fredag 21 januari 2011

The Cavern (2005)

In 2005 we got Neil Marshalls superior cavehorror The Descent and it didnt take long until the copies started pouring in. One of those was Bruce Hunts The Cave which was mainly discarded as a poor copy, which in my book isnt true since its a nicely shot monstermovie, although with a fairly cliched script. Syfy released Caved in, a movie about giant bugs in a mine, a movie I should watch some day. Another movie that appeared at the same time was Olatunde Onunsamis WIthIN which I saw under the title The Cavern and seriously, it's been a long time since I've seen such a worthless movie without any traces of talent whatsoever behind the camera...

We follow a couple of spelunkers whose only trace of characterization are their weird names (Gannon, Ori etc.) on a trip to Russia to explore a recently discovered cavesystem. As soon as they go down into it one of their russian guides dissapears and they soon find him with his intestines outside his body. Panicky, they try to escape but find a huge boulder blocking their way out, meaning that they have to venture deeper into the caves, hunted by something that kills them one by one until we get a really, really lame twistending.

Oh my fucking god what a piece of crap this is. Osunsami has chosen to shoot this movie on digital video which is a cheap alternative and can be quite good in the right hands but for some reason the filmmakers chose to use some sort of idiotic filter which means that all colours are enhanced and all this results in you the viewer not seeing anything but gigantic compact beams of green and yellow light. Well, at least when you dont see shit because it's totally dark. Osunsamis version of exciting cinematography is to shake the camera as much as possible and sometimes turn it upside down from time to time, not exactly helping you see what is going on. The script isnt helping, only a pile of clichés that you've seen a thousand times before, done better every time. And the ending? Fuck me. The actors are actually rather decent but there's not much they can do with this wasted excuse for a script. Gorehounds can stay away too, there is a halfbloody scene or two with decent makeup, but it's too late by then. I wouldnt recommend this movie to anyone. Every single copy should be hunted down and burned, including my own.

tisdag 11 januari 2011

Hard Revenge Milly (2008) and Hard Revenge Milly Bloody battle (2009)

It doesnt take long for Hard revenge Milly to show that it will be great fun, when the lead character splits open a bad guy with her sword, giving us those glorious sprays of blood that only happen in Japanese movies. There must be something seriously wrong with the Japanese people, only a small nick in the skin results in a bloodspray two meters into the air. And we do get a lot of these here.

This is actually two movies, the first only 45 minutes long named Hard Revenge Milly and a 70 minute long sequel called Hard Revenge Milly - Bloody battle. It is set in Yokohama after some sort of war, stylishly postapocalyptic yet with working cellphones, telling the story about Milly, a woman out for revenge towards the Jack Brothers who killed her family and butchered her. Actually, they killed her husband, set fire to her baby and threw it against the wall all while cutting her to pieces. Seriously, I have no idea how she survived the treatment she got as she is stabbed in the gut over and over and over again. As we learn in the fullength sequel, a somewhat disturbed doctor rebuilt her body with mechanical parts, giving her some extra powers that do come in handy. Milly gets her revenge, violently, but the Jack brothers have more friends than she knows, as she will soon learn. In the meantime a young woman seeks Milly out wanting to hire her to get revenge for her dead lover, something that will have even more consequences.

You have to love a movie that has a scenetransition beginning with someone shaking a can of beer, opening it and then the movie cuts to a geyser of blood from a head sliced open. As plain and simple entertainment goes, this is top quality stuff. Writer/director Takanori Tsujimoto has a good eye for stylized fightscenes full of well choreographed violence, and that violence is lovely over the top. If you've seen Tokyo gore police, Machine girls and/or all the other fun movies of the new Japanese gorewave, you know what to expect (They even share the same makeupsfx artist). Storywise, both of the movies arent anything special, variations of the age old revengetheme with a sprinkle of Frankenstein but together with some excellent lowbudget visuals. Actingwise, both movies benefit greatly from the presence of the lovely Miki Mizuno as Milly, an actress who does seem to be a fairly accomplished martial arts artist(I havent watched the extras yet, but another review I read suggested this) and she carries the movie well. The other actors do a fine job, if theý have speaking roles or are there to be cannonfodder for Millys sword or shotgunleg. Yes, shotgunleg.

Excellent stuff indeed. Truly recommended.

fredag 7 januari 2011

Mannaja (1977)

Uhm. Westerns. I dont own that many. I do like them but there has to be something special before I go as far as watching/buying any of them, like zombies or flesheating creatures that burrow under the ground, injecting you with a paralyzing poison and then let you be buried alive. Leone is always fine and stuff like Stagecoach is always entertaining. Il grande silenzio is another cool flick with the ending of a lifetime. Why then, you ask, why Mannaja? Well, because it was banned in Sweden on its release of course. I'm not really sure why though. There are some fair amounts of violence, yes, but nothing really that sadistic or gory. There is torture, but it's really mild, just a variation of the needlebit that Argento later used in the underrated Opera. Well, the Statens biografbyrå, the people who decided what we could see back then were never really consistent.

So, was it worth it? I guess so. Maurizio Merli plays Mannaja, a gunslinger with a mind set on vengeance and a gimmick of his own, axethrowing which he utilizes in a couple of the movies most violent scenes, as for example in the beginning where he chops of Donald O'Briens hand with a well aimed throw. He arrives in a small mining town controlled by the nasty McGowen and as always, gets into trouble pretty fast. McGowens right hand man Valler (played by John Steiner, the best actor in the movie) has some business with a bunch of thugs robbing McGowens silvertransports and, yes, Mannaja gets involved, gets beaten up, tortured and so forth.

Mannaja was shot by maestro Sergio Martino, a director known for making decent movies out of poor scripts. Here he presents a run down and filthy old west, full of mud and fog (which was there to disguise the fact that the outdoor sets were falling apart) which makes the whole situation feel more cold and nasty. Innocent people are executed in slow motion, all orchestrated by the nasty Valler who is an excellent villain, played to perfection by Steiner who seems to relish his role. But, what about the title character? Unfortunately we get the lamest main character I have seen in ages. Maurizio Merli is not a bad actor but he has the whitest teeth I have seen in a hobo bountyhunter. Seriously, there are several scenes in the movie where you miss out on what is happening on the screen because of thos shiny white pieces of jewelry. It doesnt help that the script keeps making him do the stupidest things this side of a Michael Bay movie, like going alone to deliver ransom for McGowens daughter, then hiding the silver and expecting to solve the situation himself, one man against ten? I would have been more satisfied with the outcome of that situation if they had shot him in the forehead and ended the movie right there.

But, this is a Martino movie which means that it moves at a good enough pace, and the action sequences, how stupid they may be written, are well directed and exciting. All of this would probably have been for nothing if the movie hadnt been blessed with the wonderful score by the De Angelis brothers, some sort of haunting folkmusic stuff with lyrics about what is happening on the screen, with excellent vocals. Heck, Donald O'Briens character even gets his own song. Fun stuff.

So, it's not the most perfect western movie of all time, but it's worth watching. mostly for John Steiners great performance and the excellent music. Martinos environments makes you feel cold and dirty and the story is sufficiently brutal. It could have been a classic if it hadnt been for that lame hero. A decent watch.

Fuck, I never though I would write this much, I was just planning for a few sentences. Be back next week when I massacre Hammers The Mummy.

Look at those goddamn teeth!

Assault of the sasquatch (2009)

You cant really go wrong with a gory bigfoot flick. The End.

Well, I suppose you could, but the makers of Assault of the Sasquatch arent aware of this fact and has made a fine goremovie, very tongue in check and knowingly so. Director Andrew Gernhard (producer of such classy acts such as Predator Island and the Trees movies) and writer John Doolan even goes so far as to place the movie entirely in the city (except for a short sequence in the beginning when the furry freak is captured) and what we get is a goofy, gory version of Assault on precinct 13. You see, there is this unscrupulous hunter who has been hired by a weird millionarie to capture bigfoot aka Sasquatch. He manages to do this, but is arrested by the police and taken to a precint on the outskirts of a major city. The hunter is booked and put in a jailcell, with the police completely unaware that Sasquatch is locked up in his van. Not for long though. The creature breaks out and the gore starts. And a lot of silly humour.

And this is Assault of the sasquatchs biggest problem. There is a lot of very silly comedy here, and a lot of it isnt very funny, especially the parts with two geeks obsessed with Sasquatch, going around asking everyone they meet if they've seen him. On the other hand, as much as the jokes may not work all the time, the actors does seem to be in on the joke so it never gets as corny and unwatchable as your average Tromamovie. As a horrormovie it works a bit better. Pacing is good, never for a second letting its audience get bored. The policestation and its surroundings are excellent locations, and Gernhard handles the horror better than expected, although I suspect the whole thing was never supposed to be any scary. The gorequota isnt bad either, making it a rather enjoyable experience. In short, a goofy but somewhat funny little goreflick and who can hate a movie that features a bigfootcreature peeking on a woman showering? Just dont go into it expecting another Abominable, the ultimate gory bigfootmovie.

tisdag 4 januari 2011

Killing birds (1987)

I can't hate this movie, I really can't. Yes, it is another sloppy Filmiragemovie with a silly story about birdwatching, crazy vietnamvets and zombies that could only have been made in Italy, "actors" that obviously never have taken an acting lesson in their entire life and a shitload of really cheap goreeffects. Why is it that when someone has their throat slit they only get half of it slit? Did they reuse the same fake wound over and over? But then again, it does have Aristide Massachesi on photography which means the movie looks better than it should, even in the silliest of scenes. It is really embarassing to see Robert Vaughn in a movie like this, not only does he outclass the young "actors" by lightyears but it is also excrutiating to watch him spout the worst dialogue in all of his actingcareer.

But, I can't hate it. The movie is slow, but never boring. Zombies pop up from time to time, kill someone in a cheap way and dissapear, only to return when you start getting bored. The soundtrack is a perfect example of cheesy 80s synthdisco, something you cannot hate. I found myself humming along several times. You can do a lot worse if you're looking for a quick Italofix.

Screams of a winter night (1979)

Here is another "legendary" flick that I read about in Phil Hardys Encyclopedia of horror, that I've always wanted to see, even though it never got any particulary good reviews. Screams of a winter night is a low budget anthologymovie, telling the story of a bunch of friends telling scary stories to each other while on holiday in a cabin in the middle of the woods. There is a bigfoot creature in the first story, a haunted house in the second and a psychopatic woman in the third, not to mention the evil creature that roams the woods in the main "story". Atmosphere is the key here, something that the filmmakers manage to create in droves. The cabin in the main story and the haunted house in the second are expecially nice. One thing that is different about this movie than similar movies is the fact that these are the type of stories that you would assume are being told around campfires, there are no twist endings. This works just fine, although it feels pretty strange at first. Another interesting thing is that the stories use the same actors as in the main story. Unfortunately these actors arent particulary good, not that they embarass themselves but none of them will be remembered for their acting.

In short, this is a fairly typical late 70s movie that needs a decent dvdrelease. It's not perfect, the acting is below average and at least one of the stories are just pointless (the psycho woman...) but the atmosphere works wonders and the final wraparound is excellent. I'm a sucker for Wendigos. It would've helped if the movie had been a bit more exploitative (there is no nudity and not much violence) but all in all, a fun flick. And that poster is awesome...

Btw, look out for a very young William Ragsdale in the beginning of the movie...

Cabin fever 2 (2009)

Now, if there ever was a price for the most worthless sequel to a halfdecent movie, Cabin Fever 2 would win that, hands down. There is a lot of gore, yes. But it doesnt help when the movie is just a huge pile of totally uninteresting crap. This, and Wrong turn 3 was probably the worst movies I saw in 2010. Avoid.

Moon over Tao (1997)

I am a huge fan of Keita Amemiyas great monsterflicks Zeiram 1 and 2, two flicks that truly could be described as live-action manga. Amemiya is a director with some flair, like Ryûhei Kitamura with some desperately needed restraint. We're talking old school sfx antics here, fullsize rubbermonsters and ladies in weird jumpsuits. Good stuff. If you've seen Zeiram, you know what to expect. Moon over Tao is a mixture between samuraimovies and scifi, and while not 100% succesful, it is still a fun experience with a final half hour full of goodies.

Retired warrior Suikyou is enlisted by his former lord when a friend goes missing looking for the source of a type of indestructible sword, and is sent into the mountains with another warrior, Hayate. They encounter a young girl living by herself who promises them to help look for the swords. In the meantime three alien females (all played by the lovely Yûko Moriyama from the Zeiram movies) arive on earth looking for something. Of course, all of this is related to an old enemy of Suikyou who has been manufacturing swords from a meteorite, a meteorite that contains something evil.

The first sixty minutes of Moon over Tao are fairly entertaining, containing mostly of some decent swordfights but it isnt until the meteorite gets a taste of human blood that the whole thing gets really fun. It grows into a large monster, thirsty for human blood and slaughters dozens of samurais. Awesome. The movie is full of cool touches and nicely edited actionscenes, although the budget couldnt have been that large since the whole thing is set in a quarry. The special sfx are mostly old school with some fairly decent (for the time) computer animation. The actors are mostly good, except for that annoying brat that seems to be there just to annoy the hell out of the audience. If you liked Zeiram you know what to expect of this, although I do prefer the Zeiram movies due to the monsterfree first hour. Monsters and violence, what more do you need? Well, boobs of course. Which you dont get any here, but the monster compensates.