onsdag 28 oktober 2009

Well, I just had to.

A zombie novel set in the Star Wars universe. I have no idea if this is good or not, but what the hell!

These aren't the brains we're looking for

måndag 26 oktober 2009

Ghost story (1981)

For some reason John Irvings movie adaption of Peter Straubs Ghost story has been given mostly awful reviews. It's not a perfect film whatsoever and there are some pretty big holes in the script but it's not that bad. It's nice and cozy, has cool effects by Dick Smith and a nude Alice Krige. What can be wrong with that?
A bunch of creaky old guys regularily meet up and tell ghost stories. At the same time one of the old guys sons is killed in a strange accident and it all points toward something that happened 50 years earlier, something the old geezers are pretty ashamed to talk about.

I havent read Peter Straubs novel but it's pretty clear that it is much more deeper than the simple script John Irving had to make something decent with. Characters are introduced, just to vanish for long stretches of time until they are needed again and a lot of what I assume to be backstory is lost. It's too bad since Irving is a capable director who delivers a couple of really nice shocks, though he is helpded immensely by Dick Smiths rather nasty liquified corpses. A more than decent timewaster but still, a wasted opportunity. It does have a nude Alice Krige. Did I mention that already?

The Andromeda Strain (2008)

Robert Wise The Andromeda strain from 1971 is a perfect example of how a serious Scifi movie should turn out. A clinical, yet riveting account on mans first encounter with something from outer space. The remake takes the original story and tries to expand it, with mostly negative results I'm afraid. It is a decent try, but I cant keep myself from comparing it to the original.

The biggest problem with the series is that it desperately tries to update itself to a totally different format - Tv. Cliffhangers, fast cuts etc, which doesnt really suit the story. Some of the actionpieces are so overdone and stupid that they make you groan. The first part of the this debacle is fairly ok, when the dead town id discovered and but as soon as we get into all the conspiracies and the virus spreading (by turning the landscape red) you wonder if you weren't better off watching the original instead. One of the turns towards the end is actually pretty godd, but all in all, The Andromeda strain is nothing more that a decent timewaster and you're much better off watching the original, which treats its microbes with respect.

onsdag 21 oktober 2009

Primal rage (1988)

Sam Nash and Frank Duffy are two schoolreporters on a Florida university. Sam, having tasted the glory of investigative journalism, is looking for the ultimate scoop, something that will propel him into stardom and a job at a real newspaper. Frank, on the other hand, is a more laid back type of guy who likes to smoke weed and party. One day Sam rescues two young girls from a trio of perverts who likes daterape and attraction is instant between him and one of the girls, Laureen. Her roommate, Debbie, has a lot of baggage of her own since returning to school after some time passed after an abortion. Sam introduces her to Frank and what do you know, another couple is slowly formed. Life is a bit better now for the young people in love. That is, until Frank is bitten by a baboon infected with a rage virus invented by Bo Friggin Svensson. Umberto Lenzi wrote this, you know.

So the first half of this movie is your basic teen movie, and a fairly dull one too. Not really bad, just boring. The actors are ok, but Patrik Lowes (Sam Nash) fake shiny teeth are pretty obvious and most annoying. When the mad baboon enters the picture, things get somewhat better and it turns into a fun little cheeseflick towards the end when the three daterapists are infected and go around killing people while dressed as Death with red blinking eyes. There is quite a lot of violence from time to time but for some reason the kills seems to miss that lovely red stuff that we like. Like they forgot it or something. One scene is even edited to hell, when a guy gets a spear through his jaw and out the top of his head. I own the italian dvd, could it be cut? Anyway, this is a Rambaldi family affair with Carlo on sfx, his son Vittorio on direction and son number two, Alex on make up. Vittorio does a decent job, it's just that the first half is so pedestrian that you might have a problem getting to a point where it gets interesting. The last half makes it somewhat worth the wait though. It could have been more gory, but it is decent entertainment. Add a Claudio Simonetti score and a really cheezy 80s popsong that is repeated several times during the movie and we have ourselves a decent little timewaster that works just fine if you are a fan of italian horrormovies from the eighties.

Colour from the dark (2008)

Ivan Zuccon loves H.P Lovecraft. So far he has written and directed four movies based upon Lovecrafts short stories, two of them original pieces very much inspired by the Cthulhu mythos. I have only seen one of them, his debut Darkness beyond, a shot on video movie that is set in the middle of a war between humanity and the old ones. I loathe that type of low budget crap movies with unprocessed photography, but Darkness beyond benefited from a nicely dreamy plot with some good ideas and great locations which raised it well above it's ilk. So when Zuccon sets out to make an adaption of Lovecrafts superior horror story The Colour out of space, I get very interested.

Pietro is a farmer on a remote farm in the Italian countryside who lives with his wife and her mute sister. They are poor but survive on the land and the crops it yields. Until the well starts behaving a bit odd. There seems to be something down in it, in the water and they see strange light coming from it at night. Soon the crops start to grow larger than ever before, but it is doing something to Pietros wifes mind. She starts spitting at the cross on the wall and when she turns agressive he locks her up in the attic. Problem is, he is being affected himself by the same disease.

Damn. this could've been so good. Maybe I am a little harsh on it, because I am a huge fan of Lovecrafts stories but still... The movie starts well (well. he he.). The photography capturing the barren Italian landscape is truly stunning and the locations are perfect for this movie. Now comes the biggest problem with the movie: The script. Lovecrafts original story is about a meteorite that lands in close vicinity to a farm in rural Massachusetts. The meteorite is so alien in origin that, in a simpel explanation, decays after prospering for some time. When Zuccon adapted the story he removed all the alien references and turned it into a supernatural evil. Big mistake. The wonderfully cosmic menace is substituted with what in the end turns into a possession horrormovie when Debbie Rochons characters turns evil and has to be locked up in the attic. A priest is called in and so forth, nothing new, which is too bad. The look and production design of the movie promises so much but in the end all we get is your average, though well shot, horror movie. The actors are better than expected, with all the different accents coming in from all over the world, but look more like they belong in a perfumeadvert than in a horror movie about poor farmers. There are a couple of nice touches such as the cross on the kitchen wall that slowly melts throughout the movie and the last 15 minutes finish up the movie in a good way, with lots of atmospheric scenes of the decaying farm.

A wasted opportunity, yes, but Zuccon clearly shows potential and I look forward to the day when he gets a decent budget and sets out to make a worthy Lovecraft adaption. That will be the day. Until then Colour from the dark will do as a decent horrormovie, and it is just that. But as a Lovecraft movie, it fails.

måndag 19 oktober 2009

100 Feet (2008)

For some reason Eric Red vanished from the face of the earth after his excursion into werewolves in Bad Moon 1996, at least as far as moviemaking goes. I have no idea what happened but now he is back with a nice little horrorflick that actually has that little extra to make the movie stick out. It doesn't reinvent the wheel (or the genre for that matter) but is a nice, scary litte ghostflick.
Sexy Famke Janssen play the wife of a policedetective who had the tendency to beat the crap out of her, until that special day that resulted in his death. Famke is sentenced to a long time in jail, but after some time she is allowed to serve the remainder of her sentence in house arrest, with an electronic ankle bracelet. The problem is, the ghost of her husband is still at the house and his doing his best poltergeistimpression.

The concept is simple but effective though there are a bunch of plotpoints that really doesnt make sense, for example why her husbands partner on the force never knew about her half a dozen reports to the police of spousal abuse. None of these hurt the story in any way, just minor points of annoyance. As a horror movie this works just fine, with all the usual clichés performed to satisfaction. I can take that as long as its done with some style or love to the genre. Famke is an even better actress than I remember and its fun to see Michael Pare in a role as an angry special effect. All in all, a fun little horror movie with a nice setup and a heap of decent scares.

fredag 16 oktober 2009

My Bloody Valentine (2008)

My bloody valentine is a remake of one of those classic little slashers from the early 80:s that had something extra to keep them above the usual bunch. Even the fact that it was heavily censored before its release didnt stop it from being a good little flick with a decent story and great locations. It got even better when the powers above decided to release a special edition of the original to sell the remake and someone dug up all the violence and put it back on the dvd. Awesome.

Now, this means that the remake has quite a lot to prove. Unfortunately, it fails.

Ok, so bunch of people get trapped in a mine and one of them goes berserk and kills the others. He then escapes from the hospital, kills some more people and is lost in a cavein in the mine. Some years later the murders start over again and everyone thinks that the killer is back. OR is it someone else?

Yeah, nothing new in storyville here. It's the usual bunch of cliched characters though they are decently acted. It is really fun to see Tom Atkins again and the rest do a fine job. The locations are good and the kills are fairly gory. It's just that we've seen everything before, and the original is much, much better. Even if My Bloody valentine 3d was an original piece, it would still be pretty stale. It is gory and it has nudity and the pace is ok, so it is always entertaing. The image of a miner in a gasmask makes for a great killer and the scenes down in the mine are fun. A decent slasher, I dont regret buying it but don't expect too much.

As for the 3d effects, I watched this on dvd so the 3d itself was ok but it just looks like a green/red mess. Probably much better looking at the cinema.

Not quite Hollywood - The Wild, untold story of Ozploitation (2008)

Now this is something every moviegenre should have - a totally loving tribute. Not quite Hollywood is the exploration of the exploitationgenre as it rose in Australia in the early seventies and its culmination in the 80s. It features tons of interviews with the Directors, producers and actors involved and is presented in such a loving way that it makes you want to hunt down all of the films featured, movies like Road games, Turkey shoot, Mad max, the list is huuuuge. There are tons of clips full of the violence and nudity from the films and there is not a dull moment. In fact, it could've been much longer. Thankfully, the two disc special edition has about an hour of deleted scenes and two hours worth of trailers of all the movies in the documentary. Too bad I bought the 1-disc Uk release. Time to doubledip.

Not much more to say. If you have any interest at all in exploitation movies, this is a must buy. So, go out and buy it. NOW!

onsdag 14 oktober 2009

Deadgirl (2008)

So... what the hell is this? Who comes up with a story like this? A pervert without a girlfriend with an extreme fascination for horror and decay or a writer with that something extra that makes him something to keep a lookout for in the future?

I have no idea.

Deadgirl is a coming of age story (according to the Making of documentary on the dvd) and to some extent I agree. The movie is basically about two guys who have been best friends since they were kids and now they are in high school. Not geeks, but not exactly the hottest property in school. One of them is in love with the girlfriend of one of those typical jocktypes but knows he isnt going anywhere with her. One day they both decide to ditch school and break into an old mental hospital and spend some time drinking beer and trashing the place. Like kids do. But when they find the chained up body of a nude woman things change. Especially when they realize that she cant be killed. How exactly do you come to that conclusion? One of the guys start using her as his private sextoy and since our mushy little hero is a bit more negative towards that notion a third party is enrolled. And from there things get worse and worse and worse.

Yes, the story is pretty twisted and violent but strangely restrained at the same time as far as onscreen gore at least. The sexscenes are numerous but never really presented as titilation, just an act. The movie draws its greatest strength from this, meaning that there are no major grossout gore gags to divert the attention from the story. in fact, when you watch the extras on the dvd you see that the gore was supposed to be a bit more detailed but it was all edited to only show flashes. If it had been another movie I would probably be complaining about this, but Deadgirl is such an original and offbeat movie that it would've been a a shame to bury it in heaps of gore. It is still a violent movie (with excellent sfx) but dont go in expecting a gorefeast.

Another strength of the movie is the direction. It is rather mellow for a genremovie but this too is in its favour and since the tone of the movie actually leans more towards the youthdrama bits it works just fine. The script is halfbad either. The outcome of the whole thing is pretty obvious from the start but the journey is most of the time the exact opposite. The young actors arent dazzling me with their talent, except for the Deadgirl herself who is really good in a role that requires not much more than to grunt and be naked (hmmmm.... that sounded like something entirely different), but they do a decent job sustaining the story.

Now, this isnt really horror. It has elements of horror, contains lots of nudity and violence but is more of a drama. A drama with a naked zombiegirl though. It is really well made with great photography, has an original, interesting script and a brain and that's why thousands of the people that wanted the remake of Friday the 13th are gonna loath this movie. If that's your cup of tea I can really recommend this weird little flick.

måndag 12 oktober 2009

Le Orme aka Footprints (1975)

When I was just a child and video was new I used to hang in the videorentalshops and drool over all the horrormovies that absolutely had to be incredibly scary beyond my comprehension. The concept of horror and science fiction being the ultimate crossover was already certain to me at that age and one of the movies that caught my attention was a movie about a woman having visions about an astronaut stranded on the moon. It wasnt until some 25 years later that I realized what movie this was and when Shameless released it on dvd I had to buy it. There wasnt an option. Now, the question is: Would this have scared the crap out of me when I was 8 or 9? Not likely. Actually I think I would've hated it since Footprints isnt exactly fastpaced or very exciting, but since then I've aquired a certain taste for these kind of movies.

Footprints stars Florinda Bolkan as a young woman working as a translator who wakes up one morning and discovers that she has lost three days, no memory of them whatsoever. To top it of she keeps having the same dream over and over again, about an astronaut who is being abandoned on the moon, something she relates to a scifi flick she saw in her youth. She finds a postcard with the picture of a Hotell Garma and and locates in on an island with the same name. She travels there and soon realizes that people there remember her being there during her missing days, but with a wig and an entirely different name. What exactly was her purpose being there and what the hell does that have to do with Klaus Kinski and his experiments on the moon?

Dont go into Footprints expecting a simple mystery. The script, which has the unfortunate feel of being based on a short story stretched out to full length, serves up its explanations in a deliberately slow pace and it's main purpose is to mystify, not explain. Luigi Bazzoni's direction is dreamy and altogether suitable for a movie like this. Vittorio Storaros (Apocalypse Now) photography captures the great locations well and the atmosphere is enhanced by Nicola Piovanis fine score. Florinda Bolkan delivers a good performance, walking around on the island in some sort of daze and it fits with the movies intentions. Yes, it isnt exactly the most straight forward movie I've seen but it has that special kind of ambience that makes you remember it. The two separate plotlines are never really fully explained but the mystery of them are more than enough and the ending delivers a perfectly ambigious twist that is on a first glance rather simple, but still acceptable and gets you thinking on the events that just passed. Not too artyfarty to become some overrated obscurity, Footprints is a fine little mysterymovie but dont go in expecting some sort of a giallo. Then you'd be sorely dissapointed.

An interesting little tidbit is that Shameless release of the movie is rated 18, only because of the the nice trailers from their other releases - the movie itself is rated 12.

Infestation (2009)

Now this is exactly how a Scifichannelmove should be! Infestation is a good example on how you can shoot a good creature feature in Bulgaria on a low budget, using clichés in a good way. Why cant all the other hacks that produce all those crappy monstermovies at least try?

Our hero in this movie is a bit of a loser. His dad is a rather strict and exmilitary, which means the son is a big dissapointment and when the movie begins he is just about to be fired from a job that Dad got for him. But just before that is about to happen a highpitched sound makes everyone in the nearby surroundings fall unconcious. Six days later he wakes up inside a coocoon. All around him people have suffered the same fate, in fact everyone seems to be in a coocoon and it does take long until our hero realizes that some sort of weird insect is behind all of this. Now he must try to lead a bunch of people to safety, including the girl he has a bit of a crush on and the psychoblonde who tends to strip naked in front of him. Not a bad situation really?

So, the story is simple but inventive and effective, much unlike the normal scififodder. It is obviously made on a low budget with Bulgaria working just fine as a double for Colorado or where ever the movie is set. Most of the sfx are of really high quality with only a few poor integrations between humans and insects to moan about but those are only on a few occasions and it is the completed product that matters. The director, Kyle Rankin, is in love with what he is doing and it shows on screen, very much helped by a solid cast and a good script that only fumbles a bit towards the end where the rather obvious "into the hive" bit serves up some setpieces that we've seen a bit too many times before. But that's it. I have nothing more to complain about. This is a solid humanity vs insects movie with lots of thrills, violence and nudity and I recommend it to everyone out there who is a fan of the genre. I look forward to Mr Rankins next adventures into filmmaking.

onsdag 7 oktober 2009

The French connections

Now, these arent movies that really belong in this blog. Sure, they are fastpaced and violent but... I'm not sure.. not exploitative enough? Or Masterpieces? Anyway. I still wanna mention them. Because they are truly awesome.

If you want gritty actionthrillers with good acting, look no further.

tisdag 6 oktober 2009

The Boogeyman (1980)

Back in the early eighties when the Video was young, there was a flood of increasingly violent movies pouring out on the market. Now, if you are a regular on this blog, this is nothing new. The Video Nasty debacle in the U.K is probably the most familiar but we actually even had a little debacle of our own here in Sweden. A now famous debateprogram, Studio S (yes, thats where Studio S Entertainment got their name from) had a special about videoviolence where they interviewed lots of children who said they had seen lots of nasty horrormovies adn that they were easy to get a hold of. What followed was an absurd program which basically added up to that everyone wanted to prosecute the people releasing these videos and the swedish minister of education even quoted the bible, saying something in the vein of that the videocompanies would get their punishment. 20 years later it was revealed that the interviewed children hadnt seen any of the movies and were bribed to say those things. It's all available on youtube of course. Only in swedish though.

Anyway, what does this have to do with Ulli Lommels Boogeyman? Well, it was one of the movies that were most talked about during all of this and you can even see the cover of the swedish videorelease in the beginning of the Studio S piece. I have a very vague memory of seeing the movie sometime in my youth but it didnt leave a very strong impression on me since I dont remember anything other than the scene with the teenagers in the car but somehow I still remember it as a decent movie. So, is it a piece of violent crap?

The beginning of the movie is really a piece of art and I can imagine that a lot of youngsters who saw the movie at a very young age found this sequence to be pretty scary. A young mother is frolicking with her new boyfriend unaware that her two young children are watching. When the children are noticed they are punished, in quite a horrible way. The boy is tied to his bed and whipped with a belt by the stepfather (who is wearing pantyhose over his head)and left there still tied to the bedpost. His sister goes to the kitchen, gets a knife and cuts her brother loose. He promptly goes to his mothers bed and stabs the guy to death. Years later, the brother is mute and somehow the evil of the stepfather ended up in a mirror that was in the room of the murder. And it's back. For revenge. Or something.

There really is'nt much of a story in this movie. The idea of a mirror housing evil, even in the tiniest of shards, is pretty good and several of the scenes with the mirror dishing out evil are really well executed but the movie itself feels slapped together with random scenes thrown about. For instance, all of a sudden we start to follow a couple of teenagers who end upp being killed and then completely forgotten. The acting is generally rather poor with John Carradine popping up for a cameo. It all has a pretty low budget feel to it, but fortunately Ulli Lommel concetrates on scares and violence and that is something he does well. There are a couple of pretty violent deathscenes and the horror overall is solid. Pace yourself and try to get through the slow middlesection for a good and bloody climax. Extrapoints for the nice synthesizer score. All in all, The Boogeyman is a flawed but worthwhile piece of 80s horror.