May 29, 2013

Ooga Booga (2013)

"Ooga Booga follows an innocent African-American boy who is brutally murdered by dirty cops, but his soul is magically transferred into an action figure named Ooga Booga. With his tribal spear and old girlfriend to help, he takes to the streets and trailer parks to find the men that ended his once bright future."

Having seen Ooga Booga's other appearances in "Doll Graveyard" (2005) and "Evil Bong" (2005), I was intrigued by what Charles Band had in store for us with a full length feature starring the puppet. I also wanted to see if Karen Black and Stacy Keach could still act since I haven't seen them in anything horror related for ages, but that's another story. It's been a long time since "Trilogy of Terror" (1975) or "Body Bags" (1993) which are, respectively, their most famous genre performances.

I know that I have a reputation for being all about the serious horror movies rather than the comedies, but before everyone jumps on the "You're a hypocrite!" bandwagon, I do watch other subgenres occasionally either by accident or just to see what's happening. I may be a hypocrite in some situations (like everyone else), but I'm not as bad as certain sycophantic "big name" websites or virtually deceased hillbilly podcasts. This isn't a popularity contest for me so if I choose to watch something silly rather than horror from time to time, that's my business which I'm now making yours for the sake of a blog post.

Anyway, with no idea what kind of entertainment I was going to derive from "Ooga Booga", I gave the Redbox kiosk my custom, made yet another pizza, and settled down for something a bit more uplifting than all the usual death... or so I thought. There's actually still a little bit of murder and bloodshed in "Ooga Booga".

Although the cynic in me is inclined to believe that the whole movie is a giant advertisment to sell replicas of the "Badass Dolls" because they're undeniably cool, "Ooga Booga" has a few genuinely funny moments in spite of itself. Unfortunately, the pacing is slow and the jokes are very far between.

Nobody does a particularly bad job, and the Ooga Booga doll is cute enough to steal the show in every scene even if he's only blinking, but everything feels sparse. The movie isn't short of racist insults, but many punches are pulled by the lack of real vehemence behind them which would make everything more offensive, controversial and memorable.

The main gag is, obviously, the homage to Karen Black's fight with a Zuni fetish doll in "Trilogy of Terror", but it doesn't have any impact even with the same actress in it. Making a parody out of something that was already unintentionally funny is a misplaced step too far in the "meta" direction, and it falls flat. The motivation of the Zuni fetish doll is completely different to Ooga Booga's revenge for one thing.

I must admit that I was expecting (and hoping for) "Ooga Booga" to be a lot more racist and un-politically correct than it turned out to be. While the racist epithets and imagery abound, the fun is really poked at the white stereotypes more than cashing-in on the "blaxploitation" angle. As such, I'm not really sure what to make of what I watched.

The bottom line is that "Ooga Booga" is neither pro-Black or pro-White even if the characters are one way or another. As a bit of cheap "filler" entertainment which lasts less than 90 minutes and only costs a dollar, there's nothing much to gain or lose from the experience.

May 28, 2013

4 Films Horror Collector's Set: 1

There are two almost identical versions of this pack from 2009. The one I have has "Salvage" instead of "Wages of Sin" (2006) which is in place of "Bloody Mary" on the cover of the other. "Wages on Sin", however, is also on the second (chronologically the fourth or fifth) of my "4 Films" collections. Thus, Echo Bridge Home Entertainment were up to confusing mischief right at the beginning.

Prior to June 2009, the 20 "Horror Classics" multipacks were made up of Public Domain movies much like the ones from Mill Creek Entertainment so everybody thought the duplicates were merely schoolboy errors from a new company rather than intentional. How wrong we were!

While the "official" Volume 1 contains "Prom Night" (1980), "Nadja" (1994), "Skeleton Man" (2004) and "The Nurse" (1997), Volume 2 has "The Satanic Rites of Dracula" (1973), "The Terror" (1963), "Night of the Living Dead" (1968) and "The Devil Bat" (1940).

The throwback/reissue of four titles from their Public Domain catalogue makes a bit of a mess in the midst of the more modern horror movie packs especially as everyone is likely to have them several times over from other sources. Thinking that the series was only going to be a repackage/reissue of "Horror Classics", many collectors decided to ignore these multipacks in favour of the ones from Mill Creek Entertainment from then on. Being a late arrival to the party and already a collector of Mill Creek packs, I missed out on this kerfuffle completely.

If you think that I should have started with the chronological first volume rather than the first one I bought, you can rest assured that we haven't heard the last of "Prom Night", "Nadja", "Skeleton Man" and "The Nurse" by any stretch of the imagination.

Mortuary (2005)

"A family movies to a small town to run a long-abandoned funeral home, only to discover that something evil lurks there—something that raises the dead and feeds upon death itelf. Starring Dan Byrd and Denise Crosby. Directed by Tobe Hooper."

Most people (especially on message boards) seem to really hate this Lovecraft-style "B movie", but it's not that bad until the CGI vines and zombies start appearing. "Mortuary" has a good atmosphere for the first 30 minutes or so and a fair bit of creepiness going on. Too much comedy ultimately ruins everything, the pace drags in the middle, and it's a bit of mess towards the end, although it's still about the same as something moderately gory which you'd normally see on the SyFy channel.

Dan Byrd is a couple of years too old to play a teenager and Denise Crosby from "Star Trek" looks very worn, but neither is as bad as 34-year-old Alexandra Adi playing half her age (even though she doesn't look it unless you scrutinize her). If there's any justice in the world, I'm sure she looks her age nowadays. The worst offender, however, is diminutive 12-year-old Stephanie Patton playing either an 8-year-old or a mentally challenged tweenager. In fairness, it's hard to decide what she is other than extremely annoying.

Memory (2006)

"When Dr. Taylor Briggs is exposed to a mysterious drug while lecturing in Brazil, he is forced to relive the dark, twisted memories of a killer whose work may not be over. Starring Billy Zane, Tricia Helfer, Ann-Marget and Dennis Hopper."

For a slow-moving, Billy Zane-centric thriller, this isn't bad either. The made-for-TV aesthetic is a little bit off-putting at first, but when the horror elements start kicking-in, it's all very entertaining. The twist/reveal is a tad "Scooby Doo" and doesn't come as a big surprise if you watch a lot of movies like this.

Don't expect any gory unpleasantness from "Memory" as it's primarily one of those predictable "hero shares a psychic link with a kidnapper/murderer" deals with the usual discovery contrivances, some product placement, and a couple of nice tweaks to the formulas. Even from a heterosexual male point of view, Billy Zane is a very attractive man, and this is an excellent vehicle for him to show his talents as an actor.

The only bad point is a confusing scene 1 hour and 15 minutes in which feels forced rather than being part of any logical progression or set off by any trigger. Since the dénouement follows it, it's a glaringly rushed join.

Bloody Mary (2006)

"When a group of psychiatric hospital nurses invoke the spirit of Bloody Mary—a supposed urban myth—the slaughter begins. The legend is real, her vengeance is fatal, and to free her, all you have to do is say her name."

After two reasonably good movies, by necessity there has to be a bad one. Lots of pretty girls can't redress the balance in this "Candyman" clone, but they do at least try to by showing some skin. The opening scene has the best looking actress, and it's amusing watching her walk toe-to-heel without any shoes on. A nurse who is used to wearing high heels gives away the casting decisions.

If you're not a fan of "Candyman" or the "Urban Legend" trilogy, "Bloody Mary" is a lower-budget alternative which fits into the latter's "trendy teen horror" subgenre with no problem. As a supernatural slasher, it's not very memorable though.

Salvage (2006)

"Claire Parker is going to die. At the hands of a sadistic and depraved killer, she will endure a terrifying, unimaginably brutal death—and it will all happen again. Starring Lauren Currie Lewis and Chris Ferry."

Having once owned the single DVD version of "Salvage" which I sold at a yard sale years ago because it was so amateur and boring, I don't really need to say much more about it. It's yet another confusing, low-budget horror version of "Groundhog Day" which also owes an enormous debt to all the old Amicus anthologies or anything else with a downbeat twist at the end. It's "windowboxed" too to save space.

Don't do what I did and confuse "Salvage" (also known as "Gruesome") with the 2009 movie of the same name which was filmed on the set of "Brookside" because it isn't the same thing at all.

Despite being bare-bones releases, these movies don't need any extras anyway so having two on each side of a single DVD without commentaries and featurettes isn't anything to complain about. The menu system is adequate and the transfers are decent enough.

The only problem for collectors is that these movies have been repeated another 6 times throughout the "4 Films" and "Midnight Horror" DVD packs without even counting the latest Blu-ray versions.

Nowadays, "The Midnight Horror Collection: 8 Movies Pack Vol. 5" has replaced this set (plus the following one), offers marginally better value for $5, and takes up one less shelf space.

Obviously, the "4 Films Horror Collector's Set" is still worth buying for $2.99 from Kmart (or less on Amazon and eBay) if you either don't want or already have the other titles.

May 27, 2013

The Midnight Horror Collection: 8 Movie Pack (Vol. 2)

This pack from two years ago is the first and last of the real "volumes" before Echo Bridge Home Entertainment started reissuing their previous "Horror Collector's Sets" with different cover art. You'll see what I mean as I continue these posts about multipacks.

You have to be very careful with these "Midnight Horror" collections if you are on a restricted budget especially as "Vol. 3" is made up of the Full Moon second disk from the first Midnight Horror collection plus "Zombie Dearest" from this one. Most collectors who are after "completeness" will find themselves with multiple copies of the same movies just to get one or two extra ones which aren't worth watching.

Echo Bridge Home Entertainment horror movie collections are always worth the money individually, but the sheer number of them which they've created by remixing their limited catalogue is very annoying. I would rather pay $60 or so and have everything that they have to release in one bigger pack rather than "Demonic Toys 2" and "Prom Night" half a dozen times. Obviously, Echo Bridge Home Entertainment won't make as much money if they do that so it's never likely to happen.

Watch Me (2006)

"One by one Tess Hooper's friends are brutally murdered. Linking them together is a file that spreads through electronic address books to seek its victims."

If you're anything like me, you'll switch this movie off after the first few seconds because it's clearly a "micro budget" Australian clone of "The Grudge", "The Ring" and several other Asian horror movies mixed together.

Having now seen it all, I can only say that it should be renamed as "Don't Watch Me".

Deadfall Trail (2009)

"Three campers head into the wilderness for a bare-bones expedition, but when the situation becomes desperate, the building tension reaches a breaking point."

Unless you are really into testosterone, survivalism, and men going mad in the wilderness for no good reason, there's not much to get excited about with this low-budget drama either.

Unfortunately, it's so talky that you can't even fast forward through it to say that you've seen the good bits. If you stay with it, there's a nude woman covered in blood at one point, but apart from some nasty bug eating, this movie barely counts as horror.

The Fear Chamber (2009)

"A detective is on the verge of capturing a serial killer, but nightmarish visions thwart his efforts."

Although it's very slow-moving and predictable, there's some lovely gore in "The Fear Chamber" which is worth fast forwarding to and replaying.

The supernatural revenge plot is a nice twist on "The Hands of Orlac" formula, but ultimately, too much time is spend on the cop wrestling with his inner demons. It might have worked if the lead had been able to act his way out of a paper bag.

Haunted from Within (2004)

"A modern retelling of the legend of La Llorana unfolds in an Arizona town."

This is an absolutely horrible movie in every way and on every level, but at least it has beautiful Rina Fernandez in it.

Sometimes an actress is so beautiful that you think you could just gaze at her all day doing nothing and enjoy it. "Haunted from Within" will, however, prove any such theory wrong.

There are much better low-budget "La Llorona" (pronounced "Yorona") movies available and quite a few worse ones. This was originally called "Spirit Hunter: La Llorona" just to confuse collectors of La Llorona movies such as myself.

Evil Bong II: King Bong (2009)

"On the search for a cure for their strange weed-smoking side effects, a group of stoners head to South America."

The same characters as the first "Evil Bong" movie and pretty much the same jokes too. Despite a change of location, what looks like a bigger budget, and even more topless models, it's not good.

Demonic Toys 2 (2010)

"When an oddball group of characters gather to inspect an ancient puppet, strange things begin to happen."

A couple of pretty actresses don't quite make up for the pacing problems, boring story, and poorly differentiated killer toys in this weirdly numbered third sequel. None of the "Demonic Toys" movies are as good as the "Puppet Master" ones, and that's really saying something since they are all terrible even as comedies.

I tried to like it, but "Demonic Toys 2" is somewhat unengaging, too slick looking and sounding, and tries vainly to be a throwback to the '90s instead of catering for a modern audience. Something went very wrong in the mix this time, but everyone is allowed a turkey or two. Putting all the turkeys together on one DVD is asking for trouble though.

Doll Graveyard (2005)

"A teenage loner discovers a set of handmade dolls buried in his backyard. When the clan comes to life, they protect him from harm... fighting a bloody battle in his name."

Easily the best movie in this pack. "Doll Graveyard" might be yet another '80s-style "Puppet Master" and "Demonic Toys" clone, but the wish fulfilment and revenge angle is well played and uses the stereotypical characters perfectly. The casting of the actors is also very good. In particular, the brother and sister look as if they could be siblings in real life.

I enjoyed this one. It's a real shame that it's "windowboxed" on large screen TVs and is shorter than a regular feature by a good 20 minutes.

Zombie Dearest (2009)

"While digging up the septic tank, Gus unearths an obedient, hard-working zombie... a zombie that will do whatever he wants."

When I read the plot synopsis, I thought that this would be another "Fido", but it's not even in the same league. More mediocre than anything else, "Zombie Dearest" only held my interest because of the facial similarity between sexy Shauna Black and Carol Decker from T'Pau (remember them?). I won't use the emoticon which looks like this: o_O because that would be cruel.

If "Zombie Dearest" is supposed to be a horror-comedy then, once again, I missed all the horror and the jokes.

Thus, volume two of "The Midnight Horror Collection" contains one DVD full of lacklustre, low-budget dreck coupled with another which is mostly made up of equally dire Full Moon titles. I'd give it a 50/50 chance of ending up in my yard sale, but that may change again nearer the time.

I have one reader of this blog who I know would love to live in America and have access to all these multi-feature DVDs, but since the dozens of multipacks usually contain the same movies over and over again, I can assure him that he really isn't missing out on much.

"The Midnight Horror Collection 8 Movie Pack" series has now reached "Vol. 13". I only have one more of the 8 packs myself, and it doesn't even have a volume number on it. Instead, I collected the original "Horror Collector's" sets as they came out or ended up in my local pawn shop. While I may still be missing two or three movies, I don't have any desire to buy more.

In my coming posts, I'll go through each "4 Film Horror Collector's Set" and let you know in which "Midnight Horror" packs the movies have been repeated.

May 26, 2013

The Midnight Horror Collection: 8 Movie Pack (Vol. 1)

Although a lot of these movies have been published before in other Echo Bridge Home Entertainment packs, I believe that this was the first of their "Midnight Horror" collections. I bought it for the full $5 price from Wal-mart just to have a DVD copy of "Meridian" (known in the UK as "Phantoms"). Getting "Below" and several lesser known Full Moon movies was simply a bonus.

The thing is that even though I've had the pack for almost two years, I hadn't watched any of the newer Full Moon movies or other low-budget nasties until today.

Overall, I had a good time watching it. While not every movie in the pack is good, it's definitely worth the money.

Prom Night (1980)

"Four seniors, who all share the same terrible secret, are stalked by a vengeful axe-wielding killer on Prom Night."

You all know this one so I'm not going to re-review it.

The ratio is the old fullscreen 4:3 format, and it's a bit dark, but "Prom Night" isn't a bad movie. I've never really raved about it though and used to think it was boring. It's all about the nostalgia for some people.

Below (2002)

"A submarine picks up three survivors of a U-boat attack but these visitors seem to spark a series of chilling, otherworldly occurrences."

I've reviewed "Below" already too, and it's an okay movie. I liked it more when I first saw it on TV and didn't notice some of its more glaringly lower-budget qualities until I watched it again.

At the end of the day, it's just another Miramax/Dimension Films horror with a fairly decent cast and production values.

I Am Omega (2007)

"The lone survivor of a deadly plague is doomed to an eternal battle with the mutant creatures that now control the Earth."

Something from The Asylum to cash-in on "I Am Legend", of course, but it isn't bad at all. Some of the camerawork is a bit shaky, but I got through a couple of bags of crisps and half a pound cake without incident so it's perfectly watchable.

The action scenes are very good indeed, Mark Dacascos has some nice martial arts skills, and Jennifer Lee Wiggins is great eyecandy. The bottom line is that "I Am Omega" is one of the best movies that The Asylum has ever made. If I ever start doing "Sci-fi Saturday" reviews again, this movie deserves a more in-depth and honest critique than anyone else has given it so far.

The Legend of Sorrow Creek (2007)

"When two sisters return to their childhood summer getaway, they soon fall under the wrath of an evil curse—one that threatens to rip them apart forever."

This Canadian "Blair Witch" wannabe is the weakest link on the first DVD, but it's no longer than a TV movie and occasionally looks like one too. If you make it through the first couple of minutes, it gets better intermittently.

"The Legend of Sorrow Creek" is cheap, the dialogue is full of clichés, and the acting is nasty, but at least it isn't a "found footage" movie. Having said that, it's still best to skip it if you don't want your evening's entertainment ruined.

Evil Bong (2006)

"A toke from a mysterious and powerful vintage bong takes a group of college kids on the wildest trip of their lives."

What begins as a passable stoner comedy with a retro vibe eventually turns into an even lamer horror/situation comedy which isn't worth sitting through except for some hot topless girls and amusing vulgarities.

"Evil Bong" is another slightly shorter than regular feature though so it's not worth getting too upset over.

Demonic Toys (1992)

"When a sixty-six-year-old demon with the power to bring toys to life is awakened, he goes in search of a body to inhabit."

Having never been a fan of the "Puppet Master" movies or this spin-off with similar effects, the whole movie feels dated to me in a bad way.

The real draw is Tracy Scoggins rather than the demonic toys themselves although some of the puppetry is nicely done for the time.

Meridian (1990)

"When a young woman visits her recently inherited Italian castle, she discovers that she has also inherited a medieval curse that threatens her life."

If you ever wanted to see Sherilyn Fenn and Charlie Spradling get strumped all over the place by a werewolf, this is the movie for you. There are some nice performances, everything looks great, and the erotic scenes are genuinely erotic.

The only faults are that "Phantoms" is a very girlie, romantic film at heart rather than a horror, and Malcolm Jamieson bears too much of a resemblance to Martin Kemp during his Spandau Ballet days.

Decadent Evil (2005)

"A vampire named Morella feasts upon the blood of strip club clientele while housing her ex-lover Marvin—part human/part reptile—in a bird cage."

"Decadent Evil" is more or less a run-of-the-mill vampire flick with a TV episode running time, terrible dialogue, and a few weird bits thrown in which don't always gel. It's like a mixture of "The Hunger" and a below average "Tales from the Crypt" episode.

This is another Full Moon movie which most people haven't seen (or would even want to), but the girls are all very pretty. It's not really very "decadent" or "evil" though.

If you haven't already got any of the older "4 Films Horror Collector's Set" packs then either this or the newer "Midnight Horror" 20 pack is a decent purchase for $5.

As a gift for someone who is only just starting to collect horror movies, you can't really fault it. More serious collectors who are looking for better transfers will certainly find something to moan about, but it's higher quality than most Mill Creek packs.

There's definitely something for everyone in this collection so I recommend it. It's just a pity that "Meridian" isn't on the first DVD instead of "The Legend of Sorrow Creek" since I would quite happily throw the second DVD away otherwise.

May 25, 2013

The Midnight Horror Collection: Blood Predators

I've bought and watched some horrible movies in my time, but nothing prepared me for how awful this Echo Bridge Entertainment multi-feature DVD would be. I didn't make it through any of the movies in one sitting and had to do other more interesting things such as housework just so that I could wake myself up enough again to watch them in 20 minute bursts.

As you know, I got this DVD from my local pawn shop ages ago, but didn't get round to watching it. The first three movies are also in the Pendulum Pictures "Mortuary of Madness" pack, but if Mill Creek Entertainment had continued that series, the final one most certainly would have been included in the "big boxes of shite" as I call them.

Just like the Mill Creek/Pendulum Pictures packs, the transfer is terrible and the movies are even worse. While some of us can laugh at how badly made these movies are and use them to torture the people who were involved in them for the rest of their internet lives, there are actually people who like this kind of thing and who clearly have something very wrong with them mentally otherwise there wouldn't be a market for such abominations. No matter how long I live, I'll never be able to work out why that is.

In the coming series of posts, I'm going to go through these multipacks and finally sort out which ones are going to be flipped so that I can buy something good such as all the seasons of "True Blood" on Blu-ray instead.

And so, without further ado, here's what I thought about this one.

The Vampire Conspiracy (2005)

"Five people are abducted by a maniacal vampire and put into a deadly maze of wits and endurance. If they make it through alive, the Vampire's fortune is theirs. If they fail, they'll be placed back in the game—forever—as bloodthirsty slaves pursuing the next round of victims. The group must discover the connection between them to solve complex clues and survive the band of slaves to escape a twisted game of predator and prey."

To say that this is the best of a bad lot doesn't do it any favours since all the movies are total crap. It's all in black and white, with lots of constantly angry, shouty "actors", and whoever filmed it lacks any framing ability whatsoever.

As far as the story goes, I was intrigued enough to want to find out how all the characters were linked together, but as soon as that was revealed, nothing else interested me.

Fist of the Vampire (2007)

"As an undercover detective infiltrates an illegal underground fighting ring, he begins to piece together bizarre clues connected to an unsolved murder. And when he discovers that the ring is run by bloodthirsty vampires, the underworld of the undead becomes more dangerous than ever..."

Although it's pretty much unwatchable due to all the faux film damage effects such a scratches and grit constantly on screen, I stuck with this for the sexier bits. One of the vampiresses looks the part, but it's all bad acting, and the story isn't very interesting either.

I haven't checked out the Mill Creek version of this yet to compare it, but "Fist of the Vampire" came up "windowboxed" right in the centre of my TV screen and was too small to enjoy even if it hadn't been a turd to begin with.

Curse of the Wolf (2006)

"Dakota, a young werewolf, has finally learned to control her nighttime transformations. She desperately wants to live a normal life, and to break free from her curse, she flees to hide in the city. When the pack aggressively hunts her down, the bouncers offer her protection and band together to battle the werewolves who want her dead... and who won't give up their wolf without a vicious fight."

I only watched this to see what happened to Pamela Sutch who I interviewed through MySpace back in the day. "Curse of the Wolf" is very slow with a few nudie bits which don't make up for it. The horrible rock music in the background also had me fast forwarding to anything that looked interesting just to avoid it.

At nearly two hours long, I will probably watch this again one day and review it for another blog I write, but I don't have the patience to do it now.

Bachelor Party in the Bungalow of the Damned (2008)

"Sammy, who wants to throw the ultimate bachelor party in the Hamptons for his best friend Chuck, has scored a bungalow for the fest. The wild weekend takes a turn for the rowdy and raunchy when a trio of strippers arrives at the door... but these are no ordinary strippers! They're smokin' hot and dance to kill. One by one, the guests are seduced and devoured—only a lucky few will survive the Bungalow of the Damned!"

Hahaha. I've finally seen Zoe Hunter in all her glory, but sorry, I'm not impressed. I know this is meant to be some kind of comedy, but it's not funny in any way apart from the amusing end credits.

The best thing I can say about "Bachelor Party in the Bungalow of the Damned" is that it's always interesting to see what the insides of other people's houses look like. These "indie horror" films are great for that.

Although I definitely don't recommend it, if you really want to torture yourself, you can buy the "Blood Predators" collection from Amazon, eBay, Wal-mart, K-mart, and most good pawn shops near you.

I've included the Amazon link to the left (as usual) anyway since it leads to some even more venomous reviews than mine.

You also have to laugh that the best price offered is only 1¢. Bear in mind that the shipping will be probably be equal to the normal retail price that this DVD sells for anywhere.

The best price I've seen "Blood Predators" for is $2.99 in K-mart's bargain bin.

My own copy of this DVD is heading for the yard sale where I'll be lucky if I get $1 for it.

May 24, 2013

Is there anything worth watching in the Redbox kiosk?

Last night I went out shopping and, for the first time in months, I had a quick look through what was new in the Redbox kiosk at my local grocery store. I'm sad to say that I was very disappointed by what I found. I've already reviewed the better known movies so there was only a 50/50 chance that I would find something to justify wasting even a dollar on anyway.

Since I'm not one of those people with a super-duper smartphone, I had no internet access available to me and just had to judge the titles by what their artwork looked like rather than the description available online. We've all been burnt by lurid cover art which promises more from a movie than it could ever deliver, but when it looks as generic as the current offerings, it's also a sure sign that the movie will be exactly what it claims to be.

Thanks Tardar Sauce, you took the words right out of my mouth.

Call it instinct or discernment, but I'm really glad that I had to wait until I got home and could compare with their low ratings on the IMDb before parting with my money. It's not that I usually trust the IMDb anyway when it comes to the higher scores (which have been boosted by shills and 12 year olds who shouldn't be allowed internet access until they turn 30), but because these were all so low, I'm inclined to believe them. The days of trusting to luck with a new horror movie are long since over for any of us.

I'm not going to go through all the Redbox horror movies as you are quite capable of doing that for yourself, but I will say something about a few which caught my eye and almost caused me to swipe my credit card through the slot.

The Millennium Bug (2011)

Apparently, the big selling point is that no CGI was used in this movie, but I'm not interested in bugs, hillbillies, B-movies or anything about it whatsoever. I've never heard of anyone in it or associated with it so I'm never going to watch it. The IMDb rating is only 5.1 right now, but I'm sure it will drop even further.

Hayride (2012)

Just from the artwork, it looks like a "Texas Chainsaw Massacre" clone so I'll pass. The IMDb rates it as 3.6.

The Dead Reborn (?)

This doesn't even exist on the IMDb because it's some kind of cobbled together anthology made out of three old movies by Full Moon. Without even seeing it, I can easily rate it as a 0 out of 10 and stand by that no matter what happens. The picture of a pram on the cover put me off straight away.

Home Sweet Home (2013)

Let's see now, it's a psychological thriller not a horror movie. It stars nobody I've ever heard of, and it's an independent film. Nope. Nothing for me here.

House Hunting (2013)

This one tempted me the most because it looks like a haunted house movie of some kind. The IMDb gives it 4.7 and the reviews suggest that this is a "Dead End" clone with a similar twist. So why bother? It's got Marc Singer in it who was TV famous in the '80s for "V", but that's about all.

Night of the Living Dead: Resurrection (2012)

Wait... "Resurrection"??? Oh, how cunning. Not Romero. Set in Wales. No, thank you. The IMDb gives it 3.0.

I could go on, but really what's the point? Apart from a load of Full Moon and The Asylum junk, there's nothing but more zombies, slashers/home invasions, apocalyptic viruses, and a couple of antichrist movies all made by nobodies with no budget and no talent.

Tomorrow, if I get bored enough, I'll start reviewing all the multipacks that I've bought but never watched.

Feel free to let me know if there's anything in the Redbox kiosks which you've took a chance on and found to be good.

May 21, 2013

Who was the hottest Marilyn Munster?

Summer is here! We've got temperatures of 90 degrees, already had a couple of big-budget sci-fi movies at the cinema, and the Eurovision Song Contest has come and gone far too quickly, so now it's time for me to get back to blogging with something more interactive than usual.

I've been watching a lot of "The Munsters" recently for my other blog, and although I have several ideas for top ten lists based on the classic TV show, there haven't been ten Marilyn Munsters yet. Thus, instead of ranking them myself, I thought I'd give you the chance to vote on who was the hottest Marilyn Munster of all time.

I don't really like blondes, and I barely ever registered the Marilyn character, so I don't have any opinion about this subject at all. It's just a bit of fun. Cast your vote in the comments section below.

Beverley Owen (1964)

The first Marilyn Munster. She appeared in the pilot and the first 14 episodes of Season One.

Pat Priest (1964-1966)

The second Marilyn who continued until the end of Season Two.

Debbie Watson (1966)

From the theatrical movie "Munster, Go Home".

Jo McDonnell (1981)

From the TV movie "The Munsters' Revenge".

Mary-Ellen Dunbar (1988)

From "The Munsters Today" pilot.

Hilary Van Dyke (1988-1991)

Marilyn in "The Munsters Today" TV series which nobody ever watched more than a couple of episodes of before hating it. How this crap lasted for three seasons when the original series only had two is a complete mystery.

Christine Taylor (1995)

I've never seen the "Here Come the Munsters" TV movie and don't intend to.

Elaine Hendrix (1996)

From "The Munsters' Scary Little Christmas". Another TV movie which I didn't know even existed.

Charity Wakefield (2012)

And, finally, the new Marilyn from last year's terrible "Mockingbird Lane" reboot which, unfortunately, I have seen.

Who's your favourite Marilyn?

May 11, 2013

No One Lives (2012)

"A gang of ruthless highway killers kidnap a wealthy couple traveling cross country only to shockingly discover that things are not what they seem."

Have you ever heard of "No One Lives" before? No? Me neither. Usually when a movie has such beautifully gory set pieces, the internet goes crazy with the buzz about it, but bizarrely, not this time. Thus, we have one of the main problems with anything put out by WWE Studios: For some reason known only to them, they just aren't promoting their movies adequately. The limited theatrical release of this one is another testament to their lack of faith in their own product.

Obviously, the movie business is a bit of sideline for the masters of wrestling shows which delight small children and the poorly educated, and the days of MySpace when we were all encouraged to watch "See No Evil" starring Kane (whoever he is or was) are long since over, but the whole thing feels like a conspiracy. Every big name horror site has hated this movie and gone out of their way to tear it apart. Perhaps they weren't given enough of a financial kickback or something. That also wouldn't surprise me in the least.

Maybe the usually PG-13 friendly WWE are ashamed of "No One Lives" for being R-rated. They shouldn't be because it pretty much rocks if you overlook some of the acting, weaknesses in the script, and a few lags. The dialogue may be more than a little bit hokey, but at least it suits the tone of the rest of the movie. Let's he honest here, "No One lives" is a lot of fun in an over-the-top and mean-spirited way.

With recognisable actors such as Luke Evans and Lee Tergesen in it, I didn't even know that "No One Lives" was a WWE movie anyway although I should have realised that something was slightly amiss when a big, fat, tattooed guy showed up. Other than the fact that he's disgustingly overweight and useless at acting, I wouldn't know that he's a wrestler since I don't watch that crap. I don't know his name and never want to. Even his character is more use dead than alive, but I'll say no more about that because it's a huge spoiler.

Directed by Ryûhei Kitamura of "The Midnight Meat Train" (2008) fame (but nothing else that I've ever seen), "No One Lives" is a difficult movie to place in the horror genre. It starts off as a crime drama about kidnapping, but then really goes into action mode due to a very physical and credible performance by Luke Evans who plays a kind of cross between Freddie Clegg and Rambo.

Although Lee Tergesen starts off well as a crime boss, he's somewhat wasted. I may not like the movie, but he was a lot better in "The Collection" (2012). Adelaide Clemens (from "Silent Hill: Revelation 3D"), on the other hand, isn't very convincing because the part is simply too big for her. Having said that, I can't actually think of anyone except Melissa George who could have done it better, and unfortunately, she's too old now.

Standouts include Derek Magyar as the evil Flynn and Lindsey Shaw as Amber ("the only one with a soul") who go above and beyond what you would expect from TV actors. America Olivo is also her usual self, but I love America Olivo and she can do no wrong. She gets her boobs out too, which is another reason why she needs to be in every horror movie from now on as far as I'm concerned.

As you would expect from a $2,900,000 budget, production values are very high throughout "No One Lives". Not only is the gore outstanding, all of the stunts are exceptionally well choreographed. Presumably that's where WWE's many years of faking fights must have been extremely useful.

Not knowing what to expect, I was impressed by how original "No One Lives" was in places, and even as a seasoned horror fan, I didn't see the twists coming. Mind you, if I live to be 100, I'll probably never see the twists coming in any thriller because I'm not wired that way.

It's not scary as such, the tension could have been handled much better, but for what it is, "No One Lives" is highly entertaining. It's not the greatest horror movie ever made, but it's well above average when compared to most of the junk available right now.

May 3, 2013

Iron Man 3 (2013)

"When Tony Stark's world is torn apart by a formidable terrorist called the Mandarin, he starts an odyssey of rebuilding and retribution."

Since I reviewed the original "Iron Man" movie years ago and then decided not to ever review "Iron Man 2" because it was a load of arse, I can't say that I was expecting anything more out of this second sequel. With such a low opinion of this dreck, I wasn't disappointed either. "Iron Man 3" is yet another big-budget, kiddified superhero movie for tweenagers and 40-year-old comicbook nerds who still live in their parents' basement.

The funny thing is that even I kind of enjoyed it in places although the story is really only a cobbled together version of elements from "Batman Forever", "The Dark Knight Rises", and Pierce Brosnan era James Bond with loads of CGI robots and explosions just for the hell of it. To say that 'Iron Man 3" is like a Michael Bay film but with slightly better dialogue is the best way I can think of describing it.

As usual, lapses in logic and plot holes abound, characterisation is minimal except for Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.), and the acting skills of everyone except Robert Downey Jr. are completely lost among all the bang, boom, bang and special effects. There's nothing really wrong with any of that in a Summer movie though so it's not worth criticism. This isn't depressingly dull Oscar material after all.

I liked seeing Rebecca Hall from "The Awakening" (2011) even with an American accent. There are a lot better uses which that sexy mouth of hers could be put to instead of over rhotacization, but she does a good job nonetheless. Between her and Stephanie Szostak, there's a bit of a battle going on as to who is the hottest actress in the movie. Sorry, Pepper Potts fans, but until the very end of the movie, it's never likely to be Gwyneth Paltrow.

Guy Pearce is okay as Edward Nygma, I mean Aldrich Killian, and it's a shame that he never made more films in the same vein as "L.A. Confidential" when he was top of his game. Seeing a great actor like this, and also Ben Kingsley, reduced to playing about in movies for little kids is sad. Paul Bettany only used for the voice of a computer? That's just a crime.

If you're looking for a fun night out with lots of action, nothing heavy to think about except the nauseating patriotic messages, and the kind of world-travelling changes of location like Bond movies used to have, then "Iron Man 3" is for you. You'll get a bit of a post-movie buzz out of it for sure.

If you leave before the end credits, there is even the false hope for a moment that this is the last we'll see of Iron Man getting everything destroyed and then putting it all back together again for a while. That's something pretty great in and of itself.

May 2, 2013

Curandero (2005)

"A journey that takes one man into the bowels of black magic in Mexico City."

While I was out taking my thousands of empty Monster cans to the recycling bin, I decided to have a quick look at the new releases in Target and came across this little gem. By "gem", however, I do actually mean "an obscure 8 year old former Miramax/Dimension title which has finally been released by Lionsgate".

Fearing the worst of any DVD with the words "Robert Rodriguez presents" on its artwork, I didn't buy a copy of it but waited until I got home again to watch it online. It's not directed by Robert Rodriguez (nor is its real director Eduardo Rodriguez any relation to him) so I figured it would be worth a "rental".

Set in a similar grainy-looking, washed-out world as "Borderland" (2007) but played like a gorier mixture of "Constantine" (2005) and "Night Watch/Day Watch" (2004/2006), "Curandero" is very much a product of that time and tries hard to be another cult action-horror. If it hadn't been for those other movies and all the financial shenanigans at Miramax, it may have succeeded back then too.

The characters are actually quite good although very similar to the heroes and villains of Timur Bekmambetov's adaptations of Sergei Lukyanenko's "Dozor" tetralogy. Carlos the charismatic curandero isn't a million miles away from being Anton Gorodetsky from "Night Watch" complete with hallucinations, and his enemy Castaneda (Gabriel Pingarrón) is really only a far more spiteful version of Zavulon. Castaneda is almost as nasty a piece of work as any of the narcosatanicos in "Borderland" but without the good looks of Santillian.

Carlos Gallardo and Gizeht Galatea

Even the plot is quite similar to "Night Watch" and "Day Watch" with a "chosen one", lots of magic in a modern day urban setting, and some scenes which look almost identical. A certain chase through a market only needs "The Gloom" for it to be lifted straight from "Day Watch". It's a chicken and the egg conundrum as to which really came first given the date of this movie.

With hardly anything explained as you go along, nothing is handed to you on a plate immediately. Everything is explained eventually so just bear with it. I like this way of storytelling, but it was a major criticism of "Night Watch" and "Day Watch" from the hard of understanding crowd who tried to cover their ignorance by using words like "foreign mythology" in their reviews when that wasn't really the problem. Suffice it to say that none of these movies have any traditional mythology except that which has been invented for the story itself. Huge exposition scenes may be lacking, but since nobody does exposition properly anymore, that's another good thing.

There's lots of gore, a very Mexican colour palette which you will either love or hate, and a very beautiful heroine in the form of Gizeht Galatea as federal agent Magdalena. The partnership between Magdalena and Carlos is so like that of Olivia (Anna Torv) and Peter (Joshua Jackson) from "Fringe" that I wouldn't put it past J.J. Abrams and his team not to have taken some inspiration from this movie. Oh, yes, there are subtitles too so thickies need not apply.

My only problem with "Curandero" is that the pacing is a little bit quick over the ground. It's no worse than "Constantine", but I could quite happily have watched another hour of the same characters doing their thing. The effects are great, but the characters would certainly have benefited from some more fleshing out (no pun intended).

I highly recommend "Curandero" if you are looking for something slightly formulaic but a bit different. It's not really worth the new release price, but you can watch it online for $3.99 and probably find it in a Redbox kiosk.

May 1, 2013

How to use a HP56 ink cartridge instead of a HP21

As you know, I sometimes like to use this blog to talk about other things besides horror movies. This is one of those times.

What you may not know is that I absolutely loathe Hewlett Packard and all of its products. I'm not too keen on their employees either after one of the morons insulted me for no good reason when I was simply trying to earn a few bob by working for a security firm at one of their warehouses back in the early '90s. Actually, it's probably entirely because of that idiot that I've hated Hewlett Packard ever since. I had enough to put up in my life with without that douchebag getting gobby in an attempt to compensate for his own inadequacies. It may have been a long time ago, but I don't forgive or forget anybody ever.

Now I have another good reason to despise Hewlett Packard, i.e. the way they try to rip off their customers with the price of ink cartridges. To be specific, the HP56 has three times the ink of the HP21, is exactly the same size and shape externally, but costs less than a HP21 and won't work in any printer designed for a HP21 cartridge.

Having been unfortunate enough to acquire one of their "budget" printer/scanner/copier machines, I tend to run out of ink in the thing pretty often. So I thought I'd buy a HP56 cartridge a couple of years ago on the advice of a Wal-mart associate who actually had no idea what he was talking about. Of course it didn't work although I even took the stupid thing back once for an exchange thinking that it might be a badly manufactured cartridge. The replacement didn't work either, and I was too ashamed to go back to Wal-mart again even though I could barely afford to waste the money. I'm a good customer and never return things because of my own stupid mistakes.

Suffice it to say that the HP56 cartridge remained in my closet wrapped up in cling film (saran wrap) for the last two years, and I continued to buy the occasional HP21s instead. Finding myself without ink for the last 6 months, in desperation, I finally decided to attempt an experiment.

Basically, I cracked open my old HP21 cartridge and the unused HP56 to see what was inside. There's nothing special except a sponge, but the HP56 fills the whole cartridge case while the HP21 has a plastic barrier moulded inside and only holds a sponge which is a third of the size. You can guess what I was thinking, right? Just swap the sponge.

Ripoff version of the HP56 with a smaller sponge inside.

Here's how to save at least $40.

1. Pop the tops of the new cartridge and the old one with a screwdriver. Work the tip of the screwdriver carefully around the edges until you hear snaps. The top of the HP21 is far easier to remove than the top of the HP56. You'll probably have to break the latter. I eventually grabbed a hammer and used the screwdriver as a chisel. It doesn't matter because you'll never use the HP56 casing again anyway.

2. Hold the HP56 sponge with some cling film (or put on some disposable gloves) so you don't get ink on you, then cut it into 3 with a very sharp knife. A paring knife from the kitchen is ideal although it's best to put some cardboard under the sponge as you cut it rather than a chopping board which will stain. The ink washes off your fingers easily enough with warm soapy water, but it will stain clothing and anything else.

3. Having cut the sponge, remove the dried-up one from the HP21 and put a 1/3 of the HP56 sponge into it.

4. Snap the top back on the HP21 cartridge and put it back in your printer. It shouldn't need any glue to hold the top on, but you can do that or use sticky tape if you are a bit paranoid. The cartridge sits upright anyway and there's nothing to spill out of it.

5. Put the other 2/3 of the HP56 sponge back in its casing, wrap it up with cling film and store it somewhere for later use.

Movie reviews will recommence shortly.