Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Germ Z (2013)

It was a nice break today, no daughters, no wife, just silence for a few hours. During that time, I was able to edit my short story for class, do my Steelers 101 stuff, and watch a couple of horror flicks. After some debate on which one I would review, I decided on the 2013 low budget flick Germ Z.

Plot/ The military's attempt to shoot down an orbiting satellite unleashes a space-borne epidemic on a remote, small town.

This low-budget indie flick is extremely uneven. While I am used to these flaws with a viewing schedule full of independents, this one was a bit different overall. This one actually had some solid acting, something many other films of its budget lack. Unfortunately, the plot was a touch stale, the pacing a touch off, and there is a lot of wasted time setting up story. On top of that, there was really nothing special to set it apart from any of the other flicks in this genre. In the end, while there were a few entertaining moments, it was not enough to make it memorable in any way. Unless you have nothing else to watch, there are better choices out there.

Sunday, April 27, 2014

The Illusionist (2006)

After taking Saturday off to recover from soccer, softball, and fishing, I decided to kick back and watch something with a bit of a lighter feel. After doing some football coverage with my first mock draft of the season, it was time to find something. That is when I found one of my favorite period pieces / mysteries; the Illusionist from 2006.

Plot/ In turn-of-the-century Vienna, a magician uses his abilities to secure the love of a woman far above his social standing.

This movie is rare, as it took two genres and pulled off merging them into one entertaining and fluid pieces of cinema. Everything about this film worked extremely well. The cast bought into their roles and performed them perfectly, the cinematography and visuals are amazing, the scripting keeps you guessing, and the ending was perfect. Honestly, even after viewing it multiple times it is still fascinating to watch. If you have not seen it, yet, then I ask why not? This is a tremendous film and one that should viewed. Check it out!

Saturday, April 26, 2014

The Brood (1979)

After a couple days away from the blog, focusing on NFL Draft preps for Steelers 101, I decided to jump back into some classic horror on Friday. Of course, that did come after watching Hannibal (cannot miss that), as it is my favorite show on regular television (The Following a close second). My selection for the evening was the 1979 flick: The Brood.

Plot/ A man tries to uncover an unconventional psychologist's therapy techniques on his institutionalized wife, while a series of brutal attacks committed by a brood of mutant children coincides with the husband's investigation.

David Cronenberg movies are always interesting and this one is quite possibly one of his best. The Sci-Fi / Psychological Horror combo has everything a horror fan needs to be satisfied. The storyline is interesting, soundtrack effective, the cinematography is tremendous, the acting convincing, and the atmosphere creates a dark and heavy realm. Yes, some of the costuming may make it feel dated, but honestly, that is part of the allure of the movie. In the end, this is a classic piece of 1970s horror cinema, and a movie that must be seen. If you have not watched this one, find it, and check it out.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Gothic (1986)

Every once in a while, I enjoy venturing back into the 1980s to find a classic film I enjoyed during my teenage years. While many discount that decade, there was some great cinema created, especially in the horror genre. One of my favorites from that decade is my next selection; the 1986 entry Gothic. 

Plot/ This is the story of the night that Mary Shelley gave birth to the horror classic "Frankenstein." Disturbed drug induced games are played and ghost stories are told one rainy night at the mad Lord Byron's country estate. 

Ken Russell’s Gothic is one of my favorite movies from the 1980s. Atmospheric, dark, and intriguing, this interpretation of how the classic Frankenstein came to life is an interesting flick. The acting is solid, the script is entertaining and the storyline comes to life on the screen with its stunning imagery. Yes, it does have some incoherent moments, pacing issues and may be a bit complex in many areas, but those flaws are extremely minor. In the end, if you enjoy surreal horror that provides some food for thought, you must see this film. Not for everyone, this is an entertaining flick that offers a stimulating story as to how a horror icon was created. 

Sunday, April 20, 2014

I Spit on Your Grave (1978)

It is funny, Hollywood continually remake movies that often do not need that type of treatment. One such movie is I Spit on Your Grave. While I have not watched the remake, it is clearly a film that did not need to be remade. Straightforward and powerful, that movie made an impact in one viewing during the 1980s when it finally came off the banned movie list. Last night, I decided to watch it again.

Plot/ An aspiring writer is repeatedly gang-raped, humiliated, and left for dead by four men whom she systematically hunts down to seek revenge.

I remember seeing this one for the first time in the 1980s and I was shocked at the pure violent acts that took place. When I watched this one again last night for the first time since, the same appalling feelings filled my mind. This is not a typical exploitation flick from the 1970s; it is purely the terror of rape and the type of revenge that could develop. This is straightforward and lacks the cinematic efforts that often try to sugarcoat the degrading act. While the acting is uneven, the characters rather flat an unlikeable, the movie works by instilling a sense of realness in creating the true horror of an unthinkable act. In the end, I Spit on Your Grave (AKA Day of the Woman) is not for everyone. But it is a movie that is much better than may realize and one that will leave a lasting impression if you can make it through it.

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Hollywoodland (2006)

While I was resting my back, which I injured the other day, I decided to find something a touch different to keep me company. What I wanted was a nice mystery, or true crime entry, to possibly help my creative mind focus. After some searching, I stumbled upon the 2006 entry, Hollywoodland.

Plot/ Struggling private investigator Louis Simo is hired to investigate the death of George Reeves, televisions Superman.

Hollywoodland was an awesome interpretation of historic event that remains a mystery today. While true crime movies often suffer from characterization flaws, this one is different. Between the solid script, standout performances, and heavy atmosphere, this movie delivers where many in the genre fail. While not my favorite actor, Ben Affleck does a tremendous job bringing the Reeves to life. Yes, some of the flashbacks add some unneeded confusion and the pacing may be a touch slow in parts, but that does little to stop this one. In the end, this was an entertaining movie that dove deep into one of the biggest unsolved Hollywood mysteries. If you have not seen it and enjoy crime/mystery dramas, give it a shot.

Friday, April 18, 2014

You Can Help Support the Road Trip of the Dead

Many people believe that the birthplace of the zombie genre is centered in the Pittsburgh area. That comes for a great reason. Director George A. Romero has centered many of his masterpieces in and around the Steel City. Horror fans from across the globe hit the city and the surrounding area to find these horror hotspots. Of course, much as that landscape has disappeared over the years and they discover a much different backdrop.

Today, a couple of independent filmmakers (with help from Pittsburgh original, Iron City beer) are setting out to create a movie focused on these horror fans. Unfortunately, what they find is not what they expected and their documentary runs awry.

With any low-budget entry, the filmmakers need support to give their vision life.  At this point, they have secured commitments for horror icon Tom Savini, and Night of the Living Dead alum Gary Streiner (Living Dead Festival) to make appearances in the film, which is a reality-based slasher instead of the somewhat predictable zombie entry.

To help with this endeavor, creators William Sanders and Kevin Kriess launched an Indiegogo campaign to help fund the film and could use all the help they can get to boost their subsidy efforts. Road Trip of the Dead looks like an awesome project and one that should make any SW Pennsylvania horror fan excited to help out; for more information on this movie, check out their facebook page or their Indiegogo site.