An Unmissable Descent into Terror (excuse the pun)
In "The Descent" six girlfriend gather for their yearly caving adventure - only this time, one of the girls has discovered some caves which do not appear on any map - pity for them, as their fun adventure turns into a terrifying fight for their lives as they encounter some deadly sub-human creatures.
So what is so fantastic about "The Descent" then? Well, the acting for a start. All six young women are talented actresses who bring their respective characters to life. Shauna MacDonald plays the troubled Sarah, Natalie Mendoza is the over-achieving Juno, Alex Reid portrays the comely Beth, Saskia Mulder is the lovely Rebecca, and MyAnna Buring plays her sensitive sister, while Nora-Jane No one rounds out the cast as newcomer Holly.
Secondly, the wait. You know something is going to happen, but the film does take a little while for the action and tension to begin. But it does have a sense of morbidness right from the beginning. "The Descent", like many horror films, uses a back story, in this case a tragic event that happened one year earlier to Sarah, which plays an important part throughout the film.
However, what's most memorable about "The Descent" though is the terror that quite literally surrounds the cast when they are in these mysterious new caverns. And it's not just the mysterious sub-human like creatures - but the caverns themselves which prove to be dangerous for the trapped girls. People with claustrophobia should be cautioned before watching this film! The gore is brutal - there's no doubt about that, and as most of the girls, particularly Juno and Sarah, put up great fights against the creatures, the gore - blood, guts, everything - is plentiful - but without being distasteful. Particularly disturbing scenes include when Sarah falls into the pit of blood, the death scene where - I won't name her - is still alive and watching as the creatures begin to eat her, and a climatic and deadly encounter between two of the girls.
"The Descent" combines the best parts of horror films and wraps them all into one tightly produced masterpiece - if the creatures don't get you, the caves certainly will.
Funny man Eddie Murphy tackles a big role in "Norbit" - literally. That is of course Rasputia, an obese woman with a whole lot of attitude. As in previous Eddie Murphy films, multiple roles are played by Murphy. The title-character Norbit, a meek man who gets more than he bargained for when at age 10 he is rescued from bullies by 10 year old Rasputia, and Mr. Wong, Norbit's "father" at the adoption centre.
After giving a quick and often funny insight to Norbit's young life, the film kicks off with Norbit and Rasputia's wedding ceremony, then delves into the complications that arise in their lives as Norbit's childhood sweetheart Kate (Thandie Newton) moves back into the neighbourhood to by the orphanage - which is also what Rasputia's powerful brothers want to do. Norbit also disapproves of Kate's fiancée Deion (Cuba Gooding Jr).
While Norbit is an enjoyable thing, there is an awful lot going on, which is not a bad thing, just a tad distracting at times. The acting is pretty good all-round, especially from Murphy, in all three of his roles. Eddie Griffin is hilarious as Pope Sweet Jesus. Pat Crawford Brown (from "Depserate Housewives") has a small but memorable role, and Laura Ortiz (from the Hilsl Have Eyes remake) has a blink and you'll miss her part.
There may be some who may get offended at "Norbit", perhaps thinking that it makes fun of fat people, but really, Rasputia's weight is hardly made fun at. Rasputia is incredibly funny in a trailer-trash kind of way. Most of the laughs I got came from her, however some of the comedy in "Norbit" is not that funny, but it's still an enjoyable film.
Goes through the motions with a couple of interesting moments
Compared to other horror / slasher films that is. But they're not that bad, and all of them, even this entry, worth a watch. However, tempted viewers should be warned that "I'll Always Know What You Did Last Summer" (aside from being a mouthful) is near to being a carbon copy of the original film in terms of characters and situation.
Interestingly, the film starts out similarly to "Final Destination 3", with a group of friends at a carnival (not as flash as FD3's amusement park though), and things take a turn for the worse when they play a practical joke regarding the legend of the Fisherman, that results in one of their friends getting killed. A year later, the four friends who covered up their own part in their other friends' death, all begin receiving mysterious messages.
Sound familiar? The film is not that bad though. While the characters may not be that likable, they are well acted. Brooke Nevin plays lead character Amber and does a decent job. Hottie David Paetkau plays the hot-headed Colby. Tammy DeVitto is fairly good as Zoe, and Ben Easter, while in a smaller role, probably gives the best performance as one of the many red-hearings, Lance. Clayton Taylor has a small role as the ill-fated P.J. and hottie K.C. Clyde plays Deputy Hafner.
While the back-story of the previous "Summer" films was terribly confusing, it is not explicitly mentioned here, though both films get a small acknowledgment. The somewhat unsurprising revelation in this third installment is rather bland and a let down also. Though some of the deaths were quite gruesome, it would have been best if this franchise was continued with surviving stars of the previous films, Jennifer Love Hewitt, Freddie Prinze Jr and Brandy. However, as mentioned, "I'll Always Know" is not a complete waste of time, it has its moments. Oh yeah, the DVD cover is also terrible, as one the blonde girl at the back barely has a part in the film, David Paetkau should have been on the cover.
Brenda Strong does it again - makes what would otherwise be a rather standard film something highly interesting and watchable. The unsung star of "Desperate Housewives" gets plenty of screen time here as she stars in "Family in Hiding", which is literally about a family in hiding.
Strong plays Carol Peterson, hard-working solo mother who witnesses the murder of a state attorney, and as the murderer and his gang uncover who she is, the FBI place her and her children into the Witness Protection Program. There, the lives of Carol and her children Matt and Alicia are turned upside down as they try to adjust to their new life while the murderer tracks them down.
Strong is, of course, fantastic, and the acting of pretty much everyone else in the film makes it a TV movie of considerably high standards. Brett Dier plays Matt, and I predict that he will go on to have a very prosperous acting career. Elyse Levesque does an admirable job playing Alicia. Christopher Jacot has a small role as Alicia's boyfriend Brian, and Gary Hetherington gives a good performance as the Peterson's handler in the program, Pritchard.
The Peterson family goes through all the emotions and possible scenarios of what one expects someone to go through if they have just bee uprooted from their lives and placed in a new city with new identities while a murderer hunts them down. This is one suspenseful drama with very little wrong with it, other than it is a bit slow in a couple of areas, and at times the production values are a bit low. Other than those minor issues, it is well worth a watch, especially for fans of Brenda Strong.
Banned in New Zealand until recently, and very hard to find despite it's release on DVD, "I Spit on Your Grave" is quite frankly a terrific revenge film - nothing more. Sure, there is some rather violent, offensive and terrifying material in the film, but as a whole, the film serves up a great revenge story.
I think it is some of that violent, offensive and terrifying material that has made "I Spit on Your Grave" such an infamous film, and one of the 1980's 'Video Nasties'. Also the title "I Spit on Your Grave" is rather offensive in itself. The alternative title, "Day of the Woman" is so much more empowering though, but both fit in well with the nature of the film.
"I Spit on Your Grave" tells the story of Jennifer Hill (Camille Keaton) a writer from New York who goes on vacation to an isolate town, where she resides in an even more isolated holiday home. There, four men attack and rape her at different times during the day (but in each time as a group). The men believe they kill her after the final assault, but the man who was supposed to kill her could not. Jennifer spends a short time recovering from the highly traumatic ordeal, before hunting the men down one by one and brutally slaughtering them without remorse - and why should she have remorse? They showed her none.
There's no denying that the death scenes aren't brutal, because they are. As is the rape. Nothing graphic is shown, except for the terror on Jennifer's face, which Keaton portrays well. What is strange however is how quickly it takes her to get over her ordeal and hunt down the men. I'm no expert in rape, and I'm sure everyone deals with rape in their own way, but she seems to recover rather quickly, though there is a comment from one of the men about time lapse, however it is not very clear.
The actors who play the men - Eron Tabor (Johnny), Richard Pace (Matthew), Anthony Nichols (Stanley) and Gunter Kleemann (Andy) all do great jobs. Each of them has a distinct personality from the other, though they pretty much all have the same attitude towards women and possibly life in general. What seems strange is how none of the four men have done any other films, and Camille Keaton's movie career never really amounted to much either - is there some sort of Hollywood rule that people associated with this film cannot appear in others or something?
If that is so, then it's quite sad, as "I Spit on Your Grave" is in the confines of itself and its genre, quite a decent film. Personal opinion can really only dictate that though, and to have an opinion of the film one really needs to watch it for themselves.
What seems to be a sort-of follow up to 2004's "The Hillside Strangler", in this one, "Rampage: The Hillside Strangler Murders" begins with the suspected Strangler, Kenneth Bianchi (Clifton Collins Jr.) captured and brought in for questioning from Dr. Samathan Stone (Brittany Daniel). The film tells the story of Dr. Samantha Stone and what she goes through during her time on the Strangler case. Not only does she deal with sexism from male detectives, but an abusive boyfriend, and of course Kenneth Bianchi and the is-he-or-isn't-he question that she must ask herself. Her only confidant is a former friend, the District Attorny Jillian Dunne (Lake Bell).
"Rampage" is an interesting film: Fantastic performances from Clifton Collins Jr. as Kenneth Bianchi, and the lovely Lake Bell is terrific as Jillian Dune. However it is almost hard to take Brittany Daniel seriously as a psych doctor, though she gives an admirable performance. Some of the camera techniques are very unusual, particularly at the drug-using party scenes. They add something to the film to liven it up I suppose, which is needed, because the film plods at times, and the pacing seems a little off - the first interrogation for example was far too long. The 70's outfits are fantastic though. The standout performance is obviously Clifton Collins Jr., and the way he pulls of the "personalities" of the Strangler are worth watching this film for, even if it is unfortunately disappointing.
Originally believing "House 2: The Second Story" to be along the lines of the rest of the "House" franchise, what I thought was a horror franchise, my main reason for watching it was because one of my favourite actresses, the glamorous Lar Park-Lincoln was starring in it. How wrong I was. Park-Lincoln does not "star" in the film, she merely "features", and in a variety of fabulous eighties outfits I must add.
"House 2: The Second Story" revolves around the bizarre adventures that Jesse (Arye Gross) and his friends have in a strange house when he inherits it following the deaths of his birth parents some years ago. The adventures are all out-of-this-world and and an unusual array of creatures feature. Lar Park-Lincoln plays Jesse's girlfriend, the sultry Kate, and as usual Lar gives a great performance (with what little she has to do) before she is written out along with Amy Yasbeck, who plays Jana, the girlfriend of Charlie (Jonathan Stark), Jesse's bumbling friend. The late Royal Dano plays Jesse's long-dead great-grandfather, and John Ratzenberger gives a terrific, albeit brief, performance as Bill the electrician.
Even though "House 2" is rather campy, plodding and certainly not a horror, it is watchable, if not for Park-Lincoln's brief appearance, or the decent acting of Arye Gross, then for the great puppetry and special effects, which were actually quite good for the late 1980's. And, hey, we all live a bit of Fantasy don't we?
Another Outstanding Performance from Dee Wallace-Stone
Dee Wallace-Stone, at the height of her career (after performances in the original "Hills Have Eyes", "E.T" and "The Howling", gives another outstanding performance in the film adaptation of Stephen King's chilling novel, "Cujo". Wallace-Stone plays an original desperate housewife, Donna Trenton, who, somewhat neglected by her husband Vic (Daniel Hugh-Kelly) has an affair with family friend Steve Kemp (played by Christopher Stone - the "Stone" in "Wallace-Stone", who sadly died some time ago).
Wallace-Stone once again plays a loving mother, though this time, thanks to her affair, is somewhat distant from her son Tad (child actor Danny Pintauro), but later in the film, their relationship is defined well when they both go through a harrowing performance with the infamous "Cujo".
Strangely for a horror movie (but not unwelcome), and certainly not untypical of a Stephen King adaption, most of what goes on during the film is rather mundane, just the day-to-day life of the Trentons, which makes for interesting drama in itself. It's not until Donna and Tad become trapped in a car (for reasons that I won't go into), things really start to heat up, as the dog Cujo, riddled with rabies, tries many attempts to get into the car and attack the mother and son.
The time where the Trenton's are trapped in the car is done very well, and they seem to go through everything one would expect from someone in their situation. Both Wallace-Stone and a young Pintauro do remarkably well in these scenes.
"Cujo" does fit into the horror genre as the "rabid-dog" concept seems to fit there well, however the film evoked terror more than horror, as the performances were so real, and the situation, while unlikely, is not highly improbable. So don't watch this expecting a crazed dog savaging anyone and everyone throughout the whole film, watch it and enjoy the great acting from Wallace-Stone, the tense drama and frightening scenes.
"Little Miss Sunshine" is a fabulous feel-good comedy of a different kind - it is terribly dark, and at times depressing, but makes no apology for it, and it doesn't need to either. The film revolves around a more-than-slightly dysfunctional family who, all with their own subplots, travels to the Little Miss Sunshine Beauty Pagent so that young Olive can enter, and along the way learn a thing or two about each other, and what it means to be part of a family.
The always-excellent Greg Kinnear plays father Richard, a man who means well, but sometimes fails to get across what he means, except of course when it comes to being a winner, as he has a 9-step program so that anyone can find the winner in themselves. However, his attempts to get people to purchase the program have been unsuccessful, causing strain with his wife, Sheryl who is played by the wonderful Toni Collette. Along the way to the Beauty Pagent, they are faced with a marital crisis.
Their marriage is under strain also thanks to Sheryl's suicidal brother Frank (Steve Carrell) who happens to be depressed, and while despite being a genius, cannot sort out his love life, which he practically re-encounters on their journey. Alan Arkin plays Richard's cocaine-addict father, who has been mentoring Olive in her quest to be in the Little Miss Sunshine, which have unexpected results at the pageant itself.
Paul Dano gives a compelling performance as Olive's brother Dwayne who has taken a vow of silence (yes, he is silent for the majority of the film), though he too learns something about himself on their journey and is forced to speak out. Despite fantastic performances from Collette and Kinnear, it is Abigail Breslin who steals the film as Olive. She lightens up the most depressing scenes and is utterly convincing in her innocence.
At times it may feel like "Little Miss Sunshine" is going nowhere, but it is a brilliant showcase of talent and story, which comes to a grand climax at the Little Miss Sunshine pageant, where you can't help but feel sorry for Olive, even though she may not know why anyone would need to feel sorry for her.
"Wilderness" is a fantastic film about several teens struggle for survival as they are hunted down by a at-first mysterious killer on a remote island where they have been taken to lean a different kind of lesson. You see, these teens are a group of young inmates at a prison / detention center for young offenders and after one of their cell-mates is found dead, their warden is forced to take them to this island to learn a thing or too. Instead, they end up fighting for their lives.
On the island though, the boys run into 2 girls and their own warden from another detention center. Neither of the two wardens are very happy about each other's group being there, but when one of the boys is found dead, they band together to fight for survival. Naturally, the two wardens are taken out by the killer first, so the kids, despite many of them disliking each other, constantly backstabbing each other and trying to out-do one another, must find a way to work together to stay alive.
"Wilderness" is a terrific premise, with an amazing sense of realism to it. The acting is fantastic, particularly from Toby Kebbell (Callum), Stephen Wight (Steve), Lenora Crichlow (Mandy) and Alex Reid (Louise). The deaths happen at appropriate times, and yes, they are gruesome and sometimes disturbing. The killer also has a pack of crazed dogs which he terrorises the teens with. It becomes obvious to both the teens and the audience who killer is, what his motif is, a standard fare in horror movies.
"Wilderness" is gripping and fast paced. I was glued to the screen for the entire film following the teens, working out who was trying to deceive who, and delving into the complex relationships with each other. The only disappointing part, which is quite minor, is that although the warden mentions what the kids are in prison for, you don't know who is in for what. The teens that survived are the ones that should have in my opinion.
Overall, a highly recommended horror which is fast paced, full of unusual characters, nasty deaths and a true struggle for survival.
"Caved In" features several 'name' actors who are unfortunately reduced to acting in such a by-the-books film. Christopher Atkins and Angela Featherstone play husband and wife John and Samantha Palmer who, along with their 2 children work as guides of some sort (I don't recall is being specifically stated what they do other than take people around strange places).
Instead of going on a family vacation, John Palmer accepts on offer of a lot of money to take some less-than-respectable people into some ancient caverns to hunt for a tomb full of emeralds. So he does, while his family are left to explore above-ground. Naturally, things get out of hand in the old tunnels when giant (CGI) beetles begin attacking, and one-by-one the bad guys all begin to get killed off, or double crossed. The bugs begin making their way to the surface, putting Palmer's family in even more danger.
The acting is not too bad, well, it shouldn't be considering who some of the cast are. Christopher Atkins and Angela Featherstone both give decent performances, but poor Colm Meany, formerly of "Star Trek" fame is reduced to little in his role here. Monica Dean and David Palffy are fairly good in their roles as criminals, though one of them has a heart. Chelan Simmons spends the entire movie being unlivable annoying and / or running around screaming. It's a good thing her acting ability also improves for her next film "Final Destination 3".
Sci-Fi and Horror are combined often for films ("Event Horizon", "Alien") but do not always work well together. This is one of those cases where it's really personal preference, as the film lacks a lot of things, but it is not without trying.
"Fragile" is not like other films in the 'ghost' sub-genre of horror films. To begin with, it is much quieter than other ghost films, with the pacing rather slow, even plodding at some points, which is quite unfortunate, because it becomes boring at times. And like many other ghost films, the subject of the past is a major focus point.
Set in a children's hospital that is about to be closed down, Callista Flockhart plays Amy who accepts a job at the hospital in its final days, where she cares for the remaining eight children, and bonds with one of them in particular. Amy's past also becomes a focus point during the film, though unfortunately it is not delved into enough, as she is a rather interesting character.
Strange things begin happening at the hospital as the children prepare to be transfered to their new hospital, so Amy and the other staff must uncover the hospital's deadly secret - which the children all seem to be aware of.
"Fragile" brings an interesting cast together. Callista Flockhart does a good job of playing the troubled Amy, though as mentioned before, a little more delving into her past would have been nice. Gemma Jones plays Mrs. Folder, a senior staff member of the hospital, and gives a terrific performance. Richard Roxburgh is wasted as Robert, one of the remaining Doctors, and Elena Anaya gives a very eager performance of Helen, another of the Nurses. Yasmin Murphy plays the girl that Amy bonds with, Maggie, and she gives a rather decent performance.
However, the characters themselves are not that well developed. We are given glimpses of their motivations, but that's about it, which is rather disappointing. Another let down is the terrible lighting which plagues almost the entire movie, and the rather vague ending. But there are far worse ways of spending 90-odd minutes than watching the aptly-named "Fragile".
The tagline 'Good Cop. Great Criminal' perfectly describes "Stander" the action-thriller based on real life events that took place in South Africa in the late 70's and 80's.
Disillusioned with the way the police force operates (in terms of the police always being available to investigate crimes involving black people, but not white people), Andre Stander, a respected and brilliant police officer began a life of crime, similar to that of Robin Hood, whereby he began robbing banks very effectively, and he gave the stolen money to needy African people. Of course eventually he was found out, and sentenced to many years in prison.
While in prison though he forms a bond with two others - Allan Heyl and Lee McCall - and after breaking out of prison they return to robbing banks and keeping the police force always one step ahead. However, a series of events leads to a tragic and bitter end for the members of the 'Stander Gang'.
"Stander" is an amazing film that brings to life the injustice suffered by many Africans in South Africa, but the racism can be applied to any country in the world, where a police force is not entirely fair and just.
The handsome Tom Jane is perfect as Andre Stander. Charming, compassionate and determined, he plays the role with strength and conviction. He also appears naked several times early in the film which may please some of his fans. The beautiful Deborah Kara Unger gives another amazing performance as Stander's sympathetic wife Bekkie, who also meets a tragic end though this is not shown on screen. David O'Hara and Dexter Fletcher play Allan Hely and Lee McCall respectively, Stander's prison mates and later partners.
Tom Jane and Deborah Kara Unger also perfect a South African accent, not at all making it come across as forced or fake. Great direction from Bronwen Hughes and some gripping storytelling from the writer Bima Slagg. Overall, and fantastic film that not only gives a history lesson, but a compelling and wonderful story. Well done to all those involved.
Leslie Nielsen heads a talented cast in the first "Naked Gun" film. He stars as Lt. Frank Drebin, and his bumbling pursuit of a criminal mastermind serves as the main plot in "The Naked Gun". Along the way he must also act as security for the Queen of England who is making a visit, which allows for more hilarious antics from one of the most funny actors in Hollywood.
Nielsen is supported by a great cast including Priscilla Presley as his love interest Jane Spencer (the scene where they have "safe sex" is perhaps one of the funniest scenes I have ever seen in a movie), Ricardo Montalban as the villainous Vincent Ludwig, George Kennedy as Drebin's kind-hearted superior Captain Ed Hocken, and Nancy Marchand who is terrific as the dismissive Mayor Barkley.
"The Naked Gun" is not just a straight-comedy, there are literally countless spoofs littered throughout the film, as well as plenty of remarks on society. Aside from the "safe sex" scene other highly amusing scenes include Drebin and a learner driver, O.J. Simpsons blundered attack on some crooks, and Drebin destroying a valuable collection of artwork and statues.
The main problem with the film though is that it seems to have aged. Several of the social context related jokes and themes seem lost in today's society, but were no doubt effective in their time. Being only 4 years old when the film was originally released it is a bit hard to remember though. Overall, an entertaining and enjoyable film.
"Fat Pizza" showcases some of the great comedic talent that Australia has. While the comedian may not be in the league of those from "Fast Forward" and "Kath & Kim" they certainly know how to entertain - even though it is often crude and politically incorrect.
The film revolves around the workers of a less-than-stellar pizza parlour and the various antics that they get up to, all with hilarious results. Highlights include the owner of the pizza parlour's mail-order bride, an opposition pizza parlour, the sex-crazed Rocky, and Pauly's animal attack.
The actors / comedians all do a good job - Paul French, Paul Nakad, John Boxer, Tahir Bilgic, Jabba, Rob Shehadie, Jo Jo Yee and Maria Venuti are all of note. A warning though, some of the stuff in "Fat Pizza" is just plain gross. Their pizza's may be bigger and cheesier, but that can also be hard to swallow.
After eagerly awaiting to see this back-water horror, I am somewhat disappointed, as it did not live up to my expectations, nor the hype surrounding it. It is easy enough to see why so many people herald "Slither", but over-all, it is not the masterpiece people claim it to be, simply because it seems to lack a sense of "fullness".
That's not to say "Slither" is a bad movie, it was enjoyable to an extent. Somewhat over-acted, the cast mostly do a good job. Nathan Fillion is good as Bill Pardy, Gregg Henry is fine as the rather annoying Mayor MacReady, Michael Rooker is hilarious as the tragic Grant Grant, scene-stealing Jenna Fischer is terrific as Shelby, but it is Elizabeth Banks who deserves the most praise as Starla Grant. Banks carries the film and is certainly the most interesting of the characters - another problem the film has is that the majority of the characters are rather uninteresting and you simply to not care for them.
There are countless gross-out moments throughout the film, but nothing really horrifying, so it is hard to class "Slither" as a horror, even though it is supposed to be a modern telling of the old 70's horrors of this type. For that reason, there are also a lot of funny moments (sometimes associated with the gross moments I should point out), but just to prove that the film is not totally without compassion, Bill and Starla's stories are very human and compelling, touching to a point, and rather sad.
While "Slither" may not have been what I expected, there are certainly many worse films around, and it is still worth a watch.
Unaware that this is a French film, I liked the sound of the premise, so when I put the DVD on was (pleasantly) surprised that it was in French, makes an interesting differentiation from the usual U.S. films of the genre.
"Sheitan" begins similarly to "Wolf Creek" in terms of a group of young adults just doing ordinary things, before the terror is unleashed upon them, so for some time it does not seem as though you are watching a horror / thriller - even though you know you are.
The film switches between ordinary (men and women wanting to hook up with each other), to plan bizarre (the arrival and subsequent "adventures" in the small town) to the shocking (everything that follows). Seriously, some of it is so absurd and it feels totally original.
The acting is very good. Vincent Cassel is unrecognisable as the creepy Joseph. Hottie Oliver Bartelemy is terrific as Bart, Roxane Mesquida is great as Eve, as is Leila Bekhti as Yasmine, and Nico Le Phat Tan as Thai and Ladj Ly as Ladj.
Some of the phrases that the young adults say seem a bit strange, but I don't know if that is because of poor translation (I can't speak French), but it did become a bit distracting at some points. Overall though, an odd, disturbing and highly entertaining film.
"Beneath Still Waters" has an interesting premise, but fails miserably on all levels, making it in effect, terribly boring. While the three leads give decent attempts of depicting characters you care about, their attempts do not pay off. The story plods along at an unbelievably slow pace, and the film is plagued by a terrible score and bad computer generated images. "Beneath Still Waters", with its misleading tag-line of 'Fear Rises' should not even be classified as a horror (or b-grade horror) because it is simply not scary. Oh, and the film is majorly distracting because there are an unbelievable amount of different accents in the film when really there is no need for that many.
"Shark Attack 2" continues the trend of crazed / mutant / deformed animals attacking humans in the horror sub-genre. A sub-genre that never really seems to produce anything decent - there are a few exceptions of course, like Megalodon: Shark Attack 3 (am I joking?) but Shark Attack 2 is pretty awful.
When a great white shark kills Samantha Peterson's (Nikita Ager) sister, Michael Fancisco (Danny Keogh) the owner of a new aquarium / amusement park wants it captured and put on display. Dr. Nick Harris (hottie Thorsten Kaye) knows that it is a bad idea, but does as his employer requests, which only leads to another series of people killed by sharks - sharks that now swim in a group (oh, and they roar). Nick and Samantha have a romance that blossom and are joined on their shark hunt by Roy Bishop (Daniel Alexander), an Australian animal documentary maker.
The acting is decent enough for this kind of movie from Kaye, Ager and Alexander, but the film is quite clearly of low production values and over all not that exciting. It's also plagued by a terrible score and a couple of painful songs, and as with Shark Attack 3, plenty of ancient stock shark footage from documentaries is inserted throughout the film and none of the killings are graphic. It's a shame Kaye didn't get to wear his wetsuit a bit more - that would have made the movie a lot more exciting.
"Last Exit" is a fantastic little film that details the events of a day in the life of two very different women, whose days become inexplicably intertwined simply because of a little bit of road rage. Kathleen Robertson plays Beth Welland, a lovely young woman raising a son who is in a wheelchair, and dealing with the pressures of every day life. Andrea Roth is Diana Burke, a well-to-do woman with troubled teens and a distant husband, though she seems to be doing good for herself at work, until this fateful day.
Kathleen Robertson proves that she is a fantastic actress with the complex Beth, such an amazing performance. Andrea Roth also gives a great performance. Supporting them are Linden Ashby as Diana's husband Scott, Ben Baas, giving an amazing performance as David the father of Beth's son, and Noah Bernett, who plays Beth's son.
"Last Exit" may be a TV movie, but it doesn't seem like it, far exceeding the usual formula of tele-movies, and featuring a great story-telling sequence, with the shocking climax being shown at the beginning - then flashing back, because the events that take place during these women's day are so interesting, you're compelled to watch.
I think not only drivers (especially reckless ones) can benefit from watching "Last Exit", but almost everyone, for while driving is a major part of the film, the real-life issues and dilemmas the women face can be applied to almost anyones life. Well done to all involved.
Pre-dating what is generally considered the ultimate Slasher film by several years - the original "Halloween" - "Black Christmas" is a highly-underrated, and amazing horror-slasher flick which would set the standard for practically every slasher film to follow - from the ringing telephones, the 'don't go upstairs', re-hearings and of course a strong female lead.
"Black Christmas'" strong female lead is the equally underrated Olivia Hussey, whose fantastic accent is a special bonus to her calm and sympathetic character Jessica. While the majority of slasher films all feature a female lead (though there are exceptions like "A Nightmare on Elm Street 2", "Prom Night 3: The Last Kiss" and "Friday the 13th VI: Jason Lives" which all have a male lead) not every female lead is as terrific as Hussey's Jessica. (Exceptions being Neve Campbell's Sidney from the "Scream" Trilogy, Heather Langenkamp's Nancy from "A Nightmare on Elm Street", Lar Park-Lincoln's Tina from "Friday the 13th VII: The New Blood" and of course Jaime Lee Curtis' Laurie from various "Halloween").
Jessica's resourcefulness, and cool personality makes her a character that you really care about, and the fact that she has various real life stories going on (abortion for example - something I don't think has been featured in a slasher since "Black Christmas") makes her a very likable character. The majority of the characters in "Black Christmas" are actually very realistic and likable. Margot Kidder's Barbie provides a lot of the comic relief, but has the most tragic death also. Andrea Martin is excellent as frizzy-haired (though its nice frizzy-hair) Phyllis. John Saxon is always great in his performances, and his role as Lt. Fuller is no exception. Keir Duller does a good job of playing perhaps the most unlikeable, but very realistic, Peter, Jessica's over-bearing and high-strung boyfriend. Marian Waldman is a riot as the house-mother for the sorority girls, Mrs. Mac.
The plot, pacing and general story is probably nothing new to anyone who has seen "Scream" or "Halloween", as previously mentioned, many slashers take a least a note or two from "Black Christmas", which does everything splendidly. Great direction, interesting camera angles, a couple of good jump scenes, and then there's the telephone calls...perhaps one of the most disturbing things in all slasher movies.
So overall, "Black Christmas" is an amazing slasher-horror film, setting the stage for a myriad of followers over the years, but thirty years later, does not seem out-dated or cheesy. Sure, there's not a lot of gore, but that's not necessarily a bad thing. And for the pre-cursor to the likes of "Halloween" and "Scream" to be this good, then it's certainly worth a watch, even if just to watch for all the things in the film that will eventually become standard conventions in slasher films.
In the height of the Reign of the Slasher film, "Silent Night, Deadly Night" (like the far superior "Friday the 13th" and "Halloween" series) mixes horror with a theme, this time, Christmas. Taking place of three periods in time, the film follows Billy Chapman and the horrific events that he witnessed on Christmas as a child - the murder of his parents by a man dressed up as Santa Claus.
Naturally, this disturbed young Billy who (along with his younger brother Ricky) was placed in an orphanage, run by the cold Mother Superior, where each Christmas he gets understandably upset. When Billy reaches 18, he gets a job working in a store, but at Christmas time Billy starts to get a little ax-happy, killing anyone who he sees doing anything naughty - usually involving sex, for years or child hood trauma had disturbed him so much, Billy was told people who do naughty things get punished, so now he was the punisher.
Production values aren't that bad, but the acting is rather mediocre. Lilyan Chauvin is quite good as the wicked Mother Superior, but hottie Robert Brian Wilson, as Billy gives the standout performance. The music is utterly awful, not just because there are Chrismas Carrols littered all throughout the film, but the score is annoying, and the one proper song shoved in is just as bad. Being the 1980's and during the Reign of the Slasher, naturally there is plenty of sex and bare breasts.
"Silent Night, Deadly Night" is a fairly good film that could have been explored a little further, it just didn't seem to hit the mark in terms of addressing the story on more than a couple of levels. There were some decent and interesting death scenes though. It's certainly not the worst slasher film around, and is followed by one rather dull sequel and three semi-unrelated sequels which have yet to be released on DVD.
Whoever said this was the worst Star Trek film is so wrong!
In my personal opinion, and as an avid Next Generation fan, without a doubt "Insurrection" is one of the best Star Trek films, and the third outing for Picard, Riker, Deanna and the rest of the Next Generation crew stays most true to their esteemed television series. This time round, the crew are faced with a violation of the Prime Directive and whether or not the 600 people who live on a literal planet-of-youth are more important than the millions of other people that could benefit from the planet's regenerative powers. Action, drama, comedy and romance follow in true Star Trek spectacular.
As always Patrick Stewart is in top form as Captain Picard who leads the Star Trek resistance to save the innocents from one of his own corrupt superiors Vice Admiral Dougherty (played terrifically by Anthony Zerbe) who are involved with some aliens (including F. Murray Abraham's Ad'har). Along the way Picard finds a new friend in Anij (played by the lovely Donna Murphy), one of the Ba'ku, and a little romance follows.
Jonathan Frakes once again directs and does an outstanding job, though it does mean his character Commander Riker gets a bit less screen time, though he is always a pleasure to watch. Riker's relationship with Commander / Counsellor Deanna Troi heats up in this film (and it's about time too!) Marina Sirtis of course returns as the lovely Troi and gets a fairly good amount of screen time this time round, and certainly most of the comical moments. Frakes and Sirtis have great chemistry together.
Brent Spinter's Data gets (as usual) too much screen time, again his story consists of his quest to become more human and the like, though he does befriend a Ba'ku child which was done quite well. As usual Gates McFadden (Dr. Beverly Crusher), Michael Dorn (Lt. Commander Worf) and LeVar Burton (Lt. Commander LaForge) are given very little to do in the Star Trek films, and this one is no exception, though at least Worf and LaForge got their own small story lines - Worf had to go through puberty again and LaForge found himself with the ability to see. Beverly however only gets a "storyline" involving her boobs firming up. Terrific. Poor Gates must be the most under-appreciated actress in all of Star Trek, but also the most gracious for returning each time.
The special effects of "Star Trek: Insurrection" are above average, and the music score is really well done. Often its the small moments in the Next Generation films that are the best, and this one is no different, but at least the big moments are good too. I think the "Star Trek the Next Generation" films are probably the only action-type films in which the heroes are all (with the exception of Marina Sirtis) in their 50's and people still want to watch them. Quite interesting too that a main theme of the movie was the eternal youth. At least when the sad time comes that the Next Generation cast are no longer alive, they will be immortalised in history by their much loved characters and beautiful stories, just like "Insurrection".
...But, Jesse Metcalfe is still hot. Shame about his limited acting ability though, as the infamous John Tucker was simply a more confident version of his "Desperate Housewives" character John Rowland, but nevertheless, Metcalfe seems to enjoy his characters, and certainly makes them come to life. In the case of "John Tucker must Die", Metcalfe's John Tucker is the most popular guy in school and a total player, cheating on three girls from different social circles, who were never meant to find out - until they unexpectedly had gym class together.
The three girls being Ashanti's bitchy cheerleader Heather, Arielle Kebbel's smart hard working Carrie, and Sophia Bush's semi-reject, semi-slutty Beth. The girls all dislike each other very much and argue about who Tucker likes the most, but new girl Kate (played by the lovely Brittany Snow) points out to the girls that instead of fighting each other, they should be uniting to get revenge on the guy that has lied to them all - and thus begins the four girls attempting to bring down John Tucker.
"John Tucker Must Die" is strictly formulaic in terms of teen-comedies in that situations do not go as planned for the girls, causing Tucker to become even more popular (if that is at all humanly possible). Throw into the mix Kate's inexperience when it comes to guys, being caught between John Tucker and the affections of his brother 'the Other Tucker' Scott (Penn Badgley), and her mother (played very well by Jenny McCarthy) who has a lot of man problems herself.
"John Tucker Must Die" is a highly-likable film in terms of some funny moments, a fairly decent cast, a cool soundtrack and things move at a steady pace, but the main problem is that just when some morals are going to be dished out at the end of the film, something happens and the morals are not told. Which is a big shame, because for the target-audience of this film, they could really use some good morals being dished out to them. Nevertheless, "John Tucker Must Die" is an all-round enjoyable film. Oh - and Ashanti can act, but be warned - her fabulous hair often takes up most of the screen and at times over powers her performance. But she has great hair so that's okay.
Everyone goes on about it, "The Line". It came out of no where, totally unexpected, but totally effective, for a variety of reasons. Just like the massive 60 foot shark that came out of no where also. Although, that wasn't so effective.
"Shark Attack 3: Megalodon" has it all. Giant sharks that roar, a hot male lead, a Z-grade actress unlike any other, voice overs, nudity, blood, footage lifted straight from ancient documentaries and inserted at various points into the film, terrible CGI, and of course "The Line".
"Megalodon" tells the story of cute patrol man Ben Carpenter (hottie John Barrowman) who discovers a giant shark's tooth near the resort where he works. Unsure of what kind of shark it belongs to as the tooth is rather unusual, he posts his enquiry on a website, which is picked up by paleontologist Cataline Stone (Jenny McShane - perhaps the worst Z-grade actress ever - and you can read why shortly). Stone travels to Mexico where Ben is, for she wants to study the shark, which she reveals is a Megalodon, a prehistoric shark related to the Great White Shark. Ben however wants to kill it, as it begins to kill the patrons at the resort. However, something more deadly is lurking beneath the water - an even bigger Megalodon!
Interesting premise really (prehistoric shark), but the film is let down by such poor production values, an appalling lead actress, terrible computer graphics and of course the footage which is pulled right out of documentaries and the like - such as the marlin and numerous shark images. I say McShane is such a terrible actress because she actually (and obviously) laughs when someone they are trying to rescue is killed by the shark. Now, understandably, the actors have to imagine all this happening as the shark footage is stock and added into the film later, but it shows how unprofessional McShane is. Not that many people would watch "Megalodon" for her acting ability (or lack there of) anyway.
John Barrowman however is an entirely different story. A pleasure to watch he is the only reason to watch "Megalodon", aside from THE LINE which he delivers. Ironically, he is gay, I wonder how much it pained him to say the line. Perhaps "Megalodon" would have been that much better if he played a gay character. "Megalodon" is certainly worth a watch though, you're bound to pick up a new line or two for your every-day vocab.