Tag Archives: Cult

Night of the Living Dead 3-D (2006)

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Night of the Living Dead 3D
1 star

The Bottom Line – A modern retelling of the Romero classic, this is just another run of the mill zombie attack gig, minus suspense, horror and talented actors. Director Jeff Broadstreet is a far cry away from Romero’s sense of dread with a message.

Pros

  • Good zombie makeup
  • Sid Haig is always a welcome pleasure
  • Nude girls in 3D are, uh, different.

Cons

  • Slow and extremely uninvolved
  • Tepid soundtrack plays throughout 90% of the movie
  • Most actors were asleep at the wheel

Description:

Genre: Horror
Directed by: Jeff Broadstreet
Starring: Sid Haig, Brianna Brown, Joshua DesRoches, Greg Travis
Rated: R
Theatrical Release: November 10th, 2006
Studio: Midnight Movies

Guest Guide Review – I think we all decided after Tom Savini’s excellent remake of Night of the Living Dead, anything that could be added to an already amazing film had been done… and done right. It makes me wonder if the people behind the newest remake thought about what they were trying to accomplish or simply saw dollar signs floating across the screen. It pains me to say that too, because any small film that finds its way to a theater has probably gone the distance to get there. Alas, this travesty is not really worth feeling bad over.

Ben, who was originally played by the wonderful actor Duane Jones, is not much more than eye candy here. I don’t know why they opted to cast the part with a Caucasian actor (Joshua DesRoches), but it’s really a minor quibble as this film doesn’t seem to be allegorical of anything. It also allowed Barb (Brianna Brown) to have a less controversial love interest.

The pacing is lackadaisical and is only assisted further but the monotonous Johnny One Note performances. I will give credit to Greg Travis who is so hilariously awful that at least he’s entertaining. Haig is the best of the bunch, but he’s not given much to work with.

But what about the 3D effects, you ask? They are pretty boring, unintentionally amusing and very, very sparse. Someone said to me as we left the theater, “George Romero is going to kill himself just so he can roll over in his grave.” I concur.

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Pan’s Labyrinth (2006)

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DVD: “Pan’s Labyrinth”
4 ½ stars

The Bottom Line

In the grand tradition of the world’s darkest fairy tales, Pan’s Labyrinth is a disturbing and beautiful look at the life and mind of a child ripped apart by war and death.

Pros

  • Seamless storytelling
  • Beautiful special effects
  • Impeccable acting from the entire cast

Cons

  • Regardless of the term ‘fairy tale’ it’s way too harsh for younger audiences

Description:

  • DVD Extras: Gobs.
  • Directed by Guillermo Del Toro
  • Starring: Ivana Barquero, Maribel Verdu, Sergi Lopez
  • Original Release Date: December 29th, 2006
  • DVD Release Date: May 15th, 2007
  • Rated R
  • Distributor: New Line Home Video

Guest Guide Review – DVD “Pan’s Labyrinth”

Del Toro’s compelling new film Pan’s Labyrinth is at once sumptuous and disquieting. Aptly capturing the climate of a fascist Spain in the 40s, the film boldly explores a time when children were forced to experience the darkest parts of human nature while retaining their own innocence.

A poetic portrait of love and loss, Ivana Barquero’s sweetly bitter portrayal of Ofelia carries the film and she makes a perfect foe for Sergi Lopez’s Capitan Vidal, a sadistic military man bent on sadism. His scenes of torture are shocking but well shot and never gratuitous. However, this film is much too dark for younger audiences who might otherwise be swept away with the characters that inhabit the Labyrinth.

The story itself is picture perfect, and it moves effortlessly between realism and fantasy without ever overwhelming the audience with either. Del Toro crafts a unique and moving tale that might look like fantastical storytelling on the outside, but the core of the film and Ofelia’s obsession with escaping a cruel world are as timeless as ever. A must for fans of fantasy and horror.

This review originally appeared on About.com.

Party Line (1988)

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I saw most of Party Line waaaaay back in the early 90s when it was first running on late night cable. I didn’t remember much except Leif Garret wore a wedding dress (!) and people spoke on the phone to each other. Not much to go on, but since I’ve been walking down this lane of fragmented Cinemax memories, I decided to pick up a copy and give it a go.

Wow.

I mean wow in a good way and a bad way. Like, I have a new appreciation for the psycho-sexual thrillers from the 80s and 90s. It was strange time folks, people still tried to include a story in the midst of its tawdriness. Can you believe it? And for the most part, a lot of these films aren’t as bad as people would have you believe. Well, Party Line is bad though. I mean, it’s about a supposedly incestuous rich brother and sister who bide their time by hitting the club circuit where Angelina (the AWESOME Greta Blackburn) lures horny men into her clutches with offers of real wild sex. Then Seth (Leif Garrett) shows up and slits their throat. He dons a red wig and takes no prisoners.

Enter Dan (Richard Hatch), a typical ‘goes against all policies but gets the job done’, cop who just happened to be at a nite club where the latest murder took place. He’s all angry, but dude he just cares. He ends up being paired with Stacy (Shawn Weatherly looking divine), a by the book assistant in the D.A.’s office. Yeah, you totally see where this is going, huh? But you don’t! Because lo and behold, Dan has a girlfriend, a fellow cop named Butch (Marty Dudek). Threw a wrench in that love interest angle, don’t it? Well, maybe not…

Anyway, Stacy and Dan check out this awesome 80s club with a killer live band and some great synth pop. They actually encounter Seth, who tries to give them false info. This kind of blows up in his face when he’s asked to leave his info with an officer for further questioning. Whoops!

And while all of this mayhem is taking place, there’s a sixteen year old nymphet who likes to call the “Party Line” and talk amongst other horny people. It’s so funny to see this, as it’s such a precursor to chat rooms. I like this idea better because you actually get a voice on the other line. Well, Jennifer kind of enjoys calling 976 numbers when she’s babysitting, so it’s not long before her lecherous employer, Mr. Simmons wants a piece of Jen’s action. He calls the Party Line one night as she’s arranging a date with The Fireman, who is Seth. By the way, she goes by the pseudonym The Explorer, which is kind of gross.

During all of this mysterious mysteriousness, Seth gets pulled over by Butch and he slits her throat. When Dan finds out, he means BUSINESS. He’s going to put some of that Apollo foot to ass and real good like, I tell you!

The next day, Seth shows up at a café with his requisite red suspenders and another Party Line listener approaches him as if she was The Explorer, much to Jennifer’s dismay. Then comes Mr. Simmons and the three soon leave to meet up with Angelina for a night of rough and weird sex. Things don’t go so well though and the anonymous girl and Mr. Simmons end up in a field in Malibu all nekkid and stuff. I’d like to say Mr. Simmons blew that one, but that’s kind of inviting a Three’s Company type joke.

Jennifer realizes she was just inches away from a madman and goes to Stacy to help catch the killer. I mean, someone needs to bring Mr. Simmons’ killer to justice. Right? Right? Oh, damn, I’m losing you…

OK, this movie rules. Aside from Leif in drag, the dynamics of his relationship with Angelina is amazing. She totally rules the roost and when she’s not playing mind games or killing, she’s working out. And she works out a lot. It also doesn’t take much to aggravate her as she’s often calling Seth a “Mama’s boy,” and slapping him. Personally, I think he kind of likes it.

Unfortunately, Angelina is actually the smart one. So it really doesn’t take long for the shit to hit the fan, but c’mon did you really want more than 90s minutes of a transvestite Leif slitting throats? Yeah, I wanted more too. It’s a fun movie, shot pretty well and Hatch is really good. Richard Roundtree shows up for a bit too and he’s always gold. And contrary to what I’ve read, Leif is actually quite good. He’s very subdued, but I think his character calls for that. Now, Greta Blackburn, damn she’s great. She wears only the BEST late 80s gear and has the coolest frosted perm this side of Dynasty! She’s a lot of fun to watch and I think even if this movie was just her slapping Leif for an hour and half, I’d love it all the same!

Party Line was directed by William Webb who also helmed the cruelly slandered film The Banker with Robert Forster – but that’s for another blog day!

This review originally appeared on the blog Genre Girls.

Prison-a-Go-Go (2003)

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Can any movie sporting sexed-up nymphets, ninjas, mad-scientists and a countdown clock to the shower scenes be anything but fabulous? You’re right again, Prison a Go Go is slapstick spoof of several genres and by and large, it works. And it works well.

Sweet but not too smart Janie vows to find her sister, who’s being turned into a porcupine in a Philippine prison (yeah, you heard me right… a porcupine!). So Janie decides to kill a homeless guy and next thing you know she’s America’s next T&A export to this dung heap of a pokey. Once inside, she meets Jackpot, a horny Rhonda Shear who basically rapes the entire male prison guard staff, and the warden, Wilbur Thorn, a recent college grad who sips coffee and thinks his office is pretty cool. As Janie searches out her sister/porcupine, she encounters chicks with a Freon addiction, ninjas and just a few zombies to keep her on her toes. Oh yeah, and she showers A LOT.

Prison-a-Go-Go is a riotous comedy that gets it right more times than it misses.  Made by Barak Epstein with heart and an obvious love of the genre as well as silly slapstick, I was impressed by how fun this movie was. And that’s the key word here… fun. Barak and his cast of players, especially the co-writer and star, Mike Wiebe, a man who shows an amazingly natural knack for comedy, are up to the challenge of playing it straight while surrounded by hysterical chaos. Ms. Shear is also hilarious and still looks amazing. It looks like they could only get Mary Waranov for one or two days but she delivers her lines with the same sinister zeal that made her an icon after Rock and Roll High School.

If you like your Women in Prison movies mixed with a bit of Airplane, then you’ve just got to see Prison-a-Go-Go.  And if you’re not, then I feel kind of sorry for you.

Slither (2006)

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The Bottom Line

A great little throwback to the monster filled 80s fright flicks, Nathan Fillion is the sheriff of a small town suddenly besieged by alien space slugs.

Pros
• Director James Gunn really has an affinity for creating strong, human characters
• The cast is wonderful, especially Fillion and Michael Rooker
• A rollercoaster ride of laughs, scares and gore

Cons
• Less scary than humorous, fans of straight up horror will be disappointed with the amount of comedy featured
Description
• Directed By: James Gunn
• Starring: Nathan Fillion, Elizabeth Banks, Gregg Henry, Michael Rooker, Tania Saulnier
• Theatrical Release Date: March 31st, 2006
• DVD Release: October 24th, 2006
• Rated: R
• DVD Extras: Man, are there! A great package with a bit of everything
• Studio: Universal Studios

Guide Review – SLiTHER (DVD) – Review

For whatever reason, SLiTHER was a miss during its theatrical release. That’s a total bummer too, because it’s one of the best genre films of the year. Maybe that’s because James Gunn, who started out working for Troma, understands the phrase ‘popcorn entertainment.’ A thrill ride with lots of laughs and some wonderfully human characters, SLiTHER definitely came from Gunn’s heart. The characters he builds are strong and real and they are the kind of people you expect to find in a small town. Rooker is a standout too, with his hateful and pitiful portrayal of Grant Grant (!) you just end up feeling sorry for the poor sucker’s plight.

Fans of 80s horror will also catch some nice tributes to the films we love. I noticed there was a place called Henenlotter’s! Cool. And like those little golden nugget films we hold so close, SLiTHER will, uh, SLiTHER its way right into your heart too.

Another inspiration from Gunn’s days at Troma was this action-packed DVD filled with a ton of extras, including how to make blood at home and a video diary with Lloyd Kaufman, the man behind Troma who has a cameo in the film. My favorite was the Who is Bill Pardy segment. I never realized he said his name so much! One thing all of the extras share is that everyone from the stars to the makeup girl seemed to love working on the film. Each person is in good spirits and the featurettes all share the spirit of having fun while making a great film. It also proves that Gunn is a mad genius and I really want to work with him on movie now!

This review originally appeared on About.com.

Sudden Death (1985)

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Although the tagline for Sudden Death reads, “Don’t mess with this Dirty Harriet,” I practically had to be hit over the head with a user comment on IMDb before I could make the connection. Valerie (Denise Coward), the protagonist of this movie is actually not a hard-nosed city cop like Mr. Eastwood’s most famous counterpart, rather she’s far more akin to his revenge seeking nemesis played by Sondra Locke in Sudden Impact (again, how lame is it that I didn’t make this connection? The word Sudden should have been my first clue). And in some respects she’s an awesome female companion to Robert Forster’s angst ridden vigilante in, you guessed it, Vigilante.

 After Valerie is brutally raped and told her case isn’t all that high on the priority list, this hot mamma grabs a gun and decides to hunt her assailants while cleaning up the streets of New York along the way. The problem is Valerie isn’t all that good at the vengeance thing. I mean, she becomes a notorious multi-murderer (nicknamed the Dum-Dum Killer based on the bullets she uses), but she always let the culprit get just a tad too close. This girl is on death’s door (or more aptly, rape’s door) almost every time she encourages a situation. So, she gets points for effort but loses some in execution. Ha! Get it? Execution…? Well, it seemed funny at the time…

 Released in 1985, Sudden Death is pure exploitation, and somewhat enjoyable. Writer/Director Sig Shore goes out of his way to capture New York as a city living in fear. Empty, rain-slicked streets become the stomping ground for the human animals. Every male is potentially a rapist, or at the very least, a really gross dude (check out the drug addict cab driver for proof). The women aren’t exactly portrayed as pure victims, but in an interesting scene featuring Valerie and her friend window shopping, they pass a confederate flag and a gun shop. This is not just a man’s world; it’s a universe devoid of anything not completely masculine (beside the feminine targets) and these guys apparently haven’t set foot outside the civil war (why a confederate flag is being displayed in New York is beyond me). With the exception of Detective Marty Lowery (Frank Runyeon), there are no likable men to be found. Even Valerie’s (soon to be ex) fiancé doesn’t understand why she can’t just go back to normal and screw him. It’s important to note that this film came out just a few years after the courts quit blaming the victim as much as the rapist himself. That’s probably why this revenge fantasy works. Although slow and somewhat flawed, the filmmakers put in an earnest effort to showcase Valerie as a woman lost in the scuffle of new system, which might not be able to implicate the woman in the court room, but can certainly incriminate her in the eyes of a still ignorant public. Anything that gives people an excuse not to care, right?

Australian born Coward gives the film a rocky start, but becomes more likable as the film progresses and she’s allowed to not just be wide-eyed and sweet. It is suggested that she treasures the battle wounds she retains from each murder, and these counter attacks allow her to move forward with her life. Of course I’m not saying assault victims should grab their favorite gun and right the wrongs of the world, but it certainly feels good to watch a pretty lady exact revenge. What can I say, I’m a softie!  

This review originally appeared on Pretty Scary.

Vendetta (1986)

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There have been plenty of rape/revenge movies since the 70s blew the topic open for discussion in the deeply disturbing Last House on the Left.  What’s come out of that sleazy sub-genre ranges from the amazing (Death Weekend) to the abysmal (I Spit on Your Grave) to the what-the-hell-were-they-thinking (Slashed Dreams)!  In the wake of such a wide variety, a few titles still remain undiscovered gems.  Vendetta is just such a film.

As Bonnie Cusack is raped in Joe-Bob’s truck, she shoots him square in the head, killing him.  A trial leaves her with an unreasonable guilty verdict, whereupon she enters one of the roughest female prisons this side of Corcoran.  Bonnie meets Kay, the most feared prisoner and the one with all of the connections outside and in. When Bonnie rejects Kay’s advances, she’s promptly thrown off the second floor of the block – and it’s her first day!  Bonnie’s sister, bad-ass stuntwoman Laurie Collins, decides to get herself thrown in the same prison (she steals the judge’s car and then runs it through a jewelry store!) and hunts down Kay’s gang one by one.

A roundabout type of rape/revenge film, Laurie’s quest goes far more than justifying her sister’s demise. Laurie is looking for answers where she’ll never find them. Random violence prevails and executing those you think are to blame might not be the only answer.  Laurie is left with a changed soul and more questions then ever. This film takes an odd Last House on the Left turn with Laurie’s epiphany, teaching that equating violence with violence does not equal inner peace.

 But back to Kay, actress Sandy Martin is by far the most realistic badass female prisoner I’ve ever laid my eyes on.  She’s a grotesque species in wife-beaters with a mouth like a sailor and the kind of humor only Ted Bundy would find amusing.  She’s a hedonistic bitch and she rocks!  Because not only is Vendetta an interesting allegory about revenge, it’s also a knock-down-drag-out action flick with real-life stunt woman Karen Chase putting foot to ass!  There’s plenty to eye here – heroin addicts, interracial relations (“Black and brown don’t mess around.”), cat fighting and a shower scene for good measure (keep your eye out for Bonnie’s body double!). In fact, what’s interesting about Vendetta is how it manages to keep hold of its feminist standpoints while delving into sleaze. And it’s got a female Prince impersonator!  What more could one ask for?

 

This review originally appeared on the blog Genre Girls.