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The Hills Have Eyes Part II (1984)
Wrongfully maligned for a decent film
Trying to get over his fear of the desert, a guy agrees to go on a dirt-bike expedition with his friends where he got attacked years earlier and gets lost on a side road where the surviving family members attack them and begin systematically killing them forcing the group to fight back.
Overall, this wasn't as bad as some say. One of the biggest features here is a far more intriguing and worthwhile storyline that has a lot more going for it than expected. The fact that its mostly just a carbon copy of the first and that it changes styles over the first one to become more of a stalk-and-slash film is a nice change of pace and adds a little more to the film that isn't really that damaging, as it allows for a constant stream of action scenes throughout the film. That they get stranded early on is quite enjoyable as the dirt-bike and ensuing foot chase through the mountains throughout various caverns is a wonderful action sequence with the brawling as well as the series of traps that are laid out allow for quite an exciting scene. The rampage of the group as they're stuck at the abandoned house has a more traditional slasher set up in the way they go through the kids one-by-one has a rather engaging air with them being hunting down one-by-one. The other big factor here is the fact that the film has an exceptionally fun and engaging finale. There's a large amount of suspense played out in the cavern sequence at the end was a great highlight, as the novel idea of having the main character in that sequence being blind was able to make some new ideas out of a clichéd experience. It's quite nice to see something that had been taken through all of the possible explorations, but then to add a great new gimmick that adds some suspense to the proceedings. It's quite nerve-wracking to see them wander through the situations unaware of what's out there and there's no way for it to change. The big battle by the flaming truck is a fun finish as well, making for a lot to like with this one. Even though it wasn't all that bad, there's still a couple of things wrong. The biggest issue here is a plot that is a virtual retread of the first one, and the situation to get them involved with the group is a step-by-step repeat of before. Ignoring a map's directions and taking a shortcut through the desert that brings them into contact with the family, much like before only they constantly bring up the events of the first one through several flashbacks by various characters. It doesn't try anything new here and instead goes mainly for new traps and more characters that don't make it all that different from the first one. The fact that it's so maligned is based mostly around that and it's cheese factor, which doesn't bode too well for most movies. This one tries to rise against it with a couple of great moments, but the fact that it's so cheesy and clichéd is the major source of the complaint. Otherwise, it doesn't have too many problems here.
Rated R: Graphic Violence, Graphic Language, Brief Nudity and a very brief, mild sex scene.
Underwhelming and barely watchable effort
Living in a dysfunctional family, a teen obsessed with comic books being raised with a family of other psychos finds a connection in a stranger who arrives in town looking for help with his addiction problems, and that friendship soon puts them all in danger from the killer.
Overall, there wasn't a whole lot to like here. About the only really interesting segment here is the finale where it builds up some interesting moments featuring the final resolution of the payoff. With all the build-up featured here for the first hour, the final half features plenty of fun as the race to get the friend out of his shackles and trying to overcome the father and wife which is exceptionally fun. The brawling around the farmhouse to get him loose, the big battle where the kids come to his aid and help the son get the friend free and the big encounters around the farm that gets brutal, bloody and quite frantic manage to really help this one a lot as the practical effects work in these scenes and the brutal activity combine together to really knock this out at this point in the film which is what's needed following all the bland build-up beforehand. That said, there are quite a few flaws to this one. The biggest issue of the film's numerous problems is that the film is entirely too cliched and predictable in its setup and overall execution. There's nothing special about the relationship between the stranger and the young kid at the center of the film where he tries to be a good influence on a person unable to change themselves for the better due to the environment he's raised in. None of this is interesting or enjoyable and results in a bland and stereotyped fight for his conscious that is uninteresting to watch and just features nothing horrific or frightening at all. The idea of what he's doing to the kid is creepy in its concept that it's all about the abuse he's been leveling on him but to think that this is attempting to exploit making for an underwhelming time. The other real problem with this one is the lack of any real purpose for what happens here. The idea of the kid being raised by a serial killer in the same town without any police investigating the incidents, no one checking in on the missing kids or what they were doing with them in the first place all just scream out as unanswered questions throughout here. All it does is simply show him being raised in an abusive environment and then bringing the friend into the situation without any reason why he's there which just makes this one that much weaker in the original story with no explanations for anything that happens. On top of the film shying away from the kill scene during each of the murders which don't show anything at all on-screen, these issues here all make this one rather underwhelming any uninteresting.
Rated Unrated/R: Graphic Language and Graphic Violence.
Itsy Bitsy (2019)
Solid if slightly underwhelming creature feature
Moving to a clients' new house, a single mother and her children attempt to care for a crippled antique collector who has acquired a valuable object from a mysterious tribe of spider worshippers, and when a curse unleashes a monstrous spider must try to get them out alive.
Overall, there's quite a lot to like here. One of the strongest elements in this one is the ingenious manner of mixing new elements into a creature feature. The fact that we get a special connection to the spider creatures and the supernatural antics which tie everything together makes for some uniques times here. This is due to the fact that the main jungle tribe at the center of everything and the mystical egg he acquires given plenty of leeway into the start of the curse and how it all connects to the legend told about the history of the tribes' beliefs being accepted far easier than normal with the collection of antiques around them to help sell the idea, this is unique and rather refreshing. That goes hand-in-hand with the atmosphere in the house which makes for a solid creature feature. The old house, with its dark corridors, rattling windows, and cobwebbed spaces, offers the kind of setting that can fuel the creepiness factor just as much as the creatures themselves which are insanely chilling. The main spiders being practical allows for a strong attachment to them during the sequences of their shedding and molting into far larger beings in fantastic sequences and with the chase scenes cropping the creature in close sparks scenes that are pure nightmare fuel. That also leads into the final chases through the house, which is tense, eerie and quite fun, managing to hold this one up. There are a few minor flaws to be had here. The main factor to be had here is the wholly underwhelming pacing that keeps the monsters off-screen for long periods to deal with uninteresting outer problems. Despite building tons of character, there's no use for the subplot about her troubled personal life and tragic backstory especially when this drama-centered storyline has no bearing on the outcome. All it does is keep these spiders off-screen with the resulting outcome being that they end up with very little activity. On top of that is the abundance of the overused troped of blatant musical stings and cues for when something's going to strike which is used for real attacks and jump scares which is quite annoying. These here are the main problems with this one.
Rated Unrated/R: Graphic Violence and Language.
The Curse of Lilith Ratchet (2018)
Watchable if ultimately underwhelming effort
After being stolen from a spiritualists' supply shop, a group of friends decides to play a game with a supposedly cursed shrunken head said to belong to a murderous female entity and when they start dying one-by-one realize they've become the target of the malicious entity.
Overall, this one was an incredibly troubling effort. Among the many problems featured here is the film's overbearing low-budget that is quite obvious throughout here. The opening attack scene on the last surviving members of a previous run-in with the figure details many of these issues, ranging from being filmed in so much lighting that it ruins the suspense of its appearance to seeing the main protagonist which is a common occurrence here. There's plenty of general filmmaking tactics where everything looks cramped and closed-in, or are rushed through to the point of being obvious about the quality and budget. Likewise, with the excess padding here due to so many unnecessary scenes which don't need to be there, the pacing is generally off because of the budget and pushes the kills pretty late in the film. However, that exposes another major issue in the \sloppily edited and underwhelming attack scenes. These are a major factor within here, as it starts immediately with a comically inept opening sequence that's laughably low-budget but also ends up giving up the appearance of the main protagonist without any kind of build-up to capitalize on its creepy appearance before ending on a victim trying to escape detection behind a glass shower door. The main factor here, keeping the main villain hidden until very late in the film, also ruins the drunk-driving encounter and the attack on the assistant by giving away not only that it's following them but also getting to see the spirits' face clearly when keeping the face hidden longer would've added far more atmosphere to these scenes. Coupled with the lack of gore in the majority of the kills, these here manage to hold the film back for the most part. This one does have a few solid aspects featured here. That mainly revolves around the titular curse at play which is fairly unique and enjoyable. The urban legend at the center of the story, told in flashback with a narration of the legend, gives this an appropriately quaint feel by feeling like a genuine game made up from a historical figure in the area taking the idea of the jilted woman and turning her into the terrifying demonic entity she's now known as. This is fine for providing some creepy moments here from the appearance of the somewhat creepy being that uses some fine work of her appearing at the various locations to claim her victims, especially the finale where it features several rather fun chases around the building to get its last victim ends this on a decent enough twist which is rather fun. While these aren't enough to overcome the flaws, they do manage to hold it up somewhat.
Rated Unrated/R: Graphic Language and Graphic Violence.
Incredible Violence (2018)
Serious missed opportunity
Arriving at a secluded house, a desperate filmmaker tries to blow through the filming of his low-budget movie as quickly as possible only for the pressures of filmmaking to finally cause him and the rest of the crew to snap their sanity and place them all in mortal danger.
For the most part, there wasn't a whole lot to like with this one. One of the few memorable moments here is the fact that the film goes for a rather intriguing and modern take on the film-shoot-gone-wrong meta-horror film. Featuring the actress who's completely out of her element being on her first professional job against the others who have done it before and trained for it allows for a rather chilling time here when things start to go wrong as the idea of them not believing her due to the inexperience of shooting a movie is a far more realistic explanation for doing so. Instead of just laughing off the claims about someone killing the cast, their take of her not knowing the intricacies of filmmaking carries a fair amount of weight which is quite interesting to play out here. This adds a nice sense of tension and genuine thrills to the stalking scenes that transpire here as the killer coming along and doing it all for the sake of the film, turning victims around to face the cameras better or get the blood spray to face them. However, that's all that works here as the film has plenty of problems. Among the more troubling issues is the fact that this setup here doesn't generate any kind of likable qualities that forms the basis for the supposed comedy here. Instead, this is treated more like a quirky group of individuals who are simply well-worn tropes that have nothing all that much done differently with them. The fact that is supposed to be funny because the concept of these people running around the house who are aware of what's going on and mentioning the hip modern lingo during these conversations is nowhere close to generating a laugh. The actual film they're making doesn't raise suspicions based on the genuinely interesting proposition that they're simply doing the same thing over and over again without anyone mentioning or reacting to that valid point. On top of that, the film's other problem is that it simply makes no sense for the vast majority of its actions. The central concept for the film makes so little sense that it's hard to take seriously. With a finale that makes no sense at all and no motivation for anything that happens here, there's a lot of flaws here.
Rated Unrated/R: Graphic Violence, Brief Nudity and Language.
The Banana Splits Movie (2019)
Solid if unimportant slasher effort
Attending a taping of his favorite show, a young boy and his family hoping for a fun birthday celebration are suddenly faced with the deadly reality that the performers have snapped and started killing everyone at the shooting causing them to find the real reason for the performers to go on their spree and get away alive.
Overall, this was a decent enough slasher outing. Among the greater features here is the film's fun setup to the entire premise of the show. Tapping into the nostalgia of children's morning cartoon/variety shows to deal with the early moments of the cheesy characters going through the early run-through of their show which gets us involved in their world rather nicely and gives a reason for the devotion to the characters. Being backstage at the show and seeing the setup and preparations for a taping with what goes into it, there's a rather enjoyable air that sets up the robots to become the killers later on which plays into the idea of the lovable mascots going on a rampage. The finale of the film, where they get to explore the real motivation of the killer robots hoarding the abducted children into the bowels of the studio for a fully demented and over-the-top variation of the show that's exceptionally enjoyable for how dark it gets in front of kids, makes for a great conclusion to this story and takes the idea of the animatronic killers doing it on their own to absurd levels. As well, there's a lot of enjoyment to be had with the general slasher attitude present. The setup early on about the performers and their true identity, which is nicely previewed here with the interaction outside the stage and then turns into a fine series of short stalking scenes that rely heavily on their unassuming nature of the robots' ulterior nature creates a lot of fun to be had here. The first attacks on the incidental members of the crew provide some decent moments, while the later scenes featuring their rampage on the guests have a lot to like here with the creatures getting to utilize quite creative and original methods of killing them that are accomplished through fantastic practical effects is a fantastic aspect that adds even more to the film. These here are what hold this one up over it's few flaws. There are some big problems with this one though. The main issue here is an unbelievably underwhelming story that has plenty of big issues here. The fact that there's nothing given for huge plot holes in the film as for why exactly the characters are animatronic robots for the show, and why no one questions this revelation despite at times switching between being surprised that they're robots to knowing all along which together make for excessively detrimental and distracting efforts. There's also nothing about why they're going on the rampage, as it seems to be a faulty programming update completely by accident that they can't stop to times where the head programmer is making them evil, perhaps doing so out of revenge for the show being canceled but the scene showing this is done before the reveal making that quite curious. That also doesn't help with the piling on of utterly moronic cliches that aren't related to the robots on the rampage, from the constant splitting up in the factory knowing there's something wrong and the general lack of energy or reaction to anything going on around them. On top of that, with some awful effects work for the kills also lowering this there are some problems here.
Rated R: Graphic Violence, Language and continuous scenes of children-in-jeopardy.
Bunny the Killer Thing (2015)
Solid exploitation-heavy creature feature
Arriving at a secluded mountain cabin, a group of friends on a weekend getaway brings a group of stranded travelers with them to make a party of everything, but when a monstrous, sex-crazed rabbit monster arrives looking to score with the women they must try to get away alive.
This here was an exceptionally fun over-the-top effort. One of the greatest aspects here is the bonkers storyline that manages to feature several enjoyable features. The initial introduction to the film gives off a classic monster movie feel with the scientists abducting the man and then turning him into the creature against his will before escaping, while the classic setup of a group of friends partying at a cabin in the woods who run into the creature is a fine continuation. As well, these classic elements are merged onto a more modern exploitation effort that makes for a lot of fun. The film's creation of a half-man, half-rabbit with an engorged member attempting to rape the group and kill them one-by-one is a fantastic twist on that old-school feeling, especially during the attack scenes where it's especially prominent alongside the continuous utterances of its objective. Likewise, the continuous sexually explicit scenes here that range from groping to softcore fondling and even fully-nude stalking of both sexes makes for a wild, over-the-top experience that has a lot of sexual energy. The other impressive feature here is the stellar gory attacks by the creature. Featuring plenty of limbs being ripped off, heads blown off by shotgun blasts, having their stomachs ripped open and their intestines pulled out and their eyeballs ripped out, there's quite a full-on assault of blood and gore here to mesh together with the other bodily fluids strewn around. With the killer rabbit especially soaked from the carnage which escalates nicely into the frantic finale where the full revelation of what the experimentations are about, leading into a furious and frantic setup. These here are what hold the film up. There are a few minor flaws here. The main issue is the fact that very little of the film manages to overcome its low-budget tone which is somewhat detrimental at times. This is mainly from the truly wretched-looking bunny costume which looks exactly like a party store costume for children as the ratty fur and cheap construction make for quite a laughably cheap monster. As well, the crazed finale feels like it's tacked on to stretch out the running time as it comes out of nowhere and brings up several intriguing ideas that could've been explored or explained more. These here are what mainly hold this one back.
Rated Unrated/NC-17: Extreme Graphic Male and Female Nudity, Extreme Graphic Language, Graphic Violence, several sex scenes, Rape and heavy drug use.
Frozen Sasquatch (2018)
Highly problematic but watchable low-budget Bigfoot effort
After losing contact with a base, a team from a pharmaceutical company travels to the site in the Himalayas looking for answers only to find the cause to be the research teams' discovery of an enraged Bigfoot running wild in the facility and must hold off its attacks to escape alive.
This was a decidedly weak and unimpressive effort. One of the more detrimental factors here is the weak and uninspired storyline that wastes a golden opportunity for some fun by going for an entirely cliche and predictable route. The idea of going to a remote location where they've lost contact with a facility in the area only to meet up with a creature on the loose being studied there no one knew about since no one told them about it simply reeks of being routine here. You get an idea where this is going almost immediately and that makes for a wholly underwhelming experience when the few times this one goes for its main setups instead it devolves into overly familiar executions. As well, a big problem here is the low-budget effects. The CGI is used far too often here, as the snow falling continuously throughout their trek to the base is laughably overlaid on top of the footage of them wandering through the woods which is so obviously and not in the Himalayas as no attempt is made to hide this location or the fake-looking snowfall. The burning fire-pit is equally fake-looking and the scenes set in the laboratory where children's paintings of the yeti are used as schematics while red pain substitutes for blood-splatter for a slew of issues here. Likewise, with them having to stumble upon major events after the fact with only sound effects heard, there's a lot involved here that gives away it's low-budget nature. However, even with all that featured here, there are major problems with the creature attacks here when they do occur. Not only is the scraggly, lumpy costume completely laughable without even touching on the cringe-worthy mask that doesn't even come close to fitting one of the tiniest actors to portray the creature, but it also makes the entire look goofy and utterly comical. The attacks here are incredibly cheesy as well, requiring the creature to emerge from various hiding places or corridors unseen until the last second resulting in some really underwhelming scenes like the surprise in the hallway, an attempted shock in the communications room further ruined by the slow-motion photography and a nonsensical bathroom encounter that's rather silly. These here are what hold this one down as there are a few decent elements to this one. They get plenty of mileage out of the constant scenes of the creature running loose in the facility here resulting in a fun, enjoyable pace. From the opening sequence showing the creature taking out the old crew before being buried in the avalanche, the early shots of the different members of the group out in the woods being stalked and the attacks by the creature in the facility where it has them trapped leading to a series of chases which give this a really endearing cheesy charm. This is present in the finale with all the revelations and action taking place here which have a goofy sense here and are what makes this one quite fun.
Rated Unrated/R: Graphic Violence and Graphic Language.
Unlucky Charms (2013)
A solid cheesy Full Moon effort
Looking to win a modeling competition, a group of girls at a remote Gothic mansion trying to get the top prize are slowly removed by a greedy entrepreneur in the competition through the use of powerful leprechaun gemstones, and when they get tired of being pawns strike back against their plans.
This was quite a fun cheesefest. That in itself is the greatest aspect featured here which runs rampant throughout the film. This is apparent from the very beginning with the introduction to the Leprechaun and the other monsters attempting to look into the human world and to segue from that into one of the hokiest excuses for a modeling show which looks incredibly cheap and low-rent if it were a real show. Getting to see the monsters run around the mansion conducting their brand of mayhem on the competition is all the more fun for how long it goes on into the film before they find out what's going on as their mischievous antics allow for some cheesy fun here. Manipulating themselves into looking like the others which not only allows for some cheesy nudity but also giving off the chance to see their magical powers in action and all that entails. Overall, this is the best aspect of this one. The main aspect holding this one back is the sheer audacity of the premise which is decidedly so goofy it's impossible to take seriously. Indeed, that is the whole point here with this one but the make-up work is truly laughable in terms of their overall appearance as each of the creatures has something to dislike. The Leprechaun's frizzy hair and slick face glean in the light unnecessarily, the cyclops' face is nearly immobile, making it's source materials obvious and the oracles are just silly expressionless masks. That goes together with the constant fantasy-laden magic effects and a lighter tone through the constant spying on everyone looking to find the source of the missing magic to create far more of a comedic-fantasy than a genuine horror film, especially in the latter half where the mischievous beings are revealed to be controlled by evil forces all along and all the horror elements are dropped considerably. When you don't fear the main creatures, the film has issues that are hard to overcome.
Rated Unrated/R: Graphic Language, Nudity, Violence and a mild sex scene.
Two Sisters (2019)
Solid if somewhat flawed Malaysian psychological horror effort
Trying to move on with her life, a burgeoning writer finds that she must return to her childhood home and be with her sister to help her get better, but the longer they stay in the house the more they realize that lingering family secrets aren't the only things haunting them.
For the most part, this one strikes a lot of positive points about it. A large part of the film's goodwill is derived from a detailed and enjoyable drama-filled storyline. Bringing the two sisters back together again with the separation affecting their relationship, having noted that they're not in close contact anymore due to the hospitalization and concurrent novel she's writing both serving to keep them apart for as long as they are. Harboring as much guilt as they are for each other's predicament as well as for the manner in which their beloved mother died when they were kids leaves a rather striking and memorable impression in the film as the story milks that drama for all it's worth in the early stages slowly letting them come to grips with being around each other and getting comfortable within the house. Graced with this fine setup, the film manages to let loose with some calculated and effective scares. The idea of the one sister still uneasy about being out of the asylum and being spooked by simple everyday occurrences allows the film to hide some effective moments behind that premise and keep them in the house longer when most would have abandoned the property. Other scenes, such as ghostly figures moving behind their backs for an entire conversation and no one noticing it or the continuous instances of her claiming to hear eerie wailing from inside the house manage to keep this one with enough horror elements alongside the dramatic elements. More great scare tactics include the reappearing shoes found around the house or several fantastic gags with cloths draped over furniture which are quite chilling and set the stage for the rather creepy finale that's far more haunting than expected. Bringing aboard the only real ghostly activity to be had and twisting the entire storyline around in a controversial manner, this is a striking part of the film and helps hold it up over its flaws. That said, there are some big problems with the film. The most obvious and egregious is the bland and dragged-out pacing that will make this a real challenge for some viewers. The reliance on creating a slow, sedate atmosphere in the film that never really builds spooks or jump-scares, for the most part, makes its main running time feel uneventful and dull in places. The fact that it oftentimes will set up a potential scare only to get interrupted and never pay it off may come off realistically but it can lead to some frustration when this goes for long periods detailing their relationship struggles rather than concentrating on the ghostly activities. That this never even makes it clear that a ghost is truly at the center of the activities as it concentrates more on the sister's fractured mindset than anything else makes the finale's twist all the more expected and not so shocking at all which is a rather distressing factor that the film goes down that road when it never even earned pulling it off to begin with. Overall, these are what hold this one back.
Rated Unrated/R: Violence and Language.
Strong and enjoyable supernatural/drama effort
Living in the middle of the woods, a young boy finds a mystical tree growing inside a nearby cave and manages to believe the spirits inside when they claim they can bring his dead mother back to life, and when his widowed aunt arrives at their house pregnant sees an opportunity to test it out.
Overall, this one manages to work pretty effectively. A lot of the film's positives are due to the strong and emotionally powerful storyline that merges some genuinely strong drama with the horror. Taking the theme of loss and grief to the children who have recently lost their beloved mother which gives this a special realistic bond that carries throughout the film. Seeing these early scenes of the family completely at a loss for how to treat her when she's at death's doorstep and then when she finally passes on spurs their sense of confusion and bewilderment at how to treat it. Being unable to cope with the situation and treating her as a member of the family still that won't eat and doesn't respond to anything they tell her until they're finally forced to turn to the supernatural to deal with it makes a lot of sense. Given that this is mirrored against the Aunt arriving to deal with the final months of her pregnancy widowed from her husband and just as lonely as the kids manage to parallel these situations rather nicely and has a lot to like. On top of that, there's also the film's impressive horror atmosphere. The central cave that's so important to the central setup is incredibly eerie and foreboding as the massive size and central location for the ceremony to take place as it's out in the middle of nowhere where it's entirely possible the entire situation might be true or simply made up in his head due to the remoteness of the location. From there, the pregnancy scares that arrive here, from the feelingness of loneliness and sadness at being unable to share such a situation with anyone to the strange hallucinations of the newcomer vomiting up blood and other fluids during morning pregnancy situations or following the spirit of her husband out into the woods nearby where she has her encounter with the being in the cave give the film some needed horror tension during the lengthy drama interludes. Things do pick up in the finale where there's the fine double-cross by the cave-spirit which causes all manner of fun and chilling action to occur where it goes to the extreme in a great way and provides a bloody, chilling finish that holds it up over its flaws. However, the film does have a few minor issues. The biggest problem here is the sheer improbability of the living condition they live in, where we first meet the mother puking and coughing up blood, a situation far more removed than having a sick relative stay at home. No child would be forced to stay in that situation, especially ones the age of the young kids here which granted does the job of getting this going but easily could've been more realistic about doing it. Likewise, the fact that the general pacing to this one is quite slow and tempered, content to slowly build its atmosphere and scenario without going into a full-on charge means this one might come off as far too bland and dull when it's not constantly throwing tons of action at the screen. What's there is well done and enhances the mood, but it's not often enough for some viewers and will result in this feeling boring at times due to that.
Rated Unrated/R: Violence and Language.
Enjoyable if somewhat flawed Bigfoot effort
Following the disappearance of several hikers, an executive looking into the group's whereabouts hires a primate specialist to join his team to trek into the wilderness believing that Bigfoot has taken them, only to discover that the legendary creature is now hunting them one-by-one.
Overall, this one was quite an enjoyable Bigfoot film. One of the strongest features here is the expected ferocity that arises during the film's encounters with the creature. These are generally quite fun and chilling with the initial attack on the hikers serving as a fine series of ambushes on everyone. Out in the woods with the rest of the crew, the ramping up of the brutality towards the group which makes this one incredibly enjoyable with the first ambush on the lone girl that draws everyone's attention while everyone else is scattered throughout the campsite and sets up the fine series of encounters that are featured throughout the finale where the creature is shown chasing them through the woods creating some tense encounters here. Given that these are still accomplished with practical effects while keeping the creature off-screen for large portions of time, there's a lot to like with this aspect of the film. As well, there's also an enjoyable setup that arises throughout the first half as this starting point serves a lot to like. With the whole plot being based on the search for the missing hikers and the team coming together to find them, there are some rather enjoyable aspects to be had with the crew setting up their respective skills and preparing for their mission. Dedicated to not only bring them back alive but capturing an image of the creature as well, there's some fun to be had with the film following professionals doing their job in this situation. Building off of that in a fine matter is the later scenes where they're becoming aware that something's out in the woods with them as the evidence, the slowly-dawning realization of something in the woods with them is a highly enjoyable effort. Together with the practical effects used for the Bigfoot creature, these here are what hold the film up over it's few minor flaws. Among the film's few problematic areas is a rather disappointing middle section that spends far too much time in useless subplots to detail much in the way of Bigfoot encounters. Rather than bring in more attacks by the creature on the group who are now fully aware of its existence, the fact that this is mostly dropped for the backstory on most of the characters that should've happened earlier in the running time as this ends up taking time away from the Bigfoot encounters. Likewise, there's very little need for the final twist here that turns what could've been a fun genre effort into something else entirely through a cliched revelation that undoes everything the film had built up before for no reason other than to have a change that was unexpected from the start of the film. Otherwise, there isn't much to dislike here.
Rated Unrated/R: Graphic Violence, Graphic Language, Brief Nudity, a brief sex scene and implied violence-against-animals.
Zombie Tidal Wave (2019)
Fun and enjoyable action-packed zombie film
Following an accident at sea, a boat owner comes to believe that a swarm of zombies mutated by a chemical spill undiscovered off the shore are being dropped on the residents of the area by an oncoming tsunami and tries to help them get to safety in the chaos.
Overall, this one was an absolute blast of an effort. One of the strongest aspects to like here is the utterly relentless nature of the action scenes featured here. The fact that the initial sequence that starts the invasion on the town occurs minutes into the film gives a spectacular pace to this one by showing the crazy image early on. This is the biggest part of the film where the idea of what's going on slowly gets crazier over time as it becomes aware of what's going as the zombies are being transported from the sea to the shore. On top of that, the film's action content increases significantly once they arrive in town. The mini-battles and encounters with the zombies throughout the town offers up a stellar amount of action here, from the race to escape the beach filled with creatures and their reanimating victims as well as the beachside commuters getting swarmed and pulled down around the village. Likewise, battles in the police station to stop the creatures or a series of thrilling encounters in a hospital that's slowly being overrun by the creatures manages to bring out some tense moments as well as the crazy action and sets the stage for the crazy finale featuring one main method of attacking the creatures and putting them down for good. The other great aspect of the film is the solid technical aspects on display. The central storyline here manages to do something unique and original with the zombies as their sea-based setup causes some well-thought-out wrinkles to their traditional setup. With the use of headshots no longer having any effect on the zombies, the change to having electricity be the singular source of dismantling the creatures is a nice change that is given some rather fine backstory due to the massive conspiracy involving the coverup. That's also a rather intriguing cause here with the seeming setup of corruption turning out to provide this with some solid backstory here. As well, with the nautical setup here providing a running theme into the zombies' make-up designs which is a solid touch and plenty of practical gore, there's plenty to like overall here. That said, there are some minor flaws featured here. As is to be expected in these kinds of efforts, the film's biggest problem is the uniformly terrible CGI. There's so much to like here with the practical effects for the zombies that when we see the CGI mess of them wandering through the scenery or seeing the blood-splatter spraying around, there's a sense of disappointment here due to the drastic change in appearance. There's way too much of it, especially in the final half where their over-the-top plan to not only stop the zombies but also to finally get the main ship underneath the water which is somewhat expected considering the setup featured but is still a prominent feature here. Beyond that, there isn't much else to dislike here.
Rated Unrated/R: Graphic Violence and Language.
Monsterland 2 (2019)
Absolutely dreadful and nearly worthless anthology
A series of segments featuring people confronting monsters and other various beings.
The Good Stor(ies): White Drift-Arriving in a small town, a former soldier suffering strange effects from the war tries to find his friend but instead comes across a concerned waitress. Aware of what's going to happen if she gets too close, the beast within him eventually causes more problems for both of them. This was a solid enough segment. The build-up of his condition at the diner gives a nice clue to his situation as well as the overnight campout or the hallucination at the coffee shop all come together nicely to give this a solid enough turn and fulfill some needed exposition in the storyline. The finale's twist is a logical buildup of that work, but the cheap attack and overall lack of coherence as to what's happening cause this to come off cheaper than it is.
The Bad Stor(ies): Braceface-Tormented by her peers, a man tries to help his daughter get by in life even though she's constantly forced to wear a humiliating metal brace for her teeth. When she's confronted by bullies trying to pick on her, they realize too late they've unleashed a hidden monster within her. This was a woefully underwhelming way to start this film off on. Despite trying to invoke sympathy for how the girl is treated, overall there's not much to this one as the twist is seen coming a mile away, the payoff is neutered considerably by the camera angles that never deliver the goods and the Christian family values storyline to finish this doesn't have anything to do with the rest of the segment. This seems like a waste to start this story off.
Wormbug-Accidentally swallowing a bug, a man begins to grow concerned the creature is controlling him when he begins uncontrollably eating and hearing the bug talk to him. Fearing what the creature wants him to do, he sets out to protect his wife and those around him from the bug's malicious plans. This segment was just lame. The central premise isn't scary, the execution here is laughable and has no point being here as there's nothing to redeem it before the gore.
The Flea-Following a rash of ritualistic murders, a man tries to put his past behind him when he's confronted by a friend saying they still have work to do together. Realizing what he means to attract, he sets out to stop his friend from carrying out his demented plan. This was another rancid and worthless effort. There's no real interaction with the killer being as we never get to see it much less know what they're doing as there's no dialog setting up the point of what they're doing. There's a viciousness to the kills due to the target selected but that's it.
Justice Served-Stuck in a police detention room, a man on trial tries to get his lawyer to see things from his perspective which hampers his chances in the trial. As it gets underway, he finds things not going his way and has to live with the dire consequences he brought on. There's no point to this black-humor segment. The idea behind it is darkly comic but there's no creature at all and its inclusion is tenuous at best simply because there's nothing to get into with the majority here being simply back-and-forth questioning with the dark twist on it to end this with a true whimper.
Rated Unrated/R: Graphic Violence and Graphic Language.
Far better than expected killer clown effort
Suffering from an intense fear of clowns, a woman finds herself suddenly stalked by a strange demonic clown that has already claimed several other victims in town, and after learning the true nature of the killer being, tries to fight it off before her crippling fear prevents her from saving herself.
This was nowhere near as bad as its reputation suggests. One of the biggest aspects of this one is how this one manages to feature a great setup for the main killer clown. Adopting the exploits of a supernatural clown while the main character is shown to have a fear of clowns, this enables the scares here to be utilized far more into a realm of nightmare logic than usual. The opening half-hour features some solid lead-up to the particular clowns stalking tendencies, from the use of balloons as a form of warning to the dreams she has of the clown playing mind-games with her. These lead solidly into the attack scenes throughout here. The opening ambush in the house offers a creepy location and a solid shock-jump, while the later attack on the boyfriend features a great suspenseful setting for the stalking following another great jump. A fine series of car-gags, featuring them having balloons appear inside the car before being driven off leaving them at the scene to several times appearing inside the car suddenly or even just driving around which has the fun addition of setting up the frantic battle at the diner. The great battle tactics and energy present here are quite fun, the stylized lighting for the situation is chilling and atmosphere and the big storyline additions to the fight add a lot to this one. Alongside the chilling lead clown's makeup, these here are what hold this one up over its flaws. There are several big problems with this one. The main issue with the film is the absolutely moronic storyline that runs throughout here. There's very little here that makes sense as for how the main killer clown actually works as the supernatural tactics simply mean he pops up unexpectedly at surprise moments, and yet none of that offers up anything about what the clown's trying to prove or how he operates. The idea of setting up the balloons and the date of death on them is rather obvious yet that's wholly ignored as the various attacks before them don't have any kind of definite standing. That causes plenty of sloppiness within here as her being constantly convinced otherwise means the film runs through numerous sequences of her stupidly deciding plans of escape only to be confronted by the clown and then wondering why they've met up again. It gets annoying and frustrating when this easily could've been explained and cleaned up quite simply. The other real problem here is the obvious and apparent low-budget throughout the film. The make-up for the clown is the biggest factor, which is quite creepy looking but still maintains a rather cheap aspect that pours out of the film.whenever he's on-screen. The rest of the production values here features the same general tone, looking quite closed off and cramped which doesn't really signal anything special about the film. That carries over into the kills here which are practically bloodless and aren't gory until you get to the aftermath which is what constitutes the graphic killings with this one. For the most part, these are what holds this one back
Rated R: Graphic Violence and Language.
Highly enjoyable and creepy slow-burn ghost story
Following several strange deaths, a woman discovers a connection between the participants and a strange urban legend they got involved with of a nightmarish spirit unleashed from a devastating curse and must race to solve the mystery about the fiendish being before it's too late.
For the most part, this one was a solid enough effort. One of the more enjoyable elements here is the stellar story that offers a strong central villain. The central specter, a ghostly figure that can be invoked or summoned through a specific curse that involves all around who hear the name spoken or written down which creates a fine folklore-based character of Shirai-san that is spelled out in the flashback sequence. Showing the cursed group retelling the legend of the figure while at the motel, the ominous atmosphere of the hotel makes for a fine setting to tell ghost stories in the first place before getting to it's chilling retelling of the legend which ramps up the tension considerably. From there, the search for the source of the curse and how to break it drives the middle of the film where their investigation discovers the basis for her being free as the only means of stopping her. On top of this, the film features several fine supernatural sequences featuring the spirit attacking. The opening attack on her friend starts this one well as her shock and horror being expressed before the grisly death blow featuring all manner of gory aftermath strewn all over the floor. Other chilling scenes include a terrifying encounter in a hospital where the spirit stalks a victim through the darkened corridors while an oblivious nurse searches for her and a fantastic confrontation in the alleyway showcasing the cursed group attempting to put their information about stopping her to the ultimate test. Given that these scenes provide the perfect chance to showcase how genuinely creepy the spirit is with its grotesque features and distinctive eyes which make a real impression when it's shown, these elements manage to give the film plenty to like. However, there are some big flaws here. The main problem with the film is the incredibly lackluster pacing. Very rarely is there any sense of urgency or immediacy from the actions created by the spirit, slowly taking its time at a steady let lethargic pace that plods along from one scene to the next. By adding all the investigative work into the spirit's backstory into this plodding tempo, to the point where the attacks completely disappear which makes that pacing stand out even more. Then, there's the wholly rushed finale that offers a potential topper to the curse that could've provided the film with a solid storyline to play with getting brought up without any kind of build-up and then just ends u[ causing a really weird feeling. Some of the CGI is a bit much for the kills as the computer-generated blood is hokey and awful-looking, but beyond that, there isn't much wrong here.
Rated Unrated/R: Graphic Violence and Language.
Standout creepy and chilling if slightly flawed effort
After arriving at a lord's village, a young woman is suddenly forced to deal with the uptight rules and regulations of the house which puts her at odds with the other women living there when a ghostly spirit is found to be tormenting the inhabitants, forcing her to try to stop its deadly antics.
For the most part, there was quite a lot to like here. When this one gets going, a lot of the positives come from the stellar ghost action present throughout here. The film creates a wholly oppressive atmosphere in the village setting that gives the appearance of something creepy lurking behind every corner. The fog-shrouded streets and night-time settings allow for the creepiness to really get ramped up by playing with the shadow of the spirit running around or hearing the ethereal laughing on the soundtrack providing the basis for several big shock scenes such as the opening attack on the worker in the farmhouse featuring the spirit rushing out of the darkness for several rush attacks or the attack on the lord with his belief that the spirit is behind him several times before the killing blow. The arrival of the exorcism and the attempts to rid the house of the evil spirit offers up several impressive moments including the gratuitous vomiting of the black liquid immediately upon arrival to the visions of the spirit feeding on the life-energy of the inhabitants and the failed exorcism attempt in the woods that ends tragically for most involved. Moreover, the finale of the film is incredibly fun and really has so much to like. With the political ramifications spelled out in full effect, from how the women are conspiring to keep the family lineage for themselves against her to understand how the curse works, this section of the film generates the setup necessary to get the final confrontation prepared. Not only does this section of the film feature even more frenetic supernatural action with the ghost getting to play with the malicious head of the household that killed her by making him think he's attacking her instead of his helpers or the battle between the spirit and her that features several attempts to overcome her wrath and vengeance that gets rather bloody and brutal at times. With these supernatural actions really bringing aboard some fantastic action scenes featuring the reanimated spirit flying around looking to get her full revenge on everyone, this section is not only quite exciting but cathartic. On top of that fine work, the film's issues of classism and social constructs are quite prominent. That this takes place in the village, the idea of wealth and opulence is quite apparent in their fancy, colorful clothes and ornate designs that are strictly at odds with her more humble and down-to-Earth upbringing which starts to infuriate the others around the palace the longer she's around. Once they're forced to take care of her, the resentment that arises and takes place in the house with the rules and regulations that are placed manage to showcase how the various classes and social statuses deal with different issues. They're more likely to deny everything that occurs, regardless of whether or not it's followed on their end, while she gets strict regulated deals that are punished for not following. At times, that creates a convoluted storyline with the revelation of the spirits' vengeance coming so late into the running time because of all the different storylines present here with all the political trickery and backstabbing but that's really the main issue with the film.
Rated Unrated/R: Graphic Violence, Language and Brief Nudity.
The Curse of Valburga (2019)
Solid and somewhat enjoyable comedic Slovenian slasher
Attempting to get by in life, a group of friends looking to start a scam tourist souvenir business and head out with an eccentric group of tourists and other locals to a supposedly haunted local castle, only to find that the local superstition is true when they start to disappear one-by-one.
Overall, this one was quite an enjoyable enough offering. Among the better qualities here is the exceptionally wacky screenplay that manages to bring together this group of seemingly separate storylines into one whole story. The early scenes of the group sitting around the bar talking about how they're going to start the scam business starts this off with some sardonic laughs at their eccentric behavior while the series of utterly bonkers and bizarre tourists that are on the trip with them manage to build that whacky setup further. Combined with the bizarre work you see behind-the-scenes of the tour as they try to pull of the scares of their fake service, this first half of the film has a lot to like about it. Once this one manages to go for the overt horror scares and stalking scenes, the film picks up considerably with plenty of strong points. The first attack in the basement has a lot to like, while the attack on the group going through the porn shoot is just as striking, giving us a clear idea of what they're dealing with. That leads nicely into the big scenes here where the killer, still off-screen, begins to really take out the tour group which features plenty of slasher fun here with the attacks on the group which comes from the relentless and utterly frenetic running time that means numerous attacks and stalking encounters throughout the castle for the various members of the tour group. Since these are all accomplished with stellar practical special effects that look gruesome and realistic, the film manages to contain a lot of positive elements. That said, there are several flaws with the film that hold it back. The main issue here is the fact that the film's sudden introduction of the family alongside the killer hunting them doesn't strike any purpose. They act as though they're trying to capture the women in the group to act as broodmares for the future to ensure the family bloodline continues, but the fact that they outright kill or just severely break the victims apart before then is completely at odds to what their intent is. Even still, that's just a guess as they're brought into this so late into the running time we don't have enough time with them anyway to learn about them or their needs, and most what they accomplish while on-screen could've easily been handled by the lone killer making them redundant in the film overall. The other real issue to be had with the film is the somewhat confusing and jarring conclusion that doesn't connect to anything that's happened before simply to set up a potential sequel. These are all that hold the film down.
Rated Unrated/R: Extreme Graphic Language, Extreme Graphic Violence and drug use.
House Shark (2017)
Highly enjoyable if slightly flawed effort
After a tragic accident in their house, a man and his son come to believe that a rogue species of shark that lives on land may be responsible and is hiding out inside killing anyone who comes inside, forcing him to turn to a rag-tag team of locals that understand his plight to stop the sharks' rampage.
Overall, this one was a lot more fun than expected. Among the film's greatest strengths is the surprisingly grounded nature that is presented for such a ridiculous concept. The central idea of having a shark capable of living within the walls and indoor plumbing facility of a house manages to give the film a wholly goofy scenario which is played far straighter than expected given the true attempts at comedy present. A backstory given for the creature dating back to a connection between the original appearance of the species alongside the Indian tribe manages to give the universe a decidedly ridiculous setup that's quite adept at the style of film this becomes. That also provides the film plenty of solid action complete with that setup. The opening attack on the toilet gives this a goofy and genuinely silly setup as it comes from underneath to take out the unsuspecting victim resulting in a crazy, bloody death. The later scene of the couple getting devoured has a lot to like as the suspenseful scenes of the shark stalking them before the attacks are quite nice, and the full-on finale here is just insane over how crazy and absolutely silly the action gets. Featuring the trio working together to try to get the shark out of the house is a complete ripoff of other segments in that film and then upping the ante in terms of sheer lunacy displayed by featuring action suited to the goofy setup here, this is goofy, fun, gory and an all-around blast to watch. As well, the film manages enough genuine and intentional comedy to offer a lot of laughs. Not only is the central premise a major part of that but by ripping off and homaging major scenes outright there's some fun featured throughout here. The fun it has with the bodily fluids or the characters being complete characterizations of the genre yet thrown a loop with several decidedly unnecessary personality twists are fine enough as well, but the finale that brings the utterly ridiculous shark costume onto screen that is over-the-top cheesy is a fantastic addition to how goofy and fun this one gets. That's also one of the few flaws here since the amount of cheese present watching that costume attack the characters or perform what it does might be a tad too ridiculous for some viewers here. The length might be a turn-off simply for the duration, but beyond that, there isn't much to dislike here.
Rated Unrated/R: Graphic Language, Graphic Violence and Brief Full Nudity.
A solid if somewhat flawed genre effort
Assigned to work detail, inmates of a local female correctional facility are tasked with a job in the woods, but when a friend springs the group as well as takes the crew patrolling them hostage their escape plan brings them into contact with prehistoric sharks and must find a way to escape alive.
This one wasn't all that bad overall. One of the better features here is the strong start and overall pacing featured here as this one tends to get started quickly. The opening minutes here manage to showcase the release of the sharks due to the fracking operation, and that gives a great attack on the workers stranded in the woods right after which gives the film a fast start. Likewise, the ensuing ambush during the initial time on the gang that leads into the kidnapping scheme that features some great scenes of the sharks operating on the outskirts of their hideout. The action bringing that to pass in the latter half is quite fun. The initial attack showing the creatures tracking the one victim onto dry land that serves to introduce them to the group when they discover the body and get attacked by the creatures gets this going nicely. That this gives a fine start to their attempts at escaping which has some great action as they attempt to utilize the rather creative tactics to get away, and the series of underground attacks as the sharks stalk the group through the darkened caverns makes for a solid time here. These here are what hold this up over it's few flaws. There are a few minor problems. The main issue to be had here is the laughable attempt to pass off the sharks as being capable of burrowing through dry land. The tactic of doing so should work mainly in the sense of digging ruts onto land off of the adjoining waterway, yet the method here of just popping up out of nowhere in the middle of the woods is rather silly and comical. There's nothing mentioned about how they manage to survive on dry land and the manner of how this is shown has some of the weakest CGI in the film. That is the other big flaw here, as the film's CGI is quite ridiculous as it follows the majority of the tropes associated with these films like sie changes or physical switches. These here are the film's biggest problems.
Rated R: Graphic Language and Graphic Violence.
Jurassic Shark (2012)
Really underwhelming and absolutely dreadful killer shark film
Attempting to expose an illegal drilling facility, a group of journalism students on a supposedly abandoned island come across another group of smugglers stranded on the island by a vicious prehistoric shark released by the oil drilling nearby and must try to survive each other to get away alive.
For the most part, this one was a rather bland and uneventful effort. Among the bigger problems here is the complete lack of technical competence from nearly every aspect of the production. The editing is a huge culprit, basically being so underwhelming that the film is a complete disaster, featuring scenes that go on way too long or just rendering scenes so incomprehensible that it's impossible to tell what's happening. That is a major factor in the film where the attack, supposedly the main selling point in these films, are just so haphazard and ridiculously edited that it's impossible to figure anything out. As well, the absolutely atrocious and utterly ridiculous CGI for the shark really lowers this one. The fact that every form of terrible-looking tactic for rendering unbelievable creature effects is present here makes for a really torturous time with the film, starting with the main difference here in the anatomical issues. The shark never once looks anywhere close to a real shark and is so obviously pixelated into its environment that there's something going on with the creature as the other big issue highlights that even further. With the shark looking quite obviously fake and out of proportion to the scene, there's a truly laughable quality to the shark attacks seeing the way the creature looks here featuring the ever-present size and dimension changes that showcase how inaccurate the shark really is. The main setup of the attacks here is the film's other big problem since they're maddeningly and woefully atrocious in most cases. Not only do the attacks here feature the troublesome setup with the size-changing shark, but there's also the fact that these are riddled with flaws elsewhere makes them the biggest letdown in the film as the early scenes simply show the shark arriving at a spot and sucking down the victims in bloodless sequences. That later scenes are so haphazardly edited with the rapid quick-cutting that renders it hard to see but some of the attacks are just missing altogether with characters reacting to the incident without any on-screen activity, resulting in even more problems to be had with this one. Despite all that, the film is still strangely watchable with none of these factors diluting the fun pace and surprising watchability of the film with all the action against the shark, especially in the final half. Still, there isn't much to really like elsewhere.
Rated Unrated/R: Graphic Language and Violence.
Underwhelming Bollywood action film with a killer shark
Growing up together in a remote village, two friends who find themselves as close as brothers learn that the village is under the iron-fisted rule of a treacherous gangster and must stop him from overrunning the village, only to find the task complicated by a massive shark lurking in the nearby waters.
This was a somewhat troubling if enjoyable effort. One of the film's biggest issues here is the decision to concentrate on the decidedly non-horror exploits of the gangster ruling over the village. The fact that he's a crime-lord with a mansion filled with dogs he feeds subordinates to is pretty eccentric, but this is a rather uneventful start to a creature feature film as it keeps the creature off-screen. Detailing the feud between him and the villagers as well as the secondary plot to smuggle out the pearls from the area, this ends up holding back our first shark attack until nearly an hour into the running time. That goes hand-in-hand with the other subplots involving his attempts to rule over the villagers to keep his nefarious plan a secret which just ends up doing the same thing in keeping the shark off-screen. That's somewhat of a blessing as well with the film's technical limitations due to the budgetary restrictions. It shouldn't cost much to make a shark that retains the same basic dimensions and proportions throughout the film yet the shark here is maddeningly and frustratingly inconsistent. Initially appearing to be slightly bigger than a grown person in some attacks, later scenes have the creature big enough to swallow a person within their jaws while an underwater chase is more of a realistic bigger-than-man being. This change in size is carried out with the stiff, plastic-like look of the model inside playsets for the sharks' activities. The storyline rationale for some of the attacks is also a bit clumsy and far-fetched which manage to hold this one back. There are a few things to like here. Despite not having much shark action, the other scenes here depicting the villagers fighting back against the mobsters' goons which result in various clumsily choreographed but energetic kung-fu brawls with the henchmen that offer a fine lead-in to the village raid. The scale is quite grander than expected and has a lot of intensity with the stunt-work featured here, really giving this a big scene much like the thrilling police raid at the compound at the end which has a rather enjoyable action movie tone featuring the gun battles and fighting throughout. That also is what works here with the big confrontation to get the shark out at sea as there's plenty to like involving the extended battle trying to bring it to the surface while the secondary race to stop the gangster fleeing the scene is a great touch due to the spectacle here of accomplishing both at the same time. Otherwise, there isn't much else here.
Rated Unrated/PG-13: Violence and Language.
47 Meters Down (2017)
Underwhelming if watchable mainstream shark film
On a vacation together in Mexico, two sisters agree to go on an underwater cage-dive as a means to have an adventure together, but when an accident strands them on the ocean floor with a diminishing air supply they must brave the shark-infested waters to water the surface and get to safety.
For the most part, this was a big disappointment. Among the film's problems here is the film's prominent display of stupidity for setting everything in motion. The sense of personal safety checks that are bypassed here simply to undertake this incident which starts with the trip being done because of an off-hand comment told by a spiteful ex-boyfriend. Done with no build-up as for why that comment means anything anyway coming from an ex-boyfriend, that such an unimportant remark means that she then continually ignores every common sense of self-preservation to get onboard the boat and head out with that rickety, rusted equipment is just absolutely ridiculous. Likewise, the film's strong technical flaws come through rather strongly. Despite plenty of accurate and wholly intelligent reasoning about the unwanted ascension to the surface from that depth, the fact that they're even alive at such a location without being crushed under the water pressure is a severe issue here. They're only equipped with flimsy wetsuits and are unprotected otherwise, that they're able to survive the experience is quite troubling and generates some major problems here. As well, with all the blood in the water from their injuries that they're not bleeding out faster is wholly problematic and not entirely realistic. The last major problem here is the genuinely troubling lack of shark action for much of the film. They have such a minor role throughout here that they're almost an afterthought to the more prominent survival thriller aspect of the scenario. Instead of continually coming down to the cage to check out the strange object in their environment, the sharks are instead presented as the underlying obstacle to prevent their ascent to the surface and keep them on the ocean floor where they can engage in an extended series of tasks designed to stall for time as if a back-up plan wasn't put into motion, the result is that the sharks don't play as much of an issue as they should've been. That said, there are some real positives to be had here. The main scenario about being trapped in such a situation lowered to the bottom of the sea with rapidly-expiring air and killer sharks around them comes off as a genuinely terrifying situation that has some merit to it. That splits the film nicely into halves with the survival drama first half giving way to shark attacks in the second half as they manage to interject some extra intensity and suspense in their quest to escape while the various attacks that do occur are carried off with genuine thrills. Given some of the savagery inherent in these scenes and generating some of the only blood-flow in the film, these are what hold the film up but not enough to overcome the flaws present.
Rated PG-13: Violence and Language.
Harvest Lake (2016)
Engrossing if slightly flawed supernatural effort
Heading out for a weekend in the woods, a group of friends arrives at a secluded cabin where they soon come across a mysterious stranger who joins them, unaware that the trip is about to be crashed by the emergence of a strange entity around the lake that begins to target them one-by-one.
Overall, there was quite a lot to like with this one. One of the strongest aspects to this one is the rather strong build-up here that manages to make the group immensely fun and enjoyable. There's no drama or urbane secrets to be had from each other but are instead treated to a wholly enjoyable and fun starting point as they are fun to be around, joking around, offering comebacks to each other and playfully teasing that gives a sense of genuine friendship between everyone. That, in turn, manages to add a strikingly enjoyable quality to the horror scenes later on. The build-up from these early scenes is just as good, going from absolutely stellar scenes featuring a hypnotic quality to the group being affected by the atmosphere of the lake, creating not only a haunting quality to these scenes but likewise furthering the sexualized air created here. As that slowly turns into the discovery of something not quite human being in the woods with them, not only subtle or physical which are all possible due to the fine start this one works from. While this work is incredibly well-done, the strong poetic nature of these scenes does make it hard to fire out the general sense of what's going on. As characters seem to shift between being possessed one minute and acting like they're normal the next, the further throws confusion upon things as we try to figure out the whole plotline involving the group coming under the spell of whatever's living in the woods surrounding the lake which seems to feed on sexual energy. That is furthered along by the surreal, dialogue-less final ten minutes where they seem to be pleasing a gloopy, pulsating blob of some kind, yet without words to fill in the blanks, this becomes somewhat frustrating. That factor does lead to the lone true flaw in the lack of horror action. Although the group is slowly becoming possessed by a strange force living in that area, its intentions are never remotely threatening as the general atmosphere is kept incredibly light. Instead of being stripped away of their humanity and forcing everyone else to do so against their will or meeting their end via a ravenous, blood-crazed beast, the seemingly utopian based nature of whatever's in the lake doesn't provide as much of a jolt as it should've since there's a sense of harmony and euphoria experienced rather than fear and revulsion. As that could combine with the slow, deliberate pace to throw some people off, it's the only issue to be had with the film.
Rated Unrated/NC-17: Full Male and Female Nudity, Continuous Sexual Activity, Language, Violence and drug use.
Shark Exorcist (2015)
Rather underwhelming shark film
After a series of strange attacks, a woman grows concerned her friends are affected by a strange source and soon discover that a curse has unleashed a possessed killer shark on the community controlled by one of her friends and heads out with a local priest to save her possessed friend and stop the killer shark.
There wasn't a whole lot really wrong with this one. One of the better features here is the sheer lunacy continued within this one as all the various plotlines throughout here all come together. Mixing together the supernatural with the nun's sacrifice and the paranormal investigators' psychic connections to the creature as well as the body-hopping possession that affects the numerous victims that are gradually put under the sharks' evil presence, the film gets plenty of mileage out of this supernatural inclusion. That these are placed alongside the concept of a creature feature involving a shark running free in a small-town lake has some interesting aspects to it. Likewise, there's also the fact that this one generates some enjoyable attacks on several fronts. The supernatural attacks by the possessed victims relying on the temptation aspect of the sultry performer at the heart of the scenes turn nicely into creature feature when the shark arrives and takes them out in traditional manners that has some worthwhile suspense to things. That these attacks are mostly accomplished with decent enough CGI to not make for an embarrassing shark, it's enough to end up holding this up for its positives over the detrimental negatives. The biggest problem to be had here is the fact that hardly anything here makes sense. The randomness of throwing all sorts of utterly bizarre sequences here, from watching a faux paranormal investigator being involved into the scenes of the possessed friend going around town picking up various townspeople as a potential sacrifice only none of them are actually sacrificed to a stupefying scene of a random coven of witch wannabes trying to contact the spirit of someone who died at the lake. None of this is explained or even given a reason for being here, much like the sequence at the fair that goes nowhere or the endless hosts of people in bikinis that pad out the running time when it could've tried to bridge together it's interesting plot points. The other issue is the sheer incompetence displayed throughout the film that really does this a disservice. The audio/visual problems here is the main point, making for such a cheap-looking atmosphere here to have the natural sound in the scene that either never matches what's happening on-screen or being so obviously overdubbed in a different setup that really manages to make this look and sound absolutely awful. The exorcism scene suffers from this the most, turning what could've been a cheesy sequence into such a cheap-jack look here with the barely two-minute sequence that ends up becoming a joke of a scene that it just drops the big significantly. As well with the lack of nudity and gore in a scenario that requires plenty of it, these stand out as the biggest problems to hold this one back overall.
Rated Unrated/R: Graphic Language and Violence.