Friday, 27 March 2015

March Monsters: Stake Land (2010)

Stake Land (2010)
Director: Jim Mickle
Starring: Connor Paolo, Nick Damici, Kelly McGillis
Running Time: 98 min

  I've heard a lot of good things about this film and I dig post-apocalyptic stuff.  From what I gather, this is kind of like "The Walking Dead" but with vampires instead of zombies, which should be interesting because vamps can only work at night, giving mankind a glimpse of safety during the day.  Hopefully, this will have some good tips on what to do in a Vampocalyptic setting because it's coming people! 

  Martin, a teenage boy, is rescued by a strange loner named Mister, after his family is attacked by a vampire at the beginning of the apocalypse.  Unfortunately, Mister was only able to save Martin and as they travel up north in search for the New Eden, he takes Martin under his wing and trains him on how fight off vampires and how to survive in this new world.
  On the way, Mister saves a nun from being raped by two guys, Mister has no mercy on these perpetrators and leaves one of them to die on the road.  Still terrified, the nun is slowly brought back to the vehicle and Mister and Martin let her know that she is safe.  Over the next couple days, Sister, the nun starts to trust them and becomes part of their entourage as they continue their way to the great white north of freedom.  Unfortunately, the vampires are not the thing that people need to worry about these days.  The religious right or "The Brotherhood" have gotten even more extreme and have taken over patches of land throughout the northern parts of the US.  They are feared as well as hated and unfortunately, they are pissed off at Mister.  During a stop the group, Martin, Mister and Sister, hear the cries of a baby inside an evangelist tent and when they go to investigate, they get trapped by "The Brotherhood".  The leader of this particular group, Jebedia Loven was the father of one of the rapists that Mister killed to save Sister, so there is nothing friendly about this encounter.  Loven ties Mister up and they leave him defenseless in the middle of the road to die that night and take Sister and Martin back to their camp to "educate" them.  Can Mister escape and save Martin and Sister from these religious nuts or will he be a midnight snack for these wild undead?


  This was really good and not what I was expecting from a lower budgeted vampire flick.  Director/co writer Jim Mickle (We Are What We Are, Mulberry St) and lead actor/co-writer Nick Damici (Mulberry St, Cold In July) create a very different of bloodsucker here.  Instead of the suave and sophisticated vamps that we've seen over the years, they break them down into these unthinking blood hungry animals, which is a very delightful change.  They seem to be more of a cross breed between zombies and a pack of wild dogs, but stronger and a lot harder to kill.  On top of that, the effects team on this project is pretty awesome, considering the budget restraints, and not only do the creatures look amazing but the there are some very good bloody kills as well.
  Also, I found it amusing that Mickle and Damici made the religious right the other villain and one of the things to fear in post apocalyptic times.  Michael Cerveris (The Mexican, Cirque du Freak), who plays the leader of "The Brotherhood" Jebedia Loven, really nails the character and he and his followers can be at times just as frightening as any of the undead at night.
   

  I'm trying to think of stuff that I wasn't crazy about and there really isn't that many bad things to say.  Sure, the story is simple enough, it's not something we haven't seen and you kind of know what is coming but the way that Mickle & Damici develop this yarn and add simple nuances to it, like the animalistic vampires, allows it to be fresh again. Also, considering this is a low budget picture, I think that director Mickle took full advantage of this and was able to use his small cast to really focus on what was important and tell a great road/coming of age story with a vampire twist.
  The only thing that I wasn't a huge fan of was the ending but I understand why they did it.  I just don't know if that was the best idea for the characters or if it would have been true, but it did create a very impactful scene at the end and it did make sense in a way.  However, this doesn't hurt the film in any way, it's just what it is.


  This is a great vampire flick and anyone who is looking for some old school vampire carnage should check this out. These vamps certainly don't sparkle.  This is a simple but well told road story, peppered with enough violence and gore that will make you want to see it again and again.  So, if you're looking for a creature flick that you can sink your teeth into that doesn't drain you of your precious time, grab this and let feasting begin.


Monday, 23 March 2015

Can even the most violent gangster be redeemed? Review of The Resurrection of a Bastard (aka De Wederopstanding van een Klootzak) (2013)

The Resurrection of a Bastard (aka De Wederopstanding van een Klootzak (2013)
Director: Guido van Driel
Starring: Yorick van Wageningen, Goua Robert Grovogui, and Juda Goslinga
Running Time: 88 min

  So I saw the trailer for this, which i usually try and avoid but this dude does seem like a right violent bastard, so I'm going to have to check it out.  Although, not horror it does look like it has some disturbing crime stuff in it to make it enjoyable and I'm willing to give anything a shot that may contain anything that may pertain to weird senseless violence.

  A high level thug & money collector, Ronnie and his with his crony/bodyguard Janus are looking for the person that who tried to assassinate him a few months ago.  However, as they drive around the country side of Friesland, mmm fries land, Janus notices that Ronnie is not the complete douchebag violent thug he always is and continues to report Ronnie's change to the big boss, James Joyce.
  Before the attempt on his life, Ronnie had gone to pick up some one of the debtors for his boss, James Joyce with Janus and his other lackey.  The debtor didn't have the money but he was trying to get it by selling off his possessions.  As Ronnie and his team are "Persuading" this guy to pay up, they heard voices in the hall way coming closer.   Ronnie ran to the door and snatched a woman and her son and pulled them into the apartment.  The debtor tells Ronnie that they were just there to buy something from him but Ronnie starts bullying the little boy.  The mother attacked Ronnie but she got beaten to death in front of her son for her trouble.  Ronnie, then to put a point on the message that he is trying to send to the debtor, he uses the vacuum cleaner to suck out his eyeball.
  However, this thuggery doesn't go over so well with James Joyce, his boss.  Ronnie is brought into his office and is given a calm but very disturbing lecture about what to and not to do.  Ronnie takes his advice but doesn't let it phase him or his team.  However, a few nights later at a party at the "White Club", Ronnie is gunned down by a masked assassin in the mens' room.  Unfortunately/Fortunately, he doesn't die and is brought to a hospital in time.
  Meanwhile a refugee from Angola, Eduardo has settle down in Friesland trying to start a new life.  He seems to works for an elderly couple on a farm, who has recently taken in their grandson after their daughter was murdered.  He takes an interest in and sees a connection behind the local legends of Saint Boniface and his own African culture.   How will Eduardo and Ronnie's life intertwine?  What will happen if the new Ronnie ever finds the masked killer that tried to murder him?  Will he resurrect the bastard inside or will he turn the other cheek?

 
  This was pretty good and I really enjoyed the gangster elements of this film.  For his first full length film, I think that director Guido van Driel did a decent job telling this story of how a man, after a traumatic incident, can recognize things in his life and want to make a changes.  Also, I did like Eduardo story and think that there was something interesting going on, but it could have been fleshed out a little bit more.  However, the source material is from a graphic novel, written by
van Driel but there are always some lost converting things to the big screen.
   Yorick van Wageningen, say that three times fast (Blackhat, 47 Ronin), is perfect has the lead and has a brilliant look and feel for thuggery in this film.  He plays the bastard part brilliantly and must have had a fun filming this because his character comes off as such a jerk.  Also, you don't see as much of the James Joyce character but the late Jeroen Willems (Ocean's Twelve, It's All So Quiet) is rather deliciously evil has the head boss of this gang.  He negates any emotion, outside of anger, and plays the the role cold and calculating with such amazing grace.  Both performances are outstanding and the film is worth seeing just for those two. 




  However what I found difficult to understand was the correlation between Ronnie's story and Eduardo's outside of Eduardo just being in the wrong place at the wrong time.  Although, both stories work, I think it was hard for van Driel to really fuse them together seamlessly.  The ending is a little strange, avant-garde and I'm still wondering about it.
  Also, what I found a little challenging in this film is that I am unfamiliar with the religious lore of Friesland or the Netherlands.  This whole concept, from what I read was based on a graphic novel based on Saint Boniface created to celebrate his 1250 anniversary of his martyrdom.  van Driel does try and touch on this, giving a brief overview and background of Saint Boniface but I think some of the nuances of the film are lost on me with not growing up in this culture.  Of course not everybody is going to know everything about the culture of every country when it coems to watching films, that's impossible but here it seems a little more prevalent in the film.  It doesn't hurt the overall film but maybe a little research, or a visit to wikipedia may enhance and help give a clear understanding of the picture, especially the ending.




  With that said, I still think that with is a great film and the positive outweighs any confusing matter that may arise at the end.  This is a terrific film about the redemption of a violent gangster and highlights some incredible nastiness before his change.  As well as some remarkable acting from the entire cast but Yorick van Wageningen and the late Jeroen Willems are really stand out players here.  So, if you're looking for a new foreign crime flick that may alter your wicked ways, then throw this on and stay away from the vacuum cleaner.

Saturday, 21 March 2015

March Monsters: The Cyclops (1957)

The Cyclops (1957)
Director: Bert I. Gordon
Starring: James Craig, Gloria Talbott, and Lon Chaney Jr.
Running Time: 66 min

  I've wanted to see this for a while now but I didn't realize there are couple of key features of this film that will probably make this film great.  For one, it's directed by one of the best known low budget, big creature film makers Bert I. Gordon, who is known for such films as "Food of the Gods", "The Amazing Colossal Man" and "Earth vs the Spider". And then, I find out that Lon Chaney Jr., who is best known for the Universal classic "The Wolfman" but more well known for his low budget shlockers like "Spider Baby", "Hillbilly's in a Haunted Mansion" or the Corman classic, "The Haunted Palace" is in this as well.  So, I know what to expect with this one and it should be a big gulp of fun.

  Susan Winter is begging the Mexican government to let her and her scientist friends explore the jungles of Mexico to find her missing boyfriend, test pilot Bruce Barton.  The Mexican government doesn't like the idea of this group of "explorers" snooping around and agreed to let her search in a specific area but only if she brings along a Mexican soldier with her to keep them out of restricted areas.  She tries to explain that their plane only carries four and they would have to leave a member of their team behind, but the official will not budge on this term and eventually she agrees.
  Susan returns to the bar, where her expedition team is waiting for the results of the meeting.  Her good friend, Russ Bradford and mining expert, Marty Melville are discussing the whereabouts of Barton, while the PILOT, Lee Brand is getting drunk on Tequila.  She tells them the bad news about the soldier but Marty tells her not to worry and he has a plan so cunning to get rid of this Mexican soldier that "you could put a tail on it and call it a weasel."  So, just before they are ready to take off in the plane, Marty punches the soldier and then they fly away.  Brilliant. Bravo.
  While in the air, the Mexican government are demanding that they turn their plane around but they refuse and head into the dark forest area where Susan's boyfriend was lost.  Unfortunately, Marty gets jumpy in the plane because he wants to land and look for uranium deposits and ends up knocking out the pilot and almost crashing the plane.  Luckily, Susan is able to revive the pilot in time but the end of having to make an emergency landing.  The group discovers that this area is a goldmine for uranium and has they explore the forest, they discover that with some much concentrated uranium here, that it is mutating the creatures that live there into these enormously frightening beasts.  Not only are the animals large, but Susan eventually comes face to face with the largest one-eyed monster that she has ever seen and can't escape it's large shape.  It's the cyclops, grow up.  Anyway, can this group find Susan's lost boyfriend and get out of this crazy jungle or will they be trapped there and perish from either the grotesquely large creatures or of radiation poisoning?  


  All things considered and for it's time, this very enjoyable film.  You have to give Bert I. Gordon credit for what he's done here and the impact that the had on all the future B-movie film makers everywhere.  He was in his garage creating these effects with the most rudimentary matte work and a limited back screen projection to create these enormous creatures.  Sure they weren't perfect but he got it done and people loved it. 
  Also, this was Gordons' second film, the first being King Dinosaur, and this was the first time he turned a person gigantic.  I think overall the cyclops works well and the make up team does a decent job with the face, again considering the budget restraints of the picture.


  After watching this, I can see why this film is so popular with fans of low-budget cinema and it's mostly because of the flaws.  The story itself is interesting and simple, a woman is looking for her lost husband but as Gordon adds more characters, it starts getting a little mixed up and sometimes the focus gets a little lost.
  Also, some of the dialogue and acting isn't very good, which only adds to the humour.  There are some lines in this that only a veteran B-movie actor like Lon Chaney Jr. (Face of the Screaming Werewolf, Dracula vs Frankenstein) who plays the conniving tough guy, Marty Melville could deliver and still make sense.  As well as the never ending joke about the pilot being part Indian and getting them lost all the time, get old but still made me chuckle every time.  It's just so bad, that you have to other options but to laugh.


  This may be a ridiculous film but it's ridiculous in a good way. Sure, there is a scene where the Cyclops grabs Susan and as well as the background, revealing the black colour behind it or that some/most/all of the motivations and actions of these characters are dangerous and sometimes don't make sense but if you can get past all that, logic stuff, you can relax and just enjoy the nonsensical ride.  So, if you're looking for a classic B-movie that has massive creatures in it, including an enormous one-eyed monster, and will have you chuckling all the way through, then may be the monster madness, you've been looking for.

Friday, 20 March 2015

March Monsters: Late Phases (2014)

Late Phases (2014)
Director: Adrián García Boglianor
Starring: Nick Damici, Ethan Embry, and Lance Guest
Running Time: 95 min

  There seems to be a boom in werewolf movies lately, there have been like 3 this month that have a decent storylines and look viciously fun.  I've only seen director's Adrián García Boglianor work on "ABC's of Death", but he seems to have an extensive back catalog that I may have to sift through if this is good.  Also, there are some familiar faces in this as well, like Nick Damici (Stakeland), Lance Guest (The Last Starfighter), Tom Noonan (House of the Devil) and the ever gorgeous Tina Louise (Giligan's Island).  This looks like it will be a howl, full moon or not.

  A blind vet, Ambrose is being driven to a retirement village by his son, Will.  Ambrose is a gruff, crotchety old man who isn't crazy about his new home but knows that it will probably be better for him.  When they get there Will drops him off and looks around the house, while Ambrose explores and finds himself wandering next door to his neighbours garage sale.  Ambrose introduces himself to his new neighbor Delores and lets her know that although he can't see her, that she smells beautiful.  Delores is charmed by Ambrose and they start chatting it up but this is interrupted by Will, who needs for his father to come back inside and help with the movers.  Ambrose excuses himself and goes inside.  Later on, once Will is gone and while Ambrose is cleaning his gun, some other neighbors drop by to welcome him to the neighborhood.  Ambrose is really gruff with these ladies and leaves a bad impression but Ambrose doesn't give a fuck and continues to clean his guns.
  That night, Ambrose and his dog notice a weird smell in the house and area and then he hears screaming from Delores house.  Unbeknownst to him, Delores is being attacked by a werewolf and Ambrose puts his head against the wall asking her what's wrong and if she needs any help.  The werewolf hits the wall, knocking Ambrose off his feet.  Once the werewolf is done with Delores, he comes over to Ambrose's place for desert.  Luckily, Ambrose's dog attacks the monster and gives his life to save Ambrose and to get rid of the monster. Unfortunately, Will forgot to set up a phone in Ambrose's house and Ambrose sits there with his dead friend until help arrives.
  When the police finally come the next day, Ambrose and Will learn that these kind of animal attacks happen all the time in this residential area and that there was a number of animal attacks over the years, especially during the full moon.  Ambrose asks if last night was a full moon and the police tell him that it was.  Ambrose starts putting two and two together and asks his son when the next full moon is, which Will replies in a month.  Can Ambrose find out who in the neighborhood is the werewolf and will he be able to stop them before the next full moon or will Ambrose become yet selection in this buffet for this carnivorous beast?


  This was really good and the special effects were done exceptionally well.  I like that director Adrián García Boglianor (Here Comes the Devil, Penumbra) gets down to horror business right away int the first act and sets up this cool mystery/revenge plot for Ambrose to work through.   I, also like that Boglianor moves away from the horror protagonist mold, teen girl, nerdy guy..., and focuses on the capability and resourcefulness of two overlooked and sometimes abandoned segments of society, the elderly and people who are sight challenged.  Ambrose may be blind and a little bit older but he is still tough as nails and ain't going to take any shit from that werewolf mofo, which is very refreshing.
  And Nick Damici (Stakeland, We Are What We Are) who plays Ambrose,  his performance is what really drives this whole film.  Although he said he had a difficult time with the blind element, even saying that you "can't just blindfold yourself to learn because it doesn’t work that way. Even when you’re blindfold you’re seeing more than a blind person sees. I just had to do it looking peripherally and trusting Adrian that it came off okay.", Damici's execution of the character was fantastic.  He shows a lot of range near the beginning and around the end with not only battling a werewolf but coming to terms with his relationship with his son.  Don't start groaning, it's not all Dr. Phil and shit but it does leave you with a touch of sadness.
  Also, as I mention earlier the special effects team on this should be really commended because this/these werewolves looked great.  The have kind of a retro look to them but with a more up to date mobility, does that make sense?  Sure it does, anyway they look really great and there is also an impressive transformation scene in this film that should not be missed by any horror fan.  It's face rippingly awesome! 


  Issues, well I've said it once and I know I've it a million times, but horror movie cops need to be dumb and refuse to have any belief in the super natural.  However in this film, it pushes the boundary of thinking a little too far.  The police characters almost spell w e r e w o l f out, by saying that old people at this retirement get attack by animals the most on the full moon.  Nobody has looked into this before?  Old people are smart and I don't think a safety issue like this would have been that overlooked for this long a period.  This part of the premise could have been massaged and work into the story a little better, because it takes away from the film for me, it just doesn't ring true
  Also, I found the second act does get a little dry while we wait for the next full moon.  After the first act being some intense and cool, it's hard to get settled back into a building lull.  Boglianor does use some humour and a decent sub-plot to negate the most of the dryness of the build but the film does linger at times.


  With that said, the film as a whole is still pretty great and one of the better werewolf movies that I've seen in a while.  Great story concept, amazing special effects and Nick Damici kills it in this film as the lead character.  So, if you're looking for a film to transform your evening into something terrifying and howling, put your hairy mitts on this and don't look back.


Tuesday, 17 March 2015

March Monsters: Yongary, Monster from the Deep (aka Taekoesu Yonggary) (1967)

Yongary, Monster from the Deep (aka Taekoesu Yonggary)
(1967)
Director: Ki-duk Kim
Starring: Yeong-il Oh, Jeong-im Nam, and Sun-jae Lee
Running Time: 80 min

  This looks like a fun "Godzilla" knock off from South Korea.  I don't recognize the director, Ki-duk Kim, although he has an extensive catalog of films, and none of the actors pop out either, so I'm flying blind on this one and hoping that this is as humorous as it looks.

  After their marriage ceremony, an astronaut/scientist man and the daughter of a top government official depart for their honeymoon and the rest family joke about how their other daughter and another scientist Ilo will probably be getting married next. Ha Ha Ha Ha!
  Meanwhile in the car a few miles ahead, the astronaut/scientist groom and his bride are being driven to their honeymoon location, but they are attacked by some sunlight that flashes on them, which makes them very itchy and they ask their driver to pull over.  Unfortunately, they cannot stop itching even outside the car.  Luckily, Ilo pulls up behind them and finds the culprit who is causing them to itch hiding in the bushes.  It's The bride's little brother, Suna!  He has stolen a experimental weapon from Ilo's workshop to play a trick on his sister and her new husband by trying to make them itch to death! Ha Ha Ha Ha!  Ilo takes the weapon away from the little scamp and then he and Suna wish the happy couple all the best and drive back home.
  Sadly, the honeymoon is cut short because just as the astronaut looks like he's going to launch his rocket into his wife's celestial spaces, he gets a call from her dad, the top government official.  He tells his astronaut/son in-law that the Middle East is doing some nuclear testing and that the astronaut has to go into space for some reason.  So, the astronaut groom puts off exploring the new frontier with his bride and heads into work.  He goes into space and after some minor difficulties, he then returns and everyone is happy. Ha Ha Ha Ha!
  Meanwhile, the testing in the Middle East has caused some sort of weird earthquake that seems to be moving into South Korea.  Eventually it arrives and it's not an Earthquake, but the legendary reptile creature Yongary!  Who was awakened, I'm guessing, from the nuclear testing and is looking for a snack.  Yongary smashes his way through cities and crushes any military presence sent to contain the monster.  However, Ilo feels that he can stop it with, well he doesn't have a plan yet but he knows he can stop this gigantic creature, so he takes off to help battle it with his girlfriend and her younger brother, Suna in tow.
  When they arrive in the city that Yongary is smashing, Ilo and his girlfriend lose Suna in some Yongary smashing mix up.  Ilo realizes that he can't do shit and runs away with his girlfriend.  Unfortunately, the obnoxious Suna is still alive and travels through the sewers and eventually comes up in a oil refinery plant.  But guess who else is there... Yongary!  Who is drinking himself stupid on oil.  After a few gallons, his tail destroys something that contains a white powder substance that make Yongary stagger around.  Watching Yongary covered in the white powdery substance and dancing around looks like your least favourite relative at a wedding with a free bar.  However, Suna thinks he has discovered a plan to stop this monster and runs back to town to tell Ilo!  Can Suna and Ilo stop this monster in his giant tracks or will South Korea fall victim to a serious stomping by the legendary Yongary?! Ha Ha Ha Ha!


  This is a very charming and fun Godzilla-esque monster movie.  Sure it's G rated and lacks any real story, but it does have a monster that likes to party.  It drinks like a fish, it dances, white powdery substances makes it go crazy and I'm sure if it could talk, it would telling you the most offensive jokes that it could think of,  "What do you get when you cross Godzilla and blender?"...  Anyway,   Yongary is like that one friend, you're always afraid to bring to parties because you think they might embarrass you.  This monster is a lot of fun to watch awkwardly stumble around the city looking for something to drink, kinda of like I did in my teens and twenties and I think this is why I find him so amusing.
  Also, I love the miniatures and the monster suit.  Sure, it's not perfect and you can tell at times that they are remote control but there is something so amusing and adorable about these lower budget monster sets.  Everything is so well crafted but director Ki-duk Kim just can't push it into the realistic looking level and that's okay because it's part of the charm of the film.  As well as the monster suit, which is great for back then but it lacks any real mobility and you can see the enormous hole where the fire is coming from when it is using it's fire breathing attack.  Again, this is okay because it just adds to the camp factor of the film and reminds me of the scenes with Bobcat Goldthwait in "One Crazy Summer", where he is trapped in the monster suit.


   What the film is truly lacking is a cohesive story and a focus on a central character.  The story keeps shifting it's focus from the astronaut/groom to Ilo for most of the beginning of the film and eventually stays with Ilo and Suna to tie it all up.  This can be a bit confusing and it negates a lot of reasoning on why the astronaut/groom went to space or why we should really care about him at all.  It would have been better to just center our attention on Ilo, his scientific work and build it up to how that will help destroy this monster.  Which it kind of does in an ass backwards kind of way.
  Also the ending is a little awkward after the final battle with Yongary.  There is a lot of smiling and laughing, in what seems to be a more solemn moment.  Director Ki-duk Kim tries to make the Yongary character/monster likeable and even has a dance scene with Suna, which makes you think this creature isn't all bad, it likes 60's rock and maybe it just doesn't understand what it's doing.  Then at the end of the film, the only person not laughing and smiling is Suna, who recognizes what has really just happened and has some real sympathy for the creature but it is only momentarily.  I understand that it's just a silly monster movie but it's hard to play it both ways, light and fun but trying to inject this deeper undertone into the film.  It doesn't really work here and it just makes the other characters look cold and callous in the end.


  However, the film is still very good for a 60's big lizard flick that you can watch with anybody.  There is no real looking violence in this and there are some decent special effects and miniatures in this.  On top of that, Yongary can be a fun monster to hang out with, once you get to know him.  So, if you're looking for a party monster that will level your living room for an hour and give you a chuckle, invite Yongary over for your next B-Movie monster party! 

 

Sunday, 15 March 2015

March Monsters: Prophecy (1979)

Prophecy (1979)
Director: John Frankenheimer
Starring: Talia Shire, Robert Foxworth, and Armand Assante
Running Time: 102 min

  This movie should be awesome!  Not only does it have the director of  such extraordinary films like "The Bird Man From Alcatraz", "The Manchurian Canidate" and "Grand Prix", John Frankenheimer but the script was written by David Seltzer, who also wrote "The Omen" "Punchline" and "My Giant", which are all scary movies in some regards.  So I've given my socks notice that they will be knocked off while I'm watching this horror tour de force!

  Dr. Rob Verne has been working the city streets helping poor families in the city get the medical attention they need.  After seeing another family about their baby being bitten by rats, Dr. Rob is fed up and going to throw in the towel, he's done with rats all around. No more!  Luckily, his friend from the Environmental Protection Agency or EPA offers him a two week break from the rat eating baby system that has infested his city to help find a solution in a very volatile discussion between the logging industry and a group of Native Americans about land ownership.  That sounds waaaaay more relaxing, so Dr. Rob and his wife, Maggie fly out to the Androscoggin River in Maine to deal with some century old land agreements.  However, Maggie has a secret of her own and is afraid to tell Rob that she is pregnant because he thinks there are already too many unloved and unfed children in this world already and he's not bring anymore kids into a horrible world like this one.  Soooooo, she keeps that tidbit of information to herself and waits for the best time to surprise him.
  When they arrive at the logging camp, Bethel Isely the director of the paper mill, greets them and tells them that they have had some trouble with some of the Native Americans or Opies (O.P = Original People) lately.  Apparently, people have been going missing in dem der hills and they think that the native Americans have had something to do with the disappearances.  However, the Native Americans believe that it is the vengeful spirit of the forest called the Katahdin, who is murdering people because he has been awakened and it's trying to take back it's forest from the loggers.
Whether it's Native Americans or a vengeful spirit, Isely, Dr. Rob and Maggie still head into the forest to try and resolve the issues.  However, they come across a roadblock, set up by a group of Native Americans and led by John Hawks to stop them from getting into the forest.  The refuse to let Isely through and like usual it turns into a chainsaw vs axe battle of the greatest proportion!  Sadly John Hawks is defeated and before he is decapitated, his girlfriend unlocks the chain to let them through to the forest area.  Once they get through, Isely drops Dr. Rob and Maggie off at their cabin.
  Before Dr. Rob does any work, he heads out to do some fishing and catches a couple of fish for supper.  While out on the boat though he sees the most enormous salmon he's ever seen devour a duck and heads home to tell is wife.  While Maggie cooks their supper, Rob recounts this amazing fishing story to her and then they eat the fish from the lake.  After supper, Maggie tries to tell Rob about the baby but he is too wrapped up in the excitement of what happened today and tells her that she should already know how he feels about babies.  After dismissing Maggie about the baby talk, Rob cuddles up to her looking for some loving but that is quickly interrupted by a bang on the door.  Rob answers the door and it's a cute little raccoon... who jumps up and attacks him!  This adorable rabid racoon is trying to bite Rob's face off and Rob eventually just has to throw the creature into the fireplace, where it burns to death.  A little freaked out Rob and Maggie go to bed after a memorable day.
  Meanwhile, a family has gone camping in the woods in the same area and just as they are going to bed, this mutated bear type creature attacks them!  The creature kills the family and leaves the camp looking for other intruders.  The next morning, Dr. Rob and Maggie are being given a tour of the forest by John Hawks and his girlfriend and they come across an enormous tadpole.  Dr. Rob thinks that there might be something in the water affecting the creatures and people of the forest.  After some tests, he discovers that there is a mutagen in the water caused by excessive mercury deposits from the paper mill.  This mutagen will cause birth defects and progressive nerve damage to anyone or anything who ate or drank anything from the lake, like that fish last night Maggie.  Can Dr. Rob get this lake cleaned up before his mutant baby arrives or is it to late and the creatures from this lake & surrounding area are seeking their revenge against man for his eco unfriendliness? 


  This was enjoyable and not really what I was expecting at all.  Like a number of horror films from the 70's, like "Food of the Gods" and "The Long Weekend", there is a focus on the environmental impact of man and his eco-presence in nature.  Director Frankenhiemer and writer Seltzer can be a little heavy handed at times but it is good to see that a larger budgeted film can share an environmental message and still depict man eating mutant creatures in it as well.
  The creatures looked great and were very scary to watch.  I was really surprised that Frankenhiemer approached the death scenes in the this film with a no holds barred attitude.  One scene, which I found both amusing and particularly vicious was when the bear/mutant/thing killed the kid in the yellow sleeping bag.  Most of the time in larger budget films, they leave the kids/teens alone and they become annoying sad sack appendages to the to story but not here, that bear thing squished him like a banana.  It was great and it allowed the real story develop!  Also I like that as the movie progressed, more and more of these mutant creatures started attacking them.  It wasn't just this bear thing, Seltzer and Frankenheimer did a nice job creating a terrifyingly fun gaggle of creatures for our protagonists to encounter in this film.  


  Although I feel that this was and still is an important message, I think it does over shadow the fact that this is a horror movie at times.  I feel that there wasn't quite enough creature stuff going on during the second act.  The creatures mostly show up at the end in a very well done, escape the forest kind thing but I wish there was more scary scenes peppered into the second act.  Dr. Rob's search for why things are happening really dominates and slows the film down for me. 
  Also, I was surprised that there was no epilogue to the film.  There were a few questions that weren't answered at the end and I was a little disappointed.  However, I did like the ending and a nice surprise pops up before the credits role. 


  With that said, this is an interesting and insightful ecological horror film that has some great monsters going to town on human beings.  There is a decent story and even though the second act drags a bit, the third act makes up for any time spent drudging through sciencey things.  Also, the effects department did a fabulous job and the creatures looked pretty amazing.  So, if you're looking for a horror movie that talks about the environmental impact of chemicals in the water and has some fun scenes of mother nature getting revenge, then move your styrofoam containers over and throw this in yer bio degradable player.

Saturday, 14 March 2015

March Monsters: Death Bed: The Bed That Eats People (1977)

Death Bed: The Bed That Eats People (1977)
Director: George Barry
Starring: Demene Hall, William Russ, Julie Ritter
Running Time: 77 min

  Let's face it, I like weird movies and I've been pretty excited to see this film for a long. It's about a bed that eats people, how awesome is that!  Writer/director George Barry must have been pretty high when he came up with this concept that it took until the end of production to come down and realized how difficult this concept is to turn into a good 90 minute film.  Anyway, I have heard that like most films of this ilk, "Rubber", "Da Lift", "The Refrigerator", that it is a more bad than good, but I will brave the waves of terrible movie and try not to shit the Death Bed.

  A random man trapped in the wall behind a painting of the death bed sort of narrates what is happening at the beginning and throughout the film.  He talks to the evil bed that is stuck in a cabin outside a very large house and awaits trespassers to fall into it's cozy mattress of doom.  A middle age couple tries to break into the larger house but the bed uses it's magic powers to lock the doors and the couple eventually finds their way to the cabin with the death bed.  They put out their romantic dinner, which consists of a couple of apples, a bottle of wine and a bucket of chicken, but start making out before they start eating.  Unfortunately, their dinner becomes an appetizer for the demon bed and then it moves to the main course.  The bed uses it's gross yellow foam to suck this Don Jaun De Dollarstore and his date into it's mattress to devour them.  The man trapped behind the painting can only hear the bed crunching and munching it's victims and cannot help save them or anyone else.
  Some time later, I think, three young women come to the house because they are evaluating the house for sale or something.  Anyway, for some reason these women cannot find this enormous house at the end of a well marked out driveway and can only find the cabin that the death bed is living in.  On of the girls, says that she will sleep now during the day (?), so later this evening the other two can sleep in the bed during the night.  Makes sense right?  So, the other two go and try and find the main house while the other one tries to sleep in the deathbed.  Unfortunately, the death bed eats her too and when her friends come back, they don't seem to care that she is gone but look for her anyway.  Will the Deathbed feed on the girls to or will something or someone finally try to stop the evil demon inside the Death bed? Anyone? Bueller?


  This movie is pretty ridiculous in a it's soooo bad that it's almost good, sort of.  At least there are moments in the film where director George Barry recognizes what he has here and adds a bit of humour to it.  There is a scene with the bed taking some Pepto-Bismal after eating a few people, which is humorous.   As well as the crunching and munching sounds that the bed makes when it was eating people is pretty funny too.  It's so obnoxious and silly, that you just have to laugh.
  Also, I did like the very quick overview of the origin of the bed and seeing all of it's victims being consumed.  I mean, at least something was happening in the film and it wasn't more shots of people just wandering around aimless in the forest anymore.  Some of it was amusing, like the priest being eaten or the bed devouring a group of people having an orgy on it but again it was really one note and there seem to be a real lack of imagination or development put into the story.
  The ending is okay, the bed actually uses some of it's evil power to do things besides locking and unlocking doors.  Even though the story takes another incredible wide turn for no reason, at least there is a big fire, which looks cool. It's something people, it's something!

 
  Well, there is a whole lot of bad in this film as you can imagine.  The acting is so bad that the protagonist or lead girl doesn't even get a spoken line in the film.  She could have been a mute for all I know, she just wanders listlessly through each scene with absolutely no emotion or desire to escape.
  The only thing worse than her, was her "brother" played by Russ Williams (Boston Legal, Young & the Restless) because when he arrives the bed eats the skin and muscle from his hands.  After having his hands eaten, one would expect him to be freaked out and scream, shout, cry, whimper but not this dude.  This zen mofo just accepts the fact that a bed ate his hands and sits down to do nothing.  This is the most frustrating and funniest part of the film because you expect some reaction but get nothing.  It's crazy!


  All and all, this is terrible C to D rate horror movie that only people who enjoy the truly bizarre & absurd will probably appreciate.  The story is boundless and jumps all over the place, the acting is terrible, most of the story is narrative for some reason, even when two actors are sitting together and there is very little violence and gore shown throughout the picture but... it is a ridiculous movie about a bed that eats people which is something that you don't see every day.  So, if you are into amusing dreck about random inanimate objects murdering people or just looking for something to fill an hour, then you may want to throw this in and sleep on the couch.


I can't believe I'm the lead in Death Bed, shit.