Monday, October 21, 2013

Halloween Countdown (Day 20: The Hitchers)

Before I jump back into the Hellraiser series with the next blog entry, in another effort to keep up with the daily posts I am posting up another short film via YouTube. During the week I picked up a free regional paper on the bus home and found an article which was about an Irish produced short film narrated and starring Orson Welles, during the long production process for his adaptation of Othello. The title of this short is officially Return To Glennascaul: A Short That Is Told In Dublin, but is also known as Orson Welles' Ghost Story.


As it's one of the rare few times that I write about anything from the early days of cinema, it's interesting to see what passes as a spooky tale back then. The music can be boisterous at times, as was the style in a lot of movies back then, which does become annoying, especially when it stops all of a sudden from time to time. As for the film itself it's an interesting gothic tale that is passable enough in terms of acting and cinematography. What does stand out is the vocal performance of Orson Welles, and the set up to the story, which is an example of art imitating life where it shows him during the filming of Othello, and onto greeting the viewers off camera. Worth a look if your knowledge of Orson Welles is only limited to watching Citizen Kane, Transformers: The Movie and The Muppet Movie.....in otherwords, me.


And on a final note.....


Thanks to focusing on the Hellraiser series, not to mention life in general, it means that I won't be able to watch the SAW films during the month. Although I'm starting to see Hellraiser's influence on the SAW films, in terms of visceral torture, so I can't complain too much. I was only reminded of SAW when I saw this yesterday. Made me laugh anyway.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Halloween Countdown (Day 19: All Trick, No Treat)

I'm really pushed for time as I realise that it's almost coming to the end of October. I've four more Hellraiser flicks to get through, not to mention my ideas for articles change by the day. I was supposed to write about The Watermen, a terrible horror flick that starts Jason Mewes (of all people). But that was a week ago, and my memory of it is already little to recall. So what do I do in this situation before I get back to the Hellraiser series? Just resort to boobies, that always works.....ahem. And so the choice of film to write about: Evil Breed: The Legend Of Sam Hain.


Starring adult actresses from the late 90s/early 00s that I recognise thanks to lads magazines and the introduction to the internet, I'll admit the casting of Jenna Jameson and Chasey Lain was enough for me to check it out, no matter how bad the movie is. Besides, there is a chance of nudity that would make it worthwhile.....but then again so did the other Jenna Jameson horror flick Zombie Strippers.....

OH YES, THERE WILL BE SPOILERS.


78 minutes later.....


Okay I am no stranger to misleading cover art, as any of my previous articles would show. But it still amazes me as to how cunning these production companies can market their film to look like it will be something that it's not. Now judging by the cover shown above. Granted if it wasn't for the mention of Richard Grieco, this could be seen as the cover for an adult flick, even a softcore one. So the next logical step is to think that this would be a cheap ass horror flick with some T&A. Well not quite.

It was about two thirds into the movie that I realised what contribution the cover star Jenna Jameson made to this film: one scene where she's walking through the woods, and the other when she is hacked to pieces. I didn't count the exact amount of time she was onscreen, but if I was to guess, it would be about three minutes. Hell, even the contribution of Chasey Lain didn't last that long, which would be understandable as it was nothing more than a cameo.....and a great cameo it was.

Not an image from the film, but who's complaining?

But that's essentially the extent to Jenna's participation. The rest of the film is a stupidly dull slasher flick that's supposedly set in Ireland, but judging by the accents of the cast, it was filmed in Canada. And apparently making the scenery look dull and drowsy gives it the impression that it's set in Ireland. Which is more convincing than the most woeful Oirish accents this side of Heroes: Season 2. And I don't know which is worse: legendary adult actress Ginger Lynn Allen putting on a fake Irish accent, or the fact that she doesn't even show any flesh in the movie, regardless of age.

Despite the brief appearances of these adult actresses, they still manage to put on better acting performances than the rest of the non-smut actors, even if it is a cheap horror film. Hell, even Richard Grieco's brief cameo was better than the rest of the actors carrying the movie. And whatever little nudity there is, they're still more interesting to watch than the scenes involving some monstrous figures that look like a cross between the Toxic Avenger and the goblins from Troll 2. Well, apart from the shower sex scene between two of the "teenagers", who are just as convincing as the so-called "teenagers" from Beverly Hills 90210.


Verdict?


Horrible dialogue, poorly executed horror tropes, a cast that makes pornstars look like Oscar winning thespians, not helped by the fact that the characters are boring themselves and the fact that they pronounce Samhain as Sam-Hain when even Halloween 3 managed to get it right all those years ago. This film is riddled with so many misfires that the only notable scene that doesn't involve bare breasts was the death scene in a bathroom. As for the ending.....I still don't know what the hell that was about.

Even the mock Halloween film the "teenagers" watch on TV was more interesting than the rest of the movie. At this moment in time, I'm almost convinced that this is actually worse than Zombie Strippers. There's only one way to find out.....aaannnddd I'm not gonna visit that film anytime soon.


And on a final note.....


My first introduction to Chasey Lain was not a visual one, but from the song by The Bloodhound Gang: The Ballad Of Chasey Lain. Still think the bleeped version is funnier than the explicit version.

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Halloween Countdown (Day 18: Hatchet Double Bill)

While it may be a sort of cop-out to rely on Double Bills to boost up my declining blog posts this month, the reason I am going with the Hatchet movies are that I've never seen them before, and I'll be going to see the third one at Horrorthon this year. So I might as well check them out beforehand.


I am aware that it's already been released in the States and I'm sure I could have just ordered a copy and play it on a multi-region player, but I couldn't be bothered with the hassle. But it means I would have to miss The Human Race, which is on at the same time unfortunately.


HATCHET


My knowledge of this film was only limited to Kane Hodder (Jason in some of the Friday The 13h flicks) being the villain, and that it doesn't star Danielle Harris. But I did like the caption on the DVD case.


85 minutes later.....


While I figured there would be something to laugh about this gory film, I never expected to have so many comic elements. After so many stupid laughs I almost forgot that this was a slasher flick, especially as the main focus was the interaction of the characters/victims. Plus it helps that there were some familiar faces such as Candyman, Cordelia's friend in Buffy The Vampire Slayer, and the drive-thru owner and Hitler from Chillerama (as usual I don't bother looking at the actors' names on IMDb).

As for the principle slasher character, Victor Crowley, I found him a pretty acceptable movie monster, complete with a decent backstory that's quickly explained but sufficient in time. The look of him is admittedly silly, but given the tone of the rest of the film, it's not surprising. Especially when you see him in action that even I found myself amazed by the sick ideas the director had for the killing scenes.


As for the actress who plays heroine Marybeth, I figured that this is the character Danielle Harris took over in the second film. I don't know what the reasons are for the recasting, whether it was due to availability or the four year gap between films. But the actress in this movie was quite good in the role, even though I can't help but think what it would have been like if Danielle Harris was cast in the first place.

Verdict?


A surprisingly entertaining horror flick where it went against my expectations but for the better. I'm surprised it has taken me so long to check this out. But again if I knew it was gonna this hilarious, it would have been part of my film collection a long time ago. Plus it makes me want to check out the second film straight away.


HATCHET 2


Knowledge beforehand? This was the one that stars Danielle Harris.


85 minutes later.....


Still debating whether the actress could have pulled off the second film, as Danielle Harris is now known as one of the leading scream queens nowadays and has the reputation to carry the film in a non-villain role. Not to mention carry the sense of humour needed to be part of these types of films that she's known for, as she showed during Horrorthon last year.


Continuing right after the events from the first film, this sequel however does turn down the comedic factor slightly, despite a few nods from the original, including the reappearance of Candyman. In saying that it still has its silly interactive moments between the next crowd of characters/victims, not to mention it manages to up the ante in terms of gore and dismemberment. Plus I can't help but laugh at the film's feeble attempt to throw in nudity via a camera used in the first film (which used Mardi Gras as an excuse to show flesh).

As for Victor Crowley, not only is his backstory added with the events leading to his birth, but manages to coincide with what is going on with the film, even its connections to the characters themselves. This makes for the character of Crowley to be a little more layered, even if he is just a killing machine onscreen. Granted the story is a little ridiculous, but that's to go with the tone of the series anyway.

Verdict?


Once you get used to the small change of pace comedy and character wise, this turns out to be a pretty decent sequel that manages to deliver in terms of hilarity and gruesome scenes not for the squeamish. If the series was to end here, it would have been a fitting end to the series of films, even though I wouldn't say no to another sequel. Just as well I have the third film to look forward to over the next couple of days.


Double Bill Verdict?


Other than the obvious answer that the films are linked, but it's the way that they finish so abruptly, with the second one picking up from where the first film left off, which does make for a handy transition for the recasting of Marybeth. Just as well I had the second one ready to watch, even though my copy seems to have a hidden scratch so with some fiddling around with the rewind button, I only missed two minutes of the film, which seems to be a dialogue scene where I picked up on the end of the conversation, so it's not a total loss of film enjoyment. That said, I am now looking forward to watching the third film next week. And of course, to seeing Danielle Harris onscreen again.


And on a final note.....


Coincidentally the opening credits of the second film contains the Ministry track: Just One Fix.

Halloween Countdown (Day 17: The Daily Grind)

First off, I know this is not a horror film. Secondly, as this is just released in the cinemas, I will make the effort not to go into spoiler territory. But given my predicament to keep with with these blog posts in a single day, and that this film does fall into the categories of B-Movies, Grindhouse, violence, blood, guts, action, comedy, scantily clad women, and other crazy story elements and beyond, I'm gonna allow it. Besides, I talked about Resident Evil: Retribution last year when it was released, so might as well throw in another theatrically released flick this month: Machete Kills.


Verdict?


I found the film to be enjoyable at the start with some insane scenes and the introduction to many bizarre characters, but as the film went on it stalled for a bit and during the halfway part it changed pace and direction which at first viewing is a little offputting, and towards the end I wasn't sure what to make of it. Maybe it was to do with going into this film with high expectations, but when I think back to when I watched the first Machete, I felt the same way back then.

It suffers the same problems as the first film with being overly ambitious with having too many characters crammed in, along with story threads that at times became needlessly complicated. This makes for less screentime dedicated to them, and yet the film becoming overlong with too many elements to take in on first viewing. I watched it again two days before I went to see the sequel and found that I enjoyed it more on repeated viewings, albeit in a not so sober state of mind.

Still can't get used to her voice despite how hot she is.

My only major gripes with the film are the overuse of the "Machete don't....." joke, and the casting of Mel Gibson, who I've never warmed up to as an actor and a person, even before the controversies surrounding his private life and personality. But his cameo well outstayed its welcome and I just hope that if a sequel does get the greenlight he won't be involved. Which brings me to my second problem with the film. Not wanting to give anything away, but I really hope there will be a Machete Kills Again (as mentioned in the first film), otherwise it would be unsatisfactory if the series was to stop here.

Don't get me wrong the film does have entertaining characters and story twists that keep the excitement factor going throughout its runtime, and I'm sure that with the first film, it will get better with each viewing. Plus it is one of the more entertaining films I've seen this year. And I guess it's a good sign that I'm hoping for the next one to go into production. I just hope it won't take as long as the release of the second Sin City film.

And on a final note.....


I will give credit to the film for including my favourite film sound effect during the music to the opening credits, which made me laugh out loud in the cinema. I'm sure you can guess what it is.

Halloween Countdown (Day 16: Barking Mad)

Once again I find myself falling behind on blog entries. I'm starting to think October is cursed whenever I attempt this Halloween Countdown as I seem to be very busy, tired or pushed for time. So in an effort to cut corners, I'm going to write a short review for, appropriately, a short film that can be found on YouTube: Treevenge.



This was directed by Jason Eisener, who was behind the fake trailer (see previous post) and motion picture of Hobo With A Shotgun. This came out a year after the faux trailer (which also makes a brief appearance on a TV screen) and it has the same bizarre sense of humour and outrageous violence as with his other work, even including one shocking scene within its short running time. I'm not sure if this would even work as a feature length film, but I wouldn't say no. But until then it's up there with my "alternative" Xmas time viewing, along with the likes of Die Hard, Santa's Slay, Gremlins and so forth.

And here is the film in question. Please note that the subtitles can be hard to read at times.


And on a final note.....


.....can't think of any similar or appropriate video to throw in, so I'll post up an early Ministry track called Everyday Is Halloween, in which the title seems appropriate for this month. It's strange to hear the band in their 80s Pet Shop Boys style, compared to their heavy industrial sound that they're most known for.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Halloween Countdown (Day 15: Lawnmower Double Bill)

I don't spend much time at home nowadays, and even when I do I never seem to find the time to sit down and dedicate an hour or two to write. I'm even trying to write these articles on the go via the Blogger app, but I can never find the appropriate time. Hence the choice to go with the relatively easier double feature format for this article once again just to keep up. So I've picked two films that have one thing in commom: lawnmowers.


FRANKENHOOKER


Saw this on the Horror Channel and the description of the story seems like it will be silly, cheap and possibly funny to watch. The lawnmower connection? The film begins with the main character Jeffrey's girlfriend being mangled by one.


85 minutes later.....


For a film that has such potential to be a riot, this just felt like a drag to watch, which makes it pretty disappointing. It had the right elements to be a laugh, what with its ridiculous storyline, inventive monster designs, and a low budget aesthetic in terms of effects and set design. Not to mention the woeful acting and some genuinely funny parts and ideas. And of course, gratuitous nudity and skimpy clothing.

Unfortunately it just misses the mark everytime, even with the humorous scenes only resulting in a slightly amused chuckle than a belly laugh. Granted the film is working on a tight budget, but given the genre the film is lumped in, it leaves itself open to creatively come up with something amusing for the duration of the film. Instead it just has the main character muttering to himself for a good portion of the movie, as if it wasn't already dull to begin with.


Hell, even with the inclusion of scantily clad women and the odd bit of flesh here and there, it still manages to be uninteresting, and not even at all titillating. Which may be a chauvinistic attitude to have, but with a film called Frankenhooker and the exploitative nature that even the title suggests, if the film can't even get that right when everything else is going wrong, then it just feels like it's trying too hard, all the while not trying enough.

Verdict?


A curious film that I guess is watchable just to see how the story goes and the odd memorable scene here and there. Alas it just feels like a missed opportunity. Prime candidate for a remake methinks. Even if it has to go down the adult route via a porn parody.

BRAINDEAD


This film I haven't seen in a lawn time (yes I know, bad pun) and only remember two key scenes, complete with memorable one liners, without giving anything away to those who have yet to see it. And the lawnmower connection? Well he uses a lawnmower to cut the grass at the beginning of the film.....ahem.


104 minutes later.....


I still find it hard to fathom that this was directed by Peter Jackson who moved on to do the Lord Of The Rings/The Hobbit series. Obviously influenced by The Evil Dead films (especially the second one), he manages to capture the spirit of them, all the while upping the ante on gore, horror and comedy. While I still prefer Evil Dead 2: Dead By Dawn, it's still stands out on its own merits while showing its influences on its sleeve, instead of just imitation with no individuality.


As for the film itself, I forgot how strange, bizarre and downright funny the film is. While obviously low budget, it still manages to shine in other areas, most notably the zombie/infected effects and make up, especially when it comes to scenes of gore and disintegration of the undead characters. There are one or two scenes that are difficult to watch as they become too explicit, so a strong stomach is needed at times.

While I did have one or two issues with the logic behind the main character, I felt it best not to look too much into it, as I'm sure these issues were put aside for the sake of plot progression. Besides it's a low budget horror that's so outrageous that it's best not to think too much into the unrealistic nature of what's going on. Which is pretty easy to do in fairness.

Verdict?


A lot of laughs, gore and especially blood, it's a true testament to the directing skills of Peter Jackson. Like Sam Raimi moving on from the Evil Dead series to the likes of the first three Spiderman films and even a prequel to The Wizard Of Oz, it shows that, even if the films can be a little extreme, talent can be found in the horror genre from time to time.

Double Bill Verdict?


While both work together in one viewing, it would be advisable to watch Braindead first as not only is it the better movie but the one with the most laughs and action. Whereas Frankenhooker one is a lot slower in pace so it's ideal if you're either sleepy or too drunk to give it your full attention that you won't really miss anything important plotwise.

And on a final note.....


The above image came from the film Hobo With A Shotgun, which began as a fake trailer that won a competition to appear in the middle section of the Robert Rodriguez/Quentin Tarantino collaborative effort Grindhouse. If you haven't seen any of these movies, including Machete, check 'em out. Especially with Machete Kills recently released in the cinema.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Halloween Countdown (Day 14: Hell To Pay)

Returning to the Hellraiser series while I'm almost back to my daily quota is the fifth film of the series, entitled Hellraiser: Inferno. I read that after the fourth film (which also happened to be the last one released theatrically) the next few films were derived from spec scripts which were rewritten into Hellraiser stories. While this sounds like a terrible idea, I have heard that this is one of the better sequels. Only one way to find out, and I'm not gonna quit anytime soon.


OH YES, THERE WILL BE SPOILERS.


99 minutes later.....


Well, it looks like I finally got the decent Hellraiser sequel I was looking for. Even from the opening credits where it said the executive producers were the Weinsteins, it gave me some hope. Much more than seeing the name "Alan Smithee" in the last one. Also I was taken aback by the different direction the film went in comparison to the previous films, going for more of a film noir crime story, voiceover included.

The fact that the story came from a spec script is now obvious but somehow works. The direction in terms of the actual story with its brilliant but flawed protagonist Joseph and his investigation into "The Engineer", along with appearances of the Cenobites making him question whether he is going insane while trying to crack the case, does manage to gel together. It makes for more interesting viewing than the dull sequel previous to this one.

Of course the film is not without its stupid moments. While the dialogue can be a bit redundant at times, the acting is solid enough for it to come off okay onscreen. The only scene so bizarre that it could be deemed laughable was when the detective ended up in a gambling den where he encounters a henchman dressed as a cowboy, while later he ends up getting beaten up by kung-fu cowboys.

Actually, Kung-Fu Cowboys sounds like a great spin-off.
Of course it wouldn't be a Hellraiser flick without Pinhead and The Cenobites. From the start of the series I did have my reservations about having Pinhead appear towards the latter half of the film. Now I'm starting to get used to the practice now, so it won't bother me the next time I watch the series. As the old saying goes: less is more.

While Pinhead is his usual menacing self, the rest of the Cenobites look really intimidating, especially when Joseph starts seeing them wherever he goes. The visual style of the film itself does feel like your average detective thriller movie, so the addition of scenes with the Cenobites makes for a more sinister feel to the film, especially as Joseph comes closer to the truth.


Verdict?


I have a feeling that from now on the rest of the films won't even top this flick. One aspect about the film I liked is that it can be viewed on its own without any knowledge of the previous movies, which helps if you watch any of the sequels out of sequence. Which could happen given that the series stopped numbering each film after the third one. Which also means that the ending itself doesn't leave any room for a follow up to this story, to the best of my imagination anyway. Which makes me even more curious as to what sights the series has to show. Granted they may be bad, but at least I got one decent sequel.

And on a final note.....


If there's one reason why I'm looking forward to the end of this month (aside from not feeling obligated to post an article a day) is the release of the Melvins' new album (and second one this year) Tres Cabrones. Granted nine of the twelve tracks were already released in one shape or form (which makes finding them on YouTube easier), but not only do I like having the physical copy in CD form, but I like to add it to the collection of the thirty plus CDs I own from the band.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Halloween Countdown (Day 13: The Recovery)

Continuing on with trying to get back on track with the blog posts due to a hectic weekend, I have compiled a list of the films that were either terrible or disappointing, and rating them in terms of how much they annoyed me, as judging them by actual quality was a little tricky, as I will explain throughout.


For the record I have no real interest in checking out Insidious: Chapter 2 as not only was I not really a fan of the first one, but going by the next two films on this list, I've already seen enough "home invasion" movies this year.

5. The Purge

The idea of The Purge itself is a good one, granted not entirely original, but it did have the potential to come up with something interesting. So for it to be confined to a single house was a little disappointing. And given the reception this film got, the chances for more movies exploring this idea is very slim. In saying that, it's far from the worst movie I've seen this year as it was watchable, especially in the third act.

4. Dark Skies

I don't really have much to say about this flick, other than when I left the cinema I couldn't remember anything that happened in it. I'm sure it's not as bad as the next three films, but it's a bad sign that I remember nothing, deeming it a waste of time to begin with. And of all the movies this film ripped off, I don't know who had the bright idea to rip off Signs, which was already a terrible film to begin with.

3. The Bay

I already talked about this film here, and it's still the worst "found footage" film I've seen. Even worse than Diary Of The Dead, and I didn't even think that was possible. Even one of my friends ended up reading a book during the screening because she was that bored.

2. Blood For Irina

Another film I mentioned here when I attended the Twisted Celluloid film festival, this pretentious piece of crap only came to mind when compiling this short list as I forgot that I had to endure this artsy fartsy nonsense earlier this year. Recently I saw this on sale for 30 euro in Tower Records. I wouldn't even pay 30 cents for the DVD (which sounds more like the budget this film had).

1. Texas Chainsaw 3D

I will admit I am not a big fan of the series, bar TCM2 (which was actually pretty funny) and the Platinum Dunes remake (which is not as bad as people make it out to be, even if it is a little average). But this film by far is the worst in the series, and is currently sitting high in my list of worst movies of 2013. Still trying to figure out which is artistically deprived, this or Blood For Irina. For now, as a fan of the SAW series, one scene in particular edged it to number one on this list at least.


And on a final note.....


When I type in "horror films of 2013", for some reason Pacific Rim came up. Far from being a horror flick, it was however another contender for the "most fun" films list of 2013, not to mention one of the better blockbusters released this year.

Halloween Countdown (Day 12: The Hangover)

This weekend I've been pushed for time due to hangovers and prior engagements. So in the meantine, while experimenting with the Blogger App on my phone (which I'm still trying to come to grips with, but may be handy in future) I'm gonna do a top 5 list of the best horror genre films I've seen so far this year.



Of course there is the possibility of one or two films to be released before the end of the year that could make the top 5, but at this moment no further film releases come to mind. I did watch Mama, but it was on a poor quality pirate DVD, so I'd rather watch it again to get a better opinion of it. Plus I never got the chance of getting to see You're Next in the cinema. Instead I chose Pain & Gain when I had the chance. Big mistake.

5. Byzantium

A very interesting gothic tale that managed to go back and forth in time seamlessly, with interesting characters and scenery. One or two small problems I had with the film are merely nitpicking and doesn't take away the enjoyment from the film as a whole. Plus it has Gemma Arterton as a sexy vampire, which is always a plus.

4. Maniac

It has been a years since I saw the original, so I can't decide which version is better. On its own merits, this is a pretty inventive slasher flick with hints of Drive and Enter The Void. Plus I found it funny that the song Goodbye Horses shows up in yet another serial killer film.

3. Evil Dead

Another reimagined version of an infamous 80s horror flick, if it wasn't for the participation of Sam Raimi and Bruce Campbell I would have dismissed this film right away. As it turns out it was pretty decent, with a few nods to the original films. May not have a lot of laughs, but then again the original Evil Dead flick was meant to be serious when released.

2. The Conjuring

While coming in at the number two spot, this is not only the best "pure" horror film of the year (so far anyway) but it's actually one of the best horror films I've seen in a long while. Granted there's nothing overly original about it, and Patrick Wilson is still terribly wooden. But it was a nice throwback to the horror movies of the late 70s/early 80s.

1. Stoker

Another gothic tale that manages to get a passable performance from Nicole Kidman (although I still wish someone else was cast instead of her). That aside the plot and characters were intriguing, it was beautifully shot, and is also in the top 5 films of the year so far. As a fan of the original Oldboy (don't know what to expect from the Spike Lee remake at this time) the director's first effort at an English language film was impressive.


And on a final note.....


Special mention goes out to Sharknado, which so far is the most fun movie I've seen so far this year (for better and worse).

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Halloween Countdown (Day 11: Own Goal)

Just like last year, a blog entry is somewhat abandoned due to an Ireland football match. Coincidentally the match in question was against Germany where once again we lost. Considering that there is no current manager of the team, the loss wasn't as severe as last year's drubbing. As for who will be the next manager, I'd settle for this "muppet" again.



And on a final note.....


I am hungover as I type this, so it looks likely that I'll be a little behind in posting articles. Not sure if listening to this will help my hangover though, even if I like the band.

Friday, October 11, 2013

Halloween Countdown (Day 10: Video-Drone)

Once again I'm running late with these articles as I spent the evening with a long overdue visit to the parents, so I'm gonna do a short enough piece on a series that I'm not particularly a huge fan of. After watching The Amityville Haunting (which inspired the last blog entry) I decided to check out Paranormal Activity 3, as I was curious to see how this film would compare to The Asylum's own rip-off version of the series. If it wasn't for Netflix showing parts 2 & 3, I wouldn't have bothered watching the sequels that followed the original film.


I'm sure I've said this before (and at time of writing I haven't bothered to check), but for the sake of getting this article done I'll say it again. While I do appreciate the found footage style of horror film, I firmly believe that these films do not work in a cinematic environment, as it takes away from the supposed reality of the images onscreen, not to mention the audiences have been disruptive everytime I've gone to see one of these films in the cinema. Hence my reasons for not checking them out at time of release.

As for the films themselves, my opinions of them are as follows:

Paranormal Activity: I thought the film was a pretty solid found footage flick, although the boyfriend character was a pain in the ass and I preferred the alternate endings, as the one used in the film was too cheesy and a tad silly. Plus lead actress Katie Featherston was easy on the eyes.

Paranormal Activity 2: it took me three nights to finish this movie as I kept falling asleep due to boredom. While the prequel idea was a little clever, it still had the same annoying characters and logic present in the first film. Plus I was starting to get a little tired with the whole "jump scare" gimmick. But it did have Katie Featherston in a bikini.


With these style of films, there's no real alternative but to find other ways to keep the format in order to tell the story, as moving in a different direction hasn't done any wonders for the sequels to The Blair Witch Project and Quarantine (which I went into detail here). But at the same time there's only so many times where nothing really happens until the next jump scare, and while I didn't have any real problems with the story, it didn't make me want to check out the next film anytime soon. Until it becomes available on Netflix in order to satisfy my curiosity.

84 minutes later, along with the verdict.....


If I was going to compare this to the second film, at least this one kept me interested enough not to fall asleep. Without going into spoiler territory I thought the continuing backstory to this even earlier prequel was pretty good, which even gives a little credibility to the one told in the second film, when you take into account the series as a whole. Also the inventive ways of capturing the footage during the eighties was clever, even if there is a hint of convenience. And even the scare scenes have improved. Only downside is the limited appearance of Katie Featherston, who only appears within the first few minutes.

I will more than likely get around to watching the fourth one in future, but for now I'm not really that pushed. Even after watching the third film and finding out that it's not as bad as I thought it was going to be, I get the feeling that maybe I should leave the series on a somewhat high note. And I guess I'm not the only one, judging by the poor reviews the fourth film received, along with box office takings.

This is not uncommon for horror film franchises to end up in this position, especially the one it took over from as the annual October/Halloween horror series (and my favourite one at that), SAW. However while looking through the upcoming release schedule for this month, I noticed that Paranormal Activity 5 did not make an appearance. On further investigation through IMDb, it was meant to come out this month, then it was pushed to next January (with some lame excuse that January is the new horror film month). But now it has been moved to October of next year. Even thought the film is more or less completed, from what I gather. Besides it's not like they're expensive to make.

It can't be any coincidence that the poor reception has lead to the decision to push forward the release date, either to slow down the rate of these films coming out so people don't get sick of them, or just leave the annual horror franchise title to the likes of Insidious (of which I have no real intention of seeing the second one). Whatever the reason, it is a major blow to the series, although at the same time the series has just simply run its course, and to maximize the takings of a final send off, the delay to next year may be the most logical step to take.

As long as it stars Katie Featherston of course.

And on a final note.....


In honour of getting through three of these films when I thought I would have just stopped after the first one.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Halloween Countdown (Day 9: Asylum Seeker)

Okay I may be slightly late with this one as I went to see Metallica: Through The Never last night. I had a film in mind for this blog entry, but being pushed for time and scheduling, I will make reference to this film in relation to what film company was responsible for it. And that is the infamous producers of films mimicking current releases of whatever they're peddling, The Asylum.


I have heard so much about this company over the past couple of years in relation to the quality of their films and their marketing strategy. Nowadays I have come across a few of their films to the point where I am able to list the ten films I've seen in order of worst to best. Bear in mind that I've not seen the likes of AVH: Alien vs Hunter, The Terminators and the Transmorphers. And if they did, they would more than likely end up on this list. So for now I'm just limited to ten, with the strange temptation to check out more in future.

10. Monster

Not to be confused with: Cloverfield, or even Monster.
How and why: It was on the SyFy Channel.
Verdict: Technically I've never seen the full film properly as I fast forwarded the majority of it because of how bad it was. It may have some good ideas in terms of distorted or corrupted "found footage" but they were overused in a film that was the second worst "found footage" film I've ever seen (just behind The Bay)

9. Snakes On A Train

Not to be confused with: Snakes On A Plane
How and why: I found it on the American version of Netflix and it was the first film from The Asylum I've ever heard of.
Verdict: Very poor with an ending that I find out was tacked on due to the cover image, in order to please the Japanese investors of the film (look it up on Wikipedia if you don't believe me). Plus it's a bad sign in the end of the end credits is funnier than the entire film.

8. Mega Shark Vs Giant Octopus

Not to be confused with: .....what the hell can you confuse it with?
How and why: I bought it for three euro in a used book shop.
Verdict: bar one infamous funny/ridiculous scene, along with some silly editing, the film was a bit of a bore and not as exciting or as fun as the title suggests.

7. The Amityville Haunting

Not to be confused with: The Amityville Horror (any film from the series)
How and why: It was on the SyFy channel.....yes, another one.
Verdict: basically a rip-off of the Paranormal Activity series, not only is it worse than any of the films I've seen from that series, but at the same time it was more entertaining, thanks to some laughably bad scenes, particularly the one that involves the breakdown of one of the main characters.

6. 2-Headed Shark Attack

Not to be confused with: .....is there even any other two headed shark movies in existence?
How and why: SyFy channel.....once again.
Verdict: while it is a struggle to find some genuine laughs from this, even with Brooke Hogan's woeful acting (that person should not be famous, in any shape or form), it's still a step up for Carmen Electra, after her contributions to the cinematic abominations courtesy of Jason Friedberg and Aaron Seltzer.

5. Nazis At The Center Of The Earth

Not to be confused with: Iron Sky.
How and why: It was on Netflix.
Verdict: I already wrote about this film here, but at the time I thought this was the first Asylum film I sat down to watch. But after looking at the list of films produced by them, I found out that was wasn't the case, where in actual fact, the first one was.....

4. Death Racers

Not to be confused with: the Death Race series.
How and why: it was one of the first films I saw when I was able to access the American version of Netflix.
Verdict: for the most part a joyless affair, given the subject matter. The only redeeming features to this film were the appearances of the Insane Clown Posse (who have made more entertaining films than this) and one of my favourite wrestlers of all time: Raven (who I mentioned before was one of the inspirations for the name of this blog).

3. Battledogs

Not to be confused with: .....darned it I know.
How and why: SyFy channel.....are you starting to see a pattern here?
Verdict: another film that may not be as fun as the tile suggests, although one part in the last few minutes made me laugh out loud. What I found surprising about the film were the number of actors that are familiar faces, which would result in asking others what films/TV shows they were in, without the aid of IMDb. I guess it's a sign that The Asylum now has enough money to hire more credible actors for their incredibly bad films.

2. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's Sherlock Holmes

Not to be confused with: any version of Sherlock Holmes that's around nowadays.
How and why: I saw the cover, which showed a dinosaur, an octopus, a dragon and a 19th century looking Iron Man. So I had to buy it (cheap of course).
Verdict: as barmy as the film was, not to mention the woeful acting, the story wasn't that bad as it reveled in its absurdity. Plus I found it more enjoyable than the Robert Downey Jr films.

1. Sharknado

Not to be confused with: all the other hit and miss shark films released these past few years.
How and why: thanks to the internet hype surrounding this SyFy flick.
Verdict: not only is it the best film I've seen from The Asylum, it is one of the most fun movies I've seen this year. Deserves to be lauded with a cult following the same way The Room and Troll 2 have in the past. Plus it's the greatest episode of Beverly Hills 90210 I've ever seen (joke).


And on a final note.....


Since I mentioned the Insane Clown Posse, might as well bring out my inner Juggalo (look it up) and post one of their songs. Still find it weird that they are, in a way, a Christian rap band.

Tuesday, October 08, 2013

Halloween Countdown (Day 8: Time Wasting)

And now we move onto Hellraiser: Bloodline, the fourth in the series, and the last one to be released theatrically.Since the first three films are the most lauded, I have to expect that anything after that is questionable, to say the least. After the last movie, I wasn't sure how the series could get any worse. But then I see that the director of this film used the pseudonym "Alan Smithee", a name a directors give when they don't want to be associated with the finihsed product for whatever reason. Already I was afraid of what sights I'll be shown.


OH YES, THERE WILL BE SPOILERS.


85 minutes later.....


.....it's in space.

While it was bad enough to see the name "Alan Smithee" in the opening credits, this just sinks to a new low. It's almost a rule of thumb were if a sequel is set in space, it's a sign of a franchise killer as it's clear that the writers have nowhere else to go with the series/characters/story. It's even harder to continue the series after being in space, where the next step is scraping the bottom of the barrel story, combining with another franchise, or just reboot the series. It's happened to Friday The 13th, Leprechaun, hell it even did in The Muppets.

But just when I got over the fact that the setting of the film is in space, the character of Paul Merchant, while captured and interrogated by Rimmer (which I can't help think of Red Dwarf when I hear that name) goes into the back story of his ancestor, Philip Lemarchand in the 18th Century. This explains how the puzzle box was first constructed, and introduces us to what I gather is one of the earliest Cenobites, Angelique. At first I thought this was going to be a brief flashback sequence, but after 30 minutes when it cuts to the narrator, I forgot that this was supposed to be in space. Not only that, other than a brief appearance at the beginning, there is no Pinhead.


Then he continues his story to the present day (well, present to the time this film was made) where it makes reference to the last film with the building that was shown where the puzzle box was hidden in the cement. I will give credit to the series that they try to link the films together, no matter how loosely. But what I don't understand is how that puzzle box was located in a pillar in the basement, when I thought it was placed in the foundations of the building.

Anyways it's in this section that we FINALLY get to see Pinhead, who is back to his former self and not following acting like an evil cartoon version of the character. As we go through the story of the next ancestor, John Merchant (I should also point out that all ancestors are played by the same actor) and his encounters with Angelique and Pinhead, and his complete disregard for the safety of his son, the film AGAIN jumps to the future, with about 20 minutes left till the ending.

The film mimics an Aliens scenario with people being picked off one by one by the Cenobites, and Paul Merhant's plan to get rid of them. Because of the film's extreme shifts in time, we see little of the ship and crew in this segment, and as a result there's no build up, knowledge or indeed interest, in the finale. Infact the whole movie is a mess, as if it was three different ideas for a sequel mashed into one, and yet it still came out as dull.


Verdict?


I did have my issues with the silly tone of the third film (and in some cases the second one) and here the film does try to keep with a serious tone (bar the scenes with the twin guards before turning into a single Cenobite), which I'll give it credit for. I will also admit that the acting is pretty acceptable,With the exception of the "Chatter Hound", the Cenobites as always looked pretty cool. And I can't complain about the casting of Angelique.

Which is a shame, as despite the off the wall settings of the movie, there was potential to make a decent enough sequel, with the right direction. But instead the film is a mess, and not even an entertaining one. I can see why the director used the "Alan Smithee" moniker for this one, as apparently there were script issues, cuts and edits he was unhappy with. There is supposed to be four different versions of this floating around, so it would be interesting to see his vision of it someday.

Until then, I have to make do with the fifth film in the series, Hellraiser: Inferno, which I've been told is pretty good, but I won't hold my breath to be on the safe side.


And on a final note.....


This film also stars Adam Scott, who I recognised from Step Brothers, which is a film that everyone I know loves, but I absolutely hate, with the only compliments I can give it was the performance of the Dad (whose name I don't know but also starred in Cabin In The Woods and White House Down), and that it's not as bad as Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story. And as bad as Hellraiser: Bloodline was, it's still better than Step Brothers. But I'm sure everyone has their movies that everyone loves but hates, and vice versa.

Monday, October 07, 2013

Halloween Countdown (Day 7: George Clooney Double Bill)

For anyone (other than myself) that knows how plans change with this blog, I did hint that I would be writing up on another horror franchise this month. However I am increasingly pushed for time to give each film a proper write up. Plus I was aiming to enjoy the series from one film to the other without pausing to do create an article. So while searching for other alternatives, I find myself coming back to a series of blog posts that I've been meaning to continue with, the B-Movie DVD collection.



RETURN OF THE KILLER TOMATOES


I recently purchased a second hand copy of Attack Of The Killer Tomatoes as not only had I not seen it since I recorded it on VHS, I wanted to reacquaint myself with it before moving on to the sequel. Plus it starred George Clooney, pre-E.R. days, so I had to check it out.



94 minutes later.....


After watching the first film, I was taken aback by how different the sequel was, and at times, not for the better. It started off promisingly with the bizarre opening sequence and the self referential theme song mimicking the one from the original. But as the movie went on it not only came off as a corny 80s flick, but not only did it not have much of the surrealist humour the first film had, it didn't have any actual Killer Tomatoes, despite the title of the actual movie.

Instead we get these musclebound henchmen for Professor Gangreen (played by the original Gomez Adams) that were transformed from tomatoes, and his "girlfriend" running away with a cuddly looking tomato. The film does drag on for the first half or so when it's plainly obvious that it's going in one direction. That is until the movie itself starts breaking the fourth wall, even mocking itself about how bad it is, of which most of the humour lies.


While it was fun to see some characters from the original come back (even the underwater expert), the stand out actor in this film is, unsurprisingly, George Clooney. Even if I was to take away the fact that I already knew who he was to begin with, he is clearly the more talented actor onscreen, which makes him likable and funny onscreen, rising above the material given to him.

Verdict?


If it wasn't for the fact that the film was breaking the fourth wall every now and then, the movie would have been a bore. Since there were no actual tomatoes in this film, it could have done with more of this type of humour throughout, along the lines of a Zucker Brothers flick. I'm not sure how I would view the film as a standalone piece, considering the references to the original littered throughout. I will admit it was a bit of a laugh, and maybe in future I'd accept it more for what it is. But compared to the original, I can't help but feel a little disappointed.


RETURN TO HORROR HIGH


One of my earliest memories of a rental shop for VHS, before the days of Xtra-Vision on my side of the pond, was in a dry cleaners above a newsagents. And I will always remember the one cover that stood out from the limited choices it had on its shelf was for this movie (see here). Oh and this flick also stars George Clooney, hence the theme for this blog entry.



94 minutes later.....


While not revealing any spoilers in terms of what happens in the movie, but all I can say is that compared to the rest of the cast, George Clooney's performance was clearly the best, with the exception of the guy who played the janitor. After watching this film, I can see how Return Of The Killer Tomatoes look like a step up in his career. Well, a small step anyway.


While ROTKT had parts where it showed that the movie was being made, here it is about a movie that's being made within the movie. This approach does lend itself to some comedy into how different ideas conflict on a movie set, not to mention some of the other factors that go into it (props, crew members, budget etc.). However it does get confusing at times when it jumps from one timeline to another, and from reality to the filming of the movie.

The film is for the most part a comedy and therefore not to be taken seriously as your average horror flick. And yet the reaction it got outta me was more groan than laughter. And while it does have the slasher element to it, you don't see much of what happens, as the majority of the killing is done offscreen. And with one scene in particular that does show what happens (without giving any spoilers), the payoff is rather disappointing.

Verdict?


The result is a bit of a mess with some good ideas not executed properly, much like the movie that was being shot within movie. However there are some genuinely funny parts be it the dismemberment scenes, the onset struggles, or even criticisms of horror movie tropes. While it could have been better, it was still watchable, if only for looking at how dated the film is, which in itself is a source of humour.


Double Bill Verdict?


I guess it could be a case of two wrongs make a right, with both films slightly under par in terms of quality. But since both movies were not to be taken seriously to begin with, combined they are fun to watch, especially in a six pack and pizza type of scenario. And of course it was fun to see acclaimed actor and director George Clooney in his earliest roles. Funny to think how people saw From Dusk Till Dawn as a dent in his career, as they obviously never saw these two.

And on a final note.....


After watching Attack Of The Killer Tomatoes, the theme song will be stuck in my head for the next week.

Halloween Countdown (Day 6: Cyber Christ)

I like movies. Including dirt cheap B-Movies. I like women. Preferably naked women. I like robots. Especially killer robots. So for today's blog entry, I am going to write about a very little known film that's so hard to come by that the only copy going on sale on Amazon is priced at $1999.99 (at time of writing). Of course I don't have that amount of disposable income, so I am left with no choice but to download it off the net. Not a big fan of this practice, as I've mentioned before in my Savage Streets article, but I'm left with no choice. The film in question is called Exterminator City.

Note: film does not include the two guys on the cover.

Now, don't ask me how I came across this film. I was searching through various IMDb profiles of certain "actresses", and from one of them (skip down to the "final note" to see who it was) I noticed this movie and took a look at the cast, still undecided whether it's a bad sign that I recognised eight of the names listed (a mixture of plastic American and British pornstars, and B-Movie queen Julie Strain). Given how crazy the concept and casting sounds, it was worth a viewing that didn't involve fast forwarding to the nude scenes.

OH YES, THERE WILL BE SPOILERS.


79 minutes later.....


I'm not sure whether it was a good or bad idea to watch this film in the early hours of the morning, fighting tiredness and under the influence. My brain ended up fried because of how awful this film was, production wise. But at the same it was the perfect film to watch in an altered state of mind. But even with a clear head I'm sure I would have enjoyed the absurdity of the movie regardless.

As for the plot? Well the summary from its IMDb page should do:

The year is 2027. A robot pest controller turned serial killer has embarked on a murderous rampage, carving his way through the population of Atro City. Following in the wake of his destruction are a tough robot homicide detective and a sinister robot psychiatrist. Their investigation will take them on a terrifying journey into a twisted technological nightmare, more terrifying than you can ever imagine.

Okay where do I begin to explain about how amazingly bad this movie is? Well it's not enough to show a picture of the robots in question. Not to mention the shoestring budget. Or even talk about the acting and dialogue without some idea as to how it shows onscreen. It's one of those cases of where it has to be seen to be believed. So I'm just gonna post some sample clips from YouTube (which are SFW). Starting off with the opening scene from this flick.....


this heartpounding training scene with the detective and psychiatrist robots.....


And this "gory" scene of one of the killer's victims.....


Now repeat these three aspects shown above (shaky cam movements at inanimate objects, poor delivery of poor dialogue, and copious amounts of scenes involving women screaming). Throw in some Se7en style plot where the killer has severe hallucinations that incorporate religious imagery, more dutch angles than Battlefield Earth, nonsensical explosion graphics, and the same damn model of a building. Throw in the plot that's detailed earlier, be sure never to mix the human and puppet cast (even making puppets of the supposed humans) and you have an entire movie that last 79 MINUTES!

The story is pretty simple yet quite ambitious, considering that it makes the fluffy toy segments of The Adam & Joe Show look hi-tech. It does have the odd funny scene and quote, but it doesn't distract you from the fact that the budget is close to nonexistent. What makes this film outrageous is its use of the buxom ensemble cast, as if the makers wanted to distract viewers from its budget limitations, it would give more screentime to the women in question. Despite doing ordinary actions such as brushing teeth, reading, exercising, even showing Julie Strain on the toilet. But what took me aback was that these scenes barely last a MINUTE!

So the major focus onscreen are these robot puppets and this supernatural plot set in a futuristic world. But the women are clearly in houses set in the present day. There is no explanation as to how these robots came to be part to everyday society. Not only that, but I was beginning to see the same actress/model make a second appearance in order to continue with the body count, with no way of trying to hide that they were the same person that was offed onscreen earlier. I'm convinced that the makers of this film has a fetish involving women screaming in terror, as in a horror flick.

Just as well it wasn't killer robot erotica.

Verdict?


I never thought I'd see a skin flick that does its best to skim through the skimpy parts and concentrate on the plot. Or if it was a means to construct a story around unrelated scenes of screaming naked ladies, then they really went overboard with the scenes that people usually fast forward through in an adult flick. This strange experiment does so many things wrong that you can't believe it got made in the first place. And that's what gives it this strange charm.

Would it have worked if the female performers were not from the adult industry and instead from, say, swimsuit models? Maybe, but then again the film more than likely needed to see some nudity if they had to sit through some strange puppet show and attempts at SFX for beginners. It would be hard to recommend this film to others, let alone watch it with a group of people. So as with any movie with adult content, it is more than likely a film to be watched alone.

But there was one horrifying moment in the film, and it came towards the end with the appearance of one adult performer that I mentioned in Day 3 (to give support to Breast Cancer Awareness Month); Mistress Rhiannon.

Even the robots looked more realistic.

And on a final note.....


The "actress" I talked about earlier was notable UK pornstar and Daily Sport model; Cathy Barry.....and I'm sure that the majority of people who read this will judge me. Speaking of her I watched a film called Garage a while back, where one of her "scenes" was used in the porno tape the main character had. The sad thing was, that brief use of the scene was better than the entire movie it was used in.

Saturday, October 05, 2013

Halloween Countdown (Day 5: Dream Warriors)

Moving onto Hellraiser III: Hell On Earth. When it comes to horror film franchises, it's best to keep expectations low. While I loved the first film, and the sequel was decent enough, but I wasn't sure how the next one would turn out. The first three flicks are the ones that have garnered the most praise, gathering by the numerous boxsets over the years. So if there was one sequel to be considered the best of the lot, surely this must be it?


OH YES, THERE WILL BE SPOILERS.


93 minutes later.....


Wow, and I thought the second film was stupid. This one went even further below the level of silliness to the point of parody. I couldn't believe that in the space of three films, it has gone from an interesting gothic horror style to an over the top, Americanised version of the story, making Pinhead more of a Freddy Krueger type villain than the cold dark threatening force he was made out to be previously. Granted it's supposed to be the evil id of Pinhead in its own form, but the film feels like it was an American's interpretation of the character was to ape the Elm St. series.

Which is a shame that the film turned out the way it did, as it got off to a good start, introducing the Pillar Of Souls from the end of the last film. And to be fair, it does have some interesting effects and story elements, as in how it connects to the previous movie. I give credit to the dream sequences featuring Elliot Spencer, who happened to be Pinhead's human side, and the scenes where he attempts to contact main character Joey via television static. Plus the character of Terri was easy on the eyes.

Well, before she turned into a Cenobite.
As a blatant rip-off of the Elm St. series, the film ups the ante when it comes to gore and comedic elements, with mixed results. While I found it hard to accept the over the top nature of Pinhead, it doesn't help that his created minions are so bad they're actually good, in a funny way. With creations such as the guy with a camera fixed in his eye, the flame spouting fat-man, Terri with a tracheotomy, and the guy with CDs sticking out of his head, they are far removed from the creepy and menacing creations of the previous two flicks. They look like poor versions of the Borg from the Star Trek series. Pretty apt, considering the lead actress ended up in Deep Space Nine.


There is better acting in American daytime soap operas, but because it's so bad, it's amusing at the same time, given how this film turned out. However the story did have its own unexplained, underdeveloped or confusing character motivation when, even Terri ran away when she finds out Joey has a new job.I guess it had something to do with her finding somewhere nice to live and have a good life, and probably feelings of abandonment.

But of course I had no choice but to accept these events in order to get to the end. And with a final showdown to the once again easily disposed of Cenobites, that has a lead up involving the stupid attacking style of the Cenobites, the comedic screaming cops before they get burned to death, and a particularly hammy scene in a church, I had to accept a lot. Much like the determination one has to get through Halloween 3, Elm St. 2, Jason X, Batman & Robin etc, you can't help but laugh.

Verdict?


The direction is far removed from the original that it can be seen as a travesty. But like most horror franchises, you just have to accept how some of these films turn out. And with that, there is admittedly some enjoyment from the over the top gore and the laughable Cenobite clones. The effects are kinda fun in a tacky way, but not much of an improvement when compared to the other films.

On the flip side, it is still a big letdown to see the series take this route. And if there's one thing I learned from horror film franchises, it's that I can only expect them to get progressively worse, with some flashes of of acceptable creativity, be it through horror, gore, story or even comedy I heard the fifth one is actually pretty good. Just a shame that the fourth one is next on my list, judging by who "directed" it.


And on a final note.....


Not much to say about the music and score in this flick, as it has the same non-scary whimsical score, but interspersed with a forced soundtrack of pop, rock and metal, including a cameo of Armored Saint. But I was surprised to hear this song in the end credits, as I was only familiar with the Ozzy Osborne version.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...