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Monthly Archives: January 2012

Review: Hostel Part III

This series of films has had very hard ride from mainstream critics and the first two films are often quoted as examples of torture porn. There is no denying that graphic torture scenes are portrayed in the films, performed by people who are paying for the perverse pleasure of hurting and killing people. But these people are the antagonists of the films and the films are not told from their perspective. This film actually has more of a story going on than in the earlier two and I think it makes it less cold and brutal than the previous films and bit more mainstream.

The action this time is in Las Vegas among the casinos and strip clubs and casinos that are also strip clubs. Scott (Brian Hallisay) is about to get married so his Best Man Carter (Kip Pardue) takes him for a stag weekend in Las Vegas were they meet up with two other friends Mike (Skyler Stone) and Justin (John Hensley). They start at a casino and meet two escorts Nikki (Zulay Henao) and Kendra (Sarah Habel) who tell them about a club off the strip. The four friends party with the two girls but when they wake up next day their friend Mike is missing.

Mike is the latest victim of the wealthy torture & murder perverts of the Elite Hunting Club. Since this is Las Vegas the torture is a brightly lit show with an audience who can bet of various things like what he’s going to say to beg for his life or what tool will be used to torture him. Other Vegas elements are also present such as the nearly naked waitresses serving drinks to the evil rich bastards.

After several hours Scott is really concerned about finding Mike so using the internet Justin traces the address of Nikki who he was last seen with. They break into her trailer but there’s no sign of them there. They get caught by Kendra and her large angry friend. Kendra says that Nikki is missing too so she goes with the three men thinking they will find Nikki and Mike together.

Kendra is the next victim on show and she has been forced into a cheesy cheerleader outfit. Her death by huge bugs reminds me more of the sort of deaths in the Dr Phibes films than Hostel. There’s the appearance of a sub-plot with a member of the club pursuing a petty emotional agenda that risks exposing the Club to the authorities. I just felt that the EHC had become joke version of what they had appeared to be in the previous films.

The film is well shot and was entertaining enough but it has lost some of the grungy sleazy edge that the first two films had. In those films I really winced during the torture scenes because of my empathy with the pain being experienced by the protagonists and I didn’t get that with this film.

Rating 6/10

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Posted by on January 31, 2012 in Entertainment, Film

 

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Review: My Soul to Take

I have read people claiming this is a terrible film and one of the worst films ever made so when I watched this it was with low expectations. While this not a brilliant film I thought it was entertaining with an interesting concept and characters that were likable and fairly engaging. Director Wes Craven is perhaps suffering from a reaction to his films based on higher expectations than those by which most other B-movie horror is judged.

The small town of Riverton is being terrorised by a serial killer call the ‘Riverton Ripper’. A TV news programme has an expert talking about what they know and he says the killer has multiple personality disorder and probably doesn’t know who he is as he lives his normal everyday life. Abel Plenkov is watching the TV as he works on building a rocking horse for the child his wife is pregnant with. Security camera footage shown on-screen reveals the weapon used by the Ripper. To his shock Abel finds the same knife in his hand and his hand is showing some skill at opening and closing the knife. A voice in his head then demands his cooperation or his family will be killed. It turns out that Abel is possessed by multiple personalities and one of them is the Ripper. Abel refuses to cooperate and discovers his wife has been killed by the Ripper. The Ripper then goes after his young daughter but the police arrive and shoot him. They have to take him down several times and as he struggles on the way to the hospital the ambulance he is in crashes and burns. Meanwhile the police discover that the baby is still alive inside his dead mother. Someone makes mention of the miracle of seven children all being born on that night in that small town.

Sixteen years later those seven children and all their friends from school are gathered for an annual ritual at the burned out wreckage of the ambulance. One of the seven must face someone in a scary costume that is supposed to represent Abel Plenkov who local legends says is still alive and will one year come back for the seven . This year it’s the turn of Adam, normally called Bug (Max Thieriot) to drive Abel Plenkov back and keep them safe. Even though it’s clearly just a costume Bug freaks out but before he wets his pants a police siren interrupts them and everybody starts running away, including the guy in the costume.

Jay (Jeremy Chu) an Asian student and one of the seven is making his way home alone and as he crosses a bridge a figure wearing the Ripper costume chases him and kills him on the bridge then tosses his body into the river below. It really isn’t a very scary scene and it is all over so quickly so there was no real build-up of tension. This first death scene is unfortunately the standard of the subsequent death scenes as the Ripper goes after each of the seven.

It turns out that Abel Plenkov suffered from multiple personality disorder but someone’s granny apparently used to say that it’s not multiple personalities but multiple souls and since that is just crazy that means since it’s a horror film it’s true. So when Abel died all his souls were reincarnated in the seven children born that night and one of them is the reincarnation of the Ripper.

Just want add a bit about some the other characters I haven’t mentioned. Penelope (Zena Grey) the fundamental Christian was a pretty strong character good at using just enough crazy to undermine the school bully Brandon (Nick Lashaway) with what she knows about him. Brandon is the muscle for Fang (Emily Meade) the heartless manipulative Queen Bee of the school and Bug’s big sister. Alex is Bug’s best friend and main target for punishment beatings from Brandon under orders from Fang. Bug fancies pretty blonde Brittany (Paulina Olszynski) but she’s under strict orders from Fang to keep away from him. Oh yeah and incidentally there’s another character Jerome (Denzel Whitaker) a blind black kid who gets about 20 minutes screen time. He’s one of the seven so you can take a guess at his odds of seeing it to end of the film.

A reincarnated killer is hardly the most original of concepts but I thought this film carried it off quite well for most of the film but it seemed there a bit too much rushing about in the climax and I don’t think it was very clear about what had happened. I liked the cast especially Max Theriot who is pretty good as Bug. The killings were a bit bland and for some reason CGI blood was used. The story mainly relies on the whodunit aspect of trying to figure out who the Ripper is rather than lingering on the students’ deaths and features a few false leads and twists before the not very surprising reveal at the end

Overall it is an engaging enough film and if you can forget about the legend of director Wes Craven you may also find this film is not as bad as reviewers have said.

Rating 6.5/10

 
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Posted by on January 29, 2012 in Entertainment, Film

 

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Review – Cornered

I like shopping for DVDs and I have ended up with several films I’ve not got around to watching and then they get lost in the pile and I forget what interested me when I bought them. I have no idea how long this languished in that pile but I finally watched it and like of most the films I recently dragged out of the pile this is a pretty good watch. It is a slasher film but without the pretty teens that make up the usual victims who have instead been replaced with cast that can act a bit.

At a run-down convenience store one of the workers Donny (Peter Story) is outside trying help a local prostitute Jess (Elizabeth Nicole) who is having trouble with a customer and the cheery chirpy delivery man Morty (Steve Guttenberg) comes to the rescue but the shop’s front door gets smashed in. Since it’s nearly closing time Donny secures the door by nailing wood across it and blocking it off. Morty chats with Steve the store owner and the other two employees Mona (Ellia English) and Steve’s nephew Jimmy (James Duval).

The big news they are talking about is the serial killer that is slaughtering convenience store workers across the city and the reward being offered of $500,000. They first talk about what they would do with the reward money, then talk about what they would do to the killer before the police got there. Steve, Jimmy and Mona really get into creating a sadistic fantasy, but Jess doesn’t like it. No-one notices another customer who is hiding in the shadows and runs off when he gets spotted by Steve who chases him off with a baseball bat.

After Morty leaves Steve locks the door and everyone goes to the apartment above the store to play poker and we get to more about the characters. Jimmy is a drug addict who is just out of rehab and has been caught earlier by Steve calling his dealer. Steve tells Jimmy he’s going to be staying all night so Steve can keep an eye on him. Mona has another job operating a sex chat-line from her mobile phone and she has several calls as they play. Donny sits all night shoving doughnuts into his face while lusting after Jess, Steve downs beer after beer and Jimmy gets increasingly strung out and certain that the cockroaches are after him.

Introductions over its finally time for the killing to begin. The killer gets two of them before anyone realises what’s going on. I thought the killings were okay but there is not really very much shown directly on screen. To be honest this film actually does better at setting up the characters than it does killing them off.

Rating 6/10

 
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Posted by on January 28, 2012 in Entertainment, Film

 

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Review: Someone’s Knocking At The Door

Perhaps this review should start with an explicit warning. The film features many scenes of male and female nudity, gore, sexual violence and drug taking. Despite having one or two funny scenes the film really is not a comedy. This film really isn’t for everyone and I’m not even sure at this point if it was for me.

Ray (Jordan Lawson) is sitting in his flat injecting a drug from vial into his vein. Before he can relax and enjoy his buzz he hears someone knocking at the door. He’s delighted when he opens it and there’s naked woman standing there and she tells him she wants to screw him death. They back into the flat and start kissing and touching. Then in the mirror he see he’s kissing a man who still wants to screw him to death. The man tears Ray’s clothes off and rapes him to death with an enormous penis. This film really does not waste any time getting straight to the action.

Ray was a student a medical school. His classmates are all very worried about the brutal way he was killed but they are just as concerned about the consequences of their drug use being put under the spotlight by the police investigation into his death. The other students are the typical five man band of victims you see in many horror films which is not to say that this like other typical horror films but it certainly does have this convention. They are the nerd Joe (Ricardo Gray) who has a bad speech impediment, Sebastian (Jon Budinoff) who is a complete prick, Annie (Sylvia Spross) who is a party girl and there’s Meg (Andrea Rueda ) who doesn’t take illegal drugs or screw around very much. The last of the group Justin (Noah Segan) who is in his flat having strange dream about meeting Ray in the morgue and talking to him. Justin is leader of the group and he has strange ideas of the mind based on the work of a Dr Tolstoy (Vernon Wells) who used psychedelic drugs in treating his patients

The film takes it time to investigate what happened to Ray and two police detectives interview each other five friends and while they get nothing evasion from four of them Justin gives them a frank and full account of the six of them going to a restricted storeroom and looking at the records of Dr Tolstoy’s work with two serial killers in the 60s called John and Wilma Hopper (Ezra Buzzington and Elina Madison) While listening to a therapy with the two killers the students all inject some of an experimental psychedelic drug except Meg who is reading the side effects with increasing horror. This is what seems have allowed the Hoppers into the present to kill again.

This is filmed like an experience of a bad trip with choppy images and a mixture of mundane everyday images with some very bizarre elements. The death scenes were both brutal and hilarious with John’s monster penis and Wilma’s shark-toothed vagina as weapons of death. There is very good use of sound in the film too. There’s a nice little cameo too from Joe Pilato as the ageing hippie Dean of the medical school Dr Ottie giving a bumbling speech to students and press about the murder of Ray

I think I’ve described this film enough to let you make your mind up if you want to watch it. I find it hard to rate this film so I’ll just give it a non-committal score and realise this may go up or down after a second or third viewing

Rating 6/10

 
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Posted by on January 23, 2012 in Entertainment, Film

 

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Review: The Gathering

I picked up this film cheap on DVD and knew nothing about it other the blurb on the box so I went into this blind. I found myself enjoying the film and although it has been cheaply made by British TV company and certainly does not feature much gore it does present a few intriguing ideas and it is fairly well done.

A young American tourist Cassie Grant (Christina Ricci) is backpacking through the British countryside when she gets hit by a car. The driver of the car is Marion Kirkman (Kerry Fox) and she gets Cassie to the local hospital. Miraculously Cassie is completely unhurt and apart from some loss of memory there’s nothing wrong with her. The doctor is not keeping her in the hospital so Marion offers her a place to stay until she can contact people she knows.

Marion’s husband Simon (Stephen Dillane) is a historian and he’s been called in by the church (Anglican or Catholic is not specified)  because a very old Christian church has been discovered when two people at a music festival fell into a hole in the ground and were killed. From what he can see the church has to be one of the earliest Christian churches ever built in the British Isles and with a style of Roman architecture suggesting it is from the time of the crucifixion. The altar is also very strange with  the figure on the cross facing not out into the church but towards a bass relief on the wall of a dozen figures watching the crucifixion. This strange altar has the church very worried so they want Simon to investigate it and keep quiet about it.

Marion takes Cassie back to her enormous house. Simon has two children to his first wife who died, 9-year-old  Emma and 7-year-old Michael. Cassie gets on well with two children especially Michael who is normally very quiet and withdrawn so she’s only too happy accept Simon’s offer of a job as an au pair and nanny. While taking the children to school she starts having strange visions of people badly injured and dying and one of those people is Michael. She also sees people she thinks she knows but they just stare back at her silently.

A priest who is working with Simon at the church site makes an important discovery about the faces on the bass relief. In paintings and photographs over wide spans of human history the same faces have appeared at scenes of human cruelty and suffering, always just watching. And to Simon’s horror he realises he has seen theses same faces Gathering together in his small town now.

I thought that this film had a great premise and was very well acted thanks to an excellent cast of name actors such as Robert Hardy and Mr Fantastic Ioan Gruffudd. It is all very low-key and sedate for most of the film and most of the action takes place at the end of the film. The only weakness was in fact the sub-plot about the killer which seemed a bit too tacked-on and I’m not sure I really followed the mad logic behind making Michael a target. Not for gore-hounds but I did enjoy watching a film which helps prove that not all made for TV films have to be low-grade rubbish (note that SyFy).

Rating 6.5/10

 

 
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Posted by on January 21, 2012 in Entertainment, Film

 

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Review: Return of the Living Dead 3

I am a huge fan of the original Return of the Living Dead and while the second film in this series was okay it is a lesser imitation of the first film. I didn’t know that there were further sequels until a couple of years ago when I saw the DVD on sale and I snapped it right up, especially when I discovered that the director is horror master Brian Yuzna. Unlike the first two films this is not a light-hearted comedy but a tragic romance story with zombies.

Curt Reynolds (J. Trevor Edmond) is a military brat, having to relocate to wherever his father Colonel John Reynolds (Kent McCord) is assigned. While stationed near Los Angeles he’s fallen in love with a local girl Julie Walker (Melinda Clarke) who is bit of bad girl. She talks Curt into “borrowing” his father’s security pass so they can break into the secure areas of the military base and find out what they are doing in there.And what they are doing is really pretty f’cked up. They are experimenting on ways of militarising trioxin, the chemical that re-animates the dead that featured in the previous two films. Curt and Julie watch in horror as they reanimate a corpse with trioxin vapour from one their zombies in-a-can, to test a method that has been developed to temporarily subdue them with ice bolts into the brain. Unfortunately their experiment is a failure and they end up with a lab full of wild hungry zombies.

Curt and Julie flee before they caught. In the lab another military scientist Colonel Sinclair (Sarah Douglas) was observing the procedure and uses the failure to push her way into replacing Colonel Reynolds on this project and push ahead with her idea of putting the zombies into lockable exoskeletons. Reynolds thinks her idea is cruel and he’s right but remember that bit about ice bolts into the brain?

Reynolds goes home to tell Curt the bad news that he’s being transferred again. Curt tells his father he’s not going with him and he leaves with Julie on his motorbike to start a life together in Seattle. On the road Julie is excited and frisky and she distracts Curt, nearly causing him crash. When he swerves to avoid hitting an oncoming truck Julie goes flying off the back of the bike and smashes into a telegraph pole and breaks her neck.

Curt is devastated and while cradling her lifeless body sobbing he finds his father’s security pass card. Crazed by his grief he thinks he can bring her back to life. He takes Julie’s body back to the military base and after putting on a protective suit he doses her with fumes from a zombie-in-a-can but he doesn’t close the lid properly and the zombie escapes. Fortunately the zombie comes in handy when they get caught by one lab worker who gets attacked by the zombie, giving Curt and Julie the chance to escape.

Julie is not to happy about being resurrected because she is constant pain, some of which is caused by a strange hunger she has no idea how to satisfy. Curt stops at a late night grocery store to get her something to eat. The only other people in the shop are Santos (Mike Moroff) and his friends Filipe (Sal Lopez) and Mogo (Julian Scott Urena) who is playing video games while the others watch and Santos’ girlfriend Alicia (Pía Reyes) complains. Julie really is making a mess trying to eat different things to sate her hunger but nothing works. While Curt tries to clear up the mess he bumps into Santos who angrily confronts him. The store owner (Dana Lee) tries to intervene, brandishing a hand gun but he gets shot in the gut by Santos for his trouble. The gang flee but as he’s leaving Julie takes a bite out of Mogo’s arm .

Julie and Curt have to leave as well since the military are looking for them but Curt agrees to drive the store owner to hospital in his van. The police arrive and chase after them, shooting at them. The store owner tries to call out the police from the back of the van but the police shoot him in the head killing him. Curt manages to shake off the police and he stops in a blind alley. He is horrified to find that Julie has started munching on the brains of the dead store owner. The police find the van but Curt and Julie have escaped down into a storm drain. One of the policemen is killed by the reanimated store owner but the military arrive just in time to save the other one. They are led by Reynolds who is desperate to save Curt.

Curt and Julie make they way down to the river through the drains. Curt realises what a selfish idiot he has been and in his frustration he lashes out at Julie who runs off. He regrets it right away and goes after her but fails to stop her throwing herself from a bridge into the river. Curt searches downstream for Julie and meets Riverman (Basil Wallace, a homeless man who lives in the drainage tunnels by the river. They find Julie but then so does Santos’ gang who are not happy about her biting Mogo who is getting very sick because of it.

Riverman takes them into his secret hideout. Julie has found a way of coping with her hunger – by inflicting pain on herself she can return to feeling normal and forget her hunger for awhile. She pierces her flesh with various sharp things she finds lying around. The gang find Riverman sitting outside his hideout and attack him. Curt goes out to help Riverman  but he’s overpowered quickly. Then the door opens and Julie appears and she really has been busy turning herself into one of the craziest most badass zombies ever, her flesh pierced by chains and nails and glass and spikes embedded in her arm, in short she makes herself  into make-up effects masterpiece shown in picture above from the DVD cover. She seduces Santos into going with her alone into the hideout where things go very badly for Santos. She quickly attacks and kills Felipe, meanwhile Mogo has died and reanimated and then attacked Alicia. Riverman realises they are deep in it and gets Curt and (reluctantly) Julie back into his hideout. The zombie gang attack the door and as it starts giving way Curt tells Riverman to get Julie out the back way while he tries to delay the zombies to give him time to get away

Reynolds arrives just then and takes care of the zombie gang with his ice bolts. Curt runs after Riverman and Julie but finds that Julie has killed him and eaten his brains. Thinking she has gone totally mad with hunger he stands by and lets his father shoot her with an ice bolt.

Back at the military base Curt has been debriefed and is now wanting to know what is going to happen to the zombies. He wanders around the lab till he finds where Julie is being kept and sees Colonel Sinclair putting a metal exoskeleton onto Riverman and locking it to stop him moving. One of assistants tell him that Julie is next which makes rush to try and unlock her cage. RIverman’s exoskeleton gets unlocked in the struggle to stop him. Riverman goes on an unstoppable rampage against the lab staff also smashing open several zombie cans and throwing Sinclair into the storeroom with them. as the lab staff fight back he gets limbs basted away with a shotgun but can still move thanks to the exoskeleton and proving it really is a very effective way of weaponising the trioxin zombies

The security breach has triggered the security system and sealed them in the lab. Curt frees Julie and persuades Riverman to open the locked door to the lab.The canned zombies Riverman freed are running through the lab complex and munching through most of the staff. The whole complex is sealing up while Curt tries to find a way out and his father is trying to find him.

Curt suddenly gets bitten in the arm by the same zombie he freed while re-animating Julie. His father finds them and pleads with Curt to come with him while he hold the security door open but Curt shows Reynolds the bite. Reynolds has to let the door close and watch Curt and Julie go together into the lab complex. Curt takes Julie to the incinerator and Curt promises they will be together forever and then enter flames and burn together.

This really marks complete tonal shift from the dark humour of the original film. Curt’s love for Julie is like mental illness and it drives him from one crazy action to another and the consequences are tragic for a lot of  the people who cross their path. His clingy desperate love created the monstrous bad ass zombie Julie. J Trevor does a pretty good job as the naive teen but the biggest acting credit has to go Melinda Clarke who really turns in a very touching and dangerous performance as Julie.

The zombie effects are done using a mixture of make-up and animatronics with mixed results but I  thought it looks pretty good considering what looks like a very tight budget. [Geek Whine Moment Some people complain about this film having people becoming zombies after being bitten by one which did not appear to happen in original film. While this is true it certainly can’t be ruled out as a possibility in that film and remember what the military did at the end of that film. If it could not be spread by the zombies why take such drastic action? Anway I really could not care less and I will never let such nit-picking interfere with my enjoyment of this film Whine Moment Over]

Rating 7.8/10

 

 
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Posted by on January 18, 2012 in Film

 

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Review: Sand Sharks

The DVD Pile

ss1srSyfylis strikes again with another cheap deliberately cheesy film that seems to have been based on the output of a brainstorming session with a group of 8-year-old boys. The problem with shark films is that sharks live in the sea and that’s been done. What if the sharks could swim through sand? Yeah just like those worms in Tremors but with sharks. Because we all know sand is just like water and there really is thing called the sand shark

The film is set on a quiet island which is big enough to not just have beach but a desert. Two dirt-bikers are killed by the shark which flashes by in blur of CGI when it attacks, probably to avoid anyone getting a good look at the thing. The local sheriff’s department is confused by the deaths since Deputy Carly (Christina Corigliano) insists the deaths look like a shark attack but her brother Sherriff John Stone (Eric Scott Woods) points to the evidence that the deaths happened on the beach not in the water. He decides call in a shark expert to help them, however the expert he wanted is dead but his daughter Sandy Powers (Brooke Hogan) is also a shark scientist so she agrees to come along instead.Also arriving on the island is Jimmy Greene (Corin Nemec) a greedy selfish idiot who is also the son of the island’s Mayor Greenburg (Edgar Allan Poe IV – very cool name by the way). He wants to organise a large party on the island’s beach based on the same idea the Sundance or Wickerman festivals of ripping off a bunch of stupid dirty hippies and ravers. He sells the idea to his father as a great way to bring money to the island but he’s mostly interested lining his own pocket and paying off his investors (more likely his moneylenders).

The film then does a shameless rip-off one of the key scenes in Jaws. At a town meeting Sherriff Stone tells them that he thinks it would be a good idea to shut the beaches until they find out what’s causing the deaths and stop it. This certainly does not go down very well with Greene who already has tens of people on their way to island for the party. It could end up costing him a couple of hundred dollars. Then a crotchety old nutcase called Angus (Robert Pike Daniel) appears and tells them than they are facing sharks that swim in the sand and he can get rid of them for a price. It seems to be very common in horror films that the ramblings of the least stable and most insane people turn out to be true.

Dr Sandy examines the remains and discovers a very large tooth in one of the bodies. She tells Sherriff Stone that she’s never seen anything like it but she has also worked out that it’s from a baby whatever it is. No-one grasps the implications of this until she has to spell it out later in the film that babies mean mommies that are usually much bigger.

This film tries too hard be funny but I got more laughs at the pathetically small group of about 50 extras that were supposed be a party of thousands. The continuous use of Jaws references only served to remind me of what it would be like to watch a decent shark film. The acting is okay but the poor direction during the party scenes and the shark attack was cringe-inducing. I don’t think I can really recommend this film. It’s not completely unwatchable but it really isn’t as funny as it thinks it is and it is rubbish.

Rating 4/10

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Posted by on January 15, 2012 in Entertainment, Film

 

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