Thursday, November 24, 2016

What I am thankful for...

I am thankful that Ghostbusters 2016 didn't suck as bad as a lot of people made it out to be.

I am thankful that Shin Gojira is still a passable watch despite too much SciFi babble and too many characters roaming around.

I am thankful that Rob zombie got his mojo back with his new movie 31.

I am thankful that The Purge 3 is still action packed and interesting.

I am thankful that The Conjuring 2 is still a good popcorn companion .

I am thankful that Hush is a simplistic yet effective home invasion survival horror.

I am glad 10 Cloverfield Lane is a worthwhile spin-off to one of my most face found footage movies ever.

I am thankful that Fede Alvarez struck genius with his movie Don't Breathe.

I am thankful I choose The Shallow over Lights Out coz the latter didn't turn out as good as I hoped it will be.

I am thankful Train to Busan sortah revived my interest in zombie flicks.

I am thankful that Doctor Strange is keeping the Marvel Cinematic Universe as diverse and fun as possible.

I am thankful that Fender Bender (2016) is such a fun slasher flick.

I am thankful that I only downloaded Cell (2016) coz that has to be the worst Stephen King adaptation I've seen in my life and I simply just deleted it from my collection.

and lastly

I am thankful for my sister for handing me down her laptop so now I can write my reviews with comfort and convenience. Enjoy your new PC, sis!


Tuesday, November 22, 2016

The American Scream: Citrus Springs (2016)

Citrus Spings (2016)
Rating: ***
Starring: Christa Campbell, Jesse Luken, Nicole Smolen

How often do you see a horror trailer use the Bonnie Tyler song Total Eclipse of the Heart? Not a lot so, right off the bat, Citrus Springs easily got my attention from it's strange marketing and I am kinda glad that I saw it, even if the movie turned out to be something totally different.

The quaint town of Citrus Springs has a problem. A home invading serial killer problem. So far, two families already fell victim to this intruder and the entire community is becoming more restless with each massacre, prompting local police to put up curfews and vigilantly patrol the streets, efforts hardly working to prevent the murders and inconveniencing some of the residents.

In the midst of the storm of frightened families and pressured cops, local psychiatrist Jean is tired of her simple small town life and plans on leaving Citrus Springs for the city by setting her house for sale. But with the recent string of murders deterring a lot of her potential buyers and a new break in the case comes in the form of a lone survivor of another current family massacre, Jean is forced to stay and aid the cops in milking out any details of their culprit out of the girl, a task proven to be easier said than done.

With more of its focus aimed at the dynamics between the townsfolk and the local authorities as they go about their days and nights contemplating about the murders, Citrus Springs was hardly a slasher (or horror in general) and instead was a lot more in common with made-for-TV drama thrillers. To be truthful, the closest moment it ever came to being a bodycounter flick was the single onscreen home invasion scene where an entire family gets brutally murdered by a balaclava-wearing loon. It was surprisingly unsettling with its simplicty, but the overly natural tone of the events to follow from the killings are what really got me watching this until the end, but likely to divide the attention of others.

For the next bulk of the run, Citrus Springs shifts gear from a potential home invasion horror to a series of police procedural and small town slice-of-life littered with lots of character interactions and developments, hardly showing the killer and any further murders until the near-hour mark when the obscured culprit shows up not commit another killing, but to instead kidnap an unsuspecting victim out of impulse. With this, the killcount is unsurprisingly low and with half of them ocurring offcamera, it is all hardly exploitative in nature so dumb teenagers and gratuitous nudity are understandably absent. Yet, I just cant help but enjoy the organic feel of the story from the pacing and direction to the believable characters and just how everything is grounded realistically. Granted, it's not going to break any new grounds as either a horror flick or a drama thriller, but as a simple viewing, Citrus Springs is darn passable with its workable production quality and for just being that engaging of a watch.

I guess the only thing that is stopping me from giving this film any higher of a rating would be the anti-climactic ending; with the sudden shift of the killer's modus, I was expecting to see more from this new route but, instead, it was just left alone for a while and then brought up again out of the blue with an unexpected death and a whole lot of filler talk not unlike Psycho 1960's ending. Not the worse way to end a movie and I try to see this as more in tone to the movie's realistic atmosphere, but one cannot deny that it was still an underwhelming path to go after all the initial build up, feeling no different from being rushed and/or a tad too easy of a conclusion.

Still, So what can I say about Citrus Springs? It was alright. Not the best but it certainly deserves a quick look if you have the time. Hardcore slasher and horror fans may try to stay away from this one but for those willing to try it, I say go for it!

1 male and 1 female knifed to death
1 male knifed to death
1 female murdered offcamera with a knife
1 male and 1 female murdered offcamera
1 male stabbed to death with a dagger
Total: 7

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Bottom Barrel Scraps Vol 1

Coz sometimes, there is such as thing as too long reviews for movies that are so bad, dull and/or boring, they don't deserve them.

Blackburn (2015)
Rating: 1/2
Starring: Sarah Lind, Zack Peladeau, Emilie Ullerup

A group of college kids driving across the backwoods mountain route find themselves taking a detour after a horrible CGI landslide blocks their path. The new route unfortunately takes them to the hunting grounds of a murderous backwoods clan consisting of burnt nuthouse escapees, lead by female psycho in a wedding dress.

If you have seen one or two Wrong Turn movies, then you can expect the same kind of bloodshed from Blackburn, down to the fact that it takes place in the woods, there might be some cannibalism involved and that there's more than one deformed killer hunting the cast down. It could have been all fine and fun but indistinguishable antagonists and the painfully boring protagonists just made this movie rather pointless to exist and a chore to watch, somehow worse with its attempt to develop some love triangle-teenage pregnancy conflict within the small casts of stereotype slasher meat. At least the victims get to die through gory deaths, right? No, no they didn't. It's bloody, yeah, but it's hardly anything you have not seen 50 slasher flicks before.

Generic plotting, uninspired. So, no. Just, no. Any backwood slasher (save for Don't Go In The Woods (1981)) is better than this forgettable bear turd of a movie.

1 male murdered offcamera
1 female had her neck snapped
1 female found dead from a rockslide
1 male hacked to death with a pickaxe
1 female murdered, fingers and toes chopped off (flashback)
1 female murdered (flashback)
1 male mentioned knifed to death (flashback)
A number of individuals killed in a burning building (flashback)
2 females skewered from head to death with a rod
1 male shot with an arrow
3 males seen taxidermied
A number of victims seen
1 female hacked on the back with a hatchet, blowtorched on the face
1 male set on fire
1 male knifed through the throat
1 female gets a buzzsaw to the gut, falls unto a burning gear
Total: 17

K-Shop (United Kingdom, 2016)
Rating: *
Starring: Lucinda Rhodes Thakrar, Scot Williams, Ewen MacIntosh

Here's one movie that started out promising; a British Pakistani moves in to his father's kebab shop in the middle of a bad UK district only to have said dad beaten dead in the pavement by some drunken rowdies. Out of this tragedy rises an anti-hero who murders drunkards and serves their flesh as delicious kebab meat, kinda like a modern day Middle-Eastern Sweeney Todd. All of this in the first 30 to 40 minutes in a two-hour movie. What happens afterwards, you ask? Said Anti-hero feeling shit-sorry about himself, contemplating about continuing his murder-canniballism shtick or not. This meant a lot of talking, self-loathing and our protagonist just being an ass to not just himself, but to a whole lot of people, too. Not a lot of gory killings to follow either. Whoopee-fucking-doo-NOT!

A lot of peeps call this a black comedy but I don't see the kind of dark comedy I'm used to here. It kinda did at the beginning and I was pretty certain it will eventually go down the "haha-coz-it's-horrible" kind of gig, but all I got were "I-kill-people-and-yet-I-still-feel-empty-wa-wa-wa" downer talks. The whole thing is just too long for it's own good and whatever message they're trying to relay just got muddled along the way. If there's anything this film did for me, apart from one satisfying murder of a drunk dyke, it'll be the strange craving for meaty Pakistani kebab.

And now that I brought that up, anyone of you knows a good Pakistani restaurant in Manila?

1 male hit his head on the pavement
1 male had his face burnt in a deep fryer, dismembered
1 female had her throat cut with a cleaver
1 female murdered offcamera, arm seen
1 male murdered offcamera, clothes seen
1 male dies from stab wounds
Total: 6

The Laughing Mask (2014)
Rating: *1/2
Starring: Floyd Adams, Arisia Aguiar, Jade Aguiar

In its core, The Laughing Mask is less of a slasher movie and more of a cop drama with gory torturous murders and shit load of uninspired acting befitting a smut flick. It follows a group of law enforcers, including two rival detectives, as they trail along the bloody breadcrumbs left by the titular killer, all the while preventing the murder of one disgruntled writer who lost his family to the laughing maniac and just announced his pure hate against the vigilante in nationwide television.

So, here we have a group of actors pretending to be cops, criminals and everyday fillers bundled together in a movie about a serial killer who not only slays deserving victims, but occasionally keeps some alive to torment. It's a big shoe to fill in if I may say so myself and I will commend some of the efforts done here, but the downer comes at the fact that the executed final product could have been better. Apart from the terrible talents involved and the camera work just looking uninspired, there's also pacing as slow as a snail high on shrooms, the inserted footages of black and white cartoons for the sake of surrealism just didn't work for me, and the use of 40s to 50s carabet music throughout the bloody rampages just gets tiring and annoying real quick.

The Laughing Mask tries to be so many things all at once that I easily lost track of the story and I hardly cared about who lives and dies, so much so that I actually stopped watching this movie halfway and decided to mend my boredom with a double feature of Fender Bender (2016) and Ditch Day Massacre (2016), didn't touch it for at least a week until I decided to man up and finish the damn thing for the sake of this review.

Did not regret stopping halfway, but did regret deciding to see this movie in the first place.

1 female killed with a peeling knife
1 female electrocuted to death
1 male electrocuted to death
1 male gets a blowtorch to the mouth
1 male shot on the head
1 male murdered offcamera
1 male used as a human shield, shot dead
1 male had his throat slashed with a knife
1 female hacked with a sword
1 female garroted
1 male had his throat cut with a knife
1 male pinned to the floor with knives, dismembered with a chainsaw
1 male decapitated with a machete
1 male shot
1 male slashed on the throat with a dagger
1 male stabbed with a dagger
1 male shot
1 male shot on the head
1 male shot
1 female shot
1 male shot
1 male shot on the head
1 male shot to death
1 girl seen drugged, presumably killed
1 female brained with a bat
1 female stabbed with a dagger
1 male castrated with a garden shear
Total: 27

Wonder Valley (2015)
Rating: 1/2
Starring: Suziey Block, David Michaelson, Natalie Pero

A girl suffering from vividly bloody nightmares decides to join her bestfriend and two other guys at a camping trip to some barren valley to ease up her some anxiety issues. None of this is going to end well, of course, as a random shadowy loon with a pickaxe starts to hack them down and possibly cannibalize.

What got me into watching this was its relatively short running time, thinking that even if Wonder Valley will turn up pretty bad, at least it'll be over soon. But holy Hell, was the pacing slow! It actually felt like couching through a friggin millennia as the movie's very muffled audio quality, glitchy editing (the title card just appears in a split second), and grimy video tone made everything hard to follow and there's barely any real slasher action happening to make up for the goddamn wait!

I guess the people behind this weren't aiming for a paint-by-number slasher flick but rather some sort of psychological survival treatment utilizing the barrenness of the desert for an extra creep factors coz, y'know, it's not like we have not done anything like that before. (The Hills Have Eyes series, Blood Frenzy (1987), Scalps (1984), The Hitcher series, Dust Devil (1992), Duel (1971)... Nope! We haven't done anything like that!) Should that be the case then, I may be no expert in writing psychological horror flicks but the last time I saw one, you got to have the right hook to reel us in like, I dunno, interesting characters or premise? Wonder valley has four campers in a very rocky valley, with one of them having bloody nightmares that really doesn't add up to anything. The only psychological horror I can squeeze out that notion is the fact I got the unfortunate luck to watch it. Enough, said! Trash this one!

1 victim missing, glasses seen
1 female hacked on the head with a pickaxe
1 male decapitated with a knife
1 female had her throat cut with a knife
1 male stabbed on the neck with a knife
Total: 5

Saturday, November 12, 2016

Misogyny I wanna Miss: Las Vegas Bloodbath (1989)

Las Vegas Bloodbath (1989)
Rating: *1/2
Starring: Ari Levin, Rebecca Gandara, Barbara Bell

A husband drives home one day to find his wife in bed with another man, goes crazy alarmingly quick and then proceeds to shoot his unfaithful spouse and her lover dead. He then embarks on a killing spree with a goal to rid off any woman he deems dirty, as well as the occasional random bystander who just happens to be at the wrong place at the wrong time.

Now, I shouldn't have a problem with this movie as I can tell it's not meant to be taken seriously with it's casts being eye-rollingly horrendous with their equally inept scripting, as well as the fact that the low-budget shows on its editing, lighting and audio quality so much that the cheesy fondue was just begging to be laughed at. However, by having the villain be this misogynistic whiner and have the film focus purely on his bloody escapades in a pacing so dull and full of filler scenes, I'm quite surprised to discover that even I have standards.

Basically, Las Vegas Bloodbath is really nothing else but a collection of murder scenes committed in a span of a single day and this kind of plotting is usually a hit or miss depending if the central idea and/or character is either entertaining or interesting. Sadly (and fortunately for the sake of whatever soul I have left), I can't find myself to be fully drawn to the idea of a killing spree fueled by gender hate committed by a rather unimpressive looking whiny villain in a mullet as entertaining, especially if it meant sitting through a painfully cheesy tone and total lack of real identifiable characters contrasting horribly with the movie's many attempts to be grim and upsetting. I mean, yeah, I guess some folks will find the fact that the male deaths in this movie were quick and hardly given much thought while the female victims here were berated and gorily dispatched without giving them a valid fighting chance as z-grade tomfoolery meant for the shlock fans, but I can't help but feel this could have been handled better.

Now, if gore alone is all we will consider from this movie then I definitely have no quarrels with that. It's the only thing about Las Vegas Bloodbath that really shined the most as all the latex and corn syrup work looks disgustingly phenomenal despite one or two goofy executions. It's just too bad that the story that goes with it is so generically simple even for a slasher flick that it can easily be replaced with better similarly-plotted bodycounters like, I dunno, Truth or Dare: A Critical Madness (1986)?  (Come to think of it, Truth or Dare does have a murderous ex-husband and mainly consists of random killings, too. And that movie came out at last three years before Bloodbath. Does this mean...? (Insert Twilight Zone theme here))

Anywho, definitely skip this one unless you're into very bad splatter flicks or murderous ex-husbands in bad mullets.

1 male and 1 female shot dead
1 female knifed in the mouth, had a leg torn off with a car
1 male shot on the head
1 male had his head pulped with a shovel
1 pregnant female disemboweled with a knife, fetus cut out
1 female lobotomized with a powerdrill
1 female shot
1 female shot on the head
1 female gets a hatchet buried into her gut
1 male knifed
1 female had her arms torn off
1 male decapitated with a kicked door
1 male shot
Total: 14

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Love Hurts. And Then Some: Travis Baker's Mischief Night (2014)

Mischief Night (2014)
Rating: ***
Starring:  Brooke Anne Smith, Marc Valera, Nikki Limo
Directed: Travis Baker

Not to be confused with the 2013 slasher of the same name, Travis Baker’s Mischief Night centers on Kaylie, a lonely troubled prankster and babysitter who soon finds herself at the mercy of a masked maniac one night before Halloween (AKA “Mischief Night”), only to find her attacker astonished by her uncaring notion of death and couldn’t bring on himself to kill her.

Unsure what to do now, Kaylie and her should-be killer gather themselves up and decided to talk about their issues, somehow forming a bond that might lead to something more than mere friendship. As they cause harmless havoc across the street and watch the twilight skies, can this romance whole-fully change a killer? Or will his murderous instinct win at the end?

A bit unsung but definitely a fascinating variation to our slasher-in-the-house kick as Mischief Night twists the sub-genre into a bittersweet flick thanks to a rather charming duo played by Brooke Anne Smith as Kaylie and Marc Valera as simply "The Man", a couple varying in gender and age but similar in the sense that they both feel insignificant to the rest of the world and just want to be noticed.

To note, Kaylie have more spunk and life to share with her new friend while the man is the kind of patient and understanding figure Kaylie needed, as it was implicated on the very beginning of the film that she has some issues with her boyfriend from what could have been a disagreement between them; in a heartfelt way, these two lonesome beings are just the people they need to fill up their own personal voids and the little time they have together was one of the sweetest moments I’ve seen coming from a horror flick.

Of course, this being part-slasher, we are still treated with some stalk-and-kill action around the first third and a (not so large) bodycount that only occurred as snippets throughout an otherwise plot-driven movie. These serve as a reminder for us that there is still a conflict and the inevitability of people getting mortally hurt, as well as uncertainties of whether it is safe for them to be with one another. It all ties up quite nicely (if not upsetting) around the last act as everything devolves for the worse with a mean-spirited surprise and an ending that may divide an audience.

Production-wise, it’s a rather simple movie to look at with the best thing it can offer is its lead actors and a picturesque camera work, as well as a touching score that worked quite well with the scenes associated with them. Since the slasher portions where reduced to secondary elements however, it doesn’t boast a lot of gore effects and kept it simple with knife stabbings and a sort-of brutal dispatch of a preteen.

Romantic without being overly cheesy and not letting go of its horror elements, it’s a film made to either make you feel special or wary of the people you fall for. With all of this, Mischief Night is an altogether different bodycounting experience that focuses on human interactions all the while playing with our expectations of a bloodletting. I say give it a try but if you prefer a straight slasher, try the other 2013 Mischief Night instead.

1 female had her throat slashed with a knife
1 boy stabbed to death offcamera
1 boy killed offcamera
1 boy disemboweled
1 male knifed to death
Total: 5