tisdag 26 mars 2013

The (un)holy Trinity

Three Syfy productions in a row? Stupid or just plain fun? Mostly the latter actually.

After a long week at work I decided to watch something hopefully fun and cheesy so I ended up with The Asylums schlocker Rise of the zombies. Not content with that, I dug up Ghost storm and House of bones to finish of this lovely saturyday and coming out of this I actually feel quite content. I can tell you for sure that I have seen a lot of worse movies that had ten times the budgets of the three movies combined.

The clunker of the bunch was Nick Lyons Rise of the zombies, a very typical Asylum movie. One of my favorite cities on earth is San Francisco so a zombieflick set in that very city was a must-see and I even managed to persuade my girlfriend to watch it with me. The movie starts on Alcatraz (which has a beach. I didn't see that when I was at the place back in september. In fact, the sets look nothing like the famous prison itself but really, I didn't for one moment expect it to) where a group of survivors are hiding out from a zombie plague. When the prison is overrun by zombies (coming from that beach) the remaining group escape and then decide to split up when they come ashore, one of the fractions heading for a safe haven and the other to find a scientist that possibly might be onto a cure.

ROTZ is very far from a good movie, with a really poor script with characters that are sketchy at best; my favorite the woman who is seen surviving on her own, only to be killed the very moment she meets up with one of the groups. You can sometimes see cars driving around in the supposedly abandoned city and there are quite a few inserts where the city is obviously full of normal traffic. Fortunately there are some positives, such as the cast who makes the most of what material they are given like Levar Burton who has a decent role as a scientist remaining behind on Alcatraz to experiment on his zombiefied daughter and Ethan Suplee in an odd role as a slightly christian here (although it is pretty damn hard to shake off the ghost of Randy Hickey from My name is Earl). There is plenty of quite gory violence to amuse you throughout and the movie has a strong enough pace that never really allows you to be bored.

The second of the this trio was probably the best Syfy original I have ever seen, the slightly Stephen King-ish Ghost storm, taking a very silly concept and making a very entertaining movie out of it. Yes, a fucking Ghost storm. When lightning hits the grave of the victims of a mass-suicide the angry spirits rise up from their slumber and form, you guessed it, a Ghost storm that start to decimate the inhabitants of a small mountain town. Of course, there is a reason for them being so angry and it is up to our hero, the divorced sheriff to put an end to all of this. (seriously, what the hell is up with all the divorced people in American movies that ALWAYS has to end up back together again at the end of the movie? Hundreds, thousands of people might die but as long as the FAMILY is back together again it is a-ok!)

Ghost storm is just plain fun, a lot less silly than you expect it to be with a story that oozes both Stephen King and John Carpenters masterpiece The Fog (if the fog was sort of an actual creature that swirled around and made people explode into a pile of dust). The movie gets into the mayhem right away and never looses it momentum straight up to the satisfyingly cheesy end. It isn't much of a horrormovie but still manages to pull off a good atmosphere and actually kills off way more people than I have ever seen in a Syfy movie.

The last movie of the bunch was House of bones, another damn fine production that not only manages to do a decent parody of all those silly Ghost hunter shows but is also a fun horrormovie with a concept I would have liked to see on a much higher budget. The crew of Sinister sites, a ghosthunting show with ratings sinking investigate a house with a dark history only to discover that it wants to kill them all and absorb them to sate its hunger. While not really a very scary movie, House of bones has a really good premise, an engaging cast (Corin Nemec and Charisma Carpenter for instance) and some minor gore to keep things interesting from beginning to end. And while speaking of the ending, it is actually a really good one. Maybe not very original but the intensity it goes down with is really good.

So, I had a really good time with these three movies and both Ghost storm and House of bones gave me hope for the future of Syfy originals.

torsdag 7 mars 2013

Oily maniac (1976)

This fine piece of Shaw Brothers exploitation tells the story of a cripple (polio as a child) that kills all the bad people he knows by turning himself into an Oily monster thanks to a magic spell he got from a friend. Look at this supreme awesomeness that is the title character!

This is how a rubbermonster should look like!

Highlights of the movie include stomping on the head of an evil plastic surgeon who is about to restore the hymen of a prostitute so that she can be sold as a virgin once more. That is one perfectly strategically placed bottle, eh?

Seriously, what I think of this movie is quite irrelevant. Just look at that monster!

Ok, so it might not be the best movie ever made, but with that monster... Besides the lovely monster that I can't stop talking about the movie contains a lot of nudity, a bit of gore, something that is awfully similar to the Jaws theme everytime the Oily maniac roams around the neighborhood and several cool kung fu fights where the monster gets an arm or a leg chopped of, only for it to grow back instantly using stop motion. No, it really isn't very good at all and I might just be a bit biased because of the AWESOME monster, but I cant help it. Did I mention that the monster has glowing yellow eyes. can swim on walls and ceiling as a giant puddle and can jump really high?

onsdag 6 mars 2013

First man into space (1959)

That First man into space is the main inspiration for schlock-classic The Incredible melting man is pretty damn obvious with its blooddrinking mutant astronaut roaming around in the countryside looking for victims. Testpilot Dan Prescott has issues with boundaries, more specifically the boundaries within Earths atmosphere. During an experiment he goes higher than anyone has ever gone before, actually managing to leave the atmosphere but ends up inside a cosmic dustcloud that covers his spacecraft and cuts off all communication. The ship is later found in New Mexico but with no trace of the astronaut. It doesn't take long before he appears again, covered in the cool looking spacedust and thirsty for human blood and it's up to Dans brother and his girlfriend to stop him.

Ok, so I lied a little in the previous sentence: "It doesn't take long before he appears again". How the hell can 77 minutes feel so long?! The answer to that question is, fill it with a shitload of stockfootage of people operating radios! It actually takes the movie half an hour before they deliver the astronaut into the cloud of dust and it's a looong ride. But, fortunately, things get a lot better after that. When the dustcovered flesheater finally appears the movie settles into being really fun and even somewhat tense from time to time. He isn't actually evil but something has happened to his body that makes him crave blood and a craving is something you can't deny, hence my 2700+ dvdcollection. That he looks like he is covered from head to to in burnwounds makes him really effective and the filmmakers even manages to make us feel some sympathy for what remains of Prescott, in an ending that is way better than you would expect for this type of low budget scifischlock. The script is actually over all fairly serious and if they had had a bigger budget this could have been a classic. As it is now there is way too much stock footage and it's actually pretty hard to get England to look like New Mexico but f you like this type of movie and have some patience to get you through the first dull half hour you will come out of the experience a better man/woman.

tisdag 5 mars 2013

Dawn of the mummy (1981)

Here is a movie that tends to get generally bad review everywhere and I cannot for the love of Burial ground understand why. Sure, it is far from a perfect movie but it has that certain something and most importantly, never gets boring which is more than I can say of all the bigbudget slashers that pop up on the moviescreens on a regular basis. I mean, it is just pure exploitation. Dawn of the mummy is a fairly typical zombiemovie with obvious references to Fulci & co, with the only difference being the fact that there are mummies instead of zombies. It adds nothing new to the genre but is just so much fun!

The plot is simple: An american group of models are on a photosession in the Egyptian desert. They meet a trio of looters who have just found the tomb of Safirman and barge in to use the place as a setting for their flashy photos. The looters let them go on with their business, afraid of being reported to the police. But when the crew set up really strong lights some sort of process is set in motion, resurrecting the evil Safirman who proceeds to raise his slaves from the dead and soon an orgy of fleasheatings starts as they set upon a wedding in a nearby village.

Dawn of the mummy is an American/Egyptian/Italian coproduction with amongst others Maurizio Trani on gore sfx duty which makes it feel a lot like your average Italian goremovie. It was shot in Egypt which makes for a nice change in scenery even though the cinematography is a bit dull (I attribute this to the fact that DOTM has never had a good dvdrelease, all of them have pretty mediocre transfers) it still feels slightly exotic with fleasheating mummies running around in the desert. The acting isn't one of the movies strong points, ranging from amateurish to overacting like your life depended on it but it still fits the movie. Frank Agramas direction is what saves the movie and he creates a number of nicely staged scenarios that end up with a bit of gore, apart from some rather obvious day for night scenes. Other than those little nitpicks we do have a fine goremovie full of split heads, eyegougings and a lot of feasting on human flesh, all made with above average sfx and cool zombie makeup that look like it's straight out of a Fulciflick. All of this adds up perfectly into a cozy little zombiemovie that deserves more respect than it's getting. Guilty pleasure at its finest!

The Anchor bay dvd isn't a very good one, the transfer is ugly and muddy but it does have one great extra: a commentary track with Frank Agrama, the director. Not very scene specific, Agrama talks a lot about making a low budget horror movie in Egypt, distribution and dubbing. In short, extremely interesting stuff.

Here is the cool trailer and a nice gorescene. For the swedish readers, doesnt it sound like the victim is humming the theme from Boktipset? :)