Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Piranha (1978)

I hate water. I've never liked it. At the beach, you'll never find me in the drink. At most, I might dip my toes in, then shudder and run back for the safety of my towel. When I was in high school, my friend Megan's family owned a plot on a campground right next to a river. We would have weekend getaways there, camping out and having girly fun. Everyone would swim in the river except for me. I never used the rope swing that hung over the river, no siree-bob! I would use an inner-tube to float down the river, but even then I couldn't wait to get out and get dry.

The water was always murky, and I feared what lay below, be it fish, bugs, rocks or other things that could possibly hurt me. Ugh...I shudder even now thinking about what unknowns lie below.

This dislike and distrust of water probably stems from my younger years. My family went camping almost every summer, even though we lived on a ranch in the middle of the most beautiful countryside. We would usually camp in the redwoods and always picked a campground with a river rushing through it. My sister and I, already wearing our water shoes and swimsuits, would beg to go swimming the second camp was set up. Of course our parents obliged, and after slathering on the sunblock (there is no tanning for me - I immediately burn) we would splash into the river. I have always been a poor swimmer, even after numerous swimming classes, so I usually stayed pretty close to shore. One time I went a little farther out, to where there were some small rapids. I could still stand, but the water was probably up to my chest or neck. No, I did not begin to drown, but I did begin to feel a very uncomfortable feeling. There was a pinching inside my swimsuit, right on my tummy. Well, being pretty young I started screaming and thrashing about until I made my way up on shore and ran to my mom. After grappling with my swimsuit, the hugest, ugliest bug plopped out on shore. Ugh! The bugger had bit me too! I still remember the big, red and ugly bite I had on my stomach for a few days afterward. Suffice to say, I did not go back into the water that trip.

When I was even younger, my grandparents had a house right on the bay in Newport Beach (yes, where The O.C. is set). I would always be out there by myself, building sandcastles, torturing jellyfish, and so on. One summer, I decided to teach myself how to swim. I did a pretty good job, until I noticed all the trash at the bottom of the bay. Rusty cans, plastic wrappers, fish hooks - you name it. After that, I gave up swimming and decided to spend my efforts recycling and trying to keep the world a cleaner place.

To this day, I still won't go in the water. I don't even like swimming pools. Which is why Piranha is the perfect summer movie for me. I want to show it to other people to say, "See, you shouldn't go in the water. You never know what's in it!" In Piranha, the government has developed a mutant strain of the fish. They can live in fresh or salt water, are immune to most poison, are intelligent and are bloodthirsty.

They are inadvertently released from the government facility into the river system. Well, it's summer time, and just down the river is a summer camp as well as a newly opened resort. It's up to an investigator of missing persons and a drunken hermit to find a way to stop the piranhas before they devour everything in their path!

This is a fun, campy movie that shouldn't be taken seriously. It gave me the willies and just reinforced my desire to stay out of the water. Hollywood is supposedly doing a remake, but I doubt it'll be anywhere near as good as the original. The most disturbing scene is when the piranhas attack the young kids from the summer camp. I don't think Hollywood would recreate that scene as it is just so...I dunno, unfortunate and disturbing!

This is by no means a perfect movie, as it does have a couple of plot holes, but it's a great movie to watch on a hot summer night.

Order it on Amazon!

Monday, June 26, 2006

The Booth (2005)

Another Japanese horror movie, but definitely not a typical one.

Via Netflix:
When he's forced to evacuate his regular studio for renovations, Shogo (Ryuta Sato), a popular radio disc jockey, temporarily moves into the building's mysterious Studio 6, which has stood empty ever since its last occupant committed suicide. Trouble is, it doesn't take long for strange things to start happening inside the new booth, prompting Shogo to wonder whether he's losing his mind -- or seeing ghosts.
This movie was pretty intense, with a caller phoning in to Shogo's radio show to quietly but repeatedly call him a "liar." From there, things began to get even creepier. As Shogo begins to question his sanity, so does the audience, as we aren't quite sure what is real and what isn't.

The story is told from Shogo's perspective, and each time he is called a liar from the mystery caller, we are treated to a flashback of him being especially nasty to someone, usually his coworkers. Shogo slowly starts to lose it, as he suspects his coworkers to be seeking revenge, while more and more of his listeners want to know about the paranormal activity happening inside The Booth.

I liked this movie much more than I anticipated I would. It stayed far away from the typical J-Horror scares dealing with small children or women with long, black hair, and instead sent a slow, but progressive shiver up my spine.

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Thursday, June 22, 2006

Seance (2000)

Kiyoshi Kurosawa's films always leave me speechless. I saw Kairo (aka Pulse) a while ago, and was left amazed. Upon finishing the film, I was disappointed, as I had completely different expectations of it, but I couldn't stop thinking about it for days afterward. It was so dark and nihilistic about the human condition, about how people are so disconnected from each other. After thinking about it, I realized I really did like it. The US remake of it will undoubtedly be crap, opting for jump scares instead of the mounting dread, and will probably take the tone in a completely different direction.

With Seance, Kurosawa left me speechless again. This film was made for TV in Japan, yet manages to surpass most US theatrical films in beauty and substance. A couple, Sato and Junco, live disconnected lives. They seem to still be in love, but aren't quite connected anymore. Sato works as a sound engineer while Junco is a psychic who specializes in seances. Junco also works with a psychologist to prove that psychic phenomena is real. Meanwhile, a little girl is kidnapped from a playground by a man hoping to collect a ransom from her parents.

The kidnapper takes the little girl into the woods, where Sato happens to be recording some woodsy sounds for his job. The little girl escapes from the abductor, and hides in one of Sato's sound equipment cases. Sato then leaves to go home, locking up the case with the child inside. The case sits in his garage, without him or Junco knowing what is inside.

The police catch the kidnapper, but during the capture he is hit with scaffolding and goes into a coma. The police have no clues to the little girl's whereabouts, so they enlist the help of Junco. The police give Junco a handkerchief that belonged to the girl, but she doesn't sense anything until she gets home. Here Junco senses the girl nearby and discovers her in the garage.

Instead of going to the hospital or calling the police, Junco insists that she and Sato keep the little girl there. Junco wants to turn the situation to her advantage, to make her a rich and famous psychic. Her and Sato string the police along, telling them where to find the girl's shoes (that they placed themselves) and assuring them that Junco just needs a little more time to find the girl.

Things quickly go wrong when the little girl dies and Junco and Sato have to cover up more and more and deal with the girl's ghost, while Junco still tries to make a name for herself.

This film was not scary, but like Kairo, it creates a mounting sense of dread. I enjoyed it, but it's not for everyone. It is very slow paced and very quiet. Kurosawa manages to find dread in well-lit, airy places, not an easy task to pull off. There are only a few ghosts in the film, the most prominent being the little girl's ghost. Check this out if you are into more mature horror, like Kairo.

Order it on Amazon!

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

The New York Ripper (1982)

A killer is loose in New York, sexually mutilating beautiful women. The killer talks like Donald Duck, both to his victims and when taunting the police over the telephone. An older detective tries to solve the case before another woman is cut to ribbons.

This film was directed by Lucio Fulci, who also directed the films Don't Torture a Duckling and Zombie. While I enjoyed those films, I could not get into The New York Ripper. The violence was just too misogynistic for me. Plus, Fulci seemed to come up with the killing scenes first before applying the convoluted back story. There were many suspects, all of them seedy and mysterious characters. The psychologist who was helping the detective seemed like he could have done it, as could have the gigolo, the rich but lonely and kinky wife or the lone survivor of an attack by the Ripper. To quote Randy in Scream, "Everyone's a suspect!"

I wholeheartedly agree with Killing in Style's review of the film. It does appear that Fulci used the story as padding for the killing scenes. The highly violent, erotically charged and misogynistic killings definitely come first in the film, while the plot comes second and sort of fades into the background. Killing in Style points out: could be compared with porn as it uses a similar parasitic approach: diverting a rather classic and well-coded cinema style to use it to its own advantage. When porn leverages any stereotypical scenaristic frame as a pretext to fit in as many porn scenes as possible, Fulci hijacks the early 80s American cop film codes and structure to stuff it with ultra-violent (and sometimes almost pornographic) sequences.
The "almost pornographic" death scenes make this a very uncomfortable film to watch. The camera caresses every angle of each character about to die, and continues to caress them as they are killed by the Ripper.

For everything I want to say about this movie, go to Killing in Style's excellent review of the film - he basically covers it all!

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Raw Meat (1972)

A series of missing person cases lead the police to investigate the tunnels of the London subway system. What they find is the last survivor of a cave-in who has managed to survive on human meat...Raw Meat!

This was another one of my purchases for about $4 at Second Spin, a used CD/DVD store just down the street. It was money well spent! I thoroughly enjoyed this 1972 movie, especially the performance by Donald Pleasence, who plays the inspector. He was downright hilarious!! Also, Christopher Lee has a small role, which was quite a treat. The rest of the cast did a swell job as well.

The film wasn't really scary, but it did get me quite squeamish in certain parts. The cannibal kills people on the subway platform and drags them back to his "home" to feed his ailing, pregnant "wife." Some of the scenes were pretty bloody, and of course the cannibal was pretty gross covered in sores and flesh wounds.

His wife dies after all, and the man is left all alone in the tunnels. His reaction to his wife's death is pretty gut-wrenching. I felt quite sorry for him. After all he'd been through, he was the last one left. Of course it is too bad that he only saw other humans as food or mating material. After his wife's death, he goes on a bit of a rampage, killing a few janitors and other stragglers at the tube station. He finds a new mate in Patricia, after her and her boyfriend become separated on the subway towards the end of the film. Incidentally, Patricia and her boyfriend, Alex, had jump started the police investigation as earlier they found a well-to-do civil servant passed out on the subway's staircase. When they returned with help, the man was gone, which began the official inquiry. Anywho, Mr. Cannibal is in the mood, and tries to woo Patricia in his own drool-y way. His drool, his pustular sores and indecipherable moaning don't do the trick, though, not on this modern girl!

Alex, meanwhile, has found his way underground to look for Patricia after her bloody purse was found by the police in the subway. He gets to her in the nick of time, just as the cannibal is ripping her clothes off. After a struggle, Alex beats the pus outta the guy, and he and Patricia limp off. The police arrive and all seems in order...until we hear the cannibal's indecipherable moaning after all have gone...

I thought this movie was very well done, except for some plot holes. For example, it bothered me that the cannibal had a way out of the tunnels, but didn't think to get out and get back into the world. Overall, though, it was a lot better than I expected it to be! Again, the best part was Donald Pleasence...I didn't know he could ham it up so much! Check this out, I haven't heard many people talk about it.

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Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Unhinged (1982)

Three women on a road trip crash their car and are taken in by a mother and daughter who live in the middle of nowhere. Things seem a little odd, and soon the girls discover a shocking family secret! Duh-duh-DUM!!

As I briefly stated below, Unhinged is a rip off of both The Texas Chain Saw Massacre and Psycho, but doesn't even come close to achieving the level of horror of either masterpiece.

When I bought the DVD for a measly $4.99, I was enthralled with the claim that it had beat Poltergeist at the box office before being banned in the UK. It promised lots of violence, nudity, and gore (ok so I wasn't into the whole nudity aspect of these claims, but nonetheless, I was hopeful for the other bits!). Alas, it was more of an impulse buy, so I wasn't able to verify the claims before purchase.

After viewing this boring and derivative movie, I find its claims hard to believe. The only reason it may have been banned in the UK is for the senseless nudity throughout the film. It seems the filmmaker wanted the girls to do full frontal so the killer would have something to breathe heavy about. And gore?! Forget about it...this film has only three or so kills, and none of them are spectacularly bloody. One girl gets offed by a scythe, one by a hatchet and the last by a machete. The killings aren't too impressive and don't feature that much gore or blood, probably because of budgetary constraints. As for the claim that it beat Poltergeist at the box office...well, that just seems really hard to believe unless you're smoking crack!

Unhinged had terrible acting, especially by the lead who played Terry. The movie plodded on and on, with the only "scares" coming from the heavy-breathing psycho who liked to spy on the oft-naked girls. The story (and especially the big revelation at the end) would have been interesting if the filmmaker had delivered the goods earlier on and not dragged it out. The scenes were repetitive, with the actors stating facts the audience already knew.

The ending, though pretty good, was derivative of Psycho. I did experience some shock as to who the killer was and liked that there were no survivors. Yet, the ending couldn't make up for the absolute suckage of the rest of the movie. Skip it.

Check it out on Amazon!

Wednesday, June 7, 2006

Opera (1987)

The great Dario Argento strikes again with Opera, another beautifully shot giallo/horror film that reminded me somewhat of Suspiria with its rich visuals. The movie itself centers around the decadent world of the opera, with its high drama, intricate stage sets, elaborate costumes, and inflated egos. Argento's stylish shots perfectly frame this opulence while he also builds dread with the dream-like atmosphere.

Opera is about Betty, a soprano understudy for the Lady Macbeth role in Verdi's infamous opera, Macbeth. The lead diva is hit by a car, and so Betty is brought in one hour before showtime to fill her place. This is her one big opportunity to make her debut, but she is nervous since the particular opera is said to be cursed. Nonetheless, she has a wonderful performance, except when a set of stage lights comes crashing down. The killer has arrived! He tried to watch the opera in peace (he seemed specifically interested in Betty), but an usher disturbed him. After a struggle in which the stage lights were sent flying, the usher ends up impaled on a coat hanger. The performance goes on, and it isn't until much later the usher's body is discovered.

After the performance, Betty gets a strange vibe from a police officer who gives her a rose and asks for her autograph, but he's only there to inspect the lighting accident. Later, Betty goes over to the stage manager's house, which is as big and cavernous as a museum. After some hanky panky, which doesn't lead to sex (the funniest line in the movie is spoken by him, which I can't recall word for word, but goes something like, "I thought all opera stars were always horny...some even have sex before every performance to relax their voice." Oooooh that was a hoot!), the masked killer shows up. When the stage manager leaves the room, the killer grabs Betty from behind, binds her to a column and tapes razor-sharp needles below her eyes. If she doesn't keep her eyes open, those nifty needles will poke her eyeballs out! When the stage manager boy returns, he is stabbed repeatedly while Betty is forced to watch with eyes open wide. After the killer is finished, he fondles her a little, for funsies I 'spose, and cuts her loose.

Betty, not wanting bad publicity, doesn't call the police. She instead walks the rainy streets in a daze, until her director, Mark, spots her and takes her home. She tells him what has happened and after she feels safe, he leaves.

Meanwhile, the killer goes back to the theater, where he slices up one of Betty's costumes. Ravens that are used in the opera are also housed there, and create quite a ruckus when the killer arrives. The killer delights in killing some of the birds, until the other birds begin attacking him. All the noise attracts a night watchmen, and the killer flees the theater.

The next morning at rehearsal, the same strange police officer from the first performance shows up. Turns out he's an inspector and is questioning everyone about the deaths of the usher, the stage manager and the ravens. Betty avoids him, not wanting to answer any questions about her whereabouts the previous night.

The killer shows up again at the theater, binding Betty and forcing her to watch another very bloody murder. We also start to see flashbacks of another woman being murdered while another bound woman watches nearby. Betty hiding something? Well, we learn that Betty actually had childhood dreams of the masked killer. Instead of dreams, could these be repressed memories?

These flashbacks as well as the lighting, sets, camera angles and high goriness factor add to the surreal aspect of this film. The dream-like atmosphere makes us doubt everyone and suspect everyone of being the killer. I even suspected Betty to be the killer, among with many other characters.

Many other killings follow, all done in different ways, but Betty is always forced to watch, wearing the needles under her eyes. The ending does not disappoint, with the ravens being set loose during a performance of the opera to attack the killer, who is sitting in the audience. It doesn't end there, though, but I'll just say the ending is very satisfying to watch, even if you guess who the killer is by the finale.

This film is highly recommended, especially if you already appreciate Argento's work. Even if you don't, the stunning visuals, beautiful shots and especially the gory kills make this a classic. Not as good as Suspiria, but Opera still delivers the screams.

Order it on Amazon!

The Ugly (1997)

The Ugly is a psychological thriller about a serial killer named Simon who has been locked up in a mental institution for the past six years. A psychologist, Dr. Karen Shoemaker, is brought in to interview him and to try to get inside his head. Simon's life from young boy up to serial killer fruition is told through a series of flashbacks. As Karen delves deeper into Simon's past, he starts to get into her head.

Simon is a seemingly nice, meek and cute fellow, who tells Karen that "the visitors" make him kill. He doesn't consider himself a serial killer, as it is his alter ego, "the Ugly," who enjoys the killing. For Simon, killing is just a respite from the visitors, who torment him endlessly to kill again. Simon's first "visitor" was his own mother, whom he killed as a young boy. He spent some time in a juvenile facility, but just as soon as he was out he started killing again. He followed no pattern, just killed whoever the visitors told him to. He was finally caught by the police when he killed someone he knew, his childhood friend Julie.

Simon draws Karen (and the audience) in with his little-boy-lost look. Karen continues to push him to reveal why he killed so many people, but Simon simply blames the visitors. In the end, Simon embraces his true nature and accepts that he enjoys killing, saying "I am cured."

This was an ok low budget movie from New Zealand. I enjoyed how Simon's flashbacks were conveyed in more of a dream-like (or nightmarish) atmosphere. In his flashbacks, the blood of his victims was black, not red, to signify the flashbacks existed outside of reality. In the final scene, when Simon kills again, the blood is red for the first time in the film, signifying that the murder did happen here and now. I thought Paolo Rotondo, who played Simon, was terrific. I felt both sympathetic and repulsed by his character, which can be pretty tricky. It was also hard to tell if Simon was just manipulating Karen or if he was really telling her the truth. Very well played by Mr. Rotondo.

On the other hand, this movie was a little slow, especially towards the middle. It kind of stagnates for a bit, not really going anywhere. This hurts it a lot, as it really failed to entertain me. I just felt like I was wasting time with this movie. Also, it was not scary. Sure, it had its gory parts - Simon kills his victims with a straight razor, at least most of the time - but nothing in this film makes you jump out of your skin. Also, it seemed like it spent too much time making Simon the victim (he was bullied and had an overbearing mother as a child) and playing upon the audience's sympathy for him.

This movie is not as shocking as Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer or as clever as Silence of the Lambs, but if you enjoy movies that try to get into a killer's head, you may enjoy this one. Not bad for a low budget movie, just a tad too slow for me.

Check it out on Amazon!

Tuesday, June 6, 2006

The Devil's Rejects (2005)

I absolutely loathed House of 1000 Corpses. I thought it was a trite piece of trash, with a meandering story and no character development to speak of. The characters existed solely to suffer but weren't likable so I didn't care much if they lived or died. I hated it so much that when The Devil's Rejects came out, I vowed to avoid it and all future Rob Zombie films.

About six months ago, my roommate rented The Devil's Rejects and watched it in the living room. I groaned when I saw what he was watching, but was intrigued by the bits of scenes I saw. It looked completely different than House of a 1000 Corpses.

Well, I finally broke my vow and rented Devil's Rejects. Wham bam thank you ma'am! Wow, what a great movie! The subversive humor coupled with some disturbing scenes (how 'bout the one where a woman is allowed to survive, but is forced to wear her dead husband's face as a mask and is ultimately squelched under the wheels of a semi) make it quite the keeper.

There is also the moral dilemma that arises from watching the movie. Zombie gives the audience no one to readily identify with. The victims are unlikeable, the vigilante sheriff seems pretty crazed and the killers, well, they kill. Yet, I believe the audience identifies with the killers most because we spend the most amount of time with them. We are shown how close as a family they really are, and come to feel sorry for their plight, even if they do delight in torturing and eventually killing others. When they are captured and tortured by the sheriff, conflicting emotions arise as to who to root for. I admit that when Otis, Baby and Captain Spaulding escaped from the sheriff, I let out a quiet little "woot!" but I still felt at odds with this elation. I believe this confusion was purposefully created by Mr. Zombie to keep the audience uneasy (as if the gory visuals weren't enough!).

The camera work, cinematography and editing were all superb in this movie, much improved from House of 1000 Corpses. The overall look of the film had a washed out, gritty, 1970s feel to it, and was filmed for the most part in bright daylight. The lighting was a huge change from House, where most everything was filmed at night, or in the dark. I thought the music was also very good, with some clever choices especially appropriate for certain scenes.

I enjoyed this movie, soooo much more than House of a 1000 Corpses, but also standing on its own. It was well constructed, with a cohesive plot that actually went somewhere. If you didn't like House of a 1000 Corpses, don't fear The Devil's Rejects, but go ahead and give it a looksie.

Buy it on Amazon!

Monday, June 5, 2006

Terror Train (1980)

Who knew David Copperfield was actually hot when he was younger? I mean, he's not incredibly gorgeous, but still, I was pleasantly surprised by his good looks and intrigued by his mysterious demeanor as the magician in the Jamie Lee Curtis-helmed Terror Train.

Oh, the movie...yes on to that instead of focusing on Copperfield's lustrous head of hair...ahhhh, dreamy. Errrrr...sorry. Well, as you may have guessed by the title, Terror Train is set on a train. The fraternity is throwing its annual New Years Eve party, and this year it's a costume party aboard a pimped out train. They have booze, food, drugs, a dance floor, a band, disco lights, sexy costumes, an even sexier magician, and a killer on board. Uh oh...seems like their pal from freshmen year, Kenny, is back for revenge after what they did to him. As an initiation prank, they made him think he was going to have sex with Alana (Jamie Lee Curtis), but he got in bed with a corpse. Well, he didn't take it too lightly and spent the next three years in a mental institution, even killing a person there. He's now back to kill everyone that ruined his life three years ago.

There are a few red herrings throughout the movie and the killer wears the costumes of his victims so we are never quite certain of the killer's identity. Also, at first the conductor thinks that the deaths are accidents, so there is a delay in looking for a killer. When the search for the killer begins, everyone's a suspect!! Of course, Alana believes that the mysterious magician is the killer, until she finds him in one of his trick boxes...dead! The search is then on for costumed Kenny...but will he get to Alana before she can stop him?

I thought this was a pretty cool slasher, though the cover artwork made me groan a little bit. The movie kept up the pace and never lagged. I also liked the small twists and turns throughout the film, and who can go wrong with Jamie Lee Curtis as Scream Queen?! As for eye candy, there's Mr. Copperfield and a few other cute frat bros in here for ya! This is a fun one and I think it's on sale at Amazon right now, if you wanna check it out.

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Infection (Kansen) (2004)

Infection (aka Kansen) is another Japanese horror movie, but one that does not focus on creepy kids of long haired women. Instead, it deals with a horrific infection that starts to spread in a desolate hospital and the doctors that try to figure out how to stop it before they get infected. And really, that description just doesn't do justice to this terrific little film.

The infection starts when a patient is left by an ambulance at the hospital's ER, even though the hospital is taking no more patients. It seems the hospital is struggling financially - the staff hasn't been paid, medical supplies and drugs are getting sparse, and most of the patients have been sent home because of the hospital's inadequate facilities. A few of the staff members stay late to care for the few patients left, but strange things start to happen. The staff mistakenly kill a patient after injecting him with the wrong drug. To cover up their mistake, they decide to speed up decomposition so no trace of drugs will be found when an autopsy is performed. Meanwhile, this mystery patient with a strange infection is left on their doorstep. Soon, they discover that the infection is causing him to liquify into a green goo.

The infected patient disappears and the doctors are baffled since he has no muscular tissue left to move around freely. Soon, other staff are behaving oddly, and it is discovered that they too are infected. The survivors can't figure out how it is spread or exactly what the infection is, until it is too late. The ending is a little bit confusing and it will be especially confusing to anyone who hasn't seen or doesn't appreciate Asian horror films. It doesn't make too much sense, but I believe it makes the viewer think about one's perception of reality.

The film really sets up the atmosphere with the deterioration of the hospital. In the beginning of the film, the hospital is busy and bright, but as it progresses it gets darker, spookier and more empty. The green goo (and the noises of liquefying human flesh) are quite icky, for lack of a better word. There are some nice scare sequences, but it is mainly the dread throughout the film that is most effective. I did enjoy this film, even with its lackluster ending. If you are into Asian horror films, but want something different from the standard creepy child/long haired woman scares, look no further than Infection.

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Sleepaway Camp 3: Teenage Wasteland (1989)

I couldn't resist anymore...after enjoying Sleepaway Camp and Sleepaway Camp 2: Unhappy Campers, I had to see the final Sleepaway Camp movie, Sleepaway Camp 3: Teenage Wasteland. Well, Angela was back...just not as likable as the other movies.

Teenage Wasteland starts off with Angela killing a camper as the leaves the city for camp. The camper, with tattoos that read "milk" and "shake" (RAD) over each boob, looks like a bad Tina Turner impersonator. Her hair...why did Angela have to pick the camper with the grossest hair? Anyway, Angela runs her over with a rusty old semi, and makes it in time to be picked up by the bus for camp. The camp this year is called Camp New Horizon, and its focus is to bring together rich and poor kids for some good old "sharing and caring." There are less than twenty kids there for this experiment, which hurts the action a bit. The usual stereotypes exist as well, and all of the characters are unlikeable. They get killed off in creative ways when Angela decides that they've misbehaved.

Some of the kills are quite counselor was buried alive with only her head sticking out, so Angela could mow her over. Another good one was when Angela stuck a lit fire cracker up a fellow camper's nose. Kablooey!!

Overall, though, this one was missing some of the "oomphf" that made parts 1 and 2 so enjoyable. It felt rushed, with underdeveloped and stereotypical characters. This was a pretty unnecessary movie, but it can still be somewhat fun and definitely "campy"...hehehe...

Check it out on Amazon!

Thursday, June 1, 2006

Zombi 2 (1979)

The notoriously gory Zombi 2 was directed by Lucio Fulci, but is very different from his film Don't Torture a Duckling. Despite the many differences in tone, I enjoy both films. This one is a just bit more gory, fun and fatalistic than I expected! The plot centers on journalist Peter Wells and Anne Bowles as they try to track down Anne's missing father, whose boat drifted into the New York harbor with only a flesh eating ghoul aboard. Anne and Peter travel to the Caribbean, where they acquire passage via boat from two fellow Americans, Brian and Susan, to a remote island. When they get close to what the locals call the cursed island, Susan decides to go for a naked scuba diving session. She is almost attacked by a shark, and is then attacked by a zombie underwater!! She manages to escape while the shark and the zombie duke it out (yes, shark vs. zombie - for reals, yo!).

When the four Americans arrive at the island, they meet Dr. Menard, who tells them that Anne's father died of a disease which is overrunning the island. The dead are coming back to life! The Doctor blames it on voodoo, even though he doesn't really believe in the stuff.

The Americans are sent to Dr. Menard's house, where they are to meet his wife, while he goes back to work in the makeshift hospital. When the four arrive at the grand house, they find the wife's body being eaten alive by zombies! A few scenes ago, the zombies invaded the Missus' house and slowly drive her eyeball through a splintery spike of wood (oh, the ocular horror!). The zombie feast the four find is the bloody aftermath of a verrrrry excruciating death.

The four skedaddle outta there pretty darn fast, hopping in the Doctor's Jeep and peeling out of the driveway. Unfortunately, they hit a zombie on the road and end up crashing their getaway vehicle. Peter breaks his ankle, so the group moseys on through the jungle at a slow pace, but they still manage to keep ahead of the zombies. They stop to rest, only to realize they are lounging around an old Spanish conquistador graveyard. Soon, zombies are popping up, not so fresh, from their graves. Susan gets a chunk bitten out of her, while Anne and Peter are attacked. Anne, Peter and Brian escape and head to the Doctor's hospital, which is housed inside of an old church. The doctor, his nurse and his assistant are still alive, but not for long! Soon the zombies attack and all heck breaks loose. Molotov cocktails go flying, the dead from the hospital start attacking the survivors, and it ends with Anne, Peter and Brian escaping to their boat. Brian has been bitten, though, and has to be put down. Susan and Peter try to raise someone on the radio, but all they hear are reports of zombie attacks. In the end, we see the zombies descending on New York City and it seems there is no hope for humankind.

This film was not what I was expecting at all, which isn't a bad thing. I envisioned a massacre, with zombies running all over New York City as the main plot. Fortunately, the story had more substance than that (not much, but substance nonetheless). The gore was all good, and I even had to cover my eyes for the scene with the shish-kabobed eyeball. Since the cast was half Italian and half English, of course there was dubbing, which annoyed me a bit, but it wasn't so bad that it took away from the action. My main complaint was that it took so long to get to the actual zombies. Half the film was getting to the island, and it even took a while for the action to get started once the four Americans got there. The ending was wonderful, though. When Anne and Peter thought the worst was over, it was only just beginning!

Since Romero's Dawn of the Dead was called Zombie/Zombi in Italy and it played so well, Fulci decided to call this film Zombie 2 (though it is also known as Zombie, as in the version I saw). It is supposed to be a sequel of sorts to Dawn of the Dead, though the two films are completely different. The last shot where the zombies have overrun New York City is supposed to link to Dawn of the Dead.

I enjoyed this movie, though it takes a while to build. The stunning shark vs. zombie scene as well as the eyeball scene are well worth the rental alone.

Order it on Amazon!
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