Archive for March, 2010

Phenomena (1985)

Posted in Horror Review with tags , , , , , , , , , on March 24, 2010 by Pass the Popcorn!

Director: Dario Argento

Writer: Dario Argento

Franco Ferrini

Tagline: Jennifer Has A Few Million Close Friends. She’s Going To Need Them All.

Plot: A young girl, with an amazing ability to communicate with insects, is transferred to an exclusive Swiss boarding school, where her unusual capability might help solve a string of murders.

Cast: Jennifer Connelly – Jennifer Corvino

Daria Nicolodi – Frau Brückner

Dalila Di Lazzaro – Headmistress

Patrick Bauchau – Inspector Rudolf Geiger

Donald Pleasence – Professor John McGregor

Review (spoilers):

I must admit I haven’t seen all Dario Argento’s movies (far from that) but some of his movies (like Profondo Rosso & Suspiria) left me simply breathless. They are genuine masterpieces. I wish I could have said that about Phenomena too. What I love most about Argento is that you don’t know what to expect of his movies, you just can’t predict the direction in which will they go. This wasn’t the case with Phenomena, because while I was watching it I wasn’t able to shake this feeling that I already seen all of it somewhere before. It was full of elements that can also be seen in Suspiria (the luminance at some parts),  Nightmare On Elm Street (the concept with troubled sleep and doctors on the operating table) & Carrie (the troubled girl with supernatural powers).  In addition to that, I haven’t found the idea of communicating with bugs to be thrilling at all. Those communications occur only 3 or 4 times during the movie and I felt like they are being used in such a wrong way. It seemed their purpose was to be used as a Deus ex machina. I was expecting that the ability of communication with bugs would move the plot around. Instead, I felt like that ability was part of some sub plot just waiting to be exposed in a grand finale at the end of the movie, and it was.  As you may conclude, the whole script writing could have been a little better.

However, don’t get the wrong idea. Phenomena is far from being a bad movie….or from being a good movie. It’s just average. The best thing in this movie was the atmosphere at some time. It was dark and even depressive from time to time….Only to be eventually ruined by a horrible soundtrack. I forgot to mention that before. The soundtrack of Phenomena is simply awful, I just combine Argento with heavy metal bands (like Iron Maiden & Motorhead) whose songs are played really too loud. Apparently there is a movie cut in which the heavy metal soundtracks are deleted. So if you are going to watch Phenomena try looking for that cut (it’s called Creepers).  Now that I’m speaking again about the bad aspects  of this movie, I just have to mention that monkey. Yes, Phenomena has a monkey in it which purpose is also being a Deus ex machina but I won’t spoil that part, al though it was…ridiculous.

Now I really have to say something good about this movie : ). It isn’t bad at all if you like watching slashers with some unnatural parts in them since the murders in Phenomena were done really good. I also liked the gore in some scenes. However, that wasn’t enough to entertain a consumer like me, just not my cup of tea. Apart from all that, I have to mention that the script isn’t a complete failure, there even were some twist that you might find interesting.

To conlude everything I must say that Phenomena is a movie you should definitely give a try, I’m not saying it’s worth it but all in all it’s an experience you won’t soon forget, despite I found it to be pretty bad.

My Rating: 5/10… I was really expecting a little more from Dario Argento.

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Cabin Fever (2002)

Posted in Horror Review with tags , , , , , , , , , on March 22, 2010 by Pass the Popcorn!

Director: Eli Roth

Writers: Eli Roth

Randy Pearlstein

Tagline: Terror… In the flesh.

Plot: A group of five college graduates rent a cabin in the woods and begin to fall victim to a horrifying flesh-eating virus, which attracts the unwanted attention of the homicidal locals.

Cast: Rider Strong – Paul

Jordan Ladd – Karen

James DeBello – Bert

Cerina Vincent – Marcy

Joey Kern – Jeff

Review (spoilers):

Cabin Fever, the directing debut of Eli Roth, is one of those movies you either love or hate. Let’s just say that I didn’t like it at all. I don’t know how to compare it to other Eli Roth’s movies because I never watched any of them, there was just something about them that didn’t interest me at all and now I know what. They are pointless. I was never a fan of movies that only rely on over the top gore, “ultraviolence” or “cool” and bloody brutality. I find movies like that to be shallow…and that’s what Cabin Fever is: shallow and pointless.

Despite all I have just said, Cabin Fever starts off very promising. Early in the movie we see a gory scene (which is unfortunately totally pointless but no matter) that introduces to the overall movie atmosphere. After that we meet 5 students who go to a remote cabin so they can enjoy their holiday. That beginning had some strange sense of humour that I found to be ok. It was a decent start to a horror movie but as time passed by Cabin Fever was less and less watchable. It ended as a horrible disaster. The reason for all this is surely the script. Eli Roth is known to be a friend of Quentin Tarantino and is sure that his writing is influenced heavily by Mr. Tarantino. Unfortunately, Tarantino elements and influences (which can be perfectly seen in the character of the cop Winston or in the short Eli Roth’s cameo) just don’t fit in this kind of movie and are….pointless. Besides that, the idea for the flesh eating virus is also bad. The concept of the virus is boring and slow. It’s just not something that can interest you till the end of the movie so Eli Roth was “forced” to bring out new ideas all the time through the movie, which are, at least most of them, complete rubbish. So if you give it a try, you’ll see a lot of nonsenses like a mentally ill kid kung fuing his way to bite one guy’s hand (Wtf?) and similar. In addition to that there are some huge plot holes in the script, which seemed to bug me from time to time.

Furthermore, the actors haven’t made an astonishing job but that’s not complete their fault. It’s not easy to act a character which is completely plain and dull. As you may expected there is no real character development in Cabin Fever, I even can hardly remember any of the character’s names. While Cabin Fever fails almost in it’s every segment, I have to mention it’s sole purpose – the bloody gore scenes. If you have a huge appetite for gore and blood and just don’t care about anything else, Cabin Fever will be the perfect movie for you. It features some nicely done scenes and original ideas. But if you are looking  for something more in a movie, just stay away from it, it’s not worth your time.

My Rating: 4/10… It utterly fails at any kind of character development or decent plot making but makes it out with some nice gore, I guess. However, it’s below average.

Trick ‘r Treat (2008)

Posted in Horror Review with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on March 20, 2010 by Pass the Popcorn!

Director: Michael Dougherty

Writers: Michael Dougherty

Tagline: Poison, Drowning, Claw, Or Knife. So Many Ways To Take A Life.

Plot: Four interwoven stories that occur on Halloween: An everyday high school principal has a secret life as a serial killer; a college virgin might have just met the one guy for her; a group of teenagers pull a mean prank; a woman who loathes the night has to contend with her holiday-obsessed husband.

Cast: Dylan Baker – Steven

Rochelle Aytes – Maria

Quinn Lord – Sam / Peeping Tommy

Lauren Lee Smith – Danielle

Moneca Delain – Janet

Review (spoilers):

Michael Dougherty became popular in horror movie industry after his directing debut named Trick ‘r Treat (al though he made a short animated movie back in 1996 named Season’s Greetings, which you can see here).  I found Trick ‘r Treat to be a perfectly fresh and innovative horror movie, it will introduce you to another point of view of the magic that is known as Halloween. It follows several parallel stories that are connected one to another with a likeable pumpkin character named Sam.  Trick ‘r Treat features everything that I like in a horror movie: suspense, some bizzare things, mystery, magic and even some humour from now and then.

Visually, the movie is perfect. Even, it is Michael Dougerty’s directing debut, but he sure does know how to represent that Halloween atmosphere which we all love. Everything is full with Jack – O – Lanterns, children trick ‘r treating and Halloween parades, I really liked that kind of atmosphere. The movie gets very dark (and sometimes morbid) from time to time but there is still something childish, innocent and likeable in those scenes. I can’t explain it, it’s like the movie perfectly morphed 2 completely different emotions (childish innocence & violence) into one really astonishing experience that is just waiting for you to see it. Wonderful. Besides all that extremely good visual experiences, the movie features some excellent soundtracks which are admirably combined in the overall movie impression.  The one of the most notable scenes in the movie is surely the one with the werewolf transformation (nice effects!) followed by Marilyn Manson’s Sweet Dreams. Superb. Apart from werewolves, there are more villains in Trick ‘r Treat like human vampires (give it a watch and you’ll know what I mean), Psycho killers, dead mentally ill children (this was creepy), psycho killers & of course Sam.

I found the whole scrip to be very enjoyable. Apart being a good director, Michael Dougherty’s writing is also excellent. Unlike many modern horrors, Trick ‘r Treat has an original and deep story.  The plot behind all those murders is explained in a very special way and is still “believable”. The other thing I liked about the script are the character’s different points of  views in same situations which are all combined parallel stories, and all of this works really well with that Halloween mood, awesome. Al though the plot synopsis has some decent twists, kills and everything, some events I didn’t fully understand so I had to read some reviews on the internet afterwards to make me fully understand Trick ‘r Treat. Unfortunately, this is the movie’s only imperfection, I felt like the movie had gone a bit too complex on some parts. But never mind that little thing, besides that, the movie is excellent!

My Rating: 9/10… Another modern masterpice.

REC (2007)

Posted in Horror Review with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on March 15, 2010 by Pass the Popcorn!

Directors: Jaume Balagueró

Paco Plaza

Writers: Jaume Balagueró

Luis Berdejo

Paco Plaza

Tagline: One Witness. One Camera

Plot: “REC” turns on a young TV reporter and her cameraman who cover the night shift at the local fire station…

Cast: Manuela Velasco – Ángela Vidal

Ferran Terraza – Manu

Jorge-Yamam Serrano – Policía Joven

Pablo Rosso – Pablo

David Vert – Álex

Review (spoilers):

I wrote about REC 2 during the Seq Week not noticing that I haven’t reviewed the first REC yet. I must mention that it will be extremely hard to write anything smart about it because I simply find it to be a genre-breaking masterpiece…And I’m not exaggerating. It was filmed by using a “modern”, ever-growing camera taping in which you look everything through camera’s eye (like The Blair Witch Project, Cloverfield, Paranormal Activity, etc.). That kind of camera taping puts you directly in the middle of the movie, you feel like you are a part of everything. Being in the middle of a movie like REC is far from fun, actually, it is pretty scary. It is one of the scariest movies I’ve ever seen.

The simplicity of the plot (and the whole script) amuses me. It is so simple but yet so effective. A camera crew makes a documentary about the local fire station. 2 firefighters are being called to a rescue mission at one building, the reporter and the cameraman  follow them. They enter the odd building to find this injured woman who needs help only to be viciously attacked by her. Soon after that incident they find out that they are quarantined outside and none may leave. The cause for this quarantine is a strange virus which soon spreads through the occupants of the building. As the time passes by, all hell breaks loose. The movie starts slow but as more as you watch it you’ll find it to be more bizarre, creepier and scarier. The ending of the movie is one grand consumption of all emotions that followed you while you were watching it. You can’t stay cold-headed after you see it.

Of course, you can’t expect some great character development in a movie like REC but they seem more than real. They all have their hopes, needs and fears which are perfectly taped in a mockumentary style. That part was made so flawless, it gains your full attention and somehow prepares the tension for the things to come. Also the acting is a thing worth mentioning. The rumor says it that the directors haven’t showed the full script to the actors so the cast didn’t know what to expect next. The conclusion of that is the screaming of the actors which was made of real fear, their reactions were natural. All that even gets you more in the realistic atmosphere of REC that is just brilliant!

I don’t know what to comment next about REC and yet so many things are on my mind all the time. It’s dark luminance combined with some night vision now and then which was perfect, it’s tense atmosphere which drove me crazy from time to time or should I say more about the infected which looks are scary enough with all that atmosphere? Anyways, stop reading this now and go watch REC while sitting in the dark. It’s so worth it because it will be an experience you won’t soon forget. I know I didn’t.

My Rating: 10/10… Surely the best modern day horror.

The Descent 2 (2009)

Posted in Horror Review, Seq Week with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on March 11, 2010 by Pass the Popcorn!

Director: Jon Harris

Writers: J Blakeson

James McCarthy

James Watkins

Tagline: Fear runs deeper

Plot: Distraught, confused, and half-wild with fear, Sarah Carter emerges alone from the Appalachian cave system where she encountered unspeakable terrors…

Cast: Shauna Macdonald – Sarah

Natalie Jackson Mendoza – Juno

Krysten Cummings – Rios

Gavan O’Herlihy    – Vaines

Joshua Dallas – Greg

Review (spoilers):

After a huge success with the first Descent, it was pretty obvious that the sequel will come out sooner or later. And here it is. The Descent 2 picks up where the first one end. Sarah finally managed to somehow exit those caves (it was never said how) only to return once more in them accompanied with a rescue party. Just like many sequels, The Descent 2’s quality is not nearly as good as it’s precursor’s. Watching this felt like a cold shower, I expected some good scares and a frightening atmosphere (just like in the first Descent). What I got was an average and more action driven horror sequel with cheap scares. Those action scenes were average from time to time too. All in all, it really isn’t bad but it lacks some/any good details which deserve to be specially mentioned.

The script has some really random parts in it which still aren’t completely clear to me (including the last few scenes). Of course, there wasn’t much room for character development in it so some characters are cheap cannon fodder. Some of them die very quick and in short meantime periods.  Because all of those action scenes The Descent 2 isn’t a boring a movie (far from that) but it still could use a lot of improvement (like some explanations in the plot). The best thing in the whole movie is surely Juno’s return but her strange and unexpected (and I’d dare to say even unimportant) come back wasn’t explained at all. I wanted to know how she managed to kill those crawlers from the first movie with a leg that is hurt. And of course how did she manage to stay alive in the caves. Questions like this are never answered and I think it would have been awesome if we could have seen some of Juno’s flashbacks over the past few days (like it was made with Sarah). That would have took the movie to a whole new level.

Unfortunately, this aren’t the only things that were bad in The Descent 2. The worst thing in it are surely the looks of the crawlers, those creatures who dwell in the caves. Comparing them to the first movie they look awful. Their faces are now somewhat deformed (in a possible attempt to make them look scarier) which makes them look silly. I just have to comment one scene where we even have a female crawler. I must admit I always assumed that crawlers were some asexual creatures (Tbh: I’m not really interested in their mating habits) because we couldn’t see a single female one in the first Descent. In The Descent 2 you see a female crawler in only one scene and her total cameo was like 10 seconds or less? Why did they put her in? I can’t find an obvious reason to that. My only guess is that they wanted the crawlers to look more disturbing (or change the audience’s thoughts about them) so putting a female crawler was a desperate movie for doing so. There is one more thing that wants to change your opinion about crawlers: An alpha male one. Yeap, we are being introduced to the ultimate 6 feet tall boss crawler. Yawn.

The Descent 2 makes up for everything with all those bloody and gory fights. There were some ok kills which don’t go much above average. If you started watching the movie expecting (and wanting) it be more action driven, you’ll possibly find it to be more enjoying than I did.

My Rating: 5/10 … An ok movie, really nothing special. The best thing about it are it’s average fight scenes.

Btw, with this review we oficially end the first Seq Week here at Drugsbunny’s Horror Reviews!  (I know that the Seq Week lasted about 10 days, but no matter, there are 7 reviews about  movie sequels). Thank you all for reading my blog ; ).

Cube 2: Hypercube (2002)

Posted in Horror Review, Seq Week with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on March 10, 2010 by Pass the Popcorn!

Director: Andrzej Sekula

Writers: Sean Hood

Ernie Barbarash

Lauren McLaughlin

Tagline: Welcome to a new dimension in fear

Plot: Eight strangers find themselves waking up in a strange cube-shaped room with no recollection of how they came to be there…

Cast: Kari Matchett – Kate Filmore

Geraint Wyn Davie – Simon Grady

Grace Lynn Kung – Sasha

Matthew Ferguson – Max Reisler

Neil Crone – Jerry Whitehall

Review (spoilers):

Despite all average things in the first Cube, I still found it to be watchable and enjoyable. It’s sequel is just dull. Cube 2: Hypercube doesn’t have nearly good mood as the first Cube ( al though it starts nice ). All the rooms lost their colors and are now plain white and shiny. It was sometimes painful to watch all that “shining”. There was absolutely none of that perfectly dark atmosphere which followed us in the first movie. The whole concept of booby traps has been changed too. They have become some random CGI effects (which were far from good) and while watching the movie you notice that the characters have no way to find out which room is trapped and which not (their only way of fighting the traps is to manically escape the room when they accidentally trigger one). So you can easily conclude that in this sequel the characters are being thrown in with no actual purpose. Actually, some of them just sit and discuss why were they put in but no one’s real purpose is never revealed during the whole movie. The conception of the maze has been changed drastically, which is a bad thing. Hypercube loses every possible link to reality so you’ll see some very strange (and awful) things while watching like parallel realities (seriously, whose idea was that), time shifts or sudden gravity changes. The best thing about the first Cube was it’s real idea, no matter how Sci-Fi that movie looked I still couldn’t shake the feeling that this maze was somehow possible to make out by using a huge amount of money. Hypercube just isn’t real, on the contrary, it wants to be more and more supernatural.

Visually, Hypercube, was bad and the traps were boring. So you would expect that it would at least have some decent actors who will play some interesting characters. Wrong. The characters in Hypercube look like piles of meat glued together. There is NO character development at all. It seems even the writers were sick of them so they are getting killed in the most stupid possible ways ever. It’s hard to say what everything sucked about them because the list doesn’t seem to end. But believe me, some scenes and dialogues were so awful and they made me laugh. And of course, I forgot to mention that all of characters are walking cliches (actually, it is very hard to even call them “characters” ). I had the feeling some characters were copy/pasted from the first cube only with slightly different characteristics. In this one you also have a mad man who goes on a rampage and kills everyone he sees. But his transformation seems so shallow, you just get the feeling it was made so the movie can have a “main bad guy”. There is a person with mental problems in Hypercube as well. And last but not least,  a very intelligent girl who has problems with her sight. Do I even have to comment how some wannabe twists were pretty obvious from the start? The script was horrible.

Apparently, the writers also think that the audience is a group of retards. From time to time they give you little clues about who is responsible for the making of  the hypercube. A company named Izon which produces weapons.  That name is mentioned all over again through the whole movie. Do they think that we, the watchers, are a group of baboons who can’t conclude something simple as that after we hear the name Izon the first 2 od 3 times? That discovery had completely killed the mood from the first Cube where we don’t have a clue who stands behind all this. Putting the name of that company in the script seemed like a desperate move to me.

My Rating: 3/10… Miles away from the first Cube (and from something that is worth watching)

A Nightmare on Elm Street 2: Freddy’s Revenge (1985)

Posted in Horror Review, Seq Week with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on March 9, 2010 by Pass the Popcorn!

Director: Jack Sholder

Writers: David Chaskin (written by)

Wes Craven (characters)

Tagline: The first name in terror returns…

Plot: A teenage boy is haunted in his dreams by Freddy Krueger who is out to possess him to continue his murdering in the real world.

Cast: Mark Patton – Jesse Walsh

Kim Myers – Lisa Webber

Robert Rusler – Ron Grady

Clu Gulager – Ken Walsh

Hope Lange – Cheryl Walsh

Review (spoilers):

I wrote about the first Nightmare on Elm Street (which I edited today & changed it’s grade, check it out) some time ago. Despite all warnings that the first sequel it’s the worst movie in the whole serial I decided to watch it today. And guess what? I loathed it…very much. I don’t know where to start, I found it to be awful on so many different levels. The plot consists of Freddy haunting some random guy. Apparently, Freddy’s goal is to use him to continue his murders in the real world. As you can see the whole concept of Freddy Kreuger is destroyed in this sequel: you don’t even have to be asleep to be killed by him. And his arrival to the real world was made so stupidly, it finally occurs at the end of the movie but he could have done it sooner with no problems. None of his actions don’t make any sense, actually the whole script is very weak. I also didn’t like how Freddy’s razorblade glove changes to a normal hand with razors coming out of it in some scenes, I found that to be annoying.  Btw, I don’t even know if I am the only one who thinks that Freddy had became a pussy in this sequel. He makes almost no decent kills (except one) and he was finally defeated by a single kiss (how romantic). And of course “The First Name in Terror” (as he is represented in the tagline) can’t handle a struggle with one weak teenage girl.

Speaking of that teenage girl, I must mention how horrible the acting was. From the start I knew not to expect nothing special from the actors (expect from Robert Englund maybe) but this was just awful. The bad acting can best be seen in the scene where  a house hold parrot suddenly goes crazy and attacks the whole Walsh family ( seriously, that scene was wtf). It is so silly and stupid that it even found itself  in a Youtube video series named “Worst movie scenes ever”.  The funniest thing in that scene would surely be the reactions of the family members which were strange? (if you want, you can go rewatch that scene on Youtube and slowly follow the little girl’s reactions, it seems to me that she is smiling, which made the whole scene for me even funnier).The death of that parrot was one of the rare death scenes which you’ll see in Freddy’s Revenge. First kill occurs very late in the movie (a half a hour through). In the whole movie Freddy kills only 3 people (correct me if I’m wrong) and he had much more chances to prove that he really is ” The First Name in Terror”. Oh yeah, I forgot to mention that those murders are very weak for a serial like “Nightmare on Elm Street”.

I want to discuss one more thing… I hope I’m not the only who perceived some softcore gay porn influences which was very strange to me. (A BIG NOTE: I don’t have bad anything against homosexuals but I really didn’t expect to see something like this in Freddy’s Revenge). First off all Jesse enters a bar where homosexuals and transsexuals hang out only to find out that his gym teacher is out there. His gym leader gets spanked by a towel before Freddy kills him. Also Jesse had some troubles with getting near to Lisa but he instantly turns to his friend Grady and begs him to watch over him while he sleeps, etc. I really didn’t expect that kind of mood.

My Rating: 2/10… It’s just bad, simply skip this one in the serial and move onto A Nightmare On Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors. That one can’t be worse than this.