Archive for the 'Foreign' Category

05
Apr
09

Dead Snow: The Next Great Zombie Film

The Next big thing in Undead Cinema.

The Next big thing in Undead Cinema.

For those of you who may not know, I have a serious love for anything involving the use of zombies or the undead.  From movies to video games to literature, I am fascinated by how versatile they are in any storytelling medium.  So imagine how excited I was when I first heard about a foreign zombie flick, taking place in the snowy mountains, that feature…(drum roll please)…Nazi Zombies.

Oh yes kids, it’s true.  And you know what is even better?  It is a superb horror flick.

Now, a little history.  There have been some exploitation style movies, back in the 60’s, 70’s and I think even up until the 80’s, that have tackled the idea of having undead nazi soldiers, but most were completely and utterly terrible.  I’m not talking “funny Ha-Ha get drunk with your friends and watch it” terrible.  I’m talking bad to the point of nausea.  For evidence of this, please see (read: download illegally for free) Zombie Lake. /End history lesson.

But enough wasted time establishing the immense uphill battle that Dead Snow faced, and let’s get on with the review.  The plot of Dead snow is a simple one, but simple doesn’t imply that it isn’t well utilized and perfectly solid.  Some 20 somethings are going on vacation, and decide to go up to a cabin in the snowy mountain woods.  The “old crazy story teller guy” warns them of some old wives tale about soldiers who died in these woods surrounding the cabin.  Of course, our 20 somethings, including a great “movie geek guy”, cast him off as a crazy local, and shortly there after, all hell breaks lose in the form, you guessed it, Nazi Zombies.

Fantastic make up on the Nazi Zombies

Fantastic make up on the Nazi Zombies

The magic of Dead Snow isn’t it’s plot though, it’s in the characters and the fantastically rewarding pace.  The group of friends aren’t typical zombie fodder, there isn’t a clear cut stereotypical “slut”, nor is there the guy who is hopelessly in love with a girl he can never get, and there isn’t a clear “dick” character, who is rude and crass but painfully funny and accurate in his social observations.  Instead, everyone character feels a bit more three-dimensional, they all seem to have a good, general sense of wit, and while they each have unique personality traits, like a knack for humor or a knowledge of movies, they come on as more than just TV sitcom characters who are helping to strengthen rigid stereotyping.  Also, characters evolve, something rarely seen in horror today.

The pace is the second most important piece to the Dead Snow puzzle.  From the opening scene, we are treated to classical music as a Jane Doe gets hunted down by our ruthless zombies at night.  This is a great way to introduce people to the movie antagonists without spoiling there appearance, and combining it with a classic misdirection “boo” scare makes it all the more fun.  There is no notion that in order to create good characters, that we the audience can relate to and invest in, we have to stare at them doing mundane things for 45 minutes.  Dead Snow introduces everyone quickly, letting you adapt to their personal behavior and traits on the fly, all the while keeping the tension high by inventing some new and resurrecting some old classic boo scares.  And when the well dries up on tension and suspense, the movie goes into absolute overdrive, providing the kind of kick ass orgy of violence only true horror can deliver.

Sometimes, you just gotta fight back the undead horde with garden tools.

Sometimes, you just gotta fight back the undead horde with garden tools.

The last thing I would like to touch on is the special effects.  Minimal CGI means that lots of fake blood, limbs, and intestines get strewn all over the place, and the choreographing of the fight scenes is so tight and visceral, that it really helps bring you into the struggle.  It’s a scrappy, survivor type of fighting, nothing fancy or cool about it.  It’s a nice contrast to the modern day practice  of ridiculously complicated and illogical battles between good and evil in horror movies, when instead you would just be reduced to dirty tactics and savagery in the case you were ever attacked by the undead.

So, in the interest of keeping this one short and sweet (just how I like my women) I will wrap this up by saying that Dead Snow has all the earmarks of the next big independent horror film, especially in the flooded sub-division of Zombie films.  It shows an intimate knowledge and respect of its’ ancestors, most notably Raimi and Romero, but it also comes packing a slew of original ideas, as well as innovative implementations of standard tricks of the horror movie trade.   It is  unpredictable, direct, funny, unapologetic, and wholly satisfying.

It is at this point in time where you should be googling your ass off trying to find this flick.

BRAINS!!!!!!!!!!

BRAINS!!!!!!!!!!

30
Mar
09

Vinyan (2009) – extreme boredom cinema

Vinyan

Vinyan

Having seen Vinyan getting rave reviews and full page spreads in Fangoria, I was quite eager to see it. It has even been billed as being the first of a new wave in ‘extreme cinema’.

A couple who lost their kid in a Tsunami think they see him in a video showing orphaned kids in Burma. The wife goes loopy and demands they travel to Burma looking for their son, this they do, spending a fortune on ‘guides’ who continually rip them off asking for more money.

What happens next? I’ve no idea. It took the film makers approximately 45mins to tell me, visually, what I’ve told you in two sentences. Thus, I gave up after the half way mark.

I could see the point of the initial 15-20mins where the couple see the video and she starts planning a vacation to hell on earth Burma, but was it really necessary to spend another 20mins seeing the couple going from place to place getting ripped off? Not in my opinion. The actors did a good job, solid acting, but the pacing is God awful.

I have a self made rule it’s called ‘the 30 minute rule’. That’s how long a film has to impress me. If, after about 25mins it shows promise, I’ll give it to the 40min mark. I broke my own rules to give Vinyan a chance, I should have killed it at the 30min mark. In my opinion Vinyan is the first in a new wave of extreme boredom cinema.

You know the old saying: if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. And Vinyan is no exception.

08
Mar
09

Japanese Spiderman – Episode 1 for streaming (and downloading)

You didn’t even know there was a Japanese Spiderman TV series? Shame on you! Well, okay, most people don’t know it, but there was indeed a Japanese Spiderman and, truth be told, it whooped the ass of the US TV series.

Produced by Toei Company in the late 1970s, the series follows the exploits of motorcycle racer turned super hero Takuya Yamashiro (not Peter Parker), as he slings and swings, battling the evil Iron Cross Army along the way.

Some Japanese Spidey goodness:

Japanese Spiderman - episode 1

Japanese Spiderman - episode 1

Not only does he kick ass, he has a mech too!

Not only does he kick ass, he has a mech too!

Anyway… head over to the Marvel site (below) to watch episode 1 in all it’s 70’s glory and with subtitles!

Source: http://www.marvel.com/news/moviestories.7114.Watch_Japanese_Spider-Man_on_Marvel

25
Jan
09

El Violador Infernal (aka: The Evil Rapist) – Mexican

El Violador Infernal

El Violador Infernal

Well, this is different. I haven’t seen a Mexican horror movie before.

The movie starts with a man, known only as ‘the cat’, being sent to the electric chair. I didn’t even know they used ol’ sparky in Mexico. Anyway, they fry him and, while he’s dead, he sees the image of a hot older chick in a see-through dress who says that she’s Satan and she’ll bring him back to life with all the money, and drugs, he could ever want. But he must contiue his raping/killing spree, but offer up the poor victims to Satan by carving ‘666’ on them.

So, with a new lease of life our ‘hero’ now has a fancy house and more ‘exotic herbs’ than you can shake a poo covered stick at.

Now, prior to his new lease of life the hot older chick Satan did set up some rules, and she was pretty explicit in explaining them. This is where I paused the movie to re-read the subtitles to make sure she was saying what I thought I read, and she did indeed say:

Wait a minute!

Wait a minute, 'rape every man...'?!!

I laughed and returned to watching the film. So now we see ‘the cat’ with his fancy house and snorting coke from a snuff box. He gets in his fancy car and drives off. Next we see him talking to quite possibly the most camp man on celluloid. This guy is more effeminate than the hot older chick Satan! ‘The cat’ babbles on a load of old nonsense before whipping out his… knife (you filthy minded people make me sick!) and stabbing the guy – nearly – to death. Then… well, pictures say more than words:

* I'm speechless at Mexican depravity *

* I'm speechless at Mexican depravity *

Eventually the cops show up and are so homophobic its laughable:

They're talking about the stabbed-raped-now-dead guys boyfriend.

They're talking about the stabbed-raped-now-dead guys boyfriend.

So after about three more stab-rape-kill events the cops twig to the fact that maybe ‘the cat’ is still alive. Somehow. Eventually ‘the cat’ goes on a bender of drink, drugs, and rape, but now we find out that he can shoot lasers from his eyes as he burns down a house. As he flees the house, high as a kite, good ol’ Satan appears and strips him of his powers. Why? Because:

[CRAP STORYLINE SPOILER ALERT]

… he failed to carve 666 on the last chick, so he’s a failure.

[/SPOILER ALERT]

And thus ends the (second) reign of ‘the cat’.

It’s an OK film up until he rapes the near dead gay guy. They could have at least flashed up a warning or something before he did it! I was having my dinner at the time. Bastards. Anyway, other than that, it’s quite a repetitive film of him picking up hookers masseurs and bumping them off. The only thing to stop sheer boredom of that repetitiveness is the cops trying to nail him, but even that isn’t very entertaining.

Would I watch another Mexican film? Yes, but only after reading a synopsis of it to see if it has any near-necro-gay-rape scenes!

El bastardos!

09
Jan
09

Internet Oddities January 2009

It may be a new year, but there is no shortage of viral lunacy circulating the Internet.  So, while we cook up some new original material behind the scenes, have a gander and kill some brain cells from this garbage, and I mean that in the most flattering way possible.


P.S. I also included some trailers for upcoming flicks I think we should have on our collective radar.




06
Jan
09

The Substitute 2007 (a.k.a. Vikaren)

This trite cover does nothing to convey the genuine charm of this film.

This trite cover does nothing to convey the genuine charm of this film.

First off, let me commend the fine job Ghost House Underground has done collecting and distributing indie horror films in their first year in existence.  So far, I’ve only seen Dance of the Dead and The Substitute, which makes up for 2 of the 8 total films released through Ghost House in 2008, but they have both been dynamite little films.  And even if they wind up being the only 2 good ones out of the bunch (8), it’s still an impressive batting average for a company in it’s rookie year.

Now, onto to the review.

What happens when you combine The Faculty, The Goonies, The Witches and Monster Squad?

If you answered ” a big pile of mish mash poo poo” I totally would’ve agreed with you.

The “young kids vs. a real “monster” their parents don’t believe is real” genre has been around for almost 30 years now, yet it really hasn’t had a shot in the arm in quite some time, and has been done both very well and very poorly in the past.  It has laid fairly dormant for a while.  That is until now.

Leave it to a writer/director from Denmark, Ole Bornedal to breathe new life into a genre that Americans pioneered.

Our story concerns a small 6th grade class that gets the best news a 6th grade class can hope for.  There main teacher has been struck ill, and they will be getting a substitute.  For those of us who remember school, you probably know how exciting this can be.  Little did the kids know however, that there new teacher isn’t some lenient push over they can run rampant over, but instead a woman of immense power and inhuman abilities, who seems to be not of this world.  While there is a little more to the story than simply the young class matching wits with the nefarious new teacher, I’ll leave the details and subplots for you to explore on your own viewing.

Paprika Steen, who plays Ulla, the new mysterious teacher, really steals the show here, alongside the rag-tag, but never annoying, class.  Her performance is a bit of a combination of Famke Janssen’s role in the Faculty, mixed in with The Terminator.  Robotic motions and piercing eyes combine with a forbidden sexy charm and aloofness to make her a villain your never really sure you want to hate, because the “mission” she is here to perform is actually fairly noble.  Her class, led by Carl (Jonas Wandschneider) are also impressive, each filling out roles like the bully, the computer genius (an obvious nod to Data from the Goonies complete with the nerdy specs) the pretty girls, and the love interest for Carl, and so on.

They teach rope bondage in Denmark in the 6th grade.  Awesome.

They teach rope bondage in Denmark in the 6th grade now a days. Awesome.

Aiding the the solid performances by the main and supporting cast, is Ole Bornedal’s competitent directing.  He never gets in his own way in the pacing department, and when he has to use CGI in order to create a specific effect, he always hides it well, meaning you’ll see no “effects” in broad daylight where you can easily spot, and the make fun of, the lower budget computer animations.  Along side this knowledge, he creates a great auditory mood and visual atmosphere, and while he could have used some colors other than black, grey, white and blue, the style of the film matches the tone and subject matter, while never becoming the main focus.  Something more horror film makers should note, just because a of a scene looks good (well lit and etc.) doesn’t mean it’s a good scene.

Ulla (Paprika Steen) says Stop! In the name of love.  You'll think that joke is hilarious once you see the movie.

Ulla (Paprika Steen) says Stop! In the name of love. You'll think that joke is hilarious once you see the movie.

My only complaint is a bit of an unexplained hiccup torwards the finale, by which no means ruins the film, but feels kinda like getting a rug burn from a classmate for no reason.  Other than that small, but completely noticeable wrinkle, the only hump to get over is how willing are you to watch an R-rated kids vs. monster movie with no gore to speak of, that is driven by clever cat and mouse games, unique takes on the war of wits, and easily loved characters.  The answer to that question should be a deafening yes.

Charm, heart, and originality can all be debated, considering that a film like this couldn’t possible exist without the its obvious predecessors, but I feel this gem has those intangible qualities in spades.  With every flick trying to be the next Saw, the next big souless “Boo Scare” hit, or the next big money remake, The Substitute quietly walks into the fray, sits down, and and nearly aces the test without having to cheat off the smarter students.

I told you the kids in the class were cool.

I told you the kids in the class were cool.

Don’t be shocked when this is remade in 2 years.  The picture above expresses my feelings towards that inevitability.

28
Dec
08

Alex’s Top 10 Movies of the Year!!!!!!

Greetings fellow Midnighters!!!!  Here is my video of my top ten films of the year.  Sorry it turned out to be much longer than I anticipated, but I had a lot to say.  DIG IN!

27
Dec
08

Tokyo Gore Police

Tokyo Gore Police

Tokyo Gore Police

Oh yes, it’s here!

Tokyo Gore Police!

If you’ve seen The Machine Girl, then it’s more of the same crazy gore-fest goodness.

The basic story is as thus: (from IMDb)

Set in a future-world vision of Tokyo where the police have been privatized and bitter self-mutilation is so casual that advertising is often specially geared to the “cutter” demographic, this is the story of samurai-sword-wielding Ruka and her mission to avenge her father’s assassination. Ruka is a cop from a squad who’s mission is to destroy homicidal mutant humans known as “engineers” possessing the ability to transform any injury to a weapon in and of itself.

Sound crazy? Kinda. But you’ve really got to see it to believe it.

Some parts of TGP remind me of Robocop. There are parts in the movie where it suddenly switches to a TV advert, one in particular (which I thought was hilarious in this day and emo-age) was for special cutter blades, where emo-kids could use these fancy blades to cut cool shapes in to themselves, all done in over the top TV ad style. Very funny.

Tokyo Gore Police - she's the radio control chick

Tokyo Gore Police - she's the Police radio controller chick

Other parts of the movie are just plain mad. We often cut to scenes where a woman with an old 1950’s style microphone announces, in her best radio voice, incidents that are occurring. I can only assume that she’s the radio controller for the Police!

In other scenes we see a maniac murdering a woman and stuffing her remains in to a cardboard box:

She's a boxer. Hah! Geddit?! I made a funny!

She's a boxer. Hah! Geddit?! I made a funny!

In a rather fetishistic scene we see odd looking mutants dance across a stage with a skin covered, still breathing, chair that pees on people! Behold:

It's a living, breathing, peeing chair!

It's a living, breathing, peeing chair!

But there is some inventive stuff here. When the engineers are making other people engineers, they hold an organic key to the persons skin and a little keyhole appears, they pop the key in and turn it and a part of the person just pops open, unlocked, for the engineer to stick the key in to. I’ve not seen that done before!

Crazy/gory/mutated scenes are ten a penny in this film, too many to capture for here, but TGP is definitely a beautiful film. It’s well lit (colourful), the effects are pretty much all latex (yay! No CGI!) and there is a story.

I’ll be honest with you people. I downloaded a DVD-rip of TGP with subs, but I’ll tell you: if this comes out on DVD as a Directors Cut I’ll be all over it like a rash. You mark my words!

Tokyo Gore Police… it’s your DUTY to watch it!

Behold, the trailer… bow before it’s greatness!

23
Dec
08

Lao Mao (1992) aka: The Cat

The Cat

Lao Mao, aka: The Cat

Lao Mao (aka: The Cat) is a Cantonese film which is completely and utterly bonkers.

It starts off with some guy writing. I’ve no idea what he’s writing as the subtitles don’t display anything until about ten minutes in to the film (helpful) so from what I can gather he’s telling us this tale (no pun intended) of how this little fat guy can’t get any sleep because of his neighbours upstairs always hammering stuff. The little guy reaches breaking point, storms upstairs and bangs on the neighbours door. An old guy opens the door slightly and apologises. Our little fat perv notices a beautiful younger woman inside the flat holding her pussy. Oh, sorry, holding her cat.

A few days later the old guy, and young chick, move out. The little fat guy goes to investigate, lo and behold the door just happens to be open, and he explores the place, see’s some nasty gore and calls the cops. Turns out it’s animal guts, and they all call him a dumbass.

It’s about now it goes a tad South of sanity. We see, what I assume to be a dead, tramp lying in the sewers with goo going into him, next thing he’s plodding through the sewer like Night of the Living Homeless.

Next in a museum we see the young womans pussy again, this time the sneaky feline is eyeing up a relic. It breaks open the glass case, inspects the relic then they get busted by a museum guard. But he’s taken out by some old guy who dives through the window thinking he’s a ninja. But then the zombie tramp appears and… well, quite frankly does bugger all but try to frighten them through a window.

Run away! It's the Zombie Tramp!!!!!

Run away! It's the Zombie Tramp!!!!!

But then the zombie tramp pulls out the Ace card: he turns into a big pile of spaghetti, flies in the window, eats some museum guards, and turns in to, what looks like, a giant mushroom type thing.

Next we find out that the girl and the cat are in fact aliens. No, seriously. One of the cops investigating this madness goes to a location, sneaks about, nearly gets caught so hides, the cat senses him and pounces on him (well, not the actual cat, it’s an extremely bad, stuffed, stunt double cat) the cop is about to pan it’s brains in with a chair but, through the window, comes the old I-think-I’m-a-ninja guy who knocks the cop out.

Then things get a bit saucy with the cop’s wife coming home in a tiny tennis outfit and covered in sweat. They watch a news bulletin talking about the museum stuff, and he’s off on the trail of the pesky moggy once more.

Gotta love the accurate subtitles...

Gotta love the accurate subtitles...

Cat hairs are found in the museum so with that clue (probably their only clue) they do what any other cop would do. Send it off for analysis? No, they visit some weird guy and ask him for a loan of a big huge dog.

A group of cops investigate a location and come face to face with the big pile of spaghetti and it kills most of them, taking over one guy. He gets some guns, becomes a one man army and is trying to get the girl and the cat. Meanwhile the big dog and the cat are having a big fight in some sort of junk yard. No idea why, but they are, and the cat leaves the dog for dead.

But fear not, the dog isn’t dead. He’s too big and strong for that death stuff.

After the possessed cop waging war on the good cop, his wife, the chick, the cat and the old ninja guy he turns in to a large wad of playdoh. Or that’s what it looked like to me. While the special effects up to this point were pretty crappy, it was here they hit an all time low and became, quite literally, claymation.

Just when I thought it couldn't get any worse...

Just when I thought it couldn't get any worse...

The alien cat dives in to the mouth of the claymation beast, blows it apart and, in short, they all get to live happily ever after.

I was not on any legal/illegal substances, and all of the above happened. I swear!

The film is utter rubbish, but it’s worth watching it just to be able to tell people about it, and watch their reactions…

21
Nov
08

Dead Set: A Reality TV Show Zombie Mini-Series

Big Brother is watching...you get eaten by Zombies!

Big Brother is watching...you get eaten by Zombies!

Dead Set is a thrilling mini-series that combines two of the most popular things going in TV and movies today, the reality TV show (in this case Big Brother) and zombies.  The style in which this 5 part story is told is similar to Danny Boyle’s 28 Days Later series, complete with shaky camera-work and ravenous, feral running zombies.  Personally, I have found the “28” series of zombie movies very underwhelming, and I also haven’t been too big a fan of the idea of  running zombies.  Dead Set, however similar to the aforementioned films it may be, sets itself apart, and is, as far as I can tell, a hidden gem of a horror genre, at least among American audiences.

Dead Set starts off showing the inner workings of reality television.  It’s sort of a nice behind the scenes look which I’m sure has been slightly exaggerated for dramatic effect, but still feels very genuine.  We are introduced to a gaggle of characters, some more important than others.  You’ll immediately begin playing the “Who’s gonna survive game” in your head, which is always a good thing, because it means the actors and the director have already made empathetic characters early on, which winds up being one of the main reasons this series had me in the clutches of suspense for almost 3 hours.

After we get a look at “Eviction Night”, where one of the house guests is sent home, no longer eligible for the prize that awaits the final contestant, we are plunged into a crisis happening right outside the studio, which is an apparent (and unexplained, a classy touch.  No need to always explain why there is zombies) zombie apocalypse.  Chaos ensues, and different sets of the relatively large cast get separated and wind up having to find ways of surviving in and around the studio.

Seeing as house this is a 5 part mini-series, I was slightly skeptical going in how the director and writers were gonna keep up the frenetic pace they started off with.  Fortunately, a combination of clever nods to classic zombie flicks, interesting scenarios and obstacles, and the rule of “anyone can die at any time” meant that I was fully engaged, and holding my hand over my mouth at the conclusion of each episode that always seemed to be a cliffhanger.

Special effects also helps elevate this to near legendary status, with a COMPLETE ABSENCE OF CGI (FUCK YES) and awesome practical gore such as this incredible exploding head.

BOOM! Headshot.

BOOM! Headshot.

There are other surprises as well, all of them really bloody and particularly brutal.  I won’t ruin them for you, but they rival some of the best kills I’ve ever seen in the genre and really stand out.  Make no mistake, just because this is “made for TV” doesn’t mean it wimps out on the hardcore stuff.   its R-Rated goodness should put smiles on the faces of even some hardened horror fans.

Solid, if not a little trendy, directing, good acting, and a storyline that doesn’t wear out it’s welcome while also exploring many possibilities a shorter, 90 minute zombie flick wouldn’t have time to touch on make Dead Set a solid recommendation for someone wanting zombie goodness, with a European flair.  For zombie fans, this is a must see.

Big Brother is watching, and so should you.

What a story she would have to tell in the diary room.

What a story she would have to tell in the diary room.