Monthly Archives: April 2015

Animal (2014)

MV5BMTQ3OTAxMjQzNl5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwODM4ODk4MTE@._V1_SY317_CR12,0,214,317_AL_Here we have another release from Chiller Films. Yes, that is the same Chiller you often only see when you have satellite TV instead of cable. For those that are blissfully unaware, think of it as the watered down version of FearNet. It tries to be scary, and can be gory at times, but you still end up feeling so underwhelmed. This is a network that thinks Return of the Living Dead: Rave to the Grave is too scary to be viewed alone. With some back story about the network out of the way, let’s look at their films. To save you 80 minutes, the few I’ve seen suck. Animal is no different. Outside of having a movie title that makes a Google search damn near impossible, the story is horrid. This is the plot from Kill Theory, except instead of a psychopath we have what looks like the rejected concept for the monsters in Feast.

But that’s not even the worst part. No, what actually baffles your favorite reviewer is the decision to open with what looks like an alternate ending. That’s right, the very first scene is a sequence that has absolutely nothing to do with the rest of the movie. It’s still the group of “friends” panicking, and ultimately feeding each other to wolves. My personal favorite is the brooding and jaded survivor who lost his wife to the monster, which actually brings up a valid point: If you’ve lost a loved one, what bloody sense does it make to get everyone else killed? If he wanted to see his wife again, all he had to do was stand outside for 5 minutes and be devoured. But no, we have to deal with him being an asshole for half an hour.

Everything else is lumped together just to stretch out. This is basically a poor episode of Masters of Horror that was turned into a full length film. It gets a 0. There’s nothing redeeming here. The acting is pretty bad, the actual budget is questionable, and it’s just a waste of time and money. I’ve actually figured out what Chiller Films really is. It’s merely The Asylum, except they have budgets and B list actors. But as I’ve said before, bigger budgets do not equal better movies. And I’d like to thank Animal for being a prime example of that.

Unfriended (2015)

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Yet another movie I did not have high hopes for. It was too long ago that I reviewed The Den, another film warning against the dangers of the internet. So when Unfriended starting making its way in horror news, I really thought it was going the biggest waste of time of 2015. Like I mentioned a couple days ago, horror isn’t doing as well as it could be. I was convinced this was going to another $10 and 90 minutes wasted. I was actually pleasantly surprised. This was a damn good effort. Yes, it has one of the dumbest premises out there. However you have to commend whoever wrote this, as well as the actors that brought the terror to life. I wouldn’t say it’s the scariest movie currently out, but it still gave me the willies.

This is essentially what Kill Theory should have been: proof that being a part of a group of asshole friends is basically an automatic death sentence. Not to mention I was surprised by some of the kills. Don’t always expect traditional methods if you decide to watch this. While I was writing this, I originally gave it 4/5. But then I came across this. For those that don’t feel like clicking the link, it’s an article mentioning allegations from Justin Cole that Unfriended is a rip-off of his film The Upper Footage.

After reading his lengthy explanation, and after being able to watch The Upper Footage, I can’t deny the heavy similarities. I’m not going to sit here and point fingers. That’s not who I am. I’m just going to say it’s sad to see that a movie I actually really liked is basically a carbon copy of someone’s previous work. I honestly suggest just checking out The Upper Footage first (a link to the movie is in the article), but also see Unfriended. I still have to give Unfriended 3/5. It might be very close to someone’s earlier work, but there are some differences that make it enjoyable.

It Follows (2015)

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I fully admit I was skeptical when this started making its way through various film festivals. The buzz it generated just seemed too good to be true. Then there was the burning question: what exactly is “It”? Well, I spent $10 to find out simply because my curiosity got the best of me. I believe I can also speak for my fellow horror fanatics when I say this isn’t exactly a movie you have high hopes for. Horror is my first love, but unfortunately it does seem to be dying out. That being said, does It Follows live up to the hype, and does it re-energize the genre?

Let me start by saying I loved the retro feel of it all. The film is based in Detroit, and it manages to use the industrial, run-down aesthetic to its advantage. Simply put, it’s pretty intense. The “scary” moments are couple with this pounding electronic soundtrack, and it creates a sense of distortion. To add to the confusion, several shots are done with a rotating camera. Every time it comes back to the beginning there’s something in the scene that just doesn’t seem quite right. Mix that with some solid acting, and you have something that can be appreciated by any horror lover.

But…it does have its downsides. The biggest one being what in the hell “It” really is. Is it a demon? A ghost? A glitch in reality? We never find out. Another thing I’m not too sure about is how “It” is passed from person to person. Sex seems to be an easy explanation of how to spread it around, but the whole thing comes off as an hour and 40 minute safe sex P.S.A. The random partners and just a general lack of understanding how the monster (?) works brings down what could’ve been something really promising. I give it 3/5. I absolutely love the fact the plot is something new, and the overall feel is kind of trippy. What I don’t really like is how superficial it all seems, and the fact it was left open ended for the possibility of a sequel. I say explain the first try. Don’t use a sequel as an excuse to not finish up plot points.

Pink Flamingos (1972)

1618-pink-flamingos-poster-largeEmbarrassing confession time: I’ve never seen this before. I know, I know. How can I say I love film and haven’t one the classic midnight movies. Thanks to a request from a reader, I’ve remedied that. All I can say is holy crap on a cracker. So many penises, and it is so vile. I know John Waters isn’t exactly Mr. Conservative, but what possessed him to create such a movie? Where should I attempt to start? Implied incest? The “competition” of filthiest person alive? Sex acts involving chickens? I really don’t know what to say, other than I think this is in the top 5 of the most shocking films I’ve ever seen. It’s also probably the nastiest movie I’ve seen, and that’s saying something.

But…I can’t deny I had fun watching it. It’s the classic train-wreck: you want to look away but you can’t. I can’t say much about the acting because 1. it was made in 72, and 2. I think it’s meant to be hokey as all hell. I love the fact Divine wasn’t afraid to push things as far as they could go. Everyone seemed to have a blast making this, and even though it’s depraved you can still appreciate it. I give it 4/5. I absolutely respect John Waters for wanting to push the envelope, and he does a good job of doing it. This review might be short, but that’s only because the film speaks for itself. If you like cult films, you should own this. If you prefer your movies to be classy, please stay far away.

White Lightnin’ (2009)

white_lightninI watched a documentary on Jesco White’s family back in 2010. What I remember most is just how dysfunctional the family is, but at the same time they maintained a tight bond. It was interesting to see and definitely memorable. White Lightnin’ isn’t another documentary, and I’m really not sure how much of it is based on reality. The story of White is plagued by drugs, death, alcoholism, and possible mental illness. But dammit this is a great movie. One thing that struck me is how much of the movie is in black and white. You feel like you’re really in the backwoods of West Virginia, in what seems like an area that has frozen in time.

The best performance is from Edward Hogg, who is very convincing as an adult Jesco White. He hovers between a man who is trying his best to stay clean, but when old habits come back they do so in full force. It’s exciting and refreshing to watch. The one aspect I’m not too sure about is just how much of the story is true. Obviously much has been dramatized for the big screen, but where does the line between fact and fiction end? White Lightnin’ insists on blurring that line throughout the movie. I decided to do a bit of research, and discovered that even some of the outlandish bits have a grain of truth. Not as much truth as I would like, but at least some of it isn’t blatant lies.

So what about the rest of the movie? Well, to be honest I’m surprised I like it as much as I do. It’s an odd mix of exploitation and 70’s horror, but it works together so well. The cast does an amazing job playing these characters that it seems like they’re actually being themselves, not acting. And the whole story is so weird that I can’t help but love it. I give it 4/5. It’s one of the few “biopics” that is done right, even if they’re questions about how valid it truly is. It’s a well made film, and I say add it to your collection. You won’t regret it.

Jeepers Creepers (2001)

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I remember seeing this when it first came out back in 2001. I had turned 13 recently, and I begged my dad to take me because of my newfound love of horror. I was completely terrified. I don’t know if it was the monster, or simply because of the fact that much of the action occurred in the shadows or off screen. To a 13 year old, not seeing the actual gore and just hearing the screams is enough to cause nightmares. I also couldn’t hear the song Jeepers Creepers the same way for a solid year. I decided to watch it again since it’s time for the monthly Netflix purge of expiring titles. Am I still terrified as much as I was almost 14 years ago? Do I still think it’s amazing?

Eh…I’m far from terrified, but I did have fun watching it. One thing I notice is how my tastes have changed with time. I know that really doesn’t need mentioning, but in this case it is a valid point. What my young brain processed at the time is very different from what I’m able to see now. Before I was in shock that I saw a man’s head cut off, but now I laugh when I think about the Creeper making out with a severed head and ripping out the tongue. I am aware that of how horrible that makes me sound, but I don’t care. The underground siege used to be the highlight of the movie, but now I can see it as a very unfair fight. The acting is…okay. It’s cheesy as all get out now, but I think it has aged better than some of the other movies that were released around this time.

Fast forward to present day, and I give it 3/5. It’s nowhere near as good as I thought it was, but it’s still good for unintentional comedy. The overall story has more plot holes that I can count, but you can ignore it given the pacing. I was surprised to see just how little killing happens on screen. I remember a bloodbath (keep in mind I was 13), and mutilated bodies everywhere. Well, the second part was valid but only because of the Creeper’s wall of corpses. With a $10 million budget, I think they could’ve gone a bit further.  If you haven’t seen it, I say watch it if you have an hour and change to spare. If you’ve already seen it but haven’t watched in a while, check it out for pure nostalgia.

My Engine’s Fragile Sound (2012)

timthumb.php“To each of us, fate assumes the form of one (or several) women.” – Sigmund Freud.

The movies opens with a very poignant quote, and it does set the overall tone for what you see over the next two hours. The only problem is what you see is constant “fake outs”, a very confusing narrative, and what I consider to be the worst subtitles I’ve ever seen. Some words are missing, and entire phrases are jumbled. I could ignore that if there weren’t so many. I’m not one to say that a movie should be in English, but with this much dialog it would’ve been a wise choice. Now we move on to the actual plot.

My Engine’s Fragile Sound is told from the perspective of a fetus of a comatose burn victim. To its credit, I do like the poetic flow of the narration. You realize the engine is the mother’s heart, and the fragility comes from the mother hovering between life and death. At least that’s how the movie sets up the plot. We end up following the mother’s nurse, who occasionally spends time with her paraplegic husband when she’s not flirting with his best friend. This woman is supposed to be our hero…I think. I have to admit I was lost several times because this movie had no clear direction.  But I haven’t gotten to the biggest mess of all: who’s actually narrating the film?

At first it’s the burn victim’s baby. Just kidding! Mother and baby die 45 minutes in. Okay, now it’s the nurse and the child conceived out of her affair. Wrong again! She had an abortion…maybe. Well she says she had one multiple times in the second half, but it’s never cleared up by the end of the movie. It’s actually her husband, who ends up being the serial arsonist/killer, and who sent her love letters disguising himself as the alleged arson suspect. Oh yeah there’s also a killer roaming around, and they make it a point to mention he covers his victims in soap before roasting them alive. We learn that the husband regresses (or something) and his inner child has been trying to explain why he snapped.

Are you slowly becoming frustrated by my lack of direction in this review? Congratulations! You just experienced what it’s like to watch My Engine’s Fragile Sound. Pissed off? Annoyed? More confused than ever? Stay with me, I’m about to wrap this up. I wanted to like this movie so badly. It’s visually and verbally stunning. Every word (that’s translated correctly and not omitted) really does put you in the mindset of all the characters. However, when the characters aren’t given time to grow along with every plot point, it comes off as shallow and does not match the beauty that is found in the words. I give this 1/5. Every aspect outside of the script shows just how little this movie has to offer. Not even the unintentionally comedic plot twist at the end could save it. It’s a shame that something so promising could fall so flat.