Yearly Archives: 2010

Splinter (2008)

Director:  Toby Wilkins

Writers:  Ian Shorr & Kai Barry

Cast:  Paulo Costanzo, Jill Wagner, Rachel Kerbs and Shea Whingham

Rated: R

IMDB  |  Amazon [Blu-ray]  |  Trailer  | Video Review

You may be asking yourself just how scary is a parasitic pool of oil that grows spikes and eats people?  Well the answer is pretty damn scary.  With exceptional practical effects and nods to such creature features such as The Thing (1983) and Dead Alive (Braindead) this one is sure to please gore hounds.  You could also consider it a modern take on the classic creature feature.

Splinter opens on young couple Seth and Polly (Paulo Costanzo and Jill Wagner) trying have a romantic camping trip in the woods.  They are then taken hostage by wanted fugitives Belisle and Dennis Farell (Rachel Kerbs and Shea Whingham).  The jeep overheats and they are forced to stop the next convenience store.  Well this place has already been overtaken by a monstrous parasitic force that captured and is controlling the store clerk.  From that point on they are trapped inside the station and seeking refuge from the creature outside.

I have warmed up to Splinter since my initial viewing when it was first released on DVD.  The main reason I hold the movie in such a high regard is the somewhat lack of CGI and the attention paid to practical effects.  The gore effects in this one are top notch.  Also, the creature is original as well.  This consists of a black oil-like substance that grows on living tissue and produces spikes (or splinters) on whatever it grows on.  Pretty cool idea in my book.  The acting is lackluster but considering this is an independent film I can cut it some slack.  So if you enjoy seeing bloody body parts assembled in a makeshift fashion by some kind of an alien being you should check this one out.  The region A Blu-ray looks great and has a low price tag to boot.

 

May (2002)

Director:  Lucky McKee

Writer:  Lucky McKee

Cast:  Angela Bettis, Jeremy Sisto, Anna Faris

Rated: R

IMDB  |  AmazonYoutube (trailer) |  Youtube (review)

May is a great little family fun flick.  Okay not at all but this is a great one that needs much respect in the genre.  I just rewatched this one for the first time in years and I just had to express some feelings on it.  May has graced the lips of many horror fans since its 2002 release, but with the upcoming release of director Lucky McKee’s newest film ‘The Woman’, I though what a great time to dust off this gem.  Over the years I have really grown to enjoy Lucky McKee as a filmmaker and as I have been preaching for the past few years he is a very talented and underutilized director.  In light of a somewhat stale and boring horror genre, it is directors like him that need to be getting the big budgets and artistic freedom to work with.  But alas these jobs have been going to unknown music video directors with little or no experience directing features at all.

May focuses on a young, awkward woman named appropriately May (played by the wonderful Angela Bettis).  May works in a veterinary clinic assisting in various surgeries.  She is quite socially retarded and has a “lazy” eye.  She has had a tough and lonely life where her only friend has been a doll in a glass case.  May has been reaching out to people in her life for companionship with no avail.   Her social skills need work but May befriends her coworker Polly (played by Anna Faris of Scary Movie fame).  She then falls in love with a young mechanic named Adam (Jeremy Sisto).  Oh and did I mention that she is really infatuated with certain body parts….well that comes into play later on.  May is dumped by Adam and her life is in shambles.  She snaps and decides to create her own life-sized doll, a friend that will never leave!

Okay so I am being deliberately vague on the plot synopsis.  Please watch the film and see for yourself.  The thing that separates May aside from others in the genre is that May is female.  That’s right a female serial killer, a subject that should really be touched on more often.  But yeah aside from the excellent camera work and editing is Angela Bettis’ performance as May.  I think that this is the fundamental factor that makes this film so unforgettable.  She becomes May.  The utter insanity is totally believable in this one and I love it.  Great gore, great acting, and great writing!  If you have not seen this one I strongly suggest you do so and this film could easily go from just cult classic to classic.  By far one of the best horror films from the last decade.

Where is “For Christ’s Sake” for Christ’s Sake?

So I was goofing around on the internet one night a while back and i stumbled upon this link. The first thing that came to mind was “WHAT IS THIS?!” It just looked so ridiculous… No. TOO ridiculous. I looked at some of the pictures and concluded that this was a movie that I will probably see at the store, flip to the back, and go “Ehhh 15 bucks is a little pricey.” That was my so-called “conclusion” until I found out more about it. After seeing the 2nd trailer and letting the phrase “Jesus Cloning” enter my mind, I knew this would be something odd and different that I couldn’t miss out on.

UNFORTUNATELY, everyone is STILL missing out on it, even though its shooting has been completed for a very long time. Because of this issue, I decided to ask Writer/Producer/Director Dustin Hubbard a few questions that may help us Jesus/Horror fans out of the pit of confusion.

Q- What inspired you to make horror films?

A- It all started when I was 2 years old and got the privilege to see Poltergeist in the theaters. I remember getting nightmares constantly after that. Shortly after, when I was 7 years old, I watched Friday the 13th on HBO when I was home alone. It was actually a fun movie for me until Jason popped out of the water at the end. That just scared the living s*** out of me, but it was still my first early love for horror.

Q- What was the earliest spark(mind spark) that triggered the concept of FCS(For Christ’s Sake)?

A- I love iconic horror villains. To me, I always thought that if I were to create an iconic horror villain, that Jesus would be the ultimate because he’s the sun of God and has unmeasurable powers.

Q- Were there any fears of losing family, friends, or just a film making career since it’s about Jesus?

A- While we were doing it, there was always a concern about the way people would view the subject matter. It was a touchy subject when it came to assembling the cast and crew. Some would stay, and some would walk. We just needed to make sure people knew right from the start what they were on board for.

Q- Who were the first people you for sure casted?

A- There was one role written for Michael Kenneth Fahr right from the start. There were also a few roles set aside for certain indie talent. For casting, we’d mostly do posts on Myspace and Craiglist. Actually, 2 weeks before shooting we lost 2 cast members for various reasons and we had to scramble to find replacements.

Q- WHAT DOES THE FUTURE HAVE IN STORE FOR FCS?

A- Much like the Son… FCS will see a second coming.

Q- Seriously?

A- Yeah.

Q- I mean, that’s all the information you can provide?

(hangs up)

So I guess I didn’t get too much information out of Director, Dustin Hubbard, but that must mean only time will tell. I’m definitely looking forward to this odd flick starring Debbie Rochon, Michael Kenneth Fahr, and Nicola Fiore.

-Max Hey

11/29/10

PS- I wasn’t really hung up on. That was just for comedic purposes.

Coffin Rock (2009)

Coffin Rock (2009)

Director: Rupert Glasson
Writer: Rupert Glasson
Cast: Lisa Chappell, Sam Parsonson, Robert Taylor
Rated: not rated
IMDB   |  Amazon

Be careful what you wish for…

The DVD box cover reads “from the producer of Wolf Creek”. This film is nothing you have not seen before but I think that the superb acting and beautiful Australian scenery turns this indie into an interesting and entertaining thriller.

The film follows Rob and Jessie Willis, a couple that has been trying to conceive a child for quite some time. A young man named Evan (Parsonson) becomes infatuated with Jessie and follows them home from a fertility clinic. He moves to their town and proceeds to stalk and terrorize her and her friends and family. As it progresses we see his character unravel from innocent family friend to psycho.

I did not really enjoy ‘Wolf Creek’ very much just because I do not generally care for torture films so I was immediately put off when I read the cover of this one. Even though there is only a handful of memorable films I can think of, I do enjoy Australian horror. The beauty of the Australian landscape is for sure one of the biggest draws of the film. This one was filmed in Adelaide in the southern part of the country. Also Sam Parsonson’s performance was terrific and stole the show in my opinion. I truly believed he was a nutcase! There is one particular scene that I’m sure people will mention that involves a baby kangaroo. One thing I did not like about the film was some scenes appeared very dark it was sometimes hard to see what was going on. This is reminiscent of some of the recent American horror remakes. The film also did drag a little in the middle but that is sometimes expected in a somewhat slow burning thriller like this one. I would recommend this one to most horror/thriller fans but keep in mind that it does has a polished, mainstream look so keep that in mind.

A Bunch More Deets Released on an Upcoming Controversial Remake

Many die-hard fans of Troma have been worried about their new strange desire to become big-time, big-shot, big-budget, big-wallet money seekers. Hey… Even I’m a little bit concerned. Deep down… I really HATE remakes… HATE them. Are there some good ones? Yeah, but did we ever ask for them? NO.

Within the last year or so, Lloyd Kaufman(President and Co-Founder of Troma Inc.) sold the remake rights to Charles(Lloyd’s brother) Kaufman’s 1984 cult classic, “Mother’s Day”. THAT film, no fans really mind being re-made. It’s not THE film that Troma is known for by any means, plus it was sold to a formerly independent company(which quickly lost its pride when “Saw” had become more mainstream and popular than they had expected), Twisted Pictures. The “Mother’s Day” remake was directed by Twisted Pictures’ Darren Lynn Bousman with an estimated budget of $11 Million(According to Wikipedia). He had previously directed their cult classic, “Repo” and various “Saw” sequels. From clips that I’ve seen of this remake, it appears to be very different from the original(Which may be a good thing to some). I see this film being something different and it may bring the original ’84 classic out of the pit!

BUT NOW… The fans are pissed. It was announced near production of the “Mother’s day” remake that the remake rights to the original “Toxic Avenger” were SOLD. For months, fans wondered what exactly happened. In Lloyd Kaufman’s books he talks about his hatred for the studio system, so why would he encourage them to keep ruining horror movies? Money. Don’t be fooled however! Certain fans(like myself) have accepted this choice and look forward to more coming both from Troma, AND from the companies that may possibly ruin their classic films to appeal to today’s youth(Also like myself, except with bad taste in movies). In this past month(estimating here) a link was posted on Troma’s home page that explains A LOT, even though all it really does is gives a bunch of producers’ names and successes. If you didn’t read the link(which you really really should) just know that Steve Pink, director of the absolutely hilarious 2010 film, “Hot Tub Time Machine”(although very mainstream, STILL a hilarious and good-feeling film for ALL) is planned to be directing the “Toxic Avenger” remake. Hey… odds are Melvin will be played by John Cusack. Whaddya wanna bet? Rights for the other 3 films, “Part 2″, “The Last Temptation of Toxie”, and “Citizen Toxie”(my personal favorite) have also been sold.

Leave comments and tell me your thoughts! I’ll be sure to respond every once in a while! In the meantime, read Lloyd Kaufman’s recent blog post on why he means only the best for selling the rights to “The Toxic Avenger”.

-Max Hey

Posted on 23 November, 2010

Sella Turcica (2010)

Director: Fred Vogel
Writers: Fred Vogel, Shelby Vogel, and Don Moore
Cast: Damien A. Maruscak, Camille Keaton, Jade Risser, Harvey Daniels, and Sean P. McCarthy
Rated: not rated
IMDb | Trailer (YouTube) | Buy at the TOETAG Store

Sella Turica movieIn today’s world we’ve gotten so used to war and disaster that they no longer seem to phase those of us who do not experience them firsthand. Even if we know someone affected by such a situation, we like to think we understand when in reality we really have no clue. Fred Vogel’s Sella Turcica illustrates this condition by taking us inside a family’s affairs while dealing with the return of a son who’s been severely, and mysteriously, wounded in the war.

Bradley Roback (Maruscak), now bound to a wheelchair, finds himself unable to adjust when returning home. His mother (Keaton) puts on the pleasant face to make Brad comfortable while she along with the rest of the family hide the fact that they are terrified of how their son/brother has come back to them. Brad’s sister Ashley (Risser) is perhaps the most excited of his return, thus the most disturbed by his condition. Not even Ashley’s beautiful illuminating smile can brighten Brad’s spirits.

The majority of the movie focuses on the family’s interactions with Brad. So right away, horror fans will be a little thrown off by the fact that there’s really no “horror” throughout the first three quarters of the film. However, the real horror here is the reality of war and its effects not only on the soldier, but for those who care about him. But fear not, this is not just a drama depicting the outcomes of humanity at its worst, as realistically scary as that in itself is, nor is it just a modern take on Johnny Got His Gun. The dramatical buildup makes us feel involved in this family while desperately wanting to know what is really going on with Brad.

Fred Vogel and co. do a great job straying from what could have been a run-of-the-mill horror with cheap tactics and an onslaught of gore. Instead, they build up the story and the characters first. This makes us really feel something rather than simply entertain. The viewer really has no idea what is going to happen or what is wrong with Brad throughout most of the movie, but the strong character development and mysteriousness makes them desperately want to know. This is something not a lot of films can effectively achieve.

Considering the film’s budget, the acting was actually decent all around (ironically, the performance that stuck out to me the least was by that of its most experienced actress). Damien Maruscak really makes us feel something towards Brad. Everyone else’s performances really play off of how their characters deal with Brad, and they are all fairly convincing. Jade Risser brings light into most of the darker scenarios, which makes the film’s conclusion tougher to deal with. While on that note, the special effects (done by Jerami Cruise) are some of the best in the business, and gorehounds will certainly find enjoyment provided they can sit tight during the slow setup.

I was very pleased with this film. Vogel brings a socially relevant drama that lays a huge surprise on us at the ending. The suspense was well laid out and all of the characters were realistic and convincing. Sure there were a few things I would have liked to have seen, such as a flashback sequence, but given the budget and resources the film was certainly effective. The film will cause you to think about topics such as war, family, and relationships, while at the same time sprinkling a suggestively supernatural horror story on top.

Planet Terror (2007)

Okay….. WHAT IS EVERYONE’S PROBLEM? Nobody ever mentions this movie as a fun film or a gory film. I’m still not grasping exactly why to be honest. Planet Terror pretty much opened Boundaries for director Robert Rodriguez. Sure… he did some graphic movies like Sin City, but Planet Terror seemed to have started an entirely new goal for his films. PT focuses more on blood and guts than anything else. It DOES have a story, but it’s so typical that it doesn’t even go through the viewers mind because they’ve heard it so many times. This film was released in theaters nationwide in a double feature called “Grindhouse”, featuring PT, Death Proof, and various(hilarious) fake old school trailers.

Most people believe that Death Proof is more stylish and is all-together a better film than Planet Terror. If you have a taste like me, don’t listen to any of these people. I have tried NUMEROUS times to watch Death Proof and I still haven’t gotten an hour through. Am I Anti-Tarantino? No, but does he have to clean up his little indie-act? YES. Although i find many of Quentin Tarantino’s films fun and entertaining, he’s still stuck in the independent world. He wants his movies to look low-budget and stylish, but Tarantino’s just too famous to do so. I can honestly say that Pulp Fiction was an INCREDIBLY well-written film and both Kill Bill movies were pretty entertaining. Inglorious Basterds was pretty cool as well. I just think Robert Rodriguez took advantage of his money better.

Rodriguez doesn’t seem to care how cheap his film looks. He doesn’t seem to go for anything like that. With Planet Terror, Robert Rodriguez used the money that the Weinsteins gave him and PUT IT ALL ON THE SCREEN. That’s what he was always known for… getting his money’s worth. Planet Terror is loaded with explosions and outrageous gore effects around every corner. One of the most hilarious things about the Grindhouse double feature, is that Death Proof is shot on 35mm and at some parts doesn’t have the grindhouse “messy-look”, but Planet Terror is shot on Digital Video(according to IMDb) and it still looks like the film survived a nuclear apocalypse. Don’t get me wrong, these two fun flicks from this generation’s biggest directors would make a great party for movie-goers, but I honestly believe that Planet Terror was much more attention-grabbing and had more of what the audience was looking for when they saw the trailer for the double feature.

Just recently a blu-ray of both came out for 30 bucks, limited edition. YES, that’s probably the best idea…. but my PT Blu-Ray I got for 10 bucks at Best Buy and it’s the only one I’ll ever watch anyway. This movie goes great viewed with RR’s Machete, which has yet to come out on DVD or blu-ray. The only difference is that Machete is a much smarter-humored and well-made film than this… as I’d call Planet Terror “The straight to video version of Machete”. If you’re a fan of gore and fun, or even just a fan of classic science fiction, Robert Rodriguez’s Planet terror is the flick for you. IMDb & trailer

Max Hey, 11/01/10

Ghost Son (2007)

Director: Lamberto Bava

Writer: Lamberto Bava, Silvia Ranfagni

Cast: Laura Harring, John Hannah, Pete Postlethwaite, Coralina Cataldi-Tassoni

IMDB

Trailer

Review:
A few years ago I had the awesome chance to go to the Cinema Wasteland convention in Cleveland and meet director Lamberto Bava and actress Coralina Cataldi-Tassoni. These two have made a lot of great films in their time, and a few of them they’ve made together. Unfortunately, while Ghost Son is one of those films they made together, it’s not a great one. As is often the case, Coralina is relegated to a supporting role here. The lead actress of the film is Laura Harring. While this may come as a surprise to some, given her popularity after her breakout in Lynch’s Mulholland Drive, it seems Laura has a soft spot for horror pictures. She has appeared in such gene projects as Silent Night Deadly Night III: Better Watch Out!, Willard, and All Souls Day: Dia de los Muertos. Supporting Laura in the film are actos John Hannah (The Mummy Remake Series), Pete Postlewaite (Ususal Suspects, Alien 3), and Laura Harring’s giant breasts.

The film’s plot concerns Stacey (Laura Harring) moving to Africa to be with her boyfriend Mark (John Hannah) against the urging of her best friend Beth (Coralina). Sadly, in what can only be considered really shitty timing, Mark is killed in a car accident not long after Stacey arrives. She then becomes haunted by Mark’s ghost. He tries to get her to commit suicide, and even rapes her one night; Nice. Soon Stacey finds out she’s pregnant and gives birth to a little boy, only to be really creepily freaked out when Mark possesses their baby and tries to mack on her; Icky. Things get even creepier and weirder from there.

Now, this film is not very good. Don’t get me wrong; the cast is excellent and Bava’s cinematic eye is as sharp as always. The big problem here is that nothing really unpredictable or horrifying happens until the fifty minute mark. By then, if it wasn’t for Ms. Harring’s knockers, I’d be fighting to stay awake. Once the baby becomes possessed by Mark’s ghost, things finally kick in and we’re treated to some really weird and creepy shit. Unfortunately, the films climax is also a bit of a letdown, and is simply underwhelming. The film does benefit greatly though by being shot and set in Africa. This adds a really different vibe to the proceedings and, in my opinion, is an underused setting for genre films in general.

So, while this may be one of Bava’s weaker efforts (mostly due to the uneven script), it’s still worth checking out for fans of Bava, Coralina, or the hot Laura Harring. Even considering the problems here, I’m just happy it’s not a fall from grace for Bava of recent Romero proportions. Check it out.

Noah “annubis44″ Soudrette

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