Monday, July 22, 2013

Movie Review: Silent Hill Revelation


3D is a gimmick.  

 Let me say that again.  3D is a gimmick.  It rarely makes the film better.  I think the only good 3D film I ever watched was about the moon landings at an IMAX and that film was meant to immerse you entirely in the environment.  In horror films, the 3D is interspersed throughout the film with the occasional knife or claw being shot in with the 3D effect.  Silent Hill Revelations was designed to make use of the 3D format, which made many of the scenes clunky and cut into both the budget for the film and the gore.  

 I really enjoyed the first Silent Hill, it had the same creepiness as the game and did not hold back on the gore.  I have a feeling that because Silent Hill Revelation was filmed for 3D, the gore had to be dialed back a bit to still get the pass on and R rating.  Even with an R, a film can still be too gory.  While the original Silent Hill drew you into its world, this film never succeeds in fully engaging the viewer.
It's a film about this plush bunny.

 At the end of the first film, it appeared that Sharon and her adoptive mother, Rosa, had made it out of Silent Hill only to be home but in the "spirit world", with Harry, Sharon's adoptive father, at a loss to understand their disappearance.  

 In the beginning of Revelation, Harry and Sharon are on the run, dying their hair and using fake identities, due to Harry having apparently killed a man several years earlier.  It is later revealed that the citizens of Silent Hill are still hunting for Sharon, and are able to enter our world for short periods of time.  Sharon is still the key to unleashing their god and transforming the Earth, as well as ending the demonic terror of Sharon's birth-mother, Alessa.  Sharon must face Silent Hill in order to save her father and herself.
"Mannequin" in reverse.

 Silent Hill Revelation doesn't really do much to add to the story established in the original film.  The world of Silent Hill is little explored.  The acting is fair, as are the special effects, but neither reach the same levels as the original film.  The climax of the film is a let down... we've seen far too many monster fights to really appreciate the clash of the titans that resolves the story.
Bit of a pussy.

 For Silent Hill fans, there is really no reason not to watch Revelation.  Just expect to be disappointed.    









Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Movie Review: C.H.U.D.

 I had never actually sat down to watch C.H.U.D. until it came up in my queue.  I had heard about it since its release back in 1984, but it sounded to me like just another 80s B-movie.  

 While that may be true, C.H.U.D. does stand out from its peers.

 First of all, it is a horror film with a message.  The homeless population in New York, and frankly anywhere in the world, goes largely ignored.  People who are homeless disappear or die with little or no interest from the rest of society, there passing often undocumented or simply becoming a part of the statistical data.  They are treated as less-than-human.  Couple this social problem with the issue of managing toxic-waste, and you have the makings for a horror film.
A Moleman on steroids...

 C.H.U.D. manages to take itself seriously, despite the outrageous premise.  The actors play their characters well, dealing with both the Cannibalistic Humanoid Underground Dwellers who have run afoul of the Contamination Hazard Urban Disposal Project and the general social morass in a poignantly believable manner.  Only George Cooper seems to be out of place as the photo-journalist who observes yet stands apart from the situation.  As one of the protagonists of the film, he makes for a fairly shabby hero.

 The special effects are also fair... typical for an 80s film with latex masks, glowing eyes, and gallons of fake blood.  What really makes the film is its sets.  The underground environs are disturbingly realistic, enhancing every dark shadow and strange noise.  
It's the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles!

 Still, it is an 80s B-movie, not a masterpiece.  Growing up in the 80s, I can understand why it had the impact that it did.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Movie Review: Shark Night

 There is only one reason that I watched this PG-13 film about privileged college kids being eaten by sharks in a lake in Louisiana.  I watched it because it was next in my horror-film queue.  I knew it was going to be bad before I even pressed play.

 Nothing about the film itself makes it a bad film.  The actors all seemed proficient in their roles, and though the typical gang of 5 is present, they are not as stereotypical and one-dimensional as usual.  In fact, each of these kids has something admirable and noble about them, and each has overcome some manner of adversity in their lives.  

 Which is weird, other than to say that this story gives you and handful of heroic individuals, who, despite their lives of privilege and status, seem to genuinely care for one another and their fellow man.  Like that would actually happen.

 Opposite the heroes are the backwoods locals, who are as menacing, racist, sexist, and quick to violence as backwoods locals are supposed to be.  And, of course, they are the real bad-guys in the film.
"One time we made these city-fellas squeal like piggies..."

 The moral of the story is that being privileged and educated assures the creation of a solid citizen, whom the rubes of the sticks will always victimize and violate.  It's like the producers want to outlaw banjo music.

 The sharks are simply an improbable means to an end.

 The production quality of the film is high, although the CGI nature of the sharks was often obvious.  The special effects were so-so... I mean, it was mostly just blood foaming in the water.  This film is, after all, only PG-13. 

Spank-material for 12-year olds.
 And, of course, this means that while we have co-eds spending most of the film in bikinis, and even one scene where two of the girls turn their backs to the camera, remove their bras, and put on their bikini tops, there is no nudity.  Not only is this woefully unrealistic and a desperate attempt to inject some sexuality into the film without actually crossing the line into adult-land, but the girls are turning away from nothing and no one to let their breasts be seen through the open window they must face to avoid the non-existent observer in the room.

 Most women I have known would face one another while undressing to continue to make eye-contact throughout their conversation.  If they were a bit shy, they might turn their back to one another, but not to the empty wall and certainly not to face the open window. But, these girls are all so wholesome and sweet that they were probably born without nipples.

 I can't imagine watching this in 3-D.  That would couple watching a bad film with having to wear those annoying glasses.   


Thursday, January 31, 2013

Movie Review: Super Hybrid

 Meh.

 I guess, at least conceptually, Super Hybrid is something different.  8/10ths Christine and 2/10ths Alien.  What we have is a killer car that is trapped in a building with a crew of auto-mechanics.  The car is really not a car at all, rather it is some kind of monster that can disguise itself as a car.  This makes it a better predator for hunting humans.

 Nothing beyond that makes this film interesting, and that little bit, the concept, is old shortly after the characters figure it out.  Speaking of the characters, the five main ones are the usual troop of five; the strong asshole, his dorky buddy, the slut, the prince, and the come-from-behind heroine.  They mix it up a little bit by making the prince the heroine's nephew, but it is still the same flat, stereotypical characters common to horror films.
I saw one of these in my toilet.

 Most of the film is shot in minimal light, most likely so that you cannot see the driver in the many, many car scenes.  Beyond the stunts and the high-speed chases in tight spaces, the special-effects are fair.  The reveal in the end reminded me a lot of Cloverfield, probably because of the tentacles.

 PG-13, so the gore is minimal and there is no nudity.  I nearly fell asleep watching this, so if you need a nap, here you go. 

Melanie Papalia, the slut, topless in another film.  You're welcome.





















Monday, January 21, 2013

Movie Review: The Theatre Bizarre

 I dig vignettes.

 When I read horror, I tend to prefer collections of short-stories over novels.  This has nothing to do with a short attention-span; I enjoy a good horror novel.  The problem is that there are so many bad horror stories.  When I am reading a novel that has not really demonstrated anything good for the first 100 pages, I invariably continue reading in the hopes that it will get better.  More often than not I read to the end and find that I wasted my time.  With a short story, if one yarn is weak, you get through it quickly and move on the the next story.  

 Horror seems to be fertile ground for vignettes.  There is a long list of infamous titles; Cat's Eye, Creepshow, Tales from the Darkside: The Movie, Twilight Zone the Movie, and so on.  You just don't see these kinds of anthologies of sketches in other genres.  It also seems that the vignette offers the opportunity for writers and directors to be more playful than they might be with a feature film, which can be good or bad.
Beer Goggles X 100.

 The Theatre Bizarre follows a common model for vignette horror films.  A character, representing the viewer, is introduced to a strange situation which leads to them being told a number of short stories, which each story divided by the first character progressing through a process of some sort, typically leading to a moral.  In this film, a young woman is curious about a run-down theater across the road from her home.  When she sees that it has been opened, she pay the show a visit.
Just one more fix...

 The Theatre Bizarre features six stories.

 Mother of Toads is a Lovecraftian tale about a young couple running afoul of a witch in the a remote French village.  It was a fairly common monster story.

 I Love You shows the final end of a relationship where the man is simply too possessive.  It has a kind of sick little twist at the end, but is also otherwise unremarkable.

 Wet Dreams, directed by Tom Savini, is the most intentionally fun of all the vignettes.  A woman gets revenge on her abusive and cheating mate with the help of her husband's psychologist.  
Taking "bitch" to a whole new level.

 The Accident is the most poignant of the tales, with a keenly eerie message.  A mother tries to explain the nature of death to a child after witnessing a tragic accident.

 Of all the stories, I liked Vision Stains the most.  A researcher has discovered a means to see the literal "life flashing before the eyes" of people at the moment of their deaths, and has become addicted to seeing those visions.

 Finally, Sweets, is just a sick story about love, manipulation, and consumption.  The story is gross, but not in the manner that horror fans are accustomed to.
The make-up coming off does not help things.

 The film has some star power.  The ever creepy Udo Kier provides the "narration" throughout the film.  Tom Savini directs and acts in his segment.  It also has an international flavor, with stories set in France and Germany.  Visually, the film is wonderfully rich, with the special effects being masterfully done.  The acting is impressive all around.  

 The framing story, while alright, seemed often to be a bit disjointed, and though that may have been the intent it took away from the film for me.  Also, their is a distinct misogynistic message throughout the stories.  In fact, five of the six stories feature a woman who is either a monster or who is coldly dispassionate toward their partners or others.  While I recognize the anecdotal idea that women are the more viscous gender and that as the target audience is predominantly male (therefore describing the female as dangerous is both alluring and antagonizing), having this theme repeated over and over suggests almost an agenda.

 Still, I dig the film.  It was not fantastic, but not a waste of 2 hours either.

 Jason Sorrell is a writer, tattoo artist, satirist, artist, and generally nice guy living in Austin, TX.  Shoot him an email at sorrellart@hotmail.com


Friday, January 11, 2013

Movie Review: Paranormal Incident

 Why, oh why does Hollywood have such a hard-on for first-person horror films?  I mean, we get it.  The Blair Witch Project was a novel film both for its premise and the manner in which it was shot.  Let the actors film themselves and never actually reveal any monsters.  It worked, but now with Paranormal Activity, Paranormal Entity, Paranormal Incident, Paranormal Senior Orgy, Paranormal Anal Polyp Surgery... it is beginning to get tedious.  

 Especially when that is all you really have going for you.  

 Ooh!  The actors jumped!  Wow, something flashed across the screen!  Gosh, it is scarey in the dark!

 Wait, no it isn't.  That is probably this films biggest flaw.  It isn't scarey.  The stings come so fast and frequent that you quickly get used to them.  Every door slams shut, every corner has a shadow that moves out of site as soon as you round it, something goes "bump" down every dark corridor.  You spend the film waiting for the reveal that never arrives.

Thank you, Ms. Underwood, for sharing your inner slut with us.
 So, let's deal with some problems.  I really appreciate Nadia Underwood's contribution to the film.  Her scenes were the finest of the entire project.  Which one is she?  She's the girl in the gratuitous sex scenes.  Now, I LOVES me some T-n-A in a horror film, but what we are watching is supposed to be an evidence reel which was edited together for the sake of establishing a time-line.  Why are the personal sex-ploits of the stereotypical jock-stud from three days prior spliced into the film?  Other than it gives his Barbie Doll that he brought with him a reason to catch him cheating and split from the group, it serves no purpose to share with us.  You could have simply referenced it through the dialogue, and then have the break-up scene carry it the rest of the way home.  

 Sure, we wouldn't have been able to watch Ms. Underwood's magnificent fun-bags bounce fro-and-hither, but the continuity of the film would have been maintained.

60 of the 82 minutes is this right here.
 By the way.  That scene and that scene only is why this film has an 'R' rating.  What little gore there is you barely have an opportunity to see, and it is just some spattered blood.  At least this production company realized that an 'R' might sell a little better than a 'PG-13'.

 Next, why is Base Camp always some location deep in the bowels of the mental hospital?  Why is Base Camp not right at the entrance, in case something goes wrong and you need to quickly get out and get help?  This place, the "Bates Motel"...

...Sorry.  The Odenbrook Sanitarium, only has one entrance and/or exit as far as the group knows.  I would think that you would camp out right there.  Hell, you would bring one person to act purely as the door-stop, and let him sit with the entrance open and his body impeding any possibility that it would be closed.

They're creepy and they're kooky...
 Next, watch the scenes were they show the Base Camp, especially during the day.  All the windows are barred or have fencing placed over them and the Mystery Gang is desperate to find a way out.  They try every window and find them barred and locked... EXCEPT THE TWO GIANT WINDOWS WITH THE BOX AIR CONDITIONERS DIRECTLY IN FRONT OF WHERE THEY ARE SITTING!  Hello?  One good kick and gravity pulls those cheap, heavy bastards to the earth below, leaving you with a GAPING OPEN WINDOW TO CLIMB THROUGH!

 Way to think that one through, set-guys.

Aw, that's nice.  She's a donor.
 Finally, everyone knows that the shit has hit the fan.  Daphne is toast.  Fred left Velma to fend for herself.  Fred, Black Shaggy, and Smart Daphne all haul ass and meet up at the exit gate, outside the building in the bright, shiny, halogen lamp-light.  They are in a cage made of fence, but they are in the open air.  You are all freaked out and confident that death awaits inside the Spooky Mansion.  Fred says Velma is dead.  You know what you do?

 Accept it, and start screaming for help.  Scream your fool heads off, and stay in the nice, bright light outside the hell-house.  Don't be Black Shaggy and Smart Daphne and run back in for Velma.  And, Fred, when you hear the voice of Daphne who just appeared to you in a hospital gown with her grill all fucked-up and moaning "braaaaains", don't go back in after her just because you hear her calling your name.  Scream for the police, and let the cops deal with that noise.  

 This film does offer one other, mildly interesting twist: the Government covers this kind of thing up.  If our Government is this woefully incompetent, we have bigger things to be concerned about.

 If you see this film, it should only be as a instruction video on what not to do when exploring a potentially haunted building.

 Jason Sorrell is a writer, tattoo artist, satirist, artist, and generally nice guy living in Austin, TX.  Shoot him an email at sorrellart@hotmail.com


Movie Review: The Wolf Man (1941)

"Even a man who is pure at heart, and says his prayers by night, may become a wolf when the wolfbane blooms and the autumn moon is bright."

 This was one of the first horror films I ever watched, and probably the one that had the largest impact on me.  The dreamy backdrops and transformation sequences, the intensity of the character portrayal, and the tragedy of the story are all iconic, establishing the standard for horror films for years to come.

 Larry Talbot, son of Sir John Talbot, returns from living in the United States to his ancestral home in Wales due to the death of his brother.  Larry is fully Americanized, he has no British accent and is a bit out of pace with the local villages British sensibilities.  He takes an interest in a local girl, Gwen, and goes with her and a friend to have their fortunes read by a band of traveling gypsies.  
Must have made things less confusing for Bela.

 The fortune teller, Bela, sees that Gwen's friend is to be his next victim.  He is a werewolf, and before the three can leave the glen the gypsies are camped in, the girl is attacked.  Larry kills the wolf, but not before being bitten himself.  While a murder investigation ensues, Larry discovers he is now a werewolf, and the body count begins to rise.  

 This film focuses almost entirely on the tragedy of the werewolf.  Larry Talbot was a happy-go-lucky fellow before he was bitten.  He is a good man struggling with a horrible and fantastic secret, one that challenges his very sanity.  By night, he turns into a murderous monster, with no control of his actions or memory of the events.  The story touches upon psychological theories, suggesting a real basis behind the werewolf myth and the power of the mind to create its own reality.  Larry becomes desperate to get someone to believe him and to take appropriate steps to protect the people he loves from the monster he has become, but to no avail.  In the end, he knows that he is going to die, and hopes that it happens before he hurts the ones he loves.  The scene where Larry gives his father the silver-capped cane Larry used to kill the Bela-werewolf is probably the most poignant in the film.  Larry has resigned himself to his fate.
Gonna make her his bitch.

 Curt Soidmak provided most of the common werewolf cannon that is know to horror fans and incorporated into the myth as we know it today.  The phrase introducing this post was his creation, as were the idea that a person bitten by a werewolf becoming a wolf themselves.  Soidmak took credit for creating the werewolf's vulnerability to silver, but that was a part of the myth well before Soidmak's work.

 Lon Chaney Jr. solidified his reputation as an actor with this film, although he failed to exceed the success know by his father, Lon Chaney.  

Jason Sorrell is a writer, tattoo artist, satirist, artist, and generally nice guy living in Austin, TX.  Shoot him an email at sorrellart@hotmail.com