Thursday, April 26, 2012

Zebraman (2004)

Ignored by family and picked on by students, a teacher escapes into a fantasy world where he pretends he is a superhero.  Inspired by a short lived TV show he watched as a child, he makes his own Zebraman costume and ventures onto the streets at night.

The first night he hears a woman scream and stumbles upon a serial killer who has what appears to be a giant crab on his head.  As the teacher clumsily fights this villain, he discovers that somehow he has acquired the actual powers of Zebraman.

At school, he befriends a young boy in a wheelchair who is also ostracized, and by coincidence also enjoys the obscure show Zebraman.  The two team up as they deal with government agents  looking for aliens, criminals, and the alien menace itself.

I enjoyed this film, but I found myself looking at the clock since it is overly long at almost two hours.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

House of Bones (2010)

Sinister Sites, a ghost hunting show, has been losing viewers so the network decides to change its format.  Since reality shows are popular and cheaper to produce, they decide to send the shows host out into the field to work directly with the ghost hunters and camera crew.  The host, Quinn, is not happy about this because he's a pompous ass with slicked back hair, a pony tail, and an enormous ego.

When the crew arrives at the old house they are going to investigate, the producer is upset as it looks decidedly less spooky than when they last saw it and appears to be freshly painted.  The interior is also clean and they find food in the kitchen.  Strange since the home has been deserted since 1951.

The psychic who's been hired does not have a good feeling about the house.  But since everyone thinks shes a fake, they just ignore her and tell her to wait until the cameras are on to start her act.  The show has been on for four years, but they've never found anything paranormal.  None of them believe in ghosts or psychics.

The realtor who rented the house to them flips out when she discovers they are already inside.  When they tell her the door was unlocked when they arrived, she is skeptical.  She is also upset that they plan to stay the night since their contract states they only have five hours in the daytime inside the home.  Not only that but an overnight stay is not covered by the liability insurance.  Although she could lose her job by letting them violate the contract, she agrees to let them film overnight.

Trouble starts for the crew when Bob the PA disappears while setting up.  Then the psychic coughs up blood and says the house holds a malevolent spirit.  No one else is concerned with either of these incidents.

Once the cameras start rolling, the psychic tells of her impressions of the house.  While she does this the producer talks over her and shouts about how he loves the house, thus rendering their footage unusable.  The producer thinks everything is fake - blood spewing out the psychic, ectoplasm in the wall, a shoe stuck halfway into the wall that wasn't there when they arrived and looks just like the PAs shoe.  It all culminates in a ridiculous, harbinger from hell,  haunted house with a devil pit ending.

Stupidest dialogue:
"There's ectoplasm in the wall"
"Where did it come from?"
Producer - "The bank realtor most likely."

Seriously?  Why would a realtor ever put ectoplasm in a wall?

Monday, April 16, 2012

Death on Demand (2008)

A rich college student decides to launch a business venture in reality TV with a pay per view web cast.  He offers three couples $5000 to spend the night in the supposedly haunted house of a mountain climber who killed his entire family.  The house is filled with web cams and the couples need to survive the night and find the exit by following clues that he's left for them.

The webcast starts with a seance in which they call the spirit of the mountain climber who arrives from the beyond complete with climbing gear and an ice axe.  The house isn't that big and with all the web cams, the host should have noticed him before he'd killed some of the contestants.  See that house on the cover?  Yeah, that's not the one in the film.  It's probably 1/3 the size.

The characters are obnoxious and you don't care whether they live or die. Actually, you prefer that they die.  The worst are the annoying shrieking girl and the girl with the weird voice.

Dead Mary (2007)

How many Bloody Mary movies are there? Even though this says Dead Mary, it's still the same game - go into a dark bathroom with a candle, say her name three times while staring into a mirror, and pray nothing kills you.

A group of friends gets together at a remote cabin for the weekend.  One couple, Matt and Kim, break up on the way there which makes things awkward.  All of them attended college together except for Baker's new girlfriend, Lily.  Since no one knows her and it is a reunion full of in-jokes and reminiscing, she is mostly ignored or made fun of behind her back.  Everyone jokes that she's just a baby because she's twenty two, but she doesn't look any younger than the rest of them.

The first night, some of them decide to play Dead Mary.  After nothing seems to happen, they decide to go to bed.  During the middle of the night, Matt hears noises, wanders outside, and is killed by someone he recognizes.

As the others run towards the front door after hearing his screams, they find Lily dazed and bloody.  She accuses Eve of killing Matt, and the others head into the woods to see if Matt is okay.  They find him dead, but he appears to be regenerating and coming back to life.  They repeatedly kill him, but he keeps coming back.

The movie is inconsistent with too many plot holes and characters who seem to waiver about their sense of self preservation. I will give credit to the premise of not being able to kill the creature as the scene of them repeatedly trying to kill Matt creeped me out.

But the movie left me wondering as it never offered an explanation for the following:

  1. So Dead Mary is hiding in the mirror waiting to start the apocalypse?
  2. On their way there, the gas station is abandoned and they later realize there are no campers or boaters on the lake.  The creatures say it is happening everywhere.  So it has nothing to do with Dead Mary?  Because I'm pretty sure everyone isn't playing that game.
  3. After Eve is accused of being the killer, they pair off and her partner is nonchalant about it, even though they know one of them is the killer.  Argh!  Stick together, people!
  4. Where did the drops of blood in the bathroom come from?  Were they significant?
  5. How does the creature know how to dismantle automobile engines?
  6. Lily is locked in the closet and Amber is guarding her. Why do they close the door to the room effecting leaving Amber alone?  Wouldn't it be better to keep in visual contact to make sure nothing happens to poor Amber?
  7. I know it's a long way to town, but there's a freakin' killer at the cabin, so why not walk there?
  8. What happened to Ted?  It's his parents cabin, but there's no sign of him.
  9. Why would Dash believe the rant of a reanimated corpse who says that his wife is cheating on him with his best friend? When a corpse comes back to life, isn't the proper response Oh my freakin' god! rather than beating up your best friend based on the corpses comments?

Saturday, April 14, 2012

The Haunted Boat (2005)

Kevin inherits a boat from his uncle, invites his friends out for the weekend and who the hell knows what happens.  The motor stops working. The geeky guy jumps into the water and never resurfaces.  The others freak. They hear things at night. There is a presence  outside on the deck. Two guys go off in a dinghy and disappear.  A creepy ghostly stranger show up. Wait, the two guys are back.  Ooops, they're gone again. Wait, they're all dead.  Um, what?

When you try to be tricky and put twists, red herrings, dreams, parallel universes, and hallucinations in a film, unless you're very lucky and good at your craft all you end up with at the end is viewers uttering a collective, "what the hell.....?!"

The Curse of the Screaming Dead (1982)

aka Curse of the Cannibal Confederate Soldiers

Six friends head to the woods for a weekend of camping and hunting.  After hearing noises in the woods, they discover the ruins of an old church and a graveyard.  Inside the church they find an old box which contains diaries and a Confederate flag.

Sarah thinks they should steal the flag because it might be valuable.  Most of the others argue that they shouldn't take something that doesn't belong to them.  Idiot Mel decides to steal the diaries which causes zombies to rise out of the ground and seek revenge on all of them.

The group gets lost in the woods, the police show up, zombies do some chompin' and there's tons of padding to round out the film.  Of particular note is the footage of zombies rising out of the ground which is repeated.

This is difficult to watch as it's not good on so many levels.  Sometimes the film looks washed out while other times it has deeper colors.  Not sure if this is the print or the film stock.  The police chiefs close ups are in the dark, but in the far shots the sky is light.  There are rotting zombies with clean teeth and pink gums.

None of the characters are particularly likable and the acting won't win any awards.  The worst are Sarah, a haughty blond who reads her lines like she's in a 1940s comedy, and Kyomi, a whiny blind girl who acts like she's six and cries when she hears bells.  Why they brought a blind girl on a hunting trip is inexplicable.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Proteus (1995)

When their boat explodes, a group of drug smugglers take refuge on a deserted oil rig in the middle of the ocean.  Unfortunately the rig is a cover for a lab which does genetic experiments.  Basically think  Aliens with a monster on the ocean instead an alien in outer space.  The monster vision looks as if they are shooting through a film of red water.

Fangs (2002)

A college professor experimenting on bats is murdered and his bats escape. Detective Ally Parks, who recently came to town from the big city, wants to work the case.  But the chief of Police thinks her theories regarding bat attacks being responsible for the professors and other recent deaths is ridiculous.

Meanwhile local real estate developer Carl Hart has a new neighborhood in the construction progress that he hopes to pitch to the crowds at the annual Apple Festival.  So when Parks and local vet/animal control officer Dr. John Winslow want to shut down the festival, Hart will not hear of it!  The Chief sides with Hart as he believes Parks is a trouble maker, what with her big city ways.

In a major script error, those trying to stop the bats discover that tin cans mess up the police's radar and theorize it will work on bat radar.  One problem - bats don't use radar, they use sonar.

This movie was written for kids, so there is no gore or real scares in it.  It's okay for what it is, but don't expect anything original.

The Nesting (1981)

An author suffering from agoraphobia decides to rent an amazing old house that looks exactly like the one she envisioned for the cover of her latest book.  Lauren moves in expecting peace and quiet so she can concentrate on her next novel, but soon starts seeing and hearing things.  She starts to wonder if it's all in her mind and begs her therapist to make a trip to visit her.

Lauren is unaware of the buildings past use as a house of ill repute, but her nightmares are filled with ghostly images of women throughout the home.  There is a creepy caretaker, scary locals, and a town secret that Lauren threatens to uncover.

The architecture of the house is incredible.  It was shot at the Amour-Stiner House in Irvington, NY.  The house is an octagon and has all sorts of fantastic details.

The movie is an atmospheric ghost story so don't expect to see lots of blood.  It relies mostly on a pervasive feeling of uneasiness as you're not always sure what is happening, or why Lauren resorts to some of the stupid moves she does. Really, a floor board breaks and instead of getting your feet over onto another solid board, you drag yourself out the window five stories up onto a tiny ledge? Come on!

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Seance (2006)

During school break, some friends stay in the dorms and decide to have a seance as one of the girls keeps seeing the ghost of a little girl in their bathroom.  The dorm used to be apartments and a murder took place in their room.

But instead of contacting the little girl, they summon the spirit of a murderous Janitor who used to live a couple of apartments away.  He starts roaming the halls, whistling, and killing.

The students aren't supposed to be in the dorm during break, so they don't ask the security guard for help.  When he leaves the front desk, they try to get out the doors but find them locked.  Are there really dorm doors that don't let people inside out without a key?  It seems like that would be a major safety violation as if there were a fire no one would be able to get out.  

With their escape plan thwarted, they go back up to their rooms and ties some sheets together even though it looks like they are about twenty floors up.  Why not look for a window closer to the ground? I'm not impressed.

Diego is played by AJ Lamas, spawn of Lorenzo, and it shows.  Time for Renegade: The Next Generation.

The Vineyard (1989)

A group of actors visit a winemakers estate in hopes of landing a role in his new movie.  While they all believe this weekend is a  casting call, in reality he needs blood to prevent aging.

Victims shacked in the basement and when they die are buried under about six inches of dirt.  At night, the corpses rise and attempt to get into the house.  Seems like there is a better way to handle that since his security guards are constantly fighting off the dead.

There is an overly long and confusing costume party scene where everyone dances and acts stupid.  The scene just appears out of nowhere.  Were they told to bring costumes for the weekend?  It's just weird.  One guy dresses in drag and another dresses in short shorts, muscle shirt, and a fake mustache. Creepy.

James Hong not only stars in the film, he also wrote it.  This is probably why the film features him in a sex scene.  The film also features a girl puking up spiders, a guy in a crop top, and a female character named Jezebel.  Watch for the newspaper clippings and photos in books which are obviously poorly done paste jobs.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Code Red: The Rubicon Conspiracy (2001)

An elite military team is sent into the jungle on a mission and discovers the bodies of the previous team.  The bodies look like beef jerky as they've had the life sucked out of them and appear extremely gaunt and old. An alien in body armor is seen near the bodies and another creature is draining people like juice packs.

The leader of the team has been brought back from a dishonorable pschyciatric discharge, but he's the best man for the job and of course, the back story is not what it seems.  It's fairly tame and scene after scene is taken right out of Predator.

Friday, April 6, 2012

Deep Space (1988)

When a government experiment in outer space goes awry and crashes to Earth, the creature aboard - a dormant killing machine - is revived, which is unfortunate since control over the creature is questionable at best.  It always amazes me that whenever scientists  make a creature that's a killer, they never figure out a fool proof way to destroy it in case they lose control.

In another story line soon to intersect, two buddy cops involved in a shoot out turn in their guns until internal affairs can clear them of wrong doing.  They end up at the crash site and grab two rocks that look like over sized pecans in order to conduct their own experiments, which as you'd expect go horribly wrong.

First rule of mystery items that fall from outer space?  Do not stick your hand into them, poke them, or crack them  open.  Second rule?  Don't wander through a crash site or take home inexplicable items as souvenirs.

Unintentional comedy is achieved when our hero flings an alien bug off a doctor and onto his girlfriend.  His girlfriend is a cop.  She is extremely useless.  She freaks out over anything that happens.  I'd hate to call the cops and have her show up.

Also the foley was ridiculous.  Footsteps sounded like horses, or like kids hitting upside down plastic cups against a table top.  It was really distracting.

Deadlands 2: Trapped (2008)

When the government releases a virus into a small town to check it's effectiveness, those affected become zombies with an insatiable blood lust.  Success!  Oddly enough that is what the government wanted since their intent is a zombie soldiers who will attack the enemy and keep on killing until no enemies are left alive.   As usual, there is no thought of how to make sure the zombies only attack the enemy or how to stop them once they've eaten the enemy - a major flaw in their planning indeed.

A group of survivors take refuge in a theater.  Their cell phones don't work and zombies have surrounded the building.  One of the survivors has been bitten, but as is often the case, they don't consider that he may turn into a zombie at some point.

Deadlands 2 is a sequel in name only.  The film is a big step up from the first Deadlands, which admittedly was a bunch of friends who got together to make a movie, (and it showed).  While it's much better than the first movie, there's nothing exceptional about it as the plot points are fairly cliche.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Croc (2007)

A land developer wants to shut down a local crocodile tourist attraction that also includes elephants who play basketball and monkeys in cages who screech a lot.  The developer pays some goons to let loose the crocs, and also calls in reports of animal abuse which cause an investigation.

Coincidentally a giant croc eats some teens and the escaped crocs are blamed.  The police can't figure out that the crocs weren't released until that night even though there is a witness to the attack which was in the day.  Also the fences are cut so the crocs can escape, but owner Jack is told that he is responsible.  How does that make any sense?  There's not much you can do if someone sabotages your fence.  But this is in Thailand so maybe things are different there, or perhaps the law is in the pocket of the land developer.

Then right out of Jaws, their own Captain Quint shows up  - a crocodile hunter with a steel leg who has been chasing the great beast for years. So the hunter and Jack, who reminds me of Kevin Federline, team up to smite this menace from their town.  Hurrah!

Actually it's fairly bland and there's not so much giant croc in it.

Spiker (2007)

After opening credits with a way too happy theme song, serial killer Spiker escapes from the police while being transferred by ferry to an island asylum.  News reports state he's died since he was shot by the cops while jumping into the water and didn't surface.

Cut to a group of teens who head out to party at the old Shaw place.  Lisa is a descendant of the Shaw's, but no one has stayed in the house for years.  Once at the home, they find a creepy caretaker and a grave in the back yard.

The mention of Spiker, who killed twenty seven people in town, freaks out Lisa and also makes her unnerved at being at the house.  I kept expecting some back story as to why no one should ever  mention Spiker around her, but it's never revealed.  Yes, it does turn out there is a connection between Spiker and the Shaws, but Lisa didn't know about it until later in the film.

Spiker, whose name is derived from his use of railroad spikes to kill his victims, mysteriously surfaces from the water.  It seems like railroad spikes wouldn't be an easy thing to run across as I don't think I've ever seen them just lying around.  Luckily Spiker rises from the water right where a workman is repairing a railroad trestle.  It's never clear what is going on with Spiker or how he survived.  Though he looks kind of spooky, he might just be an albino.

The most ridiculous scene is the one that leads to Spikers escape.  While on the ferry, he is shackled to a metal pole.  When he fakes a Grand Mal Seizure, one of the policemen insists on releasing him.  It wouldn't be good to hit him with a defibrillator paddle since he was attached to a metal pole.  However their alternate plan is to lay him down on the deck of the ferry which is obviously metal.  Yikes!