Tuesday, December 21, 2010

FROZEN (2010) d. Adam Green

Reviewed by Simon Oakland

Adam Green can kiss my ass.

But seriously, the guy has some directing talent. I can't complain about the cinematography regarding either HATCHET or FROZEN. (Or even the acting.) It's his writing that sucks.

1) When the lights go out, you wouldn't seriously begin screaming at the top of your lungs?

2) Survival tip: the first thing I would do to keep warm is to pull my hat over my eyes and the collar of my shirt over my chin. But I guess we absolutely need to see these Hollywood starlets faces to relate to them, eh? By the same token, any normal person would have pulled their hand into their sleeve to keep it warm if they lost a glove.

3) When trying to crawl across a rope, don't just try to put all of your weight on your hands to shimmy across. Wrap your legs around as well.

4) When you're freezing to death, I don't care who you're with and I don't care who you are, your first natural survival instinct is to huddle together for warmth. After the first night the two principles are still a good two feet apart, nevermind not fucking themselves to death. Hell, the tv series TAXI had them beat on that front by about 32 years!!!

5) WOLVES???!!! Seriously, WTF? This is a tense enough situation as it is, and you STILL have to pull a species into the scenario that doesn't even exist in the environment you set the movie in? Now THAT is a sign of a shit scriptwriter!

Other than those 5 things, It's a pretty good movie. Three Stars.


Tuesday, August 24, 2010

IMPULSE (1984) d. Graham Baker

Reviewed by Tracy Hook

IMPULSE is a film that I just happened upon. Literally! It was a cheap find at a flea market for a buck. This is what I'm reduced to because the economy is in the crapper. Small distributing companies are going under and the ones that are in business can't afford to give the Saturday Fright Special staff free movies. We've been so desparte we've actually started renting movies again. But I'm so cheap I go to the flea markets and yard sales. Just this past Sunday I picked up a great copy of the complete series of CHiPS on Beta for only 25 cents. What a buy! But I digress. I should be talking about IMPULSE.

IMPULSE stars Meg Tilly as a young dancer, Jennifer, living in in the city with her surgeon boyfriend, Stuart, played by Tim Matheson (of Animal House fame). Jennifer receives a phone call from her mother, who starts ranting and screaming at her and then a shot is heard. Jennifer and Stuart rush to Jennifer's hometown where a recent earthquake has happened. The minute they enter the town things seem strange. People are rude, discourteous and down right selfish. Petty crime, irritable dispositions and having intercourse with your brother-in-law at a seedy honky tonk seem to be a day-to-day occurance in this jerkwater town. Everyone Jennifer and Stuart come into contact with seem to be on the defense. Things start to climax as the days pass and Stuart and Jennifer want to find answers.

IMPULSE looks like it is a romantic thriller on the VHS cover, but nothing could be further from the truth. The 9 1/2 WEEKS look-a-like cover was probably some suit's bright idea to get people renting this film. It's so misleading. The cover should have my favorite scene in the film: an old man pissing on Stuart's tires. But I digress again. IMPULSE is very similar to Romero's THE CRAZIES. A town consumes something and it poisons their mind and all inhibitions are gone. I won't give away what the town consumes in IMPULSE, that's part of the mystery in the film. There are some pretty intense moments in IMPULSE, but over all it's one of the videos you'll only want to watch once. Apparently, this film is on DVD, but I've already spent the buck, so who cares. If you got some spare change and some time to waste watch IMPULSE. Or just rent THE CRAZIES, the original or remake. Same thing.

Monday, April 12, 2010

PREY (1978) d. Norman J. Warren

Reviewed by
Tracy Hook

I'm always up for a British Horror film. THE SATANIC RITES OF DRACULA, TWINS OF EVIL and COUNTESS DRACULA are a few of my favorites. There's lots of tension and usually very little gore. PREY was much different than the films mentioned. It's a mix of Science Fiction and horror and lesbian porn. Usually lesbians in British horror films are also vampires, but Jessica (Glory Annen) and Josephine (Sally Faulkner) are the good old fashion kind: human. Jessica and Josephine are cut off from society living in a large house in the country where they witness a huge flash of light one evening. Jessica suspects that it is a UFO landing nearby, but Josephine thinks she's being ridiculous. The next morning the ladies take a walk and come upon an unexpected guest: a man by the name Anders Anderson skulking around the ladies house and generally looking disoriented, but little do they know a cat faced alien has taken over his body. Funloving Jessica invites him in and their lives are about to take an interesting turn Anders presence adds tension to Jessica and Josephine's already rocky relationship. Josephine is a man-hater who controls Jessica's every move. We're given the impression that Josephine spends most of her time in jealous rage. Anders stays with the ladies, much to Josephine's chagrin, and a love triangle starts to form. All this happens despite Ander's odd behavior. He's awkward, quiet, and vomits every time he eats Jessica's cooking. This makes him the worst house guest ever to be put on film. The situation worsens during a little party Jessica throws where Josephine tries to seduce Anders. Jessica steps in the room just in time to make Josephine remember that, oh yeah, she's a man-hating lesbian. It's all downhill from this point on, especially when we learn Josphine has a dark secret she's been hiding. Jessica discovers her secret and decides to run away with Anders, but will she live to even see the inside of Anders' car?
PREY was pretty entertaining and very humorous, but whether it was supposed to be or not is debatable. Josephine's non-stop comments about men are enough to make anyone bust a gut. Jessica's naive and chipper ways make her the character that the viewer can really sympathize with the most (plus she takes her top off about five times in the film, so you fellas will enjoy her too). Barry Stokes as Anders is brilliant as the robot-like alien. He tells the ladies he's never played a game, can't eat and we later learn that he can't even swim. In a drawn out rescue scene complete with tinny synth music, we see Anders just can't do shit. Except keep calm while Jessican and Josephine have a knock-down, drag out, slap-fest of a cat fight.
The last few scenes are depicted on the back of the DVD case which could mislead any movie-goer that the film has blood and guts in every scene, but in actuality the film can be a bit slow for some people's taste. Me, I like a good build-up and background story. A new indie film called HOUSE OF THE DEVIL uses this technique well, but it's also been criticized for it, too. So there's your warning. Watch PREY if you'd like.

Monday, January 25, 2010

NEITHER THE SEA NOR THE SAND (1972) d. Fred Burnley

Reviewed by
Tracy Hook

ENDLESS LOVE, ROMEO AND JULIET, and ZOMBIE are all stories of undying love. Love that transcends this life, wait a minute... ZOMBIE? NEITHER THE SEA NOR THE SAND is a love story with a zombie spin on it. What better way to prove your undying love by not dying? Well, that can get pretty gamey when your body dies, but your soul just won't leave. This is what Anna (portrayed by Susan Hampshire) finds out in this film. So break out the Vicks Vapor Rub to block the smell and enjoy this DVD.

Anna is on holiday in Jersey UK when she meets Hugh (Michael Petrovitch) who is a dashing young lighthouse keeper. The two quickly fall in love and a passionate love affair blooms. They run away together to Scotland for a romantic getaway and then Hugh dies suddenly. (I won't give away what happens. I try not to spoil the movie surprises for you all). Anna is in shock and nearly has a nervous breakdown when a local doctor declares him dead. Anna is clearly devastated. She wants Hugh back with all of her heart and soul. Hugh does come back, but he's not himself. He has very little energy, is confused and cannot talk. As time passes Hugh decomposes and Anna must make a choice between the land of the living and the land of the dead.

NEITHER THE SEA NOR THE SAND put a nice twist on the short story "The Monkey's Paw" that we all read in our 7th Grade English class. Wishes may come true with disasterous consequences. There's similar British film from Amicus in an anthology called TALES FROM THE CRYPT. It's much more gruesome than NEITHER THE SEA NOR THE SAND, which surprisingly had very little gore. The director could have gone all out with body parts flopping off at inconvienent moments, but alas, he was too much of a gentleman to conceive of such crude things. There's was no zombie chomping scenes either. So if you're a gore fan you might want to just watch CITY OF THE LIVING DEAD instead. Hugh is actually the cleanest zombie I've ever seen. The film relies more on atmosphere and tension for it's scare factor than on gross out gut ripping scenes.

The atmospheric setting of the Jersey shore is dark and windy in the film. It's mentioned that it's off season for the tourist town that Hugh resides in. There's plenty of scenes of ocean waves crashing and it seems a great part of the film takes place by the ocean. It's a great date movie for Valentine's Day so pick this up along with a bottle of Champale. NEITHER THE SEA NOR THE SAND would make a great triple feature with ENDLESS LOVE and LET SLEEPING CORPSES LIE. The latter is a little gorey, so maybe you should hold off if your date is one of those squeemish people. But on the other hand, your date might get so scared he/she might jump into your arms for comfort. Think of the possibilites.


Tuesday, January 19, 2010

SPRING OF LIFE (2000) d. Milan Cieslar

Reviewed by
Tracy Hook

Spring of Life is a surprisingly tasteful film released through Redemption. I'm using "tasteful" rather loosely and I usually do, because I have such low standards in cinema. I went into this film expecting very little, but I got a good return on this one. It's a film that I would definitely revisit again and I recommend it to anyone who's looking for a good story of forbidden love. Yes, a love story as a Redemption release, believe it or not.

Our story begins in the Sudetenland in 1939. As you students of history know, the Sudetenland is the much disputed area of Czechoslovakia that Hitler wanted so badly, because the inhabitatants were racially German. Hitler wanted a unified Germany and to unify the "Master Race". The main character, Gretka, is choosen by the Nazis, as a worthy example of the Aryan race. She is taken away from her family and sent to a spa. Or what she thinks is a spa and she later finds out the diabolical Nazi plan of Lebensborn, where racially pure chosen women will breed with racially pure SS soliders. This is all too much for a nice Catholic girl like Gretka and she later plans an escape. She also encounters the "spa's" resident hostage, Leo, who is Jewish.

Leo is punished when Gretka points him out as the reason she fell through the ice while on her way to the spa. She feels guilty and tries to stop the SS soilders from punishing him, but of course the ruthless Nazis have no mercy on him. Leo comes close to death after this treatment. Gretka nurses him back to health and in the process, she falls in love with him. Like Romeo and Juliet, it's a forbidden love that has a tragic ending.

I thought this would be a straight exploitation film, especially with the subject matter. I pictured sweaty blonde SS soilders heavy breathing all over Gretka. On the contrary, the characters, were all very polite considering the situation. There's even a scene, where one of the chosen women is chastized for having a dirty mind. When I viewed the included interview with author Michael Leapman, I found out why this was released under Redemption. It is an exploitation film in disguise. The Lebensborn Project was a little less aggressive than what is shown in the film. Leapman explains that the project was merely an encouragement of SS soilders to mate with racially pure women. Even if this meant out of wedlock or in an adulturous manner. The mothers then went to a hospital-like setting during their pregnancy and while the baby was waiting for adoption. There was none of the forced sex that Spring of Life would have the viewer think. But the truth is so boring!

Redemption has come along way with their presentation. In the past, the busty vampire mascot of Redemption would give the viewer some background on a film. Her information seemed pretty accurate, but her black contact lenses were a little distracting. By including the interview with Michael Leapman, this DVD went up a few notches on the class scale. It's very informative and worth watching after the feature.

I can't recommend this more. I really enjoy Czech films, like Jan Svankmajer's surrealist extravaganzas and a great film called Divided We Fall (2000). It would make a perfect double feature with Spring of Life. Coincidentally, both films were released in 2000. Pop open a pivo and enjoy. (Pivo is beer in Czech, in case you didn't know).