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Friday, October 29, 2010

Frankenstein (1931) - Horror Monster

Frankenstein (1931) - Knowing that Rachel of Zombiegrrlz is doing this film as homework this month Soresport movies will play along and review some classic monster films. This classic directed by James Whale written by John L. Balderston from the Mary Shelley's 1818 book is really a cut down story from what Shelley wrote. I am of the opinion that no one can spoil a movie classic from 1931 so the plot will be fully discussed in this review. An actor introduces the film warning the audience that the film may be too disturbing for some viewers. Being 1931 and the beginning of the Universal Monster era it could be that this film was viewed as too shocking. In his excellent book The Monster Show: A Cultural History of Horror, David J. Skal writes about the many censorship issues the movie faced but surprisingly not because of the horror. Yes, the scene originally shot of the little girl's drowning was cut to exclude her body sinking below the water but the biggest complaint was about the idea of man as God. Writer John Balderston stresses Henry Frankenstein (Colin Clive) as a man wanting to create life, it is his driving force and he rants like a madman when the experiment is successful. This was offensive to many religious groups in the 1930's.
The film itself is a bit flawed, there is really no back story on how Henry gets from his engagement with Elizabeth (Mae Clarke) to obsessed scientist other than what is said by Dr. Waldman, that he was more radical than the medical school wanted in his experimentation. So for like four months he is off, not too far away since Victor (John Boles) ran into him in the woods, doing his experiments, but not checking in with his fiancee. Stealing bodies from the grave to build his being, creating a lab to bring it to life but not taking a break to go home? This of course includes his assistant Fritz (Dwight Frye) steal a brain from the medical school. He gets jumpy and drops the first brain so instead steals the criminal brain. All that ran through my mind was Marty Feldman talking about Abby's brain in Young Frankenstein.
In a scene where Victor and Elizabeth talk about Henry's behavior we get this half of this information. In a strange extra set up we have the idea that Victor has feelings for Elizabeth but this idea is presented but never explored. Then in a scene with Victor, Elizabeth and Dr. Waldman (Edward Van Sloan) when they decide to go to the lab and see Henry, we get the other half about how brilliant but crazy he is.
Like a Mom coming into a teens room while his is masturbating, they show up at the lab right before the climax of the experiment. The storm outside is perfect to create the electricity for the ray gun that will bring the sown together body parts to life. The machines are warmed up and then, Bang bang bang, they are at the door. When it is apparent that they won't go away Henry brings them in and quite forcefully insists they sit while he finishes, eeeewu! now that Mom line seems a bit weird. Anyway he and his assistant Fritz finish the experiment with Henry explaining his rays are beyond the Violet spectrum which is in the lower end of the light spectrum and would be like Blue light? Anyway it works and Henry gets all maniacal in his success.
The Monster played by Boris Karloff is done with such feeling it is very hard to see it as a Monster. When revealed you forget the conceit that it has the brain of a criminal and see it as a poor suffering creature turned loose into a world that will never understand it. Henry must have been bipolar because he turns on the monster very quickly. After the creature kills Fritz who for no reason continually torments the beast it is decided the Monster is to be destroyed. They manage to subdue it with a needle, and Henry leaves the castle lab, he is deflated as a man. Why does Dr. Waldman decide to autopsy the creature? It wakes and kills him and now the monster is on the loose.
There again is a real disconnect, Henry relaxes with his wife to be, the "I am God" thing has been done and is now out of his system. They idly wonder what has become of the good doctor as their wedding day fast approaches. On the big day and things are bound to go wrong, but first we should have some class defining statements by the old Baron. When they guests are toasting the bride and groom with some very old and expensive wine, the old man says "Give the servants champagne this stuff is wasted on them." Real nice guy. Again a bit later when the villages come to thank him for the party he says "It's amazing how happy you can make people on a couple bottles of beer."
With the monster wandering the country side we get the controversial (at the time) scene where the monster meets little Maria. The cute little girl sits with him and shows him how to toss flower tops to land in the lake and float. The monster shows such joy while doing this. When they are out of flowers poor Maria is tossed into the water and we have a kill that will anger everyone in the community. Even though the Monster is I believe Innocent in why he tossed he in the water the image of the father carrying him limp little dripping girl into the village would enrage anyone.
When the monster arrives at the town, amazingly without being seen. He creeps into the window of the Barons house behind our bride Elizabeth. There is no explanation to how it is he knows where he is, whose house or who Elizabeth is. Unlike the book the movie does not bother to have the monster being angry at Henry. Instead it is blind luck he ends up where he is and it does not work well. There is this ridiculous scene where he ruffles Elizabeth where the guys are running around the house trying to find the monster. We hear his grrrs but they go from attic to cellar before Elizabeth screams. When they get to her the monster is gone though.
We move to the climax where the villagers and Henry head out in groups to get the monster There is some wandering before they corner it in a windmill on the top of a mountain. Henry fights the creature in the windmill and eventually is throw to the ground gravely injured. The windmill is burned to the ground and the Monster perishes. Or so we think.
Throughout this film the Monster is really the sympathetic character. He was created and the fear people have of him seems more their issues than his. He is just not good at communicating and easily frustrated. When people scream he panics like Lennie Small in "Of Mice and Men", which only aggravates the situation. Henry is the main villain, a driven man who stops at nothing to get what he wants and then if it does not work perfectly is an ass about it. Lets kill the monster and get rid of this mess is his attitude. So the monster suffers for his creators actions and in the end I leave the movie just feeling sad for the Monster.
Rating (5.2) 5.0 and up are recommended, On the Zombiegrrlz system I would say rent it.

Outpost Doom (2009) - Horror Monster

Outpost Doom (2009) - There are two guys running through the woods with bad rain effects, accentuated by poor lightning effects while being chased by a cameraman wiggling his fingers in front of the camera. It is a creative idea making due with what is available. This is the beginning of Outpost Doom, the micro budget film from the guys at Dead Lantern, and the world famous Splattercast (podcast). Before starting this review let me say that I love the Splattercast podcast, I listen to every episode and so I am a fan. I appreciate that these guys not only share a love of the horror genre, but get off their asses and put time and creativity into creating their own flick and podcast. There should be credit given to small film makers for the effort and energy they put into these projects. Eh... its sounding like I am apologizing before ripping their movie apart, not really my intention but since I already know I did not really like the movie but like the guys so it is hard. Okay I will approach it as a viewer who loves horror movies and let the cards fall where they fall.
The two guys, convicts Curt (Steve Eaton) and Rick (Jeremy Cech) from the first scene, make it to a barn and then for some unknown reason the pass out like synchronized swimmers. When Kurt wakes up again he sees a headless body then Rick comes and beats the shit out of him. Kurt is tied to a beam and Rick who has a glowing pentagram on his hand beats him a bit and says "You can't fool me, I know what you are." We don't! Tell us damn it what is Kurt? Apparently Kurt was somewhere and a lot of people ended up dead. Kurt denies killing anyone. Rick turns from the window, of course he should not be standing by the window, door or whatever since there is a finger monster outside. He does anyway and is grabbed from behind through the window slots by the finger monster. It really is a decent effect and works for the movie. He is saved but now he sees they are not alone in the barn there is a group of people and one has a gun. So we have a setup and I have to give some credit here, instead of having an acute crisis that brought everyone to the barn. There has been a "darkness" in the world for some time and people have ended up there from unconnected places. The body on the inside means that there is also a killer inside the barn too. Still I don't understand how they all sort of just got there and have not explored the place. I like the idea that the world is going through some kind of invasion.
The Group of players are
Convict Rick - The best actor of the bunch and very distrustful of Curt. His story about guys on the chain gang ending up dead around Curt lends to the surprise twist at the end of the story.
Convict Curt - Casually talks about being in prison for murder, excellent in that nobody batted an eye when he reveals this in fact Leon is friendly with him after this.
Leon (Jeff Gustafson) A local bar owner who knows Curt from the past. He is wonderfully animated in his line delivery compared to many of the other actors.
David (Braden Johnson) the diabetic for the purpose of getting someone to try to get to the house nearby.
Mathew Kister - I take it he was Mathew and since he does not have a character name on imdb he must have been living the movie thinking it was really happening.
Harry (Jeff Schmidt) - Has the gun at the beginning and is caring for the blind woman Helen.
Helen (Who played Helen?) My wife pegged her right away as the obvious killer and then she says to to Curt in the middle of the flick. "Why are you always looking out the window?" She is blind right?
Stu (Deejay Scharton) Should never have went out into the dark barn. He roughs up the prisoners pretty good in the beginning of the film. He has a short fuse.
Jenny (Rhyann Crooks) Our other female lead.
The guy upstairs Herb?
After establishing how much nobody trusts the two guys in prison clothes, the lights in the barn start failing. The group decides to investigate the barn, and of course they split up and of course this is not going to end well. Stu send the fainty David back to the main area of the barn, he says he can handle it but then says "Trust Me" so we will know he is about to die. When the killing starts it creates a chain reaction of distrust as the group starts getting killed off. Now we have "Ten Little Indians" and we all get to guess which person in the group is the killer.
Onward it goes with each time the groups separates someone dies. About this time my wife told me who the killer was and she was right. It seems inevitable in horror movies that this is going to happen and I always get a sinking feeling for the film when it does. Then we reconfigure the groups and send them out again for a new cast member to kick it. Shot in Black and white made the monster effect as well as the wound effect work pretty well.
The acting is well like a bunch of friends got together to act. The story by Mathew Kister was okay if a bit predictable. How much can you do in a one location shoot though? The idea that there is a outside force that has forced them all into the barn gets established pretty well. The idea of the killer among us is not very well established and the ending twist really doesn't fit in the film at all. Sticking to developing the idea of the internal killers reason for being and motivation would have benefited the overall story. It is pretty limiting and even though the barn seemed to have several rooms it seemed a limited space. Thus the dialog and actors needed to carry the story and they fell short. Glad to see the twist at the end and if my wife and daughter got their wish I would not have. At one point my wife said, "Why are you watching this?" I of course defended my boys at Dead Lantern and told her there is value in all film and each has to be judged on its... who am I kidding I shrugged my shoulder and waited for the exploding head effect.
David has a great idea in saying maybe they should not be wandering around in the dark when somebody is killing them. That doesn't happen though so they talk themselves into dying and so it goes.
"Jenny will you stop being a whiny bitch."
I liked the CGI effect of the killers face in the climax and then the final twist is just a bit too much. Overall although the movie was not... um... good I applaud the guys at Dead Lantern for the effort. So what was with Rick's glowing Pentagram, did I miss something or did that never get resolved? Why yes it was but you have to know you classic horror movie monsters to get it.
Rating (3.5) 5.0 and up are recommended, In the Zombiegrrlz rating system I say BUY IT! although I don't recommend it as a film I support low budget horror film, so throw these guys $10 bucks at came with a wonderful hand written note from Deejay that you can take to a writing specialist for analysis, or re-gift in the pipe bomb you are sending to your boss.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Mark of the Devil (1970) - Horror Gore Historical

Mark of the Devil (1970) - As a Yut I can remember being at the Drive-In movies a couple times, I have a very strong memory of watching "5 fingers of Death" and I have a memory of this film "Mark of the Devil", in my head they were a double feature but I really doubt that since they came out a couple years apart. In an effort to revisit the movies of my youth I recently watched Mark of the Devil. It opens with this strange camera effect like they were shooting through the bottom of a clear bottle. We see the local witch hunter, Albino (Reggie Nalder) sending his thugs after a caravan of priests and nuns, they capture rape and in general do bad to them. The next scene is a results scene as 2 women and a man are publicly tortured. Albino accuses them of witchcraft and doing sinful things and requires them to confess. They cut the fingers off one woman and then tar and feather the man. They then burn the other woman at the stake and of course she curses them all. It really is to establish the place and time as somewhere between the 15 and 18th century during the witch hunts. We get a scroll narration talking about just this and how 8 million people were executed during the period. Then setting up the movie we are to see.
We follow Vanessa (Olivera Katarina) from the crowd scene back to the tavern she works at. As we pass people in the streets we hear bits and pieces of the soon to arrive Lord Cumberland (Herbert Lom) the big wig witch hunter who is coming to check out the town. Already at the Tavern are sitting Christian(the great Udo Kier) and Jeff Wilkins (Herbert Fux) the assistant to Cumberland and his executioner respectively. When Albino comes into the tavern there is a bit of a confrontation with the new comers. He does not want to give up the power he has to Cumberland when he arrives. There is a multi level conflict here, Christian sees Albino as a backwards thug abusing his power. He is training with Cumberland who he sees as a noble man doing the work of God to remove the evil from the world. The power he has over Albino is to demand the paperwork for all the executions that have taken place and he exercises this power. It leaves the illiterate Albino on the ropes, his assistant has to work to create the falsified paperwork quickly. In this Christian acting for Cumberland can attempt to set this backwoods thug straight.
Albino hits on Vanessa and when she spurns his ugly assface he accuses her of being a witch. Christian stops him and then in the time from when Cumberland arrives and the accusation there are scenes of Christian and Vanessa spending time together and him falling for her. He can not be near her all the time though and it is not long before Albino gets his hands on Vanessa, he whips her good and arrests her.
When Cumberland arrives he takes Albino's side against Vanessa, basically saying that the accusation of the local witch finder is sufficient to hold her. Later she will be tortured for a confession. In another case a young blond, Deidre von Bergenstein (Gaby Fuchs) who is also accused says she was raped and impregnated by the Lord Bishop of the area. Cumberlands insists she should admit being a witch but she refuses having been wronged by this Bishop. She will be tortured for confession. What this scene did was to create doubt to in Christian about his mentor Cumberland, he sees the elder purposely not accept the story from Deidre because it would make the church he works for look bad. Christian thought they were seeking truth and is thrown off by the callus approach of Cumberland.
This is the message of this film. It is a history lesson about the witch hunts while expressing that so much of what was going on was either personal, as in the case of Albino. Or personal for Cumberland when we learn he is impotent and at one point can only get off by raping a noble women. That a lot was done to benefit the church as in the case of Deidre who must be a witch because the alternative is that she was raped by the Bishop and that is seen as unacceptable. There is also a story line about Baron Daumer (Michael Maien) a young man who should inherit his fathers fortunes, but since he was too young the church has been holding them. Now of legal age and requesting his inheritance the church has accused him of being possessed by a demon. The torture to remove the demon will probably kill him. Christian again sees the flaws in his mentor when it is obvious the church just does not want to loose the income and power of the holdings. Cumberland says he could free himself of the demon by signing everything over to the church.
Through the story Christian struggles with the morality of what they are doing, will he save Vanessa his love? Will he turn against his Lord Cumberland? Can he save Baron Daumer? When the film gets to a climax it is so anticlimactic that I was amazed. After sitting through this really boring if somewhat gory film, I could not believe who got killed who got away and why they bothered to make the movie in the first place.
Back in the day when you went to see this movie they gave you a vomit bag because the scenes of torture were so graphic. In these times of torture porn this movie is almost PG-13, there are a couple of boobs of Gaby Fuch on the rack, there is the rape scene that is not graphic at all and you see quite a few tortures and people burnings but they are not close to what you see in Hostel or the Saw movies. Boy were times different back in the early 1970's. Like many movies from that era this movie takes a long time for the character, in this case Christian to get from point A to B. The movie is long and somewhat boring with lots of torture scenes, he is really slow to give up on Lord Cumberland though. When he finally does for the love of a woman, it ends up being a tragic decision.
Rating (3.2) 5.0 and up are recommended, in the Zombiegrrlz rating system I would say Skip It!

Monday, October 25, 2010

Salvage (2006) - Horror Thriller

Salvage (2006) - Claire Parker (Lauren Currie Lewis) works at a local convenience store on the overnights. The morning after a shift her boyfriends truck arrives to pick her up and take her home but it is not her boyfriend driving. This film written and directed by Jeff Crook and Josh Crook begins doing a fine job building dread and tension. Nervous Claire is convinced by Duke (Chris Ferry) that he works with her man, Jimmy (Cody Darbe) and the ride can happen. Not being a complete idiot she calls Jimmy but gets his answering service. The tension of the ride is great and you can feel the mistake just as Claire can. The flash to the back of the truck showing something wrapped in the blue tarp is good. Then the ante ups, Duke talks about how pretty she is. Then he touches her face, she reacts poorly of course and he says "Not going to be a stuck up cunt are you?" Luckily for Claire they arrive at her house right at that moment. The tension can be relieved for a bit. She gets into the house but then Duke is at the door. Suddenly we are tense again with Claire. This is really well done and although her fate is to be dragged into the cellar and have her face cut off they build to it really well. That first scene of course is just a dream for young Claire and she wakes having dozed off at the counter in the store.
This time when she goes out for her ride it is her boyfriend Jimmy who arrives. We get to learn about a bit about their relationship, he is thinking a 3 way with her best friend is a good idea; his shitty truck with a bad starter (Gee is that going to come up later?) and it is an opportunity for Claire to stare out the window and see someone digging in a corn field. A lot of this story is pretty well done scare stuff, "Whose there?" kind of tension. Claire has this really good scene in the store she works when she sees someone on the monitor of the security cam. Later when with the police things are not how she remembered them.
The Duke story is that this sick bastard serial killer ends up being shot by the police, but not before he killed a couple teens. So the film starts feeling a bit "Carnival of Souls" we sort have get an idea of what is going on with Claire and are on the ride of watching her as she discovers the truth about herself. If there is a criticism that needs to be stated is that from here on it takes a long time to get to that conclusion. There is nothing wrong with the tension but it is hard to keep it going and the more the movie does it the more the payoff is going to have to be BIG. Between the effective music and the really creepy killer Duke they do a really good job but the underwhelming ending is such a Twilight Zone type disappointment. I won't give it away because I am going to recommend this film but I felt like it really mean of the film to twist the way it does. Such a nice job was done building the relationship with Claire, to then break that empathetic relationship at the end was a bit mean. Overall if you like a sort of slow moving but reasonably well done thriller this may be the movie for you.
Rating (5.5) 5.0 and up are recommended, in the Zombiegrrlz system I would say Rent it.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

The Soresport likes...

Here at Soresport movies coverage is almost always about horror movies, but life is so much more than that. Here are some other things the Soresport is currently digging.


The Zombiegrrlz Podcast - This is currently my favorite podcast, Rachel aka "Zombiegrrl" has a great style, insightful in her reviews, she smoothly leads the rest of the grrlz, Summer aka "Lady Succubus", Ariel aka "The Last Grrl", Brianne aka "The Reanimatress", into the latest but sometimes not the greatest movies out today. These girls have fun and love horror and spend the time to thoroughly review there features. You can get them through itunes or at their website.

WTF with Marc Maron - Great comedy from a great comedian, Marc Maron who I first saw iin the Boston Comedy scene in the 80s, who was excellent in his short stint on Air America and who now has this hilarious pocast. Bringing in comedians from his extensive Rolodex (do those exist anymore) this is the best podcast for hearing the experience of the comedian while also hearing some great

Best of the Left Podcast - Jay Tomlinson picks a subject and then collects the best of current progressive talk and shows on the subject then splices them together into just the best political show out there. Whether you are a lefty, centrist or insane and need to educate yourself, you can get the best talk happening on the latest news and issues today in a convenient well produced show.

The Scare-ening - Journalists Stacie Ponder (Final Girl) and Heidi Martinuzzi ( are great and I wish I could stay up later to hear this live but instead I get it on podcast. I love the little bit of bitterness that mixes into conversation, they may be near my age.

The Nerdist Podcast - Chris Hardwick hosts this funny comedy show, with stand up comedians, TV personalities, tech news, and lots of stuff geeks will love this great show.

The Dead Lantern Splattercast - The Guys at Dead Lantern have a ball while reviewing the latest in horror. Not only that they don't just watch horror but make it, their latest film "Outpost Doom" is available at their website. I recently watched it and a review is forthcoming. Very enjoyable the group is about the right size for a podcast and they build off each other nicely. You can get them at itunes, I should just say you can get all podcasts here through itunes.


The Horror Digest - Andre Dumas covers alot of horror related maaterial and I love her first person reviews. She watches so many things that I have not thought about in years and reviews them with the insights of youth and a styles that is so Andre, enjoy every entry. Currently she is having a contest to win tickets to the Horror Marathon coming up at the Coolidge Corner theater midnight on Oct 30th get over there and enter!

Finalgirl - Stacie Ponder makes a second appearance with her excellent horror blog. Currently she is slowly revealing the results of her poll for the greatest horror movies of all time. Read it!

All Things Horror - A locally based horror site with great reviews and horror movie related news. Mike Snoonian and Chris Hallock have put together a great site. They also host independent horror movies and shorts about once a month at the Somerville Theater, the next coming Oct 26th.

Television -
Stargate Universe,
It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia,
Eureka, and I am totally psyched for "The Walking Dead" coming to AMC starting Halloween night.

Discgolf - Love the sport and with more and more free to play courses around the area there is no reason you should not try it. Sometimes you have to get off your ass and get your body moving this is a great way to do it. Check out for a list of courses.

Well those are some things I am liking right now. How about you?

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Return of the Living Dead:Necropolis (2005) Horror Zombies

Return of the Living Dead:Necropolis (2005) - The Hybra Tech television ad tells of the great work the company is doing in all sorts of fields from medicine to snack foods to zombie outbreak clean up setting the stage for the story. Uncle Charles (Peter Coyote) is in Russia to get the last remaining barrels of Zombies in Trioxin 5 we see right away the effects of the toxin when one of the Russians gets some on his hand and is turned into a brain eating zombie.
Cut to a car getting in an accident on a rainy night and the occupants being dead. You know this because when the lightening flashes there is skeleton face on there faces. The only purpose of the scene is to establish the main character, Julian (John Keefe) and his little brother Jake (Alexandru Geoana) who remarkably live with Uncle Charlie. The next bunch of scene are to establish Julian as a bit of a wimp. He is definitely the sulky second string. His friend /rival Zeke (Elvin Dandel)is the tough guy who just broke up with Julian's good friend Katie (Jana Kramer) the hot brunette. Not being a player you know Julian will never tap that and he says as much when Zeke notices them spending too much time together. "we're just friend Zeke." grrrrrr... grow some already. The musical piece of some of the gang riding dirt bikes is a reel filler and frustrating to watch, FF your way through to the ramp part. Here it is re enforced that Julian is a chicken when he bails on doing a ramp jump. Showing off Zeke goes for jump too which really is the turn in the story when he is knocked out in a spill and is taken to Community Hospital.
Things pick up here, they establish Uncle Charles as the mad scientist using his ill gotten trioxin to reanimate the dead while working at Hybra Tech. Then Julian is told at the hospital that Zeke has died. When he calls Katie, at work in security at Hybra Tech, to share the bad news she is confused since she just saw Zeke rolled in on the security cameras.
There is a fun scene thrown in for a later need, of two bums, Crusty and Joey cooking a rat below the Hybra Tech building, remarkably right next to a used trioxin pipe that director Ellory Elkayem made sure we saw the special marks on. Elkayem has some talent and the film looks good, but you have to follow the script too and this one is sub par. I sort of wish he wrote this because of the nice job he did on "Eight Legged Freaks". Of course the pipe is leaking next to where Joey laid down to nap, as well as on the cooking rat. This movie although not the greatest did take the time to establish what rules it had. The rat coming back to life and biting Crusty, showed us even dead burned flesh could be reanimated. When Joey then turns from the gas from living to living dead and finishes off old Crusty we see another way to be infected.
The teens get together and decide they have to break out Zeke before something bad happens to him. Cody(Cory Hardrict) the computer hacker gets in and sees that Zeke is indeed listed under the human experimentation section of the company's website. We all know that when you are a multinational evil zombie making company who steal patients for human experimentation that it is important to keep good records. We see the others getting ready for the raid, making IDs, getting weapons, ropes, tasers, lights walkie talkies etc. Again the movie is well thought out, every item in the musical getting ready montage is used by the end of the film. In fact every piece except maybe the nun chucks is essential for the break in and escape. Still this was very foolish watching the Scooby gang get ready like it was a Stalone movie. The gang consists of Katie on the inside handling the security cameras, Mimi (Diana Munteanu) the gymnast who is going to use her exceptional body to occupy the other Hybra Tech guard, Becky(Aimee-Lynn Chadwick) the cute sidekick, Carlos (Toma Danila) the bad ass who was the only smart one in the group and brought a gun, Julian and his little brother Jake. The home made flame thrower was established earlier too and Jake carries that.
We get another long musical interlude as the group rides under the Hybra Tech building to get inside after first being attacked by the two zombie bums.
They sneak in and are eventually confronted by Uncle Charles who then takes them to Zeke. Of course they pass a whole lot of zombies in cells and behind gated rooms. They get Zeke out and then stumble upon a lab where zombie clones are being grown. Shooting the electronic lock is the last thing Carlos should have done. Katie hustling in the security room to shut the alarm off before the outside authorities hear it and come to arrest them all she accidentally lets all the zombies out. While this is going on Julian learns from Uncle Charles that his parents were brought here when they were in the accident. Julian must go to the North building to see them, it has been 5 years so they must be recovered from their injuries by now... or they are Zombies!
The zombies of the earlier ROTLD films but a slower more George Romero type. Even that though is not accurate enough although slower zombies when sprayed with bullets in the chest area they are stoppable. A single shot to the head also gets them good. They also for purposes of the story maybe are satisfied with head biting but not actually feeding on the brain of the victim. Instead they bite and then go after the next person. Wikipedia in talking about this different Zombie suggests that the original trioxin 245 from the early film was a more potent form of the chemical and that this newer chemical is not the good stuff. So like in the past films a zombie every now and again talks, but they are slower. They begin to reek havoc on the security guards in the building and the working scientists. Our group now split with a few going to find Julian's parent and a few trying to get Zeke out of the building must fight their ways through the zombies. Zeke with Becky and Jake is bitten and starts turning, Katie, Mimi and the other guard Hector head out but only Katie avoids the onslaught. How the zombies end up on every floor is unexplained and this seems odd since everything is well plotted in this film.
When Julian finds his parents as weaponized zombies he knows the long trip to this floor has been for nothing, but really not for nothing because now Uncle Charles can send his parents after him. While Becky and Jake try to fend off the turned Zeke, Julian and Cody repel down the building from the roof and all are rescued in a pinch by Katie in her rocking Humvee. Still there is the Mom and Dad Zombies to deal with and the final showdown between the toasty Zeke and Julian working out their feelings about Katie. When all that is done the SWAT team finally arrives to mow down the remaining zombies who amazingly all stayed together when they came out of the building and are now easy to shoot.
The final scene sets up a possible sequel as if this franchise needs more of this. This is a really pg-13 version and so well plotted by William Butler and Aaron Strongoni that it felt robotic. The musical fillers were way to long and too many and the zombie attacks not brutal enough. The comedy was weak to nonexistent and the logic flawed.
Rating (4.1) 5.0 and up are recommended, In the Zombiegrrlz rating system I would say Skip it.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Deep Red (1975) - Suspense Giallo

Deep Red (1975) - If you can get past the main conceit of this film it is very an enjoyable suspense thriller. That conceit is that the main character Marcus Daly (David Hemmings) is a musician who witnesses a murder, he on his own not only investigates but solves it and other murders. He does not go to the police nor do they, the police seem involved or engaged in the investigation of the crimes. Why not?
With that said there is so much good about this film, Dario Argento wrote this with Bernardino Zapponi and Argento directs it with style and skill. Argento has put some real shit on the screen but here he seems to have his act together. The opening scene shot from the floor of an apartment, we hear an argument and see the shadows of what appears to be a stabbing, then a bloody knife falls onto the floor and we see what appears to be the legs of a girl step up next to the knife. This is a really well done scene and the perfect opening.
The introduction of our main character we see him playing Jazz music with a group of youngsters Marc is a teacher at the music conservatory. That is it though at this point.
Our catalyst victim is introduced in the next scene, Helga Ulmann (Macha Meril) is presenting at a conference She says she is a psychic who can see images and feel thoughts of people around her. She does a demonstration on an audience member. Then she gets some disturbing thoughts from an audience member we don't get to see. "You have killed and you will kill again." she shouts. We get a point of view of the killer leaving the auditorium. No one has gotten a good look at the killer as the stage light blinding Helga enough she could not make the person out.
We see a closeup of the eye of the killer, but not even enough of a look to tell if man or woman. The POV from the killer watching Helga so we know what is coming and can feel a bit of dread for her. We get images of children's drawings of the killing we saw in the first scene?
Helga hears children's music and starts to get jumpy in her apartment. The doorbell rings and as she reaches for the door senses the danger, too late, the door is kicked in and a cleaver wielding killer starts chopping at her. Of course the lighting does not let us see who the killer is.
Outside Marc and his fellow piano player and friend Carlo (Gabriele Lavia) are discussing life. Carlo is drunk and a sad sack. They hear the scream and see the poor victim as she is impaled on the broken glass of the window. Marc who also lives in the apartment rushes upstairs to see if he can help. He has a bit to explain when the police arrive. They are callous about the murder and it is real obvious they are not going to be in the movie much. I think the scene is really there to introduce the female reporter Amanda Righetti (Giuliana Calandra) who will travel the path to the killer with Marc.
Because of the nature of this film it is unfair to continue to give too much detail about the plot. Marc continues working his way through the story, and developing a relationship with the reporter. There is a image on the wall of Helga's apartment sticks in his head a an important revelation later on. The police are basically missing while Marc discovers important pieces of information and closes in on figuring out who the killer is. It takes a good deal of time to do this and there is the strangest thing with the copy of the film I got from Netflix. The dialog repeatedly and often went from Italian with English subtitles to dubbed English and then back again. I tried to find a pattern in this but could not, seemed random. Oh and what the fuck was the scene with the fucking weird robot? Marc eventually gets to the killer for a final confrontation. It is a pretty good little film is you can ignore the flaws. I thinking I was so smart thought I had it figured out halfway through but I was wrong which raised the score for this movie.
Rating (5.8) 5.0 and up are recommended, in the Zombiegrrlz rating system I say Rent It!

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

The Revenant (2009) - Horror comedy

The Revenant (2009) - Part of the Terrorthon 10 events at the Somerville Theater. We open on the funeral scene of Bart (David Anders) a soldier who has passed away while serving. It is clear from the minister that Bart never made clear his religious beliefs and so the chance for heaven was not assured. After the funeral Joey (Chris Wylde) , Bart's best friend talks to his former fiancee Janet (Louise Griffiths) about the minister in a bit of a cliche conversation. Still there was a good line in Janet asking in her amazingly hot British accent, "How do you stay so strong?" and Joey answering "Heavy sedation." The cringe worthy moves by Joey to then sleep with Janet felt really sleazy but of course set something up in the future.
After the funeral Bart wakes in his coffin, luckily the incompetent crew at the cemetery did not cover him in dirt yet. He wanders up to the cemetery building and he and the audience get to see that he is undead. The establish it well with his mouth being sown shut and the fact he is a bit rotten, spoiled, past his due date, definitely expired. This is tough for a guy and he really thinks he must be hallucinating or something.
He goes to Joey's house who is properly fucking freaked and hits him with a bat. As these things go the two try to figure out what is going on. Bart tries to eat pizza but unfortunately the gory result is he can not hold down food. Besides he looks like a zombie, funky eyes, bad skin and embalmed. Still They decide the emergency room should be their next step. Great scene when the nurses are examining him in the ER and he is asked to take off his shirt. The autopsy scar across his body freaks out the room.
At this point we have established a fairly comical and original buddy movie. There are still some things that have to be establish and the are as the plot marches through everything we need to know about Bart. First he collapses at sunrise appearing dead-er. Joey calls Janet's best friend Mathilda(Jacy King) who at this point knows nothing and comes over to find Bart's body in Joey's living room and of course it is dead, humorous by itself as she probably think he grave robbed the body and has lost his mind. Somewhere in here we also have learned that Bart actually feeds on blood and that it keeps him from rotting and gets rid of those awful pangs.
There is another great scene where the Boys go to the blood bank to steal blood and the nurse on duty catches Bart. Also the music is noticeably awesome at this point in the movie, the guys head out with the blood they have stolen and are cruising around town and the soundtrack is solid. It stays that way throughout the movie.
After coming out of a store run the guys are held up by a Latino man who shoots Bart, but when he rises after being shot the guy is thrown for a loop enough that Joey can knock him out. They take the guy so Bart can feed on him, which is gross. Little do they know at this point that Bart has turned the guy into a Revenant also.
At this point the movie takes two turns, one that was set up earlier and one that comes from a scene where Bart and Joey interrupt a robbery at a liqueur store. First though Janet enters the picture coming over to see Bart because Matti told her he is undead. The reestablishing of the relationship is pivotal in a couple ways. One the film established the noncommittal way Bart was when he was alive so that idea is reintroduced. He doesn't want to break up with Janet but yet he is luke warm to making a meaningful connection. It then also creates a future problem for the guys in the relationship because Joey scored Janet when she was sad and needing someone at the funeral. The second thing is with he second feeding on a criminal the guys suddenly have this vigilante angle to play to get blood for Bart.
Now in full buddy movie form and fashion things as vigilantes are going well and their popularity on the local news grows. Then things go horribly wrong. Joey is shot. The movie could have started to wind down here but instead writer / director D. Kerry Prior ups the ante. To "save" Joey Bart drinks his blood and after he dies we now have a pair of Revenant Vigilantes going around stopping crime. Matti though sees the car caught on tape on the news and recognizes it. She tracks them down to confront them. This does not go as she plans though and is shot by Joey when she says she will turn them in and tell Janet. He does not want his undead fun to stop. Still she manages to send a voice message of the conversation and suddenly Bart knows he wants Janet in his life, while Joey knows he wants it to just be the buddies. Bart feeds off Janet until she dies and it looks like his choice is made but while Janet is still dead Joey arrives with his cool hearse and wants the guys to head to Vegas. Bart wants the relationship with Janet. Can it get any more drawn out. Joey seeing a chance to be chosen over the woman tells Bart about sleeping with her and suggest they cut off her head. Who will be chosen. This should really be where the movie start wrapping up with the guys confronting each other and shooting each other in a funny scene. BUT no there is more, oh so much more.
After pissed and shot up Joey leaves Bart is actually going to do the beheading but instead is arrested by the police. At the same time the first victim the Latino guy and his gang get their hands on Joey and cut off his arm. When Bart does his morning death, the police naturally send him to the morgue so he is soon on the streets again. He gets in the mail the decapitated head of his friend Joey in a package. In a very funny way he can communicate with the head to talk and Joey at this point would like to die.
After the final scene with the buddies the movie really went off the rails for me. Attempted suicides were fun but at this point I was waiting for a wrap. Unfortunately it was a while before that happened. The ante is upped again and we are treated to the cops closing in on Bart and chase scenes and gunfights until dawn when he is collected by some government types. Weird that it went where it went and the final scenes are even stranger with the scientist filling in the gaps about how the zombies work. Then the last scene really ruined the movie for me. First it was stupid, just did not make strategic sense. Second it was not needed. If I ignore it I really liked most of this film so I will rate it ignoring the ending.
Rating (6.1) In the Zombiegrrlz rating system this would be a Rent it!

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Dead Snow (2009) - Horror Nazi Zombies

Dead Snow (2009) - REVISTED, Part of the Terrorthon 10 events at the Somerville Theater. Opening scenes that capture the audience attention and pull us right into the story. It is what we get with this movie, the opening scene of Sara (Ane Dahl Torp) running from the dark shapes in the snow, totally panic-ed . She stops and looks off in the distance, did she loose them? Look out Nazi zombie! Credits roll and we already know what we are in store for. We don't know who Sara is at this point but we know there are horrifying things in these mountains. So when we go into the cars of the students on spring break and get introduced to the fodder, I mean characters we feel the dread of them not knowing their fate.
Some of the relationships are established Liv (Evy Kasseth Rosten) is with Martin (Vegar Hoel), the doctor in training who can't stand the sight of blood. Boy is he going to get over that in a hurry. Vegard ( Lasse Valdal) is the boyfriend to poor possibly dead Sara. Chris (Jenny Skavlan) the little hussy is going to make a play for Erlend (Jeppe Laursen) the movie geek. that leave Hanna(Charlotte Frogner) with Roy (Stig Frode Henriksen) and we have our quad of couples heading to the mountains for a ski break. Sara who went ahead to set things up will meet them there.
They park the cars and have a hike to the cabin. Vegard heading up ahead of everyone on his ski mobile. He finds it odd that Sara is not there when he arrives, but she knows the area and he figures she went out for a hike. Then there are some scenes to let us know that they are there to have fun.
Since we know the scares are coming we get to the night rather quickly and Hanna has to go to the outhouse. Cold and dark she gets tense when she hears something in the woods. She gets back to the others and says there is something out there. When Roy goes to check it out we get a good startle when the Wanderer (Bjorn Sundquist) appears behind him. People are polite in Sweden so they invite the stranger in. His role in the film is to inform us what the story of these mountains are.
In WWII Nazi Col Herzog was a viscous occupier for this area, he and his men tortured and killed many innocent villagers. When he realized the war was lost, and the Russian army was closing in he and his men systematically stole all the gold from the villagers. This was the final straw for the village and they rose up and killed the Germans. But the Herzog and a small amount of his men escaped into the mountains with the loot. They froze to death in the winter but apparently their greed for the gold was so great that if someone comes in possession of any of it they rise as Nazi Zombies and kill you to get it back. They are drawn to it from the dead.
He is there to put them all ill at ease and does a fine job. He tells them to tread lightly in these mountains. He heads off and the kids head to bed. Vegard dreams of Sara, she is closing the trapdoor to under the cabin, used to keep things cold. He follows her outside, She is standing outside by the cabin with blood coming out of her mouth. He wakes from his dream.
The film does a nice job with using the dark to create tension, character almost seeing things or using a flashlight limiting the scope of what they can see. We get one of these scene with the wanderer demise. Another thing with the filmaking as it should be wih monster movies is director Tommy Wirkola does not show the monsters right away, not in a clear way. It is the "almost" that make each encounter more tense. As the movie progresses we see more and more and the makeup is excellent so there is an excellent payoff for not seeing then early in the film.
Since his dream was so disturbing Vegard decides to use his snow mobile to search for Sara, leaving the others for a second day of playing in the snow.
When he is out there and stops for a bite to eat he sees the tent of the wanderer and goes to investigate. The blood in the snow should have been enough to scare him off but no... He falls through a snow bank into a cave while fleeing the wanderer's tent and is out cold.
Not knowing anything weird is going on the friends back at the cabin. While getting beer from the trap door Erlend finds a box of gold. Oh so that's why the zombies were after Sara. The group all paw at it and several have items they fail to put back in the box.
We get one of the grosses scenes ever Erlend goes to the outhouse announcing his need to shit. As he wipes Chris arrives to fuck him on the john, gross and fucking cold. Worse than the gore and the brains the idea of this act sends chill down my spine. Since they had sex we can guess what their fate will be. He heads in as she stays to go the bathroom after sex. Now we start to see the Nazi Zombies she is terrified as one is outside the outhouse. Surprise! The music inside it too loud for her to be heard screaming.
The already very well done pacing starts to pick up as we transition from creepy scary to action frightening. The zombies attack the cabin and the battle is on. By morning there are just two girls and two guys. They decide two of them should act as decoys while the other two make a break for the cars.
Vegard awakes and find he is in the snow cave lair of the Nazi Zombies. He find remains of Sara and then in his grief is surprised by a zombie attacking him. He has an epic battle and wins only to have another zombie rise from the ground. Eventually he shows his worth and is heading back to camp with a machine gun freshly mounted on his ski mobile.
The girls running to the car do not fare particularly well. One at least gets to grenade the swarm of fiend eating her guts as she dies. The other trapped in a tree is a bit of a ridiculous scene ends up fighting for her life and going over a cliff with a zombie.
back at the cabin Herzog rises his troops and sends them towards the guys. There is some wonderful battling in this set piece.
The last woman survives the fall from the cliff.
More of the big battle at the cabin has Vegard coming to the rescue but then being drawn and quartered by five zombies. The Final two guys manage to win again but not without a heartbreaking incident. This film is rocking good at this point, there is gore and humor and fighting and everything is moving towards a close. The final two guys think they have come out on top but again Herzog has troops in reserve and soon they are running towards the cars ahead of the zombie army. When one of the two dies the last guy alive sees Herzog taking the gold off him and finally makes the connection we have known all along. He rushes back to the charred cabin and find the box of gold showing it to the Zombies and then fleeing for his life.
Wow what a fun movie! Better on the third viewing... I really like when an idea is executed well. The story here is nothing too complex, they characters are just barely drawn but still this film delivers what it promises and that is very refreshing. There are surprises and gore with surprises and just the most epic battle scenes. Very good film for a zombie movie fan who likes action also.
Rating (8.0) 5.0 and up are recommended, Zombiegrrlz system I would say Buy It! Go see it!

Saturday, October 2, 2010

The Horde (2009) - Horror Zombie

Le Horde "The Horde" (2009) - REVISITED, as part of the Terrorthon 10 program at the Somerville Theater. Reviewed in a spoiler filled article on this blog in August 2010, here is the second viewing of the film. The story plot is simple enough on an outward level but very complex in characterization. After a cop is killed by a local drug dealing gang, his cop friends make a plan to go execute the thugs. The night of the plan the cops are foiled and taking prisoner by the gang but right at that moment an airborne plague that reanimated the dead spreads fast and soon the gang and the cops are working together fighting for their lives against a horde of zombies. Fast zombies and aggressive they are hard to kill.
What is still great about this film is the interpersonal connections between the character. This is no simple good guys bad guys story. It is a web of long and short term relationships. The Ganster brothers from Nigeria, Adewale (Eriq Ebouaney) and the younger Bola (Doudou Masta) where the older has always looked out for the impulsive and easily anger younger brother. References to how they were treated in their youth in Nigeria make them more than just thugs but lets the audience see that they have a history. Lead cop Ouessem (Jean-Pierre Martins) holds resentment with female cop Aurora (Claude Perron) for having an affair with the cop they are seeking revenge for. It is his belief that the dead cop lost focus because of her. She has her own thoughts on this, she is carrying the dead cops baby and not only wants revenge but also wants to survive the horde to let the baby live. Tony, the wounded cop has feeling for Aurora and wished it was him she picked instead of the dead cop.
When the cops arrived the Gangsters including Greco (Jo Prestia) a drug dealer are beating a guy who is tied up and hooded in the bathroom. Hot headed Bola thinking this guy is the reason the cops are here shoots him full of bullets. This is poor choice since the zombie bug is in the air and soon the dead hooded guy is up and looking to bite anyone and everyone. It is established that shooting zombie guys in the head will stop them but it is still amazing how many times zombies get shot in the chest. Things go from crazy to balls against the wall very quickly and soon there are just three cops and three gangsters on the roof of the building watching the nearby city burn and hordes of zombies swarming around. Again I am struck by why would a horde of zombies head to this run down apartment building? Aurora, Ouessem, and Tony (Antoine Oppenheim) for the cops, Tony shot in the leg and needing assistance. Greco, Adewale, and Bola for the gansters and all recognizing that they do not want to be trapped in this building. So working together they will try to get out. You can question why they feel the need to get out, they can see hundreds of wandering zombies down there. Why not hold up and clear enough space to wait it out a while?
The travel down the building is scary and at time action packed. When Zombies attack Greco is stuck outside he safety door and has to fight off two zombies at once. The actor and former boxer is so up to the task. Great action until he finally makes it through the door but unfortunately is bitten in the leg. Tony and Aurora are separated from the others when a zombie woman attacks Tony. After they deal with it, in a great scene where Aurora fights like demon we hear more interpersonal information from Tony as he nurses a bite on his shoulder. He has had the hots for Aurora and was jealous of her relationship with the dead cop. She wants no part of his infatuation and seeing his bite get more zombie infected holds a gun on him and tells him to cuff himself. Not ready to go out that way Tony waits until she is handing him the cuffs and then BAM! cracks her hard into a wall mirror, knocking her out. Now love must be a fleeting thing because he leaves her there unprotected. Of course she just spurned him so maybe it was the sting of that.
Back at the gangsters, Adewale makes it clear to Ouessum that he is now alone with them and needs not be so sensitive to the increasingly unpredictable Bola. Adewale has to be sturn with his brother creating a shift in loyalty for the younger from his bro to Greco. These shifts in relationship keep the movie interesting in what is basically a survival story. They make there way to find a big old guy Rene (Yves Pignot) disposing of some zombies. He has been securing his area of the building and says he has killed a half dozen or so. Back in his apartment the racist Rene, he had fought in southeast asia and calls all the Zombies "chinks" and the survivors decide to head down the elevator shaft and then out of the building through the basement car park. Hopefully getting a ride. There is some funny stuff when Rene wants to cut off the leg of Greco so the infection won't spread. Of course Greco is having no part in that.
Tony finds them and starts telling them of Aurora's demise when she appears behind him and puts a bullet in his brain. The remaining group, Aroura, Ouessum, Rene, Bola, Adewale and bitten Greco head to the elevator shaft. When the teacher Zombie appears they wound her by shooting out her knees and they following the leave of Rene, Bola and Greco start playing with her. This pisses Adewale off as he remembers his childhood in Nigeria and he confronts Bola. The wedge has now been driven between the brothers and the scene was the final straw in there separation. Bola sees his brother as siding with the cops instead of him. He is young and impulsive and when they get down the elevator shaft to within a few floors of the basement he and Greco take all the guns and leave the rest defenseless. We do not really have to be told what Bola's fate will be choosing a soon to be zombie over his brother.
The final push is on in this flick with the weaponless group making for the caretakers apartment because Rene knows he was a gun nut. We get to see the horde pressing up against the locked front of the apartment. Re-armed there is the final sprint to the car park. The horde breaches the building ratcheting up the pace and the gunfire. We have who will survive in the final minutes of what has been a very good zombie film. There is an epic last stand for one of the cast. Adewale finds out what happened to his brother and then gets to dole out some vengeance on the zombie Greco. This scene is very reminiscent of actor JoePrestia death in the movie "Irreversible" where he played the rapist of of victim Monica Bellucci, that being one of the most horrible unwatchable scenes on film, not his death but his crime that is. The downer but appropriate ending was one this reviewer could live with. On a second viewing this movie like the earlier reviewed "The Human Centipede" comes out with higher marks than I gave it the first time through. This is a very well written and directed film for a genre that is difficult to do well. Seeing it on the big screen was a pleasure as my first viewing was a home.
Rating (7.6) 5.0 and up are recommended, In the Zombiegrrlz System I say Go see it in theaters.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Undead (2009) - Horror Comedy Vampires

Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Undead (2009) - The pre-credit scene of the actress getting bit by the vampire establishes the theater owned by the vampire Theo Horace (John Ventimiglia). After the credits we get the main character Julian Marsh (Jake Hoffman) an unemployed director who longs for his ex girlfriend( The lovely and former D.E.B., Devon Aoki) and lives in the back of his father's doctor office. His Dad gives him ad ad for a job directing a play at Theo's theater, looking for a young controllable human. The play a variation on "Rosencrantz & Guilderstern are Dead" except in this case Undead. He of course gets the job after an amusing interview including questions about whether he has any blood ailments. The great thing about this film is the light and witty dialog that is scattered through out. Although not laugh out loud it continues to bring smiles with wit in the writing by Jordan Galland who also directed.
Julian gets hired and quickly finds his actor best friend Vince (Kris Lemche) for the role of Hamlet. Through there scene we learn that his ex, Anna is an ex because Julian was caught cheating on her with a stripper. As they walk a street person, maybe fan warns Vince that if he ever finds himself in a Shakespearean play with vampires that he should call the given number. What a coincidence!
There is a bit more setup with the establishing of Anna's new boyfriend Bobby Bianchi (Ralph Machio) and getting Anna into the role of Ophelia in the play. Then it some really amusing scenes of rehearsal, the slave girls Theo has as part of the cast are beautiful Zadeska (AzieTesfai ) and Lyuba (Carmen Goodine) get established as well as vampire feeding and the suspicions of the humans that something is not right. The earlier crazy fan(Geneva Carr) comes back in other disguises and is shown to be part of a secret organization that really has no reason to exist but to fill in plot points for us.
Not wanting to spoil this film, here is the dirty but twist free finish. Opening night is important and the climax happens on that night. Since Julian is established as still involved with Anna will have a part with her and have to reconcile the existence of the boyfriend. Some of the characters are changed into vampires and there is a big plot point concerning the real hamlet and his relationships with vampires.
It was an amusing film that if they just avoided the few booby flashes probably could have been a PG-13. The writing was very clever even though the story was just okay, it is hard to get behind a hero who is a bit of a slacker.
Rating(5.5) 5.0 and up are recommended, On the Zombiegrrlz rating system, Rent it!