tisdag 23 februari 2010

Maléfique (2002)

Here is another movie that somehow eluded me. I've known about it but for some mysterious reason I ignored it, until now. Which was very, very stupid. Maléfique is a movie that every horror fan out there should see.

The entire duration of the movie is basically set in one room (with the exception of two short scenes) and it is a damn fine feat to keep a constant momentum for 90 minutes. Maléfique does that, with honors. The movie starts with an excellent intro where a man paint a strange symbol on a wall, using the blood of a dying man as paint, taking it from a open wound in the "soontobeacorpse"'s stomach. We then flash forward 80 years to the same location, a prison cell, where a new intern has been incarcarated. He shares his cell with three other people: Marcus, a violent transvestite, Paquerette, seemingly retarded who ate his six months old sister and Lassalle, an intellectual who killed his wife for unknown reasons. Our "hero", Carrère, is here for a trial for fraud but is waiting for his wife to post bail. When he realizes that his wife has taken ownership over his company and is refusing him to see his young son, he gets a bit peeved. At the same time he finds a mysterious book hidden in the wall of the prison cell, some sort of diary describing a way to create a portal that will lead out of there. None of the belives any of the writing at first but when Lassare reads an incantation out loud at night and Paquerette loses his fingers on both hands "because the wall ate them", they start to take it a bit more seriously. When one of the characters try to destroy it, well, lets just say that the book punishes him in a way that almost made me look away from the screen. They try to get rid of the book after that but we all know that it will appear again, under really mysterious corcumstances...

Good stuff indeed. Maléfique is a blast from start to finish thanks to an intriguing story that never goes into some arthouse lalaland which so often happens when filmmakers really dont know how how to wrap things up properly. These guys have a story to tell and they tell it well, with a great ending which obviously is inspired by all those cool horror comics from EC and Warren. It is also populated with interesting characters who are all well acted and not just horror movie clichés. They all have their little quirks and weird ways of behaving which just adds to the entertainment. Another bonus are a couple of nice gorescenes which are all painful to look at and beautifully executed with old school special effects. Yes, I liked this film a lot. It has a french tinge of Lovecraft and Clive Barker which cant be a bad thing if treated properly and it's twists are never overly murky in its details. A must see actually.

fredag 19 februari 2010

Growth (2009)

Talk about a wasted opportunity! I love parasites. Yes, I love and worship the little critters, I admit that. There is nothing more vile and disgusting than a creature that enters your body, grows into it and changes your dna for the only purpose of its own survival. What a perfect plotdevice for a horror movie, eh? Movies like Alien have shown that you can make a great horror movie with the concept and while it would be unfair to compare, you still do. Growth takes an interesting backstory and does... nothing much with it I'm afraid. It starts out well but dribbles away into oblivion leaving the viewer very dissapointed. It does have a pretty good trailer though, which made me buy the movie without even reading any reviews. Sucker.

It starts incredibly well with a sequence detailing parts of an experiment gone wrong on a small inhabited island where a scientist is performing experiments with parasites to create some sort of superhuman. When the intro ends we have learned that the experiment failed horribly and that a young girl was evacuated in a small boat. Ok, flash forward 20 years and the young girl now grown up has received a letter about a property on the island which belongs to her which she should be able to sell at a high price so naturally she goes there along with her boyfriend, her sick stepbrother and a female friend who has the hots for the brother. The locals arent exactly happy that she has arrived though.. maybe they are hiding something? Could it be that the parasites are on the prowl again? How big is the chance that the waekling brother will be infected by the parasite that supposedly turns a normal human into a superhuman? And why is it that the police seems to have their HQ at a highschool?

Yes, it starts out well. A couple of flashbackscenes (that both are in the trailer) are incredibly effective but it seems like the filmmakers didnt know how to handle this potential. The brother gets infected and runs around being alternately evil and not so evil, only to suit the purpose of the somewhat confused plot. The concept and execution of the parasites are well handled with the slithering little things poking out of eyeballs and holes in the infected bodies, but when the plot meanders around never reaching a satisfactory climax, it's potential is wasted. The script somehow feels as if it was only half finished when they started shooting it and made up stuff along the way and the climax is somewhat anticlimactic since there is never any real threat to the community. There are supposed to be a fairly decent population on the island but you never see any of them except in a scene or two and I can promise you that there is no horrorcontent in those moments. The actors do a decent enough job with the material they have and there is absolutely nothing wrong with Gabriel Cowans directing capabilities, only his scriptwriting. The movie feels like yet another one of those generic Syfymovies, although somewhat better shot and with better special effects, but with a worse script than usual. It's not the worst movie out there, it has some good bits but also a shitload of plotholes and stupid behaviour (My favorite being a bit spoilerish so skip the next sentence if you dont want to find out - the heroines boyfriend gets killed in a random scene without any particular impact but she never even asks about him or seem to miss him at all. Eh?).

A interesting concept but deeply flawed. Too bad, the parasites themselves were cool.

torsdag 18 februari 2010

Blood creek aka Town creek (2009)

Do you want to know why this world is going to hell? There are many theories but I believe that there is only one reason - there arent enough nazizombie movies. Thankfully Joel Schumacher, trying to redeem himself after the vile Batman movies he made, has made a fun little flick which actually only has one dead nazi, but one hell of a nazi who can bring the dead back to life. Zombiehorses, thats a first. Well, technically Amando De Ossorios Blind dead had zombie horses, but the ones in this movie are pretty nasty and try to eat people. Which is nice.

In the early stages of the second world war a german family are living on a small farm in America. They receive a letter from the German High command that they are to accomodate a scientist searching for a mysterious rune. Forward to today: Evan is a paramedic who somehow is the scorn of the family. At least to his senile dad since he didnt go to Iraq to serve his country. His brother did, but he dissapeared on a fishing trip a year earlier. While the rest of his family still believes he is out there somewhere, Evan is trying to get some closure. Until his brother bangs on his door one night, looking like he hasnt shaved or washed himself for a year. Before they tell any of the family, he asks his brother to bring a gun and come with him, without asking any questions. They travel by boat on the town (bloooood) creek to a remote house (which is the house we saw in the prologue) and, well, all hell breaks loose. It seems the evil nazi in the beginning of the movie has stopped the family from aging so that they can provide him with fresh victims while he sleeps in the cellar near the runestone. Now we have a siegesituation where the dead nazimummy/zombie/vampire resurrects anything dead in the vicinity to get to the brothers. Horsezombies, yay. Dogzombies too.

This is fun stuff. The evil nazi looks great in his dark leather coat and filthy facewrappings and the whole idea of him laying a siege to the farmhouse by raising dead farmanimals is genuinly exciting. Sure, there is nothing really that original about the whole affair but Shumacher keeps the action flowing, adding a sprinkle of gore now and then. Henry Cavill and Dominic Purcell are fine as the two brothers, and Michael Fassebender seems to have a good time as our lovable nazifiend even though he is covered in makeup most of the time, though he looks decidedly unscarier when he removes them later on and even more unscary when he removes his facial skin. His later appearances doesnt even come close to what a cool creature he is when he first appears and its too bad they didnt keep that all throughout the movie. Still, he looks much cooler than your average slasherfiend so all in all, it's a good nazizombievampire we have here and as nazizombiemovies go, Blood Creek is not bad. It is a well shot, fairly exciting and slightly gory romp which I would recommend to all fans of the genre and even if you are not a fan, it is still a fun little horrorflick and Joel Shumacher is partly forgiven for his Batmanmovies.

lördag 13 februari 2010

Tropic thunder (2008)

As usual I dont like to review mainstream movies, but Tropic thunder needs a special mention. Ben Stiller has made a fun, gory homage to 80s jungle exploitation and if you like his sense of humor, this will be an excellent afternoon. As a bonus we get Jack Black, Robert Downey Jr, Steeve Cogan, Tom Cruise and a bunch of other good comedy actors in good comedy mood. Good shit!

onsdag 10 februari 2010

Atomik Circus - Le retour de James Bataille (2004)

Since this is one of my favorite movies of the past decade I decided to translate my swedish review to hopefully gather some more fans of this delicious little scifigorefest, which everyone should own. So go and get it now! Or read the review and buy it later.

Jason Flemyng plays stuntman James Bataille (James Battle) who arrives in the little town of Skotlett in the french swamps (looking a bit more like Louisiana than France. A bit like the Cajun village in Walter Hills Southern comfort) to perform a motorcyclestunt during the annual Cow Pie Festival. He meets the mayors sexy daughter Concia (played by french singer Vanessa Paradis) and they both fall madly in love. Of course, the stunt fails miserably and James Battle manages to destroy the Mayors bar which results in a long prison sentence. A year later the village is planning the Cow Pie festival and by chance a slimey record company representative happens to be in town and gets really horny when he meets Concia, who just happens to dream about being a recording artist. In the meantime James Battle escapes from prison to reunite with his beloved Concia. To this mix we add all the weird inhabitants of Skotlett and the nearby swamp, for instance we have the guy who lives in a small cottage together with his dead, stuffed grandmother (Who James Battle manages to rip an arm of) or the guy who plans to perform in the Cow Pie talent show by squeezing on his dogs tumour so that the poor dog "sings". It's like a french comic book version of Deliverance.

And it gets even better.

While all of this is happening a meteorite crashes nearby and out of it emerges a swarms of evil, tentacled aliens who float around killing everything in their path. Escept the record company guy who only gets infected. In this movie infected means that he turns into a wandering tentacled alien in a suit who still wants to fuck Vanessa Paradis.


Atomik Cirkus is glorious entertainment from square one. One part twisted arthousecomedy, one part french comic book, one part musical (Vanessa Paradis performs a couple of really good rock songs throughout the movie) and one part scifigore. Brothers Thierry and Didier Poiraud direct a script based on a comic book that they wrote themselves and they do an excellent job, being flashy where it needs to be without overdoing it. The cinematography is superb and together with the lovely, dirty environments and the great special effects, Atomik Circus is a feast for the eyes. The wonderful aliens dominate every scene they're featured in and it gets even better as soon as they start to dish out gory death, which means lots of decapitatons by tentacle. Acting is generally good (with a cameo by Venantino Venantini who we've seen in many an italian exploitationmovie) and the only negative thing I can come up with is that the characters are a bit shallow and stereotypical. But who cares? Tentacled aliens goddangit! The only thing a movie needs! The one thing that stops the movie from a perfect ten though, is a somewhat ambigious ending where you get the feeling that the filmmakers didnt really know how to end this. Or maybe they were setting it up for an even wilder sequel? In the end, it doesnt really hurt the movie. Atomik circus is a delightfully shot, gory cult movie that will stay in my heart for a loooong time.

The only dvd I know of with english subtitles is the thairelease which is cheap, but I have no idea of the quality. It's still worth it.

tisdag 9 februari 2010

Underworld: Rise of the Lycans (2009)

I like both Underworld and Underworld: Evolution. They feel like the movies Paul W Anderson could have made if he (or the movie company) wasnt so obsessed with getting that fucking PG13 rating. Slick and violent, and it also featured the pleasant eyecandy that is Kate Beckinsale in a tight leather outfit. Yum. So, the franchise has to continue but as often is with sequels, the movie company want a large profit but it has to cost less and for some reason the directing duties go to the original movies cameraman or some special effects guy. In this case Patrick Tatopoulos, the creature designer from the previous movies. This usually ends in catastrophe.

But on the other hand, Underworld: Rise of the lycans actually manages to keep the original cast. Since it is a prequel you can bring back the dead, which means that Bill Nighy, Michael Sheen, Kevin Grevioux and Steven Mackintosh reprise their earlier roles in the series and just by doing that, it gets extra credit. The script doesnt really give them much to do other than to snarl at each other whicle wearing contact lenses that in some cases doesnt really seem to fit the wearer properly. Rhona Mitra plays Michael Sheens character's loved one Sonja, and although they dont really have that much of a chemistry together, Mitra is still great to look at in her warrior outfit. Tatopoulos does an ok job directing the whole piece and Ross Emerys bluetinted photography is gorgeous, with only the cgiblood not really working. The colour of it is too bright and stands out way too much, but it's so fake looking that I'm starting to wonder if its an aesthetic choice. We do get quite a lot of it and friends of comicbook violence will gorge themselves. So, it is an entertaining movie which is fairly entertaining, I will admit to that. the only problem is that the story isnt particulary interesting. It was good as a flashback in the first movie but stretched out into a full length movie, no. The plight of the enslaved lycans doesnt really engage, especially since they all look like extras in a Xena the warrior princess episode. Still, if you liked the first two movies there is a chance you just might like this one too. It contains decent amounts of violence, which is a good thing.

Running zombies?

So, I just read a couple of years old interview with Dan O'Bannon where one of the subjects was the running zombie. Zack Snyder, the director of the remake of Dawn of the dead, supposedly claimed in an interview that he invented the running zombie, and O'Bannon was slightly peeved with that (only slightly though, when he is really pissed, it's usually pretty obvious) since he felt that his Return of the living dead was the first with that.

Now, the horrorfans out there might remember a fun little flick called La invasión de los zombies atómicos aka Incubo sulla città contaminata aka City of the walking dead aka Nightmare city by Umberto Lenzi. Yes, I am fully aware of the fact that the creatures arent supposed to be zombies, but the movie is generally placed in the italian zombie canon and a couple of the alternative titles suggests that it is, in fact, a zombiemovie.

So, did Umberto Lenzi invent the running zombie, or are there earlier examples? I seem to recall an american 70s movie called The Child which had pretty lively undead but it's been a while since I saw it. Any other examples?

måndag 8 februari 2010

The Nest aka Nid de guêpes (2002)

Here is another piece of solid entertainment for lovers of thrillers. The story is a bit similar to Assault on Precinct 13, but has that certain french mentality which keeps it slightly above its peers and stands entirely on its own merits. This is my kind of friday night entertainment, unless its full of rubbermonsters of course.

An albanian mobboss has been captured by the German police and is being transported to France to stand trial. On route to prison from the airport the convoy is attacked and the survivors are forced to take refuge in a large warehouse in the middle of nowhere. In the meantime, a group of robbers are just about to have the worst day in their lives, as they try to steal two containers full of laptops, only to be caught in the struggle between the special forces policemen and the mobs hitmen. Yes, lots of bullets will be fired tonight.

The only thing that is remotely negative with this movie is that the characters arent especially developed. You dont really get to know them at all, other than the fact than a couple of the policemen have children and that the robbers come from poor backgrounds. And thats it. Fortunately they are all played by good actors and for once you actually believe that the police officers are special forces, behaving like you think special forces would behave in a situation like this. The script is nothing new, but plays out well from start and maintains a good tension throughout. Florent Emilio Siri, whose next directing gig was the intromovie for the cideogame Splinter Cell, knows how to keep everything running smoothly and there is never a dull moment, even in the buildup before the shooting stars. Ok, so the scene where the robbers do their own karaoke version of an Ennio Morricone piece is a bit... hokey.. but hey, who cares? Stick with it and you will be rewarded with lots of glorious violence. A good actionthriller without all the hollywood cliches, very well recommended.

torsdag 4 februari 2010

Credo (2008)

So, this movie only claim to fame is that it features a member of the british band Boyzone. I dont know who he is or what character he played but he's the one who died in real life a few months back. He might've been one of the people in the movies intro, I dont really know. That's how interested I was. It's not a worthless movie though, it has a few nice scenes, but on the other hand it has one of the crappiest end twists in a long, long time.

It starts well. A group of students gather in the attic of a school to form a pentagram and try to summon Beelzebub, but one of them chickens out and breaks the circle. The others continue with the ritual and are all found dead the next day, in what seems to be suicides. Flash forward some time to an apartment in London where a female student is trying to study for a crucial test, all while her flatmates are having a pretty wild party which results in them being evicted. This all leads to them breaking into the school we saw in the beginning, now abandoned. Our heroine tries to continue with her studies but when the power goes out she finds her friends indugling themselves with an Ouijaboard, and what do you know? Strange things start to happen, a bum who just might be the survivor of the prologue roams the place and everyone starts to die, one by one.

We've seen this all before, lots of times. Credo has nothing new to offer but handles its suspense well, relying more on sounds and atmosphere. The movie leans more towards good than bad and everything is fairly professional. The acting is decent, the direction capable and there is nothing really bad about the whole thing. Until the end. I'm gonna end this now by saying that Credo is an ok, bloodless timewaster which has a bunch of good scenes. You can do worse. But you will most likely hate the end, which I am about to spoil now. If you absolutely have to see this movie, skip the rest of the text:


It is revealed, after everyone has died but our heroine, that it is all in her mind. We see the rest of the gang messing with the Ouijaboard where they come in contact with some entity which reveals itself to be our stressed out student who has hung herself in the attic. Thanks to our resident perv who has placed cameras all over the place we see her walking around talking to people who arent there until she walks up to the attic. More than half of the movie never happened. The End. Wtf? Is that supposed to be some sort of clever twist? It is not.

Across 110th street (1972)

There are five types of movies that I especially enjoy:

1. Giant monster movies. Preferably japanese. Nuff said.

2. Conspiracy thrillers. Three days of the condor, stuff like that.

3. Spanish 70s horror. There's nothing like Paul Naschy pounding all females he can get his hands on and Maria Kosti or Helga Line showing their birthday suits to liven up your day.

4. Alien clones. Anything with an alien and a spaceship will do it for me. Should be produced by Roger Corman.

5. Gritty violent 70s thrillers. French connection is the best example of that and the movie I am about to review now falls into that category perfectly.

When the movie starts a bunch of Italian mobs are counting the weeks income from selling drugs in a rundown apartment in Harlem. Two men dressed as policeofficers rush in but when the mobs realize they arent real policemen, everything turns into a massacre. The mobs are gunned down and a couple of real policemen are killed when the robbers try to flee. Ok, so I can understand that being poor and living in Harlem during the seventies wasnt exactly the best life, but robbing the mafia and killing policemen? This isnt going to end well. Throughout the rest of the movie we follow the robbers as they expose themselves one by one and the police trying to find them before the mafia does. Lots of bloodshed, yes.

It's a violent world our characters live in. One of the cops, played by Anthony Quinn, has worked in Harlem for most of his career, hitting and bullying suspects however he pleases. He has already given up and is on the take and when a younger Captain takes over the case, he gets even more violent. The younger captain, played by Yaphet Koto, is a more by the book policeman, but doesnt take crap from anyone. Combine this with a mobcontrolled Harlem and an aging mobhitman who is desperate to prove that he isnt just the guy who married the mobleaders daughter and we have a pretty explosive concoction. When one of the robbers starts flashing money around, there will be hell to pay.

Oh yes, this is good stuff. Bleak and violent, you realize pretty quick that there wont be many survivors when this conflict is over. As you can tell from the synopsis above, there is only a matter of time before one of the robbers fucks everything up and it sure as hell wont be pretty. When you got a good group of actors such as Anthony quinn, Yaphet Kotto and Anthony Franciosa in the lead roles, its hard to fail. The locationwork is authentic, the camerawork has that roughness that makes it feel more real and it moves with a decent enough pace to dread the inevitable doom thats coming. There are a few Superfly characters but even though they might come close to parody, they still feel like they belong in the movie. This is an excellent little flick which belongs in the category of movies that makes violence feel more harrowing than entertaining. And then there is that funky themesong by Bobby Womack that is just so friggin awesome... Good stuff, well recommended if you want a hardcore thriller.

tisdag 2 februari 2010

2012 (2009)

Yes, 2012 is exactly so full of used cliches as you would expect. Just look at the trailer and you know exactly what to expect. Yes, the movie is full of improbable scenes that would have left the main characters stone dead if it was based on reality but what the hell, it is a disaster movie. We require, and get, tons of cool scenes of massdestruction that only a giant mutated reptile or turtle could improve. You see, the mayans were right - when their calendar ends so will the earth. There will be giant solar eruptions which will send lots of mu or nu-somethings towards earth, heating up the earths core and it will end within the total destruction of all life within the end of 2012. Why they didnt send some sort of vechicle into the core and dumped tons of freezebombs to cool it down I do not understand, but thats a movie for Asylum to make. Anyway, John Cusack finds out about this from wack Woody Harrelson and manages to find out that the government has plans to save parts of humanity, or at least the ones who has lots of dough to pay for their salvation. He would like to save his own family and gets the chance when her exwifes husband happens to be a pilot. Why does broken up marriages always have to be mended in American movies? I couldn't care less if John Cusack gets back with Amanda Peet, to the cost of her new husbands life, they will still break up again in a few years and the kids will most likely blame their dad for it. Oops, I guess that was a spoiler but it's not like you didnt see it coming. Stuff like that has to happen, even if it means that the rather nice new husband has to be horribly crushed to death. But the dog has to survive. You cant kill the dog. Well, unless its the sixty million dogs you dont see die.

Yes, there is nothing new here but when did a disastermovie have to be a breath of fresh air. We just want the destruction to be bigger than before and 2012 does just that right. There are tons of cool scenes of that to enjoy and the special effects are excellent. To narrow it down, if you liked the trailer you will most likely like the movie. Just be aware of the fact that this is a Roland Emmerich movie, more cliched than that is hard to find, but in this context it works just fine. For lovers of disaster and mayhem.

måndag 1 februari 2010

Left hand of the law aka La polizia interviene: ordine di uccidere (1975)

Gritty Italian policethrillers are always fun, and I must admit that The Left hand of the law is one of the better I've seen. It has a good story, great acting and dialogue that the normal dubbing process doesnt manage to destroy, which doesnt happen that often when it comes to dubbed Eurocrime/eurohorror/eurowhatever. The hunky Leonard Mann plays Murri, the captain in charge of a special squad within the policeforce in an Italian town. When the boss of a large company is kidnapped, two of the squadmembers are gunned down in cold blood and Murri swears revenge. When he starts to dig in the matter he realizes that there are traces of a conspiracy pointing high up in the senate. Someone is trying to kill him and when both his mistress and his wife become targets, Murri gets angry.

There isnt a boring minute in this movie. There are fistfights, bloody shootouts, nudity, carchases and even a cameo from Janet Ågren. The script is wellwritten although it's pretty obvious who the culprits are, but Leonard Mann is such a likable hero, even though he cheats on his wife, that he carries the entire movie well on his shoulder. Although you recognize most of the dubbing voices from other Italian movies, for some reason they seem to have given it a little extra since most of the dialogue works alot better than usual. There is also a pretty funny role for James Mason as a gay senator, not exactly the kind of stuff you are used to see him in. Director Giuseppe Rosati, who also directed Fear in the city, aquits himself well with a few fun carchases and some general fun along the way. All in all, a fun movie for fans of the genre.