söndag 29 mars 2015

Dead mans letters aka Pisma myortvogo cheloveka(1986)

Hashtag: Bleak as fuck.

I was born in 1973 and grew up during the last days of the cold war. I clearly remember a piece on the Swedish news very early 80s when the reporter told the viewers: The chance of Sweden being attacked by a foreign power is more probable than ever. Imagine what this does to the mind of a maybe 10-11 year old boy, especially after having read Raymond Briggs When the wind blows. This makes the movies about this particular end of the world hit a bit harder than any other catastrophes and I'm certain I'm not alone. I wonder what this movie would have done to my mind if I had watched it in 1986?

Sepiatoned post nuclear holocaust anyone? I've seen quite a few and while this movie never reaches the despair of movies like Threads it is quite possibly the most harrowing portrayal of life in the ruins that I have seen to date. In Dead man's letters there is still somewhat of a society left, huddling in the drenched ruins but everyone has given up. The remnants of a government is still there but they are preparing to go deep inside their big bunker to sit this one out, most likely just to die in the darkness. Our protagonist is writing letters to his dead son, probably the only one that still has some hope for humanity but everyone thinks he has gone insane. Meanwhile the goverment is leaving behind a group of orphaned, mute children that they have no use for in their self-imposed exile and rhe old man finds it upon himself to care for them, knowing that there will come nothing good to them. Uplifting stuff indeed.

Not a movie that will put you in a good mood but a worthy watch. The cinematography and the sets is totally perfect in the way they portray this dying world and the useless life everyone is living. I wouldn't mind this on a nice bluray. And I know I will feel like shit.

lördag 28 mars 2015

Return from death: Frankenstein 2000 aka Frankenstein 2000 - Ritorno dalla morte (1991)

A young woman working in a video store (Cinzia Monreale of The Beyond) is attacked by a group of young thugs but is saved by her handyman (Donal O'Brien of Zombie Holocaust among others). They return later to finish their job and manages to put her in a coma. The handyman is set up for the crime since one of the young men is the son of the towns wealthiest man and murdered in his cell. Little do they know that the woman has psychic powers and raises O'Brien from the dead for some bloody revenge. Yes, it's Patrick Italian style.

Unfortunately this is not some lost classic of the Italian gore movie era even though I kinda wanted it to be. Frankenstein 2000 is strangely paced, has a script full of idiotic dialogue and probably the worst dubbing job ever (and I do not say this lightly, I have seen quite a few). Every third sentence spoken has strange pauses in the middle as if the voice artist was new at this job and desperately tried to fill in the dialogue. It's hard to say if the actors are doing the job because of this but at least the leads acquit themselves well. It also takes about an hour for the mayhem to start which will tax the patience of some not equally used to this type of movie.

But since this is a Joe D'Amato movie it still looks good, he always was a professional when it came to the cinematography and the direction. When things finally get going and Donal O'Brien is raised from the dead and walks around with a giant scar on his forehead we get a couple of cheap but nice gore scenes and Mr O'Brien is quite a nice hulking figure of death. For nostalgics like me this is good fun. The German dvd I bought is more than decent and the best three euro I ever spent.

Crawl or die (2014)

An interesting story (A team of soldiers escorting the last fertile woman off world but end up trapped in a strange underground complex where the tunnels become increasingly smaller and tighter while being hunted by an alien lifeform killing them one by one) slightly brought down by a minimal budget. Actually, minimal would be the overstatement of the year. Some of the sets are unbelievably cheap, you can hear it being made of wood as they touch it. And let's discuss the alien creature. Seen Alien? Oklahama Ward has. And added spider legs. Gigers estate could sue (and win).

But it still works, it really does. I love Alien ripoffs and Crawl or die is far from the worst I've seen. The creature might be "inspired" but Ward took the creepiest bits out of Alien and used them well here, the glimpses of the creature crawling through the tunnels right behind the soldiers are quite effective. After reading some comments on Imdb about how the producer gave him a bit of money for cgi but realizing that it would look awful makes me happy that he chose to do it this way. And frankly, it looks more like the creature from the lovely Forbidden world that also was straight out Alien, which also was a quite clear ripoff. Ripoffs rule and I use that word in a positive meaning.

So, maybe mainly for Alien ripoff addicts and claustrophobics. Like me. It's an accomplished movie and there is a lot of tension, especially towards the end when the creature is so close that it almost can touch our leading lady. Let's hope Ward gets a budget next time, either remaking this with better production values or a sequel that makes him realize his visions a bit stronger.

måndag 22 december 2014

[REC]4 (2014)

I'm a huge fan of the [REC] saga, particulary the first two. The first one is just a great horrormovie and the first sequel is among one of the rare few - the sequels who are as good as the original movie. Heck, I even love the reason behind all of this that is revealed towards the end of [REC]2, something that I know a lot of people don't. Part three was a fun watch too, although the dark and nasty tone of the first two was sorely missed. It felt more like an 80:s horrormovie.

So now it's finally here, the movie we have been waiting for. The final part in the saga and I will admit to being a bit peeved when I learned that the whole thing was set on a boat. No major apocalypse in the streets here, something I was hoping for. But the trailer looked good so I kept an open mind.

And I am happy to say that [REC]4 is a solid piece in the series. The movie begins with a couple of policemen entering the building where the first two movies were taking place to place explosives and find Angela Vidal, the heroine of the first movie still alive. Flash forward an unknown amount of time and we are on a boat with a security lockdown. Angela and the two policemen are in quarantine, a lab has been set up and people are working on something, possibly a cure. We learn that (slight spoiler for part 2) Angela is not carrying the virus like everyone, including the audience, thinks. The people doing all the testing have a testsubject locked up and soon someone let's it out. Mayhem ensues. Terrific mayhem ensues.

I have a couple of issues with the movie. First, there is an awful lot of shakycam which can be quite disorienting in some of the attackscenes when everything is shot in closeups. I saw the movie at a cinema and suspect that it might look better on a tv, time will tell.

The second issue I have with the movie is a minor but sad one. And now there will be major SPOILERS of [REC]2 and [REC]4. It turns out that the cause of it all is a parasite, a large slimy thing that wants to find the perfect host. This is incredibly sad to me because I loved the reveal in part two when it turns out that the whole thing is a disease that might have been (accidentally? Haven't seen part two since it was released) created by the Catholic church. There are no demons in part 4, something that i truly missed. Sure, the concept of a satanic parasite is quite fun but the notion of a satanic virus is supremely cool. This was a letdown for me but it didn't stop me from enjoying the movie. A lot. This just struck me hours after watching it and it's what makes me a little sad. I wanted more demons. END OF SPOILERS

And the bottom line is that [REC]4 is a great horrorflick. It's tense from the start, building up to an awesome explosion of violence and mayhem and never let's you down as it frantically runs along to a great climax. It does tend to focus more on jumpscares than trying to freak you out in the darkness but there is a sequence towards the end that involves infected monkeys that is a nailbiter. And I am happy to say (this must be the first time for me) that this isn't the gorefest I was expecting from the trailer. Sure, there is gore, but the movie is more brutally violent than messily gory which works great.

It might not have been what I expected and hoped for but it's a great finale to the saga.

måndag 24 november 2014

Maniac nurses (1990)

Seriously, I have no idea how to properly rate Maniac nurses. No clue, it's just so mindbogglingly bisarre and strange that just explaining the plot taxes my brain too much. But here goes.

A number of nurses hang around in an old hospital in their sexy underwear, lying about like footage from a lingerie commercial. While not fondling each other they kidnap young women and torture them or just go about blowing the heads of men. Or each other. The leader of the motley crew, Ilsa, has a young daughter that she either wants to make love to or already has a sexual relationship with (it really isn't made clear). The daughter, Sabrina, is a sociopath that reads violent comicbooks and just kills people randomly. While all this is going on there is a somewhat pretentious narration explaining why everyone is a sexual pervert and from time to time some text pops up on the screen scoring everything, dealing out points to all the maniac nurses.

If this had been a porno with all the porno edited out it would explain why this is so baffingly incompetent but it doesn't seem like it is. I guess the director just wanted to make a violent movie with naked women and made it up as he went along. There is some sort of perverted satisfaction in watching this but I can't really decide if I was actually entertained by it. The dubbing is awful, the ladies cannot act whatsoever and nothing makes any good damn sense!

And the best thing about it? I bought it from the director himself while at Weekend of horrors 2014 in Oberhausen. I am a proud owner of a personally signed dvd. I just wished that I had seen the movie before I left Germany, I have a lot of questions for him now.

Just a big WTF. And I would probably watch it again with beer and friends.

fredag 21 november 2014

Aux yeux des vivants aka Among the living (2014)

Why are Julien Maury and Alexandre Bustillo so obsessed with violence that truly hurts? Sick fucking bastards. This time they're telling a story about three young kids on the start of summer vacation that see a strange man carry a bound woman into an abandoned movieset in the woods. They follow and discover a quite dysfunctional family living in the ruins. Mayhem and death ensues.

Among the living might not go all the way Inside style (there is far less onscreen gore here and actually a couple of surprisingly gorefree deaths that made me wonder if I was watching a censored version) but there is some pretty harrowing brutal violence going on here as the movie progresses. The only flaw of the story is that it never really manages to blend the Stand by me-ish part of the care-free youths roaming the outskirts of their hometown with the more straightforwards horror bits. Both parts are fine enough with good child actors and a number of creepy bits but as the movie is only 85 minutes long including end titles we never really get to go deep enough into them as we really need and want to. The main villain is quite creepy and the death he dishes out is at times nicely harrowing but it isn't enough. A good flick for sure but nowhere near the insanity of Inside or Livid. It makes you wonder if the movie was cut down for pacing, it sure feels like that.

I do love the sight of a very pregnant Beatrice Dalle brandishing a large kitchen knife in the beginning of the movie, brought a nice grin to my face.

tisdag 11 november 2014

Sucker Punch (2011)

This is a cautionary tale.

This movie feels like it was written by a hormonally imbalanced 13 year old teenager who has overdosed on video games, which paints a not so pretty picture about the mindset of Zack Snyder especially since the whole fucking movie revolves around watching Emily Browning dress up like a thirteen year old schoolgirl. Everything is set to (mostly) awful popmusic that very rarely fit the tone of the movie other than the million scenes where the girls are walking in slow motion towards the camera, an overused theme if there ever was one that could have bordered on parody if I didn't know that the whole thing is totally moronically serious. It all boils down to the viewer enduring waves upon waves of Snyders patently retarded fight scenes where every punch ends in slomo and when the story is as bad as this you wonder what the hell is wrong with his brain.

At least it's better than Watchmen. The only reason I'm giving it one and a half star is that I kinda like the first two sequences, the samurais and steam zombies. And the fact that it flopped. But the rest is just a big bloated turd.