Friday, July 20, 2012

Movie Review: The Human Centipede II: Full Sequence

 What the hell did I just watch?!
 
 When The Human Centipede was first released, I heard all kinds of hype about how sick and disturbing the film was.  Watching it, I found the film to be rather tame.  Conceptually, the idea of sewing three people together, ass-to-mouth, is twisted, but the depiction was not as gruesome as the hype suggested.
 
 Tom Six makes up for all that in The Human Centipede 2.  He makes up for it in spades. 
 
 Martin is a lumpy little security guard in a parking garage somewhere in the UK.  He lives in a flat with his mother, and although he is an adult well into his 30s or 40s, he seems to have a child-like mind.  His mother is a domineering woman who continuously berates him.  He has asthma, and must use an inhaler whenever he gets too excited.  He is a huge fan of the film, The Human Centipede.
 
The new face of horror...
 Martin decides he can perform the experiment.  In fact, Martin will take the experiment to a whole new level, using 12 individuals.
 
 The film is show almost entirely in black-and-white, with only a few scenes where the color brown is visible.  Initially, I thought this might have been to try to give the film some kind of art-house legitimacy, but it seems that Tom Gun decided while editing the film that the black-and-white version looked scarier.  The film is a series of gritty, gory, almost surreal scenes.  Martin is shown collecting his victims, at first from the patrons of the parking garage that either excite him sexually or frustrate him with their callous abuse.  He eventually turns his malice on everyone around him; his inconsiderate tattooed neighbor, the "doctor" that sees him about his mental health, even his mother.  The gore is compounded by other disturbing psychological kinks.  One of the victims has a young boy who Martin leaves in a car in the parking garage, stopping to wave hello to him as Martin takes more victims.  Another scene has his mother lecturing him about the truth as to why his father is in prison.
 
That's just not right.
 This just compounds the depravity depicted on screen.  The film was banned in the UK until about 2 and 1/2 minutes were cut from it.  I have to wonder what ended up on the cutting-room floor.  I found myself asking throughout the film if I really saw what I just saw.  Is he really doing that?  What was that under the accelerator?  She just did what with a funnel? 
 
  Clearly, I liked this film.  Absolutely a must-see horror movie.



Movie Review: Witchboard III: The Possession

 If you go into this film expecting an awful, low-budget mess, you will actually be pleasantly surprised.

 Brian is an out-of-work stock broker who's landlord is an eccentric but generally friendly collector of odd items.  The landlord reveals to Brian the secret of his success; trading commodities with advise from a Ouija Board.  Brian doesn't believe him at first, but when the Ouija proves to be correct, he returns to his landlord for more advise.  The landlord has a pleasant conversation with him on his balcony, gives Brian a pinky-ring, and then leaps to his death impaled on a fence several stories below.  Brian and his wife are the only ones to initially visit his funeral until the arrival of the old man's ex-wife, who insists on opening the casket to make certain the old man was dead, and then panics when she sees Brian wearing his ring.

 Brian uses the Ouija to plan his next commodities purchase, coffee.  He has to come-up with $50,000, and gets a 24 hour loan from a dangerous loan-shark.  Coffee is losing money all day the next day, and when the time to pay-back the loan arrives, Brian instead takes the Ouija to the shark.  The shark doesn't even give him time to explain, and while preparing to cut off one of Brian's finger slices Brian's hand.  Blood drips on the case the Ouija is in, and a malevolent force executes both the shark and his hired-muscle. 

 Of course, Brian realizes that the Ouija is evil.  He returns to his apartment and goes to the building's basement to place the board in the furnace.  The board protects itself by electrocuting Brian with a power-line.  Brian seems to be dead, only to wake-up the surprise of his doctors and his distraught wife.  Furthermore, coffee rebounds and they make $500,000. 

 But, Brian is no longer who he used to be.  The spirit of the old man has possessed Brian, and it seems that the old man was himself possessed by a demon.  The demon wants to have a baby, and at first seems nice enough, but quickly proves to be a real prick with telekinetic powers and a penchant for killing violently those who get in his way.  Brian, meanwhile, is a disembodied spirit appearing in the reflective surfaces and mirrors around his apartment, trying warn his wife of the danger she is in.

I mean, is this necessary?
 Okay, so, conceptually, the film obviously is on shaking ground.  At first, the spirit of the board is clearly illustrated to be separate and distinct from the old man, answering questions and coming when being summoned.  Then, it appears that this spirit is what was possessing the old man, as Brian becomes the spirit able to communicate through the board.  If this is true, then was it the old man's original spirit that responded to the demon's commands?  While that may be possible, why did it help the demon instead of fighting him as Brian did?  Next, the demon possessing Brian is impressing everyone with the nice-guy act.  He needs a baby... to possess it, eat it, play catch with it... it isn't really clear.  If this is your ultimate goal, and the nice-guy thing is working, why screw it up by acting like a dick, coming-on to your wife's best-friend, and killing people?  Unless this is your first possession as a brand-new demon, you should probably know better.

Smurfs gone bad.
 The production value of the film is fair; not major-motion-picture level, but not shot with a cell phone, either.  The actors actually seem to care about what they are doing, which is a real plus.  The special effects are decent; most of it is stuff flying around the room on its own and the demon itself.  It is done effectively enough not to make it obvious that it is a special effect.  The writing is fair as well, but the plot has holes in it big enough to drive a truck through.  I mean, along with what I mentioned earlier, why was a Ouija Board even involved in this film?  Other than serving to tie it into the series, it served no real purpose. 

 The nude scenes were bland.  The wife isn't wearing crotchless panties then she most likely would have some trouble performing the sex-acts depicted.

 The film could have been better, but for a B-horror sequel, it wasn't bad.




Monday, July 16, 2012

Movie Review: Black Cat/Demons 6/De Profundis

 This film has apparently been released under so many titles that it may be a little difficult to find... if it were worth the effort.  The film itself suffers from the same problem.  It is like several writers each wrote individual stories, tore the stories into sections, put them in a hat, and them drew sections one-by-one to create a plot.

 Anna is a new mother and actress married to a writer/director of horror films.  He and his partner are working on a new story about a witch named "Levana".  The use of that name seems to invoke an actual witch, who has been dead for a century or more.  Levana refuses to be portrayed by Anna on screen, and begins terrorizing her dreams.

 At least at first.

 Later it is revealed that Levana is the focus of a cult which includes both the film's producer and Anna's actress-friend and rival.  Or maybe the actress-friend, Nora, is actually the witch, since she seduces Anna's husband.  No, Nora is a pawn of the witch, and the witch kills her when she fails to kill Anna.  Wait, there is also a fairy that is trying to help Anna either destroy the witch or make peace with it.  Levana is dead and immortal according to a local psychic who read about the witch in an old occult tome.  Using her name invokes her, and she either needs to posses the body of a young woman or must possess a man and then sacrifice a child in order to come back to life.

 Got all that?

 Never mind.  Levana is actually a mutant named Sarah.  Sarah has psychic powers that allow her to make people see and believe whatever she wants.  Only Anna seems resistant.  Anna is able to resists because she has the power to manipulate time itself, and uses that power to effectively reverse all the ills Sarah committed, leading to an ideal world where her husband loves only her, her baby is safe, Sarah is not evil, Nora is her best friend, and the film is produced and becomes the greatest movie ever shot.

 Unlike this film.

 If you find yourself watching this film, and it will be by mistake because of the number of titles it was released under, shut your television off immediately.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Movie Review: Nude for Satan

 Uhg.

 The film starts like a lame joke or camp-fire story.  Dr. Benson happens upon a car-crash and a young woman hanging from the vehicle's window while driving through the country one night.  Ignoring any concerns for head or spine injuries, he loads the girl into his car and seeks out the nearest residence, a dark and spooky castle.  He leaves the girl in the car and goes to the castle seeking assistance, only to find that the girl, or another girl that looks exactly like the one from the crash, is not only there waiting for him, but seems to know him (though she refers to him by a different name). 

 From here, things proceed to become truly ridiculous.

 It seems that Dr. Benson and the young woman, Susan, are migrating souls (my term, not the films).  Sometime in their past, they engaged in some kind of pact with the strange and enigmatic master of the castle (who either is Satan or an agent of Satan).  The Doctor and Susan are confronted by their doppelgangers, aspects of themselves that recall their past and are indulgent and perverse.  Initially, Dr. Beson can only see Susan's doppelganger, and vice-verse, and they mistake their lustful counterparts for the real versions.  Dr. Benson spends his limited part in the story trying to convince the Susan doppelganger that they have to leave before eventually succumbing to her charms.  Susan, whom the film seems actually focused on until the end, is being seduced not by the Benson-doppelganger but by the master of the castle and his minions, a lesbian-hotty and a creep old man-servant.  Time has no meaning on the castle-grounds, with day and night passing much more quickly than normal... in some cases instantly.  Throughout the film, Susan is treated to a variety of erotic and sometimes horrific situations.  She is bathed and pleasured by the female servant, only to later see the same servant whipped, then stabbed in a ritual, then appear just fine.  She eventually falls into a trap, lands on a giant spider-web, and is attacked by a slow-moving, cheesy looking, dog-sized spider.  The real Dr. Benson saves the day and discovers the truth, finally encountering his own doppelganger which leads him to the final ritual where it appears he is given the choice to either embrace his perversions or take steps to destroy them.

This is a scene from the film or a party at my house.


 Once again, I manage to write a better tale than what was actually depicted.  The film was shot in 1970's Europe, which means that their is plenty of full-frontal female nudity with so much pubic-hair that the women may as well be wearing bikini-bottoms.  The various scenes try to be psychedelic, perhaps a decade too late, with most scenes simply being an excuse to get the female lead topless or completely nude.  It often seems like two different production teams are involved.  One it trying to tell a Gothic tale, while the other is trying to shoot a porno, with the end result being spliced together in the cutting-room.  The fact that there is a Dutch hard-core version only supports this possibility.

 Since Astaroth, and not Satan, is invoked by the master of the castle, the title isn't very appropriate.  You'd be better off watching something else.


Movie Review: Tokyo Gore Police

 Tokyo Gore Police lives up to its title.  It is a fun, over-the-top, splatter-fest.
 
 In a dystopic future, the latest fad is cutting yourself with designer razor blades, Tokyo is being harassed by psychotic mutants called "engineers", and the city has turned to a private police force to deal with this and any other threat.  Ruka is a special member of the police, known for her skill at killing engineers and leading the investigation into their origins.  Engineers do not die from their initial wounds.  Instead, the wound becomes a lethal and often impossible weapon (severed arms turn into chainsaws and a severed penis turns into a cannon, for example).  Each engineer has somewhere in its body a key-shaped tumor of unknown origin.  The engineers are violently psychotic before they are damaged, becoming even more lethal when they are wounded. 
 
Looks normal to me.
 Ruka has her own issues.  She joined the police force in order to hunt down and avenge her father, who was a regular police officer and was assassinated by an unknown assailant for protesting the privatization of the police force.  In the meantime, she coolly and stoically performs her task, wielding a samurai sword with viscous efficiency against the engineers.
 
 Let's talk about blood-fountains for a moment, shall we?  Every time someone is wounded, the result is not a trickle of blood, not a spurt, but a massive spray like a yard-sprinkler has been turned on.  Loose and arm?  Blood-fountain.  Decapitated? Blood-fountain.  Paper-cut? Blood-fountain.  Started your period?  BLOOD-FOUNTAIN.  You end up seeing it so many times that you get used to it.
 
Yep, nothing to see here.
 All the special effects are old-school.  The special effects reminded me of the Power Rangers, except gory and perverted (not to say that the Power Rangers did not have its own perverted and gory moments).  The film has a story, but in general it seems that the special-effects crew was simply trying to come-up with the most twisted and perverse effects and scenarios possible.  I mentioned already that a penis is cut off and becomes a cannon.  There is a fetish auction were reconstructed women are being sold to the perverted-elite.  Among the oddities is a woman who has been fashioned into a chair.  Another woman has had her breasts cut vertically and stapled back together.  Other oddities are displayed.  They are all engineers, and attack the men who have paid for their services.  There is the obligatory fellatio leading to the penis being bitten-off and spat-out.  One of the women's legs, cut off at the knees, mutate into alligator jaws opening and closing while revealing her genitalia as the alligator's throat. 
Stare too long and you'll go blind.
 
 All-in-all, it is pretty messed-up.
 
 Not to give the ending away, but the most over-used Japanese plot-twist is once again presented.  Since the intent seems to be to provide the most graphic images possible and not to actually tell much of a story, this doesn't take much away from the film.
 
 I would suggest making a drinking-game out of this film, and watching it with female friends.  Every blood-fountain, exposed/exaggerated genitalia, or wince from a member of the audience member should result in a shot.


Monday, July 9, 2012

Movie Review: John Carpenter's The Ward

 The Ward was, in one word, bland.

 I love John Carpenter's work, but that doesn't mean that everything the man does is great.  Take Prince of Darkness, for example.  Conceptually, it was a cool film, but perhaps the concept was simply too large for a 2-hour horror flic, or that the technology of the time lacked the sophistication to do the concept justice.  Prince of Darkness I can make some excuses for.  The Ward just seemed like a project that Mr. Carpenter simply phoned-in.

 Kristen is a troubled girl.  She was caught burning down a farmhouse in 1966, and sent to a home for other troubled girls.  She is placed in the North Bend Psychiatric Hospital, in Oregon, to be treated by Dr. Gerald Stringer.  Her housemates include four other girls; Emily, Zoey, Iris, and Sarah.  They are watched-over by a tough-as-nails staff.  The year is 1966.

 Kristen is convinced that she is not insane and that she has wrongfully been placed in an asylum, despite her brief jaunt into pyromania and the fact that she seems to be seeing things.  Kristen sees a ghost of another girl in the shadows and corners of the asylum, and is even assaulted by said ghost while showering.  The staff want nothing more than to keep her strapped down and doped to the gills, and only Dr. Stringer seems willing to tolerate her escape attempts, violent outbursts, and her bad influence on her fellow inmates.

 To make matters worse, it seems that she is not the only one seeing the ghost, and that this specter is killing off the inmates one model-perfect girl at a time.  Will Kristen and her fellow female friends solve the mystery of the ward in time, or will the ghoulish ghost kill them all before it is too late?

 Okay.  The film was well shot.  The set appears to be an asylum, albeit an asylum with a very lax set of security protocols.  The tools all appear to be of the period, although I am no expert.  The girls, however, definitely are not.  Only Iris has a Betty Page-style hair-do, the rest have modern hair, make-up, and clothes.  It is hard to be convinced that this is a period-piece when all the girls seem to have stepped right out of a 2010 fashion magazine.  

 The other problem is that you know what is going to happen within really the first 15 minutes of the film.  I won't give it away, but the story definitely does.  While this was no doubt meant to be foreshadowing for the reveal at the end, it was heavy-handed.  I would have preferred that the ghost was revealed to be the doctor in drag and not who it ended up being.  

 And, of course, we had a scene were a nipple, or rather about 10 nipples, should have made an appearance, but it didn't.  I know it's puerile and boorish, but it also reminds me that I am watching a film instead of engaging me in the story. 

 Bottom line: see The Ward only if your a fan of John Carpenter's work and want to be able to say you have seen it all.