Saturday, March 23, 2019

V/H/S/2

V/H/S/2 Movie Review

Two private investigators searching for a missing college student find a collection of odd videos in the student's house. They watch them, and what they are seeing plays out as the segments in this anthology, a sequel to the 2012 film V/H/S. We see this wrap-around story, titled Tape 49, between each segment, and it's actually a rather effective part of the movie.

White noise is never a good sign

The first actual segment of this one is Phase 1 Clinical Trials. A man who lost the vision in one eye has an ocular implant put in, and begins to see dead people. A woman with similar experiences shows up at his door, and soon they are attacked by the ghosts. The acting in this segment is rough, and the story is paper thin, borrowing from much better movies. The ghosts are somewhat cool looking though, so it at least has that going for it. The access to this found footage is via the recordings the lab has, taken directly from the patient's eye. Unlike with the original film, this movie starts off with a bit of a whimper.

This is just a bad idea

Next up is A Ride In The Park. We see a bicyclist attacked and bitten by a zombie. After a short bit of time, the man turns into a zombie himself and, meeting up with more of the reanimated, goes searching for brains. This segment is seen entirely from the point of view of the camera on the bicyclist's helmet. You get the sense that this was shot a little tongue in cheek--the zombies look a bit more comical than scary, though the end is rather intense. This is not a bad story, but not a particularly memorable one either.

"What do you mean I don't look good?"

Safe Haven is the third segment of this movie. A news crew shoots a documentary to show the lifestyle of an Indonesian cult. Going into this with the idea the cult is just nonsense, the crew discovers the truth is a lot more sinister. The segment seems to take ages to develop, but once it gets going, it really takes off. The blood flies and the body count adds up quickly, as we see murder, suicide, and mayhem unleashed. Though we see the blood, the footage goes grainy upon the initial blow, which is odd but somehow effective. There is something quite distracting about how this one is shot--we start off seeing everything through various cameras, but as the story progresses, we switch to seeing is all from first person points of view, making it seem like found footage, but not really. While I like the idea of the characters not carrying around a camera while running for their lives, switching to this style of shooting made the rest of the piece feel much more like a video game than a movie. Even with this, Safe Haven is still the best segment in this movie, and the creature reveal at the end is awesome.

Here's a sneak peek

Our final segment is Slumber Party Alien Abduction...yes, that pretty much says it all for this one! The kids at the party are all rather annoying, so seeing them meet their demise is satisfying. There isn't a lot going on before we see the aliens, but what little there is really has no redeeming qualities. All of this segment is through a camera, and it is passed around by the kids, but when the alien attacks starts, and through the end of the story, we see it from the point of view of the small dog that has the camera strapped to it...a point for creativity has to be given here! The aliens look frightening, making the finals several minutes of this one terrifying.

Don't look, Sani

The conclusion of Tape 49 takes us home in impressive fashion. It was nice too see V/H/S/2 go away from some of the issues I had with the first movie--in panic, the characters do more than scream profanities, and the cast here is much more diverse than a bunch of frat boys. We also see the segments cut down from five to four, shaving off about 20 minutes. While I love these things, this movie largely fails to deliver the scares found in the first film--the aliens notwithstanding. V/H/S/2 is a good followup to the first film, but is a step down from that one.

On A Scale Of One To Ten: 6

V/H/S/2 Movie Trailer

V/H/S

V/H/S Movie Review

A group of irritating guys who make their money by filming themselves vandalizing property and attacking women are offered a large sum of money to break into a house and steal a special VHS tape (Google it later, younger readers). Once in the house, they find a lot of the tapes, and a dead old man. They watch horrors unfold on the VHS (we, the viewers, see these as the segments of the movie) and that is the wrap-around story of this 2012 anthology film. The wrap-around (titled Tape 56) is a good enough concept, and when the group finally arrives in the home, it is visually creepy, but the acting is awful, the characters interchangeable, and it seems to take FOREVER for them to finally arrive there.

So many VHS tapes

The first story we see is titled Amateur Night, and in it, a few frat boy types, one of whom is wearing glasses with a hidden camera (this is how we see the story unfold), go to a bar, pick up a couple girls, and take them back to their hotel. One passes out quickly, and the other one, an odd gal named Lily, turns out to be more than they bargained for. This opening segment crawls, and most of the characters are dreadful, but the payoff at the end is tremendous. Hannah Fierman is phenomenal in the role of Lily—after you watch this segment, go back and watch her performance again to truly appreciate what she does. This segment produced a spin-off film titled Siren—I have yet to watch that one, but knowing Fierman reprises her role is enough for me to put it on my list!

That's quite a line on your forehead

Our second segment is Second Honeymoon. In this one, we follow a young couple through the desert. Somebody breaks into their hotel room, stealing money, before breaking in the next night...with deadlier ambitions. The strength of this segment is not in the scares, but in the characters—Joe Swanberg and Sophia Takal both do a convincing job and they seem like a real couple. The death scene is bloody and brutal, while the twist ending feels a bit forced.

This guy is cool too

Next up is Tuesday the 17th. Here, a young woman takes three friends into the woods where her other friends were killed years earlier. Not long after, we see a mysterious creature hunting the four yutes. As is the case with Amateur Night, this one takes a while to get going and you have to sit through some rather annoying characters, but your patience is rewarded. There is a genuinely creepy feel to this creature, and the death scenes are gruesome, though the final kill leaves a bit to be desired.

Adjust the tracking!

The Sick Thing That Happened To Emily When She Was Younger is the long-winded title of our fourth segment. Unlike the rest of the stories, this one is not captured with a video camera but instead plays out entirely on computer monitors. A man and woman are chatting, and the woman develops a sore/growth on her arm that leads to...well, something quite unexpected. While this segment does have an interesting ending, it is probably the least entertaining of the segments. And how, exactly, did this get on VHS?

Here's how this segment looks

10/31/98 wraps things up for us. A group of young men go to a Halloween party, but end up in the attic of the wrong house--here, they witness an exorcism, and when they realize this is not a part of the party, they attempt to save the woman. As they drive away, the men discover that maybe there was a reason this was all happening, and pay for their decision. There are some spooky visuals in this one when the group is in the attic, but otherwise, this is a rather forgetful story.

Somebody wants to lend a hand

As with most anthologies, this film ends with the conclusion of the wrap-around story, and we get what we expect there. V/H/S is a nice horror flick--it combines some interesting stories with twist endings, and throws in some genuine scares to boot. Where the movies fails is in falling into some traps we tend to see with found footage films. Why is this person still recording when he is running from a demon? If you are prone to motion sickness, films like this can be a literal nightmare. The biggest trap for me personally is in the writing of these. Can we please get some better dialogue when the characters are scared? It seems that with practically all these movies, what we get is everybody screaming as they drop F bombs. I call upon directors to please get more creative here. Also, why is it almost always annoying late teens/early twenties people behind the camera and in the group? I understand that this has almost always been the age group of our victims in horror films, but my God, if you are going to have them, at least attempt to give them character and make them somewhat likable. You could take the characters (especially the men) from Tape 56, Amateur Night, Tuesday the 17th, and 10/31/98 and switch them up any way you wanted to and it would make no difference--they are all essentially the exact same person!

Lily is just realizing this

This movie runs a bit long at almost two hours--shortening Tape 56 or eliminating one of the last two segments would have done wonders for this project. Still, even with all this, V/H/S is a slick, fun horror anthology film that I've watched a few times and will likely watch again.

On A Scale Of One To Ten: 7

V/H/S Movie Trailer

Wednesday, March 20, 2019

BIRDEMIC: SHOCK AND TERROR

Birdemic: Shock and Terror Movie Review

New couple Rod (Alan Bagh) and Nathalie (Whitney Moore) must fight off killer, mutant birds in the small town of Half Moon Bay, California. If you have ever heard of Birdemic: Shock and Terror, it is likely because you have seen it on a list of the worst movies ever created. I recall reading about this film when it was released way back in 2010, and made a mental note to check it out--nine years later, at two in the morning on March 20, 2019, I finally got around to watching it (thanks Popcornflix!), and my God, is two in the morning ever the perfect time to watch this film! If you are wondering if this will truly be one of the worst movies you have ever watched, the opening scene will likely answer the question for you. We meet our hero, Rod, and quickly realize Bagh's acting is as wooden and dull as one could possibly dream.

His go-to look

Rod meets Nathalie, who he kind of already knows, and we spend the next 45 minutes or so of the film watching them get to know each other better, see Rod at work in his exciting job of sales (after a very long sequence featuring him driving to get there), and...not much else. During this time, what we see on the screen is director/writer James Nguyen's attempt to present a riveting romantic thriller, and failing in literally every single way a filmmaker can fail. The acting is atrocious--Bagh is one of the worst leading men in film history, and everybody else in the movie besides Moore is even worse--Moore, who will never be mistaken for an Academy-level actress, shines in comparison. The visuals stand out in every negative way possible--the camera is out of focus for many shots, and some scenes are obviously shot against a green screen...and also out of focus.

I don't have the words for this scene...

...but it also includes this guy 

The dialogue doesn't even border on real life, and is just cringe-worthy at times. The framing of the shots is poor. The camera visibly shakes when unlocked from the tripod it's on. My girlfriend said it well early on in this film when she declared this movie "looks like those videos they make you watch at work". The establishing shots are painfully long, and the end scene shots drag for seconds beyond when anything is actually happening--I don't know which is my favorite, the news reporter staring awkwardly at the screen after she has finished delivering her lines, or Nathalie's mother's extended thumbs up. The ever-hated jump cut even appears a couple times. Then there's the audio--holy smokes, the audio! It's obvious the sound was recorded on the microphone on the camera itself, leaving the audio very unbalanced--not just from scene to scene but also from shot to shot! There are also several scenes where the background noise washes out the lines being delivered by the "talent"--the shots on the beach are especially rough.

"It's a..." "What?! I can't Hear y..." "WHAT?"

Have I mentioned there are birds in this film? You almost forget this by the time we get to them...over half way through the movie! When we do see our feathered friends, however, our patience is rewarded in a most spectacularly awful manner.

Absolute gold

Forget SyFy originals...they have nothing on the ineptness of the CGI presented in this film. The birds fly around a little, spit acid, make sounds not found anywhere in nature, and sometimes explode when they hit the ground. They unleash their terror primarily by flying in front of their victims' faces and...just hovering there until the humans drop dead.

The flights of doom

Sprinkled among all this is mention of global warming...over, and over, and over, and over again. We get lectures, soliloquies, and presentations about it. The obsession with this concept is laughable--as I watched, I wondered if this was written by a lunatic from the left or a goofball from the right trying to make the left look insane (turns out, it came straight out of left field). Our Ahab, a mystery man near a beach, claims global warming is the reason the birds are attacking. Later, we get more insight from a fella billed as Tree Hugger--he tells our heroes the birds are only attacking humans around cars and gas stations because they are upset over the whole global warming thing--when he hears a mountain lion, Tree Hugger retreats to his tree house, and tells the rest to go back to their car...maybe he wants them to die?

He does look like a killer, after all

How does all this add up? Wonderfully, as it turns out! As my girlfriend and I watched this movie, we had a blast, laughing out loud throughout, rewinding to watch our favorite scenes again, and inserting our own jokes. Some movies are so bad they're good--this one is so bad it's awesome. When it comes to the overall quality of technical aspects, I am fairly certain I have never seen a movie as poorly made as this one--that said, I have not had so much fun watching many other movies in my life either, and that has to be considered when giving out grades. Birdemic: Shock and Terror provided my girlfriend and I with tons of laughs and entertainment this morning, right up through the final scene, when we saw the birds fly into the distance for several minutes...

...without ever getting anywhere

On A Scale Of One To Ten: 6



Birdemic: Shock and Terror Movie Trailer

Tuesday, March 19, 2019

THE DRILLER KILLER

The Driller Killer Movie Review

Feeling the pressure of having no money, the inability to sell his artwork, being surrounded by losers, and with a punk rock band playing until the early morning in the loft next to his, New York City artist Reno Miller (Abel Ferrara, who also directed the film) spirals into insanity and begins killing those around him with—you guessed it—a power drill. This is one of those movies that starts off slow, and you begin to question some of the shots right out of the gate, but if you stick it out, you see the entire picture come together. Released in 1979, this film wonderfully captures exactly what I picture New York City looking and feeling like in the 1970s—gritty, dark, and chaotic.

With a splash of this

This was also at the tail end of the run of the grindhouses and the films that were played there--The Driller Killer practically defines the genre. The acting is bad, the plot and dialogue are dubious (especially the dark comedy elements), and the directing is unconventional (that’s putting it kindly), but somehow, it all combines to work. When Reno finally snaps, the blood begins to flow, but for a movie that undeniably is a slasher above anything else, the kills are possibly the least interesting thing about this film. The pace really picks up at the end, leading to a final scene that is nothing short of chilling, but to add to the unorthodox feel of the film, the aforementioned band, who seem to be the final push to Reno’s lunacy, are spared from his rage. While not a great film, The Driller Killer is sort of like those works of art that take a bunch of pieces that, when viewed individually, are a disaster, but when combined, look wonderful.

On A Scale Of One To Ten: 6

The Driller Killer Movie Trailer

Tuesday, March 12, 2019

METAMORPHOSIS

Metamorphosis Movie Review

Geneticist Dr. Houseman (Gene LeBrock) tries to develop an anti-aging serum, but when the pressure to produce results becomes too much, he rushes things and tests it on himself, resulting in physical mutation and a killer instinct. To read the description, you would swear this was something from the 1940s or 1950s, but this one was actually released in 1990. The dialogue in this film is absolutely mind-numbing, and LeBrock's performance makes this bit of torture even worse. Sadly, the acting doesn't get any better from there.

Is she being seductive or is she bored?

If you can make it through an hour of very little happening, you will finally see some action--death scenes that are presented in the form of quick-cut flashbacks, implying Houseman is on a killing spree. The shots are bloody, but happen so quickly they are rather ineffective--and don't even ask about the monkey noises. Practically every scene where we see something actually happening is shot so dark we...well, have a hard time seeing anything actually happen. Houseman begins to change as well, gradually turning into a monster--literally--until we finally see him do some killings.

Here's the end result

It is here, in the third act, where things begin to pick up. Houseman goes on a rampage, and the bloodshed level is cranked up, all leading to a wonderful ending. As good as the final fifteen or twenty minutes of this movie are, however, it is not worth sitting through the rest of the film to get to it.

On A Scale Of One To Ten: 4


Metamorphosis Movie Trailer

Saturday, March 9, 2019

NAKED MASSACRE

Naked Massacre Movie Review

An American stuck in Northern Ireland slaughters a house of nurses. That is the premise of this 1976 horror flick, which is based on the real-life killings committed by Richard Speck in Chicago ten years prior to the release of this film-- a subtle reference to this is made at the end of the movie, so listen close. Other than changing the names and location, a lot of this film falls in line with the real story, which is pretty horrific.

Things are about to get worse

Much of the first act is spent getting to know the nurses, and seeing what exactly is driving Cain, our killer, to madness. Things really pick up when Cain breaks into the house, and the ensuing torture and killings are unrelenting. Veteran German actor Mathieu Carriere does a wonderful job as Cain, making you both feel for the character and wish him harm at the same time. Unfortunately, the film is bogged down by poor dialogue and directing. We also get some political statements in this movie, which is more than a little surprising. To add to the weirdness, if you happen to have this movie as part of the 50 movies Chilling Classics release from Mill Creek Entertainment, you will have an added surprise--as I was watching this, I was treated to about 30 seconds of an entirely different movie--muted--before it switched back to Naked Massacre.

I assume I'll come across these two somewhere else in this collection

When I saw the title Naked Massacre, I was expecting some trashy grindhouse flick with lots of nudity and nothing else of note--this movie turned out to be much better than that. True, there is a degree of nudity and gore in the film, but don't be mislead by the title of this movie--it has more going for it than what you think. 

On A Scale Of One To Ten: 6


Naked Massacre Entire Movie

Thursday, March 7, 2019

BELL FROM HELL

Bell From Hell Movie Review

After being released from a mental institution, John (Renaud Verley) returns to seek revenge on his aunt and cousins for having him sent away. Why did they do this? If you are a fan of early 1970s Spanish horror films, you are probably guessing there is an inheritance involved...and you are correct! My review of this film is the version found on the Chilling Classics: 50 Movies DVD set.

THIS set, to be exact

I don’t know if there is a better transfer of the film out there somewhere, but the version included in this set is rough. The picture is very shaky for most of the movie—this is especially hard to handle when you have a splitting headache while watching. The sound was absolutely awful as well. This is the English version, so the dubbing was also poor--yes, this movie has a lot against it right off the bat. Could it overcome all this? Not even close. The movie crawls from the get-go. We sit through a LOT of nothing happening before John finally decides to go for his revenge. One of his four would-be victims gets killed by bees.

But which one will it bee?

We think this is going to be awesome, but we are disappointed.

It's nowhere near as memorable as this scene bee

We get some sort of weird, almost torture scene with John's cousins that features some nudity but no gore...or even a drop of blood. We almost get a rape scene. We almost get John having sex with his cousins. We almost get to see the aunt stung by the bees. We almost get to see a hanging. Noticing a pattern here?

"I think maybe I notice...no, I lost it"

Surrounding the scenes of things almost happening is lot of horrible lighting, irritating angles, and unnecessary zoom shots. Sadly, this film is probably most known for the director, Claudio Guerin, falling to his death while shooting a scene at the bell tower. Bell From Hell seems a movie that wanted to push the envelope, but shied away when it got to the edge; had it actually gone through with the scenes it teased, this may have been a decent film. As it is, this one is just a bore.

On A Scale Of One To Ten: 3

Bell From Hell Movie Trailer

Wednesday, March 6, 2019

CLASS REUNION MASSACRE (aka THE REDEEMER: SON OF SATAN!)

Class Reunion Massacre Movie Review

A deranged preacher invites six former classmates to a high school reunion, and starts killing them for living less than pure lives. That is the premise of this 1978 film, which was originally released as The Redeemer: Son of Satan!, but was changed to Class Reunion Massacre upon video release, and what it's known as on Flickstream's Drive-In Classics--by the way, Drive-In Classics is a great way to find a lot of these old, rare horror films, but my God, are there ever a lot of commercials during the movies! Speaking of movies, let's get back to this one. Class Reunion Massacre is, at the bare bones, a slasher film, but it doesn't really settle for being just that. The movie comes out of left field visually, bordering on being an art house film.

"Did somebody say art house?!"

We get a lot of jumping around in this movie, so paying attention is a must--it's also a challenge, as much of this film drags. The dialogue is mind-numbing at times, and the story takes plenty of time to develop and come together, but when the third act hits, your patience pays off--somewhat. While we get some very interesting visuals, the death scenes are not particularly satisfying, and that's sort of what we are expecting from a film such as this one. While not a bad movie by any stretch, Class Reunion Massacre isn't one I would recommend going out of your way to watch either. 

On A Scale Of One To Ten: 5


Class Reunion Massacre Movie Trailer

Tuesday, March 5, 2019

Q (aka Q: THE WINGED SERPENT)

Q: The Winged Serpent Movie Review

A large bird is terrorizing New York City; meanwhile, detectives, led by Shepard (David Carradine, Death Race 2000) are investigating rather strange deaths. Are the two related? Well, yes, I would say they probably are--in fact, we know from the opening scene they indeed are. This 1982 cult classic will certainly appeal to fans of the old 1950s creature features--our friend Q looks like she came directly from that era.

What the flying...

The technique used for our winged warrior is stop-motion animation, and it is done exceptionally well here. If you are a fan of this form of movie making, you are going to love the monster in this film--I did. Separating this movie from the classics of the golden era is the gore--we get decapitations and mutilations, all filled with lots of blood--the shots of the red stuff falling from the victims to the people on the streets below are especially cool. There's also plenty of profanity and a sleight bit of nudity, so don't come into this one expecting a kid-friendly film. The acting is a bit shaky, but Michael Moriarty as Jimmy Quinn, the small time crook who is the only person to know of Q's hiding spot in the Chrysler Building, is absolute gold--you just don't find acting this good in these type movies, and Moriarty has as much to do with the enjoyment of this movie as Q.

The Chrysler Building is awesome too

The dialogue in the film leaves a lot to be desired, and for as good as Moriarty is, Carradine is equally bad. The ending will leave you a bit unsatisfied as well, though it does tease a sequel--37 years later, that has yet to happen. If you are a fan of monster movies, put Q: The Winged Serpent on your to watch list. 

On A Scale Of One To Ten: 7


Q: The Winged Serpent Movie Trailer