Thursday, 26 January 2012

Chop (2011)

The cast -
Billy Bakshi (Will Keenan) as Lance Reed
Timothy Muskatell as The Stranger
Tanishaa Mukherji as Emily Reed
Adam Minarovich as Detective Williams
Tamil T. Rhee as Detective Roebuck
Chad Ferrin as Bobby Reed
Mark Irvingsen as Ray
Elina Madison as Tammy

Director - Trent Haaga
Writer - Adam Minarovich

The plot -
Lance Reed is let down by his car that has broken down by the road side. Shortly after, he hitches a ride with a stranger, who turns out to be a psychotic stranger! It takes a turn for the worse when Lance is made to chose between his half brother Bobby and his wife Emily in a game of life and death. Over the next couple of days things get really bad with frequent visits from the stranger, who forces Lance to confront his duplicitous past. Seeking retribution for a crime, the man forces Lance to reveal his inner most secrets by systematically removing his limbs.

From the outset you don't quite know what to make of Lance. By the end of the opening scene you kind of feel sorry for him. Then as the movie progresses, while Lance tries to remember the connection between himself and the stranger, he admits to doing some really bad things in his past and you start to think that this guy deserves everything he's getting.

Between dealing with the stranger, Lance has to contend with the local police and a few interesting characters from his past, that have nothing but bad intentions towards him.
With each admission to past crimes, another appendage of Lance's body is removed!

By the end of the movie, the sorry feeling for him creeps back in though.

This movie has a good amount of laugh out load moments, sometimes even while Lance is getting chopped up! The blood and gore effects are good. The acting from Bakshi is great and Muskatell is equal to the task, you really get connected to their characters. The rest of the cast provide good support. The story feels original and is well presented.
Also, keep an eye out for a cameo from Camille 'I Spit on Your Grave' Keaton.

I really enjoyed this and I feel like, once again, I found a refreshing piece of film making, from what seems to be out of nowhere.

Chop gets an 8/10

Check out the trailer below...

Tuesday, 24 January 2012

The Orphan Killer (2011)

The cast -
Diane Foster as Audrey
David Backus as The Orphan Killer
Matt Farnsworth as Mike
James McCaffrey as Detective Jones
John Savage as Detective Walker
Karen Young as Sister Mary
Charlotte Maier as Sister Constance
Spencer List as Young Marcus
Dana DeVestern as Young Audrey

Director & Writer - Matt Farnsworth

The plot -
The film follows the life of two children who become wards of the state in New Jersey after a home invasion results in the murder of their parents. Having witnessed the murder, Marcus is forever changed. The siblings are sent to a Catholic orphanage where Audrey is subsequently adopted and Marcus is left behind. He suffers abuse at the hands of the caretakers and as a punishment is masked and exiled. Never forgiving his sister for abandoning him, Marcus returns to his sister's life many years later in adulthood, still masked.

The Orphan Killer is a Tour De Force murder flick that defies classification. It goes far beyond current trends in gore and breaks open a new suffering genre of horror. Marcus Miller is a serial murderer hellbent on teaching his estranged sister Audrey what it means to have family loyalty. His lessons are taught in massive doses of vulgar and unimaginable pain. Throughout her brutal torture we learn that Marcus is not the only Miller with Killer in the bloodline as Audrey proves to be a formidable adversary.

OK, let's get this first point out of the way, yes, this is a low budget horror, and yes, it looks it throughout the movie.
Secondly, the acting is bad and the script isn't the best.
But you know what?
Forget about that!
Despite these negative points, that would normally ruin the whole film, the fact is this movie left me wanting more, and in a good way.

This feels like the re-invention of the classic slasher, paying homage to guys like Michael Myers and Jason Voorhees. Even though the story isn't exactly original, it still felt fresh with its own unique spin.

The first few minutes start of well, giving us a glimpse of the end of the movie. It dies down a bit for the next ten minutes or so, then we see some good old fashioned blood and gore.

With cheap thrills and no CGI, nothing is left to the imagination. Old school special effects, lots of blood and body parts flying everywhere, just the way it should be!

Each kill scene is different. The killer goes from using a machete to barbed wire to a knife to an axe to murder his prey.

I kept thinking to myself "if Matt Farnsworth had some real money behind him this could be the start of a whole new slasher franchise." And one I'd welcome!

This also has an awesome soundtrack, if you're into your Metal that is. I am and I loved it.
Apparently Farnsworth has stated that he has plans for a sequel. Hopefully with a better script writer but with Farnsworth's story telling and direction still, this really could be the start of something big.
Dare I say it? OK, I will... With the right money, give it twenty or thirty years and a few sequels, and possibly prequels and remakes knowing this day and age, this could be a franchise as big as Halloween and Friday the 13th! Remember, you heard that right here, from me, first!

If you can stand bad acting and low budgets and are a fan of independent horror films then this is worth a look.

The Orphan Killer gets a 7/10

Check out the intro to the movie...

Monday, 23 January 2012

Beneath the Darkness (2011)

The cast -
Dennis Quaid as Ely
Tony Oller as Travis
Aimee Teegarden as Abby
Stephen Lunsford as Brian
Devon Werkheiser as Danny
Brett Cullen as Sgt. Nickerson
Amber Bartlett as Rosemary
David Christopher as Coach Sovic
Dahlia Waingort as Ms. Moore


Director - Martin Guigui

Writer - Bruce Wilkinson

The plot -
Ely is the town's widowed mortician, upstanding resident to some, creepy old guy to others. After watching their best friend die, when braking into Ely's house to investigate ghostly goings on, Travis, Abby and Brian struggle to expose the local hero as the vicious killer and keep from becoming his next victims.

This one is gonna be short and not so sweet I'm afraid!

There's nothing more, plot wise, to know about this movie, it really has nothing more to offer.
It starts promising with Dennis Quaid revealing himself straight away as more than meets the eye but it really does go down hill from there.
There is moments where you think Quaid really has played the creepy guy well, then there's moments that just ruin that.
There was only two scenes that stood out and they involved a head stomp and a knock out blow, they only lasted for a split second.
The supporting cast did a pretty decent job but the script let it all down.

It was beyond predictable!
It was heading towards being a very average then the very last scene, with Quaid, just destroyed the rest of the movie making it a poor attempt at a horror / thriller!

The big question, as always, is this worth watching? No. It has nothing new to offer in anyway shape or form. Really, don't waste your time.

Beneath the Darkness under performed with a 4/10

Check out this clip... or not as the case may be...

Friday, 20 January 2012

The Devil's Rock (2011)

The cast -
Craig Hall as Captain Ben Grogan
Matthew Sunderland as Colonel Klaus Meyer
Gina Varela as Helena/The Demon
Karlos Drinkwater as Sergeant Joe Tane


Director - Paul Campion

Writers - Paul Finch & Paul Campion

The plot -
The Devil's Rock , June 5, 1944. A crack kiwi commando team, Captain Ben Grogan and Sergeant Joseph Tane, are sent on a top secret mission to destroy gun emplacements inside German occupied territory in the Channel Islands on the eve of D-Day.

They are diverted off their landing point by strong currents, but eventually find themselves near the entrance of an ominous German bunker. After placing explosives on the gun turret, they surprise and kill a German soldier fleeing from the bunker pleading for help. The screams of a woman follow from inside and Grogan makes the decision to go on an unauthorised rescue mission, leaving Tane behind.

Once inside, Grogan encounters more than he bargained for, a scene of unworldly carnage, where only a mysterious Nazi officer and beautiful but Devilish captive remain alive.

"The forces I serve will grant you powers beyond your wildest dreams"

This was one of those horror movies where I didn't really know what to expect, so I wasn't expecting much and it was a good job too. Not that it was bad or poor. The main thing was that it wasn't really an original idea. Nazis trying to use dark forces to win the war, Hellboy springs straight to mind.

It had a couple of eerie moments, all be it slightly eerie, of dark tunnels and distant screams.

The relationship between Kiwi Captain and the German officer worked well, with a better script and a great director, one of their scenes together could have been "Tarantinoesque." But it just wasn't quite good enough even though the acting wasn't bad.

There's no CGI to speak of other than the very small amount used for the demon, which keeps in line with the rest of the movie as not needing any.

Blood and gore? It's not in your face, there's a few dead bodies, dishevelled corpses, discarded guts and innards laying around and blood splattered up walls, it all looks pretty cool.

My overall thoughts, it wasn't bad, it wasn't good, it was just, average really. Is it worth watching? Yeah, it wasn't a waste of time, but try this on a week night if you're bored and there's nothing else worth watching.

New Zealand's The Devil's Rock gets a rock solid 5/10

Monday, 16 January 2012

The Orphanage (2007) & Julia's Eyes (2010) Spanish Double Feature

The cast -
Belén Rueda as Laura
Fernando Cayo as Carlos
Roger Príncep as Simón
Geraldine Chaplin as Aurora
Mabel Rivera as Pilar
Edgar Vivar as Balabán
Montserrat Carulla as Benigna Escobeda

Director - Juan Antonio Bayona

Writer - Sergio G. Sánchez

The plot -
Laura, a former orphan, raises her adopted son Simón together with her husband Carlos in an old house and former orphanage where she was raised. While at the orphanage Simón tells Laura that he has five invisible friends which she believes are a product of his active imagination. Laura decides to reopen the orphanage to cater for disabled children and throws a party. During the party Simón tries to persuade Laura to go and take a look at his friends cabin but she's too busy. Later on she sees a mysterious masked boy and realises that Simón has also disappeared. Laura feels the presence of other people in the house and months later Laura invites a team of parapsychologists to try to unravel the mystery.

The cast -
Belén Rueda as Julia
Lluís Homar as Isaac
Pablo Derqui as Ángel
Francesc Orella as Inspector Dimas
Julia Gutiérrez Caba as Soledad
Boris Ruiz as Blasco

Director - Guillem Morales

Writers - Guillem Morales & Oriol Paulo

The plot -
After the death of the blind Sara, who hung herself in the basement of her house, her twin sister Julia suspects that she was actually murdered. Julia has a degenerative problem in her eyes and is losing her sight and she temporarily moves with her husband Isaac to Sara's house to arrange her funeral. Julia goes to the Centro Baumann for blinds where Sara frequented and she learns from the others blind users that Sara had a boyfriend. Julia is chased by a mysterious man but the police inspector Dimas does not believe on her. Julia follows the last steps of Sara trying to find the identity of her secret lover. Julia is surrounded by deaths and weird events while she loses her sight.

The first thing you'll notice is that Belén Rueda is the lead actress in both these movies but the more interesting point these movies have in common, besides being Spanish, is that Guillermo Del Toro is a Producer on both and you can tell he's had a certain influence on them. That influence being the underlining tension that is set in both movies.

The Orphanage has it's creepy supernatural side whereas Julia's Eyes is full of psychological suspense but both still have there jumpy moments too and are well written and directed with good performances from the cast. Both are more on the thriller / suspense side of horror, so no mentionable blood and guts. They have the fairly slow pace of most foreign horrors but that doesn't effect the movies in a bad way as these types of horrors don't need to be "in your face".

So lets separate the two and take a closer look.

The Orphanage feels almost like it could be a family film at first, but as the tensity increases as the movie goes on, a creepy kid in a mask appears and with the introduction of Aurora, the medium brought in to help find Simón when the police can't find him, things take a turn to the supernatural side.
It really is a slick and quietly chilling piece of work with a surprisingly happy ending.

Julia's Eyes gets stuck in from the outset with the opening scene setting the standard for the entire movie. With fading sight, being followed, a few twists and turns, you really do get drawn into Julia's world of turmoil with possibly danger around every corner.
It has one of the best scenes in a horror movie I've seen for a long time, involving a pitch black room, the heroin, the villain and a camera flash. It should have you on the edge of your seat, something that is lacking in many mainstream American horrors.

I enjoyed both of them, but for me, Julia's Eyes was just a little better.

The Orphanage gets an 8/10 and Julia's Eyes gets an 8(1/2)/10

Check out the trailer for each movie below...

Sunday, 8 January 2012

Intruder (1989)

The cast -
Elizabeth Cox as Jennifer Ross
Renée Estevez as Linda
Dan Hicks as Bill Roberts
David Byrnes as Craig Peterson
Sam Raimi as Randy
Eugene Robert Glazer as Danny
Billy Marti as Dave
Burr Steers as Bub
Craig Stark as Tim
Ted Raimi as Produce Joe
Bruce Campbell as Officer Howard
Lawrence Bender as Officer Adams

Director - Scott Spiegel

Writers - Lawrence Bender & Scott Spiegel

The plot -
As local late night supermarket is shutting up and the night shift are starting to restock the shelves ready for the next day, the ex-boyfriend of a check-out girl at the supermarket returns at closing time to make trouble. They quarrel and the boyfriend is ejected from the store. After they lock the building up to take inventory, an unseen assailant begins to stalk the workers and the store owner and kills them one by one. The killer dismembers his victims, leaving body parts around the store, and the survivors must eventually find a way to escape with their lives.

Delving deep into the Vault for this one, the first thing I noticed, besides Sam Raimi and Bruce Campbell making cameos, is that Lawrence Bender co-wrote and produced this movie. If you don't know who he is, well, he's only produced everything Quentin Tarantino has directed!

Locked away in an empty supermarket, on the night shift, what could possibly go wrong?

Well, pretty much everything for the characters in the story, but as for the movie it's self, it's so simply brilliant!

This movie is truly an unsung classic of the 1980's with great kill scenes and special effects that are damn good for the era.

"There's gonna be one more killing here tonight"
OK, the acting isn't great and it's predictable. But only predictable because I've seen so many horror movies. But that didn't make a difference on how much I enjoyed it. When I watch an old movie like this, I put my mind frame back to when it was made, so my opinion isn't effected or compared to modern horror movies.
Everything fits together perfectly in this, the comedy moments, the tension, the bloody gore, right up to the ending and it was directed well considering the lack of talent of some of the cast!

You can definitely see that this is one of those movies that paved the way for horror movies of the late 1990's and 2000's. If you haven't seen this then I recommend doing so. Baring in mind that I'm 34 now, and I've watched around 200 horror movies, just in the past 6 months, I was still rather impressed by Spiegel and Bender's effort. That leads to one thing...

Intruder gets a welcomed 7(1/2)/10 - and that's the first movie I've giving a half mark on!

Check out the trailer below...

Saturday, 7 January 2012

I Saw the Devil (2010)

The cast -
Lee Byung-hun as Soo-hyun
Choi Min-sik as Kyung-chul
Jeon Kuk-hwan as Squad Chief Jang
Cheon Ho-jin as Section Chief Oh
Oh San-ha as Joo-yun
Kim Yun-seo as Se-yun
Choi Moo-sung as Tae-joo
Kim In-seo as Se-jung

Director - Jee-woon Kim

Writer - Hoon-jung Park

The plot -
Kyung-chul is a dangerous psychopath who kills for pleasure. He has committed infernal serial murders in diabolic ways that one cannot even imagine and his victims range from young women to even children. The police have chased him for a long time, but were unable to catch him. One day, Joo-yeon, daughter of a retired police chief becomes his prey and is found dead in a horrific state. Her fiance Soo-hyun (Lee Byung-hun), a top secret agent, decides to track down the murderer himself. He promises himself that he will do everything in his power to take bloody vengeance against the killer, even if it means that he must become a monster himself to get this monstrous and inhumane killer.

This was another movie I didn't really know much about as I hadn't read up on it, but only heard the hype that was going around.

Not knowing what to expect is not always a good thing but in this case, it was a good thing indeed.

Straight from the start we see how sadistic yet calm and cool Kyung-chul is as he sits relaxing smoking a cigarette before a kill.
About an hour in to the film Kyung-chul and Soo-hyun have there first encounter, and it's a bloody one with Soo-hyun basically kicking the crap out of the murderer!

Soo-hyun plants a bug, forcing it down Kyung-chul throat. Till that happened, I thought this isn't gonna be on for much longer as the killer has been tracked down, not more can really happen. But I was wrong! This is the part that I thought was brilliant. The bug is planted in order to keep track of him, and this is where the fun begins as this movie runs for two hours and twenty minutes, although you don't realise this till the end of the movie because it simply keeps you that interested.

The next series of event follows Soo-hyun as he listens in and keeps track of Kyung-chul, knowing where he will be and his every move, then thwarting his attempts at murder and, again, kicking the crap out of poor Kyung-chul. I say "poor" because you kind of feel sorry for him, even though he is a psycho killer. At the same time you still cheer on Soo-hyun as he delivers devastating blows.

"When you're in the most pain, shivering out of fear, then I will kill you. That's a real revenge"

This is testament to how well this movie is written and directed and how good a performance the two main actors delivered. I only thing I regret, I watched the dubbed version instead of the original Korean with subtitles. I think I would have enjoyed it even more.

With bloody and violent scenes, this is a must for all horror fans. Overall thoughts, this is a thoroughly brilliant movie from start to finish with a perfect ending and one of the best foreign movies I've seen to date.

I Saw the Devil gets a riveting 9/10

Check out the trailer below ( Sorry no subtitles )...

Wednesday, 4 January 2012

The Loved Ones (2009)

The cast -
Xavier Samuel as Brent Mitchell
Victoria Thaine as Holly
Robin McLeavy as Lola Stone "Princess"
John Brumpton as Daddy
Jessica McNamee as Mia
Richard Wilson as Jamie

Director & Writer - Sean Byrne
The plot -
In order to avoid a ghostly figure in the road, high school senior Brent Mitchell wraps his car around a tree, killing his father. Constantly confronted by his mother's emotional collapse after the accident, Brent escapes into a marijuana fuelled world of loud heavy metal music to block the pain and guilt. Dejected and out of sorts, he has a shot at happiness with his girlfriend Holly, a grounded, caring girl with good looks, a dream date for the high school prom. As graduation approaches, Lola Stone, the quietest girl in school, also asks Brent to the prom but is turned down. Hours before the dance and under the glittering light of a disco ball, Brent wakes up to a disturbing and nightmarish sequence of events involving pink satin, glitter, syringes, nails, power drills and a secret admirer. Brent has become the prom king at a macabre, sadistic event where he is the entertainment.

"Bring the hammer, Daddy"
I originally heard about this movie as it appeared in a list of out-of-the-way noteworthy horror movies. So last summer (2011) I got round to watching it. With the recent news of Paramount Pictures picking it up for a theatre release at some point this year, I thought I finally do my review of it!

The story is pretty simple and offers nothing new but but thanks to the creative direction newcomer Sean Byrne took with it, we're given a surprisingly refreshing look at the normally bland psychopathic family sub-genre. The build up to the "prom in the dinning room" is slow paced but once they are sat at the table it all gets crazy.

"You've got 10 seconds to go or Daddy's gonna nail it to the chair"
A majority of this movie is taken place in front of a small dining room table, consisting of the insane Lola, her equally sadistic father, and an older woman simply known as "Bright Eyes", which gives it the most obvious nod to the Texas Chainsaw Massacre dinner scene.

John Brumpton performance as the father isn't the best, but his character's willingness to do whatever it takes to please his daughter and his equally incestuous yearning for her makes him a creepy character.

What makes this movie so enjoyable is Robin McLeavy portrayal of the antagonist Lola. She is possibly one of the meanest and most memorable female villains I've seen from the genre in years. She can go from soft-spoken to yelling repeatedly for Brent to cry after getting knives hammered into his feet in a matter of seconds, all the while still reverting back to her seemingly innocent self. Truly a sight to behold and a perfect performance.

Meanwhile, Brent's friend Jamie has gone to prom with the female outcast of the school, Mia. As it cuts back and forth these scenes really have no reason to be in the movie other than delivering a little light relief and giving the viewer a little more to look at besides poor Brent's violent ordeal with the family.

The effects are practical which provides a decent amount of blood.

It has a good selection of music and moody tunes for the applicable scenes.

The slow-mo camera shots work great with keys scenes and with an exceptionally memorable almost dream-like ending, this little Australian movie is well worth watching.

My overall thoughts? Even though it's not the best horror movie I've seen, I was really impressed with it and thoroughly enjoyed it. It's a breath of fresh air from all that low budget crap that floats around and it had an outstanding performance worth mentioning, again, from Robin McLeavy.

The Loved Ones get an I'm loving it 8/10

Check out this TV Spot teaser trailer...

Tuesday, 3 January 2012

The Innkeepers (2011)

The cast -
Sara Paxton as Claire
Pat Healy as Luke
Kelly McGillis as Leanne Rease-Jones
George Riddle as Old Man

Director & Writer - Ti West

The plot -
During the final days at the Yankee Pedlar Inn, two employees, Claire and Luke, are left on their own to run things while the owner is away on vacation. Now the Inn's three hundred and fifty something rooms are practically empty, with only two guests staying, Leanne Rease-Jones and a mother and her young son, both Claire and Luke are determined to reveal the hotel's haunted past of Madeline O'Malley, with only flash lights and an EVP (Electronic Voice Phenomena) recorder. As an old guests checks in for a stay, they begin to experience more disturbing events than ever before.

As I love all things "Ghost Hunter" related, I was really looking forward to this movie.

The set up was perfect with the creepy old Inn and there hardly being anybody around. The movie starts with old black and white photos of the Inn which all adds to the tone.

We're introduced to the first scene with "Chapter One - The Long Weekend."
It's then set up like a book with two more chapters and an epilogue.
For the first twenty minutes you get to know Claire and Luke as they slack off and have a bit of fun together.

For the next hour we're treated with a lot of tension via well shot scenes, creepy noises and a spine-chilling score. Unlike such movies like Paranormal Activity, where it relied on what you saw, this movie simply delivers the chills by what you don't see and by what you hear.

Even though it's slow in places, the direction and the acting out weigh the pace. The last twenty minutes are predictable, but still gets you on the edge of your seat.

Overall I enjoyed this movie and it even made me jump in one place! Did I think it was as good as I thought it was going to be? No, not quite, but I still wasn't disappointed.

The Innkeepers gets a chilling 7/10

It's available right now on digital VOD platforms and gets a theatrical release in major markets starting February 3rd.

Check out the trailer below...