Saturday, May 28, 2016

New Flix: Southbound (2015)

Since I already live in the South, I'd basically just be going to Cuba!  Today's Film is Southbound, a 2015 Horror Anthology Film with a bit of a different edge to it.  Instead of just a Framing Device and some closure at the end- like Vault of Horror or Tales from the Crypt- this one features fairly-interconnected Stories.  It is a nice change, to be honest.  With so-so Horror Anthologies, you can lose interest near the middle and the payoff can end up being less interesting than hoped.  Likewise, you can just kind of skip some sections with no problem, slightly-killing the concept.  In this Film, five Stories take place in and around an abandoned stretch of Highway out in California.  If they pass the Hotel California, I'm leaving!  Since this is a pretty new Film (only now available on Disc quite recently via Netflix), this is more of a prolonged Teaser.  Hopefully I can make the decision whether or not to see this one easier for you.  To find out if the Devil has left Georgia for the West Coast, read on...
As Sam Firstenberg (?!?) does his best Wolfman Jack, we see two men covered in blood driving.
One of them keeps seeing a weird figure in the surrounding area and things only get weirder when they reach a Diner...
In Story #2, an all-female band's van breaks down and they take a ride from some strangers.  This group- similar to the one in Rest Stop (complete with twins!)- are up to something weird...
In Story #3, a girl is hit by a car on the road.  A desperate man decides to save her, finding only an empty Hospital and some voices on the phone who might not actually be nice...
In Story #4, a Robbery turns into something else entirely.  Will the violence of the past define the future?
In the final Story, some Strangers stalk a family at a roadside House.
What is their true motive?  What will happen to them and the family?

To find out, watch the Film.
Good, but very dark stuff.  The Film is pretty low-Budget, but they make the most of it.  For better or worse, this is a dark, dark Film.  There's not much in the way of hope, joy or any of that cutesy stuff!  This is all about dark things happening to people.  The first Story sets the tone and pace pretty well.  I'm still not clear what the monsters were, but they looked cool.  The 2nd Story is nice, with a bit of slow burn to it.  Besides, the joy of seeing a Simpsons Writer/Stand-Up Comic play evil is priceless.  The third Story is nice and freaky, featuring plenty of Practical Effects.  It is also the most gory, so be warned!  The 4th Story didn't do a whole lot for me, but there's always one in these.  The final Story felt pretty familiar at first, but took enough of a turn to salvage it.  All in all, Southbound is a good Film for those who like dark Horror Anthologies.  It is kind of flying under the radar for the moment.  Speaking of which, it uses Stock Footage from Carnival of Souls instead of Night of the Living Dead.  5 points for doing something slightly-different!
Next up, a Holiday Film from the Director of Trancers.  It is time to celebrate the Troops- even the Alien ones!  Stay tuned...

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Sesos!!!: REC 4: Apocalypse

Before Fox tries to possibly match up to their last Film, let's see it in Spanish.  Today's Film is OREC 4: Apocalypse, the 2014 wrap-up to the Series.  It took 7 years to get through 4 Films- not counting our so-so Versions.  The Film attempts to put a cap on this Story, but is it too late?  To review, the 1st Film is about an Apartment Complex overrun with a Zombie outbreak.  The 2nd Film told both a parallel Story (not shown at all in the original) and put more of an ending on the whole thing.  It is most notable to me for explaining how the Virus worked...and sounding pretty silly in the process.  The 3rd Film was a weird Sidequel that didn't exactly add much, other than a body count.  It did give a good lesson- don't make out with your Zombie Wife!  This time around, we loop back to the Apartment Complex and bring an end to this whole thing.  Time is extremely-relative here as we are now only a day or two (at most) from the events of OREC and OREC 2.  To their credit, they use at least one returning Actor- which also presents some minor problems.  Basically, our Reporter is noticeably older than she should be.  It was a rough day or two, I suppose.  Will the end finally come?  Will the Zombie-Demon Plague be ended?  Will they actually use Quicksilver for more than 10 minutes?  To find out the answer to *most* of those questions, read on...
Back in REC 2, the SWAT Team go into the Building to clear any survivors out before they blow the building.  They find one- the Reporter.
Some time later, the Reporter and others wake up in a mysterious Facility- a Tanker.

Oh and the surviving SWAT Guy is also a Doctor.  Of course, he is!
While this is the only Film to not feature any notable Found Footage elements, there is still plenty of this.
Speaking of Found Footage, they borrow the Plot of The Last Broadcast for a while with a Subplot based around the surviving Camera from REC having its footage restored.  Thankfully, the pay off is less ridiculous.
Despite best efforts, the Virus breaks loose.  Yet again, we must blame those damn Monkeys!
This Film does give us 'new' footage from REC that explains alot...and is gross.
Since the Film is so new (and Streaming on Netflix), I won't SPOIL any more of it.  I will tell you that things are obviously not going to go well for this guy.  The End.
Brains?  The Film is...pretty good.  It isn't that unique in the grand scheme of things, but it is pretty well done.  The semi-claustrophobic setting has been done before- see the 3rd Blind Dead Film and the 2nd 30 Days of Night Film-, but works for the Story.  While these Zombies are more like Infected, being trapped in a confined space with them is a must.  Speaking of the Infected, they really downplay the demonic angle here, which I like.  They don't disregard it, but they also don't focus on it so much like in Part 3.  None of the truly silly stuff- like the Infected looking demonic in the mirror or them being frozen when you read from the Bible- is here.  Yea!  I didn't care for any of that crap and I don't miss it.  In place of all that, Monkeys!  This is arguably the FIFTH Film I've seen in about a Month with killer Animals from the Zoo- the second of which featuring Zombies!  The fact that a Character has to yell out 'MONKEYS!!!' in this Film is certainly a plus.  Without SPOILing anything, I will just say that the late twist thrown into the Story is kind of a cheat, since there is no set-up to it.  Mysteries work when you have all of the pieces, but can't decipher the puzzle.  When you just don't give us a piece, that's just cheating.  Speaking of which, maybe don't take Plot Points from Jason Goes to Hell while you're at it.  All in all though, this was better than I expected- especially after the last Film.  Of all the Films, I'd recommend this and the Original over the others.  If you plan to go see it, just don't rush all at once...
Next up, a look at some recent fare.  Let it not be said that I won't cover any Film from any Decade.  Stay tuned...

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Rare Flix: Wild Beasts (1983)

One more trip to the Zoo won't hurt!  Today's Film is Wild Beasts, an Italian Horror Film that I had literally not heard of as of 2 days ago.  I was looking for stuff online, found it, read the Plot Synopsis and said 'I guess I'm doing this now!'  When you find out what it is, you probably won't blame me.  A bunch of Animals escape from the Zoo after they drink PCP-laced water.  Yes, drink it in.  No, not that water!!!  So yes, this is about drug-crazed Animals on the loose.  Since it is both too early and this Film was too cheap, there is no CG here.  Double yea!  Can a Vet who looks like Rick Rude and a Reporter save an unnamed City from the Animals?  To find out, read on...
Even though this Film was made by some famous Italians, it is set in, well, you'll see...
At a Zoo in...some city in Northern Europe, something is in the Water and the Animals are acting weird.  This Tiger, for example, ate her own young (off-camera).
 That night, a bunch of stuff goes down.  Just to confuse me, this Film clearly set in Germany is attacked by Rats sent by an Italian man.  So is this Rats: Night of Terror of Revenge of the Rats?!?
In something you don't get to see too much (for good reason), here is an Elephant smashing through a wall.  Ow.
While I could talk more about the overall Plot- which is mostly just separate bits of groups being threatened by the Animals-, I'd rather highlight these Elephants.  One of them chokes a guy to death!
The other stomps on the head of the woman in the Car with him, making Kool-Aid come out!
The coup de grace- the Elephants wander onto a runway, causing a plan to crash and kill the power for all of Northern European City!  Lovely stuff.
After some bits with a Polar Bear, a Cheetah and some Horses, Dr. Rick Rude discovers the culprit- drugs!

He doesn't actually discover *how* the stuff got in the Water...but baby steps, I guess.
The Film takes an extra dark turn as the kids previously-threatened by the Polar Bear have turned killer...since they too drank the water.  As the Film seems to be going somewhere dark, it just stops.

This is abrupt...stop this text is all real...stop doing this kind of thing, Movies.  The End.
Weird, dramatic stuff.  The whole Film is treated super-seriously, which I kind of like.  It is all about the Drama of people in peril in various locations.  Mind you, they are in peril from drug-crazed Zoo Animals.  Mind you, the Film's locations include a Subway Line attacked by a Lion, a Cheetah chasing a woman in a VW Bug and a Polar Bear stalking some kids at Ballet Practice.  It is hard to take this stuff 100% seriously, no matter how hard they try.  It still isn't The Happening though.  Since this is my 4th Zoo Film in the last month or so, I might as well compare them.  Murders at the Zoo had some scary, mostly-implied Animal moments, but also an actual villain.  Black Zoo was mostly the same, although with more staged kills and Michael Gough.  Zoombies has alot of the same Animals, only as crappy CG Zombies (or something).  As far as the Story goes, it falls between the good Films and that Asylum one.  As far as fun factor goes, I'd rank it much higher.  The whole thing is a bit melodramatic, but still pretty fun.  As a bonus, the Version I found was Subbed and not Dubbed.  If you like these kinds of Films, Beasts is a hidden gem.  It feels like many of the 1970s Killer Animal Films, only with more blood since it is Italian.  It also features some *iffy* uses of Doubles for this Animal attack Scene...
Next up, I go back to what I was originally intending to do.  Here's hoping I can stop lying.  Stay tuned...

Saturday, May 21, 2016

'Holiday' Flix: Saturday the 14th

It was either now or wait until January.  Today's Film is Saturday the 14th, a Horror Film Parody from 1981.  The Film is somewhat of a Cult Classic, a term thrown around way too much these days.  A Cult Film is one that is seen '1,000 times' by a person.  I can't imagine anyone has had time to watch Ginger Snaps that many times since 2000.  This Film is notable for being a reaction to recent events and actually ahead of its time in many other ways.  It tells the tale of a family- led by Richard Benjamin and Paula Prentiss- that moves into a cursed House.  Said House is full of Monsters and some sort of vaguely-evil Book.  It is mostly a Spoof of Old-School Horror Films, even though the Title suggests it will be parodying the then-recent Slasher Film phenomenon.  Sorry, no My Bloody Valentine stuff here.  The Film has a mixed-rating all over the Internet, so I've been a bit nervous about doing it.  Would it be good?  Would it be bad?  Would I be better off just thinking of it as better than it could ever be?  To find out, read on...
A young(er) Jeffrey Tambor is Dracula and he wants to buy this House, since it is full of evil.
The problem: it was willed to his Nephew (Benjamin) and his family.
Said House is full of weird stuff, like self-washing dishes and some monsters that are good at pantomime.
Later the Daughter is attacked by a sea creature in the bathtub that is ostensibly a Parody of Jaws, but is also eerily-similar to a bit done three years later in A Nightmare of Elm Street.

Oh and their House is also on Elm Street.  Was that always an evil-sounding Street?
A call to get rid of Bats in the Attic gets the attention of Van Helsing, who is going to come and help.
As the titular day approaches, the Monsters are making themselves at home, what else can you do but...
Throw an awkward Dinner Party, of course!

Since the House won't let anyone leave, you might as well bring more people in.
As Midnight approaches, the Vampires show up and...Van Helsing is revealed to be the Villain.  An actual Plot Twist- nice!
After lots of silly faces and equally-silly effects, the Book is destroyed along with Van Helsing.  Dracula and his wife live happily ever after like our Heroes.

...until the Sequel, I guess.  The End.
All things considered, pretty darn fun.  As noted, the Film seems to be pretty polarizing as far as Reviews.  Case in point: Netflix thought I'd rate it 1.2 Stars!  So is it a great, underlooked Comedy?  Overall, I'd say mostly-yes.  It isn't perfect and the Tone is certainly a bit too silly for many.  It is very damn silly.  I liked it though, so they mostly kept it in balance.  The prevalent use of Monsters helps keeps the Film interesting.  You get a sea creature, a Mummy and about a dozen unidentifiable ones.  While they are obviously just guys in suits, I still liked them.  The Story is pretty basic and only takes place over like 3 days.  It doesn't try to build upon the terror or anything, so just bear this in mind.  Everyone is pretty likable though, so no complaints in that department.  All in all, Saturday the 14th is a fun, silly little Film that probably deserves better...even if their continuity is sometimes off.
Next up, I wrap up an import Horror Franchise.  Will it be as promising as the upcoming X-Men Film that shares its subtitle?  Stay tuned...

Friday, May 20, 2016

Lock Me Up!: Zoombies (2016)

Suck it, Spell Check!  Today's Film is Zoombies, an Asylum Film from this year.  The Plot: Zombie Zoo Animals.  Need I say more?  Probably not, right?  Zombie Zoo Animals- who'd think of such a thing?  Oh right- Resident Evil Outbreak: File #2...in 2004.  To be fair, it isn't a *commonly-used* idea.  Also in the interest of fairness, this is still a Film by The Asylum.  That means that the Acting is so-so, the Budget is minimal and the CG is not going to be good.  It is sometimes decent here, to be fair some more, but it is not good overall.  Dull surprise.  The Film is simultaneously a very-late knock-off of Jurassic World (see the Cover Tag Line) and a slightly-late knock-off of Zoo.  Yea.  To find out how this one turns out (without SPOILERS), read on...
In the Cold Open, a Monkey comes back to life at a Jurassic Park knock-off Park and kills people.  Want to explain how this creature can kill anyone?

Oh and the thing that really gets me- a tiny monkey knocks off a bookcase heavy enough to crush a man by jumping off of it!
The Asylum couldn't afford an original Plot or good Effects, but they got some good reaction shots.  10 Stars!
The Actual Plot involves this lady- clearly not Bryce Dallas Howard- busing in people to work at her re-done Park.  It is not open, since Extras cost money to bus in.

Before I claim that they are really ripping off Jurassic World, she's a business-driven woman in charge having to watch HER DAUGHTER and not her Nephews.  So unique.
While World had a bunch of people mostly there to die, this one does too.  At least you got that right.
Zombie Giraffes.

Zombie.  Giraffes.
To up the ante, we go from Zombie Monkeys to a Zombie Gorilla.  It has the ability to turn from a guy in a crappy suit to being blatant CG.  I thought I was done with this crap after all of those Sons of Kong Films.

On the plus side, I can use this Freakazoid Clip.
In a Zoo full of Zombies, who will make it out alive?  More importantly, will an Asylum Film not prove to be a disappointment by the end?  To find out, watch the Film.  The End.
About what you'd expect, really.  The thing with The Asylum is that they can't ever figure out what formula they want to use.  After a surprising amount of success with Camp in the form of those never ending Sharknado Films, they have now gone back to serious.  Yes, the Film about Zombie Zoo Animals is mostly played seriously.  They want to have real Characters, real motivations and, to a lesser extent, more reveling in people dying.  Night of the Wild is still much, much worse in that regard though.  They throw about every reasonable creature they can at you- Lions, Elephants, Giraffes, Monkeys, that Ape and plenty of Birds.  Somehow a Koala even works its way in there.  Mind you, Koalas are usually chock full of disease and filth at all times, so they're actually less dangerous now.  For real though, they play this one pretty seriously.  For example, our Heroine frantically screams as she tries to rescue her Daughter in one Scene and weeps as she hears a Lion kill some lady.  Just for comparison- Sharknado 3 had laser chainsaws and David Hasselhoff in Space.  Yes, not every Film should be that campy, but shouldn't Zoombies?  What is the logic here?  Zoo is apparently played quite straight, since its Animals aren't also somehow Zombies/Infected.  Jurassic World mostly played it seriously, but also had a Dinosaur that could cloak itself.  In this case, they made a silly sounding name- you know, like Sharknado- and then made a Film that is probably not going to do well with the Audience seeking out a Film like that.  Good job, guys!  It makes me wonder if Little Dead Rotting Hood has a speech like Tom Hanks' from Philadelphia in it or if Avengers Grimm features a lecture on Apartheid!  I should note that 'Zoombies' brings up three things on Google- this Film, a DayZ Mod and a Flash Game that seems to get the joke better than the Makers of Nazis at the Center of the Earth...
Next up, a Film that I probably should have done last week.  Oh well- time to do it this Saturday.  Stay tuned...

'Black' History Year: Black Mirror- Be Right Back

With Agent Carter officially-cancelled, we can now properly begin the grieving process.  Let's skip right to 'Moving On' by looking back- a sentence that may make you have a stroke.  My apologies.

After a long absence, I finally feel up to covering the last 3 (of 7) Black Mirror Episodes.  Who knows if we'll get any more of them, so I'm not going to waste them.
In Be Right Back, we meet a young couple (Domhnall Gleason, Hayley Atwell).  All seems well for this hipster duo...
...until he dies.

On the plus side, he'll go on to be in 10,000,000 Films in the next few years.
As she struggles to move forward, a friend signs her up for a strange program.  Basically, a Computer Simulation studies all of a dead person's texts/tweets/Facebook posts and simulates them in a Chat Window.

Creepy or cute- you decide!
This proves to be a great tool (maybe) to help her, but isn't quite enough.  Where does it go from here?
The answer- giving all of the available voice recordings of the deceased to replicate speech via the phone!
The unhappy woman is given a chance to take it to yet another level.  What is it?

Well, no SPOILERS.  Go see this Show already!
Damn good stuff.  No offense to everyone else here (who all do good jobs too), but this is all about Ms. Atwell.  She has the lion's share of the Scenes here and she absolutely nails it.  She makes you feel for this Character, which is an absolute necessity.  This is a Drama first and Sci-Fi second, with the latter informing the former.  It totally works.  The Episode builds and builds nicely, letting you never quite relax.  Given how much work Gleason is getting these days (Ex Machina and Star Wars: The Force Awakens), it will be interesting to see if this one gets more famous as time goes by.  This is a really intense Episode and I mean that in all of the best ways.  Let's see what the Show has coming next...
Next time, my introduction to the Show way back when.  Will it be a killer Episode?  See you then...