Friday, August 29, 2014

The Ten Plagues Are Back

My goal has been reached for the second month in a row. Just four more to get through. I will hopefully get one more in this month if all goes well and I can get this review done before I fall asleep. It has been a busy day at work, so feeling rather tired today. Anyway, my next review will likely be for Top Horror Movies Club, so I will post a link for it once I have it done. For here I watched The Reaping (2007). I remember when this movie came out, and I had wanted to watch it then, but for whatever reason I never got around to it. I probably would have watched it much sooner, but I tend to keep putting newer films at the top of my queue.

Katherine (Hilary Swank) is someone who has decided to debunk religious miracles. She was once a missionary with a husband and little girl. Both died and now Katherine has lost her faith in God. So far she has yet to meet a miracle that can't be explained by science. She is asked to come out to a small town called Haven where a young child was found dead. The river in which the child was found has turned red and the fish are dying. Katherine decides to investigate the phenomena because another child is in danger, because the town folk seem to think she has something to do with it. Katherine's assistant Ben (Idris Elba) heads out to Haven with her and they soon find the river. While walking around in the river, frogs begin to fall seemingly from the sky. Katherine encounters Loren (AnnaSophia Robb), who is being blamed for things. But who or what is really causing the plagues, and are they on our side?

I admit that I was a bit confused by The Reaping at first. I don't know if the story was a little confusing, or maybe I wasn't giving it enough attention at first. I thought that Loren was the child that was killed for a good while. If they said otherwise prior to first seeing Loren on screen, then I just missed it. Early on they give Loren a supernatural feel. She causes people to have visions when she is touched or touches someone, and can quickly disappear when she needs to. I guess this is why I thought she was a ghost or something like that at first. It turns out that she is alive and well, but has powers so to speak. Once I had the story straight, I just had to figure out who's side Loren is on. Director Stephen Hopkins does a good job at keeping one guessing as to what is really going on. While religion plays a big part in the story, I didn't feel it was beating us over the heads with it...until the end. I was enjoying the film until it came to the point that Katherine needed to regain her faith. The story had been leaning that way for some time, but I wasn't really sure if that was the direction it was actually going to take. Once it rounded that corner and made it official, I started losing interest. I'm not against religion, just not into it much at all. I have liked other films that deal with religion though, but The Reaping wasn't really one of them this time around. I didn't hate this film or anything. In fact the mystery of who is actually bad kept me into it. I didn't think that the payoff was all that great though.

There wasn't a lot of effects to be found, and what is there looked to be all CGI. They weren't really bad, but they are easy to spot all the same. Nothing gory happens, which was a bit of a disappointment. The acting wasn't too bad. I liked Swank's character more than I liked her really. She isn't a bad actress at all, don't get me wrong. David Morrissey has a fairly big role in the film. I guess one could call him the male lead. There is a sex scene between the two that seems to have caused some confusion. It seemed pretty obvious that the two characters wanted to have sex with each other, but for some reason, some people seem to think Katherine was forced into it. Either she was drugged or had too much to drink, which of course didn't seem the case to me.

In some ways The Reaping reminded me of the film The Seventh Sign. I can't say that I have all that many horror films that use the ten plagues as a plot point, so that was refreshing and was what got me into the film. Well, that and a scientific explanation for such things. Even though I was disappointed with the ending, and the news right at the end of the film that Katherine can easily get around if she wants to, it wasn't that bad of a movie overall. If you haven't watched this one yet...I'm not really going to suggest going out to find it. I will leave this one up to all of you. If it sounds interesting then by all means give it a try. It was worth a watch to me, and I will likely watch it again if I should catch it on somewhere. If it doesn't sound all that interesting then you can always find something else to watch.
3 out of 5 Science rules!

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

What If Re-Animator Was A Comedy?

I had to take one of my cats to the vet after work, which left me enough time to get a movie in, but not enough time to get the review started. I got the cat back home now, so hopefully I can get the meds down her that she needs. Anyway, that has been my excitement for the week so far outside of work. Not very exciting is it? I watched the next film on the DVD from the movie pack I'm working through, which would be Reanimator Academy (1992). While a horror movie, sort of anyway, I didn't really get how the movie made it onto the movie pack since it is more bad comedy than anything else.

Edgar Allen Lovecraft has been working on bringing the dead back to life. He lives at a college frat house, DED Heads as they like to be called, and looks older than everyone else there. One day, while going over his notes, he feels he has discovered something that will work. Testing on a head that he has been carrying around, and it comes back to life. Fred the head likes to crack jokes a lot. Meanwhile, a couple of gangsters are upset with Hotlips, a hooker. They feel that Hotlips has been holding money from them, so they kill her. Except the lead gangster then decides it was a mistake to kill here since she was the love of his life. They ready about Edgar in a newspaper, and decide to take Hotlips over to him so he can bring her back to life. It works, but women react...differently to being brought back to life.

I'm assuming that someone out there would like the humor in this movie, but it missed the mark with me a lot. I don't mind comedy in my horror films, but rarely does a spoof work for me. The director, listed as Judith Priest, mixes in some odd styles that I'm not really sure how anyone filming it thought it would be all that funny. Hotlips and the gangsters, I'm not listing the actors because character names aren't listed on IMDb and very few were even in the credits of the film, had a 1920's feel to them. This had a lot to do with the way they dressed, but I don't think the comedy aspects are too far off for that time period between the three either. Then there is Fred the head, who throws out jokes are more modern, I suppose anyway, he does use a lot of head jokes. Even though they generally film the head in a way you can't see what is controlling it, once in a while we do get to see the arm leading into the head. As for the horror part of the film, it isn't much at all. Hotlips is shot to death off camera, which all were in the face apparently. Hotlips goes on a killing spree once she figures out she is super strong now and can knock someone's head off with one punch.

This of course leads to the effects for Reanimator Academy, which are as simple as they can possibly get. The gunshot wounds look more like bug bites. The dead body we see being carried in for Edgar to bring back to life is obviously a mannequin wrapped in a sheet. The heads that Hotlips punches off also appear to be mannequins. The acting was okay for this type of movie I suppose. The timing of the jokes wasn't to bad for the most part, and no one was acting like they were reading their lines. Can't say I was impressed with anyone though. There was some nice eye candy to be found in the background at times, but no nudity.

Something that didn't make a lot of sense to me was that the gangsters and Edgar was trying to follow Hotlips while picking up knocked off heads in her wake. While it did make me smile a little the way they were doing this at times, I had to wonder what happened to the bodies the heads were attached to. The bodies just disappeared. Normally I reserve my lowest score for films that I feel are really bad that also have really bad acting. Reanimator Academy doesn't completely fit that, but I just wasn't into this movie at all. I know I will never watch it again, which generally I might watch a 2 star rated film again someday. As for all of you, unless I made you really curious about Reanimator Academy somehow, then I wouldn't bother with it if I was you.
1 out of 5 At least it made me want to watch Re-Animator again

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Never Crash On Government Land

I feel better about getting 10 reviews in this month now. With just two more to go, and a whole week in front of me, I don't see why I won't at least get 10 in. Since I had such a piss poor start for the first half of the year, I'm hoping to drop in 10 posts each month at the last half. With that in mind, I checked my instant watch list and noticed that Area 407 (2012) will be taken out in a few days. Since I was looking to watch something off that list, it seemed like a good a time as any to give this movie a try.

Sisters Trish (Abigail Schrader) and Jessie (Samantha Lester) are flying from NY to LA on a late flight New Years Eve. Trish is using her older sister's video camera and is talking and filming pretty much everyone she meets. Trish and Jessie start to talk to Jimmy (James Lyons), a photographer, and Laura (Melanie Lyons), who we later find out is a Federal air marshal. Just after the new year rings in, the plane starts to get into some very bad turbulence and then they go down. A few people survive the crash and they decide to wait near what is left of the plane in case rescue crews show up. After an hour though, no one has come. As they try to decide on what to do next, something large attacks one of them and the rest decide it is no longer a good idea to stay put.

I don't know why, but I seem to be watching a fair share of found footage type films lately. Area 407 actually falls squarely into that sub-genre. Instead of a film that is just shot in a first-person point of view, this "film" is actually found by someone. This style of filming doesn't always bug me too much. I still get annoyed by the camera moving around so much at times, but that seems to be the direction film makers are going these days. My complaining about it isn't going to change it much. Area 407 annoyed me in some different ways though. According to IMDb, co-directors Dale Fabrigar and Everette Wallin shot this in 5 days and all the lines are ad-libbed by the cast. To be honest, it shows...a lot. Sometimes the actors seem to stumble over what they are wanting to say. This bugged some people, but I do that when I get angry/excited over something and talk to fast. What I found kind of neat about the story was that more than one person would hold the camera and film. Being dark out almost the entire film, I can get why they never left the camera behind, it was a source of light for them. I could tell that the director had a hand in what was being filmed though. A good example of this was before the first attack. We can hear someone yelling, along with some strange animal noises. Three of the survivors are yelling back, trying to get a response from whoever is out there. The person filming at that time goes from person to person filming them and their reactions instead of filming where all the noises are coming from. Since stuff like that happens a lot, one has to wonder why the person holding the camera isn't worried about whatever is out there and is busy filming everyone else.

The story was alright. Even though we don't get a good look at what is after our survivors until the very end of the film, it isn't hard to figure out what it is from the small glimpses that we do get prior to that. Despite something hunting people down, there are no effects and no kills shown on screen. Th emost we get for effects are cuts and lots of blood on the survivors. More often than not, we hear a noise and then we are told by someone that one of the others is now gone. Once in a while something is shown being dragged away by something unseen or being thrown through the air, that is it basically. The acting was okay. I wasn't really all that impressed by anything, but didn't feel anyone was cringe worthy either. I don't think that Abigail Schrader is as bad in the film as a lot of people seem to think, but to each their own. She is rather annoying at first, but doesn't say or do much once the crash happens. Personally I thought that James Lyons was the best of the bunch. Brendan Patrick Connor does a good job of being the asshole of the group. Never wanting to really do what the rest come up with and gets into arguments often. There is also Ken Garcia and Samantha Sloyan who have smaller roles, but are still around a while.

Another thing that annoyed me was Laura not explaining who she is. I get it on the flight, she isn't supposed to be known. I don't really see a reason to hide it longer after the crash though. It isn't until an hour goes by, and someone gets attacked, that she explains who she is. I didn't see the point of not explaining it sooner when people are hurt and fighting about what to do next.The ad-libbing everything isn't the first time a found footage film has gone that way. While allowing the actors to ad-lib everything doesn't happen often for a film, it does give it a bit more sense of being real. However, I hope that the two directors will take a bit more than 5 days to film next time in order to fix some problems. One of the few things I can come up with was the ending. It wasn't something I was expecting to happen, although it makes sense. If you haven't watched Area 407 yet, I wouldn't have you rush out to watch it. While not everyone gives it bad reviews, they are a little harder to find. I can't say that I flat out hated this one, but it came pretty close for me. Area 407 must have done something right though since there is a sequel out there for it...I think. IMDb lists it as released, and there is a poster and trailer out there, but I can't find it anywhere.
2 out of 5 At least it wasn't aliens attacking everyone

Saturday, August 23, 2014

A Party With Demons Part Two

I'm so looking forward to a three day weekend next week. I will still have to go through a full work week before getting it though. I feel I'm a little behind getting ten posts in this month, but I still feel it can be done. After this one, I will just need three more. I did get a review done for Stage Fright, so if you are interested in my thoughts on that film, just follow the link. For here I watched the next DVD I have from Netflix Night Of The Demons 2 (1994). This is a film I knew about, but this is my first time actually watching it.

At a Catholic school, a school dance is just days away. Some of the girls are in same dorm room including Bibi (Cristi Harris), Terri (Christine Taylor) and Shirley (Zoe Trilling) are fairly close friends. There is also Melissa (Merle Kennedy), or Mouse as a lot of them call here, who gets picked on mostly by Shirley. After being caught with a boy, wrestling around on the tennis court no less, Shirley and friends are told to stay in the room the night of the dance by Sister Gloria (Jennifer Rhodes). Of course Shirley and the guys have other plans, such as sneaking out and having their own dance at an old house rumored to be haunted. The same house from the first film, and of course, Angela (Amelia Kinkade) is there waiting.

It wasn't all that long ago when I watched Dead End Drive-In. To my surprise, Night Of The Demons 2 is by the same director, Brian Ternchard-Smith. If you have ever watched Night Of The Demons, then you will get pretty much the same thing here. The sequel is slightly better in that we get to know the characters more than we did in the first film. I could be wrong, since I watched the original film back in 2006 and haven't watched it since then, but I seem to recall the characters getting to the house fairly quickly in that film. In this one, it takes a good while before they get to the house. Angela does show up though, as we discover early on that Melissa is Angela's sister, so she has dreams about Angela. It was nice to get to know the characters, but it does take a good while to get to the horror stuff. What was a little odd to me is that they go to the house, leave to come back for the school dance, and then go back to the house again. I don't recall anything about running water this time, which is what kept the demons in the house last time around. The lipstick is back, but used differently this time. One thing that Ternchard keeps is the same feel as the original film and it is a direct sequel. Even though Angela is the only character to return, at least the events of the last film are mentioned a couple of different times.

The makeup and effects are pretty good. I sure wouldn't want to have to deal with the teeth that they have to put in once they turn into demons. They look like they would be a real pain to deal with. Things get fairly gory at times. Heads get cut off, with plenty of blood squirting up, and there are plenty of melting demons to be found. There is also a pretty cool snake like demon at the end. The acting was also good. I was surprised to see Christine Taylor in a film like this one. Of course I'm pretty sure that this was filmed before she started getting big. Zoe Trilling made a convincing bad girl, although I must say she gives the guys in the film a lot of mixed signals, which can turn into a bad thing. Cristi Harris was probably the best I thought. The guys in the film are Darin Haemes, Robert Jayne, Rod McCary, Johnny Rhodes and Rick Peters.

I thought that some aspects of Night Of The Demons 2 are better than the original film, I didn't end up loving it as much as the original. It is still a fun film, and one I would watch again anytime that I can. I did enjoy the 80's feel that this one gave off. That includes plenty of nudity as well. From just random girls in the dorms to some of the main characters as well. If you even so much as liked the first film, you really should check out Night Of The Demons 2. It is very much a worthy sequel. There is also a third film, in which Amelia Kinkade comes back for as well, but it doesn't seem to be on DVD yet, at least Netflix doesn't have it listed.
3 out of 5 Have to admit there was some nice nudity

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Mind Control At Its Finest

I'm hoping to get to at least ten posts this month, with is actually my goal for the rest of the year. I should be able to get that many in since I'm in the right mood for reviewing films lately. Plus I plan to go to a local film festival in a couple of weeks, so will have some movies to write about then. In the mean time, I checked out the next film on the movie pack I've been watching. This one is called The Parasite (1997). According to an article published not long after the film was finished, director Andy Froemke went bankrupt after completion.

Professor Richard Austin (David Gaffney) is a confirmed skeptic.While at a party, Professor John Wilson (Robert Taminga) introduces him to Helena (Julia Matias). Helena claims to be able to mesmerism people. This is a form of hypnosis where you can make people do what they normally wouldn't do. Helena asks Audrey (Marissa Hall), Richard's girlfriend, to go through this to prove she can do this. Helena makes it so that Richard can't put Audrey's arm down. Richard doesn't seem all that impressed though, and gets with John in order to do some experiments with Helen where Richard will be the one to under go hypnosis. Like others before him, Richard is about to find out that her power is real, and she will make him do things he doesn't want to do.

I found Parasite to be an odd film really. So far this is the oldest film I have watched on the movie pack, but it looks even older. Many have described it as an old TV movie, and it does have that feel and look about it. Much like an old TV movie, there is a lot of talk with not a lot of action. Froemke gives the plot an interesting idea. I can't say that I have ever heard of mesmerism, but it appears to be a real thing, just not how Foremke wants us to believe. That's fine, it is just a movie after all. The thing is, mesmerism in the film has more of a telepathy feel more than anything. Helena can get someone she has put into this state once before seemingly whenever she wants, wherever she is. She can also interact/control a person's dream as well. This is really what made me believe it was a form of telepathy, not some form of hypnosis. Helena seems to only have one thing in mind with this power really, to get the guys. I could think of better things to do with powers like that, but whatever. Helena does it ass backwards though. By getting the guys to do things they don't want to do, like kill other people, I don't get how that will force them into loving her and be more than happy to be with her. While The Parasite has some good moments here and there, for the most part I had a bit of a hard time getting through it. With not a lot going on, it was easy to lose interest in the story which also wasn't all the exciting either.

The Parasite does offer up some descent effects at least. The best effect was in a dream sequence where Audrey has her hands in Richard's chest. It wasn't the best effect ever, but it got the job done and looked pretty cool. The acting wasn't bad, but nothing real great either. For the type of movie that it is, the acting gets by just fine. I liked Marissa Hall the best I think. I wasn't real impressed with her, but she is pretty at least. No nudity to be found though Hall is in the shower for a couple of scenes. Don't get to see anything though.

I never found out what Richard teaches. He is barely in a class room. We see him there maybe twice if I remember right. He does talk about a parasite at one point though, so maybe that was a clue to what he teaches. Not that it mattered to the plot, but would have been nice to know all the same. I didn't find The Parasite to be one of the worst films out there, but I didn't really care for it all that much. The ending, which has something of a twist to it, doesn't really make a lot of sense as far how it could have happened. If Helena could do that, I don't know why she just didn't do it sooner then. Anyway, unless you plan to watch every film in the pack like I will be doing, I don't know that I would suggest it for anyone else.
2 out of 5 Crazy professors are the best classes

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Bloody Spirits

Hopefully I will get myself back on track now. I went 8 days without a review here, which is way longer than was meant. I'm still wanting to watch movies and do reviews, just things were preventing me from being able to do that in a timely way. Anyway, I'm thinking of going to the theater tomorrow to get out the house for a bit. I also discovered that there will be another V/H/S film later this year. That is for later though. For now I decided to watch the film Shallow Ground (2004) since it was the next film in my DVD queue that I could watch on instant watch.

At a remote Sheriff's station, that is being closed up, a teen aged boy (Rocky Marquette) walks in naked and covered in blood. He doesn't talk at all and Stuart (Stan Kirsch) and Laura (Lindsey Stoddart) aren't really sure what to do with him. Stuart picks up Jack (Timothy V. Murphy), who tries to get some information about what is going on. Jack is haunted by the death of Amy (Tara Killian), who was abducted and strung up when Jack found her. He blames himself because he left her while looking for the person who did it, and the Amy disappears once again. Not getting anything out of the boy, Jack asks Darby (Natalie Avital) to run some tests on the blood that the boy is covered in to see if it is human or animal. She figures out that the blood is that of more than one person, and the finger prints from the boy turn up more than one person as well. What could all this possibly mean and what is it that the boy wants?

I was impressed with Shallow Ground. Writer/director Sheldon Wilson brings us a film that he did on a reported $72,000 budget. What impressed me so much was really the story. Wilson takes a story that has been done before, but gives it a good twist to update it. Shallow Ground could have easily been a zombie or ghost story, which is why I liked the direction that Wilson took instead. The plot takes a while to show its cards, but it never really gets boring before that. I found it fun since I was trying to figure out what the hell was going on and how everything could possibly tied together. The story isn't perfect, as it is a little confusing, especially if you don't pay attention to what characters have to say at key times. Even still, the story doesn't make complete scene because of one scene where Stuart shoots someone for their crimes. I'm not alone in my confusion, as I personally thought we were seeing Stuart, not the guy Stuart shoots, that was doing bad things. Outside of that, the story wasn't all that hard to follow. Wilson tries to show that what is happening isn't just local. I'm not sure that worked very well, or maybe it would have been better if it had just been left out. There is a subplot there, which I think is why Wilson tried to show it wasn't just a local thing. But, I also thought this subplot could have worked at the local level just as well. The ending scene was fun, but also confusing.

For a low budget film, I think the effects will impress most people as well. They could have been better, like more blood with some scenes. There is a lot of blood when it comes to the boy. A scene that looked cool, but could have been bloodier is when we see a hand under someones skin. Some seem to think that the acting was the weakest part of the film. I didn't think it was so bad really. For the most part Shallow Ground as a small cast. I enjoyed Timothy V. Murphy in the lead role. He was believable to me for his role. I also liked Natalie Avital, but that could just be because she was doing a version of my job in the film.

Speaking of Jack and Darby, I liked that most of the characters was given a small back story. It wasn't always much, but still appreciated by me. I also liked the way the visions we see was filmed. Wilson set them apart with their look from the rest of the film. For those interested, there is some nudity by Avital and Killian. It isn't a lot in truth, but they both look nice at least. Even though I'm really impressed with Shallow Ground, I can't say that I loved it. I really feel that this is a film that I would love once I watched it once or twice more though. It has what it needs, but it does get a little too confusing in places as far as the story goes. If you have never checked out Shallow Ground then I would suggest doing so. It is different enough to stand out I think. Not everyone agrees with me though, so of course you will be the final judge.
3 out of 5 I don't know, a guy covered in blood looked sexy

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Mr. Jones And Me

About time I got another review done for here. Even though I wanted to do some reviews, my time was taken up from playing a game for a while. While I was doing both, playing and reviewing, it still cut into my review time a lot. I haven't been playing the game all that much this week but, of course, work has been keeping me busy. I managed to get a review done for Almost Human, not the TV show, and I watched Mr. Jones (2013) for here. This is a film that caught my attention because of the trailer, so I was looking forward to giving it a watch.

Scott (Jon Foster) and Penny (Sarah Jones) have moved out into the woods together. Scott has been fighting depression and is doing his best to make a documentary film about nature. Not having any luck with that though, tensions between the two start to build since Penny left everything behind to help Scott. Then one day they discover some weird things in the woods. Figures made out if sticks and various other things as well. They also see a figure lurking in the woods. Soon they discover another cabin which appears to be the home of the figure. After nearly being caught in the cabin uninvited, Penny thinks the person is someone called Mr. Jones. Scott decides to change his focus of his documentary to Mr. Jones since hardly anything is known about the guy. Scott travels to interview some people who have had very limited contact with Mr. Jones, while Penny stays behind to take pictures and film of the new things that Mr. Jones is leaving around the country side. They are told to leave well enough alone, but of course they don't.

Mr. Jones is the type of film that you will either love it, hate it, or find yourself confused by it and therefor not sure what to think of it. Writer/director Karl Mueller gives us a film that everyone should probably watch more than one time. At first Mr. Jones comes across as a straight forward found footage style film. Scott and Penny have a good enough reason to be filming everything since they are trying to make a documentary. I still wondered why some things were being filmed, like their arguments. Part way in, it turns more into a documentary for a short while when we see the interview that Scott is doing. Roughly at the last half hour of the film, Mueller gets away from the found footage style, though not completely, and gives us more of a straight up film we are used to seeing. While many feel the first hour is the best part of the film, many people turn on the film for the last act. It is a departure from the rest of the film, and it is confusing. I'm still not real sure what all happened, but I liked the film enough to give it another go someday to see if what I think happened is actually correct. The plot seems somewhat straight forward, but I get the feeling there was more to it that had to do with Scott being on his meds anymore. It is an interesting plot, but if you aren't really giving it your full attention, you will be easily lost when the finial act roles around.

There isn't anything as far as gory effects go, but I didn't feel that Mr. Jones needed any. There are some effects to give the film a more dream like state though. There is also the stuff that Mr.Jones makes. While these aren't really effects, they do look really cool. The acting is also very good. Foster and Jones are both very good in the lead roles. Their characters make some bad choices in the film, like breaking into someones home, but some people will do whatever they can in order to get a story. Mr. Jones was played by Mark Steger. He never actually speaks, but Mueller does give a creepy look and vibe about him.

I can't tell you if you should give Mr. Jones a try. I just ask that if you do, keep an open mind with it. It was an interesting film to me, and one I will be likely watching again soon. It was confusing to me, and it did lose me a little bit. Sometimes I give films like this one a bad review, but there was something about Mr. Jones that appealed to me. A lot had to do with the creepy vibe that runs through the film. It also has to do with that the film really has me thinking about what happened. Once I watch again sometime, maybe my views and my rating will change, but time will tell on that one. If Mr. Jones sounds like a film for you, then give it a watch someday. Hopefully it will get you thinking as well.
3 out of 5 It would be cool to have one of those scarecrows