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Review: Day of the Dead

The third film in George Romero‘s original dead trilogy is the only one I got to see in the cinema. It was not popular at the time but I really liked it from that first viewing.

A woman stands alone in an empty room with only one feature, a calender on the wall with most of the days of October crossed off. She approaches it and crosses of another day when arms burst through the wall to grab her and she suddenly wakes up. Sarah (Lori Cardille) is in a helicopter with soldier Miguel (Anthony Dileo Jr.), electronics expert Bill McDermott (Jarlath Conroy) and pilot John (Terry Alexander). They are flying around a city looking for any sign of living people amongst the hordes of walking dead. They don’t find any living people but they do find out that Miguel is cracking up with the stress.

They go back go the base, an underground government storage facility in a disused mine that has been adapted into lab to investigate the zombie problem and trying to find a cure or some other solution to the problem. Sarah is one of scientific team and they have small squad of soldiers to keep them secure. While they were gone the base commander Major Cooper was killed and now Captain Rhodes (Joseph Pilato) is in charge. Steel (Gary Howard Klar) and Rickles (Ralph Marrero) need Miguel’s help to get zombie specimens from the holding pen. Sarah tries to tell them that Miguel is too tired but they are short-staffed and he’s needed. She offers to help instead but Steel doesn’t want a woman involved. Sure enough when Miguel has a zombie held secure by a noose on a pole he drops the pole and the zombie almost manages to attack Rickles but Sarah steps in and grabs the pole. Steel grabs Miguel by the throat and holds him over the zombie pen threatening to kill him for his carelessness until Sarah uses her machine gun to make him stop.

Sarah takes Miguel back to their shared quarters (he is porking her and the other men hate him just for that). She sedates him then goes to talk with Fisher (John Amplas), another scientist, about what happened while they were gone. He is arguing with Rhodes about the poor conditions they have to work in. Rhodes argues back that his men take all the risks and there’s been no progress to show for it. He can see that the scientists need the military but he can’t see what the military need the scientists for.

In Logan’s (Richard Liberty) lab he has dead bodies everywhere. His research is gruesome and very wasteful. He has a zombie on a bench with most of the head removed and only a brain-stem left. Apparently a similar operation can pacify other zombies. Logan seem oblivious to how obscene it is and Sarah is even more upset to discover that the body is Major Cooper’s.

Rhodes has called a meeting of everyone so he can shout them all at once and show them how Captain Stick-up-the-arse is going to run things. Bill reports that he can’t find anyone on the radio which might mean there’s no-one else out there, at least not in range, or that their radio equipment is knackered. Logan hasn’t appeared so Rhodes abuses Sarah about his absence and the lack progress. He raises the subject of Miguel and how their relationship is threat to discipline. When he threatens to have Miguel removed out of the way so they can all ‘get a go’ Sarah had enough and starts to leave. Rhodes orders her to sit back down or he’ll have her shot.

There are some who argue that Rhodes was not really the villain of the film but this point is clearly where he does become the villain with his implied rape threat against Sarah to try to intimidate her. Since Sarah has still not sat down he then orders Steel to shoot her. Steel thinks this a joke and makes a gun with his finger makes a shooting noise. Rhodes flips out and pulls his gun on Steel and orders him again to shoot Sarah. John, Bill and Fisher beg Sarah to sit down and she does, to Steel’s relief.

Rhodes launches into a “why you all suck” speech, talks about packing up the whole operation and that’s when Logan appears apologising for being late and looking for food. Logan bluntly points out there is nowhere else to go so there nothing else to do but keep looking for an answer. He’s quick to rubbish Sarah’s search for cure and boasts of the progress he’s made and has bold predictions of how long it will take him. Sarah interrupts, clearly remembering the charnel house lab and Major Cooper’s body, she says its hard to say how long results will take. Rhodes agrees to give it more time but he threatens them all that he will execute anyone who challenges his command. The meeting breaks up and John warns Sarah to be careful, that Rhodes is seriously dangerous, especially to her and Fisher.

Later Logan shows Sarah and Fisher his progress with Bub (Sherman Howard), his prize specimen, demonstrating that the zombies still retain some memory of their old lives by giving a razor, a brush and a book. Fisher remains unimpressed but Sarah notices how calm Bub is around Logan. Rhodes appears with Steel and Logan continues the demonstration for his benefit. He gives Bub a telephone a prompts him to say “hello Aunt Alicia”. Bub makes a mumbling attempt to speak then he sees Rhodes and salutes him and this only succeeds in freaking out Rhodes. Oblivious, Logan caries on with the demonstration by giving Bub an empty gun. Bub demonstrates how much he knows about guns by pointing it at Rhodes and pulling the trigger. Logan has  to jump in front of Rhodes’ gun to stop him from shooting Bub. The demonstration has only confirmed to Rhodes his view that they are just wasting their time.

The soldiers are catching another two zombies and Miguel screws it up again, one zombie bites a soldier in the neck  and his gun goes off and kills a second soldier. The other zombie gets free and bites a chunk out of Miguel’s arm and Miguel runs off. The soldier that was bitten begs Steel to kill him and he does then goes off after Miguel to do the same to him. Sarah has caught Miguel at Bill and Jon’s quarters. She quickly amputates the arm above where he was bitten. The soldiers arrive and there is stand-off with John and Bill armed and ready to defend Miguel. Rhodes backs down since he doesn’t care about Miguel if they want to keep him but it is clear that battle-lines have been drawn.

Bill and Sarah return to the lab to get morphine for Miguel. There they find tape-recorded notes that record Logan’s descent into madness. They also see the animated head one of the recently dead soldiers. Logan is training Bub to operate a tape recorder and they see him rewarding Bub with something for doing well. Zombies only eat one thing – human flesh. Sure enough in the freezer is a headless corpse of a recently dead soldier that Logan has been using to reward his specimens. Rhodes and his men come in and see all this and Rhodes shoots Logan several times, killing him. They disarm Bill and Sarah and with Fisher force them to John and Bill’s quarters. Rhodes threatens to kill them if John does not agree to fly him and his men out of there. He shoots Fisher dead to prove he’s serious then gets his men throw Sarah and Bill into the Zombie pen. Having thrown away all his bargaining chips Rhodes still can’t get John to agree to fly them so gets Rickles and Steel to beat him.

While all this was going on Miguel has gone totally crazy. He takes the elevator up to ground level then opens the gates of the compound and lies down on the elevator while zombies rip him apart and he operates the control to take the elevator back down. This crazy behaviour is just what the film needed to bring about a climax of zombies over-running the compound. The sirens that went off when the elevator is operated had interrupted John’s beating as Rickles and Steel leave to investigate. John easily overcomes Rhodes and Torrez and takes their guns. Then he jumps into the zombie pen to rescue Bill and Sarah.

The zombies run amok around the compound and Rhodes flees and abandons his men. They get taken down by zombies one at time. In the lab area Rhodes gets chased by an armed Bub who shoots him and then as he falls into the hands of a mob of zombies Bub salutes him and leaves.

The film ends with Sarah, Bill and John flying away and relaxing on a beach of an isolated island. It is a low key ending but it fits.

I think the acting is really great but the best has to be Sherman Howard’s Bub. The scene where he’s trying to talk into a telephone seemed quite startling because I had totally bought in to Romero’s reality, where zombies don’t talk. The climax did seem a little bit forced with Miguel’s mad turn and Rhodes’ sudden yellow streak coming more from story demand rather that character developments

Rating  8/10

 
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Posted by on October 4, 2011 in Film

 

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Review: Demons

This is a tricky film to review because there is very little chance making any sort of case for this being a good film and better one for it being so spectacularly bad that it is surely deliberate. Despite that I think it’s a lot fun and I want to convince people to watch it. It’s directed by Lamberto Bava, Dario Argento wrote and produced it and Michele Soavi.another Italian director plays the man in the metal mask in the film. this very full review is longer than I expected and may contain spoilers

Cheryl (Natasha Hovey) is going to meet her friend Kathy(Paola Cozzo) travelling on the Berlin underground. When she is walking through the station she sees a strange silent man with part of his face covered in a metal mask following her. She hurries away from him but he catches her anyway only to hand her a free promotional ticket for an unnamed film at an old cinema called the Metropol. She is relieved and asks the man for second ticket for Kathy.

Quite a crowd have shown up for a free film that they don’t know anything about. In the foyer is a big display with a dummy on a motorbike with the metal demon mask in its left hand and a sword in its right hand. Cheryl and Kathy meet very handsome George (Urbano Barberini) and his pal Ken (Karl Zinny) and they sit next to each other in the cinema. Others include Tommy (Guido Baldi) and his girlfriend Hannah (Fiore Argento Dario’s daughter). There is a blind man Werner who has come with his young wife Liz to this film, for some unexplained reason Werner seems have some sense about the mask because he warns Liz away from touching it. Then there’s Tony the Pimp (Bobby Rhodes) who has decided to treat a couple of his whores Rosemary (Geretta Geretta) and Carmen (Fabiola Toledo) to a free night out. Rosemary mucks about with the mask, putting it over her face. Tony tells her to stop it and she takes the mask off. There is a cut on her cheek from the mask.

They all settle down and the film starts and it is a cheesy horror film with four young people going to a cemetery to look for the grave of Nostradamus for no good reason at all. They find his tomb and they open it and inside they find an old book and a metal demon mask just like the one on the display in the Metropol. One of the men Jerry (Michele Soavi) puts the mask on a mucks around with it, just like Rosemary did. When he takes the mask off he has a cut just like Rosemary does. In the film Jerry in transforms into a demon and attacks the others.

Rosemary goes to toilet to check on her cut which has started to throb and pulse.When she looks in the mirror it swells into a huge boil which bursts and sprays pus everywhere. Rosemary goes through a painful and slimy transformation into an evil demon with shark teeth and claws on her hands. Tony and Carmen wonder why she’s been gone so long so Carmen goes to check on her.  Rosemary an evil demon ugly face now splitting green goo and everything. She rips Carmen’s throat open with her claws and Carmen runs off screaming but no-one can hear her because the characters in the film are screaming at the same time.

Carmen gets on to the stage behind the screen and Rosemary is still coming after her. She screams and tears at the screen. On the other side in the audience Kathy is sure that she can hear Carmen’s screams but no-one believes her until Carmen manages to tear a hole in the screen and falls down in front of it. Right before everyone she transforms into an ugly demon face. Cue panic and screams and a mad rush out of the place

Werner and Liz had been up in the balcony alone. Originally Liz was a giving Werner an audio description of the film but stopped when her creepy boyfriend showed up. They snuck out leaving poor Werner alone when all the crap started to happen. Rosemary catches them snogging and tears at both of them. Liz is left lying dead and the creep is thrown over the edge of the balcony with a rope around his neck. Werner finds Liz’s body but  Rosemary catches him and shoves her claws into his eyes.

Everybody gets to the exits and they are all bricked up – there is no way out and everyone starts to panic Tony takes charge and they look for another way out. After Rosemary scalps one woman they manage to trap her in a office and block the door with a vending machine. They reckon that the film is causing it and so they head up to the projection booth. It is a fully automated system so Tony tells them to smash everything. They stop the film but nothing has changed, they are still trapped in the cinema with a growing army of demons.

All the survivors go up the balcony and clear it of bodies then they rip up the seats to block all the exits. Werner is there and he tells them that it is not the film that trapped them but the building. Once more Werner seems to have some unexplained knowledge about the place and yet he still came. He may seem mysterious to some but he is also suicidally stupid.

Things are going fairly well at this point for horror B-movie so clearly it’s time to ramp up the levels of stupid all the way to eleven by cutting to four bell-ends in a stolen car driving about outside, listening to Billy Idol and Go West. The driver is leader of the gang and he has this brilliant joke where he has this can of Coke only it’s not Coca Cola but cocaine and he’s snorting it through a drinking straw.

In the balcony Tony gets attacked and scratched by a demon woman and as he goes over the side the hung guy grabs him. The all start pounding on the walls of the cinema hoping someone outside will hear them. Luckily the punks have stopped outside to argue about some spilt coke and they hear the pounding. Cops appear and the punks run away from them down the alley next to the Metropol. A side door opens for them and after they are in it slams shut behind them. Demon Werner has managed to get out another door and he attacks the cops outside in the alley.

The gang all wander around underneath the cinema not able to find anyone. Everyone else has discovered part of the wall is false and they uncover a passage down to a basement but there is nothing there, certainly not a way out. They all return to the balcony when they hear gunshots from below but their hopes of rescue are dashed when it turns out just be the useless bell-ends firing as the demons attack and overpower them.

The demons then start jumping right through the balcony floor and everyone is running and screaming again. In the chaos George, Cheryl, Ken and Kathy get out but Kathy has been injured she goes all ugly demon face on them and they kill her with sword from the display but a real full-fledged demon rips out of the hole in her back. George manages to kill it too. So the display had the mask that causes the demon plague in the left hand and a sword to kill demons in the right, symbolism eh?

Ken has been scratched and he begs George to kill him before he changes but George waits until he’s gone all ugly demon-face before cutting him down. This seems throw on the bad-ass switch in George because he then gets on the motorbike with Cheryl on the back and starts charging through the cinema slicing down demons with the sword. Suddenly a helicopter crashes through the roof of the cinema and lands in the auditorium. George rigs up the helicopter winch and uses it winch them onto the roof. The man in the metal mask is there and he tries to force them back into the cinema but they kill him by impaling him on an iron rod right through the eye.

The city outside is in chaos and demons are running around attacking people. They are chased by mob of demons but are saved by a well-armed family in a jeep. As they drive away Cheryl turns demon and a little boy shoots her dead and they keep on driving

This is a mad crazy movie that seems to have been made as a bet or an attempt cash-in on the zombie film craze. I really enjoy because it is so crazy

Rating 7/10

 
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Posted by on September 11, 2011 in Entertainment, Film

 

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Film Review: Ferocious Planet

 This is a film made for the cable television channel SyFy which is probably as much information as you need to judge how good this film is.

Synopsis: A group of people are gathered in an underground laboratory in a Federal building, including scientists, military and politicians, to see a presentation of an experiment into viewing other dimensions. Just as you’d expect from such predictable piece of hokum there is an accident and instead of just viewing another dimension it rips the whole lab out of our dimension and dumps it into a parallel dimension populated only by plants and giant carnivorous CGI monsters. The survivors must find a way to repair the machine that brought them here and escape the ferocious creatures.

As always seems to be the case with SyFy channel films, the problem lies in the writing. An accident during an experiment is one of the laziest and most ham-fisted plot devices in cheap science fiction. The closest we get to an attempt to justify what has happened is a few lines of mathematical looking rubbish scribbled by the scientist and her geek into a notebook. The CGI monsters are good enough for the price but there’s no attempt to set them in a believable ecosystem. What do the creatures eat when there are no humans?  Another sign of this sloppy writing is that the deaths of various characters requires them to be flawed idiots in various ways such as fear, greed, arrogance or just being a dumbass

Overall this was very a mediocre and lazy film. I can’t fault any of the actors too much since they were competent enough with what they had to work with. Joe Flanigan plays his standard wise-cracking soldier hero part. John Rhys-Davies is the cynical arrogant Senator. Dagmar Döring plays the scientist in charge of the project.

Rating 5/10

http://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B004RBC5S8

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1637728/

 
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Posted by on June 22, 2011 in Entertainment, Film

 

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