Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Boresome Brutal: Muck (2015)

Muck (2015)
Rating: *1/2
Starring: Jaclyn Swedberg, Lauren Francesca, Kane Hodder

Boobs, blood and guts. These are the very things that fuel slasher films everywhere! But there is one other aspect that most dead-teen flicks these days are intentionally forgetting or hadn't been thinking out too well: story.

This being said, let's talk about Muck; now, I will try to give a fair look to its "story" since this is actually the middle entry of a planned trilogy: the first, titled Muck: The Feast of Saint Patrick will be released in 2016 (or something), acting as the prequel to Muck. A third film is yet to be announced but seeing what this "middle child" is already offering to us, I'm not too keen on having that noise in my life.

Come to think of it, I'm not too keen on seeing the prequel either. Let me explain why.

Muck starts out in media res (in the middle of the action); five survivors of an apparent attack stumble out from the marsh, find an abandoned house in the middle of the muck, and bicker at the idea of breaking and entering while fearing that something lurking around is still out to get them. (Apparently whatever attacked them had killed one of their friends already, while another is left wandering topless in the swamp, assumed dead by her oh-so-loving buddies)

Eventually, they all decided to get inside the house after discovering it is unlocked, drink some of the booze while one of them wonders of their chances of surviving by comparing themselves to horror movie characters. (oh, so self-aware~!) Making sure those chances will not happen, nice dude opted to get out and find help, leaving his bitter soon-to-be-doctor girlfriend, a dude with a broken leg, said broken leg dude's bimbo girlfriend, and another girl that' I'm sure is there just for bodycount.

Now, he did find his way out of the swamp and into the welcoming neons of a bar in (get this) West Craven street, managing to borrow a phone from one of the slutty wives drinking there, but instead of calling the cops, he called his cousin "Troit" instead.

Look, see, if our supposed "hero" is this dumb, then what about the rest of the characters back at the house, you say? Well, I don't give a fucking damn coz they'll all be dead: one of them gets hacked with an axe by Kane Hodder's character "Grawsome Crutal" (which was a pretty cool looking killer if only he lasted longer than 5 minutes fighting one of our protagonists), another gets burned alive, another got stripped naked before being thrown through a window (yeouch), and another gets crushed by a car flipped by what appears to be an army of albino men with markings carved on their bodies.

Who are these men and why are they after the teens? Nobody bothers to explain, though some parts of the film hint that there might be something else bigger and deadlier than these freaks, which adds up to...nothing. For the entire movie, it's either teenagers being hunted by literal white men (two of which are bigger and bulkier than the rest), or teenagers with enough jockiness killing off or at least knocking out some of these freaks. By then, I'm starting to care less and less whether these guys survive in this movie or not, but just when it looks like we're in it for more, it just ends with a cliffhanger.

So, that was Muck. That was the entire "movie". Positives? Intriguing marketing strategy, lots of boobs and ass, zero CGI, loads of blood, loads of dangerous stunts, interesting looking killers, and an awesome final fight scene.

The negatives? Intriguing marketing strategy, no story, lots of boobs and ass, shitty characters, horrid lighting, horrid editing, no beginning, no ending, lots of unanswered questions.

Of all things to say, I find their gimmick of releasing the middle entry of a franchise flawed; I mean, if this is what the supposed "second" entry of a series was willing to offer, what does it say for the first film? The third? Granted that the prequel may shed some light on some questions Muck left for us, for those seeing this film as a stand-alone movie and expecting a badass slasher in the swamp will be sorely disappointed unless they're shallow enough to overlook story over tits, ass, and blood. (no gore. surprisingly)

Sadly, I'm the kind of guy that likes at least some story in his horror movies and would rather have some blood and gore than see boobs and butts in every random moment. Not that I don't like boobs, but too much ain't good for anybody and, apparently, anything. And that includes a slasher titled Muck!

1 male mentioned murdered
1 female axed on the gut
1 female attacked, presumably killed
1 male set on fire
1 female through through a window
1 male hacked with an axe
1 male impaled through with a pitchfork
1 female crushed by a toppling car
1 female killed, blood splash seen
1 male axed on the gut
1 male axed on the back
1 male hacked with an axe
1 male axed, set on fire
1 male pulled into the water, killed
1 male hacked with a shovel
Total: 15

Burnt Potato from Down Under: Houseboat Horror (1989)

Houseboat Horror (Australia, 1989)
Rating: **
Starring: Alan Dale, Christine Jeston, Craig Alexander

A rock-and-roll band and a film crew decided to shoot a music video at Lake Infinity, where years ago another film crew met their demise at a fiery accident, leaving one survivor, a child, burnt and insane. As any backwoods slasher enthusiasts would know, once a crispy hand grabs the machete, you can tell where this is going.

Noticeably hated for a lot of good reasons, Houseboat Horror prides itself as the first Shot on Video horror flick from Australia, a gimmick that does fairly little to make up for the numerous amount of flaws this slasher committed, involving loads of cheesy bad acting, Japanese paper-thin story, and a pacing that forces viewers to accept idiots being idiots as an alternative for brooding suspense.

Then again, there are a lot of other backwoods slashers that have done worse compared to Houseboat Horror; while the story is tacky and the characters are the kind of people you would like to die off writhing in pain through a woodchipper, the film boasts a fairly sizable kill count and a surprisingly gore-friendly outings that includes a head splitted in half with a curved machete, a nicely done harpoon shooting and a poor thespian getting a horseshoe to the eyes.

Plus, the script is bad movie good, kinda chuckle worthy at times that it did made the movie bearable even if we have to sit through a 3 minute corny music video for a song that, while good, is forgettable nonetheless. Guess what I'm trying to say here is that, while panned reasonably, I didn't find it as bad as most reviewers make it.

Blame it on my brain being mush (seeing I watched this after I saw the abysmal Muck (2015)), or my forgiving nature (for an extent), I'm giving Houseboat Horror a passable grade for being so-bad-its-good-and-funny. Now, where did I put my copy of Coda (1987)...

1  male found nearly beheaded with a kukri
1 female stabbed to death with a kukri
1 male hacked on the head with a hatchet
1 male gets a throat cut with a kukri
1 male ran through with a kukri
1 male hacked with a kukri
1 female stabbed on the eyes with a horseshoe
1 female knifed to death
1 male shot through with a speargun
1 female knifed through the neck
1 male impaled on a thrown pipe
1 male had his head split in half with a kukri
1 female strangled to death
Total: 13

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Slitting Up and Freaking In: Innocent Prey (1983)

Innocent Prey ( US/Australia, 1983)
Rating: ***1/2
Starring: P.J. Soles, Kit Taylor, Grigor Taylor 

Behind the suit and tie, Cathy Will's husband Joe has a nasty habit of slitting throats when he is in a bad mood. She found out about this the harshest way when she spotted his car parked to a motel one night she dropped her friend off to the airport, and finds him in tryst with a prostitute, slitting her throat in the middle of their passion.

Obviously frightened of her discovery, Cathy called the cops and set-up a bust the very same night, with the men in uniform already waiting outside their isolated ranch to capture her husband once she made him confess his killings. But this only sets Joe deeper into dementia; a few days after his capture, he found the opportunity to escape the asylum he was carted off to and made his way back to finish off his wife.

A few cops got called and killed in a not-so-gory yet acceptable fashion, leaving Cathy to defend herself in your typical slasher film way until her sheriff friend came on the scene and assured her safe. She was for that night as her husband hot foots away, evading capture.

The attack pushed Cathy into flying away to Australia from Dallas, and live there with another friend, but things are far from fine; not only had her husband found out where she moved to, but she also caught the attention of another psycho; the tech-savvy maintenance keeper of the building she is living in, who monitors everything happening in each room with hidden cameras and rigged each door with powerful volts.

Obviously, Cathy's life is messed up from that point on, but the film itself? While it does play with the idea of a woman in peril in such odd heights, I wouldn't call it terrible.

Innocent Prey had a good build-up around its characters, though I do feel that the two psychos were simply there to be menaces in the story and our lead heroine Cathy (played by Halloween 1978's P.J. Soles) does come quite naive at times. Dialogue can be a bit goofy at times but it adds to the playful cheesiness this film was obscuring under the attempts to make the production look serious. By the time Cathy moved to the land down under, it took a breather and gave us some soap-opera hysterics where Soles' character adjusts to her new life. Due to this, it had its slow moments, but director Colin Eggleston of Long Weekend and Cassandra (1986) knew how to build good tension and thrills to keep things interesting while we wait, most of it coming from Kit Taylor's own take as a maddened hubby, and John Warnock as a landlord with a thing for voyeurism and electrocution. 

This tone does come unstable at times as some scenarios come out looking over-blown, as if the plot just kept getting trashier and edgier by the minute. Needless to say, the last shot of the movie seems to hint this but it strangely fits the undeniable cheddar that reeks out of the otherwise dramatic twists, more the reason for us horror fans to at least give this bonkers movie a swing.

It's not perfect as you can tell; a lot of elements don't work out but when it comes to low budget and low realism, Innocent Prey thrives from this and if you're the kind who cannot tolerate outrageous character and plot build-up, then you'll be riding with a headache.

Otherwise, if you're the kind of slasher fanatic who can tolerate a good sense of hamminess, this is a movie to add to your collection. I know I did!

1 female gets her throat cut with a razor
1 male found knifed
1 male knifed on the gut
1 female found decapitated
1 male had his neck snapped, set on fire
1 male murdered, method unknown
1 female electrocuted in a pool
1 male electrocuted on a rigged door knob
1 male pushed through a window, falls to her death
Total: 9

Monday, March 23, 2015

Literature Gone Deader: "Kids Get Dead" Double Bill Review

Kids Go To The Woods...Kids get Dead (2009)
Rating: **
Starring: Leah Rudick, Andrew Waffenschmidt, Joseph Campellone 

Presented in a midnight movie fashion where a young hot hostess "Candy Adams" cuts in and out to give her insights of the film, Kids Get Dead (not a typo. I'm unsure what they were trying to accomplish with this vocabulary) is a throwback to the halcyon days of 80s backwood slashers with a few dabs of 90s self-awareness.

The 80s backwoods slasher-part is basically an "80s backwoods slasher"; as the title suggests, teens go to a backwoods cabin to celebrate their friend's birthday, who in turn brought along her horror-obsessed younger brother who spends the entire weekend reading a slasher novel, which is suspiciously also titled as "Kids Go To The Woods...Kids Get Dead".

This is where the 90s self-aware part comes in. Sort of. As a horror nerd, younger brother gets his geek on with the book he is reading, much awkwardly when he is the only one in the whole pack who finds it exciting. But the further he reads (and the more "kids get dead" under the hands of a gas mask-wearing killer), the more he begins to notice the similarities of what is happening in real life with the events written in the book. Though one may wonder why he didn't just skip a few chapters ahead and beat the killer by reading what he'll do next, this is the only novelty Kids Get Dead is willing to offer.

Very little is done to explain this magical book so, in the end, we are still stuck with a routine slasher where gore is bright red and bodies pile up in a decent momentum. The killer does look pretty badass with his gas mask and air-tanks but, just like the prophesying novel, not much was given to explain his motive and origin, and he is simply there to slaughter some partying teens.

Casts are paint-by-number cliches, though a majority of them are unlikable due to being plain, annoying, an asshole, or an odd combination of the three. Thankfully they were done away in gory fashion with much sensibilities of that of an 80s backwoods slasher, so all's not lost.

Sad to say, as much as I want to at least like Kids Get Dead, the movie has very little to offer save the decent gore effects and a promising yet easily ditched idea of literature paralleling reality. Add the lack of any characters to root for and the annoying and unfunny interludes with the hostess that served no purpose but to give the film both a running time and tribute feel to midnight horror shows, the film deserves a viewing just for the sake of curiosity or if you're a slasher completist.

1 female stabbed to death with a hunting knife
1 male gets a throat cut with a hunting knife
1 male axed on the head
1 female hacked to death with an axe
1 female stabbed with a hunting knife (dream)
1 male gets a throat cut with a hunting knife
1 female smashed to a mirror, killed with a hunting knife
1 female kicked to a bonfire, face burned
1 female gets a thrown hunting knife to the back
1 male disemboweled with a hunting knife
1 male axed on the chest
1 male got his throat ripped off
1 male gets his head twisted to the back
1 male impaled with a broken shovel handle
Total: 14

Kids Get Dead Part 2: The Kids Get Deader (2014)
Rating: **1/2
Starring: Sam Albertsen, Pawl Bazile, Kathy Biehl

And five years later, The Kids get Deader.

The movie, still presented as a late night horror show hosted by a new, perkier and cheesier Peaches McNeil, picks up a few years after the first as Casey, the lone survivor of a backwoods massacre that took the life of her brother, sets out to find the author of a novel that foretold the killings, Charles Carver, hoping to get some answers.

Upon meeting him, however, she discovers that another novel's been published and Carver has god-like powers somehow, bending reality to torment and hinder her from stopping him. (Think Suther Kane from John Carpenter's cult masterpiece In The Mouth of Madness (1994). If you have no idea what I'm talking about, you are missing a lot as a horror fan.)

All the while, a party is happening on the other side of town, where a lonesome horror geek finds himself caught in not only bullying sluts, beer-jugging idiots and stoned morons, but also a sleek, machete-wielding gas-masked psycho. Will history repeat itself? Or will Casey make it in time to stop the slaughter?

A slight improvement on some levels but, much like the first film, it is still missing some prowess. In typical sequel fashion, the kills are gorier and a lot more elaborate, with some metaphysical reality-bending mumbo-jumbo thrown in that, while generally obscured in favor of teen bodycounting, did hint to have some kind of explanation. Unfortunately, the film still lacks any real sympathetic characters as, though we all can root better for the horror-fan outcast that acts as this entry's secondary lead, the rest of the victims-to-be are plainly characterized as partying and sexcapading idiots who are just begging to be killed. Thankfully, we have another gas-masked killer out to do just that, looking less hunched and more modernized than his last incarnation.

Tone is uneven, sometimes delving into cheesier realms but the movie does have its mean streaks delivered in unforgiving and near-hopeless fashion. Much of this comes from the character Charles Carver, whose power to write anything into reality screams a classic Twilight Zone feel, and too the dread of questioning one's reality in an existential kind of way. This could have gotten better if it wasn't for the budget, but I am willing to overlook this seeing how well the slasher parts and the production were handled at least.

Though I'm still not a fan of cheesy interludes cutting in just when the story was getting good, Kids Get Dead 2 seems to be working into something big and, I have to be honest, it does make it worth looking into. A possible third entry is hinted in the end, but only time can tell on how serious they are with that claim; until then, should you have the time and/or curiosity to look into this series, give the first one a go before jumping into this piece. It's not the best franchise around but it is struggling to be the next big thing to come for dead teenagers films. Lets savor the effort.

1 female hunting knifed on the head
1 male had his groin bitten off, face flayed off with hunting knife
1 male disemboweled with a knife, strangled with his own guts
1 male immolated in car explosion
1 female had her neck broken
2 males gets a double throat slashing with a hunting knife
1 dog thrown dead
1 male ran through the face with a lawnmower
1 male axed on the gut, head stomped
1 male eviscerated with a knife
1 female beheaded with a hunting knife
1 female knifed to death
1 male drowned in a toilet
1 male axed on the chest
1 female knifed on the chest
Total: 16

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Boy Scout Be Damned: Cub (2014)

Cub (Welp) (Belgium, 2014)
Rating: ***1/2
Starring: Stef Aerts, Evelien Bosmans, Titus De Voogdt

It was a bright and sunny morning when 12-year old Sam spiraled straight down to hell; as a "Pathfinder" scout, he'll be joining the rest of the young troops on a camping trip to the woods, under the watchful eye of two Scout masters and a gal volunteering as the camp's cook. But being orphaned, Sam's a tad down and finds it difficult to get along with others, a reason enough for the other children and one notorious scout master to constantly bully him.

As night falls, the scouts were told of an old legend about a werewolf named Kai, who is believed to make mischief in very same the woods they are staying at. Sam never bought this story until he felt eyes watching him behind the woods and finds a large nest-like tree house not far from camp. He soon encounters a masked feral boy who have been stealing food from their camp, which Sam comes to believe as Kai. When he tries to convince the rest of who he just found, he is further ridiculed for believing the silly legend.

Things go for the bloody when Sam angers the bullying scout master after he caught the man spooning the cook, leading to the jerk attacking him with his pet pitbull. Kai saw this and offers Sam a chance to get even by clubbing the dog to death before leaving the scout to take all the blame. As Sam boils further in hot water, it turns out the feral boy isn't the only one to keep an eye out for in those deep woods as a killer with a penchant for deadly traps had the entire forest littered with them and they've set their blades on thinning down the group one victim at a time.

Cub is a slasher movie that pushed some boundaries and succeeded in a level; with the entire premise focusing on a lonesome scout and how he descents into a night of survival and madness, it is pretty gritty as we get violence against anything that breathes, handled with a good build-up.

The best way to describe Cub is that it's a pot-boiler; for a movie that runs an hour and 20 minutes, credits included, it took about a near hour before the killings begin. Until then, we took our time following Sam's ordeal under the hands of most of the gang, with two particular boys and the one aforementioned scout master doing most of the damage while the two other adults simply try to put everything under control, nevertheless failing to set anything straight or simply choosing to remain quiet. These bullying incidents hold nothing back, thus the sense of hopelessness and isolation can be quite overwhelming, thus helping set up what could be "justified" violence as Kai and an unnamed maniac decided to track down their prey.

By then, Sam's unusual relationship with Kai is sort of explored, as the two mirrors an odd reflection of each other for being outcasts and sporting a mysterious and violent past. But the boys' strange pasts aren't the only one thing obscured here; without revealing much, you can say that the direction of the movie has us wallowing on an uncertain tone as anybody can die off once the plot finally got its momentum and the production made an exceptional expense in keeping the deadlies as graphic as they are shocking.

A dog was clubbed for nearly 3 minutes, children were beaten against trees, thespians are slaughtered with knives and booby traps, the slasher parts resemble the same twisted machinations from the home invasion-slasher hybrid, The Collector (2009), with a bit of feral boy madness from that of Lord of The Flies or that obscured cheesefest Memorial Valley Massacre. (Wouldn't blame you if you hadn't heard of that one) The one flaw I see here was the last act wherein everything halts to give the characters a moment to choose sides and survive, only to take an odd turn with an ending that may divide an audience but cathartic nonetheless.

In the end, Cub proves its worth as a serious slasher horror that deserves its praise and its audience; there's the depth of innocence being lost as temptations for vengeance and power took hold, mixed incredibly well with stock cliches of an 80s slasher movie. It's definitely a gem well-needed to be tracked down and enjoyed by fans alike.

1 male killed offcamera
1 male pinned to a tree by a shot arrow, stung to death by bees
1 dog bludgeoned with dead branches, throat bitten
3 bodies seen frozen in a makeshift freezer
1 male gets a pocket knife to the eye
1 boy ran down with a van
5 boys and 1 girl ran over with a van
1 male crushed by falling logs
1 boy knifed to death
1 female impaled through spikes, knifed to death
Total: 17

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

There'll be Girls. They'll be Dead: Girl House (2014)

Girl House (Canada, 2014)
Rating: ****
Starring: Ali Cobrin, Adam DiMarco, Slaine

When I came upon Girl House, I have absolutely no idea what I'm getting into; yes, I'm aware that this is another slasher movie and, yes, I was aware it had something to do with porn. But my God, I never knew it'll be this good. Guess it does help not to read about a movie before seeing it. (Sometimes; picture all the cash I would have saved if I knew how bad Sledge (2014) was gonna be...)

We open in 1988 Alabama, where we watch a nameless chubby boy get chased and bullied into flashing himself by a couple of girls. This obviously sets him off and we later see him exacting vengeance upon one of the skankerous tykes by pushing her off a bridge.

Skipping to the present, Kylie is a college gal whose father recently passed away; hoping to settle her own tuition as a way to help her mum, she took the opportunity to star in a live webcam voyeur/chat show called Girl House, where paying viewers can watch the girl's daily X-rated adventures inside the titular house, as well as chatting with them mostly for a show.

The house is supposedly unhackable, untraceable, and secluded to make sure no one would dare intrude and harass the girls living there. Seeing this as a fair and well thought offer, Kylie gets tour of the place, settle in and become an instant hit during her first live strip show, much to earn the respect of most of the other girls living there and the site's faithful viewers.

This is when we get to see two of the site's patrons who we should keep an eye out for; one of them is Alex, who's bestfriend Ben isn't technically a fan of the site but got drawn there after recognizing Kylie from kindergarden as a flame he's still keeping alive. Alex plots to have Ben man up and date the girl of his dreams, which is pretty sweet and gave the film a good plot bulk before the killing starts.

And speaking of which, the other patron is none other than the now-adult fat kid from the opening, usernamed "Loverboy". He grew up into a computer whiz (smart enough to undo the Girl House site's complicated firewall system) and is instantly infatuated with Kylie, but judging from the basement full of edited pictures of him and the other house girls in romantic settings and the life-sized mannequin for kissing practice, it's obviously the kind of infatuation that will end up with stalking and/or a corpse or two.

The movie took its time building up Kylie and Ben's budding relationship, all the while showing how Kylie is holding up with her new role as a teenage smut celebrity of sorts. But when a chat conversation between Loverboy goes wrong, Kylie and the girls soon face the deranged fan's wrath as he skillfully hacks into the site's security and video system, trailing the house and easily murdering his way through.

This is around the last third of the film and frankly, I think they pulled it off pretty well. Part of why Girl House works as a slasher is that it paces itself fairly, building tension and depth within its premise rather than going full exploitation. Sure, there are some softcore scenes where the gals strip for show, but this isn't the main focus of the movie. Instead, it took a good run looking into Kylie's character and the brooding of a mad man whose hatred for girls is one sided yet scarring.

Ali Cobrin of American Reunion (2012) did a fine job as Kylie, giving her a believable take as a teenager with a career choice that is something one would not be proud of, but does everything to make it work eitherways. I find the choice of obscuring the character's strip session wise as it avoid dehumanizing her, hence the sleaze being minimal despite all the sexual set-pieces, something I also came to like about Girl House; it is a slasher film with focus.

Interestingly, the story goes as far as making the Girl House website and house entirely different from your usual smut sites; the owner is fair (and gay), gives the girls all the freedom to do whatever they want with the patrons, meaning they can simply talk with them without ever showing their tits on screen. Not much focus was given on the girls and thanks to this approach, they do come off more as meat for murder. A slight flaw from an otherwise perfect slasher film.

Then again, slasher fans should be thrilled to know that this film shows a good idea on how to do a great hack-a-thon bodycounter; savagely non-CG slayings, inventive murder weapons, unexpected turns, and a really cool killer get-up, Girl House feels like a 90s slasher with 80s style killings. Since we get to know early who the killer is and why he is doing all of this, I have to admit this made the plot lacking some tension, but the energy put into these set-ups and the fluid camera work help make up for the loss, bringing to life an even level brutality and horror entertainment rarely seen nowadays.

The final result is a slasher movie that deserves to be seen by not just slasher fans, but horror purists as well. Good premise, excellent execution, well-scripted and acted casts, and bloody brutal kills, Girl House is too hot to miss!

1 girl pushed off a bridge
1 male had his head crushed with a door
1 male seen murdered
1 male seen with a throat cut
1 male seen murdered
1 male seen murdered
1 male had his neck broken
1 female strangled with a chord
1 female had a dildo shoved down her throat, smothered with a length of tape over her face
1 male beheaded with a hacksaw
1 female bashed on the head with a crochet mallet
1 female stabbed through the back with an animal horn
1 male stabbed in the neck with a screwdriver
1 female hacked with a hammer claw
1 female smothered with a plastic bag
1 male found bled to death from stab wound
1 male had his face pulped in with a camera
Total: 17

So Halloween (1978)!

Here Come The Furies: Savaged (2013)

Savaged (AKA Avenged, Ravaged) (2014)
Rating: ****1/2
Starring: Amanda Adrienne, Tom Ardavany, Ronnie Gene Blevins

You know what I hate in life? Intolerant extremists. May it be of gender, religion, or race, I tolerate all but the intolerant, especially racists rapists. With that said, you can tell how much I adore this gleefully fun revenge thriller, blood, guts and all.

On a state-long car ride to live with her boyfriend Dane, hearing-impaired Zoe sees herself in an awry situation when she tries to rescue a chased native American from a pick-up truck full of redneck hooligans. Sadly, the punks caught up, murder the poor fellow and capture Zoe to rape, torture and, when she tried to escape, murder her ultimately.

Her body is then buried in a shallow grave that one night, only to be eventually discovered by an old Native American witch doctor who tries to resurrect her. (Good karma, I guess) The spell worked, but the soul of a killed and vengeful Apache warrior tagged along and possesses Zoe's body as well, with plans of using her to avenge his death against the ancestor of the man that killed him. (which, by luck, was the guy who raped Zoe)

One by one, the hicks fall dead at the hands of their own victim, which escalates drastically when Dane shows up in town looking for his girlfriend and ends up kidnapped by the rednecks with plans of using him as bait; this sets both Zoe and the fallen warrior out for a bloody showdown against those who wronged them and to save an innocent life.

While marketed as a rape and revenge thriller, Savaged is much closer to the likes of The Crow, focusing less on the exploitation nature of rape movies and more on the character development and buckets of gooey gore to satisfy horror hounds. And though there are moments where it can be a bit cheesy, the story has tone, being both somber and, surprisingly, hopeful, going well along side-to-side with the beautiful cinematography and a skilled pacing that took its time to build around its characters.

The casts done an amazing job portraying their roles, particularly Amanda Adrienne as our lead, Zoe; Since she is supposed to be deaf, her screen time consists of strong body motion to express her plight and exhaust from being exploited, murdered and then revived to a state that she wasn't prepared for. Even before she gets in this predicament, the character's hearing handicap felt little like just an excuse to make her sympathetic, but more of a state she is going through and will do anything to prove to the world she can do more despite having it. More the reason to root and feel for her.

From time to time, she gets possessed by the Apache warrior, who dishes out the coolest and goriest murders one would find in a revenge thriller. Guts be pulled, heads will roll, and topped off with a chainsaw fight between a hick and a supernaturally empowered woman, all done with 90% traditional, non-CG effects, which is always a plus for my bodycounters.

Said would-be corpses also pass their own interesting take on cliched characters. They're not cartoonish stereotypes, but simple jerks and racist hicks who are just begging to get what's coming to them. Rodney Rowland as Trey and Tom Ardavany as West are two sides of the hick coin; while Trey is boisterous and the most jerkish of the bunch, West is intimidatingly calm and and orders his crew with a knife hidden, taking his time to strike.

Of course, there were more thespians tossed in the lion's pit for the sake of kill count but some of them were there for a reason. May it be to avenge a fallen son or awaiting to be killed cuz they were aware of who's residing underneath Zoe's body, they all fall under the tomahawk's edge.

The only flaw I can see here, and the one most viewers will agree, is that some CG shots looked weird and shows how much was spent for the movie. On the upside of this, it also shows how much skill writer and director Michael S. Ojeda have for genre flicks and, with the proper budget, would probably ended up with the next indie hit since Halloween (1978)!

Ending with a bittersweet finale, the resulting product is a thriller with a well-placed supernatural overtone, splashy gore, a fitting love story and bad guys getting their just desserts. Believe the hype, Savaged is one for the shrine. A video shrine!

1 male ran over with a truck
1 male stabbed to death with a hunting knife
1 male stabbed on the eye with a broken pool stick
1 male disemboweled with a broken bottle, killed
1 male slaughtered offcamera
1 male shot to death with arrows
1 male impaled through the head with a thrown spear
1 male beheaded with a tomahawk
1 male slaughtered offcamera
1 male hanged and gutted
1 male hacked with a thrown tomahawk, heart cut out
1 male found dead with wrist cuts
1 female hacked with a tomahawk
1 male decapitated with a tomahawk
1 female set on fire
Total: 15

Hell hath no fury like a woman and a native scorned

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Thy Future is Harsh on Thy Throat: Rumpelstiltskin (1995)

Rumpelstiltskin (1995)
Rating: **1/2
Staring: Max Grodénchik, John Ducey, Kim Johnston Ulrich

Once upon a time, in a land somewhere in 1400s Europe, the monstrous imp Rumpelstiltskin had stolen a baby from a mother, claiming it as his reward for spinning her some gold from ordinary hay. An angry mob is after him, cornering the hunchbacked creature at the edge of a seaside cliff as they threatened and beg for the baby. He challenges the mob to "bring the pain" and took no time showing off his demonic prowess and killing a few locals.

That is, until a witch stepped in, apparently part of the mob; she casts a curse upon old Rumpelstiltskin, turning him into a stone sculpture and will remain like that for a thousand years, or until a widow with a baby makes a tearful wish. Sure of herself that the odds of exactly that happening are slim, she casts Rumpel-stone-skin to the sea below, hoping it will never reach surface.

It did.

Forward to present time Los Angeles, where a stay-at-home wife Shelley was talking to her policeman husband of what they'll name their unborn baby when a mugger decided to commit grand theft auto right in front of the cops. (In broad daylight, if I may add!) Naturally, a shootout happens, and both the mugger and hubby cop bit the dust, leaving Shelley a widow and their child fatherless.

Nearly a year later, Shelley is doing well enough as a single mother but obviously still grieving over the loss; her squeaky-voiced friend suggested that both her and little baby Johnny could use a breath of fresh air and invited the two for antique shopping.

It just so happen that a new shop opened and was selling a vast collection of oddities; one of which happens to be the petrified remains of ole' Rumpy. The sculpture automatically caught the attention of Shelley, opting to buy it despite the warnings of the store's baggy-haired, maybe-a-witch owner that it is not for her.

Obviously, she didn't listen and after hearing that the stone grants wishes, she asked it to bring her husband back once she took the sculpture home. Later that night, her wish was granted (to an extent), releasing Rumpelstiltskin from his curse and is now after her baby John when she failed to say his name that one time.

The rest of the movie is basically a chase story; after escaping her first encounter with Rumpel, Shelley is then chased out of her house and into the road, meeting a TV show host that just happens to be out driving to his cabin in the woods (and later teams up with her cuz he found out he's "good at the whole 'hero' business"), and getting a lot of people in the way killed.

Now, let me make this clear, Rumpelstiltskin is not a good movie. Nor is it an entirely bad one. It is the kind of movie made for people who can tolerate and enjoy films like Leprechaun and have a good time. (Then again, this film was made by Leprechaun's writer/director. Mark Jones, so that should say something)

It's completely fun, overridden with plot holes (like the fact Uncle Rumpy, who never seen a motorbike and a truck, just happens to know how to drive 20th century "steeds") and a barrage of odd characters, Rumpelstiltskin would have been a new franchise to feature a quip-spewing, hunchbacked imp with a vast knowledge of all things modern, which some of us might assume he learned while he was in stone form.

But alas, he never made it to space or the ghetto like Jones' other and more successful monster The Leprechaun; reasons for this might be that the story never got the same sense of magic and foolery as the first Leprechaun movie, as well as dry range of gory kills as almost all of the violence occurs offcamera and/or isn't that exciting enough.

Also, let's not forget the fact that the film features a monster that can be stopped by saying his name; a solution that would had ended this film after 30 minutes if the whole cast just happen to remember how the damn story ended in the first place. The strangest thing about this is that they do know the story, but none of them seem to have the brains enough to remember how the damn princess won her baby!

Still, I find the movie workable as a guilty pleasure thanks to the performance of Max Grodinchik as the titular baby snatcher and Tommy Blaze as the sleazy yet caring loadmouth TV host Max Bergman. If anything, the silliness of the premise and the execution itself was what made this movie worth its penny. Where else can you find a movie that features a chase scene between a 16-wheeler truck and a tiny go-kart? Only Rumpelstiltskin had the guts to do something silly and it was good. (Well, not Good good but, y'know what I mean.)

It's not a movie that pays a lot of tribute to the original fairy tale, but more or less took some details from it and went ahead with its own dealing. The result is a messily horror movie that could use a lot of polishing, especially with the renditions done from the fairy tale, but nevertheless a fun flick to enjoy poking fun and inconsistencies at, particularly if you're drunk with your drinking buddies.

1 male thrown off a cliff
1 male shot on the head
1 male bled to death from gun shots
1 female had her neck broken
1 male had his head torn off
1 male bitten on the neck
1 male found murdered
1 male seen pinned to the wall with a flag pole
1 male gets a throat cut
1 female thrown through a window
1 male bled to death from gun wound
1 female strangled to death
Total: 12
Uncle Rumpy has arrived!