Showing posts from August, 2010

The Wild Blue Yonder

Title: The Wild Blue Yonder
Rating: 2.5/5
Genre: “Documentary,” Sci-Fi, Drama
Starring: Brad Dourif
Director: Werner Herzog

I'd be lying if I said I had anything but big expectations from this. Herzog is hardly a newcomer to film and his work is often nothing if not creative, and with what sounds almost like a spiritual sequel to the superb 'Man From Earth' I was hoping it would re-create a little of that magic, but this isn't a film that readily compares itself to Jerome Bixby's vision. In fact it doesn't really compare to much else at all, except perhaps the unusual 'Koyaanisqatsi' (a silent film devoted to scenes of the natural world, using camera footage alone to make his point) as for most of the film we are given no narration or dialogue to wrestle with, only simplistic footage compiled from a variety of sources in order to further his story.

Following the sordid tale of one alien who long since arrived on this planet from the Andromeda galaxy, his…

To Let

Title: To Let
Rating: 3.5/5
Genre: Horror
Starring: Macarena Gómez, Nuria González, Adrià Collado
Director: Jaume Balagueró
Language: Spanish

From the same man that would soon go on to deliver us [Rec] comes another horror made for TV on the small budget that it would allow, and released as a part of the same package that “The Baby Room” found itself in. After another disappointing release with 'Altered' I needed something to lift my spirits, and the Spanish have managed to do that once again. Showing his love of eerie dilapidated buildings early on, this is the sort of film I've been patiently waiting for the 'Saw' series to produce after the intelligent debut, only to have it fizzle out in a pretentious display of gore and never returning to what made the first so interesting.

It starts off rather unenthusiastically; a couple looking for a place to live who believe they've discovered the offer of a lifetime. And in a morbid sense you really could call it a …

Suburban Sasquatch

Title: Suburban Sasquatch (2004)
Rating: 1/5
Genre: Horror
Starring: Bill Ushler, Sue Lynn Sanchez, Dave Bonavita
Director: Dave Wascavage
Duration: 100 mins

I suppose I should just get right into this one…

Suburban Nature Park is a Northeastern wooded recreational area that is located near a new housing development. It is also the location of mayhem and bloodlust courtesy of the legendary Sasquatch. Talla, a young Native American woman, is sent on a quest to kill the creature by her wise grandfather. Rick, a dorky investigative journalist, is pursuing the story behind the local murders. John, the local sheriff, doesn’t want Rick to reveal what’s been going on in this area to the public, but he may just know more about the beast than he is letting on. While John hunts down Sasquatch in his own fashion, Rick and Talla join forces, but not goals, and must learn to cooperate in order to destroy the magical monster.

Maybe I should become a journalist myself. Sometimes I make things …


Title: Altered
Rating: 2/5
Genre: Sci-Fi, Horror
Starring: Misty Rosas, Paul McCarthy-Boyington, Adam Kaufman
Director: Eduardo Sánchez

The last time this director tried to do something intelligent he made the hugely successful Blair Witch Project. I say successful meaning it in purely financial terms; despite a tiny budget he managed to make one of the worst horrors of the decade and still rake in enough money to retire. Except, it turns out he isn't entirely done with the genre, and this direct-to-DVD release sees his return and from the beginning, I must confess it sounded promising. There is to be no more of this 'hand held camera' crap that plagued the last, and rather than shoot for psychological scares (blindfolded on a roundabout, wildly throwing darts and hoping not to hit the camera man this time) he goes for something that's rather more difficult to get wrong: simple B-Movie gory fun. Except rather impressively, he still succeeds in getting it wrong.

The pl…

Basic Slaughter

Title: Basic Slaughter (2007)
Rating: 2/5
Genre: Comedy, Horror
Starring: Ryan Sullivan, Henrique Couto, Steve Rudzinski
Director: Steve Rudzinski
Duration: 61mins

“Dude, you’re dating a night elf.”
“Yeah, but she’s so hot.”

Enter the super no-budget slasher epic Basic Slaughter. The title says it all. Well, sort of. Director Steve Rudzinski is the man behind the production company Dark Mullet Cinema that specializes in the comical webisode series VGSpoofs and a number of dirt poor movies (including the oh so curiously titled KKK Vs. Neo Nazis), and his purpose behind Basic Slaughter was to give the viewer the only thing worth seeing in a slasher movie: carnage. No backstory. No character development. No continuity. Just ________ (I know you can fill in the blank). What follows is a series of three segments filled with mindless chit chat, each segment wrapping up with a killer disposing of all the characters. However, there are some unexpected surprises in store.

The flick start…

The Baby Room

Title: The Baby Room
Rating: 4/5
Genre: Horror
Starring: Javier Gutiérrez, Leonor Watling
Director: Álex de la Iglesia
Language: Spanish

From a collection of Spanish films titled “6 films to keep you awake,” collating works originally made for TV on whatever budget the station would permit, I went into this one more than a little anxious as to what I would find. The promise of a traditional 'haunted house' film didn't help matters much either; a family of a loving husband, a devoted wife, and their 8 month old baby all trying to fight for their dream. Renovating an old mansion, it would appear as though their rags-to-riches tale would finally be coming to fruition but all is not as it seems in the house. During their first night they hear mysterious voices on the baby monitor, but find no trace of the source. Discarding the monitor as faulty he buys a new one with a built in camera to solve the problem, only to start seeing mysterious shapes through the monitor. With his …

Sharks in Venice

Title: Sharks in Venice
Rating: 2/5
Genre: Action, Horror
Starring: Stephen Baldwin, Vanessa Johansson
Director: Danny Lerner

suppose the title says it all. At least, it would if sharks were of significance to the plot. In fact, the whole issue of there being sharks in the waters of Venice never actually becomes resolved further than a line at the end by the protagonist saying “I know, there are no sharks in Venice” with a knowing wink from the cop. Instead, what this film is really about is the Mafia striving to discover the missing Medici treasure, hidden somewhere underneath the Venetian canals, accidentally stumbled upon by our hapless hero in a bid to escape sharks terrorising the waters. Sharks, as it turns out, that were trapped in the canals by the same Mafia man who was unhappy with other divers on his turf; a moronic move of epic proportions given that it also means his own men become fish food in his quest for the fortune which nobody else really seems to give a damn about…

Killer Klowns from Kansas on Krack

Title: Killer Klowns from Kansas on Krack
Rating: 0/5
Genre: …
Starring: Puppets and a Giant Chicken
Director: Charles E. Cullen

Films at either extreme end of my rating scale always cause me the most difficulty in writing, for as a reviewer I feel compelled through what I write to accurately convey my thoughts of the film, and do it justice. Normally, this has found most of its way to elaborating on the exceptionally good films that have crossed my path, showing my respect for the artists vision and conveying the sense of how my mind is still reeling. In this case, my mind feels like its trying to commit suicide or desperately escape by slamming into the side of my head. This film should come with a health warning, and never before did I think I would come across and manage to endure a film so completely and utterly devoid of any merit.

From the very opening you start realising what you've let yourself in for; a montage of horses badly shot on a hand held camera that you'd be …

Hachi: A Dog's Tale

Title: Hachi: A Dog's Tale
Rating: 2.5/5
Genre: Drama
Starring: Richard Gere
Director: Lasse Hallström

Since I first heard about this film being made, I knew that sooner or later I would end up watching it, the simple story one I found touching before the Hollywood recreation. About a dog found at the Shibuya train station in Japan during the 1920s, (though expectedly this was changed to somewhere in the modern day US, because naturally American audiences can't fathom something occurring outside their own country) he was taken in by a music professor who took pity on the lonely puppy. As the dog grew older he began walking its master to work and waiting faithfully for his return, until one fateful day the professor died from a heart attack. Hachi, the dog, still waited faithfully for its master outside the Shibuya station for almost a decade, pining for its master and surviving from food given to it by passers by who had long since come to recognise to the unofficial station m…


Title: Yatterman
Rating: 4/5
Genre: Action, Comedy
Starring: Shô Sakurai, Saki Fukuda, Kyôko Fukada, Katsuhisa Namase, Kendô Kobayashi
Director: Takeshi Miike
Language: Japanese

It would appear as though the director made famous for the likes of “Ichi the Killer” and “Gozu” - the certifiable master of creating chaos with a budget – has been given money to play around with. When most finally break into this category of actually having funds, they strive for a certain sense of realism; from “The Dark Knight” to “Pan's Labyrinth,” everything is normally worked to give this a dark and gritty sense of real danger to accentuate the impact of the story being told. And much like “The Dark Knight,” this too is a film borne from a 70s comic about a superhero relying on his intellect and striving to do what he can to thwart the evil that plagues the land, but when Miike does it he goes in completely the opposite direction.

Yatterman is comprised of mechanic extraordinaire Gan, or #1 to his …

Female Yakuza Tale

Title: Female Yakuza Tale
Should be Known as: Sex and Fury 2
Also Known As: Story of a Wild Elder Sister: Widespread Lynch Law
Originally known as: Yasagure anego den: sôkatsu rinchi
Rating: 3.5/5
Genre: “Pinky Violence,” Action, Crime, Thriller
Starring: Reiko Ike, Agemi Negishi
Director: Teruo Ishii
Language: Japanese

If there is one thing I despise about this era of Japanese cinema it's the confusing titles. It's bad enough that you call the sequel something that nobody would ever figure out to be a sequel, but then you decide that it needs another name as well for the international audiences? Because everyone else in the world would scoff at a name that ridiculously long and pointless? But they aren't the only one from the era to make some such actions, so I can't count this against them specifically. If you missed my review of Sex and Fury then let me re-iterate the same rule: If you're female, you're done. Unless you're a lesbian who loves Japanese …

Raptor Island II: Planet Raptor

Title: Raptor Island II: Planet Raptor
Rating: 2/5
Genre: Action, Horror, Sci-Fi
Starring: Steven Bauer, Vanessa Angel, Ted Raimi, Musetta Vander
Director: Gary Jones

I honestly didn't intend to watch another film with Vanessa Angel, but the presence of her figure can never really be a bad thing. After watching the first film which just barely clung on to my attention enough to prevent me falling asleep, it would take something special to make me return, but the premise for this is special indeed. The year 2066 rolls on by and we discover that raptors have inhabited a distant planet inhabited by badly ripped off bug designs leftover from “Starship Troopers,” except these bugs are friendly. Left for dead on the planet and forced to fend for themselves, they seek revenge on those who sent them on a suicide mission. Again, like “Starship Troopers.”

Conveniently radiation appears once more as an end-all excuse to piss people off, this time preventing any signal from reaching their sh…