Saturday, October 31, 2015

Holiday Flix: Tales of Halloween

Put on your suits and your copyright-free George Romero Films, everyone!  Today's Film is Tales of Halloween, a Short Film Compilation for this Season we're in.  What a coincidence!  This Film comes to you from a whole number of Directors- some of whom are pretty notable.  This is an Anthology Film with a super-loose structure too, but it mostly works.  By the end, everything *kind of* connects pretty well, so I guess I can't be too negative.  The basic idea: crazy shit happens on Halloween!  The Segments feature murder, children, more murder, creepy creatures, random Director Cameos and, you guessed it, murder.  These ones are tricky to review when there are more than 4 Segments, but I can make it work.  If you wonder why I haven't done The ABCs of Death Films yet, there is your answer.  Don't worry- their time will come.  In the meantime, enjoy this random collection of spooky stories...
After an intro from Adrienne Barbeau (aping her role in The Fog), we get the first of many Stories.  Let's do this...

In Sweet Tooth, a candy-loving kid is told the story of an evil candy-loving kid.  Is it real though?
In The Night Billy Raised Hell (by Darren Lynn Bousman), a child meets a mysterious man (Barry Bostwick) and chaos ensues!
In Trick, some kids decide to kill some people at home.  What is their motivation?
In The Weak and the Wicked, some kid takes on some bullies with a plan at the back of his mind...
In Grim Grinning Ghost (with a Cameo from Mick Garris), a woman is stalked by a Ghost from her past.
In Ding Dong (by Lucky McKee), we get the tale of a woman who really wants children...but why?
In This Means War (not to be confused with the one where 'Kirk' fights 'Bane'), two rival Haunted House Owners get into conflict.
In Friday the 31st (by Mike Mendez), a prolific Killer runs across something really strange that shakes up his/its routine.
In The Ransom of Rusty Rex (with a Cameo by John Landis), two Criminals kidnap a kid that maybe they shouldn't have...
Finally, in Bad Seed (by Neil Marshall and with a Cameo from Joe Dante), we learn that something at the heart of Halloween can kill you too!

To be fair to the Film, this one does tie it all together pretty well- by making this the least safe Town in the World!  The End.
Fun, but disjointed fare.  There is a tricky nature to Horror Anthology Films.  You need to give each Segment the right amount of time- not too little, not too much.  These kinds of things usually end up with three to four Segments and end up at Feature Length.  Nowadays, we seem to be pushing away from that and squeezing in as much as possible.  While The ABCs of Death have the gimmick of having 26 Segments, this one doesn't.  In spite of that, it has ALOT of Segments!  Are there too many?  Could one or two have been scrapped in favor of evening some of them out?  For me, the answer is 'Yes.'  Grim Grinning Ghost, for example, is just one long (relatively) set-up for a jump scare...and that's it.  Just because you got Lynn Shaye in it means that your Segment is irreplaceable!  The Weak and the Wicked is another example of that- all set-up for one bit.  Neither one of them is necessarily bad, mind you, but they are one note.  Another thing that I could nitpick about is the Film's repetition of certain things that are only creepy/scary once.  In Sweet Tooth, we get a killer kid.  In The Night Billy Raised Hell, we get another one (sort of).  In Trick, we get it again!  It is one thing to have that three times in one Film, but they also happen in order!  Yes, the Stories are different...but they are similar enough to maybe justify mixing up the order.  While I liked This Means War and Friday the 31st, they are both (somewhat) Comedy-Relief Segments...and they follow each other.  I'm just saying, maybe you could make a more perfect Film with a 'less is more' approach and some reshuffling.  While the sum of its parts has issues, the individual Segments do tend to work pretty well and make up for it.  If you need something to watch for your party (or alone), this one is a pretty good choice.  Get in the spirit!
Next up, let me ease you out of your Halloween high with some more Horror.  Why not finally do the one that everyone was so obsessed with earlier this year?  Stay tuned...

Friday, October 30, 2015

New Flix: Deathgasm

Loud, proud and dumb.  Today's Film is Deathgasm and...need I say anymore?  I mean, I'm going to, I need to?  This New Zealand-based Comedy is in the vein of Rock & Roll Nightmare, Black Roses and...well, every John Fasano Film of note.  By the way, Fasano apparently still has a Film in Pre-Production...despite him being dead since 2014.  Good job, IMDB!  From the guy who does Digital Painting for WETA comes a Movie about a Demon-summoning Rock Song.  Makes sense to me!  This one is all sorts of crazy and ridiculous.  Is it good though?  To find out (without SPOILERS), read on...
This dude loves Metal, but his life sucks right now.  Can it get any better?
Well, he manages to form a band called Dethgasm (why no 'A' in the Band Title?) and find a girl he likes.
There is some sort of conspiracy involving this Cult and some magic words...which now is in the hands of, well, guess.
Unfortunately, the magic words on the sheet get turned into a Song that mutates everyone else in Town!
So now the Town is full of Demons and Demon-like Zombies.  On the plus side, they have fashion sense.
Can our heroes be competent, well, heroes?
Or is everyone pretty much doomed?  The Town is 99% Deadite, so...probably not.  The End.
Silly, bloody fun.  This one is pretty clear about what it wants to be.  The Action involves blood vomiting, head explosions and a dildo or two.  Figured it out yet?  As per usual, I won't judge a Movie too badly for being what it wants to be.  It sure is convenient that all of the big Action takes place at night though, right?  The big thing here is whether or not you find the Characters endearing or not.  If you don't, this is pretty much just a dumb, shallow Action Film with lots of wacky moments.  If you give a shit about them, you at least get emotionally-invested in this dumb, shallow Action Film with lots of wacky moments.  The Film is exactly what you expect to get with a Title like Deathgasm.  Is it too much at times?  Sure.  Regardless, it is what it is and it ain't no more.  Be warned- not everyone will take to it like I did.  There may be, well, some side-effects...
Next up, a Holiday Film in time for a Holiday!  Why pick one Story when 10 will do?  Stay uned...

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Rare Flix: He Knows You're Alone

Yeah, but he doesn't have to be so mean about it!  Today's Film is He Knows You're Alone, an obscure 1980's Slasher.  It is only famous for one thing...but let's not SPOIL that just yet.  Those of you who already know, don't shout out the answer.  Patience is a virtue!  The Film is about a bizarre Stalker/Murderer who has a type: soon to be married women.  I get how he finds out their plans in time- by seeing where they go and spying on them-, but how many times has he followed a woman for like a week and realized that she was not planning to get married anytime soon?  Given that he's been at this for years apparently, at least once or twice, right?  When he targets someone new, will this give a Detective with a grudge the chance he finally needs?  To find out, read on...
Late one night, a couple are interrupted by a noise.  What could it be?
Why a Film-within-a-Film Fake-Out, of course!

Our Heroine is watching a Slasher Film...while someone watches her from behind.
At the point of the latest kill in the fake Film (or a real one I didn't recognize), the Stalker stabs her in the back...apparently killing her instantly.

Sorry, Scream 2 (and Scary Movie), but this one beat you by nearly 2 Decades!
After a random cameo by Steve James (of American Ninja fame) and a scene with Paul Gleason, we see our new Heroine going on her daily routine.

She's being followed by this obviously-bad-guy.  How is he so successful at this again?
One of the Sub-Plots involves an amorous Professor and the Heroine's friend.  The former is played by That Guy You Know From Some Film...Only He Was Older in that One.
Alright, so why is this Movie even remembered?  Well, it is the Feature Film Debut (and first Credit on IMDB) of...

Tom Hanks.
After that revelation, can you stand any more suspense?

Well, to be fair, the latter half has some good Suspense, a Head in a Fish Tank and a good Climax.  I say 'Why quit while you're ahead?' though, so...The End.
Honestly, a pretty good experience.  The Film is not super-great and doesn't feel all that unique by today's standards.  What it does that is kind of interesting is tell you who the killer is right off.  It is not something you see in non-Sequels all that much.  This one uses it pretty well by having him keep appearing and letting the suspense build.  Part of me was hoping for a 'Who is the Killer' Story though, to be honest.  It is more Cliche, yes, but it would have given me the chance to actually suspect that Tom Hanks was a Slasher Heavy.  Can you blame me?  Speaking of which, there are 2 things to note.  First, he doesn't appear until about the halfway point and doesn't do a whole lot before disappearing.  The reason for that is #2.  According to the Director, Hanks' character tested so well that they cut his Death Scene from the Film.  Even as a newcomer, he was so likable that he managed to survive a Slasher Film!  Hell, Johnny Depp couldn't pull that off.  Aside from Hanks, this is still a good Film overall.  While nothing special, the Tone is well-maintained and the Film builds nicely.  Aside from a few slow points, it is worth a look.  As a bonus, it may have inspired this one...
Next up, let me cover the next best thing to a *good* Rock & Roll Nightmare Sequel.  Will it rock out or just rock on and on and on?  Stay tuned...

Saturday, October 24, 2015

Poor Bastards of Cinema: Frankenstein Reborn (Part 1)

Doesn't it suck to be a friend?

In Frankenstein Reborn, the Doctor's ex-lover is rebounding from his rejection.  Naturally, she goes to hang out with a friend (who appears to live in David DeCoteau's Beach House Rental)...
While the lady is off taking a bath, her friend decides to turn on some 'Cover Up My Death' Music.  I hear their new Album drops in *AARGH*
Naturally, the Creature shows up and slams her into her glass table.

I'm no Structural Engineer, but I can't imagine that the glass was designed to break that way...
Seriously- her Family should sue.

The moral here: don't befriend Frankenstein's Lover.

As a side note, that was also the Title of a Porn Film...right?

New Flix: Re-Kill

Zombies!  Shooting!  More Zombies!  That's pretty much this Movie.  Today's Film is Re-Kill, a 2015 Horror-Action Film.  From the Director of Wrong Turn 6 and the Writer of Route 6 comes...about what you'd expect.  You shouldn't judge the two of them by just two Films they worked on.  They also gave us House of the Dead 2, Mansquito, Pumpkinhead: Blood Feud and Ninja.  On top of that, the Director's previous Film was about WWII Soldiers fighting Zombies.  This Film is about Present-Day Soldiers fighting range?  After the Zombie Apocalypse, a group of Soldiers is assigned with the important task of re-killing the Zombies- a term I haven't heard since that freaky-ass Japanese Film Stacy.  Sorry, Film- it isn't your fault.  With a Cast that includes a few names that some of you may know, this one still has a chance.  To find out what actually happens, read on...
In the wake of the Zombie Apocalypse (yes, again!), things are so dire that...a Child watches a TV Show explaining the world's situation.  Thanks, C-Exposition!
To give this Film a Plot, she watches...Re-Kill.

Oh great- now I can't decipher Reality from Fantasy.  Help me out, Captain Hero!
Hey look- it is Damodar!

He's a Religious Fanatic who likes to shoot people.  In other words, he is a GOP Candidate!  Hi-oh!
We interrupt this Film to bring you fake Ads from a Company that wants you to bone each other.

Finally, a Horror Film that tries to be CSA: The Confederate States of America.
Oh and now it is Starship Troopers- what with the constant interviewing of the Soldiers.  Hurray!
So, basically, the Re-Kill Team is going around trying to kill all of the Zombies.  That's it.
They attempt to build a Climax with what little Plot they have, but it is pretty much just like the rest of the Film- only in the dark.
Plus there are way more lopsided and awkward angles, since the Film is *somewhat* trying to be Found Footage.

Having said all that, well, no SPOILERS all the same.  The End.
It is what it is, I guess.  Re-Kill doesn't seem to aspire to be much more than a Film about assholes shooting Zombies.  If that it is all you ask for, you'll be happy.  If you want a more interesting Plot and interesting ideas that exists outside of the Film's forced TV narrative, look elsewhere.  The problem for me was that I just kind of grew numb to the idea.  Without the interruption/reprieve of the weird inserts- like the ones telling you Repopulate the World-, this is just angry, unlikable guys shooting growling Zombies.  The Found Footage/Cops-style shooting is kind of interesting, elevating this *slightly* above its Story.  Weirdly though, it is TOO polished at times.  The so-called Show is over-Edited for something that is supposed to be shot quickly by one or two Cameraman and Edited within a very short time-frame to air as a PR piece.  Basically, it is not enough like a Found Footage Film to pretend to be one.  It is like how The Pyramid drops the whole thing indirectly by the Third Act- it is just distracting.  It gives you all of shaky-cam and awkward cutting of a Found Footage Film with none of the so-called immersiveness.  It is kind of the worst of both worlds, I guess.  All in all though, it isn't too bad, but it isn't too good either.  I did like to see all of their fake TV Show listings though...
Next up, an obscure 80s Slasher Film.  I was overdue, right?  Stay tuned...

Thursday, October 22, 2015

New Flix: Cooties (2014)

This is the kind of thing that you want to catch.  Sorry, I had to get that joke out of the way.  Today's Film is Cooties, a 2014 Indie Film that is just now making the rounds.  The Film tells the Story of a strange disease that infects a bunch of children.  The result: Zombie(like) Children!  This one must have been a hard sell, so it is understandable that it took so long to get out.  The Film has an interesting Cast that includes Elijah Wood, Rainn Wilson and Nasim Pedrad.  Unfortunately, it also features Leigh Whannel in yet another Role he clearly Wrote for himself.  Not that I wouldn't do it too...but I sure wish he wouldn't.  It's alright- that doesn't stop the Movie from being good.  To find out how good (with minimal SPOILERS), read on...
In a small Town known for its Chicken, a would-be-Writer (Wood) is starting a new Summer Job.
He is a Substitute Teacher for the Summer Session and runs across some interesting folks- including the Film's Co-Writer on the right.
One girl gets infected by eating some bad chicken and quickly begins to spread the infection!
Soon enough, all of the kids seem to be infected and they want blood.  You know what AC/DC says about that, right?
Now trapped in the School with no way to call out- with their Cell Phones taken earlier by the Vice Principal- what is the group (with Whannell on the left) to do?
The answer may lie in trying to find out what caused the infection.  It sure was nice of Whannell to write this Role for himself as the guy who may know the answers, huh?
As night descends, things don't seem to be getting any better.  Can they get out alive?
Hell, even if they do get out, is the rest of Town any safer?

Incidentally, check out the Posters...
Will our heroes survive or will the adorable monsters finish them off?  To find out...well, you know.
Good, bloddy stuff.  The Film is certainly an odd sell, but it totally worked for me.  While some of the Characters are a bit broad for my liking, I still felt for them.  Wood and Rainn in particular do a good job in their Roles here.  I'm no Teacher, but I can certainly manage to understand the freaky idea of kids suddenly trying to eat my face!  The Premise is a slight variation of a common one, admittedly.  Infected Chicken Nuggets is certainly a new one, that's for sure.  Regardless of the Science, this one had a good balance of Comedy and Horror.  The overall Premise is scary, but they manage to squeeze plenty of laughs out of it.  Kudos for the Saw reference they snuck in there too.  It is a fine line to walk as a Horror-Comedy and fewer do it well than do it wrong.  While this one is not perfect, it is a fun Film that does its Premise proud.  Is there a chance for a Sequel?  Regardless, the lesson is not to be an asshole like this guy...
Next up, another new Film with Zombies.  Should I be worried that the Title reminds me of a crazy-ass Japanese Film?  Stay tuned...