Monday, September 1, 2014

The One Boll Didn't Direct: Seed 2: The New Breed (2014)

Seed 2: The New Breed (US/Canada, 2014) (AKA "Blood Valley: Seed's Revenge")
Rating: **
Starring: Natalie Scheetz, Nick Principe, Caroline Williams

Why on Earth would anyone be interested in doing this? I mean come on, did Uwe Boll's film Seed really needed a follow-up? With almost little to no horror junkies out there supporting that movie, where is the point of marketing a franchise surrounding a film so utterly unlikable and pathetic even for a trashy horror film?

I guess if someone else would direct it, the film could work, so let's all thank the gods then that this was the case; Boll only acted as the producer for Seed 2: The New Breed and handed the directorial job to Marcel Walz, a German director who apparently had done a lot of horror films which I've never seen or heard of before. (Not that I'm ashamed of that fact. I do have a life outside horror!)

Here, we follow four bachelorettes driving through the dessert after their party last night but only to meet some strange fellows along the way before being stranded due to a dead engine. Around this time, a mysterious police woman offered her help to them but unknown to the girls, she's simply leading them to meet a good friend of hers: Max Seed, the star murderer of our prior movie.

I will say that the only good thing these Seed films seem to do is that they come up with some pretty shocking (and sometimes disturbing) scenes; the first did this by showing us real black-and-white footages of a fox hunters abusing and skinning foxes alive, had a part where a baby is starved to death and, perhaps its most notorious, show us a lengthy scene where a chair-tied woman was bludgeoned to death with a hammer. (which is, as unflinchingly mean-spirited it is, done away in CG) Sadly, as shocking as these scenes are, the empty plot vouched nothing for the first movie, making it a rather pointless bodycounter which sole purpose is to upset us blood, gore and violence. Seed 2 is nothing different; it's still a messy, plotless dreck that seems to be a mix of 2003's The Texas Chainsaw Massacre and 2006's The Hills Have Eyes reboots, only it does the tension play a little better and it's hardly boring.

Perhaps the interesting bit about Seed 2 is that it had taken a non-linear plot flow similar to Tarantino's classic crime thriller Pulp Fiction, where, starting from the second act, scenes are jumbled as we see victims killed, injured or left alive in one moment but seen later otherwise. It's like a huge puzzle where we get to piece things together and once we do...uh,well not much really.

As mentioned before, Seed 2 is still generically plotless, with its gimmicky time-jump story-telling the only thing that made the tension working for it. It's no different from the other misogynistic new age slasher/torture porn hybrids out there, with a "big" reveal that, while it ties this film with the first, isn't really all that amazing. (Honestly, the movie could still function without this twist) There's grit in its kills and torture awaits for each victim (thanks to the effects work of Ryan "Gutterballs (2008)" Nicholson), but some of the elements just don't go too well. (There's some religious mumbo going on with our killers, which is strange considering there's no hint of Max Seed being a religious nut in the first.)

Not gonna lie, this is "sort-of" an improvement from the first, but I'm not too hot for this franchise yet. Maybe if they try something a little deeper without boring us to death (or, as I like to put it in my own terms, "Boll-ing it"), I might give consider another Seed movie a go. For now, Seed 2 is trash, but its a considerably watchable trash.

Bodycount: (in chronological order)
1 female had her neck crushed
1 male stabbed on the neck with a rail spike
1 male disemboweled with a kitchen knife, strangled with his own innards
1 female shot on the groin
1 female shot on the head
1 male bludgeoned with a hammer
1 female gets a broken neck
1 male throat cut with a machete
Total: 8

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Random Art Post: Today I Love...

Guardians of The Galaxy. (Especially Rocket Raccoon)
Is it Blasphemy to say I think this movie is SUPERIOR to The Avengers? Well, maybe. I'll probably get stoned for saying that but meh, I LOVE this movie! Best Marvel Movie Since the first The Amazing Spiderman!

Art (c) Mine. No Stealy Please!

Saturday, August 23, 2014

O.D. phone home: Brain Damage (1988)

Brain Damage (1988)
Rating: ****1/2
Starring: Rick Hearst, Gordon MacDonald, Jennifer Lowry

Are we to consider a movie revolving around an alien brain-eater that looks like a talking turd a slasher? Well, even in my book I'm questioning the credibility of this film to be reviewed here but nevertheless, said alien is sentient enough to know what he is doing and that's a fitting factor to a classic horror killer so, what the heck!? Least the little guy knew how to give us a splashing good time!

Written and directed by the obscure body horror aficionado Frank Henenlotter (of the Basket Case trilogy), Brain Damage starts inside a New York apartment where a middle age couple gleefully prepares some fresh animal brains for someone-or something- named Aylmer. However, they discover that whatever was supposed to be feeding on these brains had now escaped their apartment, putting the couple to a storm of a fit thrashing their place as they search for it.

One floor below them lies Brian, a young man who just recently lets go of his date since he's feeling a little under the weather. By the time he is all alone in his apartment, he suddenly went through an acid trip that sort of improved his condition and soon discovers that Aylmer, a smooth talking, John Zacherle-voiced alien slug, had just injected him on the nape with a highly-addictive blue juice that heightened Brian's senses and just chose him to be his new companion. Now hooked on the juice, Brian willingly lets Aylmer hang around and inject his strange liquid again before storming out into the streets, experiencing his own personal the light and sound show.

But all is not without its price; Aylmer eats brains to survive and the fresher it is, the better, and with Brian's addiction for the juice taking over his life, he now has no choice but to provide this alien his much preferred food source in exchange for a fix.

Not much of a slasher channeling the likes of Friday the 13th or Halloween(1978) but more of Henenlotter's own first Basket Case film only with a more outrageous yet thought-provoking plot, Brain Damage is a horror film morality tale showing the dangers of drug use and addiction. Aylmer's first conversation with Brian was one of the first few hints of this theme as the slug's inviting voice and promises of a worry-free life sounds too good to be true for something without any form of drawback, and this further escalates to a full parallel when Brian tries to withdraw from the juice, only for him to end up so distressed and twitchy that he started to see things and grows weak, physically, mentally and emotionally. It's really uneasy and the comparison works so well that, even an intellectual person might appreciate the message.

The great thing about this film is that it is not that preachy with the subject and it doesn't forget that it is still a cheesy horror movie; gore is delightfully red in true Henenlotter fashion, mixed in with a good amount of weirdness and sexual undertones that one phallic kill becomes so memorable for its unusual and unexpected nature. The city is yet again shown to be the perfect backdrop for a plot revolving around unhealthy addiction, a similar taste done for the first Basket Case film and his horror-comedy Frankenhooker. Acting is variable, which is uncommon for low budget films like this but Rick Hearst certainly did well on portraying our troubled addict, showing a range of emotions and acting from the silliest to the deeply unsettling. Of course, there's also the movie's main attraction, Aylmer, portrayed as an animatronic puppet with an impressive design and mechanism with Zacherle's voice acting that gave this creature the life and (infamous) fame he is known for around the hardcore horror community,  a quite likable character of flair despite the threat that he poses once we accept his little offer.

Perhaps the director's best horror movie by my experience and enjoyment, coming from the fact that with so little budget, he managed to pull off something this weird yet complexly deep, Brain Damage is a must see and own for not only slasher addicts who are open to accept the more curious types of maniacs out there, but also horror fanatics in general. Nothing does a good scare and a few laughs than this 80s gem, especially if you're the clean type!

1 male had his brains eaten by an alien slug
1 female had her brains eaten from her mouth by an alien slug
1 male had his brains eaten by an alien slug
1 female had her brains eaten from her mouth by an alien slug
1 female had her brains eaten by an alien slug
1 male dies from his head wound
1 alien slug crushed to death
1 male shot on the head
Total: 8
A man with a Wicker Basket. Seems familiar?

Beware The Clowns: The Camp Blood Trilogy Review

Camp Blood (1999)
Rating: **
Starring:  Jennifer Ritchkoff, Michael Taylor, Tim Young

No, we are not gonna talk about Camp Crystal Lake's nickname here. Instead, We're gonna look into another killer-in-the-woods type with a low budget, bad acting and a murderer with a suit that really stands out in a backwoods slasher. Seriously, why the heck is he wearing a clown mask? That ain't outdoors-esque!

Well, whatever the gimmick this maniac have in mind, it sure works quite well as a campfire tale for four campers and their butch lesbian guide out on a camping trip, and too to a doomsayer they met along the way who claims that legend is real. Right, we've been down this road for a couple of times so it's no shock that one of their friends was found cooked on the bonfire the next morning. How nobody noticed the smell of burnt meat is beyond me but no sooner after they decided to run into the woods for dear life, the infamous clown arrives to make butcheries out of them.

Camp Blood could work as a cheesy fondue of everything you know about slashers (mostly backwoods like the obvious inspiration Friday the 13th) without making much of an effort. The acting is horrible for everybody and the camerawork is amateur at its near fullest, this title might come off as insulting for many (and I completely understand them) but the pros would be the even pacing and the nostalgia-inducing low quality might do good for the right type of viewer as a mean of  "so-bad-it's effin-hilarious" charm.

Though I'm no fan of the film, I do come to appreciate the movie's attempts to be a simple and fun slasher which very existence is to entertain the trashy folks. Obviously not for just anyone so watch at your own risk!

1 male ran through the chest with a machete
1 female hacked to death with a machete
1 male beheaded with a machete
1 male slaughtered with a machete offscreen
1 male had his shoulder chopped with a machete (flashback)
1 female slashed with a machete (flashback)
1 male hacked on the head with a machete
1 female stabbed on the gut with a hunting knife
1 male had his neck broken
1 male hacked to death with a machete
1 female ran over by a car
Total: 11

Camp Blood 2 (2000)
Rating: **
Starring: Jennifer Ritchkoff, Garrett Clancy, Missy Rae Hansen

Following up the unfortunate events of the previous installment, fate of our lone survivor now hangs on her in retracing everything that happened in the massacre that took place prior so she can prove herself completely sane and wasn't responsible for the death of nine victims. All the while, she shares these events with a low-budget director who's planning to do a movie based on the killings and finds a gimmick on using the possible murder suspect as a guide of sorts to make sure this film is as accurate as possible. What they didn't expect is that the clown, or someone donning as the clown have returned to do more killings, targeting staffs and actors alike.

No means any better but I do saw some improvements; for starters, the story has a nice touch of complexity, straying a bit away from the bare-bone "kids go to the wood then die" set-up to create at least some depth and situation for some of its characters. Of course, this being a cheap direct-to-video concoction, the rest of the cast are one-dimensional and are simply there for meat, and the plot is tainted with enough hamminess and holes to start someone's boiling point.

Still, I could give further points up from the fact that this sequel feels like a parody of low-budget production, stabbing at the cliches, troubles and joys of making a home-made horror film. It's this take on the plot that got me following, but not entirely enjoying, this franchise, hoping to see further improvements in each film.

Gore-wise, Camp Blood 2 didn't shy away from the machete kills and it is bloodier in comparison. The killer still dons the cheap black gear and mask combo, but though the clown mold is noticeably different. (Not that it matters anyway) Apart from these pros, there's nothing else to say for the rest except that it's pretty much your average garden-grown SOV horror.

Still lacking any real sense of dread but fluidly paced, Camp Blood 2 is a sequel nobody asked for but exists anyway to satisfy whatever number of fans the first gathered with it's cheapness and cheesy production. Again, not for everyone but if you're willing to waste a good hour and minutes to watch a horror movie set being terrorized by a wanker in a clown mask, be my guest!

1 female found with throat cut
1 male ran through the chest with a machete
1 female knifed to death
1 male hacked to death with a machete
1 male hacked to death with a machete
1 female ran through the head with a machete
1 male gets a machete to the head
1 male gets his throat cut with a machete
1 male hacked on the back with a machete, stabbed on the eye with a broken bottle
1 female hacked to death with a machete
Total: 10

Within the Woods (2005)
Rating: **
Starring: Athena Demos, Alex Gordon, Janelle Herrera

More of a retelling of the first with a new set of characters and with a much more fluid modern look, Within The Woods follows a reality show producer who plans to use the legend of the Camp Blood Clown as motif. And as of his cue was called in, the Clown, or someone donning the clown, pops up to do bodily dismemberment to each and everyone involved in the set. The thing about this is that it took quite a bit before the clown shows up to butcher the contestants (a few deadly casualties did got in the way for an added kill count) and we did have yet again some feeble attempts to deepen this entry's line of meat as well as re-tell the story of the Camp Blood Clown (and the events of the two prior entries for the unfamiliar ones) over a camp fire. Once these kids woke up for the next morning, they discover some of their friends are missing and/or dead, and soon we repeat the run-stalk-kill last third of the first movie with a familiar twist.

So it's nothing more but the same old stuff, Within The woods' only improvement is that it looks a little better, there were some plot direction and some better talent. It's still bad but watchable as a campy slasher that, like the first, was made to entertain the simple folks with a standard horror story, some awfully big plot holes and really cheap kills.

Not much else to say, Within The Woods is quite forgettable but a fair swing nevertheless. See it if you want but you're not gonna lose much either if you skip this.

1 male has his throat cut with a machete
1 female hacked with a machete
1 female slashed with a machete
1 male pushed to an upright branch, impaled through the head
1 female murdered, later found with throat cut (story)
1 male slashed with a machete (story)
1 male stabbed to death with a buck knife
1 female seen dead at the foot of a cliff (?)
1 male gets a thrown machete through the gut
1 female slashed with a machete
1 female electrocuted via current
Total: 11 (?)

"Do it": Cassandra (1986)

Cassandra (Australia, 1986)
Rating: ***1/2
Starring: Tegan Charles, Tessa Humphries, Dylan O'Neill 

Ozploitation slashers are awfully little in number but arguably most of the outcomes are quite favorable; the best examples of this is the amazing Wolf Creek franchise but among many others, we also have the evil genius-themed Dead Kids (1981) (AKA Strange Behavior), the theatre-motif Stagefright (1980), the made for TV Coda (1987) and the Post-90s teen kill Cut.

Now, we will be reviewing an exceptionally rare Cassandra, a gothic thriller that literally starts with a bang as we watch an apparent suicide-by-shotgun of a woman as a creepy boy coaxes her to "do it". (in an equally creepy voice, no less) We soon see that this is all but a dream of a teenager named Cassandra, one that she is constantly having to the point she wonders if this is a repressed memory from her childhood. Whenever she shares this with her parents, they simply brush this off, even if they later hinted with each other that they may know a thing or two regarding these events. Nevertheless, all are bound for the worse when Cassandra discovers her father, a photographer, is having an affair and probably impregnated one of his models and soon escalates further when said model was killed later the following night.

The cops turn up and started questioning everybody who could be involved but stranger things are at play when we find out that Cassandra saw the murder through an unexplained psychic link with the killer. Now it's up to her to figure out what's really going on and uncover the horrible truth of her past, in an attempt to stop the killer before they strike again.

What I really love about Cassandra is that it has style; take for granted that the story isn't all that amazing, even more if you could take the time to notice the number of slasher influences it had to work with, the execution for the most of its parts are impressive nonetheless and I like the way they utilize heavy editing to create an atmospheric movie. Colored lenses and wild camera angles expresses varying tones befitting a particular scene, often using the dream-like take again and again that it's almost supernatural, and a practical use of landscape shots to give some sort of isolated feeling which kinda suits the situation our lead ends up being in as she goes on to discover her dark past alone.

Sadly, this film isn't perfect; other downs that a viewer might go through apart from the unoriginal story is that the performances are varying save Tessa Humphies who did an fine job as our titular character. The others are quite questionable in regards to their talent but thankfully, the atmosphere of the film lessens these blows, even if the cheesiness of their parts reeks from time to time. I also have to point out the soap-opera subplots were rarely effective and it kinda dragged the film to a snail pace in the middle before catching up once more in the last act. Until then, we get a few murders, not entirely exceptional save a cool looking beheading, but since the movie is story-driven, I can overlook the lack of blood in favor of stylistics. 

You could call it an art film in the same likeness of other slasher titles like Spain's Anguish (1987) and the British Thriller/bodycounter hybrid White of The Eye (1987) with its "style over substance characteristics", something that may have put Cassandra in the obscurities in the first place but let not this issue hinder you from seeing this rare gem as for the right audience, this can be a classy trash well deserved to be enjoyed!

1 female shot her face off with a shotgun
1 female knifed on the neck
1 male stabbed and decapitated with a shovel
1 male stabbed offscreen and bled to death
1 male repeatedly shot and set on fire
Total: 5

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Fatal Fears: Phobia (1980)

Phobia (1980)
Rating: **
Starring:  Paul Michael Glaser, Susan Hogan, John Colicos 

Psychiatirst Dr. Peter Ross is up to something revolutionary in treating phobias. Too bad it's also quite controversial; six inmates are given the opportunity to earn their freedom by taking part on Ross' experimental method on curing/facing phobias by showing them recorded simulations of their actual fears through a really big TV screen. How is this revolutionary, or more importantly, help these poor saps is beyond me but problems are abound when these patients began dying one by one, ironically under the nature of their own fears.

By today's standards, this may not be entirely new, significantly since we have better titles with the same gimmick, and, sadly, the steady-yet dull direction of the movie and the lack of any believable reaction 9or acting for that matter (around the cast doesn't do any better in return. Phobia's less of a slasher and more of a thriller with an air of (failed) sophistication and a whodunit angle that barely makes you think since the twist is too darn obvious, thus barely making through with a passing grade for my viewing but have to commend some of the scenes for their shred of effective tension. There's a little trail of cheese through out the movie's plot but seeing this is one of the earlier (if not the first) attempts to do a bodycounter revolving around phobias, I can look over some of these cons and appreciate the effort.

Maybe with a better (and more talented) cast, more inventive kills or at least a tenser and livelier approach, we may get something out of this film but on it's own, Phobia is a viewing for horror completists and/or hardcore slasher fanatics only. Nothing else to note, see it if you're curious.

1 female decimated by a bomb
1 male falls to his death
1 female drowned in a tub
1 male crushed in an elevator shaft
1 male found dead from snake bite
1 male shot on the eye
Total: 6

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Robin Williams


"You'll have bad times, but it'll always wake you up to the good stuff you weren't paying attention to."