Monday, February 28, 2011

Braiinnnn Dead: Zombie Wars

How many zombie films do we need?  Thanks to a guy named George A. Romero, every guy with a bunch of friends and a nearby wooded area thinks that they can make a zombie film.  These films make me yearn for the Poverty Row days of White Zombie!  So which one of the 600 Direct-to-DVD films will I be reviewing? Zombie Wars tells the tale of a small society- very small, in fact- of people who have survived for 50 years since the zombie apocalypse occurred.  Why show something when you can just say that it happened?!?  I should note that this film was Written, Directed and 'Cut' (their description, not mine) by David A. Prior.  For those who don't know, he's the man behind a lot of bad, '90s action films- many of which featured David Carradine.  This is the man behind both Future Force and Future Zone, people!  Put away your bullet-proof meat vest because we're going to join the...
The film begins with some zombies leading a group of women through the forest.  Okay, that is a bit different. Two guys we don't know anything about show up and kill the zombies, taking the women back with them.  This is either going to be a Gor tale or something very different!  We also see two random guards at a gate- they won't show up again until an hour from now.  As we're told via exposition, the zombies raise people on farms to grow up as food.  Good- your film is reminding me of Good-Bye, Uncle Tom.  That's just what I needed.  I'll get into this plot thread more in the second paragraph, so don't worry.  The remaining humans live in camps around the area.  Well, they do in this area of the woods.  The film's scope is so small that they could be 100 miles from that city in Land of the Dead for all we know!  The two guys are brothers, who share their own back-story with each other.  Logical!  In an odd little sub-plot, the younger brother has fallen for one of the freed women, despite her not knowing a single word of English (since zombies didn't teach them).  We see some other people, including a lady who makes bullets and The General.  Most of these people either only get two lines or are just there to die.  Speaking of which, the zombies attack.  In the battle, people either run, get killed or get captured.  The younger brother ends up at the Farm.  This is where I start asking questions...
The guy knows not to talk in front of the zombies at the farm.  Why?
The zombies kill a guy who talks.  Why?
If they farm people to eat, why would they eat a guy who can speak first?
How does the guy know what they would do before he sees proof of this?
The zombies communicate through grunts- how?
One zombie is the leader- how?
Our hero meets a guy who is kept in the camp undercover.  Why would they do that?
Why don't the zombies just eat him by accident?
The big one- why am I supposed to care about any of this if they can't answer questions raised by their own plot?
The big finale of the film comes when the brother sneaks a map of the Camp out of their on a zombie.  It gets found by the brother, alongside a cache of canned foot en route to the place.  Who sent it?  You'll find out later.  The note is marked by the guy's symbol- a D surrounded by a circle.  It must be him!  They go to the camp, but most of their back-up fails to show up.  This should be dramatic, but they just slaughter the zombies with almost zero effort.  There's also a sub-plot involving the spy turning on his people and helping our hero escape.  In a weird bit, he tells the love interest girl- call her Nell- to run to the Woods.  Five minutes later, he says 'Where did Nell go?'  She's saved from a zombie attack by the former-spy, but then the scene cuts.  The pair were apparently attacked- off-camera- and she ran off.  He meanders about as the rest of the group confronts the people behind the farm.  Yes, the people behind it.  A nearby town set up the farm to feed the zombies, who apparently went along with it.  Before they get to the town, however, is they make the guards let them by, but don't disarm them.  This leads to the guy from before wandering near the guards and being shot.  Way to go, heroes!  In the Epilogue, we learn that our Narrator was Nell- who was found, I guess- and she had the guy's kid.  The End.
These films are more abundant than the actual zombies are!  The plot of this movie is good in theory, but crap in execution.  The idea of it is interesting- living in a post-zombie apocalypse world- but done in a bad way.  We are simply told about the world-wide epidemic and only shown the events affecting about two dozen people in the woods.  Say what you will about Day of the Dead's stunted-scale, but it felt more important!  This just feels like a bunch of guys went out to the woods in military colors to shoot fake zombies.  Speaking of shooting, there is a lot of it- too much, in fact.  Every zombie is shot in the head on the first try with no drama.  How good are you people?  The only drama in the fight scenes comes when people's guns run out of bullets.  Speaking of which, our hero is given a gun before the finale and told that it had fifteen bullets in it.  He fired only seven- yes, I counted- before he runs out of ammo.  How do you screw up basic math?  I will give the film some credit for having some decent- albeit random and uneven- zombie make-up.  I can't fault them for having very little money.  I can, however, fault them for making a bad movie that thinks that it's very important.
Up Next, March begins in the best way I could think of: a shitty, Asylum film.  This one features spider aliens, men with guns and William FREAKING Katt.

P.S. Did everyone pick up that February was- save for the specials- were done in alphabetical order?  Keep an eye out for the next one!

VHS For the Win: Demoniac

Maniacs and demons are bad enough.  What happens the two of them merge in a 'perfect storm' of evil?  Let's see...
"Honey, stop taking your naps in the Graveyard.  I know that playing 'Alas, Poor Who?' wears you out, but that's just not safe.  Oh hi, floating demon eyes."

Next up, you can't kill what you can't see.  Of course, you also can't kill what's already dead.  Stay tuned...

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Seriously?!? : Young Einstein

You're not as smart as you think!  Yahoo Serious is a comedian who had a fairly-successful run in the States for a while, even getting a film or two released here.  Then again, even Carrot Top got one movie!  So who is Yahoo Serious?  He's a strange guy who likes physical comedy broader than the circumference of the Earth!  In this movie, he is playing Albert Einstein in a weird bit of alternate history.  You're disrupting the time-space continuum for an obscure, import comedy?  Yea.  Will the movie turn out to actually be good though?  I don't hold out much hope, but you might.  Get out your young mustache as a gift for...
The film begins in Tasmania with a family living in the wild.  They live in a shack and work off of the land.  Incidentally, the film never addresses the one key bit of confusion: why is their last name still 'Einstein?'  We're just going to ignore that point, aren't we?  Albert- a very Tasmanian name- is a free spirit and is more interested in Science than in work.  Ha ha- it's funny because he's lazy.  After a cameo by the worst Tasmanian Devil costume ever, Albert continues to work on Science.  His dad gives him something to work on: putting bubbles in beer.  That's Science done right!  Through a bunch of silliness, he stumbles across the Theory of Relativity.  Yes, it's that easy.  He uses the theory to help make special beer...which causes it to blow up.  Well, that was a tedious 20 minutes, but at least it's...oh, he's still alive.  Yes, Albert Einstein is harder to kill than the common cold!  While it blew up their shack, it did also create the beer they wanted to make, so he goes off to the city.  It's a long trek from the Tasmanian Desert to Australia, so let's have ourselves a montage!  Prop comedy!
He ends up on a train that's just full of plot convenience.  He ends up in a cabin shared by two people: an Australian Patent Office Worker and a French woman- Marie Curie.  What she was supposed to be doing on a train going through Tasmania is anyone's guess!  They converse for a bit before getting into the city.  Albert tries to patent his *sigh* Theory of Relativity, but is turned away because it's not an actual invention.  He ends up at a 'flea bag Motel,' although he doesn't seem bothered.  Ha ha- it's funny because he should!  He runs across Curie again- how convenient!- and sparks start to tentatively fly.  By the way, Curie is not actually French- she's Polish!  Albert spends time in his tiny Motel and invents...the Electric Guitar.  No, really.  The people at the Patent Office are none too pleased with the device, not realizing that it's a Deus Ex Machina for later.  His Theory of Relativity, however, is taken by the guy from the train and put into patent as a way to make beer.  Big shock- he's the villain!  To cover up his crime, he has Albert sent to an Asylum.  Good call...I mean, boo.
Marie is upset by this discovery & sneaks into the Asylum to get him out.  Albert has given up, however, in spite of getting a kiss from the Polish-French woman.  He has an epiphany and changes his mind, using his guitar to blow out the electric locks.  He finds that Curie has returned to France for the Nobel Prize Ceremony.  Yes, it's apparently an Oscar-like ceremony now.  He gets there and convinces Curie to go with him to stop the guy from the Patent Office.  Why?  He's built a giant nuclear generator to show off the beer with bubbles.  That might blow up all of Paris, dude.  We get a cameo by Charles Darwin, which the movie drives home by having his beagle dog walk out with a sign around its neck that says 'The Beagle.'  Let me get out my own sign that says 'We F-ing Get It!'  The pair arrive, but it's too late to stop him from activating it.  Thankfully, Albert brought his Electric Guitar and uses it to pull all of the Nuclear Energy out of the device.  I don't know- just go with it!  He ends up getting himself nuked- and put in black-face...and body- but lives to get his Nobel Prize.  He returns to Tasmania with Curie and gets the movie to 90 minutes by doing a song for the last five.  The End.
You can't be serious?!?  The plot of this movie is just silly...and acknowledges it.  Mind you, I don't really think that it gives you a pass.  You can't make a shit movie on purpose and have me go 'Well, you achieved your goal!'  The film failed on the most basic level- I didn't laugh.  I made weird faces at some of the bizarre shots and hairdos that the guy had, but that's it.  The physical comedy was just forced and one-note.  You got the only real joke about ten minutes in & it just gets used again and again.  I'm sure that there is an audience out there for this movie, but I'm not it.  On the plus side, Netflix only carries one other Yahoo Serious movie- 1999's Mister Accident.  Please don't ask me to do that- I'm serious.
Next up, we close up February with a zombie film.  Well, those are never disappointing, right?  Stay tuned...

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Retro Trash: X The Unknown

Guess who randomly stumbled across a little piece of film history?  Me- that's who.  The 1958 film The Blob is a classic film that has been imitated and remade a couple of times.  It also made a star out of some guy named Steve McQueen.  However, did you know that someone created a very similar idea two years earlier?  That's today's film: 1956's X: The Unknown.  This fifty-plus year-old film was made by Hammer Studios, a group more famous for their horror films than their science-fiction work.  The film's premise is both simple, yet complicated.  An 'unknown' creature escapes from the ground in Scotland and starts killing people, as well as sucking radiation out of the areas it goes to.  What is it?  You'll have to wait for the ridiculous explanation to come later.  Get out your vague treasure map as we seek out...
The film begins in Scotland and, boy, are those accents accurate.  I watch enough BBC America to get the voices, but I'm just warning you now that your experience may differ.  The Army is doing tests where they train soldiers to use Geiger counters by way of burying small objects in the ground with a little radiation.  Gee, why are all of our boys getting tumors in their feet twenty years later?  The last guy to do the test discovers a serious stockpile and, moments later, an earthquake hits.  The resulting shake creates a fissure in the ground in the shape of an 'X.'  That must be where Captain Cou'ch buried his gold!  A local scientist (Dean Jagger) is called in to investigate, but only after we get some extemporaneous back-story.  Yes, this is a 1950's science-fiction film, where every character has to have some sort of background to be told.  His testing takes a while and, during that time, strange stuff starts to happen.  A sample of the mud is stolen from his lab, but the safety glass- where he does radioactive tests behind- was broken from the inside out!  Could this all have something to do with a kid who gets sick in the woods?
No, not really.  This little distraction does lead him to a guy who has the radioactive canister in his house- which is no longer emitting radiation.  That's a short shelf life!  In the Hospital, the guy meets up with his Boss and a Reporter from Atomic Energy Commission sent in from London.  Yes, we now have regional accents, normal British accents and regional British accents.  While they get yelled at by the parents of the kid, a doctor goes off into the Radioactive Testing Room- do all Hospitals have those?- to make whoopie.  Unfortunately, a '50s-style POV monster shows up and attacks him, causing his face to melt.  Yes, face-melting in 1956- graphic!  Jagger draws some inferences from the death, including the lack of radiation in the equipment and the burn marks around the grates.  This leads to a scene where he explains his theory about the events.  Are you ready for one of the most seriously-delivered, yet goofiest explanations for a movie monster ever?  His theory is that life evolved on the surface of the Earth and in its core.  Supposedly, the Earth is hit by a small tremor every fifty years, which he attributes to the life-form coming up.  The last time, however, it died from exposure and returned to the core.  Now it's back as sentient mud and eats radiation for food.  Shockingly, everyone pretty much just accepts this based on, well, nothing.
Given that he's the main character, Jagger turns out to be right here.  As a side note, I'd love to see a movie deliver a theory like that and have the person end up being completely and utterly wrong- just once!  Back at the fissure, two guards are killed by the POV monster.  That's what you get for having regionally-inaccurate weaponry (thanks, IMDB nerds)!  The monster comes back up for one final snack: the cobalt in the lab that Jagger and his comrades work in.  We finally get to see the killer mud in its full form and the Blob comparisons really start to seem to make sense.  The film gives up a couple of fake-out moments, including a kid pulled inside just in time and two soldiers who almost drive into it.  Thank God- something almost happened!  The monster takes the cobalt in a pretty-decent effect and heads back to it's lair.  They have to stop it now, since the next trip it will take out of the 'X' will be to a city full of people.  Thankfully, Jagger has an experimental invention for de-radiating objects that can be turned into a large device within hours.  On the first use, the canister explodes.  Doubt racks the people as they must decide whether to risk the creature exploding or not.  In the End, they use it and the thing goes aflame.  A random explosion goes off, however, making Jagger wonder as the End Credits roll.
X marks the spot!  The plot of this movie is pretty formulaic, but it does try to make up for it.  The silly explanation for the monster and the lack of actual proof for this theory aside, the movie is pretty basic.  A lot of this just doesn't stand out all that much.  Mind you, I'm a fan of 1950's Science-Fiction movies, so I'm not really complaining all that much.  I just wished that the movie could have done a little more to stand out.  It's interesting to watch the film from an historical standpoint, however, due to the comparisons between it and The Blob.  Did we in America get inspiration?  Given that The Blob gets it's own celebration every year and this movie remains pretty obscure, I feel the need to ask.  That's not to say that I'm insulting The Blob either- it's a classic.  Even the sequel- Beware!  The Blob- and the remake have their moments.  One of the most famous horror films from the Silent Era- Nosferatu- is an unlicensed Dracula film, even to the point where the original print was meant to be destroyed thanks to a lawsuit.  If any of you Blob fans read this, let me know what you think.  Regardless of that, the movie is pretty stock, but definitely picks up in the End.  All you fans of 1950's Science-Fiction should check this out if you haven't already.  It's a classic, even as basic as it is.
Up next, I cover a film by a comedian who's totally Serious.  Will this film be relatively-good or an atom bomb?  Stay tuned...

Friday, February 25, 2011

VHS For My Loss: Wicked Games (aka Truth or Dare 2)

Here's a treat for all of you Tim Ritter fans- all four of you.  After the 'success' of Truth or Dare?: A Critical Madness, Ritter made this film.  Confusion abounds, however, as an IMDB search for Truth or Dare 2 brings up a 1995 film called Writer's Block.  Wrong movie.  Today's film is actually 1994's Wicked Games aka Truth or Dare 2.  If it helps you, Truth or Dare 3 is actually called Screaming For Sanity: Truth or Dare 3.  I don't think that will help most of you, huh?  So what is the plot?  A slew of new killings take place in Fort Pierce, Florida.  This happens to be the same place where Mike Strauber went crazy, put on a copper mask (hopefully after it cooled) and went on a killing spree.  For those who care, here is my review of that film.  Will it be more coherent than the last film or, dare I say it, not suck?  You really have to ask?  Get out your autograph book, because we're going to ask Chris Isaac about...
The film  begins with some long, opening credits.  This is followed by an awkward couple playing around in bed, accompanied by cheesy music and bad lighting.  After a few minutes of this, we get to the point when a man comes in with a gun.  This may seem familiar to those of you who have seen Truth or Dare- it is.  The difference here is that he...asks them to continue (under duress) and leaves.  He ends up at the home of his best friend- an old cop who is in to the 'kinky stuff.'  I didn't need that visual- thanks a lot!  Never mind the idea of a cop having a regular affair with a prostitute or anything.  Our mullet-sporting, main character is allowed to stay with the guy for a while while he gets back on his feet.  You see, the lady having sex was his wife- soon to be his ex-wife.  That night, he can't sleep and starts drinking.  Note to filmmakers: when you're doing 'day for night' inside, don't leave a window partly-open!  He has a weird, freak-out nightmare and hears the famous line 'do you want to play Truth or Dare?'  The vision of his friend commits suicide before the real one shows up to wake up our 'hero.'  A bit later, a couple go out for a picnic, but it turns sour when the idea of rape comes up.  The woman flees and a copper-masked killer takes out the man.  That's fine and dandy...until he garrotes her.
The cop immediately suspects that his friend is behind it, but this is based on very little.  The key reason: he's the cousin of Mike Straub, the killer from the original film.  Speaking of the guy, he has a few awkward scenes where he meets up with his soon-to-be-ex-wife and her new husband-to-be.  The point of these scenes is highly-questionable, especially given that the whole point of them is to show that he hates her.  Yeah, we already got that, movie!  We get some more victims as a brothel- cleverly disguised as the Producer's house- is attacked by the copper mask-wearing killer.  He takes out three of them, although one of them sketches a drawing of a head in her own blood.  Naturally, the cop sees this and figures that it's the copper mask-wearing killer.  Well, it is, but there's no way that you would know that based on that drawing!  It could be a guy wearing a cobalt mask, for all you know!  In addition to all that, the aimless film focuses on the prostitute from earlier as she goes to her therapist.  It's a weird scene and serves nearly no purpose, other than to show that she likes being hit.  Thanks for that, I suppose.  The cop confronts his 'friend' at what appears to be the park near my house, but that doesn't go well.
This only gets weirder before it ends, people!  Remember the prostitute?  She meets up with a 'john' at a hotel, but gets killed after the deed is done.  Thanks for skipping that part, but I could have gone without seeing the 'john' in his underwear before he dies too!  This really upsets the cop, but it's a bit hard for him to say why.  We get another random killing by the copper mask-wearing killer.  This time it's a lady sunbathing and he stabs her head into a water sprinkler, causing it to shoot out her blood.  Yeah, not so much.  The cop finally confronts his friend more dramatically, saying that he's going to bring him in.  The guy gets knocked out, however, and the guy just leaves.  In another random scene, we see the psychiatrist from earlier making out with a dummy.  Random!  The cop calls the psychologist and explains that they need to stop his friend before he finally kills the ex-wife and new lover.  They get stuck in traffic, however, allowing him to kill the couple with a torn soda can and bottle of suntan lotion, respectively- don't ask.  The man flees from the cop, but eventually gets found sometime later.  The psychologist shows up and we get the big reveal: they were all the killer- just at different points.  But wait- there's one more reveal: this whole film was the fantasy of Mike Straub, who sees his doctors as killers.  No, really.  The End.
Strike two!  The plot of this movie is both simple and confusing.  That's never a good sign in a movie.  On one hand, it's so obvious where it is all building up to.  We all know that 'fat Kenny Powers' is going to kill his lady and the new man.  On the other hand, the plot is so muddled with side characters and random kills that it's hard to find the time to care!  If they had just stuck with the original ending sequence, it might have helped a bit.  It's sort of a rip-off of '10 Little Indians,' but that story has been ripped off more than a tourist in Mexico!  The second ending they put on there just makes you want to punch someone.  On the bright side, I know Tim Ritter lives in the same state as I do, so he's probably not too hard to track down!  Congratulations, you went from ripping off '10 Little Indians' to ripping off The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari!  By the way, it's not as clever as you think.  It just makes you look sad.  The production values are barely worth nothing, given that the movie has a reported budget of $10,000.  Watch for the Extras in the scene where the masked man is being chased by a cop- they don't even flinch.  'That Tim Ritter is shooting his shitty movie on the beach again, mom!'  'Just ignore him, son- he does this every year.'  Is this better than the first film?  Well, it is more coherent (sort of), but it's hard to say.  As the poster for Alien vs. Predator says, 'whoever wins, we lose.'
Up next, I introduce a new series- Retro Trash.  In the introductory piece, we get an obscure, Hammer film about killer mud from the center of th Earth.  Stay tuned...
  

1,200th Post Celebration: Traces of Death

There's always a price to pay for keeping yourself busy!  On this less than special number of an anniversary, I cover a film that rips off a much more famous film.  Check out the title and try to guess.  Give up?  Of course not- you know that it's Faces of Death!  Dead bodies- check.  Narrator with a dark tone- check.  Being extremely gory without the pretense of a point- big check!  This 1993 video release is infamous for showing a lot of crime-scene photos and real-life death in it.  Unlike the original Faces, there's almost no animal footage here- unless you count shots of them killing people.  This film also uses some famous footage that showed up in a Mondo film, as well as a real-life incident that shocked people in the 1980s.  It's one of those moments that makes you think 'Thank God, Fox News wasn't around when this happened!'  In a rare moment for Mondo Bizarro, I'm blurring out the few screenshots that I have, but it's not for nudity.  Let me put it this way: you're better off not seeing this stuff in full.  At the same time, you won't get the gist of why this movie is what it is if you see nothing.  That make sense?  Regardless, get out your morbid art kit as we get ready to make...
The film wastes no time introducing us to violent death and mayhem.  There's no cheesy set-up here or exposition to frame this story.  Just a narrator and crime-scene photos like this one...
Yeah, there are a lot of images like that, just without the boxes blocking the gross stuff.  Is it too late to turn back now?  I believe, I believe, I believe I'm...going to throw up.  Mind you, some of them are so odd-looking that they appear fake, but I'm not sure enough to show them without boxes...
At one point, we see a TV show- I think- interviewing a guy who survived his own attempt at suicide.  If you could move those boxes and see what I saw, you'd probably need to step away for a bit.  Ironically, this film was made too late to become a 'Video Nasty'- although it was officially refused classification by the BBFC too.

* They also show the full video of Bud Dwyer's famous on-air suicide.  Classy, movie.
* They show Vic Morrow's on-set death from 1980, footage of South American rebels killed (from another Mondo film) and footage of lions eating a man.  This footage comes to you courtesy of 1975's Final Cry of the Savana.  The latter scene was replicated for Faces of Death as well, only with a bear instead.
What is life without death...being exploited for shock value?  There is no plot to this movie and they barely try to say that there is.  This is not uncommon for Mondo films or those that copied them so blatantly though.  Faces of Death is only tied together by the false idea of the doctor 'looking into the origins of death around the world.'  Even by Mondo standards though, this is pretty random.  The scenes just kind of happen and the film moves on.  Even Mondo Cane tried to close things out a little bit!  The film itself walks a really awkward line too.  Some of the death footage appears legitimate, while others look fake.  Some of them look 'a little fake,' so I'm not sure how to feel.  If they are fake, I guess I should give kudos to them for making it look real.  These are talents that could be put to better use elsewhere though.  Is there a reason to see this movie?  No, not really.  This is basically a 'Best Of...' compilation- just by someone else.  That's both lazy and theft, good job!  I really wish I hadn't seen this movie.  On the plus side, the odds of anyone else being able to- or wanting to- are pretty low.  Sure raises my hopes for Fazes of Death, huh?

See you in another 100 posts, people!
  

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Mondo Year Two: Top 10 Weirdest Japanese Films

Japan is a popular target over at Mondo Bizarro.  Do I feel bad about it?  No.  These guys make movies with titles like Executive Koala, Mutant Girl Squad & Attack Girls' Swim Team vs. the Undead.  I don't always hate their movies, however, which distinguishes them from say, Troma.  I watch a lot of Japanese films because the country is full of crazy, crazy things.  Here are 10 examples of what I'm talking about..

10. Evil Dead Trap: What is snuff, baby don't hurt me!  This odd film features a female reporter tracking down the source of a snuff film sent to her show.  She finds a bizarre, serial killer who sets elaborate death traps to test people.  Sound like a movie that would come out about 15 years later?  What makes the film especially odd is that it ends...and then ends again and...ends a third time.  Each ending is weirder than the last too.

9. Devilman: Anime-to-film adaptations are usually this weird.  The film involves a portal that opens up to the center of the Earth, unleashing demon spirits into Japan.  Our hero is taken over by one, as is his best friend.  The former controls his evil side and fights for good, while the latter just kind of starts killing people.  CG monsters, a random Third Act change and News Anchor Bob Sapp are the highlights here.

8. Assault Girls: I'm still picking on this movie.  A film about a quartet of people playing an MMO by themselves in which they fight giant sand worms.  The crazy part: the movie is dull as dirt.  It has about three great moments in it, but a lot of padding.  The only way to make a film weirder is to make it dull, I guess.

7. Rasen: The sequel that nobody wants to acknowledge exists!  Released in conjunction with Ringu, this film is based on the story of the same name.  The ghost from the tape moves into the real world via pseudo-science involving cloning and plans to make a new infection: the book about the search for the tape.  The film was so despised in Japan that another sequel was made- Ringu 2- and it disappeared.  It's easy to see why, even by Japanese standards.

6. Hellevator- Bottled Fools: Quiet on the one set!  This film is about a dark future where people live underground and take elevators everywhere.  My God- they live in the Chrysler Building.  Most of the film is relegated to either social commentary, random characters or a quickly-resolved plot with serial killers.  It's weird, but also kind of boring in parts.

5. Stacy: When you make a nonsensical film for $10, it shows.  You can't explain this film with a straight face- you just can't.  Teenage girls between the ages of 16 and 18 are randomly turning into zombies due to an infestation of 'pixie dust' in their bodies.  A love sub-plot slips in, as does one involving a guy trying to protect his zombie sister.  More importantly, silly humor, off-beat gore and bizarre references slip in too.  It's beyond belief...but it's only #5. 

4. Vampire Girl vs. Frankenstein Girl: I love this film in all of its bizarre glory.  A new student comes to a school and goes after the only boy that the girls seem to care about.  Sorry, everybody else with a penis!  During a confrontation, she kills the rich girl in school, but she gets brought back as a Frankenstein-style creature.  The clash is epic and the movie is freaky as all hell.  It's no Tokyo Gore Police, but it's fun.

3. Sky High: Ryuhei Kitamura strikes again!  A serial killer is taking out women, but it's not for any reason that you could possibly guess.  He's killing women who are the reincarnation of previous Guardians of the Gates of Heaven & Hell.  Why?  To harvest their hearts as part of a spell to open Hell itself!  Throw in a police investigation, sword-fighting and a weapon that can kill ghosts- oh my!

2. Visitor Q: This one was so weird that even I couldn't finish it!  The film has a very loose narrative structure, but seems to tell the tale of a family in strife.  Such strife includes the son beating up the mom, a bit with a hooker and more.  When a man is randomly attacked with a brick- I'm shocked.  When a woman is caned for making dinner too slowly- I'm really shocked.  When a male reporter is raped on the air by a gang of teens- I'm done.

1. Robo-Geisha: When buildings start spurting blood, I know that I've found a winner!  The film is a mish-mash of stories, including an evil corporation, a sister-sister feud and the search for a missing girl.  It all culminates in a battle between the two now-robotic sisters & a final showdown on Mount Fuji.  What can you expect?  A woman who has tank treads in place of legs, arm pit blades and a man with a gun in his knee caps.  If you love crazy, see this movie!

Up next, we close up the Top 10 List celebration with the one you've been waiting for- the Top 10 Worst Films of Mondo Bizarro- Year Two.  This will hurt- a lot.  Stay tuned...

Pardon My French : Vampire Party

Just because you're French, it doesn't mean that you're classy!  The 2008 French comedy Vampire Party is an amazing exercise in both missing with jokes and driving them into the ground.  If only they could have driven them into the hearts of these characters and spared me 80 minutes!  The film is by a pair of first-time Writer/Directors, so I guess I can forgive them a little bit.  However, veteran character actor Tcheky Karyo is here too.  Why?  Your resume is not the best out there, but you should be able to do better.  What is the plot?  A group of party animals get invited to a big, fancy dinner.  The problem- it's a haven for vampires.  If you like forced, American-style comedy, you're in luck.  Fans of humor should be wary though.  Since this is a fairly-recent film, keep an eye out for those dastardly SPOILERS.  Get out your oldest vintage (i.e. Mickey Rooney), because we're going to the...
The film begins with some silly titles and a lot of forced narration.  Basically, a jerk is always going to parties and not working, since you can apparently do that in France.  He pulls in one of his friends- a businesswoman- and another woman who is notoriously bad with relationships.  They are out at a club when the latter gets hit on by a man and given an invite to a party.  When the guy finds out about the party- it's a famous one- he does a quick change into a dress.  Wacky and cliche.  They go to the party and find out that it's a star-studded affair.  Amongst the party goers are a famous dentist and the wife of some rich guy that we are never shown.  We get a sub-plot about her ditching her bodyguard, but see how long that lasts.  Our heroes make a new friend at the party and hang out, while the real reason for the party is revealed.  The bodyguard steals a pass and gets into the VIP section where the plan is revealed.  The vampires invited all the people over to be eaten.  That's pretty much the whole plan.  Were you expecting more from a film whose actual title is Night of the Teeth?  The bodyguard is killed by the vampires- see, I told you.  Cue the film's only good Effect...
It still takes a while for the people to figure out that vampires are loose.  One drawn-out sight gag involves the Dentist always missing the guy showing his fangs.  Finally, he sees it when the guy orders a Bloody Mary, only to be told that they have a Bloody Melissa- aka a lady named Melissa- instead.  Start laughing, audience!  Our heroes manage to hide out for a bit while the socialite lady ends up with a weird guy.  They go off to a room to have sex, whereupon he reveals himself to be a werewolf.  Who invited the wrong monster to this movie?!?  Our heroes save her, leading to the second use of a Titanic parody cutaway gag.  They do it one more time, so I hope that you like it.  They find out more about the vampires and why they have the party.  Apparently heads of state sign vampire contracts for power/protection and the book of which is kept in the house.  They steal it because...they were already going to be killed, I guess.  They also establish that most of the vampire rules are in effect, so, naturally, the socialite lady stabs a vampire in the stomach.  Swing and a miss.  Karyo's lead vampire is a bit upset by the situation, but leaves the work to someone else.  Way to make use of your star.
Things don't get better for our heroes as they are continually chased by a gay vampire, a fat vampire and a snobby one.  The guy who loves to daydream reveals himself to be a vampire and makes a move for the film's blond heroine.  This leads to a sword fight between him and the 'invitation giver,' which breaks the Fourth Wall for a single gag.  They do this once- in the Third Act!  Our heroine escapes by blessing the water & immediately leaves the water.  That seems stupid, right.  Our other heroes find a set of magical incantations in the book, leading to a bunch of pointless sight gags that devolve into them just wearing different outfits.  They escape into the daylight as midgets- seriously- and learn the truth about the hidden vampire guy.  He dies when they pull of his toupee, putting an end to his 'I put on tanning cream' trick a la Blade.  All is well, until our hero learns that he was bitten- did he miss it when it happened?- and he freaks out.  Sequel-bait, I guess. The End.
Je ne suis pas rire.  The plot of this movie has potential, but falters in a lot of ways.  The idea of people being trapped in a house full of killer vampires is horror fare.  Where is the humor in that?  Thankfully-or not- this film is very sparse on the whole 'humor' thing.  Seriously, they don't even go for the usual 'horror-comedy' bullshit.  They just have people being killed by vampires and having their blood sucked out, followed by people making quips.  That's so amazingly-awkward.  How can you mix actual horror/drama with unfunny comedy that way?  Had the movie given any legitimately-funny gags, it might be excusable.  As it is, the film is not funny, randomly-bloody and, more importantly, weak.  Our heroes escape with the book and...just kind of leave.  Hell, you only get closure for two out of the three leads.  Do the vampires go after them and retrieve the book?  What are the repercussions for this?  We aren't told.  Instead, they spend time on bits right out of Date Movie like having the blond woman break-dancing or having her fight vampires while listening to her iPod- thrilling.  The bottom line: there are literally dozens of better vampire films you can watch instead.  Take it away, overused sight gag!
 Up next, I bring you the first sequel to Truth or Dare?: A Critical Madness.  I should be upset by it's use of an alternate title, but I have so much more to be mad at.  Stay tuned...

P.S. The 1,200th Post Celebration comes on Friday too.  It's going to be rare and bloody.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Weird Killers: Unearthed (2007)

After Dark, does quality matter?  The After Dark Horror fest has gone through an odd change over the last few years.  Initially, it was a bunch of independent, low-budget horror films that were marketed as being 'too scary for theaters.'  As time has gone by, the people behind it have done almost solely a video market release and gotten more commercial fare.  A movie that is too disturbing for theaters- The Butterfly Effect 3.  Really?!?  So what is today's film about?  A monster.  That's it.  Seriously, there's not much more to it, despite how the film tries to claim otherwise.  Put away your shovels and get out your banner, because this movie has just been...
The film begins with some random death.  Get used to that happening in After Dark Horror Fest releases!  It's at this time that we meet the randomly-assorted cast members of this film.  We have Charlie Murphy as...well, Charlie Murphy.  There's Emmanuelle Vaugier as the town's Sheriff...and the town drunk.  You must be a small town if you can't find anybody else!  There a bunch of other people, but they aren't really worth mentioning.  The Sheriff is called to investigate a series of cattle mutilations.  Damn you, Bryan Danielson (hi, Indy fans)!  The local cattle owner is upset by this series of events, but the Sheriff explains how little money he can get reimbursed per head.  Wow- scintillating dialog!  After some more filler, most of the group ends up in a bar where a monster attacks.  Gee- this feels somewhat familiar.
After some more kills and the like, the film moves to a new location.  Good- you had me worried for a minute.  The group goes to a cave- not so good.  On the plus side, you can barely see the movie's special effects.  On the negative side, you can barely see the movie's special effects.  They run across a mysterious man who seems to know all of the answers.  That fact- along with his weird haircut- make him out to be important.  He explains that the monster was buried in the ground hundreds of years ago and that his family line has always fought to keep the thing at bay.  What is it?  Well, based on the one good look we've gotten at it so far, it appears to be Reptile from Mortal Kombat: Annihilation.  Yeah, that was worth the build-up.
The whole thing boils down to one, stupid plan.  Basically, the only way they can think of to kill the monster is to poison him/herself and get eaten.  It's a little better than that, but not by much.  A bunch of people die- including CHARLIE MUR-PHY- whittling down the cast to the minor stars.  Finally, we learn what the trauma was that drove the Sheriff to drink.  Via flashbacks, we see that she had a failed marriage and a vicious custody fight.  During a scuffle, she accidentally shot her own kid.  In the End, she poisons herself before the creature attacks, causing it to leap away and die.  Hurray?  The End.
What good is a monster that you can't see?  The plot is okay, but doesn't really amount to much.  It's basically two or three horror film cliches thrown together.  People in a far-off place and away from society- check.  Vague monster with a loose origin- check.  Family lineage related to a monster- check.  Other than these random cliches, there is nothing to talk about.  This is the barest of bare-bones horror screenplays with a lot of little things thrown in to look important.  When you put a lot of foil on a broken bike, it's still broken.  This movie is not terrible or anything- it's just kind of 'meh.'  You've seen this movie before and you will see it again.  This movie does nothing to distinguish itself from so many other horror films.  Is it wonder that it's so obscure, given that it came out in 2007?  I don't think so.
Next up, the French strike again.  This time, it's a vampire comedy...with the Russian guy from Goldeneye in it.  Stay tuned...

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Lock Me Up!: Titanic 2

Are you laughing yet?  If so, you're approaching this film entirely the wrong way.  Yes, the people behind Alien vs. Hunter, The Da Vinci Treasure and The Day The Earth Stopped made a serious film.  It's still stupid as hell, but it's meant to be a real drama.  The plot is simple: a rich guy builds a model replica of the Titanic and sends it on the same course the original one went on.  Why?  Because it's the 100th Anniversary, of course.  You couldn't just build a statue or something?  Which 'star who should know better is along for the ride' (an Asylum tradition, of course)?  Bruce Davison, most notable to most people as the Senator from X-Men.  Given the quality of Asylum films featuring character actors named Bruce (i.e. King of the Lost World), things aren't looking good.  Just so you know: this is a 2010 film & there wills be SPOILERS.  Get out your Life Boats II for...
The film begins with some familiar shots of icy mountains in the Arctic Circle.  Yes, they re-used the opening title shot from both Mega-Shark vs. Giant Octopus and 2010: Moby Dick!  The Asylum re-using footage and locations- I'm shocked!  A guy goes surfing on the waves, but a chunk of glacier breaks off and the now-giant wave kills him.  We cut to the ship being sent out to sea, as part of a lavish ceremony.  Of course, we also get some random back-story shoehorned in.  Our heroine used to date the owner of the ship and her father (Davison) is always working.  The latter plot thread seems a bit silly when you consider that he works for the U.S. Government to help avert disasters!  'You missed my Recital to rescue people from a volcano eruption...you jerk!'  The trip goes off without a hitch as Davison is sent out to an iceberg to meet a scientist/plot point.  She's camped out on the iceberg to study how it will break apart soon.  That seems like a bad idea, doesn't it?  Of course, she signed to do an Asylum film, so bad ideas are commonplace for this lady!  Sure enough, the thing comes apart as Davison, the lady and the least lucky helicopter pilot ever flee.  The wave it creates is causing a tsunami...but the boat will be safe.  Unless, of course, it sends icebergs hurtling towards the ship.  Wait- why did I just say that unprovoked?
The ship is full of drama and that's even before the ice hits.  The rich guy wanders around with a quartet of random models.  They are later portrayed as sympathetic characters later, which is an odd thing to do for sure!  Finally, the iceberg hits and the ship starts shaking back and forth.  What's fun to do here?  The extras are either really good runner or trip on the stairs.  Watching the random models suddenly leading people around and giving helpful tips is nice too.  Everything else- meh.  Davison and the scientist spend the whole movie from this point on trying to get to the ship.  Way to use your biggest star as an Act Break between shitty CG effects!  The film makes a point about the ship having plenty of life boats, but this idea goes wrong in two ways.  One- they're life subs...because why not?!?  Two- the ice hits the ship and takes out half of them.  Way to learn from history, you ass-hats!  To make matters worse, another wave is coming...which will kill anyone in the boats.  You can't win for dying!
The film tries to make a lot of drama, but does anyone really care?  They make a big show about saving our heroine's best friend from the lab...but she dies later.  How?  An elevator door closes on her as our heroine tries to, splitting her in half.  The goofy part- the rich guy just walks through right after that with no trouble at all.  They end up trapped in a lower part of the ship with no way out.  Thankfully, Davison is there to save the day by...talking to her on a radio.  He gets them to the Scuba Room- they have one?- and our heroine puts on the only tank remaining.  The others were lost...or something.  The ship's owner has a brilliant plan to let himself freeze in the water, preserving him until he can be rescued.  Yeah, you're going to die.  Davison has his own brilliant plan: go onto the ship and bring her back.  Surprisingly, this works and they swim away before the ship sinks completely and blows up.  Yes, an explosion with that much gas in it is avoidable from so close.  They try to revive the owner, but, big shock, he's dead.  With that dark note, the movie ends with shots of them crying.  No, really.
I can't believe you're serious!  The plot of this movie is so basic that I find it hard to make fun of.  I mean, it's every freaking disaster film ever!  Of course, in Asylum tradition, the plot is stretched past the point of being ridiculous.  We can't have the killer wave alone- so let's have two!  The problem is that this movie is just not as fun as you would think.  I mean- it's freaking Titanic 2!  The stupid, animated film is ridiculous to the point of constant laughter, while The Asylum's film is dull!  How did a bunch of stupid, Italian people (no disrespect) get it 'right,' while you guys got it wrong.  The special effects are a joke- big shock.  Even those are not funny enough to really warrant more than a chuckle though.  The ridiculous events like mega-sharks attacking planes, Moby Dick leaping over a mountain or Tiffany starring in a motion-picture are not here.  You guys continue to find new ways to fail!  Why do I even bother with you?  Oh right- it's just so easy!  If you think that this film will be funny, you're mostly wrong.  If you think that this film will be go- okay, I couldn't even finish that sentence!
Next up, I finally tackle something from the After Dark Horrorfest.  This one features a vague monster, that chick from House of the Dead II and CHARLIE MUR-PHY!  Stay tuned...

Lost in Translation: Don't Look Now

While I found the movie to be very slow, a lot of people love Don't Look Now.  Naturally, this cult-classic has a bizarre, foreign poster to go with it...
It looks like the home of the Care Bears is being assaulted by a pink-faced ghost!  Words fail me, gentlemen.

Up next, what's scarier than a movie with Richard Chamberlain and Sharon Stone?  The foreign poster, of course.  Stay tuned...

Monday, February 21, 2011

Two Years of Mondo Bizarro: The Asylum's Freakshow (2007)

After two years, this is what I get!  One of my favorite films from the 1930s is Tod Browning's Freaks.  The man was on top of the world.  He had just made Dracula for Universal and was given the green-light to do whatever he wanted.  He chose Freaks.  The movie was looked upon badly by many people and was banned in the UK for 30 years!  For a long time, people said 'nobody could ever remake Freaks today!'  That was taken as a challenge in 2007 by a little company known as The Asylum.  Yes, those guys.  They made a film called Freakshow, which claims to have been banned in 43 countries.  Does anyone believe that this film was even released in 43 counties- let alone 3?!?  The plot is basically the same as the first one, save for a few minor tweaks.  By the way, there are no pinheads or bearded ladies here.  I guess one dwarf and a guy with no legs will suffice.  You know that it's going to hurt, so let's just step right in and see the...
So what has changed in this version?
* A group of thugs now work at the circus and concoct a plan to rob the owner, not the dwarf.
* The strongman is not bad in this one.
* There's a corrupt and weak-willed Sheriff character here that serves no purpose.
* The dwarf is not a major character here.  His actual character is not really here, to be honest.
* The new plot of the women seducing the owner is bogged down with a bunch of minor sub-plots, including some woman who feels threatened by her.  It goes nowhere.
* The dinner scene is the same, only not nearly as effective and missing the famous phrase.
* The real tipping point involves a pair of thugs killing a little girl who spots them in the act of a crime.
* All of the guys meet bloody- barely-shown- deaths.  However, that is in contrast to...
* The famous 'Revenge Ending' is maintained, but all of the torture is shown.  In a nearly blood-less film, the finale involves a very-long torture scene!
* Instead of turning her into a 'chicken lady,' they just cut off all of her skin and make her...um, a mummy, I guess.
After over seventy years, things have gotten moldy!  The plot of this movie is mostly the same, but too many changes were put in that ruin it.  I love Freaks, but this is hardly the same film.  The whole 'normal humans are the real freaks' idea is maintained, but handled in such a bad way.  The criminals add nothing and their presence feels forced.  It's like when people suddenly try to explain the reason zombies rise from the grave in a Night of the Living Dead remake.  Oh right- they did that...twice (Night of the Living Dead: 30th Anniversary and Night of the Living Dead 3-D)!  Everything that made the movie interesting is either taken out (the presence of real circus performers) or done in such a way as to make it seem very-forced.  "A pair of corrupt people- too subtle.  A whole gang of them- much better!"  If you want to watch Freaks remade in some way, maybe Freakmaker is better.  I haven't seen it, but it's hard to imagine that it's worse than this uneven, (quite frankly) boring film.
Next up, The Asylum strikes again with a movie whose title sounds goofy as all hell.  Since they hate logic, this film is treated 100% seriously!  Stay tuned...

*By the way, if you're waiting for my review of Shakma- don't hold your breath.  The movie just too 'eh' for me and this was more interesting*

VHS For The Win: Return of the Zombies

Zombies are everywhere and this statement was especially true in the 1980s.  Thanks to George A. Romero and Lucio Fulci, the studios couldn't get enough of them.  Wizard Video was never going to miss out on a trend, so they released this film....
Zombies are floating in space above naked women on boxes?  I don't follow.  Given that this film promises zombie versions of Simba's dad from The Lion King, I'm game!

Next up, what happens when a demon becomes a maniac.  Only one film dares to tell you the result!  Stay tuned...