Thursday, April 28, 2016

HOSTEL: PART III

Hostel: Part III Movie Review

A group of guys travel to Las Vegas for a bachelor party. Because this is Vegas (and a horror movie), things quickly go south after they encounter strippers and hookers, and soon the guys find themselves captured by the Elite Hunting Club. A twist is thrown into this installment of the Hostel series--this being Las Vegas, members of the club bet on the killings. This is the first movie in the series that did not see a theatrical release, and also the first Eli Roth did not have a hand in--both of these points are quite apparent. The bloodshed is toned down, and the more realistic death scenes of the first two films give way to more absurd, computer assisted killings.

And it bugs me

The third (and to date, final) film in the series follows the same basic storyline the first two built, but somebody must have thought "Wait, we ought to bring this to the United States because...well, there's no really good reason to do this except to be a little different...let's do it!" and it was done. Honestly, it takes away from the general uneasiness of the first two films and gives way to the more familiar debauchery of Vegas. They also somehow managed to make the lead characters even more unlikable than in the first film--considerably more unlikable in fact, especially Skyler Stone as Mike, a character you will want to bid on killing yourself mere seconds after he is introduced. Making characters this horrible in films is a double edged sword--common horror movie script says to make the hero one you can cheer for, but making them this unlikable makes it very enjoyable for the viewer when the character eventually meet their demise--the latter works in this film, but no character is made likable enough for you to want to cheer on. Anyway, the ending is a decent one, and though this doesn't feel quite like a Hostel film and falls a little short of the first two, it is still worth watching.

On A Scale Of One To Ten: 6

Hostel: Part III Movie Trailer

HOSTEL: PART II

Hostel Part II Movie Review

Three American college students (Lauren German, Heather Matarazzo, and Bijou Phillips) are on a European trip when they meet Axelle (Vera Jordanova), a young lady who persuades them to take a detour on their trip. As fate would have it, their new friend isn't quite as kind as she appears to be, and the girls soon find themselves kidnapped and auctioned off to the highest bidding member of The Elite Hunting Club, a group of millionaires who pay to torture and kill people. If this sounds familiar, well...you probably saw the first Hostel film. The sequel is almost the exact same movie, only the male victims are changed to female victims. The only question is...just HOW violent and bloody will this one be?

The scythe's the limit

Mercifully, the sequel moves at a faster pace than the original and the characters are a bit more likable--most unfortunately, the dialogue is just as mind numbing and the story itself fairly uninteresting. Also, much like in the first film, the final act of the film is bloody, brutal, and delivers a fairly decent ending (the final few seconds notwithstanding). If you've seen Hostel and enjoyed it, it's worth watching Hostel II--it's practically the same film, only a little better.

On A Scale Of One To Ten: 7


Hostel Part II Movie Trailer

HOSTEL


Hostel Movie Review

Three young men backpacking through Europe meet some young ladies who promise to take them on an adventure they will never forget...unfortunately for them, it's all a setup, and the guys now find themselves the prize of an evil auction. What does the winning bidder get, you ask? They get to torture and kill the prize. This 2005 film from Eli Roth is considered on of the forerunners of a genre that would come to be known as "torture porn", and wow, is it ever brutal.

Eye can't look

The torture scenes are extremely violent and gruesome--once we finally get to them. Before the scenes we all came for, however, we are subjected to a LOT of nothing really happening. We get to know the main characters and dislike them more by the minute. The writing is pretty mediocre and the dialogue dreadful, but if you can manage to stick it out, the sheer brutality through the last act is something worth seeing--if you can stomach it. There's no denying the impact and influence Hostel had on the horror industry, but truthfully, films in this genre have been done much better. Still, if graphic violence and torture are your thing, Hostel is a must-see.

On A Scale Of One To Ten: 7


Hostel Movie Trailer

Sunday, April 24, 2016

MURDERS IN THE ZOO

Murders In The Zoo Movie Review

Eric Gorman (Lionel Atwill) is a zoologist intent on bringing the world its greatest zoo, filled with all the exotic animals he has rounded up from around the world--unfortunately, his hussy of a wife, Evelyn (Kathleen Burke), can't keep her eyes (or hands) off other men, driving Eric to a raging jealousy he cannot control. How ever will Eric seek his revenge on the objects of Evelyn's desires?

"Ooh, we'll help, we'll help!"

This 1933 movie is known as a "Pre-Code" film--simply put, it is a movie that was released before a bunch of people got together and said "Hey, there's a lot of stuff we ought not allow in widely released motion pictures!" and thus created a code, followed by ratings, and so forth (thanks college degree!). This is why, in this film, we see things such as Evelyn whoring around (though her portrayal is beyond tame by today's standard), animals used as murder weapons, and real animals having real fights with other real animals, something that REALLY turned me off to this film. The acting is fair enough--Atwill actually does a really good job as the psychopath, and Burke is effective as Evelyn.

She sees a guy...it's not her husband

We even get a look at western movie superstar Randolph Scott much earlier in his career. Though this movie has its fair share of horror and darkness, it, most unfortunately, is also filled with really, really bad humor, primarily at the hands of Charles Ruggles as drunkard Peter Yates.

"Watch me make an otherwise decent movie practically unwatchable!"

To put this into perspective--imagine watching The Exorcist but with occasional appearances by Jerry Lewis...and now I know what I'll be picturing as I drift off to dreamland tonight. In many circles Murders In The Zoo is considered a classic--to me, it comes off more as an early exploitation film that really wanted to push the envelope, but buckled and threw in loads of nonsense to soften the blow. With a run time of just 62 minutes it may be worth watching once, but once was more than enough for me.  

On A Scale Of One To Ten: 4

I couldn't find the trailer, so enjoy the first 105 seconds of Murders In The Zoo--at least it's Yates Free

Saturday, April 23, 2016

DEVIL MAY CALL

Devil May Call Movie Review

On her last night on the job, a blind suicide hotline operator (Corri English) is stalked by John (Tyler Mane), a regular caller who also happens to be a serial killer. Right off the bat you may recognize a few people in this movie--we have Mane, who you may know as...

Myers Mane

SabreMane or maybe even...

Big Sky Mane

We also have English, who you may recognize...

Oops...

"John, don't hit me one more time"

And then there's Traci Lords, who, more than anything else, is and will always be known for one thing...

You were expecting something else?

The movie starts off with a very effective, strong opening sequence, followed by a decent introduction of our heroes and inevitable victims (and it's easy to know who will fall into each individual categorie). Tension is built nicely with each call John makes, and Mane looks genuinely creepy in this film.

Remember, he's almost seven feet tall too

Unfortunately, the film teeters off from here. Much of the dialogue between the suicide hotline workers is mundane, mind-numbing filler conversation that neither builds the characters nor advances the story. For the most part the death scenes are boring and predictable, and some of the scenes are hilariously bad--in one scene John bashes a guys head into a wall with the force of a gentle breeze, while in another scene he throws a guy through a wall...of empty cardboard boxes. If you can make it through all this, you will find the film actually has a fairly decent ending (the final few seconds notwithstanding). Devil May Call is a movie that was released with little fanfare and a small budget--it delivers more than what you may expect, but ultimately fails to live up to its potential.

On A Scale Of One To Ten: 5

Devil May Call Movie Trailer

Sunday, April 17, 2016

OPEN WATER

Open Water Movie Review

A couple left behind after a scuba diving outing now face a nightmare--being stranded in the open water with no help in site. This 2003 money maker was based on the real life story of Tom and Eileen Lonergan, who, like Susan and Daniel in the movie, were left behind.

Tom and Eileen

In real life the couple was never found, and theories to their disappearance included the possibility the couple intentionally stayed back--this is approached in the film, and everything we see from the time they are left is speculation to what MAY have happened. All of this I appreciate. I also appreciate the fact that the actors were really filmed in dangerous waters, complete with real sharks (though it was all very contained and fairly safe for the actors). However, from there it falls apart. Once it is just the two in the water, what we get is...

...a lot of this and...

...a little of this.

The characters are not particularly likable. The actors are not talented enough to pull off what is asked of them. The exchanges between the two is enough to put anybody to sleep. And somehow, given the extraordinary circumstances, the director fails to, in any way, make the film scary (and I am a person terrified of deep water). Even worse, nothing ever truly happens. I really want to like this movie--over the years I've given it at least four chances now--but each time I watch it, Open Water is as boring as I remember it being.

On A Scale Of One To Ten: 4

Open Water Movie Trailer

THE NURSE

The Nurse Movie Review

After her father kills the rest of her family and himself, Laura (Lisa Zane) vows revenge on Bob Martin (Michael Fairman), the man she feels is responsible for the loss of her family. As fate would have it, upon hearing of the deaths, Bob suffers a stroke that leaves him with Locked-in syndrome, a condition that leaves him completely conscious and aware of his surroundings but with absolutely no mobility. His live-in nurse? You guessed it. Now Laura psychologically tortures the old man and begins killing his family off.

 
"Hey, look over here...oh wait..."

This 1997 film has many of the makings of a made for TV movie of that era--from the opening credits to the style of shooting (complete with dreadful slow motion shots) to the borderline soap opera dialogue to the lack of any blood or gore, you will swear this was INDEED a Made for TV film until you hear a random F Bomb dropped near the end of the movie. The acting in the movie is pretty solid, especially Zane as the psychotic nurse. There's a fairly effective twist thrown in near the end, and the build up of tension throughout the film will keep you interested enough to get through. The ending is anti-climatic and forced, so you don't get any sense of satisfaction with that. This isn't a great film, or original one for that matter, and it's easy to see why practically nobody has heard of it, but it's written well enough and the acting is strong enough to make it worth watching. I believe the 1990s to be, overall, a forgettable era in horror history, and this movie epitomizes the mediocrity that hurt that decade.

On A Scale Of One To Ten: 5


I couldn't find the trailer so here's the entire movie

Saturday, April 16, 2016

GODZILLA (2014)

Godzilla Movie Review

It's 1999, and a nuclear plant in Japan is destroyed by an unknown source. Fifteen years later, American Joe Brody (Bryan Cranston) and his son Ford (Aaron Taylor-Johnson) return to the scene to attempt to discover what caused the disaster that took the life of the mother of their family. Soon an ancient monster known as a M.U.T.O. is released and officials must figure out if they should use weapons of mass destruction to destroy the creature, or something even more powerful.

This guy

I saw this in theaters when it came out in 2014 and decided to pop in the DVD to give it another look today. Let me just  say I grew up a huge fan of Godzilla. Some of my favorite memories as a child are of watching Godzilla films with my family, and nothing they have done has managed to kill off my love of this monster--I even enjoy the 1998 film and am not ashamed to admit it.

Don't look at me like that

This movie is very strong in character development and the acting is largely good throughout. Cranstan and Taylor-Johnson turn in good performances, and Ken Watanabe (Inception, Batman Begins) steals the show as Dr. Serizawa. I still very much love the guy in the rubber suit Godzilla, so every time I see the King of Monsters done in any other way I am hesitant, but he truly does look impressive here. M.U.T.O. is a little less impressive, but still looks like a cool combination of Mothra and Gyaos from monster movies of years gone by.


Look, here's M.U.T.O. now

While the monsters are not in the film much, when they are all hell breaks loose--there's lots of destruction, chaos, and the final battle scene is one for the ages--when Godzilla unleashed his atomic breath I may or may not have shrieked like a teenage girl. Naturally the movie does have its drawbacks. A LOT of the film is so dark it is difficult, if not impossible, to see what is happening. Unfortunately, this tends to happen at the worst times and the frustration level grows as the movie moves along. Some scenes are a bit redundant, making the final running time of over two hours about ten or fifteen minutes longer than it needed to be. And yes, while I appreciate the build up and anticipation of FINALLY seeing Godzilla, once he arrives he gets very little screen time. These minor annoyances aside, this movie does a lot of justice to the legend of Godzilla, and I am excited to see what comes next.

On A Scale Of One To Ten: 8

Godzilla Movie Trailer

KILLERKILLER

KillerKiller Movie Review

A group of killers awaken to realize the guards at their security facility have disappeared. The doors are unlocked, but they cannot escape due to a freezing mist outside--inside things are no better as they are being killed off one by one by somebody...or something.

It's her...but who is she?

This is a very low budget film from England--the budget, or lack thereof, is painfully evident as soon as the movie starts, and coupled with the opening sequence, if you, as am I, are a horror fan who will watch absolutely anything, you will likely sigh and think to yourself "Here we go again". However, sticking with it pays off a little with this movie. The story is an interesting one, there are twists thrown in here and there, and, in a true rarity for a film that looks like it was shot on a pro-am camcorder, the acting is actually pretty good. The death scenes vary from gory and attention grabbing to offscreen splatter to the absurd. Unfortunately, what drags the film down does a significant amount of damage--the production itself, and in particular the directing and audio. The audio is easy to explain--there is no consistency with it at all. Have your hand on the volume button the entire time you watch this. The quality is so bad at times that it is impossible to decifer what is being said, and it's obvious this was an issue in production, not in post or transfer. The other main issue with this film is the direction. Some of the framing and shots are so mind bogglingly bad the viewer is left wondering what in the world the director was thinking. It is far too self aware, screaming "I'm trying to achieve cult status!!" throughout. One can only wonder how much better this film would have been had writer/director Pat Higgins directed the film as well as he wrote it. All that said, KillerKiller is still a decent film that's worth watching.

On A Scale Of One To Ten: 6

KillerKiller Movie Trailer

Friday, April 1, 2016

PRESERVATION

Preservation Movie Review

Wit Neary (Wrenn Schmidt), her husband Mike (Aaron Staton), and his brother Sean (Pablo Schreiber of Orange Is The New Black) go hiking in the woods, but are soon terrorized by a group of killers. I'll get to the good before the bad--Schmidt does a decent job as the nervous woman turned survivor. Some of the death scenes are kind of okay. The killers are...not what you expect, which is some parts good, other parts absolutely awful.

They look like this...and ride bicycles 

Okay, so this is kind of a spoiler, but the "twist" of this movie is the killers are teenagers--though I'm sure you probably figured that out when you read they ride bicycles. That in and of itself is not enough to ruin this movie. What is, however, is their seeming invincibility (when it's convenient, of course). The aforementioned Sean is a former military veteran who, at one point, hits one of the kids in the head with the butt of his rifle probably five or six times. Not only does the killer get up as if nothing happened, Sean doesn't have enough sense (keep in mind, he is trained in hand to hand combat) to be sure the guy is unarmed, dead, unconscious, or any of the above. Instead, he turns his back on him. Another scene sees a kid rebound from an absolute beating as if nothing has happened. At first I thought perhaps the masks made them invincible, but alas, this is not the case. It's scene after scene of this, and horrible subplots that go nowhere, along with unlikable characters, that make this movie difficult to sit through. The pursuit of the killers in the end is completely unbelievable and ridiculous, though the kid interrupting a killing to answer a call from his mom was entertaining. I had high hopes for this film (for whatever reason) but Preservation ultimately comes off as a weird mix of Eden Lake and Wrong Turn, only nowhere near as good as either.

On A Scale Of One To Ten: 4

Preservation Movie Trailer