Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Celluloid Horrors Movie Reviews

Piranha 3D (2010)- DVD

Director: Alexandre Aja
Cast: Elisabeth Shue, Adam Scott, Jerry O'Connell, Ving Rhames, Jessica Szohr, Steven R. McQueen, Christopher Lloyd and Richard Dreyfuss

review written by Steven M. Duarte

Prior to Piranha 3D first being announced I was thinking to myself how cool it would be if Piranha was remade as a 3D film……Ok I’m only being half honest to that one as I currently despise the large abundance of 3D films. While I agree we have to evolve somewhere I just don’t see it being 3D. Ok all complaints aside was Piranha worth your hard earned cash?

Not really if you ask me. While we got the chance to see some awesome gore done by none other than KNB effects, there really wasn’t much substance to the film. There was little anticipation to seeing the fish as they pretty much came up right away. I also felt that some of the scenes were out of order such as the one where they discover millions of Piranha eggs. This scene should have been left for the end to show how many were waiting to hatch rather than the ending that was used.

Alexandre Aja of Haute Tension fame was the director of Piranha 3D which should have made for a good film. Keep in mind I say “SHOULD” because his last film Mirrors failed to deliver on many different levels. Piranha suffers the same fate Mirrors did being a mediocre film. Once you get past the awesome gore effects your left wanting more. Yes there is gratuitous nudity by some current porn stars but yet again boobs and blood don’t always make for a great film.

There were some nicely done death scenes that mildly spiked my attention. This included Eli Roth having his skull smashed by a boat and a bikini clad female having her face ripped open by a piranha biting through the back of her skull. Truly is one of the moments when you jump up a little bit and say wow that was kinda cool.

Final Thoughts:

As previously mentioned tits ass and gore can only take a film so far. We get to a point where we think to ourselves and say, “ok that was cool now how about the story?” I have seen way too many horror films with enough gore to fill 10 football fields with. Another film that decides to raise the bar with gore simply is not enough these days. Peter Jacksons Dead Alive did gore to the max back in 1992…almost 20 years ago!!! Let’s get it together Alexandre Aja and make a Haute Tension caliber film.

--Steven M. Duarte

Frozen (2010)- DVD

Director: Adam Green
Cast: Emma Bell, Kevin Zegers, Kane Hodder and Shawn Ashmore

review written by Steven M. Duarte

The film frozen initially caught my attention when I first saw the trailer for it. The premise of a couple of young twenty something’s being left on a ski lift for days really leaves the question in peoples mind if something like that could really happen to themselves. That really is the main premise behind this film. They are left on the lift about a couple hundred feet in the air in the freezing cold with viscous wolves prowling the ground beneath them. They are left on the lift on a Sunday and realize that the skiing area is closed during the week potentially leaving them up there for days.

I have to say the film was a nice departure from the influx of exorcism and 3D horror films that have cluttered the film industry over the last couple of years. The director relies more on character development than effects and gore. While there is gore it is not gratuitous.

At times the film often reminded me of Neil Marshals The Descent. In Frozen they were not in any caves and didn’t have any cave creatures after them but the shear feeling of dread and claustrophobia which The Descent had comes up when viewing Frozen. Once they are stuck on the ski lift they really don’t have anywhere to go. If they jump down they risk breaking bones due to the height of the fall. Aside from the great fall they risk being torn to shreds by wolves that started stalking them as soon as they became stuck in the air. If they stay in the lift and wait for help they risk frostbite, basically damned if you do damned if you don’t. That’s really where the dilemma of the film takes center stage. They are basically stuck and don’t have a way out that doesn’t involve great risk.

I enjoy horror/thriller films that leave the viewer wondering what they would do in the same situation. What makes Frozen work is the realness factor that this could actually happen to you. I remember going skiing a couple of years ago riding the ski lift looking down between my skis seeing just how far above the ground I was. Thoughts of the ski staff forgetting you and leaving for the day would ruin just about anybodies day.

Final Thoughts:

If you would like a nice departure from some of the run of the mill horror films of recent years give Frozen a try. You will find out that like Dairy Queen it will be a nice frozen treat ;)

--Steven M. Duarte


Director: Michael Paul Stephenson
Cast: George Hardy, Claudio Fragasso, Michael Paul Stephenson

review written by Brian M. Sammons

Going over my top movies of 2010 I remembered this one and then I remembered that I didn’t cover it when it came out on DVD. So looking to rectify that grievous oversight, I present to you BEST WORST MOVIE, a documentary about one of the lowest rated and most critically panned films ever. One that currently has a 2.2 out of 10 rating on IMDb and I believe that is up significantly since this doc has come out and sent some fans over there to pad out the score. Fans, you ask? Well yes, because as horrible as the movie is it has become a certifiable cult classic and for good reason. That movie in question is the infamous TROLL 2 and if you’ve ever seen it then you know how awesomely fun-bad it is. There is a whole legion of fans out there, and I count myself among them, that love that movie for all the wrong reasons.

However it is one thing to watch a great bad movie, it’s quite another thing entirely to be an actor in it. That was the bitter lesson child actor Michael Paul Stephenson found out first hand after staring in this turkey and suddenly finding himself unemployed in Hollywood. So after wrestling with the TROLL 2 fallout for years he did the most sensible thing imaginable; he decided to direct a documentary about the movie that has haunted him for most of his life.

So has that young man’s pain become something for us to point and laugh at? Most certainly, but it also has a surprising amount of heart, is very informative, and in all ways is entertaining as hell and here’s the biggest compliment; even to those who have never seen TROLL 2. Yes, I’ve shown this to a number of friends who had no idea about any of the TROLL movies and they still enjoyed this documentary. Now that’s saying something. I can’t think of another film about a film that does that. So why is BEST WORST MOVIE so darn good?

A large chunk of that credit goes to George Hardy who played the father in TROLL 2. This dentist with dreams of Hollywood really comes off as a nice guy and seeing how this remarkably normal, everyday guy deals with the infamy for being in “the worst movie ever” is the heart of this film. But George isn’t alone; virtually all of the surviving actors recount their tales of woe for being in this movie. In addition to the beleaguered and bemused cast, you get tons of fans relating their love for this very odd film, but for me the best parts were with Italian director Claudio Fragasso. There was a guy who just didn’t get it in every sense of the word. From truly believing that he made a great film with TROLL 2, to being confused why audiences were laughing at it during screenings he attended, to calling the actors “dogs” repeatedly for not recognizing his genius and just how great his movie is. Rarely have I seen a man so self-deluded even in the face of overwhelming opinions contrary to his own. I guess good on him for being true to himself and remaining positive, but on the other hand the man desperately needs to get a clue.

The DVD of this fine film from Docuramafilms comes complete with a nice selection of extras. There are 15 short featurettes and interviews ranging from three to 13 minutes, an 82 minute audio track of a creative screenwriting Q&A, trailers, a filmmaker bio, and even a fan made music video that was pretty funny. Sadly there is no filmmaker’s commentary, but I guess Michael Paul Stephenson said all he had to say about TROLL 2 once and for all in the documentary.

It might be trite to say that BEST WORST MOVIE is one of the best movies of 2010, but it would also be true. If you have yet to see this movie then grab yourself a copy and do so. You won’t regret it and if it gets you to watch TROLL 2 again, or better yet, for the first time, then consider that a nice, goofy bonus. BWM is charming, fun, funny, heartfelt, informative, entertaining, and just plain old good. Consider it a must have.

And just so you can see how BAD this movie is...

--Brian M. Sammons