Friday, April 29, 2011

Celluloid Horrors Movie Reviews

Hatchet II (2010)
Review written by Steven M. Duarte

Director: Adam Green
Cast: Danielle Harris, Tony Todd, Kane Hodder, Parry Shen and Tom Holland

I can’t say I was a fan of the original Hatchet and after watching the sequel…well now I can say I’m not a fan of the Hatchet series in general. While an improvement over the first installment, Hatchet just never finds its niche to separate itself from the numerous low budget slasher flicks that have flooded the market in the last 5 years.

The story follow up right after the first Hatchet where Danielle Harris character goes back to Rev Zombie played by Tony Todd to go back to the swamp to collect the bodies of her slain family members. Rev Zombie is more worried about his lost boat than retrieving the bodies so he agrees to form a posse to find the bodies and do battle with the hulking Victor Crowley. Kane Hodder makes a on screen cameo sans the makeup as the killers dad. We get a flash back sequence which gives us some back story on the monster known as Victor Crowley.

I really couldn’t put my finger on what specifically it was in Hatchet that never kept me fully involved in the film. The acting was subpar with the exception of Danielle Harris and Tony Todd, The story was weak and the pacing was a little slow. Through the film the characters refer to the killer as being a ghost then say he’s not a ghost because he can be hurt then say he’s a ghost again. Yeah pretty annoying stuff I wish they didn’t focus on what he was and just worried about killing him. The gore is aplenty with this film. Gallons upon gallons of blood were reported to have been used for this film. The gore scenes are a bit over the top and the movie tends to focus more on the gore than instilling any type of real horror or suspense. The formula used is big group separates, each is focused on for a bit then they hear something and their dead. Not too much originality here.

Final Thoughts:

I really wanted to give the Hatchet series another shot but I just couldn’t get into this one. I appreciated the inclusion of Danielle Harris because who doesn’t love Danielle Harris? The return of Tony Todd was also a nice touch but was in no way enough to carry the film. Apparently there’s going to be a third film in the series so let’s see if third time’s a charm.

1 1/2 OUT OF 5 STARS
--Steven M. Duarte

ZOMBIE (1979)
Reviewed by Nickolas Cook

Director: Lucio Fulci
Cast: Tisa Farrow, Ian McCulloch, Richard Johnson, Al Cliver, Auretta Gay and Olga Karlatos

To say that this was an influential film (aka Zombie 2, Zombie Flesh Eaters) on me is a huge understatement. I saw this as an original run on a gigantic drive-in screen back in 1979. It was a film I never forgot, and it has never strayed far from my thoughts as a Horrorhead. How could it?
This is Fulci's highest grossing film in the USA, making him an exploitation star overnight. No one cared that it was essentially a ripoff of George R. Romero's "Dawn of the Dead" (1978) (another hugely influential film on this editor and writer). In fact, some fans might even say he took Romero's concept one HUGE step further. His treatment of he undead sub-genre is genuis, despite the low budget feel of the film. Fulci knew his strengths in this sort of film, and he packs on the gore, the nudity, and zombies...zombies...zombies.
When Tisa Farrow's father goes missing, she recruits newspaper reporter Peter West, played by the great Ian McCulloch, who would go on to play parts in numerous Italian, Spanish and UK horror cult classics, and they charter a boat to his last known locale, an island full of the undead. Richard Johnson plays a scientist who refuses to believe the supernatural is responsible for the recent rash of flesh rending monsters who have overrun his tiny island home of M'tume. After various gory encounters with crusty faced zombies, the world goes to hell as the undead first take Manhattan (thanks, Leonard Cohen), and then the rest of the world, ala' Romero style infection.

There are some classic moments in this film which have never been surpassed: zombie vs. Shark (which recently turned up in a Toshiba/Satellite laptop commercial) and the infamous eye gouging scene, which many a Horrorhead treasures for its pure unleashed gore factor.
Alongside Romero's undead films, this may be one of the most important zombie films ever made. There's a feel of oppressiveness, a certain doom, to this film like no other Lucio Fulci fim. And if you're a real horror fan, then you should already have seen this. Hell, you should own it, by Fulci.
One of the many highlights of the movie is Fabio Frizzi's electronica soundtrack. He was way ahead of the other horror film composers, with the exception of Goblin, and this is one of my favorite horror soundtracks of all-time.
This is truly a classic of the 70s exploitation horror cinema. See it. Love it.

--Nickolas Cook