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El grito (2000)
Fluid foreign language thriller
I have heard that this movie was made twice; once in Spanish language, then again in English and re-titled 'Bloody Proof'. As a whole, the movie was slick and well made. It would have been far better if some of the characters were elaborated more and given more screen time. The sub titles on the Spanish version were appallingly bad and sloppily constructed. The setting of Mexico City was a great choice of location and there are many scenes filmed on location. Well done to Steven Bauer and Olivia Hussey for conveying themselves as Mexican, the rest of the acting was fine also. Overall, it is probably best to view the English language version for more enjoyment but they are both well filmed and acted. 5/10 because it cannot stand up against similar serial-killer thrillers like 'The Bone Collecter', 'Seven' and others in the same vein, it does hold most of the hallmarks of a thriller genre, so give it a shot.
It's no Jurassic Park!
When I bought, payed for and viewed Carnosaur, I took into account its budget limitations, it was, after all, made possible by legendary 'B' movie producer Roger Corman. I also tried my hardest not to make too many comparisons between this film and the mega-budget Jurassic Park, despite more than a few nods made to the movie in the script ("It would make a great theme park!", Diane Ladd being the mother of Laura Dern, a main cast member in Jurassic Park and a cool-acting cop who seemed to be modelling himself on Samuel L Jacksons role.)
In 'B' movie standards, this film should rate quite highly (I'm sure its Oscar material compared to the later 'B' flick 'Dinosaur Island', and at least this film generates a bit of an effort, some of the supposed 'great' films out there have a far higher budget and still fare worse than Carnosaur.
The narrative is simple: a mad scientist develops mutant chicken eggs that hatch deadly dinosaurs that grow big! Small dinosaurs escape, multiply and kill whilst a suspicious virus takes its toll on a quiet town. Much of the plot is interspersed with boring, confusing and sometimes irrelevant, badly scripted dialogue between second-rate characters. Diane Ladd, who plays the crazy scientist, brings the movie up a few pegs and one wishes her part was a little larger.
The actual dinosaurs render the whole film comedic as they resemble plastic models one plays with as a child. I couldn't help thinking that a dinosaur toy was being filmed in close-up! The dreary Nevada setting doesn't add any interest to the movie and the blatant Coca-Cola sponsorship just gets annoying! For comedy, there is a giant T Rex kept amongst lasers in a basement and a scene showing Diane Ladd trying to lay an egg before attempting Cesarean section and encountering her own 'Alien' style John Hurt moment!
Overall, this film has a good idea but fails to develop it. Diane Ladd's attempt to recover a lush, earthly environment seems admirable and is far away from her counterpart Richard Attenborough's vision in Jurassic Park. If the film was made with a better script, a larger collection of good actors' and a better setting it could do a lot better. If, however, you enjoy watching opulent, expensive and technically excellent films-this movie will only serve to put you off your food...especially eggs!
Ghosts of Mars (2001)
Self referential, owing to the directors past glories.
THIS MAY CONTAIN SPOILERS****** To cut a long story short, 'Ghosts of Mars' is a trendy updated version of Carpenter's earlier, more influential films like 'Escape from New York' and especially 'Assault on Precinct 13'. The film is generally exciting and there is an amount of suspense but it mainly focuses on a high body count, fashionable amounts of blood and gore and a band of socially mismatched characters. The cast, which includes veterans Pam Grier and Joanna Cassidy, well-established screen actors Natasha Henstridge, Jason Statham, Ice Cube and Clea Duvall are, in my opinion, wasted on a post-Alien screamer for an excessive 'MTV' generation.
The use of inter-cutting time periods and flash-backs in the narrative redeem some of the films weaker points as the film is given a fresh and original feel. The influence of John Carpenters past glories are rife in the film. Early on an uneasy relationship between the criminal and the law enforcer is established (Assault, Escape...)And the idea of an indestructible evil battling its way into the safe haven of the good-guys has already been explored in 'Assault..', 'The Fog' and 'Halloween'.
An exploitation feel is retained owing much to the acting, typical Carpenter scores and the theme of chaos Vs.order. The movie challenges the audience early on to decide who will survive at the end and instead of embracing a triumphant 'good wins' finale it revels in the violent deaths of the main characters. It is difficult to empathise with good or evil as their roles are interchangeable the 'Ghosts' can be viewed as the victims who will defend their planet at all costs while 'the good guys' are the ruthless, emotionless intruders of Mars intent on furthering colonisation.
The ambiance of paranoia is perhaps due to the dark, enclosed and futuristic setting with a lack of establishing or landscape shots. Also, the ending is confusing and brief leaving the audience high and dry. Watch this film if you are a Carpenter fan, you will love its references to his other films. For everyone else, sit back, get the popcorn in and watch this brainless action horror that incidentally is actually rather good!
Island Prey (2001)
Resembles many other modern thrillers
**THIS MAY CONTAIN SPOILERS** Island Prey IS a good film, if you give it a chance. However i couldn't help feeling that the whole idea of the film was recycled from other recent thrillers which did the job better. Think Dead Calm(88) and Fatal Attraction(87) mixed together and you get Island Prey. Obviously the film was made on a lower budget which justifies it a bit but there is no excuse for the lack of tension and suspense, a key element in thrillers.
A basic plot synopsis: Wealthy woman embarks on a one-night-stand with a yachtsman. She decides she'd rather stay with her husband. Yachtsman follows her home to L.A., stalks her, tells the woman's husband. RESULT: Showdown in their big isolated house that quite literally ends with a bang!
Whilst i can't deny that i did enjoy watching this film, the chemistry between the actors was non-existent and the script sometimes sounded as if it was written on the day of filming. Olivia Hussey is a great actress and most of the film was carried by her and two other actors (Don Murray and Tony Denison)So i can't really complain about the acting.
At the end of the day, i would advise hardcore drama/thriller fans to watch this film or those who like the actress Olivia Hussey. Otherwise its not likely it will be appreciated. I had to order the film from the USA as it is not available in England, so go for it, and see if you agree with me!