July 31, 2010

The New Daughter (2009)

"A single father moves his two children to rural South Carolina, only to watch his daughter exhibit increasingly strange behaviour."

This may surprise you because I completely disagree with all the negative reviews that "The New Daughter" has received. I thought it was a beautifully made film that only suffers slightly from having a PG-13 rating.

I even listened to the commentary by Luis Berdejo, the Spanish director (and one of the co-writers for "[Rec]"), and I usually never bother with any of the extras like that on my DVDs. I just like to watch the film and if something needs to be explained then I simply consider it to be poor filmmaking and rate it down accordingly.

I didn't actually need to have anything explained to me with "The New Daughter" though. It was a pretty straightforward horror movie with an '80s feel and fantastic set dressing and camerawork. I only put it on again with the commentary running because I was interested in how some of the shots were achieved and why the movie looked as good as it it did. I learned a lot actually. Did you realise, for instance, that there were hardly any red objects in the film at all? Nor did I. Maybe I should listen to more of these commentaries in future.

Before I begin my review, you need to know that I am neither a Spanish horror movie fan or much of a Kevin Costner supporter. I have seen quite a few Kevin Costner films but always considered him to be a bit wooden. In "The Untouchables" his monotone delivery was perfect but in everything else I've just found him to be dull. That actually changed with this film though because he was actually quite a warm and sympathetic character. I liked him.

Also because I've seen a lot of Spanish movies, not necessarily horror, I always dread watching yet another one full of grubby orange and brown hues. I don't know if it's the climate that makes Spanish directors want to turn everything into dirty pastels or just something that's evolved for them like the slow offbeat pace of Canadian films or the overblown spectacles of Hollywood. Of course there are exceptions to this "rule" as with any other. "The Others" (yes, it's Spanish too!) and "The Orphanage" both had a lot of dark colours and blues in them as well but you very rarely see quite so much green as there was in "The New Daughter". It was a refreshing change to have the warm familiar browns inside and the bright greenery of South Carolina outside. It worked well and my eyes are still thankful.

The house in "The New Daughter" is fantastic and is really a character itself rather than just a place to film the action. I wouldn't mind living there myself. I don't know if I'm alone in this or not but I'm one of those people who loves watching families move into a new house in films just to see what they've got and how they are going to arrange everything to suit themselves. Some "critics" think of moving-in scenes as boring padding before the story gets underway but, in this case, everything helps with the characterisation. You can tell a lot about people from the way they arrange their living space and it tells you more about movie characters than any amount of forced spoken exposition ever will. From his choice of furniture to the use of an old yet solid Apple "Pismo" laptop, you can tell that Kevin Costner's character likes to have things round him that he is used to and make him feel secure. Of course the events which occur later take him out of his comfort zone and it's interesting to see his reactions.

I'm not silly enough to say that this is Kevin Costner's finest role but it is one of the better ones that he's done. Even the girl from "Pan's Labyrinth", Ivana Baquero who plays his daughter Louisa, shows a lot more potential than I would have initially given her credit for. She's underused and gets upstaged by her onscreen brother, Gattlin Griffith who plays Sam, but maybe it's because her character lacks any closeness with her other family members. She isn't really the lead even though you would think it from the film's title. This is very much a Costner-centric film.

If you want an idea of what "The New Daughter" is about then think of it as derivative of the Amityville sequels mixed with a healthy dollop of M. Night Shyamalan's "Signs". It's not ghosts, demons or even aliens this time but there is an obligatory Indian burial mound and there are also some pretty good monsters for you. As a PG rated movie there isn't much in the way of blood, guts and gore but there's enough. It has a great atmosphere and some outstanding background music which really make the scary scenes a lot better than some horror movie review sites would have you believe.

Although there isn't much action and the film really could have been at least another hour longer to make up for it, what you get is perfectly adequate. There are no big terrifying jump scares and you don't see nearly enough of the monsters but you could say the same about "Signs" too and everybody likes that film even though it's just about boring old aliens at the end of the day.

What makes "The New Daughter" work as a horror for me is the feeling of inescapable fate which the story presents. The James family are not the first to go through all this trauma and the ending, although open to a little bit of personal choice, suggests that they won't be the last either.

It's all very cleverly worked out with parallels, foreshadowings and absolute in your face horror movie clichés and formulas which just work. Using every plot device, from the family pet getting killed (why does it always have to be a cat lately?) to tracking down an old creepy and possibly insane guy who has been through all this himself, may scream unoriginality to some people but the way it is done is certainly very polished and well presented.

The more I think about it, the more I realise that this really was an outstanding movie for the target audience. 'The New Daughter" is not going to satisfy any hardcore gorehounds, but teenagers and "old school horror movie" fans will realise just how much Luis Berdejo loves the genre and buy into it too. As somebody who watches a lot of bad movies just to find a few good ones, this was a very classy offering which didn't disappoint me at all.

July 30, 2010

Penance (2009)

"A young mother decides to become a stripper to earn some fast cash only to find her worst nightmares are about to begin."

I'm getting quite bored of torture porn now especially after seeing the ultimate example of this subgenre, "A Serbian Film". Really, once you see something like that all these other wannabes are quite tame in comparison. Although trying to put a slightly different spin on things, Jake Kennedy, the writer and director of "Penance", failed to impress me in any way with his film.

For a start, "Penance" uses the "Blair Witch Project" style videotaping framing device which has also been used and abused ad nauseum too. Nearly all the arguments that were used against other "found footage" movies such as "Cloverfield" are valid here especially as there are some scenes so contrived that you know nobody would, could or should be filming them in the first place. When you get a scene where the main character tells the cameraman that she needs him to film something for her, you just know that it was a plot device and the golden rule of "art is best when hidden" has been thrown completely out of the window.

Marieh Delfino plays the aforementioned lead. I can't honestly say that I've ever heard of her but she isn't a bad looking woman and can act a bit. She's absolutely awful at being a stripper though so don't expect her to be appearing in any remakes or sequels to "Showgirls" any time soon. If only someone had told her character early on that stripping wasn't a good career choice for her then we could have all been saved a lot of trouble. The first 25 minutes or so of the film are quite embarrassing to watch and when she got offered $3,000 to do a private strip show I just had to laugh. A hopeless stripper being paid more money than she is worth? Well, you just know that it's all going to end badly.

I'm not going get into too much detail about the rest of the film except to mention that Tony Todd turns up as a taxi driver, Michael Rooker is a killer, and Jason Connery pretty much appears as himself. How do known actors get themselves involved in such rubbish? I know we all need money but honestly they'd make more signing autographs at conventions than lowering themselves to work on projects like this. I feel the most sorry for Tony Todd. He was the "Candyman" for God's sake!

OK, I will spoil some of it for you. Our stripper gets herself kidnapped by a psycho gynaecologist who is also a religious maniac. From that you can guess what happens next. Yes, there will be torture and genital mutilation. That should be the tagline.

Graham McTavish, a Scottish actor who you'll also know from better things, plays Geeves, the nutter who tells his victim that he is going to cut off her "fun bits". What a come down for a former Shakespearean actor! He did quite a good job but it's nothing you haven't seen before. He actually reminded me of Dr. Evil from the Austin Powers movies for some reason but wasn't at all funny. None of this was particularly funny, it was just bad.

Don't expect to see any effects in this as good the ones in Lars Von Trier's "Antichrist" because you won't. There is a bit of a similar theme about women being evil and having to be punished but that's as far as it goes. The torture scenes are basically a very poor man's version of "Martyrs" but without any tension, atmosphere or realism. I was bored.

The final nail in the coffin for this film comes in the form of some contrived end captions about Geeves still being at large with a little epilogue vignette before the credits. It's so pathetic that you can almost feel sorry for Jake Kennedy for adding it. It was amateur and formulaic beyond belief.

"Penance" is going into my dungeon now. It was a very aptly named torture film because I really do feel that I've more than served mine by watching it.

July 29, 2010

Neighbor (2009)

(AKA Robert Angelo Masciantonio's Neighbor)

"A mysterious new girl arrives in a posh suburban neighborhood and quickly sets out to terrorize the town. As she starts breaking into homes and torturing the occupants, they begin to realize that she isn't just another girl next door."

I don't know why I torture myself with these low-budget movies but here's another one. This time, appropriately enough, it really is a "torture porn" but with a slightly different style to most of the others that I've seen. This one has an alternative ending right in the middle of the film!

Although cut down from the version shown at various conventions and festivals, there are quite a few gory scenes with some very good effects considering that there was probably hardly any budget for this film at all once the actors had been paid. You may recognise a few faces here and there from various American TV shows since, although it feels like a Canadian movie, it was in fact filmed in Pennsylvania.

I'm not going to spend too much time reviewing this DVD since it's not really something that anybody will go out of their way to watch. If you just think of "Misery" but with a hot psycho chick instead of Kathy Bates then you can more or less guess where the director, Robert Angelo Masciantonio, went with this. He didn't do a bad job I suppose but there's nothing really outstanding here. A lot of the torture happens off screen so you can either imagine the bad things happening or completely disregard them. I chose to do the latter.

America Olivo plays the psycho. You've probably never heard of her, but she played Amanda in the awful "Friday the 13th" remake. She doesn't even get a name in this film as she is just credited as "The Girl". She calls herself Jenn at one point and Christina later on, but none of that is important anyway. She's very attractive and makes this film 100 times more watchable than it could be. I'm not sure if she's playing what she thinks a psycho is really like or goes for comic effect, but either way she's just eye candy and can't really act. There's nothing wrong with that though. I could look at her all day.

Another recognisable TV face is that of Christian Campbell who has the dubious honour of being the main victim, Don. He looks familiar, but I can't actually place him in anything. I think he must do a lot of bit parts. Some really nasty stuff happens to him which I won't spoil for you, but it's nothing compared to anything you'd see in "Hostel" or some of the even more creative low-budget movies out there.

There's nobody else that you will have ever heard of unless you watch enough bad movies to even know the name Mink Stole. She often plays the old lady part in these straight to video releases although her real claim to fame is from working for John Waters in various grotesque roles. She does a pretty good job in yet another minor role here too.

I suppose I should go back to the weird placement of the alternative ending. It's about 40 minutes in and, in my opinion, everything should have stopped there. Sometimes less is more and this would have been a nice little short with good characterisation and all that jazz if it had stayed that way. Unfortunately, there was an attempt at making things clever by passing that scene off as some kind of wish fulfilment, and everything that follows is what really happens to the victims up until the unhappy end of the film. You could call it an excuse to add a few more badly done torture scenes, but it makes the central section of the film a bit redundant and somewhat confusing. If it had stayed more linear then it would have been a much better story. Having said that, it was nice to get another 30 minutes of America Olivo.

I can't really recommend "Neighbor" because it really is the kind of thing that would be shown on Zone Horror late at night when nobody is paying attention or end up being sold from a table at low-budget horror movie conventions. It has quite good production values, but that's what I expect as the norm anyway. I will give it credit for not being an obvious handycam nasty.

If you really are that desperate to see a pretty brunette torture people with amusing comments every so often then by all means hire this from Netflix or something. An alternative would be "Sick Girl" which is by far a better film but without quite such a sexy actress in it.

A Meme for Horror Bloggers

(Taken from The First Ever Billy Loves Stu Meme for Horror Bloggers)

I saw this was being passed around so I thought I'd have a crack at it myself. :D

1: In Ten Words or Less, Describe Your Blog:
Not quite how I want it to be yet.

2: During What Cinematic Era Where you Born?
A: The Classic Horror Era (late 30's to 40's)
B: The Atomic Monster/Nuclear Angst Era (the late 40's through 50's)
C: The Psycho Era ( Early 60's)
D: The Rosemary's Baby Era (Mid to Late 60's)
E: The Exorcism Era (Early to mid 70's) - this one.
F: The Halloween Era (Late 70's to Early 80's)
G: The Slasher Era (Mid to late 80's)
H: The Self Referential/Post Modern Era (1990 to 1999)

3: The Carrie Compatibility Question:
(gay men and straight women - make your choice from section A)
A: Billy Nolan or Tommy Ross, who would you take to the prom?
(straight guys and lesbians - make your choice from section B)
B: Sue Snell or Chris Hargensen, who would you take to the prom?
Chris Hargensen because she was played by Nancy Allen and I'd be a fool to turn something like that down.

4: You have been given an ungodly amount of money, and total control of a major motion picture studio - what would your dream Horror project be?
I'd like to make "A Serbian Film Part 2" but with even more offensive scenes.

5: What horror film "franchise" that others have embraced, left you cold?
"Friday the 13th". It lost me after the one with Ryan Dallion (John D. LeMay) from the TV series in it. I liked the first one but the rest are just the same old thing over and over. The remake was terrible too.

6: Is Michael Bay the Antichrist?
No. He just shouldn't be allowed anywhere near a horror movie.

7: Dracula, The Wolf Man, The Frankenstein Monster - which one of these classic villains scares you, and why?
None of them really scare me but I wouldn't want to hang out with the Frankenstein Monster. He's made up of dead bodies all stitched together and it would put me off my coco-pops.

8: Tell me about a scene from a NON HORROR Film that scares the crap out of you:
I'm trying to think of one that has any kind of aerial shots of a building or city because I'm afraid of heights and it makes me feel giddy. For lack of anything else, the end of "Die Hard" where Alan Rickman falls to his death. I can just imagine my skull cracking on the concrete in a similar situation.

9: Baby Jane Hudson invites you over to her house for lunch. What do you bring?
A bag for her head and some lubricant.

10: So, between you and me, do you have any ulterior motives for blogging? Come, on you can tell me, it will be our little secret, I won't tell a soul.
I'm just replacing my website that I had for 13 years with it because it's easier to write a blog than to recode a ton of HTML pages and upload them.

11: What would you have brought to Rosemary Woodhouse's baby shower?
A bag for her head and some lubricant... and an orange. Oh, and another plastic bag for the baby to play with.

12: Godzilla vs The Cloverfield Monster, who wins?
Godzilla - the cartoon version. The Cloverfield Monster was nothing but a big baby and Godzilla would just breathe fire on him and make him cry.

13: If you found out that Rob Zombie was reading your blog, what would you post in hopes that he read it?
Something along the lines of how hot his wife Sheri is or how jealous I am that he can get away with making such awful movies for enormous sums of money while I have to watch them and eat Ramen Noodles.

14: What is your favourite NON HORROR FILM, and why?
This is the most difficult question ever because it changes all the time. If I had to choose just one then it would be "Day Watch" the sequel to "Night Watch" even though both films are part of the same whole. It's just pure escapism and completely different to anything else.

15: If blogging technology did not exist, what would you be doing?
I'd still be uploading my reviews to my website. If I couldn't even do that then I suppose I'd just watch the horror films anyway and bitch about them to the TV screen.

July 28, 2010

InCRAPtion (2010) - Movie Review

Plot: NONE whatsoever. Just make it up as you go along like the director did.

Tagline: Paying $10 to be this bored is a crime.


There's something very wrong with people. I've known it for a while now but I thought it might be me who was the mental one not them. But as the only Classically trained horror movie reviewer on the planet, I thought I'd give this so-called "Science Fiction" movie a try and see if I could figure it out. I couldn't. It's crap. I'm still sane and everyone else who thinks this film is the second-coming in celluloid needs to be locked up for their own safety.

I'm not just saying this to get a rise out of people. I've wasted over two hours of my life on this confused mess of filmmaking with no entertainment value whatsoever and I feel it's my right to tell people what I think. In fact, it's more than my right, it's my duty to warn people not to waste their money watching "Inception" at all because it's all a hoax.

"Inception" is not a movie at all but just a bunch of disjointed set pieces that wouldn't fit into any other movie all joined together to use up a load of money and fool the public into spending more money to see it. It's as bad as getting people to believe in wartime that their silk knickers were being turned into parachutes or their knives and forks were going to be made into bullets. It never happened. You were conned. If you paid to see "Inception", you were conned again. You'll believe that man walked on the moon next.

Was this some master plan to boost the economy I wonder? You have to hand it to the producers or the Illuminati who control Hollywood because they've created a scam of such epic proportions that people are right now voting a load of 10s and 9s on all the movie sites to keep this junk in vogue. Theories abound on the ending as if it even matters and hordes of sweaty teenagers are begging their parents for money to go and see the most intellectual film of their lives. Boy, are they in for a shock.

Is it mass hysteria or was there some subliminal message being passed through the movie into everyone's unconscious? Was this an "inception" for real? Let me tell you what I got from the film - NOTHING!

I didn't buy into all the pseudo-Platonic mumbo-jumbo about different levels of reality or dream states and I certainly didn't get any enjoyment out of being treated with such contempt by one of the most inadequate directors since Ed Wood. Actually, that's an insult to Ed Wood. Christopher Nolan is up there with M. Night Shyamalan in the "creator of the most boring, meaningless drivel" category.

For the first 40 minutes of the film my mind refused to work at all. All it could do was scream, "What's going on?" There were no answers. All I was getting were mumbles from some unintelligible Japanese guy, some words about nothing I could understand from that kid from the Titanic movie who I thought had retired, and then that awful Juno girl appeared being just as bratty as she was in every other movie that she's been in. Yes, I know their real names but I don't even care. One trick ponies like this need to be put out to grass not given more roles. Anybody else would have been more watchable. ANYBODY! Even a Baldwin or an Arquette! At least it didn't have that weird looking mannequin with hooded eyelids from "28 Days Later" in it... oh GOD, yes it did.

Things started to pick up a bit around the 50 minutes mark. I still didn't know what was going on but I've seen "eXistenZ" with the delightful Jennifer Jason Leigh in it so I felt safer. This was going to be a mixture of that story plus "Dreamscape", "The Thirteenth Floor" and presumably "The Matrix". I thought I might be able to get some answers at last to what was going on at the beginning. But again I was wrong!

Mannequin Murphy was kidnapped and being asked for numbers, the Japanese mumbler was on the ground dying and everybody was talking about Limbo. I saw no reason for dancing and I was pretty sure this wasn't a Catholic film since Mel Gibson wasn't the director. What was going on? Next they were in a hotel and Titanic-man was being all aggressive looking while telling Mannequin that they were in a dream. Well, good for them. For me, I was in some kind of nightmare. Juno was looking pretty though.

And then things really went mad. There was a van full of all of them turning over, a snowy James Bond mountain lair thing and they were all there too, and yet they were all still in the hotel. Then they were all fighting in mid air and walking up walls, and well, I just wanted out.

At this point I decided to mentally retreat back inside myself and think about different flavours of English crisps. I was savouring the thought of Prawn Cocktail while Titanic-man was shouting a lot in three different locations, and bullets and snow and God knows what else was all flying around everywhere. Then he was with his wife who had some kind of accent, maybe French, and she was dying. I have no idea why or how and I didn't care. I remember some talk of her thinking that the real world wasn't reality and jumping off a building to get back to Barbieland or whatever the hell it was but here she was again? How? Why? Again, who cares? I kept checking my watch but it seemed to be going backwards. I tried to sleep but some monstrous CGI kept appearing and waking me back up again.

Did I see some guy pull out a bazooka gun thing from the "Predators" movie?

More stuff was happening on screen, bullets, car chases, some talk about fathers and empires... It was all over my head. Oh, they decided to show a James Bond movie in the middle. Yay! Skiing and guns and Bond music. Why? They kept talking about "kicks". I know I wanted to kick someone.

Mannequin Murphy got shot. Yay? Juno started yapping about defibrillation and being all authoritative. I have no idea why since all she did was ask questions every other time she was on screen.

Then the wife was back again playing with a doll's house and it seemed Titanic-man killed her with a spinning top. Floating bodies got put in a lift, a van fell off a bridge and there was more shooting in James Bond land.

The van went underwater and everybody got wet. But, yay for them, they had a scuba tank and they all got out apart from Titanic-man who got himself drowned again. Typecast?

The next thing I knew, some old Japanese guy who mumbled even more than the original mumbler, mumbled something to Titanic-man and they all woke up on a plane. Where'd the plane come into it? Did I blink and miss it? Probably.

Mercifully, the film was at an end. Titanic-man didn't hit an iceberg this time and was now back in America, Michael Caine had two kids which he gave to him for some reason and there was a spinning top on a table. Ok then...

What did I learn from this? Well, your ass gets pretty numb after more than two hours of sitting in a cinema seat and you should never get the $7.50 size of Pepsi if you only have one bladder. Was I supposed to think this was the greatest movie ever made? I think not. Was I supposed to wonder if the final scenes were real or a Bobby Ewing dream? Why should I even care?

I didn't understand any of it, didn't enjoy it and I couldn't hear half of what anybody was saying in it because of some irritating background music that never seemed to stop.

The only thing I got from it is that I would probably bang Juno if I got the chance or the blonde from the hotel that turned into a guy. Yeah, I know, but beggars can't be choosers, right?

So guess what I'm rating "InCRAPtion" on the IMDb?

How many films have you watched?

As I was browsing through some of the other blogs on here, I noticed huge lists of everything people have watched and, since I was procrastinating about writing another review anyway, I started making out a list of every movie I've ever seen too.

That was at 7am yesterday morning! Give or take a few cigarette breaks it took me until 12.30am today to actually get as far as posting a few thousand titles on my own "Every Film That I've Ever Watched" page. I replaced my "Non-Horror" page with it as it was getting pretty messy on there. I don't expect that I'll even finish it either since I've forgotten almost as many film titles as I could remember.

But it started me thinking. How many films have I REALLY watched and how much time have I spent watching them? I even got out my calculator to do some sums.

For example, if I'd watched 5000 films then, assuming that they were on average 90 minutes each in length, I'd get this:

5000 x 90 mins = 450000.
450000 / 60 = 7500 hours.
7500 / 24 = 312.5 days.

That's nearly a whole year of my life spent watching films. Do I regret it? Hell, no. I love watching films!

I'm just glad that I don't actually own copies of everything I've ever seen though. Apart from the obvious fire hazard and thought of dying in pools of melted plastic one day, the cost of 5000 movies alone would be probably $100,000 or more if you start adding Blurays into the equation. I have around 2000 DVDs and a couple of hundred VHS tapes so I've wasted a fair bit of money on these things myself (not to mention cable and satellite subscriptions, cinema tickets, Netflix and other rentals).

So how many movies have you watched? How many have you forgotten? And how many do you own copies of as a percentage of how many you've actually watched?

July 27, 2010

Shiver (2008)

(AKA Eskalofrío)

"Santi, a young high-school student with a serious physical reaction to sunlight, is forced by his health to move with his single mother to a shadowy, isolated village in the mountains of Spain where the inhabitants begin to reveal themselves as strangely xenophobic. When terrible, violent events begin to occur, Santi becomes first a pariah at school and then strongly suspected by the police of hideous murders. Santi himself, however, wonders if he is not the next victim."

It's lovely and cool at the moment, only 55 degrees rather than the days of high 90 degrees weather that we've been having lately, so it put me in mind of this Spanish film which I first watched two years ago according to my Netflix queue. It's not that the film has anything really to do with being cold or shivering, but I had to make a segue into it somehow.

Anyway, if you are lucky enough to still have a Windows operating system, you can watch "Shiver" online. I did precisely that on my laptop since I've long since swapped to Ubuntu on my desktop computer. I'd actually forgotten what a great little story it was and wonder why the hell I didn't review it at the time, but I think I know.

Back in late 2008, we suffered one of the biggest dearths of new horror movies for quite some time. The industry still hasn't completely picked up again yet either. So, like a lot of horror movie reviewers, I started looking round at what the other countries had to offer though it pretty much meant the death of my original website because nobody seemed all that interested. If it wasn't part of the French "extreme new wave" then nobody cared about it. Even "Let the Right One In" from Sweden got passed over by most people and I think only "The Orphanage" (also from Spain) got any real attention. I was so disgusted at how things were that I simply stopped writing reviews and just sat back enjoying watching movies for the last 18 months with no real desire to say anything about them to anybody. But things have changed, I have a new blog and enough time on my hands to write reviews again. So I'm going to go back over some of the little movies like this one which you may not have even heard of.

Firstly, "Shiver" is not a vampire movie. Although the lead character is set up with a few physical problems that would make you think the story is going to go that way, this is something different. It's more of a mystery than a horror film as such with a similar feel to it as "Disturbia". In fact, it did get criticised at the time for being a little bit too American, and I can to some extent agree. The way the characters interact with each other though is very European and, even if the village they are in does look like Forkes, this is certainly not another "Twilight".

What we have here is a teenager who is blamed, for reasons that become more evident later in the story, for murders which he did not commit simply because his health problems make him different. There's nothing like making a convenient scapegoat out of somebody when you are afraid, but there's a lot more to it than meets the eye.

You see our hero, Santi, doesn't take this lying down. He's already had a lifetime of being bullied, rejected and generally treated as an outsider by people. He realises that the only way to clear his name is to find the real murderer, and by so doing encourages the murderer to come after him. As Santi's nocturnal investigations continue, everyone he knows gets put in danger.

But what Santi discovers, in the big twist of the film, is that what he fears most out in the woods isn't what will do him harm. Exposing the cover-up and revealing the true story is what this is all about. Without spoiling it for you too much, the killer doesn't turn out to be at all who or what you think it is.

In spite of the twist, "Shiver" isn't an overly complex film and a lot of potential is wasted by not making more of Santi's medical condition. Of course, the red herring has a dual purpose as it was director Isidro Ortiz' purpose to turn "monsters" into heroes for reasons known only to himself, and Santi's otherness allows him to have a bond of sorts with another "monster" who is revealed far too early in the second half of the film.

The acting is generally pretty good too but the pace is so brisk most of the time that it doesn't really matter anyway. There is some lag occasionally as characters are bonded, and nobody really stands out apart from the lead. The characterisation suffers a lot because of the dialogue which is a result of trying to appeal to a younger audience rather than seasoned horror movie fans.

There are quite a few moments which are genuinely creepy but sometimes the building tension just comes to nothing which is frustrating. A lot of this is to do with bad editing, but I actually felt much the same way about "Disturbia" and "The Orphanage" in places. All these films feel censored even though there was nothing in them to censor in the first place. Maybe, in this case, it's just a Spanish thing.

The old "adults not believing the kids" scenario is also another annoying formula which again suggests that the target audience is really younger teens. Strangely this is an Unrated DVD not a PG-13 so I really can't work out why the horror is so toned down in some places and quite in your face in others. The final scene in particular is a great jump scare.

The general consensus seems to be that "Shiver" is one of the better Spanish horror films, although being in the tradition of "The Devil's Backbone", "Pan's Labyrinth" and "The Orphanage" does not mean that it is nearly as good as any of them. The film tried to go in too many directions at once in what looks like a desire to please everyone from slasher fans to the Twihards and it suffers from a lack of cohesion as a result. It's no good being a jack-of-all-trades because you end up being a master of none, as the saying goes.

Having noted the flaws, it's still an interesting film. It looks like "Twilight" in places, has a cosiness to it like "Fright Night", but ends up being something that "X-Files" fans would appreciate. Spain isn't really known for its horror movies and so it's no great surprise that "Shiver" isn't all that groundbreaking either. It's slightly below average yet a definite step in the right direction from fantasy to more realism in the Spanish horror genre.

July 24, 2010

Another trip to Big Lots!

Yes, the double and triple features are back in Big Lots! Plus there are a lot of the older horror titles still floating around for $3.

Tonight I saw $6 double features of "The Lost Boys/Lost Boys 2: The Tribe", "It/The Shuttered Room", "Gothika/Queen of the Damned", "Ghost Ship/Dreamcatcher", "The Lawnmower Man/Lawnmower Man 2: Jobe's War", and triple features of "Psycho II/Psycho III/Psycho IV: The Beginning", "It's Alive/It's Alive II/It's Alive III: Island of the Alive" and "Poison Ivy/Poison Ivy 2/Poison Ivy: The New Seduction". Yes, I do know how bad the latter movies are.

The "Val Lewton Horror Double Features" have been around for a while but some of them are starting to be marked up to $6 to match the other horror (really Sci-Fi) DVDs of "Village of the Damned/Children of the Damned" so be careful which ones you take to the checkout. They still don't have "Cat People/Curse of the Cat People" so don't waste your time looking.

As you can see, I bought a few DVDs tonight. I have no intention of even watching the "Funny Games" remake and I only bought "Eight Legged Freaks" because it has been sitting taunting me for the last two years. I probably won't watch it either but at least I never have to see it in Big Lots ever again. :)

I'll add the new titles to "The Big Lots Horror DVD Master List" later.

Triangle (2009)

"The story revolves around the passengers of a yachting trip in the Atlantic Ocean who, when struck by mysterious weather conditions, jump to another ship only to experience greater havoc on the open seas."

I love Melissa George so I had to watch this film even though with Christopher "Creep" Smith responsible for writing and helming it, I wasn't entirely sure that it was going to be any good.

It's impossible to say anything about "Triangle" without mentioning "Timecrimes" or "Groundhog Day" since this is very much a horror version of the same thing. It's derivative for sure but there's no comedy either intentionally or unintentionally here. The best way to describe it would be as a very anxious and tense "Twilight Zone" style thriller with some gory bits.

Having got that out of the way, the whole time loop scenario has been done to death and for those of us with short attention spans the thought of watching something else that is guaranteed to turn our brains inside out is not a pleasant one. There are further complications to this story too in that none of the characters have any memory of what has gone before. Every time things reset, the main character, Jess, has to pick up clues about what to do which are left over from the previous time loop. It gives me a headache just thinking about it!

The peculiar thing is that there are at least two Jesses in every time loop. One tries to guide the other without giving away her identity for reasons which aren't fully explained but may have some kind of Doctor Who reasoning behind them about two versions not being able to occupy the same space. That theory doesn't really hold up as the motivation often seems to be a simple fear of being discovered but to say any more would give away too much of the plot.

At its most basic level, "Triangle" is a kind of slasher film with time loop layers which lead back to the start of the film. Confusingly, the very start of the film turns out to not really be the beginning of the time loop at all because there's a twist which gives you the motivation for why any of this is happening in the first place. For those of us with a Classical education, this is very much a combination of the myths of Sisyphus and Tantalus although only the former gets a mention. Just when you think Jess has succeeded, the prize is taken away from her and she has to start again. I would call that tantalising myself. Time loops are big in ancient Greek mythology and often used as punishment in the afterlife. Remember that if you don't quite understand the ending. It's not a cop out like the end of "Lost" though but it will have you thinking.

"Triangle" really is Melissa George's vehicle. She acts her heart out, fights, screams, runs, and turns out to be not quite so meek and mild as her pretty face suggests. She does everything in it apart from get nude which is probably only a bit of a disappointment to me. Normal people will be satisfied with everything she does rather than hoping for a peek at her bunny rabbits' noses.

The other actors are pretty good too even though they don't have such a long time on screen. A couple of the guys have never been in anything else but the girls are both from TV backgrounds. I was particularly impressed by one of them but I won't tell you who as you'll have to see this film for yourself to find out why.

There's a fair bit of gore to this too. It's not overdone but it's there and quite effective when it happens. Couple that with a good use of tension and you have a pretty good horror film on your hands. Unfortunately, the tension often turns into an atmosphere of frustration which makes the whole film very tiring to watch. It's a bit of a rollercoaster and it will make your head hurt.

As with all time loop stories, there do seem to be a few plotholes but, the more I thought about it afterwards, they aren't anything that can't be explained away. I like that attention to detail even if I prefer more straightforward stories in general. Christopher Smith allegedly spent two years on the script so you have to give credit where it is due. The dialogue might be a bit sparse but everything else is quite polished especially when you consider the low-budget.

I think this was one of the best films of its kind that I've seen. It's not quite as good as "Timecrimes" but it isn't far off. You probably couldn't watch both films back to back either without having some kind of cerebral aneurysm and I wouldn't want to even try. I'm not even sure that I could watch either of them again either.

If you want something to think about rather than the usual "blood and boobs" horror then you definitely need to rent or buy "Triangle". It doesn't have many scares or shocks but it is a very clever film.

July 22, 2010

A Serbian Film (2010)

"A former porn star accepts a role of a lifetime, not realizing that the director has murderous intentions."

Sometimes you have to be careful what you wish for because you may just get it. Only a couple of days ago, I was ranting on this very blog about wanting to see a real ADULT horror movie and now director Srdjan Spasojevic has given me one with "A Serbian Film".

If you haven't heard the rumours about this uber brutal "torture porn" (never has the term been more appropriate!) then I'm not going to spoil it for you. I have deliberately not posted the trailer either though I'm sure you'll find it yourselves on YouTube without too much trouble.

But if you do know what I'm talking about then rest assured that "A Serbian Film" is everything you think it is and more. It's one of the most well made horror films that I have ever seen and makes even "Martyrs" look tame. If you are easily offended by ANYTHING then don't watch it... EVER!

The funny thing is, as a hardcore horror buff, I was able to sit through this and enjoy it without feeling the slightest twinge or any compassion for the characters whatsoever. Perhaps it's because I know that "IT'S ONLY A MOVIE!" and anything on screen is only as real as you want it to be. But maybe, just maybe, what I watched was distancing enough for me to not even care. Technically it was superb. Emotionally? Well, I didn't find it sick, scary or anything but I'm sure other people probably will.

I have noticed on various horror forums that there are so-called horror fans protesting that they are never going to watch "A Serbian Film" because it's so "disgusting". What a bunch of hypocritical wimps! They moan continuously that there is nothing new in the genre and when something does come out that will possibly "horrify" them, they all want to boycott it. What do they want? Another "Nightmare on Elm Street" remake? If you love horror then you absolutely have to see this film!

The last taboos of the torture porn subgenre have finally been broken and this is the result. In fact EVERY taboo gets broken in this movie apart from cruelty to animals and nobody wants to ever see that anyway. Even bestiality gets "an honourable mention"! I actually have a kind of empty anti-climactic feeling that now there is nowhere left to go. "A Serbian Film" has finally fulfilled every true horror fan's dream and killed it stone dead at the same time.

What next? What could possibly top this? Maybe it's time to get back into the more supernatural storylines again and away from these physical and realistic looking shocks. There's nothing to think about with movies like this. You just sit back and enjoy the ride. On the highest levels, I can see what Srdjan Spasojevic was getting at and understand the political message of Vukmir's "film within a film" but I just don't care about it. I liked it for what it was at its most superficial level and I also don't even care about how that makes me look.

I even liked the characters in this yet strangely felt not one iota of sympathy for any of them apart from almost a moment with Lejla, the porn actress who brought Milos to Vukmir in the first place. Did she get what she deserved I wonder? Yes, I think she did. There are no innocents in this film but there are some damn fine actors.

Is this the most perverse exploitation film I've ever watched though? I've seen them all - "Mum & Dad", "Salo", "Irreversible", "Murder Set Pieces", the list could go on and on right back to "I Spit on your Grave" or the banned video nasties of the 1980s. I'd say it was actually on a level with "Baise-Moi" but slicker even though the subject matter went into a much darker place. It's not the most disturbing thing I've ever seen either. "The Cook, The Thief, His Wife and Her Lover" or the end of "Last Exit to Brooklyn" affected me much more than anything here. Not that anything I ever see on screen affects me at all once the end credits come up.

I really did enjoy "A Serbian Film". The story was good, the camerawork was good, and even the techno music pumping through it was good. I used the same word a lot there but that's the only way to describe the 104 minutes that I spent watching realistic yet still completely fake special effects, blood, gore, screaming, violence, murder, rape, paedophilia, incest, necrophilia, brutal rough sex and death. It was GOOD!

July 21, 2010

Mill Creek's Chilling 20 Movie Pack

I bought this 4 disc DVD set from Big Lots for $6 last year and have finally started reviewing the films on it over at "The Mill Creek Horror Watcher". I have to say that it is my favourite out of all the Mill Creek Entertainment multi-movie packs so far.

The movies themselves vary in transfer quality but they are all watchable especially on a laptop or portable DVD player. I've tried them on my big TV with an upconverting DVD player and, although the flaws are more evident, there's nothing too distracting.

I have the older version of this pack with Vincent Price's face on the front (above left) rather than the lovely new artwork that Mill Creek have replaced it with. The 4 DVDs (containing 5 films on each) come in a very well made black plastic DVD case rather than cardboard sleeves and each DVD has matching artwork on it rather than being blank looking flippers. There is also a previous incarnation of this set (above right) with 6 DVDs in it containing 20 movies too.

Something I found interesting was that the picture of the skeleton touching Carol Ohmart's shoulder from "The House on Haunted Hill" is the background on all the DVD menus. They must have been created to match the older packaging.

I'm sure you'll agree that the artwork on the new version is much more contemporary. All three packs still contain exactly the same movies though.

The only thing that would have improved this collection for me would have been if a couple of the more science-fiction titles had been replaced with "Carnival of Souls" and "Nosferatu". Even "Horror Express" would have fitted better into the "Chilling" category.

For $6 (or even cheaper used from Amazon), I can wholeheartedly recommend this movie pack to everyone no matter how old or young you may be or what your tastes in horror are. There's something here for everyone and some definite classics which you just have to have in your collection.

Chilling 20 Movie Pack

Astral Factor, The
Attack of the Monsters (NOT HORROR)
Blood Tide
Cosmos: War of the Planets (NOT HORROR)
Creature from the Haunted Sea (NOT HORROR)
Dementia 13
Galaxy Invader, The (NOT HORROR)
Gamera the Invincible (NOT HORROR)
House on Haunted Hill, The
Laser Mission (NOT HORROR)
Last Man on Earth, The
Little Shop of Horrors, The
Moon of the Wolf
Night of the Living Dead
Phantom from 10,000 Leagues, The (NOT HORROR)
Terror, The
They Came From Beyond Space (NOT HORROR)

"This collection of thrillers features such Hollywood legends as Vincent Price, Jack Nicholson, David Janssen and James Earl Jones. Terrors from above and below, creatures real and imagined and beings from beyond space and time are presented to you in this 20 Movie Pack."

July 20, 2010

Inception (2010)


"In a world where technology exists to enter the human mind through dream invasion, a single idea within one's mind can be the most dangerous weapon or the most valuable asset."

I haven't seen this film and have no interest in seeing it either. I'm only writing this because I just know that reviews of 'Inception" are going to start appearing all over horror blogs and sites even though IT HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH HORROR!!!

Having checked out the IMDb, it is quite possible that "Inception" is one of the best of this year's "Summer blockbusters". I'm a bit incredulous at how it has received a rating of 9.3 out of 10 when most of the reviews on the IMDb say it's "nearly as good as The Dark Knight"!!! WTF??? "The Dark Knight" was an absolutely awful film and is up there with "Batman & Robin" for being one of the worst Batman films that I've ever had the misfortune to watch. Yeah, Heath Ledger was good but the rest? Give me a break.

So from Christian Bale growling through one terrible movie, Christopher Nolan thinks he can cast another actor I can't stand, Leonardo DiCaprio, and make Sci-Fi now? I might have had more interest if Ellen Page and Cillian Murphy weren't in it either. Can you imagine the torture of having to endure all three of those "actors" for nearly two and a half hours?

Seriously, there is something wrong with people who rate these massive CGI-filled abominations. I've seen the trailer and, yes, the computer effects are well done but they are still COMPUTER EFFECTS! It's lazy and they always look fake even though the technology has improved enormously since "Jurassic Park" and Missa Jar-Jar Binks or whatever the hell that thing was called in George Lucas' re-raping of "Star Wars".

But I'm not a filmmaker, I just watch a lot of films. I pay my money and that gives me the right to bitch and moan about whatever I want to when it comes to my entertainment. I can't honestly say that I would make a movie any differently to the ones that are being released lately but I can say that I wouldn't put an ass-numbingly long borefest such as "Inception" into movie theatres in the middle of Summer.

I don't know if any of you have even seen this film or if, like me, you have about as much interest in it as watching "Marmaduke" in a cinema full of cellphone wielding eight year olds. Personally, I want to see a nice big fat juicy ADULT horror movie again soon rather than having to rewatch my DVD collection over and over because there's nothing new or good out there.

Yeah, I'm on a rant here. I don't want any more remakes, PG-13 horrors with overly loud noises instead of atmosphere, or groups of friends with camcorders pretending to be actors and flooding the Netflix warehouse with self-made DVDs of their infantile crap. I want a real big budget horror movie and I want it now! Monsters, ghosts, vampires, even witches, I'll watch just about anything. No more virus movies or pretty teen slashers though, puh-lease.

Will I ever watch "Inception", do you think? Of course I will when it ends up in the $5 Wal-Mart bin in six months time. Until that day comes, I'll just watch my old VHS tape of "The Thirteenth Floor". After all, it's exactly the same story, isn't it?

New Horror Movie Packs from Mill Creek Entertainment

I was just looking on the Mill Creek Entertainment website to see if there were any of their horror movie packs which I've missed and it seems they have three new ones!

Blood Bath - 12 Movie Collection
Brush With Death, A
Chambermaid, The
Death on Demand
Harvest of Fear
Haunting of Rebecca Verlaine, The
Red Riding Hood (2003)
Shadows of Death
Twisted Sisters, The

Bloodsuckers - 12 Movie Collection
Blood Bound
Blood Sucking Babes from Burbank
Hollywood Vampyr
Mrs. Amworth
Shower of Blood
Strange Things Happen At Sundown
This Darkness
Vampire Hunter
Vampire's Tale, A

Pure Terror 50 Movie Pack
Amazing Transparent Man, The
Anatomy of a Psycho
Blood Sabbath
Bloody Pit of Horror
Crucible of Horror
Curse of Bigfoot
Death in the Shadows
Death Warmed Up
Devil's Nightmare, The
Devil's Possessed
Doctor Jekyll and the Werewolf
Don't Answer the Phone!
Double Exposure
Dungeon of Harrow, The
Eerie Midnight Horror Show, The
Embalmer, The
Evil Brain from Outer Space
Fangs of the Living Dead
Frankenstein 80
Grave of the Vampire
Green Eyes
Guru, the Mad Monk
Hands of Steel
Horror Rises from the Tomb
House by the Cemetery, The
House That Screamed, The
It Happened at Nightmare Inn
Keep My Grave Open
Manos: The Hands of Fate
Manster, The
My Mom's a Werewolf
Night Evelyn Came Out of the Grave, The
Night Fright
Night of Bloody Horror
Night of the Blood Beast
Oval Portrait, The
Point of Terror
Sadist, The
Satan''s Slave
Scared to Death
Tell-Tale Heart, The
Terror Creatures from the Grave
Terror in the Jungle
They Saved Hitler's Brain
Thirsty Dead, The
Undertaker and His Pals, The
Vampire's Night Orgy
Werewolf of Washington, The

They even have a couple of double feature BluRays called "Total Terror" although you can get those titles in the "Blood Bath" collection anyway. Tom Savini stars in one of them ("Demonic").

Total Terror Vol. 1

Total Terror Vol. 2
Brush With Death, A
Harvest of Fear

Apart from the movies in the "Bloodsuckers" pack and a couple in the "Pure Evil" collection, I don't think I've seen or even heard of any of them before. I'm loving the new artwork on the Mill Creek packs though.

Night of the Living Dead (1968)

"A group of people hide from bloodthirsty zombies in a farmhouse."

Everybody knows this film. It's the classic zombie film that launched George A. Romero's career and also, allegedly, made him no money whatsoever because the original theatrical distributor neglected to place a copyright indication on the prints. It has lapsed into the public domain and dozens of DVD companies have reproduced it so many times that it's pretty hard to find any "value horror" multi-DVD pack without it. Copies have even been given away free with newspapers in the UK.

If you've never watched a zombie horror movie then this is really the only one you ever need to. Everything you want is here from a group of people trapped in a house fighting for survival to lurching flesh-eating zombies who seem to be unstoppable.

The acting is way above what you normally expect from a horror movie even though a lot of the dialogue was improvised and many cast members had never acted in a movie before. There's lots of action, scares, gore and violence, plus a subtext of socio-political commentary which you can pretty much ignore should you be so inclined. I must admit that I never even noticed until it was pointed out to me either.

There's really nothing bad to say about "Night of the Living Dead". I'm pretty sure everybody has at least ten copies of it already so I don't even need to recommend it. Just avoid the colourised versions (which I think lose a lot of atmosphere and look a bit weird) and the remake (although some people actually like that one too) and you can't go wrong.

An amusing game to play when you are bored though is to go through your DVD collection and count how many copies of "Night of the Living Dead" you actually own. From the various multi-packs that I've bought, I actually have 14 copies including the colour one. Wikipedia says there are 19 DVD companies still reproducing it so just 5 more to go. How many have you got?

July 19, 2010

Wide Awake (2007)

(AKA Ri-teon)

"Due to inadequate use of anaesthetics, a young boy experiences intra-operative awareness during his own heart surgery, hearing every sound and movement of the procedure. The little boy is severely traumatised from this horrific accident. As a result, he ends up brutally murdering a young girl soon after the incident..."

I'm hardly the biggest fan of Korean movies. I think I've only ever seen one other and that was "The Host". However, if they continue with the same high quality then I may well be watching a few more of them.

I actually got "Wide Awake" from Big Lots thinking it was another $3 horror movie. Although I obviously got it confused with the American film with a similar title and subject matter, after the initial disappointment of not seeing Jessica Alba's name anywhere, I decided to give it a chance. I'm glad I did.

"Wide Awake" (or "Return" as the IMDb calls it) isn't really a horror movie though it does contain a few gory operation scenes and has a serial killer in it. I suppose you could call it a "medical crime thriller" if you wanted to be pedantic and find some way of categorising it. Whatever the genre, it's a neat little film though slightly confusing at times. There are one or two twists which I didn't see coming (but then I hardly ever do) although I did actually work out who the bad guy was quite early on.

What confused me the most was all the names of the characters. I could barely read them, let alone say them, so even for a clever guy like me it was a struggle to work out who was who. It's probably best to just rename everyone in your own head as and when they appear, write them down or even, unlike me, pay more attention to what you are watching. I'm not going to fall into the trap of saying that all Asians look alike because they really don't in this film but their names are confusing as hell to us Westerners.

Anyway, although I'm also at a loss to judge the acting from the dialogue, it seemed quite good to me. It might be absolutely atrocious but I was reading subtitles so it didn't matter. I think the doctor who was the centre of the story might be a very good actor but none of them exuded Oscar winning material to me. They were all a bit ordinary looking too which makes me think they were probably soap stars or TV actors but I really don't know for sure.

The story itself was nicely paced with not too many flashbacks. Unfortunately it really needed a few more flashbacks to fill in the relationships between the main characters. Although that does add a little bit more to the mystery of who the killer actually is now that he has grown up, it didn't explain who knew who or from where.

Of course what everyone really wants to see in a film like this is some gore. There was no disappointment in that department with several operation scenes and a bit of animal cruelty involving baby chickens. With this being a Korean film, I can't honestly say if the chicken deaths were real or not. At least nothing bad happened to a cat.

The murder scenes were alright for what they were. One was more ingenious than the others and there was a bit of gunfire and some woundings which seemed slightly fake later on. I'm not sure what to make of them since the rest of the film had more realism but they were adequate. The deaths were generally very realistic and the effects were good. I don't think they had an enormous budget but this was certainly not a "handycam and ketchup" movie.

It's probably a Korean thing that a lot was made of family and friendships when it came to the motivation of what any of the characters did. The motivation of the little boy who grows up to be a serial killer seems simplistic to start with until you later find out that there was a lot more to it. Unlike a Michael Myers, you can actually feel some sympathy for this killer. His motivation is revenge rather than pure psychosis and that always makes a story like this more interesting. The film is constructed so that you feel a lot more sympathy for his victims though.

I was quite impressed with the doctor's wife. She reminded me a lot of Sun from "Lost" (who is also supposed to be Korean I think) mainly in acting style if not also looks. If not the same character, they could well be sisters if you want to really think about it. I was hoping there would be some sexiness along the way but it wasn't necessary to the plot so it never happened. I can imagine an American remake throwing some in though to create a much bigger red herring concerning the wife's fidelity than the one that actually occurs.

Although it's possible to argue that some of "Wide Awake" was pretty formulaic stuff for a thriller, I actually found it to be quite original. I don't watch many films outside of the horror genre and I don't really think that this one was actually too far outside of it either. It was the best film that I've seen so far this weekend but, since it's only just become Saturday now, there are a lot more DVDs for me to watch yet. I'd class "Wide Awake" as slightly about average. It could have been a lot better but it was still quite good.

July 18, 2010

Yet Another Horror Movie Blog!

I've started another horror movie blog on here called "The Mill Creek Horror Watcher". I've bought a few of these value DVD box sets over the years and intend to review all the movies in them eventually.

I just don't want to clog up this blog with all those bad transfers and usually godawful "B movies" especially as I get to see enough of those as it is. I've even been neglecting to fill in the "Vault" section because I was playing catch-up with all the Zone Horror handycam rubbish. I started to think that I should have called this blog, "The Ultimate Guide to the Worst Horror Films Ever Made!" instead.

Anyway, I haven't really done anything on this other blog yet apart from setting up the layout. I'll be alternating between "Dr Blood's Video Vault" and "The Mill Creek Horror Watcher" for a while so things may be a bit quieter on here.

If I find any good movies among all the junk then I will, of course, post the review on "Dr Blood's Video Vault" as well.

Carriers (2009)

"Four friends fleeing a viral pandemic soon learn they are more dangerous than any virus."

I've seen way too many of these "Apocalyptic Virus" movies over the years, but I must admit that I'm a bit of a sucker for them. There's just something about having 99% of the human population wiped out and having free reign to do what you want with all the toys they've left behind that appeals to me.

Back in the '70s there was an epic BBC TV series called "Survivors" (which has since been remade) which did this subgenre to death. If you watch that, all these movies from "28 Days Later" to "The Crazies" are just samey.

There's nothing about "Carriers" that makes it stand out either although it did try for a more sympathetic angle by focusing on a small group of survivors and trying to make you feel sorry for them. Unfortunately, I didn't like any of the characters very much and couldn't have cared less if they lived or died.

It didn't have any scares, was done pretty cheaply as far as I could tell, and although it had decent acting, it just felt pretty slow.

One of the highlights for me was seeing Christopher Meloni who I remember from HBO's "Oz" playing a far nicer role. If there is a character to feel sorry for in this film then his is it. I didn't really recognise any of the other actors in it, but (after checking their credits on the IMDb) I discovered that they've all been in various TV projects. A couple of them have even appeared in some of the more forgettable horror movies that I won't go into here.

Basically, "Carriers" is just a road trip drama with no real action scenes, gore or anything other than a lot of talk for the PG-13 crowd. I suppose it could have the ability to make you question your own morals and what you would do in a similar situation but it didn't work on that level for me.

Strangely enough I did actually enjoy it. I wouldn't buy this on DVD or anything, but I can recommend it as a rental.

July 16, 2010

An interview with Nicole Blessing

Nicole Blessing is an actress and model. She has done quite a few independent films, most of which are still being edited. "Doomed To Consume" from NFTS Productions, in which she plays tough, zombie-killing girl Traci Loomis, is finished.

"Door to Door", a horror short by Ed Linder, is currently on the "On the Lot" website. Nicole plays the mysterious and seductive Linda.

Nicole kindly agreed to answer a few questions for me proving that she is not only a beautiful scream queen but a wonderful human being as well. Here's what she had to say...

How did you become an actress/scream queen?
I was always interested in acting, but only started to pursue it seriously several years ago. I had done some commercial work, plays, and a few independent films when I was cast in NFTS Productions’ feature "Doomed To Consume". I liked playing dark, troubled characters and searched for more roles of this nature.

What has been the high point of your career so far?
I feel I haven’t hit a high point yet.

And the lowest?
Any time when I feel there is a gap between projects. I like to keep busy.

Do you have any aspirations to be an actor in a big budget major motion picture?
Oh definitely. Some of my upcoming projects have larger budgets. "Mourne", a werewolf thriller set in Northern Ireland, will be a major picture.

What would be your ideal role?
I would love to play a Bond girl. They are such memorable characters. I’d also like to play a hip witch with really cool powers.

Who do you admire in show business?
I admire Meryl Streep and Judi Dench. Both have such versatility and aren’t afraid to take risks.

If you could be anyone else for 24 hours who would you want to be?
George W. Bush, so I could approve the plan for pulling U.S. troops out of Iraq. I have issues with some of the actions of the Bush administration, and often wonder what the rest of the world must think of us. The majority wants a plan to exit Iraq; Congress has developed a plan, and Bush says he’ll veto it. 24 hours is ambitious, but I’d be highly motivated.

If you were a cartoon character who would it be?
It would have to be Wonder Woman. I want access to the invisible jet.

Do you like to break rules or are you a good girl?
I’d like to think I break the rules.

Do you think that you are unique?
Yes I feel I have a very unique look. I’m tall, thin, yet curvy, and have fabulous red hair.

What part of the industry really pisses you off?
There are parts of any industry that can be annoying. At this point it would be people unwilling to take chances with unknowns, and not being able to find a good agent.

Do you get any scary fans or have they all been nice to you?
For the most part everyone that’s taken an interest in my work has been nice.

If you were cast in an episode of 'Lost' or 'Nip/Tuck' who would you befriend and who would you least like to have an onscreen romance with?
If it were an episode of 'Lost', I would befriend Jack. When you’re on an isolated island, it’s always a good idea to be friends with a doctor. I would be least likely to have a romance with Sawyer. He’s just a little too cranky.
If it were 'Nip/Tuck', I would befriend Christian. He’s had some interesting character transitions throughout the series. I’d be least likely to have an onscreen romance with Liz. We’d definitely be great friends, and I’d want to help her find a better girlfriend than Poppy. She was just a bitch to Liz.

Have you ever thought of being on a reality TV show?
Not really. If I did I’d like to be on "Dancing With The Stars", but you sort of have to be a star to get on it. I love ballroom dancing, and it would be amazing to train with a professional. The tango is my favourite dance.

What would you like to win?
Cash prizes are always good. I’d like to win a sports car. I have a very practical car for my dogs, but it’s not as fun to drive as a sports car.

I see you also do some modelling. What would be your ideal photoshoot?
It would be for "Vogue" or maybe "Sports Illustrated". I’d like to shoot some place warm and near an ocean.

And the worst?
Anything that would involve working with spiders. I’ve never had a desire to be upclose with a spider, especially ones large enough that you can see their fangs.

What is your favourite brand of make-up?
Predominately Guerlain, MAC, and Senna. Guerlain has great bronzers, and I love their Meteorite powder. MAC has amazing colors and really intense purple pigments that bring out my green eyes. Senna overall is a wonderful line. I’m a big fan of their pressed mineral mix foundation and concealer.

What do you like to do most when not acting or modelling?
Kickboxing, jiu jitsu, and walking the dogs.

What time do you normally get up and go to bed?
It depends where I’m working. Lately I wake up about 8am and go to sleep some time around 11 or 11:30pm. The dogs won’t let me sleep too late, they want their breakfast.

Have you ever stayed awake more than 24 hours in a row, internetting for instance? Have you become addicted to the net yet?
I have on several occasions. Studying for finals, moving, internetting, and when Coco and Chanel got into chocolate and we had to make them throw it up. They fully recovered, but were sick all night.

Do you eat a lot of chocolate?
I do, but not in excess. I love chocolate with raspberry filling. I have a chocolate fountain.

Do you have a favourite website?

Besides Dr Blood's Video Vault, I like imdb and ebay. I love imdb, if you’re watching something and you can’t place an actor or want to know who directed something, you can find it on imdb. Ebay has everything.

Have you bought anything good from ebay or a garage sale?
Both. I love eBay. I’ve found things on ebay I thought I’d never find. One year for Christmas my mom really wanted a Victorian mourning ring like her mother had. If you are unfamiliar with a Victorian mourning ring, it’s a flat piece of onyx in a setting with a little diamond in the middle. They are hard to find, let alone one that had to adhere to specifications. After three months of looking on ebay I finally found the perfect one.
I’ve got some things at garage sales, but not as much. I used to go with my sister who would plan out where we would go the day before. She took it very seriously.

Do you like shopping?
I love shopping. I’m currently very into Bebe Sport outfits. They are just so cute, and yet practical. I would wear them all the time if I could.

If you were stranded in a jungle which three things would you like to have with you?
I would want things to help me get out of the jungle, so a compass, a knife, and a satellite phone. If I could have a fourth thing I’d like a piece of chocolate.

What is your favourite meal? Do you have a favourite recipe?
I don’t cook very much. When I was little my grandma taught me more practical things like how to play cards and effectively bluff. My favourite meal is the California Pizza Kitchen’s shrimp scampi pizza and a glass of Merlot or Cabernet.
I have a great recipe for crab dip. It’s made in a bread bowl, and has always been well received when I’ve taken it to parties.

How many cheesey poofs can you get into your mouth in one go?
That’s a hard question. Since I don’t have any readily available I’ll have to guess 15. They kind of dissolve a little in your mouth so you’d be able to get more in.

What is your favourite brand of cola?
Coke. Preferably Coke with Lime, but not diet. I don’t drink anything diet. I like Propel and Vitamin water too, although they aren’t cola.

If you were able to go anywhere in time, where would you go and what would you do there?
I would go back to London in 1888 and catch Jack the Ripper.

Who is your favourite author?
I have several favourite authors. I’m a big fan of J.K. Rowling, Agatha Christie, Tom Clancy, Dan Brown, and soon to be published author Andy Smith.

Do you read a lot of books?
I do. I try to diversify my reading material. I just finished a Final Cut Pro manual, and can’t wait for the last Harry Potter book. My niece got me hooked on them a few years ago. She has all of them so I read one right after the other.

What scares you?
Rats. I hate them. They can carry disease; they’re smart and they bite.

What do you like most about Dr Blood's Video Vault?
The movie reviews.

Would you have your picture taken wearing nothing but a Dr Blood's Video Vault t-shirt if you were sent one?

Which question would you most like to be asked?
How did you get those great abs?

And the answer to that question?

Thank you.

All pictures of Nicole Blessing on this page are copyrighted to Nicole Blessing and are used here with permission.

Please visit Nicole's website at www.nicoleblessing.com or her IMDb page for more details.

Nicole can also be contacted at: http://www.myspace.com/nicoleblessing.

July 12, 2010

Predators (2010)

I'm not sure whether "Predators" was supposed to be a reboot, a remake or just yet another sequel in a franchise that really should have ended with "Predator 2".

There was too much CGI, not enough of the predators themselves, and a storyline pretty much lifted straight out of the "Cube" movies. It all looked good though.

I thought the acting sucked right across the board with miscastings in every direction. Adrien Brody was no Arnold Schwarzenegger by any stretch of the imagination and Topher Grace was even less credible than when he tried to play a bad guy in "Spider-Man 3".

The pacing was all over the place too. There were some deadly dull moments where nothing was happening and then big rushes of action sequences which were over too fast. At nearly 2 hours long, it's a real ass-numbing experience with very little to justify it.

I expect all the "Aliens" and "Predator" fanboys loved it but there wasn't anything in this film for me. The gore was minimal, there was no sexiness, and even the swearing wasn't really enough to make it adult.

Action scenes were all camera effects, quickcuts, noise and mess. Though not as bad as the "AVP" movies, they were still pretty terrible. The predators seem very easy to kill compared to previous incarnations too.

Nimrod Antal, the director, has still only made one film that I've enjoyed. No, not "Vacancy" which was lame but "Kontroll". I'm also starting to associate Robert Rodriguez's name with total crap now too. In fact, as soon as I see him listed as a producer on anything I lose interest immediately. I can't understand the following he has as I honestly don't remember a single movie that he has had anything to do with that I've liked.

"Predators" is just another stupid "Summer movie" which will get a few seats filled up in the cinemas mainly because there's nothing better to watch at the moment. I won't buy it on DVD when it comes out because it was just another throwaway story which showed complete contempt for the audience.

I'm not going to list all the plotholes, pitiful cameos, or total lack of imagination that went into this film as I'm sure you'll see all these faults for yourself.

If I had to rate "Predators" out of 10 then it would be a 2. I didn't enjoy it, was actually quite bored most of the time, and was very disappointed. It's not going to fail at the box office but it doesn't really deserve to make anything. It's another one destined for the Wal-Mart $4 DVD bin or be combined with the "AVP" sets just to get rid of it.

July 7, 2010

My Autograph Collection

Many years ago, I used to collect celebrity autographs. That was back in the days when you could still get them for free and didn't have to pay a week's wages for one at a convention.

Anyway, I just thought I'd share some of them with you rather than write yet another movie review that nobody can be bothered to read. ;)

I'm sure you recognise a few familiar faces here.

July 2, 2010

Daybreakers (2009)

"In the year 2019, a plague has transformed most every human into vampires. Faced with a dwindling blood supply, the fractured dominant race plots their survival; meanwhile, a researcher works with a covert band of vamps on a way to save humankind."

Although "Daybreakers" has a lot more to do with science-fiction than horror, and is somewhat derivative of another Australian movie "Thirst" from 1979, it really was a refreshing change for me to watch a vampire film that didn't completely suck.

"Daybreakers" follows very much in the tradition of "Blade" in that it has a lot of action. It also brings back most of the traditional vampire mythology with something new which I won't spoil for you.

Unfortunately it also follows the style of "Gattaca" so it's all very futuristic and stars Ethan Hawke again. I'm not really sure what to make of him as an actor as he never seems to show much of a range of emotions in any of his roles. Here he was just as sombre as usual. If he really is a barrel of laughs in real life then I expect that makes him a very fine actor indeed. He was more than acceptable as the scientist Edward Dalton so I have no complaints.

There's nothing remotely comical about "Daybreakers" though apart from some light-hearted lines delivered by the real star of the show, Willem Dafoe. He has a kind of "Whistler" role although he is also what Blade wishes he could be become. His character, "Elvis", was a vampire once but has been changed back to human through a combination of sunlight and water. How exactly it happened and how the effect can be reproduced is the turning point in the whole story.

Ultimately "Daybreakers" is yet another "virus" story where one character has a cure that will save everybody else but the powers that be don't want it to happen. There have been so many of these movies lately that I wonder if they are a designed social commentary or just coincidence. It's a bit like how in the 1950s when America feared invasion by other countries, everything seemed to be about alien invaders, and, when not enough babies were being born in the 1980s, 9 out of 10 movies were about little kids. If I was into conspiracy theories I would say that the movie industry is being used to tell us something.

Of course, "Daybreakers" is also just a very good action movie albeit full of as many clichés as possible. It has everything from characters preferring to die than be changed to self-sacrifice for the greater good. It's a formula that we've all seen many times. I think it shows a real laziness on the part of the screenwriters and absolute contempt for the audience by the producers. As much as you can thoroughly enjoy "Daybreakers" on a superficial level, the glaringly obvious set pieces do detract from the overall effect.

There is also a lot of CGI thrown into the action scenes which you'll either love or hate. I thought the effects were done really well but maybe I've just got used to them now. Things have moved on considerably from when CGI looked like a computer game. I'm sure it's cheaper to make a movie this way but I do wonder if the actors find it harder to respond to the invisible things which are added by the computer whizzkids in post. It would certainly explain a few mediocre performances.

It has to be said though that Sam Neill does a really restrained job as the villainous vampire boss, Charles Bromley. There was every opportunity for him to go overboard and into some kind of "Dr Evil" mania but he kept it in check. I've always liked Sam Neill as an actor and can't understand the hate that some critics seem to have for him since "Jurassic Park" or even "Event Horizon". It's true that he often gets sucked into these larger than life characters and can make you cringe with overacting when he wants to but then so did Vincent Price and nobody seems to hate him.

Yes, even "The Last Man on Earth" gets a bit of an homage here and there with "Daybreakers". Every vampire movie ever made is thrown into the mix it seems but that's no bad thing.

I really think that it's time to stop with the virus/zombie/vampire movies now though as, to be brutally honest, if you've seen one, you've seen them all. If, like me, you've seen them all then you've already seen everything that "Daybreakers" has to offer too. But if you've got a bit tired of the sparkly vegetarian vampires in the "Twilight" saga then this really is a must see.