Tuesday, 16 December 2014

Holiday Horror: Treevenge (2008)

Treevenge (2008)
Director: Jason Eisener
Starring: Jonathan Torrens, Sarah Dunsworth, and Maris Morgan
Running Time: 16 min

  I've been looking forward to seeing this for a couple of reasons.  For one, it's from director Jason Eisener, who brought us the brilliant "Hobo with a Shotgun" and two other fabulous shorts in "ABC's of Death" and "V/H/S 2".  Also, it has Canada's favourite TV guy in it, Jonathan Torrens, who everybody will remember from Street Cents, Jonovision and now the Trailer Park Boys.  This should be a fun ride and it's a short, so I'm pretty jazzed.

   It's a crisp morning and a team of men go into the forest and start ravaging it with their axes and chainsaws.  Cutting down the tree after tree, tearing them from their homes and crushing the young saplings under their heavy boots.  The trees are bunched together and then thrown into trucks to be brought to town and sold as decorations for people's homes, while the weaker ones are further mutilated to become wreaths.
  Unsuspecting families buy their trees on Christmas and have no idea that the trees are planning their revenge on Christmas day.  How will the tree get their revenge and how will they be able to escape the tyranny and slavery of man? 

 This has to be one of the best shorts ever!  Director Jason Eisener using similar "Grindhouse" techniques he used in "Hobo with a Shotgun", like over saturated color, blown out shots and a brilliant 70's issue soundtrack, creates a marvelous Christmas horror classic.
  The way the trees are ripped from their ancestral forest home just gives you the shivers and it reminds me of scenes from, "Roots", "Goodbye Uncle Tom" and probably closer to home with "Where the Spirit Lives".  Watching these displaced trees get stolen from their homes, corralled together and taken to be sold or exploited, just puts a knot in your stomach.  It's incredible how just adding a subtitle track and/or giving the trees a voice allows you to feel more compassion and empathy for these trees. 
  Also the revenge is marvelous.  There is some brutal justice handed out here and Eisener does not let up at all.  Everyone is a target and there is penance for every tree chopped and every sapling crushed.  It's really a great piece of horror film work.
  And it's not as serious as I'm making it.  Although there are some surprisingly complex themes here, either intentional or not, there is a very dark sense of humour surrounding this project.  In the end, they are trees that attack and kill people, it's silly like a killer snowman or being stuck in a bathroom full of zombies.  It's an incredible fun watch.   

  To be honest, this short film hits all the right marks for me and there is nothing that could have been done to really to make it more enjoyable.  Again, considering the look that Eisener was going for and the feel for the film, the blown out camera work and the over acting of the maniacal lumber jacks are just perfect. No complaints here.

  You need to go and watch this now.  It's only 16 minutes but it will make your build up to Christmas so much better.  It has an incredible story, considering it is about trees, tons and tons of gore and it's very funny.  So, this holiday treat yourself to this film but it may cause you may be keeping a closer eye on your Christmas tree.


Sunday, 14 December 2014

Holiday Horror: The Blackout (2009)

The Blackout (2009)
Director: Robert David Sanders
Starring: Barbara Streifel Sanders, Joseph Dunn, and Ian Malcolm
Running Time: 80 min

 I haven't seen too many alien holiday horrors out yet but I know there is a few, so I thought I'd give this a shot.  I don't really recognize anyone in this, but I dig low-budget stuff and you never know right? right?

  It's Christmas eve and some couples in the Ravenwood apartments is dealing with some emotional bullshit.  For instance, Daniel and Elizabeth just want to have a nice Christmas with their kids but Daniel's drunk brother is crashing on their couch.  Also, Ethan and Claire are going through a divorce but they don't know if they want to be together but she sure as hell isn't letting him get it on with one of the downstairs neighbors, who happens to be having a Christmas party, that they are going to.
  On top of that there has been some power outages and cell phone service disruption that is making everyone cranky.  Before Elizabeth goes to the neighbours' party, her kids catch her and their dad making out.  So, she sends her son to go to the dark deserted basement of the building and get a big present that they left down there.  When he gets down to the basement, there is another power failure and he notices these bizarre creatures scurrying around the floor.  He hears something and discovers a monster in the basement, then tries to run to the elevator but the lift doesn't come in time and he is presumably eaten by the monster.
 Some time passes and Daniel and his daughter head downstairs to find his son but on the way into the elevator, Daniel is distracted by a noise. "Mittens"? This distraction leads to his daughter going down to the basement alone and searching for her brother alone in the dark dank basement.  Apparently, Daniel has never heard of the stairs and screams at the elevator to bring his daughter back. Damn you elevator! If there was only another way to get to the basement!
 Meanwhile at the party, which happens to be next door to Daniel and Elizabeth, almost everyone has left because of the power failure except for a few stragglers, including Ethan and Claire.  They hear a strange noise and the slutty hostess goes to investigate and gets kabobed by a giant tentacle.  Instead of everyone running down the stairs to get out of the building, they all go next door to Daniel and Elizabeth's apartment, you know where it is safe.  They all then come up with a plan that they should leave the building because there is a monster or monsters inside the building somewhere.  Can this group of people escape from these extraterrestrial monsters and save Daniel's daughter or will this be the worst Christmas ever for them and maybe mankind?

  This wasn't that great and I can understand why it got such a low rating on IMDB.  These people don't know how to leave a building.  There are only 4 stories in this building and the stairwells were clear, so outside of Daniel, Elizabeth and there alcoholic brother, who need to find their kids, everybody should have been able to get out a lot faster.  Even when they discovered that the lobby door was blocked, they came up with one of the most convoluted plans ever when there were so many simpler options.  It was quite ridiculous, I'm just glad it was only 80 minutes. 
  Also, the characters in this are inane and none of them follow any logical pattern.  The alcoholic is sober and has no desire to drink through this ordeal, the divorcing couple are in love and the agoraphobic seem to have no issues with being out and about with this crowd of people.  At least the agoraphobic was "taking medication" in some of his scenes but still, these people have back stories that the film has introduced, so make them matter and use them to cause real conflict in the story or don't introduce them at all. 
 One last thing, where are all the other people who live in the building?  It's at least a four floors in the building, where is everybody else.  It should be freaking mayhem in the halls and screams of terror but it's not and that makes the story seem unbelievable.

  However, I think that the alien monster creature thing wasn't to bad.  I like it's Alienesque look infuse with the scorpion tail.  Also, I could tell that director Robert David Sanders (The Blackout) was trying to get an "Alien" feel to the film.  He was at least trying to get some shots of the creature face to face with it's intended victims and dribbling ooze on them but it didn't have the same effect most times but the effort was there.
  Also there a few good death scenes in this and I'm surprised that they killed one of the kids off first.  That, honestly, is a ballsy move but I'm glad they did because most times kids in horror movies can be annoying as hell but you know that they won't be knocked off because of the "innocent" factor.  So well played.  All the blood and gore however are CGI created, which is annoying but I'm guessing it was the cheapest way to go.

 This isn't completely awful but it isn't great either.  This is one of those films you find in the WalMart bin on a DVD with three other films for $2.99.  The story isn't very good, the characters aren't defined and unrealistic and the best part, which is the monster, is CGI with CGI blood.  Also, the reveal at the end, is not that big of a surprise.  So, if your looking for a cheesy sci-fi horror flick that doesn't really deliver, then this may be what Santa will have left in your stocking.

Saturday, 13 December 2014

Holiday Horror: Stalled (2013)

Stalled (2013)
Director: Christian James
Starring: Dan Palmer, Antonia Bernath, and  Tamaryn Payne
Running Time: 84 min

  What I seem to be noticing about horror holiday films lately is that anything really goes and even the weakest premises can be brought to life.  Recently I've seen a film about a killer snowman, some people trapped at an ATM and now a dude is trapped by zombies in a woman's washroom.  Which I guess is plausible but I refuse to use the word "fresh" when I am referring to describe an idea that involves a bathroom.  Anyway, let's get down to it.

There is a Christmas party going on and janitor, W.C. wanders into the ladies room with his toolbox.  Surprisingly, his toolbox is filled with money and there are no tools inside and when two ladies come into the bathroom, W.C. ducks into one of the stalls with his money leaden toolbox.  He listens to these two catty women complain about who got the most money in a charity date auction, a hot girl named Evie and about how they tricked there overweight co-worker Heather into believing she was going to have sex with the local office stud, Jeff from I.T.. 
  However as the conversation goes on, their cattiness seems to drift away into a strange drunken love thang and they start making out.  So, W.C. gets excited and pulls out his...phone to record the bathroom lovefest.  While they're making out, one of them notices a bite mark on the others neck and asks what happened.  The other says that the pizza guy was a perv and bite her.  Shortly after, the bitten girl turns into a zombie and attacks her catty co-worker. 
  W.C. tries to escape the bathroom but as soon as he opens the bathroom door, he lets more zombies stumble into the crowded bathroom.  W.C. runs to a stall and tries to barricade himself inside the best he can.  Fortunately, there is one other person trapped in the stalls with him, Evie, the really hot girl who won the most money for the charity.  Can the two of them escape this zombie infested restroom or will the get flushed down the tube of terror?

  This was actually a lot better than I expected and director Christian James (Freak Out) did a great job working within such a confined and limited premise and space.  Dan Palmer (Evil Aliens, Small Town Folk), who stars in this, also wrote the screenplay and gives the film enough bathroom humour and frights to keep the momentum up for the whole eighty-four minutes. 
  The main character W.C. is likeable enough but he's definitely not your hero type.  He never attains that goal but he does try and I think that is commendable for the film.  He is not brilliant but he is able to act on his feet and has a will to survive.  In the end, the character has been devloped well enough that he isn't just thinking about just himself anymore and he tries to help others out.  Most of the time.
   Also this film looks like it was done on a smaller budget but the zombie still look cool.  There are some very funny zombie scenes of them attacking people and some gross out stuff that is done really well.

  Some issues I had with the film was that the zombies, even though they looked good, didn't seem to be present all the time.  Sometimes, these were the quietest zombies ever especially when W.C. and Evie were dialoguing.  The zombies seemed a take a back seat in this conundrum and this took away from some of the scary at times.
  Also, I wasn't that crazy about the disembodied voice of Evie and I understand that it was leading to a reveal later in the film but it seemed strange that they never even tried to join each other in the same stall.  Again with all that yelling back and forth, you'd think that this would rile up the zombies but they just stumble outside the stalls most times without a care in the world.

  This isn't the new "Shaun of the Dead" like I've read some other the called it but it is a fun and witty outing that will probably surprise most people.  There are some cool looking zombies, an interesting story that develops and an ending that may be frustrating to some people watching but it is true to the character.  So, if you throw this on and watch some other people push out some horrifying grunts and groans during a Christmas party.

Thursday, 11 December 2014

Holiday Horror: ATM (2012)

ATM (2012)
Director: David Brooks
Starring: Alice Eve, Josh Peck, and Brian Geraghty
Running Time: 90 min

 I think I may have watched this at work when it first came out but I don't remember seeing it.  There seems to be a lot of hate for this movie and now I'm really interested to see if it justified.  I never watched "Drake and Josh", Alice Eve was in "Sex and the City 2" and "The Raven", so that makes me nervous but I have liked Brian Geraghty's characters in Ray Donovan & Boardwalk Empire, so who knows maybe I'll love it!

  It's just before Christmas and David has just lost a client because the investment portfolio he created for him tanked.  The investor is obviously furious and hangs up on him.  David is choked but his wise ass friend Corey tells him not to worry about and lets David know that his office crush, Emily is leaving after today.  They joke about what a pansy David is because he can't ask Emily on a date and then head to the Christmas party.
  At the Christmas party, David and Corey are chilling out with some friends and David gets up to grab another drink.  On his way he meets up with Emily and the two of them have an awkward encounter and David misses yet another opportunity to get a date with Emily. 
  It's late and Emily, who is striking gorgeous, can't hail a cab outside of work. I guess cab drivers don't trust those hot model types, so David offers her a ride home.  She excepts and David runs up to say good bye to his friends.  Unfortunately, David forgot that he promised to drive Corey home and being a cock blocking douchebag, Corey guilts David into driving him home.
  On the way to Corey's place, Corey is complaining about being hungry and annoys David into stopping at an ATM machine, so he can get cash to get some zza, bro.  David parks far from the ATM to make Corey pay for his annoying behaviour.  He leaves and David and Emily sit awkwardly in the car together and wait.  Of course, Corey is having trouble in the ATM and David as to help him, so he leaves Emily alone in the car in an abandoned parking lot in the middle of nowhere to help his idiot friend with the ATM.  Emily gets nervous and joins the two idiots in the ATM booth.  Just when everything is all done inside the ATM and they're ready to leave, they notice a guy outside and for some reason they become scared of this person's evil intentions.
  After staring at each other for what seems to be 5 minutes the stranger outside walks over and kills a man who is walking his dog in -4 F /-19 Celsius weather at night in the middle of nowhere, which terrifies the gang inside the ATM booth.  What does this killer want? Will David and his friends ever escape, so he can fall and love with Emily and every thing will be Christmas magic or will this stranger be a Grinch and steal their pantoozlers of love?

  I didn't hate this movie as much as I was disappointed and annoyed with this it.  I had enjoyed "Buried" in 2010, which was written by Chris Sparling and I think he was trying to set up that same claustrophobic feel to this film but it just didn't work this time.  There is no reason that these people should feel trapped in this ATM and feel any serious threat by this killer before he kills the man with the dogs.  And there were so many opportunities for them to escape afterwards but none of them were taken, which I found to be incredibly frustrating.
  Also, there are far too many unrealistic set ups in this film like them not dressing properly for the cold, which is suppose to be the other fear which is that they might freeze in the ATM.  If it was really that cold out that whiny bastard Corey, played by Josh Peck (Red Dawn, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2014)) would not have walked all that way from where David parked the car.  He would have bitched and moaned until David drove him up to the ATM, which David would have because he is a wuss.  Or the fact that Emily, played by Alice Eve (She's Out of My League, Men in Black 3) would leave her purse in a car that won't lock properly, umm I don't think so.  Chris Sparling or director David Brooks must not have spent much time with woman before putting this together because that would have never ever happened.  You might as well have written that a unicorn came to save them because that's would be more believable than that premise or hook.
  The killer is so very meh.  It's a dude in a dark hoody, who waits outside.  If David and Corey weren't such wussies, this film would have been over in the first 15 minutes.  "Oh look there's a creepy dude outside", "Who fuckin cares, let's go", the end.  That's probably what I find most frustrating is that the main characters give up before anything happens.  How do you want to cheer for people like that, I can't.  There was two of them and they would have been able to disarm the killer or at least one of them could escape to call the police.  Also, there is no explanation to why the killer doing this. I know that not all things need to be explained and spoon fed to the audience but this just seems like a really dumb and dull way of attacking people and killing them. There is a lot of things that are also left lying around purely for the killer's convenience in the film and the car crash that happens which finally bring in the police is impossible but I don't want to ruin any of the improbable scares that this film may have. 

  I liked the ATM kiosk that they built for the film, it looked very authentic and banky.
 Also the production looks very good for this film, it's well lit and shot well but it's such a shame that it's wasted on such a drab, ho hum story with such lame unlikeable characters.

  I actually feel bad talking about this film because I can usually find something about a film that would make me laugh or a great character that would stick out in my mind but this has nothing for me at all.  It has some of the lamest characters imaginable, it's a dull story with limited killing and the situation is just so unrealistic that it drives me bananners just thinking about it.  So, if your having trouble sleeping over the holiday and the tryptophan from the turkey isn't working then throw this on and it should put you right to sleep.

Tuesday, 9 December 2014

Holiday Horror: Silent Night, Bloody Night (aka Night of the Dark Full Moon) (1972)

Silent Night, Bloody Night (aka Night of the Dark Full Moon) (1972)
Director: Theodore Gershuny
Starring: Patrick O'Neal, James Patterson, and Mary Woronov
Running Time: 85 min

  This is an old drive-in film that died out in the 70's, but was reintroduced to a new audience in the 80's with the help of Elvira's Movie Macabre and has since had a bit of a cult following.  It stars Mary Woronov (The House of the Devil, Eating Raoul) who was part of the "Warhol Superstars" and I feel is a really underrated scream queen.  Also, it has John Carradine (The Howling, The Sentinel) who was a brilliant actor and has said that he's "made some of the greatest films ever made - and a lot of crap too".  So, I wonder where Mr. Carradine would put this film?

  Diane Adams is strolling through the grounds of the old Butler mansion, which is about to be demolished.  She is reminiscing over the horrible events that happened last year and how nobody knew that truly terrible secrets of that house or their town until then.
  She remembers that it started in 1950, when Wilfred Butler ran out of his house on fire and forgetting to stop, drop and roll, he was burnt to a crisp.  In his will, he left the mansion to his only living relative, his grandson Jeffrey.  The house then became a "haunted house" or a "cursed" place in the town and no one dared to walk the grounds or go near the place because it was too frightening.
  Now 22 years later, Jeffrey wants to sell the place because he needs the money and the town counsel wants to buy the old place for some mysterious reason.  So, he sends his lawyer to hash out the deal and tells the town council that the want 50 grand for the whole place.  The town agrees and tells the lawyer that they will have the money for him tomorrow.  The lawyer tells them to swing by the Butler place to give him the money in the morning and the town counsel is shocked that the lawyer is staying at the mansion.  The lawyer tells them that he's not afraid of any spook stories and bids them a good day.
  Meanwhile, a crazed inmate at a nearby mental institution escapes and the police advise everyone to be on the lookout for this dangerous and crazy individual.  However it's business as usual for the lawyer and his girlfriend, who head back to the creepy old house just as night is settling in and have some dinner.  After supper, they head up to the boudoir for some sexy time and then get violently hacked to pieces with an ax by a maniac.
  After the bludgeoning, the killer puts on a very unconvincing girl voice and invites the town counsel to come and visit her at the Butler mansion.  Diane gets on of these weird calls but her dad the mayor isn't home but she'll let him know that Mary-Anne called when he gets back.  Coincidentally after the bizarre calls and shit, Jeffrey Butler shows up at Diane's place looking for help cuz his car broke down and he can't get into his house.  After seeing some I.D, Diane puts her gun away and the two of them go looking for the sheriff and find a whole lot of mystery instead.  Abandoned cars, Wilfred Butler's diary and eventually a bevy of mutilated corpses, which seems to get larger every time Jeffrey leaves the room.  Will Diane be able to recount this terrible tale of terror and get through the events without having some sort of psychotic breakdown or will the story of the Butler house and it's secrets remain hidden for ever?

  There is some serious camp value to this film but the story is really all over the place.  Right off the bat director Theodore Gershuny (Sugar Cookies, Kemek) has a man on fire running out of the house which is definitely an attention grabber and for the rest of the film there is an assortment of violence that makes this an enjoyable fun film.
  And even though the story throughout the film is a mish mash of confusing dates and facts, the reveal at the end is so disturbing in every way possible that it pretty much trumps all the shitty writing up until that point.
  Also, I like John Carradine (The Ten Commandments, Vampire Hookers) in this movie.  Although he isn't in it that much, he is probably the best bell ringing mute ever.  Same with Mary Woronov (Nomads, Chopping Mall) who plays Diane.  She does a great job playing a tough girl looking for answers with her new mysterious friend.  Again she isn't in as many scenes as you would expect, which is weird because her character is suppose to be narrating, but she looks scared when she has to and she screams real good when directed to.

  Again, the story is kind of all over the place and there are times when it really drags on and on.  The time lines that are concocted here kind of work, but not really, and sometimes you end up trying to doing the math for characters ages in the many lulls in the film.  There are plenty of things that don't make sense and the ending kind of clears of them up, but not really.
  Also, this isn't the best looking film to watch and time has not been kind to the reel that this version of the film came from.  Now in public domain, this hasn't received the love or attention that other older films have gotten and it's a pretty dirty viewing.  As well as, some of the murder scenes seem to have been cut a little too soon and I'm not sure it's due to the cut of the film or if it's just how the film was actually edited.  There are some good death scenes in this, like I mentioned earlier but they're just not edited together well in this version.

  This may be on the crap side of Mr. Carradine's filmography but it isn't totally terrible.  There is an interesting and gross type of mystery in play here but the story is developed so poorly that the only time it really shines is at the end of the film.  It has some killing and there are some unintentional funny bits and that always helps a bad film and makes it a bit more fun.  So, if you're looking for a time waster with an unsettling ending for holiday viewing this might be the gift you're looking for.

Sunday, 7 December 2014

Holiday Horror: Don't Open Till Christmas (1984)

Don't Open Till Christmas (1984)
Director: Edmund Purdom
Starring: Edmund Purdom, Alan Lake, and Belinda Mayne
Running Time: 86 min

  So here's the switch up, instead of people dressed as Santa hacking naughty people to pieces, a naughty killer is hacking people dressed as Santa Claus to pieces.  See, I'm all about versatility and apparently so is actor Edmund Purdom (Pieces, Frankenstein's Castle Freaks) who not only is starring in this film but has taken a crack at directing this film.  He's been in so many horror movies, he must know what he's doing, right?

  A killer approaches a car with a couple making out in it, the man in the car gets out and tries to get rid of this Nosey Ned but gets knifed in the gut for his trouble and then his lady friend is stabbed as well.  Neither of them are wearing Santa related gear, so how this relates to the Santa killer, no idea?
  Anyway after the opening credits, we're at a Christmas party and Kate Briosky is helping are wealthy father get his Santa gear on for the party.  Kate's boyfriend, Cliff tells them that he's going to announce that Santa has arrived and heads over to the stage.  Kate's father dressed as Santa goes on stage and thanks his company for coming and tells them that they're are going to receive lots of gifts for Christmas.  Then he is killed by a spear in the back of the head by a man in a melted face mask.  The killer easily escapes because everyone is in shock over the murder and Cliff is having a tantrum at the bar about not being able to catch the killer.
  The next day at the New Scotland Yard, Inspector Ian Harris rolls into work late and talks with Detective Sergeant Powell about this rash of Santa killings and how he's getting a lot of flack from above for not having them solved immediately.  After a quick chat, they head over to Kate and Cliff's apartment to see if they have any clues that could solve this mystery.  Unfortunately, they don't but Harris and Powell have taken an interest in Cliff and decide to keep an eye on him.
  Probably for a good reason because Cliff seems like a weird cat, who plays flute on the street corner for a living and has his girlfriend, Kate, the daughter of the deceased wealthy industrialist collect the change that people toss at them with his/her beret.  The day after her father's death, they're back at it on the street because Cliff thinks she should get over it and they need money(?).  After a hard afternoon of flute playing,  Cliff tries to get Kate in for some sexy time with Cliff's old friend, who is a photographer and some model girl.  However, Kate won't be a part of that, not even for money and she leaves.  So, Cliff stays to have sex and afterwords gets caught in a chase with the police for some inane reason.  During this chase the model gets lost in the dark alleyways wearing nothing but a Santa cloak and ends up dying at the hands of the Santa Killer.  Such a shame.
  Meanwhile, the killer also continues to kill off regular people  dressed as Santa Claus in a number of creative ways and Inspector Harris gets a mysterious present that says "Don't Open Till Christmas".  Also a shady reporter named Gerry is trying to help Detective Powell on the case by telling him that he should keep an eye on Harris, who seems to be acting strange and has shifted eyes.  Will the police ever catch this maniac and make it safe for Santa's everywhere or will this yuletide nightmare never end and the Kris Kringles will have to live in fear forever.

  This is a terrific example of a director finding out that making a horror movie is harder than it looks and that is probably why this is Edmund Purdom only has this one directing credit. The story is all over the place and nothing ties together properly.  It's a whole bunch of ideas thrown together without any real thought or reason for it.  It's like they had a bunch of cool ideas and then tried to shoehorn them all in without considering how it would affect the story.  
  The killing is fine and I'll come back to that later, but it's the characters and the development of them that is way off.  Why is Kate, the daughter of a wealthy industrialist, and her boyfriend still trying to get by in this shitty apartment and playing flute on the street?  Why is Cliff trying to get Kate to take nude pictures so they can drum up some cash?  Where is the development of this relationship between Kate and Harris, so that she says something like "you are the only one I can trust"?  These kinds of questions are never mentioned or answered throughout the film and the relationship behind Kate and Harris is non-existent for most of the story. 
  Also what drives me bananas is about a third of the way through the film we are introduced to a second female lead character.  She pops up after witnessing a murder and by the end of the film she as turned from an nothing secondary character to one of the leads of the film for no reason and the Kate Harris storyline drifts away.  We know nothing about her and isn't given any real scenes to make us care about her but she is needed for the exciting ending of the film, so she is thrust upon us whether we like it or not.
  Even the ending is shitty and dumb.  The way they end the killer's storyline is impossible, Kate's storyline ends by a very lazy writer's hand and Harris's sub plot comes to an end in the most bizarre and unexpected circumstances, with no reason at all.  This is hack writing probably at it's best and this film should be used in writing classes as a what not to do when writing scripts.

  The killings in this film are it's only saving grace.  There are some very brutal Santa and non Santa slayings that are somewhat imaginative and a wonderful escape from the dull and confusing storyline.  Santa gets hit with an ax, shot in the mouth with a flare gun and even gets his penis cut off at one point!  I know Mrs. Claus won't like that.  Anyway, these scenes are the best thing about this film and would be the only reason I would recommend watching it.

  This is not a good movie by any stretch of the imagination but it is a very violent one.  The storyline is shitty and the film doesn't really pay off at the end because of so many reasons, including the character focus switches three quarters of the way through the film.  So unless you dig bad movies or your whole purpose is to see Kris Kringle die in as many horrible deaths as possible, which is pretty fun, then this movie should never be opened, ever.


Saturday, 6 December 2014

Holiday Horror: Jack Frost (1997)

Jack Frost (1997)
Director: Michael Cooney
Starring: Scott MacDonald, Christopher Allport, and Stephen Mendel
Running Time: 89 min

  It's a movie about a killer snowman! How awesome is that!  To be honest I'm a sucker for these bizarre premise horror films like "ThanksKilling", "The Refrigerator" and I've still yet to see "Deathbed" but it's on my list of films to catch.  I know going into this that this will probably suck buuuuuuut, how badly will it suck that is really the question.

  It's Christmas eve and serial killer, Jack Frost is being transported for execution by the police through the small sleepy town of Snowmonton . On the way there, Frost's vehicle crashes into a truck carrying genetic material or science goo and Forst escapes but only gets far enough to get hosed down the chemicals from the truck.  This melts Frost into a pile of goo and the police believe that Frost is killed instantly.  Case closed, let's get some donuts.
  Coincidentally the sheriff who nabbed Frost, Sam Tiler and his family are just on their way to watch Frost get executed.  Those are the best family outings, when somebody dies.  They arrive at the scene of the crash and the police tell them what has happened, so disappointed the Tiler family turns around and heads back to home to Snowmonton.  Dang it!
  Although the next day should be Christmas, it isn't because everybody is down town getting ready for the snowman building competition.  Sheriff Sam is down there in his snow barren town, watching people put together snowman from the one pile of snow in the middle of the street.  Anyway, he gets a call about a murder in the town and rushes to find old man Harper frozen to death.  Him and his deputy are confused and Sam can't get the nagging feeling Jack Frost is still alive.
  Meanwhile, Sam's son Ryan finds a unusual snowman in front of his house.  While adding some finishing touches to it with some coal for the eyes and a carrot nose, he is accosted by some local bullies who want to slide on his sidewalk(?).  However, when the bullies start sliding on the flat sidewalk, the snowman pushes the leader of the bullies down and he is decapitated by the sled coming behind him.
  The town thinks Ryan did it but he tells them and his father that the snowman did it.  The sheriff is starting to put two and two together and calls the FBI to confirm the Jack Frost really died in that accident.  Agent Manners confirms this and then takes his crony, Stone and they head to Snowmonton to try and stop whatever they think may be going on.
  Eventually we find out that Jack Frost, the chemicals from the truck and the snow fused together the night of the accident and he's back to get his revenge on the Sheriff and the town of Snowmonton for sending him to the chair!  Can Sheriff Sam, Agent Manners and the town stop this ruthless snowman or are the about to be buried in an avalanche of terror?

  Well, it is about a snowman that kills people but it's hard to believe that writer/director Michael Cooney could be the same person who wrote the thriller "Identity".  This movie is so dumb and the jokes are so bad that at time it's a bit painful.  The snowman is suppose to have these ironic one liners, like Chucky or Freddy but they're just terrible and corny.  It's like the jokes your drunk uncle tells you.
  However his jokes are funnier because the jokes here are pretty tame.  They're not offensive, biting and sharp, which is partly why I think that Cooney and co-writer Jeremy Paige don't seem to know who there audience is when they were writing this film.  The story is so childish and dumb at times but the violence is heavy, that is very confusing.  I think this film could have been a lot better if they went to the fence with the horror like "ThanksKilling" did.  If the violence was more gratuitous, the jokes were better thought out and of an adult nature and if they played the scenes more seriously, then this would have been a much better watch.  

  With that said, it's not all bad though, there are some funny bits and again the killings are some what creative and inventive.  Not plausible but still somewhat entertaining.
  Also, I like the look of the snowman.  He is very creepy and it's funny to see him pop up in different places.  There must have been a lot of thought, probably high, about ways an evil snowman could get inside places and how it could kill you.  Scott MacDonald (Fire in the Sky, Jarhead) isn't that bad as Jack Frost.  He reminds me a bit of Napoleon Wilson from "Assault on Precinct 13" but with lame jokes.  Again that's not MacDonald's fault that his character is the way he is, it's the writers.
  It's funny to also see Shannon Elizabeth (American Pie, Marshall the Miracle Dog) in one of her first film roles.  She plays a sexy teen who gets murdered in an almost rapey scene with the snowman but this is another example where Cooney and Paige back down on the horror and don't take it to that next nasty level.  Other than that, this isn't a very note worthy performance but it's one she should never forget.

  This is a bad movie but I don't know if it's funny bad or just bad, bad.  The story is so ridiculous and seems to not know what it is, the acting is bad but I'm sure you already knew this and the ending is really hacked together, which doesn't make it that satisfying.  I'm not saying don't watch this because after a few drinks or "something" this film might seem really funny but this might be the one movie you may want to secretly regift.