the screen--at once. If you are looking for a likable character to get behind, you won't find one here--not even the "victim"--and I am okay with that in films such as this. The main setback in this movie, to me, is the acting--it's really bad across the board. Another drawback for me is the presentation. The computer screen is something I do not take major issue with--it's the video lag that comes with it when anything of any importance is happening. The death scenes are quick and marred with "video lag" and cutting out. It is terribly frustrating to see these scenes build up so well only to have little payoff. That said, the pace of the movie is fantastic, and once it gets going it will keep you glued to the screen (even if a lot of it is fairly predictable). The breaking down of the characters toward the end, and how quickly they begin to turn on each other, is well done. If you can manage to silence the I.T. guy in your head, and you can stop thinking to yourself "Why don't they just unplug the computer?" or "Why don't they just meet in person and talk this over?", you may find yourself enjoying this movie--I did, even though it falls short of its potential.

On A Scale Of One To Ten: 6



Unfriended Trailer (A LOT of the trailer isn't in the movie)

I EAT YOUR SKIN

I Eat Your Skin Movie Review

Cancer research on a remote island (Voodoo Island, to be exact) goes wrong, leading to an army of zombie-esque people terrorizing writer Tom Harris (William Joyce) and his posse. This black and white horror film from 1964, strangely enough, starts off as a slapstick comedy--and fails miserably at being even remotely funny. If you can manage to get past that part of the film--well, it doesn't get much better. Harris is a really unlikable character--honestly, why some filmmakers make their hero so despicable baffles me. We, the viewer, are supposed to have a hero we can get behind and cheer to victory, not one we wish would die every time he opens his mouth. Once we get past this we are treated to...lots of dancing.

Boogie

Joining Harris are his publisher Duncan Fairchild (Dan Stapleton), Duncan's wife Coral (Betty Hyatt Linton), and love interest Jeannie Biladeau (Heather Hewitt), the daughter of Dr. Bildeau (Robert Stanton). Duncan is almost as unlikable as Harris, the good Doctor is played by possibly the worst actor of the bunch (and that's really saying something), and Linton possesses what has to be considered one of the most ear piercing, fingernails on a chalkboard voices to ever leave a human mouth. The only redeeming quality of any of this cast is Hewitt--she's at least a pretty face.

Unlike this guy

 So the plot is absolute nonsense, the acting is dreadful, the fight scenes are practically in slow motion, and, despite the title of the film, there is no eating of skin of any sort--or any other blood or gore for that matter (there is a decapitation scene, but it looks more like a basketball falling off a mannequin than anything real). Whenever I watch films from this era I always wonder what happened around this time to make people so scared of tribes from the deepest, darkest parts of the jungle--there are SO many movies with them as the villains. Other than the weird enjoyment I get out of pondering that question, I also enjoyed the scratchy presentation of the film, the demise of the plane scene (and how the men seemed to forget about the women entirely), and the run time of just 84 minutes.

On A Scale Of One To Ten: 3


 
I Eat Your Skin--Elvira Style

Monday, September 7, 2015

THE NIGHT EVELYN CAME OUT OF THE GRAVE (aka La notte che Evelyn uscì dalla tomba)

The Night Evelyn Came Out Of The Grave Movie Review

After his possibly cheating wife Evelyn dies, Lord Alan Cunningham (Anthony Steffen) fancies local strip clubs and hangouts looking for women to bring back to his castle so he can torture and kill them. Slowly diving into madness, Cunningham marries another woman and begins to believe Evelyn is coming back from the dead. This 1971 Italian gothic horror film is a true test of patience. The voice dubbing is horrible. There is little violence and/or gore in the film. The story is a dull one. It seems the director's approach to this film was "lets drag out an uninteresting story as long as we can, and keep the viewers attention by randomly throwing in scenes of hot, naked chicks".

Like this one 

It's not until toward the end of the movie that we finally see Evelyn back from the dead--but is she really? 

I'm convinced

If you can manage to make it through the over 100 minutes of this film you are treated to a somewhat interesting, twist-filled ending that goes a twist or two too far, leaving a potentially fantastic ending very disappointing. One thing I did absolutely love about this film is the transfer--the pops, the grainy film, the missing frames--the film was even off centered at one point. Outside of these few things, there's unfortunately not much going for this film. Skip it.
  
On A Scale Of One To Ten: 4



The Night Evelyn Came Out Of The Grave Trailer

Sunday, September 6, 2015

THE NIGHT WALKER

The Night Walker Movie Review

After the death of her wealthy husband, Irene Trent (Barbara Stanwyck) seeks the help of her husband's attorney Barry Morland (Robert Taylor), as she is now having nightmares of her husband seeking revenge on her as she continues to have visions of her "dream lover". The question is this: is she, in fact, dreaming, or is all this actually happening. This horror-mystery comes right of the gate swinging with an absolutely phenomenal opening sequence that is a combination of fascinating, frightening, and trippy.

Cool stuff

Director William Castle (House on Haunted Hill, 13 Ghosts) does a really good job setting the atmosphere of this film, and the film truly keeps one guessing what is real and what isn't. The acting is good all the way around--Stanwyck is a convincing victim, Morland shines as the attorney, and Judith Meredith is wickedly outstanding (and gorgeous) as Joyce, the hair stylist friend of Irene.


Joyce giving Irene a massage
 
The music in the film is really good as well (especially in the first half hour), the blind husband looks horrifying (both before and after death), and the marriage scene is so strange it's wonderful. The major drawback for this film is the pace. Toward the middle of the film it hits a wall and absolutely crawls for quite some time--it's as if Castle and writer Robert Bloch could not find a way to advance the movie, which is strange because it actually is a really good story. This is particularly bothersome considering how good the opening of the film is, so seeing it end up a dog chasing its tail is beyond frustrating. However, once the movie does get back on the tracks it delivers a really effective ending, complete with twists and turns. I honestly wasn't expecting any more than a typical B movie when I sat down to watch The Night Walker, and was very pleasantly surprised when it turned out to be much better.

On A Scale Of One To Ten: 7

 
The Night Walker Trailer

Saturday, September 5, 2015

THE HOUSE BY THE CEMETERY

The House By The Cemetery Movie Review

After Dr. Petersen kills himself and his mistress, Petersen's colleague Dr. Norman Boyle moves his family to Petersen's house to continue his research, but once there they discover the murder-suicide isn't the only creepy thing that has happened in the mansion. This Lucio Fulci movie is truly a mixed bag of the really good and the really bad. Being the optimist I am, lets start with the good--the film is wonderfully bloody and gory. Fans of Fulci films come to expect this, and The House By The Cemetery certainly delivers. Beheadings, a knife through the skull, slit throats--it's all here. The special effects are, for the most part, really believable and effective (the bat scene notwithstanding). Fulci does a superb job setting a dark atmosphere throughout the film, and some of the scenes are very deliberate and spine tingling.

Like this
  
Unfortunately, as I said, there is a lot of bad with this film as well, and it all starts with this kid...

Bob

This is one of the most irritating kids in film history--yes, I know this film is Italian and the voice I hear is dubbed, but even taking the voice out, the way the kid acts, his facial expressions, etc, are just so bad they are distracting. Speaking of the dubbing--it's horrible. To me, however, the worst part of the film is the zoom shots. Used occasionally a quick zoom can be an effective way to jolt the audience and/or capture a moment of terror--used almost constantly, it becomes unbearable, and good grief, is it ever used constantly in this film. And then there's the bat scene--the fact that it was clearly on a string (I say clearly because, well, you can see the string) didn't bother me--it actually made me laugh. There are two things that kill the scene and takes away a lot from the movie--it is an unnecessarily long, drawn out scene, and the sound the bat is making is ear piercing to the point I actually wanted to jab a screwdriver into my ears.

The House By The Cemetery is still a decent horror flick--it has a really good ending and is worth checking out (especially if you are a fan of Fulci), but I came away from thinking more about what could have been than what actually was.

On A Scale Of One To Ten: 5


The House By The Cemetery Trailer

Thursday, September 3, 2015

IT FOLLOWS

It Follows Movie Review

Immediately after having sex with the guy she's been sort of dating, teenager Jay Height (Maika Monroe) is knocked out and tied to a chair by the guy so he can explain something sinister to her--he has given her some sort of curse or disease that will result in something following, and possibly killing, her. This 2014 horror flick has become a much-talked about film and favorite among fans--maybe this lifted my expectations a bit, but I came away from this one disappointed. The obvious question surrounding this movie is "What is it?"

It's it!

I am fairly certain writer-director David Robert Mitchell wanted to leave this question open-ended, relying on the viewer to figure it out. I saw the entire film as a look at the AIDS scare of the 1980s--the exact year is never stated in the film, but the cars (for the most part), clothing, and technology/appliances screamed early 80s to me. I pictured this being the time when there were a lot more questions than answers about that particular STD, and the "it" that followed people was a combination of the fear, the disease itself, and the death that results from it (or maybe the entire film was the dream of somebody who had the disease--who knows). In any event, my issue with the film has nothing to do with any of this--instead, what really kills the movie for me is the pacing. You spend a little over an hour and a half (it seems longer) watching little to nothing actually happening. The dialogue is dreadfully boring--even when they talk about the events of what is happening around them the characters sound bored. The writer also does little to make the characters likable or interesting in the least--I get that the point is that it happens to the "everyday" young person, and thus can happen to anybody, but at least give the characters some depth. Finally, the "it" that follows seems to have no rhyme, reason, or rules. Shooting it in the head? That may or may not do something to it. It comes for you slowly--except when it doesn't. It changes appearances often--this is explained and I am really okay with this, but sadly I couldn't help but think of Jason Goes To Hell: The Final Friday when it came to this, and if there's a horror movie you don' want to put your viewer in mind of while they're watching your film, it's Jason Goes To Hell: The Final Friday.


It in one of it's many forms, sans heart eating
  
If you can get past these things there actually are a couple enjoyable things about this movie. The music in the film really stands out and is fantastic. It is a wonderful throwback to music of horror films gone by and does a great job setting the mood (and backing my 1980s theory). The scenery and locations are also very pleasing, though I didn't quite buy a group of pretty young teens walking around those 8 Mile neighborhoods. These things notwithstanding, I found "It Follows to be one of the more overrated horror films I have seen in quite some time. Don't believe the hype.

On A Scale Of One To Ten: 4


It Follows Trailer