fredag 28 december 2012

Penumbra (2011)

One thing that impresses me a lot is when filmmakers manage to pull off a scenario in a confined space such as just a room or as in Adrián García and Ramiro García Boglianos Penumbra; a rundown apartment just an hour before a solar eclipse. Another impressive gimmick that the movie uses is that the story evolves in real time, everything unfolds during 90 minutes and although it is not entirely successful for reasons I will discuss later, it is still fairly skillfully orchestrated. Also, I am a sucker for thrillers with an occult tint, which means Penumbra fills all these three quotas.

Marga, a Spanish woman working in Buenos Aires for two months every year, is trying to rent out an apartment that she and her sister owns. She meets who she thinks is the potential customer outside the apartment but is a bit ticked off by the man, but relents as he offers her four times the rent as long as they can close the deal immediately. More and more odd people arrive as they wait for the real client and Marga starts to get more and more suspicious. All of this takes place just an hour before a solar eclipse and we in the audience know that something is about to happen.

The Bogliano brothers’ does do several things right, the story is both interesting and full of black comedy. It may not lead to any mind bending revelations in the end, but does manage to hold you in its grip for the entirety of the movie which is fortunate since there are a couple of nagging mishaps on the way. First, and most off-putting, the character of Marga is not quite someone you root for. She is basically a prejudiced asshole, rude and hostile towards everyone "beneath" her. She is, quite frankly, a bitch and it is VERY hard to actually care about her enough to make you want her to survive. The pacing is a bit off as well, the movie takes its sweet time getting to its inevitable conclusion. This would probably have been a good thing if you didn’t spend so much time wanting Marga to get shot in the head. Heck, even the weirdoes wanting her apartment have more pleasant personalities, albeit with a more sinister agenda on their minds. Marga just wants lots of money and to hook up with her lover, a married man.

Ok, so the lead is hard to like and it moves at a sometimes slow pace but Penumbra is still a decent thriller that holds its tension until the end. I'd definitely recommend it, just try not to hate Marga too much.

tisdag 11 december 2012

X from outer space (1967)

Truthfully, Uchû daikaijû Girara is not a very good movie. It has a bunch of bored looking actors slumming through a not particularily well written script and a lethargic pace that takes forever getting to the kaijuaction. You know, like watching porn where the hardcore action doesnt start until 45-50 minutes into the movie. Ok, so this movie isnt exactly that bad but watching Peggy Neal laugh uncomfortably in that very odd lovetriangle that takes up way too much of the movie isn't really what I call entertainment. Fortunately all of this is redeemed 100% as one of the more insane japanese rubbermonsters makes its appearance - Guilala. A weird fusion of reptile and chicken with a pair of dangling antennas on its head, it really has to be seen to be believed. From there on it's groovy mayhem just as we like it, mass destruction galore as Guilala spawns from a strange object found in space and efforts are made to find a way to kill it. The sfx arent maybe up to par with Tsuburayas best but they're fairly detailed and there is a lot of them.

Yeah, not much of a review, I know. X from outer space is sillier than most Gojiras and Gameras but once you get past that slightly dreary first half it is good fun and recommended to all fans of Kaiju. The new dvdrelease from Criterion, part of the boxset When horror came to shochiku, is to my knowledge the first proper dvd outside Japan and while it might not be referencematerial (the image is a bit soft) it is still the best one I have seen to date and has both the awful dub and the original japanese language with english subs. All fans of Japanese monstermovies need to own this set, especially since the other movies in it are great fun (When writing this review I have not watched Genocide. Review coming soon). Go out and buy it. For Guilalas sake.

måndag 10 december 2012

Living skeleton (1968)

Kyûketsu dokuro-sen, aka Living Skeleton starts of with a bang as the crew and passengers on a boat are murdered by a group of bloodthirsty pirates, giggling with glee as they mow them down with a stream of bullets. Three years later we met young Saeko living in a church, thrown into depression after that her twin sister Yoriko vanished on a boat journey (We all know what happened of course). She has found love in the form of Mochizuki but her slowly evolving happiness is halted on a diving trip when they find a cluster of skeletons chained to the bottom of the ocean. Later that night a mysterious boat comes into the harbor and Saeko boards it, believing that her sister is on it and after meeting what appears to be her ghost, Saeko begins a journey of vengeance, tracking down the pirates one by one and killing them. And then it gets weird.

This lovingly atmospheric gem of a movie - cowritten by Kyuzo Kobayashi, who also penned Goke bodysnatcher from hell - is quite an oddity, starting out as an eerie ghost story as Saeko (possibly possessed by the ghost of her sister) kills the pirates one by one in a series of groovy setpieces, nothing out of the ordinary when it comes to Japanese ghostmovies. But then, two thirds into Living skeleton, there is a twist and the movie turns into something stranger and more gruesome, and makes it an altogether more enchanting experience. I wont discuss what happens (no spoiling on my blog!) but this sparks some slightly perverse events (necrophilia and acid is involved) and the last half hour is great, gloopy fun that makes the movie stand out a bit more than expected. All of this is framed by scrumptious looking b&w cinematography and although all the mayhem towards the end would have looked good in technicolor red it suits the mood perfectly. Heck, even those not-so-anatomically-correct skeletons that make a couple of appearances look good in black & white. Yes, I consider this a gem and the final reveal on the ship makes the movie worth watching all by itself. Good, eerie fun.

Living skeleton is finally out on dvd, in the Criterion release When Horror Came to Shochiku along with silly beyond belief kaiju X from outer space and the awesome Goke - Bodysnatcher from hell and this is a boxset you need to own. Now. Go and get it.

fredag 30 november 2012

Blood, boobs and beast (2007)

Don Dohlers life would probably have been quite different if it hadn’t been for that particular incident in 1976 when the office he was working at was robbed by a couple of individuals using sawed off shotguns. As they put the barrel to his forehead he realized that you should hold on to some things, to do what you really wanted to do with your life. Of course, he survived, and started to pour all his energies into financing his dream - a creature feature. This turned into The Alien Factor, an über low budget scififlick about a spaceship crashing into rural Baltimore, releasing several nasty alien monsters that starts to eat the local population. This was very much a family venture, partly shot in Dohlers backyard and featured several family members in the cast. From 1978 to 2001 Dohler shot six movies that have gone done into b-movie history and Blood, boobs and Beast is a very funny and interesting documentary about making lowbudget movies in your own backyard and how it is to be somewhat of a cult figure. His first movies were somewhat tame affairs that managed to get good distribution deals on tv since Star wars had created a scifiboom but in order to get better deals he soon found himself forced to include the three B:s that the title of the documentary alludes to. BBB gives us a portrait of a very friendly man that made movies because it was his passion and although he never that much of a director, being even further restrained by the miniscule budgets he was working with, you can clearly see the love of special effects and monsters that made him go forward. We get to see Dohler work on his final movie, Dead hunt, and the problems that arise when actors doesn’t show up and the discussions of exactly how many naked breasts you should include in a movie to make it exploitative enough. We also meet Dohlers family and get to hear about the effects his filmmaking has had on their lives, throughout backlash and death. It gets especially sad toward the end when Dohler finds out that he has cancer in his brain and lungs and starts to look into all his affairs as his death approaches.

BBB is a well-made documentary that should interest anyone that has any kind of interest in the making of scifi and horror movies, or low budget filmmaking in general. Dohler almost comes through as dull in his average joe-ness but that is exactly what makes him so fascinating. He took a dream and ran with it, and although he never became a hot shot movie director he still left quite a big impression on a lot of people that grew up watching horror movies in the 80s, including me and we all remember his movies with love and warmth in all their cheesiness. Highly recommended.

On the dvd we also get Nightbeast, his first BBB movie that basically is a remake of Alien Factor with boobs and gore, about an alien running around in the woods tearing out peoples intestines. Wonderful stuff that also includes what must be movie history’s most unerotic sexscenes. Extra material doesn’t get better than this.

Demon wind (1990)

I would never accuse Demon wind of actually being a good movie but as entertainment go, you cant go wrong with the wonderfully cheesy 90 minutes of slimy horror that Charles Philip Moore serves us. A young man gathers a group of friends to help him look into what happened to his family and they travel into the barren wilds of some unnamed american part of the country (You know, the one with nothing else than a small diner with an old guy that tells them to stay away from the house) to the burned down ruins of his ancestral home. Before you can say "Evil dead-ish" the group find themselves hunted by THE DEMON WIND and are forced to stay inside the house, which for some reason is intact when they walk through the remains of the doorway, and fend of the demonic creatures that want their souls.

Yes, this is all so very very silly. Demon wind is a cheesy Evil dead clone with music straight out of a John Carpenter movie, oodles of elaborate and very goofy looking makeup and a general sense of fun! Hell, the movie even has a kung fu practicing magician that kicks the head off a demon! I'm pretty sure the scene where he performs a magic trick was inserted into the movie just because someone thought it would it look cool, it serves no purpose whatsoever.

And now I end up at that point where I really dont know what to write anymore, that particular phase that keeps me from writing reviews regularily. I want to write something entertaining and if I dont feel that the text I'm writing is entertaining enough I'll just stop and it will remain forever in the Draft zone. So instead I'll end this text (now that is long enough for publication) with this: If you like cheesy and cliched 80s horror you'll enjoy Demon Wind - it is quite ok. Not a masterpiece but nowhere near a disaster. It could be a bit more gory (there is lots of blood but it is yellow. Demon blood is yellow) but the pace is ok and there are boobs. A good late night flick with some ostbågar.   

måndag 19 november 2012

Night of the tentacles (2012)

An awesome title like Night of the tentacles promises a lot and Dustin Mills brings us a simple Faustian tale where porncartoonist/social recluse Dave sells his soul to the Devil for a new heart after having a heart attack. Of course, Dave doesn’t read the fine print (as if anyone does) and is provided with a box containing a tentacled monstrosity that needs human flesh to survive. And Dave has to provide the meat.

What Mills has brought us here is a slightly kinky version of the old Sell your soul to Satan story, with Dave slowly losing control over the thing in the box (the fact that he might have a conscience helps there). We've seen the story before but not the setpieces. Compared to Mills previous movie Zombie A-hole, Night of the tentacles isn’t as deliriously weird; we know pretty much from the start how this will end. But where Zombie A-holes storytelling was slightly lacking, NOTT shows that Mills writing skills have improved, telling a good story over the course of 90 minutes. This is both good and bad, Zombie A-hole was slightly meandering, focusing a bit too much on identical scenes of twin killing but was still very original in showing its own little world full of voodoo puppet zombies and uh... puppet zombies. NOTT has a good story structure but much less gory weirdness. Still, it has several nice scenes of bloody mayhem which should satisfy the gore hounds. Remember the scene in The Blob remake where a guy is pulled through a sink? Replace the dishwasher with naked chick on toilet. Yes, they went there. The special effects are a mixture of mostly CGI (which are ok) and lovingly cheesy practicals, the boxthingie is hilarious.

The best thing about NOTT is its delicious sense of humor, greatly helped by an able performance by Brandon Salkil who is on the screen the entire movie, chewing scenery as if the director threatened to torture a kitten to death unless he went all out. It is hard not to be engaged by what is going on when Salkil tries his best Bruce Campbell imitation and although the movie could have gained some by toning it down a bit, it still serves the story well. The other actors tend to be a bit uneven but still fun to watch.

I did not like NOTT as much as I loved Zombie A-hole and that is mostly from the fact that it isn’t as insane, it should have focused more on the tentacled Henenlotter-inspired beastie with the British accent and less on Daves strange love affair with the pregnant neighbor (which is both somewhat cringeworthily cute, but means less gore and tits) but it is still a fun watch. It clearly shows that Dustin Mills has some great potential ahead, especially since this was made for $1500, a ridiculously low amount of money - I spend more money on dvds at horror conventions than Mills used to make this! And that is a damn fine title.

Zombie babies (2011)

Zombie babies is an überlow budget movie that seems to be born out of the fact that the filmmakers sat down and thought of the most repugnant storyidea ever - aborted fetuses that come back to life after being doused by a particular brand of rank moonshine, all set at Burts Casino and hotel (And budget abortion clinic) during a special sales event. The problem with the movie isnt that the subject is too much, i did get a chuckle or two during the movie (fave bit - when Burt decides on a name for the event - Aborathon *giggle*) and I loved the final babyzombie, a lovely rubbersuit that I would have loved to see more of. No, the main fault of the movie is that it is so technically inept that you get a headache from watching it. Firstly, it is shot on some kind of low grade video with the picture a blurry hell and a soundmix that feels like it was recorded with a cassettetapeplayer from a 20" tv-screen. The special effects (the word special has a new meaning here) are just bad with digital erasing of the puppets strings half done, see through blocks and half erased crew members all over the place.

The actors does seem to be in on the joke and are probably the best thing about the whole enterprise, even though the shoddy sound makes it pretty hard to follow the dialogue from time to time. There is a lot of blood and nudity for those of us who like that but in the end it is all a wasted opportunity. Bonus point for Zombie babies most likely being the only movie ever to show an aborted fetus crap in a mans mouth during what he thinks is a session of oral sex. Yes, you read that right.

No, this is not a good movie. I admire the filmmakers guts for actually making a movie about aborted zombie fetuses and actually getting distribution but it kinda feels half finished. The worst part about this whole endeavour though is the fact that for the rest of my life I will get this on Recommended because you purhased Zombie babies. You know, stuff like Wrong turn 5. That is the true horror here.

tisdag 6 november 2012

Atomic brain invasion (2010)

Dear diary,

I have a problem. Yesterday I was watching the low budget scificomedy Atomic brain invasion and soon found myself in an uncomfortable situation. About half an hour into the movie (just about when those glorious alien brain hand puppets started to appear) my girlfriend walked into the living room and sat down beside me, expecting me to turn off the movie and watch something that isnt specifically interesting to just me. Now, for some mysterious reason, I didn’t. I just continued watching the movie. At first she didn’t say anything but as the movie progressed and the humor got sillier and sillier as more brain puppets popped up she started cringing and sighing with an increasing rate. It was obvious that she was getting more and more frustrated and it wasn’t until we were close to the climax of the movie that I relented and paused it to finish it later that night, in order to save the sanctity of our relationship and increase the chances of getting laid in the near future.

My problem is this: Even though we have been together for more than ten years, should I really accept all this sighing and negative commentary from her, especially when the brain puppets are as cool as this one. I will admit that the movie is very silly but it is lovingly so, this is a flick that shows its influences like open heart surgery. Yes, the acting walks a very fine line between uneven as hell and over the top as hell but it is clear that the actors are having so much cheesy fun. The only fault I find with it is that it favors being corny instead of being violent and filled with nudity, but part of that might come from watching the same crews awesome Disco Exorcist just a couple of days earlier. It is what it is, a cheesy low budget tribute to 50s scififlicks and as such not a bad way of spending 90 minutes of your life. And those brain puppets are awesome.

Then again, my girlfriend sat down with me while I was watching Hypothermia the day before, was caught up in it and admitted that she really liked it, in spite of the worst monster costume since Zaat. I'll give her a year or two.

måndag 22 oktober 2012

Hypothermia (2010)

I liked James Felix McKenneys Automatons a lot, a arthouseish lowbudget tribute to old scifimovies and got very intrigued when I heard that he was working on a creaturefeature that was set on a frozen lake. A couple of years later I pop in the dvdrelease of this with great anticipation and soon realize that this too is a tribute to old movies, very obviously Creature from the black lagoon. Complete with one of the worst monstercostumes in the history of filmmaking.

The concept is simple and effective though. Michael Rooker (dependable as always, no matter the clunkiness of the dialogue) is out icefishing along with his wife, their son and the sons girlfriend. Their enjoyment is soon ruined by annoying asshole Steve Cote (doing a perfect impersonation of Jason Sudekis. It's uncanny) and his boy complete with snowmobiles and a trailer stocked full of beer. Before they are able to get to pissed at each other they see a large creature under the ice, possibly a sturgeon of some kind. Well, it isnt. It is, of course, a humanoid fishcreature straight out of a Larry Buchanan movie with razorsharp, poisonous claws and we end up in a quite nice siegesituation on the ice during the night. Too bad about the monster.

I liked Hypothermia, it has a cool plot and the setting is excellent. The second half, when the characters hide out in the trailer with the skulking creature roaming about outside in the dark is full of tension and the script does a decent job with the characters even though some of the dialogue is a bit clunky. The cinematography is excellent, making good use of the location and providing a lot of moody atmosphere. As a monstermovie this isnt bad at all. But, we still have that monster. It isnt really that the design is plain awful, when we actually get to see it in more detail it looks like a lowtech version of the things in Humanoids from the deep, not really outright bad. The problem is that someone made a bad decision when designing it, making it as sleek and slender as possible. Probably a good idea in preproduction but when the creature starts to attack people during the night, we get flashes of something that looks like a guy in a wetsuit or some sort of rubberfetishist. Even though I am a lover of cheapo rubbersuits, this is a bit too silly. It doesnt kill the movie outright but it does lower the score. For once it would have been good to show the cheap monster in all its glory. And then there is that ending. I wont spoil anything, but I will say that it isnt very good. Might've sounded cool on paper but it really isnt.

So, Hypothermia isnt actually bad. There are a couple of nasty flaws but i enjoyed the experience. This is one flick that I really hope gets a remake someday, the concept and story is sound. And it still is better than a lot of syfys creature features.

måndag 1 oktober 2012

Zombie A-Hole (2012)

The one thing that impresses me the most about Zombie A-hole is the fact that the filmmakers set out to create their own little universe with their own rules and a general feeling of "I don't give a fuck of what you think is horror". What we have here is a piece of filmmaking that transcends all the retarded little rules that you supposedly have to follow when making horror. This is what we are rewarded with when someone sets out to make something that truly is their own and although limited resources probably held the filmmakers back in their vision, we still get one of the more entertaining horrorcomedys of last few years.

Ok, how to describe the plot in a way that will make you interested in a movie whose biggest flaw is its rather silly title? A zombie dressed in a striped suit roams around killing female twins to gain power so that he can open the gates of hell, all while the cowboy brother of one of the victims joins up with the zombies twin brother to try to stop the titlecharacter before he succeeds with his diabolical plan. Not interesting enough. Ok, here's more. One of the paths that our lovingly drawling cowboy travels down in order to locate the villain is by the use of a mini voodoozombie in a small box, seriously one of the coolest creations I have seen and I am almost willing to deduct points just for the fact that the creature isnt in the movie more! I will admit that the movie is slightly overlong, it could have been trimmed down a bit but still, it is never boring. 

And now for the important bits: The gore and the nudity. First of all, having the Zombie A-hole dispatching twins is a brilliant way of maximizing the nudity - almost every soon to be dead female has TWO nudescenes. The violence is cheap and plentiful, just like I want it. In fact, there are almost too many similar scenes where the zombie kills two naked twins, it is repeated so often that it almost feels like lazy scriptwriting. Almost. Who am I to complain about copious amounts of gore and nudity? Shame on me.

Other strong points? The acting isnt half bad, I loved Josh Eals macho drawl as Frank Fulci, the cowboy trying to get revenge for the death of one of his sisters, he does a great job with a lot of hilariously dry dialogue. Brandon Salkil seems to have a blast with his three characters, playing both twins and the twin turned Zombie A-hole. The rest of the characters arent really there long enough to make an impression, they are there to die and that's good enough for me.

In the end there aren't (for me that is) that many negatives. Yes, the movie is 10-15 mins too long, the acting can be a bit uneven and the special effects are one the cheap side (no wonder since the budget was about $3000) but all of this doesnt matter when the filmmakers go out of their way to make this a fun experience. One of my favorite scenes is an early one when Frank Fulci enters an old house to look for the Zombie A-Hole and finds a group of zombie skeletons, all done with miniature puppets. It might sound silly on paper but the sequence is handled extremely well, hooking me 100% and the movie never lets me down after that. 

So, in short. Zombie A-hole is a very original and exciting microbudget horrorcomedy that everyone shoudl see. I realize that the low budget of it all might turn some people away, but it's their loss. Suckers. Very much recommended. I just wish that writer/director/editor/cinematographer Dustin Mills would have used that awesome voodoo puppet more. 

fredag 24 augusti 2012

Last Caress / Blackaria

It doesnt happen very often that I want to watch a movie again just moments after finishing it, other than for the odd commentary track but that is fairly rare too. For this feeling to appear with two movies in a row is actually quite astonishing but this is what François Gaillard and Christophe Robins two wonderful giallohomages does to me. I've had the awesome soundtrack playing on my iphone for weeks now and I can assure you that it won’t leave for quite some time.

Let us start with Last caress. A group of friends arrives at a remote house now knowing that the friend they are about to visit has been brutally murdered by another woman. Said female has also been murdered by an assassin sent to retrieve a mysterious painting and it doesn’t take long before everyone is graphically killed while in various states of undress and the final victim starts to play a bloody game of cat and mouse with the spectacled killer. Stalk and slash in its purest form here, and everything is doused with style and great love for the genre.

Blackaria is no different, even though the plot is a bit more strange and dreamy. A young woman living in an apartment complex is having trouble with her loud neighbor who is prone to having lesbian orgies. When the neighbor is gorily dispatched by an unseen killer she finds pieces of glass that allow you to see the future while looking through it. Realizing that this was what the killer was after, she fashions them into a pair of glasses that will allow her to stay one step ahead but this results in visions of murder.

What we have here is a loving patchwork of the filmmaker’s favorite movies, I can smell hints ofBava, Argento, Fulci, you name it. At first I wanted to describe this with the old phrase "Style over substance" but that would be unfair. Yes, these movies were designed with maximum style in mind and the stories are clearly written as such, not that this is a bad thing - on the contrary. This is thrilling stuff that spends no time with meandering filler; this is pure and streamlined entertainment at its finest, drenched in violence and nudity. Actually, the exploitation geek in me starts to drool just writing this sentence. The special effects are all lovely practical old school stuff, straight out of De Rossi or Stivaletti and they sure are plentiful. Some of the kills could be called tribute pieces, the prime example being the chain to the face scene in Blackaria that has a not so slight similarity to the opening in Fulcis The Beyond. This is a nasty piece of work that like the rest of the violence makes you giggle with glee.

While on the subject of superlatives I have to mention the awesome score by Double dragon, a riveting mixture of old school Goblin-ish atmospherics and pounding 80s electro pop. It suits the movie perfectly and, as I mentioned before, hasn’t left my iphone since the day I bought the dvd. If you buy the Swedish dvdrelease (which you should. English subtitles *hint hint*) there is an extra cd with the entire Blackaria soundtrack and parts of Last caress.
No negatives then? Well, yes. There are. Some of the acting can be a bit stiff and the camerawork doesn’t feel as polished as it ought to be but these things are just small nitpicks, nothing that diminishes the enjoyment of the whole picture. There is one other small thing that is on the negative side and that has to do with the extra material on the dvd. There is an awesome 15 min short called Die die my darling which has a hot lady assassin duking it out with a half-naked nazi chick, really good stuff. The problem with this is that the music isn’t included on the cd, I want it! Oh well, can’t have everything.

So, in short, it has been ages since I had this much fun. Both of the movies (and Die die my darling) are excellent and you should really track down the Njuta films release which has both of them + a soundtrack cd. These flicks have everything, tons of violence and nudity. You can’t hate them. You really can’t.

tisdag 21 augusti 2012

Black magic rites (1973)

When a movie starts with a group of men in red bodysuits sacrificing a naked woman to Satan in order to resurrect their mistress you know you are in for a good time and Renato Polsellis Black magic rites strikes all the right notes for me. Not that it is a particularily coherent and meaningful experience, it's just so full of violence, nudity and plain weirdness that you cannot do anything other than like it.

A group of people gather at a castle for a lavish party and before you know it we are in flashback heaven. In fact, there are so many flashbacks that it is at times hard to know if it is supposed to be a flashback when it happens several times in the same scene. Hundreds of years earlier a witch was burned at the stake and now her reincarnated husband wants to sacrifice seven virgins to ensure her return and this means we get to see lots of nudity. Lots of nudity. The scene with the burning of the witch is an absurd example of what this movie is all about when they tie her up, tear off her clothes to display a pair of magnificient breasts and then proceed to shove a wooden stake into her heart. Now, this goes on for about five minutes with the woman moaning and crying with a wooden stake shoved straight through her heart! Clearly her body is ripe with satanic powers that enables her to survive so long!

And this continues on without anything really resembling a coherent plot. One by one these women succumb to hidden lesbian lusts and weird flashbacks before being bitten by what appears to be vampires but have no sharp teeth and leave no marks. How do I know that there are vampires? Well, halfway through the movie there is talk of someone being Count Dracula. Uh. I will admit that my attention to the intricacies of the plot was at times very limited, my mind was more focused on the nudity and the plain weirdness of it all. The good thing about all of this is that is is so full of weird lighting and outlandish cinematography that you just sit there amazed by the whole thing. Not a good film by any means, but sure as hell more entertaining than most. And now it is out on bluray, dear lord. Do I want to watch this on bluray? Yes I do.

Yes, this isnt for everyone, afficionados of italian sleaze will lap this up but the rest of the world probably not. You know which camp you belong to.

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

tisdag 26 juni 2012

Okaruto (2009)

Kôji Shiraishis 2005 Noroi is one of the finest mockumentaries I have seen to date, a tautly constructed chiller that builds its case slowly and deliberately, making itself a perfect example of how a fake documentary should be done. Four years later Shiraishi comes with another movie in the same mold and proves that he is a strong filmmaker who is in his true element. Unfortunately he also shows that one bad scene can almost ruin a movie but more on that later on.

Okarauto aka Occult is one of those movies you should go into knowing as little as possible about plot and I will only tell you the basics. Shiraishi plays a version of himself, a documentary filmmaker looking into a strange killing spree in a forest park where a young man started to kill indiscriminately before jumping off a cliff and vanishing. He interviews the survivors and relatives of the victims and is told a number of strange things that at first just sound weird such as the husband of a dead woman who claims to have seen his wife and shows a photo of himself with a woman in the background that looks a lot like her. Another man that was stabbed in the back several times has a strangely shaped scar very similar to a birthmark that the perpetrator had and it goes even weirder when he claims to have started to see strange ufo-like things that he calls miracles. The documentary makers decided to give him a camera to documents all these happenings and from there the story really starts to take into strange land.

The best thing about this type of movie is that it is based on legends that are very Japanese, taking its horrors from a source that is somewhat similar yet very alien to our own, thus being perfect for a horror movie. Somehow I think that this works even better for a gaijin like me that hasn’t grown up with all of this. This is the reason why Noroi is so good and while Okurato might not use these as much as I would have liked it to, it still has that very undercurrent of odd folktales that keeps the story interesting, especially in the latter half of the movie when Kiyoshi Kurosawa cameos playing himself as an amateur researcher into a particular legend. This leads to a series of quite unpredictable events and a very shocking ending that really punches you in the gut. But, and there is that major but, now we get to the major flaw of the movie. The special effects budget of Okaruto must have been exceptionally low. Most of the "miracles" that one of the characters see all the time are shown with really simple and cheap digital effects which I suppose could take away some of the atmosphere of the story. They aren’t exactly awful and some even work really well but it is most noticeable in the final coda of the movie, a short sequence that is so mind-bogglingly bad that you wonder if the director’s ten year old son made it and put it in the movie with anyone knowing it. I would not be surprised if some people would rate the movie negatively because of this since it is actually that bad. This is a true shame when the rest of the movie is a good as it actually is and personally I try to dismiss the ineptness of that scene and take it for what it is supposed to represent (though I admit it took me several days to overcome this little hurdle). While some of the parts of the story might not gel into the picture in a satisfying way (I suspect they were just there to add some additional mystery) the whole experience is what matters and this movie does that very well. There are several exceptional plot twist that needs to be seen with your own eyes. Okaruto is simply put a well written, well-acted and very exciting fake documentary about a number of supernatural events that merge into a horrible coming event and if you liked Noroi or fake documentaries in general, then this will serve your addiction well. It's a shame about that final image but personally I wont let myself hate it. The rest of the movie is that good.

onsdag 20 juni 2012


I have seen things, things beyond comprehension. Things on the borderline of insanity, meandering streaks of complete and utter boredom that would make a normal person rip their eyes out but instead I choose to embrace them, to welcome them into my mind and while someone else would perish, I mostly let out a chuckle or two. But now everything has changed. I have encountered a true monstrosity that will leave me mentally scarred for life. If it lets me live.


This is not just a movie; it is a document of something beyond everything I have ever seen. It is a gathering of extremely repetitive images and sounds for ages upon ages and normal circumstances would maybe create something hypnotic, something that dulls your mind with its own stupidity. Not Zaat. Zaat tries to destroy you, tear down all the mental boundaries you have created since your birth and thrust itself straight into your mind and scream with a carnal power that only sees you like an obstacle to tear down into tiny fragments!

So what is Zaat? First of all, this is a tool. A tool to bring forward the darkest emotions from the deepest pits of despair. We watch a nazi-tinged dream of biological superiority, to create an army of foul man/fish hybrids as a scientist finally succeeds in his quest to become that very thing of horror. Revenge is first as he tears out the throats of the members of the local scientific community that spurned his research but then he moves on to procreation, to breed with a female human and spawn more monstrous hybrids. A special team of two experts are brought in to unravel this ungodly menace but Zaat is nothing you dispose of easily. Zaat!
This is 100 minutes of pure torture, designed to shred your brain into tiny pieces ready to be shaped into exactly what the makers of Zaat want it too. We get to watch Zaat walk and walk and walk and walk, sometimes swim. We see Zaat kidnap a young girl and fail in trying to convert her into his foul bride. We see nothing that comes even close to being anything other than an excruciating droning journey, clean from the violence and nudity that usually comes with the genre. No, this is the equivalent of watching straight into the eyes of a mad god! This is the essence of boredom, ancient mother of all the legends of dull cinema you have ever heard of.

The media that Zaat is presented on is nothing more than exceptional if you accept the fact that this is a device to turn your brain into mush so that the cult that is Film chest can drive you into the asylum like a pack of lemmings over a cliff. The image is strong and clear with maybe a tad of faded colors which is good - Zaat with crystal clarity would most likely blow a hole straight through your head.

I really don't know what more to say, I fear this movie. I fear what it represents and at the same time I applaud the makers for actually making it and Film chest for releasing it. Think about it, it cannot be a coincidence that this is released in 2012 - the very same year that the Mayans predicted the world to end. And we all know that a world where Zaat exists needs to be destroyed.

måndag 28 maj 2012

Absentia (2011)

Sometimes I like to take a chance, just buy a movie based on snippets of info gathered from online sources like Facebook or cover blurbs, without reading more than just the very basic core of the story. The story has to be interesting enough for me to do such a thing and Absentia has just that. The people that had seen the movie were mostly very positive so I decided to take the plunge. The feeling of really discovering a gem very much outweighs the fear of it sucking ass.

The main thing that attracted me to Absentia was the story, a tale of an unseen creature with slight Lovecraftian undertones that prowls a tunnel in an American city. A woman struggling with the disappearance of her husband and the decision of declaring him dead is visited by her estranged sister who brings a couple of skeletons of her own, namely substance abuse. They try to rekindle their broken relationship and all seems to go well. Until the husband shows up on her doorstep just days after his death certificate is approved by the authorities. He does not remember (or maybe doesn’t want to) where he has been and all of this is somehow connected to the tunnel, and the legends of other disappearances throughout the ages.

I really wanted to like this movie a lot. I really did. Some things work well, mainly the mood and the atmosphere surrounding the tunnel and what may dwell in there but unfortunately there are other things that really don’t bring this movie into the experience I wanted it to. The main problem is the story; too much time is focused on the relationship between the characters. The actors do a decent enough job with this, a lot of the dialogue seems ad-libbed and while the interactions might feel true, they're not just that interesting in a movie about a creature that hides in the dark waiting for humans to snatch. The creature bits work better, especially towards the end when the movie finally ditches all the drama and brings some nicely moody horror into all of this. I won’t go as far as to say that this in any kind of a failure, Mike Flanagan does a good job directing his own script but it feels somewhat unfocused. Maybe the story would have been better suited for a straight on creature feature? But then it would have been an entirely different movie and that was probably not what the filmmakers wanted. See this if you like slow burning moodpieces, I suspect that my disappointment comes from me expecting something entirely different based on the namedropping of Lovecraft in a couple of reviews and the very melodramatic dvdcover that makes this look like a movie it really isn't. Final words - Somewhat flawed but still interesting.

tisdag 22 maj 2012

The Rape After (1986)

One of the the more interesting genres out there out there is what I (somewhat lazily) usually refer to as CAT III. This is not really a genre but instead a movie rating in Hong Kong, I E the more depraved stuff out there: "No one younger than 18 years of age are permitted to rent, purchase, or watch this film in a movie theatre". The rating is mainly there for erotic movies but has also spawned a breed of really nasty horrormovies like Men behind the sun, Ebola syndrome and Dr Lamb - movies that will shock most people. My personal favorites in the genre are the supernatural shockers, always full of exploitative nudity and violence and sometimes somewhat odd sensibilities towards human life that the rest of us arent used to. These are movies that can surprise you with its nastiness only to show you some really silly slapstick in the next scene. Eternal evil of Asia, Devil Fetus, Seeding of a ghost, the list is long of movies that everyone with an interest in this should watch. But now I might have a new favorite.

The Rape After (nice title, eh?) is the type of movie that make you go for your remote, pause and rewind and watch scenes over again just for the sheer WTF. I will have to include one particular spoiler of a scene to give you an idea of what kind of movie this is. We follow the somewhat sleazy fashion photographer Mo Hsien-Sheng who likes old stuff, burial artifacts and such. When doing some model shoots at an old temple he steals a statue of a demon and takes it home, along with the model in order to get her drunk and take advantage of her. They both get way too drunk for anything like that to happen and fall asleep. During the night the model is assaulted by a demon that comes from the statue. Yes boys and girls, never steal demonstatues. Nothing more comes out of this, Mo meets a nice young lady and decides to get married and all is well until the model returns, now pregnant and believing that he is the father. Awkward. Mo persuades her to get an abortion and brings her to a sleazy clinic, the type where the performing doctor is all sweaty and disgusting but before the abortion can be done an unknown force demolishes the clinic and manages to give the doctor a syringe in the eye. We all know it is the demon baby ghost but the other characters seem to think of this as something completely normal, just an accident. Forget about the screaming and the supernatural happenings. Life goes on, eh? All of this culminates when the model dies in a car accident where Mo was driving and now things get really fun and weird.

Ok, to give a good description of this type of movie I will now describe one scene in particular, just to get your interest and reel you in into the wonderful world of CAT III. The charred and very pregnant corpse of the model is brought into the morgue (an excellent piece of makeup sfx) and an autopsy is performed. When the belly is opened a pair of hands comes out of the stomach and grabs the head of the doctor, ripping it from his neck. The other doctors flee and we watch the really strange image of the demon baby crawling out of the sliced up belly into the night as the umbillical cord is ripped off. Wow.

The rest of the movie follows Mo and his wife as they move into a new house, haunted by the demon and as things go we go through the usual proceedings. People die in various groovy and gory ways until Mo goes to find a priest to exorcise the demon, nothing new here. It is, however, the individual set-pieces that stand out. My favorite scene is when a person in the house hears a baby crying at night and goes down to the main floor to find a group of small children playing in slow motion. Eerie and creepy at the same time and this goes for rest of the movie that moves along at a good pace and perhaps a bit more finesse with the camerawork and technicals than some of the more low brow CAT III flicks. Towards the end we even get a bit of zombie flesheating as an added bonus an in all, this is a very fine example of this genre. Unfortunately this is not available on dvd as far as I know (I watched a slightly blurry vhsrip that at least was in widescreen) which is a god damn shame since this as of now probably my favorite CAT III flick. Recommended to fans of gore and exploitations everywhere.


Back in the days long before dvd I (like so many others before and after me) I used to hang around the local videostore, browsing the horrorsection and staring at the wonderful covers of all these movies that probably were the scariest movies in the world. As I grew up and began collecting movies I finally got to see all of the movies I had drooled over but there was one that eluded me. It was a movie called Strangeness about a monster in a cave but the cover had a picture from the Cormanproduced Alien clone Forbidden world, which added to the confusion. For some reason I never rented the damn thing and I spent a lot of years wondering if this really was an existing movie (this was before you could find everything online and this movie didnt pop up in any horrormoviebooks I had) or if my mind had deluded me over the years. Thankfully I found a scan of this very cover online so my mind could finally be at ease. Even better, Code Red released it on a nice special edition dvd and I finally got the chance to see what all the fuzz in my mind was all about.

The story is simple and effective. A group of people gather at the entrance of a cave that shares its tunnels with an old mine that was hastily closed down for uknown reasons a century ago. The reason for their spelunking is to evaluate if there is any gold left but we all know that they will be entombed and hunted by a tentacled stopmotion monster. It always goes down like that in California, I've seen this in lots of movies.

Strangeness was made by a group of first time filmmakers on a very low budget which shows really well from time to time, especially when it comes to the cave itself which sometimes is obviously fake. This is on the other hand redeemed by a decent enough script, some uneven but enthusiastic acting and a really fun monster. The atmosphere in the cave is good enough to sustain a fun feeling of lowbudget monster mayhem and the cinematography works really well, especially considering that the movie is almost entirely lit by torches and flares. Strangeness has a general sense of good fun with its cheesy but fun characters and an excellent tentacled stopmotion monster. Yes, the animation may be crude compared to Harryhausen but what the hell, how often do you get to see a tentaclebeast that looks like a huge vagina?

Strangeness is not the best monstermovie of all time, is has it share of flaws mostly related to it's budget but it was made with the best intentions and some of it comes off clearly when you watch it. It is entertaining enough and has a bit of good tension, the lovable monster and even some slime. If you are like me, a big fan of the low budget monster movies of that very era, you will adore it. Thanks to Code Red for an excellent dvd.

tisdag 8 maj 2012

Rat scratch fever

Brought back from a doomed space mission, an army of giant rats develop a big appetite for Los Angeles residents.

Well, the plot for this little nugget of joy was enough for me to buy the movie, especially after viewing the trailer that is a feast of loving cheese full of tacky models and full size mutant rat heads. Yes, I had to own it and as soon as the dvd arrived I sat down in front of the tv (to my girlfriends great pain. Not a fan of cheesy monstermovies I'm afraid to say) and started to worry. Can this really be good? 105 minutes of low budget monsters can be painful if the heart isnt in the right place. So, let's get down to brass tacks. Rat scratch fever is essentially a throwback to 50s monstermovies such as Quatermass experiment and First man in space. A previously unknown planet is discovered on the other side of the solar system and an expedition is sent to explore. They find remains of a dead civilization and somehow manage to wake an army of giant killer rats. All but one of the crew is killed and the final survivor, sexy Sonja, manages to get away in the spaceship though not before a rat sneaks its way into her vagina, taking over her completely. She returns to earth (with a bunch of rats hidden onboard), at first not realizing that she has a rodentproblem in her brain and wanders about in the desert while the company in charge of the expedition tries to find her before she reaches Los Angeles and brings on the end of the world.

First of all, I have to applaud the makers of Rat scratch fever for bringing back the fine plot device "Rat enters body through vagina", something we havent seen since Bruno Matteis lovely Rats: Nights of terror. I'm sure some of you out there will see this as horrible exploitation but to me it is just another fun way to get that very sentence you really like to hear yourself uttering while watching a movie: "Yes, they did do just that!". And for the squeamish, it isnt actually shown. Any movie which features this is good in my book.

The first thing that strikes you when you watch the movie is the very apparent cheapness of the effects, very much Bert I Gordon on a tenth of his budgets. A "normie" would probably look at this and dismiss it as low budget crap but for a person like me who has seen quite a few of this type of movie it is apparent that quite a lot of work went into making it look like this. Remote controlled cars are used as vehicles, rats are simply superimposed onto photographs (just like in Bert I Gordons movies), cheesy full size rats are all over the place and there are tons of simple models ready to be blown into bits. The point is that the simple cheapness of all of this is not just that it makes you smile while watching it but also drives the plot forward in the most efficient way possible. All of the needed set-pieces are there and the 105 minutes flow by in a good pace. Another positive is the fact that the movie is played almost completely straight (apart from a few "actors" who barely can keep themselves from smiling as they sit on cheap sets enhanced by some simple digital trickery) and the acting is way better than I expected, especially Tasha Tacosha as the rat-infested astronaut and Randal Malone chewing scenery as the Company man in charge of hunting Sonja down.

Oh, I had such a great time with this and I realize that I will repeat myself now because I have written the exact same thing in other reviews - this is proof that great ideas and a bit of ingenuity can be as good as a shitload of money. Rat scratch fever has a lot of that and if you are into a bit of low budget mayhem - Rat scratch fever is a must buy.

fredag 13 april 2012

Wakusei Daisenso (1977)

This movie brings back memories, so far back that they aren’t exactly crystal clear. Sometime during the early 80s, 1982 or 1983, my parents took me on a trip to the southern parts of Sweden to visit relatives and as soon as we arrived I got a high fever and was basically bedridden for a week. My relatives had a vhsplayer (this was before we had one of our own) and I managed to persuade them to rent a movie I had checked out earlier called Planeternas Krig (Planet wars - a not so subtle Star Wars reference). I spent the following day watching the movie over and over and over again and this is about the only thing I remember about this particular holiday. Now some 30 years later I finally managed to get hold of the dvd of this very movie and while my memories of it were distant and clouded, I still got a sense of joy just by owning it. During the years that have passed I have also found out that the movie was directed by the infamous Jun Fukuda, fuckerupper of many a Godzillamovie which made me wonder if I would still like the movie. The question is, is the movie as good as my boiling 10 year old brain remembers it?

Things are rough in the future that is 1988. When a space station is destroyed the Japanese government realizes that something is up and revives the Gohten project (Yes, the T should have been before the H), a giant spaceship built to protect Earth from nasty aliens. It doesn’t take long before the skies are filled with of thousands of small Ufos, blowing up cities by the hundreds with their lasers. Que lovely Toho mass destruction. The mean aliens are traced to the planet of Venus and the Goth, I mean Goht, is sent to clean up the place for good. The aliens won’t make this easy of course, kidnapping the Captains daughter and coming up with lots of other ways that they think will stop our heroes. Lasers galore!

The Fukuda stigma lies heavily over the movie and the first 20 minutes are mostly filled with dialogue and internal strife, but as soon as the mayhem starts everything gets plain awesome and manages to keep a fun momentum all the way to the end. There's a shitload of excellent effects and destruction, making me giggle like a child in a toy store. It is pretty obvious that the movie is heavily influenced by Star Wars (the even got their own wookie - but with horns) but it all has a Japanese tint that keeps it away from straight plagiarizing. What we have here is 90 mins of pure laser filled fun and that is enough for me, making me recommend this one to all lovers of Japanese mass destruction. To use the old cotton candy comparison again, it might not be good for you but it tastes so yummy!

Wakusei Daisenso aka War in space will from now on be remembered as the movie that made me stop disliking Jun Fukuda and that's quite a feat. If you like Kaijumovies you will love this.

torsdag 12 april 2012

The Abomination (1986)

Oooookkk... Listen to this.

Cody lives in a rundown house down white trash lane with his religious mother that spends her days watching television evangelist Brother Fogg, beliving that only he can cure her of her lungcancer. After a healing session on the tv she coughs up a tumor which then mysteriously disappears, only to crawl into Codys mouth during the night. This strange tumor now takes over Cody completely, spawning additional weird creatures that start to nest in the kitchen all while making him kill random (and not so random) people in various cheap and graphic ways.

Wow. The Abomination is truly a wonder to watch. I have no idea what the budget was but it cant have been more than pennies, which makes the whole thing so much more impressive. Yes, it is cheap and horrendously acted (not made better by the fact that the movie was obviously shot on super 8 and dubbed afterwards by a group of people with the enthusiasm of sloths) but the movie rests on the awesome foundation that is THE ABOMINATION!. This creature is a huge mass of teeth and tentacles, filling the cupboards and drawers with its gloopy, rubbery nastiness. When Cody isnt outside slitting peoples throats or whacking off heads with shovels to feed the creature he brings them home and even gore ensues. If you can stick with the excruciatingly droning dialogue there is much joy to be had from all the stupid silliness of The Abomination. It's like David Cronenberg designed a goreversion of the muppet show, only to have Andy Milligan rewrite and direct it, just mindboggling and so plain odd and entertaining. Recommended for fans of 80s cheapo gore and those of us that like a little cozy weirdness on their screens.¨

You can buy it here on a doubledvd with Ozone: Attack of the redneck mutants.