fredag 30 december 2011

The Savage hunt of King Stakh (1979)



Seriously, I dont really what to make of this movie. It is a Russian gothic fantasy horror that plays like a mixup of The Blind dead series, Hammer and Tarkovsky. It is wonderfully designed and shot, a true feast for the eyes but thanks to a overly talky and pretentious script it becomes quite hard to keep up your interest.

A student traveling through some remote parts of Russia during the 19th century is on a quest to write down all the different myths and legends of the region and arrives at Marsh Firs, an old castle out in a swamp. He meets the neurotic owner of the castle who tells him about three legends of the are, The Little man, the Blue lady and the Savage hunt of King Stakh (an ancient king who was murdered by his best friend and now roams the swamp looking to kill any descendant of that very friend), and of course - the curse on her own family. The castle and the surrounding marshlands are littered with strange characters and during his stay our hero desperately tries to survive all their odd machinations as people start to die after telling him about the Savage hunt of King Stach.

I dont really know what genre I should put this movie. The best thing about it is the design of the sets and the cinematography, it oozes Mario Bava and Terence Fisher. Or maybe if Tarkovsky made a remake of the old Hammer favorite Hound of the baskervilles? The environments of the castle are striking, pervaded in a gothic atmosphere with halls overgrown with vegetation or having lost to the waters of the marshes and are now flooded. The wet and cold marshes is a character in itself and the atmosphere cant be cut with a knife. The scenes with King Stakhs riders roaming through the land are supremely surreal and makes you think about Amando De Ossorios Blind dead series. The problem with the movie is that all of these ingredients, the horror and the fantasy are only a small part of something else, something that would be more suited for a small room full of pretentious moviewatchers drinking wine in their Fassbinder t-shirts, not uttering a word until the movie is over. There are droves of heavy, doomladen philosophical dialogue without any obvious connection to the story and all of this becomes clear when you watch the dvdextras where the director clearly states that he wasnt interested in doing a fantasy/horrormovie. But on the other hand I will admit that it is impossible not to be drawn into this macabre world thanks to the visuals, the good acting and the interesting story. It requires patience. And the reward is a movie you most likely will never forget.

onsdag 28 december 2011

Shan Huas Xie ying wu aka Bloody Parrot (1981)


I have to start this review by admitting that I wasnt able to follow the story with all its absurd twists and turns. It is never really clear what is going on with the plot and new characters are introduced all the time. Based on an old legend of The Bloody parrot, somewhat similar to the old genie in a bottle - if you see it you will get three wishes. Three wishes that of course will send you straight to hell. The Emperors advisor sees it, wishes the return of a great treasure and moments later he, his wife and his son are all dead. Now a great hunt for the treasure starts and a quest for finding out who the Bloody parrot really is. A tough as nails swordsman happens to be wandering around in all of this and manages to get mixed up in the violent shenanigans all while he gets the hots for a prostitute who in the name of exploitation spends just about the entire movie naked. There is a lot more to the story than this but it would seriously take me hours to write it all down so I'll leave you with this somewhat vague description. I recommend you see the spectacle for yourself.

And that is what you should do if you have any sense of fun, see this lovely movie. Shan Huas Xie ying wu aka Bloody Parrot is a nicely shot little thing with tons of well choreographed and violent fightscenes, eastern magic and nudity. If people arent slicing each other up with swords or other sharp tools of cutting they perform strange magic or assassinate each other. We even get some messy gore in the shape of a couple of really gross and fun autopsies. This is an excellent Wuxia that I would recommend to anyone that likes their kung fu movies a bit more violent and exploitative. An awesome double bill with the slightly similar Portrait in crystal.

fredag 16 december 2011

Tetsuo - The Bullet man (2009)

 
FINALLY! The Iron man is back! With a vengeance! And in... English? Wtf? Then again, we always knew that if there was another Tetsuomovie there would be lots of Wtfs. Twenty-two years after the original Tetsuo and nineteen after the sequel, Shinya Tsukamoto finally returns to the wonders of biomechanical psychopatics and more loving fusions of flesh and metal.

An American man living in Japan with his Japanese wife and their son is struck by grief when a mysterious man kills the young boy by running him over with a car. As this is a Shinya Tsukamoto movie this event triggers something in our hero, making him turn into a metal beast and he starts searching in his past to why this is happening all while trying to control the anger that is transforming him. Not so easy when your wife is demanding vengeance.

Yes, here we go again. The original is a frenetic masterpiece in black & white technofetish surrealism and while the sequel had a larger budget it actually suffered from having a slightly more coherent narrative. Some of the magic was lost as the scenario grew bigger and bolder. Tetsuo - The Bullet man goes back to its roots with a smaller scale which I liked but still does one big mistake. It substitutes the panicked, glorious kitchen sink mentality of the original with some sort of headache inducing frenzy, complete with camerawork that is just too much. Tsukamoto moves his camera like he is on the sugar rush from hell and I am certain that a lot of people will be put off by this. As soon as any sort of action starts there is instant migraine. Mind-blowing, soul tearing migraine. I spent the first half of the movie in a state of trance, trying not to get upset over this but suddenly I realized that I had gotten used to it. Or somehow during the process Tsukamoto discovered a pattern that your brain responds to better. I don’t know. What I do know is the fact that after this, Tetsuo - The Bullet man became a much more fun experience.

And then we come to another not so fun part. The fact that it was shot in English. I do not know the reason for this, maybe Tsukamoto has some sort of reason for it. But it doesn’t work. The American actors (per usual when it comes to non-Japanese actors in Japanese movies) aren’t particularly good. The lead actor does an ok job with the physical part of the role; the transformation into something that looks like it was ripped straight out of H.R. Gigers foundry in hell and left for dead fused to a concrete wall. But as soon as he goes for a bit of dialogue, you cringe, mostly for the fact that the dialogue doesn't feel "natural". The lead actress fares better but she struggles a bit with the English language, just enough to make you notice. And then we have Shinya Tsukamoto himself as the main baddie, not exactly fluent in English but strangely appropriate for the proceedings. Or am I just a bit more forgiving because it is the fleshmetalmaestro himself? This doesn’t really matter in the end, it is the same as with the weird camerawork - as soon as you get used to it (more accurately get sucked into it) you just go along for the ride. When The Bullet man takes on an entire swat team in his father’s house there is no going back and of course, things just get better and cooler as our hero continues to transform into something... more.

Tetsuo The Bullet man is a kickass movie that is a worthy part of the Tetsuo saga, even though it does not do everything right. I am glad that I did not watch this at a cinema; my head would most likely have exploded. It is much more suited to the small screen and those dvd subtitles are much needed. If you liked the previous parts you will most likely love this too but if you are new to this particular universe I recommend you start with the original. It is still the best one.

tisdag 13 december 2011

Brain dead (2007)



You know that warm fuzzy feeling you get when you realize that the movie you have just started watching will be awesome? Ok, so there might be a small voice in the back of your head that keeps insisting that "no, the movie cant keep up this momentum. In the end, it will suck." but you ignore that and place all of your hopes on what the director (in this case Kevin S Tenney, the maker of Night of the demons and Witchboard) will dish out. When 20 minutes have passed and every single female in the movie has shown her breasts I know I truly am in for a treat.

During the precredits we follow a meteorite traveling through the universe in a decent sequence, especially considering the low budget of the movie. In an amusing sequence the meteorite (actually not much bigger than a coin) lands on earth, smacking straight through the head of a fisherman turning him into a member of that exclusive club of the living dead since the piece of rock contained an alien parasite. He kills his friend in a nice, juicy goresequence and then the movie sets about doing what it does best, bring a number of characters into a remote location so they they all can be killed in joyfully gory ways. Sometimes you dont need more than that. Not only does the first part of the movie contain the before mentioned nudity, we are also treated to an exploding head and an eyegouging followed by a head torn to pieces - all with good, practical effects. This is how Brain dead goes, from beginning to end and it is helped by a decent script and a bunch of actors who are all in on the joke. Lots of clichés and silly humour, but with a nice wink to the audience. There might be an accent or two that arent exactly believable but really, who cares? This is a movie about braineating zombies infested with alien parasites. What is more important is that you are never bored, not one second. This is guilty pleasure at its finest. The only thing that I can complain about is the zombiemakeup which mostly looks silly but on the other hand, I am a firm believer of the Italian style of claypot zombies. The makeupeffects are otherwise excellent, good old school grue.

Brain dead might not be for everyone, I'll admit that but to the likes of me that love old school gore it is a wet dream. The story is simple but effective and Kevin S Tenney is a good director, whatever the material may be. If you want 90 minutes of boobs and gore you can do much much worse.

torsdag 8 december 2011

Silk aka Gui si (2006)


I loved Hideo Nakatas The Ring and Dark Water when they arrived on the scene back in the early 2000s and spent a lot of time afterwards soaking in all the spinoffs and ripoffs that poured in from every asian country imaginable, and then some. It didnt take me long to realize that most of them were pretty awful and that fact was sealed when the american remakes started dropping in one by one. So, I gave it up. I watched a Grudge sequel or two but never with any real joy. But then I found Silk. And a bit of hope for the genre. The filmmakers takes a concept that has been milked dry and twists and turns it around a bit with a bit of intelligence and voila! We have this fine piece of entertainment.

Silk stars The Menger sponge, a mysterious proteincube that a Japanese/Taiwanese team of scientists uses to catch a ghost, a sideeffect to its real purpose - creating antigravity. To learn how to master the powerful energies that the ghost emits (that they need to create the an antigravityfield) they need to study the ghost, a small boy, and learn how he died - and why. The team keeps him sealed up in a glass chamber and they study him constantly trying to make sense of his daily, very repetetive routines. They notice that he is talking to himself and bring in a young man with a few skeletons in his closet named Wang, an expert on reading lips. Now they need to find out who the boys is, why he died and why he kills anyone who looks him into his eyes.

The movies first half is top notch when it deals mostly with the science behind all this and the mystery surrounding the ghostly boy. All of this is handled subtly and with quite a bit of intelligence without gorging on the usual jumpscars - even though it has those too. Chao Bin-su, the writer and director of Silk also made Double vision, another really well made Taiwanese horrormovie with supernatural undertones and you have the same moods here. It feels fresh and interesting to focus more on the somewhat sad detectivework trying to find out more about the boys history. Together with good direction, strong acting and excellent camerawork we get a very competent chiller with brains instead of brawns that you watch with great fascination. Silk is a horrormovie of excellent quality that does weaken ever so slightly towards the end where it cant contain itself and goes into a more full on horror spree but it still feels a lot more fresh than the usual Ringu ripoff thanks to the lovely story. A very good asian horrorflick that I really recommend to fans of smart horror and is hopefully a sign that the genre isnt dead. A doublebill with this one and Japanese Noroi - The curse would be an excellent evening.

måndag 5 december 2011

Splinter (2008)



In these times of failing economies, religious strife and a general contempt for human life and dignity, it is nice that we all can agree on one thing. There can never be enough parasitemovies. To enhance the general quality of life as we know it we need more movies with strange lifeforms that takes over and changes human beings in ways that are as painful and gory as possible. When you ponder the masses of weird lifeforms in mother nature (and our bloodstreams) there should be about a million potential movie scripts out there. But as usual we get a shitload of crappy remakes instead. Thank you very much Hollywood.

Onto Splinter, which actually is an excellent example of a good parasitemovie. The plot is simple, almost waferthin but effective enough. Its only function is to bring people to an isolated location (in this case, a petrolstation) and let them try to survive the mayhem of a nasty parasite whose only purpose in life is to kill. And assimilate of course. The Slinter beastie is a very nice creation that absorbs its victims into a snarling heap of twisted limbs straight out of John Carpenters The Thing and the infection itself can be very painful, both for the victim and the audience who has to watch bones break in very excrutiating ways. It is a simple concept that works wonders for monsterlovers like me and the practical effects are marvelous. I also love the fact that we never learn the true reason for the parasite and just accept it for what it is: A hungry creature. The acting is another strong point, they do a good job with the material they have and actually behave fairly intelligent except for a slightly goofy sequence toward the end where they are trying to outwit the beastie using cold but it is only a very minor annoyance, the sequence works tensionwise but is a bit silly. I do have a bigger beef with the camerawork where the camera is all over the place a lot of times. It's like an manual on how not to use shakeycam which means that we dont get to see the parasite as much as we would like to. A choice of the filmmakers I assume but it gets annoying as hell at times. But that is about as negative as I can be towards Splinter and it does not detract from the fun of it all, just lowers the grade from Awesome to Really good. It is a fun and gory flick full of excitement which I really recommend and wouldnt actually mind to see in a sequel or two.

onsdag 9 november 2011

Five reasons why Firecracker probably is the best movie ever made.



1. The Plot. Evil nasty drugpeddlers unfold the stupidest scheme ever to cut out a middleman while staging martial arts fights to the death in their private arena. Come on, this is brilliant! It does not fit together anywhere and is just awesome.

2. The "acting". Vic Diaz is his usual funny self, but the others? Jillian Kesner was not much of an actress and supposedly a female karate champ but the fightscenes are so goofy that you can never tell, especially since they are all slightly sped up. She does look really good without clothes and that topless fight on the construction site is one of the best pieces of entertainment ever produced anywhere. Period.

3. The music. As far as I can tell every piece of music is lifted straight out of Robert Houstons reworking of the first two Lone wolf and Cub movies, Shogun Assassin. And its credited to a Nonong Buencamino.

4. The violence. Not only does the before mentioned topless fight scene include a guy falling back on a scythe and a bad guy tumbling face first into an electric saw, the final demise of the evil, evil bad guy who killed our heroines sister is fucking great. Every movie should end with the bad guy getting *spoiler* his eyes gorily punctured in close up with wooden sticks! *end of spoiler*

5. That topless fight. Nuff said.

A special mention goes to the lovescene with the heroine and the main bad guy, where they slowly and very erotically slice off each others clothes with a knife, all set to schmaltzy pianomusic in what has to be the most unexciting sexscene since Don Dohlers Nightbeast.

No, firecracker is not a good movie. Actually, it hasnt any qualities that would make it come even close to being a good movie. But all that cheezy acting, the nudity and the violence and the general throwing in the kitchen sink feeling of it all just makes it so damn fun to watch. What you should do now is to go out and buy Roger Corman's Cult Classics: Lethal Ladies Collection of which this is part of. No extras on Firecracker, but a good print and an all round excellent dvdset. Go get it. NOW.

lördag 5 november 2011

Inbred (2011)


Watching Alex Chandons new movie Inbred starts out as a very familiar experience. Let's see if you've heard any of this before: Two social workers are taking a group of teens with different problems out on a trip north. North here means a rundown little town full of people with strange teeth and staying at an old house that hasnt been lived in for decades. We all know where this will lead, and it does. It doesnt take long before the locals and the cityfolk clash, resulting in injury and death. But this is where Inbred really takes off. Yes, we've seen it all before but rarely as fun as this. Instead of just pounding us with the latest ways of displaying that old "favorite", torture porn, Chandon takes his clichéd plot and infuses it with a lovely black and absurd sense of humour that reminds me a lot of the Belgian movie Calvaire with a dash of Monty Python, especially in the scenes where the locals put on a show which I will not spoil, it needs to be seen. Let me just say that there is a lot of twisted gore and demented imagery here that will put a smile on your face. 

But what of the gore? Oh, there is plenty of that, all practical (well, 99.9% of it actually according to Chandon himself). Exploding heads, limbs sawn off with chainsaw, heads split open with an axe, you name it. This is a wet dream for a gorehound and the effects are really good, some of the best I have seen in a low budget movie ever.

If there is anything to complain about it is that the characters are somewhat weak, all of them products of the familiarity of the story but this is never really an issue since all of them are played by a really good group of actors, both the leads and the smaller roles. Everyone brings their own strengths to their roles, so even if the characters arent very interesting, they are still acted well enough for you to care about their eventual demise. The locals are especially fun to watch as they do their vile and bloody deeds when they are played by actors that obviously are enjoying themselves a lot.

Inbred falls firmly in the category of "Stupid and ignorant citydwellers fall foul of countryfolk" but instantly rises to the top levels of it because of the way it plays out. There is playing cat and mouse, there are traps and there are hicks laughing at dying Londoners, but thanks to the talent and energy both behind and in front of the camera we never really get the chance to realize that we've seen all of this in ten other movies, we just enjoy the ride. And you should too. Look for it in the future.

I saw this at the Weekend of horrors convention in Germany earlier today, together with Fred "Ninja dixon" Anderson and Jason "Cinezilla" Meredith and we were all blown away by the sheer fun of it, all of us starting to write a review in our heads. There was a short Q&A afterwards with Chandon and one of the producers afterwards where he told us that the version we saw was completed very recently and that they are looking for distribution. Let us all hope that this comes out soon, I want to own this now! In the meantime we will all bitch about who thought of Calvaire first. FYI, Jason stole it from me.

onsdag 19 oktober 2011

The Basement (1989)


Here is an oddity, a shot on super 8 anthology horrormovie that was shelved when the footage was deemed unusable, but "rescued" in 2010 when technology was available to make it watchable and released on dvd along with an actual vhstape in a nice box with some other lowrent crap like Cannibal campout and the Video Violence movies. I do use the word crap with a bit of love for the same reason that I tend to watch movies like Burial ground over and over again, because they make me feel good. They give me a warm feeling in my stomach and a smile on my lips. Yes, it looks like shit (Shot on übergrainy super 8 film), the dialogue is pretty god damn awful and the actors couldnt even be accused of actually acting but the movie is full of so much yummy fun that you cannot hate it.

So, The Basement is an anthologymovie in the same vein as Tales from the crypt where a group of characters meet in a basement where a guy in horrormakeup tells them stories of their impending future. The first story is about a cheating bitch of a woman that discovers that her pool has a tentacled creature that eats everything that enters it and the way she uses it to get rid of people she hates, like just about all her neighbours. Not much of a story really, just all round goof and there is not really a twist or anything, but its so brief that you never have a chance to get bored.

The second story is the best, basically a goreversion of Scrooge where a teacher who likes to torment trick or treaters on Halloween is told by his dead wife that he will be given a message, cue lots of gore (and an awesome sequence where he fantasizes about killing all the students in his class). Not only is this sequence the only one that has an actor in the lead role that actually can act, but it is also loaded with cheap and cheerful gore, with effects that arent exactly Rob Bottin but still way better than you would expect. Good fun.

Story number three is about an assholish George Romero-hating moviedirector shooting some sort of awful zombiemovie, which means that the dead will rise and come and get him. Which they do. This piece is mostly set at night which means that we get a lot of murky looking footage (sorta looks like a gifanimation on a large screen) of zombies walking around, and of course some hilarious scenes of a couple of "groupies" that really have a hard time keeping themselves from laughing during the scenes where they dance for the moviedirector in his trailer. The zombies are funlooking and there is a sense of cheezy fun, but the lovely gore of the previous segment is mostly absent which sort of lessens the entertainment.

Fortunately the gore is back for the last episode where a young writer buys an old house where the previous owner killed some people in his hidden torturechamber before he vanished somewhere. There is a demon in the house which produces some excellent gore, but one problem is that it is set at night with basically no light whatsoever (the house has no power) which sort of makes it hard to make out what happens at times. It is still good, gory fun though.

This is all very low budget which some truly mindboggling "acting" but to The Basements defense is that it does not contain any padding, no mindless scenes of people sitting around doing nothing or travelling to some location. Everything is over before we reach the seventy minutemark and you come out of it content with joy. Yes, it is really awful at times but it does not hinder the entertainment. The prime of the movie is the special effects which are well done and bloody. I realize that a lot of people wont be watching this just because of its cheapness but if you've gotten this far you should be interested enough to watch it. Get the box, there is a lot of cheap fun here and if you have any interest whatsoever in low budget filmmaking you will have your hands full with the nice extras. And an actual vhstape of The Basement, which is fun if you still have a vcr which only strange people like Jack J still do.

tisdag 18 oktober 2011

Watchmen (2009)

Being a fan of Alan Moore sublime comicbook I never felt any interest in watching Zack Snyders movieversion, for several reasons. I did love his remake of Dawn of the dead, but comicbook adaptions tend to suck major ass. The only reason I did decide to watch it was when I turned on a channel that was showing it by mistake and came upon a nicely shot sequence of some rather nice violence (when the hitman tries to kill Veidt) and thought, hey this could be good.

Wrong.

This movie only confirmed that Zack Snyder should stick to musicvideos or whatever he did before turning into moviemaking. Watchmen is an empty, pompous shell of a movie. It is visually strong but shallow and stupid. Just plain stupid. I reread the original comicbook after watching this which only made me loath this movie even more. Seriously, If I ever see a moviefight again where every punch results in a slomoshot I will kill myself.

Avoid.

The Wild man of the Navidad (2008)


I am truly a sucker for 70s exploitation, the cheap rawness of all those fun low budgetmovies that poured out back then which is why I got interested in The Wild man of the Navidad. Part of me was a bit weary of it not being to reproduce that certain mood but the reviews seemed to tell something otherwise. So I bought it and watched it. And liked it, for all its various (but small) flaws.

The dvdcover boldly proclaims "From the producer of The Texas chainsaw massacre" which usually wouldnt mean anything but from the look of the movie I would say that the filmmakers did an excellent job in emulating the look of Tobe Hoopers classics, with our without pointers from Kim Henkel. The movie is set in Sublime, Texas, the type of small town that seems to have about sixty inhabitants, all living in rundown houses miles from each other and only meeting each other at the local bar. For years everyone has been afraid of the legend of The Wild man of the Navidad, a bigfoot/Sasquatch type of creature but for Dale S. Rogers this is a bit more real. For years he has kept his lands closed due to the fact that the creature lives there but when he loses his job he decides to open it up for hunters, fully realizing what will happen. And it doesnt take long before people start to disappear.

First of all, The Wild man of Navidad really does an excellent job in creating that very special atmosphere through some nice filters, especially since it was all shot on digital video, a format not particulary gritty. The Texas in this movie is hot and dirty, just like we expect it to be. Most of the actors, at least in minor roles, seem to be people that just had the fortune of being near the locations and are accordingly poor, something that actually serves the movie well. Sometimes you feel like you are watching some sort of weird documentary about the eating habits of the local inbreds. Another strength of the movie is its fun story, with the audience following the downfall of its sleazy characters while the titlecreature starts to kill everything it can find. And the titlecreature? Good stuff. It sort of resembles the beastie in that swedish classic Invasion of the Animal people aka Terror in the midnight sun. In a good way.

If there is anything I would like to moan about is that the goreeffects are rather cheap, mostly consisting of bits of torn meat flying around as the Wild man tears its victims into tiny little pieces. But that is about it though I suppose some people will have a problem with the amateur acting of the bitplayers. If you are a fan of bigfootflicks, 70s exploitation cheeze and , uh, "grindhouse", there is a fair chance you will like this. I sure did.

Ratline (2011)


A movie with the following plot HAS to be included in a serious dvdcollection, there are no excuses:

Before the fall of Nazi Germany, the most sacred relic of the Nazi party, the Blood Flag, went missing. This cherished object possessed supernatural powers, infused by the occult experimentation of the SS Paranormal Division. The flag's current condition and whereabouts are unknown. Today, the search for the missing Blood Flag is on, and one man - with diabolical intentions - is getting closer to its hiding place. The flag is about to be unearthed - with nightmarish, blood-soaked consequences.

I admire Eric Stanze and co-writer Jason Christ for the talent and the guts to try to try to pull something like this off on an obviously miniscule budget and the result is very satisfying. The movie's biggest strength is the well written script that tells a fun story way better than a lot of crap that actually gets released these days. The strands of the story (all actually a bit goofy but perfect for a movie about lesbian killers, satanists and nazi experiments) come together in a fun climax and the only thing I wish is that the movie had had a larger budget, the material calls for even more outrageous stuff. Still, Stanze is a talented director (I mean, he actually managed to make Savage Harvest, a shot on video Evil dead clone, into something really entertaining) and fills the movie with so much gore and nudity that you cannot help but like it all. Seriously, the first half hour is truly superior goresoaked and boobfilled glory, I love it. Especially when the goreeffects are as good as these. If you match this with some above average acting from actors you've previously seen in several Stanzemovie such as Emily Haack from Scrapbook, you are really in for a ride. This is a movie that really warrants a sequel. Recommended.

fredag 30 september 2011

Island of the living dead (2006)


One part of me would like to state that Bruno Mattei was a mediocre, incompetent moviemaker but that isnt really true. His movies are loaded with stolen scenes, bad scripts, lousy actors and dubbing that is out of this world and it is very easy just to point and laugh. But some years after his passing I realize again and again how much I miss him. One of these occasions was his next to last movie, Island of the Living dead, a very old school Italian zombiemovie. No, it is not a good movie. It is stupid, absurd and probably has the worst dubbing I have ever encountered. But when I think back on what Mattei gave us I realize that even though some of his movies were pretty awful, he was still a professional director of an almost lost era. He may have been a bit of an opportunist that went to great lengths to finish his movies, including ripping just about anything off, but the flicks always looked good no matter how stupd the scripts were. I have a little understanding for the fact that some called him the Italian Ed Wood but those people never saw an Alfonso Breccia flick. Another thing, which saddens me greatly, is that with Matteis death, something dear to me is lost. The age of the great Italian exploitation is over. Dead and buried.

Island of the Living dead is a pure and simple zombieflick that looks like it came straight out of a time capsule from 1987. It starts sometime during the 15th century on a Spanish colony in the Philippines where an outbreak of the zombie plague is causing some mayhem. 400 years later we meet a group of horrendously dubbed failed treasure hunters that end up on the very same island we saw in the beginning. The boat breaks down and they all decide to explore while it is being repaired. Yes, the island is full of zombies, the boat blows up when the self destruct device is activated (yes, every boat should have one) and now our heroes are trapped on an island full of ruins and zombies. And some vampirezombiepirates as well.

This is exploitation at its simplest. Made on a very low budget with the previously mentioned awful dubbing and overacting in the extreme, and a script that is about as original as a Joel Silver cop movie. If someone else than Mattei had done this it would probably have been unwatchable but he took it as seriously as he always did and manages to crank out a fun flick (shot on dv but still way better than most flicks in the same ilk. Mattei never forgot how to use a camera well) with decent pacing and always something interesting to look at, be it some cheap gore or some nice ruins. Mattei may not have been the worlds best filmmaker but he cared enough to make his movies entertaining, to give them a bit of heart. Thank you Bruno. We miss you.

lördag 17 september 2011

Apollo 18 (2011)


One thing that I find really amusing about this scifi/horrormockumentary is the fact that a lot of people seem to take this very serious and get really upset when they realize that it is a movie. Come on, are you for real? There NEVER was any doubt that this is anything other than a horrormovie and if you took it for real you really deserve to sit in the corner and feel ashamed of yourself.

Ok, this is a mockumentary consisting of "found" footage of a secret trip to the moon, the Apollo 18. They find a russian moonlander and a dead cosmonaut, and something else... the mockumentary concept consists of different handheld cameras and stuff placed in the moonlander and it works wonders. The lunar landscape and the sfx are excellent, making it look like actual footage of the moon itself. Yes, there is a scene or two that makes you wonder "who filmed that?" but never enough to dispel the magic. The acting is great, mainly a twomanshow but the script is good enough to sustain the movie from beginning to end. And the script is why I really love this movie. Yes, I really loved this movie and I dont really understand why the critics have panned it. What were they looking for? What we have here is basically an oldfashioned monstertale, an updated version of the old Outer limits tv-series. A horrormovie set on the moon. With monsters. Cool monsters too. Are all the critics upset over the fact that we never get any big reveal towards the end? That the ending goes a bit towards major cliché but still works?

No, I dont understand anything about the bad reviews this has been getting. From the moment I read about this movie my expectations were skyhigh, and they got even bigger when I saw the trailer. And the movie actually exceeded my expectations! This is a classic piece of old school horror, just the way I want it. I am already looking forward to the dvd/blu ray release so I can watch it again.

Btw, I saw this at a movie theatre in Las Vegas while my girlfriend and her cousin watched some show. We were about five people in a theatre bigger than anything we have in Stockholm, which was pretty cool. And sad.

torsdag 1 september 2011

The Burrowers (2008)


There aren't really enough Western/horrormovies out there, which is truly a shame. You would think that the vast, unexplored plains of the old west would be the progenitor of some sort of weird beastie but so far we havent really had anything worthwile. Until now. The Burrowers, which at a quick glance looks like a Tremorsprequel, is exactly like I would want such a genrehybrid to be.

The movie starts whith a family living in the middle of the plains recieves a warning from their neighbour and hides out in their cellar. Their daughters suitor arrives the next morning only to find that the cabin is drenched in blood and the initial reaction is that indians are responsible. A group of gunslingers and some soldiers form a searchparty, but while the soldiers firmly believe the culprits to be indian, the other soon start to suspect that something entirely different is lurking. They split up and our heroes soon find a young woman buried in shallow earth with a strange wound in her neck, seemingly in a coma but they realize that the girl is still alive. She is very very paralyzed and they send her away with one of their own to find a doctor and start to follow some mysterious tracks in the wilderness. Yes, no injuns here. This is something that the indians themselves are afraid of.

I should "warn" you here, The Burrowers is a methodically slow movie which means that everyone that has grown up on Michael Bay will most likely either stop watching after half an hour or fastforward through it. Your loss. The slow pace is actually perfect for this type of movie, slowly moving forward with the plot to maximize the doomsdayish mood that grows stronger every minute as the characters discover what they really are up against. The script has brains, keeping a fine line between who is a good guy or a bad guy which really suits the movie well. They actually feel like real people. It is always nice when a movie tries to avoid clichés and the creators of this movie do an excellent job. Another strong point is the cinematography, capturing the beauty of the american wilds while still maintaing that cool feeling of dread and unease that you want to find in a good horrormovie. J.T. Petty, whose previous credits include Mimic 3, seems to know exactly how he wants everything here and I am looking forward to seeing what he does in the future, although I am not really sure if reworking Faces of death into a fictional narrative is such a great idea, at least if Wikipedia is correct. We'll see. Back to the Burrowers. If you want ensure the quality of a good script you populate it with a group of excellent character actors and here we have names like Clancy Brown, Doug Hutchinson and William Mapother, all doing what they always do, kick some acting ass. And then we have The Burrowers themselves, awesome creations that we do not really see that much of, exactly like it should be. We never really find out any major details about them, only enough to start to fill in the empty spaces ourselves, to enhance the fear they strike into you.

This is an excellent movie, with just the right amounts of horror and gore which I recommend to everyone that like to take horror seriously. There are no cool lines here, no flashy camerawork. Just a slow and gory horrormovie that takes your hand and leads you straight into a shivering nightmare. And gives me hope for the future. Essential viewing.

onsdag 24 augusti 2011

D4 (2010)


Seriously, look at that cover. WTF? I bought the movie totally on assumption that this was some sort of syfychannel production with a huge, poorly animated cgimonster that would roam around in a jungle, killing people in various cheap ways. The type of movie that never really is any good but comfortably entertaing.

It was NOT what I got.

Instead, what I got could be more easily described as a low budget version of Predator, but with a script that way surpassed all those flicks I was expecting the movie to be like. A team of mercenaries are hired by a woman to infiltrate a government facility where her kidnapped son has been subjected to experiments. They go into the woods (which look awfully familiar until you realize that this was shot in the same state as Evil dead) and make their way to the site, only to find that something is out there, hunting them.

D4 is a lowbudget movie shot on digital video and is set only in locations that are inexpensive, just like your average syfymovie and along with that cover (from the Thai dvd I bought) it was those basics that made me think that this would be a cgi crapfest. The moment when it dawned on me that this wasn't the case was when I looked at the dvdplayer and discovered that an hour had passed without me even realizing it. Damn, they hadnt even arrived at the evil secret government facility! And that is the strength of the movie, its strong pace. The story is nothing you havent seen before and the budget doesnt allow for any real dazzle, but it is carefully plotted with decently acted characters and very little padding, opposite of what I was expecting. In the end we get a little twist that really doesnt come as a shock, but it works. Yes, it is full of clichés and may be a bit too familiar to some but as a whole it is a decent enough monstermovie. It may not be breaking any new ground but as a showreel for the filmmakers it is pretty damn impressive.

You can get the movie here.

tisdag 23 augusti 2011

Assault! Jack the Ripper (1976)



I've seen a lot of depraved shit throughout all these years and I must say that Yasuharu Hasebes Bôkô Kirisaki Jakku aka Assault! Jack the Ripper is clearly one of the main contenders for the title of World champion of sick. I get a headache just trying to imagine who this flick was actually made for. Who the hell or rather, what the hell is the target group for this sick piece of torment? I did however find myself morbidly entertained by the debacle, which scares me. A lot.

A young and somewhat bitchy waitress finds herself interested in the pastry chef working at the same restaurant. She tries very hard to get his penis inside of her but it all ends with them running over a rather insane hitchhiker. This whole affair makes both of them rather horny and thay have some wild sex afterwards. They strike up some sort of odd relationship but it soon goes stale. However, they cant stop thinking about the dead woman and the accidental mutilation of her private parts that took place when they disposed of her body so they go out on the prowl, thinking that some killing might be a source of tittilation. And it sure is. The pair goes on a killing spree, murdering and mutilating to the left and right. Our hero the timid pastry chef soon realizes that he likes the mutilating better, especially slicing up vaginas and since the waitress doesnt approve of that (she mainly does it to keep him from leaving her), all hell will break loose.

That is one hell of a plot. The violence isnt particulary graphic gorewise but that only makes it even more disturbing, watching the pastry chef slice up naked women with his cakeknife, getting more and more into it. Yasuharu Hasebe has made a slick, well photographed piece of depravity and the fact that the movie looks as good as it does is another thing that irks me. I would have felt better if it had been made by a talentless hack. My mind wants to explode when I think of the fact that stuff like this actually played at a cinema in Japan some time in the seventies. Fuck all those pixelated hentaimovies and fetishporn, this is straight from the source, the reason for Japans infamy when it comes to cinematic perversion. And it actually is a good movie, even though it isnt something I would recommend to most people. Mondo Macabro has made an excellent job in releasing this piece of japanese cult on a fine dvd and removing it from the halls of notoriety and obscurity. I recommend it, if you think you have the stomach for it. An orgy of bloodlust and carnage indeed, this is one of the few times a posterquote is 100% true.

Yellowbrickroad (2010)


I came out of this movie not really knowing what to think of it, it took me more than a week to sort out my feelings about it and finally put it into words. Yellowbrickroad is a hard movie to digest since it is essentially a moodpiece, not interested in laying everything out, seemingly more concerned with _not_ answering the questions the movie asks. I think this will piss a lot of people off, but then again, most of the reviews I've read online seems to feel the same way as me. It is all about the journey, not when, where and how. In that retrospect, Yellowbrickroad does an excellent job. Well, until that ending.

It was the plot that caught my eye, finding the movie on a dvdsite and I realized that I had to buy it, without reading very many reviews. In 1940 the entire population of Friar, New Hampshire left everything they owned and walked up a mountain trail. Months later after a large manhunt had searched the area, about half of them were found. Most had just frozen to death but some were mutilated. A massive coverup classified the details but in 2008 the coordinates of the trail are released and of course, a group of people with an interest in writing a book about the event start an expedition to travel the same mountain trail. And you know things will turn bad. The whole area is flooded out of nowhere with music from the 40s, a slow croon that normally would be comfortably soothing. Not here though. As people start to lose memories and behave erratically, the journey down yellowbrickroad wont have any happy endings.

Yellowbrickroad does not explain things. It shows you a journey into a degenerative landscape, where the environment is not exactly deadly but it does things to you. People start to lose previous memories and need to repeat things over and over again not to lose grip over their own minds. Strange soundphenomena assault the travellers both aurally and visually (in a truly awesome sequence that makes me rate the movie much higher than it actually might deserve). Clearly this is a place where they should not be, and this adds even more conflict. Some want to turn back and some want to follow the road to its end.

I did like this movie a lot, there is no doubt about that. It is well staged, scrumptiously enigmatic and has an atmosphere that I havent seen since Tarkovskijs Stalker. Some of the setpieces are truly spectacular, in particular the one I mentioned earlier where a rather nasty sound tries to fuck everyone up and ends with a very nasty and gorgeous image. The forest is a creature in itself since the movie never truly explains what is going on, making you feel like the woods and trees are in on it, slowly killing everyone both mentally and pysically. I am divided towards the issue of the movies vagueness. It does help in maintaining the overbearing mood, but it all leads up to what in the end is a very unsatisfying ending that comes out of nowhere. It is somehow fitting the movie and features more of that nice imagery but... It doesnt ruin the movie but it is vague in the extreme.

So, why should you watch this movie? It is a good and very unforgiving horrormovie. Very brutal and haunting. It is well shot, well acted and has a slowly calculated pace going for it, if you are into that kind of movie. You should go into it with an open mind, this is not your average slasher remake.

Brides of blood (1968)



Really, do I need to review this movie? Just look at those lovely pictures... they tell you everything you need to know. Blood, boobs and glorious rubbermonsters. This is one of these movies that leave you with fluttering butterflies in your stomach.

A nice group arrive at an island in the Philipines to teach the natives the ways of civilization and look for any traces of nuclear testing. There's the elderly professor, his horny wife that screws anything that moves (except for her husband) and the young guy who would like to screw everything that moves and inevitably will get into the pants of the chiefs wife. It seems the natives have a lottery going on for the villages young females and the winner will be tied to a pole while an interesting rubbermonsters drops by to tear them apart. Yes, the ladies are of course topless, most likely to quicken the process. Our american heroes do not approve of this, but things get even worse when they realize that the island is full of mutated carnivorous plants that love to catch humans with their tentacles. And then there is the spaniard that lives in a mansion. He seems nice but his gang, all dwarves, roam around stealing stuff and the spaniard himself has some sort of disease that make him go out at night doing weird things. Just think what a little bit of radioactivity can do. All hail the holy white light!

As you can imagine, I love this movie. Brides of blood is one of those movies that came from the Philipines in the late sixties and got quite popular in the Us. As I mentioned earlier. it really has everything you require when it comes to fine entertainment, blood, boobs and monsters. And those monsters. Oh my god. The good direction helps a lot, managing an even flow of lovely action and with some above average acting and a decent script as monstermovies go, you can easily overlook some ropey special effects. This is great fun for all fans of exploitation and as the poster says: A brutal orgy of ghastly terror! You know, ghastly terror. One of the worst forms of terror. Recommended with all my heart.

fredag 5 augusti 2011

Mummy theme park (2000)


Al Passeri aka Massimiliano Cerchi must be the Italian Ed Wood, or maybe Ted V Mikels or Larry Buchanan. I liked his Plankton aka Creatures of the abyss, it had some fun stopmotion and groovy fishmutants but Mummy theme park is truly something extraordinary craptacular. I have never ever seen so much crappy bluescreen and miniaturework. Ever.

An egyptian sheik manages to find an undiscovered tomb with the normal quota of mummies within and gets the brilliant idea of turning the whole thing into a themepark, turning the mummies into animatronic cyborgs. The get some publicity he hires a photographer who arrives at the scene with his severely bimboish assistant but when the mummies react negatively to the cameraflashes and start to reanimate - Jurassic park goes Egypt.

Ok, I must admit that the whole idea of the movie is pretty fucking awesome, who comes up with a thing like this. The problem is that the entire movie is shot on a set with some "carefully" placed miniatures places in front of the actors to give the illusion of grand, richly decorated rooms. The movie is pretty much filmed from one static cameraangle, making it look like it is set on a conveyor belt. It has to be seen to be believed. Of course, it is "greatly helped" by lots of mirrors giving the effect of more actors and larger rooms and of course, it does not look believable once. And then we have the "acting. Since the movie is trying for some record in awfulness, the actors look like they are competing in the overacting olympics. Apart from the nonactors that barely keep a straight face.

But somehow I think that Passeri actually knew what he was doing, just making a movie with no resources whatsoever and going for camp. The script does not have a serious bone in it and contains some rather funny attempts of humour, like beertaps based on Tutankhamons golden mask and the egyptian restaurant that only serves pizza. No attempt has been made to make the Italian actors look like Egyptians and it goes with the flow of the movie.

Mummy theme park is a bad movie. Words cannot describe the lousy special effects but then again, I cant hate them. They are actually somewhat ambitous and Passeri was probably fully aware of the cheeziness of the whole affair. You do get entertainment out of this and there are a couple of nice gorescenes of varying quality. A part of my brain wants to scream out hate for it, but then again, it is an Italian goremovie and they are rare nowadays. The description cheap and cheerful is accurate and I w2as never bored. Read this review as a warning. If you choose to watch this movie, dont blame me.

Plaguers (2008)



The only thing that comes even remotely close to my fascination for japanese rubbermonstermovies are Alienclones. You know, movies that take the story from Alien or Aliens only with one percent of the original budget and talent. Sometimes it works really well, Forbidden world and Galaxy of terror are great examples that ramps up the gore and the sleaze. Most of time it does not work very well. Like most of them. Ok, so how about Plaguers? Somewhere in between.

With the help of some pretty lousy digital effects we find ourselves on a spaceship heading towards Earth. The crew (consisting of a bunch of actors that look like they came straight from the set of a erotic thriller made for cable) has a strange green orb that they plan to smuggle through customs when they arrive but their plans are waylaid by a group of psychopathic piratenurses pretending to be marooned. They kill the pilot and hijack the ship and before you know it, one of them has stuck her pretty little head into the green orb, turning her into something straight out of Evil dead or Demons. The rest of the movie is pretty obvious. The crew gets smaller and smaller, while the alienzombies increase their numbers, all in the name of good fun.

No, the story here is nothing new, a collection of stuff we've seen hundreds of times before thrown together in a large, seething cauldron of clichés. But Brad Sykes, writer and director, adds something to the dish that more filmmakers should embrace, namely love for the genre. The silliness of the whole affair just make you enjoy everything more when you realize that everyone is in on the joke. The actors are way better than expected, especially since I was assuming that all of the them were just two softcore sexflicks away from making hardcore porn. The only known actor here is Steve Railsback and he wildly goes from looking bored or having fun, I dont really know what was going on there but hey, it is always great to see him in a movie. The digital effects are weak, looking like someone was making his own fanversion of Blakes 7 on an Amiga 500, but the filmakers compensate with some really good setdesign. The makeup effects are awesome with some cool looking zombies/aliens and although I could have gone for a bit more gore, there are some fun scenes to look forward to. Brad Sykes should be commended for what he has done, this is some great fun.

torsdag 4 augusti 2011

Isolation (2005)




Alien on an Irish farm? Not interested?

Ok, a movie where genetically modified cows spawn flesheating mutants?

Here goes: On a remote farm in Ireland, John "It feels like an alligator" Lynch has agreed to take part in an experiment not exactly sanctioned by the government, doing some strange stuff to his cows. A vet is bitten by an almost fully grown calf still inside the womb and when it eventually emerges it is very agressive, attacking its mother again and again. They decide to euthanize it and discovers a couple of pretty nasty things about it. For starters, it was actually pregnant even before being born and those fetuses were horribly deformed, their bonestructure being on the outside of their bodies. Of course, they are still alive and very dangerous, not to mention the infection they spread with their bites...

This movie really kicks ass. It is basically an Alienripoff but the story and atmosphere is clearly more influenced by Carpenter and Cronenberg than Scott and Cameron. For a first time director, Billy O'Brien shows a lot of talent. His craft is incredibly good looking and moody, taking its time to let the events of the script play out in a slow, orderly fashion perfect for the movie. There is no action here, only sharply defined plotstrands and it is only towards the end that it begins to unravel slightly when the movie turns into something resembling your average "chased by nasty monster" flick, only on a farm. And cooler. If you thought that the concept wouldnt work, think again. Just the fact that all of this is set on a run down, cold as hell remote Irish farm makes it worthy to be a part of your dvdcollection. The only negative things I can say about the movie is that the script does go a bit cliché towards the end, with lines in the vein of "if they get out of here thousands of cows will give birth to hundreds of mutants each and then it will be the end of the world, bla bla.". When the movie is so dark, dreary and otherwise fresh and original, dumb dialogue like that just pisses you off. The minimalism that has worked so well up until then dissipates somewhat. Not so much that it takes away the fun of it all, but gives you a sour aftertaste when you keep thinking about it afterwards. I know I did.

Ok, a few overused lines wont destroy a movie when it is as well made as Isolation is. The wet, cold and windy environments are perfect for the story and the mutant is a well designed little critter, just as nasty and disgusting as we want them to be. The actors are excellent (John Lynch is always good, no exception here) and if O'Brien had polished his script a bit, this would have been a masterpiece. As it stand now, it's just a fucking good movie which I recommend to everyone that likes a good monstermovie.

torsdag 28 juli 2011

Zeiram (1991)



Zeiram is an awesome dude. He/she looks like the lost brother of Gigan and the fungusmonsters from Ishiro Hondas wonderful Matango (and if you're not into japanese monstermovies, a proper description would be that Z looks like John Wayne designed by H.R Giger.), wears a cool cape and wields a gun that looks like the chestburster from Alien. Enhancing the awesomeness, Z also has the ability to spit out cocoons that burst into weird critters hunting it's victims. And it gets even better! After taking a full frontal hit from a bazooka, Zeiram turns into something large and spidery, and it doesnt stop there! Zeiram is not just an awesome bad guy, it is one of THE awesomest. This japanese scifi/monstermovie is full of so much bubblegum entertainment that I almost exploded from watching it. It is that fun.

So Z heads to Earth followed by a couple of bountyhunters (robobrain Bob and cute Iria). They plan to set up a trap by enticing Z into a virtual arena, a duplicate of a small japanese town but of course, nothing ever goes as planned as two electricians are drawn into the arena after investigating a rather large power surge. Let the mayhem begin!

The movie starts with a really cool black & white sequence where Zeiram slaughters his/hers/it's way through a couple of dozen soldiers. Arms, legs and faces are turned into mush just to show the audience what a badass Z is. Things do slow down a bit allowing some characterdevelopment to take place, but as soon as Zeiram arrives on Earth, we get a nice rollercoasterride. Imagine the final 30 minutes of Terminator, Japanese style. An evil alien that can take a lot of damage, can be blown into little pieces and still be dangerous and finally turn into something straight out of The Thing. All of this is accomplished with lots of fun sfx, stop motion, full size puppets and good old make up. The only issue that I have with the movie is that the glorious massacre in the beginning is never repeated, the flick basically has a cast of three but thanks to all the different faces of Zeiram this doesnt make the movie any less entertaining. I would have liked some more gore, but the presence of Z is enough. This is a funfilled ride of a movie with loads of stuff to smile at and enjoy, especially with cutie Yuko Moriyama in a cybernetic bodyarmor that has no protection whatsoever for any vital parts. Z even has a strange penis-shaped tentacle with a female face instead of a dickhead. Awesome.

And there is a sequel too!

Seriously, if you have any love for japanese monstermayhem, you will love this.

onsdag 27 juli 2011

The Appointment (1981)


Lindsay C Vickers The Appointment centers around some kind of evil force that kicks off by killing a young girl taking a shortcut through a park (A truly, truly, truly awesome sequence). Three years later, we meet a family living near that very park. The young daughter is going to perform at a concert and dad (Edward Woodward) is just about to tell her that he cant make it since he has to go on a workrelated trip and this is something the somewhat fatherfixated young lady wont like very much. All fathers reading this, take heed. Go to your daughters concert. She gets VERY upset and that night dad has a very nasty dream about him dying in a carcrash. To make things even weirder, some rather odd things start to happen. A pack of dogs gather around the house, people move around in photograps but dad doesnt take thsi very seriously. Dumb dad. He starts his journey the next day in his car, and slowly and methodically the evil force starts to lay the puzzle, managing the events that may lead to the dream coming true.

The major issue with The Appointment is that it is so damn slow. Things happen at a regular pace but that pace is carefully calculated to be as droning as possible. It all leads up to a satisfying ending and is far from a waste of time but it does tear at your patience from time to time. In a weird way, that very flaw is also the strength of the movie. It feels like you are watching a nightmare that there is no chance of escaping from before it smashes you in the face, waking you up. Issues with logic never really matter. It starts out in an exceptional way with the sequence in the park (which is on youtube. Link) with the young girl walking in the park, suddenly hearing a girls voice calling for her from a nearby patch of forest, all while something entirely different is following. Well, you should watch the clip yourself, it is truly exceptional. After that we are slowly introduced to the dynamics of the family. The relationship between father and daughter feels a bit odd to say the least, you get a slight feeling that there is more to it than meets the eye. There is a somewhat strange scene where Edward Woodward is standing outside his daughters room, debating whether he should enter while she is sitting on her bed waiting for him. I may be reading too much into this, but it does darken things a bit, making the whole experience more uncomfortable.

Technically the movie is excellent, there are quite a few great scenes that I wont talk about here since I would spoil the fun but I can assure you that the direction and the cinematography are fine. Acting is just fine, I mean you cant really fail with Edward Woodward. The daughter can be a bit stiff with some of the lines but nothing major.

The Appointment is a quirky flick which has been compared to Dont look now, something I agree with, they both have a similar uncomfortable mood. It is slow, paced like a snail but you get out of it with a pleasantly(?) uncomfortable feeling in your gut, the same one as when you wake up from a nightmare and realize that it was a dream. The pros most definitely outweight the cons here. Recommended

Forever evil (1987)


Sometime during the winter of 1990 or 1991, in the days when good film meant blurry vhsdupes of movies you only read about in Fangoria, a friend of mine and I had just gotten a shitload of tapes from a "contact" and decided to spend an entire weekend watching all of this. To maximize the mood we decided to go to his cabin in the woods and fortunately for us this was a good choice since this was one of those winters back when snow was a meter deep, temperature was a nicely dry -20 celcius and everything creaked as we put our feet on it. A perfect scenario for a movie. I really dont remember any of the movies we watched other than Giorgio Ferronis superior Night of the devils and Roger Evans Forever evil but had a weak memory of Forever evil being a creepy and rather nice movie. Now, the whole point of this little opening is to illustrate that even a mediocre movie can be ok under the right circumstances since that what was Forever evil really was. A mess of a movie with all the bad bits blurred by a nostalgic memory.

Ok, so it is not the worst movie ever made, far from it. To say that it is a good one is also not right, but at least it is ambitious. The first 30 minutes are actually quite decent, at least when you compare it to similar movie from the same era. We get to follow a number of friends going to a cabin in the woods and before you can say Evil dead ripoff all but one are dead and now the boredom begins. You see, it was the evil god Yog Kothag that behind the dastardly deeds and Marc, our hero wants to get even. He teams up with a young woman who experienced something similar and together they try to find out the truth about the resurrection of Yog Kothag, his undead realestatebroker henchman (who sounds like he used to work for the empire in Star Wars) and the zombie roaming around. Yes, just the one zombie.

Forever evil has no chance in hell of ending up on someones favorite movie list (unless he/she has the same memoryclouding issue as me and never did the dumb thing of watching it again) but I have seen a lot worse. The problem with the movie is that it is two hours long, two hours that start out well but descends into scene upon scene of badly acted filler interrupted by the odd gory dreamsequence. It isnt helped by the music that sounds like it is midiversions of pornmusic. The director does a decent job but totally overdozes on POV sequences, to the point of making you groan whenever the camera starts wandering again. The script is, as I stated earlier, ambitious and has an intriguing story, but is way too drawn out and massacred by a lot of not so good actors. If you manage to hold out unto the end you are rewarded with a decent ending with nice gore, but the road to it isnt easy to follow. I wouldnt really hold it against you if you stopped watching halfway through. Mostly for 80s horror fetishists. I do like the basic idea a lot, do a normal horrormoviescenario in the first 30 minutes and actually show what happens afterwards.

I have to mention one of the dreamsequences that to this day remains somewhat notorius where a pregnant woman rips open her belly and removes the fetus, a sequence that will ensure that the movie will be remembered in the future.

Ok, if you still finds this interesting you should go here where the writer of the movie talks about making low budget horror. He mentions a directors cut that only was available on vhs, but has since been released on dvd which was the version I watched. It has a very entertaining commentary track where the director and writer, fully aware of what kind of abomination they unleashed upon the unsuspecting public, go into lengthy detail about how the movie was made.

Ratman (1988)


Wow. What the hell is this?! Well, the answer is actually rather simple. Pure and simple exploitation for the purpose of making money. Just like I want it.

And what a plot! A mad scientist has in his tropical island hideout managed to create a rat/human hybrid (played by Nelson De La Rosa, the shortest man in the world when this movie was shot). No hybrid of any kind who has some pride in his work can remain in the laboratory and promptly escapes. While this is going on a couple of models and their photographer end up at the scientists place. To make this even better, David Warbeck (dubbed) and Janet Ågren are roaming the island looking for Janets missing model sister who may or may not be one of the models in the first plot strand. You never really can tell because the Warbeck/Ågren part of the story feels like its taken from an entirely different movie. Ok, so who cares about that? What is important is that the Ratman is crawling out of toilets to kill people.

This is wonderful. The plot is enchantingly random, spiced up with fun gore, a heroine whose boobs are constantly almost falling out of her clothes, long totally unmotivated showerscenes (who am i kidding? There is no need for motivation when it comes to nudity) and the lovely little creature played by De La Rosa. I imagine that the script was written under the influence of a lot of alcohol and/or drugs and the low budget and poor production values doesnt exactly help with that. But to the movies defense, this is a perfect example of italian exploitation as I like and love it. Cheap, cheerful, violent and always entertaining.

tisdag 26 juli 2011

The Objective (2008)


Let us stop for a moment and think about what the words False advertising means. Wikipedia states:

"False advertising or deceptive advertising is the use of false or misleading statements in advertising. As advertising has the potential to persuade people into commercial transactions that they might otherwise avoid, many governments around the world use regulations to control false, deceptive or misleading advertising."

A perfect example of this is Daniel Myricks The Objective, a movie that the moviecompany didnt quite know what to do with. The dvdcover promises "A paranormal Predator". Not quite.

When the movie starts a narrator tells us that a satellite has transmitted a strange image from the Afghanistan desert, something that could be radioactivity but isnt. The CIA thinks that they have an idea of what it is and sends out an agent who will enter the area with a special ops team. First they have to find a guide who knows the area but when they track him down they find that he has fled into the desert, the very same area they want to go into. A place with a very bad reputation. Following his tracks they soon find themselves in an ambush by rebels but when the battle is over, mortally wounding one of them and clearly hitting several of the enemies, they find no tracks of any assailants whatsoever. A helicopter is dispatched to lift them out but the soldiers never see it, only hear the sound of it very close even though next day the base confirms that they were in the right location. To make matters even weirder, during the night they see weird structures and shapes that only are visible throught nightvision goggles. Something out there wants to inflict harm upon our merry band, something out of old legends.

No, no fucking paranormal predator in sight. The plot I lifted from Imdb works better: "A group of Special Ops Reservists on a mission in the harsh and hostile terrain of Afghanistan find themselves lost in a Middle Eastern "Bermuda Triangle" of ancient evil." Personally I would describe the movie as a paranormal Stalker or perhaps Blair witch project if it had been written by the Strugatskij brothers. The characters are going somewhere in a deserted landscape where the natural laws dont give a fuck about how you want them to work. The Objective does not paint a clear picture of what it out there and do go into it expecting answers. What it on the other hand hints about is very intriguing, taken from Islamic legends which adds some extra tension. Towards the end the movie spaces out a bit and I would be lying if I said that I knew exactly what was going on. I think (hope) that I have a decent theory but I am not really sure.

Dont let this keep you from watching The Objective. Daniel Myrick has borrow a couple of ingredients from his earlier Blair Witch Project and it works really well. You get that certain feeling that the soldiers have ended up somewhere truly and well off the charts and yes, the movie creates more questions than it answers, it still works really well as a moodpiece. The tension is high from beginning to end and thanks to excellent cinematography and good acting there is never a problem getting intrigued by what is going on on the screen. One thing that doesnt really work is the Martin Sheen/Apocalypse nowish narration that tries to push you along the journey, it it sometimes somewhat clumsy and unnecessary, at times even giving explanations that lessens the mood. But besides that and the fact that the story is somewhat "loose", this is an excellent scifi/horrorflick that I recommend to anyone that wants a bit of decent tension and atmosphere and can accept the issue with the questions/answers ratio. Too bad that it is being marketed as something it isnt, a choice that most likely will dissapoint a lot of people.

Actually, the Paranormal predator issue seems to have been dropped now, something I realized when I googled for a coverimage, but I did find another blurb from a blurayrelease. Dark horror meets hard Action. WTF? :)

Cut throats nine (1972)


I can imagine the moviemakers having a meeting before the shoot, before a script is presented. They want to make a western, that has been decided, but the writer is seething with anger. He has probably just gotten through a nasty divorce and is angry. They want a movie without heroes. They want everyone that dies to die in the most brutal way possible and the mood should be uncomfortable and filthy.

Boy did they succed.

A group of soldiers are on their way to a fort with a number of chained convicts sentenced to hard labour for life. On the journey they are attacked by hoodlums who are convinced that the group has a shipment of gold with them, but they manage to escape, well most of them anyway. Our "hero" Sgt Brown, his young daughter and the convicts. Now they have to flee through a snowy mountain landscape and when the convicts realize that their chains in fact are made of the gold that the robbers wanted, plans to escape are made. A life is not worth anything out here.

This is a very harsh and brutal movie, you can belive that. When Sgt Brown is forced to watch his daughter get raped about halfway through you get a slightly sick feeling in your stomach while realizing that is was sort of inevitable and makes you wonder why it took this long for it to happen. Every single character is a coward or a psychopath, the environments are cold and dirty and all the violence cruel and detailed. This is helped a lot bu some good acting, in spite of the dubbing, and the locations are perfect for a movie like this. Director Joaquín Luis Romero Marchent does an excellent job on an obviously low budget (most of it is set outdoors, no need for expensive sets) and sometimes you feel the same chills as the characters are feeling as they drudge on through the snow, killing each other off one by one. The music feels like it was lifted straight out of a horrormovie but actually feels rather appropriate with its unsettling choirs and dark tones.

A very bloody and brutal spanish western with lots of burning, shooting and disemboweling, perfect for a cozy evening full of carnage and mayhem with your loved ones. And Emma Cohen is in it. You cant really fail when she's around.

At the moment this flick is only available on bootleg dvd, but Code red will release this properly in september. An essential purchase if I ever saw one. There is actually even a remake in the works, with people like Harvey Keitel and Mads Mikkelsen involved. It could be fun, only time will tell. It would at least give the original some well deserved attention.

tisdag 19 juli 2011

Scorched heat (1987)


I have seen things you people wouldnt believe. Satanically possessed turkeys wearing human faces, herds of giant killer rabbits feasting on human flesh and Kevin Costner slumming it in Dragonfly. But nothing prepared me for this.

Scorched heat is a swedish horrormovie, one of the few. It was obviously meant for an american market since the characters all speak english. Very poorly. VERY poorly. One of the leads, Harold "Harald" Treutiger, is now a somewhat famous tv-presenter in Sweden who for some reason doesnt list this movie on his official website. His performance is the worst I've seen since I first laid my eyes and ears on Andreas Schnaaz abomination of dubbing, Zombie 90: Extreme pestilence. There is a classic scene where Harald breaks down in tears which most likely would drive people insane by just watching, I know I lost a few braincells. Most pornflicks have better acting than this.

The plot isnt half bad actually, dealing with the return of a dead teacher which our heroes accidentally killed in their youth and along with a groovy score really has that 80s feeling. The teacher tends to appear as a burnt husk of a corpse which actually looks ok, and some of its appearances have a slight resemblance of cleverness but it doesnt matter, Haralds "acting" overshadows everything. You sit there for an hour trying to focus on the movie (which truly is impossible) and at the very moment you decide that this movie could have been ok if it werent for Harald, the filmmakers bring in the bikers. Yes, the lamest bikers ever, they look like someone is trying to do an imitation of a metalband, but dont really know how to. Even Mad Foxes had tougher looking bikers.

Here is a fun little highlightreel. Why doesnt Harald have this movie on his resume, I have NO idea...

I guess this really was a half-decent try of doing a americanstyle horrormovie in Sweden, as low budget horrorflicks go I have seen worse. But none of them had Harald Treutiger. He really is THAT BAD. I can seriously say that I have NEVER seen any worse acting. NEVER.

fredag 15 juli 2011

The Shrine (2010)


When The Shrine starts you find yourself in familiar land, so familiar in fact that you pretty much lower your expectations. Backpacking youth gone missing in small European country, journalist defying her editor to look into it to the point of lying just to get a scoop and meeting some pretty hostile locals. We've seen this about a million times before, havent we? Preparing yourself for a predictable ride you suddenly realize that The Shrine might actually be a bit more interesting than that. Yes, it is familiar but the story goes in a direction you arent expecting. No inbred Polish rednecks, no rich americans killing people for fun. Something that is cool and intriguing. You see, the village is close by a strange cloud close to the ground, filling the forest with a thick fog. A place you shouldnt visit. Which of course our heroes do.

And thank heavens for that. As soon as they step into the strangely dense and glowing fog, the movie goes from being a walking cliché to something quite novel. And entertaining.

I always write as little as possible about the story in a movie I review and The Shrine will be no exception. You need to know as little as possible about it to enjoy it more. What you do need to know is that Jon Knautz first movie after Jack Brooks: Monster slayer (which I thought was sorta fun, but a little lame) is excellent viewing, taking a tried out plot and twists it around a bit, mixing it with great visuals and atmosphere and adding some fine gore. It's no masterpiece, and the polish audience will hate it for the truly awful polish accents, but to the rest of us it is a finely crafted moodpiece well worth watching. And the dvdcover is awesome.

At the moment this is only available on Canadian dvd which makes sense since it is a canadian movie and I bought my copy from Amazon.ca. The site stated that the delivery would take 30-40 weeks(!) but it arrived after four days.

lördag 9 juli 2011

Fear house (2008)


Have this ever happened to you? You muck around on the internet on various moviesites and happen upon a movie with a really nice dvdcover. You let your guard down, read a couple of reviews and focus on the positive things. You have already decided that this is a nice movie. The negative reviews are ignored because you like the plot. Fear House isnt a movie that has been universally panned but it has gotten its fair share of bad reviews. Is it a bad movie? Nope.

The story isn't anything special, we've seen it before but thanks to decent craftmanship and a nice mood we get 86 cozy minutes of dread. Fear House has the usual characters who all end up in a house with some sort of evil spirit roaming its halls. A young female writer buys the house out in the desert and when her friends and family hasnt heard from her for some time they visit the place to find out why. And start to die one by one. Killed by the things they fear the most. You know. A really corny concept that I never really liked in any movie.

But thanks to good direction, a well written script that takes good care of its cliches and some decent acting, Fear house overcomes its looming iceberg that could have dropped it to the bottom of the straight to dvd ocean. There is actually some decent tension from time to time with one or two really atmospheric scenes and a couple of juicy makeupeffects without turning into a straight gorefest. From time to time the studiobased location is too obvious but that is never a big issue. So, nothing we havent seen before, but better than most of its similarily budgeted peers and the filmmakers do show a bit of talent and especially love for the genre. Keep your expectations in control and you just might come out of this entertained. And the dvdcover is really nice.

fredag 8 juli 2011

The Demon lover (1977)



Anyone out there popping in to this blog from time to time will realize that I am somewhat of a fetischist, not only for rubbermonster but also for good old 70s exploitation. A movie I've been wanting to see for ages now is Donald G Jacksons The Demon lover, a flick I read about 25 years ago for the first time but never got around to seeing, mostly due to the fact this only has been available on vhs. For some mysterious reason I decided that now was the time to finally see this and managed to get hold of a rip off a vhstape, of course in fairly atrocious quality and to make matters even worse, I watched it on a 46" tv. The image was blurry and pixelated and the sound tinny.

It didnt exactly help that the movie sucked ass.

In short, The Demon lover is a movie with a few interesting ideas but is full of inept camerawork, poor acting and completely useless scenes just to pad the movie 10 75 minutes. I like the basic story, a satanist (with a naziflag in his place just to make him more evil. Nazisatanists are cool) who gets mad at his coven (I use the word coven very loosely. They just seem to hang around at his apartment doing hippiestuff) when they dont take him seriously so he decides to conjure up a demon to kill them all in various bloody scenes. While he is not bringing forth demons he goes to his local karateclub and a bar just to beat people up, the useless fillerscenes I was talking about. And then there is that demon. It's pretty cool, in a cheap way. It looks like they tried to make their own version of the beast in the 1957 Jacques Tourneur classic Night of the demon but failed miserably, making it look like some kind of plastic toy. No, scratch that, it looks like the Ro-man in Robot monster with glowing red eyes and horns, rumbling around like a bear with arthritis. It speaks in a barely intelligble reverbdrenched voice and possesses some of it's victims and makes them kill a friend or two. The movie is entertaining as soon as he is around or some other killing is being done, but the rest of the movie (Pretty much most of it) is just plain poor filmmaking set to a crappy synthscore. There is some bloody violence to keep us entertained but I dont really know if it is worth it. I suppose you could watch it for a laugh but there are a lot better ways to spend your hard earned hours off.

The poster is truly awesome though, I need to gets meself one of those.