Saturday, November 30, 2013

Return of the Killer Shrews (2012)

As I finally finished up my homework for the week, it was time to kick back and relax a bit. To find something to relax to, I decided to jump into some type of modern low-budget creature feature. After all, for the past few days I have been in a more serious mode, focusing on Serial Killers, Ouija Boards and Insanity. After some debate, I decided on the 2012 schlockfest Return of the Killer Shrews.

Plot/ The 1959 film, The Killer Shrews, found a group of folks on an island with the ravenous beasts. This time James Best's ship captain is hired by a reality crew to return to the island guessed it, the shrews attack again.

Bringing James Best back for this sequel some 50-years later should say everything you need to know about this one. How can anyone see a sequel to The Killer Shrews and expect anything but low-budget schlock.  Incredibly, it even took the cheesy Shrew creature effects from the original and trumped that with CGI insanity. The scripting is hilarious, as it was actually true to the original and so over-the-top that it is clear that it was meant to be tongue-and-cheek.  Yes, the CGI is horrid, the acting is so-so and the storyline absurd, but it is a fun and entertaining homage to one of the cheesiest B-Movie creature features ever made, what more can you ask for?  In the end, this movie is one of the cheesiest no-budget creature features to come out in some time. Yes, there is little quality, but if you love this type of flick and can get past the low-budget and absurd special effects, you should enjoy it.   Check it out!

The Frozen Ground (2013)

Black Friday has came and went. Incredibly, I made only two purchases, one online and the other at Barnes and Noble. Of course, I really did lot look for stuff today, as I am still trying to determine what I am searching for. I will figure it out soon, I have to. Christmas is only three or so weeks away. Once I returned home I decided to watch something a bit different, the true story The Frozen Ground.

Plot/ Based on a true story, an Alaska State Trooper partners with a young woman who escaped the clutches of serial killer Robert Hansen to bring the murderer to justice.

Thrillers based on true stories, especially those involving serial killers are often a challenge. When you throw in Nicolas Cage and John Cusack, and it could be even more of a challenge. However, in this one, all of the acting is solid, and maintain the dark demeanors needed to bring this story to life.  The cinematography is awesome, soundtrack works and the overall feel is dark and heavy. Yes, some of the crime drama feels a bit cliché, but that is somewhat expected. In the end, this flick does step outside the normal serial killer genre and creates something atmospheric and authentic. Sure, it is not for everyone, but if you enjoy Cage, Cusack or thrillers, check it out!

Friday, November 29, 2013

Magic Magic (2013)

As Thanksgiving winds down, I wanted to watch something outside my normal pattern. While last night’s I Am ZoZo was a disappointment, I was convinced that my next selection had to be better. After some debate, I decided upon the 2013 indie thriller Magic Magic.

Plot/ Alicia is stuck on a remote island off Chile with three of Sarah's friends, including Brink, an American exchange student with a sadistic streak. Bewildered, frightened, and unable to sleep, Alicia's reality becomes a nightmare from which there is no waking. Ancient indigenous rites, disturbing animal behavior, and captivating hypnotic trances come together in an intense exploration into the darkest corners... when the games go too far, reality unravels with astonishing and deadly consequences.

This is a strange movie. Definitely more of a psychological drama than thriller, there is a complex storyline here that is more detailed than some would like. In fact, the dark undertone and tremendous performances from some of the characters make it even more interesting. Yes, some will be misled by the synopsis, which attempt to push it toward the horror or thriller categories, but it is not that at all. The cinematography is solid, Juno Temple is amazing and the atmosphere is solid. Yes, the end leaves a bit to be desired and may add an overwhelming sense of confusion, there is little to no character development and the characters themselves may have been too detached. In the end, I found this an atmospheric and entertaining flick, but I am sure many will disagree. This one is definitely not for everyone, but if you are in for a complex and dark drama, give it a shot.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

I Am ZoZo (2012)

After spending some time in retro mode lately, I decided to modernize my selections for the holiday weekend. While Halloween is my favorite holiday, I also love spending time with my family. Sure, we do not have those classic family political discussions because our opposite views would definitely spawn arguments. Yes, I am related to a batch of Progressives, and all of my attempts at showing them some Libertarian light has failed. Oh well, I will keep trying. Now, back to the review; my next selection is the 2012 entry I Am ZoZo.

Plot/ I Am ZoZo is a psychological thriller about five young people who play with a Ouija board on Halloween and attract the attention of a malevolent demon. The film is based on real experiences with an ancient and malevolent spirit called ZoZo that attaches itself to people exclusively through Ouija boards.

I will admit I was interested in seeing this mostly because of one of my students who talked about ZoZo all the time. While I figured it would have some flaws, I have to admit that I was caught off guard by this one. Yes, the idea was interesting and had potential, especially shooting in Super 8,  but that was lost by poor execution within the storyline and too much cliché. The acting is uneven, the characterization lacking, and there was really no scary points. Sure, there were a few creepy moments with the Ouija Board, but those are just eerie in general.  In the end, this flick loosely based on true events does not live up to its promise and becomes another forgettable trip in horror. 

The Killer Shrews (1959)

As my week wound down at the institute, I decided on my drive that I was heading to Family Video to grab some stuff for the weekend. One flick I decided on is a sequel, a movie over 50-years in the making. Before I get to that one, I decided to revisit the original and enjoy some of cheesy 1950s horror. What is the movie? It is the 1959 schlockfest The Killer Shrews.

Plot/ On an isolated island, a small group of people are terrorized by giant voracious shrews in the midst of a hurricane.

Cheesy B-Grade horror flicks of the 1950s are always a mixed bag and this one is no different. Yes, it is bad, complete with laughable effects and a campy storyline that is often incoherent at best. However, this fun and entertaining schlockfest has some awesome characters and decent acting. Sure, it is far from perfect and truly let down by the budget and direction, but it is a fun let-down.  In the end, this movie is one of the more entertaining no-budget thrillers of the era. If you love this type of flick and can get past the low-budget and absurd special effects, you should enjoy it.   Check it out!

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Attack of the Crab Monsters (1957)

As Thanksgiving draws near, I will finally have a chance to spend some extra time with the family relaxing a bit (and a couple extra days away from PIA). I will also have some extra time to finish up the first week of my Digital Literacy class. Going back to school into a creative writing program is going to be a challenge, but it is one I am looking forward to. However, talking about the digital world this week has made me more appreciative of the Sci-Fi / Horror classics of past generations, like my next selection the Roger Corman flick Attack of the Crab Monsters.  

Plot/ A group of scientists travel to a remote island to study the effects of nuclear weapons tests, only to get stranded when their airplane explodes. The team soon discovers that the island has been taken over by crabs that have mutated into enormous, intelligent monsters.

There is nothing like the cheesy schlockfest of the 1950s. Those Sci-Fi creature features must have been perfect to watch in a dark theatre. To me, this flick would be a perfect for that setting. Yes, the storyline is campy, the scripting uneven, and the acting all over the place, but it does not matter. The most impressive part is that even with a low budget and some laughable creations, this one is entertaining, bizarre, strange, and everything that you could ask for in this genre. In the end, the is one of Corman’s most memorable early flicks and one of the weirdest horror flicks of that era. If you have not seen it, check it out!

Monday, November 25, 2013

GOG (1954)

As Monday passed by and I started working on my new class in school, Digital Literacy, my day was filled with activity. Between finishing up teaching VHF Communications, sitting through an online meeting, and dealing with more cold weather, I could not ask for anything better. When I sat down to relax and find something to watch, I decided that it was time to venture back into the land of the Digital Immigrant for the 1954 Sci-Fi classic GOG.

Plot/ A security agent investigates sabotage and murder at a secret underground laboratory, home of two experimental robots.

This one had been taunting me for some time until I broke down and watched it. I am glad that I did. This was an interesting and realistic take on early science based suspense.  In many ways, this Sci-Fi gem of the early 1950s is actually a precursor to real technology of today, portraying it perfectly within the heart of the Cold War tensions of the day. The acting was solid, the effects good and the storyline and the cinematography works. On top of that, the robots GOG and MAGOG are curious, especially considering the age of the film. Yes, some of the scripting may drag some of the pacing in the middle and some of the action scenes miss the mark, but for a film that is almost 60-years old, some flaws are expected. In the end, GOG is one of those Saturday Sci-Fi Matinee Classics that are entertaining and fun; perfect for fans of classic Sci-Fi. 

Sunday, November 24, 2013

C.H.U.D. (1984)

With the Steelers game now in the books and this being the last evening I have before starting back to college tomorrow in a creative writing program, I decided to jump back in time for some retro horror. After some thought, I decided upon the 1984 creature feature C.H.U.D.

Plot/ A bizarre series of murders in New York City seems to point toward the existence of a race of mutant cannibals living under the streets.

C.H.U.D or Cannibalistic Humanoid Underground Dwellers, is one of those movies from the 1980s that has always seemed a bit under the RADAR. Yes, the sequel may have destroyed the franchise, but the original is entertaining, and incredibly, has stood the test of time. The storyline is awesome, the acting is solid and the effect (while low budget) still have some bite. Honestly, I would rather watch the low budget effects of the 1980s instead of much of the CGI crap out there today. Yes, some of it makes little sense and the creatures do look cheesy at times, but that still does not stop it from being an entertaining B-Grade creature feature. In the end, this is one of those movies that while far from perfect, is a must see if you are a fan of the 1980s. If you have not watched it, give it a shot, you could do much worse. 

Curse of Chucky (2013)

After watching Amnesiac last night, I decided that I wanted to venture into some classic horror characters for the rest of the night. After some debate inside my head, I figured that I could give Chucky another shot. Sure, some of the sequels were horrid, but that character has always been awesome. With that in mind, I decided on the 2013 entry Curse of Chucky.

Plot/ After her mother's mysterious death, Nica begins to suspect that the talking, red-haired doll her visiting niece has been playing with may be the key to recent bloodshed and chaos.

For the longest time, I was convinced that the Child's Play model and Chucky had run its course. However, after watching this installment, I was wrong. This movie is one of the best in the series and one that should have received more attention. The storyline was interesting, the soundtrack spot on, the atmosphere is heavy and Chucky is at his best. The special effects are notably good, as they allowed for a tremendous of depth inside many different kills. Yes, some of the acting may have been too rigid to make this a perfect flick, but it is all rather good. In the end, this may be the best installment of the series since the original and makes some of the duds even more forgettable. Sure, this entertaining flick is not for everyone, but it should be. Check it out!

Amnesiac (2013)

Now that I have had enough with the Sci-Fi and post-apocalyptic worlds for a little while, I decided to venture out to Family Video to see what I could find. It has been a couple weeks since I made that trip across town, as the last time I was there nothing jumped out at me. With everything running together, I might as well just kick back with Netflix. While there I saw a few things that caught my eye, the first was the 2013 low budget entry Amnesiac from Hunger Cult Films and Midnight Releasing.

Plot/ A gripping blend of supernatural horror and psychological drama counting the cost of loss, guilt and reckless desperation as we delve into the life of one deeply disturbed young woman and the afterlife of one equally disturbed dead man.

With this being a low budget independent entry, I went into it with mixed emotions. Fortunately, what I found was much better than I expected. Also known as Wyke Wreake, this one was not perfect, but coming from the indie scene, I did not expect it to be. What I found was a cast that worked well together and the acting was rather good. The storyline was curious; there were some interesting editing choices that added some surrealism to the atmosphere and the effects worked. The most impressive aspect of the film was the script and storyline, which was both entertaining and thought provoking. Yes, there were some sound track issues that made little sense and somewhat took away from the building atmosphere and there were editing decisions left things a bit incoherent in place. However, this was a much better effort than much of the low budget cinema that plagues the genre. In the end, this is an entertaining and intriguing psychological horror flick and a movie that should be seen. If you have a chance, check it out!

Friday, November 22, 2013

Galaxy of Terror (1981)

Last night I skipped blogging to go with the family to see The Hunger Games: Catching Fire. While I was not a huge fan of the first flick, I was more impressed with this one. In fact, not only am I excited to see the final installments of the series, I am glad that the daughters have both read the books and watched the movie. This series is extremely relevant to the fundamentals of Agenda 21 and the building tyrannical Police State evolving under this lawless regime.  This is a perfect snapshot at what will happen to our society if things do not change in Washington D.C. However, that is not what I am reviewing today, that movie is the 1981 Sci-Fi / Horror flick Galaxy of Terror.

Plot/ As a lone spaceship proceeds on its long voyage across space, the crew are surprised to encounter a strange pyramid form. Surprise turns to horror as one by one; they discover that their darkest nightmares are all starting to become real.

This is by no means a great movie, but it is one of my guilty pleasures. It has everything that made Roger Corman schlock flicks awesome. It is outrageous and totally unbelievable, it is graphic and sleazy, and it has just enough of a storyline to be interesting. The acting (by an awesome cast Sid Haig, Robert Englund and more) is uneven, but that works in this type of flick. Even the effects, which are actually above B-Grade movie, are pretty solid considering the era. In the end, this Corman entry is one that should be seen. Yes, it is far from perfect and some of the scenes may turn some people off, but who cares. If you love B-Grade Sci-Fi / Horror, give this one a shot. 

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

The Angry Red Planet (1959)

While tonight, I am sitting through The Hunger Games, as I have tickets to take the daughters to the opening of Catching Fire tomorrow, yesterday was a different animal. I am still not sure how I feel about this Agenda 21 propaganda I am watching now, but that does not matter. Last night, I continued my recent trip into classic era Sci-Fi, and I decided on the 1959 gem The Angry Red Planet.

Plot/ The first spaceship to Mars, presumed lost, is found in space and brought back to Earth by remote control. Once safely on Earth, the scientists learn of the terrible dangers awaiting anyone venturing into the diverse Martian ecosystem.

This is another one of those great campy Sci-Fi gems of the 1950s and 1660s. Made with a low budget (with effects to back that up), this flick is a fun and entertaining look at the Martian landscape. While it is a decent entry from that time, there are some of the typical B-Movie flaws one should expect for that era. The acting is so-so, the characters are flat, and the effects are definitely special… Yet, this is one of the more entertaining films I have watched from that time. In the end, if you enjoy classic Sci-Fi cheese-fests, you should definitely check this one out. 

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Journey to the Seventh Planet (1962)

As I prepare to start college again heading toward my creative writing degree, I decided that I needed to take a trip into some other genres. After spending some time in the post-apocalyptic world and then transitioning into a classic Italian horror stage, I decided to head into some classic Sci-Fi era schlock. First up on my list to watch was one of the first flicks I remember seeing the ifluence of the United nations, the 1962 no-budget Journey to the Seventh Planet.

Plot/ Earth sends a five-man team to explore the frozen planet Uranus, only to find a temperate forest and sultry women from their past on it, courtesy of an alien brain with evil designs.

As a fan of classic-era Sci-Fi, it is always fun to kick back and watch some of the no-budget flicks from that time. This is one of those movies that, while it is far from perfect, is a great way to spend time watching. Yes, it is a typical storyline of the day, but it is far from cliché considering the 1960s release date. The women (although they could not act), the scenery, sound effect and cinematography are all solid, something that is often difficult to find in flicks from that era. While the acting is uneven, some of the script lacks depth, the editing poor and a lot of the special effects are laughable, they are also not devastating to the overall enjoy-ability of the movie. In the end, I have seen much worse in this genre and believe this one sits somewhere in the middle. Yes, it is far from perfect, but it is also entertaining and any fan of cheesy Sci-Fi must see.