Friday, July 20, 2018

Welcome to Willits (2016) 1h 24m

Meth, not even twice!
I think I can sum up my entire intro and general thoughts on this film with a single picture.  I'm very much a "do what you want" type of person, so long as you aren't hurting yourself or someone else, but there are many moments during this film where I wanted to just kind of reach over and say "maybe you've had enough."  Either way, that image to the right sums up everything:

Set in Northern California, a group of youths are heading out on a camping trip in the area of Willits.  They acquire a burnt out Rory Culkin from a gas station and find themselves set up not far from a cabin with a grow operation.  Unluckily for them, it also contains two people that have such chemical filled brains that one believes he was abducted by aliens and he assumes almost anyone he sees is one of them returning for him.

Once you realize the true horror here is chemical dependency and abuse this film isn't really that great.  I was on board when the party added Mr. Culkin, and even the over the top cop TV show (starring Dolph Lundgren) they kept showing would break things up in a fun way, but I don't know if Welcome to Willits was trying to be funny or scary or what?

This feels like the kind of movie that someone in middle school would be into, only to reach adulthood and deny that they ever liked it.  This film is to that person as Coal Chamber is to me.  Only I'm in my 30's and you can't prove I ever owned any Coal Chamber merch or CDs as all of that evidence has been disposed of... I mean, if there ever was any evidence, which there never was!

I give Welcome to Willits 1 copy of My Sexy Alien Girlfriend out of 5:

Thursday, July 19, 2018

Ladronas de Almas (2015) 1h 28m

I know nothing about the war for Mexican independence, so I can only take this film as  documentarian fact!  With that in mind, here's my sum up of how Mexico won its independence:  Sisters that use ancient magick killed the Spanish with zombies of their own men.  They then used the treasure of gigantic coins that are the size of my head to establish a government and make a rad flag with an eagle giving no fucks as it sits on a cactus and devours a snake.  I someday dream we will have a flag that cool.  Way to lame it out, Betsy Ross!

I gave a bunch away there, but Ladronas de Almas takes place on a villa in Mexico.  A group of shady men claiming to be rebels roll up and ask for shelter when in truth they're looking for the lost treasure that was carried by missing Spanish soldiers.  When men start vanishing these "rebels" show their true colors only to have to fight off some pretty badass sisters and zombies of dead generals.

This film is a series of peaks and valleys for me.  The overall story was interesting enough to keep me present in the film, but there is an over abundance of time spent focusing on the faux rebels.  I would have liked to have seen a bit more about the sisters and their magick practice.  Maybe they were playing it safe so that when the intensity of the sisters is revealed it hits harder, in which case I have no room to complain because they come out swinging when the turn happens.

The zombies in this film are a good mix of the Haitian vodou zombie and the standard horror film zombie.  We have a creature that maintains some sense of identity and reasoning all while being a reanimated corpse.  You don't see a zombie throwing counters and blocks too often on celluloid so it was a good switch-up.  All in all, if you're tired of the zombie wave that crashed long ago, then this isn't for you.  If you want something a little bit different, and don't mind subtitles, give this a shot.

I give Ladronas de Almas 2.5 maps of Mexico out of 5:

Wednesday, July 18, 2018

The Maus (2017) 1h 30m

War is a horror unto itself.  The entire concept seems so foreign to a lot of us because we never served in the military and the last real war or battle fought on U.S. soil was the Civil War (with the exception of maybe Pearl Harbor).  Yet there are countries that are at war or face some form of occupation currently and their daily lives are horror, or have been horror.  PTSD, a lack of people able to trust individuals, or just the existence of misanthropy and entropy when it comes to life... it's a horror that we hope to never see.

The Maus takes us to post-war Bosnia (although this film is from Spain).  A woman and her German boyfriend returned to the country because the bodies of her parents were finally found in a mass grave and she wanted to give them a proper burial.  While en route to their flight the SUV ends up in a mine crater and unable to continue.  Two Serbs come up behind our couple while they walk on the path to get help.  Ignoring the warning the Serbs are yelling about danger ahead, the couple's dog sets off a land mine and the woman is caught in the blast.  This is where we get our first dream sequence which may be more of a premonition of dangers to come.

There's a supernatural horror element in The Maus that becomes the focus for a short time.  It's mostly used as a deus ex machina but I wish it didn't exist at all.  There is a much more visceral horror present here with the constant questioning of trust and safety, prejudice existing from growing up in a war torn area, and the dream sequences which create these incredibly uncomfortable feelings within the viewer. I think that this film makes those moments much more frightening than a supernatural being ever could.

I do have to nitpick a few things, just because they bugged me and killed my immersion in the film.  First, when the couple is walking they come across a jeep and the boyfriend finds a walkie talkie in the bag, all the while completely ignoring the gigantic CB antenna on the top of the jeep!  Use that to call for help you dolt!  Second, when we finally see the demon it looks like Gray Fox from Metal Gear Solid, just in earth tones.  It's not a bad design, but it made me more hyped for Metal Gear at that moment than this film.

All in all The Maus isn't bad, but I don't feel like it falls under horror.  Yes, I've spent most of this talking about real life physical and personal psychological horror but if I had to classify it in horror I'd say it's a dramatic horror film.  That feels awkward to say though as drama and horror don't tend to overlap but this isn't a thriller.  The real villain here is just humanity being opportunistic and shitty.

I give The Maus 3 MGS Gray Foxes out of 5:

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Extraordinary Tales (2013) 1h 13m

I don't think Edgar Allan Poe will ever go out of style with horror fans, or goth people.  Especially teenage goths.  I wasn't even goth and I read a bunch of Poe in middle school.  I think that was much more of one of those "I don't feel like I really fit in" times and thus I went for what I learned from TV.  This was also when the AOL was just starting, so it's not like I had access to Poppy Z. Brite info or knew who the fuck Bauhaus were, but that's enough about me!  Let's talk about...

Extraordinary Tales is an animated collection of five different works by Poe.  The first is The Fall of the House of Usher that's done in a style that I can only describe as a cut scene in an indie game.  Follow that with The Tell Tale Heart resembling the black and white Frank Miller comic Sin City.  Up third is The Facts in the Case of Dr. M. Valdemar which looks like it's taken straight from the pages of EC horror comics.  Next on deck is The Pit and the Pendulum which reminds me of the 2000's Prince of Persia games.  Finally, on clean-up is The Masque of the Red Death which is a combination of pastel or oil art mixed with computer animation.

I'm 100% recommending this film.  Not only is each one linked with extra animated scenes, but you have the voice talents of Christopher Lee, Guillermo del Toro, and a recording of Bela Lugosi running narration.  The highlight of this collection would have to be The Masque of the Red Death where it's told almost entirely with visuals.  I am giving an additional shout out to The Facts in the Case... because they drew Mr. Carmichael as Vincent Price, which is a holler back to 1962's Tales of Terror where Vincent Price played Valdemar.  It's a hell of a reference pull that only a few might get and I have to give extra props for that.

I give Extraordinary Tales 5 weird caricatures of Poe from some iTunes playlist out of 5:

Monday, July 16, 2018

All the Boys Love Mandy Lane (2006) 1h 30m

The title of this is kind of misleading.  The boys don't really "love" Mandy Lane, but that sounds better than "All the Boys Think With Their Dicks and Objectify Mandy Lane As Some Sort of Reverse Sword in the Stone, Where the Swords are their Dicks and the Stone Is Her Lady Parts."  Fuckin' teenage boys are gross.  I feel shame that I was ever a teenage male, and I don't even like women!  They have cooties!

All the Boys Love Mandy Lane focuses around (surprise surprise) Mandy Lane!  When her best friend (at the time) convinces the biggest of jocks that to woo Mandy he must drunkenly jump from the roof of his house into the pool, things don't quite work out that way.  One massive head trauma and a year later finds their friendship a thing of the past, and Mandy's current friends are inviting her to a farmhouse for a end of junior year party.  En route to the party, every male that isn't around Mandy at the time makes their intention known that they want to attempt to parade their dick through her thorofare.  At least, those are the plans until people start dying.

Straight up (now tell me) this movie is awful.  It's filler in the sense that (I assume) this studio had space to crap something out and we got this.  If this film were a bit older it would've been straight to VHS with a cover that would be a million times cooler than this movie could ever hope to be.  The plot is incredibly generic and predictable.  It's a b-movie with a budget and because of that it suffers the fate of looking nice while suffering greatly on content.

Most of these actors look like if they showed up for a high school junior class then the cops would be called on them.  What's even worse is that at the party in the beginning of the film, for the end of the sophomore year, the jock guy looks like he's someone's fucking dad!  This movie should be called  "Hello, Child Protective Services?  A group of adults are creeping in our high school and all the men seem like they're potential rapists!"  Fuckin' trash flavored trash!

I give All the Boys Love Mandy Lane 0 Mandy Ln street signs out of 5:

Saturday, July 14, 2018

The Return of Swamp Thing 2-Disc + Extras (MVD)

When I was a kid I used to watch the Swamp Thing TV show all the time.  So when I received a copy of The Return of Swamp thing from MVD, words can not describe how hyped I was to do a write-up about it!  So thank you MVD for not only putting this out but hooking me up with a copy for review.

While this is a sequel to the original Wes Craven (yes, Wes fucking Craven) film, The Return of Swamp thing moves away from its horror foundation and well into the realm of camp. It toes that line of crossing over into Troma-esq territory but luckily there are some amazing costumes and make-up for all of the un-men as well as Swamp Thing and no gratuitous boobs.  Don't get me wrong, Arcane does have a lot of one-piece bikini clad women with guns guarding his house, but I guess that's what you did in the swamps back then?  I don't know, I can't justify it.

The plot is pretty simple:  Arcane is trying to find a way to live forever and create Dr. Moreau style un-men.  Swamp Thing wants to stop him.  Heather Locklear comes to visit her step-father (Arcane) and speak mostly in terrible jokes.  Yet, when you bring all of this together it makes a fun film.  My only complaint are the scenes with the children which were actually added to the script by the director after the script was finished.  They do break up the flow of the film a bit.  Also, the weird psychic sex scene between Swamp Thing and Heather is really awkward to be privy to.

The extras on this disc are relatively standard.  You have your commentary tracks as well as interviews with the director, producer, editor, and score composer.  Unfortunately Swamp Thing's Dick Durock passed away a few years ago so he wasn't able to add anything to this disc.  The big thing in the extra are the two TV spots that I absolutely forgot existed.  These are anti-littering ads where the two boys from the film mumble through something about a cup floating in the swamp and Swamp Thing comes out, talks about how long it takes plastic to break down, and then thumbs up.  The second is a shorter version of the first (since the first is close to two minutes long) but they are both art in their own floundering way.

So that's The Return of Swamp Thing 2-Disc set from MVD.  I say thank you again to MVD for re-releasing this as I forgot about my love for the TV show this film spawned.  If you're a fan of campy Kaiju Big Battle-esq films then pick this one up!  You can get pick it up from Amazon right now for about $20 and if you click that link and order from it then you'll help out this site as well.

Friday, July 13, 2018

Daemonium: Soldier of the Underworld (2015) 2h

FUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUU! If there's one thing I love it's over the top Japanese horror.  It's strange then that this film comes to us from Argentina because if you switched out the Spanish for Japanese then I would have assumed this was 100% Japan A-Number-One!  Most of my notes for this movie start with "HOLY FUCK" or "OH SHIT" and then end in exclamation points, so let's get into it.

Daemonium: Soldier of the Underworld is a mix of the supernatural and modern-apocalyptic cyberpunk.  That's a lot to take in, but trust me, that's the only way I can describe it.  A wizard is hired by some military operation to summon a demon in order to make a trade for power.  The wizard does it but the leader of the group chose not to follow the instructions he was given.  This leads to the demon (looking like a mix between Mumra and the offspring of Darth Maul and a sand person) killing almost everyone, but making a deal with one survivor named Razor.  Razor becomes a powerful man but has four bodyguards created in order to protect him from the return of the Demon to collect Razor's life.  The wizard is being hunted, Razor is a military tyrant, and demons are controlled by humans with sick shit like gatling guns for arms.

This movie has everything!  Great make-up so that each of the demons on screen is different, katana fights, Japanese rope bondage, school girl outfits, and a final fight straight out of a manga with rad dive kicks and Ora! Ora! Ora! punches!  The costuming varies from Shadowrun to Colonial America and everything in between.  I've never had two hours fly by as fast as they did with this film and I would've wasted another hour taking everything this film had to give.

The plot is a bit of a loose thread.  It could easily unravel the whole thing but luckily no one pulls on it so we still get a cohesive story.  Besides, when you're watching people explode and sick fight scenes then it doesn't matter!

 I give Daemonium: Soldier of the Underworld 5 Gendo Ikari's out of 5: