The Bog Creatures (2003)
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An archaeologist who has been laughed out of academia and his genius teenage sister have assembled a group of 5 grad students to go excavate a bog looking for proof of his theory about an ancient berserker cult.
It hangs together better than one might expect. The actors are terrible, and sometimes the dialogue gets into the wooden side of things, but then it goes and gets all logical. The students are written as both intelligent AND naive... And the kinda unhealthy relationship between the professor and his sister is both disturbing AND a plot element, oddly.
Weirdly, science is treated with respect by the script.
In short, its really not half bad. Its low budget, with all that implies, but I've seen much much worse.
Now, I just watched this last night and the only character that I even came close to liking was the guy who swallowed a pair of panties (!). I do remember a couple of cute girls running around (Don't get excited. There's no real nudity to speak of) and there was this guy who looked like he was trying to be a body double for Tommy Lee. His faux tough-guy persona was fun times. There was also this guy with a weird accent that showed up close to the beginning then just disappeared. That's too bad. He was funny. All in all, it's a pretty decent effort that makes good use of its low-budget (although, not nearly as well as "In The Woods").
I think the coolest part of the Dvd was the "making of" that was tacked on. Here, we get to go behind the scenes and meet the director. He's a pretty likeable guy with some interesting things to say. He gives us his definition of "guerilla film-making" and we learn about how the idea for the story was conceived.
If you're into b-horror, you may want to give this one a look. It's (if nothing else) worth a rental and the premise of a Viking/horror movie is actually kind of original in this day and age.
It starts out with a hopelessly low-budget medieval battle (My dear friend/generic film buff, who rented this one, noticed a "knight" wearing a striped T-shirt!). The lazy filmmakers pay no attention to detail and don't even attempt authenticity. The low-grade DV cinematography doesn't help, either. Fortunately, the movie slips into some campy fun as the real story starts. Five bright and good-natured college flunkies (??) assist an ex-college flunkie in doing some excavation work in a Scottish bog (although it looks more like American woodlands). Nearby is an ancient castle in which mysterious events are tied to. The "ancient" castle has wooden walls, wooden-hinge doors and a brand spanking new paint job, but oh-well what can you do with lazy filmmakers. Suddenly, shamefully under-costumed bog creatures (wearing untainted shirts and khaki pants) turn the bog into their happy hunting ground. The typically formulaic story is surprisingly grounded, and never descends to an unwatchable bomb level. Director J. Christian Ingvordsen seems to know what goes into a pleasant, crowd pleasing horror flick, but he doesn't seem to have the means to achieve his goal. The screenplay, written by Matthew M. Howe is plain and simple rubbish, but it could have been cool rubbish had there been directed with a bigger budget.
There are fine women to be found, and not much of anything else. This is a pretty bad one, but I guess it could have been a lot worse. If your looking for a decisive recommendation or the opposite, I'd advise passing this one for sure (unless you are interested in seeing a man devour a woman's panties whole in one of the most absurd, if highly memorable, scenes).
I was looking for a horror movie that wouldn't tax my brain too badly on a Saturday night and therefore wasn't particularly disappointed with Bog Creatures. The setting is semi-eerie and the acting is okay. Basically, this wasn't a bad horror flick; it just isn't anything that hasn't been seen before. In fact, it really hearkens back to the horror films of the 1950s which we laugh at today. The only differences are slightly better costumes/effects, more foul language, etc.
This may actually become a campy movie at some point. The most bizarre scene is the doofy guy sneaking into one of the girl's tents and sniffing her panties. She returns and catches him, but is standing behind him and can't see what he's doing. So, like any normal rational guy, he SWALLOWS the panties, trying to act nonchalant.
We have a rather bizarre scenario in itself, with specially-recruited `troubled' drop-out archaeology students being brought together. Somehow the tough guy with the tattoo just doesn't strike me as a college archaeology student-having known a number of them. It also seems strange that this U.K. professor has to find his `special' archaeology kids in America.
At least the troweling scene where the first Viking berserker is unearthed--first the helmet then the realization that there is a body IN the helmet--is good. This gives a brief feeling of reality or at least texture to the film. So does the autopsy scene. Other than that, though, it's basically a bunch of typical college losers in the woods, being semi-stalked by somewhat non-aggressive mummified corpses. (If you want to see this basic plot in a well-animated, more lively manner, watch Scooby Doo On Zombie Island!) To put it another way, it's about as scary as Ghost Breakers (with Bob Hope), but much less funny.
The cast is fairly solid, although after just one viewing (all I desire!), I'm not able to keep the five students straight. There are two decent-looking girls we barely get to know, plus a tough guy, a nerd and a weird intellectual who doesn't seem to give a rip. Lara Theodos is certainly hot as Dr. Feneman's brilliant kid sister. The ending, by the way, is interesting-and certainly in keeping with the campy 1950s feel of the movie. Overall, the movie is like the Bog Creatures themselves: kind of creepy, but not much bite.
About the DVD: MTI Home Video has released a great DVD for us. Picture, considering the film was shot on video, is really pretty good--there is some expected grain and fuzzy colors, but skin tones are good and the print is bright. The audio is pretty poor though--I had to fool with the sound throughout the whole film to get adequate sound. We also get an excellent behind the scenes documentary, running about 30 minutes, which extensively covers the entire production. It's a great little documentary for young film makers, too. We also get 4 additional trailers for other MTI films. My rating for the DVD: 9/10.
A group of 18-19 year old go to an excavation site at an old viking castle in Denmark, to try to uncover the myth of the Berserker vikings. Strange things happens: something is in the forest, and people start disappearing.
The main thing about this movie that really bothers me, is that the story is supposed to take place in Denmark, where I happen to live. There were so many places in the movie where the Hollywood-style overlapped danish reality. It really made the acting and drama look ridiculous in my eyes.
You never see the characters interact with any of their surroundings. Its feels like a mini-Hollywood in Denmark, and it takes away the credibility of the movie. When at one point you hear someone speak "old danish", it sounds exactly like modern day Swedish. Really bad research, considering the director is from Denmark.
The characters in the movie used GPS and maps, and that's really funny, since Denmark is about the size of your backyard. Nomatter where you are, there is never more than 50 km to the sea, and 500 meters to civilization. And if you are at a castle, there are going to be tourists everywhere. We see a lot of overviews of forests in the movie, and sometimes, we see what appears to be North American vegetation(?) The story did not exactly appeal to me, maybe because the acting was so bad. When the characters see the bog creatures for the first time, they are not even scared. I guess their acting skills were insufficient to display realistic emotions. At the end, there is an unexpected twist, but it didn't impress me, since I didn't really care.
The bog creatures are cheap, but they had the potential to be scary. Unfortunately, they fail, since we get a good look at them standing in the forest when the characters arrive at the castle. Also, there are no really scary scenes, since the Bog Creatures are mostly just standing around.
Anyway, conclusion: Disregarding the facts, the movie is your typical B-horror flick. I guess people from other countries can enjoy it more. As long as you are unaware of reality, it doesn't matter. Just like I think of USA as one big action movie set, everyone else can think of Denmark as a forest with a castle.. and some living-dead people in a bog..
Rumor has it that Viking warriors were buried in this bog and the expert professor has spent the last 10 years looking for their bodies. All of his colleagues think he is crazy for believing this.
Well not only is he crazy, he's also blind as a bat because these Nordic Zombie Warriors are all over the freakin' place. Seriously. You can't swing a dead cat without hitting an undead Berserker in the wee bits. In any outdoor scene you can be guaranteed there is at loeast one bog creature hanging out in the background. And our EXPERT can't spot one in 10 years?
Blah blah blah, terrible acting, 1200 year old undead Irish virgins who comprehend Modern English, witch descendants, THE END.
OK. I admit it. I'm an idiot. A fool. A nincompoop. Once again I saw an exciting video box cover and thought it would be good. There was a vicious looking skull on the cover with red eyes and sharp teeth looking down on a bunch of teens. The movie had a bunch of shambling guys in Swamp Thing costumes wielding swords. I cry foul.
"Bog Creatures" reeks. It stinks. Waste of time. One of the things that roped me into it, (as I'm sure the producers were hoping), was the name of Debbie Rochon. I figured she would bring some fun to the party or at least a sense of B-movie legitimacy. Nope. She had no chance. Rochon couldn't save this one from drowning in the muck. She does not get naked in this flick. One of the girls rubs her arm a lot. Wow. Exciting. There was going to be a bathing scene with Rochon being washed by her new girlfriend. It was looking promising. Of course that would have been entertaining and "Bog Creatures" had to put a stop to that right away. Heartbreaking.
So what's left? Not much. There is no action, suspense or gore. There's nothing. Throw this tape back in the bog.
BEST LINE from the movie, hands down: "Not bad for a girl who never even went to graduate school...." My blind grandma who has alzheimers could make a better movie.
One thing the movie does sort of have going for it is a admirable ambiguity as to just where on earth it was filmed. The plot is set in Norway with a visit to Amsterdam for an autopsy scene, but my eyes said Connecticut. Could be anywhere, really, giving fans of the movie something concrete to speculate over. Summer school for eager young filmmakers in Minnesota, perhaps. The cast also features attractive females in their 20s comfortable scampering around in their shorts & tank tops, including foxy Debbie Rochon beautifully spilling out of hers before she chews up the scenery with a burst of acting that none other in the cast can come close to. You can do worse with your time.
The premise also has some merit as well: Scandanavian peat field holds the corpses of several unfortunates thrown into what was once a bog to their fates, conjuring up images from old National Geographic magazines of mummified bog bodies. The corpses aren't happy about it and come back to a shuffling existence suitable for PG-13 rated fare. That they are depicted with low budget makeup effects consisting of muddy shawls & garlands of moss can't be held against the film, as it does not aspire to be an SFX study in rotting flesh, severed limbs and sexual violence. If anything it screams out as an attempt at a date movie rental with strong female roles, good looking semi-neutered guys handy for a body count who aren't as smart as the female lead, and a minimum of gratuity which might come off as sexist. She may think it's dumb but likely won't break it off over having agreed to watch it with you. Safe to rent.
Which unfortunately means that horror genre fans will likely find the results lacking in the sleaze, decadence and excess that the movies it resembles deliver. Consider THE EVIL DEAD with a PG rating, strip away its veneer of artistry, reign in the plot to remove anything too arresting and that's essentially what you get. For what its worth I'll confess to having sort of enjoyed watching it as well; wishing it had ended up as something else won't get us anywhere, and indeed there's room for another go at the motif if anybody is so inspired.
Arriving at Copenhagen University in Denmark, Susan Beth, (Courtney Henggeler) Diana Oppenheimer, (Leia Thompson) Nick Warren, (Michael Mosley) Steve Dyson, (Joshua Park) and Ronald Teller, (Jesse Steccato) are welcomed by Professor Lawrence Feneman, (Jeffrey Howard) and his sister Kelly, (Lara Theodos) to continue a study on an ancient race of creatures found in a bog nearby. Heading to the dig with his assistant Max, (T.J. Glenn) they arrive at Volborg Castle and explore a section of the castle. Preparing to dig, they manage to uncover several skeletons of the bog creatures in the area only soon afterward for a series of strange disappearances to unnerve them. Realizing that the bog creatures are the reanimated corpses of a long-ago tribe of warriors killed during a raid on the castle grounds that were stowed in the bog to ward off evil spirits, and must find a way of destroying them before the whole team is captured and used in a series of blood rituals.
The Good News: This was a pretty enjoyable and entertaining entry. One of the better elements that works with it is the incredibly well-done atmosphere here. The fact that the events takes place at an old, abandoned castle out in the middle of the forest is the perfect way to generate absolutely insane levels of suspense and atmosphere here, and there's a lot more to it. The castle itself is great, with it's brick-lined corridors, old-time construction, general appearance and how it manages to fit together all of those elements. The scenes of the group's digging in the forest, with the layout of the trees amongst the bog-covered ground and it's complete and utter dread. That makes the scenes of them in the forest, either digging through the dirt finding the skeletons or the group wandering through the forest, the atmosphere from the location here is great and adds to an impressive feel. There's also some great stuff coming from the film's later action scenes, which are a lot of fun here. From the first assault of the reanimated mummies on the castle to a sequence involving them running wild through the woods during a relatively fun chase scene, it's finale is really great. Also included is a rather wild pagan ritual ceremony performed that makes for some chilling moments from the time, and there's a couple of really eerie regeneration scenes in here as well, which is really nice and adds to the atmosphere even more. The look of the mummies in here also manages to get a little more good points into the film, as they look incredibly good and creepy. With their dirt-encrusted bodies, withered skin, tattered clothes and even bits of the ground's roots and branches sticking out of them, they manage to look really great and appropriate, effectively zombie-like while not completely like them and manage to hold off on their own due to the decision to mix the two, looking more like zombies but behaving more like mummies into a nice touch. That also lets the film have some good scenes carried completely by them, including their attacks in the castle at the end as well as the somewhat sketchy but completely acceptable idea of them communicating with the humans, still speaking in their native tongue but allowing them to have more personality than just about any other kind of creature in a similar film, and it's a big plus here. Couple these with the film's fast pace and it has a lot going for it.
The Bad News: There's a few flaws here that manage to hold it down. One of the biggest is that the film is incredibly dry and doesn't have a whole lot of blood or gore involved. There's several reasons for this, with the most prevalent one being that there's just no kills in here, and it has no chance to give some if there's no opportunity. That's a major problem, as the body count here is simply paltry and doesn't have much chance to ever do something about it. The other part about that is the fact that this one's kills just don't deliver any anyway. When the most graphic kill in a film is a slit throat, it's seriously deprived of gore. This really would've gone a long way towards making this one better, fixing the gore with it's two really big problems. The only other part here that doesn't work is the finale, which makes no sense. It's simply hard to understand where it came from, how it plays out and simply doesn't fit in well at all. These issues are the only wrong ones about the film.
The Final Verdict: Despite not having that many bad parts to it, there's a few points to this one to hold it down ever so slightly from the top entries in the genre. Give it a shot if you're into these kind of films or are on the lookout for above-average fare of this style, while those looking for other types of films should heed caution.
Rated R: Graphic Language and Violence