onsdag 22 juni 2011

The Redsin tower (2006)

ToeTag Pictures is a small independent moviestudio in the US that produces lowbudget goremovies more or less without any story, focusing on extreme gore. Their August underground trilogy is a series of movies that are seen from the point of view of a couple of serial killers and from what I hear very gory and violent. They're even from what I hear decently made, way above average for the genre but that is only hearsay. I like plot with my gore. I'm oldfashioned and therefore have been ignoring the studio. In 2006 they released The Redsin tower which is their first attempt to make a movie with an actual plot, while still having large amounts of gore which meant I had to check it out. And their future looks bright.

The movie has a simple but functioning story. A young girl, Kim, has just dumped her slightly suffocating boyfriend who has begun deciding their future for them even though they're still both in school. Her best friend takes her to a party but it is interrupted by the police, with the help of a phonecall from her ex. The partygoers decide instead to go to The Redsin tower, an abandoned building in the nearby woods to party some more. The psycho exboyfriend follows suit, pretty pissed after having been beaten up by Kims friends. And if that wasnt enough, The Redsin tower have some nasty forces mucking about in its walls...

There is nothing that original about The Redsin Tower. The plot is lifted straight out of Evil Dead and ripoffs like Night of the demons, you've seen it a hundred times before. Fortunately, most of those times were a lot worse than this. Fred Vogel, the director, and ToeTag Pictures obviously didnt have a lot of money to spend but you do get the feeling that they sat down and planned this thing really well, making sure that they only wanted to show things that they actually could pull off which really makes a difference. The story may be full of clichés but it never feels silly or corny. ToeTag are fans of the genre and it shows. We've seen the characters before and I dont see any of the actors winning any acting awards yet, but they all feel natural in their characters. The Redsin Tower itself is a great location and the cinematography is surprisingly good, especially since most of the movies is set in dark corridors. Vogel is a competent director miling the mood for what its worth and there are quite a few moody scenes of the partygoers exploring the dark, dusty halls. The only problem with the movie is that it takes its sweet time getting to the tower, 40 minutes goes by before they reach the damn place! Those 40 mins are well spent introducing the characters but when the movie is only 85 mins long, that is a bit too long. Never boring, but when you are waiting for gore, it can feel longish. Because that is what you really are after. So, how is the gore?

It's excellent. Yes, you will have to wait for the good stuff but when it finally happens, it's all out. People are hacked to pieces with an axe, throats are messily slit, intestines are torn out, you name it, all with excellent practical makeupeffects. As an added exploitation bonus we even get some nudity so for the gorehounds with a bit of patience the last 30 minutes of the movie are well worth the wait. All in all, this is a more than decent little goreflick that manages to deliver both mood and gore, which is more than I can say about most of the straight to dvd flicks I've seen in the last ten years. I didnt have any realt expectations of this and I was positively surprised on how well made the movie was. It's not perfect, but if this is ToeTags first movie with a real plot, the future will be very interesting.

tisdag 21 juni 2011

Attack of the beast creatures (1985)


On paper this sounds... well, not exactly good but at least interesting. Sometime during the early 1900s a boat sinks and the survivors float ashore on an unknown island. They go inland to find food and water but soon realize that this is no ordinary island! The rivers are full of acid, turning people into red goo in seconds. And then there is the little thing with the things that attack during the night, first seen only as glowing eyes in the dark. Like this one:


It turns out that the survivors have ended up on a island full of maneating, bright red puppets! Really badly manipulated puppets as well. The scenes of them running around in the undergrowth arent half bad but as soon as we come to some sort of attackscene we get puppets thrown from left to right and lousy actors trying to act panicky with a dozen dolls glued to their clothes.

Lousy is the main word here. There is a reason that none of the actors have any other actingcredits on Imdb and they arent exactly helped by a script with some truly abysmal dialogue. The only thing they do is walk, walk and walk. If they arent walking they are complaining about anything or get a doll or two thrown at them to the tones of a musician who tries to be Jean-Michel Jarre using the cheapest synth available. If you cut out all the dolls this could be a commercial for a company advertising taking strolls in the woods while complaining constantly.

Part of me likes the concept with the nasty island and the mean dolls but that doesnt make the movie all that watchable. As soon as the movie managed to whip up a bit of tension or mood it kills it instantly with overacting or horrendous dialogue. It is however not so bad that I will go so far as to completely hate it, the b-movielover within me has lots of patience for this kind of low budget dreck. I do love the dolls, the movieposter is awesome but I wouldnt really recommend to... anyone. Unless you really have to see EVERYTHING.

And I would buy it if it came out on dvd.

Night of the demon (1980)


When a movie has a scene where the main characters set camp for the night and start telling each other that this is the site where that biker vanished some years ago, upon which they cut to a scene where a biker stops by the side of the road and promptly gets his dick torn off by Bigfoot, there is no going back. You HAVE TO worship that movie. It is fucking genius.

Night of the demon is one of those semiuknown little goreflicks of the eighties that never got a decent dvdrelease (the ones I know of are either cut or have fucked up audiotracks) and therefore hasnt got the recognition it truly deserves. Fortunately Code Red is about to release it and I will be first in line to buy it. Sure, it doesnt really qualify as a good movie, the acting is very uneven and the special effects are so so but where there's a will, there's a way.

We get the lovely company of a professor and some of his student following up on some rumours about Bigfoot, travelling into the woods and talking to just about any redneck not busy playing the banjo. They find out that a woman living in a cabin out in the middle of nowhere supposedly met the big hairy fella some years ago and hasnt spoken a word since. After a boatride into the deepest of deepest of horrormoviewoods they find the cabin. And the Bigfoot. And lets not forget the satanic Bigfootcult.

The best thing about this movie is the story structure. The scene I describe at the beginning of the review is not the only one of its kind, the movie stops dead in its tracks at least 5-6 times for a fun-filled gory flashback. "This is where the girlscouts got lost" or "This is where the fisherman dissapeared". A perfect way of lengthening the movie until the required 90 minutes. When our heroes finally find the cabin we enter one of those nice siegesituations with lots of slomo gore and it's just wonderful. Gore galore, arms are torn off, penises are torn off, people in sleeping bags are thrown on pointy branches, you name it. We even get a bit of Bigfoot rape as a bonus. This movie has everything. The story is ok, of course written to maximize the exploitation factor and while I cant really complain about the direction, the movie has that feel of the filmmakers making their first movie, both good and bad. I do love the music, alternating between the usual moodpieces and some glorious analogue synthmasturbation.

This is typical 80s gore, and if you like that genre you will gobble this up. The flick may have more balls than talent, but sometimes that is more than enough. Make no mistake, this is low budget schlock but it tastes so good! Guilty pleasure at its best.

Il mistero di Lovecraft - Road to L (2005)

Here is a somewhat interesting Italian oddity. According to the script, Lovecraft visited Italy in 1926, travelling to some of the weirder parts of the country rummaging about in the local myths and legends and finding inspiration for his Cthulhumythos. The filmmakers have been very thorough and detailed when it comes to inserting their narrative into the existing mythos and have done a very good job. Unfortunately they forgot about the horror itself. Road to L is a mockumentary telling the story of a filmcrew travelling to the locations where Lovecraft supposedly visited, in the trail of a student who vanished mysteriously seven years earlier after locating documents that told of Lovecrafts journey. The locals arent exactly happy with the crew nosing about in their local legends and things dont get easier with all the internal strife within the group. They soon start to come close to the areas described by Lovecraft and as the clues start to become clearer, things start to get weird.

As a Lovecraftmovie, Road to L is among the most detailed and well made out there, at least all the details of the Lovecrafts supposed visit and fitting them into the known universe. The landscapes and environments are absolutely perfect for a movie like this as the filmcrew travels through old villages and mires surrounding the river Po. The mockumentaryconcept works extremely well although all that wining within the group does tend to get on your nerves. Road to L is completely saturated with hints of that ole' cosmic fear and the great score is perfectly integrated, enhancing the moods to create that ambience you really want a movie like this to have.

But all isnt well on the Road to L. While doing an excellent job with the backstory and the connections to Lovecrafts universe, the filmmakers forgot something. The Horror. Those scenes are few and far between, never taking the opportunity to immerse into that raw horror that the movie shows glimpses of. There are some imagery and scenes that show potential and are somewhat disturbing but Road to L really needed more of that. It's very competently made but somewhat tame, something that a movie like this should never be. If you are a fan of Lovecraft you will probably like this a lot, it is one of the better movies of that genre, but you end up wanting more. A wasted, yet excellent opportunity.

The Empty acre (2007)

On paper The Empty acre looks like a safe bet, it has an interesting plot and a dvdcover full of praise. The story was the main thing for me, a somewhat Stephen Kingish smelling trail of events where something evil lurks in an area of dead land outside a farm in a tiny american town. A young couple spends their days bickering and it is obvious that their six month old baby boy is the the glue that holds them together. When the baby mysteriously dissapears their relationship starts to deteriorate. The wife hears the boy crying from somewhere in the dead piece of land and it doesnt really help that one of the neighbours starts to spread rumours that she is going insane. And who is the man on the nearby farm that seems to be helping the mysterious evil in finding victims?

The Empty acre's greatest strength is that the filmmakers did a good job in creating an unseen evil whose very presence seeps into everything in its vicinity. The story is effective and interesting and helped by a couple of simple but excellent dreamsequences. The cinematography is good but for some reason the great locations arent used very well. Everything is filmed in closeup which does great damage to the otherwise excellent mood. Then it gets worse. The biggest weakness of the movie is the acting where everyone seems to have been give instructions to underplay as much as possible, making it exceptionally hard to feel anything for the characters. Maybe it started out as a horrormovie but then the filmmakers decided to go the arthouse route? I dont know for sure, but the movie never really becomes particularily entertaining. You get the feeling that a newly examined filmschoolbrat freshly indoctrined in the virtues of Bergman and Tarkovskij decided to make a horrormovie the way his masters would have made one, or at least what he thought they would have made one like. The sad thing about such a promising concept it that the movie never feels like that, just low key, slow and empty of any substance. Everything is so ridiculously in the key of minor, especially the soundtrack. It starts out well but slowly slouches into the land of mediocreness, never to return.

onsdag 8 juni 2011

The Men who fell (2007)

Really good combinations of Scifi and horror are hard to find. Usually filmmakers try to hard (or too little) without even having that much of a love for any of the genres. Now The Men who fell arrives and it is a very nice try. It doesnt hold up all the way, but it is truly a nice try.

The movie takes place somewhere in the future on a planet that could be the remains of the earth, now a great wasteland full of looting nomads. Our two whining heroes arrive, convicts from an orbital prison sent down on a mission and promptly crash their spacecraft in the desert. The mission is somewhat vague they are to locate a place and retrieve an object. They dont know what the object is, only that they arent the first to look for it. The journey takes them down into a great underground complex that clearly hasnt seen life in ages, but it doesnt take long until they start to hear and see strange things. Are they alone or can everything be attributed to some strange hallucinatory gas? And what happened to the previous searchers?

The Men who fell is easiest (and probably laziest) described as a mix of those old favorites Stalker and Event horizon, and why not a dash of the russian computergame S.T.A.L.K.E.R: Shadow of chernobyl, without all those pesky soldiers running around. Most of the movie is dedicated to the journey into the complex itself with long scenes completely without dialogue, just enjoying the scenery. And the scenery is gorgeous. Huge abandoned halls full of strange machinery with enormous vaults and doorways, most of it greenscreen but it does look awesome (especially when you consider the fact that the budget was around $30000. The filmakers have been very careful with all the details and my brain automatically thinks of french comic books and the awesome manga Blame!. But(there is always a but!) now we come to the biggest fault of the whole production. The journey into the underground is drenched in atmosphere and tension, and the story does a good job slowly shining a light on the secrets below with good direction, but when we finally get some more detailed answers it all falls apart. Without spoling too much our heroes meet a character who is the key to everything is going on, and I couldnt hear a word it said due it's voice having been processed so much that all the dialogue is unintelligible. This of course sucks ass because The Men who fell is a an exciting, slowmoving piece of low budget triumph that I really loved but I guess thats what you get for pirating a movie. It desperately needs a proper dvdrelease as it is only available on dvd in Japan and Russia (the version I saw was a russian dvdrip with the english audio from the japanese dvd). I will be first in line to buy when it finally arrives.