Sunday, March 29, 2015

Office Vampires

The nice thing about watching so many movies over a short time last weekend, is that I have more time to write. Some reviews I get through pretty quick, and others take me a while as I get distracted or just have trouble finding what to talk about for said movie. Anyway, I have made it through the half way point for the Saturday films. Three down, three to go. After watching The Other Side, I had time to hit the bathroom, and buy another soda. I didn't drink much Friday, and paid for it when I got up Saturday with a headache. Lucky for me, it wasn't a bad one and didn't stay long. The next feature was called Bloodsucking Bastards (2015). I figured it was a vampire film, but outside of that, I wasn't sure what to expect. Like The Caretakers before it, Bloodsucking Bastards offered up a slightly different take on vampires.

Evan (Fran Kranz) isn't having a very good time at his office. His girlfriend Amanda (Emma Fitzpatrick), who also works in the same office, has dumped him. Even though Evan holds a high position at his office, none of the other workers really seem to respect him. The position he holds is only temporary, but he is hoping his boss Ted (Joey Murray) will give him the promotion which he is also hopeful that this will fix his relationship with Amanda. The big day comes though, and Ted gives the job to Max (Pedro Pascal). Evan has to go back to his old job, along side his best friend Tim (Joey Kern). It isn't long though before Evan begins to think that vampires are slowly taking over the office.

Even though I had no idea what the plot for Bloodsucking Bastards was, I was still surprised by it in a good way. It didn't take long to figure out that this was going to be part comedy at least. I wasn't sure how the vampires would play out though. As it turns out, they aren't really there to be scary, but to add to the comedy. That isn't to say that the vampires look or act funny, they just add to the comedy in how our main characters react to them and such. The comedy really worked since it was the smart ass type of comedy that I enjoy the most. The vampires aren't really out for blood it doesn't seem, but used in a take over of sorts. It was interesting to see the two worlds mixed like that. Director Brian James O'Connell, along with his writers, doesn't bring anything new to the table, but it was certainly a different take on vampires. Think The Office, but throw in vampires.

There wasn't really a lot of special effects. There was some makeup involved for when the people who are vampires get into full vampire mode, but that was about the extent of it. Their face changes some, and of course they have fangs now. The way a vampire dies is rather funny. When one dies, it explodes more or less and sends blood all over the place. The acting was great. I liked Fran Kranz in the lead role, and oddly enough he gets top billing while the rest of the cast is in alphabetical order. The person who really stole the show to me was Joey Kern. I guess his character and humor reminded me of how I can be when joking around at my office/lab. I didn't care for Emma Fitzpatrick. I just felt her acting was a bit too low key.

As you can see, I don't have a lot to say about Bloodsucking Bastards. I've been writing on and off all day today, taking breaks in order to try to figure out what else to say about it. This wasn't really a horror movie so much as it was a straight up comedy. It got me to laugh a lot, and I wasn't alone. It was a real crowd pleasure to be sure. This would be the perfect movie to show on a horror movie night when there are some people there that aren't into horror movies all that much. If Bloodsucking Bastards sounds like your kind of movie, or if you are just looking for a fun film to watch, give this one a try.
4 out of 5 Vampires would make the office a bit more interesting

Friday, March 27, 2015

Ba-Ba-Doook!

I've been cranking out reviews since my return Sunday night. I managed to get the review I had started before leaving done, and I have written a review each night this week from the movies I watched last weekend. I got started with the movies I watched on Saturday over at my other blog with Killing Poe. The next film that was shown was one I had almost paid to rent in order to watch, The Babadook (2014). On one hand I'm glad I got to watch it for free, more or less. On the other hand I was kind of wishing I had paid to rent it, as it would have given me some more time to explore the rest of the convention instead of sitting in the screening room all day. Not that I'm complaining about doing that, since it was my main reason for going.

Samuel (Noah Wiseman) believes in monsters living under his bed. His mom Amelia (Essie Davis) goes through looking under the bed, in the closet, and usually ends up sleeping in his bed for a little while before sneaking back to her own. Samuel can also be a very annoying child outside of his home, and doesn't seem to be well liked by other kids. One night, Samuel wants Amelia to read to him before bed and picks out a book called Babadook. After reading a few pages though, Amelia stops reading it to her son and finishes it on her own. The book is basically about a monster coming for the child. Soon after, Samuel starts yelling about seeing the Babadook. With increasing nights of not getting much sleep, Amelia becomes more and more agitated. Is the Babadook real, or is Amelia simply losing her grip on reality?

The Babadook is another film that my friend Aaron told me about months back. I actually had a chance to watch it with some friends once, but they decided to wait until the last minute to tell me, so I didn't bother to go over. Anyway, there has been a lot of buzz about this movie, so I was glad to be able to watch it at last. While I did enjoy it a lot, I was a bit disappointed with it some as well. I will get into that soon enough though. Writer/director Jennifer Kent brings us a pretty interesting film. This is one that I would like to get eventually so I can watch it again. I know I will pick up on some things that I missed the first time around. Kent gives a multi-layered story, and I can tell I missed some things by the comments and such on the IMDb forum. Personally, I thought The Babadook was pretty straight forward in what it was trying to tell, no real open ending for us to decide what really happened. That is really what I didn't like about it. The story spends a lot of time with Amelia and what appears to be her slipping further into madness. I might be the Babadook if you choose to believe that, but the ending - to me at least - decided what kind of film it was for me. Some feel there still is an open ending, and maybe I will need to watch it again to see their point of view on that, but for now, I feel it isn't an open ending.

Not a lot of effects to be found. The makeup was pretty good when it was needed for Amelia. The Babadook looked pretty interesting as well. The acting was very good. Noah Wiseman gives us a kid that is easy to be annoyed by, yet it is fun just watching him being a kid in a lot of the scenes. The real star though is of course Essie Davis. While some people believe that The Babadook is something of a propaganda film for the single mom, I never felt that way about it. Davis gives us a pretty brave performance. You can tell right from the start that she is run down. While she never actually yells or anything at Wiseman, Kent made sure Wiseman wasn't in the actual scene for this, I still found it brave of Davis to give that kind of performance.

Despite my disappointment in the ending, I still very much enjoyed The Babadook. It was creepy when it needed to be. It keeps you glued to what is going on pretty much the entire time. The book itself was also pretty cool looking. I would be happy to have it in my collection any day. If you aren't really into the supernatural type films, you probably won't like The Babadook all that much. Some feel it is over hyped, and if I had not mostly ignored what others were saying about it, I might have felt the same way. I knew it was getting a lot of good buzz, but I wasn't reading about it too much. As I said above, I'm looking forward to watching this one again. If it sounds interesting to you, check it out for sure.
4 out of 5 I want my own Babadook!

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Found Headless

I managed to get through three out of the four films screened Friday. The second, and the best for the day, was Pieces Of Talent. Feel free to check out the review for that film, but make sure you head back here after. The last film for the day was Headless (2015), which was the midnight movie. To be honest, I barely made it through this film. I was so sleepy by the time it came around that I was having some trouble keeping my eyes open at times. Even though I didn't go to sleep during it, I would still like to watch again while I'm a bit more awake someday. There was actually a film between Pieces Of Talent and Headless, which I had already watched, so I hung out in the hallway reading and people watching until Headless was ready to be screened.

A killer (Shane Beasley) enjoys his work a bit too much. He loves to cut people up while they are still alive and even mutilate them. After he is done, he cuts their head off and has sex with it. We eventually start to learn that as a boy, he wasn't really right then either. It doesn't help that his mother, and even his sister, was abusive towards him, and often made him stay inside a cage. As these memories surface more and more, he spots Betsy (Ellie Church), who I think reminds him of his sister. Now he is going after Betsy and everyone she holds close to her.

If you have ever watched the film Found, then you should already know about Headless. It was a film within a film for Found. It wasn't a real film until now though. Headless was a film that the older brother was into that he had on a VHS tape, and that is how this movie is present. The movie opens with a preview for a film called Wolf Baby, which wouldn't surprise me if it managed to get the same fan support for it to be made, and then goes right into Headless as the main feature. It claims to have a copyright date of 1978, and is described as a "lost film" on IMDb. Headless does give you the feel of watching it from a VHS tape, lines appearing and all that good stuff, which wasn't the only film to do so at the convention. As I said above, I was very tired while watching this one. I was having a hard time keeping my eyes open through it. It was well past when I normally head for bed, and I had a long drive there on top of that. I did my best to only close my eyes while there was a conversation going on, so I could rest my eyes and just listen, but I know I missed some things. So, with that in mind, this is what I remember the most about the movie. It was directed by Arthur Cullipher, who was the special effects director on Found. Something I didn't always care for was some long stretches with no talking to be found, or very little. That doesn't mean nothing interesting was going on at least. I just found it slightly annoying at times. There is a kid, that only the killer can see, that was just outright creepy in a good way. The best plus was that Cullipher wasn't afraid to go places and show things that you just don't see in horror movies all that often.

The special effects are very gory and very good. They ended up winning the best special effects award. Cullipher made the comment when accepting the award the special effects is a dying thing in movies, with most being done with CGI now. I couldn't agree more actually. Headless doesn't hold back at all. Cutting breasts off, legs, and of course heads. Even though I know a knife can't cut through bone the way it was shown in the film, the forensics side of me coming out, it was still all pretty wild to watch. The acting was also very good. Ellie Church ended up with the best actress award. Don't get me wrong, she is a good actress, but I felt the award should have went to someone else. Beasley was great as the killer and was also creepy in his own right.

It seems I was one of the few in my horror circle that has watched Found that didn't know about Headless being made. I had no clue actually. Since I watched the first convention screening of it, a few years back, I just didn't make the connection by the title alone. The way the killer looked got me to thinking, but it wasn't until the killer put a head into a bowling bag that everything clicked for me. Just to get to brag a little though, I got to watch Headless before anyone in my horror circles though, so ha ha! Just kidding of course. If you loved Found, I'm positive that you will love Headless as well. The nice thing about it is, you don't have to see Found in order to get into this movie at all. It isn't tied to the other movie other than the fact it was just a movie within a movie. Unless you don't like films that are very graphic, be sure to check this one out.
4 out of 5 I wonder if I have a little girl only I can see....

Monday, March 23, 2015

Taking Care Of Vampires

This last weekend I was out of town checking out screenings for horror movies. I had a fun time all weekend, watching twelve films over three days. I also got to walk around some, very quickly at times though. While I was there I picked up some new books. I will have some serious reading to do now, a total of 1,587 pages to get through! I also decided to get an autograph from Brian Thompson. I wasn't going to get any autographs this time around, but I changed my mind eventually. Brian was a very nice guy and it was a real pleasure getting to meet him. Hopefully I can get these reviews cranked out now that I have so many films to catch up with.

It was actually a good thing that I checked which films would be screened the day before this were to kick off. The convention started at 5 pm, but the first screening was listed to start at 4 pm. I was able to plan my trip so I could check into my hotel and then grab something to eat before heading to the first screening. The first movie offered up was one called The Caretakers (2014). Even though I knew which films were going to be screened, I didn't look any of them up, so I was into each one cold, not knowing anything about them really.

The Caretakers is a vampire film that is more about the people who help the vampires more than the vampires themselves. There is the older caretaker Jack (Nick Faust) who takes care of an original vampire Catherine (April Jennings). Getting older, he knows his time is getting short, so he is training Scott (Kennith R. Root) and his daughter Jodi (Lucy Turner), who were both saved by Catherine. There is also a story about the newly made vampire Rachel (Brittney Saylor) and her boyfriend who is trying to help her Jimmy (Michael Coon). She is considered missing, so her father (Bill Johnson) has hired Parker (Joe Estevez) and Mason (Steve Hudgins) to find out what happened to her.

The Caretakers is certainly a different kind of vampire film, being more about their caretakers. We learn a lot of things about vampires mostly through Jack, while he is explaining things to Scott and Jodi. Jodi, by the way, hasn't spoken since her mom died. I won't get into that since I don't want to spoil everything. The Caretakers messes with vampire lore a little bit, saying that vampires are, more or less, an offshoot of the human race. The caretakers job is to find humans for their vampire master to feed on, and then to take care of those humans so they don't turn. Those that do turn become vampires, but a more monstrous version. The slight change in lore and the fact we are watching the caretakers more than the vampires make The Caretakers an interesting film. Still, this is a low budget film, so it may not appeal to everyone. Another strike against it, so to speak, is that there is a lot of talking and not a lot of action or horror going on. The conversations can be interesting, as they often tell us a lot about the characters we are watching, but it would have been nice if this had been broken up into smaller chunks. There really doesn't seem like much of a plot either. It turns out that all the stories come together, which I figured they would, and it centers mostly around trying to rid the world of the new monstrous vampire.

There wasn't a lot of effects to be found in The Caretakers. Some bite wounds of course from the vampires. Once in a while we see Rachel really tear into someone, as she does a bit more than just bite someone. This effect was well done at least. We also see people get killer by stabbing mostly, which is done off camera. The acting was a bit hit and miss. While everyone did a good job for the most part, there were scenes where you couldn't help but think they could have been slightly better. Even though she never said much, April Jennings was the stand out to me. She manages to give her character a lot of class I thought.

I have to give director Steve Hudgins some credit for taking on this film. I liked the change mostly because it wasn't so much about the vampires, but they still played a big part in the plot. The Caretakers was a good film, but a little too much talking at times. I'm not sure if it was the best film to kick things off with though. Given that it started an hour earlier than when the doors officially opened, unless you paid for an early in, I'm sure they didn't expect a big crowd for the first film of the day. Anyway, The Caretakers is good, but not a great film. If you are looking for something a little different for you vampire films, give this one a watch.
3 out of 5 I wonder what the pay is like?

Sunday, March 22, 2015

The Devil Loves A Good Rave

I was on a slight roll with reviews. I got three reviews in, but after that I wasn't feeling up to writing again. All is going according to plan still, hopefully I can keep it up. I watched and reviewed The Last House On Cemetery Lane over at my other blog. If you get a chance, check it out sometime. I actually got through that review fairly quick, surprised myself some. For today I decided to watch Devil's Prey (2001). It has something in common with the last movie I reviewed here, a rave party. I was considering a different movie, but what are the chances of two movies in a row having raves in them?

Couples Susan (Ashley Jones) and David (Charlie O'Connell), Eric (Bryan Kirkwood) and Samantha (Jennifer Lyons), along with the odd friend out Joe (Rashaan Nall), are looking for something to do on a Friday night. When they are handed a flyer for a rave party, they decide to head out for it. They seem to be having a good time until David bumps into someone and it causes a small fight. They get kicked out of the party, and drive away. As they are driving home though, David gets a little distracted and hits an already bloodied woman. They find out that she managed to escape some cult that was trying to kill her, and now this cult is after them as well.

Death Valley started off kind bad but got better as it went along. Devil's Prey started off good, but managed to get slightly worse as it went along. I liked the characters fairly well. One was selling drugs, but he was the only one I didn't care for too much. The others were alright. The party itself seemed pretty cool. Set up in a barn out in the country, it looked like a party that would be fun to show up for. Once they start getting chased by the cult members, it does get a little exciting. However, I thought this part of the film goes on for a bit too long. There was plenty of film left, and I couldn't really figure out where they might go with things if the big chase ever ended. It does in a way, and things slow down a lot from there again. I was a little disappointed by this, but it almost works. If it wasn't for the ending, and the bad acting that went with it, Devil's Prey might have pulled off an average film rating from me. The ending itself wasn't bad, just that acting dragged it down and made it feel very dull. There could have been an interesting twist, if the writers and director Bradford May had chosen to go there, which they didn't. Actually there is a twist that comes late, which I won't spoil, but that twist didn't make completely sense to me. I just had to wonder why this character waiting so long to show their hand. The twist I would have liked to have seen had to do with one of the characters being asked to join the cult. It would have made an interesting twist if this person had done so, I thought anyway.

Even though more than a few people are killed in this movie, there really wasn't a lot of effects. Some blood after people get stabbed and stuff like that, and there was someone who gets burned up pretty good. The makeup for that was good at least. I did enjoy the acting. Ashley Jones did a nice job in the lead role. Even though her character was maybe a bit too kind-hearted, Jones did manage to bring a toughness to the character when needed as well. Jennifer Lyons was also good. I kept telling myself I knew her from somewhere, but I couldn't figure it out until after I looked her up. Turns out I remember her from Married With Children. She played the part of Bud's girlfriend for a couple of episodes and she always stood out to me. It was cool to get to watch her in a horror movie, even if I ended up not really caring for it. As for the bad acting, this happened during one of the last scenes in the film. When things should have become real exciting by having the lead actor in trouble and the cult almost ready to claim victory, I was completely taken out of the scene by the bad acting from the bad guys.

Devil's Prey was mostly dead in the water thanks to bad pacing. The chase scene lasts way too long. The period before the storm isn't as long, but I was surprised that Bradford May and the writers decided to slow things down at that point. I think what surprised me about the bad acting towards the end was that those involved in that scene were all doing a find job prior to it. Devil's Prey wasn't a complete waste of time, but it could have been better than it turned out. In a way I would hate to say not to give this one a try, mostly because there was things I liked about it, but I won't encourage anyone to go give it a watch. If it sounds interesting to you, give it a try. You might like it better than I did.
2 out of 5 Anyone want to go to a rave with me??

Friday, March 13, 2015

Death In The Valley

I'm trying to get reviews in a bit faster now than I have. This only makes my fourth review on the month, and I won't have time to get one in next weekend. Maybe one late Sunday if all goes well. I have that Monday off, so maybe I can get a couple done that day if I can get myself to just sit and write. If all goes well, I hope to have seven done before next weekend. Time will tell. Anyway, for today I sat down to watch the movie Death Valley (2004). It is listed as a thriller, but still fits well into the horror genre. Good thing since it is the only horror related movie I have on DVD from Netflix right now. Also hoping to get caught up with my non horror movies this weekend.

Josh (Eric Christian Olsen) is working late when his friend Anthony (Bumper Robinson) shows up to pick him up. Josh blows him off because he has a lot of work to do though. When Anthony tells the news to Brick (Wayne Young) and Daniel (Rider Strong), Daniel decides he is going to get Josh to go with them no matter what. After hearing Daniel's speech, Josh decides to go as long as they get back before Monday. Where are they heading? To a rave party out in the desert of course. After some bad trips on drugs and meeting Amber (Genevieve Padalecki), who apparently hooks up with Anthony, they end up being some of the last to leave the rave the next morning. When they make it to their car, they discover that a window has been broken and all their stuff is missing. On top of that, someone also took the battery, so now they have no way getting back. After confronting some guys who got there on dirt bikes, things get ugly fast.

Death Valley surprised me a little bit. Even though I knew some of the actors in it, I've never been a fan of any of them. Not to say they are bad actors, I just never got into them is all. Co-writers and co-directors David Kebo and Rudi Liden give us a film that isn't half bad. I enjoyed the conversation that the guys were having on the way to the rave. It showed how good of friends they are to each other. Following that, they get a little lost, end up at a gas station that has some weird people, and then eventually find themselves at the rave. While I have never been to one myself, I've always wondered if drugs are as bad at them as people claim. Anyway, I found this part of the film a bit hard to get through. I didn't care about their drug trips, and if anything, it made me care less about the characters. This was too bad since it would be needed soon enough. When things go bad, Death Valley did become a better movie. There is a low key rape scene in there as well. No nudity and basically only see her reaction to it all. While I enjoyed the film once again, there were still plenty of problems to go with it. For one, the gang (for the lack of a better word for them) seems to include every local in the area. It was a bit hard to believe how many was part of the gang, I was also really surprised at how stupid one character was while flagging down someone. Just standing in the road and doing nothing when the driver doesn't stop at all. It was just a really lame way to kill someone off.

Not a lot of effects to be found. There are some good gunshot wounds to be found, but there aren't very many of those either. The acting was pretty good. The actors I knew from other films include Eric Christian Olsen, Rider Strong, Bumper Robinson and Brandon Fletcher. I wasn't real impressed with anyone, but it was cool to see some of these actors branch out into a film like this. The acting may not have impressed me a lot, but it was still well done. I thought that Vince Vieluf was the leader of the gang, but that ended up being Dash Mihok instead. Honestly, if it wasn't for the guns that bad guys of the film have, I don't think most people would take them all that seriously if they tried acting tough.

I was a but disappointed with the ending as well. There is a last battle between the leader and the last good guy that was just okay. We don't get to see the death blow, all we see instead is the shadows which show it happening. I get what the directors were trying to do there, keep us guessing as to who actually won the battle, It really wasn't a big surprise as to who wins, so it did fail. Still, overall, Death Valley wasn't too bad of a thriller. I would watch it again someday if I came across it again. It was hardly a great film, but still very watchable. Many complain it has a "been there, seen that" feel to it, but which film doesn't have that anymore? I wouldn't have anyone go out of their way to find this one, but you could do a lot worse if you should decide to give it a try.
3 out of 5 That is what they get for car pooling!

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Slimeball Is A Classic? Part Two

It took me a bit longer than intended, but I'm back with another review. I went Sunday to the theater to watch The Lazarus Effect, but I didn't get the review done until yesterday. To be honest, I just wasn't in much of a mood to write. I worked through it though and got it done, though I feel it didn't turn out the best. For here today, I went with the movie Sorority Babes In The Dance-A-Thon Of Death (1991). As it turns out, this is a sequel to the movie Sorority Babes In The Slimeball-O-Rama. I don't know if this was supposed to be an official sequel or not, but the director of the original film is listed as a producer for this film.

One of the girls in a sorority buys a crystal ball for a party. They try to summon a spirit through the ball, but end up with a demon that takes possession of Beverly (Lisa Krueger). It doesn't change how she looks, but she does act a bit crazy because of it, and of course there that whole killing her friends now deal. It is up to the old couple how sold them the crystal ball to set things right again, but is it too late?

The fact that I had never heard of Sorority Babes In The Dance-A-Thon Of Death, sequel or not, and the fact that it has shown up on a movie pack, didn't bode well for it. It doesn't take long at all to realize that this was a very low budget effort. The picture is always a tad on the fuzzy side. I don't know if it was because it was shot of VHS, or just a bad transfer. Either way, it was very annoying. The sound wasn't too bad, but there are places that are hard to hear what is being said. The story by director Todd Sheets and co-writer Misty Wolfe was okay, but not executed well at all by the actors. Even though I missed it, it is reported that you can hear Sheets yelling cut after one of the scenes. Not the first time I have come across that happening though. This ends up being an easy film to sit around with friends and poke fun at it the whole time. Watching it alone, like I did, it just becomes rather boring. The kills, the ones we do see, are very low key. There is a lot of running around though. The only plus I can really think of is that it did make me laugh a little bit a couple of times. This had more to do with how silly and/or bad things were getting though.

I don't think there were any effects to be found. I didn't notice any, but by the mid-way point, or maybe sooner, I wasn't really paying it a whole lot of attention. Now and then something would happen that would pull me back into it a little bit at least. There was a death by chalkboard eraser. Don't think I have even seen anyone be killed that way before, not that it was a good way to kill someone. The acting wasn't all that great. It wasn't that they struggled with their lines, like I have seen in some of the bad films, but they mostly just come across as very flat. The only person I bothered to get to know the character name for was Lisa Krueger's character. Not that I thought she was a good actress, which is fine since it is her only credit, but I did have a good laugh at her gone crazy laugh and the way she looked during it.

To make things worse, there is no dancing! How can you give your movie the title of Sorority Babes In The Dance-A-Thon Of Death and not include some dancing, to the death at that?!? Add to that, no nudity at all. Not that I need that to enjoy a movie, but when you find one this bad, it does help ease the pain a little bit at least...sometimes. The movie actually reminded me more of Night Of The Demons more than the original film. It has a completely different ending though, not that it was a good ending. Unless you are curious, watching every film (like I am) on a movie pack, or just looking for a film to rip apart, I would advise just skipping this one and finding a hopefully much better movie to watch.
1 out of 5 At least it didn't put me to sleep!