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I got "Devour"ed [Jul. 1st, 2009|08:53 pm]
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Not that anyone noticed that I was gone, but I am back now. I kinda gave up on movies for a while, and the few I did see weren’t anything really memorable so I didn’t waste my time writing.


At one time I was going to use Michael Jackson’s upcoming tour to segway into talking about Godzilla movies (King of Pop to King of the Monsters) but he inconsiderately up and died on me so now it might be in bad taste to do that right now.


At any rate, the other night I was able to see a tiny little movie called “Devour”. I’m not sure why it’s titled that because there isn’t an actual devouring scene in the movie. Once you watch it you get the reference, but even so it’s still kind of a weird title. As I was writing this review, I could have sworn I already wrote about a movie called “Devour”.


Synopsis: One night 3 friends (Jensen Ackles, Dominic Swain, and some other guy) log-on to a computer game called “The Pathway”. The game knows everything about you, even your desires. Everything seems harmless at first, but soon the friends begin experiences nightmarish images and horrific acts. Can they figure out what is happening before everything in their world is destroyed?


I’m going to spoil it for you - no, no they cannot.


“Devour” is a strange little movie, it has two really high points, 2 really low points, and then comes a head scratching finale that just leaves you feeling “well, what was the whole point of this movie then?” and a slightly bit uncomfortable.


The first half of the movie is enjoyable when we are getting to know our characters is interesting because the weird stuff is used sparingly; almost to the level of ‘subtle horror’ (read: Asian). When the shit starts hitting the fan we are treated to a bunch of bland exposition that’s wholly uninteresting. The movie picks up again when Ackles is playing detective and trying to figure stuff out with the help of Shannyn Sossamon - it is here that we are also given some really freaky monsters to look at. Just as soon as it picks up it stops and we are given more exposition of who/what/why by characters that aren’t anything special.


I’ve seen few movies where the script is both the shining star and the death nail. The plot is really interesting, but they didn’t go near deep enough with it and there was a lot of stuff left unused. Sossamon’s character is into Tarot and stuff like that; but when all the friends are being menaced by evil no one ever goes to her for help. There was some real chance for some ‘Hellraiser’ type stuff happening here, but instead we get a movie that just trods down the mediocre highway occasionally falling over into just-plain-stupid ditch - where it flails about for a while before becoming mediocre again.


No one is really defined as a character besides our four mains - which might be only because they are so starkly different. Everyone else is just kind of generic place holders and plot points. The dad, the mom, the uncle, the Pagan lord; they all exist just to say a few lines for Jensen to look perplexed over and then they go away. Going back to the script for a second, there is seemingly no rhyme or reason to why people do things in this movies (besides Ackles).


The acting goes from decent to sub-par. As dreamy as Jensen Ackles is, his ‘I’m really tormented here and sad’ acting is very lacking - but everything else he does is pretty damn good. He tries to force it out, but he just seems as if he’s yelling lines for no reason. He is the only one that’s given any depth emotionally as a character as everyone else is just kind aloof and there.


There’s really no gore in it. Nothing that would make you gasp and get sick. You’ve seen much more violent imagery on CSI. The creature/monster effects in it are pretty cool, what you can get to see of them because they are in the shadows a lot.


Even with all the negatives lining up on it “Devour” is still enjoyable just because it has some really unique ideas - just too bad they weren’t fleshed out.


5 out of 10

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There's a "Storm Warning" out [May. 11th, 2009|07:59 am]
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I originally wanted to use a Billy Joel reference as an intro to this review, but then I remembered that his song was called “Storm Front” and not “Storm Warning”.


Synopsis: From the director of Urban Legend comes this terrifying trip into the depths of human depravity. When a storm forces a couple to land their sailboat far ashore, they stumble upon a remote island inhabited by a demented father and his psychotic sons. Captured, beaten and sexually enslaved, the couple turns the tables in a bloody fight for survival. Featuring some of the most intensely brutal scenes imaginable, Storm Warning never lets up as it builds towards a shocking finish.


Thank god, a movie with a shocking finish, I was worried I wouldn’t see another one of these. Remember when horror movies just had an ending where it ended? It didn’t try to shock you or outsmart you. The bad guys were bad, the good guys were good and the end was just the end. The good guys won and beat the odds to survive and the bad guys might be dead, or not depending on if they wanted a sequel.


So does “Storm Warning” live up to anything that was mentioned in the synopsis? In a word, yes. In a longer word, yeeeeeeeeeeees.


I wanted to see this movie for so long as it seemed to have a decent amount of hype surrounding it. But at the time it was coming out so were a lot of other movies with gobs of hype attached to them (ie: Broken), and those movies turned out to be ass, so I was wary of this one. I am happy to say that my worries were totally unfounded as “Storm Warning” ended up being one of the most visceral movies I have seen in a long time.


The synopsis says that the movie is depraved, and it sure as hell is. It’s beautifully shot, and that only adds to the carnage. The violence is, at it’s best, insane, and at it’s worst it’s, crazy. It’s hard, and it’s heavy without really showing a lot. One kill is straight out of a “Hellraiser” movie. You don’t want to look at it, but you can’t look away.


What makes this movie really phenomenal is that it takes place in two locations - the house or the barn; and both these sets are almost an actor unto themselves. They look amazing. You look around and see discarded auto-parts, newspapers, traps, animal hides; they tell a back story of the villains without ever saying a word.


There is genuine fear in the performances of the victims and complete madness due to isolation and upbringing in the performances of the madmen. But there is an amazing thing with the madmen - they are all played with such a crazy charisma you can’t help not to like them.


There is also great character development; almost a role reversal of sorts. The Hero-Guy is more or less of a wuss that doesn’t do much besides what he‘s told to do, no matter what it is. The main female, while a damsel in distress for a while does have some surprises up her sleeves. She basically wears the pants in the relationship after taking a lot of shit from both the villains and her fella. Good for her I say. Her transformation is such a stark difference from what you originally peg her for you can’t help but go “Fuck yeah girl!”


The end comes, and it’s not shocking but it is quite visceral and amazing; both grotesque and cheer-worthy all in the same instances. But the thing with the ending is that it just ends. The final gore money-shot, the victims leave, credits. There’s no lovers embrace, no ‘oh, they have a cousin who’s pissed off’, no returning to their home, nothing. Just a dead stop into a wall. But even with the downer ending “Storm Warning” is one of the best movie experiences in a while.


I’m starting to think Australia is the new ‘go to’ country for horror. Since the Asian Invasion is dying down we needed a new country to exploit for our horror kicks and Australia seems to be it. Between this movie, “Dying Breed”, “Wolf Creek” and “Rogue” the Aussies are pumping out some good shit. Jump on the wagon while you can folks because, if it’s anything like the J-Horror craze, we will soon be getting a lot of really crappy movies we’ve already seen before.


8 out of 10


Note: If you haven’t seen “Rogue”, please do so as it is a great Nature-Gone-Amok movie. In fact, I think it’s the best killer animal movie since “Jaws”. Now THAT’S some high praise.

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Deep inside I'm "Broken" [May. 11th, 2009|07:56 am]
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“Broken” is another movies ‘inspired by true events. We know my recent journey into a movie ‘inspired by true events’ with the Horrorfest entry “Slaughter”; I’m still reeling from that one.


“Broken” is also another in a long line of “Dimension Extreme” entries into the horror genre. They, like Horrorfest and Ghost House Underground, are hit and miss in terms of horror entertainment.


Synopsis: Based on a horrifying true story, “Broken is a dark, vicious little movie that gets under your skin” (eatmybrains.com). When a woman is taken captive by a sadistic madman, she survives a series of gruesome tortures only to become his twisted slave. “Unusual, cruel, captivating and startlingly memorable” (horrorview.com), Broken is a relentlessly brutal film whose creepy yet realistic depravity “takes modern horror movies to a whole new level” (slasherpool.com).


Ok, well, it has a great synopsis. Working in snippets from horror movie sites is a nice touch too.


“Broken” is middle of the road generic. It doesn’t do anything particularly well, nor does it do anything mind numbingly bad. It’s just there. You put it in, you watch it, you take it out.  


The main short-coming for “Broken” is the script in a few specific areas, all with the same central theme. The lead actress is given her actions, but none of them seem like they would be what a real person would do in the same sort of scenario. She is left to her own devices multiple times with a multitude of ways to escape or get a weapon, but instead she decides to wash some pots for the crazy guy that‘s abducted her. Eventually she does escape, but all she does is stumble around a little then get recaptured.


The other down side is that there is very little dialogue strewn throughout the movie. Little dialogue can work in movies where the story is strong and the acting is superb. Here, there is very little to drive the story - guy abducts women and forces them to live outside with him and play common-law wife. That’s the story in a nutshell.


The final downside is the acting of the lead female. To put it bluntly, she sucks. This could be the fault of the director or the script. The only way that she gave a convincing performance is if the character was written to be functionally retarded, then it was spot on. The scenes where there were no dialogue exchanges were good because she didn’t have to act, but when she did, oh boy. Her attempt at hysteria is laughable. The only analogy I could really come up with to try to explain her to other people is that “If she was an animal, she would have been the zebra too stupid to run when the lions are charging in.”


Pacing is way off in the movie too. You get sections lasting for 2 minutes where they could just be 20 seconds long. I know it was supposed to add tension and suspense, but a table can’t stand when it’s missing two legs. Again, this is another movie that could have used one more re-write to streamline everything.


No character development ever really happens here, which is unfortunate as there are chances for some real growth. The leading lady does finally stand up against her oppressor, but it’s so late in the film it makes you wonder ‘well, why now?’


But there’s always a silver lining, isn’t there? Sure. In “Broken” the good is where you would anticipate it - the gore. I think that’s where the majority of the budget went. The gore moment that will stick with you the most doesn’t add to the story though. It’s just there as a device as it‘s never explained why the crazy-guy did what he did and what he really hoped to achieve.


The rest of the gore is more practical and believable - gun shots, knife wounds, etc. There is a nice hobbling scene reminiscent of “Misery”. It cuts away really fast, but not before you get to see the deed.


Even with its faults and short-comings “Broken” ends up being kind of intriguing. You want to watch it just to see what happens next - but for a movie that is “startlingly memorable”, it’s that way for all the wrong reasons.


5 out of 10

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"Autopsy". F'n. Rocks. [Apr. 29th, 2009|08:15 pm]
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There is a new(ish) sub-genre in the horror realm - the new aged retro movie. Movies that are just a total throw back to the 1980s styled horror movie where camp, cheese and blood were abundant. None of this twist stuff. No angsty teens going crazy. Just good old fashion gore-in-your-face fun. Sadly, most of these movies don’t play widely in theaters because they aren’t ‘stylish’ enough to get the audience (so says the production companies). In most recent memory in this sub-genre is “Hatchet”, which, if you haven’t seen you really need to, it’s an amazing movie. The story is while trying to sell it Adam Green (writer/director) was rejected from studios with the reasoning of “It’s not a remake. It’s not a sequel”. If that’s what our civilization wants in theaters now then I am happy in my Direct-to-Video happy place.


Anyway, the last movie I’m reviewing for the “After Dark Horrorfest 2008 8 Films to Die For III” is “Autopsy”. It’s the last one I’m reviewing because 1) I was really under whelmed by the remaining 2 -2) I am tired of typing “After Dark Horrorfest 2008 8 Films to Die For III” -and 3) I want to review something else for a while


“Autopsy” stars Robert Patrick as the big name draw for all the movies this year. While there are other established actors in the other movies, the one you recognize is Robert Patrick. And let me tell you something, he is a fucking rockstar.


Synopsis: 5 20-somethings are involved in an accident on a backroad in Louisiana after partying it up at Mardi Gras. They are taken to a local hospital where a sinister Doctor (Patrick) is performing inhuman experiments on them.


That sounds like any movie from the 1980s - know why? Cause this movie is a total throwback to the 80s horror cinema days. It’s fun, it’s campy, it’s violent, it’s creepy. It’s a great fun movie that is able to be both entertaining and terrifying at the same time.


All the stereotypes from the 80s are here. The asshole, drug head stoner is exactly that when he gets stoned. The Survivor Girl is gutsy no-nonsense. There is a foreigner who is a out of place, confused and doesn‘t understand our ways. The nerdy guy who is just kinda there. The extra girl just there to be menaced. The stereotypes are here and played to their full extent, but still subtle enough to be ‘real’ people.


And then there’s Robert Patrick. The rockstar. He has a whole new style of “menacing” that few actors ever have had. No matter what he does, or what he’s saying he’s spooky and weird. It. Is. So. Great. His assistants are equally creepy as well. At times they come off as nice guys, other times they are total bastards - but you can’t help liking each and every person in the movie for the way they are played.


The cast is picked off one-by-one in glory bloody fashion until the finale (which we get an alternate ending on the DVD). Mass carnage and mayhem throughout keep this movie moving forward at a near perfect pace.


“Autopsy” knows what it is, and instead of trying to be smarter than you and instead of schlocking it up for the sake of doing so it just moves straight ahead, not deterring from a path that just leads you ultimately to pure unaltered awesomeness. It wears the premise on it’s sleeve and doesn’t shy away from what they are trying to do or what they are trying to accomplish. It’s loud, gory and colorful and it’s proud of that fact.


The movie is shot beautifully with no quick edits. No unwarranted suspense or shock. It’s a whole movie shot in a new-aged style with a total exploitative 1980s feel. Blood flows everywhere, anytime from anything. Violence for the sake of violence. Awkward for the sake of awkward. It’s beautiful.


The director, the actors, the set designer, the lighting guys, everyone involved in this movie love the genre and it shows through out the whole movie. If you see any movie this year from the “After Dark Horrorfest 2008 8 Films to Die For III” let it be “Autopsy”.


 8 out of 10.


“Autopsy” is such a fun ride I couldn’t help bouncing in my seat the entire time giggling. It gets my second ever “Seal of Approval“.
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Deep inside I'm "Broken" [Apr. 29th, 2009|05:19 pm]
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I love movies about doppelgangers. It’s fun when it’s played to a psychological drama level - a “which me did it” situation. But we get so few of these kinds of movies it’s sad, I think it’s a really untapped genre.


This years Horrorfest has a doppelganger entry in “The Broken”. I came into the movie never even hearing about it until I saw the Horrorfest lineup, so to say that my expectations were low is an understatement.


Synopsis: The life of a successful radiologist spirals out of control when she sees the spitting image of herself driving down a London street. While attempting to uncover who the imposter could be, she stumbles into a terrifying mystery that her family and closest friends are somehow involved in, leaving her with no one to trust.

That synopsis sounds awesome - too bad nothing remotely close to that happens in the movie. 

I’ll start out with the good. There is a pretty damn awesome car crash fairly early on in the movie. If you dig car crashes then “The Broken” might suit you as we see the crash from every conceivable angle, at every camera speed, and we see it about 962 times throughout the movie. The crash is an important part of the film but it does get redundant seeing it over and over and over. And over. And over.


There is a long line of bad I can talk about in regards to this movie.


The movie is s_l_o_w. It takes 60 minutes before anything really happens, and it’s 20 minutes till the end of the movie when all the mayhem finally begins. But just as quickly as the carnage starts, it stops. Then it jumps back into the ‘mystery formula’.


“The Broken” is currently winning my award for “Most misused music cues”. We focus on our leads forehead - music swell! We see a picture frame - music swell! Our lead looks at a towel - music swell. Constantly using music swells to try to denote suspense ruins the rest of the movie when something (possibly) suspenseful finally happens. It’s like getting slapped on the arm a few times, but by the time someone comes along and punches you, you don’t feel a thing.


There is, by comparison of the movies in the Horrorfest, very little dialogue in the movie so that really hurts the progression of the story and the growth of the characters. Most of the movie is played out in a way that ‘shows us clues’, but everything is so vague you wont understand it (which I talk about below).


And you wont understand it because of a lot of the other issues in the movie. The editing is schizophrenic. We zip all over France in the blink of an eye, rarely stopping on anything long enough to figure out what it is. All this disjointed editing really makes it hard to understand the meaning and the symbolism that the director was shooting for. It also hinders the whole movie as things happen, but you don’t understand what exactly is happening, or where, or to whom. In scenes where we are supposed to feel fear and suspense you wind up just feeling confused because you cannot get your bearings.


The ending comes and it’s not a twist, it’s more like a slight bend. All the while we were supposed to be playing a who-dun-it/who-is-it game with the cast, but we are never given any of the pieces until the bitter damned end so we couldn’t play at home even if we wanted to.


“The Broken” does end up one of those movies that will probably make sense on a second viewing (since you have all the pieces to start with), but there’s no sense in bothering as it’s still not a good movie.


You can get a sense that the director wanted to make some sort of subtle psychological, art-house, horror movie; but it’s botched in the execution. With all the ideas presented here you could make a good movie, but in this instance it did not work. The movie isn’t as much pieced together as it is taped together in a a giant sticky ball of confusion.


2 out of 10


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"From Within" is good. [Apr. 27th, 2009|03:08 am]
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Oh the uber-Religious, nothing really scares me more than those who think they are doing the will of a higher power and resort to violence to get their message of “good“ across. And growing up in a small down in Texas I was witness to a lot of over-the-top Religious services and events.


Synopsis: After the suicide of the son of the ‘town witch‘, a curse has befalls the Faith-based community of Grovetown. One by one the town’s population starts to dwindle as more and more people commit suicide. Only the remaining son of the ‘town witch’ can help everyone, but he has to avoid being killed by the Religious, who believe that if he is gone the curse will be as well.



The main story of “From Within” is basically the Religious versus those who aren’t. It’s a ‘we don’t understand them so let’s go get rid of them’ story - and those stories are some of the saddest and scariest ever told. The Religious seek-out the family of the ’town witch’ in order to eliminate them, as they believe that they are the cause for all of this.


Going into this movie knowing that I was worried that it would turn into a ‘praise God and be saved’ sort of movie. Personally, I hate Christian-movies in the guise of horror movies. It doesn’t work, and oddly there has been an influx of them recently. So where does “From Within” fit into the movie world? Well, it’s a horror movie with a Christian theme laid over it, but never once does the message become ‘praise God and be saved’.


The finale comes and the Cursed as the main evil really take a backseat to the uber-Religious and their beliefs. The ending is bleak. It’s not a typical Hollywood bullshit happy ending. And truthfully I love downer endings, but damn this one was depressing, but in a good way (if there is such a thing as good depression). If you analyze the ending it's saying 'tolerance and acceptance', but if you look at it from a different point-of-view you could just as easily read the ending saying "you all fucked up!"


“From Within” might have the best acting out of the whole Horrorfest. Every emotional gamut is run here, and all the actors and actresses play their parts perfectly. Our main girl, Lindsay (Elizabeth Rice), I really hope she has a good agent cause she is something special. I hope we get to see more of her in the future. The main guy, Aidan (Thomas Dekker), is the 2nd son of the ‘town witch’, and he is the outcast. He doesn’t really care for a lot of people in the town, since it is the town that hurt him and his family. Our main antagonist is Dylan (Kelly Blatz), who is the son of the local Preacher. He takes the term ‘fanaticism’ to its penultimate level. He acts slightly disjointed from reality, and it’s a perfect fit for the story-arc that his character goes through. All of the supporting cast is brilliant, and Adam Goldberg is a fucking rockstar as always.


The violence goes from minimal to sadistic - with the worst death not coming from the hands of the Curse. But this is one of the few movies that I didn’t mind not a lot of gore because the movie is pushed along with the story and the violence is only there to accentuate everything.


The look of the Cursed is pretty cool. You’ve seen it before, but they use their appearances subtly and sparingly. Another reviewer said that this is a total Japanese styled movie made in the West, and it is. You watch this and it has such a J-Horror look and style to it it’s hard to believe that this isn’t an American remake of some foreign film. Seriously, we came up with something like this? Color me surprised. 


It’s nothing really new, and if you’ve seen a lot of Asian-horror in your life you’ve probably seen this premise somewhere before, but if you come into this movie with no expectations you can be completely blown away with it. “From Within” is really a phenomenal film.


7 out of 10

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I hear "Voices" in my head [Apr. 26th, 2009|03:11 am]
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It's oddly how apropos that those lyrics are for this movie.

Ok, so far the tally for my “After Dark Horrorfest” is 1 to 1. “Slaughter” was pretty damn bad and “Dying Breed” was at the opposite end of the spectrum bordering on greatness. Next up is “Voices”, an Asian-Horror entry into this years fest.

Now, I’m a fan of Asian horror movies despite them being all basically identical. They are atmospheric and generally pretty trippy. Here’s to hoping for 2 good movies in a row.


Synopsis: Based on the best selling comic book series. After witnessing a family member thrown of a balcony by her fiancée on her wedding day and the violent stabbing of her aunt, a young woman comes to realize she may be next in line. She desperately tries to find out why those around her turn on her and why she seems marked for death. Who can she trust - where can she turn for help when it seems everyone is out to get her. If only she can survive the murderous rage of friends and even her own family long enough to uncover the secret.



There’s oil in them thar eyes! For some reason a part of me demanded that I toss that crappy little quip out there. I know it’s not oil. I know that black ooze in Japanese horror movies is a symbolism for ‘evil’. I wish my eyes cried evil like that, it’s kinda cool if you think about it.


So following the premise laid out in the synopsis the girl is told to not trust anyone, and for good reason. It seems that everyone in Japan wants to kill her. And despite this fact, and the constant warnings to “not trust anyone” she continually trusts everyone and goes to places with a bunch of people. Oddly it’s hilarious just watching people freak out on this girl for (at the time[s]) no reason at all.


The movie continues at a slow pace and we are taken places to where the girl can potentially learn about what is happening in her life and be away from people who want to do her harm. Sadly, it doesn’t make any sense to the viewers at home. Ultimately she returns home where shit continues to hit the fan until our finale.


I’ll start out by saying “Voices” is not your typical J-Horror movie; which is a blessing and a curse. Truthfully I was getting tired of seeing a long haired ghost with really pale skin walk in weird staccato movement. Something new would be great. But they might have changed too much. They ended up ditching the tried-and-true atmospheric filming approach this go around for a more supernatural slasher of sorts.


Also there is no startling imagery here in “Voices” as there is in other J-Horror which also helps to distance it away from the normal Asian horror experience - but this is a bad thing. By the end of the film there’s nothing memorable about “Voices” and that‘s always a horrible thing.


The editing seems disjointed as scenes look as if they completely out of order. But it might also be designed that was as part of the storytelling device. For some reason me being confused doesn’t seem like a reasonable explanation for me giving this movie a potentially low score. So I’m actually going to ignore everything I said here about the editing instead of just deleting it. "Voices" did come to us from Korea, but thankfully there is none of the odd-timed slapstick that they are known for.


It waits till the bitter damned end to start tying the pretty bow on everything and let you in on the ‘secret’. And I mean the bitter damned end. I think it’s about a 20-second part in the movie and then credits. I will give it this, the ending is really decent and makes you think but it is really confusing. Yeah, it’s one of “those” endings. With the weird editing and the lack of us learning anything in real time it makes for a very long movie watching experience.


The acting area is one of the movies shining stars. Freak out sessions are handled great in both an entertaining and menacing fashion. The general ‘get-to-know-your-cast’ segments are handled really well (“Slaughter” could have learned from this movie) and by the end of it all you care about the people in the movie. The main girl knocks it out of the park as far as freak-outs go.


I just realized that I got all this way and didn't mention the gore. It's relatively a small amount of gore, mainly just knife stabs, but there is a bunch of blood.


“Voices” doesn't really do anything bad and doesn't do anything good, it's just average. But coming into this one without a lot of preconceived notions, I guess ‘average’ is still a high mark.


"Voices" is a solid enough movie that you might want to think about seeing it if you want to see somethign different or are a fan of the Asian-Horror genre. Give it a chance, you might be surprised with what you end up with.


5 out of 10

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This movie is one of a "Dying Breed" [Apr. 25th, 2009|06:55 pm]
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One film down, seven more to go. “Slaughter” was a bad way to start the Horrorfest viewings. Next up is “Dying Breed”.


Well, bad start as again I have issue with the box art - a martini glass with an eyeball in it? It’s cool looking, sure; but when you read the synopsis and see the movie it doesn’t make a lot of sense. We are shown backwoods towns and uncharted land; how many martini glasses are there in those locations? The original art for the movie was much, much better as it actually would have fit in with the story. Anyway, moving on.


Synopsis: On their quest to find a rare tiger, four hikers venture deep into isolated territory of Tasmania and into the small township of "Sarah”. Nestled within the impenetrable forests of Western Tasmania, "Sarah" was the hideout of the infamous cannibal nicknamed "The Pieman” in the 1800s. The township lives on passionately upholding its heritage in honor of the convict patriarch that gave birth to it.


“Dying Breed” starts out amazingly strong. An escaped convict is running through the woods while being chased by guards. He is cornered by one near a cliff. He ends up attacking the guard and rips his neck out. Yes. Great start. Amazing start. But could “Dying Breed” keep that momentum up throughout the entire movie?


The movie cuts to the ‘meet the cast’ section and we are introduced to our 4 principal characters: the lead girl, her wimpy boyfriend, the boyfriend’s best friend who is cocky and brash, and the best friend’s tag-along girlfriend. Every character is likeable and pleasant enough that you never go “Well, I hope that one dies, they are annoying” and that is a welcome change. Even better is that they all seem like they could be real life friends hanging out. So these weren’t actors, they were friends.


We ultimately meet a small town of backwoods folk and they are your eclectic mish-mash of characters. At first they all seem a little crazy but harmless, but soon that changes. You’ve seen them before, but they are all subtle in their weirdness. Yes, they are odd, but they are still human. They aren’t caricatures or crazy people.


The acting is really good. No one over or under acts. No one just says their like and leaves. Again, real people dealing with a real situation in a real way. You get a sense of friendship with our main cast, and you get a sense of family with the town-folk. The lead girl stays strong throughout the movie. Her boyfriend, who starts out more as a follower, ultimately finds some inner strength to continue to move on. The best friend continually acts out of impulse, but in a manner that is believable and makes you want to cheer for him. The town-folk are perfect as just ones who kind of seem to stay in the shadows and only do what their respected parts call on them to do.


The area in which the film was shot is beautiful. It looks enough like any other wooded area you’ve seen to add some familiarity to the situation, but it’s still foreign enough to be weird and unknown, and to me that’s terrifying. I guess that’s why Asian and European horror movies are on the rise in the world of horror-fans. Familiar yet foreign.


The story progresses at a nice pace with a good sense of foreboding hovering over the entire film. Our cast is being hunted but by whom or by what we don’t learn until the end. And the end isn’t a huge twist, but it’s still enjoyable in a depraved ‘well holy crap’ kind of way.


“But what about the gore?! This is part of the Horrorfest! I demand to know about the gore!” Ok ok ok.


The gore is great. It’s subdued and real (in a way). It’s not violent for the sake of being violent. It’s violent for the sake of moving a story along. It’s nothing over-the-top, it’s all practical. I don’t want to sound evil or anything but it’s really refreshing to see some good violence that actually makes you squirm.


I enjoyed the crap out of “Dying Breed”, and it’s not because I disliked “Slaughter” so much. “Dying Breed” is a great ride and a solid flick that deserves a watch. If you like horror movies but are tired of the current “blood-in-your-face” aspect of a lot of American horror movies lately then seek out “Dying Breed”.


8 out of 10.

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I'm not a lamb in the "Slaughter" [Apr. 25th, 2009|06:53 pm]
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I’m back, I am back and better than ever! Ok, it’s not that I really went anywhere, it’s just been a slow couple of weeks for me. My Wal-Mart apparently no longer wishes to sell horror movies so I had to drive about an hour to a larger city to find some. Initially I went just to find “Laid to Rest”, which the larger city did not have. The larger city did have, however, the “After Dark Horrorfest 8 Films to Die For III”, so I picked that up.


Since 2006, After Dark has put on a little horror film festival with movies that you most likely would have very little chance of ever seeing. Sadly though most of the movies aren’t good, and the ones that are good you can count on one hand. So how did this year turn out? Well read on true believers.


First movie I watched was “Slaughter” - a movie supposedly based on true events. I usually distrust movies that are based on true events. “ ‘Hey Mitch, did you hear about that lady who drove her car into a lake and drowned her and her three kids?’ ‘Yeah, and that inspired me to write a story about a bear.’” -Mitch Hedberg.


Synopsis: Faith thinks she is leaving her abusive relationship behind when she moves in with Lola on her family farm. Each night the girls go out, Lola comes home with a man. When Faith realizes these men never make it off the farm, she starts to believe Lola’s family might be killing more than just animals in the slaughterhouse.


First thing I noticed was the box art. I’m pretty sure I’ve seen this art on about 7 other movies in my lifetime. And just from reading the synopsis makes the art look all the more dumb.


“But how is the movie?” I hear you all asking. Well, it’s similar to the box art - pretty damn dumb.


Nothing happens for the first 45 minutes except potential storyline segments. We are shown scenes of the girls hanging out, shopping, partying, becoming friends and by the 30 minute mark it gets annoying. If they would have streamlined this section it would have helped immensely.


Just for the record, I’m not against storylines in horror movies, but in this movie nothing is really fleshed out to make anything interesting. It’s almost schizophrenic in nature as it bounces around. The skeleton is there but that’s it, no skin, no brains, hell, no legs for this to stand on it‘s own. “Slaughter” has a poorly constructed murder-mystery-whodunit hovering over the movie, but so little ever actually happens you don’t feel like anything at all is being accomplished.


The movie picks up ever so slightly at the end when mass mayhem ensues (the ‘slaughter‘?) but it comes so fast and so uneventful it’s over really quickly. The kills are also very unceremoniously. No gore shot, no eruption of blood, just fall-over-dead. Just when it’s becoming interesting they try to throw in more story to make us feel sympathy towards the main villain, but by then it’s too little, too late and we just don’t care.


The other downfall is the acting - it’s bad. Lola has (I pray that it’s not her real voice) one of the worst Southern accents in the history of mankind. It’s borderline insulting at times. She also just tramps it up from beginning to end. Faith plays wide-eyed, good-girl, victim well - but that’s all she ever does. She always just comes across as awkward, even near the end when she’s supposed to rise-up against the evil, she’s still just awkward. I’d like to talk about the other characters, but there aren’t any to talk about. 95% of the film is carried by Faith and Lola, which also hurt the film. Maybe I’m one of those devil’s advocate type but I do like seeing stories from multiple points of view.


“Slaughter” could have benefited with one more rewrite just to streamline the non-important parts and maybe write in some more gore. Hell, write in any gore.


3 out of 10.

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Creepy children abound in "The Orphanage" [Apr. 5th, 2009|05:21 am]
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There was a little movie released in 2007 that, unless you are part of the horror crowd that follows things really deeply, you might not have heard about. “The Orphanage” is a Spanish (Spain) horror movie from J.A. Bayona, who is the protégé of Guillermo del Toro (Pan‘s Labyrinth, Hellboy). Now, del Toro is one of those directors that I feel can do no wrong so if he says “this guy is good” then it means something. But is the movie any good?


I just now saw the movie because, for the most part, I am wary of everyone’s hype over other movies - and this movie came highly recommended from just about anyone.


Synopsis: Laura returns to her childhood home – a mysterious, seaside orphanage – to begin caring for underprivileged children. Soon, she discovers dark and horrific secrets hidden within her cherished childhood home. Now thrust into a chilling nightmare, Laura must confront the memories of her past and rescue her family from the terror into which she unwittingly led them.


Belén Rueda is Laura, and plays her part perfectly as a mourning mother looking for her lost child. You feel her pain and love all throughout the movie. She carries the movie by herself for the majority of it. Fernando Cayo is Carlos, the husband, also plays his part perfectly as you feel his torment over worrying about his wife as he does all he can to find his son. Roger Príncep plays Simón, the son, and he plays his part with the same exact wonderment, curiosity and mischief that all kids have. These weren’t actors - they were real people with real emotions. All the supporting characters (a psychic medium, a cop, a caretaker, and of course the other children) are fleshed out enough to not be pointless, but not around long enough to derail the momentum of the movie:. They only add to the movie in specific locations.


The movie keeps moving forward at a perfect pace. Not to slow, not to fast. We come to the startling revelations the same time Laura does. There aren’t any shortcuts anywhere. We don’t jump ahead figuring everything out by ourselves. It’s a straight forward movie that takes us along for an emotional ride.


“The Orphanage” has, by my count, two jump scares and they work perfectly. Atmosphere and great camera work coupled with the acting does a perfect job of constructing both interest and fear in this movie. When you are both eager to continue down a dark hallway and wanting to hold your hands over your eyes you have something really special in your midst.


It’s amazing the number of jump scares in this movie compared to a typical American horror film. We have become so accustomed to the jump scare that we seemingly anticipate it in almost every scene. Have American film-makers just forgotten how to make a good movie so they rely on loud sounds to elicit a reaction? I don’t know, but I hate jump scares. For me, atmosphere and story drive horror better than shiny imagery, blood, guts and loud sounds. Asian movies are masters of this. Thailand is great at this. Seems Europe as a whole is catching on to this idea and is following suit.


When the end comes you might find yourself torn. It has one of the happiest sad endings (or saddest happy endings) you will ever see. It will make you smile and cry at the same time. “The Orphanage” is a complete movie. It’s damn near a perfect movie.


But the end of movie isn’t exactly the end, per se. When given a moment to think about all that you saw you end up wondering about everything. Who was behind it? Why were they behind it? What was the meaning? Was it destined to be this way? A movie that is powerful and keeps you thinking about it on a different level long past the final credits is hard to find.


I can’t wait to see what else J.A. Bayona does in his career. This was his first attempt at a theatrical movie and he knocked it out of the fucking park. This guy has ‘it’.


“The Orphanage” is a very beautiful movie filled with love on both sides of the lens, and you can feel it. It is one of those movies that if you are a fan of the genre you need to see. No, not need. Must. You must see “The Orphanage”. Don’t wait for Showtime or HBO to run it. Don’t wait for the American remake (yes, we are remaking it). Go find it at Blockbuster or Netflix.




Not only does “The Orphanage” get a great rating, it also gets my first ever “Seal of Approval”.

Get it? Seal. Approval. I swear my sense of humor is lost on you.

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