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The Machine [Blu-ray]
The Machine [Blu-ray]
DVD ~ Toby Stephens
Price: $12.19
21 used & new from $7.69

4.0 out of 5 stars Far from a dystopian robot film, this elegantly depicts the development of artificial sentience and deserves your attention, November 22, 2014
This review is from: The Machine [Blu-ray] (Blu-ray)
MY CALL: Hardly an action movie at all, this clever sci-fi film is much more about the gracefully naÔve evolution of sentience in an artificial being. And at that, it does a fantastic job! You hardly notice the humble budget, which was handled very well.

During a Cold War with China in the future, a new kind of arms race begins to create artificial intelligence. And like SkyNet (Terminator, T2), HAL (2001: A Space Odyssey), ARIIA (Eagle Eye), David (Prometheus) and VIKI (I, Robot) have taught us, this never tends to turn out well. Kind of has me wondering about this Siri phone voice chick now. Speaking of which, there is a lady Cyborg in this movie named Suri.

This film captured my interest right away. In the first act of the story our lead scientist Vincent's (Toby Stephens; Black Sails, Robin Hood) approach to assessing a program's self-awareness and human-like cognizance involved thought exercises that are brilliantly simple, they make sense to us (the viewers), and we can tell when they're successful or not. Adding conflict to the story, Vincent has a dying young girl with brain damage who lacks even the self-awareness of the programs he is assessing. But great things can emerge from conflict. And whereas this family-centric conflict finds little development through the course of the story, the film remains quite successful in its greater aims.

Vincent's place of employment is a research facility littered with early prototype cyborgs made from brain damaged ex-soldiers that have lost their capacity for oral speech…and they all seem shady, untrustworthy and dangerous. They also seem to house a mystery.

Vincent takes young scientist Ava (Caity Lotz; The Pact, Arrow) under his wing to develop next-gen artificial intelligence and she is much more sympathetic to their Cyborg subjects. Ava is very curious, and that's not good in an industry loaded with secrets.

Long story short, Vincent makes a Cyborg with Ava's consciousness. Cyborg Ava is smarter, more aware, and more compassionate than past prototypes and has an immediate attachment to Vincent. But she is also naÔve, scared, easily manipulated, and modifiable. Caity Lotz does an even finer job playing the enchantingly child-like Cyborg as she does the scientist.

When the action begins (towards the end), Caity Lotz convincingly moves with robotic precision in brilliant contrast to an elegant and tastefully shadowed nude dance scene humanizing her early in her development. The action is nothing special, but it's every bit as good as it needs to be to keep our attention--with a few brutally cold, robotic, and entertaining moments.

Written and directed by someone (Caradog W. James; Little White Lies) of little experience in the sci-fi genre, I feel this film was extremely successful in concept execution, did a solid job of world-building (despite the limited sets and budget), a nice job in story development, and a perfect job in depicting Cyborg-Ava's mental development.

This is surely a must-see for any fan of Sci-Fi. Just don't go in expecting laser guns and six-armed monsters. This one is a bit more subtle.


Deadly Friend
Deadly Friend
DVD ~ Matthew Labyorteaux
Offered by Sunday River
Price: $14.90
22 used & new from $7.00

4.0 out of 5 stars A modern teenage Frankenstein meets Weird Science, Short Circuit and Re-Animator…all of which featured creations behaving badly, November 11, 2014
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: Deadly Friend (DVD)
The 80s loved robots… The Terminator (1984), Short Circuit (1986), Chopping Mall (1986), *Batteries Not Included (1987), Short Circuit II (1988)… and here's another one! This playful creation-gone-wrong film by a young Wes Craven brings back a wonderful 80s nostalgia to this lifetime horror lover. Just enough zany gore, silly scenarios and a wack-tastic ending to overcome a severely limited budget.

A teenager on a university scholarship studying the human brain, young inventor Paul (Matthew Labyorteaux) creates artificial intelligence.

We meet Paul's cute neighbor Samantha (Kristy Swanson; Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Swamp Shark) and her uber-creepy sweaty abusive dad (Richard Marcus; Enemy Mine, Tremors, The Being), his creepy old neighbor Elvira (the mean old villainess from The Goonies), and some local punks who get their man-parts squeezed by a protective BB. Speaking of which, BB is super cute but he seems to take note to those who have wronged him.

Paul's robot "BB" is nothing short of absolutely adorable and he sounds like Disney's Stitch or a Star Wars Jawa. At one point when he was meeting the teenage neighbor boy I think he said "Houtini." BB is always getting upgraded and, as a result, smarter. Meanwhile Paul is making decades of scientific progress in mere weeks, already developing the circuitry to jump-start the nervous system of a cadaver.

When a prank-gone-wrong results in creepy Elvira shotgun-blasting BB to robot Heaven, Paul loses his robo-bestie. Worse yet, the very night of his first kiss with Samantha, a domestic dispute with her father sends her to the hospital with a fatal injury. So naturally Paul steals Samantha's body, surgically implants BB's "spare brain" (a motherboard, basically) into Samantha, and then Weird Science meets Re-Animator as he reanimates BB-Sam complete with remote control. Why there is no button to turn his Cyborg-girlfriend into a sex droid is beyond me. I guess as a teenage neuro-robotics prodigy he gets plenty of play already.

Let's just say that the remote control doesn't work out as effectively as Paul would like, because BB-Sam goes on a killing spree to snuff out everyone who ever wronged BB or Samantha. This in mind, maybe it's a blessing that he didn't go the sex droid route. Although it would have made for a great death scene! LOL.

Director Wes Craven (Scream 4, Deadly Blessing, Cursed) was playful with his low budget-limited few moments of gore. A violent dream sequence has Samantha killing her father and then being doused by his blood as if pouring from a spout. We also witness the exquisitely goretastic use of a basketball for a detonation-like decapitation. Not to mention the unreasonably stupid but equally super-fun gory surprise ending.

The basketball scene and the ending alone are worth owning this movie, but it offers a lot of 80s horror nostalgia and a story that works in its own zany way. I really enjoyed it.


Deliver Us From Evil
Deliver Us From Evil
DVD ~ Eric Bana
Price: $9.99
10 used & new from $5.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Deliver Us From Evil (2014), and deliver me from this uninteresting, boring possession movie., November 11, 2014
This review is from: Deliver Us From Evil (DVD)
MY CALL: I wasn't sold, scared, or really even interested in this possession film whose scenes lacked any sense of synthesis and whose story never maturely developed.

********************************************

New York police officer Ralph Sarchie (Eric Bana; Deadfall, Hanna) has recently started getting some strange cases. A woman in a drug-induced manic craze, a call of "strange sounds" coming from the basement in a "possessed" house, a crucified cat, some self-mutilated crazies in animal enclosures at the zoo…but that's New York, right? As Sarchie investigates further, these strange incidents appear to be darkly connected.

During his investigations Sarchie is approached by a drinking, smoking, edgy Jesuit priest named Mendoza (Édgar Ramírez; Wrath of the Titans, Zero Dark Thirty) who offers his help, but is met only with skepticism. No clue why. I often solicit the advice of leather jacket-wearing Jesuit priests who wander into my place of work unannounced and offer assistance. There's nothing weird about that.

As we slowly accumulate clues Sarchie starts hearing things, seeing things, weird things are happening in his home, and everything gets really… "satanic." Scratching sounds abound, lights burn out as if extinguished by evil, chiseled bloody fingernails on perps, insane Latin babble, and dark etchings on walls set an abyssal tone and it is effective for the most part. Realizing the darkness that has befallen him, Sarchie chooses to work with Mendoza, who is (of course!) well-studied in demonology and exorcism.

I really like writer/director Scott Derrickson's (Sinister, The Exorcism of Emily Rose) past work and I admire his ability to recruit mainstream actors into his horror casts (e.g., Olivia Munn of Magic Mike, The Newsroom playing Sarchie's wife and Joel McHale of Community). Olivia Munn handles her very minor role well and Joel McHale brings some often out of place yet totally welcome humor. But despite the cast and all this cool "evil satany" stuff I just never found myself caring about this movie…like, at all. There was just something--something big--about the whole story, the characters and composition that didn't work for me. I wasn't sold or scared and, not to sound mean but, I was never really even interested. I mean, some individual scenes were sort of working for me. They just didn't have anything close to the kind of synthesis I needed to suspend my belief and immerse myself in the movie.

Ultimately, I found this film boring. Even during the exorcism scene, which I'm sure was meant to be intense and climactic, I was legitimately bored and waiting for the movie to end.

I won't say don't see this movie. A lot of Amazon reviewers loved it. I'm just clearly not one of them. And on a totally random note, this movie made me hate Jim Morrison. Watch it and you'll learn why.


WER
WER
DVD ~ A.J. Cook
Price: $15.19
14 used & new from $10.97

3.0 out of 5 stars A fresh and realistic take on the werewolf concept...but this film still could use some work., November 3, 2014
This review is from: WER (DVD)
To start, let's set a few things straight. I see "found footage" mentioned in a lot of reviews. This is absolutely not, nor even mistakable for, a found footage film. Second, despite the setting and some of the cast, this is not a French horror film…it's just a horror set in France.

After a hirsute Frenchman of unusual dimensions is taken into custody under suspicion of the "brutal animal attack-like" slaughter of an American family, skeptical attorney Kate Moore (A. J. Cook; Final Destination 2, Wishmaster 3) steps to his defense in this unusual case claiming "there's no way he could have committed these crimes."

Written and directed by William Brent Bell (The Devil Inside, Stay Alive), our story revolves around the possibly porphyria-stricken Talan (first-time actor Brian Scott O'Connor). Porphyria sufferers have long weak bones and, if proven to be afflicted, he could not have possibly caused the bone-crushing fatal wounds of which he is accused. But when the soft-spoken Talan is "triggered" during a medical exam for his defense, the plotty tone phases out and the violence is graphic and intense.

Of course, we can't talk about a werewolf movie without addressing the transformation scene. You "hear" it as the bones violently shift in Talan's back and wince. Some may complain that this scene is far too brief (perhaps 8 seconds), however I defend it in the spirit of subtlety and appreciate that Talan does not "grow" by a hundred pounds before our eyes nor shift form apparently. Rather we witness a truly "realistic" take on the werewolf explained by the "dog boy disease" porphyria, epileptic seizures, seizure-induced superhuman strength and lunar cycles (e.g., full moon's effect on tides or water).

This film's flaws lie in the Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon wire-stunt jumps and throws. Talan leaps like a superhero in a manner unmatching all things surrounding his character and throws bodies such distances that remind me more of Hulk or Thor than a seizure-strengthened mad man. Talan also seems to evade a few hundred bullets from dozen-man SWAT team by sheer fleet of foot and runs 60-70 mph in one scene…again, this just didn't "fit" in this movie. I also really wasn't fond of the ending--but I won't ruin anything for you.

But today I say "let's forgive this film these flaws" and just enjoy it for a very different take on the werewolf movie. The first hour of this film was pretty damn cool and in the best possible taste the word "werewolf" is hardly used.


Tusk
Tusk
DVD
Price: $12.99

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars A risky failure in over-the-top shock horror becoming more farcical from beginning to crazy end. Not even for Kevin Smith fans., October 1, 2014
This review is from: Tusk (Amazon Instant Video)
Ever wonder what happened to that kid who saw dead people in The Sixth Sense (1999; Haley Joel Osment)? Well search no more. He's right here! Sure, he's been doing some other stuff (Alpha House, A.I., some videogame voice work), but that was the big victory for me here--recognizing him. Otherwise Tusk largely disappointed me over and over again. Why? Because I thought I was buying a ticket to an envelope-pushing, body modification horror laced with torture and festooned with off-putting perversions of human frailty and fixation. That stuff was in there, but I feel that the execution did not do the theme justice.

From crude, hilarious dialogue and interactions with Canadian customs agents to excellently ominous scoring, this film's tone yoyo'd between serious (with funny introductory themes) to farcical…leaving me most perturbed as to what I was in for as I watched. We start by meeting shock podcaster extraordinaires Teddy (Haley Joel Osment) and Wallace (Justin Long; Drag Me to Hell). They tell the dirtiest jokes, have fun with ridiculous Youtube clips, and interview goofy internet sensations. Tusk's story finds its unsure flippered footing in one of Wallace's trips to interview a Canadian Youtube clip star who had cut off his own leg with his clumsily geeky katana skills. Wallace treks to Manitoba, all the way making Americans look like ignorant jerks to our friendly northern counterparts, only to find that his interviewee has killed himself.

Hoping not to return home empty handed, Wallace seeks some other "Canadian weirdo" to interview for his podcast. And in the restroom of a Canadian bar he finds an ad for a living arrangement with an old man who has "many stories to tell." He has found his man!

Our villain (Michael Parks; Django Unchained, Death Proof) was largely appropriate for an over-the-top horror film. From the moment we meet him things feel weird. He was zany and sometimes twistedly funny, but just plain sick and insane. Only a few times did his character lose his footing and misstep from over-the-top to farcical (e.g., the "walrus fight" scene or the "walrus suit" itself).

I felt that the effects met the gross-out expectations of the audience and that the body modification (or surgery) scenes succeeded at conveying a sense of sick hopelessness, torture, futility and a truly twisted mind. We see Wallace suffer in complete terror and we believe it. We see our villain take sick joy in Wallace's transformation…and we believe it. Unfortunately, the later in the film we find ourselves, the more frequent and long-lasting are the farcical aspects…to the point that the last 20-30 minutes feels purely farcical while trying to maintain its unsure grip of a very serious concept (i.e., that one can be stripped of his humanity and made into a monster).

Director Kevin Smith (Zack and Miri Make a Porn, Clerks II) has always been amazing at capturing his northeastern audience (and quickly the rest of the nation) with his well-crafted, oft-off color comedy. And whereas I felt that Clerks II (2006) showed a notable drop in quality in his work, I still loved it and formerly considered his only failure to be his most risky and quite off-genre undertaking of Red State (2011). Red State succeeded at being brutal and intense, but I just didn't feel that the delivery was there with the characters. But still, kudos for taking the risk. I like dipping my toes into risky movies.

This was another big risk on Smith's part. I consider it a failure, but I appreciate the risk that was taken. The failure came in keeping the tone consistent. I should add that if I walked in expecting something farcical (and was in the right mood for it) I probably would have enjoyed it MUCH MORE. I'd still wish it was "consistently" farcical, though. Whereas expecting something serious and sick, I left annoyed and feeling cheated.

It felt like Smith couldn't steer clear of his old ways (a la Mallrats and Clerks) as he painted his characters in this film. Wallace's too-gorgeous-to-be-true girlfriend (Genesis Rodriguez; Identity Thief, The Last Stand) felt a little forced and their relationship issues didn't really fit in the story. Johnny Depp (Transcendence, Dark Shadows) felt horribly misused and so farcical (compared to his surroundings) that I found his character to be nothing but annoying every minute he spoke or could be seen. And the shift from mostly serious at the story's inception to entirely cartoon-farcical at its close…well, that's what broke me. That was where my interest suffered.

This does not at all address my problems with the shift from serious to farcical. But an Amazon reviewer made a good point: "There’s really only one thing you need to know about this movie: It’s about a guy that kidnaps another guy and starts turning him into a walrus. If that sounds interesting to you, then you can stop reading this and go watch the movie. If it doesn’t sound interesting to you, then you can stop reading this and don’t go watch the movie." I wanted to see it knowing that, and I was disappointed. Just FYI.

Lots of risks were taken in this off-farcical film. And this is not a slam-review, it's just a review from a disappointed viewer who can still appreciate a risk-taker even if I don't like the product. My advice to you…don't see this until it's free for you to view and even then think twice. My advice to Kevin Smith…please keep taking risks outside of your comfort zone, but ask for some help (like a co-writer or co-director with experience in the genre but who also appreciates your style).


Tusk [Blu-ray]
Tusk [Blu-ray]
DVD ~ Michael Parks
Price: $17.99

10 of 17 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars A risky failure in over-the-top shock horror becoming more farcical from beginning to crazy end. Not even for Kevin Smith fans., September 30, 2014
This review is from: Tusk [Blu-ray] (Blu-ray)
Ever wonder what happened to that kid who saw dead people in The Sixth Sense (1999; Haley Joel Osment)? Well search no more. He's right here! Sure, he's been doing some other stuff (Alpha House, A.I., some videogame voice work), but that was the big victory for me here--recognizing him. Otherwise Tusk largely disappointed me over and over again. Why? Because I thought I was buying a ticket to an envelope-pushing, body modification horror laced with torture and festooned with off-putting perversions of human frailty and fixation. That stuff was in there, but I feel that the execution did not do the theme justice.

From crude, hilarious dialogue and interactions with Canadian customs agents to excellently ominous scoring, this film's tone yoyo'd between serious (with funny introductory themes) to farcical…leaving me most perturbed as to what I was in for as I watched. We start by meeting shock podcaster extraordinaires Teddy (Haley Joel Osment) and Wallace (Justin Long; Drag Me to Hell). They tell the dirtiest jokes, have fun with ridiculous Youtube clips, and interview goofy internet sensations. Tusk's story finds its unsure flippered footing in one of Wallace's trips to interview a Canadian Youtube clip star who had cut off his own leg with his clumsily geeky katana skills. Wallace treks to Manitoba, all the way making Americans look like ignorant jerks to our friendly northern counterparts, only to find that his interviewee has killed himself.

Hoping not to return home empty handed, Wallace seeks some other "Canadian weirdo" to interview for his podcast. And in the restroom of a Canadian bar he finds an ad for a living arrangement with an old man who has "many stories to tell." He has found his man!

Our villain (Michael Parks; Django Unchained, Death Proof) was largely appropriate for an over-the-top horror film. From the moment we meet him things feel weird. He was zany and sometimes twistedly funny, but just plain sick and insane. Only a few times did his character lose his footing and misstep from over-the-top to farcical (e.g., the "walrus fight" scene or the "walrus suit" itself).

I felt that the effects met the gross-out expectations of the audience and that the body modification (or surgery) scenes succeeded at conveying a sense of sick hopelessness, torture, futility and a truly twisted mind. We see Wallace suffer in complete terror and we believe it. We see our villain take sick joy in Wallace's transformation…and we believe it. Unfortunately, the later in the film we find ourselves, the more frequent and long-lasting are the farcical aspects…to the point that the last 20-30 minutes feels purely farcical while trying to maintain its unsure grip of a very serious concept (i.e., that one can be stripped of his humanity and made into a monster).

Director Kevin Smith (Zack and Miri Make a Porn, Clerks II) has always been amazing at capturing his northeastern audience (and quickly the rest of the nation) with his well-crafted, oft-off color comedy. And whereas I felt that Clerks II (2006) showed a notable drop in quality in his work, I still loved it and formerly considered his only failure to be his most risky and quite off-genre undertaking of Red State (2011). Red State succeeded at being brutal and intense, but I just didn't feel that the delivery was there with the characters. But still, kudos for taking the risk. I like dipping my toes into risky movies.

This was another big risk on Smith's part. I consider it a failure, but I appreciate the risk that was taken. The failure came in keeping the tone consistent. I should add that if I walked in expecting something farcical (and was in the right mood for it) I probably would have enjoyed it MUCH MORE. I'd still wish it was "consistently" farcical, though. Whereas expecting something serious and sick, I left annoyed and feeling cheated.

It felt like Smith couldn't steer clear of his old ways (a la Mallrats and Clerks) as he painted his characters in this film. Wallace's too-gorgeous-to-be-true girlfriend (Genesis Rodriguez; Identity Thief, The Last Stand) felt a little forced and their relationship issues didn't really fit in the story. Johnny Depp (Transcendence, Dark Shadows) felt horribly misused and so farcical (compared to his surroundings) that I found his character to be nothing but annoying every minute he spoke or could be seen. And the shift from mostly serious at the story's inception to entirely cartoon-farcical at its close…well, that's what broke me. That was where my interest suffered.

This does not at all address my problems with the shift from serious to farcical. But an Amazon reviewer made a good point: "There’s really only one thing you need to know about this movie: It’s about a guy that kidnaps another guy and starts turning him into a walrus. If that sounds interesting to you, then you can stop reading this and go watch the movie. If it doesn’t sound interesting to you, then you can stop reading this and don’t go watch the movie." I wanted to see it knowing that, and I was disappointed. Just FYI.

Lots of risks were taken in this off-farcical film. And this is not a slam-review, it's just a review from a disappointed viewer who can still appreciate a risk-taker even if I don't like the product. My advice to you…don't see this until it's free for you to view and even then think twice. My advice to Kevin Smith…please keep taking risks outside of your comfort zone, but ask for some help (like a co-writer or co-director with experience in the genre but who also appreciates your style).
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Oct 7, 2014 12:09 PM PDT


Sharknado 2: The Second One
Sharknado 2: The Second One
DVD ~ Ian Ziering
Price: $9.99
21 used & new from $5.99

4.0 out of 5 stars Clearly the most creatively named sequel to a weather-induced shark attack movie OF ALL TIME!, September 7, 2014
This review is from: Sharknado 2: The Second One (DVD)
The utter bonkersness of this movie, by comparison, makes Snakes on a Plane feel like a perfectly reasonable action movie that could totally happen…and that's a good thing for the adventurous dumb-movie lover who doesn't mind a zany flick with a low budget and shamefully abundant past-gen CGI.

Now heroes, Tara Reid and Ian Ziering's (Beverly Hills 90210, Sharknado) returning characters are no strangers to the over-exposition that plagues Scy-Fy's movies-of-the-week, including Sharknado ("the first one"). But fret not, it's all in good fun and we don't get five minutes into the movie before paying homage to William Shatner's (or John Lithgow's) Twilight Zone short Terror at 20000 Feet! Even using the famous line "There's something on the wing!!!!" Only now..there are sharks on the wings of the plane! This is basically how I knew this would be worth a watch….that, and part one was bonkers amaze-balls fun!

Director Anthony C. Ferrante (Boo, Sharknado, Sharknado 3) lays on the stupid fast and heavy…and by stupid I mean stupidly awesome! The utter bonkersness of this movie, by comparison, makes Snakes on a Plane (2006) feel like a perfectly reasonable action movie that could totally happen.

Is this movie fast paced? Well, it has plenty of slow parts where we are forced to watch the cast try to act their way through to the next scene. But when the action is happening all is forgiven, lots of funny dumb stuff happens, and festive CGI gore abounds.
Are the effects good? It's a ScyFy movie-of-the-week…so NO. No they're not. But the movie is still fun and there were some choice gore effects.

Is EVERYONE in this movie? Absolutely! Fantastic cameos include The Today Show's Matt Lauer and Al Roker, Kelly Ripa, ex-Sugar Ray singer Mark McGrath, scream queen Tiffany Shepis (The Hazing), Judah Friedlander, Billy Ray Cyrus, Perez Hilton, Vivica Fox (Kill Bill Vol. 1/Vol. 2, Independence Day), Judd Hirsch (Independence Day), Jared the Subway guy, Kelly Osbourne and Andy Dick.
Much to my surprise I must say this movie taught me a few things…

1) Based on more than one scene I can safely say that the best way to fight a shark is with a baseball bat. That, and Ian Ziering has an amazing swing whether wielding a bat, chainsaw, fire axe, sword or that wooden thing they use to get pizzas out of a pizza oven. 2) Sharks hate physics and take every opportunity they can to defy its lame laws. As you watch this movie you'd swear the sharks were "aiming" themselves at their victims harnessing the propulsive force of the tornado. 3) Not only is Ian Ziering tougher than a CGI shark, but his butt is so rock hard that he doesn't even feel it when a baby shark is biting it! He probably taught The Rock how to be tough. 4) Judd Hirsch is actually Jason Voorhees! Bare with me for a second. Whenever you don't see him he transports unreasonable distances almost instantaneously and he's always where you least expect him. The only real difference is that there are no drug-using, fornicating teens around to trigger his urge to kill.

This movie is pure, mindless fun. Just watch it and stop being so judgy.


The Prowler [Blu-ray]
The Prowler [Blu-ray]
DVD ~ Vicky Dawson
Price: $11.49
25 used & new from $6.34

4.0 out of 5 stars A lesser-known slasher film that was the ultra-violent movie of its time (back in 1981), August 22, 2014
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: The Prowler [Blu-ray] (Blu-ray)
This lesser-known slasher film was the ultra-violent movie of its time, brandishing more gore and "visible" kills than others of its era. This will please seasoned admirers of 70s and 80s slashers. ALTERNATE TITLE: I believe that this is titled Rosemary's Killer in the UK and Australia.

The year was 1945; it was a time of war. After receiving a "Dear John" letter from his girlfriend Rosemary, a soldier with a wounded heart returns home and goes on a killing spree. 35 years later, a (perhaps new) killer wearing WWII regalia begins slaughtering youngsters on the weekend of their Graduation Dance before he even changes out of his military greens. And, following in the most typical and dated of horror tropes, once the kids spike the punch bowl and start touching each others' fun parts prior to saying their "I do's" the killing can commence.
The acting is bad and the story runs way too slowly, but after the dragging lulls of plot we are rewarded with satisfying (for the era) death scenes that should please seasoned lovers of the classics but which may leave youngsters who grew up on the Final Destination films wanting quite a bit more out of their kills.

The gore is "simple" by today's standards, and representative of Tom Savini's early work. But hey, make no mistake, it was the 80s and before horror ever had much of an effects budget. For its time this was REALLY GORY! And what's really impressive is that you can see the penetration of the weapon into the victim during the kill scenes instead of a shot of a knife, a shot of a screaming victim, and a shot of blood spraying on the wall.

At the time of its release this was the equivalent of what we now call "ultra-violent." The style of the kills in this film predates the commonality of "fun" kills in horror, but there's still some good diversity including a couple getting collectively stabbed by a pitchfork while making out, someone getting stabbed all the way through the skull and then having it wrenched back out, someone's head is blown to chunky bits before our eyes, and there's a delightfully drawn out and gory shower kill.

The clichés abound but…wait a sec, here…as I watch I actually realize that this movie is so old in the history of slasher flicks that at the time things like murderer POV shots, the all-too-cool killer "walking" after his victims who just can't seem to outrun him because of stumbles and locked doors and dropped keys and jammed doors, the killer suddenly "appears" in places to which he couldn't possibly have moved in the allowed time and circumstances, and of course (VERY, VERY long) shower scenes weren't even tired out clichés yet.

So the moral of the story here is, ladies, don't send any of our troops a "Dear John" letter until your absolutely certain that you're not in a horror movie! Otherwise, you and the next generation may be in for an unpleasant surprise at your next school dance.


Cabin Fever 3: Patient Zero [Blu-ray]
Cabin Fever 3: Patient Zero [Blu-ray]
Offered by MEGA Media
Price: $30.87
7 used & new from $7.82

4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Still fun, but CLEARLY the least impressive flesh-eating virus movie of the franchise., August 9, 2014
Although still fun, this was the least impressive flesh-eating virus movie of the franchise. It's often more than gory and wacky enough to please fans of the franchise though.

A group of friends embark on a Caribbean bachelor party cruise and come across a remote island research facility and they are exposed to a deadly, flesh-eating virus during a gore-chummed snorkeling expedition.

Simultaneously we switch back and forth with a parallel plot in which researchers have isolated "patient zero" (Sean Astin; The Strain, The Goonies, Lord of the Rings)--the carrier of the original strain of this horrible virus that blessed us with this franchise--moved him to an island lab (yes, that lab) for study and… we'll just say things get out of hand inside their research facility as well. So we have two simultaneous infections occurring on this normally sleepy, sunny island.

If you've seen any of these movies, you've sort of seen them all. But let's be clear here, director Kaare Andrews (The ABCs of Death - V is for Vagitus, Altitude) delivers extravagant levels of gore consistent with the franchise. After exposure our early infected cast members have a rash which quickly shifts to symptoms of blisters and…worse. More advanced victims practically melt away and projectile vomit liquefied gore into the faces of the yet uninfected. Skin sloughs off of bodies, pus erupts from bloated flesh, and--perhaps the most flawed aspect of this sequel--victims eventually become almost zombie-like. Also, like its predecessors, it uses a sex scene to set the tone of the urgency…because after all, and I can't speak for everyone here, but when my girlfriend's body is covered with festering sores the first place y mind goes to is "then we should probably have sex!" Perhaps this is all just to teach younger viewers that sex might just catch you something deadly. Oh, and bonus, there's also a flesh-ripping zombie girl catfight.

Part one of this franchise succeeded with a rather serious tone, part two was basically slapstick and goretastically hilarious, and this third installment attempts to re-secure a sense of fear and urgency as the infection advances while maintaining some playful silliness (e.g., having your softened, flesh-eaten skull crushed by a giant dildo). In my opinion the urgency is long missed and, while this movie is entertaining for the sake of the gore and some most welcomed wackiness, the overall Cabin Fever experience doesn't measure up strongly to the first two and is, in fact, ranking far below either of them in quality.

The nigh-zombiism of the infected left me feeling a bit derailed and the plot (revolving around getting off the island) degenerates down a dumb path. But kudos for not just "redoing" the movie and "calling" it a sequel as we often see in the horror genre. At least a solid effort was made to make this installment feel different from the others. In that respect, the entire franchise is successful.

I must say I was entertained, though. This flick was a lot of fun and any film featuring a bludgeoning death-by-dildo scene deserves some attention from gorehound goofballs.


All Cheerleaders Die [Blu-ray]
All Cheerleaders Die [Blu-ray]
DVD ~ Caitlin Stasey
Price: $13.03
20 used & new from $8.19

2.0 out of 5 stars An unexciting movie about zombie succubus cheerleaders and their magical Wicca stone-fueled, bonkers, aimless revenge story., August 7, 2014
I'd only recommend this to the most adventurous horror-goer with a good sense of humor and low expectations. There's nothing special here and the tone erratically shifts. But there's some bonkers humor for those who enjoy such flavor.

After the tragic death of the captain of the cheerleading squad, her meek outsider friend Maddy (Caitlin Stasey; Evidence, I Frankenstein)cleans up and goes undercover as an enthusiastic pom-pomer to expose these mean girls for what they really are. Early in her sting operation, during a beer bash Maddy and her close newfound cheerleader friends are wronged by the captain of the football team (resulting in their accidental death) and now she has an entirely new target.

But wait, Maddy died. So how could she exact her revenge? The answer here is weird little divination stones (or Wicca witch rocks or something, not sure what to call them exactly). A full moon, a little blood and the right cast of the stones seemed to be enough to resurrect three wrongly killed cheer squad members essentially by accident. They basically turn into super strong, zombie succubi and they show up to school the next day with a killer new sexy look and an appetite that is to die for! Cliché.

Co-writer/directors Lucky McKee (The Woods, May, The Woman) and Chris Sivertson (I Know Who Killed Me) don't really bring us anything special this time around. Their actors are weak and inexperienced (but serviceable, I guess), the effects are mundane, none of the characters develop at all, and the story and execution is weak. Strangest and least consistent is that the tone and direction of the movie change erratically between scenes…shifting from a zombie succubus cheerleader revenge movie to a weird gemstone-eating dude versus a bunch of scared cheer zombies. That sentence probably made no sense--rest assured that neither does the movie

But there were some fun perks. After the resurrection two of the girls accidently switched bodies, there's a randomly hilarious "cat kill", we see a lot of girls in their undies, and some bonkers dumb-but-funny things end up happening.

That said, I'll only recommend this to the adventurous horror goer with a good sense of humor and low expectations.


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