tisdag 31 juli 2012

Meatball machine (2005)

Alien parasites taking over human bodies, turning them into biomechanical combat machines whose only object is to maim and destroy. Sounds wonderful, like Tetsuo in color. How can you fail with such a concept?

The protagonist is a young Japanese man who befitting his lack of social skills also works in a grimy factory, a job that he pretty much hates. The only positive thing in his life is lunch break where he sits outside the factory and watches a young woman hanging laundry across the filthy river. He is in love but does not have the courage to tell her. While going home from work he overhears a colleague bragging that he is going to nail that very love object so our hero gets even more depressed and goes to an adult cinema. To make his day even better he is abused and beaten by a transvestite who drops him in a pile of garbage after kicking the living daylights out of him. While picking up the pieces of himself from the gutter he finds a mysterious object, something that looks alive yet made out of metal and he promptly takes it home. On the next day he happens upon his colleague trying to rape his object of desire and actually manages to muster up enough courage to interrupt the act, though not before getting beaten to a pulp again. The young lady helps him home and reveals that she too is in love with him, having seen him looking at her for some time. In a normal movie this would mean moments of joy for our two lovebirds but not in Meatball machine as the mysterious object decides to wake up, attacking the woman and turning her into a Nekroborg - a scrumptious looking biomechanical war machine. The young man survives this ordeal but wakes up somewhere else, in the apartment of a mysterious man who seems to know a little too much about these creatures. You know where this is going. The poor schmuck is soon infected and the battle between the two lovebirds begins.

All of this sounds wonderful and for the most part really is. Meatball machine obviously didnt have a very high budget but this is compensated with what I can only call ingenuity. The special effects are excellent where we are treated not only to the exquisitely designed Nekroborg but also with large amounts of graphic violence, skulls are split in half and arms sawn off. Even more amusing is the parasites themselves that sit inside their hosts in a small cocoon controlling their war machines like it some sort of computer game. A hilarious sight indeed. All of this takes place in an industrial wasteland perfectly suited for this kind of movie and directors Yûdai Yamaguchi and Jun'ichi Yamamoto jumps seamlessly between the gloomy rundown dystopia and the frenetic Nekroborg fights.

The only thing I didn’t like about this movie is that I wanted more! More Nekroborgs, more mayhem and less awkward romance. This is really only nitpicking, Meatball machine is a cool movie that you will adore if you like this type of very typical Japanese style of movies. It also makes me long for the good old days before Sushi Typhoon, when Japanese gore was more serious and nasty. This isn’t as serious as most but still leagues under stuff like Helldriver and Robogeisha.

Good stuff indeed and I recommend it with all my heart.

fredag 27 juli 2012

Race with the devil (1975)

Here are three reasons not to go on a holiday in January.

1. It is cold.
2. It is really, really cold.
3. The woods are full of satanists, most likely because there are no campers out there to interrupt their sacrificial rituals.

Two of the coolest actors of the seventies, Peter Fonda and Warren Oates, decide that they will go on a roadtrip with their wives in their new luxury RV (It has a microwave oven. Whoa.). Since the journey will be more fun with a bit of camping they decide to stop in the middle of rural Texas and chill a bit. While doing this they happen upon a satanic cult right in the middle of an orgy that end with the sacrifice of a naked woman and flees to the nearest city to report this to the local authorities. The sheriff in town goes with them to the scene of the crime but the only thing they can find is what appears to be dog blood. Our heroes takes a bit of the blood so that they can have it tested as soon as they get to a larger city, just in case that it might be human but find a strange note on their car that warns them not to dig any further into this. They continue on their journey but find that people are acting strange around them and when one of the couples dog is found dead while they stay in a trailer park and no one has seen anything they realize that they are in danger.

You cant really dislike this lovely movie, a mixture of occult horror, conspiracies and car-chases. Jack Starret, having cut his teeth on exploitation like Cleopatra Jones and Slaughter, was an excellent second choice as director after the first one got kicked off the set and he has captured the barren wastes of the Texas wilderness very well. Warren Oates and Peter Fonda are fine as the two old friends (the whole movie experience was treated as a paid vacation) and Loretta Swit and Lara Parker are both good in roles that basically only requires them to scream and make coffee for their husbands.
After the first part of the movie it all turns into a straight-out actionmovie as the Satanists start to block off roads and stage accidents and we get quite a few good car chases and stunts. As PG-horrors go Race with the devil isnt exactly one of the more gruesome ones but that is well compensated by good atmosphere and a stunning ending. Every fan of 70s horror should enjoy this, good simple fun.

onsdag 18 juli 2012

El rey de la Montana aka King of the hill (2007)

When you have a good setup a movie plot doesn't have to be more complicated than this.

A man is travelling through the Spanish countryside and stops for some gas. He meets a young lady in the men’s room, they have sex (happens all the time) and after the deed is done she steals his wallet, though she is kind enough to pay for his gas. He continues on his journey into the wilderness and spots a glint of something on a mountaintop and moments later a shot is fired. Before you can say the word sniper he is stranded with no car, a bullet wound to the leg and running for his life together with the young woman he met earlier. They have no idea who is after them but the assailants have no qualms over putting a bullet in the head of a policeman.

This is a grade A thriller, filled to the brim with gruesome suspense of the best kind. It is a simple concept that works perfectly and you find yourself holding your breath listening for that whistling sound of a bullet an instant away from hitting a tree, a chest or a head. The excellent acting adds a lot to this, although our hero is blessed with a bit of a cowardly streak which makes it hard to like him at times. It causes a bit of frustration but in the end I think the movie is helped by it, increasing the nastiness even further. We are even treated to that old plot device "the twist" but refreshingly enough this happens some 20-25 minutes before the end when we all of a sudden are allowed to see the rest of the movie through the eyes of the shooters, something that does lower the tension slightly but works really well. This is a perfect example of what the Spanish does best; hard-hitting, nasty thrillers and I give it my highest recommendation.

tisdag 17 juli 2012

Ozone! Attack of the redneck mutants

I will tell you this - if you are into überlowbudget 80s horror then you must buy the double bill of cheapo trash that is The Abomination / Ozone! Attack of the redneck mutants. These two movies are very much products of its time, when low budget horror poured onto the screens or straight to video - shot on super 8 film with no sound and horrendously dubbed in post-production. I reviewed the lovely abomination that is The Abomination earlier and now it is time to dissect the other half of this double bill .

An accident occurs at an chemical plant and some nasty stuff leaks out into the air, destroying the ozone layer above a rural part of Hillbilly, Usa. Here is something you didn't know - a hole in the ozone layer can actually turn you into a bile spewing cannibalistic mutant, something that a female reporter discovers when she takes a roadtrip into the heart of the multicolored goo-flowing county along with a really, really, really annoying guy (Scott Davis from The Abomination, still sporting that mullet) who I first thought was her brother but isn’t. They travel around trying to interview people all while we get to follow local hicks mutating and killing each other, all culminating in an orgy of cheap gore and awful acting. Awful, awful acting.

Ozone - Attack of the redneck mutants is really the worst/best kind of low budget gore trash. It has droves of everything, crappy acting, cheap effects, poor lighting and camerawork and a script that pretty much is just goofy and pointless - travelling from scene to scene with a very loose story structure. But this is also why I kind of like it. Yes, it is cheap and dull but sometimes you need a dose of this type of do it yourself filmmaking. It is very obvious that the filmmakers never took themselves that much seriously, the flick is full of silly, stupid humor and everything has an air of throwing in everything and the kitchen sink full of purple slime. The acting is over the top, the special effects aren’t very special but there are a lot of them. I can't hate this even though it took me three tries to watch the entire movie; it still gives you some sort of satisfaction if you can stand that horrendous acting. It does pale a bit when you compare it to The Abomination that has a story that is totally insane and fairly original as opposed to Ozone that is your basic mutant/zombiemovie. I wouldn’t recommend you watching both movies in a row - that might melt your brain into purple goo.

This is good, preposterous and aggravating fun that might tax your patience a bit. I don’t really think it matters what I say about the movie, the moment you read shot on super 8 gore movie you had already decided if you wanted to see this or not.

Dorothy Mills (2008)

Dorothy Mills is a perfect example of a sleeper, a movie with an intelligent script and some really good acting that just popped out of nowhere and never got any of the attention that it actually deserved, which is a shame. The dvd did promise an entirely different movie that we actually got which might be one of the reasons why.

When returning home from church on a small Irish island a family find their babysitter, the young Dorothy Mills, hurting their baby and all hell breaks loose. A female psychologist is called in to investigate why this happened and this proves to be quite a feat since the local population seems to truly hate the young woman, something that seems to have gone on for quite some time. It appears that the young girl is schizophrenic; carrying with her several personalities of people that once lived on the island. And they are very angry.

The cover of the dvd is a perfect example of false advertising, promising something similar to The Exorcist, which Dorothy Mills definitely isn’t. This is actually more of a supernatural criminal drama, telling the story of the girl, why everyone hates her with such malice and the secrets inside her mind. Thanks to superb acting by Jenn Murray as Dorothy this is excellent viewing. The character changes personalities on the fly and Murray handles this so well that I was really flabbergasted by the fact that this was her first movie role. The rest of the actors perform well and this helps a lot since the movie is a bit slow on the start. At first I actually felt a bit tricked since all of this seemed so clichéd, like we had seen it all before. The horror quota that was promised by the dvd is rather low but then came the ending and all was forgiven. Dorothy Mills is one of the few movies I have seen in the last few years that actually pulls this off, that has a twist ending that not only packs a punch but also feels natural as opposed to all the crap that lesser filmmakers shove in your face when they really dont know how to finish their movie. Give Dorothy Mills a chance; it is a well-directed and well written movie that rewards you with a good movie experience. Very recommended.

måndag 16 juli 2012

Spaceship terror

I am truly a sucker for horror movies set in space, I will watch anything that comes in my hands. I've spent hundreds of hours watching every damn alien clone set in a dingy warehouse or factory that is supposed to stand in for a spaceship or a colony on an alien planet. I've even watched just about every god damn movie set on an oilrig or in a government facility, may it be produced by Bruno Mattei, Nu image or Asylum. I will watch it. A lot of the movies, if not most of them, have been utter crap but this has not deterred me. It will not deter me. I want my horror set in space. Or at least it to be an Alien rip-off set on an oilrig or secret government facility. Anything. The last few years have actually been quite good for the genre with several low budget scifihorrors popping such as Plaguers, Dark Lurking and Interplanetary. All of this probably stems from watching Norwegian sci-fi miniseries Blindpassasjer (stowaway) at the tender age of about six which is set on a spaceship heading for earth where a creature/artificial human has killed one of the crew and taken his/hers place as an exact replica. (The original name of the story is Hvem av oss er den drepte = Which one of us is the murder victim which kinda fills you in what the story is about). The cool part about this series is the fact that it was made in 1978, the year before Alien was released ad feature several scenes very reminiscent of Alien, the most striking one is starting with the characters waking up from cryosleep, albeit a bit more low tech than in Ridley Scotts masterpiece. But all of this is taking me away from the reason I am writing this, namely Harry Tchinksis Spaceship Terror, a movie I purchased 10 minutes after finding out that it existed. Horror in space. I had to own it.

The dvdcover does quite a good job of explaining the movie as you can see above. Six women and one mad killer heading out into deep space. A group of scantily clad women (and one injured guy who is the first to die) end up on a spaceship controlled by a psychopath hell-bent on killing and torturing women. And that’s just about what you need to know to enjoy this.

Firstly, Spaceship terror has a lot of flaws and most of them are budgetreleated. Having a movie set on a spaceship on a budget of pennies clearly restricts what you can show on screen and this shows. Most of the gore and violence is old school make up trickery and executed well enough, but the digital effects are quite the opposite. They have the feel of being rejected Babylon 5 test footage and make Doctor Who and Blake’s 7 look like multimillion dollar epics. The sets, consisting of two rooms and about as many corridors, (probably the same, only shot from different angles) look like they will wobble apart any second. They are reasonably well designed though, looking suitably grimy and dirty. I suppose that this is something that I personally am more inclined to accept, having grown up on the before mentioned British TV-shows so it is never a major issue but the cgi-aided gore is much harder to look past. The script has an intriguing premise and I can imagine that the filmmakers wanted something straight out of the Ridley Scott school of visual doom but the resources available never allowed them to come even close.

The good stuff? The sleazy atmosphere. The villain is probably the best part of the whole thing and Jay Wesley Cochran seems to have a really good time doing nasty stuff to all the seminude females he drags to his little torture dungeon. Kristen Springer in the lead role is surprisingly good, way better than i expected (and even more so compared to the acting of some of the actresses that only are in the movie to scream and be tortured to death). The nastiness done with old school effects is nicely nasty apart from a strangely edited scene where the bad guy bites off a nipple without the latex never actually ripping of the actress, a probable editing mistake since the nipple is gone in the next scene.

In the end Spaceship terror is a bit of a wasted opportunity. I was never bored, which says a lot but I'm pretty sure a lot of people will be turned off by the general cheapness of it. I will probably never watch it again but on the other hand I don't regret buying it. I got it from here