Thursday, March 05, 2015

Those Silly Norway Zombies Part Two

Thanks to a server headache I had Sunday and Monday, I am starting this month a tad behind. This will make the second month in a row I've started this way, but I think I will rebound better than I did last month. Hopefully anyway. To kick things off for the month, I went with what I have from Netflix DVD, which happens to be Dead Snow 2: Red vs. Dead (2014). After I bumped this one up so I could get it right away, it was sent the same day it was released, it went to instant watch as well shortly after that. I could have sent the Blu-ray back, but I figured I would get more enjoyment seeing it on my bigger TV screen.

After getting a quick story about the first film, we find that Martin (Vegar Hoel) has managed to get away from the Nazi zombies that wanted their gold back. As he climbs into a car, he discovers he still somehow has one coin left though, and the zombies go on the attack again. He manages to get away yet again, with an arm from Herzog (Ørjan Gamst), the leader of the Nazi zombies. Sometime after getting away though, Martin starts to fall asleep, and manages to crash his car. He then wakes up in the hospital to find that the zombie arm has been attached to him, where he sawed off his own arm in the first film. He eventually discovers that the Nazi zombies are on the move to possibly fulfill a mission they had been sent on before they were killed. It is now up to Martin to stop them, but how do you stop a zombie army?

Dead Snow 2 was a film I was really looking forward to watching. I enjoyed the first film a lot, so I was hoping that director Tommy Wirkola would give me a film just as good as the original. Despite my high expectations, I wasn't completely disappointed. I like the original film better, but Dead Snow 2 is still a damn good film. I admit that I was a bit worried at first. Things start off exciting, but slow down a bit from there. I wasn't sure about Martin having an undead arm attached to him either. I mean, the doctors at the hospital would have to be smart enough to know how to reattach the arm, but at the same time pretty damn stupid for not noticing it wasn't Martin's arm. Wirkola managed to keep things somewhat interesting though by not giving Martin complete control of the arm, which provides some funny moments at times, as well as killing a kid! Things do improve though as we get some new characters. Again, I was a little worried about some of them, like the Zombie Squad crew. And once again, Wirkola managed to prove me wrong and make things funny. Wirkola also changes up the zombie genre by how zombies are created in his universe. I won't spoil it, but it was an interesting way to create zombies, and was cool looking at that. It was also interesting the direction the film takes for the last half. I was worried there wouldn't be enough time for the big battle that it was building up to, but it plays off rather well in the time given for it. The big battle between the two armies feels a bit anti-climatic, but I still enjoyed it a lot.

The effects are very well done. The makeup effects for the zombies didn't always look great, to me at least, but it was nothing major to complain about. While Dead Snow 2 may not be as gory as the first film, there is still plenty to be found here. Lots of limbs being torn off, guts being pulled out, people being run over be a tank, some pretty good stuff here. The acting was also well done. Two versions of the film was made. A subtitled version, like the first film, and an English version. I don't know if there is an actual difference in the scenes though. It was good to see Hoel, Gamst and even a few others, come back to reprise their role or, in some cases, came back as a new character. If you liked the acting in the first film, you will be fine with this one as well. Martin Starr, Jocelyn DeBoer and Ingrid Haas ended up being very good in roles of the Zombie Squad crew.

I was actually surprised by some of the deaths. From people in wheel chairs, to a few kids and even babies, Dead Snow 2: Red vs. Dead doesn't hold back. The deaths aren't always gory, but they can be funny. That was really the biggest surprise for me, how funny this movie ended up being. It wasn't trying to be a spoof or slapstick, it was just funny. The way horror comedies should be. Dead Snow 2: Red vs. Dead takes itself in a different direction, and has a wider vision, but it works well. While it does leave itself open for a third film, make sure you watch through the end credits to see how, I'm not sure where else the plot could go. Anyway, if you enjoyed the first film, there should be no reason why you won't enjoy this one as well. Even though this one is slightly different, if you didn't care for the first film, then you might as well skip this one.
4 out of 5 Never give a zombie mouth to mouth

Saturday, February 28, 2015

What Kind Of Haunting Was This Again?

Nothing like waiting until the last day to get something done. I had watched my movie for my last review of the month a couple of days ago, but I wasn't really able to sit down to write about it until today. That is fine really. I wanted to get it in by the end of the month, and I will. I almost decided to watch a different movie for a review after watching The Woodland Haunting 2 (2006) just because I didn't like this one at all. But, I try to review every horror film I watch and I don't want to bother with watching another one right now.

A guy who sort of looks like Elvis is in some sort of hospital being interviewed. He is a ghost hunter, and is being asked to tell the tale of the Woodland Haunting. Not much of a story recap, but that is basically all there is to this film.

The Woodland Haunting 2 is meant to be a spoof. From what I have gathered, writer/director Dennis Baker made a short film about his experience with the paranormal, which was called The Woodland Haunting. According to the Facebook page, this film was "made for fun as a family joke." Apparently Baker, who also plays the Elvis like character and a couple of the other characters as well, sent out screeners encouraging people to rip it apart. With that in mind, lets get too it. The story in this one is rather hard to follow. It jumps around a lot, and that is putting it nicely really. I never really got what the overall story was supposed to be. There is a woman, played by Baker, that lives in the house and is haunted by a female ghost and there seems to be a portal to somewhere else as well. There is the guy who looks like Elvis and some other guy who are the investigators, but I'm not sure if they ever set foot in the house. There is something of a side plot of two women who's car breaks down, and a running joke that has to do with Bigfoot. There is also side stories that never go anywhere. The overall story jumps around each plot, sometime backtracking to explain something. Even though it was a spoof, I only found one scene funny at all. It gave me a bit of a chuckle and they weird thing was, it was something I don't normally find funny.

There wasn't much for special effects. Some green screen effects that are easy to spot and look out of place. I'm not sure if they were meant to look bad, since it was a spoof, or if the budget became the reason for it. The acting, while better than the effects, wasn't really anything special either. Baker does a fairly good job for the most part. I didn't really care for his female character. He pulls it off well enough that I wasn't really sure if it was a guy or not though. His best acting comes in with the Elvis like character, who does a lot of talking all through the film.

Along with the weird story, it was also weird the way the movie is presented. Part flashback and part documentary. At times, a lot of information gets dropped and this can be interesting. Some of it is obviously partly made up in order to be funny though. To be honest, I haven't met a horror spoof that I have liked yet. Spoofs of films can be funny, but I don't find that with horror spoofs at all. I guess I feel that generally, horror spoofs try to hard to be funny, which makes it not funny. I'm not really sure who this film would appeal to. Not too many reviews out there for it, but one did almost give it an average rating, so I suppose some do like it for what it is. For me, it was too hard to get into and just not all that funny. Even though I didn't completely not like The Woodland Haunting 2, I still can't give it a higher rating just because I have no real desire to ever watch it again.
1 out of 5 Maybe I should try being a guy for Halloween!

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Evil Statues

I feel better about getting ten reviews in this month. I will just need one more after this one, with plenty of time to work at least one in. Since I'm going to a film festival next month, I'm hoping to get close to ten reviews before the end of the month just because I won't have time over that weekend to write. For today, I went with the almost next film in my DVD queue on Netflix that is also in my instant watch queue. This happened to be the film The Shrine (2010), a film from Canada and from the same people that did Jack Brooks: Monster Slayer. Which, oddly enough, I just watched this month.

Carmen (Cindy Sampson) is a journalist looking for a story that will turn her career around. She has found a story about a guy backpacking who has disappeared somewhere in Poland. She thinks there is something big going on since she has also linked other people disappearing in the same area. Her boss doesn't think so though, so doesn't approve of the story. Instead of letting it go though, she talks her boyfriend Marcus (Aaron Ashmore) and her coworker Sara (Meghan Heffern) into going on the trip with her. She has to lie to Marcus a little bit, saying her boss signed off on the story when he actually didn't. With some journals in hand from the missing backpacker, they find a village that he last talked about. The people living there don't have a modern feel about them, and they aren't all that friendly either. Carmen notices something like a fog in one spot over the nearby forest, which doesn't seem to be moving even though it is a windy day. When they go to investigate, they are told to leave in a not so nice way. Curious about it all, Carmen and crew find a different way in and find a statue. Now the locals are really after them.

The Shrine really surprised me. Going in, I didn't know it was by the same people behind Jack Brooks, but I would never have guessed that even after I knew. Jack Brooks was more comedy than horror, but The Shrine plays it as a straight up horror film. The two films does have one thing in common though, a fighting couple. Carmen and Marcus aren't at each others throats, but their relationship is in trouble. In truth, this was about the only thing we find out about the couple. This film doesn't get into the characters all that deeply, but I suppose enough was dropped to make us care about them a little bit at least. The Shrine is from Canada and even filmed there. The story by director and co-writer Jon Knautz is mostly set in Poland. The actors actually speak in Polish a big part of the time. Depending on who you ask, they either do really bad job of it, or they aren't great but get by enough to understand what they are saying. If you are the type that hates to read subtitles, well...no worries here. Knautz and crew don't bother with subtitles since they wanted us lost and confused as their main characters. While I was annoyed by not knowing what was being said, it works in the end. If you know, it spoils things a bit. By that I mean that the local people appear to be doing one thing, but they aren't. If you know what is being said, you will know way in advance what is really going on. The film itself can be a bit slow at first, but if you stick with it, it pays off in a good way.

The effects are pretty good. I was worried we would be getting a film that wasn't very gory, but it picks up a lot towards the end. From cuts, to gutting, to a transformation, the effects do their job well. Some complained a little about the transformation, but I thought it looked fine. The acting was also well done. I had never heard of Cindy Sampson before this film. While I felt she played her character a bit too seriously, doesn't even crack a smile I don't think, I still enjoyed her acting. I wasn't sure about Meghan Heffern, as she is more the quiet one then anything else, but again, I still ended up enjoying her acting. Trevor Matthews leads the cast for the locals.

I have to give The Shrine some bonus points for killing a kid. I was disappointed I didn't actually get to see the little brat being killed off, but at least it happened even if it was off screen. The Shrine isn't for everyone obviously, but it really worked for me. I never felt bored, but I still felt that the scenes with Carmen at work could have been a tad shorter. It just wasn't as interesting as it was once they got to Poland. Even then, it is slightly slow for a bit. If The Shrine sounds like a film for you, give it a shot. Even if it doesn't sound like one you might like, I would still suggest giving it a watch. If you have Netflix, it is currently on instant watch, and you can rent the DVD.
4 out of 5 Never trust a statue that moves

Sunday, February 22, 2015

The Boy In The Basket Part Two

Before I ever started my blog, I watched the movie Basket Case. Just before I started my blog, I watched it again on DVD that I got through Netflix. Even though I had always heard about Basket Case, I never heard much about the sequels. I think I might have known about Basket Case 2 (1990) before I added it to my DVD queue, but I didn't know about a second sequel until recently. As you can see, I got around to watching the second film. Not sure when I will get to see the third film, since Netflix doesn't currently carry it. Before I get into this review though, I did do a review for Life After Beth, so make sure you check that one out as well!

Picking up where the first movie left off, we see Duane (Kevin Van Hentenryck) struggling with his brother Belial. They eventually fall out of their motel window for all to see. They are taken to the hospital where we learn that both survived the fall somehow. Of course, now their secret is out and is being plastered all over the news. Granny Ruth (Annie Ross) and her daughter Susan (Heather Rattray) see all the news reports and decide to help Duane and Belial. They show up just in time, as Duane and Belial are making their escape. Marcie (Kathryn Meisle) is a reporter who starts out trying to get an interview with Duane, but after they disappear, she is promised a front page spread if she can find them. While Duane wants to go his own way, Belial likes his new home with Granny Ruth and the freaks that she has given a home to. But what will they do when reporters come snooping around?

Writer/director Frank Henenlotter wanted to make Basket Case 2 something different from the first film. He didn't set out to make the same film again, and with that he pretty much did what he set out to do. Some of the themes from the first film carry over though. Mostly that Duane is looking to start a more normal life. He thinks he can get that once they start to live with Ruth and Susan, but things keeps him from doing that. Henenlotter wanted this film to be more about Belial, but the studio wanted Duane to be in the film more. Even with the change, the film is still a bit more about Belial than the first film was. I didn't like this sequel as well as the first film though. The story almost gets hijacked by all the new characters. Instead of the story being about our two main characters, it has more to do with Ruth and the house of freaks. The story makes up for this by having Duane set people up for their fall, and allowing Belial to be the only freak to actually harm anyone. For me, the story just ends up being okay. It wasn't a great story, but it gets by and is at least entertaining. It was cool that Belial ends up with a love interest, which actually sets things up for the next film. The sex scene was rather awkward to say the least.

The effects are well done. Things never really get gory, but there are still plenty of effects to be found. Belial gets a bit of a makeover in this film. In the last one, a lot of scenes were done with stop motion, which is something that I have never cared for. Now he is more animated by using electronics. It was a nice improvement. Also there is plenty of effects to be found with the other freaks. The effects team went all out and came up with some interesting freaks, but I had to wonder how some of them could function, let alone still be alive. The acting was fairly good as well. Kevin Van Hentenryck returns for his role. It has been 8 years between films, so he does look slightly different. He hasn't been in a lot of movies, but his acting seems to work for this role at least. I liked the new supporting cast fairly well. Ross and Rattray are both good in their roles.

I was surprised by Susan's secret. She doesn't really hide it, often hints at it, but it is easy to ignore the hints since she looks normal enough. When it is revealed, it is a nice surprise. Again though, not sure how it would be even possible, but looked cool all the same. At least what happened with Duane and Belial is something that is believable. Overall I just thought that Basket Case 2 was just an average film. Not saying that is a bad thing at all though. It kept me interested in what was going on, and had a very different story line. Even though this is a direct sequel, you really don't need the first movie to get what is going on here. It might help a little with some things, but I was able to follow along fine even though it has been nearly ten years since I watched the first movie. If you are a fan of the first movie, or just like movies about freaks, Basket Case 2 is a movie for you.
3 out of 5 I'm a freak, just not in a physical way

Friday, February 20, 2015

Stabbing Without The Stabbings

I'm thinking I will get to ten reviews if my plan goes the way I want it. I will get on more review in here over the weekend, which will leave me two more to do over all next week. I should be able to handle that, maybe more even. Not like I have anything planned, so it should work out. Anyway, I hit up another film from my 100 movie collection, with this one being called The Slasher (2000). If you have followed my blog, you know I don't shy away from low budget films. That being said, there are low budget films, and there are really low budget films.

A killer is on the loose in New York. Killings that are known about have been going on for three months, and it is up to Detectives Brown (Jae Mosc) and Stone (Jim Haggerty) to find the person. They haven't had any luck, but then there is a news reporter that is always hounding them and saying she will report things she shouldn't be about the killings. Meanwhile the killer is getting brave, going after women during the daylight hours. He goes after Lara (Nicolle Mirabella), but she manages to get away. Now the killer is telling the Detectives that they either give her up to him and he will stop killing, or he will keep killing of they don't.

I'm not sure if I have watched a film as bad as The Slasher in a while. It isn't bad in a this doesn't make sense way, or even bad acting. Well, there is bad acting, but in the way that lines just aren't delivered in a good way. Writer/producer/director/actor Jim Haggerty gives us an alright story, but it seems he needs to learn a lot about the filming part. I guess once could argue that The Slasher intended to be bad, but I didn't really get that kind of feel from it. The police station had pieces of paper with writing on them taped to the doors to identify what the room was, like Interrogation Room #4. There was no police procedure found anywhere. The two detectives would just show up at the scene with the body covered with a sheet. No tape to secure the area, and anyone can just walk up apparently, including the reporter and the brother of one of the victims. Although, how the brother knew his sister was in the woods, when she was alone and ran there to get away from the killer, is anyone's guess. The mic to record audio often makes a cameo appearance. The first time I noticed it, I thought that maybe it was a mic the reporter or her camera guy might have been using, but it kept happening, at least two other times that I did notice. Speaking of the audio, there was times what was being said didn't seem to match up with the lips of the person saying it. I know at least once the person on screen stopped talking, while the audio went on. This and the fact that the audio sometimes sounded different for each person talking, background noises for some but not others, made me believe that some of the audio had to be recorded after filming. Just when I thought that the audio was at least fairly good for a low budget film, it did manage to get worse towards the end of the film. Everything was fairly clear and could be heard until the last half of the film.

The effects are just some blood on the person being killed. It is always obvious that the knife never connects with the person being killed. It is easy to see, plus there is never any blood on the knife itself. There is no attempt at making cut marks. The acting wasn't any better really. While I didn't mind some of the acting, it was never all that great at any time. It isn't like they were stumbling over their lines, it was just that they weren't convincing at all. There is plenty of nudity though. About the only women that didn't show anything was the woman who played the reporter and Mirabella. It isn't just topless nudity, but full frontal as well. If you are quick with the pause button, you might just see more than that.

I have to give The Slasher just a tiny bit of credit though. The ending isn't really a twist ending, but it is certainly different from what is normally seen for this type of film. This is of course ruined by it being obvious the person isn't actually being stabbed. However, there was an attempt at an effect there, with a certain private part being cut off. Too bad it didn't look real at all and it took me a few seconds to realize what it was. I was considering giving The Slasher a slightly higher rating because of the ending, but I just can't do it. Along with everything else, the characters were also very stupid. I mean, one woman is chased literally right up to her door, and instead of calling the police or anyone for help, she starts getting ready for a shower instead. This one might be worth watching to have a good time with it, otherwise it is just one to skip.
1 out of 5 How many times can you spot the mic?

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Time For A Mermaid

I'm a little worried I may not get my ten reviews in this month. I just need four more after this one, so as long as I don't get into a mood where I don't want to write, I should be fine. I struggled to get through my review for Starry Eyes. I didn't really like what I was writing, but I wasn't sure how to improve it either. I did get through it though, so feel free to check out what I had to say about it. For today, it was time for another instant watch film. After making sure nothing was about to be taken out of my queue, thankfully there wasn't, I dove into the film Nymph (2014), or Killer Mermaid (as it is being called now).

Kelly (Kristina Klebe) and Lucy (Natalie Burn) are two girls on vacation. They travel to Montenegro where they meet up with their college friend Alex (Slobodan Stefanovic). It seems that Lucy and Alex were once more than friends, so that makes Lucy all the more surprised when they learn that Alex is now engaged to Yasmin (Sofija Rajovic). Alex wants everyone to have fun though, so takes everyone out on his boat to a near by island that was once an army base. There they meet Boban (Dragan Micanovic), a long time friend of Yasmin. Tension between characters goes on for a little longer before Boban suggests they go out to the island again, but they are warned away by Niko (Franco Nero). Of course they don't listen and find a mermaid.

My friend Aaron from The Death Rattle showed me the movie poster to this one months back. I was excited about it because I've only ever watched one other horror movie that had anything to do with a mermaid, which I have long forgotten the title of. I've always wanted to review a movie with a mermaid in it. After all, I named my blog after them. Nymph comes to us from Serbia, and was filmed on location in Montenegro. The original title, Mamula, is actually the name of the island everyone ends up on, and in truth, it fits the movie slightly better than the other titles. Nymph (which is what you will find it under on IMDb) doesn't reveal the mermaid until late in the film, just after the last half hour actually, so the other titles give it away somewhat. Actually, the mermaid is kind of a siren, which are sometimes shown as mermaids in art. For most of the film, it plays out more like a slasher film instead of a monster movie. As the opening shows us, someone is going around killing people. All we see are the boots and legs, which gives the impression of a fisherman. In fact, it seems I Know What You Did Last Summer was an inspiration, in part, for this film. In case the opening doesn't remind you of that film, there is the line of "I bet he knows what you did last summer," after the main characters see Niko staring at them. While I was disappointed that our mermaid is shy, I get that the budget is what caused this. It was nice that director Milan Todorovic, along with the writers, made sure that the slasher part still ties in with the mermaid part. The filming is pretty normal until the action starts up. Then there is a lot of camera movement, which I didn't really care for. The sudden change was a bit annoying to me.

The effects aren't too bad. While not a real gory film, we do get hooks through body parts and stuff like that. These are done rather well for the most part. The mermaid, played by Zorana Kostic Obradovic, also looked pretty cool. I really liked the way she looked while partly human. Her tail blends nicely with the rest of her. It is when the mermaid shows her true form that the effects fall apart some. I get they wanted a more monstrous look, but it just didn't work very well for me. Less would have been more in this case I do believe. The water scenes with the monstrous mermaid also didn't work as well as I had hoped they would.

The acting wasn't too bad. Klebe does well with the lead role. Her character is easy to get into, and Klebe goes a long way to make that happen I thought. I didn't really care for Burn all that much though. I can't really explain why that was the case, it was just one of those times I didn't like someone but couldn't really figure out the why behind it. The rest of the main group wasn't bad, but I guess their accent, which could be a bit strong at times, bothered some people. Nero manages to channel the character Quint from Jaws, tragic story and all. Apparently a good part of the budget was getting Nero in the film, though it was well worth it. He isn't in the film a lot though if you are going to watch this one for just him.

I was starting to wonder at times if there was something going on between Kelly and Lucy. They seemed a bit close at times, a little more than friends. It was never clear, but it sure felt that way at times. The ending of the film was pretty cool and sets up a possible sequel in a way I wasn't thinking of. Hopefully there will be one, because we need more mermaids! Nymph wasn't a great film, but it was fun all the same. I was wishing it would be better, but I still enjoyed it. If it sounds like a fun film to you, give it a shot. It is surprising people, not by a lot, but making it an average film or so.
3 out of 5 Wondering when my tail will appear

Saturday, February 14, 2015

The Greatest Plumber Ever

I sure hope everyone had a good Friday the 13th. I looked to see when the next will be, and to my surprise it will be next month. Not sure how often that happens, but I would think it would be a rare thing. Writing has been a little slow this month. This will only be my fifth review for here, but I'm feeling the burn to want to write again. My last review would have been done sooner, but I was having a minor computer problem the day before that used up a lot of time. After getting home a little late last night, I had time to watch Jack Brooks: Monster Slayer (2007), but wasn't able to get this review done before needing to head for bed.

Jack (Trevor Matthews) has an anger problem. It wasn't always like this for him though. As a young boy, he watched his sister and parents murdered by some creature. Since that time, he has felt guilty for not doing something to help, and repressing the memory of what actually happened. Now, Jack works as a plumber while attending night classes with his girlfriend Eve (Rachel Skarsten). Jack's professor (Robert Englund) hires Jack to fix a plumbing problem at his house. Things don't go well though, and Jack accidentally unleashes something that was in the ground that is now changing his professor. Jack comes to terms with monsters being real, but can he do anything about it?

When Jack Brooks: Monster Slayer came out, I remember reading some good reviews about it. I added it to my queue at some point, but obviously just getting around to it many years later. Now that I have watched it, I'm finding more mixed reviews. Some found it too slow, which doesn't surprise me one bit, while others felt it wasn't enough like Evil Dead. If it had been, I'm sure these are the same people that would then complain it was too much of a rip off. I can see where people will compare it to Evil Dead, people being transformed and an average guy is the only person to stop it. Still, I never really thought of that movie while watching this one. As for being slow, yes it is some. That has never really bothered me as long as the story is interesting. In this case, it was. Not a lot happens while we get to know Jack, but I still found the story interesting because of Jack. He is a cool character. I was a little confused over his anger problem though. It wasn't so much people that he would get mad at, after all, Eve was the type I could see most people getting mad at. The title of the film is a little misleading, as there isn't any monster slaying until late in the film. Director Jon Knautz has said that this was meant to be the first in a series, but so far no other films have been made. That is too bad, as it would be interesting to see which direction the series would take after this one.

The effects are really good. No CGI was used, so it is all makeup or hand puppets. The main monster in this film took eight people to control. I thought some of the effects looked a bit on the silly side of things, but I couldn't complain a whole lot about that. The acting was also good. I was rather impressed with Trevor Matthews. His rants about things he has gotten mad over were funny without being overly so. If you ever get mad at inanimate objects, you will fit right in with Jack's character. Robert Englund was also great. It looked like he was having a lot of fun with his transformation scenes, which added a lot to them. The acting overall was good.

The only thing I didn't really care for about Jack Brooks: Monster Slayer was the big battle with the main monster in the school. I liked that Jack uses his plumbing stuff, mostly, to take the fight to the monsters. Use what you can as they say. I didn't really find the battle boring, but I guess I was just expecting more that what I got from it. There was a big lead up to it, so I guess I felt let down once it was over. It wasn't enough to make me think less of the overall film though. Jack Brooks: Monster Slayer isn't for everyone, but it was a fun film to me. Not real funny, don't think it actually made me laugh out loud, but funny enough to still be a fun film. If you have yet to have watched this one, like I had been, then give it a shot. Just don't go into it expecting it be like some other film that had been made before it.
4 out of 5 Wonder if my job would help with slaying monsters