Saturday, November 30, 2013

Godmonster of Indian Flats




1973

"Real" rating:  *1/2

So Bad It's Good rating:  *****

It's hard to know where to start with this movie, which is the first movie to ever require me to split my rating like that.  Here are the plot keywords from its imdb page:  mutant / sheep / funeral / martial law / exploding gas station.

The first thing I need to do is publicly apologize to 50PageMcGee, whose Netflix copy of this languished at my house for over a month so I could get screencaps.  A perfect encapsulation of my lackluster horrorthonnery this year.  Sorry, Fitty!  Thanks for finding this flick.

Next item on the agenda:  Worst.  Monster.  Ever.









 GODMONSTER OF INDIAN FLATS!  Is... in the frame somewhere, they're telling me.  Oh there he is, back there on the right.  By the trees there.

The titular monster of this tale is the sorriest threat to bear the name of Monster, lamer than every impotent crawling hand I've ever seen and the Eraserhead baby combined.  Both on a fictional level and as a movie prop, the very essence of the thing is moaning "Whyyy did you maaake meee?"

Godmonster!

I'll get back to the worstmonsterness of the situation, but next is a word on the movie itself.  I've seen some delightful bad movies.  Sorority House Massacre II.  The Crawling Hand.  They use common formulas, but in each case the alchemy of stock footage, hammy acting, whipslash editing and a dozen other factors yield a result that's surprisingly unique.  Godmonster has that quality; the editing kicks like a mule and the dialogue is silly and clunky, but add some luck plus the perpetual scotch haze that was 1973 and the resultant rhythm is pretty fun.

The 70's.  Have some now.

Our story begins when a fleece-wearing yokel named Eddie hitches a ride to Reno in the back of a truck full of sheep.  He strikes it rich at the slots and is immediately turned over to some drink-pushing ne'er-do-wells.  Good ol' Elbow Johnson suggests they hop in his car and head up to Virginia City while the credits finish and by golly they do.  Virginia City turns out to be a small town where people dress like Old Westy people most of the time just for the hell of it.

This is a huge chunk of the experience, because a cheap way to make a movie is go to some town where they do a bunch of weird shit they were gonna do anyway and film it.  So these harsh edits I mention might fling you from a conversation right into the midst of the Wild West Main Street Parade, or perhaps an old-fashioned pie eating contest.  Conversely, there are countless lingering shots of odd-looking bystanders who have nothing to do with the story, save that they're wearing themed clothing of some sort.

Larry David, Jason Statham and William Fichtner back up a young Robert Bork on piano.

At this point you might be wondering if you're really watching a monster movie.  You are, right?  It's got the word "monster" right there in the title.

 Godmonster!

After Eddie gets his money stolen and gets beaten up for being a dumb rube, kindly research scientist Professor Clemens drives him back to his sheep ranch, where Eddie sleeps off his drunk in the pen with his sheep.  It took me a while to realize that it was Eddie's ranch and not the doc's, because 1) there didn't seem to be any actual house on it for Eddie to live in, just the enclosure where he bunked with sheep, and 2) it was not clear AT ALL that when Elbow Johnson took everyone on the wild journey to Virginia City, he was essentially driving Eddie home.

Eddie has a low grade hallucination in which he mostly sees sheep and therefore is probably not hallucinating.  Then one of his sheep gives birth to a big pulsating something or other.

Godmonster!

Clemens and his assistant Mariposa show up to check on Eddie the following morning and the three of them revel in the stupendous scientific discovery they've made.  Clemens instantly became my favorite character because of his brow-furrowingly earnest performance, brought out in the way he stressed his words:

"It may provide the PROOF I need for a certain theory of cellular realignment!"

"Stand still or I'll science you!"

The trio set the pathetic beast up in some tank contraption and do their best to keep it alive.  Clemens keeps up his Kool-Aid Guy levels of enthusiasm, which is nice because the monster doesn't get rampaging until minute 70 of this 89 minute movie.  You heard me.

That isn't even the worst of it, because I've watched plenty of 50s monster movies and I've done terrible ratios of action vs. scientific jibjabbery.  But the Godmonster Babysitters Club hardly gets any screen time, thanks to an odd subplot that strolls into the movie and instantly mushrooms out of control until very soon IT is the plot, and the movie treats the monster like an unpopular relative.

"Don't worry, folks!  I'm gonna get them eventually!  (Hack!...Wheeze...)"

Virginia City isn't just a town that likes the old west, it's been furiously tailored to history's standards by the fanatical Mayor Silverdale, who finds himself at odds with an out-of-towner named Barnstable, who represents some unseen rich guy who wants to buy up the old silver mines.

Godmonster!  Oh wait no, it's these guys. 

What makes this pretender to the plot interesting is that it isn't interesting, at all, and yet the series of events keeps you guessing.  Barnstable takes to the Virginia City vibe, and we get to see him attend not one but two dress-coded events before Silverdale's cronies trick him into thinking he killed a popular dog.

Which is easy to believe because everyone's shooting live ammo on a crowded street. 

There's an extended scene of the fake dog funeral, which is not a funeral for an artificial dog but rather the other thing.  At this point, again, you may be wondering if you're watching a monster movie.

"I bet he's up there sniffing God's dog's butt!"

I mean, here's a funeral in a monster movie and

-- The deceased isn't a person
-- The deceased wasn't killed by the monster
-- The deceased isn't actually deceased.

"Hey girls, could one of you notice me and turn around and scream and stuff?  Save me a little work here?  Hello?  Pffff.  Fine,  forget it then."

Best part of all, Barnstable isn't scared off by his damaged rep, and we get to watch his sorry attempts to buy folks' land by going door to door, inexplicably still wearing cowboy gear.

"Ha ha, good one ma'am.  No, it doesn't say "Puppy Slayer" on my checks.

After a series of even sillier events Barnstable is (of course) running from a lynch mob, only to be rescued by the plot he replaced when Eddie and Mariposa drive by and enable his escape.  The conflict makes its way to the Indian Flats science research facility and in all the ruckus the lab suddenly finds itself short one Godmonster.

"Yeah let's get this rampage STARTED bitches!  Ho Yeaahhhhh!!!...  Jeez, you guys are still really far away."

The Godmonster's amok time is short and uninspiring, pretty much what you'd expect from the WORST MONSTER EVER.  The Gmonster's body count begins when it busts out, delivering a bloody double slash to a deputy before galumphing away.  The lad falls to his death, and the monster's body count ends right there too.  Victims: One.


"Wait, what did he say?"

Yeah, it doesn't get any of the kids.  It does get to munch on some potato chips or cake or something, which is probably the only pleasurable experience in its short and horrendous life.

"Jeez.  Well, better get my snacks then."

And because eight stills of this scene just aren't enough for me, I invite you to screen it for real and see if I'm exaggerating.  Just watch the thing move and try not to feel sorry for it.  I like to imagine the guy in the suit was wandering around the yard for twenty minutes before he managed to get into frame.

(Skip to the 44 second mark to get past the sheep footage.)



The ending of this has to be seen to believed, and you probably won't believe it even then.  It involves  a lot of yelling and running and shooting and fighting, and for some reason everybody's throwing garbage.

"Eat this, Iron Eyes Cody!"

While Godmonster of Indian Flats is certainly interesting, I can safely say that as a monster movie and horror movie it's quite terrible.  But oh so fun.  Soooo fun!  I guess the truly bad cinema is the stuff you have the best time yelling at, and I don't think it's a quality anyone can intentionally put in their film, because that would wreck it.  Marc and I spent 89 minutes either angrily pointing or staring in slack-jawed befuddlement, and it was a blast all the way. 

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Happy Thanksgiving!


Greetings horror fans!  I hope you all are having a relaxing day filled with food and TV.

As is our loose tradition, we will be wrapping up Horrorthon reviews by the end of this weekend.  I've got a few in the hopper, but I'm sure I'll be condensing some into a leftover Review Bomb come Sunday.  Everyone else is encouraged to join me (if you've got some left) and then let's do some Best Ofs this year, 'kay?

Our new neighbors brought us some jalapeno-infused vodka the other day.  Today I shall fill a shot glass and raise it to you all.  Cheers!

Monday, November 25, 2013

Thantomorphose (“becoming death”)


(2013) ****

Laura, a struggling artist who is in a relationship with a verbally and sexually abusive, drunken man, wakes up one morning after a night of rough sex and realizes that she hates her life.  With the loss of her job and the threat of eviction she becomes a recluse.  Noticing a small bruise on her arm she thinks nothing of it.  What follows is a grueling cinematic exercise as Laura, who probably has been ‘dead’ on the inside for years, slowly begins to decompose before our eyes for an hour and forty-five minutes.  Wondering around her apartment nude she attempts to keep herself together through any means including thread, duct tape, etc.


Not for the feint of heart (I seem to say that a lot) Thantomorphose is a fascinating exercise in loneliness and the loss of one’s soul.  As Laura slowly loses her mind she literally falls apart before our eyes with disgusting visuals that include every fluid contained in the human body.  The metaphor works well.


Ha Ha!


Wednesday, November 20, 2013

The Haunted House of Horror


(1969) **1/2

Chris (Frankie Avalon) and his bored friends decide to leave a party to explore a local “haunted” house and hold a séance.  When the séance fails to provide any entertainment the gang does the sensible thing and all split up to explore the house.  Soon one of the hooligans is stabbed to death by an unseen assailant.  Not wishing to attract any negative attention from the police given their questionable records they decide to hide the body and leave and never to speak of the incident again.  Unfortunately this sensible plan backfires when one of the friends leaves a lighter behind with her name on it.  As the police begin to question them the friends decide to return to the scene of the crime in order to find “clues”.  This proves to be a bad decision as they learn that the killer is still among them.


It was refreshing to seen Frankie Avalon play against type as a hooligan trying to beat a drug charge but perhaps a mistake to cast him as a representative of the groovy 60s subterranean scene given his body of 1950s work up to that point (“How to Stuff a Bikini”, really?).  Despite the title nothing “haunted” or supernatural occurs in this film which ends up being more of a murder mystery than anything else.  Following the initial murder nothing really happens until the climax when the killer is revealed.  The Haunted House of Horror includes two very bloody scenes that were apparently the bloodiest ever seen on film up to that point.  A fun idea with poor execution despite a fairly engaging cast.  Skip it.


Keep My Grave Open

(1976) *

Reclusive and eccentric Leslie Fontaine lives in a remote Southern mansion next to a cemetery with her never-seen brother, Kevin.  The incestuous siblings like their privacy and shun the outside world.  The abusive Kevin plays mind games with Leslie who only wants his “love” (shudder).  Meanwhile as a sword-wielding serial killer dressed like a civil war solider (?) slices up the denizens of their small community Leslie begins to wonder if her brother is responsible.


My rating might have been slightly higher had I not viewed a terrible copy from one of those 50-pack movie sets when I was desperate for something to watch.  Keep My Grave Open was directed by S.F. Brownrigg who is best known for the schlocky ‘Don’t Look in the Basement’ and ‘Don’t Open the Door’ films.  True those other films had some b-level charm Keep My Grave Open is somewhat of a bore-fest.  Although there are a few good sequences including a woman hiding in a small shed as she attempts to dodge a sword randomly poking through the walls, there is not enough here to sustain attention.  Perhaps a pristine copy of the film would make it more enjoyable but I’m guessing probably not.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

La ragazza che sapeva troppo (The Girl Who Knew Too Much)



1963  ****

Holy macaroni, it seems I stumbled onto the very first giallo film!  This is Mario Bava's tribute film to Hitchcock, and the original international trailer was attached to the dvd of another Bava movie I haven't reviewed yet.  I was hooked instantly, both by the heavily stylized black-and-white imagery and the hypnotic groovy beat (I'm not being sarcastic, I've since bought the song on iTunes).  I invite you to watch it, as it will say far more about the movie than I can.



Like many of our stories do, this begins with a vacation gone wrong, except instead of the middle of nowhere it takes place in Rome.  Nora Davis travels from America to stay with her aunt, who might not be feeling well but at least she has handsome young John Saxon as her doctor.  The very first night Nora is there her aunt dies, and when she rushes outside for help she gets mugged.  Delirious from shock and moments away from losing consciousness, she sees a woman stagger out of a nearby home with a knife in her back.  When she awakes, she discovers that the events she witnessed took place ten years ago on that same spot...

This movie could have been a five-star classic if not for an unnecessary overlay of occasional clumsy humor.  There are a few telling quotes from its Wikipedia page, such as "Director Mario Bava thought the plot of The Girl Who Knew Too Much was silly and focused more on the technical aspects of the film," and this bit of bitchiness:  
"Director Mario Bava didn't look back positively on the film, claiming that he 'thought [the film] was too preposterous. Perhaps it could have worked with James Stewart and Kim Novac, whereas I had...oh, well, I can't even remember their names.'"

Ouch!  I think he's being too harsh there, both on his players and the plot.  Without the misplaced humor it could have played as well as most of its contemporaries.  Ah well.


Two more things:  Bava got a lot of mileage out of shooting in Rome, which is a splendid location.  Admittedly I have a soft spot for Rome because it was the first foreign city I ever visited, but also it's freakin' Rome.




And Letícia Román is definitely getting Scream Queen honors if I get around to my Best Ofs this year. It's like you could shoot a whole movie around the startled expressions captured in her big beautiful eyes.


And that's what they did!

Monday, November 18, 2013

Home Sweet Home


(2013) **1/2

In the suburbs of New York a man breaks into a large home, disables the security system, and spends 20 minutes nailing all the windows shut and installing surveillance equipment.  We never see his face.  When the owners of the home return he hides in the shadows and spies on them as they proceed with the usual humdrum marital discourse.  When the wife decides to take a shower in preparation for sex, the husband is taken by surprise and knocked out.  Dressing up in a cheerleading outfit following her shower (come on, marital sex gets boring and you have to spice it up once in a while), the wife quickly discovers her bloodied husband and is immediately knocked herself.  Chained to a radiator in her bedroom she gets her first glimpse of her assailant, a large man clad in a creepy mask.  Who is he and why is he doing this?  Freeing herself from her rstraints she attempts to escape as the home invader tracks her every move.





Shot in 81 minutes real time, Home Sweet Home could have been told in half that time.  The opening is creepy and the final act is pretty great but the middle is padded to death.  We have long sequences of the wife crawling around the house in an attempt to evade her stalker.  I’m not a huge fan of home invasion movies unless there is some sort of a payoff.  The yardstick by which I measure a home invasion film is between “You’re Next” (total payoff) and The Strangers (no payoff) with Home Sweet Home lying somewhere in the middle.  There is no characterization and the invader’s motives remain unclear, however there are some good pipe-in-the-ass moments, just not enough.  Oddly enough another film entitled Home Sweet Home was released the same month this came out.  Tatty!

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Perfect Day



I've got a review cooking but dammit Julie and I need to get the curtains hung today.  I'm posting this PS4 spot to keep things moving.  I saw this during an uncharacteristic viewing of live, non-DVRed television and thought it was absolutely adorable.  Perfectly grabs the beauty of safe violence and the gay/not gay joy of guys sharing video games together.  I don't even play multiplayer games and this spoke to me.  I don't know if this was planned before or after Lou Reed died, but either way it's a nice tribute.  Happy Sunday guys!

Friday, November 15, 2013

Sorry to interrupt...

But I couldn't stop thinking about JSP after watching this and had to make sure it was seen by all!


Come Out and Play


(2012) ***1/2

Francis and Beth travel to a remote area of Mexico to have one last romantic getaway before their child is born.  Renting a boat and traveling to a secluded island they stumble upon an eerie tropical paradise where packs of gloomy children wander aimlessly with no adults in sight.  Soon after exploring the empty streets and hotel all hell breaks loose.  After witnessing a cute little girl murder an elderly man by dropping a large rock on his head they realize that the children have murdered all the adults on the island and if they do not leave immediately they will be next.  Leaving proves to be more difficult than they thought when it becomes clear that they will have to confront numerous murderous children on their way back to their boat.



Come Out and Play is a remake of Narciso Ibáñez Serrador's 1976 Spanish horror movie 'Who Can Kill a Child?’ a film I have never seen (yet).  The plot is simple yet effective as director Makinov creates a slow build with minimal music in a gorgeous locale.  The children’s behavior is never explained although we do learn that it has been less than 24 hours since the children “changed” and in one revealing scene we see the murderous children touch normal kids who then become murderous themselves.


Although strictly b-movie fare the film raises the moral question, could you kill children even though you know that they are homicidal?  Can we see children as anything more than innocent?  The answer to both, of course, is “yes” and some of you might even find it satisfying to see bratty kids throttled (I was).  Ultimately ‘Come Out and Play’ is a “chase” movie and like Race With the Devil no one is trustworthy and the odds are against our characters.

Daybreakers



2009  ***

You might think that because I'm tired of zombies, I'm probably tired of vampires too.  Maybe I should be, but I'm not -- when I hear about new vampire flicks, I always hope they're good.  I believe in vampire chic, and because you must be wondering, I'll tell you:  No, I haven't seen any of the Twilight movies nor read the books.

There are two elements of Daybreakers that satisfy the goth in me.  The first is the premise itself, coming from the always dramatic category of The Bad Guy Already Won.   Somewhere in this movie's backstory some guy said "If we don't stop them, they'll take over the Earth!" and then he subsequently failed to stop them and was proven right.  I like that.

Because it turns out vampires are total crap at running a society; a population dominated by immortal predators is an unstable biological model and the humans are almost all gone.  Nice going, vampires.  Do the zombies get all whiny when they're all out of brains to eat?  No, they keep walking around.

The other aspect of this movie that I liked was the vampires' retro fashion sense.  It's like the world was recreated by the slender cross section of society that embraces both vampire LARP and swing dancing. The men all wear hats and smoke, and the local counter girl dresses thusly:

It turned out later that the vampire coup was backed by powerful bowtie corporations

Unfortunately that's the bulk of what this movie has to offer.  It takes a lot to tell a global story with just a handful of actors and locations, and this flick doesn't have it.  Instead you get a lot of the usual vampire posturing about how great it is to be a vampire yadda yadda suck, and on the other side you get guru posturing from Willem Dafoe about how great it is to stop being a vampire.  I love Dafoe but he's at his worst here, sporting the nickname "Elvis" (really?) and a goatee you just want to yank off and stomp on.

In my last review I awarded three stars to a brave little movie that was certainly underfunded and not too bright.  I rate Daybreakers the same, it's got some worthy ideas and visuals but it isn't as bright as it thinks; when it ultimately shoots itself in the foot you're surprised it could aim that well.

I'm going to end with some major spoilers below the next pic, but in my opinion you should just read them anyway.  It's an okay movie to spoil.

"What's that, my fuzzy darling?  Hush!  No naughty talk until we're alone..."

Elvis reverted to a human after a freak accident, in which he was exposed to sunlight but immediately immersed in water so he didn't burn up.  Ethan Hawke concocts an elaborate controlled way to repeat the process that seems way harder than running out in the sun and then into a lake.  But it works, and the added bonus is that vamps who suck re-humanized humans get re-humanized themselves.  If you think that sounds like a too-easy win I'd agree with you.  They play it differently, with the three good guys driving off into an uncertain future and the Big Bad Vampire Pharma Corp getting their blood substitute working in the nick of time.  But...

Suppose you tell people about the sun+water cure, and about the new viral spread of re-humanity.  That means blood-starved vampires can cure themselves and be immune from further attack unless the attackers want to get cured too.  If there's a blood substitute and human blood that's useless to vampires... there's suddenly no conflict.  Oops!

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Macabre (Rumah Dara)


(2009) *****

While on a road trip a group of close friends stop to help a distressed woman, Maya, who is weeping on the side of a road.  She informs them that she lives nearby and they agree to drop her off at her family’s homestead.  Arriving at Maya’s house the friends are invited inside where they are introduced to her bizarre family including her quiet brother, Armand, her intense brother, Adam, and her eerily young mother, Dara, who insists that they stay for dinner as gratitude for helping Maya.  Despite some glaring red flags including a room full of hunting weapons and numerous stuffed animal heads on the wall the group accepts the invitation with little hesitation.  Dinner becomes a perilous affair as the friends are given a strange tasting meat and some bitter wine which quickly knocks them out.  Things go bat-shit crazy when they awaken and quickly realize that they are slated to be the next meal.


Wow!  Directors Kimo Stamboel and Timo Tjahjanto, who directed the standout sequence, “Safe Haven” from V/H/S/2 are behind this frenetic gore-fest.  Sure it completely rips off The Texas Chainsaw Massacre but you won’t care once the true horror of the situation is unveiled.  Never dull for one second Macabre moves at a breakneck speed as attempts to escape from the house of horrors are met with ghastly results.  The situation becomes even crazier when four police officers show up to investigate the disappearance of the friends and become unwittingly drawn into the cannibal insanity.  Not for the feint of heart but fantastic for everyone else, Macabre delivers the goods.  Dara is sure to become an iconic horror villain.  Her quiet demeanor barely contains a simmering rage that is terrifying once unleashed.  Check out this trailer and you will be convinced that this is a must-see event for all horror aficionados.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Tasmanian Devils


2013  ***

I wound up watching this flick because it was one of the thumbnails at the end of the We Are What We Are trailer that JPX posted.  I thought it was the trailer but it turned out to be the entire movie, and once I started watching it was too late.  Not because the movie is especially good, mind you.  I just got hooked.

The opening is heavily reminiscent of Hell No:  The Sensible Horror Movie, as six friends take a helicopter ride into a Tasmanian nature reserve so they can illegally base jump somewhere in complete isolation.  They are so crazy stoked about this idea it's like the copter is filled with nitrous oxide; they are super proud of themselves at the level of fun they stand to have.  They are equally stoked about the huge wad of cash they have to bribe any officials who might arrest them for trespassing -- this cash wad is later revealed to be fifty thousand dollars.  I instantly didn't care what happened to these assholes because they had 50 grand to blow and they couldn't think of anything better to do with it besides sneaking into the woods.  Visions of the Hell No cast partying at Club Med echoed in my brain.

Nevertheless, whoever wrote this turkey was no dummy.  There's a brief character study of Stone, the cash wad guy, who's never base jumped.  He balks at going first, his friends are cool about it, he walks a few steps away, has a moment with himself and turns and jumps yeah WOO!  And he completely fucks it up, opens his chute late, gets his ass handed to him by some trees and then punches through the ground into a magic sacrificial cave thingie with a big ol' pointy impaling rock.  I checked the time and it was right at the five minute mark.  I nodded in approval.

"Psst.  Hey you, Rock.  Twenty large and we forget all about this..."

His blood turns on some glowing cave holes and pretty soon the gang is being chased by shamefully crappy CG monsters.  If I had any chance of bailing on this, it was out the window the moment Danica McKellar showed up.  You might have a crush on her because of Winnie on The Wonder Years,, but my favorite DMcK moment was when she showed up on The West Wing as an emerging character's supercute, supersmart sister.

But I like to pretend this still comes from an unaired episode of  The Wonder Years.

I already feel a bit self conscious about how much I've discussed boobs this 'thon, but in the interest of whatever counts on this blog as journalistic integrity I must report the following.  Danica McKellar's boobs are like characters in this movie, quietly trying their hardest to climb up and replace her head.  This goes unnoticed by all players, despite the early loss of her jacket, at least one soaking, and the eventual loss of her shirt (I forget why, probably to make a torch or bind a wound or something) leaving just the tight white tank top.   There I said it.

Thanks to Jennifer Connelly and Career Opportunities for paving the way.

Tasmanian Devils was an interesting random dip of the toe into the schlock-filled pool that is this SyFy monster flick phenomenon.  This wave of B minus movies has a Roger Cormanish core to it, and that deserves some respect.  However, this movie seems to be low even on their totem pole, and it's hard to see that it even tries to bring anything new to the table.   It is decently paced, and it's amusing to see the characters make both good and bad decisions, sometimes displaying impressive smarts and then depressing stupidity thirty seconds later.

I give this one the most level sideways thumb I can; it won't waste your time but neither will it change your life.

World War Z

(2013) **



World War “pee” is more like it.

This review doesn’t count towards my score because I caught it in the theater pre-Horrorthon and again on DVD post-Horrorthon. However, I feel it is my duty to share my gnawing displeasure with the movie adaptation of World War Z. Octopunk, Julie and Trevor already posted thoughtful reviews and pointed out many of its strengths, none of which I disagree with. It is an undeniably ambitious film sprinkled with new ideas, and well acted to boot. I would also add that the guy who played the teeth chatterer put forth the finest zombie performance this side of Bub.

Perhaps it's my fault for not boning up beforehand but, Goddammit, my heart sure did sink into my stomach when I read those insulting words "This film has been rated PG-13 by the Motion Picture Association". It may as well have been followed by "...because we decided to take something sacred and rip out its soul to make it more palatable for squeamish soccer moms and the like." In my opinion there is a grand tradition of zombie movies that World War Z slapped directly in the face. The reprehensible crime director Marc Forster committed is that he did not try to make the audience vomit. This is what happens when you let a sensitive guy (presumably with a ponytail) famous for wuss movies such as Monster's Ball, Stranger Than Fiction and (giant eyeball roll) Finding Neverland take control of a big budget zombie movie. The result is a catastrophe more troubling than an actual zombie apocalypse.

For me the "Big Bang" of zombies began not with Night of the Living Dead, but with the scene in the original Dawn of the Dead when the zombies feasted on the biker’s intestines. The dude got too confident and decided to play with one of those mall blood pressure monitors when he should have been paying attention to the zombies. Despite the zombies' limited intellect and overall slowness, they overwhelmed him and tore him to pieces in a nasty, stomach churning manner. The rest is history. Dawn of the Dead was rated X in 1978. It was taboo and sublime, and it inspired several enduring zombie classics including Zombi, Dead Alive, Cemetery Man, Shaun of the Dead, Dawn of the Dead (2004), 28 Days Later and The Walking Dead television series. The one thing that ties all of the above mentioned works of art together is a loving commitment to wretched grossness. World War Z intentionally shied away from the gore. So for example, when Brad Pitt whacks a zombie in the head with an axe, the camera focuses on Brad Pitt’s wincing facial expression rather than the cracked cranium with brains and blood slurping out. Simply unacceptable!

For the record the movie has virtually nothing in common with the book, and I’m not quite sure why few people consider this to be a huge problem. People defend the film by asserting that the worldwide scope of the book is far too much to tackle in one feature length movie. Wrong! With a budget of $190,000,000 to play around with I think they could have tried a little harder to capture the essence of the book’s impressive vision.

Saturday, November 09, 2013

Cool As Hell

2013 **

It has become a yearly tradition for us to attend the Rock N Shock convention in Worcester. Where we get to see some mostly terrible independent short films, peruse oodles of great horror products and memorabilia and meet cool celebrities like:

William Forsythe
Dee Snider
Jason Mewes 
We also get to see some not so famous people imitating famous people just for the hell of it like this guy.

Take a picture it'll last longer. (He actually said it too)
Part of the Rock n Shock tradition for me is to find and review one independent film per year. These are often painful to get through so one is sufficient. This year director James Balsamo caught my attention with Cool as Hell. He told me it was like Evil Dead meets Beetlejuice it was a fairly accurate description but what really sold me was when he said it featured Tom Savini. I thought, if Tom Savini is in it then it can't be all that bad. So I handed over my $10 and got a dvd and a "free" Cool as Hell t-shirt for Tony. Oh Mr. Balsamo you should hang your head in shame, Tom Savini is in fact in the film but only for about 5 seconds. Here is what you see:
Did you blink and miss me?
There are also a number of other celebrity cameos as well but mostly its a assault of poor acting, cheesy jokes and SBIG horror campiness. Oh yeah, the plot: Rich, a comic book shop owner just wants to get laid but he keeps striking out. Maybe it’s his ugly Hawaiian shirt or his cheetah hair or his dorky friend Benny who always seems to be by his side. A demon named Az shows up and decides to help Rich on his quest. Of course it wouldn’t be horror without the appearance of a rival evil demon and a few zombies as well. Cool as Hell does get some points for providing a few genuine laughs unlike the utterly unfunny Ankle Biters. I think I actually would have enjoyed it more if he hadn't mentioned Savini because we found ourselves anticipating his appearance instead of just going with the flow. As low budget indy horror goes I could easily see Balsamo films falling nicely into any Troma lovers dvd collection. Love it or leave it, the choice is purely up to the viewer.