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Strawberry_Typhoon

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22 reviews in total 
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54 out of 78 people found the following review useful:
solid, and managed to stick with me long after I had finished watching it., 28 May 2011
8/10

Buzz has been flying around about YELLOWBRICKROAD for some time now. Recently, the film was picked up for distribution by the newly formed "Bloody Disgusting Selects" label, and will begin a limited theatrical run on June 1st. The film has been touted as "Blair Witch done right". I'm not so certain that's anything outside of a hit farming quote, but I can see why the two films would be compared. A group of people set off into the woods where something horrible once happen in order to uncover the truth, and publish their findings in a book. Navigation equipment begins to malfunction, mysterious music begins to play from an unknown source, and the crew is wearing down very quickly.

The music that I spoke of before is one of the most important aspects of the film. It's the first indication that there's something very wrong about their surroundings, and you can see the group's mental state deteriorating as the music becomes more and more obnoxious. To be honest, at the half-way point, I was actually beginning to feel quite hostile myself. It was a very effective way to illustrate to the audience, a descent into madness. Just as it fades, you think it may be over, or at the very least the group will find the source, but it kicks back in to an even higher gear. On paper, that may sound a tad gimmicky, but in execution, it flawlessly delivers the filmmaker's desired effect.

This is not a jump-scare thriller, so if you're expecting cheap thrills, you'll be sorely disappointed. This is most certainly a slow burning film. At the 40 minute mark, nothing much had happened outside of character development, and atmospheric tension. For some, this will be a turn-off. But, if you appreciate the ability to invest yourself into the experience, and the characters, this will be a major selling point. When the inevitable begins, it's that much more effective, having built relationships with each character on screen.

There is a moderate amount of violence, but it's not really that type of film. The special effects are highly competent when they're used, and thankfully they're only used when required. Most filmmakers today try and cram as much gore into their film's as possible, as even if it's a weak experience, violence sells equally as well as sex. The deaths that do take place are highly disturbing, but it's mostly in a psychological way. There is one fairly gruesome death, and it happens in such a matter-of-fact sort of way that it sort of punches the collective audience in the gut.

I feel as if writers/directors Jesse Holland and Andy Mitton deserve a lot of credit here, for many things. In particular, not filming in first-person. Found-footage films are all the rave right now, and this duo could have very easily went that route. It sort of makes YELLOWBRICKROAD the anti Blair Witch Project. A film, similar in nature, with the ability to appeal to the audience that didn't have a positive experience with BWP. At the same time, fans of that film will find much to enjoy about YBR as well.

One factor that will split audiences is the lack of proper closure. Without spoiling too much, chances are if you have questions late into the film, you'll continue to have them after. This worked for me, as I didn't feel insulted as a viewer. I don't enjoy having bits of backstory, and unneeded vocal explanations of what could or could not be happening. It feels unnatural in every film that attempts it. Much is left to viewer interpretation, and in my opinion, it couldn't have worked any other way. There are certainly some things that I would liked to have learned, but I'm okay in it remaining unknown.

One thing that bugged me, and a very major thing at that, was the finale of the film. It felt forced upon my first viewing, though I do plan on watching a second time to see if it has a different effect. To me, the last few frames of the film seem to almost cheapen previous happenings. It's weird, as it didn't actually tarnish the whole experience for me, but it did make me re-think my opinion previous to the scene. It seemed like an unnecessary last minute effort, to rope in the viewers that need some sort of entity to blame things on. I would liked to have been left with that strange feeling in the pit of my stomach that the idea of everything remaining completely unexplained created.

Despite my problems with the ending, I can still recommend YELLOWBRICKROAD with confidence. It reminds me of another one of my favorites of the year so far, Insidious. It had me all throughout the beginning, held my enjoyment through the middle, and then sort of dropped the ball right at the end. Like Insidious though, enough had happened up until that point to leave a lasting scar on my psyche. If it weren't for the questionable tactics near the end, I would say that YBR was near perfect. Even taking that problem into consideration, it's still solid, and managed to stick with me long after I had finished watching it.

Fast Five (2011)
2 out of 5 people found the following review useful:
The Fast and the Furious has morphed into quite the little action series, 1 May 2011
8/10

Before we get started, I want to get something off of my chest. For a long time, the Fast and the Furious franchise has been a big guilty pleasure of mine. Sure, they're silly, unrealistic, and way over the top, but they're fun, and exciting. Not ever cinematic experience has to mirror The English Patient. Sometimes I just want to see car chases, and sht blowing up. This series, despite it's many flaws, manages to provide the audience with enough eye candy and carnage to solidify it's spot in pop culture history. When the trailer premiered, and revealed to me that I would be seeing a host of returning characters, coupled with Dwayne Johnson versus Vin Diesel. I was on board instantly. I even learned that The Liberal Dead's own Ted Brown had a soft spot for the series as well. When I finally sat down to consume the new installment, my expectations were off the charts.

Following the example that the previous film set, Fast Five is more of a crime/action flick, than another rice-a-roni car porn. Many people were not fans of the previous film, but I admired it for the direction that it took the franchise. It may sound silly, especially considering the material, but it almost felt like the franchise had matured. Whereas previous sequels tried to re-capture the flavor of the first film, focusing almost entirely on the cars, and the races, "Fast and Furious" revisited the original characters, and showed us what the events of their first romp has done to their lives. There's almost something magical and mysterious about the ending of the first film. It certainly romanticizes the fact that Brian let Dominic go, rather than bringing him to justice. But what are the consequences for everyone involved? These are the questions that were answered in the last film, and now expanded upon in series' return.

Fast Five begins where the previous film concluded. Brian, now rogue from the FBI has rounded up a furious carpool to bust Dominic out of police custody. Living on the run in Rio, Brian and Mia reconnect with Vince, and try to pull off a heist to help get their heads above water. When Dominic shows up with the crime already in progress, he senses a double-cross, and alters the plan preventing the crew from meeting up with the man that hired them for the job. The man turns out to be the #1 kingpin in all of Rio, and he orchestrates a wide-net search party, including his own henchmen, as well as the majority of the local police, who happen to be on his payroll. Since several US federal agents where found dead in the aftermath of the robbery, a US Special Forces team is sent to apprehend Brian and Dominic, who they think are responsible for the deaths. Leading the team is Special Agent Hobbs, played by Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson.

The introduction of Hobbs as a character, pits two completely larger than life action heroes against one another. This not only appeals to the sensibilities of action fans across the globe, but it leads to one of the most exciting scenes of hand to hand combat in recent history. Dwayne and Vin have a terrific amount of on-screen chemistry, and could very easily go on to make movies outside of the F&F universe, both versus, as well as on the same side. Say what you want about either man, but both of them have several solid films under their belt. Hopefully the decision to put these two titans in the same film yields the obvious intended result, and Fast Five will end up dominating the box office.

Enough characters return from the previous films to appeal to franchise fans, but the story and the situation generates crossover appeal as well. Even though it's a continuing story arch, anyone looking for a popcorn action flick can walk into the theater and walk out satisfied, even if you're completely unfamiliar with the four previous films.

The Fast and the Furious has morphed into quite the little action series, and despite the satisfying amount of closure the film leaves you with, it also leaves just enough open so that a plethora of sequels are not only able to be produced and make sense in the context of this film, but have the potential to actually be enjoyable films. Fast and Furious has become the Saw of the action genre. The only difference being, I actually hope they make a couple more F&F films, especially after the scene that occurs after the end credits. I can't wait to see where they're going to take it from here.

The Super (2010)
7 out of 8 people found the following review useful:
If you came to realize your taste in horror through dingy dollar theaters, and big-box VHS, then this is a film you must see., 29 April 2011
8/10

The Super follows George, a Vietnam vet who is the superintendent of an apartment building in the New York City Borough of Queens. George doesn't have much anymore. Occasional nights at the bar with the younger brother of one of his friends from the war, interaction with the colorful tenants of his apartment building, and surrealistic conversations with his wife and kid are what fills most of his days. A young couple have just moved into the building, and George appears to be going out of his way to accommodate them. So much so that it has begun to make them uncomfortable. A night of drinking that results in a brutal bar fight teaches us that George has some issues he's dealing with, feelings of rage and abandonment are beginning to spiral out of control, and causing violent outbreaks that generally result in someone getting hurt, or worse. When George learns that one of his tenants has murdered her neighbor's cat, he decides to respond to her act in kind. With the help of one of his trouble tenants, Olga, played pitch-perfect by Manoush, George does his best to cover his tracks, and go on about his day to day activities.

"The Super" grabbed my attention with the intro, and then secured it for the duration once the title card was shown. The market has been saturated with films that pay homage to exploitation, but most of them do it in such an obvious way that it's obscene, and in some cases, even insults the viewer's intelligence. After all, a shitty movie with digitally enhanced film blemishes is still a shitty movie. This is not that type of experience. If I didn't know better, and I just happened across this film on a shelf somewhere, I would be convinced that it was released in 1984 at the latest. Not to say that it's a primitive piece of cinema, but it just captures the essence of that era of film so competently, and without gimmick.

During the '70s, '80s, and perhaps even a very early portion of the '90s, movies that were filmed on location in New York City had a flavor of their own. Films like "Maniac", "C.H.U.D.", "Taxi Driver", "Mean Streets" etc. displayed the city as a living, breathing character of it's own. So gritty and dreary, yet so fascinating. "The Super" replicates that oldschool New York City horror flavor like no other film has done for decades. Though most of the film takes place in the apartment building, you can still very much sense the presence of the city it's self. Ominous shots of the late night skyline help to set an eerie atmospheric tone that is sure to spark nostalgic memories of films past in any seasoned genre fan.

The character of George is enthralling. Demetri Kallas portrays in a stark performance, a man well over the edge, and we follow him on his journey into madness. Though George is performing, and enjoying terrible acts, it's still easy to sympathize with his pain. The Vietnam war left a generation of men scarred, physically, and mentally. When George reminisces back to the high points of his life, he associates that to some of the terrible things that he had done during the war. It appears that when George is doing some of the terrible things he does to the tenants of his building, it's somewhat recapturing the memories that he holds so close to his heart. If everything you've ever known and loved has materialized while you were surrounded by violence, violence would be the only thing that brings you comfort. Unless you are a shining example of perfect mental health, you should find yourself at least a little bit, relating to what George is going through.

"The Super" is depraved in it's violent content. The special effects are great, but it's not the type of film that focuses on mounds of gory imagery in order to provoke a response. The film gets wet when it needs to, but doesn't relish in it to the point of becoming absurd. The kills are brutal, and diverse in style. George and Olga compliment each of their depravities, bringing different styles of murder to the table. When they are in their element, and working in unison, I wouldn't want to be the one strapped to the chair.

The casting director did an excellent job putting together the group of faces that help the story to unfold. The acting is phenomenal across the board, which is something you don't always get with an indie flick like this. Most notable though, is Demetri Kallas as George, Manoush as Olga, and Lynn Lowry as George's wife, Maureen. Lynn is no stranger to the genre, having starred in some cult classics such as George Romero's "The Crazies" as well as it's 2010 remake. Lynn also starred in the classic 1982 were-cat film "Cat People". Lynn's performance as Maureen is heartbreaking. You can see the pain in her eyes every time she's on screen.

"The Super" is a film made by fans of the genre, for fans of the genre. It makes no bones about from where it draws it's influence. This is the perfect example of how to create film that pays homage to an era of film, without self-awareness. Constantly reminding your viewer that your intentions were to exploit their fondest memories of the films of yesterday is counterproductive. While it may be enjoyable at first, to realize that a filmmaker may share your taste in cinema, it fails to create the experience that you were aiming for. "The Super" skips past the bullshit, and while it's a unique experience, especially by today's standards, it still gives you that warm, familiar feeling inside, like your favorite blanket, or the cool side of the pillow. If you came to realize your taste in horror through dingy dollar theaters, and big-box VHS, then this is a film you must see.

Husk (2011)
7 out of 23 people found the following review useful:
After Dark Originals: Husk – Or The Aquaman of Horror Villains, 27 March 2011
3/10

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

This year, instead of doing it's annual "Horror fest", After Dark films has opted to do a series they've titled "After Dark Originals". Instead of buying up films that were already made, and simply distributing them, they've taken a more controlling position over the projects. From the initial filming, to post production, the ADO series are films that were developed for, and by After Dark films. One of the high profile offerings from this series is a film titled "Husk". Unfortunately, it's already been hyped to be something that it could never possibly live up to. Much like the claims surrounding the first "Hatchet" film, people are already talking about "Husk" as if it's the second coming of "old-school American horror". As we learned in the case of "Hatchet" this creates expectations from fans that can't possibly be met. When you make such a bold claim, you fill the heads of your potential viewers with images of films they grew up watching, and those that hold very special places in their collective hearts.

I don't feel it's entirely necessary to break down the plot for you. If you've seen a horror film between 1974 and 2011, you've probably seen something identical in nature. There are some kids on a road trip, and some sort of jump-scare causes them to veer off of the road leaving their vehicle inoperable. Strange things begin to occur around them, and for some odd reason they are more interested in getting closer to the mysterious danger, than staying the f*ck away, like any human with some form or fashion of a logical thought pattern. Soon, after venturing into an eerie cornfield, and investigating the broken down remains of the house from "Texas Chain Saw Massacre", the dimwitted "teens" start to get picked off one by one.

I understand that director Brett Simmons set out to make a film that pays homage to the classics, but as we've discussed before, there's the correct way to film an homage(The Super, The House Of The Devil), and then there's just lazy filmmaking. Sometimes when a director/writer/producer realizes they have a stinker on their hands, they start tossing around hyperbole like "It's a throw-back" or "It's old-school". What they really mean is, it's a bad movie, and they hope that you're gullible enough to buy in to their marketing ploy. Every possible horror cliché, vehicle, exposition, even camera angle is utilized here, and to basically no effect.

There's no real plot to speak of, other than your basic "TCM" fare. Replace the psychotic family with what seems like a gang of ninja scarecrows, that are apparently good at everything but scaring crows, and you have "Husk". They do give the scarecrow a sad back-story, and a seemingly supernatural explanation for his existence, but the dots are never fully connected, and aside from a few unexplained ghostly visions one of our main characters experiences, it's not paramount to the film as a whole.

The one thing I will give "Husk" is that the "possession" angle was a bit unique. If it were put into the hands of a more competent writer, it may have salvaged an otherwise forgettable, and ridiculous film. Some of the special effects are okay looking, but with all the furious fast-motion hand-held camera work, you don't really get to see the carnage, or even the scarecrow it's self.

This was a pretty big miss for the ADO's first outing. I hope that it gets better from here. In the interest of full disclosure, I did watch "Husk" as it aired on the SyFy channel, so it was in it's censored form, but It's pretty rare for SyFy to do any censoring other than blanking out the F-Bombs, and blurring out the nipples. They aired "Wrong Turn 2" in almost it's full glory, so I highly doubt anything was cut from this film that would have heightened the experience. There is no amount of gore or nudity that could have made this an enjoyable film. Perhaps Brad Simmons will ease up on the handi-cam and clichés next time around. You can clearly tell that he has proper love and respect for the genre, but as we've learned time and time again, that doesn't always carry over into someone's film.

Paul (2011)
1 out of 3 people found the following review useful:
How often do you get to see a little gray man sit around a camp-fire, get stoned out of his mind, and tell dirty jokes, anyway?, 23 February 2011
8/10

"Paul" is the new film from director Greg Mottola. Greg is responsible for such films as "Superbad", "Adventureland", and one of my personal favorites, "The Daytrippers". The film was written by Simon Pegg, Nick Frost, and Seth Rogen, who also star in the picture. The story begins as Clive(Frost) and Graeme(Pegg) have traveled to American in order to meet their favorite science fiction author at Comic Con. An altercation with some local hill-folk at a rest stop leads them to make a hasty get-away in their recreational vehicle. On the highway, the two see a pair of headlights in the horizon and assume it's the rednecks from earlier. It turns out to be a car, that in-turn crashes in front of them. Stopping to see if everyone was okay, they realize that the drive of the car was actually Paul(Rogen), an alien that's just escaped government custody. From here, the trio set off on a cross country journey to get Paul back to his home planet.

One of the things that surprised me about this film is that they opted for the R-Rating. Granted, Mottola's work has been adult oriented for the most part, but it seems like they would have went for the cash-in on this adult homage to the classic film "E.T.". I still think this would be a fun film to take your children to see. There are several strings of randomly grouped curse words, so it maybe not suitable for the ultra young, but if my son were around 8-10, I would have no problem with him seeing it. There's no nudity, no extreme gore, just a few F-Bombs, and some sexually suggestive dialog. I still think that this was a cute picture, and could be enjoyed by families that aren't too stuck up. To be honest, when I saw the trailer, I assumed that it would be a family film. It was surprising to me to hear the language, as they could have easily had a big PG-13 box office turn-out for this affair.

Taking into consideration the bodies of work from both the director, as well as the stars, this is by no stretch of the imagination any of their best work. It would be hard for anything to stack up against Shaun of the Dead, and even Hot Fuzz. Mottola's most well known film is undoubtedly "Superbad", though I personally prefer "Adventureland", as his best "new wave" comedy film. If I were to attempt to make a comparison to anything, it would be to the Kyle Newman directed "Fanboys". It's similar in style, as it's clearly an homage to classic cult films past, and it's loaded to the brim with pop-culture references. Some recognizable to the casual viewer, and a few nods to those of us that are serious cinema addicts.

I was kind of dreading the film, to be honest. A CGI Alien voiced by Seth Rogen? Don't get me wrong, I'm not a snob, and I am a fan of Rogen's films. This just seemed like it would be silly to me, though. It was surprisingly entertaining, on several different fronts. It works as an homage, an almost kiddie friendly romp, and an adult themed dick and fart joke comedy. It was fun to seek, and spot the references to other movies-such as the obvious, "E.T.", but also "Mac & Me", And even "Aliens", complete with a running cameo by none-other than Sigourney Weaver. Speaking of Cameos, almost the entire cast is comprised of special guest-stars and cameo performances from some comedy greats. Bill Hader, Jane Lynch, David Koechner, and many more.

I had a fun time with this lighthearted comedy. It was great to see Pegg and Frost back on the screen together, and the back and forth between them and Rogen was highly entertaining. Jason Bateman is also a favorite of mine, and he does a good job at being the cliché' agent on-the-hunt character. As slim as the film selection is during this time of year, this would definitely be something I would recommend getting out the the theater to see. It's not the best film of the year, but it's fun. How often do you get to see a little gray man sit around a camp-fire, get stoned out of his mind, and tell dirty jokes, anyway?

Luster (2010)
8 out of 16 people found the following review useful:
Mason does a good job straddling the line between the gritty indie style he's become known for, and mainstream marketability., 20 November 2010
8/10

One of the most underrated directors working today is Adam Mason. Mason made waves in the indie scene when Dimension Extreme picked up his feature debut "Broken". When his follow-up, "The Devil's Chair" punched me in the gut, I was sure that he would become a household name. Here we are, several films later, and it feels like Adam's films are getting even less attention. "Blood River", which was one of the best films of 2009, has yet to even secure North American distribution. This is despite the high praise the film has been met with from most whom have seen it. Mason's experimental film "Pig", which was filmed almost entirely in one take, has been made available by the director through online premieres, but is still not readily available to those that wish to see it. Skip forward a year, and Adam is back with "Luster". Though, admittedly not a horror film, it's dark enough of a comedy, and intense enough of a thriller that it plays well to fans of the genre. Much like his last several films, Mason is having some trouble securing distribution, which is a sad thing, because this is his most polished film to date. "Luster" would play well on the big screen, and I honestly believe that if given the shot, it would stand toe to toe against anything that Hollywood has to offer.

"Luster" follows the title character, Thomas Luster, played by the amazing Andrew Howard. Thomas is dealing with a severe case of insomnia. He also suspects his wife of fooling around with his eccentric neighbor. When he starts receiving strange letters telling him to stop taking his insomnia medication, he assumes it's his neighbor playing with his mind. Thomas, and his homeless friend Les, played by Tommy Flanagan(Sons of Anarchy) take a trip to a local pawnshop, and walk away with some video surveillance equipment to try and catch his neighbor in the act. When Thomas reviews the surveillance footage, he discovers that something far more sinister is afoot. When Thomas' personal life crumbles, bodies start to drop, and Luster is left to battle his inner demons.

One of the most impressive things about Adam Mason, is that he can take a budget that most filmmakers would scoff at, and turn it into a brilliant, polished cinematic experience. "Luster" is no exception. Mason turns in a finished product that would convince even the most educated cinephile that he had much more to work with. It saddens me that films like "Paranormal Activity" receive support from big name studios, yet films like "Blood River" and "Luster" have gone unnoticed. A lot of people complain about the state of Hollywood films today, but only a handful are actually willing to do something about it. How can you complain about a lack of creativity in one breath, then slap your hard earned dollars down on the counter for whatever this month's hot new pillaging of our childhood favorites happens to be? Andrew Howard's performance is the driving force behind "Luster". Howard is a regular in Mason's films, and every time he steps in front of a camera he brings his A game. Howard takes us on a roller coaster ride of emotions as we follow him on a steady decline into madness. Anyone that has ever gone a couple of days without sleep knows that your mind starts playing tricks on you after a while. This is portrayed with a level of brilliance, both by Andrew's acting chops, and the impeccable writing of both Mason, and his writing partner Simon Boyes.

The cinematography of "Luster" is great, as with all of Mason's films. The spectacular lighting is what really sets the mood though. One scene in particular features Andrew Howard standing in a bathroom caked in blood. The scene looks spectacular, proving that the aesthetics of your film rely heavily on your knowledge of lighting a scene. A lot of people don't realize this, but sometimes fake blood that is used on the set doesn't resemble blood at all. Mason himself admits that without the lighting of the scene mentioned above, the blood that Andrew Howard is covered in would have looked terrible.

Mason does a good job straddling the line between the gritty indie style he's become known for, and mainstream marketability. Fans of his previous work will not be disappointed, yet casual viewers are not left feeling alienated. The characters are all interesting, and easy to relate to. The story is smart, and compelling, yet easy to follow, and the ending is both satisfying, and unexpected. Adam Mason stepped outside of his comfort level with this film, proving that he's not a one-trick pony. With Andrew Howard's career building steam, perhaps a much deserved theatrical release will be given to "Luster" in the year to come.

Predators (2010)
2 out of 10 people found the following review useful:
Predators is the best film of the summer, and the Predator experience that fans have been begging for for decades., 11 July 2010
8/10

Predator(1987) became such a cult phenomenon, that it spawned a sequel, two crossovers with the Alien Franchise, and a massive line of toys for both kids, and adults. The problem is, none of the following movies were any good. Sure, "Predator 2" gained a cult following, but there's a scene in the movie where an old lady smacks the predator with a broom as he runs through her apartment, so to me, it's a "so bad it's good" situation.

"Preadators" directed by Nimrod Antal, and produced by Robert Rodriguez, is a return to form for the franchise. It's more of a direct sequel to the original film than the sequel is, if that makes any sense. The events of the original film are referenced several times throughout the movie.

We open to Royce, played by Adrien Brody, free falling through the sky while unconscious. Recovering from his hard landing in an unknown jungle, he starts discovering that he wasn't he only one tossed out of an airplane. Murderers and mercenaries literally start falling from the sky. A ragtag group of complete strangers, with only one thing in common, they are all killers in one way or another.

The first act is spent mostly in a state of confusion. Not only is the audience confused as to what is going on, but so are the characters. Cautiously advancing through the strange jungle, they start to discover that they weren't the only people(things) dropped into this jungle. Empty cages, as well as skinned remains lead them to believe that they have been dropped here for a reason, to be hunted as game by somebody, or something.

The first encounter with something other-worldly, is in a sequence where the crew is ambushed by a horde of strange canine like creatures. It is at this point that they actually realize they are being treated as game, in a reserve. Predators, releasing the hounds in order to get their prey on the run, and give them the upper hand. This is our first real treatment to the gun porn aspect of this movie, while our characters fire their respective weapons wildly into the pack of vicious beasts. Anyone who has spent any amount of time playing Modern Warfare 2 will quickly recognize Royce's gun, an AA-12, which is a fully automatic 12 gauge shotgun. The FX in this sequence are a decent blend of both CG, and practical splatter. The creature design is awesome, but not quite as jaw-dropping as Stan Winston's original design for the Predator.

In a decision that could be viewed as either really smart, or supremely stupid, the group follows the "dogs" tracks back to what appears to be the Predators(plural) camp, we discover that there are different types of Predators present, and apparently, not all of them get along very well. Tied up in the camp is "Classic Predator" played by Derek Mears of "Friday The 13th" reboot fame.

One of the main problems I see people having with the movie is Adrien Brody's performance. While I find it to be an effective performance, some are accusing him of trying to mimic Christian Bale's raspy whisper. While this is partially true I suppose, Brody plays a hardened merc like one would picture a hardened merc being. No complaints from me in this department. Another complaint I have heard is that, if Arnie couldn't stand toe to toe with the original Predator, how is it that scrawny Adrien Brody is able to do so in this sequel? Without giving too much away, I don't feel that this is the case. Brody doesn't have a knock down/drag out with the Predator, he actually just exploits one of the Predators only weaknesses.

I've heard other complaints about the Jungle, and how it looks too earthly to be on another planet. These people aren't taking into consideration that this is sort of a hunting preserve. One of the first rules of hunting is to make your prey feel comfortable, so that they won't be expecting you when you make your move. Personally, I was glad to see straight up jungle, and not some ridiculously CG environment like that featured in "Avatar". It looks a lot better the way it is, trust me. It helps you connect the film to the original, and although it's a story about killer extra terrestrials hunting and slaughtering humans on another planet, it serves to keep the film as grounded in reality as possible.

As mentioned before, the FX were a solid mixture of practical, and CG. The Predators, of course are still the classic rubber suit monsters that they've always been. Opting for a CG solution would have completely ruined the film. Derek Mears brings that same aggression to screen that he put forth in the F13 remake, and was quite menacing.

Though not quite as tense as the first film, Predators manages to amp up the hunter/prey aspect this time around. In the first film, the rest of the team was done away with pretty fast, and you had the rest of the film filled with Arnie playing a game of cat and mouse with the predator. This time around, it's truly strength in numbers, as our mercs find ways to outsmart, and overpower the Predators that are tracking them down.

In a summer full of bland family flicks, fake vampire films, and soulless cash-ins, Predators is the real deal. It's not a mindless popcorn flick, but it is fun as hell to watch. Predators is the best film of the summer, and the Predator experience that fans have been begging for for decades. If the AVP series left a bad taste in your mouth, be prepared to wash it out with the bloody good time that is "Predators"

8/10

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4 out of 13 people found the following review useful:
It's just straight up splatter., 4 July 2010
7/10

The first "2001 Maniacs" movie came out of left field for me. I had already seen Herschell Gordon Lewis' "2000 Maniacs" and While I personally enjoyed it, it seemed like an odd movie for someone to remake. It had the backing of a solid indie studio, and starred Robert Englund, so I checked it out. Some people hate it. It's campy, with over the top gore, and way over the top acting, but it's a fun flick, especially if you're a fan of the HGL original. "2001 Maniacs: Field Of Screams" follows that same pattern of campy goodness. Genre favorite Bill Moseley, however has replaced Robert Englund this time around. While we're introduced to a couple of new characters, the best characters from the first film have been kept. While the story is not exactly paramount to the plot. It is however, summed up with a slick comic book style intro montage. Basically, during the civil war, some "yankees" came into the small town of pleasant valley, and raped, tortured, and killed the entire town. Since then, the town folk return once a year, luring unsuspecting northerners into a festival, in which they will kill and eat each one of them, until they reach the magic number of 2001, which signifies the number of them that were killed. This year though, the sheriff of the town, who has apparently been playing ball with the ghouls, has told them that he would no longer allow their festival of death to happen. What can they do, other than to take their carnival of the macabre on the road?

Before pressing the play button, you have to ask yourself the following questions. In order for you to enjoy a film, do you have to have solid, clever writing, and amazing acting? If the answer is yes, you're probably not going to dig on this sequel. Director Tim Sullivan is not out to win any awards with this one. He simply wants you to have fun. In doing so, he's asking you to forgive a lot of stale lines, cheesy delivery, and classic horror movie clichés. Also, considering that this is an homage to hicksploitation, there is a small amount of racism in the film. It's never harped upon, nor is it glorified, but used to display how disgusting our antagonists really are. Then, there are things like the one Hispanic character in the film being named "Jesus" and having his name mispronounced as "g-sus" throughout the entire film. I'm here to tell you though, I'm a bleeding heart liberal at my very core, and none of this offended me in any way. It's an homage, and paying respect to an era of film that was made famous for it's political incorrectness.

The special FX in this film are most definitely practical. From what I could tell, I didn't notice one usage of CG in the entire film. This, as you know, makes me happy. Some of the kills were absolutely insane. Ridiculous, of course, but no less insane. One scene in particular involves a naked chick, and a table saw inching it's way toward her nether regions. Add to that graphic electrocutions, "brokeback" gay sex, and exploding heads, there's enough gooey red stuff in this flick to make even the modest jaded horror junkie crack an evil smile.

If you like your horror loaded with gore, and filled to the brim with enough nudity to make a late night Cinemax movie look like a Disney film, you've come to the right place. It's cheesy, it's goofy, it's gory, it's off the wall ridiculous, but I can think of much worse ways to kill 90 minutes of your life.

Tim Sullivan, in an interview, stated that he was a little more free to do what he wanted this time around. This translates into some insanely grotesque fun. Kills that you would never see anywhere else. As mentioned before though, if you're not into campy films, this might not be for you. There is no clever plot twist, nor are there A-list actors to deliver a well written script. It's just straight up splatter. If that's what you're looking for, you will be satisfied. 7/10

http://www.liberaldead.com

1 out of 2 people found the following review useful:
you can tell that there is some talent behind the project., 2 July 2010
5/10

Before going in to "Girl Number Three" you have to accept, and embrace the fact that this is a micro budget production. You have to accept that you will not be witnessing any flashy FX, or quick cut editing. If you can get this into your head before you start the movie, you should be able to enjoy it for what it is.

"Girl Number Three tells the story of Max, an art student shopping for a sexy Halloween costume for a party that night. After a creepy encounter with the sales clerk at the costume store, Max heads to her car, only to be ambushed, and kidnapped at gun point. Max, along with several other girls, arrive at an abandoned plant, with bags over their heads, and guns in their backs. They soon learn that they will be part of some sort of ritual, in which they will be sacrificed. Max, however, doesn't plan on going down without a fight.

The opening 10 minutes or so of this movie, were really creepy, and atmospheric. The score really sold it for me at that point. While we're witnessing the opening ritualistic montage, I was really sucked in to the universe that film had created. I wish the rest of the film stayed in this style, as it would have elevated this watch for me by ten fold. What follows the opening scene will be rough to watch for more casual viewers. As mentioned before, it's micro budget, so you have to forgive a lot in consideration of that fact. Some of the acting is a bit shaky, but it doesn't distract the viewer too much from the over all tone of the film.

The concept is there, and you can tell that there is some talent behind the project. Had the crew been given more of a budget to work with, I have no doubts that a cult classic could have came out of it.

"Girl Number Three" is based on a graphic novel by Nathan Thomas Millner. After watching this flick, and seeing some of his artwork, I fully intend on checking the source material out. There's nothing really overly negative that comes to mind about my experience with this movie, and the things that I can think of can easily be explained away by the lack of money. Special effects, which are few and far between, could have used some sprucing up in my opinion, but again, when you're working with zero budget, you use what you have access to.

The film is showing at the end of July at this year's Fright Night Film Festival, and I hope that someone will see it, and give director Herschel Zahnd III, and writer Nathan Thomas Millner a budget for their next flick. I would recommend this movie to anyone who is a fan of late night b-movies, and anyone who has aspirations of becoming a filmmaker themselves.

http://www.liberaldead.com

12 out of 15 people found the following review useful:
Suffers from "Middle of the road" syndrome., 26 June 2010
4/10

No, you're not having an acid flashback, and you don't need to text ChaCha, that is Joel Greco from trash TV show "Cheaters". I recently subscribed to "Indieflix", which, if you don't know, is like Netflix instant watch, only for independent film exclusively. It's a good service, if you would like to check it out, and it provides countless hours of independent cinema at the click of a button. Last night, I saw a vampire/comedy film available by the name of "Nightcrawlers", Having never heard of the flick, and it being so close to the release date to the latest mind numbing entry into the Twilight Saga, I gave it a go. Having a brisk runtime of only 74 minutes, it wasn't much of a commitment.

"Nightcrawlers" follows two friends in a hick town. Rob, played by Lee Trull, who has just discovered that his girlfriend is pregnant, and is desperate to get his act together, and Coop, played by Gabriel Horn, the town slacker, who also happens to be running for mayor. The duo have a run in with a mysterious outlander with a business proposition, but in order to hear said proposition, the two have to meet him at an abandoned barn outside of town, in the middle of the night. Sounds shady right? Well, after being told that there is a potential to make tens of thousands of dollars, they decide to give it a go. The job is simple, sneak into a creepy house that is rumored to be haunted, open a safe, grab the money, and the deed to the house. What could go wrong? Well, turns out it's not actually the deed to the house, but some sort of ancient scroll that vampires have been fighting over for centuries.

This is a hard film to review. It suffers from "Middle of the road" syndrome. It's not so bad that it's hard to watch, but it's just so by- the-numbers that it's hard to enjoy. It feels as if the writers were trying way too hard to be clever, and funny, and in turn, achieved neither. There were perhaps two moments in the film, that made me sort of smirk, but never was there an actual comedic moment. Both main characters played their roles well, but didn't have much by way of script to work with.

To call this a Vampire film would be a stretch. Yes, there are vampires involved, but they are far from central to the plot. We're treated to a few fang mugging close-ups, and that's about the extent of it. You could tell that the FX department were aiming to mimic the style of vampires featured in "Lost Boys" sunken eyes and all, and I suppose they did an OK enough job, it just wasn't enough to elevate my enjoyment of the film.

I'm not sure what the budget was, but I will say that it looks amazing. For what I'm assuming was a low budget production, they really worked well with what they had. I think there is some genuine talent behind the lens, but I also think that director Benjamin Wilbanks should adapt someone else's script for his next project. With a better screenplay, and some wittier dialog, this could have went theatrical in my opinion.

The third act tried so hard to be amusing, but I couldn't help hearing the sound of "Yakety Sax" in my head. It was a skit lifted directly from Benny Hill. Our main characters are running in circles across town from a horde of stumbling hillbilly vampires. It may sound entertaining to you, but I personally sat in disbelief of what I was witnessing.

I can't recommend "Nightcrawlers", but I can't suggest staying far away from it either. It's so generic that it's impossible to call bad. Think of it as film purgatory. If you have 70 minutes that you would like to donate to an experience you won't remember, but won't regret, give it a go. If not, no worries, the world will not end.

4/10

http://www.liberaldead.com


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