Reviews written by registered user

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44 reviews in total 
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0 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
Oddly Good Acting, 13 August 2013

Straight to video crap is generally pretty worthless. I got "7 Nights of Darkness" in an 8 movie horror pack at Wal Mart for $5, so my expectations were pretty low (one of the other titles, "Evidence of a Haunting" is bottom drawer junk).

Anyhow, "7 Nights of Darkness" is an SOV horror film done entirely in the format of reality TV show with the actors handling the cameras while they wander through a "spooky" abandoned asylum (for 7 dark nights) in hopes of winning a million dollars. It's a post-"Ghost Hunters" version of "House on Haunted Hill". For plot and such there's nothing especially original, but somehow the actors bring it to life.

A cast of nobodies left alone with the cameras manage to create honest banter and what sounds like improvised dialogue. This doesn't really turn the movie into a horror classic of any description, but it does make the characters feel real, which is a rare thing.

Having seen this, I hope director Allen Kellogg gets more work, there's some potential there. I personally prefer the kind of horror guys like Lucio Fulci and Dario Argento created, but this little cheapie was a nice surprise.

2 out of 2 people found the following review useful:
A New Brand of Terrible, 30 November 2010

See if any of this makes sense: Marty Rackham is a screenwriter/undersea-treasure-hunter who goes diving with his father- in-law to be Dick Van Patten, gets attacked by sharks, left for dead, become a New York City stand up comic, meets with his brother/narrator, incurs the wrath of The Riddler, goes to the Caribbean, is seduced by Priscilla Barnes (ewwwww) etc.

"Body Trouble" is an inept crapfest with no comic timing. It's one of those comedies that decides sex equals humor. The plot is all madcap nonsense which is not rare for a comedy but even a comedy can't get away with it if it isn't funny.

There is nothing believable here, nothing seems real, so really there's no basis for any of the weak jokes. For example, the viewer is expected to believe that the characters find Priscilla Barnes sexy. Who the hell would even dare to kiss that creature? An ugly blonde in a red dress and lipstick is still ugly. By the same token, Rackham is no good as a stand up comic, his timing sucks. The movie sucks, if I haven't made that clear yet. The production quality is fitting for softcore porn, but the sex isn't much better than the jokes, so this movie can't work on that score either.

There are twists and such as well, and a murder plot, but it's all just part of the mess.

1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
It Nearly "Slew" Me, 12 May 2010

This movie was a real surprise. It's not everyday that you find a movie that manages to fail in nearly every possible way. "Ground Zero" could almost be a cult film for its amazing level of weird dated badness.

The plot concern some gangsters being on trial and a man holding the city hostage with an atomic bomb in the golden gate bridge to blackmail the gangsters release. Our heroes are a ugly secret service guy who talks like he's in a bad radio show from the 30s and his wuss of a partner who hates violence but at least acts better than most of the cast. They shoot people, drive around San Francisco, fight, and exchange terrible dialogue.

The only real strength "Ground Zero" displays is wide angle shots from the top of the Golden Gate bridge. It is neat to see those dizzying angles from way up there. All the bridge location stuff looks pretty good. The atomic bomb that's there waiting to go off looks terrible and the script is useless, but that bridge still looks fine.

Also, this thing is slow. It's only about 80 minutes, but they drag so badly. While we were watching it my friend and I just found ourselves talking about way better movies like "It's A Mad Mad Mad Mad World" and such. So, yes, please don't watch this unless you're drunk or something.

The Ogre aka "Demons 3": Why isn't this listed as a movie?, 4 February 2010

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Alright, before we review, I have to ask: why isn't this listed individually? It may have been merely a TV item in Italy, but to international Lamberto Bava fans this is its own FILM. In America this film is distributed on VHS and DVD as either "The Ogre" or "Demons 3". Yes, I know it has nothing to do with "Demons" apart from one cast member and the crew. But yes, I personally was upset that this was so hard to find on this site which is otherwise so useful.

Finally, let's review "The Ogre". I've seen the trailer for this many times on YouTube and honestly found that rather scary. The movie itself (it is feature length, therefore making it a movie) has many many strong parts and does manage to scare. I was displeased by the last act, but on the whole I don't regret having bought the DVD before seeing it (available from Shriek Show). I guess the film's TV origins explain the last act. I won't give out any spoilers.

The plot is somewhat familiar: an American horror writer vacationing at an ancient spooky castle with husband and son only to find it exactly resembles the setting of her childhood nightmares. There are faint echoes of "The Shining", but this is a different brand of supernatural horror. The woman (Virginia Bryant) finds more and more proof that this is the real life place of her nightmares, but her husband won't believe her. Great atmosphere and terror follow.

The multiple nightmare sequences were pretty freaky. The Ogre cocoon effect was good, it reminded me a bit of Uncle Frank's resurrection from the first "Hellraiser". There's also a few good shocks and a well done underwater scene. I give them props that the film never stooped to imitating American films with similar concepts, namely "A Nightmare on Elm Street". "The Ogre" is an original. And the monster itself was a scary one, when it was presented correctly.

On the Shriek Show DVD there is a Lamberto Bava interview in which he is careful to mention that this is not part of his classic "Demons" series. He also gives a lot of credit to the real castle in which the movie was filmed. Indeed, this setting contributes a lot to the film. The Simon Boswell music helps too.

There's lots of good stuff here. "The Ogre" is not perfect, but it is very much worth seeing. Take it is a lesser Lamberto Bava achievement.

Battlespace (2006) (V)
3 out of 8 people found the following review useful:
BoringSpace, 15 December 2008

I'd never heard of zero budget "auteur" Neil Johnson before seeing "Battlespace" on DVD at Hollywood Video. A few minutes into the movie I realize this isn't a bad thing. Like many straight to video Sci-Fi movies, this is a film dominated largely by overused bad special effects and a constant parade of pretentious sci-fi concepts that fail to create a story.

Viewers are tortured with a religious sounding text introduction, then a spoken introduction followed by a narration by the main character's daughter. To me this seemed like a smoke screen to mask a film with militantly ugly visuals and zero character emphasis. Some people on here seem all too ready to take this film seriously and swallowed it's seemingly new age messages hook line and sinker. These favorable reviews must come from the same kind of people who can delude themselves into thinking that things like "Battlefield Earth" was a brilliant movie, or that Shasta is just as good as Coke.

Those who were lured in by the cheesy cover art can look forward to lousy acting (in small doses, spaced with long blocks of people not talking), rotten computer animated effects (in extra large doses), and irritating talking computers. What you won't get is excitement, emotional stimulation, memorable dialogue, or a good story.

"Battlespace" is impenetrable bull and the constant irritant of the narration proves it. Real science fiction, hell, real film-making, is about characters and their dialogue, not special effects and dull predictions. This is right down there with similar direct to video sci-fi like "Cl.One" and "Recon 2022". If the boredom of "Strange Horizons" and "Alien Visitor" is something you seek out, by all means, watch the crap out of this. If you enjoy good storytelling and hate fake lens flares, you're better off with a real movie.

5 out of 10 people found the following review useful:
The Worst Zombie Crap I Ever Saw, 14 September 2008

My friend and her brother played extras in this movie so we watched it today just to see their parts. It sure wasn't worth our trouble. I understand this was a low budget movie, but even for that it was some cheap crap. "Carnival of the Damned" (which has a total of zero carnivals) is a zombie movie in which the viewer is treated to about thirty minutes of badly re-dubbed dialog while waiting for poorly photographed and sometimes topless zombies.

The cast of nobodies included a deeply irritating woman the director insists is "this generation's Audrey Hepburn" who plays a "fun" waitress who gives police exposition about the occult before getting kidnapped by cult guys who want to sacrifice her to their god. Talentless lead males portray unlikeable cops, reporters and assassins. We're unlikely to ever hear from any of these "actors" again, but Chris Thompson may soon gain reputation for being worse that Uwe Boll or Ulli Lommell, who previously held the record for making the worst zombie movies ever.

There's also a cherry on top of this fecal sundae of a movie: it's "neo grindhouse" cinema so computer generated film scratches run over the whole movie and trailers for 70s style exploitation occupy the first ten minutes. Musically a lot of copyrights appear to have been infringed on, so the filmmakers might be getting some unpleasant phonecalls soon.

Luckily this monstrosity isn't available in stores so you'll probably never suffer through it, unless you were foolish enough to give out your hard earned dollars and order it on amazon.

By the way, I am the only negative review of this movie and also the only review made by someone who reviews other movies. I think all other comments were made by the filmmakers and their overly loyal friends.

5 out of 10 people found the following review useful:
Circular Repetition, 15 July 2008

"Circadian Rhythm" is (cheaply) packaged to look like some high tech action thriller in the style of "The Matrix". There are dozens of straight to video films that make the same claim, but at least those movies actually reflect it in some way. "Circadian Rhythm" is actually just a low budget embarrassment that never would have made it to video if the actors hadn't later wound up in popular TV shows.

The viewer is treated to a blank screen followed by a lengthy text prologue about the CIA's MK-ULTRA program and its history. Supposedly this will explain how the mousy hero, Rachel Miner, wakes up in strange places and kills people without thinking about it. Mostly what she does is stand around outside deserted buildings and run beside railroad tracks. The complex web of this movie's "plot" seems only to involve enough characters to fill a small elevator. Since there aren't any extras, these characters may well be the only inhabitants of the planet.

The action consists of a handful of badly photographed one on one fight scenes staged in (empty) public places. The low grade video the movie was shot on is just as cheap as it can be and the high contrast and color saturation make it look worse yet.

There are twists and chases, but I severely doubt you'll care. By the time you've finished "Circadian Rhythm"'s dismal 71 minutes you won't care about much of anything, except perhaps the promise of never having to sit through it again.

1 out of 3 people found the following review useful:
Still Hungry For Beef, 28 January 2008

Every character in Richard Linklater's "Fast Food Nation" is a 2 dimensional stereotype. Out of all these characters and their stories the only one I found a common bond with was the one played by Bruce Willis in his single, eat-on, scene. I never read the book, but from what I know it is a non-fiction account of the darker side of the fast food industry. It sounded like it'd be a good subject for a documentary, investigative report, or some other form of legitimate journalism. When I saw trailers for Linklater's fictionalized film of this book I couldn't help but view it as a misstep. But, before I alienate too many people, allow me to flesh out the movie a little.

The story follows Greg Kinnear, an executive at a fictional fast food chain called Mickey's, from an optimistic meeting to the source of the meat he's just learned is tainted with fecal traces. In the town in Colorado where the questioned slaughterhouse is we meet illegal immigrants toiling in it, corrupt supervisors, grizzled ranchers, and lastly disillusioned teens working at the local Mickey's. The story jumps back and forth between each character bringing us all towards a conclusion few would be surprised by.

Early in watching this I labeled it a burger version of Soderbergh's "Traffic". Later as the film failed to hold interest I settled on it being the burger version of "Syriana". A multiple focus film such as this one rarely works because the ambition of telling so many stories usually results in television quality writing. "Fast Food Nation" is almost worse than that because rather than being a large scope drama it's muckraking passing for one sold by a parade of cameos.

I don't want to make this a political review, but it's hard to avoid when critiquing a film that decided for itself to make a single sided statement rather than tell a story. The closest this came to objectivity was the voice of Bruce Willis's cameo which told us something true: as long as food is within legal health limits and cooked properly it's fit to eat in spite of what may have been a disgusting origin. I'm no "neo-con" or even conservative, but the plain truth is that the world is imperfect and there's nothing wrong with growing up and facing certain truths. And to anyone who thinks I'm cruelly smearing a righteous message can read a highly recommended book on the same subject: Upton Sinclair's "The Jungle". It touches on all the same things, the meat industry being tough unfair work, the world embracing mediocrity, and unsavory things being in our food, but it remains interesting throughout.

This whole story is about people becoming disillusioned. Was any information in this movie really a surprise? The only characters I'd really believe it with are the immigrant workers. It was hard to feel much for these characters anyhow since the only way to get a fair shake anywhere is to become a citizen and these characters didn't bother with that. Life may suck and fast food may be mediocre but this is not news.

Apologies to have ranted a little here but "Fast Food Nation" inspires it. The movie wants "love it or hate it" status and on its own terms I hated it. Those who love it can have it, I'll have a burger instead.

Monster (2008) (V)
14 out of 23 people found the following review useful:
Laborious, 18 January 2008

You've probably all figured out by now that this is the straight-to-video knock-off of the much anticipated "Cloverfield". I was pretty curious about this, partly because it comes from The Asylum (their stuff is just addictively bad!) and because the trailer for it looked nearly competent. So naturally I rented it as soon as I had the chance.

The plot (ha!) concerns two women, a documentary crew, who fly to Tokyo to interview an official about global warming. Everything in the movie is filmed vacation-video style from the girls' hand-held camera (just like "Cloverfield"). During the interview the monster attacks and the city becomes a disaster area. Our heroes are forced to run for cover and try to find people who speak English while still documenting the monster's rampage.

I expected weak CGI effects and bad dialogue, but I was also disappointed to find that the hand-held camera wasn't hand-held looking at all (the making-of feature on the DVD betrayed their real techniques) and the down-time that fills out most of the movie happens in spots that look more like L.A. than Tokyo. Transitions are accomplished with unconvincing video distortion, an attempt to sell us on the gimmick that we are watching found footage. There's an attempt at explanation for the monster too, which was perhaps the worst aspect of this mess.

"Monster" may be The Asylum's worst. In spite of a good trailer, this will be forgotten especially because they chose a title already used for a Charlize Theron movie. "Cloverfield" has nothing to fear from this.

Zodiac (2007)
1 out of 2 people found the following review useful:
This Is The Real Thing, 13 January 2008

Over the course of the last 12 years I have, despite much resistance, become a David Fincher fan. My faith in him wavered in 2002 when he directed Koepp's less than stellar "Panic Room". In the five year gap following the release of that film I came to believe that I'd lost Fincher as a reliable director and that he'd lost his career. "Zodiac" restored my faith.

This film is shot on high grade digital video and it is the only time I've ever seen video look like anything but video. Fincher's eye has transcended the boundaries of a once limiting medium. The color and motion are perfect. The word gorgeous would suffice. The three central performances are perfect as well, which is surprising because Gyllenhaal and Ruffalo really had something to prove for me. As with Brad Pitt in "Se7en", Fincher has given credibility to another couple of heartthrobs. The supporting cast (which includes the under-appreciated Elias Koteas) is awesome as well.

Everything worked and this is proved by the fact that it kept me in my theater seat all 157 minutes in spite my bladder being stretched ever larger by an extra large coke. True crime is a popular subject for film and the story of the zodiac killer of the 1970s was made 3 other times within 2 years of this movie. Trailing behind failures like "Hollywoodland" and De Palma's "The Black Dahlia", "Zodiac" arrived at an opportune time. All these films concerned real life crimes. This is the only success among them, bladder or no bladder.

"Zodiac" is neither a dramatization or a documentary, it is a movie. The focus, apart from the actual murders played as they happened, is confined to three men (Jake Gyllenhaal, Robert Downey Jr., Mark Ruffalo) who were stricken with the obsession to stop the zodiac's reign of terror. This theme was also present in "The Black Dahlia", but as an over-dramatized b-movie. At the risk of sounding pretentious, I'll also say that it's a movie that takes an intelligent and honest look at how we react to and deal with mass murderers.

The fact that nobody knows who this killer is and never will know for certain presents an interesting problem dramatically. Perhaps accidentally, the solution is like a "Citizen Kane" in which we never meet Charles Foster Kane. As Rosebud was a ruse in that film, the killers identity proves equally to be a ruse because the journey is more important. This is the story of people in the wake of a madman.

Naturally more focus goes to Gyllenhaal's Graysmith since this is the character of the book's author. His personal story of raising a child and having a girlfriend all being pushed to the back burner by his obsession might seem trivial at first, but it is played very well here. Fincher's good sense for drama and the proportion thereof is key here. Downey Jr. chews his scenes very successfully as a quirked, self centered reporter who perhaps best embodies the frustration at a mystery with no answer. Ruffalo is the cop who still believes in justice and is worn on by the publicity phenomenon that serial killers create (highlighted by a scenes where he sits down to watch "Dirty Harry" only to find it mirrors the case he's stumped on). All their characters feel fresh again because the viewer gets wrapped up in the story and forgets they're watching a movie.

My least favorite words to find in the promotion of any movie "Based on a true story" followed closely by "Inspired by actual events". With a lot of films this device (and it's often no more than a device) is a crutch, an excuse to tell an uninteresting story badly and have all its failings of script etc. by ignored by an audience who keep telling themselves that what they're watching is in some way "real". This pretty much puts me off true stories, including true crime stories. "Zodiac" is one hell of an exception.

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