Sunday, November 29, 2015

Gurozuka Review

Disclaimer: Contains spoilers!

Plot Summary: After rumors of a murder, a newly reformed film club find themselves meeting the same fate as the previous club.

Review: It's almost as if the creators were like, "Okay, see this ball in our hands? Now watch us drop it." Although the budget is obviously low, this started off surprisingly well, and the material was handled significantly better than I imagined. The story is part slasher with a "who dunnit" style executed quite well. The all female cast is cute and the actresses appear to take the material seriously which helped tremendously. Unfortunately, the entire experience comes off as amateurish with a nonsensical conclusion and motive for the killer. Even many technical aspects and decisions were a mess when they didn't need to be; for example, the horrendous handling of the music and how it drops out and rises inconsistently.

To understand the title itself, I need to give a little backstory. The plot focuses on two girls, Ai and Maki, who recreate their film club seven years after some incident; I guess this at the college level, because these girls are too old to be playing high school kids. Also, I think they missed an opportunity to make these characters more geeky and reference other movies. I mean, these girls find themselves in a slasher/mystery and never once discuss film in general? Must be low standards for a film club. Anyway, Ai and Maki find a tape that the last film club made that appears to depict a real murder. The two want to investigate whether or not there is truth to this by visiting the actual shooting location and recreating the events. In order to accomplish this task, Ai and Maki trick the drama club into assisting them. Most of this plot line is glossed over as Ai and Maki later mention they already know the murders were real, and the drama club members appear willfully ignorant or plain retarded. Early on it is explained that the apparent snuff film is portraying a story called "Gurozuka." The description of this is hazy, to say the least, but, basically, the original club's film was telling the tale of a demon woman who needed to kill a certain number of people for whatever reason. This continuation of the original film appears to be the motive for the killer, but we will come to find this doesn't fully make sense.

After establishing that none of these girls get along, shenanigans begin where the girls turn on one another with the food going missing and their cell phones being taken. One thing I really liked about this scenario was that you come to learn that only a handful of things are done by the killer whereas the rest are done by the girls to get back at one another. When the killings do begin, it really is up in the air as to who the killer could be which was good. Typically I would enjoy an unpredictable killer, but her motive made no sense which is the only reason you wouldn't guess it was her. You come to find out it was Maki after she somehow lost her mind from watching the original tape too much? Dude, I have no idea. I will say this, however, it was amusing when Maki said she wanted to eat Ai...that's a good one. Of course Maki is killed in the ensuing struggle with only Ai and Maki's sister living; by the way, Maki's sister should definitely have died--she took a blade to the skull! The ending of the film seriously tries to go a supernatural route or something. Throughout the movie the girls do have weird visions of the "Gurozuka" film, but it's not explained properly. In the final shot they show Ai somehow being filmed as if someone or thing is still continuing on. Plus, Maki's sister is saying what Maki said before dying? I have no clue.

My description may turn some off, but do not be dissuaded as the events play out in a suspenseful manner, the mystery is intriguing, and the presentation is well done. The main problems are with sloppy explanations and a disappointing motive for the killer; I chalk up most of the technical problems to the low budget. I think with a few tweaks this could have been 6 or 6.5/10 worthy for sure. I would definitely have liked to see the characters presented as more lively and engaging, Maki's motive given clarity or change the killer, or for them to just make everything supernatural. Overall, this is a fun little movie that, perhaps, tried to do more than it could handle. It's worth giving a view, but be prepared for only a slightly above average show.

Notable Moment: When the girls sit around singing a Japanese equivalent of "Kumbaya." I know people joke a lot about that in movies, but you wouldn't think anyone would really do it.

Final Rating: 5.5/10

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Dolly Dearest Review

Disclaimer: Contains spoilers!

Plot Summary: A family moves to Mexico to set up a toy factory when an evil presence possesses the dolls.

Review: You know the drill: the early '90s + horror = absolute shit. Okay, that may not be a universal constant, but it is true in this circumstance. This is a shameless Chucky ripoff, as you'd probably guess, that didn't really offer up anything except a gender swap. In fact, Dolly, as she's referred to as, isn't technically even a female. She's supposed to be a demonic force that can take on whatever form and split its consciousness magically. Truthfully, it's best not to think too deeply about what's going on with this movie's plot as it will just annoy you. While the film contains the cheap thrills you would expect from a blatant ripoff, it completely loses itself toward the last 10 minutes leaving you in a state of perpetual groans.

So what the hell is going on in this story? Some guy drags his family into the worst business venture I could imagine: moving to Mexico to open up a toy factory that will produce horrific looking dolls by hand. I'm not going to pretend as if I'm an expert on business practices, but, if you see this guy's factory and couple it with the reality of conglomerates, you would realize this guy is a complete idiot. No one would buy these ugly dolls nor does this guy have any means of mass production or shipping. I could spend hours explaining the incompetence of this scheme, but, suffice it to say, this is a total fail from the beginning. Moving along...the toy factory just happens to be next to an excavation site for a nonexistent tribe of indigenous satanists. Really? You're going with that? Well, okay. Apparently this tribe created a devil child abomination...because reasons...and they entombed it at this excavation. An archaeologist frees this evil spirit that somehow divides itself amongst the handful of dolls at the factory.

You may think the dolls have a plan to spread their evil throughout the world with the manufacturing of more dolls, but this evil being is another fucking moron. Instead, the game plan is to possess a little girl, kill the people at this factory, and run around, screaming, all the damn time. Okay, that is admittedly more amusing--keep up the good work little dollies. Speaking of which, there are funny moments where the film was at least, partially, self-aware; for example, when the little boy uses a shotgun to blow away the main Dolly. The way all of these shenanigans come to an end is by--get this--pulling cliche dynamite sticks out of their ass and blowing up all the dolls and factory. Whaaaaat? Isn't this thing a supernatural force that isn't even physical? Fuck it--Looney Tunes logic trumps all--roll credits! I'm not joking either...the moment the factory blows up the credits start rolling; there is absolutely no resolution. Let's hope the dad was lying when he said all their money was tied up in the factory...

Oh goodness gracious. This movie is terrible through and through. It's significantly more fun to think about all the stupid things that happened than to actually sit there watching them. If you love lame Chucky wannabes, this movie may be for you, but, other than that, I'd stay far away from this mess. The one, genuinely positive thing I can say is that there is a clear difference between rental era shit of the past and the absolute shit-show of rental trash now. "Dolly Dearest" is certainly dumb as fuck, but they were trying. Most of the rental movies now are a disgrace to film itself and get by on a cool-looking poster. Take that however you wish to interpret.

Notable Moment: When the janitor, or whatever he was, talks to one of the dolls and says something like "don't go anywhere," and the doll rolls its eyes. If only there were more entertaining moments such as this.

Final Rating: 4/10

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Elevator Trap Review

Disclaimer: Contains spoilers!

Plot Summary: Four, apparent, strangers become stuck in an elevator as their secret connection to one another is revealed.

Review: I want you to imagine the movie "Devil." Okay, now imagine it not sucking, no fucking toast flipping bullshit, and being a mystery instead of a horror. SHYAMALAN! Lame jokes aside, this film is an extremely rare thing as it blends many genres seamlessly with a great final twist to leave you satisfied. One minute you may be laughing at the goofball nature of the characters and scenarios only to be shocked seconds later. Although there is a heavy comedic element, it's not intended to be laugh out loud levels of funny but more Murphy's law situations. The pacing can feel a bit slow at times, but the payoff is definitely worth it. Some viewers may not even know what to make of this film, given its decidedly Japanese style, but who doesn't like a good mystery?

Typically, this is where I would spoil aspects of the story for you, but I'll refrain from that this time. This really is one of those movies you should go into blind so as not to have assumptions regarding the various twists. You may predict a few of the twists anyway, but I highly doubt you will see the final revelation coming. The story introduces flashbacks that go back further and further each time until everything falls into place quite nicely. I will, however, mention that the way the mystery is unraveled is fantastic with one surprise after another. You may think you have things figured out but the devil is in the details (see what I did there?). Much of this presentation is assisted by the actors turning in believable performances and an effective use of the elevator for a setting. They actually pulled off a lot of crazy ideas and stunts for, what is, an otherwise low budget film--so I'll give credit where credit is due.

Despite my praise. this is far from a classic. There is a certain emptiness to the experience whereby I'm not really thinking about it afterward. Usually I would contemplate a movie like this, especially given the mysterious aspect to the plot, but it didn't have a deeper message to resonate with; well...unless you really loved that baseball metaphor. The mystery is well done and the twists are cool, but that's all there really was to it. Don't get me wrong, this doesn't hurt the film significantly--and others may appreciate it even more--but this shallowness prevents it from becoming a true classic. I would still wholeheartedly recommend checking this one out though; and definitely stay until the end of the credits for one last scene. Overall, many great ideas and an intriguing mystery but lacking that much needed layer of oomph to seal the deal.

Notable Moment: I don't want to spoil the context so I'll simply say: elevator rape porn. Of course that's a thing...this is Japan after all!

Final Rating: 6/10

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

The Mist Review

Disclaimer: Contains spoilers!

Plot Summary: After a mysterious mist blankets over a town a man and his son become trapped in a supermarket.

Review: It has always shocked me that "The Mist" was not much of a success, but this is why you don't release a horror film after Halloween. More surprising, this is one of the better, and faithful, adaptations of a Stephen King work. It would definitely be easy to screw up this specific material, but, thankfully, Frank Darabont was directing and he has a successful history with King's work. The film perfectly captures the themes and ideas with some minor adjustments that do work for the better. However, there is a huge, polarizing change to the ending that can, virtually, make or break the film for a viewer. My reaction is mixed as I can respect a ballsy ending, but I read the story and that ending is solidified in my mind. It is worth noting that this somber ending has probably helped the longevity of the film in finding an audience though.

Where the film succeeds most is in capturing the story brilliantly. You feel the ominous and constant threat from the mist and the monsters that lie within, but you also have emphasis on the threat within the supermarket. The way both threats are balanced is something I was worried about, but it's handled with care. Likewise, the characters are, more or less, portrayed accurately despite a few changes; some changes are definitely for the better. I especially want to acknowledge that they made David more realistic in my opinion. Admittedly, the acting could have been better for a few characters, but, for the most part, the actors turn in decent performances and a few are better than I could have hoped. The monster designs are interesting, but they did lack a certain, how shall I say, sense of King's style. Adding to this, the deaths are quite gory as the monsters often rip people to shreds or eat someone. Finally, the pacing is pulled off successfully as you quite readily forget the running time clocks in at over two hours (not liking those fade-outs though).

Honestly, there are only two major gripes besides the small stuff I'm not sweating. The first is the shit CGI that is strewn about especially that first tentacled monster that is meant to help set the tone. Even in 2007 this looked horrible, and it's not aging well at all. Don't get me wrong, not every monster looks bad, but a few are hard to take seriously. But, who cares, let's get to the real detriment to the film--the ending that will either be awesome or you will be left wanting to punch someone. In the story, after David and crew escape the supermarket and travel through the mist, things do appear grim until they hear a message on the radio. Although the reader does feel despair, you are left to believe they got help or died along the way depending on what you choose to think. More so, it is left up to your imagination to decide how much of the world has been covered by the mist. The movie takes away that mystery and choice from you. Instead, we are left with David deciding to shoot everyone else so they don't have to be killed by the mist creatures. When David intends to let himself get killed, the mist clears and the military is taking the world back! More annoying, Carol (from "The Walking Dead") is shown to be alive in the most miraculous of miracles known to mankind! Are you fucking kidding me?! The credits seriously start to roll with David simply sobbing over his premature killing of his friends and son. This is beyond mere bittersweet--this is like a fuck you to the audience. Oh, I'm sure others will see things differently, and I do respect the ending to a degree, but this is too polarizing for the readers and the casual audience goer. And this was the ending they wanted all along? What the hell?

If you can get past the ending issues, I think you will be pleasantly surprised by this film. The story gets you thinking about how you would react to this kind of an extreme situation. Would you be one of the first to die, kill yourself, or go crazy? There are multiple moral dilemmas to consider that's for sure. A lot of the characters are fun with great banter; I'm looking at you Ollie! Not to be outdone by the dramatic elements, there are genuinely creepy moments as you never know what might jump out of the mist, and, given the nature of the mist, the creature wouldn't even be recognizable. Overall, this is a gem that was brushed over when it came out, but it's gaining a following as the years go by with that ending promoted often as a positive. I would definitely recommend checking it out regardless of that ending. Also, if you've been burned by other adaptations of King's books, rest easy as this is among the best.

Notable Moment: When they see that giant, building-sized creature toward the end. As others have stated, that creature sort of represents the hopelessness of their situation, and I agree with that sentiment. Unfortunately, the ending cheapens that notion.

Final Rating: 7/10

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Tales from the Dark 2 Review

Disclaimer: Contains spoilers!

Plot Summary: Consisting of three more stories, this is the second half of the ambitious, 2-film anthology series from Hong Kong

Review: While I generally enjoyed the first film's stories for what they were, the tales this time around are blander and nonsensical. This isn't to say they are terrible, but they aren't very good or memorable either. I will say this--these stories had a lot of potential to be better yet they did not capitalize on their ideas in a sensible manner. And, alas, there is no longer an abundance of cute girls to ease the situation (womp womp); the main chick in the first story is decent though. Okay, let's take a look at what we have this time around.

Pillow: Well...this segment is unique that's for sure. A woman has been spying on her boyfriend to find out if he's still involved with his ex. They make it so unclear as to what is going on with this ex, because the boyfriend gives her money but isn't cheating or something. I don't know. The main girl freaks out, somewhat deservedly, as the boyfriend bails on the situation after the girl destroys his little boaty. Sometime later the main girl is getting stressed out over the boyfriend not contacting her, and this, seemingly, causes her to have insomnia. She eventually buys a...groan...haunted pillow from a random shopkeeper. This tale tries to take a few twists and turns, but they're incredibly stupid revelations. For one, we come to learn the boyfriend is really dead all along from when their scuffle got out of hand. I suppose the insomnia is due to this, but why does she not seem to remember her actions? None of this matters, because the main point of the story is that the girl can only sleep when using this haunted pillow. During this sleep, our little chickadee has dreams where she does nothing but fuck the boyfriend's ghost. But wait, there's more! It's not really the ghost of the boyfriend at all but some kind of otherworldly entity that is draining away the girl's life force--some kind of incubus or something. After not explaining anything, the segment ends abruptly as the cops find the girl in a catatonic state as we assume the incubus-thing finishes her off. Whaaaat? This whole tale plays out like an erotica book you'd see in the checkout line. Lame as fuck. The look and tone of the story were decent though, and, like I said, the main chick was very cute in that "I haven't slept in two weeks" kind of way.

Hide and Seek: This particular segment felt a lot like "The Shock Labyrinth 3D." A bunch of, I guess, college kids are visiting their old elementary school after hearing it will be torn down. Surprise, the school is haunted by various staff and students who died from SARS. Apparently this group wants to make an entire day out of dicking around this school; they seriously discuss staying over night. At one point they decide to play a kind of hide and seek I've never heard of whereby your goal is to find a specific person in an allotted time. The ghosts decide they want in on this hot fire and kind of screw with the group. There were a few amusing aspects to this story, like joking about Sadako, but the best part was when a mural of kids came to life. Not knowing how to end this story, the ghosts whisk away the little sister of this group before we suddenly learn they're all dead. Dude, I don't fucking know! The last thing we see is that now the group are shown to be on the mural. Whatever. I did like the atmosphere of this segment, but they clearly had no idea how to handle their own material. There were ample opportunities to be scary yet they chose not to embrace them.

Black Umbrella: I suppose they saved the best for last once more, but that wasn't saying much here. An old, small man, mistaken for a child at one point, roams around the city helping random and ungrateful strangers. Each time he helps someone he adds a notch to his umbrella; what that's all about you can interpret in many ways. At the same time, we are shown a prostitute trying to give a sob story that will become completely irrelevant by the end; the useless nature of this buildup forces me to call this shit pretentious. Eventually, the old man crosses paths with the prostitute who tries to swindle the old man. After realizing he has no money, the prostitute then tries to cry rape. When a wannabe tough guy shows up--one that the old man already dealt with earlier--you think the old man will get beat up. Well, if this weren't a horror movie you'd think that. A higher level crony stops by later and finds that the old man is some kind of creature that is eating the tough guy and prostitute. I suppose we could draw the conclusion that the old man does good deeds to make up for the times he kills people. Instead of leaving well enough alone, however, we get a shot of the prostitute as a ghost now wandering about. Ugh. Despite the lackluster conclusion, this was a mostly entertaining story even if completely predictable.

Overall, I think you'd be better off sticking with just the first film; you certainly won't be missing out on much with this followup. These three stories are simply underwhelming and do not know how to end. There were interesting ideas strewn about, but there is a lack of focus throughout all six installments--it's simply more noticeable in these three stories. If anything, the six stories should have been reordered to divide out the time better between the two films; this film barely clocks in at 90 minutes whereas the first movie was nearly two hours. This would also have allowed for a, sorely missing, wraparound segment to tie these stories together. I mean, it appeared they were going for a certain theme so it would only make sense to have a unifying aspect.

Notable Moment: During the "Hide and Seek" segment when the ghosts come out of the mural. This was a great effect, but the ghosts are hardly utilized.

Final Rating: 5/10

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Tales from the Dark 1 Review

Disclaimer: Contains spoilers!

Plot Summary: Consisting of three stories, this is the first half of an ambitious, 2-film anthology series from Hong Kong.

Review: I don't know the fine details regarding this duo of films, but they were released within a month of one another. Again, I don't know how successful this would be considering the gamble at play. If the first film failed, your second entry was practically guaranteed to fail as well, and that's before factoring in the diminishing return. Nevertheless, I actually enjoyed this film for what it was as it implemented my love for Asian horror and anthologies quite well. The three tales are each meaty in length, justifying the need for two separate films, and pushing the running time close to two hours just for this half. Unfortunately, there are considerable flaws throughout, and the first tale is an incoherent mess from start to finish which ruins an entire third of the total film. Thankfully, there are a plethora of beautiful women to, somewhat, offset these flaws.

Stolen Goods: Might as well get the worst one out of the way first, right? In a lot of ways, having your worst tale first will help make the film feel better as it progresses, however, in this ADHD era, you risk losing a good portion of your audience right out the gate. Honestly, I have no idea what the hell was supposed to be going on here. A guy struggles to find honest work as he, I guess, discusses his problems with two dead girls? Maybe they're his daughters or something? Dude, I don't fucking know. We are shown interspersed shots of random imagery that contributes jackshit to the plot while the guy decides he will steal burial urns from rich people and ransom them back. After fending off random ghosts, including one pissing themselves, with a blessed hammer (yeah, I wrote that), the guy meets with a businessman who wants one of the urns back. The guy gets paid by the businessman who turns out to be a ghost himself who tricked the guy into giving the businessman back his urn; the guy also realizes the businessman actually gave him ghost money too. I'm not simply being facetious with the ghost money line...that's the stuff people will burn as offerings in case you didn't know. We then get a flashback to the businessman dying, his little story with his wife and a cell phone, and how the main guy saw the businessman die. Then the episode ends with more nonsense, the main guy dies by lighting himself on fire, and we see more ghosts with those little girls. Plus, we see one of the main guy's employers? Whaaaat? For the love of fuck. Realistically, this segment didn't need to be shit, but they were deadset on turning it into just that. If you understood things differently, do let me know.

A Word in the Palm: This segment is probably the best of the three as it incorporates a more traditional ghost story with a certain charm and humor. The icing on the cake, however, is you have four, very cute girls to spice everything up. Hooray! The segment focuses on a kind of spiritualist and palm reader who is planning to close up his business to appease his bitchy wife and spend more time with his son; the wife is, seriously, a Chinese Famke Janssen. Not liking this decision is the main guy's geeky friend, another shopkeeper who sells crystals, who wishes she had the spiritual abilities of the main guy; I think it goes without saying, she's super cute in that huge geek way that I love. Later on, a couple comes in for spiritual advice, and they happen to be people the main guy saw earlier with a ghost attached to them. Once more, the wife of this couple is very good looking! Oh man, I'm having too much fun. Suspecting there is something about a drowning in the ocean, the couple claims to have no idea except that the husband teaches a swim team. Shortly after passing the couple on to his geeky friend, the main guy just wants to get out of there so he can hang out with his son and bitch wife; there are zany antics with a music CD as well, but I'll get to that later. The main guy finds a schoolgirl waiting for him at his shop who is the ghost herself. Come know what I'm going to say--she's extremely cute! Though...the schoolgirl does have a twig body that makes her look young. Oh well.

Chinese Famke Janssen played by Eileen Tung. Eh, you gotta see her full on to appreciate it!

The geeky shopkeeper played by Kelly Chen.

The wife from the couple played by Jeannie Chan.

 The ghost played by Cherry Ngan. Cherry?! Must...avoid...raunchy innuendos.

Moving along with the story...the main guy agrees to one last adventure with his geeky friend's help. The two realized that the ghost killed herself while pregnant as she was having an affair with the husband of that couple. Due to the goofball nature of this story, the main guy just wants that CD back actually. Since the wife from that couple is also pregnant, the ghost wants to hurt her as revenge. The main guy and his geeky friend confront the ghost, try to exorcise her, but they stop once they make the ghost realize the truth. She was holding on to the belief that her loverboy truly cared for her but didn't really. After this, she goes to the afterlife or whatever as the couple is left to pick up the pieces. In the end, the main guy meets up with his son and bitch wife as he learns the son also has his power. All things considered, this is a fun little story. They balance the lighthearted nature of the story with genuinely cool ideas that make it feel original.

Jing Zhe: To close us out, we get another good story. I didn't think it was quite as good as the second segment, due to a few plot tangents and shoddy effects, but it was still interesting. I'm not going to lie, I do not have nearly enough cultural knowledge to fully appreciate this segment, but I get the gist of it. For example, the title refers to a certain time of the year, but I'm not 100% sure how it correlates to the tale. Well, unless that date coincides with the plot line regarding "villain hitting." I guess the best way to describe villain hitting is that it's like an evil curse, black magic, a hex, etc.; you pay someone to curse bad fortune or death upon an individual. Maybe Jing Zhe is the time of year when the magic is supposed to be most potent?

So the story focuses on an old lady who is a practitioner of this villain hitting spell as she does her usual shtick. They have a subplot about a crazy bitch who is hexing her pregnant daughter in law, but I don't get her purpose unless she is to help the audience understand villain hitting? Or was the daughter in law the ghost in this segment? I didn't get a good look at the picture. Anyway, when the old lady is done for the night a ghost pops up looking for revenge. I have to say, this ghost girl is the hottest chick yet! And I don't know if they were altering her voice to be creepy, but it was sexy as hell. Oh lordy, these chickadees. So we come to learn that the ghost's death intertwines with the old lady who let her die as her son masterminded the murder. As the ghost engages in the ritual, we see each of the assailants meet gruesome ends; the effects are not good on most deaths though. In the end, the ghost spares the old lady once she realizes it would hurt the old lady more to live with her guilt. Damn, this ghost doesn't mess around--makes me even more attracted! Overall, this was a great way to end this anthology, and I can definitely see other viewers liking this one the best. I just didn't like that pointless extra lady (unless I missed something) and the shit effects.

The ghost played by Dada Chan. Umm, feel free to haunt me whenever, darling!

I really want to rate this film higher, but the stupidity of the first story, coupled with the lack of focus in the other two tales, forces me to rate it lower. Don't get me wrong, I thoroughly enjoyed this film and liked it a lot. The ominous music enhances the atmosphere, the acting is decent, and the look of the film invokes a certain grime I think they were trying to portray on the cityscape. However, I can't ignore the problems especially when not everyone is going to give bonus points for the babes. Hopefully the second film will be as good or better to sweeten the experience into a cool double feature. Still, it's worth a view without a doubt.

Notable Moment: In "Stolen Goods" when that crazy guy starts singing "Gangnam Style." That song is a blight on humanity. I love you Korea, but, please, take that shit back I beg of you!

Final Rating: 5.5/10

Sunday, November 8, 2015

Killer Klowns from Outer Space Review

Disclaimer: Contains spoilers!

Plot Summary: I think the title of the film pretty much speaks for itself.

Review: It makes me proud to see this gem become a cult classic, but, not to sound like a pretentious asshole, I was one of those weirdos singing this film's praises before it was cool. What is there really to say about a movie when your title is "Killer Klowns from Outer Space?" Essentially, this is an homage to '50s B movies with that '80s magic touch that always works wonders. The premise is laughably stupid, yet, they are able to make it somehow feel believable. The story doesn't take itself seriously at all and attempts to go balls to walls with nonsensical mischief from the clowns...or are they really called Klowns? Honestly, you should know within the first couple minutes if this movie is going to work for you. Come on, they have a song, with the title, written specifically for the movie--you know I love that shit!

Forget trying to understand the Klowns as they have no rhyme or reason to how they work. They can punch your head clean off, eat you with shadow puppets, blast you with a cotton candy gun, send mutating popcorn after you, lose limbs, get shot, throw acidic pie, jump into the sky, drive invisible cars, still have actual clowns cars, have living balloon animals, pull shit out of their ass seemingly, and all manner of other shenanigans. Sure, having no clear rules is unfair, but it works in the context of the story. We don't even know where the Klowns come from or why they're here--all we know is they want to eat humans; one character speculates the concept of a clown comes from these aliens. The only way to kill these sumbitches is by destroying their noses. The Klowns also have a giant circus tent for a spaceship whereby the inside looks like a cross between a funhouse and a toy factory. The final icing on the cake is an obligatory giant clown monster just because!

Besides the goofball nature of the plot, the film succeeds in excellent pacing. Almost as soon as the movie starts we are getting action that doesn't let up until the end. This roller coaster approach works perfectly to complement the film's ideas regarding a carnival experience. Many of the jokes are admittedly stupid, even by '80s standards, but I can put up with corny bullshit. The acting is over the top in delivery, but I think that's what they were striving for anyway. Speaking of over the top, the ending is nonsensical with everyone miraculously surviving despite being blown up. Hey, can't let something like that slow you down, right? The whole town was killed too, but that's one will miss them. The nonchalant attitude to everything is great. One more thing I wanted to mention, that was just so dumb, was when characters were running away from the Klowns. Terrible...absolutely terrible...still amusing though.

If you're into movies like "Troll 2" and "The Room" I think you should get a kick out of this one too. Now, this isn't to say it's so bad it's good--since this movie did know what it was doing--but there is that certain appreciation needed to enjoy something like Killer Klowns. I don't think you can really rate this film by how good or bad it is--it's more about the entertainment level which is fairly high. There is talk of this finally getting a sequel in the near future so we shall see about that. In the meantime, I would definitely recommend checking this out if you're even remotely intrigued by the plot. Regardless of whether or not you'll love it or hate it, I can guarantee you won't forget "Killer Klowns from Outer Space!"

Notable Moment: The entire ending sequence. First you have those brothers magically surviving, then the cop somehow lives too, and they all managed to get inside a clown car within the span of seconds? And why did the ship blow up in the first place?! I think tying your spaceship's functions to a big clown's nose is a design flaw...

Final Rating: 6.5/10

Friday, November 6, 2015

The Unseeable Review

Disclaimer: Contains spoilers!

Plot Summary: In 1930s Thailand, a pregnant women stays at a weird mansion while searching for her missing husband.

Review: I saw this film when it was first released, but I didn't remember it being that great. I checked out the imdb rating recently and saw that it was up to a 7/10. I wondered, could I be remembering a different movie or something? Upon a second viewing, I have to wonder where the hell that 7/10 is coming from? The story is more of a drama than a horror, the scares are flimsy, and the filmmakers clearly believed the romance aspect was deeper than it truly is. While there are plenty of good ideas, and the attempts at an old time ghost story are appreciated, the film is ultimately too slow and fails to make sense when all the secrets are revealed.

The best thing going for the story was the sense of intrigue and mystery. The main girl's pregnancy, the lost husband, the crazed madame, locked rooms, weird kids, etc.--the audience is given a lot of material to consider and how it might all come together. However, did it succeed at pulling those elements together? Not really. Having a 1930s setting helped enhance the mood--what with the clothes, hairstyles, music--but they didn't fully capitalize on the situation. The actors try to work with the material given so I can't fault them for the one-dimensional characters. I understand the story was trying to invoke a combination of abandonment, loneliness, and claustrophobia, but those concepts are only examined to a small degree.

My main gripe is the slow pacing with virtually no payoff. There are deliberate attempts to build up the mystery with no discernible reason like the husband's obscured face; what's the point? Almost every scare until the end is simply someone walking past the camera or someone appearing behind the main girl and then disappearing. Believe me, that shit gets old--quick--especially when there is a scene where it happens three times in a row. There are also a ton of continuity errors or plot holes or whatever depending on what the explanation is supposed to be. We come to learn all of the characters are ghosts repeating the same scenario over and over, but their actions would contradict this. One particular bullshit moment is when the loudmouth girl drops that jar, because she's scared, yet seconds later has moved locations and eats the jars contents? Huh? What scared her then if she knows she's a kind of ghoul? The reason why the ghost reveal doesn't work is because only the main girl doesn't accept her fate; this means all the other characters' actions are nonsensical with them playing along. More so, how does the crazy madame live then if everyone are ghosts? What, the ghosts really do bring her food? Finally, the romance is cornball as fuck--a bizarre love triangle that makes little sense. No thanks. Besides, the love between the characters is not conveyed to be that profound to be making this big of a deal out of the situation.

I'm sure others will enjoy this particular story more than I especially if they go into it with the understanding that this is more of a drama with light supernatural elements. Although, even if you have a greater appreciation for the story than I, one cannot ignore the blatant flaws and predictable twist. The '30s setting spices things up but nowhere near enough to engage the viewer. The pacing needed to be tightened, and there should have been at least one, major set piece scare before the finale. Honestly, a good movie lies under all the missteps, but I wouldn't know how to repair it. I would still recommend checking it out, but keep your expectations low.

Notable Moment: When all the ghosts appear at once. It's cool in theory, but I highly doubt that many people have died on the premises.

Final Rating: 5.5/10

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Girl House Review

Disclaimer: Contains spoilers!

Plot Summary: A household comprised of webcam girls is slaughtered after inciting the anger of an obsessed fan.

Review: Yeah, I know, another pornoriffic-sounding horror movie! But I promised to cover one of Chasty Ballesteros' movies in my last ramble. Unfortunately, she is not even close to being the main character, however, she is topless quite a bit if that's more your pace. That aspect aside, this is a mostly mediocre film. I can appreciate the story they were trying to tell, but this would have made more sense, and left a greater impact, if it were made like 15-20 years ago when the internet was newer. I mean, seriously, who the hell gets their porn fix from webcam girls still? More so, this movie implies it's a really innovative idea to have a house full of webcam girls. Yeah, maybe in 1999 this would be a lucrative idea, but nowaday you can find the weirdest, most niche porn to satiate any lunatic's desires.

The good: the girls are a range from hot to cute with only one real busted up chick. Though...they do have that pornstar look to them--you know the look--which is definitely not my preferred face. Most get naked to a degree so there's that as well. Surprisingly, they cover up the low budget extremely well with a polished look to the picture; this is nowhere near as cheap feeling as you'd imagine. The kills are decent despite the quick succession of characters dying off. The story does not entirely take itself seriously, which helps, yet there was a hint of social commentary; for example, the one bitch killing herself once she realized how mangled her face was by the killer.

 I really wanted a better picture of Ms. Ballesteros, but she's topless in all her best closeups!

The bad: besides the plot feeling outdated, it was like they combined "Halloween: Resurrection" with every college movie ever while throwing in a dash of Leatherface. This combination of ingredients does not blend well. The killer could have been sympathetic, but they kind of gave up explaining his motivations midway; this makes the opening scene so pointless in the grand scheme of things. The romance subplot is beyond forced and stupid. The main girl also puts up with this boyfriend too easily when they hardly know one another, and he's being an asshole. More annoyingly, certain idiotic characters (like the boyfriend's roommate) get more attention than the webcam girls who needed more development. Finally, all the shenanigans with the main girl traveling back and forth 70 miles for school is absolutely ludicrous.

Overall, this film is best enjoyed if you like to be pandered toward. While there is a large amount of fanservice, there is more going on than you'd imagine; the last 40 minutes alone are a pure rampage by the killer. The movie has a clean look to it that masks the production limitations to the point that I would consider this a moderate rental for the curious. Just don't expect much as the main detriment is how outlandish the plot is in regard to the popularity of webcam girls. Realistically, no one would care this much about a webcam service nor would they go through this much trouble to keep the house hidden.

Notable Moment: When the one chick is choked to death by a dildo. That's probably one of the most embarrassing ways to die ever depicted.

Final Rating: 5/10

Monday, November 2, 2015

Roommates (aka D-day) Review

Disclaimer: Contains spoilers!

Plot Summary: Zany antics ensue at an all-girls school that is, I guess, haunted...maybe...kinda...

Review: It may have taken me, something like, 3 years to finish, but here is the last movie from the "4 Horror Tales" series. If you're in need of a reminder, that quartet involved "February 29," "Dark Forest of Death," and "Forbidden Floor." In a nutshell: these films were terrible with the exception of "February 29." Although I wouldn't consider "Roommates" to be as over the top stupid as "Dark Forest of Death," it is the most boring entry of the four films. In fact, this movie is sheer torture to sit through, because absolutely nothing happens until the last 10 minutes. Realistically, they had enough material to fill an episode of the Korean Twilight Zone. The rest of the running time is pure, unadulterated shenanigans!

The story focuses on four particular girls who become--you guessed it--roommates at some private, college prep school. You have the bitch, the smart one, the dorky one, and the narrator serving as the every girl; gotta go with the dorky one personally. The point of the school is to offer a second chance to people who didn't get into college or whatever. To give you an idea...the smart girl could have gone to college but apparently didn't have high enough grades to get into the best university. The school is treated like a prison where you have no belongings and are intended to go to class and study from 6 AM to, roughly, 9 PM. Oh fuck that shit! I'd have to be the only guy in this all-girl school to put up with that torture. But, then again, the whole point of this school is to free yourself from "desires." I will say this, however, at least there weren't any of those weird "friendships" I usually see in Korean horror; the girls appeared relatively normal for the most part.

The vast majority of the film shows us the mundane activities of the girls coping with the school year as we count down to "D-day;" D-day is supposed to signify the final test to get into whatever college they're striving toward. Every 20 minutes or so the movie remembers the genre is horror, and we get a nonsensical shot of a ghost (or a vision of the future?). None of the characters even react to the ghosts yet they're screaming from a hamster? I don't understand what the movie is trying to imply is happening with the school's backstory. Supposedly there was a massacre and the school burned down some time earlier, but it's never fully explained. By the film's end, the same exact scenario unravels again for no discernible reason. I guess you could claim the ghosts were responsible, but that would be a stretch. There is also very little buildup to the climax--it just comes out of the blue--as if the writer had no idea how to tell this tale in a competent manner. The closing scene shows the narrator, as the lone survivor, wanting to kill herself for, yet again, no discernible reason. Dude, I have no idea what the hell was happening.

To sum it up: this felt like a drama with small bits of supernatural elements thrown in to widen the market for the film. Almost nothing happens in the story as nonessential events unfold in the slowest and most boring way imaginable. The girls are somewhat decent characters, but they don't have any real moments to shine and die quite suddenly. More so, their struggles at the school go nowhere with no twists or character developments. Even the background characters appear shady for the sake of being weird despite never having their stories amount to anything of worth. Seriously, there was so little material here I can't believe they went ahead with trying to make a feature-length picture. Once more, I read a few bullshit reviews trying to make this film sound good. Amusing. Believe me, if you have the slightest comprehension of what constitutes a scare, you will not find any here.

Notable Moment: When the smart one manages to kill the entire school population. How the hell does one little girl with a knife slaughter like 50+ people?! Nobody could overpower her? No group of people could overpower her?

Final Rating: 4/10