Friday, June 4, 2010
Celluloid Horrors Movie Reviews
The Human Centipede (2010)
Review written by Steven M. Duarte
The Human Centipede is one of those films that obtain coverage from the mainstream based of its controversial subject matter. Before the film even came out I would come across articles about it on casual blogs and websites who normally only cover mainstream movies and issues. It’s not too often that a foreign horror film obtains this much buzz ahead of its scheduled release. So does The Human Centipede live up to the hype?
The answer to that would be yes and no. I myself love foreign horror films and jump at the chance to see new ones as they are released. I am also a self proclaimed gore hound who enjoys some splatter with my films. I was disappointed with the final product that is The Human Centipede. If you can get passed the initial shock of the surgery that the doctor does you really don’t have much left. If you’re expecting shocking images of morbid surgery and gory scenes you are in for a bit of a letdown. Once the surgery is complete you really don’t see much. The gore shown in the film is on par with most American made horror films. I have learned to expect more from foreign horror films and was surprised when Centipede didn’t deliver. Gore does not make a film but when you feel like the film was being held back you can just ponder what could have been.
The story itself is fairly simple; it follows a crazy German surgeon who used to be the top specialist in separating conjoined twins. He decides that he wants to create a Human Centipede by joining 3 people together from ass to mouth. They would all share the same digestive system and the waste would pass from one person to the next. The doctor uses two American girls who are visiting Germany on vacation. The third is a Japanese man who doesn’t speak English.
The issue that I had with the story was that the surgery happened too quickly and before you knew it the people were joined together. With the exception of an attempted escape scene there wasn’t too much build up to the surgery. Once the surgery is done the movie kind of drags while the director tries to figure out what to do with the Human Centipede. We see glimpses of the Centipede being treated like the doctor’s pet but nothing that really furthers the story. It’s not until the Police show up that things get interesting.
What I did find entertaining was the performances by the actors. The centipede actors got the job done. The head centipede played by Japanese actor Akihiro Kitamura was a treat to watch as he displayed his hatred for the doctor. It was important to get a strong actor for the first centipede since the two behind him cannot talk with ass in their mouths. Once the surgery is done the two girls can only mumble and make limited movements. The doctor was also a joy to watch. While he was one dimensional at times he was creepy and demented at other times during the film. I really felt like we were missing a back story about the sadistic doctor. We never really find out why he wants to create a Human Centipede. As audiences all were given is the fact that he used to be a respected surgeon when it came to separating conjoined twins. It’s up to the audience to make up the correlation between the two.
I believe that I looked too much into the film before I actually viewed it which in turned made me disappointed once I saw that final product. It lacked in gore and a fully fleshed out story but had decent acting and subject matter. It’s a film that makes me excited for the already announced sequel Full Sequence which should be out next year. If the director can build on the first one in every aspect possible we may have the film that the first was not.
3 ½ OUT OF 4 STARS
--Steven M Duarte
Survival of the Dead (2010)
Review written by Steven M. Duarte
The horror maestro George A. Romero has bestowed upon us yet another zombie film titled Survival of the Dead. I was excited to view this film as I have enjoyed his zombie films up through Land of the Dead. Yes I know land wasn’t great but it got the job done. I was disappointed by Diary of the Dead and hoped that Romero had returned to his roots. Unfortunately I was let down again.
I really wanted to like Survival of the Dead. After the abysmal effort that was Diary of the Dead I wanted to give Romero another chance at zombie greatness. Survival of the Dead is only marginally better than Diary of the Dead. That’s not saying much considering Diary was a shitty film.
The story never really fleshes out well and were introduced to characters that we just don’t care about. The premise of the story is as follows, there two families that live on a secluded island, the O’flynns and the Muldoon’s. The two families are in a battle due to the Muldoon’s wanting to domesticate their zombie family members by having them eat animals instead of humans. The O’flynns just wanna Kill em all Metallica style. Romero’s reoccurring theme of the zombies who are learning rears its ugly decomposed head again with the story in Survival. The concept of the zombies learning was more fleshed out and complete in Land of the Dead. Survival focuses more on the feud between the families. Survival of the Dead also reintroduces to Sgt Nicotine Crocket from Diary of the Dead. The Sgt and a group of his soldiers end up traveling to the Island to find sanctuary.
The story has many elements that don’t make any sense. For one they have working laptops that can stream internet video. Apparently the internet is like a cockroach during a nuclear holocaust, it still survives. The majority of Romero’s previous Zombie films show the earth as a zombie wasteland that leaves humans in the minority. If the television stations went out during the zombie apocalypse in Dawn of the Dead why in the hell would internet still work during a zombie outbreak now? I bring this point up since the soldiers are seen viewing the internet through a laptop and an iphone. Apparently wireless carriers are still going strong during a zombie outbreak too. I know it’s just a movie but come on Romero at least make it somewhat believable.
The acting is poorly done and the film is plagued with cheap CGI effects. The acting by the two feuding Irish men is comical at times. Whatever happened to the Ken Foree’s and Joe Pilato’s of previous classic zombie films? Now we’re stuck with subpar actors reading from an amateur screenplay.
With a heavy heart I can finally say that Romero has lost it. Land was passable and Diary was the one that made me worry now with Survival I have come to the conclusion that Romero should move on from the Zombie genre.
1 OUT OF 4 STARS
--Steven M. Duarte
SHUTTER ISLAND (2010)
Review written by Brian M. Sammons
Director: Martin Scorsese
Cast: Leonardo DiCaprio, Mark Ruffalo, Ben Kingsley
This is the latest movie from Martin Scorsese, one of the greatest directors to ever put images on film. That alone should be enough of a reason for everyone to see this movie, but if you want more than that, then I can do that. This is also Scorsese’s latest team up with his newest, favorite actor (sorry Bobbie D., I guess you’re too old for Martin these days), Leonardo DiCaprio. While I initially dismissed Leo as a pretty boy getting by on his dreamboat status, and I’m not afraid to admit that I hated TITANTIC, I have come to learn over the years that he can really act his ass off. So when a director this good gets together with an actor this talented, very good things usually come from it. However since this a site all about horror goodies, is it safe to assume that this is a horror movie? Well no, it’s not really, but it is a twisty turvy thriller filled with mystery, murder, insanity, and some great nightmarish imagery. If you like being creeped out, constantly guessing what’s going on, and just love great movies, then you’ll enjoy this film no matter what section of the video store you find this flick in. Ha, video stores…those were the days. But I am not here to wax all nostalgic, so let’s begin our visit to SHUTTER ISLAND.
Leonardo plays a U.S. Marshal named Teddy who goes to an incredibly eerie island sanitarium with his partner, played by Mark Ruffalo. The pair is there to investigate the escape of a criminally insane patient who all but vanished mysteriously out of her cell one night. Set just some time after World War 2, Teddy is a vet with a horrible past and has got his share of haunts rattling around in his skull. Add to that some personal tragedy, plenty of very creepy environments, and having to interview many murderous maniacs, and is it any wonder that Teddy begins seeing things. Question is, is what he’s seeing real or imagined? Another good question would be this; is everyone at Shutter Island hiding something from him or worst yet, out to get him? From the head psychologist, played to uncanny perfection by Ben Kingsley, to the old German doctor who just might be a Nazi in hiding, played by the always wonderful Max von Sydow, to Ted (SILENCE OF THE LAMBS) Levine as the warden of the prison, everyone seems to have secrets. The new Freddy Kruger, Jackie Earle Haley, also pops up in a memorable cameo as a scar faced inmate who just might be the man responsible for…well, that would be telling, wouldn’t it? Suffice to say that the twisting, turning story in this movie is a continual guessing game and even if you can puzzle out the final “a-ha” moment before the end as I did (yay for me, I am so smart) it still doesn’t take any of the enjoyment out of watching an amazing collection of great actors doing their thing. And again, this is Martin freaking Scorsese directing this film, the man doesn’t make bad movies. Ok, I wasn’t too keen on THE AVIATOR, but still…
Now let’s talk about the DVD, in a word; it SUCKS! It is the epitome of a bare bones disc and sorry Paramount, but I call bullshit on that. Now the Blu-ray has some special features. Not many, but some. But what, could they just not squeeze them onto the DVD? No, this is yet another movie company giving DVD owners the blatant middle finger and I just don’t understand the reasoning behind it. Chances are if you own a BD player and you want this movie, you’ll buy it on BD, so does Paramount actually think they’ll force a DVD owner into converting to the new format just because their DVD of SHUTTER ISLAND is missing two behind the scenes docs? That’s just silly, but it’s the only reason I can think of why they, and sadly plenty of other studios these days, would have for not including the extras on the DVD when there is clearly room. What, does leaving the laser that burns the info into the discs on for an extra ten seconds to transfer the extras REALLY cost that much? How many pennies, if any at all, is Paramount saving by screwing over a large percentage of home video market? This is a practice that pisses me off whenever I see it and yes, I have a Blue-ray player, but I still think it’s scummy and I’ll rail against it every time.
So, did I like the movie? Yes, I really did. Do I recommend buying the DVD? No, I really cannot. If Paramount is going to treat you like crap, the least you can do is not give them money for doing so. If you already own a Blu-ray player then go ahead and pick up this flick, I think you’ll like it, But for God’s sake, don’t switch up from DVD to BD just because of this, or any disc. Not that I think you would, I’m just saying.
--Brian M. Sammons