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I love bad horror movies when they're unintentionally funny and good horror movies when they make me think (and the good ones do). I also enjoy other kinds of movies, of course. I was recently turned on to the films of Luis Bu�uel, for example, and am engaged in watching everything of his I can get my hands on.
An IMdB user since 2000, I've found this service useful in selecting my flicks and contribute my honest opinions on whatever I see by voting and commenting. A lot. All opinions expressed by me are entirely my own. I have no connections with anyone who works in the movie industry and generally don't care much about the opinions of professional film critics. I know what I like... and you will, too!
Night of the Flesh Eaters (2008)
Flat and poorly lit, though if the line "Find me a stick" being repeated over and over again is your thing, you might like it. A hit on a cheating wife and a business partner goes terribly wrong when a gangster turns out to be the prophesied "man of mixed blood" who will gain all the powers of a bunch of Native American flesh-eating demons and a half-snake/half-human evil medicine man. The ending is a let down and there's not one really memorable scene. Easily forgotten low-budget horror.
Not really much more to say about this one. Sometimes, you don't really need ten lines of text to sum up a rather unremarkable flick.
The Grindhouse Lovechild of John Waters and Quentin Tarantino
Quentin Tarantino and John Waters are pleased to announce the birth of their bastard child. It's a bouncing, healthy transvestite exploitation/revenge movie! Wait, did I say healthy? Strike that. It is, however, a whole lot of fun to watch. It's Kill Bill meets Pink Flamingos and, yes, there are ticked-off trannies with knives here, and they're the best ones you're likely to ever see. So see them, already.
This flick is camp, knows it, flaunts it and works it. Never once did I get the feeling it was trying to take itself seriously, although there are some grind-house-style grueling moments involving large knives and foreign objects inserted uncomfortably into body cavities (the latter never explicitly shown). The eponymous trannies are of the convincingly feminine type and include a dark-skinned stand-in for Divine who plays the psychotically vengeful mama-tranny almost too well. I can't imagine why John Waters hasn't heard of him yet. Witty and catty lines spill effortlessly and convincingly, with grind-house intensity mixing perfectly with comedy throughout. The culmination is a very dark but twistedly satisfying ending that you will NOT forget anytime soon.
This is far from a perfect film. Its low budget shows through in many places, and the "reel missing" gag goes on a bit too long. The main villain isn't a very good actor; he comes across hammy and his timing is just off in a number of scenes. The effort to shoehorn in pop culture references as comedy sometimes fall flat, too. It's not enough to make this anything less than a worthwhile, fun and uniquely off-the-wall experience, though, and the presence of a subtly scary drag queen nurse with the name Helluva Bottom-Carter makes up for all of the shortcomings in a single five-minute scene.
If you like John Waters, you'll definitely like Ticked-Off Trannies with Knives. If you like Both Waters and Quentin Tarantino, you'll like this gem even more. This one is destined for cult status.
Last Rites of the Dead (2006)
Zombies and More: ZA Rises to the Top of the Independent Zombie Flick Bumper Crop
I thoroughly enjoyed this low-budget flick. It's a zombie movie with a human twist, centered on Angela. She's been murdered but can't die like a lot of other people who find themselves now as the undead. She, like them, wants to have a life but she has to figure out where she fits into the world. She goes from joining an unrealistic, touchy-feely self-help group for zombies that sits around and talks and gets nowhere to being kidnapped by a radical zombie group.
Meanwhile, vigilantes bent on wiping out all zombies intrude, with her murderous ex-boyfriend along for the ride. It all culminates in a blood bath, of course... but while the gore goes over the top, it's not without a good deal of emotional impact. Angela will finally learn how to stop being a victim and stand up for herself. The writing is good and the acting is as well through most of this.
I came close to loving ZA, but the acting of Christa McNamee as The Commandant detracted a little too much from the rest of the film for that. Joshua Nelson is quite good; this seems a better vehicle for him than "The Blood Shed," for instance. Gina Ramsden turns in what I thought a strong performance as Angela.
I like the way that the zombies themselves were handled in this, too. They're neither lumbering reanimated corpses nor supercharged high-speed killers. They can think and feel and even act like normal people. They're nearly impossible to truly kill, too, which the film shows has its good points and a LOT of bad ones.
While there are some humorous moments, calling this a satire isn't a fair label. Most of the humor is quite dark and the movie seems more concerned with making a point about abusive relationships, people's prejudices and vanity. For a low-budget flick, there's a lot here for the viewer if he's not entirely distracted by the gore, but still enough of that to keep a gore-hound happy, too.
Unborn Sins (2007)
Dismal in Every Way
A no-budget, straight-to-video piece of garbage without a single redeeming quality. The acting is outrageously bad throughout, the sound is inaudible much of the time, and the whole thing looks like a series of single takes recorded on a $200 hand-held video camera someone picked up on sale at WalMart. The villain is a short guy in a black jumpsuit wearing white pancake make-up with black greasepaint around his eyes and mouth.
When in one of the earliest scenes a woman is going to have an abortion performed in a building and you can see the words "Family Dental Clinic" on the signs on the lawn and next to the door, you KNOW you're in for something so bad that "subpar" would be a gross understatement of the massive dose of badness and banality yet to come, and on that front "The Unborn" never disappoints. The director didn't think enough of a potential audience to assume they could read; he certainly isn't about to present anything challenging, or even interesting, afterward.
This isn't just bad, this is "Oh my god, you have got to be freaking kidding me!" horrible. Anybody who rates this trash more than one star must have been involved with it, and in any case neither their taste in horror films nor their sanity should be trusted.
Visually OK, Otherwise Weak
While the animation is quite good in spots, the film itself lacks warmth or chemistry. Much of the voice acting, particularly that of Dakota Fanning, is flat and sounds forced. While the 3D was interesting enough, several scenes felt like they'd been inserted for no other reason than to stick something in the audience's face. Example: the banana slug scene, which added nothing to either the story or character development. Parents should take note: many children under 9 or 10 in the theater in which I saw the film were scared to tears by the villain; I heard quite a few "Mommy, I'm scared! I want to go!" and similar complaints resulting in young children leaving the cinema. All in all, Coraline is visually nice, though not particularly noteworthy (old videos for the band Tool did better with the same sorts of material, for instance). The story is an interesting one, but this adaptation will likely leave most viewers over the age of 15 cold and those under 8 too scared to enjoy it. This is certainly nothing on par with "The Nightmare Before Christmas," and even "The Corpse Bride" was a stronger animated film.
An Excellent Tranquilizer
Slowly limping along, this movie is best used as a tranquilizer. The African god Chuku, fervently worshiped by a scene-chewing Jack Palance, apparently talks his victims to death. Some people get killed while Palance smokes cigars. The plot doesn't just have holes, it tears at the very fabric of space and time until "Craze" finally comes to an entirely predictable end. If you can keep from nodding off while watching this, you're a more determined viewer than I.
I saw this on "Shilling Shockers" with host Penny Dreadful. If you find yourself with insomnia then watch this movie and you will sleep. If it doesn't work for you... consult your physician.
The Blood Shed (2007)
If John Waters had written and directed "House of 1000 Corpses" after being struck about the head repeatedly with a heavy object, the result would probably be something like "The Blood Shed." It's mildly entertaining for the first half hour, but then it slides into a sort of featureless glop of constant screaming and people doing things to each others genitalia with electric carving knives, cutlery and pliers. Susan Adriensen (Sno Cakes) is incredibly annoying and Terry West (Elvis Bullion) is almost as bad in whatever it is he's doing in front of the camera.
Maybe the best thing about "The Blood Shed" is that it won't take most viewers very long to forget about it.
Cinematic Refrigerator Art
The best thing on this DVD is the introduction by the late great Forrie Ackerman. The movie itself is rather creative considering that it was made by a bunch of teenagers in their backyard. Still, that doesn't make it a good film. It's a bit like kindergarten macaroni art made by Leonardo Da Vinci; historically interesting, perhaps, but nothing one would consider equal to the Mona Lisa. Its still a movie made by kids, and it shows. This is cinematic refrigerator art. Its wonderful that some of the kids who made this got Ackerman's encouragement and went on to great things, but those kids are in their 50's and 60's now and no longer need our encouragement, and I can't recommend this. The script is trite, the stop-motion animation is dated and amateur, and the whole thing is hard to watch.
The Unborn (2009)
Fails on Every Level
I was looking forward to seeing Gary Oldman in a horror flick, so I'm sorry to say that "The Unborn" is a massive failure. Oldman's presence doesn't even help. In fact, he's one of the reasons that this film is so irredeemably awful.
The acting in "The Unborn" is atrocious throughout, allowing the film to be stolen by the real stars of the show large insects called Jerusalem crickets. They're the best thing in this flick. Otherwise, the performances by Odette Yustman, Meagan Good, Cam Gigandet, Jane Alexander and, yes, Gary Oldman are some of the most one dimensional and unconvincing ever captured on film. Lead actress Yustman and sidekick Good deserve special recognition in this regard; I predict a Razzie in their future.
Still, the cast doesn't deserve all of the credit for making this movie into one of the worst bombs to hit cinemas in years. Writer/Director David Goyer deserves his due for churning out a formulaic and plot hole riddled screenplay of epic proportions. When the lead character is referred to a bewildered rabbi who knows nothing about exorcisms yet who manages to translate an obscure occult tome into English overnight, we in the audience can only ask, "What? Huh?" Who knew it was so easy to simply walk out of a library with a rare manuscript without setting off an alarm nor, indeed, having to handle it with gloves or even sign for the thing? We're told at one point that protagonist Casey Belden's father is going out of town on business for one night, but he never comes back to discover that his daughter has trashed his house. He just disappears, never to be seen again. Characters know about conversations for which they weren't present. The writing is clumsy, and that combined with the bad acting is enough to sink any movie.
But wait, it gets worse still! The computer-generated monsters may look good in the trailers, but in the context of the movie they are, in the main, laughable (and the audience did laugh in the screening I was at). The whole upside-down head thing is unintentionally funny, and the jerky slow-motion doesn't help things, either. The movie's attempts at scares fall flat, including the climactic exorcism scene. Including not one but two scenes in which we get tight shots of Odette Yustman's backside doesn't help much; they're entirely gratuitous, although I suppose it gives the marketing department something interesting to put on the posters.
The coup de grace is delivered by Gary Oldman himself, though. He pulls of an American accent nicely through most of the film, but in his last scene his British accent inexplicably returns. Did no one catch this in editing? It's a big, stinky bomb, folks. I'd be surprised if it runs for a week in theaters.
Zombie Strippers (2008)
Undead Existential Angst: the Most Brilliant Zombie Movie of the Last Decade
Brilliant! This is one of the best zombie flicks ever, and the sad part is that a lot of people are never going to get the jokes. Zombie Jenna Jameson reading Nietzsche and saying, "This makes so much more sense now." Brilliant! A soldier pointing a gun in the face of a Nebraska Christian chick in the midst of existential crisis and demanding, "Say something human, and it had better be nice and ontological." Brilliant! This is a rare and wonderful combination of zombies, existentialist philosophy, political and social commentary and, well, boobs. This is the "Airplane" of zombie movies. This is "The Evil Dead" meets "My Dinner with André." This is anything but a typical zombie movie. Sure, there's gore and flesh-eating undead, but there's SO MUCH MORE here, and perhaps the ultimate commentary of this movie upon American culture in the early 21st century is that so few people are equipped to get it.
This is beautiful, horrible, wonderful stuff that gives us its essence in its own script: before a great thing can be accepted, its horrible mask must be inscribed upon the mind. Thank you, Jay Lee, for bringing us a masterpiece that may not be appreciated by most but certainly found its target demographic in this appreciative fan.