Monday, 25 September 2017

For the Love of Shorts: Spider Danger (2012)



Usually I say little about the shorts that I show here. This one is a little different. Andrea Ricca SciFi (@SciFiShortMovie) plopped Spider Danger at my feet. A dare, perhaps, to review?

So I watched it.

Look, Andrea Ricca (star, director, writer, everything else) holds his hand on his sleeve. No, he's not a good actor. But damn, does he do a solid job of making a film that is everything it should be. He states, "...is a tribute to '50s science fiction...". Yep.

Watch it below. Laugh. You should. It is perfect.



Bravo, Sir.



Thursday, 21 September 2017

13 Eerie (2013)


Yeah, let's do our final practical exam on real dead bodies. On remote marshland. And that's not a spoiler.


13 Eerie


This film is better than the cover suggests. Actually, it's better than it deserves to be.

Synopsis

Six forensic undergrads embark on a scientific expedition to a remote island that was once used as illegal biological testing grounds for life-term prisoners.

Review

First off, I'll get point out the elephant in the room. Yes, this is directed by the same guy who did Wolfcop. Yes. I love Wolfcop. 

Anyway.

From the outset, 13 Eerie feels generic. Michael Shanks (Stargate) plays Tomkins, a professor of forensics, who is setting up fake death scenes on a marshland island for his students to autopsy. Initially, his only companion is Larry (Nick Moran) who while playing his part with aplumb, is fundamentally exposition/maguffin fodder. The first fifteen minutes is just the viewer going, "So there's going to be zombies, right?" Yeah. Generic.

Then the "teens" turn up. Lead by Katharine Isabelle (American Mary), the group consists of a fairly standard set of will-die/won't die archetypes.  

Larry finds a dead body, that they didn't bring with them, and the dead start to walk.

So plot wise there isn't a lot to work with. 

Michael Shanks, who at first seemed like he was going to get the ball rolling and then be first kill (getting the adults out of the way, so to speak) has a far meatier part. And he's a good solid actor. He can shoulder most of the movie, with the rest being held up by Katharine Isabelle - a now seasoned horror actor. Most of the rest of the group are pretty good with some recognizable faces. Which is one of the problems - and a recurring one within the industry.


"Teens"
  
Brendan Fletcher (above center) I immediately recognized from Freddy Vs Jason, where he played "teen" Mark. In 2003. In fact of the six undergraduates, most are nearer forty than thirty. Michael Shanks was in his early forties. Now I'd rather pay to see older, good, actors, than ambitious - if talentless - teen scream queens in my films, but it jars against the overall feel of the movie. But, rant over, moving on.

The gore is undoubtedly impressive - especially on such a small budget. The movie has enough squick to keep an old gore hound like me going, and it's mostly practical. Which is nice. The direction is good. Lowell Dean is carving a good career.


Zombie. Sort of.

What works so well is the pace of the film. It doesn't hang around, and after the zombie arrive moves quickly from scene to scene.

But by far the best aspect of the film is the actions (and reactions) of the cast. There isn't a lot of "running upstairs to get away". And that sets it apart. The film is written so well. Generic teen starts waving a gun around? Accidentally shoots boyfriend. It's rarely seen in these movies that people act as people act. People panic. People can't all use guns like Rambo. People flail. And stab. And hide.

Writers get a bum rap. No one ever considers them. Christian Piers Betley gets a pat on the back. He also wrote Stranded with Christian Slater. I liked Stranded.

If you're looking for a fun, good, horror flick, I can't recommend this more.





Thursday, 14 September 2017

Bad Milo (2013)


Weirdly, not the first movie I've ever seen about butt monsters.

Bad Milo

Duncan is having terrible stomach pains. It appears that it is stress related, and gets worse when he tries to bottle it up. He even ends up under the strange, perhaps deranged, psychiatrist Doctor Highsmith. It transpires that a demon - who ends up named Milo - is living in Duncan's intestines and escapes through his butthole to take revenge on those who stress him out. Much to his dismay.


Ken Marino (in white)

I found this to be very reminiscent of early Peter Jackson. It's bizarre. Completely off the wall weird. Yet strangely well done, absorbing, and completely gross.

Possibly the oddest thing about the film is that it is very much a character piece focusing on depression and stress and not on "evil little butthole monster", Milo. So the direction is dead on point, keeping the viewer firmly grounded in a horror comedy. Butthole monster. Director Jacob Vaughan has done nothing since - but we're hoping.


Milo

The cast is strong, Duncan, played by Ken Marino (We're the Millers) has a strong enough presence to hold the lead well, and the supporting cast is good. Stand out goes to Peter Stormare (Prison Break) as Highsmith.

The special effects are solid for a low budget production.

It's a fun watch, and surprisingly deep.





Monday, 11 September 2017

For the Love of Shorts: Telos (2017)



A neat little play on an old fable, Crypt TV brings Talos. Directed by Jimmy White, and starring Nancy Hale, Rafael Miguel, James Rajewski, and Thomas McNamara we could all learn a little from this tale...





Thursday, 7 September 2017

Hardcore Henry (2015)


Shot in first person: Amazing or vomit inducing?


Hardcore Henry

Henry awakens with amnesia, flung into an action scene, exposited at, fights wave after wave of bad guys, and has a boss battle, while finding out what happened before.

It's a video game, isn't it?

I just watched someone play an FPS for an hour and a half, didn't I?

And it is glorious.

The premise, played very straight, is just an FPS. Henry, the protagonist, you, awaken within a laboratory with amnesia, missing a couple of limbs - which are cyborg attachments. The facility is broken into, there's a chase, fighting, the scientist you're with - romantically as well, of course - is kidnapped, you escape. The rest of the movie is pretty much set-piece after set-piece of action scenes, until the final act where all is explained.




My worry going into the film was that it would cause nausea. I've never had the problem when gaming or watching found footage films, but I knew I had never seen anything like this before. I admit, the first two or three minutes are a little jarring, but after that, nothing, so no problem at all.

While the film is basic in its plot, it is engaging enough to not feel like a lot of set piece action scenes. But the action scenes are outstanding. Ilya Naishuller plays Henry (also known as "your hands") and there's a sneaky cameo from Tim Roth. But the star of the film is Sharlto Copley, your spirit guide through the game, I mean film, and hander-out of the next mission.

It's all a little bizarre, and great fun at the same time.




The strange concept of first person works really well, and more than once I was left wondering how they achieved the effects they did without putting actors in harms way. And on a terrifically small budget.

Honestly, it's unique, and should be seen for that reason. But it's also a riot.





Tuesday, 5 September 2017

Thursday, 31 August 2017

Into the Grizzly Maze (2015)


Wanna see a schlock b-movie staring Thomas Jane, Billy Bob Thornton, James Marsden, and Scott Glenn? Well now you can.


The title may have given away that this is a bear movie

Brothers Rowan (Marsden) and Beckett (Jane) head into the woods of the Alaskan wild in search of two people - Rowan searches for friend (a poacher with a heart of gold) and Beckett, his wife. Fundamentally that's the whole story line. Add in that there appears to be a man-killer on the loose, and not everyone has a clear agenda, and the story is wrapped.

So neatening it up into a ball, it's a plot-less film in which two men and two women go toe to paw with a bear that's smarter than your average shark.


James Marsden (right) and Bart

It is nothing, if not predictable, but very entertaining. It's far better than it should be. Most of that can be put down to the excellent cast and outstanding effects.

Marsden and Jane do a solid job of brothers with a past. Both capable actors - Thomas Jane is a personal favorite of the site. Scene stealing is done, of course, by Billy Bob Thornton as Douglass, a gun toting, no shit taking, bad-ass bear hunter. Of course, Scott Glenn brings gravitas to a small, but essencial role.

The effects match that of any "monster" movie for theatrical release. The CG and live action bear is flawlessly done. It's gory. And it looks real.


Star: Bart

The film isn't without flaw however. Our brothers are first seen as children and are maybe three years apart in age and while Marsden is only four years the junior of Jane, his woefully youthful looks make him appear far younger than his only slightly older brother. This is punctuated by the actions of Rowan being far more rash and reckless than Beckett and is slightly jarring.

The female leads of the film - Piper Perabo as Michelle, Beckett's wife, and Michaela McManus as Kaley, Rowan's love interest - are clearly in the film to get hurt, be macguffins, and be generally helpless. There appeared to be no room for strong women here. Michelle, Beckett's conservationist wife is conveniently deaf and is in need of saving. Kaley is so ridiculously clumsy she falls over in almost every scene.

That said, it is a solid actioner, that could have take a little more time with it's characterization. Grab a beer, it's a fun, silly, ride.




Tuesday, 29 August 2017

For the Love of Shorts: Stoneheart (2017)



Starring the excellent Sara Young Chandler and Jarred Kjack (in bat shit crazy mode) and directed by Alex Haughey with grace and style comes two minutes of terrifying horror. 

It stands along well, but lends itself to the beginning of something bigger...







Thursday, 24 August 2017

Shockwave (2006)


Called A.I. Assault in some places.
So bad it's good, or just so bad?

Programmed to Think. Wired to destroy!

A plane carrying two military AI "killer robots" goes down on a remote (uncharted) island. So does a helicopter carrying thieves on the run! Hilarity ensues.

Basically, some military, some crooks, and a scientist are trapped on a remote uncharted island fighting two terrible CGI killbots. Badly.

I mean, look:


I'm really here. REALLY!

Anyway. Moving passed the CG.

The film boasts a bizarrely impressive cast. Michael Dorn (Star Trek: TNG), George Takei (Star Trek: OS), Tim Thomerson (Trancers), and Robert Picardo (Star Trek: Voyager). But they're not really the stars, of course. Josh Coxx (Babylon 5), Joe Lando (JAG) and Lisa LoCicero (General Hospital) head the cast, and honestly, the acting across the board is pretty solid. The problems come in a couple of forms however. The dialogue is bizarre in places - with the whole screenplay lacking - the CGI I've already mentioned, and then there's the island.

*sigh*

Okay, the dialogue is just straight odd:

Tiffany:   "Can you land?"
Jack:   "No, but I can crash real good. I guarantee it."

It's like the writers didn't know what they were doing. It was written by William Langlois (Komodo Vs. Cobra) under a pseudonym, and William Langlois (Sharkansas Women's Prison Massacre / Sexipede!). Wait. That probably explains a lot. How did they get half the cast of Star Trek involved?

Then there is the abandoned island.


"Uncharted"

Eventually explained as a WWII outpost, and not inhabited since then, the island is suspiciously well maintained. The roads are kept. The grass cut. The lights work in the buildings, that sort of thing. It takes you out of the film.

And this film is actually work seeing. It's laughably great. But full of errors! Does that make it better?

Probably!





Tuesday, 22 August 2017

For the Love of Shorts: Dead Man's Lake



Another chiller from The Bloody Cuts team this week. This one starring Jon Campling - a Dead Celluloid favorite!

Directed by Ben Franklin (The Cabinet in the Woods) and starring Caroline Haines, you'll like this 10 minutes:








Thursday, 17 August 2017

Train to Busan (2016)


Another entry into the zombie market. They just keep coming.


Train to Busan

Straight out of the gate, this film is largely plot-less. Man and child get on train to Busan - zombie apocalypse. Does that make it a bad film? What was the plot of Night of the Living Dead? My point. The film follows father, Seok-woo, who is taking his daughter, Soo-an, to her mother (his estranged wife) in Busan. Once on the train we are introduced to couple Seong-kyeong and Sang-hwa, along with a train full of passengers. And one of them has been bitten by a zombie. 

There is some backstory about a bio leak or something, but the long and short of it is the apocalypse begins as they leave the station.

Seok-woo (Yoo Gong) / Soo-an (Su-an Kim) / Sang-hwa (Dong-seok Ma)

Train to Busan is a near flawless character study, wrapped in a fun horror flick. It's win-win for film enthusiasts. So let's look at the cast:

Father Seok-woo is a flawed figure. He comes across as rude and blinded to others at the beginning of the film, learning to show compassion before the final reel. Portrayed by Yoo Gong (Silenced) with excellence. Standout is Su-an Kim as Soon-an, his daughter, in a heartbreaking rendition of a girl lost in the situation. The support from Dong-seok Ma (Exchange) and Yu-mi Jung (Tough as Iron) as expecting couple Seong-kyeong and Sang-hwa adds the wonderful dimension of warmth and care, mirroring the arrogance of Seok-woo. Of course by the end of the movie, humanity is released in him, and true redemption sought. It's almost tear jerking from start to finish.

And it's a horror movie.

Zombies!

A damn fine one at that.

We're saturated with zombies these days. According to Wikipedia we have had 192 mainstream zombie movies in the last decade. And most of them are shit

Train to Busan doesn't really bring anything new to the table, but what it does bring, it brings with cake. The film is fun. Yes, fun. The zombies are fast moving - which brings the mind around to World War Z, but it's mostly practical. There isn't waves of CGI zombies. There are waves of made up extras. It's bright. Unusually filmed in the daytime with no filters. The zombies are scary, contorted monsters. 

Honestly, it's the best zombie movie I've seen in many-a-year.







Wednesday, 16 August 2017

Suicide Club (2018)


As this doesn't come out for a while, we'll stay spoiler free.

Suicide Club

Recluse Liz is depressed. She contemplates suicide. She visits suicide forums on the Internet. But she hasn't done it. Then she learns of the Suicide Club - a group on the dark web - who guarantee your success. From there Liz is dragged, willing or not, into a nightmare of betrayal and deception.

Klariza Clayton (Skins) carries the film from the start as recluse Liz. Beginning as a "Rear Window of its time", Liz spends her time watching the goings on around her dead end flat on a London estate. She brings a vulnerability to the character. She sells the bleak existance.

Her burgeoning relationship with neighbor Josh (Adam Newington) brings a renewed life to the character, and a believably to the situation. He is a sympathetic character with a background that would understand Liz. A strong choice by the writer.


Klariza Clayton

But the film deals with two very different issues. Suicide and depression, and the dark web. And it does it well, bringing two very different themes to the front.

While Liz and Josh are becoming closer, Liz has opened the door to the dark web.

Many people watching the movie will be unaware of the dark web, and the film does a good job of letting those in the know get a nod, while those that don't won't be fazed by its introduction. In film a simple change of browser is enough for me to know the makers did their homework. The same as the way the the dark web know who you are. Where you are. It's chilling and brutal stuff, and works with or without the knowledge. It opens the horror of the dark web - but with a user friendly interface.

Starting as a light thriller with strong themes, the film ramps continually to the last, terrifying, reel. The acting is strong throughout - with a chilling turn from Carey Thring (Fox Trap) - and the who dunnit aspect pulled off with great aplomb.

All around is should sate the appetite of both thriller lovers and horror the same, and will keep you guessing until the end. While light on gore, it's certainly terrifying.

Suicide Club hits screens early 2018. We'll drop the trailer when there is one.


Tuesday, 15 August 2017

For the Love of Shorts: The Lady in White (2017)


Nasty little two minute scare for you this week with The Lady in White. 

Directed by Michael Lowney, and starring Alena Isengildina and Omar Michael Diaz, you might want to stay sitting for this one...




We're waiting on big things from this group.


Thursday, 10 August 2017

Arena (2011)


Mortal Kombat meets The Running Man. With Samuel L. Jackson.


Arena

In, um, "the future" (or present day?) the interwebnets stream The Deathgames where two trained combatants go mano-o-mano to the death! Of course it's all fake, and special effects (of course) - so the public think. The government? Not so much. But anyone can hide on the internet. Anyway. David Lord, a fireman, has a car crash where his pregnant wife dies. After a bar fight some time later, he is kidnapped to fight.

For the first 60 or so minutes of the film, that's the plot.


Kellan Lutz

There is more to the plot, but I'll avoid spoilers on this one.

Kellan Lutz (Twilight, Immortals) mopes his way through the beginning of the movie as protagonist Lord. He's not bad, has some base acting chops, but hits the physical side of the role well. Samuel L. Jackson (Pulp Fiction, Kingsmen) is Logan - the big bad behind it all. He's...Samuel L. Jackson. The issue I have with Jackson these days is the same as that I have with Bruce Willis - can you not try. So if you like Jackson, it'll work for you.

The supporting cast are great - Daniel Dae Kim (Lost), James Remar (RED) - to hammy - Johnny Messner (Bad Ass) - to just awful - Katia Winter (Sleepy Hollow).

So a mixed bag. But you don't watch this for the acting. Fight!


Action!

The fight scenes are well choreographed. Most of the effects are practical which is nice. And there is a fair amount of them. They are pretty gruesome and gory. Again, Lutz does well at this.

It's very much a beer movie, and a pretty enjoyable one. While some of the supporting cast struggle to act their way out of a paper bag - and some are only there to show flesh - the action is good, and film is directed well, with it continuing pace from about 10 minutes in, to the final reel.

So grab a drink, and watch Kellan Lutz punch people. With swords and stuff.






Tuesday, 8 August 2017

For the Love of Shorts: DUST (2013)


Starring the late Alan Rickman and new doc, Jodie Whittaker, Dust is one of the eeriest things you'll see.

It is a perfect example of short story telling.






Thursday, 3 August 2017

Renaissance (2006)


Set in the future, this rotoscope animation is a little gem.

Renaissance

In Paris, 2054, Renaissance follows detective Barthélémy Karas (Daniel Craig / Patrick Floersheim) in his hunt for a kidnapped scientist who may - or may not - hold the key to immortality. With a twisting plot involving everything from Arab mobsters to genetic mutation, this is a film for any neo noir fan.

Existing almost entirely in black and white motion captured animation, Renaissance is a heavily stylized detective story - set in the future (almost dystopian) - but with a heavy feeling of 60's trenchcoated P.I.'s.

Paris, 2054

The story is complex, but not unfathomable. It's a who-dunnit at the core. It holds enough futuristic elements without bogging the story down, and lays out personable characters.

The director (Christian Volckman - in his only feature director chair to date) had a vision and sticks with it.

I saw the English language version with impressive talents including Daniel Craig, Jonathan Pryce and Ian Holm.


Barthélémy Karas

It's a great watch, and rolling in at 105 minutes, long for an animation. Certainly one to see though. The set apart for me was the animation style. So simple, yet so effective. A very different choice for fans of the genre.






Thursday, 27 July 2017

WolfCop (2014)


But you're a wolf!
-Cop.

WolfCop

It's hard to put a synopsis to this one. Drop out small village cop Lou, investigating "teens being noisy" one night ends up waking up the next morning with strange visions of what happened the night before. Are they real? Are they not? There was blood...

THINGS!

At the heart of the movie you'll find a good, old fashioned, who-dunnit. Stretching across the years Lou (Garou!) finds that there is 32 year curse - people die - and a werewolf is at the center of it. And it's him now. 

Leo Fafard

It's as silly as it sounds, but has some credit to it's name. 

Practical effects abound - director Lowell Dean - has seen to it. It does what it says on the box. Werewolf cop. Leo Fafard does a great job as the 'WolfCop' himself. Support comes from partner, Tina (Amy Matysio) and loser Willie (Jonathon Cherry). The acting is good - great even. It reminisces around how awful the film is, and how awful the cast need be. Don't get me wrong - WolfCop is a fabulous film. 

It's quite literally perfect.

WOLFCOP!

No, the practical effects don't meet American Werewolf in London. No, the story line isn't an Agatha Christie. It never will be. 

You want to see a werewolf cop tearing the face off drug dealers? This is perfect.

Honestly? Totally silly fun. With WOLFCOP.




Dammit there's a sequel coming out. SEE THIS.


Tuesday, 25 July 2017

For the Love of Shorts: Stitches (2011)



Another one from the Bloody Cuts team - starring Beth Hanks and directed excellently by Ben Kent - you'll not want your five minutes back:






Sunday, 23 July 2017

Unhinged (2017)


A remake of an eighties video nasty, Unhinged is pretty much just that.

Unhinged

Four friends travelling across the UK to a wedding, things go awry. People die. Pretty typical wedding? Not quite. The four in question, the bride, Melissa (Kate Lister), her sister, Lisa (Lucy-Jane Quinlan), and friends Gina (Becca Hirani) and Thalia (Lorena Andrea) run into a deranged local at a gas station, who after a lot of stalking goes all, um, rapey. So they kill him, understandably. But in deep panic, they bundle the body into the trunk of the car and do a runner, which leads them to the house of Miss Perkins (Michelle Archer). Then things go really wrong.

With strange things afoot, the body missing, and someone lurking in the shadows, the four are left fighting for their lives.


Kate Lister

Once the four are at the house of Miss Perkins the film really begins - and Miss Perkins is clearly an odd one. Archer balances the character on a knife edge of 'set in her ways' and 'down-right creepy' perfectly. Directed by Dan Allen the film feels raw - much as you'd expect from a remake of the ilk, but is visually appealing.

Kate Lister and Lucy-Jane Quinlan are excellent as siblings with a troubled past. Hirani and Andrea are solid as always. But Archer is terrific - one to watch. As the plot twists along, we finally get a reveal of the villain of the piece (no spoilers here), and what a reveal it is. To say that I want more of them is an understatement.


Kate Lister / Lucy-Jane Quinlan

The film is fast paced, gory and most importantly edge of the seat scary.

While I haven't seen the original (something I now need to correct), you can see little sprinkles of classic horror in Allen's work - the way the dining scene is filmed reminisces on Texas Chainsaw Massacre. The villain reveal feels like a early classic - back when the reveal should have shocked - and this one does.

It's must see British horror.


Michelle Archer

For something that feels so classic, it also feels so fresh. I can't recommend it more.

Unhinged comes to DVD and VOD in September.