WARNING: THIS BLOG CONTAINS BODYCOUNT, THUS A HIGH RISK OF SPOILERS. ENTER IF YOU DARE.

Monday, December 22, 2014

Radio Plays of The Devil: Satanic Attraction (1990)

Satanic Attraction (Atração Satânica) (Brazil, 1990)
Rating: ***
Starring: Ênio Gonçalves, Gabriela Toscano, André Loureiro

(A special shout out to luigihotpitagradecimentos para os filmes raros!)

On a sunny coast in Brazil, Fernanda, a young, hot DJ, is hosting her own horror story over the radio about a killer terrorizing the streets for girls to hunt down. With each chapter written and aired daily, Fernanda's listeners are divided between captivated fans and those who are horrified by the tale's graphic nature, but little do they know, the story's about to get frighteningly real; coincidentally, whenever Fernanda tells her story of dismemberment and blood draining, a real killer follows the story's plot so eerily that the local cops began to suspect something is out of the ordinary and they're keeping a real close eye on our radio hostess.

However, Fernanda's is as frightened and disturbed about this fact, even more when she began to see visions of a reanimated corpse, the supposed sibling of the killer from her stories. Nevertheless, she continues with the story under the demands of her boss and the bloodbath continues, followed by a chain of possible suspects not limited to Fernanda's sailor friend, an antique shop owner (who keeps a pet panther!), and a random girl who appears to be in a trance.

All of this is just the first half of this near 100 minute long slasher whodunit, director Fauzi Mansur envisioned a serious tone to this story only to have an end product that's gorily good but a tad confusing at times.

For the record, I enjoyed this Brazilian hackathon a lot more than the last title I covered from that country; with an ethnic look at the classic Satanist cult sub-genre thrown in the mix, Satanic Attraction could h ad done more with its supernatural elements as plenty of questions surrounding how our DJ heroine was able to envision the killer's every move were failed to be answered. In fact, considering the twist reveal on who our killer is was done halfway in its lengthy running time, the film raised more head-scratchers than answer them as more twists came about and motivations gets blurred, cleared, and then blurred again.

Nevertheless, Satanic Attraction is still pretty entertaining; to market this film to English-speaking viewers, the producers hired amateur voice actors to dub this film, resulting to wooden performances that some will find mind-shattering, while others will find it funny. I am among those that find it slightly funny. The pacing is never boring and moves along quite tolerably despite the lack of any action in its middle portions, and I can see that some money was spent to ensure this film has quality.

And of course, let's not forget the very heart and blood of a slasher movie, the gore; seeing Mansur also directed another Brazilian slasher in 1989 titled The Ritual of Death, its was observable that he at least have some eye on good, gooey, exploitative gore. When not chasing girls across the sandy beach in broad daylight or sneaking into their hot tubs to put razors in their bath soaps, our killer boasts some crazy kills like an effectively messy double impaling, pickaxing, and a visceral killing spree that might also be the best scene in the entire film.

Everything ends predictably and never bothered answering any of the important details; still, I'm not saying I didn't have fun with this. To be frank, I'm going to check out Mansur's apparently gorier Ritual if I ever get my hands on it. As of this movie, I'm gonna say Satanic Attraction deserves a look. Not for the story or the scares, but more of something to mindlessly entertain yourself given you're the kind of person who can tolerate B-Grade cheapiness.

Bodycount:
1 female stabbed on the back with swords, dismembered
1 female hacked on the head with a cleaver
1 male and 1 female skewered with a spear
1 male found murdered, feet cut off
1 male and 1 female poisoned
1 male slashed by the eyes with a sword
1 female disemboweled with a scimitar
1 female beheaded with a scimitar
1 male ran through with a scimitar
1 female stabbed with a harpoon
1 female strangled
1 male hacked with a pickaxe
1 male shot to death
Total: 15

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Strangle This and Strangle That: Shock- Diversao Diabolica (1984)

Shock: Diversao Diabolica (Brazil, 1984)
Rating: **
Starring: Jurandir Abreu, Claudia Alencar, Elias Andreato

It was often said that some things are best left alone; take Night of the Dribbler for example, a supposed sports-themed spoof on the slasher sub-genre that spent its time trying to be funny and forgets the slasher part almost through-out the movie. It wasn't clever. It wasn't exciting. It was not even so effin bad it was good, and some (if not most) of those slasher fanatics who begged for the film to be released were quick to wash their hands and hoped that sonovabitch gets shelved back.

Now, am I saying Shock should fall into a similar fate? Honestly, I can't really tell: everybody was speaking in Portuguese!

Shock-Diversao Diabolica is a rarity for reasons that it was never released with dubs or subtitles and for that, reviewing this movie proves to be a challenge. Luckily there are a few horror enthusiasts out there who reviewed this film and cleared enough plot points for me to follow the film without getting lost. (Much)

The film follows a rock band who decided to haul up one night inside a house while waiting for their instruments, apparently delayed due to some issues with whoever was transporting them. As any hot and young teenager/young adult couples would do in this predicament, we spent a good near-20 minutes watching them (graphically) make love while the scene jumps back and forth to some people in a club. And seeing this is a slasher movie, the band soon realize that they are not alone and someone donning heavy black boots is strangling and garroting them dead, one by one.

With six victims and sixty minutes to spare after the first murder, Shock is quick to show that it wasn't only influenced by American slashers. Normally in a movie of this kind, these characters would be running out doing dumb things that would get them killed but in here, the would-be murder victims decided to confine themselves in a room while one of them went out to get the cops. hey then spent most of their time discussing who could be out killing band members at the time and a couple of other things I didn't quite catch since, again, it's in Portuguese.

Interestingly, its not just the victims that broke the slasher cliches; the sex=death formulation is tweaked with an interest in breaking the norms, as one female character rejects her boyfriend's sex is natural talk and would have been our virginal final girl, only to unsuccessfully seduce him and, of course, gets killed off as an early victim. In turn, the villain out for prowl does not act like quite a crazed maniac but, instead, he is methodic and patient enough to make himself a sandwich, smoke a joint he found on the floor (eww) and play the drums tunelessly in hopes of driving the kids out. (And it worked!) We never get to see his face, just his hands and boots, so the enigmatic nature of the killer is always a plus in my book.

Sadly, there is one thing that prevents me from rating this any higher, apart that I only understood half of the conversation, and it was that the kills aren't too exciting. With the later slasher parts of the movie taking place inside an single room, we get no chase scene and each of the murders (save for a real rat getting pinned to the floor with a knife) are nothing but strangulations. Sure you can try to spice it up with slow-mo shots or an epilepsy-inducing strobe light effect, but in the end, a slasher movie needs blood. Or at least a creative variation to the killings, like the automated noose from Argento's Trauma!

Watching Shock wasn't a bad experience as a whole, but rather it was just a little odd. The ending of the film was quite nice and I can say that the film's director, Jair Correia, was aiming for something more intellectual than your average hack-a-thon, but with a lack of thrills comes a lack of attention and, in turn, a lack of distribution. It's not worth loosing any good night's sleep being tracked down but when you do have the opportunity to watch it, see it out of curiosity.

Bodycount:
1 female strangled to death
1 female hoisted by the neck, strangled
1 male garroted with a rope
1 male garroted with a rope
1 female strangled to death
1 rat pinned to the floor with a knife
1 male found murdered, body tied to a column
Total: 7

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

MY HOLIDAY WISH LIST 2014

And here we are again for another December and as a sort-of tradition for this blog, here be my Holiday wish list for this year. Please don't be weirded out by some of the entries. I am a nerd of multiple (and sometimes, unfocused) interest!

1. Movies (Some titles I wanna see right now...but can't cuz i have to wait due to legal reasons): 

a. Billy Club (2014)
b. Don't Go To The Reunion (2014)
c. Charlie's Farm (2015)
d. The Drownsman (2014)
e. Cub (2014)
f. Among The Living (France, 2014)
f. Jurassic World (2015) *squeee!*

2. Toys and Collectibles (You don't stop playing when you grow old, you grow old when you stop playing! ripped from Emgo the freakin' Geek)

a. Transformers Generations Deluxe Windblade
b. G1 Transformers Wheelie
c. Transformers Generations Unicron
d. Beast Wars Silverbolt
e. G1 Transformers Megatron
f. Monster High Robecca Steam
g. Either an Emmet or a Princess Unikitty LEGO mini-figure
h. Puppetmaster Six-Shooter replica

3. Books and Comics (Some reads to pass the time.):

a. I Know What You Did Last Supper by Wayne Williams and Darren Allan
b. Mammoth Book of Slasher Movies by Peter Normanton
c. Zombie Movies: The Ultimate Guide by Glenn Kay
d. Lenore The Cute Little Dead Girl by Roman Dirge (any of the Trade paperback)
e. Slashermania by Russell Hillman and Ron Joseph
f. Sabrina Online: A Decade of Black and White by Eric W. Shwartz
g. Draw More Furries by Jared Hodges and Lindsay Cibos
h. Teenage Wasteland/The Slasher Movie Book by Justine Kerswell (why do you evade me, book?!)

4. Miscellaneous (other etc.)

 Either a pet hedgehog or a ferret.

 I'll name the hedgehog, Prickles

and the ferret, Frankenfurter

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Gun Fights, Car Chases, Proper Action and Shit: Hot Fuzz (2007)

Hot Fuzz (United Kingdom, 2007) (AKA "Blue Fury", "Raging Fuzz")
Rating: ****1/2
Starring: Simon Pegg, Nick Frost, Martin Freeman

Police Constable Nicholas Angel: born and schooled in London, graduated Canterbury University in 1993 with a double first in Politics and Sociology. Attended Hendon College of Police Training. Displayed great aptitude in field exercises, notably Urban Pacification and Riot Control. Academically excelled in theoretical course work and final year examinations. Received a Baton of Honour, graduated with distinction into the Metropolitan Police Service and quickly established an effectiveness and popularity within the community. Proceeded to improve skill base with courses in advanced driving... and advanced cycling. He became heavily involved in a number of extra-vocational activities and to this day, he holds the Met record for the hundred metre dash. In 2001, he began active duty with the renowned SO19 Armed Response Unit and received a Bravery Award for efforts in the resolution of Operation Crackdown. In the last twelve months, he has received nine special commendations, achieved highest arrest record for any officer in the Met and sustained three injuries in the line of duty, most recently in December when wounded by a man dressed as Father Christmas.

Long story short: he's effin GOOD.

Or maybe too good; some time after said Father Christmas had stuck a switchblade through his palm, Nicholas was called into office only to find out, not only was he promoted to a Sergeant, but he's also being transferred to the small and sleepy town of Sandford for reasons that he's simply made everybody else look bad in comparison. With the entire station seemingly rooting for him to move out, Nicholas had no other choice but to begrudgingly comply.

Upon the first night around town, he showed his iron will to uphold the law on anybody that breaks it by shoving four underage drinkers and an overweight simpleton named Danny to the station, much to the distaste of the locals. Things isn't going any better for Nicholas at this point when he finds out that Danny is a cop once he sobers up and will be his partner the moment he settled in.

While trying to get used to the idea of showing up in demonstration classes for gun safety, herding lost swans, and attending terribly acted stage productions of Romeo and Juliet (with the only well acted part was the kiss), Nicholas never expected a sudden turn to this predicament: the night after said Romeo and Juliet play had its run, two of its main actors was savagely decapitated by an individual in a hood and cloak. The bodies were later set up in the middle of a road, made to look like as if the two had a driving accident. Almost everybody easily dismissed this as such. Almost Everybody.

Believing there's more behind the incident than a mere freak death, Nicholas Angel began to suspect a possible serial killing when more of these accidents began popping up here and there and has no other choice but to trust and team up with his witless yet enthusiastic partner to stop the culprit in time before more bodies turned up decimated and mutilated.

Yeah, I'm positive this isn't a slasher film in the strictest sense but more or less a hybrid of sorts; for those who hadn't seen this magnificent outing from two of my most favored comedians, Hot Fuzz is the second film of director Edgar Wright's Cornetto Trilogy, beginning with 2005's Rom-Com-Zom Shaun of The Dead and ending with 2013's scifi opus The World's End, each film starring comedians Simon Pegg and Nick Frost as buddies in a comedic parody of a particular movie sub-genre (Zombies at Shaun, aliens in End), with a flavored Cornetto cone linking each entry. In Fuzz, it parodies actions flicks, particularly cop movies such as Lethal Weapon and Bad Boys II, with a bit of Italian giallo thrown into the melting pot as suggested with its murder-mystery angle and it's black garbed killer.

As one would expect from a parody comedy, double takes, bad puns and tons of visual gags are ever present in this movie but the noteworthy take in this is that the entire movie itself never resembles a parody. The plot is solid and original enough despite the number of influences, thanks to a well handled direction, pacing, timing and acting that guarantees more hits than misses with it's jokes. (Remember how the dead pan attitude-meets-cartoonishly outrageous scenario of the Naked Gun series sat well enough to keep the films entertaining? Everybody in this movie nailed it!) So despite the near two hour running time, let it not fool you as once you get into the zone, the film'll move fluidly and keep you entertain with enough gags, character developments and thrills til' the heavily edited closing scene that's so awesome the editor's head exploded! As suggested in the pop-ups! You gotta love pop-ups! 

So what's in it for us bodycounters? Well, as I will repeat, this isn't your classic slasher film set-up, but comparing this to the duo's previous horror-comedy, the gore is awfully chunkier and brighter in red. Without spoiling much of the fun, the build-up to these murders are superb and some of the aftermaths will leave you gawking in awe, hyped up for the action scenes that follows, or chuckling at the odd funnies the characters will spat at the moment. If I could compare the story's flow with others, I would say the latter bit of the movie reminds me of the tone direction of the Stallone-starring Cobra (1986), an action-slasher hybrid that started off bodycounting helpless victims before switching to a more high-octane shootout/ brawl-out finale. If you love a good gun fight with your gory murder mysteries then the Fuzz is your haven!

Gun Fights, Car Chases, Proper Action and Shit are wholesomely promised and granted here in Hot Fuzz, so may you be an individual of wide taste or a curious horror fanatic, make no mistake of missing out this film. I would go as far as calling this the most entertaining ( if not the best) of Wright, Frost and Pegg's Cornetto Trilogy, though I worship each film individually, but nonetheless, there's plenty of good reasons why many are labeling this as one of the best action flicks to ever existed. Ever! Dial 911 and get ready to say Here Comes The Fuzz!

Bodycount:
1 male and 1 female decafinated with an axe
1 male incinerated in house explosion
1 male had his head crushed through by a falling church steeple
1 female stabbed through the throat with a pair of garden shears
1 female skeleton found
1 male skeleton found
1 boy skeleton found
1 dog skeleton found
4 boys found murdered
1 elderly male found with head wound
1 male found with throat cut
1 male skeleton found
1 male Living Statue found dead
1 male decimated by an exploding sea mine
Total: 18
At least, I think he's dead...

Sunday, November 23, 2014

A Family that Fails Together: Blood Ranch (2006)

Blood Ranch (2006)
Rating: 1/2
Starring:  Jim Fitzpatrick, Dayton Knoll, Scott L. Schwartz

Wow, where do I even begin?

Ever wondered what it would be like if Rob Zombie never had the directorial prowess used to create the cult classic House of 1000 Corpses? Like what if he's just some wannabe horror fan living off the mediocre pay he gets from working at a local mom and pop store and then decided to finally do it and shoot a horror film with a bunch of friends, with literally no idea how to do one in the first place? Well, look no further (like, really don't!) Blood Ranch will show you exactly how House of 1000 Corpses was as a vile DIY "film".

A group of friends and a hitchhiker they picked up were headed to the Burning Man festival when they nearly ran over a bloodily beaten girl whilst taking a shortcut. Deciding to help her out, they let her in and inevitably mark themselves as targets to whoever did this to her, which is made more than obvious when a black van tries to ran them off a road. Now with their car broken, half of these kids ventures to a nearby ranch where they quickly learn that everybody living there is a lunatic. Cue in the other half of the group coming in to save their friends, who may or may not fall prey to an army of Sawyer/Firefly clan rejects, some random people being killed by other random people, and something about raping someone for the sake of the clan.

As wild and sinister as it sounds, this is as exciting as it could get; as a movie, Blood Ranch suffers from having too many characters to the point we really have no idea what to do with them; while it seems to have some primary characters that the movie focuses on, they're dull and cheesily ripped off from other horror generics, painfully done away with some equally cheesy acting that isn't even "bad-is-good" funny. There's nothing imaginative or new in this, just maniacs being maniacs, killing off people they had stored in their ranch and most of these aren't even our star teenagers! In fact, I can count by finger all those who was killed off from the main group and the monumental bodycount was just boosted up by dead/murdered guys who's there just for the sake of being there.

This is hardly a movie for any known sense, may it be a slasher, a thriller, a torture porn or even an expressive art! No, this is just a film that exists cuz the director tried too hard to impress, shock and/or upsets us, but forgets everything else that matters in an entertaining garbage that is a horror movie. Oh yeah, I'm upset alright! Upset that this shit even existed! But, as strange as it will always be, things like this always find a way to get someone to appreciate it but I'm dang sure those who will are just going through a phase. (I remember loving Fear: Resurrection or Pinocchio's Revenge as a kid, only to find out how disappointingly bad they were as I rewatch them as an adult)

With no redeemable factors, may it be the production, the acting, the gore, the scare, the kill variations, and, well, everything about this actually, Blood Ranch is a movie best buried in storage along with other unsold/ least rentable/ discount bin worthy titles out there. Sometimes you just have to wonder, who would even fund this?!

Bodycount:
1 male corpse found
1 male found knifed on the back
1 female gets a throat cut with a knife
2 males beaten to death
1 female had an arm cut off with a chainsaw, murdered
1 male dismembered with a chainsaw
1 male gets a broken neck
1 male knifed on the back
1 male shot on the face
1 female found murdered
1 male shot on the back
1 male stabbed on the gut with a machete
Total: 13

Saturday, November 22, 2014

To Mock a Killing Bird: Shadows of The Mind (1980)

Shadows of the Mind (1980) (AKA "A Heritage of Blood")
Rating: **1/2
Starring:  Marion Joyce, Erik Rolfe, G.E. Barrymore

As a child, Elise witnessed her father and stepmother drown while boating on a nearby lake. Feeling guilty that she couldn't save them from their fates, she's been institutionalized since until twelve years later, her doctor decided she's ready to return to the outside world. Alone and unsure of her own recovery, Elise returns to her old family estate and not too long, her estranged stepbrother stops by to check up on her, somewhat resulting to a string of various murders.

Coming from Roger Watkins, the same man who sat on the director's chair of Last House on Dead End Street (Though using the pen name Bernard Travis here to hide himself from his own shame), Shadows is a rare, out-of-print whodunit that suffered through a lot of unsatisfying production, so much that Watkins once tried making a flick showing the stress he endured for this film. True enough, for a movie with a short running time (75 minutes), it took 40 long, terribly acted and oddly edited minutes before the ball got rolling, leading to a fiery yet predictable twist ending that you may or may not had seen coming. (Depends on how well you know this sub-genre)

To be fair, least on my own experience, it wasn't all that bad; while the pacing is a problem, the latter half of the film sat fair with me. Perhaps I was patient at the time, the odd acting didn't bother me much and the gothic take on the bodycounting was an added treat. It was atmospheric for most of the time and the murders come off brutal even though they're low in count. By the time the big reveal was shown, it had this cheesy look to it that was simply okay.

I'm not gonna try hard to squeeze out reasons for anybody to sought this film, the truth is Shadows of the Mind had good reasons why it is so obscure.  It's close to being dull and uninspired but there are a lot more early 80s slashers out there that did worse than this. It's moody, considerably bloody and its rarity is a good ringer for collectors of rare and out-of-print trash. See it out of curiosity.

Bodycount:
1 male gets a scythe through his neck
1 male stabbed on the eye with a corkscrew
1 female repeatedly knifed, set on fire
1 male and 1 female beaten with an oar, drowned
Total: 5