Tuesday, May 30, 2006
Opera is about an up and coming opera singer, Betty (Cristina Marsillach). The leading lady in a production of Macbeth has an accident, and Betty gets her break. While the opera itself gets so-so reviews, Betty gets raving reviews. A masked killer shows up at the same time, and murders her boyfriend after the opera is over, and they sneak away for some alone time. The killer waits for the boyfriend to leave the room and then ties and gags Betty. He then places tape to the bottom of each eye. The tape has needles added to it, so if Betty tries to close her eyes, then the needles will damage her eyes and eye lids. He then murders her boyfriend when he comes back into the room. Is the killer linked somehow to Betty's past? Who is he?
The effects were very nicely done for Opera. There aren't a lot of murder scenes, and they don't always show a lot. But what they do show will stick with you. The needles under the eyes will make you blink a lot without realizing it. The boyfriend gets a knife to the throat, and the thrust is so hard that you can see the tip of the knife inside of his mouth. The killer is trying to get a locket from a woman, and when she swallows it, the killer cuts her open to try and find it. The most memorable death, the one that most people talk about, would be the bullet through the peep hole. What makes it memorable to me was that it looked so real.
I didn't think the dubbing of the voices was all that bad for this film, but I have heard some complaints about it. I did like the characters though so maybe I was able to overlook the dubbing. Even though Dario says she was hard to direct, I thought Christina Marsillach did a wonderful job, and is a very beautiful lead actress. Daria Nicolodi also has a roll in Opera. She has been in a lot of Dario's movies, so it was nice to see her in this film as well. In the "making of" feature she was the only one that really knocked the movie in anyway. She said she only watched the movie once, and the only applause was at her death scene. Ion Charleson plays Dario in a way. He is the director of the opera. Before becoming a director for opera, he was a director of horror movies. So a little poke at Dario himself in a way from Dario.
One of the complaints I had was the flashbacks. While the killer is stalking Betty while she is giving her performance, there is a scene of someone walking up some stairs, and then attacking a woman. This confused me at the time, because I knew where the killer was (in one of the boxes watching the opera). So I didn't know if there were now two killers, or what was happening. It turns out this was a poorly placed flashback to something that Betty watched when she was younger from the killer's point of view. I didn't realize it was intended as a flashback until later in the movie, once I understood the plot more. Another complaint was the way Betty acted after the murders. She actually seemed very calm afterwards, and it didn't seem very normal. After thinking about this for a while, I now realize the key to her acting that way lies in the flashbacks and the ending of the movie.
One thing I don't talk about much in my reviews is the music. I'm not big on opera music by any means, but I enjoyed it here. The only time I didn't like the music was the couple of times they used rock music for some of the chase scenes. It felt very out of place in this movie, and I felt they should have gone with more of a classic style of music, that still had an energy and sense of urgency to it. I like rock music, but the mixing of the two styles didn't go over too well with me at least.
Overall I liked Opera. It isn't Dario's best work, but it is still a good movie. After Dario finished Opera, he admits that he was very worried about it. There are problems with it, but overall I thought it was a decent movie. This is another movie that borders on being a thriller or a horror movie. If you're a Dario fan then it is a must see movie. If you are not...I would suggest it. But from the reviews I have read, most people that aren't fans of Dario's movies really didn't like this one. If you do watch it, don't judge it too quickly. Instead think about what you have watched, and I think it will make more sense in the end to you.
3 out of 5 Poke a needle in your eye
Saturday, May 27, 2006
At the start of Black Sunday we come in during an execution. Princess Asa Vajda (Barbara Steele), is about to be executed by her brother for witchcraft. Her confederate, Igor Javuto (Arturo Dominici), has already been executed. The form of execution is a mask, the Mask of Satan, which has a bunch of spikes inside it. It is placed over the face and "nailed" into place. The brother has it right, since before the mask is put in place, Asa swears she will live again and will take revenge of her brother's descendants. She calls on Satan to help curse her brother and their family. The mask is placed over her face and a guy, with a very large, oversized mallet, hammers it in place. They then start to burn her body to purify it. But a rain storm prevents that from happening, so they bury her body in the family crypt instead.
Two centuries later two doctors (John Richardson and Andrea Checchi), come across the crypt and find Asa. She was placed in a tomb with a window in it. A cross is on the lid of the coffin, so that she will always be forced to look at it if she ever tries to rise. Dr. Kruvajan (Checchi), battles a large bat, and manages to smash the cross and break the glass of the window. He reaches in and removes the mask. Asa, while missing her eyes, looks very well preserved, considering 200 years have gone by. He cuts his hand on the broken glass and a drop of blood drips into the eye socket, and Asa starts to regenerate. While leaving, they find Katia Vajda (also played by Steele). Dr. Gorobec (Richardson), ends up falling in love with her, and tries to save her from the curse that was placed on her family so long ago.
Even though this is an older movie and filmed in black and white, I still enjoyed the effects that were done for Black Sunday. I thought the holes the spikes made from the mask should have been bigger (those spikes looked pretty big), but the makeup looked well done. The transfer was nice on this dvd. The picture was very clear, which made it easier to see the effects and the lovely scenery where the movie was filmed. The scene of Asa's eyes regenerating was a creepy and kind of gross sequence. I also liked how Igor looked after rising from his grave.
The voice over work wasn't the best, and there are no options to give subtitles. But I will pick bad voice over work any day so I can enjoy watching the movie more. I enjoy a movie that much more if it has good acting in it. But bad acting and horror movies have a bad habit of going hand in hand, so I can ignore bad voice over work and still enjoy the movie. From what I have been reading, this movie helped make Steele a horror icon. She didn't like that, but she became one all the same. I liked her better as Asa. Maybe that had to do with the way the character of Katia was handled. Katia was the type of girl that screamed at most things, and would faint at bad times. Then again I am more used to the strong female that more and more horror movies have. Asa reminded me of that in some ways. Even though she went about it in an evil way, she knew what she wanted and wasn't going to be stopped from getting it.
There were some nice spooky scenes in Black Sunday. The nailing of the mask really got to me. Watching the mask slowly being carried to the camera, seeing those spikes inside of it, and knowing what was going to happen...really sent a chill up my spine. Another nice scene was when Asa sent Igor to pick up Dr. Kruvajan. She wanted him, since it was his blood that brought her back to life. Igor takes off in a horse and carriage. A girl that is on her way to a barn to milk a cow happens to see this go by on the road. Like her, we watch as the carriage goes by, almost in slow motion and in total silence. If I ever saw that I think it would freak me out. Not a horse and carriage, but one that I can't hear going by. Igor rising from the grave is also a nice creepy moment.
I enjoyed Black Sunday because of those moments and a few others. But I didn't like the mix of lore. By this I mean that Asa in life is a witch. In undeath she is called a vampire, but in truth she is more of a succubus. Blood is what starts her off regeneration, but after that she never uses blood. Instead she draws out the life force of a person. She does this with the doctor by kissing him, and then later with Katia by simply placing her hand over Katia's. Igor, on the other hand, bites and then drinks the blood of his victims, like a vampire would. Maybe I am being too hard on it, but it did take away from the story for me. Make it one of the three, not all three. Black Sunday is worth a look at the very least.
3 out of 5 Life sucking women
Friday, May 26, 2006
Outside of two scenes, Bay Of Blood is a completely different movie. It starts out with an older lady in a wheelchair being murdered by her husband. He is turn gets killed by someone unseen, and then the body disappears. This action takes place in the first 10 minutes. The rest of the movie is about who did it and why. The why becomes clear fairly quickly. The older lady owns the land around a bay, and everyone is just dying to own it. She doesn't want to sell it though, so plans are made to kill her. But who? The husband? The son? Or maybe it is the daughter? Could it be the guy who wants to but the land or one of the neighbors? One thing is clear, that every character in this movie is very greedy.
The effects were well done, not great but well done. The two scenes that Friday The 13th: Part Two used were a machete to the face, and spearing of two people that were having sex. The difference between the two is that Bay Of Blood shows more. In the machete to the face scene, the man that ends up getting the machete doesn't die right away. We still see him move his eyes and blink before dying. The killer then removes the machete, showing us the cut left by it. The spearing also shows more. After the spear goes through the two lovers, they wither in pain for a little while before dying. Maybe they tried doing this in the Friday movie, since I have heard that some of the effects had to be cut. Another death that was very graphic, was a woman losing her head. This was a very gory movie, and made it to the UK's ban list probably because of that.
The acting was pretty good. Some fans will like to know that a Bond girl shows up in this one. Claudine Auger (Thunderball) plays the daughter trying to find out what happened to her father, and also trying to claim the land for herself. Some of the other big players in this one include Luigi Pistilli and Claudio Camaso. I wasn't real impressed with the acting, but it wasn't bad for the type of movie this turned out to be.
Bay Of Blood aka Twitch Of The Death Nerve, is said to be the "daddy" of slasher movies. I don't know my history of horror movies as well as I would like sometimes, but I'm sure there had to be a slasher movie before this one. Maybe Bay Of Blood set the bar higher than slasher movies before it, but I can't really give it that title myself. I ended up watching this movie under both titles because I didn't realize they were the same movie. In the end I'm glad that I did, because the Twitch Of The Death Nerve dvd was a bad transfer. I could barely hear the voice track, while the music track was loud. I lost interest in the movie since I couldn't hear what was being said, and had no idea what was really going on because of that. The Bay Of Blood dvd corrected this for me, so I was able to follow along better. Twitch Of The Death Nerve has a better selection of extra's though. The Bay Of Blood dvd clocks in 3 minutes shorter. But I can't tell you what was missing from those 3 minutes, as they seemed like the same movie to me.
The story didn't really impress me too much. I found myself not caring who the murderer was at the start of the movie, and in the end it really didn't matter, since all the characters were turning on each other in plot twists. There is a lot of praise about how great a director Mario Bava is. I'm not trying to knock him here. But one of the reasons I ended up not liking this one too well, was because of the way it was shot. A lot of the scenes were too dark. That could just be because of the transfer, so I will cut some slack there. What bugged me the most was how a lot of the transition shots were handled. All I know about film is from watching movies, so I admit I know next to nothing about it. That being said, I didn't like how Mario Bava would take the camera out of focus at the end of scene. He didn't always do this, but he did it enough to start to get annoying, and sometimes he would do it while pointing out something. For an example, he pans across the room and finds the spear. Once found he takes the camera out of focus. It wouldn't have bothered me if he hadn't done this so much throughout the entire movie. It was fun to see the scenes that inspired parts of Friday The 13th: Part Two. But other than that, I didn't care for it.
2 out of 5 Greedy relatives
Tuesday, May 23, 2006
As I said, Blue Sunshine is about drugs. It is a name for an acid drug that was being taken by some college students back in the 60s. Now 10 years later the drug is starting to show that there are some long term effects to its use. They start to lose their hair and become murderous. Jerry Zipkin (Zalman King), is at a party with friends, when one of the friends starts getting a little fresh with another guy's girl. The guy pulls on the hair of the other guy and discovers it's a wig. The now bald guy runs off and the party breaks up. Jerry goes looking for his friend, and hears a scream from his place and goes running back, only to see his friend has killed 3 women that stayed behind. We only really see one of the murders, when he pushes one of the women into the fire place where a nice fire is going. Every time she tries to get out, he pushes her back in.
Jerry's friend then attacks him and he runs. They get into a struggle on the road, and Jerry pushes his friend into the path of a truck. Since he pushed his friend, the people in the truck think he killed the guy. Well he did but of course they don't realize Jerry was the one in real danger. So now the police think Jerry is the one that killed not only his friend but also the 3 women. With the help of his girlfriend, Alicia (Deborah Winters), he goes about trying to figure out what caused his friend to go crazy and clear his name.
Besides giving the actors a bald head, there really aren't any effects in Blue Sunshine. There is very little blood used, but this is a movie that doesn't need a lot of blood to get the point across. The acting was good for the most part, but I had problems with the lead, Zalman King. I just didn't think he was all that great of an actor really.
I'm hard pressed to call this one a horror movie. It's more of a thriller, but there is a fine line between thrillers and horror movies. I found the start of the movie a little confusing, since it wastes no time in getting into the story. But it all makes sense in the end. The intro to the movie was mixed in with the credits. There was a short intro into each character, and then a few more credits after each one. It turns out that each of these characters we are introduced to, are the ones we will later find out took this acid. While a little confusing, I thought it was an original way to go about it.
Out of the three movies I have watched made by Jeff Lieberman, I have yet to find one that I have considered scary at all. Blue Sunshine was disturbing at times, with some of the murders that took place. But it didn't come across as scary to me. Even so, I found myself really enjoying this one. I can't really explain why that is. Maybe because it was late when I watched it, or maybe because it is just a good movie. Either way I would suggest giving this one a try.
4 out of 5 Acid trips
Monday, May 22, 2006
Squirm is about Mick (Don Scardino), coming to Georgia to meet up with Geri (Patricia Pearcy). They are both into antiques, but they never really explain how they got to know each other before this. I assume it had to do with antiques. Mick in from New York City, and is coming to Georgia to visit Geri for the summer. He arrives just after a big storm hits, that manages to knock down the big power lines and floods the roads. The bus that Mick is on can't get through to the small town that Geri lives near, so he gets off the bus and starts to cut through the woods. Geri finds him (how she was able to find him in the middle of the woods and why she was looking for him there I don't know), and they go about their day.
The downed power line is sending thousand's of volts into the ground, and it is causing these worms that can bite to come out of the mud soaked ground. This isn't changing them in any way, just making them very cranky. Once the sun is on them they disappear fairly quickly. But once night falls the terror truly begins. Before night hits we are treated to a couple of sub-plots. There is a bit of a love triangle going on between Mick, Geri and Roger (R.A. Dow), who helps his dad with a worm farm and holds an interest in Geri. Mick and Geri also discover a skeleton, and go about trying to find the identity of it.
The effects in Squirm weren't too bad until the end, when there are thousands of worms everywhere. The "worm face", which you can kind of see in the picture above, looked good and really was the only effect that was added to the movie. It was done by a then young Rick Baker, who now has a long list of movies he has done effects for. A room full of worms didn't work as well as it might have thought, since I don't think they used real worms for those scenes. I could be wrong since I didn't listen to the commentary to find out.
When it comes to the acting you get mixed reviews. Some people thought the acting was really bad, while others thought it was pretty good. For me I liked the characters and the acting. It wasn't great but I have seen a lot worse. R.A. Dow did a nice job of playing a guy who seems to be a little on the slow side. There is Jean Sullivan who plays Geri's mother Naomi. There is also Geri's sister who is played by Fran Higgins. Naomi seems a little "off", and the more things happen the more Naomi seems to slip further into this....madness I guess. She just seems detached really. I'm not knocking her performance in any way, as I thought she did a nice job with it.
In the end I can't say Squirm is scary. I don't have a fear of worms, but I don't care to handle them. I'm sure I wouldn't care for worms that bite, more so when there are thousands of them around at once. Some asked why the worms didn't get fried by the electricity. But I took it the worms we see are a good distance away from the downed line, and that the rain soaked ground is allowing the voltage to travel a good distance. I had no idea there are so many worms in the ground, if there truly are that many in a given area. Once in a while they would show close ups of the worms, and show why they are able to bite. They also provide a silly sound to go with it that the worm is supposed to be making.
There is also a scene when Mick is trying to get through a room that has worms everywhere, and he simply holds a candle down to the worms and they part to the sides. Always makes me chuckle and I can't help but think to myself "the parting of the worms". Like any movie of this sub-genre, you have to let your mind just go with it some. This isn't the scariest movie in the nature gone wild type films, but it really isn't bad. I liked it better than Satan's Little Helper which was written and directed by the same person that did Squirm, Jeff Lieberman. I just remembered, no giant worms!
3 out of 5 Squirming, slimy worms
Saturday, May 20, 2006
Satan's Little Helper starts off with Dougie (Alexander Brickel), dressed up for Halloween. His mother, Merrill (Amanda Plummer), is taking him to go pick up his older sister who is home from college. Jenna (Katheryn Winnick), shows up with Alex (Stephen Graham), they are dating and this upsets Dougie because he wants to marry his older sister someday. Sounds cute and all but Dougie is 9 years old, so you would think he would have out grown that by now. Dougie is also very into a video game called....you guessed it, Satan's Little Helper. In the game, a boy dressed as Dougie is for Halloween, goes around and does evil things to people. The more you hurt people the more points you get. Dougie keeps talking about Satan and how he will help Satan, and this and that. The whole time Merrill just laughs and basically acts like it is perfectly normal.
Once home Dougie decides he will go find Satan on his own, since he is mad at his sister. While walking around he finds a guy (Joshua Annex), dressed like Satan in the video game, posing a realistic looking corpse on a couch. The reason it looks real is because it is a real corpse. Dougie follows this man and soon sees him coming out of another house with a corpse, and posing it in a graveyard the owners put in the front yard for Halloween. He finally sees Dougie and Dougie asks if he can be his helper just like in the game, to which Satan agrees. Dougie comes up with an idea and asks Satan if he will take Alex to hell, so he will leave his sister alone. Satan beats up Alex pretty good but doesn't kill him. He then becomes Alex to everyone else, because Alex was going to dress up like Satan in order to get on Dougie's good side. So everyone now thinks this killer is Alex.
I really don't care if I spoil the ending to this one, but I won't. I never figured out what the plot truly was for Satan's Little Helper. There was an underlying message of kids being detached from what's real because of video games. Through out the movie Dougie thinks the murders that are happening in front of him are nothing more than a game. The only time he takes it seriously, is when the violence is against his own family. If this was the whole point of the movie, then I think it could have been a much shorter movie and still have gotten the message across. Since I didn't really see any other direction the film was trying to take, I thought maybe the identity of the killer would be a big surprise. But we never find out who the killer really is. We know he is human (at least he looks human) because we see his arms once in a while, when the jacket he is wearing pulls back far enough past the fake hands he is wearing. Also, by the end, he is posing as a cop (with some sort of mask), and looks human there. He always has a mask on and will never let anyone pull it off, so maybe there is something about his face he doesn't want people to see.
The effects looked good at first. The first corpse had a cut throat that looked real enough. But the big effect looked very fake. The big effect is when Dougie's dad, Dean (Wass Stevens) is killed. He gets his midsection cut open and his guts pulled out. This was after he tells Dougie that God has his back (Dougie is under the impression that God is looking for Satan, so Satan can be sent back to hell). Dougie tells Satan to get him and he does. The whole time Satan is pulling out the dad's guts, Dougie is crying and yelling that he didn't mean it. All this was very fake looking, and wasn't scary at all. But then other reviews claim that was the whole point, to be funny. If that was the case, I wasn't laughing.
The acting could have been a lot better. The reactions from people were really bad most of the time. I expected more out of Amanda Plummer and didn't get it from this one. I did feel bad for her because in one scene she gets taped up pretty good, and has to try and hobble around that way. She is taken to a Halloween party, and everyone there takes it in stride. Katheryn Winnik did a fairly good job as the heroine of the story. Alexander Brickel did a nice job and was into his part. Too bad I thought the kid was pretty stupid though. Joshua Annex never speaks. He does all his acting with his body and gestures, and I have to admit it was effective. He made a creepy killer, and it's too bad the rest of the script wasn't nearly as good.
Satan's Little Helper started off fairly good but got worse as it went on. It is yet another movie that doesn't take itself too seriously to be a true horror movie, but isn't funny enough to be a comedy. It tries to have a few plot twists using mistaken identity, and yet fails to have any kind of twist, because you could see it coming a mile away. The plot twists is part of why I thought maybe they would let us in on who this guy is. Is it really Satan or someone else they might have brought up during the movie? It doesn't really bother me that we never find out. But since I didn't really see any other point to the plot I was disappointed.
2 out of 5 Rubber guts
Friday, May 19, 2006
For my 50th post I wanted to do something kind of special. I couldn't decide on what to do at first. A long time back, I believe in the first 10 posts, I made a list of favorite horror movies. Some were a given to be on there, and others I had to really think about. There are so many horror movies that could have been on there. Since I have never given any of those a review on this blog, I decided I would visit one of those movies for my 50th post. Once I decided on which movie to visit, I honestly felt like I was going to go see an old friend I haven't seen in a long time.
If you are a horror fan then I am sure you have already watched Friday The 13th: Part 2 (1981), so I won't really go into the plot. The plot is pretty simple anyway, with a killer hunting down camp counselors. Enough said. What I wanted to do was explain why this movie made it on my favorites list. It was the first movie that came to mind, when I started to make the list. That is the main reason I decided to visit it again for this post. Why not the first Friday The 13th? Don't get me wrong, it is a classic as far as horror movies go. I liked the fact that the killer was a woman, not something seen in horror movies all that often. The second film (of a very long series of films, 11 and counting) really got my attention, because of one actress: Amy Steel. It also introduced Jason, the most well known slasher killer.
The movie itself is a little silly in places, but Ginny (Amy Steel) is what makes the movie, and even more so towards the end. The effects are pretty good, but the MPAA was waiting for this one and was ready to give it an X rating. So a lot of the effects got left on the cutting room floor. So far none of these have shown up in an uncut movie version. It's hard to say if the material is still around, but then Paramount has never been big on giving fans of this series a lot of extras on their dvds. Most of the dvds have the trailer (if that), and that is all. As much money they have made from this series, you would think they could do better than that.
My favorite death would probably be the machete to the face. The director (Steve Miner) does a great job of making us think that the attack will be from behind, and then suddenly having it come from the front. This was the main reason I watched all the films in this series, I was just wanting to see how Jason would kill the next group of people. Two things about the guy in the wheelchair that gets the machete to the face that bother me are: 1) after he gets the machete his wheelchair goes backwards down some stairs. Either it was a lucky shot or they did something to keep the wheelchair upright, because I would think go backwards and having the "dead" weight in the back would cause it to just flip over; and 2) the woman who was flirting with him before this and left to change comes back and can't seem to find him. So where does she go? Upstairs! Ok so maybe she was just going up there to see if anyone else might still be there so she could ask where the guy she is looking for went, but it still seems a little odd.
Amy Steel has become a fan favorite for a lot of people besides me. Final Girl, Stacie, raves about Amy a lot and for good reason. Amy Steel is a good actress, and lucked into a role that passed her off as sexy and smart. Yes she does run from Jason and she does wet herself (although I think I would have wet myself from almost being killed, instead of having a rat come visit me), but she also fights back when she can. She runs around the corner and hides in a bush, and when Jason comes around the corner she jumps out and nails him with a well placed knee. You just don't see too many people that fight back. Most of the time, they just run away the entire time and only fight back at the very end, if they fight back at all. It is too bad Amy Steel hasn't done a lot of movies. The only other horror movie she did was April Fool's Day. It is another favorite of mine, and not just because Amy Steel is in it. I can't say I really blame Amy for not being in more horror movies. Sometimes an actor or actress gets to be well known for a certain type of role or movie, and has a hard time getting out of that mold that people have put them in.
Friday The 13th: Part 2 has always stuck with me because I consider it a smart slasher movie. I say that mostly because of the ending when Ginny tried to outsmart Jason, by putting on his dead mother's sweater and trying to talk to him like a mother would. It's one thing to fight back against the killer, but it's another thing to try to outwit the killer.
There seems to be some confusion about the end. At the end Jason comes crashing through the window and grabs Ginny, just when you think nothing else will happen. Then we see her being loaded up into an ambulance and asking where Paul is. At the start of the 3rd film we get a recap of the 2nd film, and it shows Jason slinking off , and if I remember correctly, we are told later that Ginny was the only survivor. It is hard to say what actually happened, since continuity has never been much of a strong point for the series. This is hardly the best slasher movie ever, but it is in my heart.
Thursday, May 18, 2006
Unhinged is about 3 almost 20 year old women, who are taking a trip to a concert. Driving through Oregon we see a lot of woods. It starts to rain and they manage to hit a fallen tree, and into the ditch they go. They wake up in a very big house where a daughter, Marion (J.E. Penner), is taking care of her wheelchair bound mother (Virginia Settle). The mother hates men and goes off on rants about them from time to time. The say they live alonem but one of the girls starts to hear and see things that make her think otherwise. Eventually she sees a guy outside her window, and Marion explains that is her brother who has the mind of a 5 year old. Mother hates men so much that she won't allow him in the house, or even remember having a son. They can't really leave as one of the 3 is "pretty banged up" and needs to rest. One of the other girls decides to make a hike to the nearest town in order to get to a phone, to let their families know what happened to them.
From there the movie turns into a slasher movie in a way. The director tries to set up a creepy vibe throughout the movie, but I felt he failed to do that. There was some nice music that would have been good to set things up with. But often times when the music came into play, there was nothing going on at all. There is a big family secret (only part of it involves the brother), and once it was explained I missed part of it, because I was pretty bored by that time. One of these days I might jump to that scene and listen more carefully, but I don't think that one scene will improve what I think about this one.
The effects were bad to not too bad. The bad being the thunder storm that always seemed to spring up at night, only to have everything dry in the morning. The lightning looked very fake. The not so bad were the death scenes. Ok one of the death scenes was really bad. The killer attacks one of the girls with a scythe. It takes the killer 3 tries to kill the girl, and all she does is stand there the whole time. The rest isn't too bad. There's a lot of splattering of blood, but it's not too violent really. Yet what is shown is a nice touch.
The acting was bad. The only two that give a decent job are the two I have already given names for. The 3 women were very dead pan when it came to their acting. They are Laurel Munson, Sara Ansley and Barbara Lusch. One of them basically disappears from the movie completely, once they show up at the big house. She would be the one that is hurt. I was starting to wonder if she was already dead or something, because they never showed her again until well into the movie. That was a short scene with her friend lying in the bed with her talking. Then she shows up later, only to be killed off rather quickly.
Overall I was rather bored with Unhinged. It was banned in 1985 over in the UK along with a lot of other movies. All 3 of the women get nude at some point, which wasn't a big deal, even if one scene showed a little more than most movies do. The violence is there but shows little. There had been much worse before this one, so I don't really see why it was picked to be banned. Unhinged turned out to be pretty slow, and bad acting didn't help. The ending was a nice touch and the only part of the movie that I really even enjoyed. But by the time it rolled around I no longer cared. I can honestly say that I didn't expect the twist ending, so that was a nice surprise in an otherwise boring movie.
2 out of 5 Sexually repressed males
Wednesday, May 17, 2006
Dead End (2003) is about a family of 4, with the daughter's boyfriend (Billy Asher) added in, traveling during the Christmas holiday. They are on the way to a big family dinner that happens every year. The dad (Ray Wise) decides to take a different way this year, because he is bored and doesn't want to fall asleep. But the second part of that idea doesn't work out too well. He wakes up just in time to avoid hitting another car, and that is when the movie turns weird. They eventually pick up a woman (Amber Smith), who has a cut on her head. Oddly, the cut isn't bleeding, and the family doesn't seem too worried about it. They do ask if she is ok, but other than that they don't say much.
They passed a building shortly before finding the woman, so the dad suggests that one of them get out and walk back, while the rest drive. They don't have room for a 6th person you see, so someone will need to walk. The only person that agrees to do this is the daughter (Alexandra Holden). Back at the building the dad and mother (Lin Shaye) go in to look for a phone, while the son (Mick Cain) goes out into the woods and masturbates. Kind of an odd thing to do, but this is an odd movie. The boyfriend stays in the jeep with the lady in white and tries to talk to her. She would never speak before but now she does. She gives the boyfriend the baby she has been holding, and he asks how can the baby breathe with it being wrapped up the way it is? The lady in white says it's ok, because the baby is already dead. He unwraps the baby enough to see it and screams. When everyone gets back to the jeep, it's empty.
Meanwhile, the daughter is still walking and is talking to herself. She is trying to find a way to tell her boyfriend that she doesn't want to get married to him, but break up with him instead. As she is talking she sees headlights heading towards her and sees a black hearse driving by. This is what she sees as it goes by:
The rest of the plot follows the family as they try to find a way off a seemingly never ending road. Sounds boring? Well it's not. There are very little effects in the movie. The main one being a lip that gets torn off, and at first I thought the blood was overdone. But now that I think about it, the ending helps explain why there was so much. For the most part, we only see the reaction to what the characters are seeing. So a lot of it is left up to you and whatever your mind can think of to fill in. This was fine with me, as I don't believe effects are what make a movie. Give me a good story and I'm more than happy, unless the acting and effects bring it down that is.
The acting for Dead End was great. Everyone did a great job with their roles. Sure they bickered and argued a lot, but that never bothered me. I thought a lot of what they said was sarcastic and at times funny. The nice thing about it being funny was it didn't go out of the way to be funny. I think that is the best kind of funny anyway, when you're not really expecting it but it pops up. Some reviews talked about how bad the acting was, but I can't agree with that at all. Maybe they didn't like the characters so they considered the acting bad.
I kept trying to guess what was happening to this family, and didn't figure it out until it was getting ready to be explained. Dead End provides a good mix of comedy (not a lot of it but enough), thrills and a nice creep factor. I try to balance the good with the bad. But the only bad thing I can really say about this one is I kept wondering why they never tried to turn around and drive in the other direction. Other than that I really loved this movie. I'm sure you have heard of a story about someone picking up a hitchhiker, and said person disappears during the drive. Dead End is kind of like that, but with a big twist added in. You will read some bad reviews for this one. Those that gave it bad reviews I don't think really got the film.
Read the signs. That is good advice for this one. As it moves along, they drop clues here and there. If you pick up on them it all makes sense at the end. Once the ending came around I thought back to the clues, and it all fell into place in my mind as to what was happening. This movie is a thinking person's movie. You have to pay attention to what is happening and even what is being said, in order for everything to fall into place at the end. Even then it will keep you thinking about it. If you are the type that leaves or turns the movie off once the credits start to roll, don't! You will miss a little added something if you do. For a movie that mostly just has people driving along a road, it is a well made, interesting and creepy film. Well worth checking out.
4 out 5 Vengeful ghosts
Sunday, May 14, 2006
Malevolence opens in 1989. We read about children disappearing in America, and then about a 6 year old boy that disappears from his own backyard. Then we see this boy (we assume it is him) being brought in covered in some kind of bag. He is taken out of it where he sees a woman hanging, hands wrapped in a chain. The man that took the boy then picks up a knife and stabs the woman, over and over. Jump forward 10 years, and we come across a couple that is about to rob a bank, along with her brother and his partner. They have agreed on a meeting place, an old farm house out in the middle of no-where USA.
It all goes wrong (of course). They do get away with the money, but not before the brother is shot. He then dies on the way to the farm house. Meanwhile, the other guy isn't having any luck either, because he gets a flat tire and has to find another way to get to the meeting place. He spies a mini-van and goes to steal it. The only problem is there is a kid in the back seat, that was looking under the seats at the time the guy looked into the van. When the mother gets back she discovers the masked man (basically a pillow case with eye slots in it) holding a gun to her daughter. Once at the farm house, he tapes them up and goes about counting his money and all. The daughter manages to escape and the bad man chases her, only to...well I will let you watch the movie to see what happens for yourself.
What we have in Malevolence is an old school slasher movie. I'm talking about the late 70's, early 80's era of slasher movies. There aren't a lot here for effects, since a lot of the violence is blocked from view or done just off screen. It was a low budget movie, so it didn't have a lot to spend on that. But in a way, that added to the movie. What is often unseen can be much more effective then what is seen after all. The acting was so-so. Some of them came across as really bad but got better, and some couldn't decided which side of the fence they wanted to be on. Samantha Dark plays the mother and Courtney Bertolone plays the daughter. I would get mad at the mother at times, because she always went to sleep when alone it seemed like. The daughter didn't say a whole lot but did a really good job I thought. Other people included R. Brandon Johnson, Heather Magee and Richard Glover.
Malevolence owes a lot to slasher movies that came before it, and you can see that in the movie. For some people that was a big let down, but it didn't bother me any. The killer in question (I, for one, was not sure if it was the kid now grown up or the guy that took him until the end), wears the pillow case mask that the robber was wearing. So it borrows from Friday The 13th Part 2 a bit in that way. The killer really reminded me of the early Jason and even Michael Myers, present but always silent. He also can take a licking and keep on ticking, much like the old slasher killers could do.
Is this a great slasher movie? In a way it is, yes. There were things I didn't care for, but I really enjoyed the old school style that was brought to this film. I questioned some of the things the characters did: like going up stairs to get away from the killer (always been a pet peeve for me), and dropping the weapon after thinking they killed the killer. When reading other reviews I noticed a lot of the people reviewing the movie were not interpreting the movie the same way I was. They were often getting facts wrong or twisted. In so doing, they gave it bad reviews. Is mine any better? Maybe, maybe not, that is for you to decide. Some complained about the music, saying it sounded stupid or repeated itself a lot. Even though I loved the music in Halloween, I thought it repeated itself a lot in that movie. Same with Malevolence. It did repeat a lot of the same music, but I thought it added to the mood rather well.
Another person said they fast forwarded through most of the movie, after watching the first 20 minutes. Hate to say it but your loss. It did start off slow but once past robbing the bank and the killer coming into play, then it really turns into a very nice slasher flick. Did it scare me? No it didn't, but it came pretty close, and that is saying something for me now days. Give it a look. If you actually pay attention to it, then I think you will enjoy this one.
4 out of 5 Can't find better masked killers
Saturday, May 13, 2006
The first one is actually the first in the series, so at least I got to start from the beginning. The description for Devils Experiment (1985) sounds a lot better than the movie turned out to be. Tokyo's police force investigates a video so gruesome that they can't believe the disturbing tape is real. After receiving a letter about a brutal endurance test performed on humans and a graphic videotape titled "The Devil's Experiment," the cops try to determine whether the footage is a hoax or authentic -- and who's responsible for it. That is what is basically told to us at the start and end of the movie in scrolling text.
So what is the movie about then? It's the video in question. They tried, and failed, to make this look like a "snuff" movie. There are no credits, which was done to make it seem more real. A few men have a woman and they subject her to different things like: slapping her a bunch of times on one side of her face; kicking her; making her listen to one sound using a headset that is taped to her for 20 hours; twisting her skin with pliers; buring her with hot oil; spinning her around in a chair until she gets sick; pulling her hair and fingernail out; smashing her hand with a sledge hammer; throwing animal guts on her; and sticking a needle through her eye. While it made me cringe at times, I was more than bored the rest of the time.
Why did it fail? I thought it would have been better if there was one, or maybe two, hand held cameras being used. Instead we get all kind of different camera angles, and it makes it feel like more like professional movie instead of some guys making a snuff film. Even so, this isn't my kind of movie. I don't mind seeing some of the things done to kill someone. But for the most part I would rather see the end of it, and leave it up to my mind what happened.
The second movie is Android Of Notre Dame (1988). I can't say it is any better, but at least it tries to have a plot. A doctor is trying to find a cure to a heart disease that is slowly killing his sister. He is experimenting on animals when we come in on him. But he is offered a human corpse by someone that is basically blackmailing him. What he does to the corpse though makes no sense to me. He pulls out the ear, nerves and all, and does the same thing to one of the eyes. He attaches clips to them, so he can see what the eye sees. Then he puts a lot of current through the body, I'm guessing to try and make it come back to life. But the current only burns the body in places, and makes the hand fall off. What does all that have to do with heart disease? He kills off the people that were blackmailing him, and manages to bring his sister back from the dead by giving her a new heart, only to be told "Why did you do this? I finally found peace".
The effects weren't too bad in the first flick, but were really bad in the second one. The doctor cuts up a woman's chest that had just been alive moments before, but there is no blood during the cutting and very little when getting to the heart. There was very little talking in the first movie, which would be expected really. I can't say for sure how the acting was in the second one, since I have a hard time judging that in foreign films. Bottom line really, I didn't like either of these at all, and wouldn't suggest them to anyone unless I was trying to put them to sleep.
1 out of 5 Bloodless bodies
Friday, May 12, 2006
Love Object is about Kenneth (Desmond Harrington). He writes tech instructions for a living and doesn't have much of a life. He is very shy and doesn't talk too much to women, or anyone else for that matter. He wakes up at 5am every morning and gets ready for work. He is always the first person at the offices that he works at. His boss, Novak (Rip Torn), considers him the best writer he has, so gives him a project that is already overdue, and wants it done in a week's time. To help Kenneth out with all the typing, Novak hires Lisa (Melissa Sagemiller), who is a typist. Kenneth doesn't take to this too well but accepts it. About the same time, a couple of his buddies show him a postcard that has a sex doll on it, and the web site for the place that makes it.
Once home Kenneth orders one. He has it look as close to Lisa as he can. He tries it out as soon as he gets it. After having sex with it, he calls the place that made it. He is fine with how it looks and all, but it wasn't how he expected it to be. While he is trying to explain it is just a doll and doesn't really do anything for him, he finds a cd that was included and starts to watch it. It suggests he make the doll an object he can project his love on, perhaps of someone he already loves (an image of Lisa springs into his mind). He starts to talk to Lisa a little more while he is studying her. He notes what kind of clothes she likes, color of her lipstick and nails. He makes Nikki (the name of the doll) look as much like Lisa as he can. He talks to her like he would like to with Lisa, and acts out his fantasies with Nikki. His life seems to change for the better. He starts to wake up at 6am, and then 7am, instead of 5am all the time. He is starting to talk to Lisa more and more, and she is starting to like him as well.
The problem now becomes that he feels Nikki is coming alive. The more he likes Lisa, the more he starts to feel that Nikki is truly real. After the first time he really feels like he makes a connection with Lisa, he doesn't bring Nikki to bed with him. But when he wakes up she is there. Another time he wakes up to find a knife in Nikki's hand and the pictures and stuff he has of Lisa are all cut up. As he gets even closer to Lisa, he starts to have more one way conversations with Nikki. Now it is more of her being jealous and she shouldn't be, and then telling Nikki he wants Lisa and not her. Eventually Lisa has him over to her place and they end up having sex. While they are having sex he starts to have a lot of images of Nikki going through his head, and this causes him to go soft. Kenneth takes his rage out on Nikki and cuts her up.
Things are great with Lisa until she finds the postcard of Nikki, and makes the connection that she has on the same type of clothes and stuff like that. Now Lisa no longer wants to be around Kenneth and Nikki is all cut up and thrown away. Kenneth tries to order another Nikki but doesn't have the money, so he comes up with a different idea. That is where I will stop with the plot, because the rest I want all of you to see for yourself.
There aren't a lot of effects here. I'm sure they used more than one doll, and I think that is why sometimes the doll looked fairly decent and at other times looked very fake. I know it's only a doll and should look fake, but he was supposed to have spent $10,000 on this realistic doll. For that much money it had better look pretty damn realistic. There is one scene with some blood, and I thought maybe it went a little overboard with it. But in the movie's defense, someone real was being cut up.
What really made this movie great to me was the acting. Desmond did an outstanding job. I liked him in the movie Wrong Turn (a movie you should watch if you haven't already), and liked him even more here in Love Object. Rip wasn't so good here. I was a bit disappointed, but he does have a small role, so maybe he just didn't have enough to really work with. Melissa was an actress I swore I knew from another movie, but couldn't place her. Turns out she was in Sorority Boys, which happens to be a favorite comedy of mine. She also turns in a great performance. The only person I didn't bring up in the plot was the neighbor played by Udo Kier. He doesn't have a big role either, and probably says less than Rip did. But he really added a presence to the film.
Love Object turned out to be a really nice surprise. The pacing was a little slow in places. The doll didn't look all that great at times and when Kenneth thought of Nikki, it was usually a scene with the doll shaking and like a strobe light going off behind her. Those scenes didn't look all that great either really. It is my hope, if you watch this one, that you can get past that. The acting, the story itself and a nice twist to the ending (although you might catch on to it by then), really pushed this movie into one I really enjoyed.
4 out of 5 Obsessed love dolls
Thursday, May 11, 2006
The plot was a little hard to figure out in this one, as everything came together in the last act of the movie. Bill Whitney (Billy Warlock), is a guy that seems to have everything going for him. He is the class president, dates the head cheerleader, and is something of a sports hero in his school. Lately though, he feels like he doesn't fit in with his parents and some of his friends. He has been talking to a psychiatrist about it all. All he really does though is talk about people's place in society. He goes on and on about it really, saying how some people make the rules and others only follow the rules, and how we all need to make a contribution to society. The way he words things makes it sound like he is talking about society in general, but there is also a feeling that he is talking about a certain group of people at the same time.
Bill decides to go to the beach with his girlfriend, and goes into the bathroom to get the sun tan lotion. We can hear the shower is on and it sounds like someone is having a little too much fun taking a shower. It turns out his sister is in the shower, and he decides to take a peek. What he sees is actually very weird (see picture below). Is this just something in his head or is it real? When he opens the shower door everything is back to normal. His sister looks normal, and is covering herself and asking Bill what the hell he thinks he is doing. He just mumbles and leaves. At the beach he runs into another girl he has the hots for, Clarissa (Devin DeVasquez). This doesn't make the girlfriend too happy and she leaves.
His sister's ex-boyfriend shows up and asks Bill to listen to a tape. It seems the ex has bugged the car and one of sis's earrings, and wants Bill to listen to what he recorded. The tape leaves a lot for the viewer to fill in. You hear his parents and his sister talking, and then further into the tape it sounds like an orgy has started. Bill gets mad and takes the tape to his psychiatrist. But his doctor doesn't want to listen to it right then, and tells Bill to come back tomorrow. Bill leaves the tape and goes home. The next day the tape is different, and it sounds very normal and Bill can't figure out why. So he calls the guy he got it from and agrees to meet him to get another copy of the tape. Once he gets to the meeting spot he finds a wreck, and the guy is covered in bloody blankets and being loaded up.
He tells his family about what happened and they basically tell him so what? Bill goes to a party that night, where he confronts his friend about the tape. His sister talks about him on the tape, so he asks his friend about it and his friend more or less confirms what Bill heard. Bill ends up hooking up with Clarissa and has sex with her. During this he sees something like he did with his sister. There are a few more things that happen and it brings us to the ending. I don't want to ruin it for those who haven't watched it yet. But I will warn those of you that haven't watched it yet, this is a very weird movie! Instead of talking about the ending, I will instead leave you with a picture from it.
The effects are a mixed bag here. Some of it looks really cool, while some of it looks a little bad. They did do a great job with the effects in that it really adds to the weirdness of the film. Even if some of it looks a bit off in places, it still adds to the film. I can't get into the effects too much, since the biggest part of them don't come into the movie until the end. The acting was a bit over the top in places, but not too bad overall. I didn't really care for the cheerleader girlfriend, since it seemed like she couldn't make up her mind to either smile or scowl when she got mad.
I really liked Society, but it got a little too weird at times. As I said, I understood the basics of it, but I just couldn't figure it all out. However I know all about it now I think. If you have watched this one and would like to talk about the ending with me, then please do. I was really throwing the idea to talk about it here, but decided I didn't want to ruin it for those of you that haven't seen it. I would like to give this one a little higher of a rating than I will. But just because it got so weird, to a point that it lost me some, I have to drop it down a little. It is a movie you will like or hate. So go find it and decide which side of the fence you stand on.
3 out of 5 Rich people eating the poor
Tuesday, May 09, 2006
Here's a quick refresher on the plot first. A group of people get tricked into finding their way to Pleasant Valley, where they are killed off one by one by the townsfolk. Way back in 1862, the Union army killed everyone in the town. Before the last person died, he swore they would rise again and take revenge, and so they have. They kill the unsuspecting people that they trick, the same way the Union soldiers killed people in their town all those years ago.
The original movie was really silly at times, so I didn't know if the remake would take the same path or try and make it more of a serious movie. Turns out they went both ways. It was silly at times, and turned a little serious by the end of the movie. 2001 Maniacs will probably be liked by people closer to my age. I say that because the gore level was raised. I'm not big on gore, but I don't mind it either. I guess it just depends on the movie. Too much can ruin it, and sometimes you feel like there should have been some when there wasn't. It was there in the original, but there's just more of it in this one.
The effects were nicely done, and some of the deaths I can say I saw for the first time in this movie. Only one death from the original movie makes it into this one. That death is the four horses pulling a woman's limbs off. They did mess up a little bit with this one, but I will let you watch it (if you do) and see if you can catch what I mean. The other deaths are: a big bell being dropped onto a person (instead of a big rock); drinking moonshine that turns out to be acid; a BBQ spit being rammed up a person's ass and out his mouth (looked very cool really but not realistic if you think about it); one guy gets his manhood taken away by metal braces; a guy being crushed by an old style cotton presser; and two people getting their heads cut off by barbwire.
I enjoyed the acting for 2001 Maniacs. I was happy to see Robert Englund in this movie. I've enjoyed a lot of the movies he has been in, if for no other reason than he brings up the level even in bad movies. I did like his acting but his southern accent needs a little work, and wasn't always there. Eli Roth (one of the producers and director of Cabin Fever and Hostel), has a small role, as does Kane Hodder (better known as Jason in last few Friday The 13th movies). Lin Shaye, Giuseppe Andrews, Jay Gillespie, Marla Malcolm, and Gina Marie Heekin are some of the others that stood out to me. There was a lot of stereotyping, but I felt everyone did a good job acting out their parts.
One other thing that was different from the original was a lot of nudity. There was zero nudity in the original, but there was a lot in this one. Two Thousand Maniacs poked a little bit of fun at the Southern people, and it was no different in 2001 Maniacs. But they didn't stop there. They poked fun at just about everyone and every race. There are more people that show up in the town this time around, 8 instead of 5 like in the original. A black man is the one that is crushed in the cotton press. One of the women is Chinese. After she is killed, the mayor (played by Englund), says that he likes to eat Chinese but is hungry again after an hour. The bi-sexual guy is the one that gets the spit rammed into him. Of course there are the jokes about Southern people. We see one man running around after a lamb, while trying to hold his pants up. Two women are kissing cousins (more than that it would seem actually). They liked to have one of the guys watch (only if he was quiet), but they wouldn't let him touch or join in.
Over all I liked this remake. It did explain some things that bothered me about the original. In Two Thousand Maniacs they only came back for revenge every 100 years which was fine. But they didn't seemed surprised by cars and things like that. In 2001 Maniacs the festival that they have is held for a few days every year. That made more sense to me. When the town isn't there it is a graveyard to all of those that were killed. I liked some of the ending but not all of it, and that is where it lost me some. There is a fairly big fight scene at the end and I just felt like it dragged the ending down, and didn't really need to be there. When it was close to the end, I knew the ending would be what would decide for me if I loved the movie or just merely liked it. I was swinging both ways up to that point. After the movie was over, I have to say I only liked it, which disappoints me some. I will suggest that you give it a try though, even if you haven't seen the original.
3 out of 5 Leg pulling fun
Monday, May 08, 2006
1 star = hated it.
2 stars = didn't care for it, but didn't outright hate it. Mostly I felt the movie came close to being good, but just missed.
3 stars = my somewhere in the middle type movie. I didn't love it but didn't hate it either. Usually most of the movie I felt was good, but there were enough things I couldn't really overlook.
4 stars = loved it.
5 stars = I really loved it. More on this one a little later.
I know you have noticed that I don't simply say stars after each rating. I say something else too. Sometimes it's silly but it always has to do with the movie in some way. I thought this was better than just saying stars all the time, and it makes me really think about what to say sometimes. It is more creative in other words.
I don't have any rules as far as the ratings go. There is nothing like this does or doesn't have to happen before I will give it a certain rating. There is one exception to that rule, and that is the 5 star rating. For that rating, I have to love the movie AND it needs to scare me. These are horror movies after all, so they should be scary in some way. There have been some 4 star movies that I was real tempted to give 5 stars to, but I stuck to my rule and didn't do that because they weren't scary. Maybe it would have been to someone else. I really feel the more horror movies a person watches, the harder it gets to scare that person. Plus some things scare you more than it would me and so on. So far I have only given 4 movies a perfect score. I'm not saying that the movie was perfect. I have yet to watch one of those, but it was close enough.
Now back to what I was saying, about certain things happening. I don't have a checklist sitting beside me while watching a horror movie. I go simply by how I feel after watching it. Were there enough good things that I liked to make it one I enjoyed, or enough bad things to drag it down. I know that just because I loved or hated a movie doesn't mean you, the reader, will get the same feelings from the movie. I am trying to give an honest review from a horror movie fan. I know not all my reviews are great, and I'm sure some of them haven't been all that good. But I try to be honest.
Sunday, May 07, 2006
The plot is basically the same as any zombie movie: survival. A large group of humans have holed up in section of a big city. They have built up walls and electric fences to keep out the dead. Oh and they are armed to the teeth it seems too. Once in a while, a special group of them heads out and gathers some much needed supplies. There are basically two groups of people in this movie: the poor and the rich. Why money still matters is never explained, but it does.
Some of the zombies, one more so than the others, are starting to learn. Maybe learning is the wrong word really. All through Romero's zombie movies, you can see that the dead somewhat remember their lives. So maybe "remembering things" is a better way to describe what is happening. They do it in a very slow way though as they should, since by now I'm sure most of their brain matter is long gone. I'll say more on that later. The zombies start to form an attack force of their own, and invade the walled up city. Who lives and who dies may or may not surprise you.
I thought the story was ok at best. Nothing really surprised me all that much, and I was never scared of anything at any point. Some people have said there were some jump scares, but there wasn't even that for me. The acting was alright but again, nothing really impressed me a whole lot. Dennis Hopper, John Leguizamo, Simon Baker, Asia Argento, and Robery Joy round out the main cast. All did a good job but nothing was really all that impressive, to me anyway.
The effects on the other hand, were just amazing. I was surprised to read that some people didn't like them, but I guess you can't make everyone happy. Greg Nicotero and his team did a great job of creating different stages of zombies, and giving each one a different look. There were all kinds of flesh and other body parts being ripped up, and feedings everywhere. There was just some great stuff. The effects alone bump up the rating just a little bit. I really can't say enough about how well done the effects are.
A problem I had with Land Of The Dead and for that matter almost every other zombie movie, is the fact that the brain needs to be destroyed in order to "kill" the zombie. Why is that a problem for me? I touched on it some in my review for Let Sleeping Corpses Lie. The brain is soft tissue, so it should be one of the first things to rot away. I know this takes time to happen, and it doesn't happen over night. But with at least some of the zombies we see in movies, their brains should be long gone. So why would shooting them in the head matter? I don't know how much time has passed since the original movie (not real life time but time for the universe Romero created). Considering that the characters in this movie have accepted the fact the dead are everywhere and they are just trying to just make the best of things, then I would think the dead have been around for a good long while now. My point being, how much of a brain can they have left? Let's not forget tendons and such, which would be needed to move too.
Some people I talked to and have read reviews from, were glad to see the return of slow moving zombies. The Dawn Of The Dead remake introduced the fast zombie. I happened to like the remake and the fast zombies. The fast zombies made sense to me. I mean think about it for a moment, someone that had just died returns a few minutes later as a zombie. So why should they be slow moving? Unless they were messed up in a way that would keep them from moving, there should be no other reason they can't move normally, and even run if they want to. Maybe their thinking process will be slowed just a little, but their movement shouldn't be until rigor mortis starts to set in.
The only thing I can see that would stop the two things I have talked about, is their feeding from humans that are still alive. Maybe their blood and body tissue somehow stops or slows both of these things down. I can "shoot that in the foot" though by saying the dead are dead. Meaning, their body functions have completely stopped. They no longer breathe, their heart no longer beats, and they can no longer digest. All those things are needed to keep tissue alive in one form or another.
Ok enough about that. While I thought the plot for Land Of The Dead wasn't the greatest, it wasn't the worst ever either. It falls somewhere in the middle really. If you are a zombie fan or just like Romero's movies, then you will need to add this to your list of movies to watch. I held off watching it for a while now. I had heard mixed things about it, so I held off for a little while to forget what I had heard. I was glad that I did.
4 out of 5 Zombies eating yummy looking body parts
Friday, May 05, 2006
If you have never watched any of The Ring movies, then I suggest you just skip over this review for now. Rasen picks up where Ringu left off. The characters from Ringu are quickly taken out and never actually seen anyway. Maybe that was strike one for most fans. While it was a little disappointing to me, it didn't bother me that much to still not enjoy this movie. At first I did too. The lead character is Doctor Ando (Koichi Sato), who was a good friend of Ryuji Takayama (Hiroyuki Sanada). Ryuji died towards the end of Ringu, and now Ando is called in to do the autopsy to determine how his friend was killed. He finds out it was due to a heart attack.
Eventually he watches the tape that has Sadako's curse on it. Up until this point, Ando didn't believe in the tape at all. If I gave you a tape and told you that you would die 7 days after watching it, wouldn't you laugh as well? Sadako appears in front of him and eventually on top of him, naked and kissing and licking Ando. This is something she never did in Ringu. It has been a while since I have watched Ringu so I could be wrong on this, but I don't think the images on the tape were the same, or maybe they just didn't show it all this time. After he watches the tape, there is no phone call. I thought that was an important part of the first movie, and they totally skipped over it for Rasen.
Now Ando believes and the race is on. Meanwhile, the doctors discover that there is a virus in the people that watched the video tape. It reminds them of smallpox, but that virus hasn't been around for a good 30 years. Now a new twist, since people that haven't even watched the video but know about it are dying. They have the same virus but it is mutated. How can this be if they didn't watch the tape? If you truly want to know, then go watch the movie to see how the rest of it turns out.
The first half or so of Rasen seemed promising to me. I can understand why fans of the first movie didn't take to this one. The first one was a big mystery really. A young girl somehow makes a video that causes people to die. The young girl has been dead for a long time, but has found a way to take lives all the same. Rasen takes a u-turn from the first movie. It slowly goes away from the mystery and becomes a medical thriller. If a virus is truly being transmitted from the tape to the people that watch it, I don't want to know about it. To me that is too much information. I don't really care about the how, but I do care about the why - and that isn't explored here. Wait, it is said Sadako is doing it so others know her fear. So I'm sorry, they spent all of one line to explain it all away.
Not a lot of effects, but there are a few that are well done. I don't know, I enjoyed this one for a while. But the longer it went the more bored I was feeling. I felt the ending was really stupid, and would have dead ended the series. Some people, in their reviews, were happy for the change in plot. But I for one wasn't. They said that more of the same would be boring, and I kind of agree with them. I think most horror fans, while complaining sequels are more of the same, actually want more of the same though. I wasn't asking for that. But I would have liked to have seen more exploration into the mystery, than was presented to us in Ringu. Maybe I'm wrong but I thought there was room to grow for another movie or two, without repeating the original source too much. Unless you are one of those people that think they have to watch every movie that comes out in a series (like me), then I'm not sure if you would enjoy this one. It seems like a lot of people did and didn't like it, so I guess my final words are: judge it for yourself.
2 out of 5 Missing phone calls
Even though Entrails Of A Beautiful Woman is slightly shorter than the previous film, this one had more of a plot to it. A young woman is looking for her sister, and is tricked by the guy that knows she was sold to the slave market in Africa. She is raped and given a drug called Angel Rain. This drug is supposed to make the user want sex even more. She manages to get away somehow, and ends up at a clinic, where she tells the doctor there what happened to her and her sister. The doctor (also a woman) sets out to take revenge on these men, after the young woman jumps off the top of the building. She gets the guy that tricked the young woman to attack the people he works for, when they call him stupid. She is able to do this after drugging the guy. Her plan backfires though. The guy gets all chopped up and she falls into the hands of this gang.
The gang ends up raping her as well, and they give her the drug Angel Rain. They give her too much though and she seemingly dies from it. The boss decides to dump her body along with the remains of the guy that they killed. On the way there, the doctor begins to twitch some, and the next thing we see is some sort of monster that is very gross looking. The writer/director described it as an inside out human. This is where the movie starts to get really bizarre. The monster goes on a killing spree, killing all those that raped the doctor or was there at the rape. After killing everyone the doctor keeps using drugs, and the last thing we see before the movie ends is her turning into the monster again.
The effects were a little better this time around, though still a bit silly. When I said the movie turned bizarre, I meant because of the way the monster was killing people. It bent one person in half, and tore one guy's head in half and showed the remains (that was pretty cool actually). The monster could change its sex at will apparently, because it uses a giant penis that had a mouth, with teeth no less, to rip through a woman's belly while having sex with her. Then when the boss shows up, the monster's penis transforms into a vagina, and the monster suffocates the boss using it.
The sex was still there. There was not as much of it this time, but it is still there. I have to admit I liked the horror part of Entrails Of A Beautiful Woman much better than I did for Entrails Of A Virgin. Even so, I can't give this one too high of a rating. I will increase it over the first one, but just because it was better as far as the horror goes, and just so damn bizarre. Still, as a horror movie, it offered too little too late. I'm not saying rape isn't horrifying, because it is. But it is not my idea of a horror movie.
2 out 5 Weird looking monsters
Thursday, May 04, 2006
Right from the start thought it was obvious to me that this is mearly a soft porn movie. I was starting to wonder if there was going to be any type of horror thrown in and there eventually was. More than half of the movie was soft porn. The plot? Ok there was a little bit of one here. The movie starts with a photo shoot. There are three women who are models/helpers and three men who are the photographers and their boss. This takes forever because it is interlaced with scenes of the model and the main photographer having sex. She is doing this in order to get the modeling job that we are seeing. The scenes of the photo shoot take a while and the scenes of the two having sex take even longer.
Finaly the photo shoot is over and they pack it up to leave. Night falls and a heavy fog roles in. The find a building in the woods that is still being worked on and no one is there so they decide to hole up here for the night. The boss and the main photographer begin to talk about the model, the boss wants her for the night and is trying to find a way to split from the main group. The women try and figure out what the two are talking about so the boss orders the other photographer to wrestle. They get one of the helpers to wrestle with him but she doesn't do anything but scream a lot as the guy puts her in different wrestling holds. Eventually she pees herself and passes out. The guy gets mad at the boss and leaves. Are we having fun yet? I sure wasn't.
This is where we really get to see the monster for the first time. The description of the movie talked about a swamp monster but there is no monster. Just a guy covered in mud. He kills the guy that left the group with some sort of hammer to the head. Before the hammer connects we see things like a meat tenderizer hitting some meat and things like that. All through the movie there are weird shots thrown in like that one. Then we see the hammer hitting this guys head and his eyeballs pop out. It felt like slow motion but it was over very fast at the same time. More sex scenes come up, between the model and the boss (telling her he will get her plenty more jobs) and now between the main photographer and the other helper (telling her she will be the next model as long as she gives it up but she doesn't really want to since its her first time).
The model gets away, after losing some pubic hair, and runs into the monster. I will call him that since I don't know what else to call the guy. He did talk by the end in a weird voice but never moved his mouth. Anyways, the monster has his way with her which was shown by a silhouette of a gigantic penis entering her. She has great lines here such as "It's so big" and "I feel so good." Classic stuff here people. After he is done with her he just throws her to the side and leaves. A broken sign above gives way and of course the model happens to be under it and loses her head.
The monster takes turns killing a male then female and the another male and so on until there is just one woman left. He has sex with her and talks about things like he didn't asked to be raised in this world and there is only one power that can kill him but doesn't know if there is such a power right now. More exciting stuff in other words. Either she gets away or he lets her go, I don't know which since they so kindly left that part out. The woman is next shown somewhere with a big belly wondering what it is that is inside her. Then lava explodes from the ground.
The effects range from not to bad to very bad. The very bad being when the monster throws a spear at one of the men it is outright obvious it is going down the neck of his shirt instead of through him. When I got these two movies I said, "There had better be some entrails." I was rewarded with some which was the not so bad part of the effects. They aren't from a virgin though. The woman that passed out from wrestling wakes up very horny. So horny that she tries to make it with a corpse but that didn't work out to well so she ends up in like a shower room. The monster shows up and throws her a severed arm with the hand still attached and two fingers straight. She wastes no time using it to masturbate herself with. Ok it is kind of a sick thing but it made me laugh some. Then the monster has his way with her but that still isn't enough for her yet and she asks for more. He pushs his hand into her, way into her, like up to her belly button. Getting that far in is pretty impressive stuff. When he pulls his hand out he has some of her insides with it.
I have always thought the Japanese are a little strange and this movie kind of helps me with that idea. There is a law there, I don't know if it is still in effect, that forbids any depiction of the genitalia. Anytime it came close to showing genitalia it would blur out in that general area. But that didn't seem to stop them from showing a sort of cum shot and a girl spitting cum out of her mouth. Oh and lets not forget about the silhouette. I can't believe I am writing about this sort of thing. If you are into soft porn movies then you might enjoy this one. However, I am here to review horror movies and Entrails Of A Virgin falls well short of a good, even decent, horror movie.
1 out of 5 Humans posing as monsters