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Creep Van (2012)
2 out of 6 people found the following review useful:
Good horror comedy., 31 December 2012

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Creep Van is set in Detroit where Campbell Jackson (Brian Kolodziej) has just got a new job at a car wash, trying to turn his life around & get a girlfriend Campbell decides he needs a set of wheels. Low on cash Campbell is short of options but when he sees a white 1970's van for sale at a very reasonable price he decides to buy it, calling the number he hears a girls screams on the other end & doesn't know what to make of it. Campbell forgets about the van but the current owner of the vehicle is a serial killer & know's that Campbell heard the screams of his latest victim, the killer thinks that Campbell must be silenced & goes after him & those around him in order to keep him quiet for good...

Co-produced & directed by Scott W. Mckinlay this low budget horror comedy wasn't anywhere near as bad as I was expecting it to be, the whole premise of Creep Van sounds rubbish & I suppose it is but the script never takes itself seriously & Creep Van is as much comedy as it is horror. At 80 odd minutes it's fairly short & moves along at a decent pace, there's no background given to the van or killer which makes the film very simple & feel a little bit empty. Sure he kills people using traps in his van or with car parts but why? Don't watch Creep Van expecting to find out, that's all I am saying. There's a decent mix of comedy & horror, there's a few memorable kills & a few gags worth watching as well although I don't think I would want to watch it again anytime soon. As long as you don't take the film seriously & can enjoy it's slightly twisted sense of humour then Creep Van is pretty good & a lot better than most zero budget horror films out there.

All of the kills are based around the van, a car thief is chopped in half by the razor edged window, a guy is impaled on a seat knife, there's an air bag full of spikes, the van runs someone into a wall & chops them in half, a radio antenna is stuck in someones throat, there are killer head rests, someone gets a tyre iron in their mouth & a guy has his face sliced off with that killer window. The special effects are pretty good, all the kills have a fair amount of blood & don't shy away from the detail. There's a bit of nudity as well as Campbell's female house-mate likes to walk around half naked. Creep Van is shot in a simple way without much style & there's not much build-up of tension or suspense during the kill scenes.

Shot on a low budget in Detroit this looks alright, it's competent & looks professional enough. The acting is alright, I can't say anyone is great but they try.

Creep Van is a watchable time waster, it's not amazing or the best film ever made but it passes 80 odd minutes. About as good as one can expect a film called Creep van to be I suppose, I have seen much worse before now.

Wreckage (2010/I)
1 out of 3 people found the following review useful:
Not as bad as I had feared & not quite what I expected., 27 December 2012

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Wreckage starts as an ex Ranger named Jared (Mike Erwin) is in the middle of a drag race with an annoying rich kid, unfortunately his classic muscle car blow's a gasket & he loses the race & has no way of getting home. His girlfriend Kate (Cameron Richardson), his friend Rick (Aaron Paul) & his girlfriend Jessica (Kelly Kruger) were along for the ride & are also stranded in the middle of nowhere. The nearest town is a four mile walk whereas they drove past an old junkyard about a mile back, they decide to walk to the junkyard & find the spares needed to repair Jared's car. Once they get to the junkyard it's after dark & it's closed, they decide to climb the fence & take what they need but while showing off with his gun Rick accidentally shoots Kate. Jared says he will run to the nearest town & bring back help while Rick & Jessica stay with Kate, Jared reaches the town finds help. Going back to the junkyard with Sheriff Macabee (Roger Perry) they find that Rick, Jessica & Kate have mysteriously disappeared, then they find Jessicas dead body & realise that killer is on the loose...

Produced & directed by John Mallory Asher who also appears in the film as Deputy Berry (the one that gets left behind at the station when the Sheriff goes with Jared to the junkyard to investigate his claims) I wasn't expecting much from Wreckage, to be honest I was expecting some dull generic low budget teen slasher film & while you could say Wreckage isn't a million miles from being exactly that there's a little bit more to it. I must admit that Wreckage isn't that bad for what it is, the script plays half like a teen slasher & half like a mystery thriller with disappearing friends angle, the identity of the killer not being known, the one or two red herrings & a reasonable twist ending that does actually work on a basic level although if you think about it too much the holes start to appear. At only 80 minutes it moves along at a good pace, as I said the mystery thriller elements keep things slightly more interesting than your average teen slasher & overall I quite liked it. Of course it's nothing amazing, there are still holes in the plot like after the killer is revealed & their motives explained who actually killed the guy at the start who was trying to rape that woman? In the context & time-line of the film the killer couldn't have killed the guy since they hadn't arrived yet & they had never been to the junkyard before so who was it?

The location used is quite good, the old junkyard is a decent place to set a horror film, the gore is a bit disappointing with only a few gunshot wounds, a bit of blood splatter & a stabbing on offer. Wreckage is available in both 'R' rated & 'Unrated' editions in the US which usually means the Unrated cut has more footage (althogh not always necessarily gory or sexual) it seems that the two versions are identical with absolutely no difference between them at all apart from the DVD artwork. Whether this is a genuine mistake or a marketing ploy who knows? I did actually find myself agreeing with most of the decisions made here by the character's, most of them seem to behave like proper people & they don't split up needlessly & the Sheriff tries to keep good control & actually suggests useful ideas with the irritating moment at the end where Jared would rather chase & fight the killer than drive his girlfriend Kate, who has been shot remember & is badly injured, to hospital.

With a supposed budget of about $500,000 this was shot on a pretty low budget, apparently filmed in Los Angeles & Wilmington. The production values are decent enough, there's not much style here but at least you can see what's happening & the lack of any sign of a shaky hand-held camcorder & any annoying machine gun editing helps. The acting is alright, the guy who plays Jimmy the hillbilly owner of the junkyard skates the thin line between being annoying & funny & just about manages to be funny.

Wreckage really wasn't the complete wreck I was expecting, it's a fairly good mixture of teen slasher & mystery thriller that I thought passed the time. Sure there are one or two plot holes & maybe the twist ending is a little hard to believe but it's a film, it's a work of fiction so I just went with it in this case.

Dune (1984)
1 out of 2 people found the following review useful:
Bloated science fiction film, a bit of a mess., 27 December 2012

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Dune is set in the year 10191 at which point the known Universe is ruled by Padishah Emperor Shaddam the Fourth (José Ferrer), this is a Universe where the most important thing is a substance known as Spice which allows for instant interstellar travel. Spice is only found on one planet in the entire Universe, the desert planet Arrakis which is also known as Dune. It raises considerable political eyebrow's when the Fourth Emperor hands ownership of Arrakis over to the Atreides family from their hated enemies the House of Harkonnen, the handing over of the ownership of Arrakis is just a smokescreen in order to wipe out the Atreides, the Harkonnen's & the Emperor's personal army are sent to Arrakis to kill the Atreides including the Duke (Jürgen Prochnow) & his son Paul (Kyle MacLachlan). The Duke is killed but Paul manages to escape into the desert & join the native Fremen tribe who want their planet back, Paul has immense psychic powers & uses them to train & help the Fremen as they prepare to to battle with the Emperor & his evil empire...

Written & directed by David Lynch this film is based on the novel Dune by Frank Herbert which was first published as a book in 1965, several filmmakers had toyed with the idea of filming it before this version was produced. I have never read the original Dune book so I cannot say how this adaptation compares but judging by those who have Lynch's script seems to retain enough detail to confuse regular audiences like myself not familiar with the source material yet takes enough liberties with the story to disappoint fans who are familiar with the book & therefore falling between two camps & not really pleasing either. It's a compromise that doesn't satisfy anyone particularly, having just sat through the original theatrical version of Dune for the first time I am in two minds. While the film is fascinating to watch with some of it's bizarre imagery & ideas I just found it too confusing, I had a really hard time keeping track of everyone & everything that has going on. The insistence of using odd names doesn't help because it's difficult to relate a name to a character, the dialogue is stiff & dull & the entire film takes itself deadly serious. I don't think think there's one light hearted moment in the entire film, it makes the two & a bit hours duration difficult to endure at times, with a plot that obviously mirrors contemporary issues on Earth like political unrest, people in power abusing their position, drugs, the idea that if you control something worth money that your powerful, the whole cross culture acceptance, drugs, religion & environmental concerns so I guess the book tried to say a lot & the film also tries & while these issues are valid they get in the way of an entertaining film & are never addressed with any great conviction. I just find it hard to believe that the average person is going to sit through this (whether it's the 130 minute theatrical cut or the 170 minute extended television version) & enjoy it, the story is too complex & challenging & it's not told in a very likable way either. The scope of the film is too big, it's difficult to follow & understand & the lack of any humanity to the character's makes it difficult to relate to anyone.

It's not all bad news though because the look of Dune is fantastic with some great special effects & amazing production design, the sets are memorable from the wooden elegance of the Atreides home planet to the art deco style of the Harkonnen's to the barren desolate wastelands of Arrakis. The costumes, props & production design are magnificent & it's quite easy to be drawn into the wold of Dune & it's politics. Some of the models look a bit like models & some of the effects are not as good as other's but generally they are impressive, there's none of this CGI computer effect work which plague films these days & I defy anyone to say the giant Sandworms would have look half as good as CGI computer graphics. The extended television edit was put together by the producers using outtakes, unused footage, deleted scenes & even repeating a few moments as well & some shots are missing special effects (the Fremen & their blue eye's in particular) & was sold to television stations who spit it into two parts & showed it over a couple of nights, apparently this version is even worse, has no pace & is even more of a mess.

With a supposed budget of about $40,000,000 I suspect all involved thought Dune was going to be an epic, some of the numbers involved are epic like apparently 1,700 people worked on it, it had 80 sets on 16 stages & took over six years to make with director Lynch working for three & a half of those. The acting is very wooden, there's a good cast here that are given horrible dialogue that means nothing & are asked to create proper character's around it which was never going to be easy.

Dune was obviously made at the time it was to cash-in on Star wars (1977) but while Star wars is a fantastic film that is hugely entertaining Dune isn't, by the time the end credits roll on Dune you are wishing for the sheer simplicity, likable character's & magical touches seen in Star Wars rather than the confused politics seen here.

3 out of 3 people found the following review useful:
At least it's better than the original..., 25 December 2012

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

World of the Dead: The Zombie Diaries is set in England & start in Hertfordshire in a military base as a squad of soldiers survive the zombie outbreak spreading throughout the country. After the gates are left open(!) by mistake(!?!) the flesh eating living dead infest the barracks & many soldiers, doctors & civilians are killed as it quickly becomes an every man for himself situation. Captain Maddox (Philip Brodie), a female civilian named Leeann (Alix Wilton Regan) along with three soldiers Kayne (Vicky Aracio), Carter (Okorie Chukwu) & Jonsey (Rob Oldfield) manage to escape the carnage in an army van with a few bare supplies. They all agree to travel to the coast & try to leave England on boats for Rotterdam before the entire country has nuclear bombs dropped on it. With hordes of flesh eating zombies & lawless gangs roaming around they won't have an easy journey & even if they do make it to the pick-up point what will they find?

This British production was directed by Michael Bartlett & Kevin Gates who also wrote the script, a direct sequel to The Zombie Diaries which was also directed by Bartlett & Gates this is at least slightly better but not by much & I still can't say I particularly liked it. The whole film is put together like a documentary, caught on the spot by a camcorder spur of the moment sort of thing so World of the Dead: The Zombie Diaries doesn't flow like a normal linear film with huge chunks feeling like they are missing & an almost fly on the wall approach that I just don't really like. Comparisions to such horror films like The Blair Witch Project (1999), Rec (2007), Diary of the Dead (2007) & Paranormal Activity (2007) are inevitable & not entirely unjustified as the shaky annoying look & feel of those films are more than represented here. The basic story is simple, a group of living survivors running low on ammunition & supplies have to get from 'A' to 'B' without being eaten alive alive by zombies, it's a simple story that is stretched out over it's 85 minute duration with the usual arguments & such along with an encounter with a vicious group of human survivors who like to torture people & rape women in a scene that is really quite unpleasant to watch & seems out of place in an otherwise largely straight forward fantasy horror. The ending ditches the first person camcorder perspective for the last few minutes which offers up a very bleak & dark ending. In fact the whole film is quite dark & depressing, people doing nasty things to each other, people being killed & eaten & there's a real lack of hope or humour anywhere in World of the Dead: The Zombie Diaries.

Now I usually hate the shaky hand-held camcorder style, the sort of film which is filmed in green tinted night visions, the sort of film where the camera never stops moving & shaking, the sort of film where the editing is awkward & we jump from one shot to another & back again, the sort of film where we get shots of the ground shaking as the cameraman runs or a shot of a wall or something that stops the film dead & irritates me. Having said that some of the shaky camcorder footage here in World of the Dead: The Zombie Diaries works quite well, some of the zombie attack scenes benefit from zombies suddenly appearing in frame or out of the darkness but it's just all the other times that this sort of style is just plain annoying. There's a bit of gore, there's some gory gunshot wounds & a bit of flesh eating but nothing excessive. There's a bit of nudity during an unpleasant rape sequence that probably wasn't necessary.

The IMDb says this had a budget of about $1,500,000 which seems like quite a lot, I can't really see where they would need all that money but then I have never made a film so I don't know how much things cost. Filmed in Surrey, Hertfordshie & Suffolk here in the UK. The acting is alright but nothing special, I can't say I recognise anyone involved in this.

World of the Dead: The Zombie Diaries has one or two effective moments & it manages to generate an isolated & claustrophobic feel at times but the ever annoying shaky camcorder style kills it dead & the simplistic story doesn't help either. For zombie fans only.

Night Drive (2010/I)
2 out of 6 people found the following review useful:
Boring South African horror thriller, nothing here to recommend., 24 December 2012

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Night Drive is set inside the Nyari private game reserve in Mpumalanga, South Africa where gamekeeper Jack Darwin (Greg Melvill-Smith) is angry that his anti-poaching unit is being canned by his boss because of publicity fears. Jack believes that the public has every right to fear as he is convinced gangs of armed men wander the reserves killing anyone they meet to use in sadistic rituals held by the so called 'Hyena Man' & his men, Jack's boss is having none of it & says that he has to supervise a group of tourists on a night drive, a safari drive through the game reserve but at night. Jack is unhappy but has zero choice so along with his man Akani (Yule Masiteng) they prepare for the night drive. Suddenly Jack's son Sean (Christopher Beasley) turns up & joins them & the tourists in order to scatter hate mother's ashes, while enjoying the South African landscape tourist Karen (Corine Du Toit) stumbles upon a mutilated corpse left by the Heyena Man gang. Soon they are being stalked, attacked & killed by the gang...

This South African production was written & directed by Justin Head & is pretty bad, in fact it's just about as bad as any American low budget horror. The script is a mess, what could have been a great horror thriller that explored the cultural heritage of South Africa & used it's myth's & legends to add considerable background to the story all the script offers is some vague rubbish about Voodoo & a few almost pitch black rituals involving slicing people up with machetes. The character's are all stock horror film clichés, the cop with a dark past which he feels great guilt for, the father who has a uneasy relationship with his son until they need to pull together, a really annoying white guy who makes really bad decisions & seems to try his hardest to make people hate him, the romantic love interest who the hero falls in love with & a few other faceless people who are there merely to add to the body count. Night Drive lasts for over 100 minutes, there is no way that Night Drive needed to be that long & it really drags in places, then there's the lack of ambition shown here as the terrain & locations are never used to any sort of effect, a large part of the film is set around one small log fire in the middle of nowhere, the bad guy's have little motivation which could be for either supernatural or financial reasons & it's throughly predictable. Little in the way of horror, there's nothing particularly thrilling about it & I would have a very hard time recommending it to anyone, even the most die hard of low budget horror fans.

With only seven user comments & only three external reviews so far on the IMDb as I write this I assume that Night Drive is pretty obscure, it's certainly never been released on DVD here in the UK although it has played on cable television which is how I saw it & I presume this hasn't seen the light of day in the US either & with good reason as it's a tough sell. Forget about the South African locations as they are all but wasted, most of the film looks to have been shot in the same part of some forest somewhere, none of the local culture or colour or wildlife seems to have been used apart from a few random shots of Hyenas. The gore is forgettable, there's some blood splatter, a guy gets impaled on a machete, a woman is seen with her arm hacked off, there's a mutilated corpse & a few gory gunshot wounds but little else & I can only think of one on screen kill. The final third of Night Drive descends into a shoot em up with lots of people firing guns at each other in some very dull scenes. Night Drive is also very dark at times, if the makers filmed outside at night for real it looks like they didn't bring their own lighting.

Probably shot on a low budget Night Drive looks like most cheap horror films, it's reasonably well made but forgettable & again the locations are wasted. Filmed in South Africa. The acting is alright, again typical low budget horror film stuff.

Night Drive is a really boring & tame horror thriller that could have been really good, the lack of use of the locations & the cultural background of the country feels like a missed opportunity & apart from it's setting there's nothing here that stands out from all the low budget horror rubbish that litter video shop shelves.

Enjoyable zombie horror comedy., 23 December 2012

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Dance of the Dead starts as the students & teachers of Cosa prepare for the big end of year prom, everyone who's anybody will be going which means the likes of the geeks, punks & no hoper's have to find something else to do. A bunch of sci-fi geeks head down to the local cemetery & soon discover the dead rising from their graves hungry for human flesh, they try to survive as best they can with what weapons they find & encounter various other people also trying to survive the zombie outbreak. The assorted oddball group decide to stick together & warn everyone at the prom but when they get there they find out that zombies beat them to it & have already killed & eaten most of the guests, it's then that they come up with a plan to destroy all the zombies & save the world...

Edited, produced & directed by Gregg Bishop this very light hearted tongue in cheek zombie horror comedy (a Zom Com?) offers a decent enough way to pass 80 odd minutes but it's nothing amazing or as clever as it tries to be. The script places far more emphasis on the comedy & self referential mickey taking than the actual horror aspects, I think the main inspiration for Dance of the Dead was The Return of the Living Dead (1985) & even more so it's sequel Return of the Living Dead Part II (1988) which large parts of the main story here are taken from but Dance of the Dead doesn't have quite the right mix of humour & horror & I personally didn't think it was that funny either. The humour is very hit & miss, fans of 80's horror & the genre in particular will get more from Dance of the Dead than most I would think. At only 80 odd minutes long Dance of the Dead is pretty short & moves along at a very quick pace but all of the character's are deliberate clichés that are likable enough I suppose & there's not much of a story here, there's some silly ideas as well like the zombies who stop when they hear (awful) rock music. So it has it moments, it's never boring & there's s a few amusing one liners, some decent gore & it's fun for the majority of it's duration.

There's some gore but none of it is lingering or sadistic, it's more played for laughs & is fleeting. There's some flesh eating, some severed limbs, a decapitated head or two, various gory gunshot wounds & a similar sequence as in Return of the Living Dead Part II where a zombies legs walk around after it's upper bodies is ripped off. Not to be confused with the awful Masters of Horror episode Dance of the Dead (2006) from the first season directed by Tobe Hooper. Since the film goes for laughs there's not much in the way of suspense or scares on show.

Probably shot on a low budget the production values are good & it's well made, it doesn't look cheap & has good special effects as well. The acting is alright, I can't say I recognised any of the faces on show but they do a decent enough job.

Dance of the Dead is a perfectly likable & watchable zombie horror comedy with far more emphasis on the comedy than the horror. I thought it was pretty good overall but many of the jokes & gags aren't that funny, at least it's short.

4 out of 7 people found the following review useful:
What is Recreator meant to be?, 22 December 2012

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Recreator is set on Brewster Island in New York State & starts as three teenage friends arrive by canoe, boyfriend & girlfriend Craig Carlson (Alexander Nifong) & Tracy Bernstein (Stella Maeve) along with Derek Johnson (J. Mallory-McCree) intend to spend the weekend camping on the island away from the stresses of the big city. Once they reach Brewster Island they see a huge house in the distance & decide to check it out, Tracy manages to find the key to the front door & lets herself in, the house seems deserted & the three take the opportunity to use the facilities. However they soon see the owners of the house returning, they try to hide in the basement but find two dead bodies down there when they do, they are then caught & made to dig holes on the beach to bury the bodies. Suddenly out of nowhere three naked people who look exactly like them save the trio, things turn weird when the Tracy, Craig & Derek come face to face with exact clones of themselves who have a sinister plan to leave the Island & take over their originals life...

Written, co-produced & directed by Gregory Orr this low budget film seems to have some sort of identity crisis, to my mind I just can't see what it's trying to be or trying to do. The script has aspects from various genres such as sci-fi with the cloning angle, there's some horror with the teen slasher feel that it descends into along with a thriller feel as the clones play their originals off each other & try to manipulate the situation & there's even some mystery here as the script tries to keep you guessing about everyone's motives & who is who. Unfortunately none of it works or gels together, the script is pretty slow & there's little in the way of explanation but what I could gather from it is that these kids were cloned from their bodily wastes after going to the toilet, that a lightening storm activated the cloning & that these clones are largely quite polite until they try to kill you. People being cloned from their poop does seem like it's come from a comedy but Recreator takes itself deadly seriously but it's rather pedestrian & I was never drawn into the story. Ideas & themes are introduced, like the original experiments from the late 50's to a soldiers possible homosexual tendencies (he actually kisses his own reflection in a mirror) but are quickly forgotten & never lead anywhere interesting. At 90 minutes long Recreator tries to be different but it's dull, silly & makes no great sense, why did the clones wait to kill their originals? Why did the original teens react so well to be confronted with exact clones of themselves? Most of us might have been totally freaked out but not these three, they invite them in & dress them!

Another aspect of Recreator I didn't like was just how uneventful it was, hardly anything of any note happens. All the cloning is off screen, there's no blood or gore apart from one brief shot of a guy with shovel stuck in his head & there's no action to speak of either. It's set entirely inside or around one house which helps keep the budget down but becomes repetitive for the audience. There's probably more CGI then you think, all the actor's play both themselves & their clones so whenever they are seen in the same scene it's CGI & the effects to that end are good. The character's look identical so it's often hard to tell which is the original & which is the clone which I assume was intentional but it's not used to any great effect, there's no real suspense or tension & the sci-fi aspects are never given more than the occasional few lines of dialogue.

Probably shot on a low budget Recreator looks alright for what it is & is well made but hardly anything happens. The acting is decent enough from a small cast.

Recreator is a sci-fi horror thriller than disappoints in all areas, it just can't make it's mind up what it wants to be & ends up being an uneven mess. I saw this on telly over here in the UK so I didn't spend money seeing it but I know I would have been even more annoyed if I had. There are much better films out there.

Icarus (2010/I)
0 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
More laboured & dull action rubbish., 22 December 2012

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Icarus starts as former KGB agent Edward Genn (Dolph Lundgren) jets off to Hong Kong to carry out a job, now a hit-man for hire who has to do what he is told or suffer the consequences Genn kills people for a living & is very good at it. During the hit Genn fails to kill his original target, a fellow Russian gangster & when he gets back home to Vancouver his employers start asking questions. Genn becomes suspicious but can't do a lot about it, Genn is given another hit but on his way to the airport to fly to Miami he discovers he has been set-up & is ambushed. Genn survives the hit on him & realises that his ex-wife & young daughter's lives are at risk as some very powerful people want him dead. Genn ask's for help from the only person he trust's but he is betrayed & is captured by the CIA who give him an ultimatum, kill his former friend & Russian mobster Vadim (Bo Svenson) or be killed himself...

Renamed The Killing Machine for it's UK & US release this Canadian production both stars & was directed by Dolph Lundgren & after his theatrical comeback in the big budget The Expendables (2010) it's back to reality & the day job for Lundgren & the low budget direct to video action film which is ends up being one machine that needs a real good tune up. What can I say? Icarus, or The Killing Machine if you want to call it that, is pretty rubbish & I think this might be getting half decent reviews because this type of film is just so bad usually that it's difficult for a film to be any worse. A lot of these low budget action thrillers blur into each other after a while, the script offers nothing new with the Russian mob, shady Government deals, life or death situations, betrayal, themes centered on friendship & loyalty & Icarus offers nothing new or original as far as I could see. At 90 odd minutes the pace is fairly sedate, there's a lot of bland & forgettable build-up as the script tries to paint Icarus as some deep & complex character which is just plain ridiculous. Narrative & story is all well & good if there's a good pay-off & worth the time you invest in watching it but Icarus isn't worth the time or effort as the action scenes are very dull & lack any sort of imagination.

Icarus has a really unappealing direct to video look, it just screams cheapness at you. The whole story is very predictable, the lack of any identifiable villain for the majority of the film doesn't help & character motives & decisions seem all over the place at times. The biggest disappointment is surely the action scenes which are poor, there are a couple of fights but otherwise it's just guy's shooting at each other & it gets really boring. No car chases, no explosions, no variety in the action at all. Then there's the filming style, director Lundgren uses shaky hand-held camcorder, really quick editing, slow motion, frame skipping & blurring all to annoying effect. I actually saw this on the SyFy Channel here in the UK, what on Earth is a dull action thriller like Icarus doing on the SyFy Channel? Where's the Science fiction exactly? There's a fair bit of blood here, when someone gets shot they actually bleed & there's a couple of scenes where people get shot through the head to leave a nice big blood splatter on the wall behind them & there's a couple of sex scenes featuring Lundgren with much younger & hotter women so be prepared for that.

With a supposed budget of about $5,000,000 you can see why there's not much action here, that really isn't a lot of money to make an action film these days. Mainly filmed in British Columbia in Canada this got an extremely limited theatrical release in a few countries. The acting is alright, I can't say anyone was great though.

Icarus or The Killing Machine or whatever you want to call it is a really bad action thriller that tosses in all the usual clichés & does nothing interesting or entertaining with them. Even the action scenes suck. At least I didn't pay to see it otherwise I would have been annoyed.

Creature (1985)
1 out of 2 people found the following review useful:
A blatant Alien rip-off, not bad for what it is I suppose., 21 December 2012

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Creature is set in the far future where two rival companies are competing heavily in space in search of new materials & advanced manufacturing techniques in the as yet unused resource of the universe. The German firm of Richter Dynamics & the American firm NTI are battling it out for commercial supremacy, the location is Titan the largest moon that orbits Saturn where a geological research team from NTI have found an alien spaceship & are examining strange like capsules when one breaks open & something nasty & alive attacks & kills the team. A few weeks later the teams spaceship crashes into an orbiting space-station, NTI recruit a new team to travel to Titan & investigate what happened & lay claim to the alien artifacts. Arriving at Titan the NTI team discover that a rival team from Richter Dynamics has already landed, having damaged their spaceship on landing on Titan they look to ask the German team for help but find them all dead except Hans Hofner (Klaus Kinski) who warns them of an alien creature that has already attacked & killed one of them & which will stop at nothing to kill the rest...

Co-written, co-produced & directed by William Malone this was written & filmed under the title Titan Find which is what it was released as here in the UK when it surprisingly played cinemas back in 1985 before hitting VHS & more recently DVD & can be found in bargain bins all over the country, Creature is a blatant rip-off of the classic sci-fi horror film Alien (1979) & it never really tires to be anything else so in that context I didn't think it was too bad. At just over 90 minutes long the script feels a little padded, the build-up is maybe takes a little long & there's too many scenes of people walking around very dark corridors but that's expected in this sort of film. There's no great reasoning behind what the creature does, it takes control of a few people with parasite creatures but to what end I am not sure, is it after food? Does it just want to kill everyone? Wouldn't it be better letting a couple of humans get back to Earth and hide on the spaceship with them? It would have an entire planet to eat then rather than just a handful of people. Also, at the end how can that get survive in Titan's atmosphere without a spacesuit? No-one else in the film could & one character states that's it minus 77 on the surface which would have surely frozen the guy in seconds? The character's don't help the film much, they are all one dimensional & are only there to either be killed off or to recite the necessary exposition to keep the audience informed that they are all in danger or emphasise that the air is running out or to argue about how best to deal with the situation & so forth. None of them have perceptible personalities if you know what I mean. So while Creature is a bit predictable & does drag in a couple of places it's watchable enough, obviously if you like sci-fi horror films anyway you might like it more than those who don't but you could do a lot worse.

Creature looks surprisingly good, the special effects aren't to the striking levels of Alien but then Creature never had the talents of H.R. Giger designing it. The creature here is kept in the shadows for the majority of the time but is shown in full at the end & again the Alien influence is noticeable. There's some impressive effects, from the space & planet shots to the model work which really isn't that bad at all considering, the electrical effect when the creature is electrocuted at the end is terrible though & while the sets are alright they are a little dark. There's a decent amount of gore here as well, a head is blown up, a face is ripped off, necks are bitten, heads are ripped off & there's plenty of dead bodies lying around. One area where the original Alien beats Creature is in the suspense & horror departments, director Malone fails to generate any real scares & the film as a whole is a bit too predictable.

With a supposed budget of about $750,000 this apparently made nearly five million at the US box office, it has good production values & looks decent. The acting isn't great, the only name of note to me is the notoriously difficult Klaus Kinski who has a small cameo which he probably filmed in a day or two. Marie Laurin takes her spacesuit off on the surface of Titan & is completely naked in order to seduce someone.

Creature is an Alien rip-off that owes a little to The Thing (1982) as well, I was impressed with the overall look of Creature & it's a passable time waster but just don't expect anything original. I quite liked it for what it was but I don't think I would be in any hurry to see it again.

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Grisly horror thriller., 21 December 2012

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

The Tortured is set in Vermont & starts as six year old Benjamin Landry (Thomas Greenwood) is abducted from his front garden, his father Craig (Jesse Metcalfe) is moments too late to save his son & after giving a short chase phones the police. Two cops visit the home of John Kozlowski (Bill Moseley) & find Benjamin's dead body in his basement, Kozlowski is arrested, put on trial & subsequently convicted of abduction & murder. Kozolwski is given 25 years which means he might be out in 10 on parole, Craig & his wife Elise (Erika Christensen) are devastated & decide to dish out their own justice to Kozlowski. They follow the prison van he is being transported in & manage to steal it, Craig crashes the van as he speeds through the countryside but both he & Kozlowski survive. Craig & Elise take the badly injured Kozlowski to a remote cabin & in the basement torture him in revenge for killing their son, however they begin to question themselves & the FBI are closing in as well...

This American & Canadian co-production was directed by Robert Lieberman & is an odd film that I thought had mixed messages, on the one hand it starts off as a serious drama as two parents have to deal with the loss of their child but then turns into something much different as the Saw (2004) style torture & gore take center stage along with an twist ending which had the potential to be great. The issue of child abduction is a very serious & real one, The Tortured does a reasonable job of setting the story up & showing the effects of such an incident but this seems present only to justify all the torture & nastiness that follows. The themes in The Tortured are quite strong, child abduction like I said as well as the strong desire for revenge & just how far people are willing to go to right a perceived injustice. Both aspects are handled pretty well, the human drama at the start & the grisly tortures that follow, there's a fair bit of nasty torture here with Craig explaining it all in uncomfortable detail to his victim which is obviously aimed at the audience just so they know how much something is going to hurt or that the poor guy will be awake & be able to feel everything while it's happening. The character's are alright, the two parents seem to flip between feeling guilty & remorseful to brimming with hatred & vengeance a bit too often though. The script is hard to take seriously at times though, there are also huge leaps of logic involved & most viewers will have questions about some of the event's. How did Craig & Elise know what prison van Kowloski was in or when he was going to be transfered? Why wasn't Craig more injured in the crash? Then there's the twist ending which had great potential but some lazy writing & bad editing makes things a little unclear, you will have to see it for yourself & while most of it does actually make sense the film isn't clear enough & again you need to suspend your disbelief at some of the events, coincidences & twists.

Filmed in 2007 but remained unreleased until 2010 The Tortured is shot a fairly low key way & doesn't go for flashy camera tricks or editing, I am sure that was the intention. There's some nasty torture scenes here, while they don't result directly in anyone's death they do make you feel a little uneasy at times. A foot is clamped in a vice & slowly crushed, a huge syringe is inserted into an ear to burst the guy's ear drum, people are burned, beaten & in one scene a stomach is sliced open & intestines are pulled out. The special effects are pretty good as well, I didn't notice any CGI computer effects either, this is on set make-up & prosthetics.

The IMDb says the The Tortured had a budget of about $8,500,000 which I find impossible to believe, where did all the money go? No big stars, no big action scenes or exotic locations. The acting is alright if not exactly moving, you should probably feel more for the character's here than what I did.

The Tortured is a decent horror thriller, it has it's moments where it's very effective & that twist ending is pretty good even if it's badly scripted & badly edited. At only 75 minutes long it's quick as well, The Tortured is reasonably good at what it sets out to do.

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