torsdag 28 juli 2011

Zeiram (1991)

Zeiram is an awesome dude. He/she looks like the lost brother of Gigan and the fungusmonsters from Ishiro Hondas wonderful Matango (and if you're not into japanese monstermovies, a proper description would be that Z looks like John Wayne designed by H.R Giger.), wears a cool cape and wields a gun that looks like the chestburster from Alien. Enhancing the awesomeness, Z also has the ability to spit out cocoons that burst into weird critters hunting it's victims. And it gets even better! After taking a full frontal hit from a bazooka, Zeiram turns into something large and spidery, and it doesnt stop there! Zeiram is not just an awesome bad guy, it is one of THE awesomest. This japanese scifi/monstermovie is full of so much bubblegum entertainment that I almost exploded from watching it. It is that fun.

So Z heads to Earth followed by a couple of bountyhunters (robobrain Bob and cute Iria). They plan to set up a trap by enticing Z into a virtual arena, a duplicate of a small japanese town but of course, nothing ever goes as planned as two electricians are drawn into the arena after investigating a rather large power surge. Let the mayhem begin!

The movie starts with a really cool black & white sequence where Zeiram slaughters his/hers/it's way through a couple of dozen soldiers. Arms, legs and faces are turned into mush just to show the audience what a badass Z is. Things do slow down a bit allowing some characterdevelopment to take place, but as soon as Zeiram arrives on Earth, we get a nice rollercoasterride. Imagine the final 30 minutes of Terminator, Japanese style. An evil alien that can take a lot of damage, can be blown into little pieces and still be dangerous and finally turn into something straight out of The Thing. All of this is accomplished with lots of fun sfx, stop motion, full size puppets and good old make up. The only issue that I have with the movie is that the glorious massacre in the beginning is never repeated, the flick basically has a cast of three but thanks to all the different faces of Zeiram this doesnt make the movie any less entertaining. I would have liked some more gore, but the presence of Z is enough. This is a funfilled ride of a movie with loads of stuff to smile at and enjoy, especially with cutie Yuko Moriyama in a cybernetic bodyarmor that has no protection whatsoever for any vital parts. Z even has a strange penis-shaped tentacle with a female face instead of a dickhead. Awesome.

And there is a sequel too!

Seriously, if you have any love for japanese monstermayhem, you will love this.

onsdag 27 juli 2011

The Appointment (1981)

Lindsay C Vickers The Appointment centers around some kind of evil force that kicks off by killing a young girl taking a shortcut through a park (A truly, truly, truly awesome sequence). Three years later, we meet a family living near that very park. The young daughter is going to perform at a concert and dad (Edward Woodward) is just about to tell her that he cant make it since he has to go on a workrelated trip and this is something the somewhat fatherfixated young lady wont like very much. All fathers reading this, take heed. Go to your daughters concert. She gets VERY upset and that night dad has a very nasty dream about him dying in a carcrash. To make things even weirder, some rather odd things start to happen. A pack of dogs gather around the house, people move around in photograps but dad doesnt take thsi very seriously. Dumb dad. He starts his journey the next day in his car, and slowly and methodically the evil force starts to lay the puzzle, managing the events that may lead to the dream coming true.

The major issue with The Appointment is that it is so damn slow. Things happen at a regular pace but that pace is carefully calculated to be as droning as possible. It all leads up to a satisfying ending and is far from a waste of time but it does tear at your patience from time to time. In a weird way, that very flaw is also the strength of the movie. It feels like you are watching a nightmare that there is no chance of escaping from before it smashes you in the face, waking you up. Issues with logic never really matter. It starts out in an exceptional way with the sequence in the park (which is on youtube. Link) with the young girl walking in the park, suddenly hearing a girls voice calling for her from a nearby patch of forest, all while something entirely different is following. Well, you should watch the clip yourself, it is truly exceptional. After that we are slowly introduced to the dynamics of the family. The relationship between father and daughter feels a bit odd to say the least, you get a slight feeling that there is more to it than meets the eye. There is a somewhat strange scene where Edward Woodward is standing outside his daughters room, debating whether he should enter while she is sitting on her bed waiting for him. I may be reading too much into this, but it does darken things a bit, making the whole experience more uncomfortable.

Technically the movie is excellent, there are quite a few great scenes that I wont talk about here since I would spoil the fun but I can assure you that the direction and the cinematography are fine. Acting is just fine, I mean you cant really fail with Edward Woodward. The daughter can be a bit stiff with some of the lines but nothing major.

The Appointment is a quirky flick which has been compared to Dont look now, something I agree with, they both have a similar uncomfortable mood. It is slow, paced like a snail but you get out of it with a pleasantly(?) uncomfortable feeling in your gut, the same one as when you wake up from a nightmare and realize that it was a dream. The pros most definitely outweight the cons here. Recommended

Forever evil (1987)

Sometime during the winter of 1990 or 1991, in the days when good film meant blurry vhsdupes of movies you only read about in Fangoria, a friend of mine and I had just gotten a shitload of tapes from a "contact" and decided to spend an entire weekend watching all of this. To maximize the mood we decided to go to his cabin in the woods and fortunately for us this was a good choice since this was one of those winters back when snow was a meter deep, temperature was a nicely dry -20 celcius and everything creaked as we put our feet on it. A perfect scenario for a movie. I really dont remember any of the movies we watched other than Giorgio Ferronis superior Night of the devils and Roger Evans Forever evil but had a weak memory of Forever evil being a creepy and rather nice movie. Now, the whole point of this little opening is to illustrate that even a mediocre movie can be ok under the right circumstances since that what was Forever evil really was. A mess of a movie with all the bad bits blurred by a nostalgic memory.

Ok, so it is not the worst movie ever made, far from it. To say that it is a good one is also not right, but at least it is ambitious. The first 30 minutes are actually quite decent, at least when you compare it to similar movie from the same era. We get to follow a number of friends going to a cabin in the woods and before you can say Evil dead ripoff all but one are dead and now the boredom begins. You see, it was the evil god Yog Kothag that behind the dastardly deeds and Marc, our hero wants to get even. He teams up with a young woman who experienced something similar and together they try to find out the truth about the resurrection of Yog Kothag, his undead realestatebroker henchman (who sounds like he used to work for the empire in Star Wars) and the zombie roaming around. Yes, just the one zombie.

Forever evil has no chance in hell of ending up on someones favorite movie list (unless he/she has the same memoryclouding issue as me and never did the dumb thing of watching it again) but I have seen a lot worse. The problem with the movie is that it is two hours long, two hours that start out well but descends into scene upon scene of badly acted filler interrupted by the odd gory dreamsequence. It isnt helped by the music that sounds like it is midiversions of pornmusic. The director does a decent job but totally overdozes on POV sequences, to the point of making you groan whenever the camera starts wandering again. The script is, as I stated earlier, ambitious and has an intriguing story, but is way too drawn out and massacred by a lot of not so good actors. If you manage to hold out unto the end you are rewarded with a decent ending with nice gore, but the road to it isnt easy to follow. I wouldnt really hold it against you if you stopped watching halfway through. Mostly for 80s horror fetishists. I do like the basic idea a lot, do a normal horrormoviescenario in the first 30 minutes and actually show what happens afterwards.

I have to mention one of the dreamsequences that to this day remains somewhat notorius where a pregnant woman rips open her belly and removes the fetus, a sequence that will ensure that the movie will be remembered in the future.

Ok, if you still finds this interesting you should go here where the writer of the movie talks about making low budget horror. He mentions a directors cut that only was available on vhs, but has since been released on dvd which was the version I watched. It has a very entertaining commentary track where the director and writer, fully aware of what kind of abomination they unleashed upon the unsuspecting public, go into lengthy detail about how the movie was made.

Ratman (1988)

Wow. What the hell is this?! Well, the answer is actually rather simple. Pure and simple exploitation for the purpose of making money. Just like I want it.

And what a plot! A mad scientist has in his tropical island hideout managed to create a rat/human hybrid (played by Nelson De La Rosa, the shortest man in the world when this movie was shot). No hybrid of any kind who has some pride in his work can remain in the laboratory and promptly escapes. While this is going on a couple of models and their photographer end up at the scientists place. To make this even better, David Warbeck (dubbed) and Janet Ågren are roaming the island looking for Janets missing model sister who may or may not be one of the models in the first plot strand. You never really can tell because the Warbeck/Ågren part of the story feels like its taken from an entirely different movie. Ok, so who cares about that? What is important is that the Ratman is crawling out of toilets to kill people.

This is wonderful. The plot is enchantingly random, spiced up with fun gore, a heroine whose boobs are constantly almost falling out of her clothes, long totally unmotivated showerscenes (who am i kidding? There is no need for motivation when it comes to nudity) and the lovely little creature played by De La Rosa. I imagine that the script was written under the influence of a lot of alcohol and/or drugs and the low budget and poor production values doesnt exactly help with that. But to the movies defense, this is a perfect example of italian exploitation as I like and love it. Cheap, cheerful, violent and always entertaining.

tisdag 26 juli 2011

The Objective (2008)

Let us stop for a moment and think about what the words False advertising means. Wikipedia states:

"False advertising or deceptive advertising is the use of false or misleading statements in advertising. As advertising has the potential to persuade people into commercial transactions that they might otherwise avoid, many governments around the world use regulations to control false, deceptive or misleading advertising."

A perfect example of this is Daniel Myricks The Objective, a movie that the moviecompany didnt quite know what to do with. The dvdcover promises "A paranormal Predator". Not quite.

When the movie starts a narrator tells us that a satellite has transmitted a strange image from the Afghanistan desert, something that could be radioactivity but isnt. The CIA thinks that they have an idea of what it is and sends out an agent who will enter the area with a special ops team. First they have to find a guide who knows the area but when they track him down they find that he has fled into the desert, the very same area they want to go into. A place with a very bad reputation. Following his tracks they soon find themselves in an ambush by rebels but when the battle is over, mortally wounding one of them and clearly hitting several of the enemies, they find no tracks of any assailants whatsoever. A helicopter is dispatched to lift them out but the soldiers never see it, only hear the sound of it very close even though next day the base confirms that they were in the right location. To make matters even weirder, during the night they see weird structures and shapes that only are visible throught nightvision goggles. Something out there wants to inflict harm upon our merry band, something out of old legends.

No, no fucking paranormal predator in sight. The plot I lifted from Imdb works better: "A group of Special Ops Reservists on a mission in the harsh and hostile terrain of Afghanistan find themselves lost in a Middle Eastern "Bermuda Triangle" of ancient evil." Personally I would describe the movie as a paranormal Stalker or perhaps Blair witch project if it had been written by the Strugatskij brothers. The characters are going somewhere in a deserted landscape where the natural laws dont give a fuck about how you want them to work. The Objective does not paint a clear picture of what it out there and do go into it expecting answers. What it on the other hand hints about is very intriguing, taken from Islamic legends which adds some extra tension. Towards the end the movie spaces out a bit and I would be lying if I said that I knew exactly what was going on. I think (hope) that I have a decent theory but I am not really sure.

Dont let this keep you from watching The Objective. Daniel Myrick has borrow a couple of ingredients from his earlier Blair Witch Project and it works really well. You get that certain feeling that the soldiers have ended up somewhere truly and well off the charts and yes, the movie creates more questions than it answers, it still works really well as a moodpiece. The tension is high from beginning to end and thanks to excellent cinematography and good acting there is never a problem getting intrigued by what is going on on the screen. One thing that doesnt really work is the Martin Sheen/Apocalypse nowish narration that tries to push you along the journey, it it sometimes somewhat clumsy and unnecessary, at times even giving explanations that lessens the mood. But besides that and the fact that the story is somewhat "loose", this is an excellent scifi/horrorflick that I recommend to anyone that wants a bit of decent tension and atmosphere and can accept the issue with the questions/answers ratio. Too bad that it is being marketed as something it isnt, a choice that most likely will dissapoint a lot of people.

Actually, the Paranormal predator issue seems to have been dropped now, something I realized when I googled for a coverimage, but I did find another blurb from a blurayrelease. Dark horror meets hard Action. WTF? :)

Cut throats nine (1972)

I can imagine the moviemakers having a meeting before the shoot, before a script is presented. They want to make a western, that has been decided, but the writer is seething with anger. He has probably just gotten through a nasty divorce and is angry. They want a movie without heroes. They want everyone that dies to die in the most brutal way possible and the mood should be uncomfortable and filthy.

Boy did they succed.

A group of soldiers are on their way to a fort with a number of chained convicts sentenced to hard labour for life. On the journey they are attacked by hoodlums who are convinced that the group has a shipment of gold with them, but they manage to escape, well most of them anyway. Our "hero" Sgt Brown, his young daughter and the convicts. Now they have to flee through a snowy mountain landscape and when the convicts realize that their chains in fact are made of the gold that the robbers wanted, plans to escape are made. A life is not worth anything out here.

This is a very harsh and brutal movie, you can belive that. When Sgt Brown is forced to watch his daughter get raped about halfway through you get a slightly sick feeling in your stomach while realizing that is was sort of inevitable and makes you wonder why it took this long for it to happen. Every single character is a coward or a psychopath, the environments are cold and dirty and all the violence cruel and detailed. This is helped a lot bu some good acting, in spite of the dubbing, and the locations are perfect for a movie like this. Director Joaquín Luis Romero Marchent does an excellent job on an obviously low budget (most of it is set outdoors, no need for expensive sets) and sometimes you feel the same chills as the characters are feeling as they drudge on through the snow, killing each other off one by one. The music feels like it was lifted straight out of a horrormovie but actually feels rather appropriate with its unsettling choirs and dark tones.

A very bloody and brutal spanish western with lots of burning, shooting and disemboweling, perfect for a cozy evening full of carnage and mayhem with your loved ones. And Emma Cohen is in it. You cant really fail when she's around.

At the moment this flick is only available on bootleg dvd, but Code red will release this properly in september. An essential purchase if I ever saw one. There is actually even a remake in the works, with people like Harvey Keitel and Mads Mikkelsen involved. It could be fun, only time will tell. It would at least give the original some well deserved attention.

tisdag 19 juli 2011

Scorched heat (1987)

I have seen things you people wouldnt believe. Satanically possessed turkeys wearing human faces, herds of giant killer rabbits feasting on human flesh and Kevin Costner slumming it in Dragonfly. But nothing prepared me for this.

Scorched heat is a swedish horrormovie, one of the few. It was obviously meant for an american market since the characters all speak english. Very poorly. VERY poorly. One of the leads, Harold "Harald" Treutiger, is now a somewhat famous tv-presenter in Sweden who for some reason doesnt list this movie on his official website. His performance is the worst I've seen since I first laid my eyes and ears on Andreas Schnaaz abomination of dubbing, Zombie 90: Extreme pestilence. There is a classic scene where Harald breaks down in tears which most likely would drive people insane by just watching, I know I lost a few braincells. Most pornflicks have better acting than this.

The plot isnt half bad actually, dealing with the return of a dead teacher which our heroes accidentally killed in their youth and along with a groovy score really has that 80s feeling. The teacher tends to appear as a burnt husk of a corpse which actually looks ok, and some of its appearances have a slight resemblance of cleverness but it doesnt matter, Haralds "acting" overshadows everything. You sit there for an hour trying to focus on the movie (which truly is impossible) and at the very moment you decide that this movie could have been ok if it werent for Harald, the filmmakers bring in the bikers. Yes, the lamest bikers ever, they look like someone is trying to do an imitation of a metalband, but dont really know how to. Even Mad Foxes had tougher looking bikers.

Here is a fun little highlightreel. Why doesnt Harald have this movie on his resume, I have NO idea...

I guess this really was a half-decent try of doing a americanstyle horrormovie in Sweden, as low budget horrorflicks go I have seen worse. But none of them had Harald Treutiger. He really is THAT BAD. I can seriously say that I have NEVER seen any worse acting. NEVER.

fredag 15 juli 2011

The Shrine (2010)

When The Shrine starts you find yourself in familiar land, so familiar in fact that you pretty much lower your expectations. Backpacking youth gone missing in small European country, journalist defying her editor to look into it to the point of lying just to get a scoop and meeting some pretty hostile locals. We've seen this about a million times before, havent we? Preparing yourself for a predictable ride you suddenly realize that The Shrine might actually be a bit more interesting than that. Yes, it is familiar but the story goes in a direction you arent expecting. No inbred Polish rednecks, no rich americans killing people for fun. Something that is cool and intriguing. You see, the village is close by a strange cloud close to the ground, filling the forest with a thick fog. A place you shouldnt visit. Which of course our heroes do.

And thank heavens for that. As soon as they step into the strangely dense and glowing fog, the movie goes from being a walking cliché to something quite novel. And entertaining.

I always write as little as possible about the story in a movie I review and The Shrine will be no exception. You need to know as little as possible about it to enjoy it more. What you do need to know is that Jon Knautz first movie after Jack Brooks: Monster slayer (which I thought was sorta fun, but a little lame) is excellent viewing, taking a tried out plot and twists it around a bit, mixing it with great visuals and atmosphere and adding some fine gore. It's no masterpiece, and the polish audience will hate it for the truly awful polish accents, but to the rest of us it is a finely crafted moodpiece well worth watching. And the dvdcover is awesome.

At the moment this is only available on Canadian dvd which makes sense since it is a canadian movie and I bought my copy from The site stated that the delivery would take 30-40 weeks(!) but it arrived after four days.

lördag 9 juli 2011

Fear house (2008)

Have this ever happened to you? You muck around on the internet on various moviesites and happen upon a movie with a really nice dvdcover. You let your guard down, read a couple of reviews and focus on the positive things. You have already decided that this is a nice movie. The negative reviews are ignored because you like the plot. Fear House isnt a movie that has been universally panned but it has gotten its fair share of bad reviews. Is it a bad movie? Nope.

The story isn't anything special, we've seen it before but thanks to decent craftmanship and a nice mood we get 86 cozy minutes of dread. Fear House has the usual characters who all end up in a house with some sort of evil spirit roaming its halls. A young female writer buys the house out in the desert and when her friends and family hasnt heard from her for some time they visit the place to find out why. And start to die one by one. Killed by the things they fear the most. You know. A really corny concept that I never really liked in any movie.

But thanks to good direction, a well written script that takes good care of its cliches and some decent acting, Fear house overcomes its looming iceberg that could have dropped it to the bottom of the straight to dvd ocean. There is actually some decent tension from time to time with one or two really atmospheric scenes and a couple of juicy makeupeffects without turning into a straight gorefest. From time to time the studiobased location is too obvious but that is never a big issue. So, nothing we havent seen before, but better than most of its similarily budgeted peers and the filmmakers do show a bit of talent and especially love for the genre. Keep your expectations in control and you just might come out of this entertained. And the dvdcover is really nice.

fredag 8 juli 2011

The Demon lover (1977)

Anyone out there popping in to this blog from time to time will realize that I am somewhat of a fetischist, not only for rubbermonster but also for good old 70s exploitation. A movie I've been wanting to see for ages now is Donald G Jacksons The Demon lover, a flick I read about 25 years ago for the first time but never got around to seeing, mostly due to the fact this only has been available on vhs. For some mysterious reason I decided that now was the time to finally see this and managed to get hold of a rip off a vhstape, of course in fairly atrocious quality and to make matters even worse, I watched it on a 46" tv. The image was blurry and pixelated and the sound tinny.

It didnt exactly help that the movie sucked ass.

In short, The Demon lover is a movie with a few interesting ideas but is full of inept camerawork, poor acting and completely useless scenes just to pad the movie 10 75 minutes. I like the basic story, a satanist (with a naziflag in his place just to make him more evil. Nazisatanists are cool) who gets mad at his coven (I use the word coven very loosely. They just seem to hang around at his apartment doing hippiestuff) when they dont take him seriously so he decides to conjure up a demon to kill them all in various bloody scenes. While he is not bringing forth demons he goes to his local karateclub and a bar just to beat people up, the useless fillerscenes I was talking about. And then there is that demon. It's pretty cool, in a cheap way. It looks like they tried to make their own version of the beast in the 1957 Jacques Tourneur classic Night of the demon but failed miserably, making it look like some kind of plastic toy. No, scratch that, it looks like the Ro-man in Robot monster with glowing red eyes and horns, rumbling around like a bear with arthritis. It speaks in a barely intelligble reverbdrenched voice and possesses some of it's victims and makes them kill a friend or two. The movie is entertaining as soon as he is around or some other killing is being done, but the rest of the movie (Pretty much most of it) is just plain poor filmmaking set to a crappy synthscore. There is some bloody violence to keep us entertained but I dont really know if it is worth it. I suppose you could watch it for a laugh but there are a lot better ways to spend your hard earned hours off.

The poster is truly awesome though, I need to gets meself one of those.