torsdag 28 augusti 2014

Star crystal (1986)

Star Crystal really wants to be Alien but ends up like the slow little cousin that maybe stayed under water for an extended period of time and suffered brain damage because of oxygen depravation. It plays out its cards straight, an expedition on Mars discovers a strange egglike object in the ground and brings it onboard their spaceship. On route they are all killed and their craft taken to a spacestation that has some sort of meltdown and explodes, leaving only five survivors on the very same ship. Soon enough they start to die one by one, killed by a tentacled creature that somehow has control over the ship.

Sounds good, eh? Not really. I could go on and on about the low budget inhibiting the scifi elements of the story, the very strange design of the spacecraft where every room is connected by small tunnels and the piss poor acting but I will leave you with one thing. The ending. There will be SPOILERS now but frankly, read on. It will spare you 90 minutes that you will never get back. You see, while killing the crew one by one and sucking their bodies dry of all fluids the alien creature accesses the ships computer to learn about humanity and ends up reading the bible. Then everyone becomes friends, the alien apologizes and everyone departs as friends. There is even a scene towards the end where we are supposed to feel sorry for the creature as it is left behind. Yes. I'm not making this up. End of SPOILERS.

So, what we have here is a cheap Alien ripoff with one of the most preposterous endings of all time. At least it is weird enough to be one of those "Ok, did you hear about the one where..." movies.

And I love that poster which has nothing to do with the movie, it feels more like it was ripped off from Lifeforce. Those were the days when the poster really meant something.

måndag 18 augusti 2014

Dead Shadows (2012)

Dead shadows has frankly one of the coolest stories that I have ever seen. When a comet comes close to earth people start to mutate into strange tentacled beings. Think Lovecraft and The Thing, a match made in heaven alright. The makeup sfx are frankly awesome, lots of melting people and other fun stuff. The CGI is uneven but works well and there are a couple of nice scenes of mass destruction. Unfortunately, that is about the only thing that is good about the movie.

For starters, the script is awful. The dialogue is mostly just juvenile and the plot plain bad. The main character goes from introvert recluse with a fear of the dark so strong that he has to medicate himself to a superfighter that can handle two baseball bats at the same time to take down hordes of infected people (and walk in darkness without being afraid). It's like there is a large chunk of plot missing, like an Edge of tomorrow montage where he trained himself over and over again into perfection. And speaking of the fightscenes, the soundeffects are atrocious. Everytime out hero hits someone with his bat it sounds like he is striking a sandbag, like they are using the same soundeffect every time. It sounds cheap, like an 1990 Amiga computergame.

This is a shame since the visual side of Dead shadows is frankly astounding, especially since the budget was fairly low. There is quite a lot of excellent gore and fun tentacled horror so watch the movie for that, not its dumb plot. And it has one of the finest melting faces I have seen in years. And a naked Spiderwoman. Yay for naked Spiderwomen!

Oh! I almost forgot, it has a tentaclerape scene too! If you are into that.

måndag 11 augusti 2014

Oltre il guado aka Across the river (2013)

An ethologist is tracking animals in a remote mountain forest and get's trapped in a ruined village when the river he crossed get's too high for him to go back. He continues with his work but starts to find dead animals everywhere, hears strange sounds coming from ruined buildings and one one occasion sees two ghostly girls caught on one of his remote cameras. At first our hero has the safety of his RV to stay sane but when it goes missing he has to spend the nights in the ruined village and that is when the horror really starts to set in.

Across the river is basically the essence of a slowburner, the entire movie revolves around the main character as he roams the village (mostly at night of course) in search for whatever it is he is hearing. To be fair, there isn't really much going on here, the movie takes its sweet time building atmosphere and if you are expecting your average j-horror inspired shocker from seeing the dvdcover you will be sorely disappointed. What the movie delivers on is an excellent location and a protagonist that is quite believable, acting rationally in a very strange situation and that does a lot in keeping it from descending into something that easily could have been just silly. It is mostly a one man show apart from a couple of scenes with an old couple to fill in a bit of backstory and that is what makes the movie work. The sense of loneliness together with an unknown threat lurking in the darkness helps tremendously with the suspense. It's not perfect, however strong the atmosphere may be the movie still moves just a little bit too slow but apart from that I had a decent enough time and the finale is quite creepy.

Maybe not for everyone but an accomplished movie that you might enjoy on a dark night with the lights turned off.

fredag 8 augusti 2014

Savaged (2013)

Young deaf-mute girl goes on a roadtrip in the New Mexico desert before she moves in with her boyfriend and ends up being a witness to a group of racist rednecks murdering two native american men. They proceed to rape and torture her before finally deciding to finish her off and burying her alive but her nearly dead body is found by a shaman who performs a ritual that binds her soul to the spirit of a very angry native american warrior. Now she is back from the dead and pretty fucking angry.

Normally I really don't care for rape/revenge movies but decided to give Savaged a spin after reading a couple of positive reviews online and realizing that it had a supernatural element (I am a sucker for any horror based on native american myths and stories). I'm really glad I did. Yes, it starts out pretty nasty with the raping and the torturing but it really isn't dwelled on in any lenghty detail. It's when the girl comes back from the dead when the fun really begins as she goes on a gory rampage, killing the rednecks one by one while slowly turning into a bloody mess.

While some of the special effects aren't very special (in particular a visual effect concerning a toppling car) the rest of the movie is quite good. Amanda Adrienne is not a very imposing figure, very thin and slender, but she comes off really well as a woman possessed by an angry spirit and the makeup of her slowly rotting and damaged body is excellent. The rest of the cast have roles that doesn't require them to do much more than to be as repulsive as possible (the filmmakers work overtime reminding you that these people deserve everything that is done to them - and more) but they are all in on it, making you giggle with joy as they are disposed of with tender love and gore. And gore is what you get here, decapitations and disembowelements galore. The tone of the movie does turn slightly less serious as the vengeance starts going down but I think that's why I enjoyed this movie so much, it isn't as depraved as I expected it to be. Instead of a dark and depraved thriller we get a ghoulishly messy supernatural horror (with a nice and sad little love story included) and we need more of those.

In short: Fun and gory horror that was way more fun than I expected. Recommended.

onsdag 6 augusti 2014

Mr Jones (2013)

A young couple goes to a cabin in the Californian hills to shoot a documentary (never heard that one before). They have some personal issues (of course) but all of that is forgotten when they happen upon a strange cabin filled with grotesque scarecrows and realize that they have stumbled upon the legendary Mr Jones, a Banksy type sculptor who has been an enigma in the art scene for many years, causing nightmares to the people that has his sculptures. But when they start to dig deeper they realize that Mr Jones might just be building the fucked up pieces of art as protection against something, to hold something back...

Mr Jones has an exceptional concept and the sculptures/scarecrows are awesome pieces of art (I wouldn't mind owning one myself, not that my girlfriend would ever let me display one and I understand her). The first fortyfive-ish minutes or so are excellent but it is when we slowly start to be shown why Mr Jones is doing what he does this that things start to fall apart. A bit of SPOILERY talk now: There is some talk about the border between the living world and the dreaming world being a bad place and while the concept is sound enough and quite intriguing, this means that you the audience is subjected to a lot of random dreamlike imagery and while nicely shot (quite a few cool shots of the crows) it is just too random to be more than just interesting. I like it when horror goes into slightly Lovecraftian territory and Mr Jones shows off some fleeting images and odd sounds, I just don't like it as much when it is drenched through a dreamhaze. End of SPOILERS. It just doesn't hold up, a bit more straightforward horror here would have done wonders here. Still, the ending, while pretty ambigious, ties everything up fairly well.

Oh, it's found footage as well (until the final act. Sort of) which will put some people off.

Flawed but interesting and incredibly well designed, Mr Jones is worth your while. It's just that it could have been so much better but the filmmakers wanted something else.

måndag 4 augusti 2014

Zombi 3 (1988)

I know I was not the only one to be disappointed by Zombi 3 when I finally managed to aquire a bootleg vhs most likely around 1989-1990. The poster was awesome, we were promised gore and mayhem and expectations were sky high. And we got something very different from what we thought we would get.

The worst thing you could do when watching Zombi 3 for the first time is to compare to what is frankly a masterpiece of Italian horror, Zombi 2. The reason for this is that they are entirely different bodies with no connection whatsoever. Where Zombi 2 is a slow, moody piece of horror with a general feeling of old 50:s and 60:s horror (albeit with a bit more grue), Zombi 3 is a product of it's own era, a fastpaced actionpacked piece of cheese that is so firmly attached to the actionmovies of the 80:s that it is virtually impossible for it to age well. Even when it was released it felt like a parody of itself. I partly blame Fragasso and Mattei for this, just take a look at their output of the time and you'll see a pattern. Fulci can't be excused either, there isn't really anything in Zombi 3 that shows the hand of the same master that gave us such iconic movies as Zombi 2 and The Beyond. I'm guessing that this is partly due to declining health but more importantly that the crew he had weren't his old troopers like Sergio Salvati or Gianetto De Rossi. The quality of his 70:s and early 80:s movies is nowhere to be seen, replaced with a general aura of cheapness.

With all of that negativity out of the way, I won't deny that Zombi 3 is a very entertaining movie. The pace is strong, getting into the zombieaction fairly quickly and it does manage to maintain it until the end. There is enough tacky gore and absurd events to keep you from being bored and it does have a pretty damn good score as well, most likely the best thing about the entire movie.

So whatever you do, don't expect another Zombi 2, think more of Hell of the living dead. For me that isn't that much of a bad thing, as long as you are aware of it.