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.