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Saturday, April 12, 2014

Zombie Ass: Toilet of the Dead (2011)

Most of us see a horror movie, like "The Grudge", or "The Ring", then learn it's a North American remake of a Japanese film.  And we think that the Japanese are pretty badass and awesome.  Then we see the Japanese version of a movie, like "Zombie Ass: Toilet of the Dead"... and then we're not sure what to think of them...

A group of friends are going camping in order to find Maki a tapeworm to help her stay skinny.  After swallowing a parasite found in a fish, the group are soon attacked by shambling people, and encounter Dr. Tanaka.  Soon, they discover the connection between Dr. Tanaka and the parasites...

Wow.

Just wow.

This is not a film to take seriously.

At all.

Poo covered zombies.  Butt loving parasites.  Farting.  Tentacle loving.  Farting.  Martial arts.  Farting.  Boobs.

Did I mention farting?

The premise is enough to make you scratch your head, and wonder how they pull it off.  The actual story will have you switching between awkward chuckling and face palming.  There is so much of the stereotypes that North American's poke fun at in this movie, it's hilarious in an almost embarrassing way.

I'm wracking my brains trying to come up with a way to analyse and describe "Zombie Ass: Toilet of the Dead"... but all I can say is this:

You will either love it, or hate it.

I was entertained, and certainly amused by it- I can't deny that.  Would I watch it again just because?  No, I wouldn't... but I'm also not afraid to display it in my collection... and would maybe be willing to watch it with a friend and a nice big bottle of sake.  I have to put it on the shelf with The Bad.

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Son of Ghostman (2013)

Sometimes, a movie comes along at just the right time, that not only entertains you, but reminds you WHY you do what you do.  For me, that movie was "Son of Ghostman"

Denny is unemployed, just got dumped, and is in danger of losing his house.  A chance drunken videotape, sends him on the road to a new life.  Unfortunately, he has to deal with an old rival, and the fact that he needs to keep his quest secret from the woman he's attracted to...

There have been times over the past few years, where I've wondered why I continue reviewing horror movies.  I have wondered if anyone would actually miss this blog... to the point where I've contemplated closing things down, and being... "normal".

Then I was approached by @SonOfGhostman on Twitter to view and review their movie.  I liked the trailer they sent first.  It intrigued me since it wasn't so much a horror film, as much as it dealt with some of the unsung icons of the industry- Horror Movie Show Hosts.

"Son of Ghostman" isn't a fancy film- but it is a smart one.  The story is on a more personal level- it's an ordinary person stepping into an extraordinary life... quite by accident.  I felt a real connection to the plot as a reviewer who WANTS to produce their own podcast and web series one day.  The humour is gentle, and natural, coming from the characters themselves, and the slightly silly situation they find themselves in.  The story doesn't slap you upside the head with it's message- though there is a scene just before the end where the moral is stated.  Up to the end, it seeps into you slowly.  I found myself smiling, laughing, and losing tract of the time as I watched it.

The characters are unique, interesting, engaging, likable, and relatable- even though the events taking around them would seem quite absurd to "normal" people.  I couldn't help but enjoy Denny's growth as a person over the course of the movie.  His relationships with his friend Carlo, brother, rival Rick, his ex, Claire and her nephew have echos that I think most people could feel in their own relationships.  Him, and all of the other characters are believable and bring a lot of charm and wit to the movie.

I'm going to have to say that the acting was pretty good in a subtly goofy way at times.  There is a nice balance of straight, and silly.  The actors worked off each other wonderfully- both visually, and character-wise.  You could really feel the chemistry between them- especially between Devin Ordoyne as Denny, and Angela Gulner as Claire.  The scene where they dance together was a wonderful example of this chemistry.  Marlon Correva as Carlo was charming, witty, and made you believe that Carlo and Denny had been close friends for years.  Zack- Claire's nephew, was played perfectly by Matthew Boehm.  He brought intellegence, and a nice sarcastic touch to the character.  I also want to give props to Kurt Edward Larson in the role of Rick, the rival.  I quite enjoyed his over the top acting in the "Count Dracool" persona, and the more snarky performance as Rick.

There are some wonderful pieces of camera work in this film, which highlights the potential that first time director Larson displays.  There are a nice variety of angles, movements, and lighting.  My personal favorite for use of lighting was the above mentioned scene where Denny and Claire dance.  I'm eager to see what else he does in the future, and interested to see his growth as a film maker.

Earlier, I mentioned that this film came at a time when I was wondering why I do this blog- and why I continue.  watching "Son of Ghostman" helped to solidify in my mind- and my heart why.  I do it because I love horror movies, and I want to share that passion with those around me.  I write about older horror movies especially because I want to keep their spirit behind them alive- and possibly get people to fall in love with them as well.  I do this because I wan to entertain people... and maybe even inspire them to do the same thing.

That just added a level of enjoyment to the movie on a very personal level for me.  But even without that aspect of things, I would still enjoy "Son of Ghostman," and recommend it to others.  If I owned it (which I hope to soon, actually), I would have absolutely no problem popping open a bag of cheesy poofs, curling up under my warm blankets, and watching it again.  I'm placing it solidly into The Good.

Saturday, April 5, 2014

The Woman in Black (2012)

Growing up, I was a fan of the classic "Hammer Horror" films like Christopher Lee's Dracula.  So, when I heard that Hammer was back in business a few years ago, I was excited and eager to see what they had to offer modern horror fans.  I am also a huge fan of the 1988 BBC release of "The Woman in Black".  When I heard that their first submission to the world's scrutiny was to be "The Woman in Black", I was even more excited to see what they would do...

Solicitor Arthur Kipps has been assigned the task of preparing Eel Marsh House for sale, and getting the recently deceased owner's papers organized and settled.  Upon arrival, however, Kipps soon realizes that something is wrong with the town and the isolated manor.  Digging deeper reveals a tragedy that still lingers and brings grief to those that stay there...

Right off the bat, I have to say that I was impressed.  The story is different enough from the 1988 version that it's fresh, interesting, and draws you in.  The writers explore different aspects of the original 1983 novel, while maintaining a nice, tightly crafted plot.  My only real issue was with the ending- it was a little more... "positive" than I would've liked.  Other than that one little quibble, the story telling was really quite good.

The characters are also really well done as well.  They all have a lot of depth and facets to them- even more so than the 1988 version.  This is certainly helped by the slightly more in depth examination of the characters done by the script.  None of the supporting characters are trivial.  They are all woven together to create a believable atmosphere of sorrow and fear that pulls you in, and makes you want to know more about what's happened to the town.

These characters wouldn't have been as believable if it weren't for the performers.  I know quite a few people were surprised and even incredulous when it was announced that Daniel Radcliffe was to be in it.  Personally, I was intrigued by the choice, and was interested in seeing what Radcliffe would bring to the character and the genre.  I wasn't disappointed.  He has such expressive eyes, and used them to great effect in this movie to show the depth of grief Kipps feels at the loss of his wife, and the wariness he feels at some of the strange things happening at Eel Marsh House.  He did a great job in this film.  Ciaran Hinds as Sam Daily (a local landowner that befriends Kipps), was great.  He brought an understated performance to the role that helped add to the mood and overall feel of the town's tragic history.  Just wonderful.  I also thought that Janet McTeer did an outstanding job in the role of Elizabeth- Sam's wife.  The scenes where she goes into a psychic trance are especially interesting and well done.  She brought both energy and sadness to her character in a wonderful mix.

"The Woman in Black" is a visually beautiful film as well.  The heavy use of greys and earth tones, the overcast lighting, the large imposing Eel House Manor, and the thick, encroaching wall of gnarled trees and grass surrounding it, really helped to bring weight and a feeling of gloom to the movie.  The camera work is a great blend of close ups, large scenic shots, and movement.  In a world of gratuitous CG elements in movies, I was impressed with how subtle, and little there were.  What CG was used was there to enhance the scene, rather than distract from it.  The movie let the characters, story, and action pull you in- which it did a great job of doing.

I have to say that "The Woman in Black" was a great return to the movies for Hammer, and a great non-Harry Potter vehicle for Daniel Radcliffe.  I was both pleased, and impressed by it.  It's a movie I would not only recommend, but one I've bought for my collection, and would have very little problem re-watching.  It's going into The Good!