Thursday, March 22, 2012

Exorcismus (2010)


Written by David Muñoz
Directed by Manuel Carballo

Lucy...Jo-Anne Stockham
John...Richard Felix
Emma...Sophie Vavasseur
Chris...Stephen Billington

Sixteen year old Emma is home-schooled, depressed and rebellious. Immediately following a mysterious seizure that has no known medical cause, her behavior takes a decidedly drastic turn for the worse. Her science-minded parents send her to a psychiatrist, while her faith-minded uncle--a priest--wants to perform an exorcism. They initially refuse his request, but eventually change their minds.

Yeah, spontaneous levitation will do that.

What could have been just an Exorcist clone actually evolved into something else as I watched. The dynamics between all the leads helps to craft not just a horror film, but a dysfunctional family drama as well.

Plot-wise, Exorcismus doesn't bring much of anything new to the horror genre. Instead it pilfers elements from other genre films and weaves them into its narrative.

That's not to say this is a bad film, maybe just a bit uninspired. The acting is solid all around, and the musical cues are pretty good. The camera work isn't Hollywood steadycam or found footage handheld, but lies somewhere in between.

The pacing may be a bit slow for some viewers, but a little patience goes a long way. The dark twist at the end was a suitable wrap up, and I enjoyed this movie much more than I thought I would. While it won't be replacing its brethren on my shelves any time soon, it's worth the time and effort to stream it on Netflix while it's available, if you've already seen The Exorcist too many times to count.

Rated PG-13
98 Minutes


Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Desolation Wilderness (2011)

Desolation Wilderness

Written & Directed by Robby Massy & Derek Mungor

Russell...Derek Mungor
Noah....Robby Massy

Two artsy college drop-outs decide to shun society and head to a desolate country home, where they plan to record an album. It's not long before the tranquility turns to boredom and the serenity turns to surreality. The wilderness around them begins to close in and they begin acting erratically, lashing out at each other in increasingly bizarre ways.

First they enter the woods. Then they enter madness.

The key word among all this is SURREAL. The movie brings up a lot of questions but provides very little answers, and to be honest, it often makes very little sense. But that's okay, and in fact is part of the appeal. It's a full sensory experience, like a televised art installation.

Shot in gorgeous black and white with endlessly creative camera angles, hitting pause at almost any moment would result in a picture suitable for framing, whether it be a portrait or a still life. The score is comprised partly of beautiful indie rock and partly of aural soundscapes (I honestly want to purchase the soundtrack), fitting each scene perfectly.

The acting was a little rough at times, and the dialogue was frequently improvised--and it shows. It doesn't come off as real, it comes off as an actor trying too hard to come off as real, which portrays itself as unnatural.

I'm not going to lie and say this movie is for everyone. Like art and poetry, it's for a very select audience, and there are legions of people that will argue over its meaning and its merit. But if you like low-key horror, mixed with high-brow art, you might want to give this film a shot. Love it or hate it, you'll probably end up talking about it.

Visit the official website by clicking HERE.

Not Rated
84 Minutes
Black & White
United States


Saturday, March 17, 2012

To Let (2006)

To Let

Written by Alberto Marini & Jaume Balagueró
Directed by Jaume Balagueró

Clara...Macarena Gomez
Mario...Adria Collado

Expecting parents Clara and Mario have only two weeks to find a new place to live, but as they're preparing to start a family, they want it to be perfect. When they catch wind of a great apartment in the suburbs offered at a great price, they know they have to act fast.

When they arrive to check the place out, they're a little shocked to find that it's not exactly what they were expecting. The building is run down and decrepit, and it's located in a bad neighborhood--however the real estate agency assures them that the area is in the midst of a resurgence, so they opt to humor her.

They're less than interested in this creepy complex, but once they're there, it's going to be hell getting out.

The filmmakers do a superb job of creating a creepy atmosphere--spare mannequin parts scattered about, screaming children in the distance, abandoned artifacts from previous tenants. You just know this is a bad place where bad things are going to happen, and yet you can't quite figure out what.

Things go South for the happy couple pretty quickly. This movie is just over an hour long, so there's no time to waste with pointless exposition. And while the set-up may have been better than the resolution, it was still a pretty solid flick.

Beautifully shot with a wealth of dynamic camera angles, To Let makes excellent use of its location. The acting is great and the score is well done. It's a novella-length horror flick with some dazzling touches--almost like a Twilight Zone take on the slasher genre.

To Let is available on Netflix Instant, and comes packaged in the "Six Films To Keep You Awake" DVD set, which runs for about $12 online. I haven't seen the others in the set, but I can definitely say that this one is worth the two bucks you would pay for it.

Not Rated
68 Minutes

"You'll be very happy here."

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Stripped Naked (2009)

Stripped Naked

Written by Christine Conradt & Ian Driscoll
Directed by Lee Demarbre

Cassie...Sarah Allen
Jade...Tommie-Amber Pirie
Jack...Jon Cor
Howie...Linden Ashby

Stripper Cassie accidentally witnesses a mob hit, and walks away from the incident with a new car, a gun, a bag of money, and a large sack of crystal meth. Seeing this as an opportunity to change her life for the better, she quits her job, dumps her douchebag boyfriend, and makes plans to hit the international scene.

The mob, of course, wants their property back and are willing to do anything to get it back. Before she has the opportunity to get out of town, Cassie manages to get a whole slew of people involved in her mess, including her roommate/lesbian lover Jade, her ex-boyfriend, a rather pathetic client, her boss, and another stripper.

The filmmakers seem to have been trying to make an early-Tarantino-esque movie, and were relatively successful. Although not quite a classic of crime cinema, Stripped Naked is a surprisingly solid flick. There are enough twists and turns to keep you interested, the women are (mostly) beautiful, and the acting is pretty good all around.

The soundtrack sometimes comes off as dated--and not in a cool, retro type of way--but that's not much of a concern in the grand scheme of things.

The action and camera work isn't as dynamic as it could be, and the gunshots are edited in such a way to prove that they couldn't afford any squibs--the curse of a low-budget flick, I suppose.

If you're a stickler for likable characters, this isn't the movie for you. All of the major players are pretty scummy, anti-heroes at best and complete bitches and assholes at worst. But if you can get behind bad people doing bad things--and having bad things done to them--then you could do much worse.

My only major qualm is the way this film seems to market itself. The title--STRIPPED NAKED--is exploitative to say the least, much more so than the actual movie.  For a film with the word naked in the title, whose main characters are strippers, there is surprisingly little nudity. The title, coupled with the (admittedly awesome) 70s-style poster art, would seem to imply that you're about to watch a piece of throwback fauxsploitation cinema (a la Grindhouse)--which would reel some people in, while simultaneously repelling others.

However, that's not quite the reality. If anything, it has more in common with the glut of direct-to-video action flicks from the 1980s. But I guess that doesn't put asses in seats, does it?

Well worth a rental when you're hankering for a little indie blood-and-bullets.

Not Rated
88 Minutes
United States

"She lives at 2525 None of Your Freakin' Business Lane."

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Tales From The Cryptkeeper S2 Ep.03: Avenging Phantom/Myth Conceptions (1994)

Tales From The Cryptkeeper
Season 2, Episode 03
The Avenging Phantom/Myth Conceptions

The Cryptkeeper's shadow play is interrupted by the Vaultkeeper, and they engage in a little un-friendly competition before Crypty introduces his story The Avenging Phantom.

Jimmy is way too old to be afraid of the dark, at least according to his older sister. In fact, he seems to be afraid of everything, probably because he's constantly harassed and mistreated by those around him. But when his wish for a protector comes true, he gets more than he bargained for.

It's more about conquering fear than the dangers of vengeance, and it's a pretty weak story with a lot of disconnect.

Luckily the Cryptkeeper has a second tale up his sleeve, this one called Myth Conceptions.

An archaeologist is on a dig in Greece, seeking out the golden shield of Perseus from the ancient myth of Medusa. He finds proof that it was more than just a myth when he stumbles into her fabled temple, and steals the shield with obvious diabolical intent. Too bad that means Medusa was real, too.

It's nice to see them pulling from the rich tapestry of mythology, and I really enjoyed the brief retelling of the legend. Unfortunately the rest of the episode seemed rushed, part of a double feature as it is.


Sunday, March 11, 2012

Tales From The Cryptkeeper S2 Ep.02: Cold Blood Warm Hearts/The Spider and the Flies (1994)

Tales From The Cryptkeeper
Season 2, Episode 02
Cold Blood Warm Hearts/The Spider and the Flies

While the Cryptkeeper lounges on the beach to introduce today's terror tale, he's assaulted by the Old Witch, who hijacks the show and tells us her own story: Cold Blood Warm Hearts.

A group of annoying extreme teenagers on a fishing trip reel in more than they bargain for when a scaly green hand emerges from the surface and tears a whole in their boat. Rumors quickly circulate through the town about a sea monster, and two opposing forces begin to seek it out: a young ecology-minded female who wants to protect the ocean and all it's creatures, and a weathered old sea captain that wants to hunt it for sport.

A romantic, sickly-sweet story of monster-meets-monster.

Luckily the Cryptkeeper jumps in and fills the remainder of the time with his story, The Spider and the Flies, which immediately drew me in with the awesome title card artwork.

A small rural town is inundated with a rare species of spiders, sending the populace into a panic. Luckily for them, a mysterious stranger (dressed like a vintage pulp fiction character) arrives, promising that he can rid the town of this new pestilence. But not for free, of course.

Young amateur scientist Simon and his adorable little sister Sally don't trust the stranger, and do a little investigating of their own.

A good, solid episode with some nice visuals. I wish it was a full-length story so we could have spent more time with this mysterious fellow--even if the grand reveal was slightly disappointing.


Saturday, March 10, 2012

Pixar Remakes The Shining?

Well, no.  Not quite.

But graphic artist Kyle Lambert has created a series of 25 images that take characters from the Toy Story franchise and places them in scenes from Stanley Kubrick's The Shining.  It's a bizarre--and bizarrely beautiful--mashup that has to be seen to be believed.

Woody as Jack Torrance
Big Baby as Danny Torrance
Lotso as Dick Hallorann
Chatter Telephone as The Typewriter
and much, much more...

The above image is just a taste, but you'll have to head on over to Kyle's official website ( if you want the whole buffet.

And I know you do...


Friday, March 9, 2012

And Soon The Darkness (2010)

And Soon The Darkness

Written by Jennifer Derwingson & Marcus Efron
Directed by Marcus Efron

Stephanie...Amber Heard
Ellie...Odette Annabelle
Michael...Karl Urban

Painfully attractive American girls Stephanie and Ellie are on a bike trip across Argentina. After a night of drinking and prowling for strange, the two get in an argument and separate. While apart, Ellie is abducted by an unknown assailant.

The police (as usual in these sorts of films) are totally ineffectual, and so Stephanie heads out on her own in search of her friend--aided occasionally by Michael, another American who has also had someone go missing from the area.

Ellie is depicted as the fun-loving party girl, rather slutty to be honest, although her tactics are questionable at best. Urinating in front of a man as a method of seduction? Interesting, though not particularly effective.

Although this is a remake of an older film, the rampant sexuality and the feeling of being lost and alone in a foreign land occasionally gives it an air of Hostel.

Even if I hadn't yet seen the original when watching this, I would still feel that I had seen this all before. It wasn't a bad movie, just kind of rote and predictable at this point, an attempt to cash in on recent trends.

Despite the mundanity of the proceedings, the first 35 minutes or so of the movie is filled to the brim with delightful eye candy that I simply couldn't help but love.

Worth a rent, perhaps, but there's absolutely nothing special about it.

Rated R
91 Minutes
United States/Argentina/France

"There's a fine line between irony and just plain bad."

Thursday, March 8, 2012

And Soon The Darkness (1970)

And Soon The Darkness

Written by Brian Clemens & Terry Nation
Directed by Robert Fuest

Cathy...Michele Dotrice
Jane...Pamela Franklin
Paul...Sandoe Elés

Friends Cathy and Jane are on vacation in France, bicycling through the scenic countryside. They get into a bit of an argument--a real row--and separate long enough to cool off. When Jane heads back to the wooded area where she left Cathy, she finds her friend missing, with only a pair of panties as proof that she had ever been there.

All evidence points to the fact that Cathy was abducted by some unknown assailant, but Jane has a hard time acknowledging that. She accepts the help of Paul, a mysterious man whom Cathy had been making goo-goo eyes at earlier in the day, before realizing that he may not be telling her the full truth about himself.

This thriller isn't always thrilling, but it's not bad either. Pamela Franklin is beautiful and natural as Jane, while Michele Dotrice as Cathy is not quite as beautiful or talented, but she shows a little bit more skin to make up for it. Sandoe Eles, who plays Paul, seems like a real cool character, smooth and shadowy at the same time. All of the locals are a little off-kilter, and you get the sense that all of them are hiding something, and any one of them could be behind Carol's disappearance.

It was pretty smart of the filmmakers to not include subtitles for any of the French dialogue, as it makes us feel as alien and outcast as Jane does while searching for her friend in a foreign landscape.

It's also got a solid soundtrack that helps set the mood, ranging from a hip and bubbly melody during the carefree opening sequences to a hard hitting, heart pounding orchestral assault during the suspenseful chase scene climax.

A bit uneven, in its best moments And Soon The Darkness reminded me a bit of Hitchcock, and in its worst a decently effective made-for-TV movie. It's a lesser-known gem that still shines pretty bright despite the dust, and deserves an audience.

Although this doesn't seem to be a movie screaming for a remake, it still got one in 2010--which will be reviewed tomorrow.

95 Minutes
Rated PG

"It's not exactly swinging. But it is dangling."

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Zaat (1971)


Written & Directed by Ron Barton

Dr. Kurt Leopold...Marshall Grauer
The Monster...Wade Popwell
Martha...Sanna Ringhaver
Rex...Gerald Cruse

The town of Cypress Grove, Florida has been besieged by a new type of pest: walking catfish that are just as able to survive on land as in sea. The sheriff, a good ol' boy type, isn't too concerned but he calls in some environmental scientists anyway, just to placate his constituency.

Turns out these mutant catfish are the work of the resident mad scientist, who is obsessed with water life and wants to see them take over the world. Using his secret formula ZaAt, he turns himself into a mossy mess of a man, ready to lead his moist army into the future.

But first, he needs a wife...

It's something of an Eco-minded horror flick--like the ungodly offspring of The Lorax and The Creature From The Black Lagoon. And if that doesn't pique your interest, I don't think anything will.

Far from a good film in the traditional sense, Zaat has become something of a cult classic of bad cinema, which I think it rightly deserves. While some may be able to enjoy it on their own, it probably needs a small crowd of peers and a large cache of beer to be fully appreciated.

There are so many disparate elements that keep you watching even after realizing what a hot mess you're seeing unfold on the screen, I don't think I can list them all.

The special effects are beyond bad, and the dialogue is often cornball. The performances are rather stiff, especially by the bit players, and the pacing is all over the place.  All of the scientist/monster dialogue is performed via voice over narration for some reason, and it meanders from the educational to the pseudo-philosophical and back again. He is the subject of plenty of overly-long scenes that test the limit of your patience--the opening 15 minutes consists almost entirely of him tooling around his laboratory.

There are a few real beautiful women on display here, and although there are a number of times that full-flesh seems imminent, it's yanked away from you at the last possible second. Bastards! Still, hotties are hotties, and I never argue with a gratuitous bikini shot.

The highlight for me, though, was the soundtrack. It featured some truly stellar protest folk songs, which sadly I have not yet located for purchase. There was a bizarrely beautiful scene where a guitar-strumming troubadour leads a group of youths to safety, Pied Piper-style, that I had to rewind and watch again.

The Film Chest/Cultra release is remastered in HD, and comes in a Blu-Ray + DVD combo pack. The picture looks phenomenal considering the age and pedigree of the movie, and should be enjoyed by purveyors of fine cheese everywhere.

It would pair perfectly with The Beast of Yucca Flats...if you're strong enough to stomach it.

Rated PG
100 Minutes
United States


Related Posts with Thumbnails