Saturday, July 29, 2017

Kong: Skull Island

Director - Jordan Vogt-Roberts (Death Valley, Funny or Die Presents...)
Starring - Tom Hiddleston (Thor: The Dark World, The Avengers), Samuel L. Jackson (Pulp Fiction, Django Unchained), and Brie Larson (21 Jump Street, Scott Pilgrim vs. The World)
Release Date - 2017
Genre - Action/Adventure
Tagline - "All hail the king"
Format - Bluray (Personal Collection) (Screener)

Rating (out of 5):
     When I was in elementary and middle school I had to stay at my grandmother's while my dad was out of town.  She wasn't the type of person to watch day time soaps but she loved the evening news and the Sci-Fi Channel before it made the move to Sy-Fy.  I watched so many great shows and movies with her like Rosewell, Lexx, Star Trek, Stargate, and so on.  She absolutely loved that fucking channel.  One day the cable went out due to a car crash that took out the cable pole.  They estimated two or three days for her cable to come back so she went to her room and brought in a few VHS tapes covered in dust.  One of them just happened to be the King Kong remake starring Jeff Bridges.  It looked to be recorded from television but I remembered absolutely loving it.  When the movie finished we check the cable again and when it was still off she turned and pulled out another VHS copy of King Kong.  When I questioned her she said that this was the original King Kong.  After I watched it I was hooked.  We watched it twice that night and again the next day.  When Peter Jackson's King Kong was released I had to watch it in theaters.  While most of my friends hated it I fucking loved it.  I am proud to own the special edition DVD and bought it the day it came out.  When the new reboot was in theaters I had to watch it as well.  To date it is my favorite Kong aside from the original.  When the blu was released I requested a copy so I could review it.  Thanks for sending it my way!
     The film follows an explorer, a military outfit, and a group of scientists who venture to an unexplored island that is believed to be home to a monster responsible for destroying ships and other large craft.  However, what they find if a world full of magnificent beasts and monsters that have never been seen before and their guardian, Kong. 

     I love the character of Kong, for the most part.  Kong is a protector.  He protects his home lands and the creatures in it.  When threatened he becomes a monster only seen in nightmares.  Most films show two sides of Kong.  We get the loving and compassionate Kong that protects and then we get the deadly Kong whose destruction knows no end.  The only time this is really changed up is the Kong Kaiju films which has an entirely different mindset.  When I first went into Kong: Skull Island I hoped they would keep Kong the way I like him and for the most part they truly exceeded my expectations.  The acting in this one is fantastic.  We have a cast I was not expecting.  We have Loki himself, Tom Hiddleston, who plays an amazing reluctant hero.  I'm more and more impressed with Hiddleston every time I see him in a film.  Brie Larson is a very strong female lead.  She was more than capable of bringing her character to life resulting in a great performance.  I was also very impressed with the film's supporting cast.  When I think of Kong I never would have associated him with John C. Reilly and John Goodman.  Both delivered some very memorable characters especially Reilly.  He was the perfect comic relief.  The story for this one draws on some of the original Kong mythology and puts it in a more contemporary setting.  It does a great job at creating a bigger than life world around Kong and gives the viewer a world of wonder and adventure.  With that being said, I was not a fan of the creatures that Kong stands against fights.  We have this magical and lost world that was home to so many more possibilities.  The film does take liberties and adds quit a bit to bring it into the modern era.  The pacing is damn near perfect and we see a great deal of character development.  Finally, the film is a visual feast.  We get a ton of visual effects.  For the most part they all look fucking fantastic but there was several instances where the same eye for detail was not applied.  Also, the creatures I complained about earlier are not visually appealing.  I don't find them threatening which ruins it for me.  Overall, Kong: Skull Island is a fantastic film and great start to something much bigger.  Kong purists may not find entertainment here but to the Kong fan that is open minded it is a hard hitting film.  Check it out.

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Paint the Town Red

Director(s) - Christopher Andrew Graham (Home: A Love Story) and Ariel Hansen (Ready to Burst)
Starring - Ariel Hansen, Allison Klause (Same Boat), and Jesse Inocalla (Ghost Can)
Release Date - 2017
Genre - Horror
Format - Streaming (Online Screener)

Rating (out of 5):
     I've seen enough shorts over the last few years to know that they can be a tough thing to tackle.  Some filmmakers have a hard time making good use of the time they are given/determined for their flick while others set out to make a feature film only to fall short.  I've also seen feature length films take a story that has just enough meat on the bone to make a short 30 minutes or less but filled it with filler scenes just to meet the running time.  Shorts are an effective way to tell a story without trying the viewer's patience.  Not long ago I received an email in regards to a 5 minute short titled Paint the Town Red.  Some of you may be familiar with my post from a fear years ago about the comic crowd funding campaign titled the same thing about a Paris Hilton type character that gets bit by a one night stand and goes through luxurious neighborhood killing people.  I laughed when I received the email because it immediately made me think about the comic that failed to be.  I was curious to see how the short played out so I agreed to review it.  Thanks for allowing me the opportunity to see your short!
     The film follows two young women who received tickets to an exclusive nightclub.  They plan to drink their night away and do some dancing.  However, what they don't know is that this is not your typical night club and the patrons are not who you would find in a normal nightclub. 

     Paint the Town Red was exactly the short I was expecting and I really enjoyed it.  There was several things that really impressed by this horror shit but I am more impressed with the cast than anything.  The acting in this one is fantastic.  Ariel Hansen and Allison Klause are fucking fantastic leads.  They are as talented as they are gorgeous and let me tell you, they are gorgeous.  Their reactions feel genuine and they don't fumble through their dialogue.  The supporting cast is just as great.  They really got in their role and brought their characters to life.  The story for this one is very simple and effective.  It does share some similarities with the comic that never was but I'm fine with that because it is still great to watch the events unfold on screen.  It makes great use of its time and the writing is well done and thought out.  Finally, the film does have a few practical effects that did impress me and catch me off guard but, sadly, there is not enough.  You can't give horror fans a few good bloody practical effects and then stop.  It's like waiting until your parents are gone and then going to Pornhub and watching just one pizza delivery video.  One just isn't enough.  Overall, Paint the Town Red is a well put together horror shot with a great cast and a fun story.  It may not reinvent the genre but it is fun as hell to watch.  

Death-Scort Service Part 2: The Naked Dead

Director - Sean Donohue (Cannibal Claus, Die Die Delta Pi)
Starring - Krystal Pixie Adams (Crackbaby Billionaire, Chaos A.D.), Bob Glazier (Slasher Weekend, Make Them Die Sleazy!), and Xhyvette Holder
Release Date - 2017
Genre - Horror
Format - DVD (Personal Collection) (Screener)

Rating (out of 5):
       Way back in 2015 I reviewed Death-Scort Service which was a collaborative effort Sean Donohue of Gateblade Films and Chris Woods of The Sleaze Box.  The film would go on to be my favorite horror flick of that year and still holds strong as one of my favorite modern slashers.  The film was equal parts sleaze and gore.  Fans of gore and slashers from the late 70s and early 80s need to see that film.  We fast forward to late 2016 or early 2017 when director Sean Donohue announced a follow up to his smash indie hit.  My mind raced with the possibilities.  Fans loved the gore and nudity so I could only imagine how Donohue would approach a sequel.  After extensive crowd funding and production the film is finally finished.  Sean and Chris were kind enough to send a review copy my way to check out.  Thank you both for allowing Horror Society and myself the opportunity to see the film!
     The film picks up sometime after the events of the first film.  The lone survivor, Michelle (Adams), is recalling the events of that dreadful day to someone on the phone when she is attacked and brutally murdered.  We then move on to three other working who are working the streets hard in order to save up to buy a home for themselves.  However, two of them are reluctant to do so because they don't want to be in the business much longer.  When other working girls around town turn up dead they are instructed to be on the looking for someone stalking and killing prostitutes but what they don't know is that the killer is closing to home than they expected.
     Director Sean Donohue and Chris Woods are like modern day Jess Franco's mixed with Roger Corman.  They take stories with no budgets and turn them into sleazy masterpieces.  Death-Scort Service set the bar pretty high in regards to boobs and gore but Death-Scort Service Part 2 was able to surpass it.  The acting for this one is fun.  We see some indie horror vets and Gatorblade/Sleaze Box regulars like Krystal Pixie Adams, Bob Glazier, and Eight the Chosen One.  All are great and really do an amazing job with their characters.  With that being said, there was a few new faces that have a hard time finding their footing.  They are extremely charismatic but they are quick to show their inexperience.  The story for this one is a solid follow up to what was established in the first film but if you are paying attention you can see the killer's reveal coming.  It wasn't as subtle as they think and could easily be predicted. With that one flaw aside the film has exceptional pacing, plenty of sleazy and raunchy moments and follows the slasher clich├ęs.  Finally, this one is full of imaginative kills and amazing gore.  The kills use classic tricks and effects that are very effective.  Some of the kills fit with the theme of the film while others were there just to shower the viewer with gore.  There was on kill in particular that I was not fond of and it took a little away from the film.  Overall, Death-Scort Service Part 2: The Naked Dead is a fucked up movie for fucked up horror fans.  This is the sleaziest of the sleazy and made for those of you looking for gore.  I cannot recommend this film enough!

Monday, July 24, 2017

Love Camp

Director - Jess Franco (Vampire Junction, Helter Skelter)
Starring - Nanda Van Bergen (Call of the Blonde Goddess, Women Without Innocence), Ada Tauler (Call of the Blonde Goddess, We Are 18 years Old), and Monica Swinn (Female Vampire, The Demoniancs)
Release Date - 1977
Genre - Erotic
Tagline - "An inferno of warped women"
Format - DVD (Personal Collection) (Screener)

Rating (out of 5):
     After making my way through three Severin flicks and the amazing Belko Experiment I was faced with another important question...what film to review next?  I looked through my pile of check discs and review copies when I came across another Jess Franco Full Moon release.  The last one I reviewed, Women in Cellblock, was a huge disappointment but I expect that from time to time with Jess Franco.  I'm not always into all his films.  Sometimes they lack story while other times they lack substance.  Women in Cellblock 9 lacked both.  I wanted to give Jess another chance to redeem himself so I tossed in the 1977 flick Love Camp and hoped Franco didn't let me down again.
     The film follows a group of women from different walks of life who are kidnapped by a group of military insurgents acting on behalf of a revolution and turned into their personal playthings.  The camp they are placed in is controlled by Isla (Van Bergen) who is ruthless and slaughters anyone that opposes her.  When a young bride is kidnapped on her wedding night her husband joins them in hopes of seeing his love again.  We then follow her as she plots with counter-revolutionists to stop them and free all the sex slaves in their possession.
     When I about a Jess Franco film I immediately think of sleaze, eroticism, and plenty of sexuality.  He really enjoyed the human form and his female leads are always exceptionally beautiful.  Sadly, a lot of his films lack story and are used merely as a vessel to show off the female form.  Love Camp was one of those films but he was still able to hold my attention unlike Women in Cellblock 9.  The acting in this one is not the best I've seen but definitely one of the better acted exploitation flicks to come out of the 70s.  The cast does the best with the story they are given.  Some of the scenes are extremely sexy and the cast comes to life but some of the more serious scenes are awkward to watch.  They cast stumbles and have a hard time finding their footing.  The story for this one is just like what we have seen before especially with Jess Franco.  We follow a military group in an unknown South American country who rape, torture, and kill women.  This tosses in a little love triangle and some anti-political angles that I was not expecting.  The story is not that compelling but mixed with the sleaze and nudity delivers a decent good time.  Finally, those of you that want gore definitely went with the wrong movie.  However, if you want a filthy and depraved sleazfest then this one is for you.  Overall, Love Camp is one of the more fun Jess Franco sleazy adventures.  The story is nothing special but the film is still fun as fuck.  Check it out.

Sunday, July 23, 2017

Cathy's Curse

Director - Eddy Matalon (The Mad Dog, Sweet Killing)
Starring - Alan Scarfe (Star Trek: The Next Generation, Tales from the Darkside), Beverly Murray (Friday's Curse, Street Smart), and Randi Allen
Release Date - 1977
Genre - Horror
Tagline - "She has the terrorize"
Format - Bluray (Personal Collection) (Screener)

Rating (out of 5):
     Horror and exploitation is so vast that I am constantly learning about new films, sub-genres, and movements.  I've been obsessed with horror since I was in middle school, late 90s, and was a member of several horror forums for many years.  I was an active member of the UHM horror forum for about 10 years before Myspace and Facebook took over.  I'd thought I had seen or heard of it all but that is far from the case.  A few months back my friends over at Severin announced that they would be released the canuxploitation supernatural horror flick Cathy's Curse.  This was the first I had heard of this film and the first time I've ever heard of canuxploitation.  I love horror and I love exploitation so diving into a Canadian horror exploitation was going to be fun.  I reached out to Severin and they were kind enough to send a review copy my way!  Thanks guys!
     The film begins when a man discovers that his wife has left him and took his son with her.  He becomes enraged and go searching for her with his daughter but his anger (and I'm sure a little alcohol) got the best of him and they crash the car presumably killing them both.  We move forward some years and the young boy is now a man with a family of his own.  He has decided to move his family into his father's home after his wife suffers from a mental breakdown.  It takes some time for his wife to adjust to the new surroundings but his daughter Cathy warms up to the house immediately.  However, the quiet home is not what it once was.  Something benevolent is living in the home and possesses Cathy and starts killing everyone close to her.
     Cathy's Curse hooked me with the artwork for the bluray.  I love when a film has simple artwork but uses colors that pop and stand out.  The mostly black artwork with Cathy's face and glowing green eyes is very effective and I fucking love it.  Would love to have this on a shirt...  Anyway, the artwork makes the viewer suspect that the film is dark and ominous but it really isn't.  The acting in this one is great.  Alan Scarfe is a face I am very familiar with but I rarely see in the driver's seat.  He is a very talented actors that seemingly consisted of playing secondary characters.  Beverly Murray was a pleasure to watch as well.  By the middle of the film the viewer feels for her character.  She is emotionally and mentally unstable resulting in her losing grip with reality.  Anyone with children will feel her frustration.  Now, with all that being said, I was never sold on Randi Allen.  I try to ignore the acting of children in films but she clearly showed her inexperience in this one.  Some of the scenes were better than others but overall I could see someone else making this character even better. The story for this one is not that original.  There has been other horror films centered around children possessed or acting evil against their will.  One quickly thinks of The Exorcist which was released in 1973 and The Omen which was released just one year before this one in 1976.  Evil kids are fucking terrifying but this film is not chilling.  The movie does not feel dark and Cathy comes across as nothing more than a little brat that never had her ass busted like I did growing up.  The story is still fun and full of moments that are highly entertaining but does not really feel like a horror tale until the last act.  Finally, the film does have some blood and with decent practical effects but the kills are not that entertaining.  Most of off screen with very little blood shown.  Some of the practical effects we see are solid while others were lacking.  Overall, Cathy's Curse is not a classic but was still worth a watch.  I enjoyed it for what it is and would recommend it to anyway wanting something different to see.  I will issue a warning that it is far from perfect but that only adds to the charm.  Check it out.  

Saturday, July 22, 2017

Wild Beasts

Director - Franco Prosperi (Goodbye Uncle Tom, Mondo Candido)
Starring - Lorraine De Selle (House on the Edge of the Park, Cannibal Ferox), John Aldrich, and Ugo Bologna (Nightmare City, Zombie)
Release Date - 1984
Genre - Horror
Tagline - "The wild beasts will get you"
Format - Bluray (Personal Collection) (Screener)

Rating (out of 5):
     A few days ago I checked out the 1981 supernatural horror flick The Survivor that was recently released on blu by Severin.  I heard about the film back in high school but I was not really that interested in checking in out.  After some time and seeing the blu artwork by Severin I was quick to change my mind.  Sadly, the film fell very short.  It was worth a watch but holds no replay value.  I moved on to The Belko Exerpiment and fucking loved it.  As I looked for something to follow it up with I decided to give another Severin film a shot.  This time I tossed in the 1984 Italian horror film Wild Beasts.  The film seemed fitting considering I'm leaving tomorrow with my family to take our kids to the zoo.  I want to once again thank Severin for sending this one my way.  I truly enjoyed it.

     The film follows a group of employees working for a zoo nestled in a giant city.  However, their water source becomes contaminated with PCP which makes them all turn on their handlers and escape.  The zoo keepers and animal handlers must work together with the city officials to round up the escaped animals before the death toll rises.

     I've seen Italian zombies, cannibals, giallos, and slashers but I don't think I've ever laid eyes on an Italian killer animal flick before.  I actually enjoyed the film.  Sure, it had its fair share of problems but the overall film was very damn enjoyable.  I've glad I took the time to check it out.  The acting for this one is not the best I've seen.  In fact, there was times where the acting was pretty bad.  I was impressed by John Aldrich who does a solid job as the film's lead with no prior acting experience.  Sadly, that is about as far as I can give praise for the film's acting.  The story for this one is very simple but unique.  The animals in captivity becoming enraged by ingesting PCP and attacking an urban population is pretty fucking horrifying if you think about it.  What is even more impressive is how the film was able to work with all these dangerous animals and not get killed.  A lot of work and effort went into pulling it off.  The story does have a few hiccups here and there but leaves very little down time for the viewer.  Finally, the film has some on screen kills.  Due to the nature of working with dangerous animals some of the on screen kills are done using camera tricks where we look away.  The actually act is pretty boring.  We see the animal hug the actor and some fake blood and splattered on them before cutting away only to return and see the final product.  We do see some solid practical effects after the fact but the kills are still very boring.  Overall, Wild Beasts is a pretty entertaining Italian horror film that largely goes unnoticed.  Personally, I enjoyed it and recommend it to others with confidence.  Check it out.