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Monthly Archives: June 2012

Review: Alien Infiltration

The alternative title in USA is Alien Opponent.

I saw this in the bargain area in a local supermarket so I wasn’t expecting very much but this is a film that is fully aware it is a B-movie and the film-makers just dive right in and deliver a fun-ride of a film without worrying about drama, character development or a plot.

Tom Mazurski (Kevin Shea) is the big man in his local town, most of which he owns, and he likes spending his time hanging out in his junkyard with his buddies, playing with their guns but when he catches his much younger wife Meghan (Ashley Bates) in the barn having sex with his young employee Bradan (Cuyle Carvin) he starts beating her. Meghan’s mother Rita (Hilma Falkowski) comes to her rescue by putting a hammer into Mazurki’s skull killing him right away. Rita and Meghan go back into the house to discuss what they are going to tell the authorities to ensure they get hold of all of Mazurski’s money, including his life insurance.

Just then a space ship crashes into the barn. Tom’s drinking buddies go to investigate and all three of them get killed. This gives Rita the idea to blame the alien for killing Tom but it leaves Rita and Meghan with a problem since they need Tom’s body to prove he’s dead. They try sending Bradan to recover it but as soon as he sees the alien he runs away screaming.

They put out an ad on the local TV station offering $300,000 reward to whoever can recover the body. This brings a wide variety of greedy armed idiots to the junkyard and Rita and Meghan make all of them sign release forms and take a Polaroid of each of them before letting them loose in the junkyard. The main stars of the alien hunt are a hard ass priest Father Mazullo (Roddy Piper), Linnea Gold (Adrienne LaValley) an exotic dancer with a mysterious past, Brooklyn Davis (Jeremy London) a sleazy thieving backstabbing lowlife and Deborah Dallas (Sari Gagnon) an evil manipulative woman who unconvincingly tries to act all helpless and innocent but she fools no-one.

Meanwhile the heavily armoured alien gets busy putting down defences around the junkyard while it searches around the junkyard finding materials to repair his spaceship. They have come up quite a few nasty ways to kill people in this film. There are slugs that come out an alien pod and worm into people’s bodies, eating them from inside out, there’s an underground robot shark, a killer robot, a deadly force field and various nasty traps as well as the alien itself.

Early on it is clear that anyone can die and by the end of the film almost all of them do. One character gets a bit of a back story only to get wiped out quickly. Kids, soldiers, rednecks, baseball teams, football teams all come and get killed off. A crowd of locals have gathered on hill next to the junkyard watching the entertainment and making bets on how long each of the idiots who take on the alien will last.

This film is tasteless stupid fun and never takes itself too seriously. It uses a mixture of physical effects and CGI but it doesn’t get too carried away with the CGI. The cast all act up to their stereotypes and have fun doing it. If you are looking for something intelligent and layered with meanings you need to decipher this is really not the film to find that.

Rating 6.5/10

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Posted by on June 27, 2012 in Entertainment, Film

 

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Review: The Relic

This 90s creature horror is clearly nonsense and although the cast do try to create a believable story it gets dragged down to a climax of chases in dark tunnels and it isn’t as much fun as it should be.

The film starts in the jungles of Brazil where anthropologist John Whitney has gotten a little too involved in his research into tribal customs and is tripping off his balls while a medicine woman laughs at him. Next we see a panicky Whitney at the docks trying to stop his collection from being sent to the Natural History Museum in Chicago but he fails so he stows away in the ship to continue his search for his crates. Several weeks later the ship is found adrift in Lake Michigan and the crew are missing or dead, their bodies found floating in the bilge tank.

John Whitney’s crates arrive at the museum having been sent by air freight and not on the death ship. The museum curator Dr. Ann Cuthbert (Linda Hunt) is busy organising a large fundraising benefit and is only interested what artifacts he has sent them. His colleagues are also worried that they haven’t heard from him. Dr. Frock (James Whitmore) opens the crates and in one he finds a statue of a native god called Cthugga, an evil-looking chimera sitting the skulls of its victims that we last saw back in the hut of the medicine woman in Brazil. In the second crate they find only leaves covered in a strange fungus. Evolutionary biologist Dr. Margo Green is curious abou the fungus and takes the leaves away for further examination.

That night a security guard at the museum is violently slaughtered by a creature. Homicide detective Lieutenant D’Agosta (Tom Sizemore) is in charge of the case and right away thinks there’s a connection between the dead bodies on the ship and the security guard’s death. He discovers that the bodies all have their hypothalamus removed from their brain and is immediately interested when he finds out that Whitney was working in Brazil where the ship came from. The initial suspicion is that killers working for a drug gang are responsible because they don’t know there’s a monster on the prowl.

Margo had left the leaves in box in her lab and a beetle had crawled in. Later a monstrous mutated beetle emerges from the box and she kills it right away. She discovers that the fungus is full of powerful animal hormones that seem to not only cause gigantism but recombine the genes of different species to form  monstrous chimera.

A couple of cops searching the museum’s basement are attacked by a crazed homeless guy covered in blood and they shoot him dead. The museum security chief is very happy about this because it means that they can go ahead with their big benefit night. D’Agosta is less happy and still demands that police are present. He’s worried that dead crazy guy doesn’t explain the missing hypothalamus and feels that the killer is still at large.

Of course D’Agosta is right; the creature is creeping around and attacks the security guards in the control room and sets off the security system and the sprinklers and it wrecks the power. It attacks the room full of rich people and everyone freaks out and most of them panic and run. But the security doors come down sealing a group inside, including the City’s mayor.

After they have done lot of shouting a cop manages to talk a group of them into finding an alternative way out through the basement. A group of injured people and annoying pricks wait by the main door for the police to break through and rescue them. This group don’t last very long and nor do the police that attempt to break through the domed ceiling and abseil down.

This leaves the group heading through the basement, D’Agosta searching for the creature with a police dog and a few scientists in the lab area including Margo and Dr. Frocke who have found what the creature is but this discovery is pretty irrelevant. It doesn’t help them figure how the kill the creature. After a lot of repetitive chase scenes through dark tunnels and dark corridors they eventually kill the creature and the survivors all get out of the museum.

This film does have some goods parts. The acting is okay and creature effects are pretty good but the story is pretty stupid and it really starts to drag in the second half. A lot of time is spent on a subplot about the petty politics of competing for research funding but it’s just uninteresting jibber jabber. Many of the characters are just thin stereotypes with one obstructive prick and an ass-kisser created to give a cheap thrill of seeing them killed.

I suppose for a dumb no-brainer film it passes the time harmlessly enough but I found it a bit too dull and cheesy

Rating 6.5/10

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Posted by on June 25, 2012 in Entertainment, Film

 

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Review: Intruders

This is a fairly competent psychological horror that has plenty of scary moments but it wasn’t very memorable and ultimately I don’t think I’m going to remember much about this film in a couple of weeks time.

A nightmarish faceless creature called Hollowface haunts two different children in two different countries and we keep cutting between the two stories. In Spain a ten-year-old boy called Juan (Izán Corchero) sees a hooded figure climb scaffolding into his house in the middle of the night. The figure attacks his mother Luisa (Pilar López de Ayala) and when he screams at the creature to stop, it grabs the boy and tries to escape with him but Luisa manages to pull Juan to safety. After that every night Juan lies in bed seeing Hollowface forming out of the shadows and coming after him.

In England twelve-year-old Mia (Ella Purnell) is a bright cheerful young schoolgirl but after she finds a piece of paper hidden in a tree with the story of Hollowface and tries to pass it off as her own in school she finds herself being haunted by a creature she knows is fiction. Her father John Farrow (Clive Owen) [so that’s Mia Farrow!? okay] tries to reassure her that it’s just her imagination but he gets attacked by Hollowface too.

John calls in the police but despite the assurance that the attacker has probably gone Hollowface returns. In Spain Luisa turns to the church and Father Antonio (Daniel Brühl) to help Juan with an exorcism to get rid of Hollowface. As the film goes on we learn who Hollowface is and the two separate stories come together.

This film does a pretty good job building up the tension and the visuals with Hollowface are pretty scary and it had a feel of a Guillermo del Toro story. As the film starts revealing its secrets things start getting a lot less satisfying. I can’t really say what it is about the ending I didn’t like as it’s a spoiler but I don’t things were wrapped up all that well. The film looks good and the cast are fairly convincing so if you want a creepy watch it might be worth seeing but it’s not a classic.

Rating 6.5/10

 
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Posted by on June 24, 2012 in Entertainment, Film

 

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Review: Chronicle

Before I saw this DVD I had heard a lot of praise for this film but for one reason or another I didn’t get to see at the cinema but as soon as the DVD/Bluray has come out I got the chance to check it out and I found it is as good as the reviewers said it was. The unknown cast was very convincing and it had an interesting story and I really enjoyed it

Three high school boys find a hole created by some large crystal buried in the ground. The boys touch it and it reacts causing a cave-in that the boys manage to escape. Later they find out that they have telekinetic powers, the ability to manipulate objects with their minds. The boys are Steve (Michael B. Jordan) and Matt (Alex Russell), two popular boys at school and Andrew (Dane DeHaan) who is a quiet unpopular boy but he is Matt’s cousin who looks out for him a bit. Andrew is taping everything on his video camera which he started doing to record all the crap that happens to him such as being abused by his drunken father or bullied by people in his school. He easily shifts to recording the three of them testing out their new powers instead.

They realise that with practice they are getting better at using their powers and have fun trying out new things and playing tricks on people. They are all getting stronger but it seems that Andrew is getting stronger faster and has developed quite good fine control of his power. This might be because it means more to him because he is now powerful and now has companions and, while Matt and Steve still have their social lives, Andrew spends all his spare time practising using his powers. Andrew even starts to gain a bit of social status when he gives a small demonstration of his powers disguised as a conjuring act at a school talent show.

Things start coming apart when Andrew lashes out with his power and he nearly kills someone. Steve and Matt are horrified and it becomes clear that there is real danger to their powers, especially when possessed by someone who has spent years as a seething ball of anger and resentment, powerless to change his miserable home life. Things come to climax when even with his power things at home only get worse.

This is a really good film. It is a found-footage type film but there is very little of the nausea-inducing shaky cam and I thought it was quite well done. I know some people have mentioned it is like superhero origin story and there are definite elements of that but the characters do feel more real, thanks to the direction and performances, especially Dane DeHaan as Andrew.

Rating 8/10

 
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Posted by on June 18, 2012 in Entertainment, Film

 

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Review: Juan of the Dead

Zombie comedies are very common and this sub-genre has examples from right across the globe but this is the first Cuban zombie comedy I have heard about. I wondered if this would be any good and even though it wasn’t up to standard of Return of the Living Dead it is an amusing effort that has enough laughs to justify being called a comedy and enough tension and gore to justify being a called horror

Juan (Alexis Díaz de Villegas) is a chancer who lives day-to-day in the poor end of Havana. He spends his days trying to con, steal or scavenge a living, womanizing or hanging about with his sleazy loser friend Lazaro (Jorge Molina) on the roof of his apartment block drinking rum. Juan is content with his aimless life as a bottom feeder and is very proud of his status as a survivor. It’s this attitude which drove his ex-wife away and is now driving away his daughter Camila (Andrea Duro) too.

While at a street meeting of the local party Juan, Lazaro and Lazaro’s son Vladi (Andros Perugorría) see a zombie attack the crowd but Juan is just happy that it distracted them from discussing a spate of thefts from cars in the neighbourhood and slopes off. On TV the official word is that the violent attacks are by American-sponsored dissidents but this doesn’t make any sense to Juan because he knew the zombie. The following day one of Juan’s neighbours pleads for his help because her husband seems to be dead. He turns into zombie and attacks them. They manage to prevent the zombie attacking and try to figure out what he is. They think he is either a vampire or a demon but whatever he is he is killed permanently when struck on the head.

After Juan rescues Camila he tells the others about his plan to turn the crisis into an opportunity by offering to kill the dead for a price. His heartless opportunism disgusts Camila so he starts holding a zombie defence class to help other survivors. They still haven’t ever called them zombies but in his lesson he raises the inconsistency of zombies, noting that some are slow and shambling while others are very fast. Two gay men at the class La China (Jazz Vilá) and his beefcake boyfriend El Primo (Eliecer Ramírez) wants in on Juan’s scheme and while Juan is reluctant he agrees after La China puts down a zombie before it attacks him. There’s just one drawback El Primo faints at the sight of blood but he solves that by wearing a blindfold and striking out when La China tells him.

The film has a period of the five men fighting zombies until the customers just stop calling and then it turns into a more typical zombie survivor story. I had a good few laughs at the comedy which was often very crude. I really like the characters, who all feel very real. Juan is sleazy and selfish but he steps up to the task when called to because he cares about what his daughter thinks of him. Lazaro is a disgusting human being who really should not be allowed anywhere near a harpoon.

The effects are pretty good and we get a few nice gore scenes. The only drawback is the film did get a bit repetitive and dragged a little in the second act. It’s not an original film in any way except the setting in Cuba and it does probably shine a not very complimentary light on the country. I’m sure that Cubans will get the references to the hard times Juan talks about surviving and the attitudes to sexual depravity of Spaniards but I got the gist enough. If you can take another zombie comedy this film will do the job nicely.

Rating 7/10

 
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Posted by on June 16, 2012 in Entertainment, Film

 

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Review: Prometheus

When I first heard Ridley Scott was making this film it was a prequel to his 1979 science fiction horror classic Alien. Without giving anything away it is only technically a prequel since it deals events in the same fictional universe prior to the events in Alien or its sequels but it isn’t really an Alien film. I had held back from watching the recent trailers and supplementary films but there’s was no need to worry since in this case they don’ t really reveal much and the supplementary films provide background not covered in the film itself, especially the TED talk by Peter Weyland (Guy Pearce) and the fake advert for the android David (Michael Fassbender).

A pair of archaeologists Elizabeth Shaw (Noomi Rapace) and Charlie Holloway (Logan Marshall-Green) discover that many cultures have references to a race of giants from a distant star system. Shaw and Holloway believe these people engineered our species and they convince the Weyland Corporation to send a mission to this distant system to meet our makers. The mission includes various other scientists and in charge is Meredith Vickers (Charlize Theron) from Weyland who is accompanied by her android David. They are travelling there on the Weyland deep space exploration ship Prometheus which is captained by Janek (Idris Elba). When Prometheus gets to their destination David awakes the crew and passengers from hibernation and they land on the large moon of a gas giant next to a large hollow mound that has clearly been constructed by an alien race.

I won’t go into spoilery specifics about what happens next but they explore the mound and come up with more questions than answers about what the beings who built it were up to. The pure motives of the explorers Shaw and Holloway comes into conflict with those of Weyland Industries and things go very wrong when they start to discover more what happened to the giant aliens.

This is a pretty good solid science fiction film. It really isn’t an Alien film but it is an exploration of the universe that led to the Alien films. In an interview Ridley Scott had expressed surprise that a lot of elements of Alien had not been explored in sequels such as the giant alien they found dead on its ship. This film goes into the background of that a bit more but it also raises more questions than it answers

The main performances were good but a lot of the background charters felt only lightly sketched and seemed to be written to serve the story more than real people . This a big contrast with Alien that really had fairly strong individual characters. Noomi Rapace was great as Elizabeth Ward and she is one of the characters who develops through the film into (of course) a Ripley-type character. Michael Fassbender was really good as the creepy android who keeps saying things you really wish were not in the mind of an android. There were certainly strong similarities with the replicant character Roy Batty in Blade Runner. Charlize Theron is okay as the cold company executive but she really doesn’t get that much to play with. There isn’t a lot of action or gore but there is enough for the type science fiction that it is. The ending was okay but it was really a brazen piece of sequel baiting. I doubt that this will be only version of the film released and I wonder what extra footage will be included on the Director’s cut

Rating 8/10

 
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Posted by on June 3, 2012 in Entertainment, Film

 

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