Sunday, May 31, 2015

The Clones (1973)

After something strange happens in the secret government facility where he works, Dr. Gerald Appleby is surprised to find that someone has stolen his car.   The guard looks confused when he asks who was driving his car, since it was Appleby.  Back at the office, his secretary asks him if he forgot something since he was just there.  And when he shows up at his girlfriends house, she calls the police to have him arrested since his clone is already at the house. 
Soon Appleby figures out what is going on.  The facility he works at is cloning frogs, and they must have somehow cloned him.  But everyone he encounters believes he is the impostor. The police are after him. The government is searching for him and want him dead. And his girlfriend,  still clinging to his clone, thinks he's a weirdo.
There's never any explanation for why people aren't more confused by seeing two men who look exactly the same and who are both claiming to be Appleby. If your boyfriend showed up at your door when you are already with someone you believe to be him, would you assume the new arrival was an impostor? Or would you question why there are two people who look exactly like your boyfriend in your living room?  It seems more likely that you'd think you were dreaming or hallucinating, than to automatically assume the second guy must be an impostor.

There's also no real explanation for why they've chosen to clone Appleby, or why they'd want to kill him and replace him with his clone. The clone has the same memories and thoughts as Appleby, so it's not like they are replacing him with someone who will do their bidding.

Even with those plot holes, I liked the film.  While the cloning is the center of the storyline, it's more about Appleby and how he responds to what is happening.  There are multiple scenes with the government goons chasing Appleby and trying to kill him, but he turns out to be pretty wily. 

Saturday, May 30, 2015

A Little Bit Zombie (2012)

Steve and his fiancĂ© Tina go away for the weekend with his sister Sarah and her husband Craig.  Sarah and Craig don't like Tina, which is understandable since she's condescending, high maintenance, and a bit of a control freak.  They're supposed to be going away to relax but she makes an itinerary, assigns chores, and schedules time to work on wedding preparations.

Meanwhile down the road, zombie hunter Max and his assistant are using some sort of orb to locate zombies so Max can kill them.  When a mosquito bites one of the zombies, it is infected with the zombie virus.

Later that night, the mosquito repeatedly bites Steve, transferring the zombie virus to him.  But unlike the normal staggering zombie that makes guttural noises, Steve seems normal.  Well other than  he's very pale, can't seem to keep down any food, and drools excessively at the mention of brains.

Will the group figure out Steve is a zombie?  Will Steve and Tina still get married?  And will zombie hunter Max figure out things are not as they seem and put an end to Steve?

Every time I hear there is a horror comedy, I'm always hopeful at finding something great, but usually what happens is the film isn't very funny and isn't very scary.  While this one falls right in line with this, it was an okay film. It had some amusing scenes, a few laugh out loud moments,  and overall the characters were likable. Also I enjoy Stephen McHattie who does a good job as the zombie hunter.  

Friday, May 29, 2015

Star Slammer (1986)

aka Prison Ship

When scantily clad miner Taura tries to protect the space crystals that her midget friends have mined, she inadvertently causes villain Bantor to lose his hand. Based on this wrong doing, the head of John Carradine that floats in space sentences Taura to a number of years in the prison ship in outer space, aka the Star Slammer.

The ship is inhabited by various prisoners who welcome Taura by slapping her around and threatening her.  The warden is an old lady with unnaturally brown hair and a low cut leather outfit. Her assistant is a woman with an eye patch.  While you would think a prison ship would hold a lot of prisoners, there's hardly anyone on board.

Taura and the girls end up bonding, as they do, and work together to fight a monster that will be familiar to anyone who's seen The Deadly Spawn.  Aldo Ray shows up for a short time to make half hearted threats, and Ross Hagen chews the scenery as Bantor.  (I swear that suit Hagen wears is in another Fred Olen Ray movie).

While I thought this would be a good cheesy 80s sci-fi flick,  it was a tame woman's prison movie.  The outer space aspect of it didn't really factor into it other than trying to get sci-fi fans to think it might be exciting.  But sadly enough, it was boring. There where a few amusing scenes, but it wasn't the fun movie I expected.

You know it's low budget when the midgets are wearing
pots and pans upon their heads.
Car... of the future!
The floating head of John Carradine says hello.
Nothing awkward about this.
The unnecessarily elaborate stocks.
The Deadly Spawn... in space
This might be the entire space ship prison population.
This looks like a really awkward costume party.
Space age special effects.
She's been in space so long, her perm's grown out.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Vlog (2008)

Video blogger Brooke Marks (who is played by Brooke Marks) films her entire life and puts it on the web for everyone to see.  She hides her camera in a bag so she can tape interactions with strangers, hanging with friends, or bedroom trysts with the poor men she picks up who end up ridiculed online in her vlog.

Brooke may be attractive and will never have a shortage of dating options, but the character is a shallow, nasty, waste of flesh. So it's with pleasure that the movie starts with her murder on camera before flashing back to the days leading up to the event.

When Brooke gets a voicemail from someone who's disguised their voice and leaves an IP address to view, she discovers people she knows are being murdered.  She reports this to the police but they turn up nothing.  They must not have done much leg work since you'd think family or friends could have confirmed no one had seen them recently. But we all know this is leading up to Brooke's murder... or it it?

While it's not the most interesting horror movie, it's made unbearable by having to watch shallow, annoying Brooke who thinks she's such an incredible person. But she's so unlikable that you just want her to die.  Let that be a lesson in never playing a character with your own name, unless you like people thinking you may be a total ass.

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Gargoyles: Holy Terror (2003)

While boxing up his grandmothers things, Glenn's eyes start bleeding and he blacks out. Alarmed, his friend takes him for help, which surprisingly turns out to be a guy named Hector, who appears to live in his parents basement, complete with wood paneling from the 1970s.

Hector says they should do a ceremony because Glenn is housing a demon in his innards.  As Hector makes a pentagram of black electrical tape on the white shag carpet, I worry about how they're going to get the blood stains out of his parents rug.

When Glenn becomes possessed and murders one of the participants, no one reports the murder. An upset Glenn decides the maybe the church can help him with his demon problems.  Well perhaps they could if the cranky old priest didn't think he was some damn kid spouting demon stories. Does the church really get that many pranksters yucking it up in confession with demon possession stories?

Ridiculous Dialogue-

I don't want to alarm you, but what you have inside you is a demon.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Demons in My Head (1998)

What? There are demons in your head? Well maybe there wouldn't be if you hadn't cracked open a meteorite that contained a headpiece resembling something out of a He-man cartoon, but which is actually a space age polymer produced by an advanced alien life form and is coincidentally loaded with said demons.

Another lesson in the dangers of putting strange things that fall from the sky on your head, the film starts with Travis having been dumped. To make matters worse, someone shows up to repossess his belongings and it turns out to be his bully from high school who then makes a date with the female roommate that Travis is lusting after.  Also Travis has a male roommate who has a crush on him and wants to see if he's open to being more than friends. So that's a bit awkward.

When Travis breaks open the meteorite which contains what appears to be a toy headset inside, it turns out to be something that can transport items through time and space.  But it takes awhile to master the art of getting what you're trying to obtain, plus you have to deal with the demons.  Surprisingly Travis doesn't break the headset so he'll never have to see the demons again.  But what are you going to do? That's just Travis.

As with any demons that inhabit your cranium, it's not a good thing.  Unfortunately the movie couldn't hold my attention and I'm not even sure how it ended.
Wait, what does his headpiece remind me of ...
...Teela on Masters of the Universe

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Housebound (2014)

After getting caught breaking into an ATM, repeat offender Kylie is sentenced to house arrest.  There is tension between Kylie and her mother which is exacerbated by Kylie's nasty disposition and unappreciative nature.

When Kylie overheads her mother on the phone with a paranormal radio show talking about how their house is haunted, Kylie is even more disgusted that she is stuck there for the next eight months.  But that night she notices strange noises in the house and at other times doors swing open on their own.

Security guard Amos, who is monitoring Kylies ankle bracelet, shows up after the alarm goes off and Kylie reluctantly tells him she thinks the house is haunted. Amos and Kylie join forces to figure out if there is a ghost in the house, investigate the creepy next door neighbor, and discover some secrets from the past.

I loved this one. It's fantastic! It navigates well between horror and comedy, and while you want to punch Kylie in the face for being such an asshole, she does get more palatable as the movie goes on. And there is a scene that skews the whole killer walking up behind an unsuspecting victim scene, and does it so simply and effectively that it's hilarious.

Thursday, May 14, 2015

The Cabining (2014)

When Todd and Bruce bring their script to a creative writing group, they receive feedback that their horror movie is cliche and uninteresting.  Todd's uncle is willing to finance their film, but he agrees that the script is crap.  So he gives them two more weeks to come up with something good before he gives the money to a band to make a record.

Out of ideas, the two book a vacation to Shangri-la, which provides a relaxing, supportive environment for any artistic or creative endeavors.  Todd and Bruce hope to find the inspiration to write a great horror movie, or at least bang out a good enough script to get financing.

But instead of a peaceful place to work, they find themselves in the middle of a murder mystery as their fellow artists start  disappearing and are later found dead.  The one bright spot is that the deaths are providing inspiration for their script.

This is another movie where the film doesn't live up to the trailer. Don't get me wrong, it's not a bad movie, but it's not really good either.  The movie had a few laughs and some amusing moments, but based on the trailer, I ended up disappointed. However it's well shot, the characters are more likable than the typical jerk college students, and Jasper is amusing.

Monday, May 11, 2015

The 13th Floor (1988)

Incredibly average film akin to a TV movie of the week. As a child Heather saw her father electrocute a young boy. Nothing says your father is a villain better than having him murder a child at the beginning of the movie.

As an adult, Heather steals documents revealing her fathers evil ways and hides out on the empty 13th floor of an office building where the spirit of the murdered boy has somehow ended up in the electrical panel.  Keeping her company are a junkie friend and a janitor who brings her food and a tv to pass the time.  While stealing food from an office coffee cart, she meets a man who becomes smitten with her, and figures out she is hiding upstairs. The two start casually dating which complicates things with her friend.

Heather's father hires PI's and thugs to get back the documents she stole, telling them to retrieve them by whatever means necessary. The ghost of the little boy only appears once of twice. Mostly you'll see sparks in the electric panel. You won't really care what happens.

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Machinehead (2000)

The oldest high school student in the world is working on a project that involves reanimating the dead. He believes this is his ticket to win the science fair and collect a $25,000 prize.  Unfortunately his project involves strapping a motor to the head of a corpse. It's noisy, looks ridiculous, and sometimes the corpse has to grab the motor to keep it from slipping off.

He gets access to a dead boy through his unwitting father, who is the local mortician.  No one seems to recognize the dead person, but they sure are scared of a guy with a motor strapped to his head, which is odd since he actually looks great for a dead guy. He's just a little pale and has the shakes from the motor on his head.

It's not explained how the dead body gets super human strength since he pulls off someones arm when startled. It's also not explained why the science fair is offering such a big prize, or why half the students in the school appear to be in their late twenties. This one is low budget and hard to watch.

He's not the teacher - he's our teenage protagonist. 
This is what real teenagers look like.
Class bullies, or someone's dads doing a musical number -
you make the call 
Nothing alarming about this.
Just a typical high school student standing by his locker.
Move along now. Nothing to see here.

Friday, May 8, 2015

The Deadly Intruder (1988)

A lunatic escapes from an asylum and goes on the run.  The local police are on the alert and the Sheriff vows to catch him, hopefully before he kills someone.  Meanwhile our lunatic is tromping through the woods and killing people.

At an isolated house, Jessie is throwing a dinner party for her friends, who are bringing Bob as Jessie's blind date.  Jessie hasn't dated since her mother died and Bob is a clean cut, good looking employee at a clothing store that Jessie's friend manages.

While she's preparing dinner, Jessie sees a dirty drifter creeping around her front yard.  When he asks for food, she takes pity on him and makes him some sandwiches. Meanwhile our drifter repeatedly swings an axe... in her woodpile.  Killer drifter? Escaped lunatic? Creepy yet harmless hobo? Only time will tell.

Although one couple doesn't show, the party is deemed a success when Jessie and Bob hit it off.  But how could someone not love Bob, who reveals he came to town because he's a journalist from Vancouver who wants to get the perspective of the working man.....  by getting employment in a small town as a clothing salesman?  Sure, Bob, sounds like a great article.

This is a fairly typical low budget slasher.  Bodies pile up, there's kidnapping, a twist, and Jessie's isolated home is an obvious target. The murders are mostly in the dark so it's hard to tell what is happening.  Of note, the manager of the clothing store (also a dinner guest) is played by Danny Bonaduce and the Sheriff is played by Stuart Whitman, who probably wished he had something better to do that be in this movie.

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

100 Million BC (2008)

A scientist sends an elite squad of Navy Seals back in time to rescue a previous team from the 1940s who were transported to a  dinosaur filled time period but never returned.  Contrary to real Seals, this team is a bunch of fraidy cats who are easily killed.

The rescue mission has been a focus for the scientist due to the discovery of cave paintings that reference people in the 20th century.  Carbon dating confirms that the paintings are from the time of dinosaurs, rarrr.

Even though they were never sure where the first group ended up, the scientist is somehow able ego transport them to a nearby location in the right time period. Within a few hours, they've located the survivors and prepare to head back to the present.  No one shall ask how military personnel from the 1940s who are used to living with dinosaurs are going to handle being transported into current times, what with the whole walking on the moon thing, cell phones, and rap music.

But of course time travel can be tricky, and when a big old dinosaur slips through the time portal, hijinks ensue.  Oddly enough that sixty foot dinosaur sure is hard to spot in the city.

This is a typical Asylum movie, no more, no less.  There are some unintentionally funny scenes but overall it's pretty ho hum.

Monday, May 4, 2015

VHS Viral (2014)

As I've mentioned before, I'm not a big fan of anthologies.  While in theory, they're a great way to showcase short stories since more people will view a movie than a short film.  However the problem is that the quality of the individual stories often varies, or the format is used to slap a few crappy short films into a feature length movie.

I didn't like the first VHS movies due to characters that were  unsympathetic and unlikable.  The second film had better characters, but still didn't appeal to me.  So I wasn't expecting much from number three, but it ended up being the one I like the most.

Unlike the first two films, they've abandoned using the concept of people watching video tapes they find when they go somewhere they damn well shouldn't go.  There's no explanation for why the stories just start out of nowhere and when it first happened, I got confused.  Of the four stories, the weakest one is the wraparound.

Vicious Circles - an annoying teenage couple film themselves at various places. When there is a police chase in their neighborhood, the boy wants to tape it so he can make money off the video of the action and things go wrong.

Dante the Great - a magician takes on an assistant who wants to learn his secrets and then threatens to steal the source of his power

Parallel Monster - a man generates a portal to a parallel dimension in his basement, and trades places with his alter ego.  The entire short is in Spanish, but even if you don't speak the language, you can get the gist of what's happening.

Bonestown - idiot skaters decide to go to Mexico for the day and end up at an isolated drainage ditch which is perfect for skating - other than the occult activity and monster in the fenced off tunnel.

Saturday, May 2, 2015

Prey for the Beast (2007)

An old guy hires a guide to take him into the forest so he can get a photo of a one of a kind monster.  When he finds it, he does what all monster hunters seem to do - run away.  When his guide catches up with him, the old man says they need to go back because he also needs to get some sort of proof of the beasts existence because no one will believe his photo. Boing!

Meanwhile a group of guys decides to go camping in the very woods where our intrepid photographer and killer beastie are tromping.  The guys want to cheer up their friend who just found out his wife was cheating on him and is getting divorced.  They hope a weekend of drinking and pistol firing (a fab combination) will help him get his mind off of things.

Nearby four young women are relaxing near the lake, and hear gun shots. They decide to check it out, and lucky for them it's the four idiots previously mentioned, and not a psycho murderer snuffing out a victim.  While it's supposed to be a guys weekend, they invite the girls to stay and party.  Kind of odd since they don't seem to have much beer, and lack food and camping supplies.

Soon the monster shifts his attention to our  main characters and the group are fighting for their lives.  Even though the trees are bare, they have a hard time seeing the creature through the branches.

This is low budget and it shows.  It's important to note that while the beast on the cover does appear to be the same or similar to what is in the film, since the film takes place during the day time (and there's been some manipulation of the photo) the effect is not the same.

Friday, May 1, 2015

School of Horror (2005)

The best thing about this movie is that the description on the DVD sleeve said the name of the lead character was Ocky, which I was hoping would somehow be pronounced Ooky.  It turned out to be a misprint because his name is actually Rocky which provided the first disappointment of the night.

Rocky is an obnoxious film student whose fragile ego proves unable to accept criticism. When his film professor says his horror movie is not original - it's not - he freaks the hell out and  storms out of class.  When his friends join him later, one of them is hit by a passing car.  Rocky's only concern is that he doesn't have his camera because this would make a great scene in one of his movies. Yeah, Rocky is not a great friend or human being.

New student Jack, who apparently lives in a classroom since there are lockers in the hallway right outside his bedroom door, is surprised by a student who asks for help because a girl is going to die.  When Jack tries to follow him, Rocky suddenly shows up behind Jack. It seems Rocky's brilliant film making idea is putting strangers in awkward positions so he can film their reactions.  Surprisingly Jack isn't annoyed by this, and even accepts Rocky's invitation to a party later that night.

Later that afternoon Rocky, Jack and Rocky's friends pile into a van and go on a long drive.  They stop at a small bar on a dirt road so they can stretch their legs and get a drink. Unfortunately they arrive at the tavern on the same night the Great Chino makes his appearance.  Legend has it that every seven years this supernatural being shows up and kills everyone. No one seems that concerned.

Fortunately for Rocky the tavern's few customers are rubes, idiots, and David from the Real World, which means it's prime filming opportunity.  When people go outside and don't come back, the regulars suspect it's the Great Chino. Rocky films continuously, yells at people, and forces them to go outside. Rocky is loud, obnoxious and treats people like crap. The longer the movie goes on, the worse Rocky gets. Surprisingly someone doesn't punch Rocky in the face and throw him outside the bar to be murdered by the killer spirit.

There's a side plot about a movie producer who calls the film professor and is looking for Jack, but has no contact info for him. No idea why he's calling the professor. But when the professor investigates, he is unable to locate Jacks enrollment info.  Then the movie producer faxes him an 8x10 headshot in which Jack is not wearing a shirt, which is weird in and of itself, since Jack isn't an actor.  He sent a script to the movie producer and it's not too common for them to want to see their writers shirtless.

Ridiculous dialogue  

Rocky - My Names Rocky. But you can call me Rocky Horror.
Jack - "Ha, Rocky Horror... like the movie?"
Rocky (insulted) - No. Nothing like that.

Inside Jacks's room? Typical bedroom
Outside Jack's room? School hallway and lockers
Oh hell, it's David from the Real World, and he's angry
It's not clear why someone hasn't caved in Rockys head
Rocky's method of film making? Sneak up on someone
Why does the new student have a shirtless 8x10 glossy?