Sunday, April 28, 2013

Yippee-Ki-Yay To The King, Baby! (Assault On Dome 4)

The week in movies: Oblivion (a film so dull that it couldn't make Morgan Freeman with machine guns look interesting), Lockout (which was very entertaining, considering that I watched Oblivion beforehand) Oz The Great And Powerful (a surprisingly enjoyable family film that I was glad to watch in 3D), G.I. Joe: Retaliation (while not a great movie by any means, at least this felt more like a G.I. Joe film than the last one), Star Wars (the 1977 theatrical version) and going through half of the Marvel/Avengers boxset I got at Xmas, with Iron Man (brilliant film), Iron Man 2 (very flawed but manages to be funny) and Captain America: The First Avenger (enjoyable enough superhero flick that ties in with The Avengers).

Another film I watched in the cinema was the remake of Evil Dead. I was going to write about this film this week, along with the original trilogy. Hence the poll that is to the right hand side of this blog at time of writing. But this may not happen as few hiccups include:

  • waiting for the Blu-Ray of Evil Dead 2: Dead By Dawn to come in the post.
  • the fact that the people behind me in the cinema while watching Evil Dead wouldn't shut up throughout the whole movie. So I will be watching it a second time whenever I get the chance.
  • I am currently going through the Marvel/Avengers boxset in the lead up to Iron Man 3.
And given that my ideas for article topics tend to change on a regular basis, whether I get around to writing about it remains to be seen. So I may as well write about something that's sort of related to the Evil Dead franchise. So I'm going with a film that stars Ash himself, Bruce Campbell.

One of the other movies I picked up along with River Of Darkness (which I wrote about here) that also cost a fiver was a sci-fi flick called Assault On Dome 4, featuring Bruce on the cover. I didn't read the back of the DVD case to see what it was about, as I figured that I couldn't go wrong with a film starring Bruce Campbell. However I also had a feeling that it would be the only redeemable quality of this movie, which somehow makes it more intriguing.


91 minutes later.....

It is pretty much Die Hard, but set in space. There's nothing more I can say about the story in that respect, other than the whole court marshal scenario throughout the film was pretty pointless, and undermines the actions taken by the hero. I think this movie was only meant to be TV filler, so I can't lambaste it for lack of originality, production value, or even decent acting. It's a run of the mill sci-fi flick that's at least watchable, but for the wrong reasons.

I seem to have a habit of picking films with misleading cover art. While the film certainly does star Bruce Campbell in a major role, it turns out that he happens to be the villain of the movie, which is quite rare for him to play one (to the best of my knowledge at this time). In this film he's an escaped convict who leads a group of prisoners to take over a space station, of which "peace keeper" Chase Morran, the hero of the piece (and damned if I know who plays him), happens to be present.

In a way the cover is not that misleading, as the entire movie focus on Bruce, instead of the villain. Granted he's the only "major" star in this film, and by far the best actor in it. And that's not because I am a fan of Bruce Campbell to begin with. But imagine if the poster for Die Hard made Alan Rickman the main focus of it, with Bruce Willis somewhere in the background. That's how ridiculous the DVD cover was to me.

On a sidenote: Alan Rickman is awesome.

With so much focus set on the villain, and an entertaining one at that, not only did I find myself rooting for him, but everytime the focus shifts to anything else, I wanted the film to go back to Bruce. His performance is his usual wisecracking self that you see in his other movies, but that's not the only reason I wish to see him back onscreen. Whenever the focus shifts to something else, the film just falls apart onscreen. While it is after all a sci-fi B-Movie, it clearly shows that it's a bad one to boot.

The rest of the actors range from wooden to woeful, with next to nothing in terms of character development. Since the rest of the cast don't appear onscreen for too long, or stay alive for that matter, their purpose in this film means very little. Other than Bruce, the only person with more screentime than the rest was the actor who plays Chase Morran. Which doesn't do him any favours, as his lines come across as stupid, especially when spouting unfunny monologues.

The action sequences are so poorly orchestrated that even the one guy with any martial arts background (one of Bruce's main henchmen) doesn't appear in the film long enough to showcase these skills, being taken out by an old soldier with a gun. Not only does this waste an opportunity to use him as one of the main obstacles before taking out the bad guy, the old soldier ends up dead less than five minutes late, which makes this scuffle even more pointless.

Speaking of actors with a lack of fighting skills, "Chase" has very little in that department. So little that I started to wonder why cast him as the good guy in the first place? His part could easily be given to Bruce Campbell. Sure he may not be bulky, but it's not like he has to face anyone that looked more threatening than him (considering that he was never gonna fight the kung fu henchman anyway). But he would have been more believable as a good guy. Here, it's hard to be intimidated by a wisecracking jerk dressed like a saloon bartender.

Erm, when I said that I wanted a shot.....

As with any good (or in this case, bad) B-Movie, there is the combination of poor script, plot holes, cheap special effects, and continuity effects. Plus you know the movie is running short on material when many a time the film goes into slow motion, sometimes for no reason whatsoever. I even have a theory that the whole court marshal scenes were just added in to make up the 90 minutes. These scenes just seem out of place when compared to the rest of the film, much like the alternate opening to The Avengers. To me, it's not really clear if he is found innocent or guilty towards the end. But by that time, I was just glad the credits were rolling.


This is a terrible film, full stop. I would only recommend this to fans of Bruce Campbell, and those who at least appreciate his acting style. If it wasn't for him, not only would this film not get a look in, but it would just crumble under the weight of how bad it really is. It goes to show that he can carry any movie, good or bad, on his shoulders and make it work. Plus he is always entertaining in anything he stars in, be it lead, support, or even a cameo. Other than that, for a Die Hard clone, it was at least better than the godawful A Good Day To Die Hard. Not even Bruce could save that pile of excrement.

And on a final note.....


Sunday, April 21, 2013

B-Movie Double Bill (Hell Comes To Frog Town/Rats)

This week in movies: Dead Silence (surprisingly good horror flick from the creators of SAW), The Collector (not a bad slasher flick considering that it was meant to be a SAW prequel in the beginning, but I would have loved if it used the hilarious "alternate ending"),  Airplane 2: The Sequel (just as funny as the first film), The Thing (prequel to the John Carpenter film, which is a pretty decent reimagining), Zombie Girl: The Movie (interesting little documentary about a 12 year old girl's attempt to make a zombie flick) and Compliance (a shocking and infuriating look at people who deserve a lifetime achievement from the Darwin Awards).

This week I also attended a double bill as part of the Five Lamps Arts Festival, where it showed Chillerama and Bitch Slap. I've seen the first film at the Horrorthon Film Festival two years ago which was my favourite from the festival that year. I never heard of the second film, and while it was in essence a cheap knock-off of Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill!, with the right frame of mind (in otherwords, with a few drinks on you), it can be enjoyable.

I found the double bill to be a laugh, even if hardly any people attended the screening (due to a lack of advertising). It gave me an idea for this blog, just to mix things up a little. As the majority of my previous posts deal with a particular film and my thoughts about it go into detail, including spoilers, I thought it would make a change where I would mix two mini reviews together as one viewing experience.

So the "Double Bill" concept came to fruition, and what better way to start it than to include a few films I bought recently, which belong to The B-Movie DVD Collection. I was tempted to buy the actual boxset, but it worked out cheaper if I bought the individual films.


This happens to be one of the first films I watched on Netflix. I don't remember much of it other than it was a bit of fun. And after last week's movie choice, it's nice to see a film starring a wrestler (Rowdy Roddy Piper, who also starred in classic John Carpenter flick They Live) that doesn't suck.

88 minutes later.....

I may have only seen this film last year, but watching it again felt like I hadn't seen it in a decade. Hence it was almost like watching it again for the first time, and I enjoyed it even more second time around. Because of the film's ridiculous setting, it is essential that you turn your brain off once the movie starts. And with a plot that involves a beefcake with the only working reproductive organ in the land, rescuing women held hostage by mutated frog people, you're better off doing so.

It also helps that the film has an amusing leading man in Roddy Piper, who plays Sam Hell (gotta love the name). Much like They Live, Piper is able to pull off the combination of being an action hero, while being able to entice laughter by just being his wisecracking self. The supporting actors are not too bad considering the type of film this is, in that they don't bring the movie down by dodgy acting or character traits, leaving Piper to carry the film on his shoulders

And it helps when the supporting cast include scantily clad women.

The plot is perfect B-Movie fodder, and it does have a decent enough budget, even if the frog-man costumes do look silly. It does have that "cult film" feel to it, which gives the movie its charm. It knows it's a B-Movie, and it doesn't pretend to be anything other than that. Not only does it have the right amount of action and comedy, it's also well paced and balanced that it doesn't stray too far from the story in any direction.


Well worth a watch if you're in the mood for mindless fun. I'm not sure what reception this film got on release, or whether it was released in cinemas, but this could have been an entertaining enough franchise today. Apparently there were two sequels made after this, but none of which stars Roddy Piper. Which is a shame, basing my opinion on this and They Live, Piper is entertaining to watch, coming across as a spoof of the typical action hero that was popular at the time. I'm surprised he hasn't been in anything noteworthy after those two films.


As I've only heard of half the movies I purchased, I will start off with a film I've seen/know of, and follow that up with something that I have no prior knowledge of before I view it. I will not even look at the back of the DVD case, hence not knowing what to expect. As a lot of these films look like "creature features", my choice for follow up film are based purely on the box art.

92 minutes later.....

I don't know why, but at first glance, considering the fact that this was part of the "B-Movie Collection", I thought this would have been a 70s flick. And it could be to do with the fact that the only other movie I could think of that featured rats was Ben. But instead, this was a film made in 1993, which to my surprise starts Ron Perlman, a year before Hellboy came out. That said, despite the vast difference between the two, I was never really a fan of the Hellboy films, so I found this more entertaining.

Granted the movie is in the same category as those you see on one of those digital movie channels, which has very little budget, pitiful CGI effects, and the only recognisable actor they could afford on said budget. And as its a horror film, if you didn't guess from the cover above, it has the usual elements of blood, cartoonish gore, and a cast consisting of beautiful twenty somethings, especially lead actress Sara Downing.

Like the first film of this double bill, it knows that it's a B-Movie, so it doesn't try to stray from that fact. The plot is pretty standard with no major surprises, so what you get is what you see. However, dodgy CGI effects aside, the film actually looks well presented for what little budget it has. As for the acting, it does have some pretty decent performances, given the subject matter of the film. So both these elements make this bizarre sounding film work.


I have to say I was pleasantly surprised by how this film turned out, and while it may not be the greatest film by all means, it wasn't as awful as I expected it to be. Given that the film is about killer rats, you'd half expect bad acting, poor script and cheap production values. It's worth a watch if you're struggling to find something to watch, either during the midnight hours, or even during the day. It's entertaining enough that you can get a laugh out of it, even the terrible CGI.

Double Bill Verdict?

Considering all the other films I could have chosen as the first "B-Movie Double Bill", this was a pretty good start. The films themselves were enjoyable, both were different from each other in terms of genre, and the order they were viewed in worked well. I felt tired while watching Rats, but that was more to do with pausing the film 30 minutes into it, to take a phone call that lasted for 90 minutes, making it 2:30 a.m. when I continued watching it. If the movies were the other way round, then I would have found it hard to appreciate the stupid but fun nature of Hell Comes To Frogtown. In that respect, Rats works as a follow up to this bill, and has the bonus of not being utterly terrible to boot.

And on a final note.....

Since I have a tendency to watch bad movies, I found this video quite entertaining, not to mention I am a fan of Steve & Larson. But what does it say about me that I watched 8 out of 10 of these movies? It would have been 9 if I went to see Miami Connection in the cinema last month.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Blind Tag (River Of Darkness)

Beginning with the usual round up of what I watched this week, these include "Piranha 3DD" (not as good as the first one, a bit sloppy but it has it's funny moments, especially when David Hasselhoff appears), "976-EVIL-2" (very dull, only watched it after seeing "Popatopolis" a while back), "Foxy Brown" (very entertaining blaxploitation flick that manages to get laughs from the fact that it's played straight), "American Scary" (while the "horror host" is an interesting topic, it doesn't translate well to viewers outside of the States, where the practice is barely known). Not to mention I also watched "Airplane!" and "Spaceballs", two of the greatest spoof movies ever made.

Aside from what I watched film wise, I also managed to watch "Wrestlemania XXIX", which was pretty watchable, even though I figured out beforehand who was going to win the main matches of the night, and I don't even watch wrestling as much as I did in the past. In preparation for "WMXXIX", I decided to take a look at a film I bought a few months ago, given that it stars three former WWE wrestlers. Plus I'm a sucker for movies starring wrestlers, especially when they're bad.

When I first saw this for sale, I didn't even look at the back of the DVD case to see what it was about. I was already sold by the cover alone, which had the tagline "featuring the stars of TNA Wrestling". Despite the fact that Psycho Sid was never in TNA to begin with, so before I even watched the movie, the cover is already guilty of false advertising.

Despite the presence of three wrestlers in this film, judging by the cover alone, I figured it was just going to be another action movie starring wrestlers, which are a dime a dozen. And given that the price tag was five euros, it was enough for me to purchase it, in order to satisfy my curiosity.

As for my opinions on each of the wrestlers, and any notable appearances in film:

Kurt Angle: one of the greatest professional wrestlers of all time, his in-ring work and persona is impeccable, and is even more of a joy to watch in live events. So it was fitting that he starred in "Warrior", and is also cast in the new Michael Bay film "Pain & Gain" (with The Rock and Marky Mark).

Diesel (Kevin Nash): I liked the guy when I watched wrestling during the early nineties. Never did see WCW during the Saturday Night Wars/NWO days. Although I never realised he was Super Shredder in "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 2: The Secret Of The Ooze". Only film I can think of in which he stars is "The Punisher". Which is an alright film, but nothing compared to "Punisher: War Zone".

Sid Justice (Psycho Sid/Sid Vicious): again one of the early nineties wrestling stars, and another favourite of mine back then. The only notable thing of which he's known for is when he broke his leg in the ring (video here), which pretty much finished his career. Still painful everytime I see it.


84 minutes later.....

In my "Wrong Side Of Town" review, I mentioned the false advertising the cover brought, with the cover dedicated to a character who wasn't the main focus of the film. Well, this film managed to top that.

When I look at the cover, I see the images of fire, explosions, a burly man holding a gun, an exploding car, a helicopter, and two speedboats looking to be in a chase, and the fact that it stars three wrestlers who are not really known for their acting chops outside the ring. Now these elements would indicate that this is an action flick. Even the font of the film title would suggest so.

From the very beginning of the film, whatever expectations I had of this film were immediately dashed, as I realised that this wasn't going to be a modestly budgeted action flick. Far from it, this one turned out to be a very cheaply made, strangely shot horror film. Granted I didn't pay attention to the film summary on the back of the DVD case, but when you look at the cover above, you would not think for a second that this would be a film about the undead terrorizing a small town.

Confused by this, I checked the net to see if there were any alternative covers to the one I got on the DVD cover, in which I saw what the Blu-Ray case had instead. It looked like a bad photoshop composite, but at least it fit with the tone of the actual movie.

Speaking of which, to summarise this film in one word would be "basic", which can be applied to the acting, plot, sets, camera angles, editing, make up, and even the two blood splatter effects that last for a split second. It's not enough to say they are bad, in which they are, but combined together they give the impression that no effort was made to make anything stand out, whether it be good, bad, or even emotive. Which as a result makes the film a bore to watch, with the only thing of interest is the questionable logic as to why this movie was made in the first place.

I can't really comment on the acting ability of Kurt Angle, who plays Sheriff Logan, who investigates the murders committed by the undead Jacobs Boys. He doesn't come across as a bad actor, but that's because everyone else's bad acting make him look like a thespian in comparison. I'm not sure how much Angle, along with the other two wrestlers, were paid to be in this movie, but it must be where the majority of the budget went to. It certainly didn't go towards the monster make up for Kevin Nash and Psycho Sid. They looked like rejected members from Eurovision winners Lordi. And even they had more money towards their film, nevermind make-up.

And no, I don't know who played the third Jacobs Boy.

What really enhances the cheap sets in this movie is the use of a wide angle lens for nearly every shot, even the outdoor scenes. I got the impression that only two cameras were used throughout the filming process; the wide lens camera, and one for the close ups. There is not much in terms of cutaways and camera angles, so the film not only looks visually boring, but there are better shots seen in amateur film making.

These low budget elements could be forgiven if the film was in any way entertaining. But that's not the case here, as the film has a serious tone to it, which doesn't work not only for the fact that the budget is barely non-existent, but the fact that the story is so basic that anything added to it, such as backstory, or progression relating to character development and plot, is absent. The film talks about the journey Angle makes to finding out the truth, but all we get is him talking about how he found his research by going to the library. I guess it wasn't in the budget to film him reading a book.

The biggest flaw with the movie comes with the twist in the finale. Involving one of the paranormal researchers revealing her connection to the events of the town, it comes so late within the film that the only impact it succeeded in making is one of confusion and disbelief. With two minutes left before the end credits, not only does the film throw in an explanation as to her connection to one of the townsfolk, but it then follows a monologue which explains her actions, which was connected to an incident in the towns past briefly mentioned earlier in the movie.

With less than two minutes left, this is a lot of unexpected information coming from a character who was barely onscreen for the entire movie. Hell, I actually forgot that she was in the opening scene, even when she reappears with the other two ghost hunters. Their presence throughout the movie was so minimal that despite the revelation of the true identity of one of them, they still come across as pointless. The group add nothing to the story, other than to the body count left by the wrestling zombies.


After I finished watching this, I finally looked at the back of the DVD case to read the synopsis of the film, which included this paragraph:

"When Logan discovers that the murders are committed by the spirits of old river squatters, the Jacobs Boys, the town explodes into a battlefield of blazing guns and zombies".

As if I needed to find another case of false advertising from the DVD case, apparently this battlefield consists of two boats alongside each other (with one of them sneaking up on the other, which I still can't understand), and a gun being used twice, in the very few scenes where a gun is shown. I am still amazed by how off the mark this film is, from its promotion to the actual content.

I could make fun of the three wrestlers resorting to starring in a terrible, no budget, hastily made movie. But since these guys are not with the WWE in any capacity, I guess they have to take whatever work they can get. And if it wasn't for their inclusion, this film wouldn't even get a look in, not even from me, and I do watch my fair share of bad movies.

So with that, if you are in the mood to watch an extremely cheap horror flick which stars a somewhat recognisable name from a profession outside of acting.....just watch "Cradle Of Fear", starring Dani Filth from the band "Cradle Of Filth". Granted I was very drunk when I watched it, hence I don't remember much of what went on. But I do know that while it was pretty rubbish, at least it was more entertaining than this.

Well, it has better "TNA" than "River Of Darkness".

And on a final note.....

On a sad note, today I found out that Deftones bass player Chi Cheng passed away on 13/04/13, five years after the car accident which left him in a coma since then. I'm glad that I managed to see him play live with the band, and it's a shame that his life was cut short. Below is the band's best album in my opinion; "Around The Fur". Sometimes I find it hard to believe that this album is just over 15 years old. For those who never heard it, for whatever reason, check it out. RIP Chi Cheng.

Sunday, April 07, 2013

Scum Of The Earth (Citadel)

Coming off my bout with the flu, I managed to go to the cinema this week, along with my usual Blu-Ray/DVD/Netflix choices, including "A Liar's Autobiography: The Untrue Story Of Monty Python's Graham Chapman" (an animated mess of a film that disappointed this Monty Python fan), "Munich" (watchable, if a little complex and muddled, but still a lot more interesting visually than "Lincoln"), "Stoker" (interesting gothic tale with good acting and great cinematography), and "The Warriors" (which I thought was okay when I first watched it, but was so much to fun watching it in a club with a crowd).

Thanks to Horrorthon, I won tickets for a double screening of "Insidious" (again wasn't impressed with it first time round, but it was better on second viewing) and "Sinister" (interesting horror, hampered by some silly decisions), which was to promote the release of "Dark Skies" (which turned out to be so dull, unimaginative and boring, that I can barely remember anything about it). I even went home to find some movie to watch just to make up for sitting through that. I ended up with "C.H.U.D." (pretty enjoyable B-Movie fun).

Following last week's review of an Asylum film, I watched "Snakes On A Train" as I have been meaning to watch it for years ever since I heard of its existence. And since last week's blog entry was influenced by Nazis, this week was to be influenced by The Asylum. But then I came across a film I didn't expect to find. While looking through the Flixster app on Facebook, I noticed one film that, to my surprise, was available to view on the American version of Netflix: "Citadel".

I first saw this film at the Horrorthon Film Festival last year, and not only was it my favourite film of the festival, it was in my top five films of 2012. It's based on the real life experience of director and writer Ciaran Foy, who was viciously attacked by inner city youths (or scumbags, for the purpose of this article), which lead to him suffering from agoraphobia. After the Horrorthon screening, there was a Q&A session with the director that I was unable to stick around for, which I do regret missing. But I digress.

I was looking forward to seeing this at the Twisted Celluloid film festival, until it got pulled at the last minute, due to distribution issues. Which is the reason why this film hasn't been released in cinemas over here. Hence why I was shocked to find this on Netflix. I have told my friends and anyone who would listen to check this film out if they get the chance.

So I may as well do the same here, keeping spoilers to a minimum due to the fact that it has yet to be given a well deserved theatrical release. And if for some reason anyone across the Atlantic (or is able to access the American Netflix) comes across this post, I will hope whatever I write below will be of some influence in checking it out.

WARNING: SPOILERS (but kept to a minimum)

84 minutes later.....

It was a treat to find it on Neflix and watch it in the (dis)comfort of my own home. Watching it again reminded me that the film for the most part is sad. But this only serves to convey the fear, dread and hopelessness of the main character Tommy, whether it be fending off the onslaught of these scumbags, coming to terms with what happened to his wife at the beginning of the film, or his struggles with agoraphobia.

That's not to say the film is entirely doom and gloom. There are some effective horror moments, especially in claustrophobic environments, and it helps when the lead character is sympathetic enough that not only you feel for what he is going through, you have no problem rooting for him throughout the movie. And  there are a few tender moments here and there, as well as some unexpected humour, courtesy of the foul mouthed priest who clues Tommy in as to the ulterior motives of the attack that changed his life for the worse.

I could go on about the atmosphere of the film, the engaging story and the decent performances from the minimal cast, but what really hits home with me is the visual aesthetic of the film. This was funded by the Irish Film Board, along with help from the UK, so the environments are instantly recognisable to this part of the world. The areas shown are similar to parts of Dublin that are dangerous to be in, especially when it comes to scumbags.

If the supernatural element was taken away from the story, the film would still be just as terrifying, as these scumbags are a part of the wretched inner city society in Ireland, right alongside junkies, that give the country a bad name. Having being threatened by these dredges of society in the past, along with knowing family members and friends who have been in a similar situation, or worse, attacked and hospitalised, the film hits home with me, which only enhances the terror I feel when watching the events unfolding.

Which makes me wonder how people over the Atlantic would view this film. If I was to express the darkside of living in Ireland, I would show this alongside "Savage", as they perfectly convey how I see this country, which you will never see on a postcard, as it destroys any romantic "begorrah begorrah" illusions people have of Ireland.

Granted there are some humorous aspects of its people that I could show through film, such as "The Guard", "In Bruges", or any of the films based off Roddy Doyle novels. But when a film as popular as "Adam & Paul" over here not only tries to make light of these scumbags, but make them look sympathetic, it just rubs me the wrong way.

Which is why I feel this film deserves a cinematic release over here. Considering the amount of rubbish that gets at least one week of screenings, it's a travesty that this is in distribution limbo, only to be seen by people who may not fully understand the environment it's set in. But at least they get to see a great movie, if they're so inclined to do so.


As it's pretty obvious what I thought of the movie, I will use the opinion of someone else to round up this blog post. I watched this film at home with a lady friend, mentioning a few of the things that I have written at the beginning of this entry beforehand. She really liked it even though it was sad, and said she was on edge throughout the whole movie. As I liked the fact that I was able to recommend this somewhat unknown to her, I hope I can do the same to anyone reading this.

And on a final note.....

For those who want to know what I thought of "Snakes On A Train"; you know a movie is bad when you find better writing in the end credits than the entire script. That's not even a joke. Not only that, the series of events that lead to the confusing ending was worthy of Ed Wood, in terms of stupid, nonsensical film making.

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