Tuesday, September 29, 2009
Harry Steadman is a private investigator. Harry is the co-owner of a company that deals mostly with checking backgrounds of employees and security for other companies. His partner, Maggie, got him into the business after Harry had left the Mossad behind. Now, after returning from setting up security for a company, Harry finds himself in a meeting with a Mossad agent. The Mossad is essentially the CIA of Israel. They want Harry to look for a missing agent for them. They sent an agent, that has a link to Harry's past, to deal with an arms dealer. The Mossad also suspect that Gant might be doing something that will affect Israel directly. Harry declines, knowing full well that the Mossad isn't telling him everything about the case. Maggie accepts the case without Harry knowing it, and against his wishes. Harry doesn't find out about it until Maggie shows up at his doorstep, literally nailed to the frame of the door. Harry still doesn't want to get involved. But after a visit from a British agent, Harry feels he has no choice now.
The Spear starts off by introducing the main players of the story. Mostly it gives us some background information about Harry. Herbert gets into a lot of detail about Harry actually, but not as much detail for the rest of the characters. Herbert manages to keep the story going, while he keeps feeding us information about Harry. I thought it was a great attention grab by nailing Maggie to Harry's door. Even though Herbert is mostly known for his horror novels, with The Spear he takes a different approach. As you may have guessed from what little I have told you about the novel, it is more of a spy/action novel instead of a horror novel. There are a couple of places that deals more with what you would find in a horror novel. But for the most part this is Herbert's nod to spy novels. Since I have not read all of his books, I don't know how many go in this direction. Hopefully The Spear is the only one, or at least one of very few. I'm not saying that because I thought this was a bad novel. I just don't think that Herbert makes the best writer for this kind of story. His action sequences are a little hard to believe at times. Things happen too quickly is the sense that I got from them.
The main problem I ended up having with this novel, is that Harry is an ex agent, and apparently a very good one, but it doesn't often show. It has been several years since Harry was in the spy business, but to me that really doesn't excuse some of the mistakes he seems to make. Harry comes home and begins to do his thing, but fails to notice that there is someone else in his home. Harry never seems to know who to trust, but never questions the British agent that makes contact with him. He is quick in the sack with a woman that he meets. I will give Herbert some credit for having Harry not really trust this woman at least. With the exception of The Dark, I have noticed that the main character manages to hook up with another of the characters. In that novel, the main character does have feelings for another character, but nothing happens until towards the end of the novel. Another problem I had is that the novel felt like it was nearing the end mid way through the book. In a way it wasn't hard to figure out who was doing what in this novel. It was pretty well spelled out who were the good and bad guys. There were a few surprises I didn't really see coming, but they weren't any I was totally shocked by.
The story itself could have been a lot more interesting to me. It deals in part with a cult that has its roots in the Nazi party. It also deals some with the spirit of one of the more well known Nazi leaders. The spear from the title of the book is the Spear of Longinus. If you don't know what that is, it is the spear that pierced Jesus's side in John's account of the crucifixion. Because of this, Wagner's plays also work their way into the story. I wish Herbert had centered the story more around all of this, instead of making it more of an action novel. There are two places that reminded me more of Herbert's other novels. One will leave you wondering what just took place, while the other felt more like an after thought. The last one took me a while to get through actually. The Spear ended up being a disappointment to me. I thought it started off well enough. But by the time I got to the end of the book, it was dragging and hard for me to get through to finish. Hopefully the next book I have in mind will be a better one.
2 out of 5 Wishing the spear was more important
Saturday, September 19, 2009
Three people have won a radio contest to travel to New Orleans for Mardi Gras. The contest, which was called Hoodoo For Voodoo, allows them to bring one person with them. The contest winners are Danielle (Brunhilda Zekthi), who will take her best friend Asia (Sacha Crutchfield); Squid (Chris McDaniel) who is also taking his best friend Blake (Garrett Harrison); and Bones (Valensky Sylvain) who is taking his girlfriend Sasha (Aaliyah Madyun). Once there, they discover that they won't be staying in New Orleans, but in a town that is close by. They are taken to see a human sacrifice that is all staged for the tourists. Later that night though, someone kills some of those that were involved in the staged sacrifice. Danielle and the others begin to figure out that someone is using voodoo on them, but who could it be?
It doesn't take very long to figure out that Hoodoo For Voodoo is a very low budget film. It wasn't so much the way it was filmed that gave this away, but the acting and the lighting. Any scene that is filmed at night is way too dark. It makes it hard to see what is going on at times because of that. Also it seems like the color is a little off at times as well. It could have been my DVD player, because when it gets dirty the color is a little off at times. But this was happening in way too many scenes and for too long of a period, to be my DVD player. The plot for the film wasn't great, mostly because the actors didn't always pull it together. Hoodoo For Voodoo tries to mix horror with comedy, but ends up with mixed results. It can be funny at times, but more times than not, it misses the mark. Often times the funniest stuff ends up on the shirts they wear.
The effects can sometimes compound the problem for the film. I don't really want to call them bad. But sometimes they are shown so quickly, that if you happen to blink, you could very well miss it. I don't know if it was because the effect didn't turn out well, so they decided not to show it for very long, or if it was just the way it was edited together. There were a couple of times I was tempted to rewind it a little to make sure I saw what I did, it was that quick at times. The main effects were a severed arm and head, as well as a big hole in another head. The acting was pretty bad in places. The main problem is that the film makers managed to get some of the better known scream queens to do small roles. Debbie Rochon has a small part selling tickets to tourists for the sacrifice. A big tip off it is all a set up if you ask me. Anyway, Tiffany Shepis also shows up long enough to get naked and make out with another woman. Linnea Quigley is the last of the scream queens. She plays the part of Queen Marie. I didn't have a problem with these cameo roles really, but the problem comes up when they make the main actors look even worse than they already are. Linnea gets the biggest part of the three, and does a great job with what she is given. Out of the main group, I liked Brunhilda Zekthi the best. Even though I thought she could have done better at times, she impressed me the most out of the main group.
With the film being so dark, and the quick editing, I was often getting two of the actors confused with each other. I can't really suggest that you go and find Hoodoo For Voodoo. Unless there is a certain actor in the film that you feel the need to watch, I would just pass it over. Even the writer makes fun of the title of the film some. One of the actors makes a joke about it in the film. I can't say I have ever heard that happen before. While the film is hardly all bad, it gets nowhere close to being a great film either. There were parts of the film that I liked, but they are few and far between. Seeing Lloyd Kaufman, the person behind Troma Films, only made me realize how bad this film was. Can you tell I'm hardly a fan of his?
2 out of 5 Watching women make out is never a bad thing, is it?
Hector (Karra Elejalde) and his wife Clara (Candela Fernández) are moving into a new home. We watch as they go about their normal day of working on the flowers around the home, and working on the home itself slightly. Hector gets a phone call, but no one seems to want to talk. The person hangs up, so Hector calls the number back. He gets an answering machine, so leaves a message. A little later he is sitting in the back yard with his binoculars, checking out the land around his back yard. Hector seems to spot something in the trees and bushes, and eventually sees a woman. He watches as this woman takes her shirt off, but gets distracted by his wife getting ready to leave. Once Clara leaves, Hector begins his search for the woman, but is unable to find her again. Instead of leaving well enough alone, he goes in search of this woman. He eventually does find her, but she is completely naked and not responding. Hector decides to get closer, when he is attacked by someone. Hector runs off, and eventually finds himself in a house he isn't supposed to be in. He manages to reach someone who works at the house, on a walkie-talkie. This guy tells Hector that he needs to get to the silo that the speaker is in, because the guy chasing Hector is near the house. When Hector does just that though, the time travel begins.
What I find funny on Netflix reviews is that everyone that calls this film a time travel movie, which it is, gets slapped with a spoiler tag. It is funny because in Netflix's own synopsis for Timecrimes, it lets you know that it is a time travel film. Timecrimes uses the theory that time is one line. If we travel back in time, we are still in the same time line. No one knows for sure what will happen if events are changed somehow. The person that travels back in time, if stopped from doing so for some reason, might disappear from time completely. Then again, it might destroy everything as we know it. Some people find this film a tad confusing, as many time travel films are. I found this one easy to follow though. Only a couple of things bothered me about this film. Hector manages to hold a woman hostage at scissor point, while being a good distance away and with his back to the woman. I don't know why she didn't take off running, instead of getting close and then making her move. The other thing was that I felt the movie ended too soon. I would have liked to have known what happened after the ending that we see. These things are mostly minor points though. Maybe not every plot point is wrapped up nice and neat, but it was pretty close.
The effects are pretty minor really. There are a few wounds here and there, but nothing really major. Hector does get pretty beaten up, after being in a couple of crashes though. The acting was pretty good. Timecrimes is a Spanish film, so I ended up watching it with subtitles. If you get the actual DVD though, you get the option of it being subtitled or dubbed. Karra Elejalde does a great job of being the average middle aged guy, who gets caught up in time travel. For someone that doesn't seem to know anything about time travel, Hector catches on pretty quickly. Barbara Goenaga plays the part of the woman that Hector spots. There is also Nacho Vigalondo as the guy that runs the time machine.
Timecrimes is a pretty good sci-fi film. I didn't feel it tried to get too cute at any point in the film. The concept is a little hard for some people, since there is more than one theory as to how time travel works. What we see in the film may not fit perfectly at times, but this could be more to do with the editing of the film, rather than the time line changing itself. Writer/director/actor Nacho Vigalondo does a good job of not explaining everything perfectly. In this film, time travel is new. No one knows for sure what will happen. This is something that some people didn't like, because not everything is spelled out for them. For me though it was a nice touch. Timecrimes appears to be up for a Hollywood remake. IMDb lists it as a 2011 film so far. No other information is listed though. I have to assume that it is a remake of this film given the spelling of it. Time will tell though, no pun intended.
3 out of 5 Can the past be changed?
Monday, September 14, 2009
The picture is showing the garage which is believed to be where the fire started. It did get into the house, and destroyed the kitchen and most of the family room. They had what I called a petting zoo over there. Pot belly pig, eleven cats, ducks, armadillo, snakes, fish, lizards, frogs, and turtles. I'm sure I'm forgetting things as well. The two ducks that were outside made it. The two garage cats made it out somehow. Only one of the house cats made it sadly. They found one snake, a lizard and a turtle alive in one of the bedrooms. All other pets didn't make it though. I'm glad that my neighbors made it out and are not harmed, but it still makes me sad that all the pets died.
Sunday, September 13, 2009
Carrie Stetko (Kate Beckinsale) is a U.S. Marshal stationed in Antarctica. Winter is about to set in there, so everyone is getting ready to head off, or be trapped there for the next few months. Carrie has been considering the idea of turning her badge in, but this is something she has been debating for a while. She has struggled over this decision ever since something bad happened in Miami actually. Before she can get started on her packing though, she is told about a body that has been found on the ice. She takes Dr. John Fury (Tom Skerritt) with her, after getting Delfy (Columbus Short) to fly them there. Carrie is confused about the body they find, because there is no gear or anything around that would explain the wounds the body has. They take the body back to base for a better examination, when Carrie gets a call from someone that is wanted by the Marshal's. Again she gets Delfy to fly her to the base this person is at, only to find him dead, and someone there trying to kill her as well.
Like most people it seems, I wasn't sure what kind of movie Whiteout was supposed to be. The trailer gives the impression that it might be a horror movie, or at the very least a thriller of some sort. It does have a few moments that can make it more of a thriller, but I would call it a murder mystery more than anything. Many people are calling Whiteout the worst reviewed film of the year. Personally, I didn't think it was that bad of a film. Beckinsale's character is introduced by watching her enter the station, and eventually taking a shower. It isn't the best way to introduce the main character of a film, but it wasn't as drawn out as I was lead to believe. It does linger on her a little too long, but I'm sure most guys won't mind that, even if it doesn't really show much. Another big problem people seem to have is that characters often talk about what they are doing or seeing. I didn't notice this so much, except in a flashback. I didn't really mind it so much then though. I do agree with others that the use of flashbacks was annoying. Instead of one big flashback, we get several that are broken up. Then we get the one big flashback, that of course shows all the others as well. The thing that bothered me the most was what to me was a glaring plot hole. After almost getting killed, and waking up (I am assuming several hours later), she finds British agent Pryce (Gabriel Macht). After talking for a short while, they all fly off together. Of course they could have talked about the killer off camera. But it seemed out of place that Carrie didn't want to secure him, until she searched the rest of the place for the person that tried to kill her.
Some pretty nice effects show up now and then. Nothing real gory at all, but some nice frozen bodies appear. The bodies are sometimes pretty messed up. With them being frozen, it gave the effects an added nice touch I though. There is also a case of frost bite. The acting was good, but there was also something missing. This had more to do with the story than the acting though. Kate Beckinsale is honestly the entire reason I went to see this film. She does a good job with what she is given, but I'm not so sure she made a good Marshal. Gabriel Macht also does a good job with his role, but this is where the story falls short. Gabriel seems to be the romantic lead for Kate's character, but it never comes about. It is hinted at a little, but I think it would have added more to the movie if they had committed to it.
The person who is doing the killing isn't all that hard to figure out, which disappointed some people. The big mystery is really what everyone is being killed over. Even though Whiteout fails as a murder mystery, I still found it entertaining. I'm a little disappointed that I went to the theater to see it. But I have seen much worse there. I don't know if they had anyone there to show Kate how to act like a Marshal, but it didn't really feel that they did. What do I know though? I'm hardly a Marshal myself. Even though I liked this film, I would suggest waiting for the DVD to watch it.
3 out of 5 No nude Kate, but close enough
Friday, September 11, 2009
Henrietta Winslow (Cecilia Loftus) is an old lady, who knows that her time on the earth is about up. She lives in a very nice mansion with her housekeeper, Abigail (Gale Sondergaard), and gardener, Eduardo (Bela Lugosi). Henrietta's main passion in life is her cats though. She loves her cats so much, that she has a building where the cats can be cremated after they pass away, and the ashes can be kept. Henrietta's family has gathered at the news that she might be on her death bed, but Henrietta isn't ready to leave just yet. Since she knows it won't be much longer though, she decides to read her will to everyone, since they are all there. Not everyone likes what they hear though. Thrown into this mix is Gil (Broderick Crawford), who is trying to get Henrietta to sell her house to Mr. Penny (Hugh Herbert). When Henrietta is found murdered, it is up to Gil to figure out what is going on.
Even though The Black Cat is on a horror movie DVD, and is even listed as a horror movie on different web sites, I found it to be a straight up murder mystery that sometimes is a comedy. It didn't bother me that this was actually a murder mystery type film. I gathered as much from the small blurb on the DVD box. What did surprise me though, was how much the comedy was played up. Two people make the comedy part of The Black Cat. Gil is more the natural choice for this, since he is just a regular guy, trying to figure out why he almost got killed. His scenes were either somewhat serious or slightly funny. Mr. Penny was the other person, and his character felt more out of place. In every scene that he is in, he is trying to be funny in some way. Hugh Herbert's performance wasn't all that funny, and in fact it was getting very annoying! If there is ever an unneeded character, it is Mr. Penny. He is simply there to give the hero a way of discovering the secret passages, and to say "woohoo" every chance he gets. The plot of the film was just okay. I didn't really try all that hard to figure out who the murderer was, since I was getting annoyed with a certain Mr. Penny. With so many characters, and such a short run time, we don't really get to know but a small amount of the characters.
Sorry no effects to be found in The Black Cat. The acting wasn't too much of a problem for me. I enjoyed Broderick Crawford in the lead role well enough. Even though Bela Lugosi can be found in the film, he is underused in it. He mostly can be found near by, looking like he is up to something. Of course they include a close up of his eyes as well. There is really only one scene where he gets to act. His death scene was poor, since I don't think the gun was even pointed at him. Sorry I kind of spoiled that, but I just said it to make the point about the gun. Anne Gwynne plays one of the few characters that get more of a story. Gale Sondergaard was great in her over the top performance.
I think I read where this film uses the name of Edgar Allan Poe's story, but of course it has nothing to do with that story. I know many people consider The Black Cat a classic, this film I mean. But I was really disappointed with it. If it had been more of a murder mystery type film, I think I would have gotten into it more. I didn't mind some of the comedy, like Gil mistaking a suit of armor for a person and crashing into it. Even though Mr. Penny isn't in the film a lot, it was still enough to pull me out of the story. This is one classic I just didn't care for. I will be taking a small break tomorrow, as I head to the theater for some movie fun. I will still get reviews up on Sunday, hopefully. But it will be later now, as football season begins officially this weekend!
2 out of 5 Needed more cats I think
Wednesday, September 09, 2009
If you ever watched The Amityville Horror, either version, you may remember that it would touch on something that happened in the house, before the Lutz family moved in. That something, which the family eventually discovers, was Ronald DeFoe Jr. killing his entire family. Amityville II: The Possession is very loosely based on that story. Many people call this movie a work of fiction, and in many ways it is. The names of the family have been changed, I guess because they couldn't use the DeFoe name? In the movie, Sonny Montelli (Jack Magner) is the oldest boy in the Montelli family. They are moving into the Amityville house that has become so famous. Anthony (Burt Young), the father, runs a strict household that boarders on abusive at times. Something in the house, demonic according to Father Adamsky (James Olson), manages to possess Sonny. It gets Sonny to have sex with his oldest sister, Patricia (Diane Franklin), before getting Sonny to kill his entire family.
I said the story is loosely based on a true story because it is. Ronald claimed that he was possessed by the Devil, when the killings happened. He also killed everyone in his family using a rifle I believe. This is where the true story and the movie part ways though. It was said that Ronald Sr. was abusive towards his family, so maybe we can give one more check mark to the true story. It was speculated, after the killings, that Ronald Jr. and his oldest sister Dawn were a little more than brother and sister, but of course that can't be proven. I am assuming that people thought this, because Ronald can't make up his mind on what really happened. He puts all of the blame on himself sometimes. Other times he will blame Dawn in part or completely. If you ask me, and I know this is supposed to be about the film but bear with me here, I think that maybe Dawn helped talk Ronald into killing their parents, or at least their dad. Once Ronald started to pull the trigger though, he just started to kill everyone. That is just what I think after reading about it, watching interviews, and seeing crime scene photos. Dawn may not have had anything to do with it at all, but they say the truth is often somewhere in the middle of what people tell you from one extreme (he did it entirely alone) to the other extreme (Dawn killed everyone and Ronald killed her). Sorry, I but had to get that out there.
In real life, and in the first film, Ronald kills everyone while they are in bed. In this film though, Sonny kills his family all over the house. This is where the film takes a dive into a completely fictional story. The first hour of the film sticks somewhat close to actual events. Well close to actual events, if you decide to believe in the possession that is. This part of the film I enjoyed a lot. It touches on a lot of things that you don't see in many horror films today, abuse and incest. The incest seems to be a pretty hot topic on IMDb. It is the last half hour that manages to lose me to some degree. I understand that it makes the story more exciting than what probably actually happened after the arrest, but I don't see how anyone can possibly believe that it is based on a true story, from that point on. I can't say that I didn't like the direction it took, I was just disappointed that it veered so far off the true story.
A lot of people call the effects for this film cheesy. I agree in a way with that too. Compared to today's effects, they do look kind of cheesy at times. The effects are mostly skin pushing out like big bubbles. Sonny's skin also looks old and discolored at times. The biggest effect is towards the end, when we get something of a transformation. Maybe it looks cheesy at times, but I also thought it was pretty affective at other times. The acting was also very good. I thought that Jack Magner did a really good job in the lead role. I was very surprised to see that he was in just one other film. Jack had that cold stare down to an art form. A lot of props needs to go to all the actors that played the family. Without showing much abuse, the actors really sell it. As soon as dad pulls his belt out, panic hits the family. I can see this in the younger kids, since little kids hate to be spanked after all. But it doesn't explain the rest of the family getting caught up in the panic, if there isn't abuse there.
I have watched this movie before today. The first time I watched it, it was on back to back with the first film. It so happens that was the first time I had watched that film as well. After watching these two films, along with The Entity, there was no way I was sleeping alone that night. Back then I was really drawn into Amityville II: The Possession. But watching it now though, not so much. The last half hour really pulls the film down to me. You also can't help but think of The Exorcist for obvious reasons. If you haven't given this film a try yet, I think you should. There are some haters of it out there, but I enjoyed it well enough. Even though the killings take place off camera, we at least get to see a twitching leg of one of the kids afterwards. That alone made it all worth while.
3 out of 5 Wonder what I would do if possessed?
Monday, September 07, 2009
Red Sands is set in the year 2002. An American Army unit in Afghanistan has been assigned to a remote road in the desert that is thought to be used by the Taliban. After a close call with the enemy, they discover a statue carved into the side of a cliff. One of the soldiers talks about the djinn, and how they would be trapped inside such statues. One of the other soldiers then shoots a single bullet into it, which makes the whole thing fall apart. Soon they find a house that has been partly destroyed, and the people inside burnt to a crisp, to set up a base at. They set out to explore the surrounding area, and eventually come across a camp. After checking it, and finding very little, they head back to the house just in time for a sand storm. Our main character Jeff (Shane West) looks out into the sand, only to see someone running at him. Before he can react though, they are both inside. It turns out to be a woman, but she isn't as she seems.
I was really looking forward to this film. It came in under the radar, but so did Dead Birds. Around twenty minutes in though, I was getting very worried. Red Sands has a slow pace to it, which is fine with me. I was worried because despite this being a movie about soldiers in a war, nothing was happening. They sort of get attacked somewhat early, but that ends rather quickly. Nothing happens at the house or the camp that they find. It is just a group of guys complaining about not getting any sex for a long time. It was very boring stuff. Red Sands has some good build up music in it, but nothing ever happens when we start to hear the music. I will let this go sometimes, since I jump more when something happens without music, but they didn't even bother to do that. When the djinn comes into their group, I was expecting things to start to change. Again though, nothing happens for a good while. The djinn begins to use the soldiers sins against them, like one accidentally shot another American soldier, and one shot a child thinking she was about to do something harmful. This is fine, and even adds an interesting angle to things, but it isn't done well at all. It wants to be scary, but it never sets anything up in order to be scary. I only found one creepy moment, and it was really too bad there weren't more like this one.
I liked the effects here, but there are so few of them to be found. One guy shows up with a big hole in his head that looks pretty gross. We also get a blood filled slit throat. A deleted scene gives the best effect to be found. I was surprised it got cut from the film, since I was half expecting to see it anyway. The djinn itself looks cool, and I'm sure scary to some. But it was done with some very bad CGI effects. It just stands out against the rest of the film in a bad way. The acting wasn't bad at all. Even though I called Shane West the main character for the film, it is a hard call because there isn't one that stands out more than the rest. Shane West stands out because his character has dreams. Not much of a way to make one stand out over other characters, but it was there. Other actors include Leonard Roberts, Aldis Hodge, Callum Blue, Brendan Miller, Theo Rossi, Noel Gugliemi, and Mercedes Masöhn.
Some people seemed to like the way Red Sands started, but I didn't care for it. We see Jeff sitting while someone is talking to him. We find out that his entire unit had been killed (except for him of course), and he is asked why that is. Then we get the story that tells why. I didn't like this, because now I already knew who was going to die. I didn't know how or why of course, but it takes some of the tension out if you know who dies and lives. With the same type of story for Dead Birds, I had to wonder how something that was so perfect, ended up being what we see in Red Sands. I don't know which film had the lower budget, but it really shows here. I don't expect a great film every time out, but I was expecting a whole lot more than I got here.
2 out of 5 Aren't you supposed to get three wishes when releasing a djinn?
Sunday, September 06, 2009
"After showing up as a sloppy, hairy 315-pound beast for his last fight, Tim Sylvia is a natural to be cast as a horror film monster. Fighters.com is reporting that he got a gig in the latest Friday the 13th movie. Yes, we're serious.
Sylvia has been a blogosphere punchline since he was knocked out in 10 seconds by 48-year-old Ray Mercer. He's a favorite of photoshoppers. We can't even imagine what comes now when MMA fans find out Sylvia is the latest Jason Vorhees.
Sylvia does have a return fight in less than three weeks on September 18 at Adrenaline MMA 4 in Iowa. The movie is filming in the Boston area. Here's hoping that filming is taking just a few hours a day and he's actually training for his fight against Jason Riley. Fighters.com says Sylvia is working with Boston-based trainer Mark DellaGrotte."
Last I heard Derek Mears, who played Jason in the remake, was all set to step into the role yet again. Unless something has changed for Derek, like a schedule conflict, I just can't see him not being in that role again. Some people are saying, in the comments section of the article, that Sylvia is indeed filming a horror movie in Boston, but it isn't the new Friday The 13th film. Time will tell, but I still think someone got the wrong information on this.
Saturday, September 05, 2009
Freddy (Thom Mathews) is starting a new job at a medical supply warehouse. Freddy's boss, Burt (Clu Gulager), teams him up with Frank (James Karen) to show Freddy what he will be doing. Frank shows Freddy around the warehouse, showing him some cool looking things, including the corpse in the freezer. As Frank and Freddy talk, Frank starts to talk about how that movie, Night Of The Living Dead, was based on real events. According to Frank, the army accidentally released some kind of chemical that caused the dead to return to life. The people behind the movie heard about it, but changed the facts around, so they could make a movie about it. The army put the dead in sealed canisters and shipped them out. How does Frank know about all of this? Because of some fuck up, some of those canisters are in the basement. Frank takes Freddy down there to show him it is no bullshit. When Frank hits one of the canisters to show how tough the army makes them, it of course springs a leak. The gas reanimates the corpse in the freezer, and before we know it, the corpses in the cemetery near by as well.
Return Of The Living Dead is a film that I have watched many times, but I have never reviewed it before. It was originally going to be directed by Tobe Hooper, and was going to be in 3D. Instead of that happening, a producer for the film offered writer Dan O'Bannon the director's chair, and he took it. According to Dan, he ran into all kinds of problems while making this film, partly due to it being a low budget film. You can see this in some ways, such as only a few of the zombies look like zombies. The rest of the zombies look like muddy humans. The ending of the film was also a case for the low budget, as they simply ran out of time and money. I don't really have that much of a problem with the ending, but it did feel slightly quick. The horror/comedy mix was a risk in my opinion, but I understand why they went with it. In order to stand out from that other living dead series, they made their film have more comedy, and the zombies simply want brains to eat. I felt the comedy part of the film worked, and worked well for once. A big part of this goes to James Karen and Thom Mathews playing off each other so well. Most people see this film as a good film with a cult following. I see it more as one of the classics that came out of the 1980s.
The effects for Return Of The Living Dead still hold up today. Sometimes you can tell where a fake head was being used, but those were the only times that the effects don't look completely real. Some of the zombies look amazing, and you can tell a lot of detail went into them. Dogs that have been split down the middle offer a simple but cool effect. The main effect, outside of the zombies, would be the calf brains that the zombies want to get so badly. The acting is well done by everyone. James Karen's role was going to be played by the director, but after seeing James, he was hired on the spot. Don Calfa plays Ernie, the mortician next door to the warehouse. Beverly Randolph plays the girlfriend of Freddy. She hangs with the punk guys that are found in the film, but looks and acts very normal herself. Linnea Quigley is part of that punk group, and spends the majority of the film in the nude. Many felt this was her breakout role, which would lead to bigger and better things. But that never happened. I really don't get why people thought that. Not saying she does a bad job with the role, but she doesn't really say a whole lot and is nude all the time.
Another thing that set Return Of The Living Dead apart is that the zombies are somewhat fast. Not all of them are, but you will often see them running to the next set of brains. The zombies also appear to be next to impossible to kill. Getting to a zombie's brain will do nothing. Dead is still dead in this film. Short of burning them to nothing, they zombie keeps coming. They also try to explain why the zombies are attacking the living. I'm not sure it makes prefect sense, but it was nice to be given a small explanation all the same. Return Of The Living Dead is a fun film, but it might get a little too serious towards the end for some. I really enjoyed it the first time I watched it, and even tonight when I put it in for this review. It is always nice to watch a film that you like but haven't watched in a while. I would be surprised if a fan of horror films hasn't watched this one yet. If you haven't, you better get on it.
4 out of 5 Do brains really smell?
Wednesday, September 02, 2009
Many years ago, a little girl watches as an alligator attacks a man at an alligator farm. Despite this, she manages to talk her parents into buying a baby alligator. They take it back to Chicago, where the dad flushes it down the toilet, and has plans to tell his daughter it died. Twelve years later, we meet David (Robert Forster), a detective for the Chicago police. Lately, David keeps getting called down to the sewage treatment plant, because they keep finding various body parts. David can tell that some of the parts are from different people, so he gets Kelly (Perry Lang) to go down into the sewers, to see if they can find anything. Meanwhile, we discover that a drug company has been testing a growth hormone on stray dogs. The dogs that don't make it find their way into the sewer system, where our urban legend alligator has been using them as snacks. David soon finds this out, as Kelly becomes an extra sized snack for the alligator. Of course no one believes him, even the beautiful expert on the subject, Marisa (Robin Riker). When a reporter goes down into the sewer in search of the truth, only his camera turns up with pictures of the giant alligator.
I was actually surprised by this film. I wasn't really expecting much out of it, but it ended up being a fun film. It had plenty of alligator chomping, which was actually a lot of fun to watch. It wasn't really graphic, but they managed to throw in some pretty good effects. I understand that this film has been shown on TV a lot, with some footage that isn't found in the theater release. This was often the case, as it is for the classic Halloween film. Like any film of this type though, there are problems with the alligator changing sizes throughout the film. According to the trailer for the film, the alligator is supposed to be 36 inches long. If they said this in the film, I missed it. Alligator was inspired by Jaws, as many other films have been. Much like Jaws, the mechanical alligator didn't want to work correctly a lot of the time. Director Lewis Teague found different ways to deal with this. One way was to use a real alligator, which happens to be very noticeable at times, because it looks so much smaller. John Sayles, writer of such movies as The Howling and Piranha, took over script duties for this film, after seeing that the original script was set in Milwaukee. He had nothing against that, I don't think, but didn't like that the alligator got so big because of beer finding its way into the sewer system. I'm sure this would have been a hoot to people in Milwaukee, but sounds rather stupid for a film plot.
Even though the effects are not very graphic, we still get plenty of gory things. We get to see a few people finding their way into the alligator's jaws. There is some blood during these scenes, but no body parts flying around. We do get to see some body parts after the fact at times. We also get to see bloody stumps where legs used to be. Some pretty good stuff there. The only time I didn't like how the alligator itself looked, was for an over head shot of the alligator. I don't know what they used for it in that shot, but it looked really bad. The acting was surprisingly good. Robert Forster does a good job in the lead role, and interacts well with his romantic lead in Robin Riker. This was Robin's first film, but she had some roles on TV. What surprised me is that she didn't do another film until ten years later. Perhaps the best role went to the little kid that gets pushed into the pool that the alligator happens to be in. Not graphic at all, but bye-bye little kid.
There wasn't a lot of character development, but there was just enough. To keep things interesting, there is a struggle over who is in charge of finding, and then killing the alligator. The police feel it is their job, but the mayor, who happens to be in bed with the drug company, brings in a big game hunter. Alligator is one that CRwM should watch, if he hasn't already. I know how much he loves his alligators. I wonder if he has a baby gator living with him? It would make sense to me. Anyway, if anyone else likes these types of films, this is a good one to find and watch.
3 out of 5 Who knew alligators hate limos so much?
Tuesday, September 01, 2009
This movie starts with a father and son camping trip, in the back woods of New Jersey. Is New Jersey big enough to have a back woods? Never mind. Dad is a fan of Grendel, a monster from a poem, because he goes around quoting Grendel as he chases his son through the woods. It is just father and son having fun, but did seem a little odd to me. I guess that is what I get for being a girl. I missed out on stuff like that. As dad is looking for his son, he manages to step into a bear trap. Instead of making a good effort to get the trap off, like standing up so you can put more weight into the effort, he decides to just lay there and hope that helps comes. As the days pass, he keeps talking about Grendel, and eventually tells his son to eat him if he has to. As soon as dad passes away, son picks up a knife and starts to chow down. Ten years later, we meet John (Michael Robertson) who is traveling to meet up with his buddy from the service. He is taking his wife (Lori Tirgrath) and daughter (Jamie Krause), because his friend's daughter disappeared two years earlier. They all thought the visit would be good. Sheriff Carr (Rich Hamilton) has other plans for his friend though. John has been writing books about off topics: UFO abductions, mind readers, that sort of thing. Carr is hoping that John can help in some way with his off thinking. Since his own child disappeared two years ago, other children have also been disappearing about every two months. Carr has no clue, and the town's people are starting to get fed up. We soon learn that the kids are still alive and well, but have taken up killing adults...for food.
Beware: Children At Play is a film released by Troma. I tend to avoid films by them, since I rarely enjoy watching them. I didn't know this when I went to watch it, since I watched it on Instant Watch on Netflix. Troma or not, I try to give every film a far shot. While watching this film, I never felt it was great, Troma or not. It is a cheesy film, which you can pretty much tell that from the start, that tries to take itself a little too seriously. One of the things I didn't get is the children to be honest. Since Glen, the son from the start of the film, firmly believes he is now Grendel, he has basically brainwashed the other kids. Okay, I can buy into that. Just one problem though. Some of the kids are recent entries into Glen's little clan, so why are they so against everyone else already? Then we get the village idiots, I mean the townspeople. They finally feel they have had enough so mass outside the sheriff's office. Since the cops aren't doing anything, they will. Except they don't. They start showing up around dusk, and are still there at dawn. Great way to do something about the kids! Then there is the reporter who likes to cause trouble for the sheriff, more than she seems to be interested in actually reporting the news. None of this is really bad. I just found it rather amusing instead of it being serious.
The effects range from really bad, to not so bad. There are all kinds of effects to be found. People getting cut open, stab wounds, gun shot wounds, getting cut in half, heads being shot off, and more. The guy getting cut in half was done fairly well, but the blade that did it had no blood on it. The head being blown away was cool, but didn't really look real. An effect like that is hard to get right though. What made a lot of the effects fun, even if they were bad, is that they had to do with the kids. The acting wasn't all that great most of the time, but it is a Troma film. By that I mean that acting was never one of the things they were big on for their films. However, I did really like Mik Cribben, who was one good bible thumper.
In my review for Who Can Kill A Child?, I was a little shocked by some kids undressing a woman. Leave it to Troma to up the ante. The same thing happens here, and they throw in a rape for good measure. The difference being, beside the rape, is that the kid doing it is in his late teens. I'm not saying that makes it any more right, but it was less shocking to me. Troma also ups the ante with the deaths of the kids. They are much more violent and graphic. Regardless of how you feel about the film prior to the last big battle, you will enjoy it all the more because of that battle. Unless you hate to see kids being killed on screen anyway. There was a plot point I would liked to have seen played out more, but that didn't really happen. Beware: Children At Play is a low rated film, but I ended up liking it well enough. Worth a watch for the ending alone!
3 out of 5 Loved every second of the slaughter