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Girls Against Boys

Lacks courage for it's convictions
I find it a bit creepy to be on the internet sometimes. Part of the reason is the ugly undercurrent of misogyny that permeates so many comments sections and user reviews (you know who you are BTW.)They tend to rant about women who don't want to f#@k them or how they believe feminists are ruining everything for men in America. I'm mostly going on and on, but what I'm getting at is that there's some awful human beings on the internet and around the world. So, I must admit that I went into "Girls Against Boys" with a level of interest, as it would be nice to see a horror film from a feminists perspective. What I got instead...was kind of a mess.

Shae (Danielle Panabaker) has undergone a traumatic experience in the form of being raped by a seemingly "nice" guy. To add insult to injury, the guy she's been seeing (Andrew Howard) is married and with kids, and seems to be more interested in nookie than helping her cope. The only person who seems to understand is Lu (Nicole LaLierte), her co-worker, who believes revenge is the only answer. Unfortunately, her idea of revenge involves murder, and when Shae actually does show interest in an actually nice guy, Lu becomes jealous.

I appreciate what director Austin Chick is aiming for here. One could say that there should be more horror films done from a feminist's perspective. While I must commend the performances (Panabaker in particular is good. Girl deserves to be a bigger star IMO), the end result is lacking. There's violence, but there isn't a whole lot of gore here, so fans of that will be disappointed. It also largely feels more like a generic indie movie than it does a horror movie. It clearly wants to be a respectable horror movie, but it doesn't understand how horror works.

Which leads me to my biggest complaint-for all it's good intentions, "Girls Against Boys" seems to lack the courage of it's convictions. It's attempts to comment on gender roles in society feel undercooked, and once the revenge aspect comes to play, it all feels like your basic revenge movie. It clearly wants to say something about these issues in society (and in horror in general), but instead of being a thoughtful commentary or a "Men, Women and Chainsaws" style examination, it all feels "Been here, done that." The fact that Lu ends up becoming obsessed with Shae also feels unnecessary. It's feels exploitative in a "Hey, lesbians!" way, but this is not a movie that needs that. In trying to play it both ways, the film muddles whatever message it intends to have.

If you want to have an intelligent, feminist take on the horror genre-the go watch "Audition", "The Descent" or "Ginger Snaps" instead. Those movies actually make you think about gender roles and equality in the genre. This is just pretending to understand when it doesn't know s#!t.

Uchû daikaijû Girara

A must for fans of Sci-Fi Schlock
Needless to say, Godzilla and his pals had something of an impact on the box office. People worldwide were flocking to see Toho studios Kaiju films, which was great for the studio. Not only did they have something that was a smash hit in their home country-it was big worldwide. So of course, others tried to capitalize. In Korea, there was "Yonggary." London gave us "Gorgo." Denmark offered the world "Reptilicus." Even America go into the action with "The Giant Mantis" and "The Giant Claw." I'm sure that Toho was amused and pleased that for a change, a Japanese Studio was giving the rest of world a run for it's money instead of the other way around.

Of course, other studios in Japan tried to capitalize on this. Daei gave the world the "Gamera" and "Daimaijin" films. Toei released "The Magic Serpent." Nikkatsu responded with "Monster From a Prehistoric Planet." However, the most out there of these movies was "The X From Outer Space", which came from the well respected Shochiku studios (who gave the world films such as "Tokyo Story" and "Night and Fog in Japan"), which also kick started a brief foray into the world of genre films.

The spaceship AAB Gamma has been sent to Mars so it can investigate reports of UFO's that seem to be surrounding the area. After running into a strange UFO (which, according to one scientist, "Looks like a giant omelet!") that leaves some strange spore-like substance on the ship, the crew decides that would be a nifty idea to bring a sample with them. This of course, turns out to be what Gob from "Arrested Development" would call "A Huge Mistake." That's because said sample soon turns into a giant monster that begins to run roughshod on Japan because apparently Godzilla or one of Gamera's enemies were on vacation. Also, the monster is named Guilala, and he looks like...well, he looks like a lizard/chicken hybrid.

What's interesting about "The X From Outer Space" is that is all starts out a lot like other space themed science fiction movies from the time. There's a bouncy theme song, it's got plenty of cool model and miniature effects, there's plenty of matte paintings, and everyone seems more interested in chilling out and drinking cocktails while bachelor pad music plays than they are solving whatever crisis is at hand. When Guilala does show up, thing takes a turn for the "what the hell" and doesn't look back. There's a sense of fun to most of the proceedings, as if the people who aren't taking all of this too seriously.

It's also interesting that even though he craves radiation like a certain mutated dinosaur and it's obvious as all get out that the people behind the movie are doing everything they can to compete with him/rip him off (it even breathes fire!), the whole thing has a lighthearted atmosphere to it. There's little to no attempt at trying to do some sort of social commentary like some of the "Godzilla" movies (or "Mothra" or the genre films Shochiku released afterwards.) This is a to the point monster movie that simply wants to entertain the audience, and damn it, it succeeds. The whole thing is so thoroughly goofy (I dare you not to laugh when an airplane crashes into the monsters head for no reason other than some sort of directorial goof), campy and all around fun that it's impossible not to enjoy what's going on here. Only the most stuffy shirted type could not be charmed at the nuttiness on display.

At the end of the day, "The X From Outer Space" is nothing more than a light but charming little Kaiju film. It doesn't have the muscle of the best "Godzilla" movies, but it doesn't need it. It's campy, light entertainment that just happens to be a lot of fun, and that's all I asked for.

The Exterminator

Grim but effective vigilante tale
I love Synapse films. Along with Blue Underground, these guys are pretty much Criterion for fans of horror and exploitation, with movies like "Thriller: A Cruel Picture", "Frankenhooker" and "Maniac Cop" under their belt. So it makes perfect sense that they would release the vigilante movie favorite "The Exterminator" on a Blu-Ray/DVD combo pack. This is a mixed bag for me, as I don't have a Blu-Ray player, but I do have a DVD player, so I can watch the movie but not judge the two discs. I can however, judge the movie.

John Eastland (Robert Ginty) is a Vietnam vet whose war buddy and long time best friend Michael Jefferson (Steve James.) When Michael is fatally wounded by thugs, Eastland decides that not only those responsible should pay: the pimps, pushers and filth of the streets must be exterminated. Thing is, this is bad for the mayor, whose got an election coming up, so it's up to Detective James Dalton (Christopher George) to stop the man known to the city of New York as "The Exterminator."

While there are flaws in this movie (the relationship between Dalton and a nurse played by Samantha Eggar feels unnecessary), this is a prime example of early 80's exploitation. While gore-hounds will be let down (only a gnarly decapitation in a Vietnam flashback), the violence here is vicious and unrelenting-in fact, largely skimping on splatter actually helps enhance the brutality on display-and boy is it a vicious little movie. Eastland is not a man who plays around, setting people ablaze, dropping them in meat-grinders, shooting them with mercury laced bullets-he means business. Also, exploitation fans will more than likely enjoy this, as this is the type of movie that shows you New York before it was cleaned up. This is a world of drug pushers, murderers, and more-the scum of the Earth, and The Exterminator has had enough of them.

It also helps that this is a well directed and mostly well acted movie. James Glickenhouse* films the whole thing in a matter of fact style-no flashy editing or tricks here, just the worst the city has to offer and ugly violence pushed into your face, which aids the already gritty tone of the movie. Meanwhile, Ginty (who most may remember from the MST3K movie "Warriors of the Lost World") has a kind of Charles Bronson like quality-not as good of an actor, but he doesn't really look like an action star. He just looks like a regular guy, and the actor thankfully manages to make Eastland human but not too sympathetic. If anything, he's a psychopath. George meanwhile, plays the guy who may be the most likable character. He doesn't want The Exterminator killing people, but he understands why he's doing it, and doesn't seem to care much for the corrupt political and police establishment around him.

For fans of revenge movies and exploitation, "The Exterminator" is something that must be seen. Is it a perfect movie? No, but it get's the job done without any added bulls#!t.

*Glickenhouse also wrote this movie, and directed the Christopher Walken action movie "McBain", Jackie Chan's ill-advised U.S. debut "The Protector" and the Peter Weller/Sam Elliot cop movie "Shakedown." He also produced "Basket Case 2", "Frankenhooker", "Maniac Cop" and the Joe Don Baker vehicle "Ring of Steel."

Zombie A-Hole

Not bad for what it is
Three people-religious cowboy Frank Fulci (Josh Eal), one-eyed avenger Mecy (Jessica Daniels) and lost soul with a dark past Castor (Brandon Salkil) all have one thing in common-they are out to kill a zoot suite wearing zombie (also played by Salkil.) Said zombie has a connection to all three, and on the side likes to kill naked women. That's about it for the plot.

On paper, I should hate this movie. It calls itself a Grindhouse movie when the real thing died years ago. It overuses things like slow motion effects, and its nods to both genre films and beloved directors are tiresome. Yet in spite of all of that, I found myself enjoying the movie more than I thought I would. This is mostly because it's a genuine Independent movie made for almost no money (it cost about $3,000 to make), but it thankfully doesn't make the same mistakes nearly every other micro-budget zombie movies does. By that, I mean it doesn't make the plot overcomplicated, sticks to the basics, and manages to work within it's minuscule budget. There's no stabs at social commentary, a zombie apocalypse or fat in the story. This is a basic B-Movie with the three B's (Beasts, Boobs and Blood) that knows what it is.

There's also a lot more imagination here than in most no-budget zombie movies. A good example is the talking, shrunken corpse, which is a really nice touch. In fact, this is a movie with several nice touches (bloody p!ss raising the dead, an animated flashback and energy weapons) that all add to the everything-but-the-kitchen-sink nature of the film. Plus, it's clearly obvious that everyone involved is having a good time making this, and have no illusions about what it is they are making. Hell, a few of the cast members aren't too bad as actors, with Daniels in particular standing out. Finally, this may be favoritism, but this is from my home state. I gotta represent talent from here, especially if it's actually worth a damn.

I know that one could complain about the budget or that it looks like it was made by amateurs, but one must understand the limitations everyone is working with. Normally I would agree with such complaints, but I feel that this is a movie that manages to succeed in spite of those problems. Beside, as I said, there's more imagination going on here than what you normally get in today's zombie movies. that deserves at least some attention.

Is "Zombie A-Hole" A classic? Far from it, though it's obvious that those behind it didn't aim too high. They just wanted to make a no-brains Grindhouse tribute, and nothing more. It thankfully hits more than it misses, and those looking for a micro-budget zombie movie that actually tries something different might enjoy themselves.


Not worth watching
I'm always amazed when an actor who seems to be doing bigger things shows up in a movie that went straight to video. Usually this is because the movie is horrible, or because the studio thinks nobody would be interested. That or they dump it in five theaters and give it a DVD release two weeks later. Anyways, today's example is 2010's "Wreckage" features Aaron Paul from the excellent AMC series "Breaking Bad." Here, he proves to be the best thing about this otherwise forgettable exercise.

The plot deals with four friends-Jake (Mike Erwin), Rick (Paul), Jake's wife to be Kate (Cameron Richardson) and Rick's pregnant girlfriend Jessica (Kelly Kruger) end up in an abandoned junkyard. When Rick's stupidity get's Kate injured, Jake goes out for help-only to find Kate and Rick missing, and Jessica a dead, bloody pulp. When new arrivals-including the nephew of the man who owns the Junkyard (Scoot McNairy) join in, they all find themselves being stalked by a masked killer.

As I said, the best thing about "Wreckage" is Paul. Here, he plays Rick as a man whose not exactly all that right in the head, making for an interesting character. Unfortunately, he's the only interesting character. Everyone else is either really dumb or ultimately expendable for the killer to get his thing done. Also, if you are hoping for gory kills, then you are in for a disappointment. Many of them take place off screen, which in this case is a big no-no. Movies like this usually rely on at least some gore, and this is a slasher that's virtually bloodless. The direction by John Mallory Asher* is also a dud, mostly feeling more like a generic modern day television movie than something that you should be excited fore. Add a lame twist ending and a body count that's way too low, and you have a waste of time.

I can't even imagine the most indiscriminate of horror fans buying most of this, as it's a movie that manages to be both a paint-by-numbers stalk-n-slash flick and uneventful, nearly gore free waste of time. Watch something better, or read a book instead.

*Asher is mostly known for being in the USA TV series "Weird Science", which yes, was based around the John Hughes movie, and for being in the Clint Eastwood movie "Space Cowboys." His only other genre credit is the TV movie "The Haunted", and he also directed the 2005 Jenny McCarthy bomb "Dirty Love.

La rebelión de las muertas

Incredibly stupid but fun exploitation junk food
And the winner for best "Death by small can" scene in a horror movie goes to "Vengeance of the Zombies." Not that there was a whole lot of competition outside of "Undead."

Anyways, there have been many a times in which horror movies seem to forgo anything resembling logic in their quest to scare or entertain. Sometimes this works (The films of Dario Argento and Lucio Fulci for example), sometimes it doesn't (the films of Dante Tomaselli), and then there are goes films that aren't good and make little sense, but you find yourself enjoying them anyway. Leon Klimovsky achieved this in 1973 with the Paul Naschy vehicle "Vengeance of the Zombies."

Indian Mystic Krisna (Naschy) has things going his way. He's pretty popular, the ladies love him (Yep, this is a Paul Naschy film alright!) and nothing bad seems to be happening. That is, until his girlfriend Elvire (Romy) starts having nightmares involving Satanic rites (with Naschy playing Satan), a masked killer being on the loose, and a group of vengeful female zombies roaming around. Oh, and Krisna's deformed brother (Naschy again.)

There are numerous flaws to be found here (plot holes, a completely inappropriate lounge score, mediocre direction and acting), but "Vengeance of the Zombies" manages to be pretty fun for what it is: dumb exploitation made for undemanding viewers. In a way, the ultimately silly nature of the whole thing works more than it doesn't. There's just something nice about a movie that has such a "let's put on a show" attitude, and the added nudity and gore (including a nifty decapitation) adds to the experience.

Another reason the thing works better than it should is because it basically throws in everything but the kitchen sink to entertain viewers. Satanic rituals? Check. Sexploitation? Check. Voodoo spells? Check. Zombies? Check. Black gloved killer? You get the point. It's like watching a smörgåsbord/greatest hits collection of Euro exploitation from the period, and it's hard not to smile at most of it. Plus, how many times to you see someone get killed with a small can in horror movies?

"Vengeance of the Zombies" is anything but a good movie, and more serious minded genre aficionados will probably cringe through most of it. Those who love dumb exploitation and "so-bad-it's-good" movies will be more forgiving, and probably enjoy the stupid enterprise on display.

Murder Obsession

Not Freda's best, but a fun way to go out
For fans of Italian Horror, the name Riccardi Freda holds meaning. Not only did he mentor the late, great Mario Bava, but he also did some fine work within the genre of the fantastic. Horror films like "Tragic Ceremony" (which starred Camille Keaton), "The Ghost" (which starred Barbara Steele) and "Lust for a Vampire" (which was completed by Bava) are films that tend to get name checked when it comes to important titles in genre (well, the last two at least, though "Ceremony" itself is a fine film.) Not name checked often, but still entertaining is his last movie, 1981's "Murder Obsession."

Michael Stanford (Stefano Patrizi) is having some problems. He recently almost killed an actress (Laura Gemser), and returning with his girlfriend Deborah (Silvia Dionisio) to visit his mother (Anita Strindberg) only brings back horrible memories about the death of his father. When more company follows, the guests start to have strange dreams involving things like very large spiders and occult rituals. Oh, and there's a black gloved killer on the loose.

"Murder Obsession" is an everything-but-the-kitchen-sink style movie. Throwing in all kinds of sub-genres (Giallo, Gothic, Supernatural) and clichés (fog drenched landscapes, eroticism, black gloved killers) into a story that ultimately doesn't make much sense, and has a few flaws to boot (the cheap looking gore kinda sticks out.) That out of the way, this is also pretty fun for the most part. Even before the killing starts to take place, Freda throws in all kinds of demented images (Debbie being felt up by a clearly fake large spider) and offbeat plot twists and turns to make sure you never lose your interest. This is a movie that, even if you don't like it, you'll never find yourself bored by the events taking place.

Plus, the things that do work really stick out. Even is the effects aren't always up to muster, the kills are bloody enough to make you take notice. The score by Franco Mannino is mostly effective, with its blend of classical flourishes and electronic effects perfectly complimenting the events at hand. I even really liked the plot twist at the end, as it actually makes sense considering the events that have taken place, and the strange relationship Michael has with his mother (even though you know who the killer is before the film is halfway over.)

Will "Murder Obsession" be considered a classic in the genre of Italian Horror? Probably not. Those who have a thing for out of the ordinary fare should definitely get a kick out of this movie. It might not be Freda's best movie, but it's a hell of a way to go out.

Father's Day

My new favorite Troma movie
It's hard to mention "Father's Day" without talking about the controversy surrounding it. It all started in 2010, when it was announced that Troma was going to help finance a movie based on a mock trailer made by a Canadian collective known as Astron 6. The movie eventually got released in festivals and midnight screenings-and when it came time for a DVD/Blu-Ray release, word got out that there were problems between the two. Apparently, Lloyd was selling bootleg copies of the movie, and that the Astron 6 logo was not included on the poster. I don't know if this is true, but if it is, then that really sucks. Especially when the end result is probably my favorite Troma movie, and is the best thing they've done in forever (I'm not a "Citizen Toxie", "Terror Firmer" or "Poultrygeist" fan to be honest.)

The story is one we all know well: As a kid, Ahab saw his father become raped and murdered by serial killer Chris Fuchman (Mackenzie Murdoch), who has a thing for dads. Years later, the spree continues, and Father John Sullivan (Matthew Kennedy) and a gay street hustler named Twink (Conner Sweeney) want a now adult Ahab (Adam Brooks) to stop this father rapist once and for all. However, things are going to be hard, as Fuchman also has his eyes set on Ahab's sister Chelsea (Amy Groening.) To make matter worse, it turns out that this killer isn't all he seems to be.

First things first: This is not a movie for the squeamish. There's multiple scenes of male rape, tons of male nudity (some of it comical, though there's also plenty of female nudity to go with it), graphic gore and even genital mutilation. In spite of all that, this is actually a comedy that serves as both a homage and a satire of exploitation films. Think what would happen if a Canadian sketch comedy troupe like The Kids in the Hall did a horror/comedy, and you might be close. Thankfully, it's also frequently funny, with at least 98% of the jokes hitting their target. Next to "Black Dynamite", this is the funniest Neo-Grindhouse movie I've seen. Plus, it has the best Lloyd Kaufman cameo ever, as he shows up as both God and Satan.

On top of that, it's also very well made. The direction is top notch throughout, and actually manages to do what most micro-budget (this cost $10,000) movies can't do and makes it look at least 10 times it's budget. The acting is also good, with everyone hitting the right tone and managing to make their characters interesting (Twink is my favorite. Dude's hilarious.) Add a dead on score, great make-up and gore effects, great one liners and tons of enthusiasm and literal blood, sweat and tears to make it, and you have yourself a winner.

"Father's Day" will not be for everyone. Those who are easily grossed out or offended (hell, even those of hardened sensibilities will find themselves cringing) will most likely avoid it. For me though, this is one of the best exploitation tributes I've ever seen, and is a must for fans of Troma or warped comedy in general.


Give 'em a hand...or not
*Note: Like many of my reviews, this is taken from my blog, which is called "Talk of Horrors." This one comes from the last entry of "Not on DVD Week."

The workers at a Mexican mine don't exactly want to go there because of a curse. Well, Jennifer (Samantha Eggar) and Mark Baines (Roy Jones) go in anyways, and accidentally unleash a demonic force that has a fondness for possessing people's left hands. I guess Ned Flanders was wrong when he said "Lord Love a Leftie." Anyways, the only way a person can free themselves from committing acts of evil is severing said hand-which will then go after someone else and kill or possess them. Can Jennifer and Father Cunningham (Stuart Whitman) stop this handy horror?

As you can tell from the premise, "Demoniod" is about as goofy as they get. The plot really doesn't hold up to scrutiny, most of the performances are lackluster, and the film is loaded with moments that are unintentionally hilarious. The highlight of those goofy moments is a police officer demanding "cut my hand off or you die!"

In spite of it's problems, I found myself kind of enjoying this movie. It's not really good, but the whole concept is so daffy that you can't help but go along with it. It's like "Death Bed: The Bed That Eats" or "I Bought a Vampire Motorcycle", only played straight and without evil inanimate objects. Apart from that, Eggar and Whitman aren't great, but do their best carrying the material, and there's something perversely amusing about seeing people finding different ways of getting their hands severed, providing some fun bloody moments. Add a great score by Richard Gillis, plenty of (unintentional) laughs and a downbeat (though predictable) conclusion, and you've got yourself an amusing little piece of trash cinema. It's amazing that a movie this offbeat hasn't gotten a DVD release yet, as it's the kind of cult oddity fans of trash live for.


A vanity project for a man whose value in pop culture has reached his sell date
You know, if your going to pinpoint one person as being symbolic of everything that is wrong with straight-to-video movies, it's pretty much ridiculous. I mean, they're straight-to-video movies. Nobody expects anything worthy of mention for them. Yet, that is exactly what I am going to do.

Rapper 50 Cent is symbolic of much of what is wrong with straight-to-video movies. It's funny how this guy went from being one of the biggest rappers on earth to a regular in such movies, but he's got a s#!t load of money, so he act/produce these movies. With "Setup", he somehow brings in two bigger stars-Ryan Phillipe and Bruce Willis of all people-into his world of mediocrity.

Mr. Cent stars as Sonny, who along with his best friend, is shot (way to be subtle about one of your claims to fame) by Vincent Long (Phillipe) after a heist gone wrong, and now wants revenge. To get this revenge, he teams with the mob, which always works well in these movies. When the mob's muscle Petey (Randy Courture, in a rather thankless role) is shot, and things start to go south, mob boss Biggs (Willis) wants something done about all this.

I will say these two things: Willis is good (though only around for like 10 minutes total) and the production values look much better than most straight-to-video movies. Then again, this did cost $20 million to make, which seems like a bit much for something like this, but hey. Apart from that, this is your typical bad cop/heist/whatever movie from Lionsgate and Grindstone Entertainment. That means there's a bad soundtrack made up of dull rock and uninteresting rap, badly written character drama, mostly bad acting (Phillipe's performance could be called bipolar, as he goes from committed to looking like he doesn't want to be there), plot points like a pseudo-religious angle that go nowhere, plot holes the size of craters, and no reason to care about anyone or anything that happens.

Then there's 50 Cent. Look, there are rappers that have proved themselves to be good to decent actors. Look at Ice Cube, Ice T, RZA and Mos Def for example. 50 Cent is not one of those good actors. Next to Master P, he's the worst rapper trying his hand at acting I've ever seen. This is a man who is completely void of anything resembling dramatic chops, charisma or screen presence, and serves more as a vacuum than he does an actor. And that's one of the reasons why he's so bad for these kinds of movies. Sure, Phillipe and Willis are clearly there for the paycheck-that or they were blackmailed or owed somebody a favor-but guys like James Remar are talented guys. Yet, this is a vanity project for a man who couldn't act to save his life.

If you are a hardcore 50 Cent fan (though I doubt that kind of thing still exists), you will want to see this. Everyone else is better off reading a book or something.

Monster Brawl

A one note premise that does little interesting.
I'm something of a wrestling fan. Sure, it might run into moments that I hate (as a recent Smackdown spoiler suggests), but I still watch it regardless of what happens. It's clear that writer/director Jesse T. Cook is a fan as well (what with the appearances of current and former wrestling personalities and references to things like Japanese Death Matches), but with "Monster Brawl", he takes a one note premise that could have been fun and does nothing to make it work.

The plot couldn't be more simple-Buzz Chambers (Dave Foley) and Sasquatch Sid Tucker (Art Hindle) are two announcers who are pleased to give you Monster Brawl, in which eight monsters (Zombie Boy, Cyclops, The Mummy, Werewolf, Swamp Gut, Witch Bitch, Lady Vampire and Frankenstein) are all going to compete in one-on-one wrestling matches, with the voice of God (Lance Henriksen) serving as a narrator/ringside announcer. Oh, and the graveyard is cursed.

As I said, pretty basic stuff. On the plus side, most of the performances are alright. Foley and Hindle seem to be having a lot of fun as the announcers, while Kevin Nash does a fine job as Zombie Boy's manager. The only performance that doesn't ring true comes is from Henriksen, who sounds bored most of the time. It's hard to blame him though, as this is a movie with a fun premise that doesn't know what to do with it. Sure, there's a few chuckles to be had, but most of the jokes fall flat on their face, especially around the final act. Speaking of which, the third act just drags on and on, not showing any sign of letting up, but never managing to do anything that's fun.

Which leads me to my biggest complaint: the "matches" themselves are boring. Sure, it must be hard to wrestle with all that make-up or in a rubber suit, but there's little here that actually resembles a wrestling match. The fact that the film seems to be as influenced by old fighting games like "Killer Instinct" and "Mortal Kombat" as it is by wrestling hurts it too. Each match ends the same-you gotta kill your opponent in some gruesome fashion. By the third or fourth maiming that occurs however, it just gets repetitive. Apart from title belts, nothing feels like it's at stake here, making it all feel more like a pointless exercise than it does a wrestling and horror geeks dream come true.

As a whole, even the most hardcore mark (look it up) will probably find themselves bored by "Monster Brawl." It's a premise that doesn't do anything with the joke at hand, and feels more like a boring fantasy from a fan boy than it does a movie you'd actually want to sit through.

Piranha 3DD

Feels like it was written by 8th graders
I really enjoyed 2010's remake of "Piranha." It was a rare type that managed to not only work as a stand alone movie, but delivered everything that it promised: boobs, gore, and comedy. It was also well directed, acted, and had a level of wit within the proceedings.Well, the studio decided that it was a movie that warranted a sequel, and decided to hand over the reigns to the guys that brought you "Feast." Well, with it's small (about 75 theaters) theatrical release and On-Demand run, it's easy to see why it's not getting a whole lot as far as promotion is concerned: it's a really s#!tty movie.

Taking place one year after the events of the first movie, the movie opens with a cameo from Gary Busey and Clu Gulagar becoming food for Piranhas that come out of a dead but still flatulent cow. Yes, that is the level of humor we are dealing with. Brace yourself, because it gets worse.

The next day, Maddy (Daniel Panabaker) is in a bit of a disagreement with her stepfather Chet (David Koechner) because he's turned the family water park (called "The Big Wet") into a more adult oriented place with strippers as lifeguards. However, the piranha's are back, and headed to the pool via the pipe system. Her friends Barry (Matt Bush) and Kyle (Chris Zykla) must now try to do something to stop the upcoming onslaught-and you can guess how that goes. Meanwhile, Shelby (Katrina Bowden) is ready to lose her virginity, but a baby piranha goes up, lady parts. Also, Ving Rhames, Paul Sheer and Christpher Lloyd return, and David Hasselhoff shows up as himself.

The best word I can think of describing "Piranha 3DD" (ha ha) would be "lazy." The direction by John Gulagar ranges from pedestrian to just plain bad, with murky underwater shots, poor editing and no clue how to direct moments of violence or any of the actors. Here, you have people who have proved themselves to be good to decent actors delivering awful performances, with some (in particular Rhames) seeming to be embarrassed to be there. In their defense, they are working with a script that feels like it was written by 8th graders. This is a movie where people do things that are dumb even by the standards of horror movies, and characters change motivations (Kyle goes from being an alright guy to a total asshole just completely out of the blue) without any attention to consistency.

So, does the humor work? Well, as you can tell from the third paragraph, no. There's one moment that's funny, but most of the movie plays out like something you'd get from a really bad comedy (stuff like "Fired Up!") with gore and female nudity. This is movie that thinks a piranha going up a fat man's ass is great comedy. How about the gore? It's pretty tame compared to the last movie, with the inevitable water park massacre feeling anemic in comparison to the all out slaughter fest of the last movie. Sure, there's decapitations and blood in the water, but it's nothing you haven't seen a billion times before.

Now I know, I know. "It's supposed to be dumb!" you might be saying. Hell, I enjoy dumb entertainment as much as the next guy. This however, is the bad kind of dumb entertainment. The kind that makes no effort whatsoever, and expects you to go along with it because hey man, tits and ass and gore! I'm sorry, but it takes more than that to make a good trashy movie. This is the kind of thing that gives trash a bad name. Being dumb is no excuse for being lazy.

It's really no surprise as to why this didn't get a wide theatrical release and has gotten next to no promotion-it f#@%ing sucks. Everything about this feels like a really bad direct-to-video sequel, and that the studio had no idea what to do with it. This is a movie that's best left avoided. Just watch the previous one, or the original.


Feels like a group of people goofing off with their home video equipment in the woods
"Partying, mayhem and gore...80's style."

So says the tag-line for "Porkchop", a micro-budget throwback to "kids are killed in the woods" slasher movies from the 80's. Maybe it's because I recently watched "Rabies", which managed to do something new with the backwoods slasher movie, but I found this to be a pretty bad movie all around.

The plot goes like this: Deborah (Ruby Larocca), Mike (Charles Sullivan), Chris (Chris Woodall), Ian (Brandon Raker), Courtney (Sierra Ferrell) and Rachael (Erin Russ) go to the woods for sex, drugs and good times. Also, they bring around a goofy talking robot named Elron (voiced by Danny Hicks of "Evil Dead II", "Darkman" and "The Intruder" fame.) Long story short, there's a hulking man wearing a pig-head mask known as Porkchop (Robert Cobb) that has murder on his mind, and you know what goes on from there.

While the killer is pretty bad-ass and the kills are gory as hell and usually inventive (with the gore and make-up effects actually looking pretty great), "Porkchop" is pretty bad. In some ways, it kind of reminded me of Drew Rosas' "Blood Junkie" in the fact that it wants so much to be like the slasher movies from the 80's, what with it's 80's fashions, bad hair, bad pop music, etc. However, "Blood Junkie" at least made me laugh. This movie was just annoying, with all of the jokes being deliberately bad. My problem with this is the fact that I hate it when a movie acknowledges that it isn't exactly a good movie, and just goes "f#@k it." Deliberately making bad jokes doesn't excuse anything. In fact, that just makes it worse.

In the process, everything else about the movie is just poorly done. Eamon Hardiman directs the whole thing as if it were his first motion picture, and that would be forgiving if it was (it's not.) The entire stretch before the kills start to occur is just a pain to sit through, with actors mugging for the camera and doing next to nothing interesting. Speaking of which, it takes way too long for the kills to start to happen, and by the time they do, you'll hardly be awake. This is a movie that, as I said, wants so much to capture the vibe of 80's slasher movies, but it lacks the most important element: fun. There's hardly anything in this movie that's remotely enjoyable. It just feels like a group of people goofing off with their home video equipment in the woods, and not like the tongue-in-cheek slasher fun-fest it wants to be.

If you want to see a fun, 80's style slasher movie-then go watch an actual 80's slasher movie like "The Prowler." It'd be a much better choice than watching a bunch of people play pretend for 92 minutes.

La orgía de los muertos

A good time for fans of Naschy and Gothic Horror
Paul Naschy (born Jacinto Molina Alvarez) was a fixture in Spanish Horror-as far as actor's go, he was that countries Karloff. So when he died in late 2009, he left behind a vast array of work that has maintained a cult following-"Night of the Werewolf", "Blue Eyes of a Broken Doll", "Count Dracula's Great Love"-to name a few. While I mentioned his passing in my review of "Premutos", looking back, I should have written a review of one of his movies instead of that movie. So without further ado, here's a look at the Italian-Spanish production "The Hanging Woman", in which he played a hunchback.

Serge Chekov (Stelvio Riso) is a swinging 70's kinda guy whose come to Scotland to gain an inheritance. In between sexing up the ladies, he runs into the hanging corpse of a lady. Soon, events revolving around a satanic coven, mad science, murder, zombies roaming the graveyard, and Igor (Naschy), who also happens to be a necrophiliac.

Though Naschy only has a supporting role, "The Hanging Woman" is still quite a treat of 70's style Gothic Horror. In fact, much of the film is quite reminiscent of the 70's era Hammer output, with its emphasis on fog drenched atmosphere, Gothic locales and low key exploitation elements such as nudity and some minor gore. The movie itself is quite capably directed by capably directed by José Luis Merino, who offers a nice mix of eerie moments with ones that range from tasteless (Chekov's treatment of women, Igor's um...kinks) with ones that just outright daffy (the reason the dead are walking could have come from one of those old 1940's quickies.) That's part of what makes the whole thing so much fun-sure, it feels a bit familiar at times, but the familiarity helps the movie instead of hindering it. Also worthy of mention is the undertone of black humor that permeates the proceedings. While the movie would never be mistaken for a comedy, scenes involving characters such as a horny witch are clearly done with tongue planted firmly in cheek.

Which brings me back to Naschy. While I mentioned he doesn't have a huge role, fans of his should still love this. Here, he manages to bring all kids of baggage with Igor-insecurity at one moment, to moments that bring forth revulsion the next-with ease. It's easy to see why folks such as myself hold him to such esteem, as he was able to take such characters and make them his own. Such a role and performance is a testament to his talents as an actor.

If there are any problems, it would be that apart from the more eccentric characters (particularly Igor), nobody here is all that interesting. Chekov is just your typical chauvinistic jerk who doesn't have many redeeming qualities, whilst Doris (Dianik Zurakowska) is yet another damsel in distress character. A bit more thought into some of the characters would have helped.

That out of the way, fans of Paul Naschy and European Horror fare will certainly find a lot to enjoy here. If that's your cup of tea, then check it out.

Shark Night 3D

Don't bite this Shark Bait
I tend to not review movies when they are in theaters. I think it's better to do so when said movie is on DVD-I dunno why, I just do. So when I saw "Shark Night" in 2011, I knew it would be bad-so bad it ended up in my "worst of the year list", but until now, I've held out on reviewing it. So now that said movie is now available on the home market, let's get this show on the road.

Sara Palski (the adorable Sara Paxton) and her pals Malik (Sinqua Walls), Gordon (Joel David Moore), Beth (former "American Idol" contestant Katherine McPhee), Nick (Dustin Mulligan) Blake (Chris Zykla) and Maya (Alyssa Diaz) go on vacation at a lake house in Louisiana. In the process, then run into redneck goons Dennis (Chris Carmack) and Red ("Blair Witch Project" actor Joshua Leonard, whose found a fine second life in the world of indie and art house movies) and seemingly nice sheriff Greg Sabin (Donal Logue.) The big danger however, is that the fresh water lake has sharks-and that the rednecks might have something to do with them being there.

It's weird to see that David R. Ellis directed this. Here is a man who previously directed "Snakes on a Plane", "Final Destination 2" and the fourth one. Here's a guy who knows how to take a potentially fun concept and run with it (well, not with "The Final Destination", but beggars can't be choosers.) Here however, the movie plays the whole concept straight, with little in the way of personality, humor or thrills. It's a shark movie without any life-one that's so lame, even the folks at The Asylum would raise their noses at it. The whole thing is directed lifelessly, with no potential fun on display. The movie instead goes with one of the biggest cardinal sins in horror-it plays it safe.

Granted, part of that could probably be blamed on the PG-13 rating. It's obvious that the movie is trying to ride the coattails of movies like "Piranha 3D." When you see a movie called "Shark Night", you immediately expect coeds being munched on, female nudity and tons of gore. With a PG-13 rating, it loses much of the impact it could have. Another advantage something like "Piranha" has over this is the fact that it was aware of it's own ridiculousness, and fully embraced it. This is a movie that has potential to be a commentary on reality television with its "Rednecks use sharks to make a bloody web show" sub-plot, but instead it just becomes a morass of bad stereotypes and tiresome torture-horror tropes.

Even more offensive is that much of the cast is actually made up of good actors. I've seen shows and movies where Leonard, Paxton, Moore and Logue (who starred in the sadly short lived FX series "Terriers") have delivered good to great performances. Seeing them in this is just depressing. I know they are better than this, and yes, I'm aware that a job is a job at the end of the day and that actors have to make cash. But it's sad to see the wasted in crap like this.

There is no reason whatsoever to watch "Shark Night", as it has plenty of sharks and no sense of fun. Besides, if you are going to make PG-13 movie with sharks, make it about about a superhero shark, and call it "The Shark Knight."


This movie can go f**k itself
I remember seeing "Creature" on the marquee at my theater. I didn't bother to see it, and judging from the amount of people who saw it (about $327,000-also, I heard only like six people bothered to see it at my theater) and reviews (apparently, everyone but Fangoria hated it), not many did either. Nonetheless, I started to grow fascinated by the movie-that tends to happen to those of us that review movies. How could a movie bomb so spectacularly on both levels? Was it really as bad as everyone said it was? The answer to that question: yes.

The story is pretty basic-hell, it's probably too basic. A group of friends go into the backwoods of Louisiana for for a good time, but end up running afoul of a half crocodile/half man (unfortunately, he's not the half shark/alligator/half man rapper Kool Keith told us of) who wants to mate with women and kill men. Also, it is worshiped by a religious cult that has Sid Haig and Pruitt Taylor Vince.

The so-bad-it's-bad ways of "Creature" are numerous. It's obvious that director Fred Andrews wants this to be a "Hatchet" style horror fest, and while offers us plenty of female nudity, he skimps out on two important aspects: gore, humor and personality. There's gore, but not a whole lot, and none of it is particularly interesting, and many of the kills take place off screen. Hell, the final battle between our surviving heroes and the monster takes place off screen, which feels pretty insulting. If you are going to offer us a rubber-suit-style monster movie/slasher hybrid, at least offer more on the thrills. Even the titular creature itself isn't all that impressive.

Then there's the acting. Look, I know movies like this aren't known for great performances, but you can't help but feel bad for some of the actors involved (Amanda Fuller, who did such a great job in "Red, White and Blue" is better than this IMO) having to deliver such awful dialog. Even the presence of Sid Haig doesn't help, as he just plays a half-assed version of his Captain Spaulding character. That leads me to another thing-if I were from Louisiana, I'd probably be offended by this movie. Here, everyone from the bayou is portrayed as an incestuous sister f**ker whose all about bad teeth and doing the "lords work." I know, stereotypes are a given in movies like this, but here it just feels lazy and narrow minded.

There's no reason whatsoever to watch "Creature", not even as a curio. This is a boring, lazy, half-directed crock that deserved the poor fate it received. This movie can go f**k itself as far as I'm concerned.

La meute

Unspectacular but Fun
Rule number I forget in horror: Don't leave someone behind when they've "disappeared". It will come back to haunt you, or the people responsible for his "disappearance" will get you. That's what happens in the French horror film "The Pack."

Charlotte (Emilie Dequenne) picks up a hitchhiker named Max (Benjamin Biolay) and they go to a local truck-stop diner. They running into a gang of degenerate bikers (is there any other kind in movies?), only to have said bikers get scared off by the owner of the restaurant La Spack (Jean-Pierre Jeunet regular Yolande Moreau.) When Max doesn't return after a trip to the bathroom, Charlotte finds herself in the clutches of Spack, who turns out to be Max's mother-and who feeds people to ground dwelling, humanoid flesh eaters.

I won't deny that for what it is, "The Pack" manages to be fun albeit unspectacular. It's got a nasty and welcome streak of black humor that doesn't go overboard into a horror/comedy route, which is kind of refreshing. It's also capably directed, has some good performances (especially from Moreau, who seems to be having a blast as the villain), some decent atmosphere, and some choice gore. Also, Phillipe Nahon shows up wearing a shirt you've probably seen online that says "I F#ck on the First Date", which automatically bumps this up half a star.

However, as I said, the end result feels kind of unspectacular. That's mostly because of the fact that most of this is either predictable or familiar, and none of it is particularly suspenseful or scary. You know from the get go that La Spack is up to no good, what with her threatening the bikers with a gun and coming off as loony. We also get the requisite nods to other, better horror movies, including a near end siege straight of of "Night of the Living Dead" (or if you want to be obscure, Robert Voskanian's sole directorial effort "The Child"), and yet more references to the likes of "The Texas Chainsaw Massacre." That reminds me: do we really need another visual tribute to the door slamming from that movie?

As it is, "The Pack" is far from a classic, and not in the higher tier of the recent wave of French horror. However, it's disposable, mostly unoffensive fun that's not spectacular but does a good enough job, and would make a fun triple bill with "The Horde" and "Frontier(s)."

Slime City

A Real Midnight Movie
A few months ago, the movie "Chillerama" was released and came with the tagline "The Ultimate Midnight Movie", which I disagree with. Not because I wasn't impressed with what I saw (though I wasn't), but because the "midnight movie" as it was known is dead. Plus, real "midnight movies"-films like "Night of the Living Dead" and "Eraserhead"-never sought cult appeal-few directors in that era looked to become popular in that sense. So, while Greg Lamberson's "Slime City" might not be "the ultimate "midnight movie", it is the real deal in what it is-one of the last true movies of it's type.

Alex (Robert C. Sabin) is a normal college student whose moved into an apartment in a run down part of New York City. His neighbors-trashy gal Nicole (Mary Huner, who does double duty as Alex's girlfriend Lori) and Punk Rock kid Roman (Dennis Embry) have something for him-from Nicole, sex, and from Roman, a strange kind of "Himalayan Yogurt" and an elixir. Well, it turns out that the yogurt is actually the ectoplasmic essence of deranged cult leader Zachary, which is now turning Alex into a slime covered monster with an appetite for murder-and only murder seems to temporarily turn him back to normal.

As I said, "Slime City" is not what I'd call a perfect movie. While the budget is hardly worth peanuts (it cost about $50,000 to make), the acting here is all around awful. Nobody here seems to have acted a day in their lives (only star Sabin acted before this), so many of the attempts to convey emotions are awkward to say the least. Plus, there's some notable errors in continuity-such as Alex's bud Jerry (T.J. Merrick) being called "Jack" sometimes, and the story feels a bit shaky at times.

Still, for a first time effort made for nothing, this isn't too bad. The movie does get by largely on the fact that it's shamelessly trashy and gory, with some inspired gags-especially in the movies slimy, gore riddled climax-and effects work that is actually pretty damned impressive considering the budget. Also, the score by Robert Tomaro is a lot of fun, ranging from New Wave synthesizer and guitar work to almost industrial like sounds with ease. The micro-budget also actually helps the look of the film, as it does a great job of capturing the seedy underbelly of pre-Giuliani New York. Finally, the things got enthusiasm and energy to spare, and Lamberson and crew pour every ounce of what they have into it, and for the large part, they do a good job with the limited means they have.

Is "Slime City" a classic? I wouldn't go that far. It is however, one of the last true "Grindhouse" movies, and as an example of one of that world's dying breaths, it's not too bad, and worth a look for fans of movies like "Basket Case" and "Street Trash."

Dead Cert

Pretty Anemic
There are times that when you read a premise on paper that seems fun, you actually aren't surprised when it doesn't turn out to be particularly good. At least I'm not. I've already seen several movies that had fun premises-"Shadow: Dead Riot" for example-that didn't live up to said potential. A recent case in point: "Dead Cert", which wants to be a mix of a tough British gangster movie and "From Dusk 'Til Dawn", and wastes said potential.

In the East End of London, Freddie "Dead Cert" Frankham (Craig Fairbrass, who seems to be forever cast as a big, tough guy from the East End) ends up getting mixed up in the affairs of Romanian Gangster Dante Livenko (Billy Murray) and his gang. Well, it turns out that Dante is a vampire known as the wolf, and to make matters worse, the local strip club Freddy and his pals frequent is now overrun with the bloodsuckers.

To be fair, this movie does feature some decent to good performances, especially Murray, whose a lot of fun as the villain. The problem though, is that it takes too long to get to the good stuff, so to speak. It's not until the fifty something minute mark that the club is overrun, and until then, the movie is mostly just a bunch of talk with the occasional act of violence padding out time. Speaking of which, after the vampires come out to play, we get more talk. In fact, there's so many scenes of people arguing and conversing that you kind of wonder why the filmmakers decided to include vampires at all.

Which leads to the movies biggest problem: it doesn't go far enough. Sure, there's bloodshed and the make up FX look good, but they aren't anything you haven't seen before. In fact, for a movie that has strippers turning into vampires, the movie feels sort of tame. It takes itself too seriously, doesn't offer the bountiful female nudity and gore one would hope for, and the final battle between humans and vampires feels pretty anemic.

I went into "Dead Cert" with low expectations, and guess what? Mission accomplished. There's nothing here that sets this apart from other crappy vampire movies or British crime/gangster movies. Your better off just watching "From Dusk 'Till Dawn" again instead of this generic soup.

Conan the Barbarian

The end result feels lukewarm
When it was announced that a remake/reboot of one of my favorite action movies, the John Millus sword n' sorcery classic "Conan the Barbarian", I was one of many that was unsure of the idea. I mean, on one hand, I think it's not the best idea, but on the other, the 82 movie is more Millus and Oliver Stone's take on "Conan" than it is the Robert E. Howard creation. I didn't see the movie in theaters, so now that it's on DVD and Blu-Ray, let's take a look.

Opening with a prologue narrated by Morgan Freeman (okay then...), we learn that Conan was born on the battlefield. By that, I mean his father Corin (Ron Perlman) delivered a c-section on his mom during battle. Why a pregnant woman is fighting in war is beyond me, but hey. Years later, young Conan (Leo Howard) watches his village and people become destroyed, and his father killed by warlord Khalar Zym (Steven Lang) and his men.

As an adult (Jason Momoa), Conan is a thief and pirate, who finds Lucius (Steven O'Donnell), who was one of Zym's men that he disfigured as a child. After getting some information out of him about the whereabouts of Zym, he finds out that he's a name known across Hyboria, and he and his daughter Marquis (Rose McGowan) are searching for the pure blood princess Tamara (Rachael Nichols) so they can bring back Zym's wife and enslave humanity. So now, Conan must save the princess and save the world in the process of his quest for vengeance.

If there's anything the new "Conan" really gets right, it's the casting of Momoa as Conan. Simply put, he feels more like the Conan of the stories, as he's not just some brute. He's intelligent, hatches plans, has goals, and can talk fluently as well as he can go into violent rage. The action scenes are also very well done, and bloody as hell, while the sets look like the Hyborian age of the stories. Also, Perlman does fine work as Conan's father, and Lang delivers a fun (albeit scenery chewing) performance. McGowan meanwhile...she's not good, but she vamps it up so much that I kinda liked her. Finally, while it's nowhere near as great as the original, the score by Tyler Bates does it's job-I especially like the Celtic touches.

Sadly, that's where the positives end. For one thing, the direction by Marcus Nispel (whose "Friday the 13th" remake I enjoyed) is the definition of nondescript, as little of it feels epic or fun, and lacks the edge of the original. The story meanwhile, is incredibly dumb, and feels like it was rejected by the SyFy channel, while the script is filled with holes and bad dialog (while Momoa is great, I had to cringe when he delivered lines like "I don't want your gold-I want your head!") The conclusion is also lacking, as it feels anticlimactic, while the rest of the performances-especially Nichols-are all pretty poor.

Which leads to my biggest complaint-the movie lacks fun for the most part. Sure, the action scenes look great, and there's moments that let us know how much of a bad-ass Conan is, but as a whole, it doesn't have the adventurous, pulpy greatness of the original stories. This is a movie with a man who doesn't take any s#!t, has a code of honor, and is an all around certifiable bad motherf@@#er who gets girls, kills villains and is tougher than nails. Yet, while it has a great Conan, the story, direction and plotting feel beneath such a character. The end result feels more like a studio patch-job in which they went "Okay, we've got a well known property, let's do make a movie with it" without doing much and ignoring what the final product might look like.

It's a real shame too, because there's some stuff I really like here, and there's a fun movie hidden somewhere. However, the end result just feels lukewarm, and isn't anywhere near as enjoyable as it should be.

Chain Reaction

Poor effort from Ittenbach.
Olaf Ittenbach's career as a director is an interesting but usually not good one. He started out directing low-budget splatter films like "Burning Moon", "Black Past" and "Premutos: Lord of the Dead", which got him a cult following. He then graduated to doing make-up and gore effects for things like Uwe Boll movies, and directing larger budgeted movies like "Legion of the Damned", "Garden of Love" and "Dard Divorce", which were attempts at doing more mainstream friendly horror. Another one of these attempts is 2006's "House of Blood" (originally called "Chain Reaction"), which suffice to say, is pretty bad.

Dr. Douglas Madsen (Christopher Kriesa) has been taken hostage by a group of escaped convicts, who decide to take refuge in a cottage. Inside said cottage is a strange family that speaks in Olde English and also seems to double as a religious cult. The family then turns into bloodthirsty demons (is there any other kind?) and kills the criminals, but Dr. Madsen is saved by local girl Alice (Olaf's wife Martina), and ends up being interrogated by police (one of the officers is played by Jürgen Prochnow), and of course, they don't believe his story, so he ends up taking a bus ride to a prison with some inmates. The bus crashes, and you can guess what happens next.

I'll say this much about "House of Blood": The gore and splatter FX are pretty impressive, the cinematography is good, and Kriesa delivers a good performance. Unfortunately, he delivers the only good performance, as everyone else is terrible, mostly just shouting profanities and pointing guns at each other. They are all supposed to be from America, and this is supposed to take place here, but most of the cast speaks with Germanic accents, and it was clearly shot in Germany. Also, while the gore is effective, there isn't enough, as the viewer has to wait for what feels like a very long time for the splatter to hit-until then it's a lot talking and yelling at one another.

Then there's the fact that the direction, editing and script (which Ittenbach co-wrote with Thmosat Reitmar) are all pretty poor. If this was from a rookie director, it would be more acceptable, but Ittenbach has been making movies since 1989, and that this is his tenth movie. None of it feels like something that was directed by a man whose been making movies for seventeen years. It just feels like something directed by a hack looking to make a quick buck.

All around, this is a terrible movie, with very little to recommend. If you want to watch a movie from Ittenbach, watch one of his earlier splatter movies. Those aren't great, but at least they're directed by someone who gave a damn about what he was making.

World of the Dead: The Zombie Diaries

Bore of the Dead
The found footage genre is all the rage nowadays. From 2008's "Cloverfield", "REC" and "Diary of the Dead" to the likes of the "Paranormal Activity" movies and "The Last Exorcism", people love watching horror films about horrific events caught on camera. Back in 2006, we a little movie called "The Zombie Diaries", which told stories of people with a camera filming their lives as the world fell through a zombie epidemic. I wasn't too wild about the movie, but it did good enough for a sequel to exist. Too bad said sequel seriously sucks.

The movie starts out in fine form, as we catch a night in the lives of a family trying to live on in a world in which the dead walk. Too bad it's only footage that was found by military types. Said soldiers find a civilian named Leeann (Alix Wilton Reagan), as well as possible hope when talk of a boat rescuing survivors. However, this may be at long reach, as our intrepid soldiers must not only survive the walking dead, but also murderous survivalists, and the possibility that salvation isn't going to turn out the way they wanted.

I'll give the movie this much: the acting is good, but that's the only compliment I can give this movie. The first (and probably biggest) problem with "The Zombie Diaries 2" is the fact that you really don't care about anyone here except maybe the family in the beginning. That's because there really isn't any characterization here, as these are just your typical stock survivors and army people trying to survive, to the usual psychopaths that stalk a apocalyptic world. Everyone here feels like a facsimile of a person. The direction also feels a bit "meh", as it's all edited erratically and the usual shaky cam that shows up in these movies makes some of the action a bit confusing. There's a bit of gore, but it's the usual shotguns blasts to the head and flesh munching that you've seen in so many other zombie movies.

Which leads to my next complaint-there's nothing here that sets this apart from other found footage horror movies or zombie movies. The whole thing feels uninspired, with no real reason to care about who lives or who dies, or what happens next. Also, did we really need three rape scenes?

You've seen this kind of movie before, so there's really no reason to bother watching it. You're better off watching "Day of the Dead" or waiting for the next season of "The Walking Dead" than sitting through this.


Nothing I haven't seen before
Scott (Nick Rhind) has come to town, meeting his ex Jesse (Robyn Ledoux) in the process. Well, also in said town, a church has burned down, and it had entombed an ancient pestilence called "The Scourge", which has gotten loose, and starts turning anyone it infects into a hungry, belching, zombie like being that eats any kind of food, and attacks and spreads the parasite. Can Scott and Jesse stop The Scourge before it's too late, and rekindle their love in the process? Can they deal with Corrupt Sheriff Durst (Russ Ferrier)? Will you find any reason to care?

I will give "Scourge" this much: it does have a few decent gory scenes (best one: jaw punched nearly off), a sense of awareness, and the Canadian feeling of the movie doesn't hurt. Also, I like the feel of the movie at times, as it feels like the kind of unambitious but watchable B-Movies you'd get back in the 80's. Oh, and the CG creature effects aren't too bad. They aren't great, but they are better than a lot of low budget CG creations.

That's not to say that this is a good movie. If you took "The Hidden" and "Slither", and removed much that made them noteworthy, then "Scourge" is what you get. The whole thing is also a cliché as you get, and not in a good way. Corrupt police? Check. Bad boy with a past? Yep. Rekindled romance between bad boy and ex-girlfriend? Uh huh. Comic relief fat guy? You bet your ass. It also doesn't help that none of the performances here are worth a damn, especially two leads, who have the charisma and chemistry of dry cement. Watching them, I couldn't help but roll my eyes when they finally got together, and this is coming from a guy whose a bit of a romantic at heart. I normally love seeing two people get together, but not if I don't care about them.

I didn't really hate "Scourge". but that's because I didn't really give a s#!t about it either. If you're going to watch it, wait until it comes on TV, particularly the Chiller channel, which tends to pick up movies like this regularly.

The Dead Matter

Check it out if you dig your Gothic horror with a sense of humor
It's a bit weird to me when a movie that's less than a year or at least a year old passes me by, or that I've heard of it but haven't seen it. Case in point: last year's "The Dead Matter." Directed by Midnight Syndicate main man Edward Douglas, and a remake of sorts of his earlier film of the same name that was shot on camcorder, I had heard good things about this movie, with Fangoria, Arrow in the Head and FEARnet singing its praises. So, does it live up to the hype? For the large part, yes.

The plot goes a little something like this: Gretchen (Sean Serino) is morning the loss of her brother, so she and her buddies-Mike (Tom Nagel), Jill (C.B. Spencer) and Frank (Christopher Robichaud) hold a séance to bring him back. Well, what do ya know, Gretchen finds an ancient relic that can bring back and control the dead. Thing is, two warring vampire lords-Vellich (Andrew Divoff) and Sebed (Tom Savini) want possession of the relic, and vampire hunter McCallister (Jason Carter) wants to destroy it.

If there's anything that harms the movie, its the fact that the actors playing our heroes don't do a good job. Serino tries her hardest, but she's just not that convincing as our lead protagonist, no matter how hard the movie tries to make us care about her plight. Meanwhile, Robichaud is hit and miss as the science loving Frank-sometimes admirably goofy, but other times kind of flat, while Nagel and Spencer feel like they're just kinda there.

Apart from that, "The Dead Matter" is a lot of campy fun, and one of those movies I find myself disappointed that I didn't see it sooner. A fun mix of Gothic atmosphere and tongue-in-cheek black humor, the plot and events usually play like Hammer meets a horror-comedy from the 80's ala "Night of the Creeps" with vampires and zombies. Speaking of which, the dead here are interesting-the zombified Mark (Brian Van Camp) is amusing with his drinking beer and other goofy antics that thankfully don't suck, but most of the dead here of of the more haunting, specter like variety ala "Carnival of Souls." I find it refreshing to see someone who thinks outside of the box instead of constantly feeding us the typical zombies eating yards of intestines type of movie.

Also, while our heroes are bland, everyone else does a fine job. Divoff is a hoot to watch (bad fright wig and all), while Savini makes the most of his time as his vampire rival, and Carter is a lot of fun as the vampire hunter out to stop them. Oh, and while not a gore-fest, you still get some nice scenes here and there (including an awesome bit with a jaw being torn off), though I must say the director must also be commended for not going overboard with splatter.

So, will "The Dead Matter" win any awards for originality? Probably not. It is however, a refreshing little sleeper that shows what plenty of gumption and can-do spirit can accomplish, and for that, I applaud it. Check it out if you dig your Gothic horror with a sense of humor.

Resident Evil: Extinction

Stupid But Entertaining Junk Food
When I reviewed "Resident Evil: Afterlife", I mentioned that a lot of today's franchise movies-"the "Saw" sequels, the "Underworld" movies, and this one-just don't appeal to me. Sure, I can understand why they appeal to so many, but for me, they're nothing to go crazy for. However, I believe I also mentioned that the third entry in the series is the only one that I find worth watching, so I figured "Well, why not review it?"

Taking place after "Apocalypse" (which is the worst entry in the series), this movie sees Alice (Milla Jovovich) and her crew-Clair Redfield (Ali Larter), Carlos Olivera (Oded Feher), Nurse Betty (ha ha) (R & B singer Ashanti) and others now venturing the deserts of Post-Apocalyptic Nevada, looking for a way to survive. In the process, Alice has now gained a sundry of superhuman powers thanks to the Umbrella Corporation's T-Virus, and they haven't forgotten about her or the survivors. So now, Alice and co. must battle undead animals, a newer strain of fast zombie, new mutations, and more from the corporation.

To enjoy a movie like "Resident Evil: Extinction", you must at first acknowledge that this isn't much like "Resident Evil" the video game series. Sure, it has Clair Redfield and the Umbrella Coporation, as well as monsters from the game, but this is ultimately "Resident Evil" fan fiction author's interpretation of the "Resident Evil" universe with a fan made character in Alice. Also, while I abhor the term "turn your brain off" when it comes to movies (even if I did, I'd still hate the "Transformers" movies), that's what you should do with these movies, because there isn't a whole lot going on from a thematic level other than "Billion dollar corporations are evil." This is pure, mindless crap from start to finish.

However, this is shockingly enough, sort of fun crap. That's largely due to director Russell Mulachy (whose credits include "Highlander" and the underrated "Razorback"), who knows firsthand that he's directing B-Movie bulls#!t, and does it with a sense of playfulness and fun that's lacking from the other movies. The acting is also noticeably better from the prior installments, with Jovovich finally getting comfortable with the role of Alice, and everyone else-well, they aren't great, but they aren't terrible either. Add a few suspenseful set pieces (the best one involving zombiefied birds), a nice Industrial Rock score from "Saw" composer Charlie Clouser, moments of humor, some fun action, and a sequel ready conclusion that didn't annoy me, and you've got a watchable little movie.

Sure, I could complain about the lack of logic, Alice having superpowers, the fact that the movie cribs lovingly from other, better movies (Romero's "Day of the Dead" for example)and so much more, but you know what? I won't. This is pure, stupid movie junk food. It might not be good, but it's satisfying for what it is.

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