Thursday, October 25, 2012

Toxic Zombies..or Why Some Should not star and direct.

Well it wouldn’t be a zombie film a bit of gore and cheesy comments but this one takes the cake on music steals, bad dubbing, and yes even sound effects’ timing is off.  So grab your bug out bag, machete and solid rifle.  This is Toxic Zombies.

Spoilers can only be destroyed if you get the brain.

Charles McCrann is our writer/director/lead actor brings us the depths of this utter hell that this film is.  Violence with no real explanation nor any real attempt at character development and all back stories consists of people babbling about events we have not seen or these people should not yet have knowledge of.  Citizen Kane this is not.  Hell I wouldn’t even give it Citizen Toxie.   With a cast of no one I could recognize other than John Amplas (of Martin, Day of the Dead, Creepshow and No Pets) and he is not even a lead part.  He remains in the shadows of obscurity.  To start us on this journey; pot growers are using government land to score 2 million big ones in grass and have no qualms about killing officials to keep their crops.   We open this film up with what I thought was two hunters with rifles.  I mean commonly you see two guys decked out in flannel and hiking boots you would come to that conclusion too.  Cut to a topless bathing scene?  Well of course there’s one.  We are two minutes and forty seconds into this flick we got to keep the male audience or their attention span might wander.  So we get spliced cut shots of hunters and back to topless sudsy goodness.   After a quick dress she is informed the two hairballs with rifles are federal officers, she tries to bail and they shot her in the back…well the back of the neck according to her cheesy flesh wound.   No sooner have these crack officials realized they shoot a woman, that by the way was their only concern.  Not that they just shot an unarmed person but the fact she happened to be female.  Stay classy, movie.   Two hippies do in the officials and the frigging knifing sound effect is about a second and a half off from the strikes.  Yeah this is not exactly quality entertainment.   

Establishing from Commander Exposition and Junior Plot Point; two other officials realize the only way to tend to this problem is to release an untested chemical on the government land and thus destroying the pot.   With the help of a drunken sot of a pilot the chemicals are released and the hippies turn more yellow than a colony of vegans.   Suddenly more violent tendencies are occurring in the hippies and they proceed to do away with anyone that is not as messed up as they.
Our hero/writer/director acts his way into the paper bag and cannot leave there as he and his wife’s passionate lovemaking turns night to day and vice versa with fade scenes.  Random campers and their children are not safe in these insane making woods as they are laid siege upon. 
Now let us step back and observe for a second.  These zombie like folk are wielding hand weapons, rocks and even mastered fire for torches again and all without the aid of Dr. Rickles from Day of the Dead teaching them, so not exactly certain how to describe this lot, other than all messed up.   Most of the music for this flick has been lifted from Day of the Dead, a sped up version of Halloween, Dawn of the Dead and a mutilated version of Jaws as well.   I am not certain but I can manage some disgruntlement.  Go enjoy your evening outside or sit in with a book.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Subspecies...Gem of Month.

Hey Halloween folks, what say we sit around the campfire and bring up an obscure B movie that became a franchise from Full Moon Entertainment?  So prep some holy water, start chopping that garlic and prep the blackthorn oak stakes.  This is Subspecies.

Spoilers be immortal…

Director/writer/producer Ted Nicolaou (Bloodstone: Subspecies II, Remote, Bloodlust: Subspecies III, Dragonworld and Vampire Journals) brings forth the tale of Vampires and humans living in a pact of peace for far too long according to some.  The vampire King Vladislav (Angus Scrimm of Phantasm 1 through 4 and I Sell the Dead) is beseeched by his eldest son Radu (Anders Hove of Critters 4, The Silencer, Bloodstone: Subspecies II, Family Passions, Loving, Bloodlust: Subspecies III and Subspecies 4: Bloodstorm) whom he exiled centuries ago now returns to Prejnar to claim the throne and the sacred bloodstone.   This enchanted artifact that is said to drip the blood of the saints which would empower or warp a vampire.  Radu is no ordinary vampire as he seems to have powers magic as well as his own vampirism as he creates minions from his own blood freeing him from his temporary prison and allowing him slay his own father and claim what he deems his birthright.  Meanwhile two American students come to Prejnar to do result on folklore in the residing area.  Michelle (Laura Mae Tate of Dead Space, Diggstown, I Love Trouble and California Myth) and Lillian (Michelle McBride of The Playroom, Masque of the Red Death and Prey of the Chameleon) meet up with fellow college roommate and local of Prejnar Mara (Irina Movila of Hotel de lux, Sundays on Leave, Dipolmatic Siege and Alone Verses Myself) had made arrangements to stay in the existing fort of Brașov Citadel Fortress. The caretaker Carl (Ivan J. Rado of Mask, The Puppet Master II and Mac and Me) retells the tale where a handful of monks and warriors is said to have held off the vampires until the king of the vampires was given the Bloodstone to pacify his hunger.  Thus creating a lasting peace of more than 300 years or so they thought.  The girls venture to Castle Vladislav in its ruins and take a few photos.  Lillian accidently cuts herself in a doorway and leaves a bit of her blood tempting poor Radu.  He tracks them back to the fort and stalks them in true creeper fashion.  

 The girls encounter Stephan (Freddy’s Nightmares, General Hospital, Deadly, Blackfellas, Midnight Man and Viper) a fellow scholar and traveler to this region and immediately gets goo goo eyes for Michelle and vice versa but in a subtle undertone.   Stephan makes his way to the castle as dawn approaches to combat his brother Radu.  *gasp* Another spoiler.  Stephan and Radu share the same father.  Would that mean that Stephan is a vampire as well?  

The film itself is shot around Transylvanian area Hunedoara, Brasov and Sinaia with extensive footage using fish eye lens and more anamorphic and yet recorded in mono for some reason.  The subspecies were originally to be stuntmen filmed via blue screen but Nicolaou felt they were being too hammy so he went stop animation and rod based puppets instead.  The village and graveyard scene was actually a re-enactment of the festival of the dead. This is also the first American film project in Romania.  A guilty pleasure to be had and yes boys there be boobies. 

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Life in Fallout 3

Hey folks sorry for last week's lack of blog.  I was quite ill. I hope this will make up for it.

Now being a Fallout RPG turn based fan I was skeptical but Fallout 3 turned out to follow Fallout 2 (1997 and 1998 sequel to the original) in the same standing of being open ended with no time limit to speak of.  10 years had passed since Fallout 2 and we were promised by Interplay then Black Isle that we would see a Fallout 3.  Finally after buying the rights Bethesda Softworks brought us our FPS/skill-based/post-apocalyptic dream come true.   Rather than be in California as the two predecessors were, this takes place in the heart of democracy Washington D.C.  After 2077 it is now referred as the Capital Wasteland.  Our great monuments have collapsed, roads and freeways are devastated and no government or police are in control.  Might makes right. 

We start off the game with a series of cut scenes from your character’s birth and growing up in Vault 101.  An underground fallout shelter that is capable of housing 1,000 people.    I should note no matter your sex or skin color your father James is still white and voiced by none other than (Liam Neeson of Darkman, Love Actually, The Phantom Menace and Schindler’s List)  James is a scientist who believes in helping his fellow humanity as best as he can.   As you age you learn more about your relationship with your father and life in Vault 101.   Your mother dies delivering you in childbirth so you are raised solely by your father.  You grow up in spurts through cut scenes, little whispers throughout each aging process hints to events of the past and the present day.   James tells you as an infant a bible passage that reflects his life’s work in trying to better humanity.   At age ten you receive your own Pip-boy 3000.  This arm band computer interfaces with radio signals, tells you your health, points out radiation in your area and inventories your supplies you pick up during the game.   At age 16 you take your Generalized Occupation Aptitude Test or G.O.A.T. to help sum up what career you are best suited for in Vault life. You of course try to weasel your way out of it by faking a cold.  Best of luck with that when your father is the Vault’s chief physician.

 After breaking up a squabble or joining in on it, you take your test and proceed on to Age 19, to be awaken by your friend Amata to discover your father somehow left the Vault and the Overseer is furious.  The chief of the guards beat your father’s assistant Jonas to death.  A man you have known and respected your whole life.  You must choose to escape or be dealt the same.  Fending off radiation enlarged cockroaches and some of the vault security.   Save the ammo folks.  The ball bat does a pretty good job of defending yourself and it is, kill or be killed scenario. You make your way to and out of confides of the home you have known since you were a boy/girl and out into the unknown with nothing more than what you took with you.  Vault 101 is up the hill from a shambled town known as Springvale.  One lone resident silver is hiding out from a neighboring town called Megaton.   You will have to probe her for answers if you care to know.  Or be a brute, kill her and take everything she owns.   An elementary school is not far from Silver’s place is crawling with raiders.  If you are lacking in firepower or armor, my advice is get stocked before waging a fight with these lot.

Wandering out into the wasteland you will encounter raiders that prey on the helpless, Ghouls and Super Mutants, creatures that were once human now mindless monsters that terrorize the surrounding towns.     Meeting pockets of humanity and their plights it is up to you what sort of a person you are going to be.  Will you be a decent compassionate man/woman?   Will you turn into a heartless monster with no cares except your own interests?   Will you be passive to some and help to others that can pay you a wage?   The choice is yours.  Are you to be the savior the Capitol Wasteland or its destructor?   Will you be a hero or villain?  Only you can answer that.     The graphics engine that Bethesda Software developed is phenomenal.   The background, the colors from rusted metal to the rising and setting sun this game was awarded Game of the Year in 2008 and people are still raving about it and recommending it to friends.   Its Vault-Tec Assisted Targeting System or V.A.T.S. for short allows characters to train their weapons melee or firearms alike at points of vulnerability.  Ideal for the sniper character or if you just simply think it will take out your target faster.   An amazing voice cast with Liam Neeson and Malcom McDowell to name a few.  Sound captures the imagination so well.  Different outfits and armor can change the pitch of what shoes or boots you are wearing.  Guns and rifles are not a universal lumped effect GOTY allows modifications on everything from characters and armor to the quests and weapons.  I have also been able to play the PS3 console based game and the controls are a bit sensitive but you soon develop a rhythm.  

  A word of warning for those photophobic or seizure prone:  This is a real-time fasted paced game.  There will be a quick pitch in combat especially in V.A.T.S. as you see your character shoot, slash or bash your targets and it could very well be jaunting so my advice is to skip it if you suffer from either affliction.  That being said from the rest of you who are Fallout fans, DO NOT let this one slip through your fingers and enjoys the in-depth story arc and game.