Archive for genre films

Fathers Day (You don’t call a man a tree)

Posted in Horror Showcase, Updates with tags , , , , , , on June 16, 2012 by splatterpictures

My dad and I had this long standing joke when I was growing up. Anytime a movie would come on TV that would say: “Warning the following contains violence, course language and nudity viewer discretion is advised” We would look at each other and say; “Oh good it’s got everything a good movie should have” Well if your dad is anything like mine feel free to crank that shit to eleven with Tromas Fathers Day.

Being a Troma film I feel is its own explanation and if I was lazier I would have a one sentence review that describes it as such but for the uninitiated Troma is arguably the premier company making shock exploitation films. They not only make low budget B movies they embrace it to some sort of twisted art form. Of course Tromas biggest strength is the tongue and cheek self awareness of their own ridiculousness.

Fathers Day starts off with a bang as we watch a man get brutally hacked to pieces and then sexually assaulted, which I couldn’t help but notice a lot of parallels to recent news events. We’re treated to a short chase, when a stranger barges in on the killer that ends with a gunshot and the eye patched Ahab (Adam Brooks) declaring happy Fathers Day. It’s grindhouse cheese at its best.

The rest of the film is a frantic and off-beat story about a notorious fathers day killer named Chris Fuchman (I’m sure that was on purpose) who has a habit of raping and killing fathers. Why is it exclusively fathers? Who knows but that’s not important. After a long hiatus he’s back and they need Ahab to take him down. So a blind preacher sends his disciple  Father John Sullivan (Matthew Kennedy) to Ahab who has become a recluse at the end of the world, or what I would assume to be the mountains of Canada where he makes maple syrup. I mention the syrup because it seems to come up several times in the film.

A troubled teenaged male prostitute named Twink witnesses Fuchman kill his father and now is on the run seeking out help with Chelsea (Amy Groaning) Who just so happens to be Ahabs estranged sister. She’s a stripper (obviously) who has been following the Fuchman case for years and of course wants nothing to do with her brother. The group comes together to take down the psycho killer once and for all. If only it were as easy as just killing him though.

Fathers day is like watching a hyperactive child hopped up on pixie sticks tell you about their day. It’s fast and chaotic at times. Characters spew out their dialogue and then random stuff happens. It took me the first 20 minutes or so to get used to the pace but once I allowed myself to bow to the absurd I started liking it more and more.

The gritty close ups and grainy quality of the film go a long way in to giving it that old Grindhouse feel which is absolutely what they were going for. Also the inclusion of the bumpers before and after the credits along with the commercial break that advertise a terrible looking sci-fi Star Raiders really made me feel like I was sitting at home watching this on a random station at 2 AM wondering why I was still up.

I’d say the standout in this movie once you get past the gore is the comedy. The laughs are unpredictable and are somewhat muted at times. What I mean is you’re dealing with a narrative where all of the characters are taking themselves as seriously as possible and then bust out into some hilarious dialogue or sight gag. It’s a slow burn but by the end of the movie I found myself laughing more than I was cringing at some of the violence and holy hell there is violence. I could have gone my whole life without watching somebody cut their penis lengthwise with a knife but, yeah.

The violence is extreme, but effective and really breaks up the comedy. Which works there is something enjoyable to me about watching something that I can’t decide is funny or offensive.

Fans of Troma films that haven’t seen this one yet are doing themselves a disservice. It’s a non-stop exploitation comedy that isn’t afraid to be as outrageous as possible. Truly, Fathers Day is Troma at its best. That being said anybody who generally dislikes B movies or is offended by: Graphic violence, graphic sex, necrophilia, incest, rape, mutilation, blasphemy, maple syrup and more incest would do well to avoid it. In other words; Viewer discretion is advised.

Vrmmm Vrmmm VRMMMMM

Crawler (50 Tonnes of TERROR)

Posted in Updates with tags , , , , , , , on June 8, 2012 by splatterpictures

One of the best things about Indie horror is the free range a lot of the filmmakers have to create movies around concepts that would make mainstream movie-goers scratch their heads. I don’t mean mainstream as a derogatory term at all but more to draw a distinction between the kind of person who hears “Bulldozer that kills people” and doesn’t roll their eyes. Well okay maybe most people still do. Crazy or not that is the plot of Crawler.

Crawler was released in 2009 and directed and written by Sv Bell. Robbie Ribspreader ( I guess that’s his real name?) also contributed with writing It was produces by Blackflag Pictures. The film stars Deke Richard, Heidi Hawkins and Keir Cutler.

Now when I say it’s about a bulldozer that kills people I’m not being entirely accurate because the thing in question isn’t actually a bulldozer at all but a “glamour djin” which is apparently an evil entity that has the ability to “look like something else” apparently for the last few decades it’s taken the form of a piece of construction equipment.

The film starts off with a guy coming in to rent a bulldozer for a construction job that needs to be done but sadly he was a day late so the dozer he was going to get had already been rented out. This is the kind of situation that dooms the lives of characters in horror movies. Sure enough after enough begging the construction worker convinces a clerk to rent him out this mysterious bulldozer that had a tarp on it that says not to rent it ever. People never read tarps.

Enter our hero Jimmy (Richards) who is the sites foreman, he has a troubled past and looking to do right. It looks like his past is catching up to him though because somebody deeply affected by that past mistake Karl (Cutler) is also on site. The two seem to share an uneasy truce until people start going missing. Eventually all hell breaks when the bulldozer starts picking off victims through various means and Karl seems to be completely under the bloodthirsty equipments power.

So whether this bulldozer is a demon or an alien or some thing from another dimension is never really specified but its pretty evil. The film itself shares a lot of elements of Stephen Kings Christine, you know the story about the car that kills people. This movie has that in common but the dozer itself has all kinds of creepy living components, like mouth tentacles that reminded me of Tremors, and probably the grossest ability which is to infect others with some sort of painful virus.

Cutler is really good in his role and was easily my favourite character in the film. He becomes obsessed with the bulldozer and worships it like some sort of dark god. The addition of his character goes a long way to putting some kind of face on the enemy who could at least communicate with other characters.

The special effects on this movie are well done. I really enjoyed all of the practical effects that were used, from the tendrils to the bulldozer itself. Plus the slow infection of one of the construction workers were fantastically disgusting once you got to the final shot of him bloated and spewing out black sludge.

I’d say the problems with the movie come from the plot itself. I know the premise is weird enough on its own but I thought a little more explaination on a few things would have helped. For example, they never really explain why the dozer was “sleeping”. It was just sitting there in the rental lot with a tarp over it. As soon as the tarp comes off it starts killing people and goes to the jobsite itself? How did the bulldozer know where to go? Another thing was that the entity or whatever it was seemed to random powers. Like it could infect people, take over their minds, project images into their heads, reanimate the dead and shoot lighting. Of course it also had all the benefits of being a giant bulldozer with mouth tendrils.Although, now that I think about it I really shouldn’t waste too much time trying to pick apart the plot holes in a movie about a killer bulldozer

It was interesting how serious the movie took itself. I don’t mind that really because honestly this wave of self aware horror really is getting old. It’s almost as if you can’t make a cheesy movie without making sure you’re winking to the audience every five minutes.

As I said before the best thing Independent horror has to offer audiences are more “out there” concepts. I don’t think a day goes by that I don’t get into a conversation with people about how much they dislike all the remakes, prequels and sequels that Hollywood churns out. Some people go so far as to say that creativity doesn’t exist in cinema. My flat response to that is that maybe you’re just watching the wrong movies. Sv Bell and Blackflag Pictures have made something that blends a lot of horror elements together and did it well and is a worthy addition to the growing genre of “things that randomly kill people”. Crawler is a hell of an entertaining ride that you should check out.

A Little Bit Zombie (Who brings hooker boots to a weekend at the cottage?)

Posted in Horror Showcase, Updates with tags , , , , , , , on May 24, 2012 by splatterpictures

Horror and comedy is a tricky formula to get right, many times there can be too much of one and not enough of the other. Recently I was able to check out the Ottawa premier of A Little Bit Zombie, a slickly written and well produced little-big Indie-horror, home grown (well my home) in Canada.

The film was directed by Thunder Bay, ON native Casey Walker, and brought to us by Cave Panting Pictures and the producers list is as long as my arm because the film was crowd funded which explained to me how it looks so good and managed to snag fantastic actors.

The story is about a soon-to-be-married couple named Steve (Kristopher Turner) and Tina (Crystal Lowe) Tina is the typical perky but overbearing control freak that is dreaming of the perfect wedding while Steve is the mild mannered HR representative that is just looking forward to a quiet and stable life. They head on up to a weekend vacation at the cottage with Steve’s sister (Kristen Hager) and her husband Craig (played by a very buff looking Shawn Roberts). Unknown to the foursome is that a short distance away two professional Zombie hunters, Max and Penelope (Stephen McHattie and Emilie Ullerup respectively), are taking down a small outbreak while one of the undead are bitten by a mosquito. The insect becomes infected and makes its way to the cottage that everyone is vacationing at.

Steve gets bitten by said insect and slowly starts to become infected. He retains his memories and personality, but starts to grow pale and lose the feeling in his body. Of course there is the unfortunate fact that he is unable to eat anything without projectile vomiting. With the hunters hot on his trail and his wedding just a week away, Steve and his family try to cope with the reality that in order to stay sane he’ll have to consume the brains of living humans.

The writing in this film is fantastic. Dialogue comes at you fast with several jokes firing off at once with a lot of added physical comedy. All of the actors play their parts well and it was a special treat to watch Stephen McHattie play out the grizzled zombie killer. Crystal Lowe also steals every scene she’s in as the bride to be trying to do right by her man. There is a scene where she tasers a potential victim and cheerfully remarks on how cute her pink stun gun which had me laughing pretty hard, but the best line comes out of Shawn Roberts: “Who brings hooker boots to a weekend at the cottage?”

I would say that on the horror versus comedy scale it’s leaning far more into the comedy area than anything else. The horror elements are there and, as a director, Casey Walker’s influences can be seen quite obviously (especially Evil Dead), but for the most part I would say the horror is pretty tame with nothing more or less grotesque than some of the mainstream comedies out these days. There are some great special effects though, and all in all, it was decent but I could have done with a bigger body count or a few more scenes with zombies.

A few story elements I found somewhat confusing. One of the hunters, for example, uses a seemingly magical orb to locate the undead but as far as I remember they don’t really go into any detail about where they got it or how it works. Emilie Ullerup’s character Penelope also seems to believe that Steve is somebody who could eventually find a cure for the zombie plague since he can resist the effects somewhat, yet they never really explain how he is able to. Also I couldn’t help notice that the plot had similar elements to that 90’s comedy My Boyfriends Back which was essentially about a fun-loving but zombie afflicted teenager who still retained his mental capacity. Now that I think about it, I might be the only one who remembers that dumb movie.

Walker said before his film started that this was his love letter to the Zombie genre and it’s apparent that he is a lover of the genre, but I would have to say this works far more as a comedy than it does a horror. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but it does go to show how precarious a balancing act horror-comedies are. Without the solid group of actors carrying this film it would have probably ended up being fairly forgettable with too much comedy and not enough gore.  I say check it out when it hits DVD shelves this August

“So, what is that exactly?” “Zombie tracker-orb-thing-plot device. Don’t question it!”

Macabre (Do you feel it?)

Posted in Horror Showcase, Updates with tags , , , , , , , on April 25, 2012 by splatterpictures

There is something about foreign horror that always seems to make me gravitate towards it in the store. Today was no exception as my eyes caught Macabre sitting there among countless other DVDs. I had never heard of it before but the box said it all. A creepy woman looking out at me with a fork in her hand, skewered on the utensil was a severed finger and the tag line “evil has a mother” We’re off to a good start. Macabre is the first horror film I’ve ever watched from Indonesia and I had no idea what to expect but sometimes it pays to take a risk.

Macabre or as it’s known in Indonesia “Rumah Dara” was released in 2010 by Gorylah Pictures and directed by the Mo brothers. The film stars Shareefa Daanish and Julie Estelle.

The premise is something that is familiar in the most basic sense, a group of young people are packed in a car to see off a married couple Adjie and Astrid who moving to Australia. Along the way they visit Adji’s sister Ladya (Julie Estelle) who they convince to come aswell. While on the road they run in to a strange girl named Maya who tells them she has been robbed and needs a lift home. They agree and she leads them to an isolated villa in the middle of nowhere. When they arrive Maya introduces her to her family. Head of the household is her mother Dara (Shareefa Daanish) a strange and ethereal woman.

The group decide they’ll stay for dinner but find out too late that their food was drugged, they all pass out and when they awake Dara and her family’s true intentions become clear. The group is to be harvested for meat because they believe that cannibalism holds the secret to immortality. Are they just a bunch of crazies or is this more than just a deranged cult?

Movies that have the theme of a cannibalistic family, cult or whatever in the middle of nowhere is something that I have a love hate relationship with.  On the one hand I try to watch as many of them as I can but on the other hand films like this end up being horror that I watch once and then am done with. Macabre on the other hand is something that I can’t wait to sit and watch again.

This film starts off quickly and becomes relentless in its brutality. When characters are fighting for survival they are fighting back hard. Fights are gritty, gruelling and nobody just stays down with one hit. I honestly kept wondering how some of these characters could still be alive after some of the punishment they take. This is amplified by the special effects and tight editing. If you’re a gore-hound, this movie has enough blood to satisfy your urges. By the end of the movie the entire house seems washed in crimson.

One of the films highlights is easily the Chainsaw versus sword fight. Both Ladya and Dara are soaked in blood with body parts and gore everywhere. Or another beautifully cringe educing scene involves the heel of a shoe and that’s all I’ll say.

Even though this film doesn’t hold back at all in terms of what it’s willing to show I didn’t feel at any point that it was too much, even though this film has been reportedly banned in certain countries. Then again I’m not exactly sure what I would consider “too much”. Scene where somebody is for example dismembered with a chainsaw is actually handled rather artistically. Yes I did just say that.

Daanish steals ever scene she’s in. Her character of Dara is hauntingly creepy as a mother who is obsessed with strength and the idea of living forever. She is subtle and restrained until the final moments and then she just lets loose and when she does it’s so damn effective.

I can’t praise this film enough. It’s honestly one of the best horror movies I’ve seen in a long time and hands down my favourite in the sub-genre of “Cannibal family” horror. Do yourself a favour and watch it now.