tisdag 29 december 2009

Paranormal activity (2007)

Yes, this movie scared the crap out of me, I will admit that and that is a good grade. The concept is simple and works just fine, as long as you aren't expecting a barrage of special effects and melting face, where a young couple decides to videotape their paranormal experiences and gets into a situation that progressively gets worse and worse. The husband has a tendency to behave a bit assholeish, but other than that it is a good horror movie. Should be watched with all the lights turned off. Cant say much more than that. If you like good, creepy horror, this is for you.

Now we wait for the Global asylum rip off. Or is it out already?

Carriers (2007)

The word of the day is: Pointless. A plaguemovie without the plague turning people into the living dead or homicidal maniacs? People on a journey through a dead country without the realization that the end of the journey will not bring any sort of happiness. Just betrayal and death.

Carriers follow two brothers journeying through the remains of America where a deadly plague has killed most of the the living. They live by a particular set of rules, which supposedly makes them outwit the infection but also feels a bit weird and goofy when you see this movie a couple of weeks after Zombieland. The somberness of the movie does keep the goof from bubbling up from under the surface and the scenes with the main characters picking up Christopher Meloni and his sick daughter who supposedly knows of a place where there is a cure strengthens that. It is an interesting journey but as soon as Meloni leaves the pictures we're left with an average apocalypseflick which probably could have used a horde of redeyed crazies to liven things up a bit. It's well shot and decently acted but doesnt really have anything to say. Entertaining up to a point and though worth watching, it's only the movies first half hour which you will remember. The rest? Pretty much pointless.

Moon (2009)

The scifimovies were better in the seventies, at least the hard ones. There was a somber, more calculated tone over and the special effects were more serious, preferring realism over flash. Movies like Andromeda strain and Phase IV (everyone who thinks its a worthy candidate for MS3TK is a second hand human being and should be shot in the kneecaps) set a standard which todayss scifi have a very tough time following, and are instead filling up with empty special effects. Well, Moon is not a perfect movie - it's pace is awfully slow and the "twist" is rather predictable but the movie comes out a winner since it is obviously made with love for the genre.
Sam Rockwell plays Sam Bell, an astronaut on the final week of a three year shift at a mining facility on the moon. He is very happy that he is soon going home, but his mind is starting to play tricks on him, making him see things that arent there. Because of all this he has an accident while going outside to a automatic mining rig. He soon wakes up in the moonbase but there is already someone else there, someone that looks and acts just like him. What the f##k is going on?

You'll figure things out pretty quick and realize where this is all going to end, but it is still a worthwile journey thanks to a smart script and a two great performances by Sam Rockwell as Sam and... Sam? The visuals of the moonbase and the outside moonscape are another of the movie's assets, making the movie a nice, visual feast. Yes, this is a piece of levelheaded, good hard scifi in an era where hard scifi isnt interesting for the moviegoers. Thank you Michael Bay. Expect a slow pace and you'll be justly rewarded.

måndag 28 december 2009

Messengers 2: The Scarecrow (2009)

The first one was better.

Not enough? The first one could've been pretty dull if it hadnt been for the Pang-brothers who has a nice visual flair to overcome a rather boring script. This one does not. It is very predictable and is rather unscary. It does have some nudity. That's about it. It's not bad, just... not very good. Pedestrian.

söndag 27 december 2009

Shock-O-Rama (2005)

More Brett Piper!

This time we're dealing with an anthology with three fairly different stories, all made the same way - on the cheap but with a clear love for the genre and simple yet very effective special effects. Not everything works, particularily the third story but when the movie is over you know it was worth every penny.

This main story is about Rebecca Raven, an actress always playing the same type of roles for a moviecompany - cheap horror with lots of nudity. Now where have I heard that before? She gets fired when the head of the company wants a new starlet and decides to rent a house in the countryside to get some welldeserved rest. Well, until the dead black magician who used to live in the house decides to ressurect himself in the form of a decaying corpse.
Story number two, my favorite, is set in a junkyard where a small ufo crashlands and goes on the warpath to kill the owner and his exwife. It all ends with a supercool stopmotionanimated monster made out of old cars welded together.
Story number three is the blandest, something straight out of Outer limits though with a bit more nudity where a gigantic brain from the future uses young women in some sort of way to experience emotions, something you dont get to feel in the future where everyone is a giant brain.

It's a bit of a mixed bag, with fairly different styles but the result is overall good. The first story is the mosttraditional one, where Misty Mundae does a good job and is clearly in on the joke. She is a bit uneven, but has potential with the right material and she does show herself naked, which is a plus. There is even some gore here, nothing really exceptional but some cut off limbs and stuff like that. Story number two is as I mentioned earlier the best one, with good acting from Rob Monkiewicz and Caitlin Ross and together with the really nice special effects we get an hour of solid entertainment when our main characters are chased by some small gremlins who can turn scrapmetal into mechs. Story number three is the worst one, where the story is the culprit. It never really gets of to a decent start, is over before you know it (which of course can be a good thing), the acting ranges from really lousy to ok and the only thing that makes it watchable are the large amounts of nudity and a really nice nightmarescene with nudity, gore and a nice location.

Shock-O-Rama is a good anthology which stands up well to its peers in spite of some weaknesses, especially when you consider how much money was used. Brett Piper knows what the audience wants and manages to churn out yet another nice little exploitationpic

måndag 21 december 2009

Sauna (2008)

Ok, here goes: Sauna is the best horror movie that Scandinavia has ever produced. So there. On the other hand, Scandinavia isnt exactly well known for it's quality horror output. Norway has produced a couple of nice looking slashers and the nice little chiller De Dödas tjärn, but other than that? Nothing. Well, if I'm forgetting something you're welcome to remind me but at the moment I cant remember one good swedish or danish horror movie. Thankfully Finland is here to claim the throne and show the world that the dreary, dark long winters can produce something that is better than most of all the movies that are produced out there. Finland is a bit like Sweden in a sense, which isnt so strange since finland has from time to time been a part of Sweden and a large part of Finland speaks swedish as their main language. Both countries has always has a tendency for bleak dramas, and most people out there has heard of both Bergman and Kaurismäki. I've been wondering when someone would arrive on the "scene" and combine that darkness with genuine horror and make a truly scandinavian horrormovie. And here it is: Sauna.

The year is 1595. A war between Sweden and Russia has just ended and Brothers Knut and Eerik are part of a joint Swedish/Russian expedition to define the new border between the two countries. While staying at a lone farmers house, Eerik kills the farmer (something that comes to him way too easy having been a soldier for a long time) and while Knut does not take part in the killing, he is perhaps not entirely without blame. As the expedition moves into an uncharted swamp, something is haunting them and it all culminates when they find an unknown village in the middle of the bog, built upon the old grounds of a russian monastery whose inhabitants mysteriously vanished. And then there is the Sauna, a building even older than the monastery itself which according to legend strips you away of all your sins when you enter. As one of the characters says early in the movie, "What if hell is just an unclean place unseen by the eyes of god?"

I've left the description of the movie purposely vague, since it needs to be experienced by visuals and sounds alone. There are so many elements that combine the whole story. The whole area is saturated by the horrors of the war and remnants of paganism that Christianity is trying to remove. Eerik is a soldier who is coming to realization that the war is over. The first word of the movie 73, the number of people he has killed and he is trying to come to grips with that. These are only a few of the pieces of the puzzle and I will admit that the puzzle itself doesnt exactly turn into an image you will be able to interpret fully. But when a story is as intelligent and dark as this, all of that becomes secondary. As a horror piece, this is superior. You feel that you are very close to grasping what really is happening, but never really enough. Just enough to come out of the movie satisfied and in the end, that is what matters. The horror images themselves are tremendeously delicious and the violence is cold and brutal. All of this is helped by great acting by Ville Virtanen as Eerik and Tommi Eronen as Knut. The cinematography perfectly captures the cold and grey swamp and Antti-Jussi Annila is one of the most interesting directors to come out of Scandinavia in years, especially after viewing this and his marrying of Kalevala and Hong Kong action in his earlier movie, Jade Warrior. Iiro Küttners script is full of great ideas which Annila captures perfectly with his camera. Yes, the pace is slow and there are a lot of things that aren't explained to satisfaction, but thats just about the only criticism I can come up with when it comes to Sauna and since it's a perfect 85 minutes in length, even slasherfreaks havent got the time to be bored. Some of them probably will, but it's their loss. Go back to watching Slasherremakes and worshipping Kane Hodder.

Yes, I loved this movie. It combines all that horrible Scandinavian despair with an interesting take on Finlands and Swedens past, and manages to make an original, genuinly Scandinavian movie. I keep saying Scandinavian because since I'm Swedish I would like to take some credit for all of this greyness but since Sweden hasnt produced anything like this, or even anything remotely good in the genre, I guess I will have to end this review by admitting that this is a 100% Finnish movie. So, Sweden, when are we going to do something like this? No no, Fuck us all, Göta Kanal 3 is premiering in a couple of days and a fourth of Swedens population will have seen it within six months. God, I hate Sweden. And you should watch Sauna.

Footnote: Göta Kanal 3 is what we in Sweden call a fars/farce. It's the humourequivelant of Deuce Bigalow European Gigolo. Only even more boring.

fredag 18 december 2009


I thought I should beak the pattern for a bit and review two horrorrelated comicbooks. One of the is in swedish so for you nonswedish/danish/norwegian/etc readers, sorry.

The first one is Max Brooks The Zombie survival guide - Recorded attacks. Max wrote the superb fakenonfictionbook about the survivors of a zombieapocalypse, World War Zero. Recorded attacks contains 12 short stories about known/unknown zombieinfestations throughout our history between 60000bc and 1992, in various places across our globe such as Africa, Japan and Siberia. There isnt much dialogue here, just informative descriptions of the events as if interpreted from some old tale told throughout the years. The illustrations are Recorded attacks strongest asset, giving us many different ways of showing us how a zombiebite can look like. Other than that, it is a quick read, and an interesting addon to Brooks novel. If you like zombiemovies or World War Zero, you'll like this.

The other comic I've read is a slightly flawed, yet very interesting one. Silhuetter (Silhouettes in English) is a anthology of different horror comics, all made by some sort of comic book collective in Sweden who has decided that there arent enough adult comics produced in Sweden. They're absolutely right and I applaud them for this. The book has eight different stories, all horror, though in very different settings and moods. My absolute favorite is Bunkerfeber (bunkerfever), a short story by Lars Krantz (author of Dödvatten aka Deadwater), set in a trench in World war 1 which supposedly is part of a larger story, something I'm really looking forward to. The art is suitably dark and displays a good eye for horror. Another good one is Oflyt (some sort of swedish slang for Unlycky. Cant think of a good english word at the moment) by Johannes Streith which is a simple, yet effective story about a DHL courier being mistaken for someone else, with rather nasty consequences. Another story that has to be mentioned is the adaption of H.P.Lovecrafts The Statement of Randolph Carter, all drawn with animals instead of humans where our lead characters are a cat and a seal. The art is rather uneven, but has potential, but the main fault is that the story itself doesnt really lend itself to the format. The other stories are ok, lots of people going insane within these pages but nothing really special but on the other hand nothing really bad either. All in all, a decent little horror anthology and I really hope it sells, so that there will be a future for this.

onsdag 16 december 2009

Claypots of the Burial ground part 1

Inspired by Fred and his fetishism for Nightmare city and it's mutants, I decided to rip off his little segment and introduce my favorite walking pieces of smelly goo from my all time fave Italian zombiemovie, Le notti del terrore aka Burial ground aka Zombie 3 aka Nights of terror aka Zombie dead aka Zombi horror. These zombies are of the Zombi 2 type, actors smothered in claymasks that actually look kinda cool, though not perhaps anatomically correct. And no, we cant see their nosetips because they are painted _black_.

It's a bit dark down in the tombs but this is the fella that the professor tries to reason with by uttering the immortal words: "Stand back! I am your friend". Suffice to say, it does not work.

Here he is again, in a better angle. Handsome fella.

No, we do NOT see his eyelids or his nosetip because they are painted _black_!

Here we have Etruscan zombie #5, in a delightful creation for those lovely but chilly early autumn evenings.

With a strong, masculine pink tie, Etruscan zombie #8 is preparing for a nice dinner on the town

NO, we do NOT see his eyelids or his nose, NOR his lips, because they are painted _black_!!!

Here we have the infamous helping zombie who is actually pointing in the direction he thinks the main characters should go. Which they actually do.

2020 Texas gladiators (1982)

I watched Joe D'amatos Endgame the other day and you can tell by my review that it was my cup of tea, so this immediately led to 2020 Texas gladiators aka One eye force aka Anno 2020 - I gladiatori del futuro, a movie I almost consider a companion piece. This one is supposed to be co-directed by George Eastman, which doesnt really tell me that he has any business directing movies because this is mostly a big waste of time. It starts of really well though, with a cool sequence where our heroes advance upon a bunch mutants ravaging a priest and some nuns in an underground ruin. Tits and gore galore, until all the mutants are dead where everything starts to spiral downward. One of the rangers (they are texas rangers, not gladiators) saves a girl from being raped by a fellow ranger and decides to quit and follow her to start anew in the wasteland. Now we jump to a couple of years later where he (It's Al Cliver btw) and his wife now has a child and are working to start up a power plant to provide clean energy. Then the nazis arrive in the shape of Donald O'brien and his cohorts. Cliver dies, his wife is raped and his former fellow rangers set out to avenge his death. Or something like that. Its really silly. It's basically a westernscript in another setting. We even get a saloonfight and indians, complete with bows and arrows.

The only positive I can say about this movie is that it has some gore and violence, some decent fightscenes and a groovy synthscore. But thats about it. It's a western set in a couple of quarries with a bit of violence and some nudity. If you absolutely dont have anything else to watch and need an italian exploitation fix, it will do. But I'd rather watch Endgame or 2019: After the fall of New York.

Another thing, keep away from the german dvd which proclaims itself Uncut on the cover. It is not. Fuckers.

tisdag 15 december 2009

Drainiac (2000)

Brett Piper is slowly becoming a favorite filmmaker of mine. In the jungle of direct to dvd movies pouring out on the market like sewage he is one of the most professional, even though he is working with the smallest budgets. Drainiac was shot in 2000 with a budget of $10000 which is ridicously small especially since it was shot on real film instead of DV which is the standard today. Sure, the low budget is noticable from time to time but on the other hand, Drainiac is strong evidence that good craftsmanship can outweigh a lot of minor faults.

Drainiac is all about young Julie who pretty much hates her life. Her mother killed herself and her dad is a bitter pig who forces her to clean an old house he bought for restoration, while he goes to the nearest bar to get drunk. Of course, this is no ordinary house in the woods and when her friends arrive to help out things start to happen. It is until the mysterious Mr Plummer (Plummer. hehe. Get it?) arrives that they find out about the ancient waterdemon moving around in the piping of the house.

For a movie that cost $10000, it really looks good. Piper has a nack for both direction and cinematography and makes the best of his resources. Direction is stable and the photography grainy, but competent. It is the special effects that suffer most from the budget and it is fairly obvious that they didnt cost much, but Piper does them all by himself without CGI, oldschool with stopmotion and cameratricks, and they're surprisingly good from time to time. Towards the end of the movie we get a ripoff/homage to Hammers The devil rides out where the characters try to exorcize the demon while protecting themselves in a pentagram. The special effects in that scene are genuinly good and the whole scene is really lovely. You get that warm fuzzy feeling tha you can get from watching some old 80s classic horror and thats a good thing. Something that perhaps isnt as good, and this is something that goes for most of Pipers movies, is that the acting has a tendencey to be very uneven. For Drainiac, Piper has gathered an ok stable of young actors who do a decent job most of the time, Especially Georgia Hatziz in the lead who also serves with a nice, totally gratitous nudescene. The other actors has a tendency to go from underplaying to overacting but none of the actually go so far as to embarass themselves. Too much.

Drainiac is a fine tribute to some of the 80s coolest horrormovies like Evil Dead and Street trash, and while it is far from perfect it is still a good little movie thanx to Brett Pipers ability to extend his budget. A extra plus goes to Piper for his love of slime and we even get a bit of gore and as mentioned earlier in the review, some nice nudity. You come out of the experience in a very good mood and and thats something rare among all the other DTVcrap out there. One more thing - if you have any interest in filmmaking whatsoever you should buy the dvd and listen to the commentarytrack which is an exercise in how you make a movie on no money.

An old school horrorflick for lovers of old school horrorflicks. I liked it a lot, it's probably my favorite of all the Brett Piper movies I've seen.

måndag 14 december 2009

Surviving evil (2009)

This was one of those buys that came from just watching a trailer. I didnt read any reviews, nothing. Was that stupid? Yeah, I guess. The movie had potential but never came close.

Billy Zane plays the host of a Survivor tv-show where he goes into the wild and tries to survive by eating grubs and stuff. For this episode he takes his small crew and travels to an island in the philipines to hang out in the jungle for six days and talk to the natives on the island. Too bad they've just been wiped out by some sort of nasty creatures straight out of Philipine folklore.

The films biggest problem, something it almost doesnt overcome, is the fact that it is too generic. The characters arrive on the island, bicker a bit (though a bit less than usual) and start to die one by one. One of the crew already knows of the creatures but he has a secret agenda (which for once actually isnt evil). There isnt really anything more than this and the whole thing has the feeling of a scifichannel movie of the week and a rather slow pace doesnt help. Still, it is a little more well made than the usual cgisnakemovie and has the benefit of being shot in an actual jungle, better actors than usual (Billy Zane is for once playing a character that is genuinly likable) and slightly better direction. The creatures themselves are ok, looking like full size versions of the puppets in Attack of the beast creatures, but would've worked better if we didnt see them all the time and some of the effects towards the end are really pitiful.

Still, it's a little bit better than the usual low budget monsterfare, has a fair amount of blood and gore and Nathalie Mendoza from The Descent is awfully nice to look at, especially in the scenes with her in a bikini. Monsterfans only.

Any relations?

Terminator: Salvation (2009)

It is better than Terminator 3 whose only reason for existing is its cool ending. Terminator Salvation has some of the coolest sfx in a long time, but the plotholes are bigger than Jabba The Huts private barge. Still, I find it kinda interesting that James Cameron managed to create a much more horrifying future in the first Terminator with just a few models and an exploding Jeep. PG13, fuck you.

Cannibal Mercenary (1983)

This is juicy stuff! Cannibal mercenary is a thai actioneer packed to the brim with violence and gore, perfect for a candlelight dinner with that special one.¨My favorite user comment from Imdb: What if Herschell Gordon Lewis directed an Asian war film?

The plot is... plot? Is there a plot? Well, sort of. It does appear about an hour into the movie. Before that there are tons of different scenes of the characters walking in the jungle and killing vietcong. Just random sequences. One by one they are killed by different traps (I tell you, there was some difficulty for me to keep track of the characters. After one kill I was pretty sure there was gonna be five of them (especially since you dont see the face of the guy who gets decapitated in the latest trap)but when the smoke clears there are six of them. What we have here is a movie with a bunch of tough guys going into the jungle to kill someone and they get picked off one ny one, in very gory fashion. The lead actor is pretty ok even though he is dubbed, in a nice intense way and there are actually a scene or two that kind of comes half near the horrors of war, but the main force of the movie is gore. Gore, gore, gore and lots of it. Between the gorescenes there are lots and lots of decently coreographed fightscenes and a lot of shooting. A lot. Those vietcong sure shoot like they were blind.

The music is rather good too. At least the bits that were stolen from Dawn of the dead.

Ok, thai action with lots of violence and gore. Wtf are you waiting for?

Ink (2009)

Now this was a surprise! I was at a couple of friends apartment drinking beer last weekend and we had just been watching the glory that is Samurai Princess. We were talking about the latest movies we had seen and they started talking about a movie called Ink. I remember reading something about it, not enough to get interested but then they showed me the first 15 minutes and I was hooked. I dont want to talk much about the plot at all because the less you know, the more rewarding the movie will be. You see, when we go to sleep every night some sort of ongoing battle continues. One side gives us good dreams, the other bad. There is a war going on and tonight a little girl will be right in the middle of it. Oh, there is much more than that but I leave it up to you to find out.

The concept of the movie is simple and brilliant. I cant tell you much about it without spoiling, but what I can tell you is that the movie is full of awesome images and sounds, remarkably well shot for a movie on a low budget. Yes, the plot muddles a bit from time to time due to the fact that it can be a bit artyfarty but as soon as you start to lose your temper and look for a movie with exploding heads, it moves on to a scene with striking beauty. The slightly pretentious aura of the whole thing is probably what will keep the public from watching this, which is a shame. Think of it as a lowbudget arthouse version of Lord of the rings, for it is a journey, both for you and the characters in the movie and it is truly a journey I will make again.

söndag 13 december 2009

Endgame (1983)

Wtf is this? Isnt this supposed to be just another lame-yet-very-very-entertaining Italian Road warrior rip-offs? In a way it is, but the lameness factor is pretty low. I mean, there are actually parts of the movie that arent goofy, what's up with that? I rented this movie back in the 80s and though I dont remember much other than that nice axe in the head bit, there was still an aura of cheap knockoff emanating from a nearby timewarp. There are the usual parts of plastic attached to cars that are supposed to be futuristic, but the plot is pretty okay, the characters better than usual and there are even some cool action. I would've liked the movie to contain more gory violence, the gorefactor isnt really that high. But what the hell, you take what you can get!

Al Cliver plays Ron Shannon, a major tough guy playing in the Endgame, a running man like competition where he is hunted by three men. One of them is George Eastman, playing a badguy with the coolest name ever... *echo- KURT KARNAK -echo*. The Mighty Kurt Karnak gets beaten in the game by Shannon, but his life is spared because they are old childhood friends. Shannon is then contacted by a young woman who wants to hire him to help her and some other people travel outside the city. Did I forget to mention that the movie is set in a city in the future where everything is ruled by nazis? There is a wasteland outside, looking just like a mixture of an Italian countryside and one of those quarrys where they used to shoot the old Dr Who episodes. It's full of mutants of course which means that we have a shitload of bikes and cars owned by mutants with ape and fishfaces who like to rape women, probably because they look like apes and fish. I would probably be nasty to women too, if I hade scales in my face. Or probably not. And we cant forget Kurt Karnak, who is pretty pissed about the fact that he lost... the ENDGAME!!

Well, the darndest thing about this movie is how good it looks. Joe D'Amato has always had a good eye for visuals, no matter how crappy the movie itself is and Endgame actually looks like he had fun doing it. Imdb even states that this is one of his favorite films! The scenes in the beginning of the movie in some cool cityruins are really goodlooking and though the rest of the movie is set outside, the movie still has a little extra when it comes to the camerawork. The story itself is nothing new, but never really crosses that line into goofyland which cant really be said for most of the other similar Mad Max ripoffs of the time. Al Cliver makes a nice, rugged hero and George Eastman is always fun to watch, even better in a role where you actually cant tell if he is a good and/or badguy. Laura Gemser is Laura Gemser, though it's rare to see her in a role where she keeps her clothes on. Well, most of the time though. As an extra bonus, Michele Soavi pops up for a quick cameo towards the end in a role that doesnt require him to be gorily killed, and for added entertainment the movie is full of names and faces we know and love, like Gabriele Tinti, Gordon Mitchell, Hal Yamanouchi, Bobby Rhodes and one of the Dell'Acqua brothers, Alberto. See, tons of fun for the lover of Italian exploitation! To top it of we have a great score by Carlo Maria Cordio. And yes, we do get to see Laura Gemsers tits.

But I cant just hand out gold medals, can I? One of the not so good things about this movie is it's action scenes. Sure, they're fast and lively but D'Amato never was that much of an action director and in the end they come off a bit bland. Now, if Castellari or Martino had shot this movie, it would've been a shitload of fun, but they dont really grasp the atmospherics such as D'Amato could when he was on a roll so I think I prefer the movie as it is. At least it's nowhere near a wasted opportunity. Another thing I suppose I should bitch about is the lack of graphic violence. Yes, there is violence. We get a nice axe in the head, a messy gun in a mouth and some other stuff, but most of the shootings (of which there is a lot) are of the ole 40s western kind when people just fall over without any signs of bullet wounds. It doesnt really detract from the entertainment but a about a twenty dozen bloody squibs sure could've added to it.

Well, if you've actually managed to read this far you will know that I like this movie. If you like movies like this, you are in for a nice ride. Sure, it could've been better but it could also have been a hell of a lot worse, which in my book is a good grade. This is, in a way, an awesome timecapsule of the eighties and there is a bit of added nostalgia and warm fuzz towards my appreciation of it, but it still is a fine little movie of its own. When will this pop up on a nicely remastered, uncut dvd?

fredag 11 december 2009

Hands of steel aka Vendetta dal Futuro (1986)

A recipe for making a nice potboiler:

Take two genres or mix them. If you do not have access to two genres, take one genre and mix with elements of any popular movie at the current time. Like in this case, Terminator and Stallones armwrestlingopus, Over the top. Mix them well and put in a couple of semiwellknown faces and you have a hit! Right? Right?!
I dont know if this movie was a hit, and the whole thing gets a rather somber tone when you realize that this was Claudio Cassinellis last film who died in a helicopter accident while shooting. The way he exits the picture is obviously not even featuring him. It's a bit sad.

Anyway, Daniel Greene stars as a cyborg programmed to kill the leader of an environmental group in a near future where the megacorporations rule. In the last moment he remembers something of his former humanity and stops short of killing his mark. He decides to flee to flee and ends up in Arizona, in a small bar run by Janet Ågren and ends up making an enemy out of George Eastman, a baad truckdriver, beating him in armwrestling (technically cheating since our hero is a cyborg), all while John Saxon sends out hired killers led by Claudio Cassinelli. Since its directed by Sergio Martino you know you're gonna get a couple of decent actionsequences which is true in this case and a general slickness. Hands of steel is another one of those nice little scifiromps that Italy churned out in the eighties. There is violence, hokey dubbed dialogue and lots of fun. If you're into this type of movies you will have a good time.

Pandorum (2009)

You know, this could've been so good. It could've been that movie Event horizon came so close to be. And Pandorum is at times that good. There is only one "little" thing about the movie that I dont like. More on that later.

Pandorum has that classic scifi movie setup. A crewman wakes up on in a freezerunit on a spaceship. He knows where the spaceship is going, but nothing more. The controls are dusty and broken, like they havent been used in ages. He manages to wake up another crewman, he too with no memories. Now begins the quest of finding out what happened to spaceship, why they didnt wake up as planned. And then there's the matter of the strange creatures hunting everything that moves...

Most things about this movie are well made. The setting, a run down dark and claustrophobic spaceship is fucking perfect. Long endless corridors with terror at every corner, wunderbar! The story itself is exciting with the right amounts of surprises and turns, and even has the nerve to come up with a really good ending. It would have been even better if they had made it a bit slower, prolonging the mystery. Well, the Pandorum bit is kinda.. predictable, but still, it serves its purpose. The actors are more than competent with all of this, and Ben Foster makes a great hero (which I initially thought that I would've problems with since my previous encounter with him was his hilarious role in a My name is Earl episode). The only thing that I do not like is the design of the nasty critters that stalk the corridors.

Kinda spoilerish:

They look like the creatures from The Descent grew up on a diet of only Road warrior and all the italian rip-offs. Not a bad thing in itself, but they dont really inspire any real terror in me, especially when I keep waiting for George Eastman or Michael Sopkiw to pop up. The explanation for how they came to is a bit simple, just mentioned in two sentences and then they move on to something else. All in all, they work as an opposing force but I think they could've come up with something more nasty.

Ending spoilerish.

But other than that, Pandorum is a damn fine film. In fact, its probably one of the best scifi/horrors of the last few years along with Dark Lurking. It misses out on some of the potential horror but is still exciting and smart. Well worth seeing.

tisdag 8 december 2009

The Planet (2006)

If you are trying to make a movie without just about any resources at all, you should sit down and plan ahead. That is the biggest problem with many lowbudget movies today where you can instantly see that the movie was shot scene by scene over a long period of time without any continuity or any sense of a plot. The Planet, clearly a looow budget movie, is exactly what it should be, a coherent story. Shot for 8000 pounds in ten days on a beach in Scotland, this is a movie with great ambitions and the smarts to pull it off. Somehow in the process you end up with a movie with more heart than the last five George Lucas movies.

The movie starts like every other scifimovie does, with a spaceship on route to its destination. This spaceship has a cargo of one, a condemned terrorist. Of course, we cant have this, eh? So the spaceship is attacked and shot down on a desertplanet with only a handful of survivors, including the prisoner. It doesnt take long before they are attacked by something that comes out of dead bodies, something that their plasmaweapons cant harm.

Not that The Planet is a masterpiece. It isnt. It is a scottish scifi/horror movie made on very limited resources with a plot that is somewhat similar to Pitch Black and a desertplanet which is very clearly a beach somewhere in Scotland. Still, the environments work fine and the plot has some rather interesting elements, a decent twist or two and plays out to an effective conclusion. The special effects are mostly very well made, except for the space battle in the beginning which is rather Babylon 5ish, though its action is well filmed. The actors are ok, and for some reason hammy acting sounds better in a scottish dialect. I think this movie is clearly best enjoyed if you are aware of what little resources the filmmakers had but it is still a decent little movie. I like it's ambitions and look forward to what the filmakers are up to next.

Samurai Princess (2009)

Japanese people are strange. No, this is not some sort of racist remark, just look at some of their movies. For the common man it can be an unpenetrable strange, realms that they do not want to enter. For me? A nice strange.

To make an example I could ramble all day about all the weird movies that the japanese have poured out of their country, like Guinea pig, Rapeman and stuff like Hanzo the razor who tortures women with his gigantic penis. This could take hours so I'll just ask a question. Have you seen Machine girl and/or Tokyo Gore police? If the answer to this question is Yes, then this review will be of interest to you. If your answer is No, however, then I dont really know. Do you like gore? Then read on. This is, after all, a movie from the scriptwriter of Tokyo Gore Police

An excellent way to catch a viewers attention is to start a movie with a severed head falling on the the ground, and with someone then stepping on it so that blood and grue pours out of every opening. From then on it's gore and sex galore as we immerse ourselves in an alternative Japan where people turn themselves into part machines for pleasure and are being hunted by the Shogun who has outlawed this practice. Another attempt, like Blade Runner, to offer an answer to the question what it takes to be a human? Nope. Not in the least. Samurai stars a japanese pornstar as a former nun who is made up of different bodyparts from her nun friends in order to get revenge on the psycho who killed them all. This means running around in a forest and in a warehouse while throwing her breasts through a guys head and talking directly to someones brain via a special usbport. Everything is shot on video that is clean and professional, but strangely unprocesssed. The special effects are a mixture of good manual labor and cheap, but effective cgi. It has obviously a much lower budget than Tokyo Gore Police for instance, but its groovy energy keeps it entertaining from start. If you've read so far, you know you will like this movie.

Now this is nice


I love my iphone

Why? Because the screen is just large enough to watch movies on. This morning for instance, I watched Burial ground on the way to work. Thats a nice way to start the day, maggotencrusted corpses and hysterical dubbing.

But, There is a slight glitch. I'm using a small program called 3gpconverter to convert avi files to mp4 format for my iphone. The conversionprocess takes about two-three hours but results in the fact that if I pause a film the sound becomes slightly out of sync. Now, is this a fault of the converter or the iphone itself? I had the same problem on my Ipod touch.

On recommendation from Fred, I tried Handbrake(not handshake) which seems like a nice program but has about a million settings (the best thing about 3gp converter is that is has none, you just choose the Ipod template. the downside is: no subtitles.) and takes forever to convert. I tried it last night and a normal movie took more than six hours... am I doing it wrong? Should I muck about with the settings even more? And the subtitles didnt work even though I chose them. I think I want to use Handshake more since it has the possibility to rip straight from my own dvds.

Any other ideas? What more programs are there out there?

I just realized that I am doing what I never thought I would be doing. Praising an Apple product.

måndag 7 december 2009

The Descent (2005)

Yes, this movie is. as. fucking. good. as. it. ever. was.

I've seen it three or four times now and it still totally freaks me out. The tight, disgusting little tunnels they are crawling through and the feeling of despair when they realize that they are trapped in a totally unknown cave. With something very, very deadly. The fact that the entire cave was built in Pinewood amazes me even more and that is why Neil Marshall is a fucking genius.

I do have high hopes for part two. We'll get to that bit when it comes to the cinema in january.

Lightblast (1985)

Now, somewhere out there is a special encyclopedia. If you find it and look up the word Goofy, you will find the poster for this movie. Its stupid, silly and just, just, well I dont know. It has people melting, Eric Estrada walking around in his underwear and a blackmailing superevil scientist with a giant laser living on a barge. Did I mention melting people? Melting as in Raiders of the lost ark though, not Devils rain.

It also has Eric Estradas then wife starring as his movie wife. Her Imdb credits arent really that extensive and there is a reason for that. She is god damn awful. One of those actresses who only should show us their breasts or play a corpse. At most. Fortunately she is killed halfway through the movie, thankfully sparing us from any more of her awful dialoguerenderings.

Anyway, since this is a Enzo G Castellari movie it is still better than a lot of crappy actioneers. It has decent pace, several good actionscenes and I can think of worse ways of spending 90 minutes.

Spasms (1983)

We need more snakes from hell, that's for sure. You know, snakes with venom so strong that you swell up like a giant piece of dough with your veins popping like a fresh batch of popcorn. If the snake has a psychic connection with Oliver Reed, that's even better. And of course, Snakecults. Snakecults are cool.

Too bad the movie ran out of money towards the end, which means that several plotpoints (including that cool cult) are dropped and never mentioned again. The last 15 minutes arent bad but full of flashbacks from earlier scenes just to pad out the running time. It's a shame. The snake is cool, the makeup (Dick Smith) is awesome and William Fruet is a decent director. The scenes with the snake attacking random people are great, especially the really hysteric one in a student dorm (which of course has gratitous nudity). Yes, Peter Fonda is slumming and not much of a hero but all in all, its a nice little movie which could've been better if they had finished it like it was planned. I would sure like a nice little special edition dvd of this!

Nice tagline: You scream, you expand, you explode. No explosions here though. That would've been cool though. heh.

onsdag 2 december 2009

Revenge (1990)

One of my all time favorite directors is Ridley Scott, a incredibly talented craftsman who makes the most of the material he is working with. His brother, Tony Scott, on the other hand... he has a similar style but not as developed and a tendency to choose rather poor scripts. True romance anyone? Just kidding.
But when Tony Scott gets good material, he makes good movies. Like Revenge. Kevin Costner stars as a former fighter pilot who visits an old friend in Mexico. When he meets the friends wife an instant attraction is lit and it doesn't take long before they're humping themselves silly. Problem is, her husband is a mafia leader and he doesnt approve of wifepoking. This means that they beat the living daylights out of Kevin and dump him in the country, while the wife is disfigured, made a heroinaddict and placed in a brothel. Now, of course, Kevin wants... what was the name of the movie again?

Revenge is a very oldfashioned movie, in spite of all the sex and violence. We've seen it all before but Tony Scott injects his usual snazzy visuals and the movie looks really good. Kevin Costner does a fine job as the hero and Madeleine Stowe looks good naked and on drugs. Miguel Ferrer and John Leguizamo pops up as toughguys, which they are perfect for.

I dont know what else to say. Revenge is a good, violent thriller which has gotten a pretty bad reputation. Why, I dont know. The dvd I bought is the 20 minutes shorter Directors cut and since it was a pretty long time since I saw the original I really cant tell any differences, though it would be pretty amusing to compare them both. Some day. Wikipedia has the following to say:

The version included on the 2007 DVD and Blu-ray releases is Tony Scott's shorter director's cut, running 104 minutes. The original 124-minute version is due to Kevin Costner and Ray Stark.

The director's cut includes several re-edits, and in general deletes many scenes in the original cut:

During the scene where Jay is beaten, the main henchmen stomps on one of his hands, crushing several fingers; in the new cut, that scene is missing, replaced by that same thug kicking Jay a few times while he is on the floor.
The Jeep-ride sequence is shown in a more explicit way; also we see Miryea and Jay stopping at a nearby lake to drink some beer and have sex. The original soundtrack sequence has been changed.
The role of Sally K. is shortened.
In the opening flying sequence, while Jay's jet is in the sky, a beaten man can be seen crawling in the desert, as a premonition of future events.
After Tibby's revenge, we can see him selecting a new young wife, but as if it was something more protocol-related.
All the scenes that showed Jay's doubts and hesitations relating to the affair are gone in the new cut.

I dont know. I am not one of those people that absolutely has to have the _longest_ version. I'll have to dig up a dvd of the older version.

Anyway, recommended.

tisdag 1 december 2009

Paul Naschy / Jacinto Molina is dead

It seems that our favorite spanish horrormovieactor/writer/director has passed on at the young age of 75. This is really sad, and especially since he was starting to get some recognition for his body of work.

I guess he finally found that special someone to kill him...

Praise the old king and let us all watch a Paul Naschy movie tonight. Or at least name our firstborn children after him.

RIP 1934-2009