Archive for the ‘Movie Review’ Category

BURIAL GROUND: The Nights Of Terror (1981)
Directed by: Andrea Bianchi
Review by Michele.

Having paid a full two dollars, I expected a lot from Burial Ground: Nights of Terror. Boy was I wrong. I have half a mind to return to the pawn shop from which it was purchased and demand at least fifty cents back.

To start with the film was originally done in Italian and then transferred to badly dubbed English, Godzilla ain’t got nothin’ on you Burial Ground.

An overzealous professor unwittingly unleashes a horde of flesh eating zombies on a group of socialites made of three couples and one woman’s pervy son, can we say mommy issues? This concept I can get behind. What I cannot abide, is the inconsistency with which these zombies are portrayed. Like why would a zombie strangle a dude? No, I can’t find an explanation for that. Also, like since when do zombies all group together to try and use a giant log to break down a door?

In the end, the four surviving members of this tragic event seek solace in a monastery where they find…? You guessed it zombie monks. You’re so smart. The kid turns into a zombie and eats his mom, though maybe not in the way we all know he wanted to. A couple of people get put through a table saw by the zombies, cos what’s it worth being an undead zombie if you can’t be a little inventive with your meals. Every single person becomes a zombie. As the saying goes, if you can’t beat ’em, join ’em. Though maybe they weren’t talking about zombies.

All in all I give Burial Ground: Nights of Terror 3 out of 5 hooded zombie monks. If nothing else you can play a fun game of trying to see which zombie has the worst special effects makeup.

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The Den (2013)

Posted: September 26, 2015 in Movie Review
Tags: , , , , ,

It’s interesting how one movie can get you watching other movies. Following on from my viewing of Megan Is Missing, I was recommended to check out The Den. The film’s¬†IMDB¬†page states this movie as falling under the genres of comedy, horror and thriller. Some would be quick to dismiss the comedy factor of this movie but I guess, apart from all the horror, there are brief moments of comedy although not enough that I would ever put this in the¬†comedy genre. Basically, this movie is part slasher, part found footage, and all round gruesome.

The Den is directed by Zachary Donohue and written by both Donohue and Lauren Thompson. The film centers around Elizabeth Benton (played by Melanie Papalia); an adorable and very likable young woman who receives a grant to study the online habits of people via a program called DenChat which is similar to something like ChatRoulette. Elizabeth flicks from user to user to look for someone to speak with that has something interesting to say until she stumbles upon an account that she cannot see because their webcam is broken yet eventually she observes a murder. Thankfully she has a screen recorder that will record every cam conversation she has and she calls the cops and shows them the gory footage. Like all movies when the cops are called in, they¬†don’t have an enough evidence to go on to start a full scale investigate, even after viewing the video her screen recorded.

From here shit gets really weird with someone hacking her account and recording the screen even¬†when she isn’t aware of it. Whether¬†she’s being intimate with her boyfriend, Damien (no, not me), or contacting her friends, someone else is recording her every movement online including all¬†her interactions with friends and family so they are one step ahead of Elizabeth who cannot get out of the world wide web she’s now caught up in. One by one, those who are close to her are disappearing and/or being murdered and¬†all is being recorded right up until Elizabeth herself is kidnapped. It’s here that we finally see what The Den in question is.

After being attacked by her killer, we now¬†find that there is more than one which complicates the story in all the good ways. Elizabeth wakes up in a room chained to a wall and this is when the shit really takes off. She manages to get herself free and she sets off to escape from wherever she is. The ending is a completely bizarre plot twist that will make you go “oh my god, no fucking way!”¬†regardless of its similarities to another horror film from the UK that I could mention that was made in 2001 and stars a singer from a metal band, but i won’t. You do the math.¬†Once you’ve seen The Den, you’ll know the movie I’m talking about if you have seen it. If you are still unsure,¬†well, be thankful cos it’s not really that good a film anyway and this is much more superior.

I won’t spoil the ending of The Den for you because this movie is well worth watching. As a horror movie, The Den builds up perfectly at a great pace and does everything a horror movie should do. There’s no Hollywood flair to it or any sugarcoated moments. It’s gritty, dark, and shocking.¬†At times¬†you will jump, your blood will run cold from being freaked out, and there is enough gore and horror here to keep any aficionado of the genre¬†happy. With a strong story that is relevant to today’s use of¬†social media, there are¬†lots of twists and turns and little pieces here and there to get you thinking. I would say that The Den is destined to become a cult classic if it’s not already.

You can order The Den from Amazon at this link.

Let me start by saying that this movie is both important and hugely disturbing. It’s based on actual events which is enough to make you sick. So here we go: After watching the massively messed up¬†movie The Poughkeepsie Tapes for the Podcastmania radio show that I am a part of, the conversation led to a movie with the show’s host, Charlie Brown, saying that if The Poughkeepsie Tapes was disturbing for someone then “you don’t want to see Megan Is Missing”. Well, that sounded like a challenge, so I watched it.

Megan Is Missing is a movie that falls into that genre of ‘found footage’ yet it’s a lot more in-depth than that. I went in not really knowing what to expect besides my guess that it was a movie about a girl named Megan who goes missing. Obviously. But as the film went on I was both not only emotionally disturbed over the way the 14 year old teenager, Megan (played by Rachel Quinn) haphazardly lived a care free life of sex, drugs and douchey guys, but also knowing that this was based on actual events really knocks you around. Megan’s best friend is 13 year old Amy Herman (played by Amber Perkins) and is everything Megan isn’t when it comes to behavioural lifestyle choices. Amy¬†feels like an outsider and at times wonders why Megan is even friends with someone so vanilla and unadventurous, so to speak. It should also be noted that both girls were around 20, I believe, when they played these parts which has to be said that they played their parts incredibly well.

So as the story goes, after we see Megan party hard, Andrew WK style, we see how fragile she really is when she is alone with Amy divulging secrets and disclosing the happenings in her life which is told via webcam chats ala Skype. There are moments that are heartbreaking such as when Amy interviews Megan and she reveals details of her unfortunate past. It’s here where we see that both Amy and Megan are what sells this movie. It’s almost as if these girls weren’t acting and were actually lifelong friends.

Through one of these webcam chats we find out that Megan is told about a “sensitive” and “shy” guy named ‘Josh’ aka Skaterdude by his screen name, whose webcam is conveniently broken but he sends through some pictures to entice Megan. He puts on his nice guy persona¬†and invites her to a party to which he doesn’t actually introduce himself to Megan. She’s pissed but soon believes his confessions that he was too shy to talk to her. Megan is suddenly swept away by his sensitivity and he then wishes to reschedule a meet up. He successfully persuades Megan into meeting him behind a diner and we see Megan leave to go meet him and unfortunately, we never see her again.

The movie is then mainly told through Amy’s handycam video diary entries and the news reports on Megan’s disappearance. Amy contacts Josh to see if he knows anything about her disappearance to where he advises her that she never showed up to meet him yet then starts his nice guy act on her. Being such an innocent yet weary girl, she starts to catch on that he may be behind Megan’s disappearance. She tells the police what she knows, Josh contacts her and begins threatening her.¬†While recording one of her diary entries, Amy is kidnapped.¬†As the films continues, you will not only feel uncomfortable over what you are seeing onscreen but also¬†emotionally distressed over the safety of these two girls. But unfortunately, this is just only the beginning of what is to come.

Before the film really enters the realm of completely fucked up-ness, we are shown two photos of Megan that once you’ve seen them, you can’t un-see them. From here we are advised that the following footage is of the last 22 minutes that were on Amy’s video camera and this is where the film really messes you up. I won’t spoil what happens from here on but just know that watching this film, depending on how weak your stomach is for such horrific things, you are going to see some things you probably wish you hadn’t.

The film is not so much a horror movie as it is just plain horrible with its disturbing subject matter. It is here to warn people, especially easily influenced teenagers, of the dangers of the Internet, talking to strangers online, revealing too much of yourself on¬†social media¬†and the unfortunate reality of sick online predators.¬†Megan Is Missing is also a movie that will no doubt generate some intense discussion. There are parts of Megan Is Missing that will stick with you for days, possibly weeks, after viewing. It’s highly effective in its horrific nature and that’s something that you can make your own mind up on whether it’s a film you need or even want to see.

Writer and Director Michael Goi really managed to get an important message across to its viewers, and while the movie has received both positive and negative reviews, personally I found it a disturbing yet effective piece of work that will have probably have me¬†talking about it for years to come. Since viewing it this week I have pretty much asked everyone I know who likes horror movies if they have seen it. Something I didn’t do when I saw movies like Pighunt and Death Valley, just sayin’. It’s impact is strong so prepare yourself if this movie sounds like your thing.

Wanting to know more, I found this¬†online interview with¬†Rachel Quinn and Amber Perkins¬†after the filming was completed and it sheds light on just how they got themselves into the certain aspects of their roles and the support they gave each other through the filming, especially during the last 22 minutes. It’s quite an interesting read and if you watch the movie I would recommend reading these also.

You can order Megan Is Missing from Amazon for a couple bucks at this link¬†or if you’re in Australia, you can find it at JB Hifi at¬†this link.

Honestly, how could you go wrong with a made-for-TV movie titled Sharknado that stars Beverly Hills 90210 hack Ian Ziering and Josie and the Pussycats own Tara Reid? Add some terrible acting, awful one liners and a great storyline about tornadoes and sharks attacking the California coast line and you’re sure to have some ridiculously good times.

Fin Shepard (Ziering) owns a bar by the beach. Suddenly there’s a shark attack on the beach and all hell breaks loose when a shark comes flying through the window of the bar due to an insane storm that is ravaging California. Along with his sultry bikini clad bar tender, Nova Clarke (Cassie Scerbo), and his Aussie mate Baz (Jaason Simmons) they head inland to save Fin’s family played by¬†Tara Reid and two other randoms playing his kids. The streets are flooded and there are sharks everywhere. It’s kinda ridiculous and you have to suspend disbelief but who cares, you’re watching a movie called Sharknado so you expect awesomeness.

They aim to get to higher ground and they go to a flying school, build bombs and take on the sharknados (there’s now 3 of them). They came up with some ingenious plan to drop bombs into the tornadoes and they will blow them up as apparently science says that you can blow up tornadoes and they stop being tornadoes. Or something.

I won’t spoil it for you but let me just say that this movie was a good time. It’s a nice pisstake on the disaster film genre of which there are many. It’s good humour with some classic moments thrown in. The effects aren’t bad and in blu ray, this movie looks sweet as! There’s tons of action, some nice bloody shark killings and a lot of moments that will make you laugh at the films shameless parody of all that is wrong with Hollywood. I had fun watching Sharknado and I really am looking forward to seeing Sharknado 2. How bad could it be?

The Blu Ray looks stunning and the extras include commentary with the cast and crew, a gag reel, and a making of Sharknado featurette.

I give Sharknado a whopping 4 Cassie Scerbo’s out of 5.

How could you not like a movie called Sharktopus? I mean, really? Even better is that the legend known as Roger Corman produced it. Now anyone who loves a good B-Movie will probably already know that Roger Corman is one of the most successful independent film makers of all time. Author of the incredible book “How I Made A Hundred Movies In Hollywood And Never Lost A Dime”, the auteur has dished out a whole slew of low budget films and they all have one thing in common; they’re highly entertaining. ¬†The dude just knows how to make a fun and enjoyable movie and this is where Sharktopus swims in.

Before I even watched the trailer for this, I knew exactly what I was in for and sure enough, there we have it. Sharktopus is¬†a half shark, half octopus sea monster that was invented by a group¬†called Blue Water who¬†were hired by the military to build some crazy weapon that they could control. Nathan Sands (Eric Roberts) and his daughter Nicole (played by cute Thai model, Sara Malakul Lane) are the brains behind the creation of Sharktopus and they are indeed proud of their work. Sadly for Nicole, her dad’s a prick who tweaked Sharktopus’ details behind her¬†back and as you would expect, shit goes horribly wrong. It’s remote control device gets knocked off it’s body by some dudes taking their speedboat for a ride and all hell breaks loose as Sharktopus goes from being a hunter to a crazed killer. See, you love it already!

They hire Andy Flynn (Karem Bursin)¬†who used to work for them to help capture¬†Sharktopus. Blue Water¬†tempt¬†him with cash which he gladly accepts until he¬†unfortunately witnesses his buddy, Santos (Julian Gonzalez Esparza), get killed by the unforgiving creature¬†right before his eyes. Flynn snaps and no longer¬†cares about the money as he is out for blood and to put a stop to Sharktopus once and for all. While all this happens, there is of course a news reporter named Stacy Everheart (Liv Boughn) who obviously wants her story on the escaped¬†monster. She, along with her cameraman, Bones (H√©ctor Jim√©nez), does whatever it takes¬†to get it,¬†even if that includes acquiring the help of washed up drunken fisherman and Sharktopus eyewitness, Pez (Blake Lindsey), who when not looking at sea creatures,¬†can’t¬†keep his eyes off Everheart’s “rack” (I really hate that term, just sayin’).

Anyway, Sharktopus has¬†no shortage of girls in bikinis, there’s lots of bloodshed, and heaps of people die. And in case you haven’t been paying attention, there’s also a half shark, half octopus sea monster that is just hilarious. You have to see this thing run on the beach.¬†This movie really is a barrel of laughs. A black comedy horror that you will definitely enjoy if you like TV movie styled b-grade cheese that is what it is. Even ole Corman himself makes an un-credited cameo in true Hitchcock style while watching some cute gal in a bikini use a metal detector when suddenly¬†Sharktopus appears and takes her away to the depths of the ocean. Or something. Corman then picks up some doubloon that she found, tries to eat it and walks off. You know, I have always wanted to go visit Roger Corman¬†while traveling in the USA and tell him how much I¬†appreciate his work. I really should do that someday. But I digress…

The problem with ‘critics’¬†today is they want everything to be all flashy and big budget¬†looking and they have no respect for the genuine love and good times put into movies like this 90 minutes¬†of hilarious nonsense. You just don’t go into watching a movie called Sharktopus and expect the production values of Titannic. Sure, the CGI effects of Sharktopus look¬†a bit dodgy but would you expect anything else? Of course not!¬†Is Sharktopus the next Creature From The Black Lagoon? Possibly. I know for a fact that if I was to have a horror sea monster movie night at Casa Del Long Gone Loser Office, Sharktopus would definitely get a viewing over the likes of CFTBL. Nothing against CFTBL but this is just a lot more fun and nobody turned into a computer at the end (Yes, LUCY, I’m looking at you!).

The only downfall with this Blu Ray release is that there¬†are¬†no extras besides commentary and a trailer. The transfer isn’t bad for the most part (a few places looked kinda flat but those scenes aren’t important, they were just establishing¬†shots), and the sound is great. The Blu Ray could have benefited with some making of docos or featurettes and cast interviews cos it really would be amusing to hear what the actors themselves think of this movie.

I give Sharktopus seven news reporters covered in blood that are trying to get a story out of ten.

 

For those in Australia, you can buy your very own copy of Sharktopus on Blu Ray from JB Hi Fi or for the rest of the world, Amazon is your friend.

I sat down to watch this last night as there has been quite a bit of hype about it. Besides, it’s a new Scarlett Johansson film so why not? I sat down and put all distractions aside as I really enjoy my movie time and this was going to be awesome, right?

Lucy starts off in Taipei with Lucy (played by Scarlett) meeting some guy she just started dating (don’t worry, no one can remember his name but he wears a cowboy hat) outside of some big business type hotel thing. Cowboy Hat¬†tells Lucy¬†to go inside the building and drop a briefcase off to this guy who unbeknownst to her, he’s a big drug lord mob boss. Lucy has no idea¬†what’s in the case but Cowboy Hat handcuffs her to the case and sends her in there cos he’s a dickless wuss who is too scared to go in there himself. She¬†does the deed for Cowboy Hat even though she’s nervous as hell and on the edge of PTSD. Suddenly the Mob Boss and his hired goons appear and shit goes crazy. Lucy is taken away to some posh¬†suite (probably on the top floor, they always are) and she is interrogated. We find out that the briefcase (Surprise! Surprise!) has a new drug in it named MP3 or MP4 or CBGBs or some shit like that. To me it looks just like blue magic sand (remember that stuff? I never had any of that but the advert¬†always made it look cool. Yay!) and after Lucy is knocked out she wakens to find out that the goons have sliced her tummy open and are using her bodacious body to transport drugs overseas. She wasn’t the only one though, they did the same thing¬†to three other deadbeats and each person is sent to a different country. See, now this all sounds like a great story so I was hooked in and glued to the TV. I was thinking, “this is like some kinda Taken Liam Neeson styled shit! Fuck yeah!” and so with my pizza (donated by my generous housemates cos I’m broke. You guys rock! Thanks!), I was all set to go for some ass-kickin’ action.

Lucy and the other deadbeats are all given a passport and have¬†black hoods placed over their heads and are¬†taken away. They take Lucy to some crazy room when she is locked up in chains and then she¬†is beaten for rejecting the advances made by some sleazeball. Unfortunately for him, he kicks her in the stomach which is where the drugs were implanted. Now the bag carrying the drugs is leaking and Lucy becomes some Terminator styled killer who takes on all these crazy sci fi powers to do with unlocking parts of the brain that we as humans can’t get to. She¬†goes on a killing spree and starts knocking off the dudes who get in her way¬†and¬†heads back to the building where the mob boss was and kills everyone in her path. I was thinking “if the movie keeps up like this, we’re in for a wild ride!” She confronts the mob boss, shoves some knives through his hands¬†and¬†gets the knowledge of where the other victims were sent carrying the drugs. In true Hollywood hindsight, why she didn’t just finish off the mob boss at this moment baffles me. Anyway, she¬†is determined to have them all busted and the drugs returned to her cos she needs them in order to survive for a little bit longer cos she’s gonna die anyway cos her brain is all screwed up, or something like that.

So the film delivers its fair share of action and Morgan Freeman took time out from doing documentary voice-overs to appear in this film as a professor who understands the way the brain works and especially those parts of the brain we can’t get to. What a coincidence! Lucy tracks him down and confronts him all the while the crazy mob boss and his cronies are on her tail to get their merchandise back. She befriends a cop in Paris who can’t believe the things he sees cos her super powers are too much for him to handle¬†and together they take on the gang and a bloodbath (Hollywood style) ensues. Shit gets crazy and you’re ready to kick out the jams but then the dreaded CGI overtakes everything and the film gets stupid.

Now don’t get me wrong, I am a sci-fi nerd and a movie geek who loves unique, bizarre and interesting¬†ideas and stuff but I just can’t stand CGI taking over what was a great storyline that I was really invested in and turning it into complete silliness. Sure, it’s a film and we are expected to suspend disbelief but this was too much. The film really did start out with a cool¬†idea¬†and it could have been something extraordinary. I think if the movie was written and directed by someone like John Woo, it would have come off a lot more crazy and over the top violent which would have made it a lot more¬†entertaining. Like seeing Lucy walk around carrying two guns and shooting up bad guys reminded me of Woo’s The Killer for a brief moment. That had me hooked but the CGI had me yawning.

Anyway, a bunch of people die and Lucy does some crazy stuff and turns into a computer and the film ends.

I won’t say that the movie is avoidable cos I enjoyed most of it. Johansson’s character is a strong lead and more proof that females can be awesome and enjoyable¬†action film lead actors. Wake up, Hollywood!¬†There really needs to be more of it from the mainstream film companies. Sure, Tura Satana she ain’t but she still kicks ass nonetheless and it’s a shame the story goes stupid and lets her down.

I give the movie six hold your pistols on it’s side cos apparently it shoots better that way out of ten.

I still can’t believe she turns into a computer.

There are some movies that just stay with you through life. For me, Christine is most definitely one of those movies. John Carpenter’s adaption of the Stephen King novel is a bonafide classic from the moment the credits role. It has everything; a great story, a killer car (literally), memorable characters, classic dialogue, an abundance of violence, bloodshed and, of course, some cute girls (Kelly Preston and Alexandra Paul) thrown in for good measure.

The movie is a well told story about Dennis Guilder (a football jock and a ladies man) and his best mate, Arnold ‘Arnie’ Cunningham. While on their¬†way home from their¬†first day back at¬†school, Arnie sees a car for sale; a¬†1958 Plymouth Fury named Christine. The car belonged to the brother of this crazy old guy named George LeBay (played by Roberts Blossom) who tells Arnie it’s $300, but $250 for him. Without hesitation and against Dennis’ better judgement that he could get a decent car for that kind of money (I don’t know what world he lived in but who am I to argue with Dennis), Arnie buys the car and the crazy old guy calls Dennis a “shitter” for trying to talk him¬†out of selling it to Arnie on the grounds that Arnie’s just a stupid¬†kid. Poor Arnie! Things get worse as Arnie’s parents don’t approve of his new purchase and therefore he¬†takes the car to an auto wreckers called Darnell’s so he can work on it away from the evil watchful eyes of his unfair parents.

While Christine¬†looks like a heap of junk to begin with, after some hard work scrounging through Darnell’s junk pile¬†and grabbing a hub cap, the car¬†cleans up well and is absolutely stunning.¬†It’s sure to please any car enthusiast. It¬†is possibly one of the greatest cars to have ever become a screen icon and¬†I’m sure nobody sees a 1958 Plymouth Fury these days and doesn’t make the connection between the car and this film, unless of course they¬†haven’t seen it and that indeed is a travesty in itself. If you’re one of these people, do yourself a favour because it’s brilliant and you’re currently failing at life. Hell, if Arnie knew about this, he’d call you a “shitter” and Christine would probably curse you and play some Little Richard.

Not to give the game away too much¬†but one night, Christine gets trashed by the school bullys and Arnie goes crazy bonkers and becomes possessed by his car. Any person that comes between Arnie and his car not only gets called a “shitter” but they start finding themselves dead, or at least injured. Actually, there’s a lot that one can learn from the dialogue of Christine. For example, this movie was the first time I ever heard the term “Cuntface” used¬†and the delivery by Cunningham’s highschool bully, Buddy Repperton, is nothing short of brilliant. In true American cinema style,¬†no one actually looks young enough to still be in highschool, but it doesn’t matter cos Moochie gets cut in half and they had to wipe up his legs with a little shovel, as investigator Rudolph Junkins (played by Harry Dean Stanton) explains to Arnie outside school. Oops, spoiler alert! I’ll stop there. So how do they stop him?¬†How does Arnie go from being a nerd with a penset in his left pocket to being the guy with the coolest car and the hottest babe in school? How do they stop him? How do they stop Christine? All valid questions and you should watch it yourself to find¬†your answers.

I had this movie on VHS for years and then eventually got it on DVD and then jumped at the chance to own it on Blu Ray. They have a done a good job on the transfer and the sound is amazing. Backed by a great soundtrack of classic 50s rock n roll, Christine sounds pristine. This is a fantastic transfer and seeing it in such definition is a blessing. Sure, some films rely on the grittiness of VHS to give it that real feel of the movie but Christine has benefitted from this, mostly in the sound department cos really, it’s just that good. Well played to those involved.

The Blu Ray extras are similar to the DVD release and include audio commentary, 20 deleted scenes and three¬†featurettes. Still a healthy addition to one of my all time favourite cult movies, the only difference being that they’re in HD which is¬†never been a bad thing.

Again, if you haven’t seen Christine, well you are doing yourself a great disservice. Easily one of the best Stephen King books put to film and John Carpenter is no doubt pleased with the results of this classic piece of cinema in all it’s Blu Ray HD glory.

Maybe I am biased because I love the car and this movie is part of my growing up but regardless, I give Christine ten lunches in brown paper bags destroyed by Buddy Repperton in the workshop out of ten. There is no reason to fault this film as it encompasses everything that is great about 80s horror.

You can buy Christine on Blu Ray through JB Hifi (Australia) or through Amazon (rest of the world). It’s cheap. Buy it!