July 3, 2013

Cutting Edge Cinema: Extreme Monsters

This is one of several multipacks from R Squared Films which came out during the Summer last year to compete directly with Echo Bridge Home Entertainment's "Midnight Horror Collection". Having artwork designed to fool the less observant buyer into thinking that these are more Echo Bridge Home Entertainment products is only slightly less reprehensible than the quality of the movies themselves.

Make no mistake, most of these "movies" (and I use that term very loosely) are the kind of no-budget, "hobby horror" dreck which give independent horror an even worse reputation than its deluded and easily butthurt fans have already made for it. According to various message boards and blogs, there's one movie in every pack that's tolerable, but the rest are almost unwatchable unless you enjoy the lowest common denominators on YouTube. Some lucky people even have defective DVDs that won't play all the movies listed anyway.

Other titles in the range include "Extreme Horror", "Extreme Vampires", "Extreme Zombies" and an "Extreme Canadian Horror: 5 Movie Collection" (presumably because nobody could find 3 more Canadian horror movies to make another 8 pack). I can't say that I have any interest in the others especially as the titles of each collection aren't entirely appropriate for the subject matter contained within.

"Extreme Monsters" is the first of these collections that I've bought. All the movies play perfectly, but it's likely to be the last of these packs for me based on what's in it.

Little Red Devil (2008)

"Jimmy Lidell is a 'nobody', stealing to earn a living in a dead-end life searching for his long lost girlfriend... until he meets Luc Tyer... a bigger-than-life underworld heavy that makes him an 'offer he can't refuse'. Jimmy accepts, but is leery about the secret motives behind Luc's willingness to teach the business. Jimmy's mother suspects that Jimmy may be running with the wrong crowd, but Jimmy turns a deaf ear to her religious warnings."

Tommy Brunswick's version of "Angel Heart" (1987) isn't too bad apart from the special effects and demon which looks like it escaped from "Legend" (1985). It's a bit slow, the characters aren't very likeable, but it's still very watchable and even has a couple of great performances which are completely wasted due to everything else.

Starring Daniel Baldwin, James Russo and Dee Wallace, "Little Red Devil" is the closest that Tommy has come to making a decent horror movie, but it's probably her last too. You have to give her credit for getting this far as a director though.

Spirits of the Fall (2008)

"This Halloween, the spirits are restless and things that go bump in the night are closer than they seem for Chris, a widower who is coming to terms with his loss. While living in his hotel, strange things begin to happen. Voices in the night and faces at the window are not uncommon and things are about to get a lot worse when he is forced to face the paranormal and save his wife's soul from the evil spirit of her killer."

This poorly acted haunted house movie is the only reason why I wanted this pack. It's a British "indie horror" (AKA crappy amateur movie) which makes it a bit of a novelty. As a country used to only renting real movies from Blockbuster, we don't go in for a lot of these no-budget nasties.

Having struggled to get through it, I can see why we have more sense in Britain than to get involved with such utter crap. Even if this was uploaded to YouTube, it would still be hated. The overused faux "Jacob's Ladder"-style head wobbling and screaming near the end is icing on the cake.

Definitely one to skip.

The Whistler (2006)

"When a no-good band of thugs enter a quiet small town to unleash their terror, nothing could prepare them for the wrath of a gentle giant who would defend the honor of his one true love to the end of his life, and beyond."

Entertaining in places, especially the nudity and gore effects early on, but ultimately "The Whistler" is another pile of zombie crap made by people with no storytelling skills whatsoever.

It tries so hard to be serious that it's often pompous rather than being bad enough to be unintentionally funny. The dialogue and delivery are particularly atrocious, but it's the pacing which kills it.

If I was bored enough, I would rewatch sections of this for the beautiful girls but not as a horror movie.

Where the Dogs Divide Her (2011)

"Where the Dogs Divide Her begins amid the aftermath of a family massacre. A nameless man sits in an unfamiliar bathroom, his bloodied hands trembling as he ponders his crime of passion. An amnesiac without an identity, he goes in search of himself, only to unearth a long-buried family secret surrounding the bizarre deaths of his parents. An abstract ghost story populated by ever-threatening specters, shadowy souls with evil motives who inhabit a nightmare world within a troubled killer's psyche. They might offer a smile or a kind word, but their only purpose is to snare others into their Hell. Before the killer can come to terms with his deeds and escape this esoteric prison, he must confront his dead parents and make good on an infant's promise made thirty years ago."

Great title, but a desperately horrible "experimental movie" full of flashbacks and flashforwards like this isn't likely to satisfy anyone. At nearly 2 hours long, it's quite an endurance test which I don't think many horror fans will tolerate. I really tried to enjoy it, but I couldn't. Sadly, I didn't make it to the end and have no desire to return to it for more brain-numbing torture.

Fans of David Lynch might get something out of it, but the characters were too uninvolving for me. I don't like arty-farty movies anyway, and I wouldn't call "Where the Dogs Divide Her" a horror movie either.

The music used is quite nice though.

They Must Eat (2006)

"Sanford will forever be a socially inept loser. Now approaching the age of forty, his only girlfriend of 3 years has given him the boot and he’s working a dead end job. Beyond despair, Sanford decides to ask his only living relative, Uncle Alistair, to take him in. Alistair is not very fond of his deadbeat nephew but with his failing health he needs someone around to carry on his work after he dies. Unfortunately for Sanford, Alistair’s work involves frequent murders to feed an evil clan of flesh eating ghouls that live in the woods surrounding his house. At first Sanford is terrified by these foul beasties, but then learns to lead them and actually train them after his Uncle passes. Now all those who cross him will suffer the wrath of his monstrous minions."

"They Must Eat" is a very low-budget, slightly comedic Tommy Brunswick movie which is reminiscent of "Willard" but with ghouls instead of rats.

It's definitely not the worst movie that I've ever seen, but it's one of those where it's sometimes more fun to look at the background than the foreground. Checking out what other people have in their houses or places of work in low-budget movies always satisfies a certain nosiness when things lag. Fortunately, the pace improves as the story progresses.

Apart from the gore, the highlight is a hot Jehovah's Witness played by Meshelle Melone (who has a bigger role in "Little Red Devil"). Look out for her nipple piercing!

Closet Space (2008)

"What happens when the quest for knowledge comes up against the insatiable hunger for flesh? Six grad students slowly and horrifically discover the answer as they search for their missing professor."

If you can make it through the irritating "found footage" during the titles, there's a kind of H.P. Lovecraft story struggling to be told in "Closet Space". Unfortunately, like all Lovecraftian horror, it's very boring. Stuart Gordon has nothing to worry about here!

As you might expect, the acting is inconsistent, the dialogue is cringeworthy, and the camerawork is mostly terrible. On the plus side, some of the effects are nicely done.

Dreams of the Dead (2007)

"For 15 years the large estate of Samuel Arnold has stood silent and empty. From its darkened windows, dark and foreboding eyes stare out from behind the glass. But like a midwinter’s breeze in the lonely hours of the night, something stirs in both dreams and reality, unable to find any peace. What is the mystery of Danbury House?"

Originally titled "The Haunting of Danbury House" and taglined as "An Erotic Haunting", this is merely an excuse to wrap up a couple of beautiful girls getting topless with a badly arranged mystery. Natasha Neilsen (from "Bikini Bloodbath") is my favourite, by the way.

Despite that, some of the acting is half-way decent, and it's filmed competently enough. What sets this apart from the other movies in the pack is the location. Although not to my taste, the house itself is outstanding if you like that Victorian sort of thing.

As a ghost story, "Dreams of the Dead" isn't scary or creepy in any way. Possibly the most horrific things are the songs performed by the lead and her band. One of them is apparently called "Lava Lamp of Love"! What the Hell?

Evil Offspring (2009)

"There is a definite balance to the forces of good and evil in the universe. The quiet backwoods town of Angel Falls is home to this great equalizer! Enter two unsuspecting lost souls trying to find their way back to the highway, and become stranded on an old farm. The owners, Pa and Nan are quite hospitable, to the right type of guests, but if you’re a sinner, you wind up on their chopping block and fed to the voracious creatures known as THE EVIL OFFSPRING."

Finally, we have a third film by Tommy Brunswick, but not a very good one. I have a feeling that Tommy just sent all her movies apart from "Mr. Jingles" off to R Squared for distribution and hoped for the best. I wouldn't be surprised to see more of her movies on other multipacks from this company although I haven't checked into it.

Suffice it to say that "Evil Offspring" is made up of the same ensemble cast as Tommy's other movies, homages several very famous horror movies (in particular, "The Evil Dead" at the start), but then turns into a mixture of exploitation and badly done torture porn. At least there's a proper monster in this one again, the practical effects are mostly okay, and it's moderately entertaining in places.

The acting really sucks, and the line delivery often proves to be more than anyone can handle, but "Evil Offspring" tries to have a clever (also unoriginal) twist at the end.

I really don't recommend "Extreme Monsters" to anyone who calls themselves a horror fan. None of the movies deliver any scares whatsoever, plus only half of them are actually about "monsters" unless you stretch that term very broadly.

I got my copy of "Extreme Monsters" from my local pawn shop, but if you're a bit silly and want one for yourself, you're going to have to search the drugstores such as RiteAid or order it from Amazon.

As far as I know, these "Cutting Edge Cinema" collections haven't shown up in places like Wal-mart's bargain bins yet although they are available from Wal-mart's online store from between $5 to $12.

I can't honestly remember where I last saw these packs in the flesh because it was so long ago, but I think they may have been in Kmart. Next time I go, I'll be able to confirm it because I bet there are plenty of them left. Kmart's online store has them listed for $9.99 each anyway.

No comments:

Post a Comment