Thursday, August 30, 2012

Vampires Vs Zombies...??!!

Now I look at this title and envision hordes of both popular undead battling it out for the human tidbits.  A battle royale to the well…death I suppose and frankly that sounded interesting to me.  A sort of Underworld feels with not fur just fangs and claws.  Instead I get this.  Ho boy.   So stock up on ammo, MREs and water from your secured undisclosed bunker.   This is Vampires Vs Zombies.
So let’s start off with the few alternative titles to this flick and you will get an idea how long it took me to find it.  You have Carmilla, Carmilla the Lesbian Vampire and last but certainly not least Vampires Vs Zombies.    Netflix and Blockbuster bother were confused as hell to what I was requesting but finally I got a copy and proceeded to view this blight of Cinema.

Warning! Danger! Danger!  The following will invoke spoilers to the film in question as well as cast and director and writer.

So we open our flick with Jenna (Bonny Giroux not Jenna Jameson you pervs) who is having a disturbing or quite possibly erotic dream of an ample bosomed brunette feeding on her.  Then she blew my frickin eardrums with her Linnea Quigley scream startled from her terrifying dream. Her father Travis (C.S. Munro of Corpse-O-Rama) was also startled via car ride, has about 20 seconds of dialogue with her to establish to the audience that is now deaf that she is having this reoccurring dream.  It is at this point I would also like to point out I recognize one member of the cast (Brink Stevens of Zombiegeddon, Birth Rite and Cheerleader Massacre) and she is hardly even in it so you can just wager how delightful this flick was.   The term shaky cam comes to mind.  Apparently no one bothered to explain weight ratios and balance to this fine film crew.  Sheesh a unipod or tripod would have been nice but no that was not in the budget I gathered.  Better to use the town epileptic, give him a pot of coffee and a camera.  Our fearless director /writer Vince D’Amato is responsible for such flicks as the fore mentioned Corpse-O-Rama, Human Nature and Hell Hath No Fury and we shall not go into those movies for I do not keep a puke bucket by my desk. 
  Getting back to our film; this movie is very loosely based on the talented writer Sheridan Le Fanu that wrote the 1872 classic novel Carmilla and sadly it is about the closest any of the existing film makers have gotten close to.  Well I loved the Hammer films so I cannot discredit the Vampyre Lovers with Ingrid Pitt but that is neither here nor there.   To the best of my understanding of this 70 minute acid trip this is a series of chapters versus being a full film?  While it is an interesting premise it is also utterly confusing to the causal moviegoer.   The deliveries of lines from the actors seem so off base or unnatural.  The inflection of their performance feels forced and completely out of context but hell what do you expect for an under budgeted half-assed indie film with no real direction of a plot but a blatant excuse for a lesbian sex scene that looked so staged it couldn’t stimulate the dead.   I suppose the gore scenes were fairly graphic with the sub-plot of vampires and zombies duking it out but honestly I am left wondering how the title of the movie became the secondary plot.

  This was not titled, ”Carmilla Gets the Girl” so what the hell is going on?   Don’t get me wrong.  This was not Zombi 3 where there was 3 directors throwing their hat in the circle but dear God it needed some cohesive editing man.   I was struggling by the 40 minute mark like Apollo Creed hanging on the ropes in Rocky II.  Bottom line kid; if you are just hoping for some awkward preternatural lesbian sex with a defunct storyline then this is your movie.  If however you wish to hold on to a shred of dignity I have a few vamp films of this particular genre that would at least resemble a storytelling.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

The Balls are back!

Hey kids this looks like a potentially good sequel. Grab a head lamp and shovel and let’s start digging.  This is Phantasm 2.

My God look at the size of the spoiler!

Director Don Coscarelli (Phantasm I through IV, Beastmaster, Bubba Ho-tep, and Incident on and Off a Mountain Road) attempts to capture the spirit of its predecessor back in 1979 with a new round of terror.  With A. Michael Baldwin (Mike from the first movie) off on a retreat to learn a musical instrument and devoting his time to such, (James Degros of Drugstore Cowboy, Point Break, Enemy of the State and Vantage Point) tackles the role of Mike as a teen after the death of his brother and being assaulted yet again by the mysterious and devious Tall Man (Angus Scrimm of Phantasm I through IV, Subspecies: The Awakening and I Sell the Dead)  With his undead dwarven minions at his command, the Tall Man seeks to capture young Mike with Reggie (Reggie Bannister of Phantasm I through IV, Bubba Ho-tep, Wishmaster and Cemetery Gates) standing in his way. 
With a narrow escape from the evil that conquered their town, Mike is institutionalized for 6 years for what the state felt was clearly a child's overactive imagination as a defense mechanism helping the grieving process to handle the death of his brother Jody.  Reunited with Reggie once more they make their way to Reggie's family home only for Mike to receive a psychic image of the house being destroyed moments before the house is engulfed in flames.
 The two men scarred and bereaved from their traumatic experiences, they vow to hunt down and eliminate the Tall Man and stop his fiendish abominations. Mike further receives more psychic effects as he has a rapport with a girl he has never met.  Her small town is cut off from any help as graves become empty, and the dead are used as tools of the Tall Man. Liz (Paula Irvine of Phantasm III, Santa Barbara and Doin’ Time on Planet Earth) contacts Mike through a psychic link enabling our heroes to journey to her rescue.  Allied with the Tall Man are his latest assistants in evil practices simply known as the Grave Diggers.  With little encouragement on Mike’s behalf, Reggie gases up the ‘Cuda and the two hit the road in search of the Tall Man and try to think of a way to end his reign over the dead and God only knows his true purpose for his sinister deed.

 While Don Coscarelli merely hints that the Tall Man is from either a Hell dimension or perhaps another universe all together is never truly known. In a recent interview he exclaimed it was more fun to let people speculate and give him ideas.   Between some unique steady cam as well as track, the $3 million budget allows for improvements of the killer spheres previously constructed by Will Green from his prop effect department Turntable Rentals and Sales.  While this was the largest budget for all for four movies, it did offer additional killer dwarf dispatching weapons, such as a homemade flamethrower and the infamous quad-barrel shotgun which the fans lovingly referred as the Dwarf Cutter.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Death Factory...Hmm must be Kenner

Yup the title says it all…Death Factory.   Now if you look at it from philosophical point of view you could say the manufactory of guns, tanks, bombs and jets could be viewed as this and have endless debates about peace vs. war.   Well alas extensionalists, that ain’t the case.   Ten to one teens are involved.  So grab your guy or girl, get some drugs and booze, this is Death Factory.

There a few spoilers ahead.  You know the drill.

The genius at work on this cinema feature is Brad Sykes (which is a rude name in the Newcomer language of Alien Nation) writer and director of such films as: (Camp Blood, Camp Blood 2, Goth and Plaguers) in 2002 under the blessing of Brain Damage Films (Apt name) comes this story…such as it is.  With 5 million in the kitty, the film was created and the magic happened…no wait that was Escape from New York.   Our story unfolds with a couple making out in the grass near the “factory” and they decided it would be a great idea to explore the factory and not each other.  Gee, I wonder what is going to happen.  No sooner than nitwits one and two wander in they are killed off.   Boy, who would have seen that one coming.  
This piece of sputum was shot on Digital Video.  I mean lower than the Panasonic.  A flip cam would have gotten better shots.   The pace of this movie is at the speed of curdled milk.  Okay how do I put this in polite terms?  Heck I will give it a shot.  The resonate sounds of the factory walls disrupts the actors’ dialogue.  5 million in the kitty and nobody were miked at all.  You hear lots of echoing in this vast empty warehouse that is allegedly a factory.   The only thing more wooden than the frame around the warehouse was the lines that felt less than natural to say.  The actors themselves look baffled when they should be terrified or they appear ambivalent when they should be serious.  They look like they could be doing anything else and just got roped into this gig.

 Our ensemble cast rounds off with Rachel (Lisa Jay of Two and a Half Men, Creepies and Tuesday), Luisa (Karla Zamudio of The Shield, Hard as Nails, Shakedown and The Mexican Dream) the sassy one, Troy (Jason Flowers of The Brink, Papa Zeus and The Lost Girl) The musing metal head, Derek (The Brink, Creepies and Tuesday) Dopey frat boy, Francis (David Kalamus of Alien 3000 a.k.a. The Unseen Evil 2 and In the Closet) and his girlfriend Letica (Rhonda Jordan of Urban Playground, The Mummy’s Kiss, Galaxy Hunter and Bad Penny) are the token black couple.  I swear this need to pair people off like that.  Cubby and Roy couldn’t attend.  

Our gathering of MENSA members were all supposed to party at Francis’ house when his folks went away for a trip but they canceled at the last minute.  Hmm where to get our groove on now?  Why, how about that abandoned factory on the other edge of town that even the cops don’t patrol?   Brilliant!    There are no subplots or perhaps a good flashback sequence that would explain what happened here or why it was truly abandoned but some meek word of mouth rumors/urban legends which sounded more preposterous than a vengeful leprechaun in da hood.   I assume the ridiculous banter which was to be hip and amusingly ironic was NOT supposed to fall flat on its butt and sound just plain snarky.    The main cliché’ of course is booze, drugs and sex.  Now I get that these youngsters have no clubhouse or apartment to use but my God an old couch exposed to elements of weather, insects and rodents?  Oh baby take me right here on the pile of rat droppings.  If the creature doesn’t get them the chigger bites should.

Best part is there is a bed in one room with fresh sheets.  The monster turned down the bed for them.  Isn’t that thoughtful?  The warehouse er um high tech facility has a few strewn papers calling it Dyson Chemicals and without any background in biochemistry the plucky younglings figure out that experiments went awry and caused one of the workers to go completely crackers, mutate and start mauling her fellow employees, I mean this was a bloodbath that somehow was kept out of the papers and TV.  Forget local; that would have been national news.  Suffice to say this had nothing new to bring to the table.  You have blood and boobs folks.  Heck why don’t we just do a series of those films and call it a day.  Blood and Boobs Part 3: Silicone and Slaughter!  Wow my cheesy made up title was better than this whole flick. Seriously, go read a book, sort your sock drawer or give an old friend a phone call.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Fallout: Nostalgia and Post Apocalyptic

First off this game is approximately 15 years old at this time what with being produced in 1997 by Interplay.  A post-apocalyptic role playing game that is turn based similar to a table top RPG by Steve Jackson Games called GURPS
The world as we know it was destroyed due to atomic fallout during the year 2077.  Most technology is derived by this timeline hails from the conception of the 1950’s.  You will also find that most of the science-fiction tech from movies and pulp comics and magazines are an influence as well.
 Your character is a vault dweller.  This means you have spent the better portion of your life underground in a fallout shelter that was contracted by the government.  Your task is to replace a water chip to replenish your water recycling and main plumbing or everyone you know will die of thirst.   So you will trek out into the unknown and encounter inhabitants of this wasteland that was once the world.   You are the vault’s last hope.   You and you alone will decide the fate of dozens of lives depending on you.
 As you progress throughout the game your skills will increase as you level up.  The lands have mutated into vast deserts and remains of once proud cities. You will see items, landmarks and vehicles that you will recall from your data tapes.  Your PIP boy 2000 is a device that will map your locations, describe artifacts that you pick up or examine and keep track of each task or furthering plot to each new town you happen to.
 The mass radiation has caused simple creatures of the past to grow in size and making it more deadly than before the Great War.  Rats and scorpions as your history stated are now twice if not ten times the size of their predecessors.

  Bartering and conversation will be a must in order to collect more data about the world around you.  Townsfolk are leery of strangers but in general of good spirits to newcomers.  It boils down to proving if you are the sort that can be trusted.  Because the citizens of each town are comprised of farmers, cattle ranchers and laborers so you will seem out of place so they will be naturally confused and cautious.  Main characters in each town will be voiced by many esteem actors and actresses. (CCH Pounder, Richard Dean Anderson, Clancy Brown and Keith David ) to name a few.   As always the narrator is voiced by Ron Perlman  Again, it is vital that you talk to as many people as are willing to talk to you.   Random encounters will raise an eyebrow or two depending on each thing, man, woman or monster so keep your wits about you and your weapon of choice handy.  To survive in this world means to take a life to keep yours.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Vampire Journals or dear fanged diary?

Well the folks of Full Moon Pictures came back to Bucharest, Romania for yet another vampire picture.  Ted Nicolaou , writer/director of the Subspecies quadrilogy , brings Vampire Journals to light.   Timeline based it occurs after Subspecies 4: Bloodstorm.   The vampire of that series Radu Vladislas has met his final end and his made vampire Ash is our head nuisance.   The story revolves around two vampires.  One is racked with guilt of being one of the undead and seeks to dispatch them with a blade in the form of decapitation.  The other is an amoral soulless creature that delights at playing with his food and instilling fear prior to feeding.  Guess it is a bit like adding Coke to your Jack.  No clue.   Zachary (David Gunn) lives with the unending life span that has brought him nothing but blood and torment.  Ash (Jonathon Morris) is a master vampire that owns a night club and assists in presenting it around the world.  Both creatures of the night fall for the same beautiful pianist named Sofia (Kirsten Cerre).  

Ah, the music spoilers make.

What do you mean they call me the dandy vampire?!

Predictably their ideals and ways of life rub each other wrong but they continue this odd game of cat and mouse back and forth.    Ash points out his former life to Zachary and clearly is giving him a chance to belong among his flock so long as he does not poach the pianist.   And we all know how well competition goes with men over a woman.  Zachary is almost as whiny and bitter as Louise of Interview with a Vampire.  I mean this guy whimpers on and on.   Flashbacks are a bit of a theme with this guy as Ash in some far back time of the powdered wig era fed and drained Rebecca, the love of Zachary’s unlife.  He makes this pact to slay his fellow vampires wherever he finds them.    Once again I have to comment on the prop people.  Since the Subspecies, these folks bust ass on what little budget they have and produce a wicked broadsword named Laertes.  Maybe someone was a big Homer fan or possibly just a fan of Hamlet.  Who can truly say?

Hmm hot floaty chick.  Well I see no cause for alarm.

While I feel the story has been played out to death and not exactly what I would call an original idea I love the camera work and lighting.  The music score is amazing and frankly for as low a budget as Nicolaou always seems stuck with it, the film is impressive.  An ancient city with so much architecture to work into your story, the movie maintains a gothic feeling and the characters are true to the nature of the beast if you will.  My complaints were pretty simple actually.  The script seemed light.  You had a simple love triangle story arc that did not get the love it should have.  Felt like there should have been more.  The nudity follows a basis for the seduction or feeding so I didn’t feel like it was over the top but there is a far amount of it.  Not one for the kids.  Erotic vampire tale hey you got to expect this sort of thing to be happening.    Nicolaou also seems to like to let every film end on a down note.  Admittedly I did not see a happy fluffy bunny ending with a tale of vampires but dammit man through in a tender note now and again.  What I don’t get is why these clearly different storylines are even linked.  Clearly Nicaloau had a plan to do something more in depth with the 4th Subspecies using a few of the characters from this flick and it just felt clunky and confusing.  
To sum it all up, this flick was a pleasant addition to the growing vampire sub-genre.  Our vampires didn’t twinkle, they had no emo angst nor did they whine and bitch too terribly.