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Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Snake Island (2002) Horror Snakes

Snake Island (2002) - Wayne Crawford wrote, directed and starred in this simple horror story about a bunch of tourists and safari workers trapped on an island of deadly snakes. He may not have many credits but is noteworthy for writing the 1983 somewhat popular film Valley Girl. Unfortunately this is not a great film it is more a 'Gag me with a spoon" film. Okay that's a cheap shot sorry. Crawford and co writer Arthur Payne fail to create a story with much of a plot. It is a simple survival story with reptiles as the antagonist, then throw in every variety of snake known to man and suddenly make then more aggressive than most and you have a fight for survival.
  Like I said the story is simple of a safari tour boat is cruising around South Africa looking for animals. They have to stop off at Snake Island to drop off writer  Malcolm Page (William Katt) doing research on snakes for a book and the wildlife resort crew that has recently purchased Snake Island. Headed by Eddie Jones (Russel Savadier) a former finance guy who gave it all up to run a resort on his newly purchased Snake Island. The other safari crew is Capt Jake Malloy (Wayne Crawford) hands Lisa (Dawn Mathews), Ronnie (Nicola Hanekom) and Righteous (Japan Mthembu). They with their tour passengers, newlyweds Carrie (Milan Murray) and Lance (Jason Kennett), and Lawyer on vacation Heather Dorsey (Kate Conner) have the misfortune of having to make the stop that ends up being the end of most of them.
  While Jake is helping Eddie unload gear to the resort, a snake on the boat creates enough rustling and chaos that the gas tank is punctured and the entire group has to spend the night on the island. Through some early scenes of coworkers of Eddie, and POV of snakes stalking them we know the damn things are everywhere. Not only that but they seem to be seeking the humans out.
  There are a bunch of shots to establish characters, Jake hitting on Heather, Ronnie hitting on Malcolm, the newlyweds being, well newlyweds, Lisa getting drunk and dancing topless with Ronnie, Heather stripping down for some swimming pool sex with Jake. Eddie getting blasted and not getting any of the women. Also some nice safari pictures as they take some time to see the island. We learn the island was once a peninsular but a levy break during some flooding turned it into an island. Because of that there is not only a large population of African animals but also an really high count of snakes that had taken to the peninsular's high ground in the rain. This all before the hissing biting fun starts.
  When the group breaks up for the night there are multiple scenes of death and mayhem.Since the bungalows appear to be pretty spread out the snake deaths start but those not involved never know that people are dying. Lisa gets bitten in the show, another gratuitous nudity shot. Heather has a close call, and so it goes. Malcolm doing his research on the island teaches us that for years the snakes have been hunted on the island and so they have evolved over time to seek out and kill humans. Yes evolution makes the snakes killers. Although it is one of the weakest theories and totally not how evolution works, it is the one the writer chose to go with.
  When everyone that is left finally figures this all out, the plan is to split up and try t get to the small boats parked on either side of the island. They are not sure they are there and the snakes who now know the humans are there are on the prowl between them and the boats. I told you this was a simple survival story. This is the whole plot. Someone will make it to the boat you just have to watch to find out who. Okay since William Katt was the Greatest American Hero on TV you can be pretty sure he will be a survivor. But who else?
  In the end there is not enough good action, compelling story or cool twists to get me to recommend this film. The splashes of nudity feel like they were needed to try to sell this to the predominately male horror audience but they are only flashes to tease the teens. The acting is not bad with some very believable performances so that should not stop you from seeing this film. Be warned though if you don't heed my skip it recommendation that you will probably be a bit disappointed. So make up your own mind, hell if you are trying to see every snake movie ever made this won't be the worst you can do, it just won't be the best.
Rating (4.0) 5.0 and up are recommended, some more recommended than others.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Hisss (2010) Horror Snake Goddess

Hisss (2010) - Sometimes a good story idea can be ruined by poor execution as is the case with this dud from writer / director Jennifer Lynch. The promising story idea of the Indian Snake Goddess Nagin being lured into the world of men through the capture of her snake lover certainly could have been a winner. Unfortunately the script meanders its way towards a conclusion that could have been a full thirty minutes before. The villian George States (Jeff Doucette) is so over the top it is distracting, and the nonverbal role for the immensely beautiful Snake Woman (Mallika Sherawat) misses more than it hits. She is in some scenes that are artful and interesting but there is so much of this material you find yourself wanting to fast forward. Still Sherawat has the beauty of a goddess and is a pleasure to look at.  While the lead cop Vinkram Gupta (Irrfan Khan) and his wife Maya (Divya Dutta) also giving solid performances of a couple struggling to have a child it is not enough to save the film. Maya's mother adds some off beat humor in her slightly off her rocker way. Compounding the problem in the script are some really horrible stereotypes of Indians being money grubbers only interested in cash as well as some of the worst practical and computer generated effect I have seen outside of  the SyFy channel.
  Getting back to the story, after getting the tale of the Snake Goddess, how if you capture her male snake mate, that she will change into a human and seek her lover. The captor could then compel her to vomit up the Naagmami stone and with it have eternal life. This is the plan for George States an American who has brain cancer and is running out of time. He has heard this story and is so desperate for a way to extend his life that he is willing to try anything. A total douche bag to the point of being a distraction he shows little or no concern for those helping him. In fact he is a violent fuck who will sacrifice anything and anyone to get his way. He of course is successful in his capture and so the story starts.
  The first time we see Nagin she is transforming from a snake into a human. She is writhing on the ground in the mud turning from King Cobra to naked human. The effects are pretty poor but compared to some later effects they are real winners. Inter-cut with scenes of Indians praying I suppose the transformation was supposed to seem very respectful and artsy but the bad computer graphics make that impossible. Once fully human Nagin needs to clean up, eat and head into town to find her lover.
  Naichi India is the town, where that festival where everyone dances around throwing brightly colored dyes on each other is in full swing.  There again is an artful attempt to create something beautiful onscreen, slow motion of people dancing in the festival mixed with the Nagin swaying to the music of a snake charmer. It is a valid attempt until the film breaks for a group dance sequence like you would see in a Bollywood film. It is totally out of place here and then we get a clunky transition to get back to our story. Nagin is noticed by two drunk revelers and is lured into an apartment. They plan to rape her which I want to point out is another stereotype put forth by the film. Men in India when not talking about how they want money are looking for ways to fuck women against their will. Things don't go well for the two as the Nagin transforms quickly into a giant computer generated snake. She kills one of her attackers with bites and then swallows the other whole. The snake charmer recognizes her for who she is and later will let States know she is coming.

  This is the tie in to Vinkram that the film needed, he is called in on the case and we will see he closes in on the Nagin as the Nagin closes in on States. This is really the rest of the film as the nonverbal snake Goddess moves ever closer to the American and the cops follow her path of bodies to the same place. Mixed in with this is the personal story of the cop and his wife, who are trying to have children without success. Irrfan Khan is a fine actor who conveys sensitivity and caring well in the scenes with his wife. The humor of the wife's slightly off her rocker Mother connects the couple to the Nagin through the prayers the older woman says to her idol of said goddess. Later the addition of a new partner for the cop seems more a comment on the nepotism of the Indian bureaucracy than a needed element in the story.
  The path to the final conflict has many strange turns and twist, including:
  •  The nude Nagin climbing a light pole in the night to warm her body under the light. 
  • The cops figuring out the digested remains of the guy the Nagin swallowed whole, including his cell phone ringing in the glob of clothes and hair.
  • States spending his time either abusing Indian workers or electrocuting the male snake to more quickly attract the Nagin.
  • The Nagin killing a woman who runs a shelter for abused woman in then sells the right to rape the women in her care to the evil Indian men who would do such things.
  • Finally reunited for a fleeting moments with her male who is dying there is this strange human snake dance thing that I really don't know why is there.
In the end the script by Lynch takes way to long to reach its conclusion. Mix this with the blatant anti Indian approach, where the male oriented culture is portrayed only in the negative. The portrayal of the American as the lowest of human beings, and over acted to the worst degree by Doucette. Add in the simply awful special effect and asides for artsy set pieces and you have a real turkey of a movie. So no recommendation from this blog for this film. It is a shame as Lynch got a fairly decent review of her film Surveillance (2008) here at Soresport Movies.
Rating (2.5) 5.0 and up are recommended some just more recommended than others

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Sssssss (1973) Horror Mad Scientist

Sssssss (1973) - Boy how things have changed in the 40 years since this film was made. In a day when practical effects are fading from film and animals are more likely to be animated than live on set I look back at Sssssss which is proud of the fact that it uses real highly venomous snakes and takes the time to thank the actors for putting their lives at risk. A mad scientist, Dr Carl Stoner (Strother Martin) thinks the world is going to shit and the only way that mankind is going to survive is to be more cold blooded. Of course Stoner has a strange plan for making sure we survive. He is a snake expert and through his experiments is trying to give snakes human intelligence. We know right from the beginning that Stoner is not on the up and up. The opening scenes show him and a carnival side show manager are loading a crate interestingly human size onto  the carny's truck. The sound coming from the darkened crate are human-ish but not quite. The opening definitely pulls you right in wondering what this guy is up too.
  Stoner is a snake researcher working out of his house with his daughter Kristina (Heather Menzies-Urich) as an assistant. He also employs a local student also David Blake (Dirk Benedict) who looks to get some school credit for his work. The research is very seldom discussed in the film more Kristina is around to show how the Stoner is down and out not being able to get research grants. He is a bit of a lush as well as a disagreeable fellow when it comes to kissing establishment ass. Its sort of strange really because the actor really makes him a likable character.  Blake is the new guy to replace the last assistant Tim (Noble Craig) who mysteriously disappeared to take care of a sick family member. He is young and naive and happily takes the injections from the doctor as immunization to the many dangerous snakes in the lab. The last main character is Harry the alcoholic pet boa constrictor who plays his role with honesty totally selling it.
  So what is really happening in this film?  I am not really giving anything away by talking about the plot because the film does not try to hide anything. We as the audience completely understand what the intentions of every character from the moment they are introduced. There is no subtlety, or nuance to any of the characters. Stoner is a scientist trying to turn his male assistant into a snake with human intelligence, the only question the film leaves is will he be successful? Will Blake figure out what is happening before it is too late? Will the excessively blinded by love daughter pay attention to things enough to realize her new love interest is changing and will she confront her father or remain loyal? Seeing how these questions get answered is the reason to watch this film. You can tell early on how it is going to go but there are some fun things along the way.
  • We get to see Stoner hypnotize and then milk a king cobra for its venom.
  • We get to watch the development of the relationship between Kristina and Blake including the most rediculous blocking of naked bodies when they go skinny dipping by putting something in front of the lense, so obvious and silly.
  • We get to see the tough guy Steve Randall (Reb Brown, who later played Captain America) throw around Dirk Benedict before the tables are turned with Blake doing his patented snake strike fighting move.
  • We see the transformation of man into snake, as well as the failed attempt on poor Tim.
  • We get to hear some one say the line. "Freaks, that what you are a bunch of snake freaks."
  • See a man have to put his hand into a cage with a viper to get a key only to miss the large snake in the rafters.
  • We also get to see Blake fight for his life against a mongoose.
  Its an interesting thing, the police get involved but more because they hear things than actually having interest about a home snake lab in the county. When things get crazy they come in at the end to clean up the pieces but really are never an antagonistic factor. Stoner is the main player and in the end he may realize his dream of a snake with human intelligence.
  Is this movie worth a view? Well that is a hard call. On one hand it is a uniquely 70s film and I do so love much of the mumbo jumbo that came out in those years. On the other hand it is a very predictable movie with every turn telegraphed. Really only the ending scenes are a mystery in this one. Some of the acting is good particularly Strother Martin, but Benedict and Menzies-Urich are not so much. Cameos by the Carny Kogen (Tim O'Conner) and Prof. Daniels (Richard Shull) are excellent while most are cartoonish and not so good. So I think although I really didn't mind watching the film that it falls into the category of "Ed liked it but you probably won't." So I am not recommending this one.
Rating (4.2) 5.0 and up are recommended , some more recommended than others.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

The Ghost (1963) - Horror Ghost

The Ghost (1963) - After watching the Slime People I immediately had to try something else from 1963 to be sure everything wasn't shit that year. Lucky for me the Riccardo Freda ghost mystery The Ghost, "Lo spettro" had just arrived from Netflix. It is a period piece set in 1910 in an old Scottish castle Starring the incomparable Barbara Steele as Margaret Hichcock a long suffering wife to Dr. John Hichcock (Elio Jotta) who for many years has been wasting away with some sort of muscular disease. 
  John is getting a treatment for his problem that is highly risky and ethically questionable. He receives a shot of a couple poisons and then before they kill him an antidote. This is supposed to shock the muscles back into working order and weaken the diseases hold. Administering this  poison is Dr Charles Livingstone (Peter Baldwin) who may not be the best person to take you to the brink of death every day. First because he would be willing to poison someone in an effort to cure them, but also because he is secretly having an affair with Margaret. Boy this is a common theme in film, the wife has an affair after the spouse ends up sick where is the loyalty? (Although I suppose cancer treatments are poisoning someone to cure them, so maybe that isn't a big deal).
 The plot centers around Margret trying to get Charles to use just a bit too much poison and ending her husbands life. After this is done she will inherit all his worldly possessions and she and Charles can be a couple. Also mixed in is the loyal housekeeper Catherine Wood (Harriet Medin) who acts a a medium in John's experiments trying to talk to the dead. John seems obsessed with death feeling his is coming too soon and through seance he wishes to know what is to come.
  There is an incongruity in the early plot. John is bouncing between wanting to recover and wanting suicide. His need to do seances later can only be seen as a show for his wife and Charles but since he is lacking knowledge of their behavior it makes no sense that this show is needed. It could be that his loyal servant Catherine has informed him of the relationship between the two. Certainly throughout the film John suspect something is going on. It means that John and Catherine are putting on an elaborate show, which seems odd because he could just call them on it instead of doing the incredible dance that happens in this film.
  Filmed in color but the print I received was not the highest of quality, still after watching The Slime People in black and white it is a pleasure to see  this film. It exceptional music by Franco Mannino that may be a bit overwrought but still beautiful it is a pleasure also to listen too. Director Freda who also directed the horror classic "I Vampiri (1956)" does a fine job directing as well as helping with the screenplay.
  When the cheating wife finally convinces her lover to do the deed the story really picks up. Soon after his death they see signs of his ghost. His call bell rings, his wheel chair moves on its own, and they hear his voice calling to Margaret through the medium housekeeper Catherine. Also the last will and testament is not what Margaret was expecting. John has changed it in his last days leaving the house and belongings to her but insisting that Catherine gets to stay as a servant until the end of her days. Surprisingly he then give two thirds of his wealth to the church and only a third to his wife.
I do want to point out the image above The director has blood drizzled down the camera lens. I have always found this a cool technique that does not get used very often but when I saw it I was like WOW! and this place in the film was a very effective place to use it.
  I am going to stop with a lot of plot points here because if you can find a good print of this film it is certainly worth a watch. The paranoia of fearing getting caught plays on Margaret, played exceptionally well by Steele. She grows more and more nervous and with that careless until finally snapping. It is a mystery around what is going on in the house after the murder and the twist and turns are well thought out and executed. In the end if you figured out the basic plot you will be hard pressed to see the final twist before that scene starts. This is a really entertaining film and here at Soresport Movies it gets a recommendation
Rating (6.0) 5.0 and up are recommended, some more recommended than others.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

The Slime People (1963) Horror Monster

 The Slime People (1963) - After a few newer movies lets go back  to the year I was born for the completely inept and utterly not entertaining The Slime People. There are movies that are not great but have personality, and those that have an idea but fail to execute, some that look good and have decent scripts but have low budgets and really just lacked the money to do it right. Then there is this film which has a horrible script, poor production values, dreadful acting, and a total lack of logic.
The problems with this film are many including the choice to make the fog in the script so muddled that sometimes you can not see anything on the screen. Rubber suited monsters with spears that seem to have no problem beating the US army but are incapable of dealing with two men alone. A 50 mentality where the women in the film are only good for two things, screaming and kissing. A total lack of coherency in the script from beginning to end. Stupid fight scenes where monster and men struggle over spears in the California hills. Finally a conclusion which is absolutely predictable and could have been reached twenty minutes earlier. Uugh! This one was a total turkey.
  We join the film in the small plane of  Tom Gregory (Robert Hutton) as he flies into Los Angeles and seems to have a problem for a few minutes. Was it turbulence or something else? He can't seem to reach anyone on the radio in LA but the tower in Santa Barbara says to stay away from there before they too stop talking. Too far into landing Tom sets down to find the tiny airport abandoned and it seems we have a cool little film starting up here. No though this is just the best scene in what will turn out to be a whole lot of bullshit. Starring  Robert Hutton is also directing although from the performances of the actors you could argue he failed at that. Very quickly the Galbraith family pulls up in there car and tell Tom to get in. No explanations other than they will explain what is happening while they drive, so of course he is all in.
  The family consists of Father Prof. Galbraith (Robert Burton), and daughters Bonnie (Judee Morton) and Lisa (Susan Hart). They have been up in the hills outside LA listening to the news from the city and are happy to relay to Tom what has been going on. You see creatures from below the earth have come up and invaded LA and are killing people. Most people evacuated as the military failed to stop the threat. Then the slime people who only come out in a fog they generate somehow created a wall out of the fog doming the city and surrounding area. Now trapped the Galbraith's and now Tom need to figure out how to break through the wall while surviving the dangers of the wandering slime people soldiers.
  There is so much ridiculousness in this film that it is hard to remember it all. Early on there is sage advice from father to daughter.
Lisa: "Dad why did all of this have to happen to us?"
Prof: "Lisa, the important thing is to keep calm and not lose our heads. Now lets watch this film and see if we can learn anything about their mysterious wall."
When did the film full of news reports get made? Why was it film and not just a broadcast?
There are a couple uncomfortable scenes where the girls have romantic conversations with the men, first Bonnie with the marine they join up with Cal (William Boyce) who which is possibly the worst acting interaction I have seen this year. The later Tom and Lisa take a few minutes in the middle of the crisis to express feeling for each other. Prof. Galbraith is a man of action, not with his daughters but with wanting to test the fog wall. So he breaks the group up to find ingredients.
The reason for the wall is the Prof area and  he has this winning explanation for it. "You see Tom, this wall that they have thrown around the city, is evidently some sort of dome like affair, otherwise we would have military planes bombing us from above." When asked how they made it. "With some sort of machine or mechanism, They probably inject some sort of element into a controlled air mass. Now this combine chemically with and element in our atmosphere, probably nitrogen. Thereby forming a solid compound." Wow thanks Prof genius!
  Adding to the fun is rambunctious neighbor Norman Tolliver (Les Tremayne) who because he lives up in the hills thinks the whole thing is a hoax. It all culminates in the hills where the group tries to get through the wall but to no avail. There is this scene where they head out to the wall through the fog but nothing about the plan works. The film itself is filled with fog making it hard on the viewers and all the decisions of the group are pretty stupid.
 When they finally find the machine that is creating the fog it is a long drawn out plan to try to stop it. If you have not left the film by this point you really are a glutton for punishment. So much of this film is just plain bad. One thing you do have is men who fought in WWII and they at least appear to have the courage to get through this crisis, its just they are all so damn stupid. Always charging forward and then retreating because they are ill prepared. It a wonder that the film finishes with them winning. Oh did I give it away? In fact it was not 40 seconds after they broke the fog machine that all the monsters just fell down dead and the army flew planes over the area. Oh what a bad film.
Rating (1.5) 5.0 and up are recommended some just more recommended than others.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Dust Up (2012) Adventure Comedy

Dust Up (2012) -This shockingly violent adventure is brought to us by Ward Roberts who wrote and directed. With a budget of almost nothing he has put together a schlock filled journey where the good guys ultimately win and the desert is made safe from the forces of evil. More than that though it is a redemption story where our hero, haunted by an incident in the past uses the present to make amends and finally allow himself to put the past behind him.
  When I saw the announcement for this film on All Things Horror Online with a guest appearance by Amber Benson I thought it would be a fun thing to do with my daughter while she was home from college. An important aside is that I really did not know anything about the movie at this point. So if you think I am likely to go to violent film where there is a scenes where a bar owner masturbates while choking the local Sheriff to death, killing him while he splurges on his face, with my twenty year old daughter , with knowledge of this you are wrong. It was a side effect of not doing my homework about the film. We of course know Amber as "Tara" from the series Buffy the Vampire Slayer and saw it as an opportunity to meet someone from the series we both enjoyed. Well so much for safe bonding experiences.
  The last time I saw Amber Benson in a film it was the ridiculously funny alien possession film One Eyed Monster, where Ron Jeremy's dick is possessed by an alien, detaches itself and tries to mate with the human in the film. It was a funny but really not a very good film. Recently I watched a  movie she co-directed called Drones (2010) that I thought was witty and clever. She also writes and there were quite a few fans of her writing in the audience of Dust Up. Miss Benson was gracious enough to come to the screening and stayed all the way through to a question and answers session afterward, as well as pictures and autograph session in the Museum of Bad Art as well. I know her kindness made the night for my daughter and I so to Amber, Thanks.
  The film centers around Jack (Aaron Gaffey) a former soldier who is haunted by an incident while at war in the middle east. After an IED exploded near him, he in a dazed state shot a man who was approaching him only to later realize that the man was coming to help. The sight of the dying man with his crying wife and terrified child still wakes Jack from his sleep. He broke apart a family and the injury he sustains (lost an eye) and PTSD of his war experiences has left him a broken man. He now lives in the California desert working as the High Desert Handyman with few friends. One a young man, Mo (Devin Barry) pretending to be Native American in the most old movie "Indian" kind of look, but seeking a wisdom modern society does not provide seems his best friend. They don't have a lot to do and enjoy the quiet life.
  This quiet life is broken when Jack is called to the home of Ella (Amber Benson) to fix her muddy water problem. After assessing her problems and giving a price he returns to his life only to be drawn back in when Ella accidentally calls his phone while she is fighting with her husband (?) Herman (Travis Betz). Herman is a crack head who owes a good amount of money to local drug dealer and bar owner Buzz (Jeremiah Birkett) who is none too happy to use violence in the collection of the money. Jack comes into this situation seeing Ella and her baby and this loser husband he is struck by the guilt of the war experience he had. This spurs him into attempt to try to keep this family together.
  Now I don't want to give away the entire plot where this set up is the start of a violent and crazy few days for Jack, Mo, Ella and Herman. As mentioned before there is some really raunchy stuff in this film but it is done like a spaghetti western with the strange violence, impaling, scalping, drugs dance, exploding bars, cannibalism, all leading to a resolution for Ella and for Jack. This movie will not be for everyone but like the recent "Hobo with a Shotgun" for a hyper violence fantasy it is a pretty fun ride. When the film ended and the chat and pictures were done, Joy (my daughter) and I talked about it in the car. She was not quite sure what to think of it and since I have to admit I see a surprising amount of these kind of films I was okay with it. The violence is over the top and disturbing so those who are shocked easily will do well to avoid this film. Still it will get a recommendation from me.
Rating (5.5) 5.0 and up are recommended, some more recommended than others.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

The Innkeepers (2011) Horror Ghost

 The Innkeepers (2011) -Ti West is back to the big screen as writer and director with his first feature since the well received "The House of the Devil (2009)". Like that film The Innkeepers is a bit of a slow burn that relies on the quiet lonely creepiness of being alone in a big empty buildings can cause. It is a good old fashioned ghost story that plays out on the last weekend that a hotel, The Yankee Pedlar Inn, is open for business, and involves the two ghost hunting employees who are manning the desk for the final days.
  Maybe with a nod to "The Shining (1980)" the story is broken into chapters, Chapter One: The Long Weekend is the setup and the introductions of the characters. Chapter Two: Madeline O'Malley is the legend of the ghost, and the beginning of the creepiness that will culminate in Chapter 3: The Final Guest. It is a cautionary tale for ghost hunters everywhere to be careful what you hunt for, you might just find it.
  Claire (Sarah Paxton) and Luke (Pat Healy) are the ghost hunting desk clerks of the story. Luke is has been playing up the strange events he says he has experienced in the hotel and has a lot of equipment for recording events while they work. It is pretty clear early on that he has a thing for Claire that she is totally oblivious to. He seems to be more interested in her than ghost hunting but is doing the later as a way to get closer to the girl he likes. She is fluttering about into the ghost stories and really not noticing him as anything more than a partner in adventure. Always a sad thing when only one person is showing interest in the other but is too chickenshit to say anything. It is a tried and true story device too and here it is used very effectively to set up the characters.
  So the plot, our non couple is working the desk on the final weekend of the hotel's operation. They have their recording gear and are hooping to get proof that the old place has ghost running about. The only guests are a woman (Alison Bartlett) and her young son (Jake Ryan). She has been fighting with her husband and is using the Inn as a way to get some space. The other guest is Leanne Rease-Jones (Kelly McGillis) a former actress turned psychic medium who is in town for a conference. This particular tie in is a bit cliche and wearisome in ghost movies even though I know what the purpose is. She does add some information to the story that leave you questioning at the end so not a wasted character. McGillis is a fine actress and plays the alcoholic medium with a keen eye not to be too new age-ish but also not too down and out desperate. After we have a solid idea of the players the film settles in to Claire who is taking the first shift at the front desk. She spends her time trying to record ghosts and the jump scares are reasonably effective.  West pays attention not to give too much away too early so we have to wait until chapter two before getting the legend of the Inn.
  The story goes that Madeline O'Malley (ghost played by Brenda Cooney) was stood up on her wedding day. The distraught woman retired to her room at the Yankee Pedlar and hung herself. Fearing bad press the then owners of the Inn hid the body in the cellar but were later discovered. The scandal that followed forced them to close the Inn for many years until it was sold and reopened. Now the legend goes the ghost of the bride in her wedding gown wanders the halls of the inn. After this story is reveal follow Claire out into the alley to the trash bin. A scary little scene we know is a false alarm follows. How do we know it is false. Because we just learned the story so the very next scare has to be a false alarm. That is how horror works. Still I made a note when she locked the outside bulkhead doors to keep the birds out that this action would play a part later on in the film and sure enough it did.
  This may be a good spot to say that one of the problems with this film is it followed a tried and true formula that most horror fanatics have seen many times. Unfortunately it did not hide the formula well enough so a lot of horror fans will be really luke warm about this film. The acting was fine the setup commendable but the execution was too on the nose to the expected horror tropes. Ty West could have thrown some variation in to keep us off balance but he didn't and it really hurt the film. Sure the end was better than most with a nice twist and an unexpected outcome but the road to that point was all places we have been before. Very similar in structure to "The House of the Devil" but since I have seen that this one comes across as more of the same.
  This is not to say that there are not some nice sequences in the film. There is a scene where Claire is in the banquet room listening on her microphone for sounds in the room. She slowly starts to hear static with something under it that become the sound of a woman crying, then  the sound of a piano playing. What is great is the excellent silence when Claire takes off the headphones, and then hearing it again when she puts them back on. It really is the first time she is successful at ghost hunting and it leads very nicely into her first talk of the supernatural with Rease-Jones who explains "There is no real in this world Claire, there are just states of being." and leads into a seance scene where Rease-Jones says "They won't say who they are." Apparently there are several ghosts and they want to live as well as a warning not to go in the basement. It is a very effect way to set up the inevitable even if we have seen it a thousand times before.
  The other thing that is so telegraphed is that Claire has an inhaler and needs it too. So it is a sure thing that her not having it will be a contributing factor in her storyline. I know it sounds like the script bad but it really isn't. West puts all the pieces together in the right order it is just that the writing lacks subtlety. At this point just before the final chapter we can see the conclusion coming and I am one viewer who was happy to continue on with the film. We still have all incomplete story arcs, from the ghost hunting, to the Luke Claire relationship to the creepy old man who arrives at the start of the chapter. 
  This is the chapter where the story really picks up, the old man (George Riddle), the final guest is really easy going even though the room he requests is stripped clean for the close down he is more than willing to take it as is. The actor plays the guy in a wonderfully creepy way and it is good at this point to add a bit more to think about since the paths of the characters are a bit transparent. They are destined to have a real ghost encounter, you know that and so do I. The reactions are great and it really sets up Claire for the final sequence. Now as usual I would not make the same error that she makes. When things get weird you have to shrug and say, this is a horror movie some things are just going to happen no matter how much they shouldn't.
  In the epilogue of the film we learn that everything that was set up was paid off. It is a sad tale but one that I think is very much worth the watch. Not the greatest of ghost films it is instead a second solid entry by Ti West into the genre.
Rating (5.6) 5.0 and up are recommended some just more than others.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

We Are What We Are (2010) Horror Cannibals

We Are What We Are (2010) - "Somos lo que hay" Although I said I wanted to avoid cannibal movies for awhile, this small little film comes my way and gets me back in. What is good about this film is the scope. It is not really about cannibalism but more about dealing with a crisis and defining new roles when things go wrong in an organization. I know that doesn't tell you much so let me explain the plot a bit.
  The film is about a family of cannibals living in a Mexican city. They have set rolls with the elder father, wife, two sons and a daughter. All the children are teens or older the eldest son Alfredo (Francisco Barreiro) is a bit shy and questioning his sexuality, the younger son Julian (Alan Chavez) is stronger but hot headed, the manipulative but strong daughter Sabina (Paulina Gaitan) who will do what ever it takes to survive. Patricia (Carmen Beato) the mother, seems a hurt older wife who is displeased with her spouse as he is unreliable and his behavior repulsive to her.  The father (Humberto Yanez) an older man who does all the "hunting" for the family focuses primarily on prostitutes. By being a John to them it is easy to lure them to a place where he can subdue them and bring them back as food for the family. Although his wife does not like this aspect and frowns on eating "whores" when you see the old man in the beginning of the film it makes perfect sense why this is how he does it.
  In fact you only see the father in the opening scene as he stumbles through a mall before collapsing and dying of a heart attack. (Obviously too much red meat). This event leaves the family in a crisis, with the need to feed only a few days away the family has to figure out who will provide. There is trouble beyond just a family meeting though. None of the teen children have ever hunted and Patricia seems to be in a funk. Sitting quietly mourning in her own little world while the children discuss what to do next. If Mom was more approachable thing could probably be worked out but with the leadership vacuum there is politicking to do.
  The natural order of things would normally have been to have the oldest son take the reins. The timid Alfredo though is to scared to step up. Sabina seems like a hand of strength but her role as a girl in their society leave her only the opportunity to influence from behind the scenes. She maneuvers Alfredo trying to sure up his confidence about being the family's next provider. Julian, she says is to callous and hot headed and would get the family caught by making a mistake. Sabina is a good judge of character and is right on about both young men. The imperative to organize comes from the mentioned three days until they need to do the "ritual" and feed. It is never clear what the ritual is other than a sacrifice nor what will happen if it does not happen but it is implied with tone and urgency that something bad will happen. This setup left me wanting to know more but it is strategically held back.
  Alfredo and Julian work together on the problem and first decide grabbing one of the city's many street kids may be something they can pull off. Unfortunately for them the packs of kids stick together and they fail in a really embarrassing manner leaving their confidence shaken and raising the specter that they may fail at getting a subject. So plan B is to do what their father did and get a prostitute. They know their mother will not be happy about this but they can not see another option. When they successfully bring a girl home Sabina starts some of the preparations for the ritual. Unfortunately Mom comes out of her stupor and realizes that her sons have done the things she hated about her husband. She freaks out and kills the girl in what is not an acceptable way. (No Ritual , no meat?) Suddenly the family is back to square one and time is running out.
  The dynamics of the family makes this pretty compelling, the Mother does not see her children as anything more than that. At the same time she does not want to be back in the pattern her former husband created and she so disliked. So she scolds the boys and to make sure that they can never get near the prostitutes again to acquire a victim, she takes the dead prostitute back to the street corner making sure they all see her family and threatening them. Culture dictates that the oldest son inherits the leadership mantle but he has yet to find his way. Sabina who is supposedly powerless in this structure does what she can by wielding power behind the scenes. Still there is also a competitiveness with her Mother.
  A duel storyline comes out of this last incident, Patricia not seeing her sons as providers takes matters into her own hands. She seduces a taxi driver with sex and lures him back to the apartment. At the same time Alfredo is fighting through his sexuality question while trying to figure out the best way for his hunt to happen. He finds his way by seducing a young man and also bringing him back to the apartment. All the while the ineffective police force is closing in on the family. The family has made enough noise that they are finally getting noticed. The three groups come together around the same time in a climax that is worth the time invested in this film. The choices at that point are dictated by the circumstances and Alfredo I have to say steps up and makes a sacrifice I was not expecting. Good for him.
  Like I said in the beginning this is a small film and so if you are expecting explosions and special effects you will be sorely disappointed. This is more of a family drama where the family is a cannibal group. The payoff would have been better if we saw the effects of not feeding, or more about the ritual, maybe some back story on how this family came to be. Still it played out well and left us with an image at the end that I thought was very effective. I will definitely recommend this film.
Rating (6.1) 5.0 are recommended, some more recommended than others.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Fight Club (1999) Drama Psycho

Fight Club (1999) -  Well I don't really know what to say about this film? A little personal history first, I had never seen this movie before this weekend. In fact I avoided it because so many male friends have said what a great movie it was. My thinking went like this: If it is really a guys movie than it is the macho testosterone filled bullshit of jocks and assholes and hey I don't need that. Never being either a jock or an asshole (mostly) I just didn't want to bother and then have to say to those guys that their favorite film sucked. Just the name kept me away, "Fight Club" the idea that grown men would get together to punch each others lights out was not something I wanted to see. Since I have seen and been in some real fights, strictly as a youth there was nothing noble or redeeming about it. It is an anxiety producing experience where if you come out the winner you hope you didn't kill the poor bastard and if you didn't win you wish the other guy stops before you are seriously damaged. There are no rules nor should there be, it is a last resort that (hopefully) ends a conflict you were too lazy or dumb to work out without violence. Of course this is the 48 year old me talking and not the 23 year old. I doubt without years of hindsight I would be smart enough to understand that violence only accomplishes pain, and the pride of success in a fight can be achieved just as simply by excelling in any other competition.
  So sitting down with my obviously warped attitude about this film I was surprised that it was not just a fight club. Instead I saw a work of fiction about a man with mental illness who soured on the American Dream or lack there of, finding a way out of his hum drum life through his fight club. He also left all connection to reality behind ending up in a warped paramilitary of his own creation, with a crazy plan to strike back at the consumer society he sees as evil. The film is stylized and funny with moments of exhilaration and dread and really worth seeing.
  The plot is about The Narrator (Ed Norton) an insomniac office worker for a major car company. He drones through life in a blur from day to week to month without any variation in his routine. The corporate world he works in is a routinized white collar sweat shop void of personality or hope of variation. The Narrator is a man without a life outside this sterile work environment which in the context of the film forces the viewer to buy into this film as a surreal fantasy or to be annoyed that it is not realistic. I recognized my opportunity and chose to treat the film like a fantasy, suspending disbelief for the remainder. If I didn't the fact that this man has no family, no friends or love interest prior to the start of the adventure would have annoyed the shit out of me. Even the most isolated  functioning adult, has a coworker or two that they chat up. The biggest shut in still goes to the movies, reads books or plays video games has some interests that break up the days. In this case we have someone who doesn't and have to except this really hard to accept fact.
  At the end of his rope he goes to the doctor for help sleeping and the doctor is not really willing to put him on medication. He says he needs healthy sleep not a drug induced stupor. As they talk about how tough the life the Narrator has, the doctor suggests some perspective. He encourages him to visit a support group for guys dealing with testicular cancer. Years before Lance Armstrong recovered from this disease and won the Tour de France bring hope to this group, we had support groups. Where guys can get together and mourn the loss of their manly parts in the company of others who have the same issues. Okay there still are support groups and testicular cancer and bike racers don't make it easier to deal with this life changing condition.
Spoiler!!!!!!!        Can you spoil a 13 year old movie?
  This scene with he doctor has an obvious flaw, intentional as it is; it is a mistake on director David Fincher's part. He slides in a single frame of the character Tyler Durden (Brad Pitt) standing behind the doctor during the conversation. It is quick but noticeable and by doing so lets us all know that the character is not real but a figment of The Narrator's imagination. I get what he was doing, leaving clues, in this case the character of Tyler is a projectionist who splices single frames of pornography into the family films he shows. So the single frame reveal I am sure seemed very clever and people in the movie theaters probably went right by this without realizing it, but in today's age DVD you can't help but rewind and freeze frame on such a quirk. So a major plot point later revealed was ruined for me still though letting the story play out, it was not a real detriment to the film.
END Spoiler!!!!!
  The support groups really help The Narrator and soon he gets to cry and feel better and is getting great sleep. He is also attending a bunch of different groups and life gives our anti hero a reprieve. Of course it would not be a movie if everything turned out well, besides it is early in the film so lets continue with the basic setup. While at one of his testicular cancer group,  the Narrator notices a new member, a woman named Marla Singer (Helena Bonham Carter). Obviously not a survivor of testicular cancer she is very much like The Narrator a "tourist" using the groups for some psychological mending. They eventually get together and decide to split days that they will attend the meeting. Why the Narrator can't accept the two of them at the same meetings is lost on me. He has this need to see himself as different than Marla even though they are both tourists at these meetings. There was this wonderful scene where Marla and the Narrator are arguing and she turns and walks right out into traffic, nothing hits her even though she fails to notice it exists. It is wonderfully done. It got me thinking that she may not be a real character but instead a figment of his imagination and that carried through for most of the film.
  " This is your life and you're losing it one minute at a time."
The basic theme still hold through for our main character The Narrator, and his life of travel and routine again drives his soul into a dark place. We finally meet Tyler Durden on a late night flight and the Narrator is struck by his personality and takes his number at the end of the flight. When he returns to his perfectly manicured condo he sees it blown up. This after the foreshadowing of Durden talking about how easy it is to make napalm at home. It plays into my belief that Tyler is a fictional imaginary character that all this is the narrators mental break down. What the movie actually shows though is that after losing his condo, the Narrator moves in with Durden in a totally dilapidated building but not before having the fight outside the bar that starts the fight club. Ah the fight club, surprisingly not really what Fight Club is about. Sure it is how The Narrator finds his footing and then builds his network of support, but really not the main theme, but more a means to an end.
  There are a couple themes that should be noted. First the idea that the corporate world is draining the life out of its employees. Sterile environments equal sterile lives, people who seek meaning in consumerism but don't really live. Now I don't know how true that is, even though I have been in the white collar world for more than a decade. It certainly is a first world problem when compared to the fight for survival in some third world countries. Also where the story focuses on a really damaged individual it is hard  to see if everyone is experiencing his profound depression with the environment. Certainly the United States is a consumer society, but when it really comes down to it, this story is about a "have" instead of a "have not". His disengagement is possibly more his fault than that of society. His mental lapse comes from his failure to change his life; a choice we all have when we don't like how things are going. The Narrator is a man who is profoundly disturbed by the path in life he took and unfortunately for him his mental break although empowering to him is a failure and harmful to society as a whole. Like William "D-Fens" Foster in 1993's Falling Down, The Narrator is much more disturbed than we first think and because of it we see a more compelling story of his downfall.
  A second less successful component to the story is the idea that the generation of men who grew up in the 70's did so fatherless.  It is presented as a factor in why we of this age group can't cope with the societal pressures. The theme was not clearly connected in the film and although mentioned a couple times it. In the end I did not buy into that idea, but of course I grew up fatherless in the seventies so I may be biased.
  As the popularity of Fight Club grows The Narrator seems to find his footing. His hygiene may not have improved but he did find his footing in letting go of the social structures. A pain in the ass at work he now shows a real disrespect to his boss and basically threatens him with exposure about the safety issues the car company ignores. He maneuvers his work so he does not even have to be in the office anymore. Instead he focuses most of his work on the road flying from city to city.
   His friend Tyler and he are building something special with the fight club. Sometimes things seem to The Narrator to be getting out of hand. No longer does he think Tyler is doing it exactly how he wants it done. In fact it seems that Tyler is building an army of anarchists. Now not just the fight club but many as The Narrator meets guys he has never seen before who are in the club in another city. He also feels a bit out of control in that Tyler is seeing and having sex with Marla. He envisioned that for himself and is a bit jealous.
  The army of soldiers grows with many moving into the house and developing weapons and explosives. It is project mayhem and The Narrator is not sure he wants his fight club to become this bigger thing. Of course when he asks about it he is told the first rule is Never ask about project Mayhem. He is flustered and has to confront Tyler about this giant expansion.
Spoiler Alert!!!!
Now the big turn in the film is when The Narrator realizes that Tyler is not real or that he actually is Tyler and has been setting up Fight clubs across the country. He has been blacking out or as I like to calling having a complete psychological dis-associative episode. When he is asleep the Tyler personality come out and takes over. Flying around the country creating his secret society. Planning to strike at the heart of the consumer world by blowing up buildings that house credit card records. (I guess in 1999 the idea of off site backup was new?) Marla is real and he has been happily banging her for months without ever being aware of it. He really is powerless to stop his own plans by the time he is confronted by his mental illness. So the final scenes are riviting and fantastic at the same time.
End Spoiler!!!
  Now I liked this movie, I am not into the machismo of it but get what the writer Jim Uhls from a book by Chuck Palahniuk is trying to do. The movie is a lot of fun where the nobody comes up in his dirge of a life and add a new rhythm. Even though he is totally off his rocker he creates something to break from the societal rules we all have to burden. Certainly with this review I break the first and second rules of fight club. I just hope no project Mayhem members are reading this blog. Or actually I should break that first rule too, What is project Mayhem? Who is in it? Buying plane ticket out of the country now.
Rating (7.5) 5.0 and up are recommended some more recommended than others.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Unholy (2007) Horror

Unholy (2007) - " We can neither confirm nor deny the use of paranormal means to assure this nation's protection" - General Arthur T. Bradley and so starts the film Unholy staring Adrienne Barbeau as Martha, Nicolas Brendon as her some Lucas and Siri Baruc as her daughter Hope. If only there was hope for this film. It is a convoluted tale with strange ideas that eventually are spoon fed to the audience but only after an incredibly slow and plodding plot attempts to put us to sleep.
  Martha starts out by having a strange and rude interaction with  a store owner when trying to buy flowers for her daughter Hope. The acting from this man Richard Ziman seems so over the top, like the director pulled him aside and said "Hey Rich, can I call you Rich? I want more creepy from you, like your on a stage in the Coliseum in Rome and you have to project your creepy all the way to the last row. Can you do that for me buddy?" He is almost comical he is trying so hard to be strange and it immediately takes me out of the movie. Barbeau for her part is fine at being a bit freaked out by the guy and when she gets out of there only to have him follow her because she has forgotten the flours she and we have to endure another equally overacted interaction with the store owner.
  Arriving home she sees a note on the table that reads, In the Cellar, and heads to the bulkhead door to find it locked and her daughter Hope inside with a shot gun. Now already thrown off by the earlier scene it takes a bit to get into the drama of this one. But both actresses are up to the task and soon it seem that Hope is a bit off her rocker. She thinks she is being experimented on and does not want to go on in her life. Martha for her part tries to talk her daughter down and mentions that she can't lose someone else in the family. Widow I supposed and when the scene plays out to the demise of young Hope I am thinking that this is a movie about ghost or something. I mean immediately after the death scene we see this weird ripple in the rug of the living room like a door from another reality was about to open. It is brief but definitely setting something up for the future. So the idea that maybe this is a story of how a family comes together after the death of a loved one and work through their issues is out.
  Hell things go to pot rather quickly in this one, Lucas come home to bury his sister and to comfort his mother. He is not even in town a day when we go head long into solving the mystery of the suicide. What mystery you ask? Well that's the rub to this point there really is no mystery, it just looked like a disturbed girl taking her own life. The writer Sam Freeman is to blame here, he has an idea for the plot but has yet to learn how to execute the telling of the story in a smooth way. So without scenes of grieving and maybe an incidental exposure to a clue that would put Martha and Lucas on the road to "solving" the daughters death, we get Martha already sure something is not right, insisting Lucas help her.
  The side characters brought in to move the story forward are all disposable, The Store Owner and his daughter Cammy (Cheyenne Casebier), The neighbor Charlie (Merwin Goldsmith), his former wife and town crazy Gertrude (Susan Willis) in fact the scale of the film is tiny with these characters being the cast  and after they give the audience the information they need they no longer are needed. Again a bit of rough writing. They exist to give us a story about Lester Krauss (Joseph McKenna), a former Nazi doctor who was co opted into working with America on experiments in the field of the Unholy Trinity. What is that you ask, well it is time travel, invisibility and mind control of course. It seems that Krauss was convincing enough to get the US to look into he pseudo scientific bullshit and when he died an American doctor took over the experiments. They have been running these experiments on the townspeople of this movie.
  Most of the exposition on this plot is given by the crazies with a paranoid conspiracy tone that could actually be believable if not delivered in such overacted ways. Our main characters Lucas and Martha realize that Hope was being experimented on and then realize that they too are subjects. Martha is losing time, we see her go to bed, then she will convulse on camera and we see flashes of Krauss in his medical garb, holding a scalpel. The skin being cut and torn and blood. Then Martha wakes and has lost time so that's how we know she is being experimented on. Yeah I know it doesn't make a lot of sense and director Daryl Goldberg in his first effort hopefully learned a lesson from this film. Shit has to make sense or no one will want to see your movie!
  The production values on the film are pretty low. Filmed in New Jersey in what can only be described as a gray color scheme the idea that these people are isolated in there small town come across, but the severe isolation of the characters with a total lack of walk-ons in the back ground anywhere in the film makes it feel really low budget. Sure it adds to the depths of loneliness the characters experience but also it is just a bit odd.
  In the end we find that each of the Unholy Trinity has been completed. No purpose is for any of this really, so what if there is this time travel experiment, there is nothing outside this small town. No imminent threat to the rest of the world. Invisibility really? Mind control, it not like anyone could control my mind and say this film is great because it is not. There really ends up being no investment needed in the outcome of the film. There is nothing at stake because the characters are just these small time folks and the only threats are to them. So when the film gets weirder still and that weirdness twists upon itself, we don't care.
Rating (2.9) 5.0 and up are recommended, some more recommended than others.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Rika: The Zombie Killer (2008) Horror Zombie

Rika: The Zombie Killer (2008) - This outrageously silly film from Japan is brought your way by writer and director Ken'ichi Fujiwara, who has a dozen or so directing credits on IMDB but no reviews of his movies by users. So either the credits are questionable to really obscure or not available in the United States. Some research shows that some of his films are priced high and hard to get but that the Female Prisoner 701: Scorpion series is out there. Affordability though means you can check out his 2010 entry The Sultry Assassin: The Aphrodisiac Kill available at Amazon for $15.
  The entry we are looking at today is wild and gory and comical all at the same time. There is this Power Ranger vibe it has where the monsters are ridiculously over the top, villains and the heroes more endowed with skill than they should be. That said this is not a clean Power Rangers where no one is really hurt in the fights that are more like choreographed dances. There is blood and guts and it is not for kid, plenty of fake blood spewing everywhere.
  The story starts with an opening scene to establish the zombie outbreak, as a lab technician Takashi looks around his lab for a workmate. He leaves the building and finds him alright, but the poor guy is already a zombie. A bite from the workmate before he is disposed of and the technician is seen turning into a zombie himself. This is not the last time we will see him zombie or not.
  We have a few different characters who will end up coming together and so introductions are in order. There are two school girls, Rika (Risa Kudo) her friend Nami, who decide to visit Rika's grandfather Ryhei to get advice about the problems she is having with her parents. Grandfather  moved away a while back and although Rika is unaware of it, did so with a beautiful young woman named Sayaka (Tsugumi Nagasawa) who has gotten the old man to marry her. Sayaka's intentions are to slowly poison the old man and claim his personal fortune and insurance money. Working with her is her lover, who is posing as her brother Tomoya they feel they are close to sealing the deal. Through interactions with zombies at the bus station Tomoya, Rika and Nami end up traveling together and arrive at the house as the zombies start spreading into the area. Rika is surprized to learn her Grandfather is married and even more surprised at his state of health. The old man sits drooling barely able to communicate to the outside world. He is talked about early in the film as a brilliant surgeon so Rika is really shocked at his condition. Besides these people there are three beautiful maids at the house.
  The other set of characters are Yuji, a chef named Tohru and another guy Hiroshi who are trapped in the local village full of zombies. Yuji the Geek guy introduces us to a character we at first think is fictional, a zombie hunter, who turns out to be real, I didn't get his name but his arm plays a pivotal role in the plot. The trio seems to be a bit of comic relief as they try to make their way out of the village and eventually to the house where our main group is. On the way they encounter Takashi who convinces them he is a good zombie and is really on their side. Being the only zombie so far who has any intellect at all they allow him to come along. Also involved here is Takashi and Yuji talking about the outbreak as a government conspiracy. It really doesn't matter at this point why the outbreak began but I suppose some back story is essential. Takashi says there is a head Zombie named Grorian who is gathering zombies to take over the world. So Takashi is gathering weapons to fight against this new villain. One of the weapons he collects is the Fictional zombie hunter's arm still attached to its magical sword? Now I can sense the confusion in the readers at this point but seriously this is the story being presented. The crazy of this film is it keep building on a ridiculous plot all the way through.
  It is a strange story from here and after some initial zombie craziness we get the main plot points. Staying alive as the zombies start to infiltrate the property is the main point.  In a strange scene the three maids are seen showing there breasts just prior to zombies coming in and attacking them. It was like someone said realized the film might sell better with tits on display and could not think of where to fit them in. The comic relief guys arrive as the zombies attack the house. Rika is bitten as Grandfather comes out of his stupor and using his sword from the mantle saves the group from certain death. Ryhei has to cut off Rika's arm to stop the zombie desease from taking her and being a great doctor he takes her into the other room to perform a surgery that will save her life and set up the rest of the story. He attaches the arm of the fictional zombie killer to her and with it comes the magical abilities to be one bad assed zombie killer.
  There are a couple subplots that also are going on. On one hand Takashi is telling the group that they have to defeat Grorian to end the zombie invasion, apparently if you kill him everyone will return to normal? Takashi also has a secret, he craves human flesh and although he has intellect he can not resist the chance to eat a fellow character if he gets the chance to be alone with them. Yuji is telling them that in cases like this outbreak if it is not controlled in 24 hours the US government will nude the city. So the clock is ticking and has been for some time. He does not trust the Takashi story and tries to warn the others to no avail. On top of this wave after wave of zombie arrive and the fighting continues throughout. In the end as the different characters are slowly whittled away and turned to zombies it is inevitable that Rika face Grorian in a final battle.
  When the battle is through and suddenly everyone who was dead or zombie is now returned to happy health it is a cruel twist that as they laugh and hug, the final twist happens. Even I who love these silly films was disappointed by the ending. As the final credits rolled I was saying out loud, "Come On, Really?" Oh well still I have to say even with the bad makeup on the zombies and the cartooninsh approach I sort of enjoyed the film. SO...
Rating (5.2) 5.0 and up are recommended, some more recommended than others.