Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Celluloid Horrors Movie Reviews

The resident evil series has run the gamut from video games, movies, comics, and even toys. The games publisher Capcom, decided to be directly involved with this straight to DVD release involving the Resident Evil universe. No this isn’t another adventure with Milla Jovovich in the lead role as this is an entirely CG animated feature film. If you have kept up with the live action Resident evil films you will notice that this film has little in common with them. Capcom decided to make a film more directly related to the video game series. This film stars Leon Kennedy and Claire Redfield of Resident Evil 2, 4 and Code Veronica fame. The films plot revolves around a zombie outbreak masterminded by a large pharmaceutical company. This is pretty much your general Resident Evil storytelling with a large company behind a zombie outbreak with survivors trying to bring down the evil corporation. If you played any of the Resident Evil games before, then this really isn’t all that new to you. While the story was not entirely original, the bridge that the movie created between Resident Evil 4 and 5 is a nice added touch for the fans of the series. This film is great filler for those that are playing through the Resident Evil games or that knows the stories and wants more information on the various aspects of the Resident Evil universe.
This film is a real nod to those who have faithfully kept up with the game series as it is filled with references and flashbacks to the previous Resident Evil games. A newcomer to the Resident Evil franchise may be lost in the story as this film is heavy on the previous game references. Overall it is an enjoyable film that contains well done animation sequences and great action scenes.

--Steven M Duarte

Kevrock's Classic Video Movie Review

“An Hour and Forty Eight Minutes I’ll Never Have Again”
A Review of The Mephisto Waltz

**WARNING—SPOILERS ABOUND. But don’t worry…I’m not ruining anything good.**

When Bill said he was going to review the book 'The Mephisto Waltz' we thought it would be a hoot if I reviewed the movie. Easier said than done. We hit two used movie stores, two used bookstores, a Best Buy, scoured the internet for downloadable copies, and finally found one at a Fry’s Electronics two days after the hunt began.
Why do I do this stuff? So you won’t have to. To spare you the agony, the frustration, the feeling of having your brain seep out of your eyeballs. I took the bullet so nobody reading this will ever have to go through it themselves. You can thank me later.
Yes, it was that bad.
A brief plot synopsis: we have husband, wife and little daughter. They live a comfortable yet resentful life with each other. Husband is a music writer. They befriend an old pianist and his adult daughter. Wife doesn’t trust them, husband likes them. Creepy old guy and his daughter are Satanists and steal the husband’s body. Wife suspects something is seriously wrong when, not only is the husband now a brilliant pianist, but is ten times better in bed. Then bad things happen to the wife including the unexpected death of her little girl. She discovers the creepy man and daughter’s satanic ways, realizes that he now possesses her husband’s body, uses those satanic rites to steal the body of the daughter so she could live forever in sexual ecstasy with the old man.
Yes, you read that right. And these are only hints at where this movie went so very wrong.
The husband and wife, played by Alan Alda and Jacqueline Bisset, don’t seem to like each other very much. In fact, there are so many snide remarks and backhanded insults tossed between them that I’m certain she laid awake many a night plotting various ways to kill him and free herself from this sad marriage. They’re like that couple that makes you uncomfortable if you spend too much time talking with them.
She tries to warn her husband many times that something just isn’t right with his new friends, even if they give them lots of money. One major alarm for her was a New Year’s Eve party they held. Think of the orgy scene from Eyes Wide Shut but done up 70s style. There’s a bunch of weird folks in weird costumes (including a Rottweiler with a human mask on) and they’re doing all sorts of schtupping with each other (including the father and daughter smack dab in plain view). And yet her husband chooses to ignore this because, well, because they’re rich and give him stuff.
Even when they steal his body, you don’t care. The guy was a putz who didn’t listen to his wife and now he’s gone. So who is the audience supposed to be able to relate to? Not the creepy old guy, that’s for sure. He’s a snob who hates hot dogs and cheap scotch. He’s rude to the Bisset character. And he’s schtupping his daughter. Not exactly the most sympathetic character.
Maybe the wife? Perhaps. Through a good three quarters of the movie you can understand her bewilderment. Her husband is quite possibly somebody totally different. She may be hunted by a bunch of Satanists who want to do her in. Life is tough. The moment they lose you where she’s concerned is, oddly enough, when her daughter dies. It’s a grand, dramatic scene that solidifies her suspicion that something evil is amiss. She mourns for what amounts in movie-time to be about six hours. Then she’s totally over it and it’s as if the kid was never there in the first place. Then when she discovers she can do anything with the help of her new friend Satan, she doesn’t use that gift to bring back her daughter, or exact revenge for her murder. Nope, instead she gets Satan to help her live forever in erotic bliss with the creepy old guy.

Alright, we have a story that’s been done before (old person stealing young person’s body through evil means). We have characters we don’t give half a damn about. Can this movie coast on its quality writing? Not quite. This cinematic gem brought us lines like “We could use a new brand of scotch—this one tastes like a poor man’s kilt.” There was this classic exchange: “What happened to your Bahamas trip?” “Some silly little hurricane.” And my favorite of the bad lines: “If I didn’t know you were sane I’d think you were crazy.”
I can think of one group for whom this movie will appeal: Alan Alda fetishists. The man has more sex scenes in this movie than in probably all of his other performances combined.
From what Bill tells me, the book is much better and not nearly as over-the-top as the movie. For now, I’ll take his word on it. But to be honest, if it even remotely inspired this crapfest, it’ll be a good long while before I can motivate myself to read the book. Even if it was the greatest piece of literature known to man I’d still put it farther in my to-be-read list than the Phase IV novelization.
Do yourselves a favor and forget this movie exists. Block it so far from memory that you won’t even see the DVD box as it sits four feet from your face. If, for whatever masochistic reason, you do watch it, don’t come crying to me. I tried to warn you.

--Jenny Orosel

Zombi 3- 1983
Cast: Deran Sarafin, Beatrice Ring, Ottaviano Dell’Acqua, Massimo Vanni, Ulli Reinthaler, and Marina Loi
Director: Lucio Fulci and Bruno Mattei

This may be Fulci’s most embarrassing film, not counting “The New York Ripper” and “The Ghosts of Sodom”. It’s a well-known horror-factiod that Bruno Mattei (Z-Grade director of such zombie fare as “Hell of the Living Dead”) finished the film after Fulci’s untimely death during production. And while one may see the thumbprint of Fulci’s cheapjack genius here, it’s unfortunately damn near been washed away by Mattei’s startling lack of said genius. Let’s face it: Fulci’s films weren’t ever what one would call professional affairs; but what he lacked in production values, he more than made up for with enthusiasm and a very distinctive style. Mattei doesn’t quite match up to Fulci in either. So you’re not going to get anything near as classic grue as Zombi 2. Not even close.
But what you will get are Kung Fu fighting zombies, a flying zombie head, a demonic hand punching through a pregnant woman’s stomach, and lots of bloody slobbering and screaming.
A group of top-secret scientists have developed a medicine that has the unfortunate side effect of turning folks into the undead. A terrorist group attacks the top-secret facility (by driving through the front gate?) and steals the formula. Unfortunately, one of the terrorists is infected by the undead formula, but manages to make his way to a stylish resort, where he infects others before the soldiers burst through the doors and find him dead---well, really dead this time. The dunderheaded general burns the body, and the smoke enters the atmosphere, and a flock of birds fly through the gas cloud, becoming undead birds. They attack a bus load of models and a car load of idiot soldiers on R and R, and, boy , does it get silly then…
In an assumed attempt to add atmosphere (and probably to hide the cheapness of the production) Mattei subsumes the scenes in obscuring banks of roiling fog, and clothes his zombies in tattered rickshaw driver dress. The movie was shot in the Philippines, so all of the extras (zombies, soldiers, hotel workers, etc., etc.) are all Philippino. The laughs this type of silly international budget casting generates are unintentional, but fun stuff. My favorite is the Philippino busboy that’s been dubbed with a very bad jive talk accent.
The acting is sub par, as can be expected in this kind of Italian rip off, and gets worse as the action escalates. But that’s all part of the fun of watching. My favorite histrionic actor is the head scientist who’s responsible for creating the deadly formula, as he goes off into wild gesticulations that make William Shanter look like Marlon Brando.
The soundtrack is pure 80s synt-dreck that does nothing for the film, but will remind some of us why Goblin rocked and why no one else could do what they did for a horror movie.
There is no commentary, but there are some brief interviews with the actors. But if you’re a true-blue fan, don’t watch them. These guys have no respect for the genre and make fun of everyone who likes this kind of cheesy horror…erm…like me. But, hey, fuck the actors. They were stupid enough to actually be in the silly ass film, right?
All in all, Zombi 3 is a soggy fun experience, but don’t go into it thinking it’s classic dreck. This is for fun dreckheads only.

-Anamorphic Widescreen
-Interviews with Mattei (director), Fragasso (writer), and a handful of the actors.
-Talent Bios

Zombie 4: After Death- 1988
Cast: Jeff Stryker, Candice Daly, Massimo Vanni, Jim Gaines, Don Wilson, and Adrianne Joseph
Director: Claudio Fragasso

What do you get when you mix Rambo style soldiers of fortune, Philippine zombies, a volcano full of green lights and voodoo candles, and lots of fog?
Hopefully a better movie than Zombie 4: After Death.
This time the writer of Zombi 3 took the reins and proved himself even less capable than Mattei—if there such a thing is possible.
The prologue takes a few minutes to muddle through the back-story as a pissed off voodoo priest does his juju and curses the island full of badly dubbed scientists who he blames for his wife’s death. As the violence and bloodshed ensue, one doctor and his wife and their five-year-old daughter try to run away. Mom and dad get it zombie style, but not before they pass off a “secret amulet” to the little girl. How the hell she escapes the island while all of the adults have become zombie munchies, no one ever explains.
Flash-forward several years and the little girl is all grown up and hanging with a group of half articulate soldiers of fortune. Oh, and for good measure, we also have a trio of scientists traipsing through the jungle, searching for why the original scientists died in the first place. These boneheads find a voodoo spell book and proceed to read the “great and forbidden four words of zombie power”, which makes a lot of hooded Philippino zombies push up from the “depths” (read: lumps in the ground) of their “graves” to get up and shamble around.
Bad goes to worse, the soldiers get killed off one by one, become zombies, dribble copious amounts of dark green goo, and, well, you know the rest of the story…
The acting gets worse by the scene, the fog gets thicker, and the plot runs out of steam. It’s the kind of silly fun where someone stumbles across a trunk full of M16s and lots of ammo, zombies stagger and moan, and then break into sudden bursts of badly choreographed Kung Fu fights, candles are mysteriously alight in caves and deserted houses all over the place, and a black hougan presides over Philippino zombies. For folks like me, this is the cheddar for which I live.
The music is the highlight of the whole affair; it has a great Goblin-esque feel to it, and adds a level to the proceedings that might have fallen flatter than usual.
Thankfully, there is no commentary, as I’m sure no one would have known why he or she did any of it. And, yes, folks, that's THE Jeff Stryker, gay male porn star you see running around with is shirt unbuttoned for most of the movie. There's actually a funny interview with him in the extras.

-Anamorphic Widescreen
-Interview with Claudio Fragasso (director)

Zombie 5: Killing Birds- 1987
Cast: Lara Wendel, Robert Vaughn, Timothy W. Watts, Leslie Cummings, James Villemaire, and Sal Maggiore
Director: Claudio Lattanzi

The tangential relationship this film has to a zombie movie is so flimsy that I think the producers should be forced to watch it over and over again in Hell as punishment for trying to pull off such a threadbare rip off.
Zombie 5: Killing Birds starts with a fairly grim prologue as a soldier returns from Vietnam to find his wife in bed with another man. He promptly murders them both, along with the baby-sitting in-laws. But he spares his cooing infant son. Who raises the kid? Who knows?
And this is the most logic you’re going to find in this one, folks. From the end of the prologue, we segue into something that looks like a student film about a rare bird, a blind bird specialist with a mysterious past (played by Robert Vaughn), a group of talentless college students looking for the both of them in the backwoods of the Louisiana Bayou. The editing for this first part of the film is amateurish, the music montages are out of place and distracting, and only add to the overall sense that this is an unprofessional affair. The acting is wooden and not in a fun kind of way, either, and the story is not horror related in the least…
Then someone took over and tries to turn it into a horror film. And they didn’t do such a bad job of it.
Once the college morons stumble across a deserted house in the middle of the swamp things really start to pick up and gets much creepier. But there’s still no logic. The music definitely improves, adding a dark influence to the already disturbing scenes. The gore gets nasty and wet, but for some they might come off a bit mean-spirited as a girl’s head is torn off and a young man is set on fire.
But despite these improvements, this still isn’t a zombie film. The two zombies that make an appearance- presumably the pair of murdered lovers from the prologue- do some damage, but half of the deaths have nothing at all to do with zombies (or logic) and left me wondering if this was meant to be a haunted house film or a gruesome zombie flick.
Zombie 5: Killing Birds is good for a few unintentional laughs, but with the struggle of no plot, shitty acting, and the terrible overall production it may not be worth it to get to the meat of horror within.

-Anamorphic Widescreen
-Interview with Robert Vaughn
-Original Trailer
-Picture Gallery

Shriek Show

DVD Release Date:
2005 (marketed as ZOMBIE PACK)

--Nickolas Cook