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Thursday, January 31, 2013

Tweet Tweet Tweeting...

As many of you know- I do a lot of tweeting.  Wednesday nights, I tweet along to horror movies as part of "What Movie Wednesday."  You probably also know that Thursday nights, I can be found @camethebasement tweeting along to Jay and Shawn's radio show.  Well, I'm going to be doing a lot more tweeting starting this Friday.


Because this Friday will mark the first of a new Twitter series that sees me tweeting along to NON-Horror movies over in The Basement.  That's right- Jay and Shawn have agreed to let me invade their Twitter profile so that I can ramble, rant, and even mock along to all sorts of movies.

So, follow along with me tonight as I tweet along to the "We Came From the Basement" radio show from 10:00 pm - 11:00 (PST).  You can listen to them on 92.5 CFBX on your FM dial- or you can listen via the internet at www.thex.ca!  Then join me tomorrow night starting at 7:00 pm (PST) on their Twitter account as I pop this week's movie, "Dirty Harry" (1971) into the machine and  bring my "mad Twitter skillz" to bear on it!

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Call of Duty: Black Ops 2 (X-Box)

Unless you're a gamer, you may be looking at the title of this review, and wondering what this particular game has got to do with horror.  Well, it has a horror related feature called, Zombies...

"Call of Duty: Black Ops 2" has three main modes to it- Campaign, Multiplayer, and Zombies.  While I thought Campaign mode was fun, and really enjoy playing the Multiplayer mode with my nephew and niece, it's the Zombie mode that I'm going to discuss.

Within Zombie mode, you have three types of games you can play- Tranzit, Grief, and Survival.  This variety helps to give the game some measure of replay value.  All three game types are well done.

In Tranzit (available on the bus stop map only), you work your way through the maps by riding an automated bus.  At each stop you can build equipment to help open doors, act as a shield, etc while buying new weapons and killing zombies.  I haven't been able to "finish" this game type yet, so I'm not sure if there's an end game objective... or you just keep going to see how long you can survive.  This is a Dr Manhattan type fellow that shows up, so they may be the end boss... maybe.  This game mode is best enjoyed as a four person group.

In Grief, you're either on the Centre for Disease Control team, or the Central Intellegence Agency team.  The  object is to be the last team standing.  I prefer being CIA because the black suits look cooler than the hazmat outfits the CDC wear.  You can wound member of the other team with grenades, but you can't kill them outright- and you can revive members of your own team if they go down.

Survival puts everyone on the same team (CDC), and has a very simple objective- survive as long as possible.  You can wound other players or revive them.  I kinda wish you could choose to have the hazmat suit or the black suits.

All three game types start of slow and easy, but get increasingly harder with each new wave of zombies.  Game play can get pretty intense and chaotic- which just makes the game all the more fun to play.  The weapons are varied, with some being more effective at later levels than others.  My favorite weapons to use are the Light Machine Gun, the Rocket Launcher, and the Ray Gun.  The "magic" bonuses, like Max Ammo, and Insta-Kill are nice to have, and help to balance things out well.  The idea of the weapons box is a great idea too, and offers more weapons to use.  It was annoying when I got a pistol three times in a row.  I also really liked the idea of the teddy bear item in the box that caused the box to teleport to another location on the map.  When if first happens, some interesting moments of panic can occur.

The music added a slightly surreal and humorous touch to the game.  There's nothing like killing a charging hoard of zombies to the sounds of country music.  In Tranzit, the quotes that the four characters would randomly say were pretty funny, and helped to lighten some of the more intense moments.  One of my favorite quotes was, "I need ammo- and cheese!".

It wouldn't be a proper game review if I didn't discuss the graphics.  Just marvelous.  It's kinda cool at times to just stand and watch the shambling undead shuffle forward before they stepped into a fire and continued forward while on fire.  Their glowing blue eyes, the crawling zombies, the hand walking zombies looked great.  The maps look awesome too- especially the farm one with the hazy fog, the textures on the walls, etc.  Just a great looking game... especially on a big screen TV.

I would definately recommend playing the Zombies mode with friends.  I'm placing "Call of Duty: Black Ops 2" in The Good.

Monday, January 28, 2013

The Bat (1959)

As I was watching "The Bat" (1926) last wednesday, I decided that I would also watch the 1959 remake starring Vincent Price and Agnes Moorehead.  I wanted to compare how it would translate from a silent film to one with sound...

While renting a mansion belonging to a small town's bank manager, mystery writer Cornelia Van Gorder finds herself the target of a mysterious killer called, The Bat.  He's seeking a million dollars in stolen bank money... money he believes is hidden in the mansion...

This film is notable for three of its stars: Vincent Price, Agnes Moorehead (Endora on the TV series "Bewitched"), and Darla Hood (from The Little Rascal films).   This movie marked Hood's last appearance in a movie.

The story doesn't deviate too much from the original 1926 film, but there are some rather drastic changes in regards to characters.  Cornelia's maid is a lot more level headed than in the silent film; the niece is now just a friend, and the butler is no longer Japanese, and has a bit of backstory.  The backstory of some of the characters are explored a bit as well- the scene between the bank manager and the doctor at the cabin was a great example of this.  The costume for The Bat is changed too- but is still cool in my opinion- and fitting for the period.

I have to say that I did like the characters in this version more than I did in the 1926 film.  They aren't as cookie cutter in nature- there's a bit more depth to them, and they were more interesting to me.  I only wished that Cornelia's character had been as cucumber cool as the 1926's Aunt was.  She was still quite engaging though.  While the bank clerk's fiancee was a little bland, the rest of the characters made up for it.

The acting was quite enjoyable.  Vincent Price as the doctor was great.  He was both charming and sinister at the same time.  He really made the character fun to watch.  I also feel that Agnes Moorehead as Cornelia was brilliant as well.    The others did well in their roles, but nothing that stands out in my mind, though it took a lot of skill on the part of the actor playing The Bat to do so without dialogue.

The camera work is fairly standard, though there are some decent shots that I really feel would make great stills and artwork.

As with "The Bat" (1926), I would recommend this to my friends for a viewing, but most likely wouldn't pick it off the shelf just because.  "The Bat" (1959) is going into The Bad.

The Bat (1926)

This past "What Movie Wednesday" saw the first time that a silent film was chosen for me to watch and tweet along to...

While staying at the mansion of the local bank manager, a group of people are searching for the money that had been recently stolen from the bank.  Soon, their lives are at stake as well as The Bat searches for the hidden loot... and kills anyone who gets in their way...

"The Bat" was originally based on a hit Broadway play written by Mary Roberts Rinehart and Avery Hopwood.  Until recently, this silent film was thought to have been a lost film- as are many films from the silent era of cinema.  Roland West went on to remake this film in 1930 as "The Bat Whispers"- which Bob Kane credited as the inspiration for the creation of Batman.

I always enjoy the opportunity to watch silent films.  Some are masterpieces of cinematic magic and creativity, while others are interesting as a reminder of how far we have come in regards to what can be done on the big screen.  "The Bat" falls into the latter in my opinion.

The story is interesting, and well crafted- enough so that I actually wanted to figure out which of the characters was actually The Bat.  It takes skill to tell a story without sound effects, and with a minimum of title cards with dialogue on them.  This film did a great job of that.

The characters aren't too bad, but none really stood out as noteworthy... other than The Bat himself.  They are rather typical characters you'd find in a suspense film with a couple of comedic characters thrown in.  If it wasn't for The Bat, this movie would've been filled with less than average characters.  It was the mystery of trying to figure out who the villain was that made the characters more interesting than they normally would've been.  Actually, there WAS one other character that I liked- the Aunt.  It takes a cool, badass woman to be able to knit calmly while people are being killed all around her... that appealed to me.

The acting is also fairly average and typical of the silent film era- exaggerated facial expressions and movements.  It really worked in the scenes with The Bat- especially with some of the camera work.  There are some excellent shots in this film, and great use of shadow and light.

The only problem I can see people having with "The Bat" is the fact that the 1930 remake led to the creation of Batman.  That knowledge brings some inadvertent comedy to the film- from the costume, the utility pouch, and even the precursor to the Bat Signal.  Of course, while it adds comedy to the film, it also adds historical interest to the movie as well.

Even though I enjoyed "The Bat," and would tell my friends to give it a watching, I'm not going to be inclined to watch it again on my own.  Because of that, I'm going to have to put it in The Bad.

Special Shout Out:

I'd like to thank everyone that voted in the January 23rd "What Movie Wednesday", and especially those that voted for "The Bat" (1926):

Jay (from "Film Reviews From the Basement")

Tanya Marie
Jessica Hewlett
Maria Esparza
Rene Hofman
Jason Walsh

The next "What Movie Wednesday" takes place 30 January, 2013!

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Portrait of a Killer: Jack the Ripper- Case Closed (Patricia Cornwell)

I have found over the years, that sometimes, reality can be more horrific than fiction.  This can truly be said of the Jack the Ripper killings...

Using forensic techniques, Patricia Cornwell (author of the Scarpetta series), pieces together a case regarding the true identity of the infamous Jack the Ripper...

"Portrait of a Killer" is an interesting piece of non-fiction writing.  The style is fairly easy to follow, though some areas are a bit murky to understand due to use of technical jargon.  Cornwell's writing also flows nicely  too- with her being able to make even the drier parts interesting and engaging.

I liked the fact that she goes to to out of the way places in search of evidence to support her case, and she does a credible job of it too.  Credible, but not altogether convincing.  While her presentation of the evidence is persuasive and skilled, there is still reasonable doubt as to whether or not her suspect was actually Jack the Ripper.

While of interest to Ripperologists (though most disagree with Cornwell's theory), and true crime readers, "Portrait of a Killer" isn't likely to convince you that a famous painter was also a sadistic serial killer.  I'm going to place this book in The Bad.

Monday, January 21, 2013

30 Nights of Paranormal Activity With the Devil Inside The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo (2012)

In addition to horror, I enjoy comedies.  When the two are combined, I'm usually quite interested in seeing the result.  Other times, I just wind up wanting to drink the memory away...

Shortly after moving into the house where her father killed several people (and a dog), Dana and her husband begin to experience supernatural events that will ultimately lead to a confrontation between the family and evil...

"30 Nights of Paranormal Activity With the Devil Inside the Girl With the Dragon Tattoo" is a parody of horror movies.  Unfortunately, I think the actual concept of a parody has been destroyed by the "Scary Movie" franchise.  It used to mean poking fun at movies, while still respecting the source material... and having a coherent, strong storyline and characters.  Now, it means sticking random vignettes based on popular films together in a sequence that kinda simulates a story.

The ACTUAL premise- as stated above could've provided a good starting point for horror or comedy- or a decent blend of both.  The storyline used is shoddy, slapdash, and idiotic.  many of the jokes are crude, simply not funny.  Any laughs that occur tend to be caused by disbelief in how stupid the joke is.

I didn't like any of the characters or acting.  At all.

Let's face it, I did not like this movie.  Period.  End of review.  "30 Nights of Paranormal Activity With the Devil Inside the Girl With the Dragon Tattoo" is condemned to sit and rot in The Ugly.

Underworld: Awakening (2012)

I remember watching the first "Underworld" movie with Jay (from "We Came From the Basement") several years ago, and being impressed by the action direction that it took the vampire and werewolf mythos.  I recently sat down to watch the FOURTH movie in the series to see if the ride would still be enjoyable...

After spending 12 years in a cryogenic freeze, Selene is freed by a mysterious person, and begins a quest to seek out her lover, Michael.  Soon, however, she winds up fighting to save the vampire race from a new species of werewolves...

The premise is very strong in my opinion, and was certainly strong enough to support the characters, and action scenes in this movie.  The subplot of the company trying to find a vaccine to cure the vampires and werewolves was interesting, as was the subplot involving Selene discovering her daughter, Eve.  These subplots wove together nicely with the main plot to create a cohesive and engaging whole.

I also liked the characters.  All of them are unique, well crafted, and developed nicely throughout the film.  The acting was quite good as well.

Where this movie really shines is the action scenes though, which are fast, furious, and energetic.  Since this movie is essentially an action film, there is more action than story development- but since this movie is intended to be simply an exciting ride, that's to be expected.  This movie is exciting and fun.

And gore?  The super-werewolf transformation scenes are cool (especially when one blows up shortly after), and there's a really good shot of a throat ripped out by a vampire near the end I liked.

I probably won't re-watch "Underworld: Awakening," and feel that the franchise is probably nearing the point where it "jumps the shark," I would recommend it to friends to see at least once for fun.  I'm putting it in The Bad.

Chernobyl Diaries (2012)

While I am known more for watching and reviewing "older" horror films (anything made before 2001), I do manage to catch the opportunity to watch more recent fare...

While visiting his brother in Russia, Chris and his friends decide to visit the abandoned town of Prypiat- near the site of the infamous Chernobyl nuclear meltdown.  Upon arrival, the group find themselves trapped in the radiation zone... trapped with something stalking them through the empty streets...

I had high hopes for this film, as the Writer/Producer Oren Peli also brought us the very well done low budget film, "Paranormal Activity".  While the film is quite good from a technical and visual aspect, it lacks something that the first "Paranormal Activity" had- a connection with the audience.

The premise was promising.  Take our characters and strand them in the middle of a radioactive city with something that is hunting and killing them one by one.  Unfortunately, beyond that, there isn't much of a story.  No real exploration of the characters, or the story behind the Chernobyl meltdown.  Those two elements would've helped to add a bit of depth to the characters and the storyline.

Because there isn't really much done to give the characters depth, I found it hard to connect to them emotionally, and feel anything when they got knocked off.  I found Chris to be whiny, as I did Zoe.  I found Michael to be boring, which was the same problem with Natalie.  I found Paul (Chris's brother) to be simply a douche bag.  I liked Amanda, but was disappointed that- like the other characters, she was developed properly.  Of the characters, the only one I really liked was the tour guide Yuri.  Him, I was sad to see die.  Beyond that, I was rather indifferent to the fate of the characters.

The acting was good, for the most part.  Jonathan Sadowski as Paul, Devin Kelley as Amanda, and Dimitri Diatchenko as Yuri, were quite good.  The remaining cast could be described as average for their characters.

The strength of this film is the camera work.  There are some beautiful shots throughout the whole movie.  The image at the top of this review for instance, reminded me of what the abandoned Tranquille Facility here in town looks like (it's supposed to be haunted no less), and helped to creep me out a bit.  The lighting is really well done and helps to create a good atmosphere, and brings tension to the scares.  Unfortunately, the scares are mostly of the "jump scare" variety that wears thin after awhile.

I would certainly suggest "Chernobyl Diaries" to friends for a watching, though I wouldn't re-watch it myself. I'm placing it in The Bad.

Night (2005)

These days, it's fairly simple- and cheap to make a movie.  All you really need is a camera, people to act in the movie, decent editing software for video and sound, and directing skill.  Often, it's acting or the directing skills that make the difference between a Good, Bad, or Ugly movie...

Detective Jimi Cannon's friend has stopped coming into work, and hanging out with him.  Jimi must find out why... and find a way to save his best friend from the seductive violence of the night...

I actually quite like the premise, since it provides a lot of potential for interesting character interaction, action, suspense, and gore.  The love triangle between Mike (Jimi's partner), Tonia, and Konatsu is an interesting subplot- and is fortunately, not done the same way as in the "Twilight" books.  This combined with the main plot of Jimi trying to save Mike from the vampires could've made for a really enjoyable and entertaining movie.

The characters are also a great basis for engaging dialogue and action.  All of the members of the vampire "family" were unique, but blended well into a neat family dynamic.  I was especially intrigued by Konatsu and Nathaniel, and would've loved to have learned more about them.  While I wasn't as interested in Mike, I did find Jimi to be a character that I could cheer for, and watch more movies about.  His name, Jimi Cannon, helped in my opinion.

The acting was a bit of a problem, sad to say.  Most of the actors were rather exaggerated and over the top, and it detracted a bit from the feel of the movie for me.  I will say though, that I did enjoy Shawn LeTang as Jimi and Kelly Weaver as Nathaniel.  Their acting was a bit more fluid and natural than the remaining cast, and made their characters more "real".

The main problem with "Night" is the camera work.  There are some decent shots that are used to set the scene, but for the rest of the film, the director relies too much on skewed angles and rapid, unnecessary cuts.  I was actually getting annoyed with the editing of this movie.  I was also quite disappointed by the warehouse set where a gang gets wiped out.  It consisted of ripped garbage bags hanging from the ceiling of a storage room, a couple of cardboard boxes, and green lighting.  There is also little in the way of blood until the final action sequence, where Jimi gets pretty much showered in vampire grue.

My final verdict hurts me, because I really DID like the premise and characters.  But due to overacting on the part of the cast, and the simply horrendous camera direction, I have to put a stake in this film's heart and bury it in The Ugly.

Special Shout Out:

I'd like to thank everyone that voted in the January 9th "What Movie Wednesday", and especially those that voted for "Night" (2005):

Leona Biron-Coulter
David Stewart
Jenny Deol
Ashley-Tony Burrows-Lawrence

The next "What Movie Wednesday" takes place 23 January, 2013!

Hands of Steel (1986)

One of the pitfalls of buying movie box sets (ie- ones with 50 movies in them), is that sometimes, not all of the movies are of the genre advertised on the box.  Such was the case with the second of the January 16th "What Movie Wednesday" winners, "Hands of Steel".

After attempting to assault the leader of an environmental movement, a drifter named Paco flees to the deserts of Arizona, and meets Linda.  Soon, the corporation that sent Paco after the environmentalist, is on his trail to silence.  Too bad for them, Paco is more than a mere human...

"Hands of Steel" is more sci-fi/action than horror... though the surprise ending does have a bit of a horror touch to it.  Generally, though, this movie is more or less a cheap knock off of the much better movie, "The Terminator."  I liked the idea of a killer cyborg attempting to break away from their programming to begin a new life, but I wondered why a practically indestructible cyborg would run away, rather than just going to his corporate masters and knocking them off.  That's what I would've done, to be honest.

The story also suffered from a lot of cliches as well.  The scene of Paco fixing his arm seemed too much like the scene where Arnold does it- right down to the same sort of construction of pistons, etc.  There's also the cliche of the big, burly enemy who gets defeated in an arm wrestling match showing up later to help the hero. Plus, there's the main villian killing off henchmen for failing to kill Paco.  It was a good premise smothered in too much cheese sauce.

The characters didn't exactly help much either.  Of the characters, the only one I liked was Linda- played by Janet Agren.  I just couldn't get behind the hero, Paco OR the villian.  They were just too... bland.

There were a couple of decent actors in this movie though.  The above mentioned Janet Argen as Linda, for instance.  She brought a toughness and wit to her character that I liked.  And while I thought the character of the villian was bland, I did like John Saxon's performance.  It was on par with his role as Nancy's dad in "A Nightmare on Elm Street" (1984).  I felt that Daniel Greene, as Paco tried too hard to be emotionless like Arnold's Terminator when the character actually required him to feel.  When he did express anguish at the thought of Linda being dead, he over acted before going right back to being emotionless and stiff.

The camera work isn't very innovative, and is fairly standard for action films from the 1980's.  While I did enjoy the action sequences (there's a fair number of them), they weren't as energetic as they could have been.

I wouldn't really recommend this to others, nor will I voluntarily re-watch "Hands of Steel", so I'm going to place it in The Ugly

Special Shout Out:

I want to thank everyone that voted in the January 16th "What Movie Wednesday", and especially those that voted for "Hands of Steel":

Leona Biron-Coulter
Matthew Little (from "The Wayward Tarheel")
Zoey Emily Onyx

The next "What Movie Wednesday" will take place on January 23, 2013.

Friday, January 18, 2013

Fangs of the Living Dead (1969)

I often think that my Facebook and Twitter followers eagerly await Wednesday, because they know that they'll have a chance to get me to sit through horrible movies... and they've chosen some horrid ones for me to watch over the past year or so.  Fortunately, sometimes, they manage to choose something decent for me to watch and tweet to...

Sylvia arrives at Castle Walbrooke to claim ownership of it, and her title as Countess Walbrooke.  The night of her arrival, the mysterious and sexy Blinka warns her that her Uncle, the Count, is after her.  Soon, Sylvia learns a dark secret about her family's past that may cost her her life...

As is often the case with horror movies, the premise is really quite good, and serves as a great starting point for the story.  "Fangs of the Living Dead" does a decent job of delivering an interesting storyline that actually kept me watching.  There is very little in the way of "fat" in this movie.  The few subplots actually fit and mesh well with the main storyline.  I wanted to know what was going to happen.

The majority of the characters were a bit of a weakness, unfortunately.  Sylvia was almost clueless about the the fact that her Uncle was telling her he was a member of the undead.  He even said that the undead relatives were in the room with her... next to her.  He did all but say, "I'm a vampire, you blonde ditz!".  I also found her a little shallow... hot, but shallow.  I was hoping she'd get nommed on.  I also found her fiance to be annoying- but mostly because his dialog was so stereotypically "heroic" in tone.  I liked the Count.  He had a nice touch of class and dignity to him.  His voice actually reminded me of Roddy McDowell- one of my favorite actors.  I also liked the fiance's friend, Max- because he was funny.  Finally, Blinka was just as interesting to me as the Count was... and bloody hot in her little black outfit.  I wanted her to be the female lead instead.

Of the actors, I would have to say that Cesar Benet (Max), Julian Ugarte (The Count), and Adriana Ambesi (Blinka) were the best.  They made their characters interesting, sex (especially in the case of Ambesi), and likable... while Anita Ekberg (Slyvia) and Gianni Medici (Piero the fiance) were somewhat average.  A great performance was given by Carlos Casaravilla- who played the village doctor Horbringer.  He was dignified, humorous, and engaging in the rather small role he played.

I want to digress momentarily to mention my favorite scene in the whole movie.  It involves Max and Blinka. Blinka walks into the room, and Max approaches her to hit on her.  Blinka states that she needs hot human blood, with Max saying she could have his.  When she asks if it's hot enough, he replies, "I'm Italian!"  Just as she's about to bit him, Max begins to laugh and says it tickles.  Blinka, surprised remarks that she IS a vampire.  Max's response?  "I love exotic women!"  That scene made me snort tea out of my nose, I laughed so hard.  Certainly one of my favorite scenes in a horror movie.

The camera work is fairly standard for the late 1960's, but still interesting.  For a vampire movie, the body count and blood quotient is pretty low- but I really didn't mind for some reason that I can't quite define.  Possibly, the movie had a certain charm to it that didn't require buckets of blood.

I'm quite glad that my readers chose "Fangs of the Living Dead" for me to watch during "What Movie Wednesday" this week.  Despite a couple of weak characters, I would watch this one again- and would certainly recommend it to others for at least a viewing... even if it's just for the Blinka/Max scene I described above.  This movie is going in The Good.

Special Shout Out:

Big thanks to everyone that took part in "What Movie Wednesday", especially those that voted for "Fangs of the Living Dead":

Jay (from "We Came From the Basement"
Jessica Hewlett

The next "What Movie Wednesday" will be 23 January 2013!

Monday, January 14, 2013

6 Degrees of Hell (2012)

Recently, I sat down with Jay (from "We Came From the Basement") to watch a film that they had been "pimping" pretty hard as part of their October 2012 "Month From Hell" special- a special that included an interview with Corey Feldman.  Yes, THAT Corey Feldman.  The film was "6 Degrees of Hell"...

After a brutal mass murder at a Halloween attraction called, "Hotel of Horror," Kyle Brenner- a paranormal investigator, arrives to get to the bottom of things...

I have to admit, I was really looking forward to seeing this movie- especially since I grew up in the 1980's watching many of the movies he'd been in.  Whether you like him or not, you have to admit that many of the roles he created were memorable, and many of the movies he was in are classics of the 1980's.

Which is why I'm sad to say I was a little disappointed watching this movie.

The premise was an excellent starting point in my opinion.  You've got a Halloween attraction that's supposed to be actually haunted.  You got the staff filling the attraction with items that are actually haunted.  You've got a staff member who has psychic abilities that kick things into action.  And you have a paranormal investigator trying to find out what happened.  That's great stuff in my mind.  It provides a very firm skeleton to hang the flesh and muscle of a story on.

The problem comes from the fact that the Screenwriter, Harrison Smith, and the Director, Joe Raffa tried to put TOO much into the movie.  There was a lot of jumping around with flashbacks between the different characters, and it all became jumbles.  I actually had to ask Jay what was going on.  Since the story is being recounted during an interview between the paranormal investigator and a cop, it would've made more sense to only show us what the cop knew about the events.

I really can't say too much about the characters because you don't really get to know them- especially with the confusion caused by the rather convoluted plot and over reliance on flashbacks regarding characters that aren't even directly involved in the story.  Brenner, played by Corey Feldman was interesting, but not developed much.

In general, the acting is what can be expected from most movies in the "low budget horror" realm: cheesy to average.  I did enjoy the "Hotel of Horror" performers- especially when things really kick off and they get to go to town on the patrons.  It was a cool idea to have the actual "Hotel of Horror" staff (which IS an actual Halloween attraction that is supposed to be haunted) I think.  While Faust Checho, who plays Police Chief John Hansen was a great actor, he did have a wonderfully creepy smile.  I also liked Corey Feldman's performance, but was quite disappointed that he wasn't in it very much.  You would think that using most of your budget for a big name star, you'd use him as much as you could, right?  Apparently not.

The best part of the movie is the last act- which takes place in the "Hotel of Horror", and involves the mass murder of the patrons.  The camera work was interesting and energetic.  When things started to get rolling, I was hoping to see some nice displays of blood and grue, considering the nature of the events that were taking place.  If you're a lover of the crimson liquid, you'll probably be unsatisfied.  I think the money they could've used for for grue went to pay for Corey Feldman.

I'm torn about which I would've wanted more.

"6 Degrees of Hell" left me wanting more of Corey Feldman's character (the ending leaves it open for a sequel centered on Brenner's investigation inside the "Hotel of Horror"- so there's hope for that), but left me ambivalent about whether watching a second movie would be worth the time.  While I wouldn't pull this movie randomly off the shelf to watch, I would sit down with friends and beer to watch it again.  I'm placing it in "The Bad" with hopes that a sequel would be more to my liking.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Zombie Bikers From Detroit (2001)

Over the years, it has been shown that with very little money, a skillful director can put together a high quality horror movie (John Carpenter's "Halloween", "The Blair Witch Project", and "Paranormal Activity" being a few of them).  So, when it comes to determining a movie's quality, budget is no longer a negative...

Ken and his mother have moved from Hell, Michigan to Grosse Pointe near Detroit.  Upon his arrival, he meets the lovely Courtney, and her jealous suitor Chad.  While Ken and Chad square off, an evil is growing within Detroit and slowly spreading towards Grosse Point... where Ken will meet his destiny...

This week's "What Movie Wednesday" winner was "Zombie Bikers From Detroit"- a low budget horror movie that feels like it was put together as a school project.  High School, or College... I can't really tell.

The premise- as stated in my little synopsis is interesting- as was the title.  Unfortunately, the reality of it was nowhere as interesting, exciting, or horrifying.  There were too many questions left hanging, and the logic behind WHY the events were happening in the first place was nowhere to be seen.  Why was a zombie army  rising up?  Why zombie bikers?  Why Detroit?  Why was Ken chosen for his role in the whole thing?  Why was this movie even made?

See, a lot of questions.

The characters weren't much of a help to this movie, either.  I couldn't stand the emo Ken.  I wasn't supposed to like Chad, or his two flunkies... but I didn't hate them enough to be happy when they become zombie fodder.  I just shrugged, and went, "Meh".  NOT a good thing.  I found the two cops annoying.  The only character I kinda liked was Courtney, Ken's love interest... but only because she had a nice chest on her.  Too bad, her chest wasn't enough to keep this movie afloat.

Some people would say that the low budget can be blamed for the rather poor quality of the movie.  Unfortunately, given the success of some very low budget movies ("Paranormal Activity" had a budget of only $15,000), and the high production values of them, you can't do that anymore.  That only leaves, bad scripting, bad characters, bad acting, and bad visual effects.

So far, "Zombie Bikers From Detroit" had bad scripting and bad characters.  Does it also have the remainder?


The acting was horrendous.  Seriously.  Tyrus Woodson pretty much just slouched and mumbled through his performance as Ken, while Bob Roth, Joshua Allan and Jeffrey Michael seemed to have learned their lines just before their scenes (or were reading from cue cards) as Chad, Scott and Fritz.  Gabrielle Gamache was too loud and mechanical as Officer Erin, but Dave Cunningham did well as Officer Larry.  Jillian Buckshaw (and her chest) as Courtney was decent enough, but still pretty awkward.  I found myself wishing that Peter Cushing as Van Helsing would leap from the bushes and stake the actors through the heart for their crimes against acting.

And the visuals.  Ugh... just ugh.  Rather plain and ordinary (and lazy) camera work sapped any excitement out of the scenes of "carnage" and drained all the horror out of the "scary" scenes.  The zombies looked more like lepers than the walking undead, and the grue was definately lacking- which is sad because there were a couple of decent opportunities to give viewers a real bloodfest.  The "jousting" scene was interesting- but lacked blood, and the bike tire castration had lots of blood spraying... but a boring shot.  The... "bike muffler enema" kill though... just made me shake my head.

If you're going to do a zombie movie, you can expect your audience to want to see blood and entrails... not a bike muffler sticking out of some guy's rectum with a small circle of blood on his tightie whities.  Seriously.

From beginning to end, "Zombie Bikers From Detroit" was just plain "Ugly".

Special Shout Out:

I want to thank everyone that took part in "What Movie Wednesday"- especially the following who voted for "Zombie Bikers From Detroit":

Jason Hewlett (from "We Came From the Basement")
Tanya Marie

Jason Wiggins

Matthew Little (from "The Wayward Tarheel"
)Zoey Emily Onyx

John Chance
David Stewart

"What Movie Wednesday" will occur again January 9th!

And don't forget to vote in the poll in the upper right corner of the page to help determine which movie gets chosen this month to be viewed during "Terrorpolooza 2013"!