Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Celluloid Horrors Movie Reviews

Cabin Fever 2: Spring Fever (2009)
Review written by Steven M. Duarte

Director: Ti West
Cast: Rider Strong, Giuseppe Andrews, Judah Friedlander and Noah Segan

The long delayed sequel to Eli Roth’s gore fest finally hit home video back in 2009 to little fanfare. The film was reportedly finished in 2007 but went through numerous cuts and eventually was shelved for over a year. It’s never a good sign when your own studio is afraid to even release a film after its been completed. Director Ti West of “House of the Devil,” fame reportedly requested to have his name removed from the project once the film went through heavy cuts. The project turned into something different from his original vision. So with the bad news out of the way how is the film.

Well you can definitely tell there were issues with the making of the film. The characters are easily forgettable and the story seams pieced together to make one giant blob of a film. I’m not sure if scenes were re shot or just removed when the re editing happened but something is quite off with this film. I really cannot put my finger on it but you just get that feeling while watching the movie from beginning to end.

The film lacks the tone the prior film had. There is no feeling of isolation, no feeling of helplessness that a flesh eating virus is tearing through your body. While the original Cabin Fever was no masterpiece, Eli Roth did a decent job of setting a tone with the previous mentioned feelings.

One thing the film does have going for it is the gore. There are some decent effects seen in the film. One notable scene involves a male’s reproduction appendage and the effects of the skin eating virus on said appendage. I did cringe during this scene. It takes a lot for me to cringe when seeing gore in films but this one just scratched me the wrong way. Needless to say a majority of the other gore effects get the job done. We have teens vomiting blood and flesh eating virus covered tits.

Final Thoughts:

The film could have been so much more considering the potential that was the original Cabin Fever. A decent premise was set for the sequel but yet we have another example of some fuck head studio executives who basically think they’re smart enough to figure out what people like. Had they allowed director Ti West to film and edit how he envisioned the sequel, this may have been a very different review.

1 1/2 OUT OF 5 STARS

--Steven M. Duarte


By Brian M. Sammons
Directors & Cast: various

This is one of those four-in-one combo DVDs by Echo Bridge. They’ve released a bunch of DVDs like this recently, each bundled around a theme and this one deals with slashers. Now whether or not these movies are good or bad, there is one undeniably good thing; the value. You can get this DVD new on Amazon for about seven bucks, which is less than two dollars a movie. That’s less than a rental. Flicks just don’t get any cheaper than that. However, is there a reason for that? Does the old saw, “you get what you pay for” hold true here?

Sadly yes, but does that mean I’m going to tell you to pass on this DVD?

Surprisingly no. Let me explain.

This DVD collects the movies: HOBOKEN HOLLOW, SECRETS OF THE CLOWN, ROOM 33, AND CURTAINS. Now even if you are a diehard horrorhead like me, chances are you’ve only ever heard of one of these movies, and that’s for good reason. Three of the four films are modern (2006 or later) direct to DVD budget titles in every sense of the word. Good for maybe a few laughs, no chills at all, and quickly forgotten.

Then there is CURTAINS from 1983. Remember that game from SESAME STREET, “one of these things is not like that others”? Yeah, that’s this movie’s inclusion on this DVD in a nutshell. To be sure, CURTAINS isn’t a classic bit of 80s slasher fare like FRIDAY THE 13TH, MY BLOODY VALENTINE, NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET and the like, but it is quite good, enjoyable, well made and acted. In short, nothing like the other three movies on this disc. CURTAINS is also one of the last few, “ah man, when is that movie coming out on DVD?” flicks. That’s right, this slasher has never been released on DVD before.

Too bad then that this is the only way this movie is now widely available. Yeah, it’s not too good folks. The video transfer looks like it came right off an old VHS, complete with a faint hiss on the audio track. Keeping with the barebones theme, and yes, the bargain price as well, there are no extras for any of the four movies whatsoever. Now for the other three movies, I could care less, but the only reason I picked up this DVD was for CURTAINS and really, it deserves a lot better production then what it gets here. If it was released on its own disc, with a decent transfer and maybe a few extras, it would easily find an eager audience of horrorheads waiting for it. I firmly believe that, and just as fervently hope that one day Echo Bridge gives this movie the long awaited release it deserves.

But hey, could it be possible that you’ve never seen CURTAINS? Well then, let me educate you.

An actress checks herself into an insane asylum without telling any of the docs she’s not nuts, all for her director boyfriend so she could really nail the part of a mad woman. Unfortunately being around crazy people 24-7 just might be more than the actress can take. After a long stint in the booby hatch, the director stops coming to visit and leaves the actress in there so he can go make his movie without her. Instead of the shunned actress, the director gets six pretty young things and invites them out to his sizable, and snowbound, house in the woods for some intensive auditioning. Hmm, six young starlets, an isolated house surrounded by forest, and someone with a definite axe to grind, gee what could possibly go wrong?

Oh, and if you think I’ve given too much way by this brief teasing bit, well I haven’t. Yes one by one people start getting bumped off in true slasher fashion, but there is quite a lot of style to go along with the rather formulaic plot to save it from the same old, same old. The most memorable bit is a killer on ice skates and wearing an old hag mask, speed skating their way towards a bit of bloody fun with a sickle. If you have ever seen this movie, you’ll remember that scene. There is also a nice whodunit thrown in for good measure. That’s right, if you think you know who the killer is just by what I’ve told you here, then you just might be in for a surprise.

As for the other three films in this collection, I’m not going to discuss them here for a number of reasons. First and foremost, to do so would make this review way too long. Also, they’re just not really worth discussing. I watched all of them and while none were absolutely horrible, and I did get a few chuckles out of two of them, none were really any good or noteworthy. At best they can be an enjoyable watch for fright fans. That said, I must point out that even these movies, despite being less than five years old, have the same poor video quality as 83’s CURTAINS. No matter how you slice it, that’s pretty damn bad.

Now if it sounds like I’m trashing this DVD, I’m not. I’m being critical, and that’s kind of my job, being a critic and all. However I said at the start of this review that I wasn’t going to recommend you skipping this DVD and there are two reasons for that. First and foremost is the film, CURTAINS. While it should have been released in a better way, with a much better picture, this is the only game in town right now if you want to see this very good slasher. The second reason is the previously mentioned value. Four films, over six hours, just seven bucks. Good, bad, or ugly, that’s a heck of a deal. So until CURTAINS gets a better DVD release, this one will have to do. So consider this one recommended, if only just.

--Brian M. Sammons