Monday, August 31, 2015

Zombie Undead (2010)

Redundantly titled, Zombie Undead starts with chaos in the aftermath of a bomb, which apparently contained a virus that turns those who die into zombies.  After fainting in the hallway as a doctor tries to revive her father, Sarah awakes alone in a hospital room.  Heading into the hallway, she finds it empty and silent. So she shouts, "Hello?" repeatedly, which isn't the best idea since she was aware of the chaos that was taking place.

When a zombie comes shuffling towards her, Sarah screams and falls over, which isn't the best way to deal with any threat, even if it was one as benign as a rambunctious kitten. Lucky for her, a new character arrives to save her from certain death.  But Sarah isn't very quick and doesn't catch on that the herd of shuffling bloody people are going to kill her. So it takes awhile for her to warm up to the new guy.

Sarah and her new friend Jay both have injured family members at the hospital. Jay decides they should search each floor, and once they find their kin, then get the hell out of there. Sarah's brain slowly churns as she wonders which reaction is appropriate at a time like this.  She usually picks the one that makes her completely useless.

They locate a few other survivors, and try to compromise regarding the best survival options.  The group makes some bad decisions because everyone seems to be void of cultural references that would make it possible for them to understand what is going on.  Seriously, why is it that people in zombie movies don't seem to have any point of reference for zombies? Even if you think it's ridiculous that the dead could return to life, at the very least you'd think someone would go, "Hey, this makes no sense, but what's happening totally reminds me of what I've heard about zombies."  Instead Sarah's brain smokes and hiccups as she tries to comprehend what is going on.

This is a low budget outing where the characters aren't that interesting.  Sarah is annoying right from the first scene.  She's whiny and of indeterminate age. Is she thirty or a well preserved fifty?  It's hard to tell.  But she needs to strop drawing on her eyebrows.  When there essentially crayon drawn  eyebrows instead of actual eyebrows,  it just looks very odd.

Sarah's whining at inappropriate times may have been the reason I couldn't understand her when she kept repeating Jays name.  First I thought she called him Jake. A few scenes later, I heard Jerry, and then I heard Jay.  Then it was back to Jake and Jay again.

We are also treated to the horror cliche of a poorly charged flashlight that goes out only when needed. And most confusing of all, the scene where Sarah and Jay run outdoors into an area where it says "No Parking Here" on the wall. Yet Jay says there is no way out. Huh?  If there was no other way out, then why did they paint "No Parking Here" on the walls? It make no sense.

Continuity error:  dead girl with eyeballs looking down...
...and in the long shot her eyeballs are looking up 
ladies and gentlemen, your main characters
consider yourself warned
Sarah wondering if it's time to whine, cry, or just act useless
The confusing No Parking Here sign in the area
which supposedly has no street access
Another inappropriate reaction by Sarah. 
Jay wonders why this is Sarahs response to a zombie attack

Saturday, August 29, 2015

ABC's of Death 2 (2014)

In case you're not familiar with the concept, the ABC's of Death is an anthology made up of 26 short films.  Each director is assigned a different letter of the alphabet and must come up with a horror concept and title using the assigned letter.

While anthologies are always spotty, the one saving grace of this one is that the shorts clock in at around five minutes each.  So if you don't like one of them, the next one will be up soon.  So in that sense, I'd like to see the series continue because it's a good format and gives the viewer exposure to many different directors and ideas.

Overall, I liked this anthology better than the first, but still was not thrilled with a lot of the shorts.  My favorites were: Badger (you know what's coming but it's still enjoyable); Masticate (gross but like the punchline at the end); Questionnaire; and the overall favorite was Wish, where kids are playing with a He-man type castle and toys, and wish they were part of the action.

My least favorites were Head Games, Legacy, P-P-P-P-Scary, and Zygote.  P-P-P-P-Scary is a cop out since it's the short representing the letter P.  It's obviously based on 1930s style slapstick shorts, like The Three Stooges or Abbott and Costello.  That type of humor has it's place, but this was like watching a bad 1930s vaudeville team.  The p-p-p-p represents the characters stuttering, which gets extremely annoying very quickly.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

The Walking Deceased (2105)

Sheriff Lincoln wakes up in the hospital after a virus has turned most of the world into the living dead.  He sets out to locate his family and joins forces with other survivors he meets.

Meanwhile a zombie falls in love with a girl in the group and  follows her when she heads back to the mall, where the group of survivors is staying.  Unfortunately, he is followed by a large group of zombies, which leads to an attack on the survivors.  Since our lead zombie (who has started mumbling and they mistake for human) saved the girls life, he is allowed to travel with the living while they try to find a safe haven.

This is a comedy with the main plot points based on The Walking Dead and Warm Bodies.  You're sure to find other zombie movie references as well, like with the group staying in the mall and the zombie mall attack.  While there were a few laughs, most of it isn't funny.  It seems like there is so much material to work with since there are tons of zombie movie cliches, but the jokes are miss most of the time.

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Shadow People (2007)

Two brothers agree to pay off a gambling debt by going some ghost hunting in an abandoned house.  Seems like they should be a little suspect of such an assignment. Then again, the older brother is surprisingly accommodating and pleasant after the loan shark forces his younger brother to smash his hand with a hammer.  Things are not as they seem, and the brothers are shortly attacked by something in the house.

A short while later, four kids enter the home, and by kids I mean people in their twenties. One of the girls notices there is fresh chalk on the floor and the guys explore the house to ensure no one else is hiding there.  The couples are on a backpacking trip and it's not clear why they're at the house. They mention the rain, but they're supposed to be camping so that shouldn't be an issue.  They find the house unnerving, yet they continue to remain at the home - until later when they can't get out.

Everyone that goes into the house looks into the pipe in the wall. Why? You'd think it would be a plot point, but it's not.  At one point, they mention they can't get out through the windows because they're barred. Yet when we're shown the outside of the house, the windows don't have bars.  Also of note, the outside of the house is very small, but they wander around inside like it's a large home.

Mostly there's a whole lot of nothing going on in this film.   In fact, it's so mundane that it's almost fascinating.  The best thing about this movie is the use of a song called Born to Destroy during the closing credits that is by 1970s Indiana punk band Latex Novelties.

Ridiculous dialogue:

Guy 1 - It's probably kids goofing around.
Guy 2 - If it's kids goofing around, where are the beer bottles, cigarette butts, and trash?

Oh movie, why must you frame this shot to include
 a screen door and old mattress inside the door
There's a bit of a miscalculation on the length of wood
needed for the window frame behind them
This is why people don't light their movie with flashlights 
More lighting problems, unless you're interested
in that one tiny area of his shirt
Creepy hands in the doorway and the random paint job
to make the walls look old
More issues with framing and lit by a flashlight again
Oh my god!  That looks so painful. His head appears
to be at a 90 degree angle to his body. 
The house - no bars on the windows and
much smaller on the outside than the inside

Saturday, August 22, 2015

The Pyramid (2014)

Archaeologist Holden and his team, which includes daughter Nora, have discovered a pyramid buried in the sands of Egypt. It's three sided which confounds and confuses everyone. How can it be?  Either the excitement of their discovery overwhelms caution, or they aren't competent archaeologists, since they allow a worker to open the tomb without any concern for safety. A blast of stale air and toxins hit the poor worker in the face and he's quickly frothing at the mouth and convulsing.

A reporter and cameraman arrive for an interview, and prove to have limited intellect.  When the team  mentions they've discovered the apex of the pyramid, the reporter quizzically asks, "Apex?"  They then have to explain that the apex is the top of the pyramid.  So were the filmmakers going for a mentally challenged audience, or has society gotten so dense that simple words like apex need to be explained?

After a riot breaks out in nearby Cairo, the military shows up and tells Holden the dig has been shut down. Everyone must vacate the site.  Since they don't know if, or when, they'll be allowed to return, they insist on staying a little longer so they can send a borrowed NASA robot - who I kept expecting them to call Wall-E -  into the pyramids corridors to get video of what's inside.

After something runs past the robot and the feed goes dead, the group surmises that it must have been a dog who decided to attack it.  Yes, because recently unsealed pyramids are always filled with dogs that hate robots.  The second stupid assumption is that it's a good idea for everyone to pile into the pyramid in an attempt to retrieve the robot. You see, NASA will kill the guy who borrowed it if it's not returned.  I'm not sure NASA would actually let someone borrow a million dollar robot, but what do i know.

Instead of being cautious due to the known toxic air released upon opening, or the possibility of deadly fungus or mold inside, Holden, Nora, her boyfriend, the cameraman and reporter all troop into the structure, wearing only charcoal masks for protection.  It doesn't seem likely that would protect them from anything toxic, but everyone is willing to risk their lives for this once in a lifetime opportunity.

Once inside, they locate the remains of the robot, end up lost, try to find their way out, find lots of creepy little cat monsters, and discover Anubis has been sealed inside the pyramid.  Oh the humanity!

Wow, this is a train wreck.  First of all, I swear I saw a mummy in the trailer, but there are no mummies in the movie.  So it appears I was mistaken. I must have assumed the dark shapes moving swiftly past the camera were mummies since the movie takes place in a pyramid, and mummies are known movie monsters.  Honestly, I think it would have been better if there were tons of killer mummies in the pyramid.

The movie switches between point of view/found footage to standard filming, which happens whenever the cameraman isn't at a point to film the action. So it can be a bit distracting to switch between the two when there's no real reason other than the convenience of the film.  On the plus side, the movie is not the herkey jerkey type of camera work that makes one nauseous, so that's a plus.  But on the negative side,  that doesn't make up for the lame CGI or ridiculous goings on.

You'll end up with more questions than answers:

  1. If someone is impaled upon wooden spikes, why would you try to lift them up and off said spikes?  That will mean nothing is blocking the blood from flowing out of the wounds. Dur-hey
  2. Since the wooden spikes are hundreds of years old, would they still be able to impale you, or would they be brittle due to the dry air, and crackle to dust when you fell on them?
  3. Why are they confused about where to look for Wall-E?  No one has been in there for years.  Just follow his tracks in the dirt and dust on the floor.
  4. What happened to the wire/string they were using so they could find their way out? Did I miss the explanation? 
  5. When they discover that string is gone, why don't they just take the only freaking corridor that has footprints in it? 
  6. Why are they traveling further down into the pyramid rather than trying to get back to the top?  The top is the only part that isn't buried under tons of sand?  
  7. As an archaeologist, shouldn't they realize there is the potential for booby traps set by the ancient Egyptians to keep their kings tombs safe from crypt raiders?  That's basic history, pal.
  8. If there are five of you, then why doesn't someone stay outside to ensure if there is a problem and they don't return, someone can go get help.  They have no way to contact the outside world but they're all going to stupidly troop into the pyramid.
  9. If a group of you is in a room and the floor starts to crack with the potential to give way, doesn't it make more sense to move closer to the wall, rather than have those at the edge walk across the center?  
  10. And if you decide to walk across the center, shouldn't the people already in the center move to the edge before adding more weight to the already fragile structure?
  11. Why are there no mummies in what should very clearly be a mummy movie?
  12. And why doesn't anyone seem even remotely qualified to be on this dig?

Ridiculous dialogue that insults the viewers intelligence:

Archaeologist: See this tunnel here? This is our way in. It leads directly to the apex of the pyramid.
Reporter: "Apex?"
Archaeologist: It's the top of the pyramid.

I'm not buying that the ancient Egyptians constructed a pyramid
using blocks that are sloped, (note the lines on the side). Also each
rock is the entire length of the structure, and with only three sides,
there wouldn't be much room inside that thing.

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Hollows Grove (2104)

When Harold gets dumped, his friend Tim allows him to make a documentary about Tim's ghost hunting show.  Per the exposition (which Tim shouldn't have to tell Harold since they're friends), we find out that the show has been on the air for five years.  In the entire time they've been investigating haunted locations, they've never encountered any paranormal activity. When Harold questions the footage he's seen on the show, Tim explains it's all done by Bill their effects guy.  He and his co-host just play along and act scared.

The teams next investigation is an abandoned orphanage where ghosts are rumored to walk the halls. One of them is said to be a seven year old child who likes to slit peoples throats.

When Harold and Tim arrive at the location, the caretaker bars them from entering the building.  Even though they have the proper permits, he won't allow them inside because the place is truly haunted and they shouldn't risk their lives.  But I guess he's not totally committed to their safety since Tim is able to convince the caretaker that everything will be fine.

On their first foray into the building, they hear strange noises and assume Bill is doing a bang up job with his effects. This is a strange assumption since the caretaker already mentioned that he refused Bill entry to the premises.

Based on the obnoxiousness of the hosts, its hard to believe this show could be successful.  But not as hard to believe as a successful ghost hunting show allowing a behind the scenes documentary maker to film them talking about how everything on their show is fake.  It's the kiss of death for their career and puts at risk any future revenue from the convention circuit, dvd sales and re-runs.

The movie is bookended by an FBI agent who sternly explains that the found footage is all that is left. No one knows exactly what happened.  The movie contains it's fair share of video glitches to simulate that it's truly hand shot video.  This is incredibly annoying and I wish found footage movies would stop doing this.  Also does digital filming have these same glitches, or it is just video tape?

Also if you can see a herd of ghost children while using the night vision on your camera, why wouldn't you use said camera to see if they are still in the hallway?  If you've locked yourself in a room, you don't just walk out using your naked eye to see if the ghost kids are still there. You can only see them with

Oh and did I just see Lance Henriksens seventy year old ass as he reenacts a talking butt that is a cross between Ace Ventura and goatse?  Yes...yes, I did.  It was horrifying before the realization that it was Lance, but it left us all asking why Lance, why?

Friday, August 14, 2015

The Wild Man of the Navidad (2008)

Based on witness Dale S. Rogers  reports of a wild man, the movie follows Rogers, his wheelchair bound wife, and her caretaker.  Rogers leaves dead animals on his porch as an offering to the wild man, so that the creature won't attack anyone.  Since Rogers doesn't allow people on his land and the creature is happy and full, everything should be okay.

But when Rogers loses his job, he resorts to charging hunters for use of his property. Before you know it, one of them shoots the creature, and all bets are off.

While this film is no doubt a labor of love and they've successfully given it a grind house feel, we couldn't get through more than twenty minutes of it.  The other two people who were watching count Texas Chainsaw Massacre as one of their top ten favorite movies, but the slow pace and mundane, low key dialogue couldn't keep our interest.  It was really disappointing since Kim Henkel produced the film. Plus I'm always up for movies with any cryptozoological creatures.

Sunday, August 9, 2015

The Battery (2012)

After some sort of zombie apocalypse, Ben and Mickey travel through New England, scavenging for supplies and trying to avoid zombies. Mickey is a bit shell shocked and longs for his girlfriend, the comforts of a home, and to stop running.  Ben is more adept at their current lifestyle.  He sees a need to remain in motion so they never get trapped.  Since Mickey is adverse to killing zombies, Ben takes on this role and protects them both.

The two are traveling together out of convenience.  They were a pitcher and catcher on a minor league ball team, and are the only ones who survived whatever happened.

After Mickey hears two people talking via the walkie talkies he found, he tries to make contact.  But they are not interested and tell him to get off their channel, don't contact them again, and don't try to locate them.  Since they don't want to be found, Ben wants to leave item alone, but Mickey longs for companionship and keeps trying to contact Annie, the girl they overheard.  In the aftermath of an apocalypse, it's probably best to stay away from people who tell you they don't want to be found.

If you go into this film expecting a lot of zombie action, you'll be sorely disappointed.  It's about Ben and Mickey's interactions, and the difference in personality.  These are two people who wouldn't have been friends, but are forced together due to circumstances. Mickey's a nice guy, but unable to deal with this situation and spends his time escaping into music. He leaves killing zombies and scavenging to Mickey, who is a jerk, but more survival oriented than Mickey.  

There are long scenes with no dialogue, and the scenes with dialogue are mostly a character study.  Ben has no problem killing, and even forces Mickey to kill by locking him a room with a zombie.   But Mickey's sensitivity puts them in danger because he is unable to make decisions based on survival, rather than need for human contact.  

This movie isn't for everyone.  The film is a bit longer than I would have liked, clocking in at one hundred minutes, and I must admit there were some times where I fast forwarded in the movie.  So if you are looking for a different type of zombie movie, and are okay with movies based on dialogue rather than action, then maybe you'll like this.  I didn't love it, but didn't hate it either.

Thursday, August 6, 2015

All Hallow's Eve (2013)

Sarah is babysitting two young teens on Halloween. When Timmy dumps out his sack of candy, he discovers someone has given him a VHS tape.  Both Timmy and his sister want to watch it, but Sarah is reluctant since it's potentially creepy to dump an unlabeled VHS into a kids bag on Halloween.

But although Sarah has the best of intentions, she's not that great a baby sitter.  The kids vote 2 to 1 to watch the tape and she relents, with the caveat that she'll check it out first.  Even though the beginning is a creepy old basement, an asylum, and weirdo clown, Sarah decides the twelve year olds can watch the film and she'll just take it out if things get too scary -  not really a decision Sarah should be making for someone else children.

Within the first few minutes of the tape, a strange clown drugs a young woman in a bus station. Apparently Sarah doesn't realize this is something that may cause children to have nightmare and they continue watching the tape.

In the video, the woman wakes up chained in a basement with two other women. They tell her that whatever is in the building uses the chains to drag people down to the lower level.  At this point, Sarah decides to shut off the tape... of course she doesn't. Because that would make too much sense. Instead Sarah averts her eyes and lets the carnage on screen continue. No concern for the children who are watching this crap ever enters her cranium.  Oh Sarah, you're such a terrible babysitter.

The movie is an anthology, not my favorite type of film.  There are three segments, all of which feature the creepy clown.  The first part is with the girl in the chains.  The second involves a woman who's just moved to a house in the country. Her lights go out, her car dies, a strange glowing object comes down from the sky and someone in moving about in her house.

The third section focuses on a costume designer heading home from a movie location.  She stops at an isolated gas station and witnesses the proprietor kicking a creepy clown off the premises.  But you just know that clown is going to show up later and cause trouble.

Not digging this one.  The clown is creepy but he's also annoying and kind of stupid looking.  You just want to pop him right in the mouth. And while the third segment is probably fairly accurate regarding how someone would react in the situations the woman is in, it doesn't mean it's not annoying as hell to hear her screaming all the time.

Saturday, August 1, 2015

Agency of Vengeance: Dark Rising (2013)

When a sand worm crashes Summer's wedding and eats her fiancĂ©, the Agency of Vengeance goes on the alert....hell, with a description like that, it sounds ridiculously awesome.  Sadly it's not. It's more like Mighty Morphin Power Rangers, but with  bikinis.

Summer works at the Rising Dark Agency, alongside her ex Jason.  The group sets out to determine who killed her fiancĂ©, and stop the increase in supernatural activity that is occurring.  They get intel from an unwilling informant named Bulo, a weirdo that provides lame comic relief.

This is one of those movies where it's not terrible, but it's not good either. It tries to be funny, but isn't. This is the fourth movie in the Dark Rising franchise, so someone enjoys it.  Also what's up with the photoshop on the cover? There's something off about the way the head sits on the neck.