Friday, May 29, 2015
Tuesday, May 26, 2015
Plot wise, there's not a lot to get into. A group of guys are getting together to celebrate the life of a friend of theirs who has recently passed away. They hire a camera man to film the entire weekend, filled with drinking, fighting, and tales of debauchery involving their fallen mate. The plan is to give this footage to the guy's family...because that's what every young man's parents want to see. Things take a turn for the worse when they enter the woods though, and the guys end up on the run from a ruthless killer in a Pig Mask, probably.
I said probably there because this movie commits the cardinal slasher film sin of almost no screen time for our masked hero. Movie people, we come to these things for the killer. Plain and simple. If we don't get to see the killer, we won't be very happy with your work. I really, really wanted to like this movie. The cover art is sick, and as I said, a pig mask is just an awesome visual. Aside from a lack of presence from the killer, the other thing that bugged me about this movie is the constant flicker and skipping of the "tape". I get that this is supposed to be the footage found in a camera in the woods, but it was literally every 10-20 seconds. I hoped as time went on it would lighten up a bit and just play the movie, but it never did.
The kills themselves were the one bright point in the movie. They weren't inventive, they almost all happened off camera, and they weren't particularly brutal, still there was some decent practical gore, and when the rest of the movie is as disappointing as Pigman was, you'll be surprised at what you focus in on for positives. The cast was also not terrible, for this sort of microbudgeted production.
Don't let the fantastic cover art on this one fool you too. I want to believe The Pigman Murders had it's heart in the right place. It definitely had potential. I can't imagine it was all that difficult to throw a pig mask on a guy and have him run around in the woods with a knife, hell I would've done it if they'd called me, but for some reason this movie focuses far too much on the victims, and gives the killers an almost indicated presence. If you're a die hard slasher fan who has to see every single one that's ever been made, check this out for some ok gore and not much else. Everybody else, look elsewhere for your mask wielding maniacs.
Thursday, May 21, 2015
The plot is as simple as you can get, as is to be expected. Some company is drilling in a lake and accidentally comes across an underwater cave, unleashing a prehistoric Megalodon. That's right, an enormous prehistoric shark was living in a cave at the bottom of a lake. A couple of police officers getting into some extra curricular activities with some trashy looking ladies get eaten, an investigation ensues, more people get eaten. Then, from out of nowhere, the shark starts flying. Yes, flying. Through the air. Some sort of mad scientist comes into play, and a college professor (who has flashbacks to her sister dying in the same lake) has to put a stop to the Megalodon's reign of terror.
If the above paragraph didn't totally sell you on Raiders of the Lost Shark, then this movie simply isn't for you, and feel free to kindly move along. For those still with me, this movie is an absolute blast. It's awful, but in all the right ways. The acting is bad, but the script is written in a manner that the cast almost seems to be making fun of themselves before the viewer can. Case in point, the Captain that takes the professor and students out on the lake to search for the shark is obviously the "Quint" of the movie, but he also just so happens to have just a slight pirate accent to go along with his over the top performance. These movies are often of the make it or break it variety when it comes to the animal in question, and to be honest when I first put the disc in, I fully expected first person camera shots (ala Jaws) and maybe some stock nature footage from Shark Week cut into the movie. So you can imagine my surprise when a fully CGI shark leapt out of the water, growling, and snapped up another trashy young lady who was doing a photo shoot in the water. It wasn't a particularly good looking CGI shark, and they probably blew most of their budget on the two or three scenes where the CG was used, but it was there and that was something I never expected.
For killer animal purists, Raiders of the Lost Shark is probably a pass. It lacks the seriousness of even the typical SyFy fare, which itself is often not really serious. I wouldn't go so far as to call Raiders of the Lost Shark a spoof myself, but I can see where one could make that argument. If you have the ability to just sit back for an hour and some change, get some friends together, partake of some sort of mind altering substance, and just enjoy yourself though, there's a good time here. I dare anybody to watch the part were the shark just starts flying around for no discernible reason and not laugh. It simply is not possible.
Monday, May 18, 2015
The movie centers around a group of paranormal investigators who are just getting their start in the ghost hunting business. So far, they've had no luck in capturing any evidence, and their optimism is dwindling. When a night spent in one of the reputable haunted locations in their area turns up nothing yet again, it causes one member of the group to start verbally abusing the alleged spirit inhabiting the building. While at first, even this tactic appears to bear no result, it's not long before strange things begin to happen to his wife at their house. It looks like not only did he anger the spirit, but it followed him home.
American Poltergeist is as micro budget as micro budget movies get. I get the feeling to truly get anything out of this one you either need to have been involved in the making of it, or be friends with someone who was. At one point, when the ghost attacks, he's supposed to be choking the wife against the wall, and I swear the shadow "effect" was literally someone standing off camera in front of a large light, making a choking motion with his arms so it would look like some sort of shadow figure had it's hands around her neck. The acting is not a whole lot better either. Performances basically range from " I have no idea what I'm doing" to worse. I'd be surprised to see any of the actors and actresses in this movie in anything else ever again.
Still, there were some fairly cool points. When there actually were practical effects, they were decent. There's a good burn makeup toward the end, as well as a little girl apparition with her eyes missing and lips sewn shut, and they both looked good. The other thing I can praise American Poltergeist for that I can't a lot of others is that it doesn't overstay it's welcome. At just over an hour, at least there's not a ton of down time and useless dialog between the uninteresting characters. So there's some good, the problem is the good was just few and far between, and was heavily outweighed by the bad.
It's hard to recommend American Poltergeist, even though I think it's heart is in the right place. As with a lot of indie efforts, I feel like budget constraint was the main issue. That and it didn't do a whole lot to help itself stand out in a grossly saturated sub genre. With ghost hunting being so prevalent these days, there could have been a really cool movie here. Alas, it wasn't meant to be. If you're a die hard fan of these low budget haunt affairs (those people exist, right?), maybe give this one a look, but I can't imagine anyone being anything but disappointed with it.
Friday, May 15, 2015
I got a chance to see Zombeavers a while back, and had an absolute blast with it. It's a horror/comedy that brings both in spades. This is the kind of thing that some people will turn their noses up at immediately, and to those people I say lighten up. There's absolutely nothing wrong with turning your brain off for an hour and just enjoying yourselves.
When an auto accident sends a barrel of some toxic badness crashing into a lake near a beaver dam, it turns the normally docile furry little guys into rabid, flesh eating monsters who prey on a group of college kids who are spending the weekend at a cabin near by. With a film like Zombeavers, you basically learn everything you need to know from the title. It's obviously not meant to be taken seriously, and thankfully everyone involved seemed to understand that. While there are definitely horror elements, and a good amount of gore (although mostly of the beaver variety), the comedy aspect is the main focus, and it totally hits the mark.
There appeared to be a very tiny bit of CGI used for the effects, but I'd say probably close to 90% practical. Again, the zombie beavers all look pretty cool, but watching the way they move around and listening to the sounds they make is intentionally silly. There's a bit of a twist during the final act of the film that was also both hilarious and awesome at the same time, but no spoilers here. The cast all turn in fairly decent performances, they obviously knew exactly what they were getting into and what was going to be expected of them, and there were even a couple of great cameos.
When all was said and done, I thoroughly enjoyed Zombeavers both times I've watched it now. Horror snobs will likely not even give it the time of day, and I hesitate to say even fans of things like Sharknado and the typical SyFy fare may not be able to really get into it, as those movies tend to at least attempt to take themselves somewhat seriously for some unknown reason. If you're looking for an excuse to have a couple of beers and watch some college kids meet their demise at the big buck teeth of zombified beavers, and you fully understand how ridiculously hilarious that concept is, Zombeavers is a complete and total riot.
The bluray boasts a pretty large amount of extra content. There's a cast and crew commentary, a behind the scenes featurette, a deleted scene, cast auditions, a building a beaver featurette, man becomes monster featurette, storyboards, trailers, and more. While initially that amount of stuff was exciting, sadly most of the featurettes only last one to three minutes. I love the behind the scenes, building a beaver, and man becomes monster segments, but ultimately they only act as teasers leaving you wanting more. My favorite was a mock-interview between Stephen Merchant, Bill Burr, and John Mayer which was completely hilarious. It's hard to be disappointed with such a large amount of bonus content on a disc like Zombeavers. It may not all totally satisfy, but what's there is highly enjoyable.
Movie - 3/5
Disc - 3/5
Wednesday, May 6, 2015
PRIVATE NUMBERSynopsis: A series of sinister phone calls haunt an ex-alcoholic writer as he struggles to finish a novel. Efforts to trace the calls result in dead ends, leaving the author with no choice but to solve the mystery himself. As he pieces together scant information he discovers the local police are hiding details about a horrific serial killer. In his obsessive search for answers, he loses his grip on reality, and spirals downward into a maelstrom of violence and terror.
Running time: 97 minutes
Audio: English 5.1