Gross Movie Reviews #295
By Tim Gross
Battle Royale (DVD) – Every so often a horror film comes along and changes the rules or explores something of the genre that fans feel hasn’t been touched upon enough or ever… Japan’s ‘Battle Royale’ from 2000 is one of those films. It changed the rules, it surprised us all. This film mostly seen through bootleg copies in America by a lot of hardcore horror movie fans shortly after it came out and understood it would be tough for it to get a legit release. The film does have some of the same overtones as a ‘Death Race 2000’ or a ‘Turkey Shoot’ but it helps get the viewers’ attention when they are using 9th grade kids to kill themselves to help resolve population problems in the future. In the film there is an act; the Battle Royale act that has been passed to help with over population and unruly teens in the future Japan. Officials pick a 9th grade class and drop them on an island where they have 3 days to kill each other till one is left standing. 42 enter and many die quickly, harshly, and in agonizing ways. Along the way there is also two teens that are experienced and one wants to shut down the program or Battle Royale act to send a message to the government. This film if never seen before and I am not talking ‘Hunger Games’ kiddies which clearly ripped off the concept to make it watchable for ‘Twilight’ fans is like a hard sucker punch to the gut with its in your face style of murder and controlled mayhem! It’s a film in my opinion changed the rules for future horror films and proves nothing is taboo when it comes to subject matter in horror films. I like the music, I love the murders in the film between the kids, but one of the underlying plotlines is the romance that brews between two 9th graders who never really took the time to get to know each other. I give this iconic film 4 stars and ‘Hunger Games’ can go suck donkey dick.
Maniac (DVD/remake) – So we get another remake and it’s of a William Lustig film of all titles. This was a remake that came out of left field and some sense like ‘Last House on the Left’ and ‘I, Spit on Your Grave’ has a feverishly hardcore following that makes you question: Can it actually work in 2013? The real surprise I believe of the film is Elijah Wood playing the Joe Spinell role of Frank. But with Alexandre Aja behind the camera and a lot of remake experience under his belt he was able to give a different dimension to the Frank character who gets off on scalping ladies and placing it on mannequins at home. But also its POV style lends it a little different look than Lustig’s brilliant and beautifully disgusting film from 1980. If you are a fan of the original it doesn’t leave the original concept and tries its best to give you a gritty, creepy, and dirty film for present day viewers which is rarely seen these days. But for those who are unfamiliar with the 1980 classic, Elijah Wood’s character Frank uses online dating sites to troll for women and scalp them for his friends aka mannequins at home. Which Frank’s world gets weirder when the pills do not help his condition but viciously killing women does? Most hardcore horror films will enjoy this latest remake but I do warn the newbie horror fans prepare yourself for this film if you never had the guilty pleasure of enjoying a viewing of Joe Spinell in William Lustig’s ‘Maniac’ it is a film like no other. I give the remake 3 stars and was glad to be able to set aside that it is a remake long enough to enjoy it for what it is.
Hatchet 3 (On Demand) – Adam Green (producing/writing only) for his third round of Victor Crowley picks up minutes after the last sequel where Danielle Harris’s character wonders into a police station to declare she has finally killed Victor Crowley. Once arrested the local town sheriff and others soon find 30 or 40 dead bodies in the swamp and the remains of Crowley. But there is one disgraced reporter who doesn’t believe little Danielle Harris has truly killed Crowley or all those are lying in pieces in the swamp. She believes it’s only a matter of time before Crowley puts himself back together and has another blood orgy of murders with the local sheriff and others out in the swamp. And the kicker is the reporter explains that Harris’ character is the only one that can save them all from Crowley. For slasher fans it’s another fun round of gore and more with pretty much every genre actor or actress (exception of the Phantasm and Evil Dead gangs) starring. But the horror film lacks some heart as Adam Green tries to close out his ‘Hatchet’ chapter of his career. I give the film 2 ½ stars.
VHS 2 (On Demand) – This film continues its anthology horror of having two people or private investigators breaking into a house looking for a college aged kid who may have been there? After finding a videotape of him there the couple continues to investigate while one watches videotapes the other searches the house for clues. Zombies and aliens make this a more complete and fun horror anthology than the first and has the ground work for many more sequels in the future if produced and treated right… I give this film 3 ½ stars and hope we do see a couple more of these sequels soon?
Dark Wake (DVD) – A low budget picture made right here in Pittsburgh, Pa., and produced by independent film company North Shore Productions in 2005. Two detectives Jake and Max are on a case of local people being killed, tied up, and left along one the many riverbanks of Pittsburgh. The dead all have a connection to a nun who is about to receive an award for her great service to the city over the years but the two detectives struggle to make the right connection to her before it’s too late. But during their investigation they do come across an underlying plotline of botch abortions, fixed adoptions, and Jake learns something about his mother that his father never told him about that connects them all to the nun. Filmmaker Bruce Koehler features a lot of Pittsburgh for the background but struggles to keep this thriller together with its unique and chilling plot. The independent film has its good and bad moments but is a worthy thriller for direct to video fans as I give the film 2 ½ out of 4 stars and its available at www.amazon.com . Don’t forget to look for local actor David Dietz in the film.
End Game (DVD) – Another independent thriller starring Kurt Angle as Brad a man who is a perverted madman of sorts as he stalks women for his pleasure. This 2009 feature from North Shore Productions has Brad becoming obsessed with Carol (Jenna Morasca) when he talks to her after killing her roommate in a sleazy hotel downtown. But Brad ups the ante of playing games with local detectives who cannot seem to find Brad as he poses as a detective himself to get close to his victims and kill them without being found by the police. Finally getting Carol to be with him Brad feels confident to take that last step of kidnapping a police detective’s wife and kid for insurance of escaping. The final product has its creepy moments that a thriller can have but I actually believe having Kurt Angle struggle through acting as a sexual predator hurts more than help the independent film and may have been much better with someone else starring as the Brad character. I give the film 1 ½ out of 4 stars and can be found at www.northshore-productions.com and don’t forget to look for local actor David Dietz.
Terrorvision (DVD) – A long waited film to DVD and Blu-ray that had been lost but never forgotten is proof of the fun films Charles Band and Empire Pictures use to produce on a regular basis. The Puttermans are a common family of four with their grandpa who stops by all the time to have flashbacks of the war and constantly preparing for the next attack. Now when I mean common, common for the eighties as mom and dad are swingers, the teenage daughter looks like a valley girl, and little brother enjoys the Elvira look-a-like on TV. But the Puttermans have gotten a satellite dish that dwarfs everyone else’s dish or cable and it just so happens to ooze green shit out of it and pick a space monster that was supposed to be trash and can be very dangerous for humans. The monstrous thing begins eating anyone in the household and is trying multiply before the Putterman kids figure out a way to kill it. Empire Pictures classic that I give 4 stars too, and let’s not forget John Carl Buechler’s monster effects.
The Creeps (DVD) – This 1997 Full Moon film is quite different than what Charles Band usually gives horror fans. Like ‘Head of the Family’ this film ‘The Creeps’ does not stick with the killer puppet or Jack Deth formula but deals with the original mythical monsters or as most horror movie fans know as the Universal Monsters but without calling them that. A mad scientist somehow figures out if he builds these machines, in theory he is able to go to the library that has the original literary works of Dracula, Mummy, Frankenstein, and the Wolf Man. Steal the books and his machine will bring the creatures of the night to life. Great idea apparently until he also figures into his equation he needs a virgin! But with luck the young and hot Liberian is trying to track down the mad scientist to stop him until she is able to get away. But not so fast as the mad scientist was able to bring the mythical creatures to life or the state of undead in our world but they are only half-sized since the virgin got away before being sacrificed. Soon the monsters are tracking her down to fix their short situation. A great film with great creature effects, which never gets talked about when discussing Charles Band and his creations. Also very surprised this film never spawned a sequel but now so much time as passed I doubt there ever would be one? But if you like Universal Monsters, you like Full Moon, and you enjoy Phil Fondacaro this film is a pleasant surprise for you. I give this underrated film 3 ½ stars.
Independence Day-Saster (DVD/SyFy Channel) – I always enjoy when SyFy Channel feels like it needs another holiday horror film. And this flick does not disappoint when mechanical creatures aka aliens from outer space attack earth. But they come from inside the earth to strike first when the mother ship is nearby. With the president missing and several countries being wiped out the only hope seems to be a small town firefighter, a scientist, and a couple teenage computer nerds who just so happened to run into the president during an attack. The film is a fun reminder that not all summer films need to be made for 200 million dollars to be entertaining! I give it 2 stars.
Mad Monster Party (DVD) – Oh what a fun and maddening stop motion horror treat from the same people that gave us ‘Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer’. Boris Karloff voices the mastermind behind all the legendary monsters: Dr. Frankenstein. The good old doctor has decided it’s time to retire and wants all his old friends there for all the fun when he gives all his secrets to his only living relative. But some of the monsters are trying to come up with a plan of their own to ruin the retirement party to become the new master of monsters. A fun kid monster film is nearing the age of 50 years but still fun as ever to watch as I give it 4 stars.
Darkest Night (DVD) – A movie made in the Philippines about events that took place at a home Christmas 2003 and 17 people went missing. But seven years later with a recovery team and a lost videotape of events, a filmmaker takes it upon himself to tell the story of what really happened that night as the recovery team digs through the rumble where the house was at. The authorities just chalked it up to some kind of accident or fire that destroyed everyone. It’s got demons, shaky-cam, a hell world, incest, and victims dying in several fun ways with no hope of survival. If you believe in the devil and demons this independent feature might up your alley as it does have its creepy and unsettling moments. But its holes in the plot are crater sized and should be taken with a grain of salt if you truly are going to enjoy this independent film. I have to give the film 2 out of 4 stars and can be found at www.braindamagefilms.com .
Abraham Lincoln Vampire Hunter (DVD) – It sucked but I missed this flick out in theaters but loved the trailers, the look, and the storyline of course. But it seemed shortly after it was released there were a lot of haters… Why? Not sure exactly but for those who were interested I am here to calm any fears of the movie being bad. The film is bloody, hilarious at times, and loves the blending of US history with vampire hunting. Apparently, the confederates were using the vampires during the bloody battle at Gettysburg. With Lincoln’s mother being killed by a vampire when he was young he decides once his father dies he will seek revenge but is stopped by a man named Henry. And Henry helps guide Lincoln’s thirst for vengeance in the right direction and teaches him the ways of vampires. The film being comic bookish to begin with help forgive some of the cheesy CG effects but note there is a few scenes I can honestly understand why they used them. The film is entertaining and is the utter example of a fun popcorn film for you to be entertained and escape reality for two hours. Hell, I have heard some critics call it another ‘Van Helsing’ and believe those who have should just shoot themselves in the face. If you tell me there is a movie with one of the greatest presidents ever fighting vampires I’m watching it every time. I think part of the problem is people overthink films, life in general and sometimes just let your imagination go and enjoy crazy shit like Lincoln fighting vampires or even… zombies. Anyway, go watch this fun horror flick as I give it 3 ½ stars.
Nine Miles Down (DVD) – A somewhat supernatural/sci-fi flick that stars “Bootleg Highlander” Adrian Paul as a security officer checking out a scientific research site out in the middle of an African desert where there has been no contact with the team for several days. Once arriving at the site he begins to investigate and finds strange things but no people. Once about to leave a woman comes jogging into the research center as if she came out of nowhere. She slowly explains what the scientific team was doing digging far past the outer crust of the earth and soon that everybody became delusional. I found the film to be a fun watch as you were even unsure at the end of the film whether or not “Bootleg Highlander” suffered from delusions brought on by gas from inside the earth or was being tricked by a very hot looking “Devil Woman”. I give the film 3 stars.
The Dead and The Damned (DVD) – A lower budgeted film that involves a bounty hunter, the old west, and zombies. A bounty hunter is trying to track a Native American who supposedly raped and killed a white woman. While tracking him unbeknownst to the bounty hunter the small mining town where he left his horse just happened to have someone roll in a meteor rock that try to bust open and it spills out spores that infects the mining town and turns them into zombies. It’s up to the bounty hunter, the Native American, and the woman that was bought to be used as bait for the Native American to kill all the zombies or spiritual demons according to the Native American. The effects and the running zombies were a turn off for me but did enjoy a scene where a blind zombie was trying to find the woman locked up in the saloon. Overall I would pass on this flick more times than not as I give it 1 ½ stars.
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