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King Of Kong Island is a confusing piece of B-grade garbage that is
saved from being completely unwatchable by the hilarious gorilla
effects and a couple of unintentionally hilarious plot twists. The
strangest thing about this movie is its absolute incoherence; subplots
arise from nowhere and characters behave with all the logic of
intoxicated Lemmings. King Of Kong Island is definitely an acquired
Roberto Mauri's film could possess one of the most ridiculous plots in movie history. This crap makes "Santa Claus Conquers The Martians" seem entirely plausible by comparison. Basically, our hero Burt is shot and returns to Africa to find the man responsible. In addition to finding the time for some dubious psychedelic dancing, Burt also manages to fall in love with Diana. Unfortunately, Diana is kidnapped by a group deranged mountain gorillas and Burt is called on to rescue her. If the concept of brainwashed gorillas is not far fetched enough, Mauri throws in a completely random subplot about a wild woman called Eva, who lives in the jungle and converses with animals. Eva is a brazen attempt to throw in some eye candy and inject some much needed sleaze into the fairly tame proceedings. Eva leads Burt to Diana, who is being held captive in a secret lair by a mad scientist.
King Of Kong Island is really not a film that is overly concerned with the smaller details. The gorilla effects literally consist of people wearing poorly made gorilla suits. Diana's kidnapping is hilarious due to the painfully obvious gorilla masks and gloves. Mauri's inattention to detail is further noticeable in the fact that for a "wild" woman, Eva has rather lovely hair and make-up. I pretty much expect (and hope for) poor special effects and ridiculous plot developments in a Roberto Mauri crap epic. However, King Of Kong Island is sloppy to an extent that makes it basically impossible to follow. The film has also dated in the worst possible way. The treatment of the local population as "slaves" is distasteful and Burt's pseudo-comedic groping of Eva is jarring. Thankfully, there are enough stupid gorillas and crazy pieces of 1960s "technology" in the scientist's lair to overlook the general incompetence.
The film does have some impressive qualities. The jungle disco score is excellent, the film provides B-grade icon Brad Harris with a rare starring vehicle and Esmeralda Barros makes an alluring wild woman. King Of Kong Island is a complete mess, but it is a mess worth wading through for fans of this genre. If nothing else, see it for the spectacularly unconvincing gorillas.
Words can barely describe the genius of Horrors Of Spider Island. Fritz
Boettger's crap classic embodies everything I love about Z-grade
movies: ingenuity, innovation, ridiculous special effects and a
complete disregard for anything as boring as logic or reason. Horrors
Of Spider Island will resonate in your mind long after the final
credits have rolled.
I think I'm going to start using IMDb's bottom 100 as my official viewing guide. There seems to be more quality product clogging up that list than the overwhelmingly insipid top 250. Horrors Of Spider Island basically owes its place in the bottom 100 to MST3K and their followers who automatically assume that a film is atrocious if MST3K have deigned to make a mockery of it. Forget about those failed comedians and out of work actors. If you want to fully enjoy the brilliance of this movie, watch it without MST3K's incredibly unamusing voice-over.
Horrors Of Spider Island begins like a raunchier version of "King Kong". Sleazy Gary is auditioning ladies to join his "dance" troupe, which is about to embark upon a tour of Singapore. The audition scene is a delight. These girls are a bunch of hardcore skanks. Linda doesn't even bother with the pretence of dancing; she simply walks into the audition and whips off her dress. Unfortunately for the men of Singapore, Linda and her colleagues never arrive. Instead, a plane crash leaves Gary and his ladies stranded on a remote Pacific island.
The film really comes into its own on the titular "Spider Island". We are treated to the hilarious arrival scene in which the women walk along the sand in high heels and then drench themselves under a pretty dubious looking waterfall. Our stranded friends soon find an abandoned house and do not appear to be overly concerned about finding a corpse hanging in a giant spider web. These women have more important things to worry about, like fighting over Gary and determining who looks the best in rags. Unfortunately, this idyll is ruined when Gary is attacked by a giant spider and transforms into a murderous spider hybrid.
The spider effects are adorable. I'm convinced that Gary is attacked by a fluffy toy and the mechanical giant spiders are a sight to behold. The inherent ridiculousness of these effects is kept under control but some wonderfully evocative black and white photography. Once Gary has transformed, the focus of the film returns to the lovely ladies. The scene where Babs, the buxom super-bitch, attacks Nelly with a belt surely belongs to the cinematic highlights of the 1960s. The film becomes increasingly lewd as help arrives in the form of two scientists. Before you can blink, these girls are falling over themselves to grab a man. Barbara Valentin deserved an Oscar for the scene where Babs tries to steal Gladys' lover.
Horrors Of Spider Island is a great 81 minutes of entertainment. The film has an inherent camp appeal but there is more to this film than its technical failings and ludicrous plot. Boettger's film is taunt, tight and terrific. The photography is great and the actors are charming. I can not recommend Horrors Of Spider Island highly enough. A fully restored, uncut version of the film is long overdue.
The third Final Destination outing is by far the weakest entry in this
otherwise excellent horror franchise. Final Destination 3 begs, borrows
and steals from the two earlier films while never quite matching their
originality or credibility. It's not surprising for a sequel to offer
more of the same but there is usually some consolation for such
shameless recycling in the form of bigger, if not better, action.
Unfortunately, everything about Final Destination 3 is smaller and less
impressive than its predecessors - from the special effects to the
crucial scare factor.
The highlight of the Final Destination franchise is the trademark disaster sequence that opens the film. The plane crash in "Final Destination" is memorably terrifying, while the car crash that triggers events in "Final Destination 2" surely counts as one of the most spectacular sequences to grace a mainstream horror film. Given the high standard of these disaster sequences, the absolutely pathetic nature of the roller-coaster crash in Final Destination 3 is even more disappointing. I mean, a roller-coaster? I wonder what they have in mind for Final Destination 4, a collision on the dance floor of a roller-disco? Not only is this premise far less probable than a plane or car crash, it is filmed with such desperate reliance on CGI that the entire sequence is rendered unrealistic to the point where it might as well have been animated. At least that would have saved us from the cringe worthy, green-screen debacle of the jock dangling from the ride.
The good news is that the film somehow manages to overcome its ridiculous start and is ultimately entertaining in a rather generic, teen horror kind of fashion. Final Destination 3 is aided immeasurably by the basic premise that underlies the franchise - that death has a hit list and does not react kindly when someone manages to escape their intended destiny. There is an inevitability about this concept that works excellently within the framework of a horror movie. After predicting the lame roller-coaster accident, Wendy and the other survivors soon realise that they are literally living on borrowed time. This triggers a series of deaths, which vary considerably in shock value and originality.
The gore content in the Final Destination series has always been reasonably high for mainstream horror and this outing is no exception. The sunbed death sequence has been well and truly done before, but the tacky breast nudity gives this scene a refreshing sense of 1980s tastelessness. The death by motor scene is fantastic, while the nail gun death contains some of the best work I have seen with a fake dummy head for some time. The CGI "eye" is one of the few examples of credible computer effects in the film. There are also several memorable head crushing accidents and one unfortunate impaling. These scenes are technically well handled and very skillfully edited. The problem is that by returning to the stupid "death breeze" from the first film (deaths are pre-empted by a wind), all sense of shock, tension and surprise is eliminated.
This film is almost painfully reminiscent of the first Final Destination - which is not surprising given the return of James Wong, the original director. Unfortunately, this is massive step backwards. David R. Ellis injected the far superior second outing with a large dose of suspense, realism and excitement. These characteristics are sorely missing in this film. The supernatural touches that Wong has resorted to, such as that damned breeze and the bending trees, appear ridiculous in contrast. If the direction has taken a step back, so has the acting. I don't know who the nerd playing Kevin is - and to be honest, I really don't care. I do know that he has all the appeal of week old bread. Mary Elizabeth Winstead shows some potential as Wendy, particularly during the dramatic moments but she currently lacks the charisma to carry a movie on her own. The only decent supporting performance comes from Alexz Johnson as the goth girl.
For all its faults, Final Destination 3 is not a bad film. It is, however, a very disappointing entry in one of the very few decent modern horror franchises. I'm not sure if there is enough gas left in the tank for a 4th film but I'm guessing New Line will find a way to squeeze out a few more. I really hope they don't involve amusement park malfunctions, which really aren't scary for anyone over the age of 10.
House of the Dead is the first of German auteur Uwe Boll's computer
game adaptations. The film made money for its investors, pleased Gamers
and triggered an inexplicable landslide of contempt from just about
everyone else. The level of criticism directed at this film is utterly
ridiculous. House of the Dead is not only a good zombie movie but also
the most faithful adaptation of a computer game committed to film.
The film's storyline is paper thin. A group of annoying college students sail to a remote island for a "rave" dance party. Unfortunately, the island is inhabited by zombies and lots of people get munched. That's it. Personally, I have no problem with this bare bones approach to storytelling. Unlike Romero's zombie trilogy, there is no social commentary and the film is definitely not a parable for current societal woes. Uwe Boll has no hidden agenda; Boll's only aim is to entertain and he succeeds with a roller-coaster ride of non-stop action, gratuitous breast nudity and corny one-liners. There is nothing high brow about this film and for that I am thankful.
The most surprising aspect of "House of the Dead" is how close it stays to its source material: Computer graphics blend into the action scenes, several characters spin to signify death - a trademark of the game, at one stage animated blood drips down the screen, the selection of weapons is almost identical and the techno soundtrack could have been lifted directly from the game. The end result is a film that plays more like a computer game. The pacing is relentless and the live action violence is stylised to the point where it resembles animation. I found the film's mixed media approach highly innovative and distinctive. Obviously, I am in the minority.
In addition to its highly unusual visual style, the film's other memorable attribute is the zombie action. I'm not sure how zombie fans could fail to be impressed by the non-stop zombie violence. The make-up and special effects are excellent and the set piece outside the "house of the dead" is fantastic. Boll intersperses slow motion with editing that would make John Woo nauseous in order to create a highly original spectacle. The scene where the zombies chase Simon underwater is fun and a nice little nod to Fulci's brilliant "Zombi 2". Uwe Boll's direction can be described with a lot of different adjectives but "boring" is not one of them. The film has an interesting cast, who admittedly have very little to do apart from run and scream. However, it is always nice to see Juergen Prochnow and Will Sanderson makes another notable appearance in an Uwe Boll production.
House of the Dead is one of the better zombie films of the past two decades. I couldn't care less if the film plays like a computer game on steroids. At least House of the Dead has the decency not to bother with the pretence that is has something to say. Some may call it low brow trash - I call it entertainment.
Heart of America, released in Australia as "Home Room", is a well acted
and finely crafted film. Uwe Boll tackles a most difficult subject
matter with a grace and subtlety that you would not expect from the
director of "Alone In The Dark" and "House Of The Dead". Somewhat
predictably, Uwe's armchair critics have been sharpening their knives
over this film as well. Do these people have anything better to do than
rant about a relatively obscure film director's shortcomings? Don't be
put off by Uwe's undeserved reputation as the king of crap; Heart of
America is a great film.
Heart of America is one of several films to be inspired by recent high school shooting tragedies. This may sound like a perverse topic for Uwe Boll to examine given his subsequent devotion to making gory horror movies. However, Boll has crafted a surprisingly intelligent and thought provoking film. More impressively, Uwe succeeds where the likes of Gus Van Sant have failed - unlike "Elephant", Heart of America actually makes for interesting viewing. By treating this theme within the context of what appears to be a straight forward teen drama, Boll allows viewers to get to know the characters before plunging into tragedy. This makes the eventual outcome all the more affecting.
One of the few complaints about Uwe Boll that carries some validity is his tendency to overlook any kind of character development. This makes the in depth character study in Heart of America all the more satisfying. The lives of both the shooters and the victims are explored, which provides a balanced insight into the circumstances that can lead to such inexplicable events and puts a human face to the perpetrators of such acts. The film is interestingly constructed, revealing a group of very different but equally unhappy and disillusioned teens. One reviewer described these characters as stereotypes and I could not disagree more. The characters are almost hyper-real. The drug dealer might look like an extra from "The O.C." but the bullied teenagers, the frustrated teacher and the perplexed principal are all wonderfully realised.
The acting in the film is mostly outstanding. Once again, Boll has collected a fantastic cast - Juergen Prochnow and Michael Pare are at their very best. It's nice to see a cameo from Maria Conchita Alonso as a school counsellor and Boll regular Will Sanderson is great as the town loser. The younger actors are mostly fine, with the exception of the pregnant girl and the wooden Barbie doll playing the principal's daughter.
The film works best when exploring the lives of its teen characters. The scenes of bullying and the flashback to the rape of a disabled girl are bleak, gritty and powerful. The look on the brother's face as he hears his idolised sibling recount the rape is devastating. The film loses its way occasionally (what was with the secretary and her bizarre hand gesture to celebrate the last day of school?) but everything is held together by slick editing and a very clever script. I have always enjoyed Uwe's unique directorial skills and he outdoes himself here. I can't wait for more computer game adaptations but after seeing this I hope he squeezes another hard hitting drama into his schedule.
Heart of America is a riveting film that deserves a bigger audience. This film is eloquent and thought provoking, while still managing to be interesting and entertaining. This movie should be judged on its merits, not the subsequent films of its director.
Spree is one of those movies that has fallen through the cracks and
landed in cinematic oblivion. The only people who seem to remember
Spree are those who found it distasteful or exploitative. The reason
for Spree's surprising inability to find a cult following probably has
something to do with the fact that the film straddles the no man's land
between the mainstream and the video nasty. This is unfortunate because
Spree is a good film and, even by today's standards, still packs a
Like many films of the period, the basic set up involves a group of teenagers meeting the wrong people, in the wrong place, at the wrong time. In Spree's case, a group of friends drive into the desert for a weekend away. The film begins tamely enough, with conversations about condoms and a run-in with the police. Spree even has its own hilariously upbeat theme song which admittedly helps give the impression that the film is some kind of demented teen comedy. The tone changes rapidly, however, when their van crashes and they are forced to walk through the desert to find help. Unfortunately the saviours they stumble across are drug dealers, who are none too happy to have witnesses to their business dealings.
From the time the teenagers land in Kandaris' drug camp, the film becomes increasingly tense. The hospitality shown to the group rests on a knife's edge and it becomes glaringly obvious that everything could turn very bad, very quickly - which, of course, it inevitably does. This is the point at which the film briefly enters the horror realm. One of the girls is gang raped and her boyfriend is killed. The others flee into the desert but are pursued by Kandaris. This kind of chase and kill scenario is an old horror favourite and the film manipulates the situation for the most suspense possible. The desert location is beautifully filmed and some of the car and motorbike chase scenes are reminiscent of "Mad Max". The film has a reasonably high body count and the various shoot outs are well choreographed and bloody.
Spree is a very well paced movie. As soon as the action begins, it never lets up. The result is pure entertainment, the likes of which Hollywood inexplicably finds impossible to replicate these days. This film is lean and mean, without crossing over into realm of pure horror. Which is actually the film's biggest problem - it is too tame for horror fans, yet possibly too excessive for viewers who like their teen movies rape and murder free. The biggest surprise is the quality of the acting and directing.
Peter Graves is great as Kandaris. He is menacing without being ridiculous and his helicopter retreat scene is a delight. Ray Milland more than matches it with Graves, as Kandaris' business partner, "the professor". Milland gives the film a huge dose of class and he seems to thoroughly enjoy one of the better roles of his latter career. The teenage actors are adequate without being brilliant, while the actors who play Kandaris' henchmen inject the film with some real bile. Larry Spiegel's direction, particularly of the initial car crash and subsequent chase scenes, is excellent. It's perplexing to learn that he only made one more film after this.
Spree might have been a hard sell back in the glory days of the video nasty. However, given the increasingly lame nature of mainstream horror, the film packs more punch today than it did on release. Spree is the perfect anecdote to the comedy/horror currently being churned out en masse. This movie is definitely worth checking out.
BloodRayne's presence in IMDb's bottom 100 is shameful. I can see how
Uwe Boll's last film, the idiosyncratic "Alone In The Dark", could be
misinterpreted as utter rubbish but BloodRayne is a minor genre
masterpiece. Few films have combined horror, fantasy and action
elements as effortlessly. The end result is Boll's best computer game
adaptation yet and a film that stands alone as a superior piece of
entertainment. Forget about Boll's undeserved reputation as the worst
director ever to pick up a camera and judge this film on its many
This is the third film in Uwe Boll's unofficial computer game adaptation trilogy, the first two films being "House Of The Dead" and the notorious "Alone In The Dark" both of which currently grace the bottom 100. Like its predecessors, BloodRayne has been mauled by every armchair critic with internet access, despite the fact that these films are very well regarded by their intended audience. As far as computer game adaptations go, it doesn't get much better than BloodRayne. Indeed, as far as genre films in general are concerned, BloodRayne is excellent. The manic plotting that made "Alone In The Dark" and "House Of The Dead" hard to comprehend for non-gamers has all but disappeared this time around. The plot has been pared back to its bare bones and there is considerably more focus on character development.
BloodRayne could be described as a medieval "Underworld", only without the burning desire to constantly rip off "The Matrix". The central character, Rayne, is an interspecies crossbreed who escapes from a freak show with the sole ambition of killing her vampire father who raped and murdered her human mother. Rayne soon finds herself a target for her father's henchmen but finds unlikely assistance in the form of Vladimir and his society of vampire hunters. If this is all sounding rather familiar, the presentation is anything but. Boll has jammed enough blood and action into BloodRayne to fill three Hollywood blockbusters. There are also enough subtle twists and turns, like the search for power boosting vampire relics, to give the film a fresh edge.
The film's action sequences are incredibly well done and impressively violent. Olaf Ittenbach's gore effects are simply brilliant. Ittenbach, the German horror auteur behind cult classics like "Premutos" and "Garden Of Love", is renowned for his old school, ultra-excessive gore and from the first beheading in BloodRayne, it is obvious that Ittenbach has left his fingerprints all over the movie. His more-is-more approach to carnage is apparent in the battle scenes, all of which end up as blood baths, and the darkly humorous human smörgåsbord in a vampire's castle. Unfortunately, the computer effects are not nearly as refined as the more traditional gore effects and some of the dead vampires effects could have been lifted from an episode of "Buffy". Thankfully, the film only indulges in these sparingly.
The acting is the usual Boll mix of the sublime and the ridiculous. Kristanna Loken proved in "Terminator 3" that she is one of the few current Hollywood actresses who can handle action roles without looking completely idiotic. Kristanna shows up the likes of Jennifer Garner and Kate Beckinsdale for being the complete turkeys they are. Her performance as Rayne is captivating in its restraint and physicality. The rest of the colourful cast is decidedly hit and miss. Michael Madsen is on auto-pilot, but he could spend a movie unconscious and still be charismatic. The same could be said for Michelle Rodriguez, who looks bored but still has an undeniable presence. Matthew Davis is the wooden male lead and Rayne's love interest. I'm sure Rayne could snap him like a toothpick. The current king of the over-acting brigade, Billy Zane, does his slimy villain routine with ease, while Boll regular Will Sanderson is appealing as Domastir. Ben Kingsley must have needed a change of pace after one too many dreary Spielberg movies and is a treat in a camp tour de force as Rayne's evil vampire father. Udo Kier and Michael Pare have nice but insubstantial cameos. The most bizarre cameo undoubtedly belongs to Meatloaf, who appears to be drunk or high.
BloodRayne never pretends to be high brow. The film is only interested in pleasing genre fans and it does a fine job. BloodRayne still has the occasional B-grade edge (using the tourist landmark Neuschwannstein as the exterior of a vampire castle was a classy touch) but most of the criticism thrown at the film is completely ridiculous. I would take BloodRayne over half of the films of IMDb's top 250 any day.
Sergio Martino's Mountain Of The Cannibal God is about as close as the
cannibal genre ever came to the mainstream. The actors are
recognisable, the production values are respectable and the violence is
comparatively tame. Mountain Of The Cannibal God also distinguishes
itself from other entries in the genre by its surprisingly light tone.
In fact, Martino's epic is more of an adventure film with cannibal
cameos, than a horror movie. This is not the best cannibal film by any
means but it is one of the more entertaining and easy to watch entries
in this great genre.
Mountain Of The Cannibal God has a fairly standard plot, as far as cannibal films go: Susan and her brother, Arthur, arrive in Papua New Guinea to search for Susan's missing husband. They enlist the help of Edward, who suggests that Susan's husband was undertaking a secret expedition to explore a remote island. Susan convinces Edward to guide them into the jungle and before too long they are dodging snakes and spiders in the wilderness. This first part of the film is adventure orientated. A couple of native guides meet gruesome deaths, including one memorable crocodile attack, but there is not much to satisfy cannibal aficionados. This section of the film is spiced up with that perennial favourite form of padding for cannibal genre filmmakers - cruelty to animals. As with most of the violence in the movie, the sacrificing of animals pales in contrast to anything contained in Deodato's brilliant cannibal films and, for a change, is contextually relevant as native rituals.
Things start to pick up as the group find themselves being hunted by the local tribe. There is a nice booby-trap death sequence and some amusing squabbling between Edward, Arthur and Susan. Susan, not the brightest spark when it comes to walking around the jungle alone, is rescued from an unfriendly local by Manolo, a missionary, who takes the group back to his mission. This part of the film unfolds the mystery surrounding the island. The central mountain is believed to be home to an ancient tribe of cannibals. Instead of making a hasty exit, Susan spends her days flirting with Manolo until he agrees to escort her up the mountain.
The next distinct segment of the film involves Susan and Manolo's ordeal with the cannibals. This is the closest the film comes in tone and content to the bulk of films comprising the cannibal genre. There are the obligatory flesh feasting scenes, explicit nudity, sexual violence and corpse mutilation. The most notable aspect of this part of the film is Martino's generous lashings of sex. Kinky sexual antics are par for the course when it comes to 1970s exploitation films but this kind of titillating, as opposed to violent, sex is relatively rare in this genre. The great exception is the bizarre pig rape scene, which seems completely at odds with the overall tone of the film. Much of this material appears to be footage Martino re-introduced for the "uncut" version of the film. The footage certainly ups the shock ante but also unbalances the film. Mountain Of The Cannibal God still feels lightweight in comparison to its contemporaries and the enjoyable "sugar-coated cannibal" tone quickly dissipates.
The film owes much to the presence of the three excellent lead actors. Ursula Andress might have wondered how she ended up in a film which involved having her breasts painted by female cannibals but with the exception of the sleazy finale, the role is actually one of the best of her latter career. Her character is more than eye candy and Ursula is very adept during the physical scenes. Stacy Keach showcases his edgy talent as Edward, while Claudio Cassinelli (of "Flavia" fame) makes Manolo a very appealing hero. Martino keeps everything rolling along with his usual flair and the make-up and costumes for the tribesmen are striking. The film's gore effects are rather uninspired but for the first 80 or so minutes they are used sparingly, with great effect. Fans of excess will not be pleased with the film's sanitised approach but may find some consolation in Martino's additional sex scenes in the "uncut" version.
Mountain Of The Cannibal God is no "Cannibal Holocaust" but thankfully, it's no "Cannibal Terror" either. This cannibal movie is probably a good place to start for the uninitiated.
Andreas Bethmann is perhaps the sleaziest filmmaker currently
unleashing filth upon the viewing public - and for that alone, I can't
praise him highly enough. Bethmann's films are a heady mix of gore and
sex (occasionally hardcore porn) with only the most tenuous storyline
holding the whole debacle together. Der Todesengel, charmingly
translated as "Angel Of Death - F**k Or Die", is an early example of
Bethmann's unique brand of film-making. It may not be a very good movie
but it definitely is memorable.
Der Todesengel has the kind of plot that usually fills the gaps between sex scenes in a porno. Despite having a plethora of subplots which basically involve women either stripping or being abused, the film ultimately shapes up as a battle of wills between a nude model turned lesbian assassin, Manila and an organised crime syndicate who specialise in pimping kidnapped women. After approximately an hour of seemingly random sex and violence, Manila finally appears in the film and is promptly raped by an idiotic pair of Bavarian gangsters and left for dead. Manila survives, but her ordeal changes her into a blood thirsty lesbian who embarks on a man killing rampage. In a quieter moment, Manila stumbles across the men who attacked her on the way to dispose of some body parts. This sets up the final battle as Manila takes on her attackers and their gang, wearing vinyl hot pants and sky high stilettos.
The first half of Der Todesengel is what I would describe as relatively harmless sleaze. There is sex and violence, and of course sexual violence, but the content is comparable to any number of Euro-sexploitation films of the 1970s. I suspect this material might have been used as padding (not that the film needed it - the uncut version of Der Todesengel has a mind-boggling running time of almost 3 hours) because the second half has an entirely different feel. The violence is nastier, the sex is more explicit and the film finally begins to feel somewhat cohesive and gathers momentum.
The film's second half contains enough carnage, torture, bondage and explicit sex to ensure Bethmann's reputation as the undisputed king of the modern video nasty. Bethmann's films do not have an ounce of political correctness in them and therein ultimately lies their value. Anything goes in this film - my "highlights" include Manila pleasing herself with a decapitated head, Manila finding time to masturbate while breaking into the enemy compound, a knifing reminiscent of the prostitute's fate in "Seven" and the infamous castration scene. This kind of material is obviously not for every taste but for all its excess, I find it hard to be shocked or offended by Der Todesengel. The violence is not realistic, the acting is amusingly awful and the sex will not shock anyone who has ever strayed into the adult section of their local video store. The combination of all these elements is occasionally confronting but more often than not the film is simply too ridiculous to be offensive.
Der Todesengel owes much of its appeal to its star, Manila May. This woman may be one of the least gifted actresses to ever appear in a film but what she lacks in acting talent, she more than makes up for with her enthusiasm and ability to keep a straight face during the film's more ridiculous moments. The film is technically a complete debacle. The lighting, sound, direction and cinematography are all pretty appalling. Bethmann's later films have improved somewhat in these areas but with this material, who really cares? Der Todesengel is a testament to Andreas Bethmann's sheer dedication to bad taste. And for that, I applaud him.
Adam & Evil is a rather average entry into the teen horror market by
Canada's king of crap, Andrew Van Slee. While Adam & Evil doesn't quite
match the heights (or lows, depending on which way you look at it) of
"Net Games", it offers enough blood and lame humour to ensure a
relatively painless 90 minutes of trashy entertainment.
This film revisits one of horror's classic premises. A group of teenagers go camping only to be butchered by the local psycho. This scenario, while not exactly groundbreaking, has the advantage of providing plenty of opportunity for mixing a bit of sex and nudity in between the slicing and dicing. In fact, the first half of Adam & Evil plays more like a bad episode of a teen drama than a horror movie. Nothing really happens apart from a lot of bickering and embarrassing conversations about sex and penis size. There are also several confused flashbacks to a fire, which are neither scary nor disturbing.
Thankfully, things pick up when the blood starts to flow. There are throat slashings and crossbow shootings but nothing particularly gory or original. I did cheer, however, when the loser serenading his girlfriend (on a raft, no less) meets his end. The action becomes slightly less insipid when the survivors flee the camping grounds. This is despite the fact that their every action flies in the face of basic common sense. The remainder of the film offers a couple of tense moments and a reasonably enjoyable finale, which unfortunately is ruined by one of the most ridiculous surprise twists in recent memory. The twist is so stupid that I found it strangely satisfying, much like the insane turn of events in Van Slee's high watermark "Net Games". The motive behind this serial killer's actions is really beyond all belief.
The actors are uniformly terrible. However, given the script it is hard to imagine anyone leaving this film with their dignity fully intact. I can live with appalling actors if the gore content is high enough. Adam & Evil is pretty tame as far as the gore is concerned but there is enough poorly executed violence to make it relatively bearable. Andrew Van Slee has once again outdone himself on the script and his directorial skills are as peculiar as ever. The gore effects are reasonable and the film is thankfully brief.
Adam & Evil is the kind of horror trash that I find mindlessly entertaining. I seriously doubt that this film will frighten anyone over 12 years old, but it is an inoffensive enough way to spend 90 minutes of your time.
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