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56 reviews in total 
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Exists (2014)
1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
I laughed, I cried, I went out and shot a Sasquatch., 13 February 2015

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

I laughed at the friendly banter between the vacationing group as the headed towards their doom. My heart wept when each of the underdeveloped characters died at the hairy hands of Sasquatch. I felt the poignancy of Brian's show of respect for a fallen friend when he discarded his last doobie, his grief surpassing his craving for herb. I admired his ability to set aside his fear and remain calm while filming with his hand-held camera Bigfoot played lumberjack, using his friend Todd as an axe. Brian is prepared to document even his own demise, such is his commitment to his craft.

I am a sucker for Bigfoot films, and I do mean sucker as 99% of them are just plain bad. Exists is not in that group, it is a superior Bigfoot film and certainly watchable. It gains points just by the simple fact it features the beast and it makes an appearance in it's own film. Those who know the genre know what I mean, many films do not even show the creature whatsoever believe it or not, and when they do you wish they hadn't, such is the embarrassment. A plot point I sometimes find repetitive in environmental horror is that of provocation, people are just out there bringing the force of nature upon themselves, I know the lore but can't something like Bigfoot just be a malicious antisocial creature, if for no other reason than for the sake of film. For example, I may be wrong but I don't recall Jaws being provoked. After the release of Jaws it was reported sharks were being slaughtered in great numbers by vengeful fishermen who saw the portrayal of the killer shark in Jaws as their call to arms, the sea had to be protected after all. Lets hope Exists doesn't generate a similar response, sparking a mass killing of the Sasquatch!

The Patrol (2013)
5 out of 7 people found the following review useful:
Propaganda film, 7 December 2014

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Well made and fairly watchable film, despite the absence of any combat action or visible enemy. What is surprising is the great accolade the film has received among IMDb reviewers for it's insight and statement, I think it's undeserved. A anti-war film? And so what, when the last time you saw a serious pro-war film? If that's one's criteria for declaring a film great then this is the non-action war film to watch. The writer/director has said he was unhappy with the way the war was being portrayed by the mainstream media. If the U.K. media is anything like the U.S. mainstream media, which has taken a non supportive view of the war in the middle east for the longest time (thou they are less vocal about it since the current President took office) then I'm not sure why the filmmaker is concerned. Though if radical Islamic groups ever decide to look for a jihadist propaganda film they need look no further than The Patrol, with it's "this is not your war" message written all over it. Again, from an American perspective, soldiers fighting this war experience fear and frustration among many other things, but generally speaking they recognize the enemy for what it is, and continue to fight because Islamic terror against the U.S began long before 9/11 and will not end until it is defeated. The characters in The Patrol stop fighting and abandon the war, but to be true to reality the film should acknowledge how Al Queda, the Taliban, and others would gladly follow them home and continue their slaughter. Though politicians try to hobble the military, it does not prevent soldiers from conducting themselves like the professionals that they are.

4 out of 7 people found the following review useful:
The undead, the living, and the cremated., 18 November 2014

First of all, though I've seen hundreds of low budget horror films, there are folk out there much more familiar with today's low budget fear films, including many experts in zombie film and lore of the undead. Having said that I've seen and enjoyed the Dawn of the Dead remake, 28 Days Later, and yes even World War Z (never read the book), all big budget films when compared to the average independent film. I realize I'm in the minority here, but this film is enjoyable. On the technical side, just about a one man filmmaking army Rene Perez makes the most of his budget and resources, and can't be sure but looks to have done considerable planning prior to filming. He makes the most of his locations, thus he avoids the absurd number of close ups that low budget filmmakers rely on to hide the fact they have no location to speak of. I hate CGI gunfire, but here the filmmakers are wise in how it's rendered and filmed, even including the detail of discharged shells. The acting is no worse than the average teen slasher film, in fact the actors all possess interesting faces unlike the generic casting you often see in a lot of low budget horror. Also on the plus side is the camera-work, Perez has a very nice graphic sense and considering the low budget shows an ambitious eye. As for the zombies many are clearly wearing masks and stumble about in a not always convincing fashion, but hell I don't know how a zombie moves, last I checked they don't exist. The hero's combat suit is well designed and cool to look at. I applaud the filmmaker's decision to shoot the majority of the film in daylight, even big budget films have difficulty keeping night time scenes visible.

Now I enjoyed the film itself because it has that certain charm that many low budget 80's action/horror films possessed. Now many would disagree, but I'm speaking about movies like the Italian Road Warrior ripoffs, David A. Prior (Deadly Prey) or Fred Olen Ray's (The Assault) work. I don't go into these films looking for perfectionism, if it's there great, but otherwise I just want some cool and/or fun stuff to watch. On a final note I applaud Perez for the manner in which he weaves the hope that God offers into the storyline, most take a very hostile view of the subject, the horror genre especially, so he went against the grain in this respect, hat's off.

I Declare War (2012/I)
3 out of 5 people found the following review useful:
The Little Rascals in combat, 24 January 2014

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Plot of the film is kids play war, tantrums are thrown, somebody gets hurt. Though certainly watchable, this film leans towards mild exploitation rather than any serious social commentary or observation on childhood and adolescence, so if looking for something heavy like "Ratcatcher" or "Lord of the Flies" you'll need to look elsewhere. That's not to say the filmmakers intent was to produce any type of exploitation, I really don't know, perhaps they intended to produce some type of profound allegorical tale, one to cause serious contemplation. If so, judging by many of the reviews here they achieved that goal, so hats off. Myself, I did no serious anything after watching the film, but here are a few observations. When characters are kids, no one expects them to perform with sharp logic or reasoning, so many of the lapses in such can be explained there, but it's still distracting. Several things are amusing, though not sure if intended to be. The character of field commander Quinn is described by his opponent PK as a brilliant nemesis and tactician. If leadership quality includes crying and running home when one of your own grunts pelts you with a tomato, then Quinn is a regular Patton. PK appoints the role of chaplain to one of his less aggressive soldiers, a boy who attends church on a regular basis, and as is customary in film today, his faith is mocked throughout. Another of PK's soldiers is quite inquisitive, contemplative, aggressive even, yet he goes into battle forgetting his only weapon. Fighter, intellectual, or idiot, you decide. As I said worth a watch, though you might want to lower your expectations if you've read the many glowing reviews here.

Ratcatcher (1999)
Heartwarming tale. Not., 5 October 2013

Enjoy nihilism? Scenes of squalor, abuse, emotional pain and death? Then this is the film for you. Enjoy expert cinematography, wonderfully natural performances, black humor and emotionally engaging characters? Again, this is the film to watch. An anti-Disney film centering around a boy and his misery. Has an opening credits scene I consider among the top ten of all time in terms of originality and execution. Some IMDb reviewers apply the word dull to this film, consider they were perhaps weened on MTV and the hyper active style filmmaking that followed. Ratcatcher is perhaps how cinema used to be in terms of pacing. Looking for entertainment? Look elsewhere. Need help entering a state of depression? Use Ratcatcher.

Diablo (2011)
10 out of 10 people found the following review useful:
Argentina visits Peckinpah, 29 July 2013

Diablo is an Argentine film, Spanish language, but the film is subtitled (and pretty accurately as far as subtitles go). Read the IMDb synopsis for the storyline as I'll simply address the film's quality and emotional content.

Technically everything is above par considering the film is low budget, great camera-work, set design, makeup, etc. The film also shines where stunt-work is concerned, next to acting caliber little exposes this type of film's lack of budget than it's ability to pull off fights, gunfire, etc. and while Diablo is certainly not an action film per se, it does quite well staging what action is necessary to tell it's story.

I have to say I've seen many, many contemporary independent films that attempt to weave together the elements usually associated with the crime genre, and the results are all too often convoluted and dull. Because technical expertise in filmaking is not lacking these days, filmmakers have it in spades, but storytelling ability and screen presence? Those are the qualities not always present in many genre films IMHO. Fortunately Diablo has no such problem, direction and writing are extremely tight and along with the excellent performances are what make this film fly.

Diablo is a violent, crude, and gritty film filled with black humor and completely void of pretty faced actors, not for the faint hearted or those with a semblance of normalcy. That I usually loathe the nihilistic tone in many of today's films yet recommend this speaks to the film's ability to engage. My guess is the filmmakers might cite Tarentino as an influence, yet Diablo's dialog and use of humor does not draw attention to itself in the same way Tarentino's work does. This film is not a masterpiece of cinema but the direction, writing, Juan Palomino's lead performance, and the film's characters are entirely interesting and unique. Highly recommended.

Curandero (2005)
3 out of 5 people found the following review useful:
Mexican Harry Potter, 14 June 2013

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Carlos Gallardo (the original El Mariachi himself) is a curandero who's heart is just not into his inherited profession. For those unaware of what a curandero (spanish for "healer") does, it's like practicing voodoo supposedly combined with elements of the Catholic faith, but actually leans more towards necromancy, nothing biblical about it. For example, you get sick or think someone has cast a spell on you, Mister or Miss curandero shows up, tosses a few herbs, roots, and such on you, does a bit of chanting, you drink some foul concoction, and you're out whatever fee you were dumb enough to pay for their services, in most cases a few chickens or a hog. In this film however, Gallardo's character is like a Mexican Harry Potter and local police ask him to spiritually "cleanse" certain crime scenes that they consider diabolical, so they can conduct an investigation without getting the heebee jeebies. Of course you show up at a home where Satan worshipers have used the occupants as bloody decor and you'd be hesitant to re-enter it as well, diabolical or not.

At any rate, curandero Carlos grows close to a senorita detective investigating a series of horrendously violent crimes. Unfortunately a rather sinister, nay supernatural, individual sets his sights on the poor cop and faster than you can say "chupacabra" the poor policewoman is transformed into some kind of foul smelling goat creature. Now, many a man has terminated a relationship for reasons a lot less severe than beastly transformation, and if Carlos had called it quits with his goat-sucker girlfriend not a soul would have judged him for it. But Carlos is no such hombre, and he boldly pursues the she-beast-thing to set things right.

Technically the film is good, washed out colors in the cinematography, fine acting, nice use of locations, etc. But after a somewhat interesting first half the film becomes muddled to say the least, and goes downhill fast, really fast. Not one of the better examples of Mexican cinema.

0 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
Pointless, 27 May 2013

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Yes, negative review here and sure I know, based on a true story, but there are countless true stories out there that actually lead somewhere. The filmmakers thought there was something to be said here, Myself I'm not so sure. Here we get a pair of unstable and socially inept human beings that possess a twisted "love" for one another and we are asked, by way of the filmmaking tone and approach, to sympathize with their "plight". Problem is it was impossible (for me) to warm up to these two even in the slightest. Were the character's interesting? No, not in today's light. Obviously I'm in the minority here as most of the reviews posted loved this film. Now I enjoy nihilism as much as the next person, but this film's attempt to play on one's heartstrings was lost on me here, especially as the music turned sad and sappy at the finale with the pair's predictable fate. A better approach, without sacrificing much in the way of Hollywood's "true story" element, would have been to have celebrated law enforcement's part in protecting the public from their criminal existence, at the very least I'm sure the pair's neighbor's would like to thank the police.

The Package (2013/I)
17 out of 25 people found the following review useful:
For Men Only., 26 February 2013

At the time of this writing this film has 6 other reviews posted, most negative. Though difficult, I did come up with a few reasons to avoid this film: If you sell girl scout cookies, wear your sister's capri pants, share hair styling tips with your girlfriend, or watch Glee. I could go on but you get the picture. Bottom line, DTV film are rarely going to break any new ground in terms of action filmmaking, so hopefully by now action fans know this going in. Having said that, The Package is above average for such a film. A cool script, that is it mostly avoids ridiculous cliché dialog such as "I'm getting too old for this %$#" or the mandatory cursing that is often substituted for actual lines. Yes the story is old (as most all stories are), but here we get nicely written dialog. The direction is certainly above par, with plenty of well staged action shot in a terrific manner avoiding the jerky-cam style so prevalent today. The fight scenes are not the slapped together affairs often seen in many DTV films. Characters are interesting, including Dolph's (and no, his role is not a cameo). Anyone familiar with Martial artist/actor Jerry Trimble will enjoy his screen time. I recommend The Package not only for action fans, but lovers of romance, humor, and drama (sorry horror fans), and for any boy out there that hopes to one day grow into a man. Now that I've given it some thought, the film should be screened in high schools across the country as part of the "no male left behind" program.

1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
Speeding sure is slow, 9 May 2012

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

First here's the summary from the big box VHS packaging (I'd be shocked if this was released to DVD): "The Black Panthers want him to join. His girlfriend begs him to take her away from the ghetto forever. But Marcus does his own thing - and he's dead set on finding the arsonists who torched a tenement and killed his mother. Plagued by recurring nightmares of the blaze, Marcus throws himself headlong into a search that leads him through the seediest back alleys of Watts. Before long, he winds up in an incredible, high speed chase and gets a thorough thrashing from some real bad dudes. But Marcus beats the odds and has it out with Jumbo, the king size kingpin of the neighborhood, in a decisive man to man showdown." This is an extremely low budget production, not a bad thing in and of itself, but despite the above description there's not much going on here. Mostly a lot of talking, a little avant garde filmmaking, and a lot of dullness. There is some location shooting, but to say that it's of such interest as to merit a viewing of the film is probably a stretch. As Marcus, the man the Black Panthers hope to recruit, star Wiston Thrash tries hard but his effeminate style sabotages his efforts. The "... incredible, high speed chase" the summary references is actually a leisurely drive through an empty parking lot, where the biggest concern was hitting one of the hundred or so parking meters. As for Marcus having it out with Jumbo, the king size kingpin of the neighborhood in a "man to man showdown", the scene simply consists of some stilted dialog and blank stares. Not recommended for action film fans, all others, knock yourself out.

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