Friday, August 27, 2010

Train (2008)

While competing in Russia, a group of college wrestlers sneaks out of the hotel to a party and end up missing their train. Their Coach can not make the non-English speaking small town ticket seller understand him. But a stranger suggests they board the train she is taking as they can pay on the train rather than buying tickets.

The staff on the train are creepy and insist that the group hand over their passports for safe keeping since valuables left in the rooms will probably get stolen. Really? Are you seriously going to give your passports to the inbred hillbilly's in the middle of Russia on a mystery train? Yes, well I don't see why that would be a problem, but then again I'm completely insane.

As the wrestlers and coaches start to disappear from the train, the remaining few search the cars and find a secret laboratory where bodies are being cut up. You'll keep waiting for the wrestlers to put up a fight and try to protect themselves from what is about to happen, but they don't. They may as well have been the math team.

House of Fears (2007)

A group of teens head into the local haunted house attraction before it's grand opening. The house has nine themes all based on common fears, although they are not all ones that you would expect. The bad news for the kids is that an evil statue has released supernatural powers that animate the dummies inside the attraction. Each kids deepest fear coincidentally happens to be one of the themes used, and their fear tries to kill them.

The plot is cliche and I didn't expect much, but it was actually okay. The sets seem to have been done by people who have knowledge of real attractions and their secret passageways.

The Prowler (1981)

A GI serving in World War II gets a Dear John letter from his girlfriend back home. When there is a graduation dance later that year, the girl and her date are murdered by a man dressed as a GI. Thirty years later, there is another graduation dance and the killer GI is back.

This is a typical early 80s slasher flick except for the amazing special effects by Tom Savini. Supposedly Savini thinks this is some of his best work.

We were trying to figure out if the band in the film was real or just actors put together to play the part of a band. Turns out they were a real band called Nowherefast.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Holla (2006)

Monica is a tv star who decides to get away from the pressure of fame by heading off on a camping and rock climbing trip with a group of friends. When they stop at a cabin for the night, the group runs into a killer who starts picking them off one by one.

Not much else to say about this one. There's nothing new about the plot or the characters, and there isn't any tension. One question though - how big is that cabin? They keep losing each other while running around inside, but it doesn't look that big.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Dark and Stormy Night (2009)

Reporters vying for a story attend the reading of a will at an isolated mansion on a dark and stormy night. After family members and strangers arrive, the bridge goes out, trapping everyone for the evening and that's when the murders begin.

Larry Blamire's satire of 1940s era murder mysteries hits the mark with some very funny scenes and a cameo by the legendary Bob Burns dressed as a gorilla! The film captures the rapid fire patter of old films, plus the stereotypical characters, such as the sniveling rich guy and the jungle guide.

One of my favorite scenes is when the Phantom gets his robe caught in the door of the secret passage in the bookcase. It's so ridiculous.

Hammerhead (2005)

Dr. King, a scientist shunned due to his crazy ideas, invites his former colleagues to a remote uncharted island to show them his latest scientific breakthrough that he claims will make them a fortune. Turns out he's been doing stem cell research and found a way to turn his cancer stricken son into a half man/half shark. Needless to say the group are horrified at this nasty turn of events, but the worst is yet to come.

The good doctor's plan is to pay them back for calling him crazy. So he locks them in a room and opens the flood gates to allow his shark son to swim in and eat them all. Nope, nothing crazy about that.

The majority of the group manage to escape this fate and then start trying to figure out how to get off the island. Arguing ensues and the group splits up, each with their own plan to get away. Features Tylo Hunter, "I'm just a biologist but..." Just a biologist, indeed.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Evil's City (2005)

Competing college tv reporters Courtney and Amber try to locate the ghost town of Ancheron. Legend has it that the town's sin was so great that heaven and hell intervened and the inhabitants died. Courtney and Amber each want to be the first to solve the mystery of what really happened.

Amber's friends steal Courtney's map/photos/research and determine exactly where the town is located. This begs the question, why is Courtney driving around asking people in the area if anyone has heard of Acheron. Why not try the spot that you mapped out, which as it turns out is exactly where Acheron is located.

Instead Courtney antagonizes the locals to the point that they beat up her cameraman, Todd. Then she happens upon the mysterious man in black who can show them where Acheron is, and says he will show it to them as a warning. Oh yes, this will be a warning well heeded indeed.

Once each group finds the town the film takes on a cross processed faded 1970s look to it. Amber and her friends spend the night in town in one of the houses. The next thing you know it is daylight. This means Courtney and Todd spent all night standing in the woods looking at the mist covered valley where Acheron is located.

Everyone in town died on the same day. So each team (who is unaware that the other is in town) tries to figure out what happened. Amber looks around one of the buildings and reports that no one will ever knows what happened because the records have disappeared. Courtney proves herself smarter, as well as a better reporter, by actually searching the building that houses public records. She and Todd find notes and records on the causes of the deaths giving her a huge advantage in her story. Then the army shows up.

Turns out Acheron is on government property and the Army found one of the reporters cars. So they went searching for the trespassers. Too bad because they are going to run into the same problems that the college kids are going to find - bad demon demon makeup and cgi. Yes, it's a low budget film, but that doesn't mean it has to look this bad.

After some Army deaths and running around by our reporters, there is lots of exposition from a survivor who lives in town, (he was away when everyone died). Later a priest offers more exposition to move us towards the end of the film.

While this is not a good film, it's not as bad as I'd heard. Sure it's ridiculous, the acting is not very good, the script requires exposition, and the film starts out with a cliche with a bible verse on the screen but.... well, it's not the worst thing I've ever seen. I might have been more disappointed if I hadn't read how bad it was before viewing it. I was expecting something much worse.

That being said there are several more things I'd like to mention:
  1. The film believes in constant little camera movements which can be very annoying. It also seems to have needle drop music, which can be cool if it's purposely used for an effect, but that wasn't the case here.
  2. The town is right where legend says it is, so why hasn't anyone ever found it?
  3. The Army guy who looks for the circuit breaker heads down in daylight but doesn't find it until it is dark out.
  4. Why would a legendary town that no one can locate still have electricity?
  5. If you're in an abandoned ghost town and two mysterious girls in lingerie show up in the middle of the night, why wouldn't Army personnel be suspicious?
  6. Amber hears a little girl laughing and heads off to find her. It's daytime. She is still wandering around at 1am - WTF?!
Also the film includes this classic dialogue:

Girl in Dorm: Any word on the bitch?
Todd: Wanna ease up? She's in the hospital.
Girl in Dorm: Gee talk about irony.


Sunday, August 15, 2010

Mirror Mirror II: Raven Dance (1994)

Seventeen years after an evil mirror wreaks havoc at an orphanage and causes a nun to go blind, a rock band discovers it in a closet as they are setting up for their gig. Why are they playing a gig at an orphanage when all the orphans have been sent away to summer camp except for the two new arrivals? No idea, but shortly after finding the mirror, the band starts playing and is turned into charcoal briquettes.

The new orphans are brother and sister. I can't remember the brothers name, which is ok because he was an atrocious actor and mumbled as if he were mentally challenged.

Marlee inherited the bulk of her father's estate, which is a problem for her extremely older half sister. The elder sister, with the help of a doctor, plans to have Marlee declared incompetent so she can have the money.

But Marlee loves to dance and has a cat named Piewhackit. It's name will drive you crazy since she'll say it about a hundred times over the course of the movie. Marlee's eyesight starts to go, but she must dance! When Marlee is sentenced to bed rest for two weeks after spraining her ankle, she gets overly upset and declares that she must dance! Geez kid, let it heal. It's only a sprain. It's not that important and you're not that good a dancer.

For most of the movie there is bad dancing, blind nuns who go unheeded, a pervert in the basement, a former orphan who may or may not be a ghost or in league with the mirror, the money hungry half sister, and of course the evil mirror. It all works out in the end... sort of... I guess. No, I'm lying. The ending will make you frustrated and you won't believe they resorted to that type of crap ending. You'll also wish Roddy McDowell had had something else to do the day they asked him if he'd be interested in being in the movie. Poor Roddy, he deserved better.

Mega Piranha (2010)

Wow, what can I say? It was awesome, ridiculous, and tremendously entertaining. The Mega franchise has another winner complete with former pop singers and tv stars (Tiffany and Barry Williams). Tiffany stars as a scientist who accidentally invents a violent strain of piranha that can't be controlled. When these beasties end up in the local river, they eat a congressman and a tour boat. Mercy!

The military are called in to stop this watery menace, and by military I mean one special ops guy named Jason. Jason is met at the airport by Tiffany with a piece of wood from the sunken boat which is supposed to prove that it's demise was due to the piranha, not an explosion as the authorities have stated.

With Jason and Tiffany hot on the trail of the piranha, things get crazier as it is discovered that the piranha double in size every 36 hours. Soon piranha the size of school buses are flying down the streets and diving through buildings. The cgi is pretty lame, but in this case it made the movie funnier.

The ending is along the lines of Megashark vs Giant Octopus where there is no good reason for it to resolve and you'll wonder how they succeeded. But that's okay, because I can still hang onto the vision of Jason lying on his back on the beach, moving his legs like he's riding an invisible bike and kicking piranha out of the air one after another. Ridiculous!!

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Bloodrayne (2005)

Rayne is a half vampire/half human who is part of a carnival freak show until she escapes and murders her captors. She convinces a group of vampire hunters to let them join her by revealing that vampire villain Kagan killed her mother.

The acting is not the best. Michael Madsen's halting line delivery makes it seem as if he's channeling Shatner and Michael Pare's brief role is awkward to say the least. It's almost like someone slapped a bad wig and bad mustache on his head and pushed him out onto the set.

There was some decent blood spatter and some of the sword fighting was okay as were some of the effects. But after Rayne bites someone she just sits there with her mouth hanging open as wide as possible. It looks ridiculous. I'm not sure what you'd call it, but it's not acting

Warlock (1989)

A warlock travels through time from 1600s Boston to 1980s Los Angeles, followed by witch hunter Gyles Redfern. Gyles joins forces with a girl that the warlock put a hex on. They race to track down the warlock before he can find the pages of the Grand Grimoire which will unlock powers that will spell the end of the world. It's entertaining and fun, although the effects of the warlock flying are laughable.

Autumn (2009)

A virus kills most of the world's population, leaving a handful of survivors wondering what happened. Due to differing opinions on what to do, they split up. Some of the group stays in town to wait for help, while others believe the best thing to do is get out of town since there are hundreds of dead bodies in the streets.

Shortly afterwards, the dead begin to rise. At first they don't have any reasoning. They walk until they hit a wall and then continue trying to walk through it. But with each passing day, they seem to get more thought process and start coming after those left alive.

Three of the group hold up in a farm house in the middle of nowhere but soon find that sound attracts the zombies, who have taken a liking to the noise made by their generator. While the film may sound interesting, it's not. And just when you think it can't get any worse, here comes David Carradine as an insane old man to drag the production down a little further.

The people in the film make bad decisions, such as riding a motorcyle (zombies are going to knock you off it at some point), not loading up on guns after being attacked, and living in a house with lots of windows that is going to be difficult to defend. It's long, boring and stupid. Don't waste your time.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Tony (2009)

The description that I read stated Tony spends most of his time alone, is obsessed with 1980s action flicks and when social situations arise, the result of Tony's awkwardness is murder. I guess I wasn't paying close enough attention because I thought it was a black comedy. Then I get the rental and it says it's a gruesome character study..... not what I was expecting to say the least.

Tony is a sad character. He doesn't know how to relate to people, has lived on public assistance for years, and spends his time in a small apartment watching 1980s action films. His attempts at conversation are uncomfortable and the film is really effective in making you feel uncomfortable for him.

But there isn't much going on in this film and I found it couldn't hold my interest. To be fair, that could have been because I was expecting something different. Much of the film is of Tony wandering around the streets or in a nightclub or a brothel, and there is no dialogue. There is a subplot about a missing boy which I wish had been explored further. The film is disturbing and offers no explanation or hope.