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Incredibly bad "reality show" horror
Warning....possibly some minor spoilers ahead.
The DVD box to Half-Caste looked quite interesting, the movie description sounded very interesting, too bad the movie was worthless. I had to force myself to sit through the entire movie, it really was that bad. Most of the time I was so bored that it was sleep inducing. I'm still in shock of how terrible this movie truly was.
I still don't know what exactly they were trying to do with this film. It's an incoherent mess of a film that looks more like an MTV episode of The Real World than anything. The acting is about on par with a reality TV show program, in other words not very believable. In many scenes there's even an annoying web address in the corner of the screen. What was the point of this? It didn't look like a webcam broadcast at all...it was simply annoying and looked fake. There's nothing scary, nothing funny, and the characters are ALL intensely annoying. In fact there's nothing memorable at all in regards to the film. I only wish now that I hadn't rented this one!
In the vein of the original Trinity films
Sons Of Trinity was directed in the mid-1990's by the late Enzo Barboni, the same director of the early 1970's Trinity movies 'They Call Me Trinity' and 'Trinity Is Still My Name'
Sons Of Trinity features the Sons of the original characters of Trinity and Bambino, in yet another comedic spaghetti western. The sons have the same names as their fathers, the same looks, the same personality and mannerisms, the same quirks, etc... It still works quite well and has the same basic elements as in the original movies.
Shot in Spain and featuring two American actors in the lead roles of Trinity and Bambino, this was in stark contrast to the two leads in the original Trinity films played by Italian actors with fake Americanized names.
All in all, I enjoyed Sons Of Trinity. It isn't quite as good as the original movies, but it is still quite entertaining!
A Haunting, surreal masterpiece!
Laurin is quite simply an obscure masterpiece of surrealism. Beautifully filmed and extremely atmospheric throughout. The story takes place at the turn of the 20th century, and even though the film is shot in color...it appears as though it could have really been filmed back then! The brilliant music score is also a high point. It's very haunting and otherworldly, and works absolutely perfectly in the film. To call Laurin anything less than thought provoking would be a grave understatement. It's one movie that will haunt your mind long after it ends. To classify Laurin into any one genre is next to impossible. The young actress who plays Laurin is extraordinarily beautiful and quite talented. Whatever happened to her?!?
This film is obviously rarely seen or heard of and that's a real shame. It was one of the few times where I actually bought a German DVD import (released by e.m.s.) without ever previously viewing the movie before. I don't regret it at all in this instance! Many great bonus features on the DVD such as deleted/extended scenes, director interview, a making-of featurette, photos, and the entire soundtrack as bonus DVD-Audio tracks. Much of the bonus material is in German, yet still fun to watch.
Savage Island (2004)
Not too shabby...until the ending.
I thought Savage Island was pretty good for a shot on digital video feature. The acting and direction were all surprisingly professional and believable. I absolutely hated the ending to the film though, it was so far out there that it was truly laughable. That definitely knocked off a couple of points in my rating, leaving a sour taste long after the credits rolled. But, I still enjoyed it mostly up until that point.
If you like demented backwoods films like Deliverance, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Wrong Turn, etc... then you'll probably enjoy this film. It's far from being a classic, but it's worth a rental for those interested.
Screaming Dead (2003)
Screaming Dead, pretty good
Possible minor spoilers ahead...
This was the first movie I have seen a film with Misty Mundae. I had of course heard of her, but relegated her to the "softcore" genre of C-films. She was surprisingly good as an actress in Screaming Dead.
Screaming Dead is another fun, low budget offering from Brett Piper (Drainiac, Psyclops, Arachnia). Much of the film takes place in an actual abandoned mental hospital that dates from the 1930's. It's a rather unique location and serves the film's story and mood quite well. The plot concerns a famous S&M photographer and several female models which he quite literally "owns" while he shoots at the mental hospital. These girls are perfectly willing to do whatever it takes for his infamous depraved photo shoots, no questions asked.
As mentioned before Misty Mundae gets top billing, playing the lead as Bridget. Rob Monkiewicz (His 3rd Piper film?) evens out the cast as Sam, the ears and eyes for the real estate/insurance company. Rachael Robbins rounds out the cast as Maura, the photographer's assistant, who begins to see sinister side of her employer.
Suffice it to say that bizarre events begin to occur for the girls. There isn't really anything new in the film...it's simply a horror movie with some female exploitation thrown in, no more and no less. Screaming Dead isn't Piper's best film, but it definitely has it's moments and his unique signature style. The film's undead antagonist was fairly creepy and worked rather well I thought. A couple of scenes in the movie are somewhat STRANGE and make you think for a minute. You'll probably enjoy the flick if you enjoy very low budget horror movies, done right.
Ozark Savage (1999)
Lens Ozark? Yeah!
=========== Possible plot spoilers ahead! ===========
Ozark Savage is a fun movie with enough originality to set it apart from others. Where else can you have a guy who finds a mystical coin giving him full control of Hong Kong, then gets sent to Hell to face Satan? Getting brought back to life through a nuclear blast and getting shot are bad enough for the guy. If that wasn't enough, imagine waking up locked onto a giant metal ball! And that's only a small portion of what happens in the movie.
I doubt the budget on Ozark Savage was very much at all, however it looks quite good considering. The magical coin and the supernatural elements make the plot very enjoyable, even if the budget wasn't quite large enough to convey it's full potential at times. The style of John Woo, Quentin Tarantino, and even John Carpenter is often evident throughout the movie. The actor who plays Lens Ozark nailed the part to where it's both hilarious and serious at the same time. Let's face it...the guy doesn't really look tough, but his acting method makes it seem so for this movie.
Ozark Savage is a definite gem of low budget filmmaking. It's surely far from perfect, but very few movies really are perfect. If you can luckily find it to watch...then do yourself a favor and watch it!
No-budget, but very original and inventive.
From the same director that brought us the horrible yet lovable Draniac now comes Psyclops! I must say I really enjoyed this movie, it was quite inventive and bizarre. Obviously Psyclops was made on a super low budget like all Brett Piper films, but therein he works his magic.
If you don't like low budget films then you probably aren't going to like the movie. This isn't the latest $100 million Hollywood blockbuster, nor does it ever claim to be. Paradoxically this movie makes you think hard about possible parallel universes, and at the same time suspend your disbelief in order to enjoy the utterly fantastic story.
Scant few films still use stop-motion animation (ala Harryhausen), but Brett Piper still uses them in many of his movies, including this one. The stop-motion animation is very campy like a cheesy sci-fi film from the 1950's, and I'll guess that it's an homage to that era. Psyclops also uses opticals and various forms of CGI, but they are scant and it doesn't rely on them all that much. Did I mention that Psyclops has zombies with good old special effects makeup?
Watching many new films each week I generally see a heap of unoriginal films, or trendy forgettable films. Psyclops may not be exactly Oscar material, but for a "B-Movie" it succeeds where so many others fail in originality. I've seen Psyclops twice now, and it was just as good the second time around as the first.
.com for Murder (2002)
Mastorakis signature striking visuals
=========== Possible minor spoilers ahead ========== I generally like all of the films of Nico Mastorakis. I waited to get .com For Murder after seeing so many negative votes. I shouldn't have, because I really enjoyed this film as much as any of his other projects. You have to remember that Mastorakis co-wrote the screenplay, both produced and directed the film, edited the entire film on Avid himself, filmed most (if not all) of the DV sequences, and worked closely with the composer...among various other jobs for the film.
Yes, the "computer screens" and the "technical gizmos" in the film look striking and somewhat avantgarde...and in a sense, quite fake today. I have a feeling though that they won't look so fake some years down the road, and that was the main intention. They were meant to look visually off the norm from what you'd normally see in a techo movie. He did the same thing for the early cyber-thriller "Blind Date" from 1984. Some of the advanced technology portrayed in that film actually came into reality just recently. .com For Murder is very much an homage to a Hitchcock thriller, specifically "Rear Window" as Mr. Mastorakis himself has stated. It's a relatively simple thriller with a few plot twists which one would expect. If nothing else this film has visually stunning cinematography with effective lighting and a vast array of color schemes. The visual style is very much in the same vein as "In The Cold Of The Night" also directed by Mastorakis in 1991. The futuristic house used in the movie is very odd just to look at, made of steel/glass/concrete, with all the necessary computerized gizmos of a futuristic abode. I can only imagine the headaches of the director of photography when lighting the house for film.
The movie has a great cast in my opinion. Two pop stars and two beautiful female leads. The psychotic hacker-killer who quotes Goethe was an odd but interesting touch. I never really understood the significance of the "ring" around his eye though. It was also nice to see Kim Valentine in a movie again after so many years! .com For Murder is definitely a movie you'll enjoy more if you easily suspend your disbelief. If you can't then you probably just won't like the movie, which is understandable since it's not for everyone. This film obviously has some minor mistakes and isn't exactly oscar material. Just remember it's only a movie, not a biography of current technology and surely not a textbook for a realistic internet.
Oddly I never saw .com For Murder on any rental shelves. I probably wouldn't even know about it to this day if it wasn't for seeing it on the internet, which is ironic. I finally ended up just purchasing it when the DVD price went down lower. It's surely a must purchase for any Mastorakis fan. The DVD includes a 36+ minute behind-the-scenes feature, and unedited interviews with Roger Daltrey (20 minutes) and Huey Lewis (8 minutes).
Otherworldy and Beautiful, but not for all.
Avalon is a beautiful movie, but not for everyone. If you mainly like action or fast-paced movies you may be turned off by some of the slow scenes during the movie. Avalon has action though, and explosions galore. Some of the story is a little ridiculous and hard to follow, but that isn't necessarily a bad thing at all.
This is the only film I know of that was a co-production of both Japan and Poland. Directed by Mamoru Oshii, but filmed mostly in Poland and in the native Polish language.
While watching this movie you get a feeling of a very unique quality. It was filmed (or altered in post) to resemble an old Sepia toned film, but still with the high-resolution of today's film standard. This adds a very bleak and depressive visual style to much of the movie. That's a good thing, because this is not a happy movie in the least.
Avalon relies heavily on CGI throughout the movie, due to the "cyber game world" that the movie is largely dealing with. Much of the CGI effects are quite interesting to watch. You can often tell they are CGI effects, but it's obvious that it's a computer dominating world with players inside it.
Another effective element to the film was the excellent music score by Kenji Kawai. This has to be one of the most beautiful and engaging film scores I've heard in a long time. It ranges through many different forms, even to the operatic. Very layered and complex, yet easy on the ears. Recorded with the Warsaw Philharmonic Orchestra, tons of people played the various musical instruments in the recording of the score, according to the end credits. I would compare it in a sense to Christopher Young's otherworldly and haunting score for the first two Hellraiser films. It's a shame that the soundtrack to Avalon is currently only available as an expensive import CD.
Even if you dislike the film, you must watch it once just for the amazing music...it really is that good.
The infamous "revision" sequel
WARNING: Some plot spoilers ahead...
This film has various mistakes and errors...but it's also so over the top that it's quite enjoyable for a small percentage of viewers. I wouldn't exactly call it a scary horror movie in the least, it has more of a 80's era cult quality to it.
I love the first Silent Night, Deadly Night movie. This sequel uses a good 40+ minutes of flashbacks from that original film. Perhaps the only film I remember that used so much footage from an original was in Ulli Lommel's "Boogeyman II". Much of the footage used in Silent Night, Deadly Night Part 2 is condensed and at times heavily edited for time and pace. Sometimes it works and sometimes it fails completely. The producers who wanted this sequel made explicitly wanted it to be a recut of the first film. The original film was cut from circulation soon after it's release due to a backlash of "Santa Can't Kill!" protests. So, a lot of people didn't even get to see the first film until TV and video years later. This sequel works better if you haven't already seen the first film. I'd much rather watch the original movie than the early recut scenes that are mostly shown in the first half of this sequel. But I do enjoy the latter half of this sequel that uses entirely new footage. In think Eric Freeman did a spectacular job as "Ricky". The way he performed the lines was classic, and who could forget his constant eyebrow movements with each line? It was way over the top and it worked perfectly for a killer that was clearly out of his mind.
A few other memorable things that I remember from the movie were the Umbrella death scene, and the all time "Garbage Day!" kill line.
There are quite a few continuity errors throughout the movie. A big error that really couldn't be prevented was the Mother Superior flashbacks, and then the new footage of Mother Superior played by another actress without the French-type accent. The new actress also had a disfigured face (with makeup) to try to make it tougher to tell that it's a different person playing the role. But we never learn why her face looks so grotesquely disfigured. If you watch the VHS/Laserdisc editions you can also see quite a few minor mistakes (Dolly Tracks, etc.) because the film was presented in open-matte and not properly letterboxed.
Silent Night, Deadly Night Part 2 is a guilty pleasure that the majority of viewers hate. I can understand why, but for some reason I enjoy the film...even with it's many shortcomings. Anyways, it made money and spawned 3 more questionable sequels in the franchise!