Thursday, September 26, 2019

The Furies (2019) Movie Review

A female-driven Ozploitation movie with strong social commentary on how quick we are to judge others. Even facing imminent death these girls can't stop their SJW crusade or work together to live. The movie unfolds several twists on the 'hunting humans for sport' genre. On top of our heroine Kayla having inopportune seizures. With each girl having a different idea on what they need to do to survive.

The director, Tony D'Aquino, does a good job of drawing the audience in. From (shocker) the girls doing dumb things to get themselves killed to Kayla's (Airlie Dodds) epileptic fits as a beast with a machete is chasing her. There are a few well-timed moments of comic relief. He also tips the hat to several horror movie classics.

Unfortunately, this movie doesn't do enough to stand out, with so many horror movies being released just being good doesn't make the cut. Lost in a pool of blood with other movies, 'Satanic Panic' (2019), 'Tone-Deaf' (2019), 'Riot Girls' (2019), Witches in the Woods' (2019), 'Burn' (2019), 'Escape from Cannibal Farm' (2019), 'Quarries' (2019), 'Camp Wedding' (2019), and 'Banana Splits Movie' (2019) give viewers no shortage of options. There just isn't enough time to watch them all.

The only real thing that bugs me in any movie like this, is showing tech that would require a full surgical team to implant. The costs would be astronomical. Plus the likelihood of failure and death. A missed opportunity, if a bunch of guys are running a human hunting channel online for other dudes to watch they would make the girls wear something more interesting than just the "street" clothes they were wearing when they got snatched. Any viewer of a reality show knows you have to meet the contestants. Tony missed some easy film time that could have brought a little more fun to this movie.

If you can make past the slow start this movie is worth watching. As with a large number of Sylvester Stallone movies (see Rambo Last Blood for a prime example), the people who made this movie wish they spent a little more time developing the script and characters.

Wednesday, August 21, 2019

Camp Wedding (2019) Movie Review

A movie that starts out with 80's nostalgia with a feel of Friday the 13th Part 3 (1982). Got tricked into watching this movie because it's rating on IMDB was 7.8/10. It has since fallen down to 4.3 which is about where it should be. With forgettable cliche characters and spec plot, the opening and middle acts drag. The ninety seven minute run time could easily be trimmed down to an hour. Which is short for a feature film but would pump up the IMDB rating (gotta pump up those numbers rookie) plus make it more watchable.

The story borrows heavily from '80s horror, kid dies at camp with a deranged counselor (Friday the 13th), on cursed ground and evil spirits using technology (Poltergeist 1982) everyone who has sex gets it first and people camping and fighting for survival (every teen horror movie made ever). Nothing wrong with paying homage to awesome cult favs (Tarantino has made a career doing this). But add something to the story, make it worth watching. If you're just ripping off other movies you should have plenty of time to beef up the dialog and characters (or at least steal more from other movies).

There are so many movies being made now, films need to find a way to stand out. There was another bad horror movie (I don't remember the name) released last year which had that had the exact same opening and middle acts with the same cookie cut out characters (But had better deaths), group of friends gather in a cabin, people start dying. I've seen the same movie hundreds of times!

The market is saturated with movies, the effect of the digital age where anyone with a cell phone can make a movie. If you're going to make a movie be interesting. Another movie that just came out was 'The Banana Splits Movie' (2019). Which had the hook of using an iconic 60's children's tv show. Unfortunately, no one remembers, defeating the purpose of getting the rights of 'The Banana Splits Adventure Hour' (1968-1970). But oh man watching the intro and credits on YouTube brought back memories I didn't know I had. Super cool they got the rights to this Hanna Barbara series and Krofft puppets, too bad the movie was lame.

The final act pulled this movie out of the dump bin. Nicely wrapping up what little story there was and making sense out of some really lame deaths. The whole movie made good use/mocking of modern technology. To bad the director, Greg Emetaz, didn't make better use of Kelley Gates (played Mia) or Adam Santos-Coy (Trask). Particularly Kelley it would have been fun to see her bridezilla and crash diet more during the movie. Easily could have filled twenty entertaining minutes with Kelley being bat guano crazy!

Monday, July 1, 2019

High on the Hog (2019) Movie Review

A grind-house movie with a cast of horror titans. A non-stop visual bombardment of entertaining cornea burning pleasure. A thinly veiled plot about government overreach and justification for legalized weed. Gets ground into this blood stain of cinema marvel.

Sid Haig is Big Daddy, a small town farmer with jungle fever and hankering for kind bud. Joe Estevez is a small minded pig who treats his hangovers with whiskey. If only they could have smoked some sticky icky together the movie could've had a happier ending. Ellie Church plays the mystic who can see through the smoke Mary Jane a DJ throwback to Vanishing Point's (1971) Supersoul played by Cleavon Little. 

Sig has been acting awesomeness for 50+ years if you've never seen 'The Host' (1960) do yourself a favor and find a copy. Joe Estevez has 285 acting credits on IMDB, to put that into perspective Samual L Jackson is listed at 184 acting credits and John Wayne is listed at 178 (Haig has149). Rounding out the trio of b-movie titans is Robert Z'Dar (118 acting credits) in his last movie role. Everyone remembers him from Tango & Cash (1989) but horror fans know him as 'Maniac Cop' (1988) and the two sequels.

YouTube High on the Hog Trailer

It's funny how low budget movies with blood and boobs get treated by rating sites. IMDB currently has this movie at 3.7/10. Other movies that are much worse rate much higher; 'The Dead Don't Die' (2019) 6.0/10, 'Shed of the Dead' (2019) 5.4/10 (Liked this movie rating was spot on), 'The Domestics' (2018) 5.7/10. But if the movie has an abundance of gore and boobs it doesn't matter the quality or entertainment value of the film, the points disappear. High on the Hog is more entertaining than any of these other ones. The Dead Don't Die is a humorless take of the zombie apocalypse done in a dry British humor style, but once again they forgot the humor so really it's just dry British style that's BORING!

High on the Hog isn't to be taken too seriously. It's a wonderfully easy way to kill an hour and a half with your friends mimicking MST3K and if you're passing a 'J' around, Remember to pack it tight!

Friday, May 24, 2019

Buffy the Vampire Slayer (1992) Retro Movie Review

Josh Whedon need we say more? Yes, a lot more!

The script had a concept for a powerful new type of female superhero, a mix of dark humor with comedic tongue-in-cheek horrific stylings thrown in, focusing more on personal relationships than a plot or a point. A genius has a vision, idea, a tremendous leap forward in entertainment marvel for the masses. But, its too far from the normal cookie cutter movie formula for anyone to understand it, much less foster it into life on the silver screen. Yeah, don't listen to the guy who came up with the concept...

Looks like the problems on the film started once the Kuzui's jumped on board to get the movie made. Joss Whedon sold the rights to Sandollar with Fran and Kaz coming in to help put the financing together for the film. Then Fran was given the director position. Her only other director experience came from 'Tokyo Pop' (1988). A small art semi self biographical film that got some critical acclaim. In the end, she didn't 'get' the material nor could she reign in the actors. The casting agent completely nailed the casting. But all the actors did their own thing. Giving the movie a disjointed feel. The feud between Whedon and Donald Sutherland has been well documented, leading to Whedon leaving the production. A lot of people liked Paul Reuben's over the top zany performance but it takes the viewer out of the scene due to the tone being completely different. Seth Green getting left on the cutting room floor is a direct slap to pop culture nerdom in every way possible. He already had created a strong body of work and recognizable to most moviegoers and horror fans (he was in 'It' (1990)). Re-watching this, maybe the only actor or person who got the concept, outside of Whedon, was Luke Perry.

People will point to Wonder Woman (1975-1979) as a man hanging back as a girl does the fighting. But Steve Trevor didn't know Diana Prince was Wonder Woman. He had no relationship with Wonder Woman. Most of the time a superhuman goddess comes out of nowhere solves the case beats up the mere mortal bad guy laughably easy, tells a bewildered Colonel Trevor what happened and who to arrest than disappears before he gets the stupid look off his face and has a chance to hit on her. After which old Stevo has to go back to the nerdy Diana who has this hot Liberian thing going on.

Pike, on the other hand, learns Buffy is the chosen one. Not being emasculated by Buffy being an army-of-one. He hangs back dutifully holding her purse and occasionally handing his better half a stake before scurrying back to where he can get a nice safe view of Buffy's backside. Perry played this role with a soft touch, the end one believes the heartfelt moments, and he doesn't have any alpha male issues boiling under his sweet smile. Kristy Swanson was born to play Buffy! Unfortunately, they had her play the character dumb. She's isn't mentally challenged, she is just a typical teen focused on going to prom, then Europe, and then marrying a famous actor, and then dying.
Letting Whedon leave production is akin to someone firing Steve Jobs from Apple, or turning off Stephen Hawking's computer, or locking Albert Einstein in the bathroom during a meeting, or publishing Stephen Kings script for the Stand after only a thousand pages, or letting a studio head green light a DC movie that isn't Lobo, or ending Games of Thrones before the last book is published. Just shows a little bit more how clueless Fran Rubel Kuzui was. She didn't recognize Whedon's utter total reality smashing genius or how this game-changing script worked. Further proved by the tv show being a huge hit.

Sunday, March 17, 2019

William Castle's Straight Jacket (1964) Retro Movie Review

The film that has a horror tree like no other! Branching together multiple generations of horror greatness. Tying together much of the horror genre for the twentieth century. And to goes to prove a family who goes crazy together will stay together.....

A very young Lee Majors appears uncredited in this movie. His first credited film role was in arguably one of the greatest westerns of all time Will Penny (1967) from there the movie side of the business went downhill fast! Even though he was an up and coming actor, choosing to be in two movie horrors (not in a good way), 'The Norseman' (1978), don't watch under any circumstance, and 'Killer Fish' (1979), a very bad knock off of the already flooded 'killer fish movies'. But these highlights the difference between movies and TV. Make a bad TV pilot, it dies with little notice when the series doesn't get picked up. Make a bad movie it lives on into infinity and beyond, unless your Jerry Lewis 'The Day the Clown Cried' (1972). Nowadays he is best known for playing a parody of himself like in 'Ash vs Evil Dead' (2016-2018).

In the twilight of her career, Joan Crawford found new life in The Psycho Biddy movies. One of the biggest names in the '30s by the time this movie was made she was more known for feuding with anyone who crossed her path and being a diva on set. Unfortunately, the reason this movie isn't better can directly be traced back to her. Crawford still had incredible pull, having the script rewritten and numerous actors replaced. Just cause you can act doesn't mean you can write or understand a script (looking at you Donald Sutherland). Known to most people from the unflattering tell-all book 'Mommy Dearest'.

Unfortunately William Castle, by finding creative ways to promote his movies, became to be viewed as a B-movie film-making schmuck. Castle was the ultimate movie making hustler. Not only directing, producing, and starring but also pulling off outrageous stunts to promote his movies. Before the XD experiences, we have now in movie theaters, there was William Castle! His movies were much better than their budget should have allowed. Finding actors that deserved better scripts. And finding scripts that deserved better budgets. He had a hand in bringing to life some of the best horror movies in the fifties and sixties. He also tried to get studios to green light 3d years before the first, studios said there was no market for cheap gimmicks like that. Unfortunately, after the success of 'Rosemary's Baby' (1969) (purchased the rights but couldn't find a studio who would let him direct it) his health declined and he only worked on a couple more B-movies before his death.

George Kennedy plays the cruel opportunistic farm hand to perfection. A fixture in movies for over fifty years. He never got the leading man roles, but the more interesting supporting characters. Including a horror fan favorites 'The Terror Within' (1989), 'Creep Show 2' (1987) and 'Brain Dead; (1990). At the time of this movie, he was still a relatively unknown TV actor. Playing tough guys with limited lines.

The main reason why this movie has faded into obscurity is it doesn't compete in any category. It's not the best Psycho Biddy movie, both Whatever happened to Baby Jane? (1962) and Hush.... Hush, Sweet Charlotte (1964) were better. It's not the best Castle movie, not even for that year 'The Night Walker' is better. Castle both directed and produced better movies, 'House on Haunted Hill' (1959) and 'Rosemary's Baby' (1968). It's not Robert Bloch's (an H.P. Lovecraft protege) masterpiece, he wrote Psycho (1960). But it's still a fun movie to watch. 

Monday, February 18, 2019

The Axiom (2018) Movie Review

A gritty mashup of Pans Labyrinth (2006) and Evil Dead (1981) with a much darker end. A trip into a weird universe that brings out the certifiable mental patient in people. Siblings McKenzie and Martin with a group of friends follow a trail of bread crumbs left by their missing sister into a backwater hell hole. Where the group splinters into madness.

Director and writer, Nicholas Woods creates a universe that's interesting and has more stories to tell. Most of the major characters are fully formed. Even some of the secondary people leave you wanting to know what their story is. Two of the local boys go off to "play" in one of the other gates, leaving me really wanting to see their little adventure. The gate the sister is in, is visited all too briefly. But reveals images that beg to be expanded on, a story that needs telling.

They do a good job with the budget they have (seriously Deadpool 2 spent more on one AC/DC song than they did on all the guns in the first movie and probably the second too! and Ryan wannabe super hero with his CGI abs Reynolds, took three times to finally get one right, makes one bad rom-com after another and than gets to be Deadpool! Someone should sew his mouth shut, shave his head, make him wear a green fat suit and star in the remake of Deliverance playing Ned Beatty's role.), I've seen many Friday the 13th movies that looked and felt much cheaper than The Axiom.

This film has good cast aided by well-defined characters. It's amazing how enjoyable it is to watch beautiful women. Cinematographer spends an extraordinary amount of time focusing on Hattie Smith's butt (we might have a creeper). Which wears the best looking pair of Daisy Dukes since Dukes of Hazard. Every scene Nicole Dambro is in, she steals.  

The way this movie ends, can disappoint depending on how you like movies to end. First time I watched Barracuda (1978) it blew my little mind, a film could end like that. The big difference in these two movies is I would want to watch The Axiom again, and not just because the batteries in the remote are dead, when it happens to come on Svengoolie for the tenth time. 

Watch The Axiom on YouTube

Wednesday, February 6, 2019

Rust Creek (2019) Movie Review

Sawyer (played by Hermione Cornfield) is an A-type personality, who has a dream job lined up, ready to conquer the brutal grind of the nine to five world of corporate America. Unfortunately, she is stuck in hillbilly hell between being chased by some pig farmers who think old sow Sally has a sexy little wiggle, a sheriff looking to retire early, and a meth cook cranking out batch after batch of poison while contemplating a good way to end it all.

One thing the film briefly touched on was 'what would one do to survive they would normally recoil in horror from?' We all know the morally challenging question of 'would you steal bread for your starving children?' The film skirted past all too quickly the moral questions the main character gets faced with. Missing out on adding some meat on to the story-line and critical character development. The one that gets used often in horror is will someone who's a pacifist fight to save themselves and their friends. Exploring human nature and what individuals will do to preserve their own lives is what makes the Saw (2004-2017), which is the second highest grossing horror franchise behind only Aliens (1979-2012), movies so interesting.

The small details do matter in being able to draw viewers into a movie. The lead character has a huge gash on her leg. There is no serious attempt to apply pressure and dress the wound till a day later. Also not addressed is how cold it is. There is no effort made to go back for clothes or keep warm. Even though with the loss of blood and being exposed to the elements all night any mere mortal would have gotten hypothermia and not been able to get up the next morning. You don't have to be Bear Grylls to realize treating gushing leg wound is a priority as is staying warm in freezing temperatures.

YouTube Rust Creek Trailer

Director Jen McGowan lets the viewer in on all the forces working against Sawyer. Leaving the viewer in on all the twists and dangers awaiting her. Most movies we already guessed who the bad guys are, when they will jump out, which side character will get it, and the heroine will get away. By showing the twists one isn't watching the movie calling out each scene before it happens. You just enjoy watching the movie.

 Official Website