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A little budget can go a long way...Excellent
I travelled across the country to the NY Independent Film Festival and caught this amazing little film there. Made on a shoe-string budget, this proves how a lot of imagination, talent and creativity can make a great film even without pie-in-the-sky Hollywood budgets and ultra CGI effects. The plot may seem familiar, with elements of THE MOST DANGEROUS GAME (1932) and perhaps traces of EVIL DEAD (1981) woven into the story of a woman on the search for her kidnapped daughter; but director/lead actress Tiffany Sinclair takes what might seem rote and turns it into a compelling affair. Some might nitpick that it runs a little too long but whenever Sinclair is on the screen you will be riveted. I wish there was a complete cast list on the IMDb because I wanted to note the great supporting performance by the guy who plays Baker - the "john" who takes Sinclair's Sara on the ride of her life (or death). With a great performance by Sinclair and spectacular camera and editing work, PRAEY should be a film that will delight horror and suspense buffs for years to come either on DVD or late night television. Please try to find this film when it goes into distribution.
The way they should make films that never should have been made
There's no reason at all for a film like "Prison-A-Go-Go!" to exist. Let's just be thankful that it does. It's pure fun and exploitation. Not a single raison d'etre to worry about and not much of a plot so you can keep your mind on vacation and just sit back and enjoy the raucous goings on. Whenever Mary Woronov is in the cast you have to sit up and take notice. A little longer in the tooth than you might remember from "Eating Raoul" or "Rock-n-Roll High School", she remains the premiere female thesp of high comic villainary. If you thought Rhonda Shear's career disappeared when she was replaced by Gilbert Gottfried on television, "Prison-A-Go-Go" will surely remind you why she used to keep you up all night. Lots of pretty girls, lots of gratuitous scenes, lots of laughs. You may not find this on your local vid store shelf but pick up a copy somewhere whenever you can smoke one out.
Short on budget, long on humor
What you lack in budget can often be made up for with big doses of humor and inspired direction. Newcomer Pedro Temboury makes a big splash with silly zombies, a portly villain, a rubber monster, stock footage and clever cameo appearances by cult director Jess Franco and actress Lina Romay. Big baddie Paul Lapidus plans to take over the world with karate trained zombies so of course he starts by attacking that vital town of Torremolinos. Call in martial arts champ Oliver Denis to the rescue and see him knocked off almost immediately. The jokes are smart the acting is way above what you'd expect from such a low budget film and Temboury's direction keeps things going at a pace that always keeps your interest. Don't let the subtitles scare you away. Maybe One Shot Productions, who Temboury's worked for in the past, will release this in on USA DVD in a dubbed version. In joke lovers will take note of the same green goblin that stalked the Spanish countryside in "Les Psycho-Lettes."
Severe Injuries (2003)
Better than Middlin'
Came across a bootleg DVD-R copy of this & it is, IMHO, the best of Amy Lynn Best's productions. Though I'm still not a fan of this type of forced comedy, the overall effect here is much better than her other films. The haunted or cursed house atmosphere gives some added punch to the story and the acting is generally a step or two above what I've come to expect from the usual list of suspects. And any excuse to see Debbie Rochon on tape again is worth the price of admission or the cost of a convention bootleg. I like Lilith Stabs and Debbie Rochon and I look forward to the perfect teaming of this pair. In the meanwhile, Severe Injuries is certainly Amy Lynn Best's best so far. I hope she keeps trying because I think there is going to be at least one very good film coming from her.
Angel of H.E.A.T. (1983)
Not a classic but a lot of fun
Combining Marilyn Chambers and Mary Woronov into one film was a great idea. Woronov is one of the most underrated actresses in modern times. She's pretty funny when she wants to be and she's really got a killer body. The whole story is sort of convoluted like most of the 70s & 80s spy films. Other than Chambers and Woronov, the rest of the cast is full of period character actors and X-rated film stars doing some mainstream on their weekend off. There's lots of silly intrigue and excuses for Marilyn and Mary to take off their clothes. Maybe it should be a classic now that I think of it. It's out now and DVD and definitely worth watching.
The Rockville Slayer (2004)
Uninspiring but interesting. Worth a look.
I saw the premiere of Unaware and I'm not sure if they had the final print ready. That might explain some of the problems. The editing was kind of choppy and the story made very little sense. Too much went unexplained or inferred and it veered unsteadily between a slasher film and a Lifetime weeper-film. There's a killer on the loose and the local townies are too busy talking and practicing self-introspection to do much about it. The action sequences are good and definitely some of the performances are clearly much better than the story deserves. The two girls Nicole Buehrer and Amy Brown gave the best performances. The supposed pros in the cast didn't bring their A-game I don't think. Buehrer is a dark beauty with a bright future and Brown is the gal next door with bucket fulls of talent and a nasty knife in this instance. Might be worth a night's rental to see Linnea Quigley again and it future does seem to be in straight-to-video.
Death 4 Told (2004)
Not bad at all
Having seen a lot of the promotional material for this film I was enticed by the presence of Margot Kidder. When I finally finagled a way to see Death 4 Told, I was pleasingly surprised by the sure performance of Ms. Kidder and the effervescent presence of Alicia Goransen. It's not on the level of the Amicus anthology classics and there's not many surprises in any of the 4 short stories that you can't see coming a mile away but you will still enjoy each of them because the acting is pretty good and the mood holds up pretty much throughout. After watching it once I wanted to watch it again the next day so that's a pretty darned good gauge that it's a better than decent film.
Evil Night (2002)
Zombies for Kiddies. Blood and Fun
Julian Lara shows what you can do with a $1.63 budget, some grade-school special effects and a little bit of imagination. This short film won't make you forget The Night of the Living Dead but it will probably inspire a whole new generation of filmmakers to go out there and give it their best shot. A group of kids go into the woods to make camp and soon find themselves turned into zombie fodder. Not all that original but the performances are crisp and fresh and the five-and-dime effects only add to the fun atmosphere. You can find this on some DVD copies of Jess Franco's Vampire Junction as an extra. It's subtitled and that might be a drawback to some fans but as a horror fan I can think of worse ways to spend a half-hour or so. And there's no sex so you can invite the kids in to watch the bloody mayhem!
lack of Effort, poor results
Supposedly someone at EI came up with the great idea of aiming their cameras at Misty Mundae, think of s supposedly funny ripoff of a popular movie, take off Misty's clothes and you'll come up with a classic video. Time after time they are wrong, wrong, wrong. Misty's fun to look at but her acting has never improved enough to make her into a credible performer. This whole affair is amateurish and the poor camera-work and direction make this into another disappointing outing for EI and the unamusingly named director Johnny Crash. (Would that be funny to a 3rd grader?) A sexy farce of Spider-man is a good idea but let's let someone else with imagination and talent take a shot at it next time.
This movie has a great premise: a girl cursed by a gypsy turns into a lesbian instead of a werewolf. But the execution is too amateurish to make it into a cult classic. The acting is erratic too with Lilith and Debbie very darned good and the rest of the cast not quite so good. The Zucker Bros. approach of trying to make a joke out of every line only works when the jokes are good and most of the ones in Weregrrl are not good at all. They should have sold the script to a producer and director who could do it properly. It looks like they got an idea and went out a called their friends, bought a camera and shot the movie that afternoon. It needed more thought. It has some entertaining moments and it is not exploitive at all. Good marks for that. A solid attempt is Weregrrl. I would like to see more from this camp.