Wednesday, 28 May 2014

Cabin Fever: Patient Zero (2014)

Cabin Fever: Patient Zero (2014)
Director: Kaare Andrews
Starring: Sean Astin, Currie Graham and Ryan Donowho
Running Time: 91 min

I will admit it, I liked the other two Cabin Fever films.  I though the first one was great and the second one was kind of silly but it had some good gruesome moments.  So when I heard a third one was coming out, I was secretly excited.  However, I wasn't familiar with anyone connected to this film with the exceptiion of everyone's favourite goonie/Rudy/hobbit, Sean Astin, so I didn't really know what to expect.

The film starts with the "government" burning down areas the forest that have the virus and some agents find a man, who is unaffected but is a carrier of the virus.  He is captured and brought to a secret island off the coast of the Dominic Republic, where Dr. Edwards, not a mad scientist but he seems angry, is trying to find a cure for the virus with his two scantily clad assistants.  He considers Foster to be patient zero and has him caged in a clear box but Foster refuses to help him and Dr. Edwards tells him he doesn't have a choice, then Edwards begins his experiments on Foster against his will.
  In story B, Marcus is getting married in a couple of days and is late picking up his friend, Dobbs for a rehearsal brunch.  They arrive in time for the brunch and Marcus's fiance seems fine with it but her parents are little more uptight.  After a speech, Marcus visits his friends' table, which includes Dobbs, his brother Josh and a Josh's girlfriend, Penny.  Marcus asks them to chill a bit because they're getting a little rowdy and Josh invites Marcus down to the boatyard for a surprise.  Meanwhile in story A, Foster has built himself a shack inside his glass cage and cuts his hand because he wants to use the virus as a weapon that will help him escape, so he can see his family.  The guards try to call his bluff and Foster kills one of the guards and infects him.  They get the guard out of Fosters' cell and into another cell, so Dr. Edwards can test the serum.  Dr. Edwards also calls for a 2 day quarantine of all unessential personnel into a locked room in their underground bunker.
  Josh, Penny and Dobbs bring Marcus and his fiance down to boatyard and surprise him with an awesome yacht trip to a deserted island for a wicked bachelor party in the middle of nowhere! Hoo ray?!  No girls allowed though, except for Penny, so Marcus says good bye to his fiance and they head out for an awesome party weekend!  On the boat, they're drinking and fishing and giving Marcus their comical wedding gifts.  Eventually they get to the island and tell the captain of the yacht that they will see him tomorrow and paddle off to the mysterious deserted island.  When they get there, Josh and Penny got snorkeling while Dobbs and Marcus get high and set up camp.  While snorkeling, Penny discovers a graveyard of fish and it freaks her out.  Her and Josh leave the water and Penny tries to explain what she saw but everyone tells her not to worry about it.  She goes to her tent and discovers that she got cut while swimming.  As the time goes on, she starts getting sicker and Josh realizes that he has similar rashes and oozy cuts.  Have Penny and Josh become infected and will the start to ooze like others before them, or will Marcus and his friends find Dr. Edwards in time with a cure that will save them and the rest of humanity?!?!

  This was a pretty good movie and director Kaare Andrews (Altitude, The ABC's of Death) does a decent job with the third installment of the franchise.  It's pretty much what you would expect from a Cabin Fever film.  There are a lot of people freaking out with a lot of really well done gory make up effects.  For me, the high point in the whole film is the cat fight between the Penny and one of the doctors assistants.  Both have been infected for a while and they're just dripping with bloody goo, so when they battle it's pretty disgusting and pretty sweet.
  Sean Astin  (Encino Man, Stay Cool), plays the Foster, patient zero, and does an exceptional job.  He plays the character well and is probably the most interesting character out of the bunch.  The other actors are still good but they're mostly playing stock characters.  Mitch Ryan (Groupie, Missionary) plays the Marcus,  he's the groom and wants to settle down, Brando Eaton (Balls Out!, Alvin & The Chipmunks) is the jock brother Josh, who is a pain in the ass or Ryan Donowho (Altitude, Transit) who plays Dobbs, the best friend.  These guys are good in these roles and it's not a dig on them because they are playing what the script calls for but we've seen these guys a hundred times before.  Also, director Andrews does something interesting at the end during the credits that I thought was kind of cool.  So, now you have to stay for the credits.

  As for issues with the film, there isn't anything really wrong with this film other than it's this is a pretty standard horror movie.  There are some really good things in this but there I don't know if I would watch it again. 
   Also, this is a complaint I've had with most new horror films, which is that none of the characters are really that likeable and most of the time, I just want to see them die an extremely bloody death.  These characters aren't as bad as some but I did smile as each of the characters started to drop like flies.

For a third film in a franchise series, this film is pretty sweet.  Director Andrews does an good job reinventing a fresh situation for this outbreak  but these characters are a little stale and predictable.  It's a good film with gruesome special effects and some good scares that will definitely contaminate the theaters with terror and will have you blistering with fear, so try not to get any in the popcorn.

Wednesday, 21 May 2014

Journey to the West: Conquering the Demons (2013)

Journey to the West: Conquering the Demons (2013)
Director: Stephen Chow, Chi-Kin Kwok
Starring: Zhang Wen, Qi Shu and Bo Huang
Running Time: 110 min

I love cartoons and I love horror violence and if you can find a way to combined those two things, then you have me like a cat chasing a sunbeam.  Then when you include director Stephen Chow (Shaolin Soccer, Kung Fu Hustle), with his brilliant martial arts madness, you have me purring all day with a film that's hard to miss.

 After a man is attacked by a demon in the bay of a small fishing village, a Taoist priest captures a giant, I mean giant mantra and claims that the demon has been captured.  However, novice Buddist demon hunter, Xuan Zang disagrees with the priest and warns the village to stay out of the water. Of course this advice unheeded, and goes comically bad, with Xuan Zang being considered a witch and is hung up from the arms above the water, while the villagers celebrate the destruction of the demon in the water.  After a few minutes of splashing around, the villagers are attacked again by this enormous fish demon.  Luckily, Zang is able to release himself and with a little help from the villagers he is able to capture the demon.  Once captured, he tries to soothe and redeem the demon by reading the nursery rhymes for his ancient text of 300 nursery rhymes.  This doesn't work, but Miss Duan, a female demon bounty hunter, steps in and captures the demon.  Saddened that his method didn't work, Zang goes back to his master, who sends him on a journey to be enlightened.
  Zang's next stop is a restaurant and as he is being shown around by the maitre d, Zang notices something unusual, all the people there are dead and when he tells the maitre d what he can see, Zang is attacked by the ghastly patrons.  Once again, Miss Duan intercedes in the battle but unfortunately, the Pig Demon escapes them.  To makes things worse, Miss Duan tells Zang that she is in love with him and will stop at nothing until her love is reciprocated.  Zang goes back to his master for advice and his master tells him to find the Monkey King, he is the only one that can help them to stop the Pig Demon.  Can Zang find the Monkey King in time before the Pig Demon kills filets more victims or will Zang be penned and barbequed in the end.

  This movie was hilarious!  Stephen Chow has a great sense of humour and a wonderful directing style when it comes to these over the top, slapstick, martial arts movies.  This film has a great look to it and the battle scenes with each of the demons are incredible.  It's a wonderful mix of CG, wire acrobatics and awesome practical effects.
  Hats off to the actors and stuntmen, this could not have been an easy project to do, with so many moving parts but they seem to do it effortlessly.  Zhang Wen (The Guillotines, The Emporer & The Snake), who plays Xuan Zang is perfect for this role and has the ability to capture the essence of each scene.  Also, Qi Shu (Transporter 2, The Eye 2), is equally awesome, playing a great character with such a duality like Miss Duan.  At times she is a hard as nails Demon hunter, who can kick some serious ass but when she tries to be more feminine to seduce Zang, she finds it difficult and awkward which leads to some very humorous scenes.

  My only issues with this film is that I found there seems to be a real lull in the second act.  Once Zang is searching for the Monkey King to battle the demon pig, the film slows down and switches focus to the relationship between Zang and Miss Duan.  There are some funny bits but it seems to lose some momentum.
  Also, they introduce some other demon hunters from Chinese lore that are well used later on, but being from North America, it felt I was missing out on some of the jokes.
  Finally, this has nothing to do with the film itself but the rating was a PG, which really surprised me.  There is some serious horrific scenes (not complaining) in this and some content that would be scary to watch for younger kids.  Sure it's cartoony but I don't know if I'd let my kids watch this.  I'm not saying don't, but watch it first cuz I think this is should be PG-13.

  The special features are a little slim but they do include a some behind the scenes footage of Stephen Chow working with the actors & actresses.  It's incredible to watch Chow run through scenes with his actors and see how involved he is with every element of the film and not in an overbearing way.  He's having fun and I think this comes across in his films.

  This is a great film and has a little bit of something for everybody, incredible action sequences, hilarious cartoonish characters and horrifying demons.  Best of all it has a compelling story that is brought to life and you will want to see it again and again.

Monday, 12 May 2014

All Guts, All Gory! 5 Low Budget Horror Films!

**Please note that there may be spoilers throughout the blog**

  I've been in a gory mood all month and I've tracked down some of the most disturbing gory films out there that I haven't touched on yet.  You can tell right away that these films didn't have the budget size, like Dead Alive, Hellrasier or even Evil Dead 2 but you can tell where the director/producer wanted to put the money and thank their twisted little hearts it was into the gore!  Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn't but these are definitely some of the most bizarre and unsettling films out there.

Here are 5 Gory Low Budget Horror Films:

5. Begotten (1990) - A very strange looking woman/man/thing eviscerates herself/himself/thingself in a dilapidated old house.  Then the she/he/thing shits herself/himself/thingself and dies but it produces another lady in its blood and shit.  This new woman, then works the dead things' unit and impregnates herself with it's love juice.  The woman then goes for a walk in the forest, has a baby and is attacked by faceless monks, who start tearing her and her son apart for the rest of the film.
  Called "one of the 10 most important films of modern times.", I would have to disagree.  For me, this is an art house movie gone bad.  Sure the first 5 minutes are some what bearable, which is the goriest parts but the rest of the film is so tedious that it is painful.  It just drones on with close up after close up, in this black and white haze on your screen that you really can't see what is happening. I didn't enjoy the look, the sound or anything about this film and at the end, I really wished I could get that 72 minutes back.  If you make it to the credits, you'll find out that it's God, Mother Earth and her son.  Apparently this was part of a trilogy by director E. Elias Merhige whose other work, like Shadow of a Vampire and Suspect Zero, I've enjoyed but I'm really glad this is one of the last scripts he wrote. This film may be on almost every list for disturbing films but I would leave this one for last or only watch it out if you want to complete a list.

4. Slaughtered Vomit Dolls (2006) - This appears to be a collection of tapes, edited poorly by a serial killer about his hobby, in which he kills hookers, strippers and runaways.  It is a jumbled dull mess of shitty hooker talk, gory endings for these ladies and a lot of people throwing up for some reason that I may have missed.
  This was almost as painful to watch as the Begotten because it doesn't go anywhere but at least there are a few pretty decent gore scene throughout.  I've never seen anyone get the top of their melon chopped off and then have someone vomit in it.  So, bravo!  Outside of the violence, this film is painfully dull and I don't know if director Lucifer Valentine (Slow Puke Chamber, Black Metal Veins) is trying to make a point that these were somebodies' children at some point and through the institutional learning systems like school and religion, these girls were abused and their paths have changed into this terrible lifestyle, but if this is the point, at least do it interestingly.  There is no story here, it's just gross out shit to be gross.  Again, this film is on many internet "disturbing films" lists but you should really only watch this one before you watch the Begotten.

3. Wizard of Gore (1970) - TV talk show hostess, Sherry Carson and her sports journalist boyfriend, Jack head out for their hot date to a magic show.  Not just any magic show but to see Montag the Magnificent, who likes to bring members of his audiences up and pulverize their insides with chainsaws, whole punchers and a myriad of weaponry.  After this gruesome show, Sherry and Jack head over to their favourite restaurant to eat but when they get there, they find the place surround by the police and learn that somebody has been murdered there!  Bummed they decide to go to eat somewhere else but not before Sherry gets a chance to touch the dead body.  Eww!
  The next day, Jack sees the picture of the victim in the paper and recognizes her from the Montag show, what a coincidence.  Sherry decides that she wants Montag as a guest on her afternoon television talk show because gruesome feats of magic is what every housewife in America wanted to see in 1970. Am I right!  Anyway she goes to the theatre, tells Montag that she reall enjoyed the show last night and would love to give him some national exposure on her show.  This, of course, infuriates Montag and he refuses to be on her show, but tells her to come back tonight and watch the new disgusting feat of magic.  So he can prove what a great magician he is! ?... Confused, she does go back the next night and drags Jack with her to see the show.  Another volunteer is eviscerated in Montags' trick but again the volunteer appears to be fine afterwards.  Jack and Sherry go home and make love, cuz there is nothing sexier than watching people get mutilated at a magic show.  The next day, Jack finds out another girl has been murdered and she was the volunteer in Montag's show last night.  Jack puts on his super sleuth hat and goes to the police.  Can these murders be connected with Montag or is this a murderous slight of hand that a murderer is murdering to?
  Finally a story!  This is a classic Hershel Gordon Lewis (2000 Maniacs, Bloodfeast) film and it really pushed the boundaries in the early 1970's.  You wouldn't know it now, but these were some of the most realistic death scenes available at the time.  There are some tremendously gory scenes during the magic shows that will make you quiver and shake but like a lot H.G. Lewis films the story is really secondary to the gore.  The acting isn't great either, but it makes for fun evening to watch and will probably have you laughing as the story reaches for some sort of conclusion.  This is a terrific film and should be watched by any gorehound.

2. The Dead Next Door (1989) - There has been a zombie apocalypse and in the city of Akron, Ohio there is a crack "Zombie Squad" out there collecting and destroying the undead.  Fortunately a scientist, Dr. Moulsson, may have found a cure for this epidemic and enlists the "Zombie Squad" to protect him and go out to a weird town to do some research.  Led by Raimi, this team heads out of town to work on a cure but they are attack by a religious cult, who want to protect the zombies!  Can Raimi and his team find a cure and save the world or will the be stopped by a vicious gang of bible thumpin zombie lovers?
  This movie, was produced by Sam Raimi but under the name "The Master Cylinder" and was shot on Super 8, so it's not the best looking film.  The script is so full of holes that it has Swiss cheese calling it to hang out but it does have a lot of cool bloody scenes.  Like zombies being decapitated, endless shot of it squirting blood and a lot of the "Dawn of Dead" stomach guts scenes, which look good anytime.  The story is terrible and the audio isn't really that great but if you're looking for something fun, quirky and lots of blood, then this may be for you.

1. Premutos - Der Gerfallene Engel (1997) - Soooooo, at the beginning of the film, there is a huge battle scene set in the earlier centuries. A Satanic Cult is trying to resurrect Premutos, the fallen angel and I'm guessing the villagers are trying to stop them.  In it are a fantastic series of gory scenes and Premutos is resurrected but then he is defeated.  Then, fast forward to sometime in the 1800, even though there is a radio in some these scenes, a man has concocted a way to bring the dead back to life and puts his research in a book called, "The Premutos".  However, the rest of the villagers don't like his experiments, so this man buries his book in the backyard just before the villagers storm his house and kill him in a gruesome manner.
  Fast forward again to "The Present" and Matthias is on his bike, riding home and gets hit by a car.  He is teleported to the 1200's and talks to a woman carrying a decapitated head.  He wakes up back in "The Present" and gets home quickly.  It's his step dad Walters' birthday and Walter lets Matthias skip his chores to go play soccer.  Walter goes to the back yard and starts digging in his garden and guess what he finds in the ground, "The Premutos".  He can't read it, so he gives it to Matthais to read after he gets back from a literally ball busting soccer game.  Walter, his wife and their friends come over to celebrate his birthday and get drunk.  Matthias reads "The Premutos" aloud and raises the dead.  Has Walters' birthday party been ruined by zombies or has Walter found another way to bring his friends and family together?
  This movie is one of the goriest movies I've ever seen but it is so poorly written, I had no idea what was going on for most of it.  There is so much exposition and it seems like it doesn't relate to most of the story or just gets muddled in the various plot lines that are going on.  There ends up being a secondary story line that eventually Shanghai's the first story line with Matthias but it isn't any better.   
  However, what saves this film is the now awesomely bloody this things is.  This may have been director/writer/special effects Olaf Ittenbach (The Burning Moon, Dard Divorce) first film but his special effect were totally top notch.  This is just as bloody, if not more bloody than Dead Alive or anything else I've seen.  There are tons of bodies splattering, zombie smashing and people exploding with blood everywhere!  This is a film that you have to watch, it has everything! (except a coherent story line)   You can laugh at the nonsensical scripting and bad acting but you have to give the film it's due for the special effects.  It's soooo crazy! Go watch it!

  These films may not have not name actors or even scripts that make any sense but they do have some of the most gruesome, blood soaked scenes that I've seen in a while and sometimes that just what a person needs at the end of long day.

Sunday, 4 May 2014

Devil's Due (2014)

Devil's Due (2014)
Director: Matt Bettinelli-Olpin, Tyler Gillett
Starring:Allison Miller, Zach Gilford and Sam Anderson
Running Time: 89 min

So to be honest, I was a little bit excited about this movie because this is the first full length release for the Radio Silence team ( Matt Bettinelli-Olpin, Tyler Gillett, Justin Martinez and Chad Villella).  I really enjoyed their work on V/H/S, the special effects were killer, and I have enjoyed their Youtube shorts.  They are funny and quick but have some clever scares in them.  So this should be pretty good, right?

Zach and Samantha are getting married and the night before Zach breaks the tradition and sneaks into their house to tell Samantha that he loves her and he will be carrying a camera around with him all the time because he wants to capture every moment of their lives together, even the mundane ones. No Zach, that doesn't sound creepy and weird at all.
The next day, the get married and life is good at the reception.  Everybody is telling jokes, having fun and during the speeches, Samantha thanks everyone for loving her and accepting her into the family because she is an orphan and she has never had family before this, ever.  Everybody cheers and they party all through the night.  The next morning, Zach and Samantha leave to the Dominican Republic for their honeymoon.  They enjoy the oddly empty beaches and tour around the city.  On the last night there, Samantha has her palm read and is given a very cryptic message from the fortune teller.  Sam and Zach leave the shop creeped out and are instantly lost in the street for some reason.  Luckily, there is a cab that picks them up and they head back to the hotel.  While on the way back, the cab driver invites them to a crazy party in a bad part of town, so being tourists, who have already gotten lost once, of course, they agree to go to this party with a strange cab driver but just for one drink.  When they get there, they are lead through some seriously red flag, dark tunnels to a cave rave and everything is awesome.  They have no idea where they are, so they get so drunk that they pass out.  Luckily, Zach's camera is working, kind of, and tape start recording after they pass out.  It records some crazy devil worship ritual shit and then the camera fades to black, magically cuz that's what camera's do.
  The next morning, Sam and Zach are back at the hotel, feeling hungover and awful but they have to catch a plane.  Sam asks how they got back and Zach says that the cab must have brought them back.  They could check the camera, to find out if they were sodomized by strangers in the night, but they don't.  They fly back to America and time passes on with some nonsense about hanging out with friends, that you never see again and other shit, and then Sam announces to Zach that she is pregnant.  Hooray!  They see the doctor, tell the family and everyone is happy.  Unfortunately, Sam is experiencing so strange pregnancy pangs, like waking up in the middle of the night with a demonic look and glint in her voice, eating raw meat out of the package at the grocery store and having super strength, which enables her to smash car windows with her hands with relative ease.  This, of course, doesn't seem to concern Zach right away but eventually he comes around and realizes something is wrong.  Is this pregnancy a super natural doorway for the antichrist to take over the world or is Sam just looking for extra attention because she thinks she's fat? 

  There are some good scares scattered about this film and I think this may a great learning experience for everybody involved.  The production looks great and the ending is pretty good.  Allison Miller (Blood: The Last Vampire, 17 Again) and Zach Gilford (The Last Stand, Crazy Kind of Love) are somewhat likeable in this film and do their best with what they got.

 My biggest issues is with the story itself and using the found footage style.  Things happen in the movie but there is no reaction to them happening. For instance, Sam wakes up in the middle of the night, looks and sounds like a demon, the audience gasps in terror, and then the next day it's forgotten?  If my wife did that, I'd be showing my wife the tape the next day and we'd be going to see some doctors or priests.  Also, there is a scene with a little girl playing hide & seek in the house and not only does Sam scare the crap out of her, which the girl runs tearfully downstairs, but then Sam continues to carve a sacred symbol into the floor.  One , the child's parents don't react in anyway to this which is totally unrealistic and two, nobody notices the carving in the floor until a month later?!? So, Zach doesn't go into the nursery for a month, I don't think so.  For every action, there must be a reaction and this film doesn't follow the rules and therefore it becomes unbelievable.

  As for the found footage style, which has been done to death, I didn't really have that big of an issue with it other than I have no idea who is telling this story.  Who is the central character and where are the getting all this footage?  The director's response to this is "Devil's Due doesn't pretend to be footage that anyone has found or compiled, it's simply a story told through cameras that exists in that world. In that sense, it's a bit of an experiment that we were able to have fun with and as the character's lives spiral out of control, we're able to mirror that journey visually by shifting to different POVs."  If it isn't found footage then why bother trying to kill yourself and your story, trying to fit cameras into the story.  In the special features, they even talk about coming up with great scary ideas, but then killing them because they can't find a way to fit them in the P.O.V world.  Why not just make a good traditional movie and save yourself so headaches.

Also, I was disappointed because there really wasn't any funny bits in the film.  As I mention before the Radio Silence teams other projects have had a bit of absurd dark humour to them and this really lacks any of that flavour.

  As for the special features on the Blu-ray/DVD, there are a collection of deleted scenes, which a couple of them, I think I would have preferred in the film.  The alternate Father Anderson scene, Father Anderson is played by Sam Anderson (Slackers, Critters 2) and I dug the longer ending.  The Father Anderson scene is a bit more helpful, still doesn't explain why he won't help, but it is less spastic and crazy.  Also, I prefer the longer end, it makes a little more sense as well.
  There are couple of extra scenes, I have no idea where they came from and why they're not considered deleted scenes.  One of a bird, bursting into flames, yawn, and another of two children discovering the ritual in sewers.  This would have been better in the film because it was creepy and they were breaking the rules anyway, so why not shoehorn it in.  As well as there is an introductory video to the Radio Silence team and they talk about their past projects, not V/H/S, and the filming of Devil's Due.  It's interesting but there isn't really that much insight into making this film.  The extras end with past projects of the Radio Silence team, which are little shorts that are rather enjoyable and you could probably find on the Youtube.

  I wasn't expecting "Rosemary's Baby" and I would have been happy with something like "Baby's Blood" or at this point, "Born" because then I could have a chuckle.  I feel bad for the Radio Silence team to be saddled with this script on there first venture into the feature film biz.  I think it would have been better if they had written their own script, then to have dealt with outside writer.  Where this script fell apart in the film making process, who knows, but this was not a very well constructed script. The scares were tacked on and not thought through at all.  The story was boring, convoluted and didn't make sense.  We didn't know anything about the characters.  How could two students afford to own that house? Did they have jobs? Why am I gonna invest time in people that I care nothing about?  At the end of the film, I'm sitting there with a lot of whys, what and how the fucks? Anyhoo, I didn't care for Devil's Due but if I were you when this film crosses your path, I'd Devil Don't.