Movie Review: San Andreas (2015)

Action, Movie Reviews

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In a battle between the forces of nature versus Dwayne Johnson, my money is on the latter every time.  In San Andreas, that’s exactly what happens: after the largest earthquake in Californian history ripples through the San Andreas coastline, destroying everything in its path, rescue pilot Ray (Johnson) must make his way to San Francisco, surviving disaster after disaster, to save his daughter (Alexandra Daddario).  It’s generic, predictable and preposterous.  We know the main characters will survive the slew of grand scale destruction being thrown at them.  Physics… what physics?  Fuck physics.  San Andreas defies your physics.  It’s obvious that it’ll turn out fine for them all in the end.  The only thing surprising about this movie is just how damn good it is, despite knowing how it’s going to turn out from the outset.

There was no chance in Hell any of the main characters were going to die, yet the scenes of suspense had me on the edge of my seat praying that they’d make it out alive.  As I sat there watching Dwayne Johnson drive a speedboat up a tsunami dodging falling ships, my heart skipped a few beats, even though the brain I left at the door knew his stunt wasn’t humanly possible; the Dwayne Johnson fan sitting on that uncomfortable theater chair knew that a tsunami was merely a small obstacle for The Rock. Watching Alexandra Daddario swimming under water in a cleavage boasting tank top, I drooled like a cartoon dog staring at a cheeseburger, while screaming to myself, ”FIND A WAY TO SAFETY, YOU PERFECT CREATION.”  I don’t believe in God; especially not during San Andreas when Paul Giamatti confirms the scientific explanations for the mass destruction; but it’s difficult not to stare at Alexandra Daddario not and come to the conclusion that she’s an angel sent from Heaven.  Furthermore, her character Blake is so well written to be likable, Hollywood dupes us into cookie cutter emotional attachment.  Damn you, Hollywood.  Damn you for making me love again.

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The central characters, are all, in fact, just that – likable.  Hence why I couldn’t help but root for them in the face of danger.  Dwayne Johnson and his award winning smile would melt the polar icecaps he might have to face some day in a sequel.  Here, he shows dramatic range that proves he’s a competent versatile actor, even if he’s not Marlon Brando.  His movie wife (played by Gugino), drops the greatest F-Bomb in the history of a PG-13 film; her obstinate nature is a perfect accomplice for Dwayne’s unstoppable force of nature which makes the earthquakes seem human in comparison. That’s why we hope they manage to settle their marital problems, which stem from losing a child they couldn’t save in the past.  Sure it’s corny, soppy and intent on making us gooey eyed; it also further bolsters the obvious fact they’ll save Blake: no way would a family friendly Hollywood blockbuster have parents lose both children.  This earthquake is more than a disaster: it’s a chance at redemption.  That being said, worked.

The suspenseful action sequences are down to Brad Peyton’s expert direction: the CGI buildings and landmarks crumbling is some of the most believable I’ve ever seen as well.  Provided you can suspend your disbelief, you might get goosebumps.  San Andreas has fun destroying great American landmarks such as The Golden Gate Bridge and The Hoover Dam, but it looks so damn realistic it’s intense.

San Andreas isn’t for everyone: cynics will roll their eyes at its predictability and sentiment; those who can’t check their brain out will guffaw at the crimes against science; others might just find it to be too overbearing. However, if you can accept it for what it is you’ll have a blast: not only does it successfully execute its requirements, it does so better than most disaster movies.  The generically written characters are likable enough to emotionally root for and there’s plenty of destruction to keep the adrenaline pumping throughout.  This is a perfect summer extravaganza that scores high on the Richter Scale.  8/10

Directed By:

Brad Peyton

Written By:

Carlton Cuse & Andre Fabrizio

Starring:

Dwayne Johnson, Carla Gugino, Alexandra Daddario, Ioann Gruffudd

Genre:

Action

Running Time:

114 min

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Movie Review: American Backwoods: Slew Hampshire (2015)

Extreme Horror, Horror, Horror Comedy, Movie Reviews

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American Backwoods: Slew Hampshire is the deranged brainchild of Flood Reed, who, according to his IMDB profile, is a circus performer and subconscious drifter who likes to appear in the nightmares of children and the occasional LSD-induced hallucination.  However, when he’s not scaring kids and enhancing trips, he sometimes acts in, writes and directs movies. One such movie is the topic of this review: a demented dose of backwoods debauchery that’s already received critical acclaim by winning Rue Morgue Magazines, ”Goriest Scene of the Year Award” and being nominate for Best Picture, Best Actor, Best Editing at the 8th Annual Shockfest Film Festival.

A fitting way to describe American Backwoods: Slew Hampshire would be Deliverance (1972) meets Jack Ketchum’s Offspring (2009), although comparing it these films is only a brief indication of what to expect here. American Backwoods is a lethal concoction of hillbilly horror, cannibal caper and creature feature, infused with black humour and copious amounts of violent carnage to create one of the most gleefully gruesome movies you’re likely to see this year.

The story follows a group of 4 guys who set out for one last hurrah at a strip club before college life separates them for the foreseeable future.  They’re a fun bunch of miscreants who just want to see some boobs and find some loose women to engage in sexual acts with; very similar to groups of friends we’ve seen in countless other horror flicks.  Along the way they encounter a creepy professor, an unpleasant gas station attendant and a homosexual police officer who doesn’t appear to be who he says he is. After deeming their vehicle unfit to drive, the police officer calls a mechanic who takes them to his trailer – and prepares them for the hunt.

Up until they reach the trailer American Backwoods is an offbeat bro-comedy that wouldn’t seem out of place as a Harold & Kumar sequel. The strip club is their White Castle and on their journey they meet some oddball characters.  Kudos have to be given for leading the viewer into a false sense of security; just as we start to think it might be a lighthearted romp, it does a complete 180 and drags us by the teeth into the abyss.  Once it gets going it’s an unrelenting nightmare of inescapable danger at every turn – involving rapist yokels, cannibalistic cave dwellers and a mystical beast. With so many ingredients in the pot, it risks becoming a convoluted mess: I’m happy to report that it makes for a tasty treat, effortlessly shifting gears with unforced, natural ease.

More often than not, low budget independent horror suffers from the same pitfalls: bad acting, below par production values, paper thin characters, etc. In American Backwoods every actor is solid and convincing in their roles, with the majority of characters being given ample amounts of screen time to make an impression and flex their chops. Most of the characters are given enough of a backstory that they actually come across as people and not just bodies to be slaughtered.  Furthermore, the movie looks great: visually it’s clear to see what’s going on, and at times, it’s reminiscent of an Oliver Stone movie.  As for the gore, well that’s just outstanding: there’s one gag in particularly that’ll make you think twice about receiving oral sex in a trailer again anytime soon.  Let it be a warning to you hillbilly rapists out there.

All in all, American Backwoods: Slew Hampshire is a violent, visceral treat that takes a well-trodden formula and gives it some extra layers. This is a must see for those who like their horror unapologetic and sleazy, while creating some laughs at the expense of heinous acts without ever losing its horrific edge.  Excellent acting, a good script, an ambitious story and interesting characters provide a solid foundation for the mayhem to spray blood and spill guts all over, making it an unhinged, filthy little gem waiting to be discovered.  8/10

Pre-order American Backwoods: Slew Hampshire from Amazon HERE.  It will also be released on VOD at the beginning of June.  You can also keep track of it on Facebook and Twitter.

Written & Directed By:

Flood Reed

Starring:

Dayo Okeniyi, Shawn Thomas, Tyler Rice, Jeremy Isabella

Genre:

Horror

Running Time:

104 min

Short Film Review: Kung Fury (2015)

Comedy, Sci-Fi, Short Film Review

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Struck by lightning, bitten by a cobra; Kung Fury might just be the new 80’s icon of the 21st century.  Born from a fake trailer created by Swedish animation whizkid David Sandberg that went viral, a Kickstarter campaign would raise triple the required funds, and thus, the epic short film I am reviewing became a reality that would go on to take the Cannes Film Festival by storm.

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Kung Fury is a love letter to the 80’s, first and foremost.  Much in the same way Astron-6’s masterpiece Manborg is; a movie Kung Fury will inevitably draw comparisons to.  Inspired by everything from Saturday morning cartoons, Cannon Films, arcade video games and B movies, Kung Fury is a live action scrap book of 80’s pop culture nostalgia, brought to life in a basement of a little house in Sweden.

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Kung Fury is the story of a kung fu cop of the same name, who must travel back in time to put a stop to the ”Kung Fuhrer” Adolf Hitler before he comes to the present to usher in a Third Reich.  Along the way we meet Norse gods, viking babes with guns, T-Rex’s, killer arcade machines and Fury’s partner, Triceracop – a half man/dinosaur police officer.  In true 80’s style, we’re naturally treated to a rocking 80’s electronic soundtrack composed in retro Heaven by mystical synth Gods.

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Kung Fury is played by David Sandberg, whose deadpan delivery of cheesy one liners makes him a caricature of video store action heroes of yesteryear.  As a filmmaker he’s brimming with so much imagination and so many ideas it’s surprising he doesn’t have leftovers pouring from his nostrils and ears.  This is a Jack of All Trades to say the least and I can’t wait to spend the rest of my life as one of his obsessed fanboys.

Don’t take my word for it though.  Check it out for yourself.  It’s FREE!

Movie Review: Collar (2014)

Extreme Horror, Horror, Movie Reviews

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Ryan Nicholson has always been a director whose work I’ve been familiar with, but not until last night have I ever been brave enough to watch it. Recently I’ve come to the realization that extreme horror is something I can handle, and even enjoy.  Therefore I decided to go into Collar with a brave face and a strong stomach and I’m happy to report I came out unscathed. Despite my brain telling me otherwise, it turns out I’m not squeamish at all and I’ve really developed a fondness for horrors most brutal offerings, provided they’re not boring.  I’m happy to report Collar was a success.

From what I understand, Collar was somewhat a departure for Ryan into darker territory.  The lighthearted comedic aspects of back alley abortions and bowling alley rapes in his previous efforts were all for a good camp laugh; I’m of the view that no subject is taboo enough to laugh at, therefore I look forward to seeing Hanger (2009) and Gutterballs (2008) when they arrive in my mailbox.  Collar is a mean spirited, brutal affair indeed, but I’d be lying if I didn’t told you I didn’t chuckle at the cannibalism.  I have a twisted sense of humour.

Collar stars Nick Principle as Massive – the homeless Satanic serial killer with a hunger for human flesh and a penis that doesn’t take the word, ”no” or the gut wrenching cries of its victims for an answer.  Massive is an intimidating villain carried by force alone: no spoken words are needed to convey his evil intent.  By far the strongest character of the movie, Collar has a villain it can be proud of, and one that is sure to send a few chills down a spine or two.  That being said, the supporting cast are fairly unmemorable in comparison, despite all putting in a solid effort.

The plot to Collar is thin, but effective: a deranged homeless killer who was abused as a child kidnaps, rapes and tortures unsuspecting victims from the streets.  One night, after receiving a call, Dana – a female cop, sets out to investigate the situation, only to be taken hostage, strapped to a collar and subject to the abuse of Massive.  While this is going on, the heinous acts committed by the Satanic rapscallion are being filmed by 2 sleazeballs who profit from capturing peoples misery on their smartphones.

As to be expected from a filmmaker with Nicholson’s reputation and amazing F/X skills, the gore is plentiful and it looks incredible; he’s a supremely talented man who’s worked on some huge movies and TV shows, so Collar is above most indie productions for the gruesome stuff. As sickening as you might find it at times, it’s hard not to view Collar and marvel at the effects work.  Here we’re treated to disembowelment’s, child birth and bodies being broken in half with back breakers (the wrestling move) – and much more.  Collar’s depravity, sleaze and violence ensures that it’s never boring for a second, unlike other movies of the ilk.

Collar is a nasty movie that doesn’t shy away from pulling punches.  In fact, it punches you so hard you might feel it in your gut afterwards.  The supporting characters and thin plot aren’t particularly strong, but with a short running time and constant supply of carnage, it doesn’t outstay its welcome. This is filthier than a dubstep bassline drop at a mud wrestling match between 2 STD riddled hookers with heroin addictions.  6/10

Written & Directed By:

Ryan Nicholson

Starring:

Nick Principe, Aidan Dee, Mihola Terzic

Genre:

Horror

Running Time:

89 min

Movie Review: The Human Centipede III: Final Sequence

Body Horror, Horror, Horror Comedy, Movie Reviews

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The final installment of Tom Six’s infamous ass-to-mouth franchise was met with critical scorn as soon as it entered pre-production: In all of my years as a horror fan who spends a lot of time on the internet watching movie geeks get their panties in a twist over everything, never have I seen a series receive as much scathing hatred as The Human Centipede.  Dismissed by many without even watching it due to its premise. it might just very well be the most offensive film to ever ingrain itself in mainstream pop culture. That being said, it’s not without its fans; those of us who are in with Six on the joke can’t help but laugh at the commotion.  And in The Final Sequence laughter is aplenty.

Is Tom Six a troll?  A cheap shockmeister?  A pervert with a poop fetish? He’s been called every name under the sun, but for us fans he’s a twisted mad genius with a knack for satire.  The first Human Centipede concept was born from a conversation Six had with a friend on how to punish pedophiles: he jokingly said their mouths should be attached to the arseholes of fat truckers, then realized it would make an interesting concept for a horror movie.  Whether you love or hate it, there’s no denying there’s been nothing else like it.  However, many horror fans were critical of the first movie for being too tame; therefore in the following sequel, he went to the extremes by giving them more than they could handle.  Was he punishing his audiences, or just shocking his way to the bank at our expense?  Either way, he made one of the best black comedies in recent memory.  With The Final Sequence, Six shows no signs of becoming family friendly anytime soon; there isn’t a distasteful topic that isn’t joked about and the centipede has multiplied by hundreds – and once again, Mr. Six has given his haters more reason to hate him, and his fans more reasons to love.  So keep on crying, you’ll only make his dick harder (his words).

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The Human Centipede 3: The Final Sequence takes place in a maximum security prison where a sadistic warden (Dieter Laser) – who feasts on dry clits from Africa and the castrated testicles of his own inmates – struggles to keep his prisoners in control.  The prison needs to cut costs and deter criminals from wanting to commit crime ever again; with an election coming up, Governor Hughes gives the warden 2 weeks to turn things around – or else he’s fired.  At the suggestion of his right hand man, Dwight Butler (Laurence Harvey), they eventually decide to conjoin the inmates in a 500 person centipede and let them eat each others shit for the duration of their sentence.  After consulting Tom Six to determine whether it’s medically possible (Tom Six himself), they go forth with the plan and set in motion the one thing that might just save America one day.

The warden, who goes by the name Bob Boss, is a vile creature; not only does he feast on genitalia, he also sexually harasses his secretary (Bree Olsen), undoubtedly giving every critic the ammo of misogyny to add to the films shit list.  Furthermore, he chews scenery in every frame he’s in, spouting off racist outbursts and rolling his tongue like a lizard.  It’s a mad cap performance; completely unhinged, with the volume turned Nic Cage loud.  There’s even a scene where Boss breaks the hand of an inmate played by Tommy Lister while calling him an ”ape nigger.”  It’s very in your face and every race of humanity gets a slur thrown in their direction at some point; but when the motto of your film is ”100% politically incorrect” then what do you expect?

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As for the gross out moments, we witness boiling water being poured over a man’s face, castration and a man’s guts being raped by an angry prisoner. Of course that’s me just scratching the surface: it might be a far tamer film than the previous installment, but it’s certainly not for the squeamish.

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Final Sequence proudly dwells in the gutter and if you feel like you’re above this vile excrement then so be it; we don’t need you to feast on the crap with us.  Once again Mr. Six has disregarded the boundaries of good taste to play yet another practical joke; so either laugh with it or accept that its laughing at your disgust.  8/10.

Written & Directed By:

Tom Six

Starring: 

Dieter Laser, Laurence Harvey, Bree Olsen, Eric Roberts

Genre:

Horror, Comedy

Running Time:

104 mins

Movie Review: The Golden Child (1986)

Action, Comedy, fantasy, Horror Comedy, Movie Reviews

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Chinese mysticism isn’t a prominent theme in mainstream movies; in fact it isn’t a very common theme in western movies as a whole; but in 1986 2 were released within 5 months of each other.  The first, released in July, was John Carpenter’s cult classic Big Trouble In Little China, a kung-fu neo-western that failed to make a splash at the box office and would be considered a huge commercial flop, making back a mere 11 million from a 25 million dollar budget.  The second was The Golden Child, released in December, starring Eddie Murphy riding a wave of success after Beverly Hills Cop (1984) became a huge worldwide hit.  The Golden Child, unlike Big Trouble In Little China, was a moderate box office success; but throughout the years it would become forgotten by most while Carpenter’s film would go on to become a cult classic that’s still finding audiences to this day.  Comparisons between both movies are inescapable: they share as much similarities as they do differences, with actors James Hong, Peter Kwong and Victor Wong appearing in each of them.  Furthermore, Carpenter was even attached to direct The Golden Child, but would go on to jump ship from Paramount to 20th Century Fox and speed up production on Big Trouble and beat it to release.  It would seem like both companies were in competition with each other and these movies were the product of their rivalry.  Regardless of what they have in common, I think they’re both unique in their own right.

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The original script for The Golden Child, penned by Species (1995) writer Dennis Feldman was originally supposed to be a darker movie, starring Mel Gibson as the lead.  But due to Gibson’s unavailability, Eddie Murphy was given the part and the script was rewritten to suit his comedic sensibilities. He would be joined by Charles Dance and Charlotte Lewis, who would play his Devilish nemesis and love interest respectively.

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The plot is simple: Eddie Murphy plays Chandler Jarrell, a private detective who specializes in finding missing children.  After the disappearance of The Golden Child – a young monk boy with special magical abilities who was kidnapped by an evil sorcerer – Chandler is the only one who can save him. Chandler was sought out because he’s The Chosen One; at first he thinks it’s all ridiculous, of course – but as the investigation advances he learns that supernatural forces are real and only he can put a stop to the wicked Sardo Numspa (Charles Dance) and his minions.

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Reviews weren’t kind to The Golden Child upon its release and it currently holds a 26% rating on Rotten Tomatoes, suggesting that the majority of critics are joyless morons.  However, in a positive review, Roger Ebert praised it for being, ”entertaining from beginning to end.”  That sums it up perfectly; The Golden Child won’t have you laughing at loud, but its charm is infectious and it’s so well paced and entertaining you’ll never feel bored. It may not be a particularly ”funny” movie, but it’s a fun one – and it has endless rewatch value, much like its cousin Big Trouble In Little China.

The special effects are dated by modern standards, but that just adds to its charm.  They represent a passage of time and era of film that never fails to give me a huge cheesy grin.  The 80’s was the pinnacle for action, adventure, comedy, fantasy and horror for me.  If it was for you too then it doesn’t get more 80’s than this; from the music to the costumes, the action sequences and humour – this is a blast.

The Golden Child isn’t perfect; comparisons to Big Trouble are inevitable and it doesn’t come close to matching Carpenter’s classic in awesomeness; but that doesn’t mean it’s not a gem in its own right.  Do yourself a favour and give it a chance.  7/10.

Directed By:

Michael Ritchie

Written By:

Dennis Feldman

Starring:

Eddie Murphy, Charles Dance, Charlotte Lewis, J.L. Reate

Genre:

Action, Fantasy, Comedy, Horror

Running Time:

94 min

Interview: Uwe Boll

Interview

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In 2009 something funny happened; Uwe Boll made a movie people really enjoyed.  Of course, this was not the first great movie by Boll and certainly not the last; but most of his detractors swallowed their bias and everybody was pretty much in agreement that Rampage was a good movie.  Last year, the sequel – Capital Punishment – was released to positive reviews once again.  It took the form of a heist movie and expanded on the motivations of Bill Williamson, the trigger happy anti-hero raging against the machine.  So far, the Rampage series has been a mean spirited, fun-filled thrill ride, with a main character who represents a cynical perception of our society.  With a part 3 in the works that promises to be an explosive finale to a great series, I had an opportunity to interview Uwe about the series so far, what inspires it and how we can contribute.

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1) Hi Uwe, thank you for the interviewer. I’m a big fan of your work, especially the Rampage movies, which I feel are very bold and brilliant, yet super fun. The prospect of a third instalment is exciting to me personally, as I’m sure it is for many others. What can we expect from Rampage 3: No Mercy?

He will go to Washington and rip it apart.

2) When it comes to politically driven movies, few are as bold and radical as Rampage & Capital Punishment. But you have other movies that deal with similar subject matter – like Auschwitz, Heart of America, Darfur, Assault On Wall Street and Stoic. What is it about these types of uncompromising movies that appeals to you?

I love movies like Godfather, Apocalypse Now, Raging Bull, Taxi Driver, Salvador, Wall Street and that kind of movies are not getting made anymore …..gritty , realistic , reflecting the world we are living in. I try my best to make movies in that tradition

3) In the Rampage series, the audience is forced to buckle up and go along for the ride in a situation they might not be comfortable with, but at the same time, it’s a fun ride. Bill Williamson is such a conflicting character; on one hand he kills a lot of innocent people, but he has a lot of viewpoints we can agree with. Was it your intention to create a homicidal maniac the viewer could root for?

You nailed it ….. ….

4) With this series, as well as the movies I previously mentioned, do you hope to inspire radical change or just give audiences an alternative to the standard cookie cutter they’re used to seeing?

Yes….the problem is that we have art movies I dont care about and we have big blockbusters I dont care about ….my movies are radical about very important subject matters — and I try to make the movies to change people opinions about situations they are going on —— as an example the president of Sudan, the mass murderer Bashir …is still in power , even if there is an arrest warrant on his head … I show the massacres in Attack on Darfur — and WHY we dont take this asshole out with a drone ?

5) No Mercy is being funded through a crowd funding Kickstarter campaign. Just how difficult is it in this day and age to get financing for a movie?

It is very hard …if you dont have a tv show or a 200 millon franchise nobody cares about you if you don’t have oscar winning actors attached

6) Lastly, do you have any upcoming or future projects in the pipeline you’d like to tell us about?

Maybe a western in August: Stagecoach with Luke Perry and Jason Priestly

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If you’d like to find out more information about Rampage 3: No Mercy or make a donation, head on over to the Kickstarter page and find out how you can be a part of it.  The perks are very enticing.

Movie Review: Stoic (2009)

Crime, drama, Movie Reviews

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Any time a reviewer goes to post their thoughts on a good Uwe Boll movie, they feel the need to address his previous critically panned movies that gave him the reputation as one of the worst directors ever.  Unfortunately, this will always be a stigma attached to his name, due to the thousands upon thousands of film fans who dislike him on a personal level and are quick to bash his work before they’ve even given it a chance to prove them wrong.  However, Uwe Boll is not a bad filmmaker; although he’ll never get the credit he deserves for his intelligence and talent, he’s a director who has made mostly good features throughout career, with only a few duds that have overshadowed them to earn him his the undeserved reputation of that of a hack.  But those duds tend to still be entertaining.

That being said, if Uwe’s movies were judged on the merit of each film alone, most of them would still divide opinion due to uncompromising execution of controversial subject matter.  Take a movie like Auschwitz (2011), which was both praised and reviled for its unrelenting portrayal of Nazi atrocities during the Holocaust; or Attack on Darfur (2009) and 1968 Tunnel Rats (2008) for their cruel realistic depictions of war.  Back in 2002, Heart of America bravely explored the subject of high school shootings with delicacy, honesty and grace to create a thought provoking, harrowing piece of brilliant filmmaking.  Critics have been kinder to Rampage (2009) and its sequel Capital Punishment (2014) with its radical socio-political themes and mean spirited, darkly humorous, violent content, but it does have its detractors.  Assault On Wall Street (2013) is another controversial feature which further proves Boll is a capable director; albeit one who isn’t out to please everybody, instead choosing to make statements about the state of the world.  My point is: Boll is a talented filmmaker, but some of his movies are so bleak, nihilistic, honest, and at times – vicious, that they would never appeal to a mass audience.  That’s a logical reason to dislike his movies; not the false assumption that they’re incompetent trash.  This is the only time I’ll address Uwe’s negative reputation, because I feel he’s more than paid his dues.

Stoic falls into the category of impressive, but polarizing; based on the true story of an event which happened in a German prison in 2006, where 3 inmates tortured their cellmate and forced him to hang himself, this a movie which addresses prison brutality in such an honest way it’s unsettling to sit through and disturbing to watch.  The film begins with 4 young prisoners – Harry (Edward Furlong), Mitch (Shaun Sipos), Peter (Sam Levinson) and Jack (Steffen Mennekes) – as they play poker and share fun stories.  Mitch then makes a bet where he’ll eat toothpaste if he loses the next hand; unfortunately for him that’s just what happens.  Afterwards, he tries to back out of the bet, which angers his 3 cellmates.  First they force him to eat the toothpaste, then things gradually grow worse until they spiral out of control.

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If you’re going in to Stoic expecting entertainment then you’ll find it sorely lacking; there is no safety blanket to protect us from the horrible acts as they transpire.  If you choose to stick around, Stoic will punish you without mercy.  It’s a cruel picture with believable performances from the actors, all of whom play characters whose only characteristics are loathsome or tragic.  Furthermore, it’s not a pleasant film to look at, with its dimly lit rooms and dungeon-esque cinematography, it gives off a sense of claustrophobia and hopelessness.  Here we are, watching the events leading up to a forced suicide we know is coming, endurance our only ally.

Stoic is not an enjoyable movie, but it’s a powerful one that will reward you if you can see it through.  It’s cinematic cruelty where each atrocity will make you want to turn away from the screen.  Horror films have become so disposable that violence is just as throwaway and forgettable – at times even ”fun.”  Stoic’s violence isn’t explicit, but it’s so psychologically hard hitting that you’ll feel sorry for the victim and despise his tormentors. Coming from a guy who didn’t react to August Underground and found A Serbian Film funny at times, take that for what it’s worth.  9/10

Written & Directed By: 

Uwe Boll

Starring:

Edward Furlong, Shaun Sipos, Sam Levinson, Steffen Mennekes

Genre:

Drama, Crime

Running Time:

91 mins

Movie Review: It Follows (2015)

Horror, Movie Reviews

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David Robert Mitchell follows up his impressive debut coming of age drama, The Myth of the American Sleepover (2010), with the horror hit of the year that’s sure to discourage many a promiscuous teenager from engaging in pre-marital coitus after seeing it – at least until they’ve left the theater anyway – if they didn’t miss the movie due to being obnoxious twits. Regardless of the sexual habits and threshold for fear of pimple faced brats, It Follows is a movie that’s been garnering a lot of rave reviews from fans and critics alike, making it the must see horror of the year so far.  It’s the breath of fresh air us fans have been waiting for; the low budget indie feature that conquered the mainstream on its own terms.  It puts a fresh spin on old school horror curse lore, throws in a perceivable underlying message about sexually transmitted diseases and is effective in its simplicity to give viewers the Heebie Heebies.  It Follows is sure to go down as a cult classic for years to come, and in my opinion, it’s worthy of such an accolade.

Jay (Maika Monroe) is just your average 19 year old girl, whose only cares in the world are school, her friends, boys and weekend social life.  One night, while on a date with a guy she’s been seeing, she lets him bask in the fruits of her glorious lady garden of love – making sweet love in the backseat of his automobile.  Afterwards, cuddling is not on the cards as he kidnaps her, ties her up and explains how her life is going to change.  It turns out he was cursed and the only way to break it is to pass it on through sexual intercourse.  The curse is an entity that can take on any form, often portraying loved ones and friends.  If the current inheritor dies while cursed, It will move on to the previous victim and so on.  Now faced with the burden, Jay must stay one step ahead at the curse of all times until she finds out a way to stop it.

I’ve always found the curse concept to be one of the most effective a horror film can employ, due to the knowing that doom is inescapable unless it’s passed on to another hapless victim or something is done to appease the spook; when executed masterfully, these movies are high on tension, constant in dread and give off the impression that danger could strike at any moment.  In Curse of the Demon (1957) and Drag Me To Hell (2009), where comparisons can be drawn with It Follows, the curse would end once it claimed a victim.  Here, the curse never ends; if you want to live the rest of your life safe then you better hope that it gets passed down a huge line of fornicators with great survival instincts; or else it returns down the lineage until there is no one left.  My idea for breaking it was to have sex with a dead body, but the writer/director dismissed my theory when I mentioned it to him on Twitter.

The characters weren’t particularly likable for me, but I found them to be natural caricatures of teenage life.  I liked how they were written authentically and acted in a believable manner, despite some poor decisions in the final third.  But hey, teenagers make stupid decisions all the time.  Like having sex with guys you barely know and inheriting their supernatural death curse.

John Carpenter’s musical beats seem to be the heart of many a retro thriller of late and It Follows continues the trend with an excellent atmospheric and suspenseful electronic score from Disasterpiece; ominous industrial drones, pounding drums and haunting synth compositions contribute terror with great effect, ensuring no scene isn’t without an appropriate background noise.

Aside from a couple of sloppy moments in the final third, It Follows is a remarkable accomplishment; it’s directed with style, rich in atmosphere and suspense and filled with haunting imagery, as well as strange arthouse sensibilities.  The success of It Follows is a victory for indie horror; let’s hope it opens the door for more original low budget movies to get wide releases in future.  8/10

Written & Directed By:

David Robert Mitchell

Starring:

Maika Monroe, Keir Gilchrist, Olivia Luccardi, Lili Sepe

Genre:

Horror

Running Time:

100 mins

Movie Review: Monsturd (2003)

Creature Feature, Horror Comedy, Movie Reviews

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If you’re the type of person, who, like me watches Kevin Smith’s Dogma (1999) and wishes there was an entire movie about the iconic Golgothan shit demon, then Monsturd is the movie for you, as the villainous Shitman (that’s actually the monsters name here) is without a doubt the spiritual cousin to Smith’s classic turd.  Now, to enjoy Monsturd, you must be the type of person who finds a title like that alluring; killer poop monster flicks aren’t for everyone, but that’s because the world isn’t ready to handle such fecal genius quite yet.

Written and directed by Dan West and Rick Popko, this was born out of impatience towards the studio system that wasn’t taking a chance on them. One of their previous screenplays was bought by Francis Ford Coppola’s Commercial Pictures way back in the late 80’s, but despite making a couple of bucks off of selling the script it was never produced, so they kept on plugging away until they’d had enough.  After watching Christmas classic, Jack Frost (1996), and realizing that studios would produce killer snowman flicks, they were acted out by writing a movie about poop, with the intention of sending it to every studio as a massive ”F U.”  But in the end, they just decided to go with a DIY approach and the results are a politically incorrect, yucky and hilarious trash epic that delivers the goods we want from movies like this.

Monsturd might be about man-sized mutated excrement, but it’s anything but shit – except in the literal sense of its villain.  It’s about the serial killer Jack Schmidt, who escapes from prison and hides out in the sewers.  Little does he know that the sewer is polluted with a chemical concocted by the evil mad scientist, Dr. Stern, whose Detech company have dumped it there as part of their dastardly experiment.  When confronted by cops, Jack falls into the waste, only to transform into a monster who preys on hapless victims through their toilets.  With the towns biggest chili contest of the year coming up, it’s up to the police to stop him before the entire population are sitting ducks to the homicidal dookie.

While placing much of its humour in the toilet bowl where it belongs, the funniest thing about Monsturd is how the actors play it all straight faced. Take the little girl who informs her father that there’s a giant doodoo in the bathroom saying naughty words, only to have him go check it out just to shut her up and end up devoured as a result.  Later when the police take the girls statement, they draw up a sketch of their stinky culprit and make put it atop their most wanted list.  Or, take the scene where the cops drive around pleading with citizens to crap in buckets because their lives are in danger if they use their toilets.  Instead of relying primarily on gross out gags, Monsturd makes an effort to create funny characters going through the motions of a murder investigation.  It’s full of hilarious character interactions and plenty of moments that elevate it from the pan; but that’s not to say it doesn’t have its fair share of vomit, poop and blood either.  It just doesn’t rely on it.

The Monsturd – or The Shitman as it likes to call itself – looks fantastic. Taking the old school approach of man-in-rubber-suit, it gives the movie an 80’s charm.  The monsters weaknesses are that of actual poo; to hurt the monster, treat it as you would any regular, everyday deuce.  Flies damage Shitman, and in this world, you can keep them locked in pet cages with holes in them.  Be sure to stack up on toilet paper as well to combat this threat; equip your head with diapers just in case things get ugly; be sure to load up on dissolving spray as if it were bullets, and, to lure the the beast towards you, make fart noises.  Common sense.  Duh.

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The whole movie is actually much better than you’d expect; for a start it looks as good – if not better – than most micro-budget features.  On paper it might sound like a Troma movie, but it looks much better than all of them. The filmmakers also make use of great locations, like a prison for example, where they shot footage on the sly during a tour.  All of the FX are impressive and satisfying, and in those regards, it’s full of surprises. All in all, it’s a more than passable creature feature loaded with fun, charm and excrement.

Monsturd is a nugget of gold in the endless swarm of trashy independent horror movies; it might be a big doddle of crap, but it’s crap with enough sweetcorn jammed in it to make for a satisfying meal.  Much better than any assumptions would expect and unlike anything you’re ever likely to see again, this is number 2 plays second fiddle to no one and isn’t likely going to be one you’ll want to flush away after seeing it.  Ignore my awful puns and pick this up.  Monsturd is the Citizen Kane of killer poop epics.  7/10

Written & Directed By:

Dan West & Rick Popko

Starring:

Paul Weiner, Beth West, Dan Burr, Brad Dosland

Genre:

Comedy Horror

Running Time:

80 mins