Tuesday, 31 March 2015

March Monsters: Revenge of the Creature (1955)

Revenge of the Creature (1955)
Director: Jack Arnold
Starring: John Agar, Lori Nelson, and  John Bromfield
Running Time: 82 min

  Sometimes I feel bad for the creature from the Black Lagoon or Gill-man, has his friends call him.  He's like the Aquaman of the Universal Monster Super Fiends squad and with his limited range of scaring ability and the fact that he has to stick near water all the time, he never was really catapulted in any amazing new updates or found a place in any blockbuster remakes, although it has been talked about since the 80's.  However, people do love this felonious fish man and he does show up quite a few horror comedies or whenever a collection of classic creatures are need, Gill-man gets a call.  Anyway, this is the 2nd film in his trilogy and the only one I haven't seen, so I'm going to dive in without looking and hope that I don't get pulled down to deep in the horrors of the Gill-man.

  Joe Hayes and his buddy are traversing the Black Lagoon in search of the creature that killed a number of people a few months ago.  Although, he's been warned a number of times by the captain about the dangerous of this monster, Joe wants to capture the creature and deliver him to his employers at Ocean World and collect all the fame and prestige for capturing such a unique scientific specimen.  When they arrive, Joe goes down into the water and is attacked right away by Gill-man!  Luckily, he is rescued just in time by the captain of the boat and his friend.  However, Joe is not giving up and has his friend surround the water with dynamite charges that will render anything near the impact in the area unconscious.  Joe gives his friend the cue and he does blows ups that water something fierce and eventually Gill-man floats to the top of the water like an over sized gold fish. We got you now, you damn dirty fishman!
  Joe somehow sends a picture of their "discovery" to all the news networks and everyone in the country can see his big catch of the day.  He brings Gill-man back to Ocean World and wakes him up in his new home.  Unfortunately, Gill-man freaks out and the workers at  Ocean World have to quickly chain the monster to the bottom of their pool before he gets himself free and tries to kill everybody.  The most dangerous fish exhibit ever!
  Luckily Professor Clete Ferguson, a renowned animal psychologist and I'm assuming former hillbilly, has come down to Ocean World on his own dime to study the freaky fishman.  However that's not all he's investigating there because during the brouhaha with Gill, he meets a cute ichthyology student, Helen Dobson. So, you like fish?  They hit it off and offer their expertise to Joe Hayes and Ocean World for apparently no charge, which Ocean World happily accepts.
  Clete and Helen take over the care and study of Gill-man, using classic nurturing techniques like using an electric cattle prod on the creature if it doesn't listen and trust exercises like offering food to the fishman, then taking it away and then forgetting to feed it because Clete and Helen are going on a date.  However, as time goes by, Helen does come to realize how lonely it must be for a fishman living in the 50's.  There are no other fishman like him and certainly no fishladies for him to mate/spawn with but Helen shouldn't worry because this horny Gill-man only has eyes for one lady, which is her.  Eventually, Gill-man busts loose and makes a break for it and then tries to capture Helen's heart, as well as her whole body.  Basically, he kidnaps her.  Can Clete save his girlfriend before Gill-man gives her the ole "Humanoids for the Deep" action or is she fated for a fishy future?

  This is definitely better than the third one and on par with the first,  just because you see more of Gill-man.  I was surprised to find out that this was also shot in 3D, like the first film and was not only was this the only 3D movie released in 1955 but the only 3D sequel to be film in 3D, which is kind of cool.
  Jack Arnold, the director of many brilliant creature features like, The Incredible Shrinking Man and Tarantula, does an amazing job with the underwater camera work here and uses it extensively.  It's really unbelievable how clear and gorgeous these images look, considering the time period and how new this technology was back then.
  Also, the creature is amazing and unlike some creatures nowadays looks scary.  Although, he has a simple classic monster look to him, there is something unnerving about that masked fishy face and deadness in those fish eyes.

  This film does get into a bit of trouble and slows way down in the 2nd act after the Gill-man is caught.  It focuses too much on the relationship between Clete, played by John Agar (The Brain From Planet Arous, The Naked Monster), and Helen, played by Lori Nelson (Underwater!, Hot Rod Girl) and not nearly enough of the horrifying Gill-man, who does pop up occasionally as a creepy third wheel staring at the two lovers from the tank.
  Also there is no subtlety to the fishman, every time anyone came to the cage, he is fierce and tries to  fight his captures.  I wish that he played it a little calmer and come up with a cunning plan to lure hi captures into some sort of trap to try and escape, instead of just using brute force.  However, when he does escape it is pretty awesome.  The panic and fear in the eyes of everyone in the park is awesome and I love when he flips the car.  No automobiles can stop Gill-man!

  With that said, this is still a fun film with some horrifying but exemplary under water camera work.  It's unfortunate that film makers over the years haven't found better ways to update or spin this character and have just left him floundering as comic relief for so many other films and TV spots.  This story is okay and literally creates a fish(man) out of water scenario.  Also, there is some serious violence in this, that is surprising for a 50's film and there are some good unintentional chuckles along the way. So if you're trawling for some classic horror that lays deep in the terrifying waters, then get your hooks into this one and it will totally fish you in.


Saturday, 28 March 2015

It's a Roofalution! Review of White God (aka Fehér isten) (2014)

White God (aka Fehér isten) (2014)
Director: Kornél Mundruczó
Starring: Zsófia Psotta, Sándor Zsótér, and Lili Horváth
Running Time: 121 min

  I love animals but I'm not a big fan of animal movies, unless they are mutated, on some sort of rampage destroying towns or in the future controlling mankind to bend to their ape whim.  However, this film has been nominated for a number of festival awards and have won two awards at Cannes (2014), so I will roll over and see what everybody is barking about.

  Thirteen year old, Lili, has to live with her estranged father, Daniel, because her mother is moving to Australia to work.  When Daniel comes to pick her up, he is pissed that the mother didn't tell him that Lili has a big dog named Hagen and that he will be living with them too.  Daniel makes it clear to Lili that he is not happy about having to take in the dog and he suggests to Lili that since it's a mutt, they should just get rid of it but Lili loves her dog and will not abandon him for any reason.
  When they get back to Daniel's apartment, one of the nosy neighbors reminds him that all mutts need to be reported and that she will call animal control if he doesn't.  Daniel tells her that he knows that and he will do it tomorrow and ushers his new guests into his apartment.  Daniel cooks up some supper for him and Lili but gets frustrated with her for feeding Hagen under the table people food and they argue with the end result of Daniel sending her to bed.  She goes to bed but when Daniel comes to check on her, he gets mad that the dog is also in the bedroom and forces Hagen into the bathroom to sleep.  Later on, Lili sneaks off to sleep in the bathroom with Hagen.
  The next morning, Lili is afraid that her father will get rid of Hagen, so she bikes with Hagen to her concert band rehearsal and puts Hagen in the closet of the studio to wait for her.  Unfortunately, Hagen gets breaks out of the closet and interrupts the entire rehearsal, frustrating the pompous conductor.  Lili tries to chase after Hagen but is stopped by her conductor and told that if she goes after that dog then she is shouldn't come back.  Lili then chases after her best friend.  Things get worse for the dognamic duo, when after hours of walking Lili and Hagen are finally found by Daniel, who has been searching for them all afternoon.  He picks them up and he is angry, he drives to a remote location and unleashes Hagen.  Upset but unable to save Hagen, Lili cries and screams at her father as they drive away with Hagen chasing after them until he is out of breath.
  The next day, Lili is forced to apologize to the conductor and she is accepted back into the concert band.  After rehearsal though, Lili starts searching for her best friend and putting up posters to bring him back home.  Meanwhile, Hagen is on quite an adventure as well.  He finds that the world without Lili is a very hard and cold one for stray dogs and with the help of a new dog friend, Hagen escapes a number of terrifying encounters with a angry butcher and the animal control people.  Can Lili ever find her best friend again or has she lost the only real connect that she loves?

  I was really surprised at how enjoyable this film was and how many very dark scenes there are in this.  Director Kornél Mundruczó (Tender Son, Delta) not only creates an interesting story about the bond between people and their dogs but he pulls no punches on a ferocious look at the life of a street dog.  There are some extremely difficult scenes to watch after Hagen, the dog is caught and sold to a dogfight trainer.  Many of these scenes remind me of Sam Fuller's "White Dog", as Hagan is brutally poked, prodded, and turned from a peaceful creature into a snarling killing machine.  This is not a Lassie film unless the Lassie was going to eat Timmy in the well.  
  The animal cruelty does come to a head when Hagen, like Caesar from the "Conquest of the Planet of the Apes", frees his canine brother and sisterin and they wreak havoc in a murderous rage through the streets.  I was pleasantly surprised by this turn of events.  The film then, kind of turns into a revenge film and Hagen and his gang try to vanquish those who have wronged him.  Again, I was totally caught off guard by the brutally and the viciousness that Mundruczó allows to come across on screen.
  Also, I was most amazed at how well Mundruczó was able to capture so much passion from these dogs, it was really quite amazing.  There are moments in the film, when these animals are offering up more honest emotion and feeling than some of the highest paid Hollywood actors.  On top of that, there were scenes that looked like they came straight out of some action movies and it was really impressive how Mundruczó, his crew and the dog handlers were able to achieve these shots.

  There are some things that I didn't quite get from the film.  Lili is thirteen and the concert band that she plays in consists of adults or at least young adults.  I found that weird and creepy at times, especially when she is invited to a bar with some of the younger ones.  I don't know why someone so young is working with these adults, it didn't make sense to me.  Also, I found the relationship between Lili and her dad a little awkward as well.  I don't know if Mundruczó was trying to mirror the abuse that was going on with Hagen with Lili's relationship with her dad because it never really comes to the forefront and things never do get resolved with that issue.  Maybe there wasn't anything at all, but her dad is weird in this film and made me feel uncomfortable for her.
  Also the third act, although I love the concept of what is happening with the revenge and the roofavolution, it does go off the rails a bit.  There are actions that happen, that are time sequentially impossible and some things just don't ring true.  I understand where Mundruczó was going with it but it might be a little to arthouse for some film goers.

  However, this a fantastic movie and I can't get over how vicious it gets.  There is a solid story here, that may reflect the adage that violence begats violence, as well as some excellent acting here by both human and animal talent and most surprising, there is a very cool revenge twist too.  So if you're looking for a good foreign film that will prove that the cinema hasn't gone to the dogs, grab this and you'll be pawing the remote for more.

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)
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.

Thursday, 12 March 2015

March Monsters: Wer (2013)

Wer (2013)
Director: William Brent Bell
Starring: A.J. Cook, Sebastian Roché, and Stephanie Lemelin
Running Time: 89 min

  I'm a little nervous about checking out this film because it is from the same writing and directing team that came out with "The Devil Inside", which was so so bad.  However, it's been a few years, I've heard some good buzz about this film and everybody deserves another chance, right.

  During a family vacation in France, the Porter family are horrendously mauled by a creature during a full moon.  The only one to barely survive was the mother and the only thing that she remembers about that night is that this creature was eating her son.  Worst vacation ever! The police go on a manhunt and soon arrest a rather hairy large man, Talan Gwynek for the murders because he lives in the vicinity of the crime and he's kind of creepy looking.  However, American lawyer Kate Moore thinks that he is innocent and the wounds inflicted on the Porters look more like an animal attack and not a man.  Her and her team, consisting of an ex-boyfriend, Gavin and another American ex-patriot, Eric, head over to the police station to see the evidence against her client.  However, the police are making them jump through hoops, not literally, and after seeing the grotesque twisted remains of the Porter family, Moore is finally allowed to see her client.  He is brought into a room "Hannibal Lecter" style, completely chained and even has a mouth piece to prevent him from biting anyone.  Moore is enraged and demands that her client be treated more humanely and that they remove the chains.  They do, although it is against the wishes of inspector Piston and Moore demands to be left alone with her hulking creepy client.  Piston and the police leave the room and Moore is finally able to speak with her client alone.  Unfortunately, he doesn't have a lot to say and it appears that Talan may have some sort of health issue that would exonerate him from the murder case.  However, the meeting is strangely cut short by the Piston and his police cronies and this causes a scuffle to ensue.  Gavin jumps into the room to protect Moore and gets bitten by Talan for his bravery.  There is a lot of yelling and Talan is finally hauled back to his cell.
  Kate Moore and her team then put on their detective hats and go looking for a way to prove that Talan's health issue could have prevented him from committing these murders.  During their investigation, they learn that Piston holds a grudge with the Gwynek family because they didn't sell their farmland to a nuclear power plant, so they could store waste there.  Also that Talan's father death was somewhat mysterious.  Eventually, they get the medical tests set up and Moore is confident that this will prove Talan's innocence.
  Meanwhile, Gavin is not feeling to hot after being and seems to be going through some changes of his own.  However, the team needs to focus on the Gwynek case and they meet Talan at the hospital to do the tests.  The tests seem to be going okay, until one of them cause Talan to have a seizure and he gets reaaaaaally violent.  He uses his suprehuman strength and his berserker rage to kill almost everyone in the room, then escapes.  Kate Moore and her team are completely humbled but for some reason still feel that the can help the police end this dangerous situation and bring in Talan safely.  Can Kate and her law team really help the police bring in this dangerous creature that is more animal than man or will they be pulled apart and eaten like poor Peter Porter?  

  This is a different kind of horror movie and I'm kind of up in the air about.  It seems to be more of a action/drama with elements of horror sprinkled throughout.  In one way, I like that director William Brent Bell isn't using the usual horror tropes but in another it just seems like a cop drama and doesn't have enough horror to keep me glued to my seat.
  Also, I'm not crazy about CGI action/violence used in this film at all.  When Talan is throwing people around and jumping off building, it just doesn't look real at all and it takes me right out of the picture.  I know that CGI is necessary in some cases and can be used every well, but it just doesn't happen in these instances.

  This film is much better than the "Devil Inside" and although the way that it is shot is very reminiscent of a "found footage film", it isn't one.  I think that it not being another found footage film allows Bell a lot more freedom to tell this story.  I like the overall idea and the ending, although it is a little heavy handed in the area of sentimentality, bordering on cheesy, but it is decent and has some unique twists to it.
  And although I was crazy about the action effects, I liked all the severed limbs and torsos that keep popping up.  As well as the creature make up that was used on the characters.  I thought that was pretty spot on.

  This is an okay/pretty good film that has some alright gruesome moments.  I like the idea of the story but I think it could have been executed a bit better, apparently Bell was shooting another project at the same time, there are gruesome scenes at times and the ending as some okay twists to it.  So, this may not be my first choice when it comes to this genre of horror film but it is not a regrettable one either.

Sunday, 8 March 2015

March Monsters: NightBeast (1982)

NightBeast (1982)
Director: Don Dohler
Starring: Tom Griffith, Jamie Zemarel, and Karin Kardian
Running Time: 80 min

  You have to hand it to Troma, they've been pushing out and distributing independent horror/sci-fi/weird ass films for years and have had a lot of fun doing it.  So when I saw that they had a title by Don Dohler, the director who did "Galaxy Invader", I was all in and ready to go.  I loves me some crazy alien films.

  One evening, the Nightbeast loses control of his spaceship and crashes it in a forest on the edge of a small town.  Different groups of locals see this fiery crash and go to investigate but when they discover the Nightbeast, they are blasted by evil alien's raygun and most of them are vaporized.  The survivors run to tell Sheriff Jack Cinder about the evil creature and somehow he is convinced pretty easily that an alien creature is vaporizing people in his forest.  Sheriff Jack gathers up a posse and head out to find this alien sombitch.
  Meanwhile, the Nightbeast is on a tear, not only vaporizing people but tearing them apart if necessary.  This raygun not only wipes out people but things like cars and stuff but when he met up with Sheriff Jack's posse, we soon learn that rock walls can stop this weapon.  Sheriff Jack has brought in, perhaps the oldest sharpshooter in film history and the posse sacrifices this old man's son to finally rid the creature of it's raygun.  Weaponless but still strong, the Nightbeast hightails it into the forest, choosing to fight another day.  This gives Sheriff Jack & the others time to try and evacuate their small town and stop this scourge from outer space.  Can Jack and his team of locals stop this interstellar maniac or will their town be the first of many in the destruction of Earth?    

  I was really surprised at how good this film looked, considering the time and the budget.  This isn't a home video camera job that I was expecting and it looks like writer/directo Don Dohler (Galaxy Invader, The Alien Factor) put some money into the production, which is very cool.
  Also I liked the look of the alien, it is very creepy.  I think the production may have had just the one mask but it doesn't matter because it works every time you see the creature.
  Finally, there is a good amount of gore in this film that I wasn't expecting either.  At first, I was a bit disappointed by the vaporizing of everybody but that alien started ruthlessly tearing people apart, I was like a kid in a ghoulish candy store.  The special effects team did a fantastic job all around on  this film.

  This is a Troma film, so I already know what to expect and really, so should you by now.  The premise of the story is pretty iffy but the first 30 minutes of the film is more like an action movie.  The sheriff and his posse are hunting down this creature, it's great.  However, the film falls into a lull after that and loses a bit of the focus on the alien.  On top of a murderous space creature, the sheriff now has to deal with a drunk politicians, abusive relationships in town and getting it on with his sexy MILF deputy.  Which he does and it's one of the most awkward sex scenes ever, I think for both them and us, the audience having to watch it.  Eventually, the film does get back on track, but there is a lot of filler in this.
  Also as expected as well, the acting isn't great but it's passable.  Nevertheless, the actors are really trying their best and they are dead serious in ever scene, which makes this film way more fun, at least for me.

  This was a very enjoyable film and fans of Troma & B..., maybe C-movies should really check this out.  The story has got some merit but gets iffy further in, the acting is what you'd expect but the special effects and gore are pretty decent.  So, if you're looking for something that crashes and burns on Earth but will give you a few chuckles, than take this film to yer leader.... human!

Saturday, 7 March 2015

March Monsters: The Beast From 20,000 Fathoms (1953)

The Beast From 20,000 Fathoms (1953)
Director: Eugène Lourié
Starring: Paul Hubschmid, Paula Raymond, and Cecil Kellaway
Running Time: 80 min

  I'm kind of excited about seeing this film because it has a couple things going for it. For one, it is a screenplay based on one of science fiction's greatest writer's Ray Bradbury and the other is that the stop-motion special effects were done by Ray Harryhausen, who was a pioneer, an innovator and is a true legend in his field.  Also, it's about a giant lizard rampaging through New York, how can a person not love that?

  Way up north in the Arctic circle, the American military is testing nuclear bombs and collecting the data.  After one such test called, "Operation Experiment", Prof. Tom Nesbitt and his team forge out into the wintery wasteland to gather their information from the Geiger counters right before a blizzard.  Tom splits up with his partner to get the work done faster, but quickly has to race back after him because he hears gun shots fire.  When he reaches his partner, he finds that there has been an accident and his partner has fallen into a ravine.  He is also mumbling some nonsense about a dinosaur and has broken leg.  Tom tries to help him but just as he is securing his partner's leg, he sees a giant dinosaur like creature wandering above the snow drifts.  Unfortunately, the weigh of the dinosaur causes a avalanche and Tom must leave his wounded companion in the snowy torrent to save himself.  Just able to make it to safety, Tom passes out and he rescued by the rest of his crew.
  When he wakes up, he tries to convince everybody that he saw a dinosaur and not a big purple one!  But nobody believes him and they think that he's losing his mind.  After a few days, Tom gives up this notion about the dinosaur, so he can keep his government job and he doesn't get sent to an asylum.  However, he's not the only one seeing this creature now because there are reports of something destroying a fishing boats in Grand Banks and Marquette, Canada, as well as a lighthouse in Maine, which is the final straw! No monster are messing with Maine!
  Tom heads down to New York to see paleontologist Thurgood Elson and his hot assistant Lee Hunter.  After some convincing and an evening of playing "pick the dinosaur" with Lee, Tom finally convinces Elson to get on board to help stop this monster menace.  Can they stop this dinosaur before it surfaces again and storms through another city or will this creature crash through America laying waste to everything in it's path?

  I really dug this film and the special effects are quite brilliant for it's time.  This was a first in many ways, not only for Ray Harryhausen and his team because this was their first creature movie but this was also the first live action film that a had a giant monster awakened as a result of the atomic testing.  Shortly after this, "Them" was released, then a little film called "Gojira" or "Godzilla", which opened the door to countless others after that.
  This also was long time art director, Eugène Lourié first time directing and he was able to seamlessly blend Harryhausen's creature into various live action scenes. He must have really enjoyed this experience because he made two other creature features, "The Giant Behemoth" and "Gorgo", before going back to work as an art director.

  The story is good but it is a little slow.  Like most films from the 50's, it takes it's time and builds the suspense.  This isn't a quick cut, action explosion type film that we're more familiar with now and some people may find the story dry.  However if you're patient, the monster scenes are quite enjoyable and it's a pretty fun ride overall.
  Also, Paul Hubschmid (Funeral in Berlin, The Tomb of Love), who plays Prof. Tom Nesbitt is suppose to be from New York but his accent keeps giving him away that he's not.  Before you go bananas, like I did wondering what the accent is, he's Swiss.  It doesn't take away for the role, but I found it mildly irritating and amusing trying to decipher where he's really from.

  This movie is great and anyone who loves classic monsters films will dig this too.  Although the story is a little slow, the stop-animation is brilliant and the ending is awesome!  So, if you're looking to unearth a film from the recesses of time, blast into this film and awaken the B-film loving creature inside you!