Monday, April 30, 2012

Action Crap: Knock-Off

Are you a fan of over-Edited crap?  If so, I have the film for you.  First, some film back-story.  Tsui Hark is a very accomplished Director from China.  While I'm not a fan of all of his films- I'm looking at you, Vampire Hunters-, they're usually fun.  Like a lot of international Directors, attempts were made to have him become successful in America.  The result- Double Team.  Yeah, that film that stars Jean Claude Van-Damme and Dennis Rodman.  Not content with that amazing failure, he also Directed this movie.  In place of Rodman, there is Rob Schneider.  Rob Schneider- a strong example that some things should remain in the '90s.  How can the guy who made the Once Upon A Time in China films make something like this?  Lots of money and, I'm guessing, threats against his life.  The plot involves knock-off artists in China that get caught up in an international conspiracy.  With too many leads, stupid camera angles and annoying Editing, this one is a serious mess.  To find out how much, read on...
In the intro, a Chinese cop tries to catch some doll smugglers.  After an over-Edited action scene, things go awry and he dives away, a green explosion.  Weird.
 Our heroes are Van-Damme and Schneider.  They sell knock-off clothes and toys.  They get in an over-Edited fight scene involving some random thugs and a Chinese lady cop (Lead #4).
Eventually, Van-Damme learns that Schneider is working for the C.I.A. and they are after some watch batteries..I mean, high-tech McGuffins.
The plot is pretty throw-away at this point.  It's just a bunch of action scenes loosely-tied together.  Nice GTA stunt.
Schneider and another Agent (Lead #5) are captured by the villain behind this whole scheme- Paul Sorvino. Yes, he blew up a giant statue to fake his death...and then reveals his identity before the plot is wrapped up. You should really read Watchmen, fella!
The finale involves the two Chinese heroes vying for attention while the other three take the lion's share of it. Naturally, we get a giant explosion.
However, Sorvino somehow escapes the giant explosion- with seconds to do so- and plans his final assault.

As it turns out, though, our heroes accidentally kill him by pressing a detonator left behind.  No, really.  The End.
Seriously, stop using those stupid camera angles.  This movie is a big, loud mess of a film.  It almost makes you feel dumber for having seen it.  The plot is extremely-basic- bad guys make bombs & good guys stop them- but they try to make it seem like more.  Putting in three extra Leads doesn't help.  Forcing in all sorts of silly, prop comedy doesn't help.  Showing a bullet from the perspective of the gun's barrel definitely doesn't help!  There is at least a dozen of these stupid camera angles that do nothing for the film as a whole.  Does a book seem more interesting if you keep holding it in different ways?  No.  Does a painting look better if you watch constantly spin?  Again, no.  Was any of this necessary?  Hell no!  This whole movie is just a bizarre experiment.  Is it an action movie?  Is it a comedy?  Is it an artistic experiment?  Yes- to all three.  In the end, it is really-annoying at times and really-generic in the rest.  Take us away, pointless camera angle...
Up next, May begins with a good Werewolf movie.  Don't worry- the rest of them will be crap.  Stay tuned...

DOUBLE VHS For the Win: Curse 2

After a week off, it's time to make up for things with a DOUBLE-sized look at some VHS box art.

To be honest with you, I'm not all that familiar with the Curse films.  To be fair, most people probably aren't.  They're a trio of unrelated horror films that share the name, the first featuring Will Wheaton and the third featuring Christopher Lee.

Between them, however, is this film...
Damn- that's a tantalizing box!  You can tell it's a snake- duh- but there's still a lot of mystery there.

Let's up the ante though...
That's certainly a lot sillier and more confusing.  I do still love it though.

Why the giant snake?  Why the hand of that girl from Ringu?  I don't know- but I want to!

Next up, Arnold gets a spotlight in the VHS department.  Will we feel the Heat?  Stay tuned...

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Lock Me Up!: Universal Soldiers

How are you guys not getting sued all the time?  Seriously, they just added an 'S' to the title of an already-existing film!  They would do this again later for The Terminators as well, an early Paul Logan vehicle.  Hey guys, want to check out my new film- Avatars?  It's even better than my last film- The Dark Knights!  In all seriousness, this film is a pretty blatant knock-off of Universal Soldier, no doubt released to coincide with the release of Universal Soldier: Regeneration.  If you didn't see it, don't.  It's mostly a vehicle for some UFC guy I've never heard of, featuring about 20 minutes of Van-Damme and about five of Lundgren.  Is this movie worse?  Well, I did watch all of Regeneration, for better or worse.  This movie- well, it was a chore.  I'll do my best to make the most out of this film for you, but you are warned.  The worst is yet to come, my friends.  To find out what goes horribly, horribly wrong, read on...
For those who don't pretend to understand Latin, this movie appears to be use the 'In Media Res' trope.  Simply put, the film begins in mid-action (for drama) and eventually cuts back to the main story to set it all up.
Yeah, this film doesn't actually do that.  They just skip the intro- which includes the U.S. making zombie soldiers, programming them and them escaping- and tell you what happened.  SHOW, DON'T TELL!!!!
The movie re-uses the vision filter from Alien vs. Hunter, but throw in random computer crap in the corner.  Yea.
That guy who was a terrorist in one Asylum film, a General in another, a random henchman in a third film and a Mexican criminal in a fourth is now a Soldier.  He's got range!  Plus, The Asylum needs new Actors.
In the worst scene, a scientist- played by that guy from Monster and Hillside Cannibals- talks to the group.

However, he's clearly being filmed at a different time of day, his Audio appears to be 'piped in' & he never interacts physically with the group.  Editing- It's a skill....that The Asylum doesn't have.
Want to know what the evil zombie-robot soldiers look like?  They're guys in black jumpsuits and random pads.

To sum it up, the characters are always bickering, the settings are redundant and there's no cool monsters.  Is there a reason to keep watching?
No.  No, there is not.  Not even randomly-introducing that Robot from the credits- weren't they Cyborgs before- is not enough.  The End.
I'd rather *actually* wander around in a field for 90 minutes than watch this movie!  Where should I begin?  This film is full of bland, unlikable characters.  It's rare that a film gives characters almost nothing to define them and can still make them annoying douche-bags.  Congratulations, Asylum!  These guys bicker over their situation, where to go and other random things.  When one of them is wounded and suffering, one of the group ends his pain.  They get mad at him, since they were planning to drag him to a Hospital...or something.  He had a log thrown through his chest- he's freaking dead!  The movie can't even get the tone right, as the Lieutenant is mocked for falling into a trap...and dies seconds later.  It's supposed to be a surprising moment, but it just feels confused.  Oh and guys- the person you bitched at the whole time was right from the very beginning.  Don't ever apologize or anything.  When a film can't even decide whether or not it features Robots or Cyborgs, you can freely skip it.  Next Asylum film- don't skip the Intro because you can't afford to film it!  Take us away, revealing lump on the Lieutenant's shirt.  Rig much?
Next up, one film film for the month of April.  Just because it annoyed my friends- Knock-Off.  Stay tuned...

P.S. The 'Vaguely-Ethnic Guy' is in like five more Asylum films.  That and he runs a Hiking Company.  No, really.

Lock Me Up!: Transmorphers- Fall of Man

Abandon all hope- ye who enter this Prequel!  Seriously, what is the point of this Prequel?  I think it's just for the semi-pun in the title.  In case you need a History lesson, here's a quick one.  Transformers = Transmorphers.  There's a sequel- Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen.  Transmorphers has a sequel now too- Transmorphers: Fall of Man.  See- it sounds like the other movie...if you're squinting and barely-literate.  Any questions?  No?  Good.  On the plus side, this film has Bruce Boxleitner.  On the negative side, it has that guy who Starred in and Directed Titanic II.  If you wanted to see how the world went to shit in the first film, read on...
In the intro, this lady blabs on her cell phone while driving.  After briefly being stopped by Boxleitner's Sheriff, she drives off...only for her phone to turn into a robot and give her a laser lobotomy!
Actor/Director Shane Van Dyke is here playing an Iraq Veteran/Cable Technician.  On the plus side, he didn't Direct this one...unlike Paranormal Entity, Titanic II and The Haunting in Salem.
He realizes something is up when he goes to fix his ex-girlfriend's cable...only for the Satellite Dish to turn into a Robot...and just stand there.  The on a loose schedule.
Finally, the Robots decide to attack...these four people.  Yeah, they're still not aiming all that high just yet.
Our random heroes- including a lady scientist, Boxleitner, Van Dyke and his girlfriend- rush into action at Edwards Air Force Base.  Re-used set from Ballistica- see that bridge?- and Mega-Shark vs. Giant Octopus?  Bonus!
The giant Legion...I mean, original robot has our friend's cornered.  Only the brave sacrifice of Boxleitner- who can suddenly fly Military Helicopters now- saves the day.
Well, that was a short film, but it could have been a lot worse...

Oh yeah, the world has gone to shit in Transmorphers, so this can't be over with.  What a pointless fake-out.
 Our heroes flee from the City, meeting back up with the Mayor who's only appeared once so far.  If you watched Battle OF Los Angeles, you'll recognize these ruins.
In The End, our heroes blow up a plant run by the robots.  The side-effect: the atmosphere is coated in poison gas.  That was your plan, huh?  All is not well, but the humans will fight!  The End.
This is a story for any other time, really.  To be honest, this film was not all that necessary.  For The Asylum, I get it.  Transformers made a lot of money, which probably helped them make a little bit of profit on Transmorphers.  They wouldn't let a cash-cow go un-milked, after all.  As a side-note: why is there no Asylum version of Twilight?  Not that I want to see that, but I can't believe that they're just letting that blockbuster franchise slip by un-ripped-off.  Back to this film...If I must.  I guess they kind of wrote themselves into a corner with the last film, so they had to go this route.  They could have just done like Paranormal Entity and followed it up with 8213: Gacy House...just because.  Instead, they shoe-horned this odd film into the series, which severely lacks drama right from the beginning.  They try to make it work, but we know how this ends.  As a bonus, none of the actors in Transmorphers appear in this film.  It could be that there is some 'vague amount of time-jumping' between the films, but this might have helped.  Hell, the lead guy from Transmorphers in place of Van Dyke would have really made more sense.  Am I asking for too much?  There is the usual amount of cheesy fun to be had here, be it from the acting or the bad CG effects.  Take us away, Base from Mega-Shark...
Next up, The Asylum adds the letter 'S' to a film title- subtle.  Will this film be Universal-ly bad?  Stay tuned...

Friday, April 27, 2012

Lock Me Up!: Battle OF Los Angeles

'Of' is the key word here, folks!  You can't buy subtlety like you get from an Asylum film.  For the record, I liked Battle: Los Angeles.  It was loud and full of explosions, but a good amount of character work and drama was worked into it.  It's not super-awesome, but it's a good film.  This film...not so much.  The film is based more around the original 'Battle of Los Angeles' headline from the 1940s.  If you're not familiar with it..., you're not alone.  Seriously, this is only a marginally-famous thing- mostly to History buffs.  So why build a movie around it?  To avoid lawsuits, obviously.  'We're not ripping-off the famous film release- we're just doing a film about the Historical non-story.'  Who's the big star here?  Why it's Kel, of Keenan and Kell fame.  They were on Nickelodeon.  Keenan, meanwhile, is on Saturday Night Live.  This joke writes itself really.  To find out more about this film, read on...
The movie is pretty similar in certain ways.  For example, Kell plays a guy like Eckhart's.  Nice.
The most important aspect of the film is that the soldiers work together to stop the enemy.
Now here's the stuff that's different....
This guy shows up from the alien ship.  He appears to be a WWII-era pilot lost during the original non-attack.
 ...but he's actually a Robot sent by the aliens.  Yeah, that's logical and not silly in any way.
Speaking of the Aliens, this thing represents the main creature in the Mothership.  That's...just wow.  Mass Effect this is not.
Will our heroes save the day?  Will the world...or, rather, Los Angeles be doomed?  Only time- and the movie- will tell.  The End.
Evil aliens beware- we have the other guy from a Nickelodeon show!  Seriously, this movie is not that good.  The scope is about what you'd expect.  It's an Asylum film, so it's in Los Angeles.  I'd make a joke about them never going somewhere else, but I saw Allan Quartermain and the Temple of Skulls.  That movie was shot in South Africa...and sucked ass.  Anyhow, this film is about Los Angeles being attacked by a stationery spaceship in the center of the city.  This would be notable, if giant robots hadn't already done this in The Day The Earth Stopped.  Hell, a lot of the locations you'll see in this film are also in Transmorphers: Fall of Man, a film I'm covering tomorrow.  Who's surprised?  The film has some odd characters and just makes some odd choices.  One character is a General who gets tossed away from a giant explosion.  He shows up later, however, and is barely-scathed.  A few scenes later, he is blown away by an explosion...and dies.  What was the point of not killing him the first time?!?  There are a bunch of silly moments to enjoy here, provided that you enjoy Asylum films in all of their cheesy non-glory.  What do you think, Random Robot Guy?
Next up, the prequel to a pretty infamous Asylum film.  I'd do that one...but this sounds funnier.  Stay tuned...

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

7x7 Link Award for Me!

Someone else gave me an Award?  Awesome!  Let's get right down to the fun stuff...
Before I can truly accept this JPEG...I mean, award, I must follow through with some qualifications...

One Thing Most People Don't Know About Me...

1. For all of the films I've seen, there are a lot of classics that I haven't seen.  Stuff like Citizen Kane, Casablanca and Blade Runner.  I'm fixing the problem with the latter tonight though...

Links to Pieces that Fit the Following Classifications...

1. Most Beautiful: Fantasia 2000- Probably the classiest film that I've ever covered (at least, not ironically).

2. Most Helpful Piece: Hobgoblins 2- Say what you will, but I bit the bullet for you people.  Not that many of you were probably going to see it, but I made sure that you would NEVER ever want to, no matter how curious you may get.

3. Most Popular Piece: Eternal Evil of Asia- I never would have guessed this!  According to my Page Feature and the Bio-Metrics that the new Blogger has, this post has over 20,000 views.  Damn!  I didn't even think that 20,000 people in America had seen this movie, let alone my review!

4. Most Controversial Piece: Sleepaway Camp/Dead Snow- It's a tie here, but for different reasons.  In regards to Camp, my review and comments about the actress that plays the Aunt in the film got me Spammed with several angry comments.  In regards to Snow, I mislabeled the country of origin a couple of times, leading to some angry corrections.  My bad.

5. Most Surprisingly-Successful- Rumplestiltskin- A rip-off of Leprechaun by the guy who actually made Leprechaun?  A tiny monster riding a motorcycle to 'Get Your Motor Running?'  A film that kills off the annoying-comic relief character very early.  I'm surprised that you all cared.

6. Most Underrated Piece: The Mummy Theme Park- A movie this silly and with this silly title has gotten no comments?  Where were you guys?  This shit is crazy!

7. Most Pride-Worthy Piece- Scanner Cop/Scanner Cop 2- Say what you will, but I love crap like this.  It's ridiculous, fun and silly.  The fact that I've gotten to see both of them and drive up interest for them (no matter how little) makes me feel good.

Pass this Award on...

Given how much we love to hand each other Awards (i'm all for it BTW), I may be double-dipping here.  Here are some Blogs that I want to highlight...

1. Mondo Macabro DVD- This company has given me so many films to review, so this is the least I can do.

2. Atop the Fourth Wall- Linkara mostly does bad comics and not movies, but I do love them too.  As a guy who makes his money doing this (that would be nice), he could always use more traffic.

3. Freaks, Mutants and Monsters- I can never fault a guy for doing what he loves.  If you love drawing monsters, more power to you.  This guy sure does.

4. I Like Horror Movies- I don't know if I'd still be running this site without Carl's help and appreciation.  Plus, there would be no Project Terrible.  In case you don't already have this...

5. Botchamania- I love wrestling, no matter how silly it is.  Leave to one chap in England to make us all remember the silly, silly parts of it.

6. Wopsploitation- Silly name.  Fun blog.  Italians don't get off light here.

7. Horror Dose- I may write long-winded review, but this chap doesn't.  Variety is the spice of life.

Pass on the fun!  Pass on the JPEG!

Lock Me Up (In Pictures)!: 2-Headed Shark Attack

Are you kidding me?  Have we run out of ways to do killer shark movies?  Granted- there are a lot of them. That said, I think that this is kind of the wrong direction.  It's not strange enough that there is a giant shark, but it also has two heads.  I love how the film actually addresses this, but it's a bit like in Raptor Island.  For those who didn't read it, there's a plot point about fooling the Raptors since they have bad eye-sight and see movement.  One character says something along the lines of 'That's true of most Dinosaurs, but not Raptors.'  There's a throw-away line to explain this, but you have a film bringing up it's own Plot Holes for people like me to dissect.  This film never really addresses the whole 'how did a 2-headed Shark grow to adulthood,' but it does bring up the fact that it's odd.  Stop making things so easy, guys!  My point- this is a silly premise.  Can it live up to the hype of The Asylum's more intentionally-laughable films like Mega-Shark vs. Giant Octopus?  To spare you from a lot of SPOILERS, this will be a review in pictures.  To see more, read on...
There's a killer shark.  There's a boat full of Chum...I mean, students.  Charlie O'Connell is their Teacher, so they're clearly doomed anyhow.  Hi, Brooke Hogan!
 ***Sea Cruise...of death.***
 ***Flattering expressions all***
This is the terrifying creature that the film is centered around- react as you will.
 ***Dead Octopus = in-joke?***
 ***Wait- what was I just talking about?***
Will our heroes spring into action or remain entranced by the randomly-size-changing fin?
 ***That's not good...***
What will happen to our plucky heroes?  Will help arrive?  Will sub-par CG effects reign supreme?  Watch the movie to find out.  The End.

Eh, it could be worse.  This movie is pretty hit or miss, usually leaning towards the former.  Don't get me wrong- it's no classic of Cinema.  To The Asylum's credit, they set the bar at just about the right level.  None of these characters are the least bit three-dimensional and most of them just serve to either show skin and/or be killed.  They don't exactly disguise it here.  Is that a good thing or a bad thing?  Depends on how you feel, really.  You don't cast Charlie O'Connell and Carmen Electra if you're going to make 'high art.'  How does the film work as pulp entertainment?  Pretty well.  I can't say that I was always hooked on the story, which sometimes sputters to find direction, but it's functional.  You don't expect me to say that a film by The Asylum is 'great' do you?  There are some fun, cheesy moments mixed in with the melodramatic ones.  There are certainly some head-scratching ones like 'Why do they keep going back to the Atoll when they have working boats?' and 'How exactly did Charlie O'Connell hurt his leg?'  That said, it's a bunch of mostly-good-looking people battling silly-looking CG effects.  If you're in the mood, you can do far worse.  What was I saying again?  I got distracted...
Next up, Aliens attack Los Angeles (since The Asylum films 99.9% of their films there).  Will this film make Aaron Eckhart cry?  Read on...

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Lock Me Up!: Bram Stoker's Way of the Vampire

Are you ready...for a film that's not as good as the other one.  For all the time I spend mocking Asylum films- and it is a lot-, there are some of them that have good moments.  Granted, some of them are great for all the wrong reasons- i.e. The 7 Adventures of Sinbad.  Any film in which a giant, no-eyed Crab attacks someone on the beach is golden.  In terms of actual quality, the best and most accessible is probably Bram Stoker's Dracula's Curse.  It's not great, but it has some good moments and is never dull.  As it turns out, this movie is a bit of an anomaly.  Most of the same cast and crew would appear in King of the Lost World and The Beast of Bray Road, neither of which was as good.  In addition, the film was essentially remade as Wolvesbayne.  That or the film is a sequel...but I don't really know.  Could anyone please clear this up for me?  What's the point of this tangent?  Well, this film came before it, apparently setting up Ghiles' Van Helsing.  By that, of course, I mean that he just also plays Van Helsing here in a film that doesn't set up anything.  Yea?  The plot involves a sad, sappy back-story and some cheap, present day Vampire action.  To see just how disappointing this, read on...
The film begins in the past with Van Helsing going off to kill some Vampires, leaving his wife alone with one of the Vampire hunters.  Dig this 'Day for Night' bullshit!
 Paul Logan has a cameo as Dracula.  Why?  It was his Screen Test for Mega-Piranha and The Terminators.  He dies...and never shows up again.

Yes, Dracula is relegated to a cameo in a film featuring Van Helsing.
In the Present day, the lone surviving vampire from the battle struggles to survive.  She works for a new Dark Prince, but he's weak and sad.
Leave it to some implied, blood-soaked, four-way action to renew his, um, vigor.  Yes, this scene exists.
 Now empowered, he leads the vampires on a random killing spree.  Van Helsing, meanwhile, is a Doctor...under his own name.  Yes, you're not famous and supposedly died 100+ years ago.  Good cover!
Van Helsing raises a small group of Church members to battle the Vampires.  They're pure cannon fodder, so let me just skip to the final fight.
The whole thing boils down to a Chekhov's Gun in the form of Holy Water, which our hero's girlfriend drinks earlier.  Dracula ingests it, weakening him for the kill.  In fact, it does this so much that...
The orange filter on the film suddenly disappears.  Seriously, was that intentional?  If so, I can't imagine why.

One Vampire escapes, leading Van Helsing to remain alive further to kill all of them.  Did I mention that he was Immortal?  Probably should have, huh?  The End.
This bites.  I'm sorry for the bad pun- not really- but I can't help but feel that this movie is being helped back by it's backers.  The Asylum can make good use of their low-budgets at times, making very focused films.  Even when a whole city is under siege in Battle of Los Angeles, you only really see a dozen people.  This film, however, constantly tries to be bigger than what it could be given.  For example, the titles are played over a montage showing that Van Helsing has been battling vampires between the 1890's and Present Day.  Why isn't that a movie?!?  Van Helsing fighting Vampires during WWI.  Van Helsing battling Vampires during the Mexican-American War.  Van Helsing fighting Vampire Hitler.  That plot has only been relegated into a random dream sequence/flashback in Bloodrayne 3.  To the filmmaker's credit, they try to spice the whole thing up with filters and odd flashback scenes.  Ultimately though, these do nothing to distract you from realizing that you're watching a cheap, no frills Vampire film.  Seriously, why is Dracula only in the intro and the plot actually about this True Blood-looking dude?  Take us away, stupid Van Helsing moment...
Next up, a Review in Pictures for an Asylum film with an all-star cast.  Just kidding- it's Brooke Hogan and Charlie O'Connell!  Stay tuned...