Saturday, March 31, 2012

The Dead and the Damned (2011)

aka Cowboys vs. Zombies

The generic cover drawing made me wary since it screams "here are things which do not happen in our movie but we think you'll be enticed since they appear to be zombies."  That sentiment was spot on.

When I see this type of cover, I know what I'm getting which is something not very good. However I was surprised at how well shot the movie was.  Usually this level of movie making has camera work that lets you know they have no grasp of photography and their only basis for film making is that they own a camera.

Bounty hunter Mortimer is in search of Brother Wolf, a "savage" who raped and killed a white woman.  Mortimer buys a woman named Rhiannon to use as bait to catch Brother Wolf.   The idea works but not for the reason Mortimer intended.  With his captive, Mortimer sets Rhiannon free and heads back towards town to claim the reward.

Meanwhile a couple of prospectors find a glowing meteor in the hills and transport it back to town in a long padded sequence included to show how far they traveled and how heavy the object is.  As the town folk gather round to stare at this odd find, the prospector takes a pick to it and releases green gas which turns everyone into zombies.

Back in the woods, zombies have spotted Mortimer and Brother Wolf.  Rhiannon lets Wolf go in hopes that he'll help her when she needs it.  Mortimer and Wolf team up to fight the zombies and protect Rhiannon.  They head back to town not knowing that they are walking into the source of the problem.

One of the biggest problems with this film is there is tons of padding.  At least one third of the movie is people walking, Mortimer riding a horse, or people running around.  None of it is exciting and if these scenes were deleted it wouldn't make any real difference.

Another issue is that while it is set in the Old West but there many modern things in the movie.  The wanted posters appear to be computer printed, the town is newly built using plywood, and many of the characters are wearing modern pants and boots, including Brother Wolf.  Plus the music is modern rock which completely detracts from any western feel to the movie.  If I'd heard the score by itself, I would think it was for a modern film about teens or college students full of angst.

Historically speaking, no one would ever ride into town and ask a random stranger on the street to take care of their horse.  You'd board your horse at the Livery stable.  But I don't think they could afford to rent more than one horse for this movie as I don't recall seeing any other horses on the streets of town or anyone other than Mortimer riding a horse.  Hmmmm, maybe a western wasn't such a great idea.

The blood is CGI which isn't the worst I've ever seen, but it's not that great.  The problem with CGI is that when you shoot someone in the foot and the blood splatters, you need to make sure your next shot doesn't reveal that his boot is unscathed.

Also I would be remiss if I didn't mention that as soon as Mortimer opens his mouth, you will be shocked at his unnaturally high voice.  It reminded me of Michael Jackson and was very disconcerting as he's supposed to be a tough, gun slinging, bounty hunter.  I got used to it after awhile, but it's very  distracting and does nothing to portray Mortimer as a tough bounty hunter.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Bloodmask: The Possession of Nicole Lameroux (2007)

In 1491 in France on what appears to be the set of a high school play - dark fabric background, black table cloth and echoey dialogue like in a high school gym - a priest puts the blood mask on a witch who curses him and his descendents.

After an overly long scene of the witch rolling on the ground with blood coming from under the mask, we cut to present day and an  amateur rendition of a college classroom where everyone is act-ing!

The movie mirrors The Curse of Lizzie Borden, which is no surprise since some of the same people are involved.  Nicole has hallucinations in class, just like the lead in the first movie, and has a priest for a father.  When the class decides to have a party in Old Lady Munford's abandoned mansion, it's the same house as in Lizzie Borden. So we've got some of the same actors, same locations, same plot,  but it's much more painful.

Classmate Justin has a key as he's keeping an eye on the house.  When he lets everyone into the mansion, we find it miraculously free from dust, dirt, and cobwebs. It looks like someone is currently living in it.  The house is ornate and old fashioned except for two rooms which look like modern offices.  To start the party, one of the girls pulls out some homemade burritos.  Because nothing says college party like ziplock baggies of burritos.

The group decide to tell scary stories in the parlor.  One story is that Ms. Monford's plastic surgeon put the blood mask on her.  When her gardener showed up - he was having an affair with her -  he finds her   with the mask stuck to her face.  Even though she's bleeding and panicked, he doesn't take her to the hospital or call the cops.  Legend has it that the lady and mask disappeared.

Shortly after the story finishes, a hooded figure kills one of the girls and puts her head on a silver platter in the kitchen.  When the group discovers it, they barely react.  They stand around discussing what action to take as if they were trying to decide who to call if their car broke down.  One of the guys even tries to make out with a girl while standing next to the body of their dead friend.  Are you kidding me?!

Turns out Nicole is a hallucinating virgin, plus there is a subplot about girls being spanked that has something to do with becoming a witch.  Foreign girl June has an annoying accent and gets in a slap fight with Nicole, reigning little girl blows on her.  And it just keeps going downhill from there.  This is a tough one to sit through and you'll get no satisfaction from the resolution.  It's ultra low budget and you'd be better off watching the similar, but not so painful, Curse of Lizzie Borden.