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Friday, November 25, 2011

Devils of Darkness (1965) Horror Vampire Cult

Devils of Darkness (1965) - This was a strange film that throws every possible genre trope at the audience and then disappoints by failing to resolve the conflict of the film in a compelling way. It starts with a graveyard scene where a red caped man carries a black candle to a grave. The sculpted bat on the grave is the symbol we will all see again. Some supernatural weather event just happens and the crypt breaks open.
Tania (Carole Gray) a gypsy girl dances for her future husband Bruno (Walter Brown). It is a happy day, their wedding day and the village is thrilled and in celebration. Unfortunately nearby from the broken grave, a large bat flies into the sky. When the gypsy villagers see it there is screaming and terror and mumbling about curses, poor Tania falls dead at the sight of it. Immediately we go into a scene of the mourning of Tania as the funeral procession moves through the forest to her burial sight. A supernatural force effects the weather and kills the priest sending the villagers scattering. Sinistre (Hubert Noel) the evil vampire opens the coffin and raises Tania from the dead to be his bride for eternity.
This is the setup that does not really begin to get into the complicated story to follow. It sets up Tania and Sinistre as the "bad guys" and then jumps to 1964 and starts in on the main plot. Our main body of characters are visiting Brittany in France. A couple guys are going spelunking and there relatives are staying at the local estate. The men in the cave scenes are cut with the relatives and local villagers doing a "All Souls Day" celebration. We are not sure if the celebration is the reason that Sinistre and Tania are suddenly on the scene, but unfortunately for the spelunkers come across the coffins in the caves. One empty and the other with Tania in it. A flash behind one caver like magic and hands grab him from behind. They are dead and the officials are saying it was an accident. Paul (William Sylvester) and one of the spelunker's sister Anne (Rona Anderson) are distraught and can not believe it even after a gypsy in the forest told them they are under the sign of the "Black Death" and the "evil eye". This was a foreshadowing that was way too much right before Keith's dead body was pulled from the cave. They really did not hold back on the tropes we have seen before.
Sinistre and Tania are suddenly in the picture at the estate. It is confusing at this point but makes a bit more sense later on. He targets Anne and takes her from the estate. When she goes missing this starts Paul on a journey trying to understand the mystery the events of those days. He hears her scream does not find her, but does find a small bat medallion where she was taken. It is not a straight line in this film though. Anne's body is found and the Inspector of the small village says it is suicide. Paul can not accept this and wants the bodies shipped back to England for a second opinion. When the bodies vanish in transport Paul suspects that there is a serious mystery. We also know that Sinistre and Tania are looking for a way to get the powerful talisman back, they suspect Paul has it but can't seem to find or get it back.
Paul tries to figure out the meaning of the bat medallion and everything else but there is a sinister cult behind it and it is not so easy to crack. He visits his friend Madeleine (Diana Decker) but she seems suspicious, not to him but certainly to the viewer. She seems to be trying to distract him at every turn. At her party he meets the lovely Karen (Tracy Reed) who suddenly becomes a focal point for Sinistre also. In fact the vampire who raises the dead is totally infatuated with her and there is the possibly that the equally lovely Tania may be on her way out as his main squeeze.
The story twists and turns its way through finding out who the cult members are and Sinistre's desires and plans. It spends the time to identify everyone even though the story when it climaxes does show in a very anticlimactic way. In fact the second half of the movie is totally off the rails from what the set up is. Paul eventually has to try to save Karen but does so without actually doing anything. In fact the final outcome for the villain is so ridiculously flawed that the viewer is left disappointed. It all makes sense but the resolutions could have been more exciting. It was like there was never really anything at stake for Paul. Here is this guy who loses some of his best friends early in the film but never really seems to deal with the grief that came with it. So he just moves on without any emotion and the plot swings him into the hide the bat medallion section. He never really finds out about what is going on other than to do some research into the occult origins of the piece. There is no feeling so the transition is hollow. Then when Karen becomes the focus it really does not carry force because really he does not know her too well but behaves like he has known her for years. I guess I was just disappointed with it in the end I think the problem is the characters were never quite developed enough to create empathy.
Rating (3.9) 5.0 and up are recommended.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Bikini Bloodbath (2006) - Horror Slasher Satire

Bikini Bloodbath (2006) - Bikini Bloodbath is a really low budget, slasher satire with some pretty bad acting, horrible gay football player jokes, a silly killer French Chef, and lots of boobies. So naturally it was great. No it wasn't but we wanted it to be great. It will be known in my head at least as the film Debbie Rochon dies in and her last words are "Beaver". The plot is simple, there is a killer on the loose looking to kill for killings sake. The Chef as he known is one really crazy french guy played for laughs by Robert Cosgrove Jr. He flits in and out of the picture making kills with really low budget practical effects. The local girls volleyball team is having a party this particular weekend at Jenny's (Leah Ford) house. The are all buxom babes not afraid to show a bit of skin. There is the obligatory shower scene and girls goofy off and picking on the outcast of the group Smelly Suzy (Sheri Lynn). Of course the women playing the teens are way too old and the dialog is awful but it is amusing that they can get through the scenes without cracking up laughing at the stupid tropes and cliches they are spilling across the film.
The movie bounces between the girls getting together at Jenny's, Smelly Suzy sitting at home by herself, and the football players party at another house. The main point of the girls scenes are to get them in as few clothes as possible and have them party and play games like Twister. The Suzy scenes are to show the lonely girl as she starts to worry about the killer being around. This is also played for comedy with the actress Sheri Lynn doing a fairly competent comedy turn. She manages to fall and knock herself out twice. The Football players party, you know they are football players because they all wear shirts that say "Football Player" on them, are all about gay jokes. We all know that the homosexuality and jocks go hand and hand job so this is played to the max. The two freshmen of the team come to realize with excruciating clarity that all the males at the party ore sort of acting gay with each other. These section of the film are so hard to watch. Every joke is obvious and ham handed. It was necessary to keep repeating that it was done for satire effect that someone didn't really think these jokes were funny. Or did they?
When the killer finally closes in on our main group there are poor decisions, lots of drinking, silly antics and unimpressive deaths. For this reviewer the scene where Sharon (Anna-Karin Eskilsson) heads out to get help and then is seen sitting in a taco joint eating a burrito is the best part of the whole movie. Now don't get me wrong, although as a reviewer this "film" is pretty awful but personally I love this crap. There is a duality here that I struggle with. I can't recommend this film to anyone. In fact if you watch it from reading this review don't blame me. On the other hand I loved that I watched it. I in fact would love to be in a movie like this. It is silly and fun but just not good. Sick I know but what can I say.
I loved the extras on the disc particularly the music by White Liger and Rebecca Nurse.
Rating (1.1) 5.0 and up are recommended

Thursday, November 17, 2011

House of Voices (2004) - Ghost Haunted House

House of Voices (2004) - Writer / Director Pascal Laugier is a current hot item for his recent torture porn film Martyrs (2008) which has the reputation to be hard to watch but not because it is poorly made but because the subject matter is relentless and unflinching. We at Soresport movies have the film but have yet to viewed it for just this reason. House of Voices, originally entitled Saint Ange is a slow burn ghost story that ends up, by its' end somewhere other than the viewer thought it would. The opening scene is deceiving in it scary setting and sudden terror. In the large Victorian house that serves as his orphanage home, a young boy Alex gets up to go to the bathroom. It is dark but armed with his flashlight he makes his way through the deserted corridors. Joined by a little girl they make it into the large bathroom and Alex proceeds to turn the knobs of a row of faucets. He mentions something about "the scared children" and how the always touch things in the bathroom. After the two head back to be we hear the water go on in the faucets and Alex heads back to turn them off. Did he see something in the mirror above the larger sink? Climbing up to look he is shocked by something he sees and falls hitting his head and from the screams of the little girl when she comes back we learn he died. It is a well done scene with excellent atmosphere and pacing and a promising start to the film.
Unfortunately the pacing then crawls and the film has a really difficult time creating the tension needed to tell the story. Its 1958 and the death has created a political witch hunt that closes the facility. The head mistress Francard (Catriona MacColl) meets cleaning woman and main character Anna ( the lovely Virginie Ledoyen)at the bus. Catriona MacColl has a storied history in horror movies having appeared in such films as, City of the Living Dead, The Beyond, and House by the Cemetary. Laugier has said in interviews he imagined House of Voice as an unconnected sequel to The Beyond, and certainly the strange other worldly shift the film makes can lend a bit of credence to that idea.
Anna arrives as the children are being loaded up in buses to head off for their new homes. Little Marie comes to Anna and whispers in her ear to be careful of the scared children. She is left at the house with the older cleaning woman Ilinca (Dirina Lazar) and her charge the slightly off her rocker Judith (Lou Doillon). The three have the task of closing down and cleaning the giant building. All is not what it seems as noises and constant stormy nights create a creepy atmosphere for young Anna. She soon discovers Judith and slowly learns that she is not quite all together in the head. Still the work and the weather and the large empty house make for a setting. Anna's strange dreams and sickness gets the viewer wondering but this is quickly dispelled. Anna is revealed to be sick because she is a young pregnant woman who is wrapping her midsection in bandages to hide her condition. That is not all though, she has scars on her back from being lashed. It is a revelation that explains some but opens up just as many questions. The time period sort of makes sense to hide and unwanted pregnancy. She has also shown a desire to hurt the child by punching her own stomach. Could the social ostracizing made her hate the fact she is pregnant? It is 1958 after all and many a young girl with child was sent to the country until their term was complete. Could the lashes on her back be from her family when they found out?
As the haunting come on with sounds of kids playing, moving items and the such, the film starts to drag a bit so we can find out Judith was one of the kids who came towards the end of World War II. Some of those kids did not survive and could be the scared kids that the Ilinca mentioned to Anna. Anna wants to know and starts a somewhat sinister plan of her own to coop Judith to get information. Ilinca has been controlling the young women with medication but Anna gets Judith to stop taking the pills. It works and after a time, too long for most viewers Anna knows a dark secret about the orphanage and why it is haunted.
She acts to go look at the secret area behind the mirror that Alex fell from in front of in the opening scene. She pushes through and starts to explore taking a dumbwaiter down to what appears to be a secret underground laboratory or hospital. This is when director Laugier goes from practical haunting story to psychological nightmare. Poor Anna is in the midst of a nervous breakdown and although the astute film viewer will recognize it the average person may be scratching their heads wondering how the film can shift in tone so drastically. The sad ending does not help this movie either and so at the end it is not very satisfying. The music and visuals are very effective in this film but the left turn can not be made up for. So in the end I can not really recommend this film.
Rating (4.7) 5.0 and up are recommended. Too slow to go! Skip It!

Monday, November 14, 2011

The Cannibal Man (1971) - Murderer Psycho

The Cannibal Man (1971) - La semana del asesino (original title) More like "The Week of the Assassin?". I am going with the date on the film itself instead of IMDB on the year it was made. This is an odd film about a poor Italian man Marcos (Vincente Parra) who accidentally kills someone and because of his belief about how society would treat him decides not to go to the police. The effect of this decision starts him down a road he can never come back from. Commenting on Italy's social classes and their interaction the film is by no means heavy handed in this. Marcos, the main character lives in one of the last small houses in his neighborhood which is being gentrified with many high rise apartments occupied by the wealthy. In the opening scene he is sitting is the heat of the house, shirtless just listening to the radio. It is all he has and we find out later it is not even his house but that of his brother Esteban (Charly Bravo) who is off on business. The Soresport can empathize with Marko, there were times in my life where I was so poor that I was the one sitting in the house, nothing but a radio, no fans or air conditioning. It is tough being poor and Marcos is stuck with his life. He is a low level worker at a slaughterhouse that supplies meat for the Flory soup company. His life is small he goes to the local diner and eats and flirts with the waitress. He has a girlfriend whose father is not happy she is dating such a low man. So much so that she needs to sneak out to see him. He works and he sits in his brother's little house.
One of the ways the film comments about the class differences is by having a wealthy character who befriends Marcos, in this case Nester (Eusebio Poncela). He lives in the large apartment building near Marcos and it seems he may be gay. Marcos has these roof windows in his house and Nester peers down with binoculars at the shirtless man. There is this awkward tension as the two get to know each other on one hand Marcos gets a taste of the wealthy man's life but on the other hand he is pretty sure he can not have the relationship go where Nester would like it to. In a scene that solidifies that Marcos is correct in how the lower classes are treated by the authorities he and Nester are out for drinks one hot night. The police come up and start harassing them to show identification. Marcos shows his but Nester had left his at home. The police really starts lecturing about always having your papers on you but as soon as he learns that Nester lives in the high rise he apologizes and leaves. This is important to understand Marcos and his reactions to what is happening in the plot.
He goes out on a date with his girlfriend Paula (Emma Cohen) and while they are making out in the back of a taxi, they are confronted by the driver (Goyo Lebrero) who does not like that behavior. They are kicked out but the driver is very aggressive and attacks them for the partial fair he is owed. In the struggle Marcos strikes the man in the head with a stone. It is completely the taxi drivers fault this fight happened but unfortunately for Marcos he hit the man too hard and killed him. He could probably argue self defense. Since it is his belief he will not be treated fairly he wants to keep quiet and let the case go unsolved. Paula though can not live with that outcome and insists he go to the police or she will. The guilt would be too much for her. In the argument Marco makes one of many bad decisions as instead of letting her leave he chokes her out and hides the body under his brother's bed.
From there things sort of spiral out of control, his brother returns early and the body is still in the bedroom. Again an argument about going to the police leads to a similar conclusion. Then the next day when Esteban's fiancee, Carmen (Lola Herrera) comes by she discovers the two bodies and there is only one thing for the increasingly unstable Marcos to do. This is the problem, there are people connected to people, you kill one and anyone that knew they went to your house will come looking. It is a dilemma Marcos can not avoid in this film and as the bodies stack up the question also becomes how will he get rid of them. He has no car and the area around his house is so open and exposed that there would be no way to move the bodies. He does have the advantage of where he works though.
It seems that he can come up with a solution and as he slowly executes it day after day performing the gruesome task he must it seems that he may actually get away with the multiple murders. His respites with Nester take the edge off a bit but there is a real and evident mental toll. Marcos has to deal with the smell as his solution can only happen a bit at a time, but it could work. Perfumes and air fresheners can be purchased, things could be cleaned up. Then of course it can't there is the smell and the pesky Senor Ambrosio (Fernando Sanchez Polack) Carmen's father who arrives looking for his daughter. So Marcos go back to the only solution he knows and it is not the last time he will go this route.
It is a really sad story with the poor man trapped in his own limited decision making. His friend Nester tries to relieve the pressure with nice time shared between two men. It was so interesting to watch Marcos struggle with the knowledge that Nester would like a bit more than just friendship but at the same time not wanting to lose this piece of sanity in what has become a nightmare life. The Writer / Director of this film Eloy de la Iglesia shies away from pushing this angle of the film. He goes as far as having the men frolic in the water of Nester's health club but really never pushes past that into making Marcos decide to take the next step or throw away something he enjoys. I think this is a real flaw in the film, it is like it just gives up on creating conflict and in its place goes back to the bodies in the bedroom as the driving force. Certainly they are the main plot line but there was such an opportunity there that was missed.
In the end the film really pulled its punches and the ending was less than satisfying. It is resolved but not how we in modern movie making would expect. Instead the outcome is like the writer gave up on the story and just decided it needed to end. So disappointing for a film with something to say.
Rating (5.2) 5.0 and up are recommended Rent it but don't go out of your way.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

I Saw The Devil (2010) Revenge, Serial Killer

I Saw The Devil (2010) - Akmareul Boatda (original title) What a story of revenge and the price you can pay for it, or how sometimes the revenge we plan does not turn out the way we thought it would. Director Jee-woon Kim has been involved with several things this writer knows, the segment in "3 Extremes II" called "Memories", the soon to be reviewed "A Tale of Two Sisters" and this very good film. This is at its heart a revenge film with a good dose of horror and action and some unexpected twists. One of the things I liked about the directing was the use of slow motion and silence at times to portray the emotions of the moment, Jee-woon Kim does a fine job creating an unexpectedly harsh and heartfelt story. Of course the skill shown in the directors chair is complemented by a good script by new writer Hoon-jung Park. So lets get into more of the film instead of just blowing the writer and director.
This is the revenge story of Kim Soo-hyeon(Byung-hun Lee) who is happily married to the beautiful Joo-yeon (San-ha Oh). She early in the film is attacked and kidnapped from her car by serial killer Kyung-chul. Played by the incredible actor Min-sik Choi (Lady Vengeance, Oldboy) Kyung-chul is a relentlessly evil bastard with the ego and fortitude to carry this film by himself, but there was no need. Lead Byung-hun Lee as Kim is equally bad ass on the side of vengeance and is a partner equal to the task of making this film a drag out brawl between good and evil. When Joo-yeon's body is found, Kim an intelligence service agent springs into action to get his own form of justice from the perpetrator of the murder. Narrowed to four suspects by police chief Jang (Gook-hwan Jeon), father to Joo-yeon, Kim begins a harsh and violent tracking from one suspect to the next in an effort to find his wife's killer. He is a skilled agent and uses his skills to their violent fullest. When he comes across Kyung-chul's parents and son he knows enough to ask the son where his father lives. From this he soon learns the mans' occupation as a driver for an all girls school. No CORI checks in this town. Since the son knows where his father works it tells us something about that relationship. There is one anyhow and Kyung-chul has separated his need to kill from his family. Still it is the piece of information that Kim needed to track him down. When he arrives at the man's house he finds in locked drawers the remains of women, not body parts but the clothes and accessories. He knows he has found the killer. Discovering the slaughter room in the drain on the floor he find Joo-yeon's wedding ring the match for his own. It is an excellent moment in the film where he gets to grieve and commit himself to catching up to the bastard Kyung-chul.
The other half of the film follows the killer as he continues his reign of terror on the community. We see another abduction and murder. The poor woman talked into taking the ride at night after he tells her the buses have stopped. How quickly he turns on her and smashes her with a pipe. It is not just that he smashes her, he takes his time to find the pipe behind the seat, then shows it to her. He wants his victims to feel the fear before he harms them. It is part of what gets him off, his control of their emotions. When she wakes naked and violated he is preparing the guillotine he will use to cut her body up. We get a fuller picture of this guy, the nudity of the women, because he likes to rape them, the cutting instruments to cut the bodies into small pieces. When when he realizes he has been made he goes from hidden killer to psychopath in the open callously striking at anyone and everyone. As he drives his charges home he takes the last sleeping girl as a prize and goes on the run to another safe house.
Of course with Kim Soo-hyeon on his trail he is no longer safe, so even this standby house is not hidden for long. Interrupted in raping the school girl he sees Kim across the green house. The two square off with Kim weaponless and Kyung with two blades. We are already sitting with knowledge from the earlier scenes that both men are bad asses, but quickly it becomes evident who is the badder ass. Kim kicks the shit out of him, what would be the perfect final battle between the vengeful husband and the man who killed his wife. This though is a movie of twists and the first twist happens here. When Kim gets his revenge he leaves the broken armed Kyung a bloody heap in the ditch he dug to bury his latest victim. When Kyung wakes he is alone with an envelop of cash at his side. WTF?
So the movie proper begins with the realization that this is not over until Kim says it is over. He lets this bastard of a killer free to create even more terror while so he can continue to track and beat the man. It is quite an interesting turn. Can the writer and director make the killer the sympathetic character? Will the continued hunt change the vengeful Kim into the devil he is tracking and punishing? How will it end and will the plan Kim has put in place possibly work to relieve his grief? This reviewers head was spinning at this point in the movie. As regular readers know I would be the vengeful person and hold sympathies there. This film challenges the ability to hold that position and in doing so makes the film all the more compelling.
At this point you think you have this film figured out and for a while you do. There is more Kyung-chul cruelty and rampage through the countryside. Then Kim shows up and beats the living tar out of him again and you think this can not go on forever. Kyung is not the run of the mill psycho though and his abilities are more than just being evil. We learn so much more about the killer. What his motivations are and how his grandiose opinion of himself will dictate his actions. When the next twist comes the audience in Korean theaters must have been blown away. This reviewer was in awe of the shift just sitting at home. The ante continued up until the final scene. That twist turns the tables on Kim in a way I will not mention here. It is to you to go get this film and see for yourselves. When that sequence is done and there is only one movement left. How will our hero get back on top. It is a final twist worth the effort of watching this engrossing if slightly too long thriller. The acting is exception with Min-sik Choi turning in an amazing performance and Byung-hun Lee right behind him is style points. The music works well for most of the film with a few exception where it is over used in the action scenes. Because of all this I am rating this film on the high end, not only do I recommend it but I do so strongly.
Rating (8.5) 5.0 and up are recommended. Go see this movie!

Monday, November 7, 2011

The Heirloom (2005) Horror Ghosts

The Heirloom (2005) - The little lesson that is shared at the beginning of the film is important for understanding this Taiwanese film. It explains that Hsiao Guei (literally "raising child ghosts") A folk practice prevelent in Chinese societies where by dead fetuses are worshiped in urns and fed the blodd of their master. Child ghosts possess great power to bring their master fortune. Someare so powerful they can even kill, but for such dark arts a price must be paid.
James (Jason Chang) returns to Taiwan when he inherits a very large but run down house. Being an architect he is not interested in selling it and instead plans to move in. His girlfriend Yo (Terri Kwan) is a dancer who is thinking about traveling so there is an immediate tension between the two. This is just a red herring though as she decides to stay and move into the house with him. It is a large house and they spend some time exploring. Upstairs is the family shrine a wall lined with the images of the ancestors of James' family. The early scenes of a group of people hanging in the house without explanation is so we know that this house has some sort of ghosts. We don't know the exact connection to James but we know they were probably his former relatives.
So from the definition that we got in the beginning does this mean that someone had it in for his family and used their Hsiao Guei to get them or are they worshiping their own and the price was drastically high. When our main couple has their friends over, Yi-Chen (Yu-chen Chang) and Ah-Tseng (Tender Huang) things start getting strange. After they spend time in the house at midnight the next day Ah-Tseng mysteriously appears in the house under the bed with no memory of how he got there. The scenes of James finding him there was scary and tense as he follows footprints to his location. The same thing happens with Yi-Chen she mysteriously is suddenly in the house at midnight with no memory of how she got there. Director Leste Chen keeps the tension up by cutting in scenes from the past hangings and flashes of a young boy in a blindfold. First time writer Dorian Li's story is a bit confusing but I think part of this is the editing decisions.
What could possibly happen next? Since Ah-Tseng was the first to feel the effects of the house he is the victim as the house apparently not just happy with stealing his memory and bringing him home now decides to hang him with no rope. This involves the police and the head detective Detective Wu has to suspect James since he was the last person with Ah-Tseng. When Det. Wu later shows the effects of having been to the house, that is he comes awake in the house at midnight with no memory of how he got there, then he gets serious. Cameras are installed so they can try to figure out the mystery. That is not the only thing going on though, Yo and Yi-Chen go to look at old newspapers detailing the past deaths in the house. Reports that the victims tried not to sleep because sleeping they would end up in the house.
Det. Wu does his best not to have a repeat performance the second night but unfortunately his cuffing himself to a radiator did not solve the problem as he intended it to. You have to see the scene to really appreciated it. You are probably wondering what any of this has to do with Hsiao Guei? Well that is one of the problems with this film. It winds its way towards the answers but they are slow to come. While we eventually get the full picture of the Yang family, (James is a member) and the fuller story of what happened in the earlier flashback to the group hanging it takes quite a bit of time to get there.
The urns in the attic are discovered and James and Yo have to deal with the deaths of their friends. The discovery of the crazy family story is convoluted and told through multiple flashback scenes. Then they attempt to end the curse but the final twist in the story leaves the viewer on more of a downer note. Overall the movie is enjoyable, the music is effective but it is really low rent as far as the effects. The story may go on a bit longer than you want and the tenuous connections may frustrate some but as a whole it is not bad. The subtitles on the version I had were quick so I hope you can read fast.
Rating (5.4) 5.0 and up are recommended. So Rent it!

Friday, November 4, 2011

Forbidden World (1982) - Science Fiction Monster

Forbidden World (1982) - This Roger Corman produced science fiction film is really not all that bad. Mike Colby (Jesse Vint) is a problem solver and oh boy does the crew of the base on planet Xarbia have a problem to be solved. Lead by Dr. Gordon Hauser (Linden Chiles) the crew was developing a genetically altered bacteria as an endless food source, unfortunately Hauser crossed Linkethical lines and now has a very nasty growing and violent beast living in his incubator. Now Colby generally approaches things with the line, "if it moves and its not one of us, shoot it.". He should have taken care of the problem well before the movie got rolling but instead, even though the creature is in a cocoon and seemingly harmless, he is convince to wait a bit before killing it. This is a creature that killed every single test animal in the lab and moved itself into the incubator to change into something even more nasty, but these nimrods decide to wait to deal with the problem.
So we leave poor Jimmie Swift (Michael Bowen) to clean up the mess in the lab and to keep an eye on the cocoon. Why is it that we leave the janitor to watch the dangerous monster? Why is it that the incubator is just a glass door not really seal-able or air tight? Why does Jimmie stick his head in and look at the thing when it is clear glass and you can easily check it without ever opening the door? It is often a problem with these lower budget films that the characters have to do stupid things in order to move the story along. Jimmie does not let us down in this regard as he looks around and eventually takes the creature on the face like in the movie "The Blob". Then of course since Brian Beale (Raymond Oliver) the security person for the lab is watching and has to find some way to miss the attack on camera, he gets up right at that moment to get some food. Then the camera in the lab gets blood splashed on it and stops working. All too convenient if you ask me.
When Tracy Baxter (Dawn Dunlap) heads down to the lab and finds Jimmie she screams and since this is what she did for most of the film we will call her Screaming Tracy for the rest of this entry. I don't want to go too much more into the plot details because this is a movie even though pretty bad is entertaining and worth a look. Let me say though that there was this one thing that really got my goat. The first time the crew members are bring Colby into the lab they go through this big "to do" about how they are cleaned of all germs by the cool blue light. It is a way of securing the lab. No unwanted things get in and none get out. It is crucial in the conversation about waiting a day to kill thew creature that it can not get out of the secure lab. So imagine my surprise that after Jimmy is attacked the chief medical guy Dr. Cal Timbergen (Fox Harris [Hello J Frank Parnell in Repo Man] ) comes in and immediately removes the body from the room. There is never a discussion that Jimmie may be a carrier of the creature. There is no talk of any kind he just says I have to get him to the medical bay then opens the door and wheels the body out. Everybody else spends a good minute or two looking for the escaped creature and then agree that there is nothing else they can do that day and head off to bed. Yup that is what I said and lucky Mike Colby gets to sleep with the lovely and seductive Dr. Barbara Glaser (June Chadwick). There is some reasonably tasteful love making as well as the escape of the creature from Jimmie's now apparently melting body. So the rest of the story is set up to be an Alien style movie where the people try to find and kill the creature while they are picked off one by one.
Later they realize why the creature is not just killing them all off at once, it wants them alive while it tries to use them as a perfect renewable food source. It is wonderfully noted how ironic this development is. So since they know that it is an intelligent creature Barbara and Screaming Tracy decide it is probably best to go communicate with it. Since it is on the main computer Barbara figures it will be through the computer that they can have words. She asks "Can we co-exist?" It replies through the computer "Please Stand by" and then gives its answer. Screaming Tracy runs off doing what she was born to do. The remaining group figures out how to beat the creature and exact the plan.
Overall I was rather entertained by this simple event driven film by writer Tim Curnen and director Allan Holzman. Yes Tracy was annoying a good deal of the time. Yeah women were portrayed as fixtures and when they did come up with an idea it was a horrible one. Yes this film was about how our buddy and hero Mike Colby saves the day. Of course both women in this film get naked with Colby. Sure a whole lot of really stupid decisions had to be made to make the events of the plot progress. And Yes it is sort of a rip off of Alien but it was entertaining and so much better than the recent reviews on this blog that I am marginally passing this with a Rent it recommendation. The one black actor did not die right away, nor was he the janitor. The camera work and music were solid and not over done. With a million or so dollars in the budget the effect were alright, granted the creature itself was a bit corny, the effects on the melting people were exceptional and hey they had lasers.
Rating (5.0) 5.0 and up are recommended, Go out and rent this passable watch.