torsdag 9 december 2010

Ghostkeeper (1981)

I am truly a sucker for all those cozy 80:s horrormovies that mainly were released independently. There is an enormous treasuretrove of movies that havent been released on dvd but manage to find their way onto the internet in rips from old vhstapes. Sometimes you discover real gems like Strangeness (Now on an excellent dvd) and the bigfoot goreclassic Night of the demon. Of course, sometimes it's the other way around. I will never get back those 90 minutes that I spent watching Iced for instance. How about Ghostkeeper? Well, something in between I suppose.

It starts really well with an onscreen text about the Windigo, a cannibalistic creature of old indian legend. Having read Ambrose Bierce superior short story about this creature, this truly got my hopes up. Even better when I realized that the movie is set in a snowy landscape. All movies set in a snowy landscape are good. Well, Except Iced. Anyway, we follow a group of three driving on snowmobiles as they discover an old house that seems abandoned. When one of the snowmobiles break down they decide to spend the night there, only to find that the place is inhabited by an old woman and her unseen son. During the night one of the girls dissapear, though we see her getting her throat cut (well, we dont actually see it. The print was so dark you really have to guess by the sounds) and then fed to a grunting creature in an igloo in the basement. Eh? So, when morning comes they cant find her and to make matters even worse, the functioning snowmobile has been sabotaged...

On there is an entry where the director states that the movie ran out of funds halfway, making the latter half of the movie fairly improvised, making up scenes as they went along. Believe me when I tell you that it shows. The first half of the movie works fine, setting up the plot and the atmosphere fairly well but then it just collapses into a collection of weird scenes. The thing is the igloo is almost forgotten entirely, characters start to behave in odd ways and even though the movie isnt more than about 80 minutes, the last half feels like two hours. It all leads up to a decent ending but it is so drawn out and predictable that you yawn through all of it. There is no gore or any nudity to liven things up and the characters are so weirdly written, behaving like assholes that you just want them to die. With a cast of exactly seven, it does take its time. Too bad about all of this because the movie had some potential. The setting is great, the direction isnt half bad and there is a simple but nicely atmospheric score to set the mood. The flaws unfortunately outweigh the positives so I wouldnt really recommend this unless you really have to see EVERY horrormovie made in the eighties. Go watch Boogens or Strangeness instead.

There is an excellent interview here with the director about how the financing fell through and why the movie isnt as good as it could've been

tisdag 7 december 2010

Commando Mengele / Angel of death (1987)

Praise the lord for Eurociné! Or, Death to the demon Eurociné!

Eurociné is a French moviecompany that has spawned more crap than Andreas Schnaaz. They have given the world such flyinfested pieces of vomit as Zombie Lake. Mentioning Zombie Lake is actually enough. Ok, so they might have produced a couple of watchable movies but who wants to mention that when I am about to review their most glorious masterpiece...

Here is a possible scenario. We have a couple of twelveyearolds who for some reason has gotten their hands on a 35mm camera. Someones dad might have some money and gives them a couple of franc to make a movie. The kids love movies like Eagles nest and The Guns of Navarone and decide to do a similar scenario, where a few brave fight a large army, this time nazis in Paraguay. They get some cheap European actors and start to shoot their movie.

Ok, that wasnt exactly what happened but it feels like it. This is what you get when two great schlockmeisters make a soup. Scripted by Jess Franco and directed (I'm not really sure if you are allowed to call it direction) by Andrea Bianchi. Both guys do know how to make better movies than this... thing that feels like Show and tell in Kindergarten. The cinematography is static and ugly, the actionscenes look like they have been edited by a blind person and you never get any sense of coherence whatsoever. There are a couple of fightscenes in slow motion that are so totally incompentently staged that you just sit there with your mouth open, trying to comprehend what you've just seen. The music consists of a one minute long piece of melody that makes the score from Zombie 4 - After death to sound like a lost piece of Grieg.

This is truly a spectacle of the grandest kind. It is really fun to hear classic Francoactors like Antonio Mayans, Howard Vernon and Jack Taylor speak english in their own voices, where Mayans is a true wonder. Let us not forget the wonderful computervoice that appears in a scene where someone has pasted a picture (really poorly done) of Howard Vernon on a picture of Hitler. This is Eurociné in its most glorious days and I would not recommend this to anyone.

Mindboggling is the word of the day. Yes, I loved it.

måndag 6 december 2010

Resonnances (2006)

Here is a movie I bought without reading any kind of review, just because I liked the plot. I did read some reviews after I already bought it and they all seemed to confirm that this was a movie I would like. Tremors meets The Thing. You cant go wrong with a concept like that. Except that the thing bit wasnt really in the movie. Think Wrong turn meets Tremors. Without the rednecks. In France.

When the movie starts we get a glimpse of Earth from space. It is the year 16something and we see a meteorite crash in a french forest. A young woman is close by and goes to investigate but flees in terror as something starts to follow her underground, tremorswise. The creature kills her and we move forward to present time where a group of friends is preparing a camping weekend. Their trip is cut short however when they run out of gas in the wilderness. They find a gasstation but manage to pick up an escaped convict who has murdered several people. Things get even worse when they drive into a fog, get assaulted by a giant tentacle and drive of the edge of a cliff. Wounded, menaced by a coldblooded murderer and hunted by an alien creature, It's hammertime.

Resonnances was obviously shot on a very limited budget and it does show from time to time in some rather poor digital effects. On the other hand, these effects are still effective and it seems like the filmmakers have gone for that route instead. There are quite a few really good miniatures and although the digital effects are rather obvious and not that well integrated with the whole, they are still way better than most syfymovies and similar low budget crapfests. This movie has a heart and it shows. Where this movie slightly fails though, is the pacing. The first half consists mainly of bickering between the characters (though way better acted than I expected) and running around in the woods and this is stuff we have seen so many times before. But as soon as the movie gets into the main monsteraction, Resonnances turns into great fun. Ambitious fun. You would think that when you have a limited budget you would tone things down, but not here. The filmakers pull of quite a few awesome sequences where the underground creature trashes the environment in search of its prey and it is genuinely exciting, all the time towards a great climax.

Yes, I was really impressed with this movie. Philippe Robert, the writer/director/producer/cinematographer pulls no punches and has made an excellent monstermovie, all the more impressive when you consider the ambitious sequences they manage to pull off. Yes, there is a bit of a problem with a not so thrilling first half but the last 40 minutes really reward you with lots of fun. One thing that might tick people off is the fact that the movie was shot on standard definition video, though the cinematography looks really great considering. The dvdrelease does look a bit bland though, more like vhsquality but that never detracts from the fun. I really look forward to what these guys will produce in the future. Someone has to give them a decent budget... that would be awesome.

The dvd from Synapse is barebones, with only a trailer which sucks. It would have been nice if they would have included some sort of Making of doc, when we are dealing with such an interesting movieprocess. But no....

Oh, there is no gore. But lots of tentacles. Mmmm.... tentacles...