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All reviews - Movies (43) - DVDs (2) - Books (5) - Music (2)

Love Object Review

Posted : 9 years ago on 3 June 2008 03:38 (A review of Love Object)

I just watched this film again a couple days ago. I bought the DVD when it came out back in 2004, and I thought it was a very well done horror/thriller. What made me watch it again recently is because I just saw the movie LARS AND THE REAL GIRL. Both films have similar set-ups - a lonely introverted man buys a life-like sex doll for companionship. The introverts in both films are also attracted to a female co-worker. But this is where the similarity ends. LARS AND THE REAL GIRL is a decent, touching and lighthearted comedy/drama (and as such, it's not really my type of film). LOVE OBJECT on the other hand travels a much darker and more twisted path. The said introvert Kenneth (played by Desmond Harrington), becomes infatuated with female co-worker Lisa (played by Melissa Sagemiller). He orders a life-like sex doll from a website that lets you customize the doll. He of course endows it with all of Lisa's physical attributes. He also finds out personal information about Lisa (like what kind of music she likes, etc). When he finds out that she likes waltz, he goes so far as to buy a bondage harness from a sex shop so he can dance with the doll! If this sounds pretty creepy and disturbing don't worry - it gets even more twisted from here. I'm not going into the plot any further, because I don't like giving away too much. Those looking for gore won't find much here, and the sleaze-factor is held in check by the R-rating; but it's still an effective horror/thriller with some decent performances by all the actors involved. Speaking of the actors, Desmond Harrington will be familiar to horror fans as the male lead in the hillbilly splatter-fest WRONG TURN. There are also some great supporting roles, like Udo Kier as Kenneth's nosy apartment manager; and Rip Torn as Kenneth's boss. So if you've seen LARS AND THE REAL GIRL but thought that it could really benefit from some kink, sleaze, creepiness and dark humor then LOVE OBJECT is the movie for you.


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Review

Posted : 9 years, 1 month ago on 29 May 2008 02:44 (A review of Inside)

Before I had heard anything about this French horror/thriller, I actually saw it sitting on the shelf of my local DVD outlet. I picked it up read the back and it seemed interesting; but it was released on the Dimension Extreme label here in the US, and their titles are pretty much hit or miss. I decided to wait. After having it recommended to me many times, I finally picked it up. I shouldn't have waited. Believe the hype! This movie delivers big time. If you're into splatter and gore (especially the realistic variety), then do not hesitate to get this movie. But it offers more than that. The story was very involving, the cinematography as well as the soundtrack was excellent, there was tension and suspense in some scenes, the actors performances ranged from adequate to excellent, and the ending didn't suck. The twist ending is nothing new to the horror/thriller genre, but ever since SAW was released outlandish twist endings have become de rigueur. And speaking of twist endings another French gore movie comes to mind - HIGH TENSION. I loved HIGH TENSION and I thought the ending was interesting, but it came so far out of leftfield that it became implausible and left lots of plot holes in the story. I'm thankful to say that INSIDE manages to avoid the outlandish twist ending cliché for the most part. A very astute viewer might be able to figure out where the ending is going, but I didn't see it coming; and when it did come it was believable enough. In closing, INSIDE is a very rewarding experience for jaded gorehounds (like myself) and for adventurous arthouse lovers (with strong stomachs).


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Requiem for a Franchise?

Posted : 9 years, 1 month ago on 28 May 2008 10:11 (A review of AVP: Aliens vs. Predator: Requiem)

Requiem for a franchise? Probably not, seeing as how the ending of AVP-REQUIEM was set-up for another sequel (which is already in talks at 20th Century Fox). The best thing I can say about REQUIEM is that it's not quite as boring as the first one. There was at least a little more action in this sequel; but the movie was so darkly photographed that you couldn't really make out what was going on during the action sequences. There's hardly any character development either, so you don't care much about what happens to them. I don't usually mind this in a horror film, but if you're not going to have any real plot construction or character development then at least bring on the carnage and bloodshed. While it's true this movie has a little more gore than the first one, it's not nearly enough (considering the DVD is unrated). And most of the gore FX that are in the movie are ruined by the lighting (or lack of lighting). I'm a big fan of the Alien franchise and the Predator franchise, but so far I've been disappointed with both attempts at combining the two on film. For a much better combination of the franchises check out the Aliens vs. Predator series by Dark Horse Comics.


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"When the moon turns red, the dead shall rise!"

Posted : 9 years, 1 month ago on 27 May 2008 12:16 (A review of Burial Ground: The Nights of Terror)

*WARNING* - I probably give this movie way more credit (and star rating) than it deserves; but I can't help it, it's extremely nostalgic for me being that I saw it back in '86 (the year I became absolutely obsessed with horror after seeing Romero's DAWN OF THE DEAD and Fulci's ZOMBIE for the first time). Made in Italy in 1980 by sleaze-master Andrea Bianchi, BURIAL GROUND is nothing more than an imitation of Lucio Fulci's ZOMBI 2 (aka ZOMBIE), which was released a year earlier. In fact BURIAL GROUND was originally released in some areas of Europe as ZOMBIE 3 to cash in on the international box office success of Fulci's ZOMBI 2; which itself was cashing in on the success of George Romero's DAWN OF THE DEAD (released in Europe as ZOMBI). The scenario I just stated above is pretty much how the Italian exploitation film industry worked in the '80s. With the exception of the cannibal subgenre and the giallo film (which were distinctly Italian), most exploitation films made in Italy in the '80s were imitations of successful films from other countries. However, in my opinion the Italian "knock-offs" were often more entertaining and usually sleazier than the films they were imitating. Now on to the review. "When the moon turns red - the dead shall rise!". In the prologue an anthropologist, excavating a cave, is attacked and eaten by a zombie. Then the credits roll (over a suitably cheesy vocal soundtrack), and then the story follows a group of vacationers, staying at the anthropologist professor's mansion. Once these preliminaries are out of the way and all of the characters are introduced (don't expect much character development from this movie), the story settles into it's real function - to show as many disembowellings, gut-munchings, and assorted gore and gruesomeness as possible in 85 minutes. Most of the zombies in this movie are the usual Italian style oatmeal-faced, mummified corpses rather than the recently deceased. Thankfully the don't run. However, they're pretty handy with toolsl. As a potential victim is leaning out of a second story window, a zombie on the ground below throws a railroad spike which impales her hand to the side of the house; while another zombie raises a long scythe up to the window to decapitate her. Now that's efficiency. They also use axes and other assorted tools to chop down the doors of the mansion, where the remaining survivors are holed up. The "splinter-in-the-eye" scene from Fulci's ZOMBIE is imitated in this film as well; but instead of a huge splinter it's a jagged piece of broken glass! One of the zombified vacationers chows down on an incestuous kid who has run off because his mother slapped him after he tried to feel her up (here's the sleaze-factor I mentioned earlier). The mother finds the zombie eating her son, and bashes the zombies brains out on the side of a bathtub. The said kid comes back as a zombie later in the film, and the mother is so happy to see him that she changes her mind about the incest thing and bares her breast for him. Of course he takes a big chunk out of it (in one of the greatest splatter moments ever). By the way, the actor playing the kid was not really a kid at all but an adult actor named Peter Bark who was pretty small in stature and extrordinarily creepy looking. The zombified anthropologist professor shows up again and appears in one of the greatest zombie gut-munch scenes ever filmed. This movie has a genuine air of sleaziness to it as evidenced by the aforementioned scenes as well as a high level of splatter/gore. So in closing, if you're a fan of zombie cinema, splatter, and/or Italian horror and you haven't seen this film yet - what the hell are you waiting for! Go get it!


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The Cook,The Tweaks,Their Lives, & Their Struggles

Posted : 9 years, 1 month ago on 27 May 2008 12:10 (A review of Spun)

A meth-fueled rollercoaster ride in the lives of a bunch of tweakers, which essentially goes nowhere. But then that's the point of the movie. It's spread over the course of three sleepless days, so the viewer as well as the characters lose track of time. Through the editing, dialogue, and various situations in the movie, I think the filmmakers did a great job of placing the viewer into the mindset of a speed freak. I like the animation that's integrated into the film in various (appropriate) places too. There's some great characters in the film like John Leguizamo as Spider Mike and his strung-out girlfriend Cookie, played by Mena Suvari. Their dysfunctional relastionship is interesting to watch (and downright funny in some scenes). Ross, played by Jason Schwartzman, is the main character in the movie and is arguably the most grounded person in the film. Though over the course of the three day adventure he becomes just as spun as everbody else. He becomes important in the lives of all the characters primarily because he's the only one who has a car. Mickey Rourke plays "The Cook", and he's great as usual. One of my favorite characters is Frisbee, a black metal-loving tweaker always hanging out at Spider Mike's place. By the way, the video Frisbee's watching in his bedroom when the cops raid his place is the black metal band Satyricon's "Mother North". Here's a bit of trivia (and probably the reason for the black metal connection); the director, Jonas Akerlund, was drummer for the band Bathory from 1983 to 1984. If you're looking for a drug-related movie that's fairly realistic, but still has a healthy dose of humor, then this should fit the bill. It doesn't delve too deep into the horrors of addiction, so it's not a depressing ride like REQUIEM FOR A DREAM (which is a great film). And it doesn't stray all the way out into the left field of surrealism and paranoia like FEAR AND LOATHING IN LAS VEGAS (another great film, by the way). Just be sure to get the unrated "director's cut" version.


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"Look man, I'm uptight and wasted!"

Posted : 9 years, 1 month ago on 22 May 2008 01:37 (A review of Cop Killers)

This is a pretty fun '70s grindhouse/exploitation action flick. A couple of small-time drug runners are making a trek across the Arizona desert, carrying a bag full of cocaine that they plan to sell for $80,000. Along the way they kill some cops (oh, and an ice cream vendor as well). They also take a female hostage along, who ends up falling for one of the drug runners. It stars Bill Osco and Jason Williams as the drug runners. Bill Osco was also a co-producer of the movie (as well as co-producer for other exploitation gems like FLESH GORDON, THE BEING, and the Herschell Gordon Lewis tribute film BLOOD DINER). Jason Williams acted in a string of exploitation films from the '70s up to the '90s. He's probably best known for playing Flesh Gordon. The acting in the film consists of bad acting, over-acting, and some really bad over-acting. And the dialog is unintentionally funny in many places; but for those who love '70s grindhouse cinema, you already know that this adds to the charm of these movies. This film is also of note because it marks the debut of special make-up FX genius Rick Baker (who would go on to win an Oscar for his work on AN AMERICAN WEREWOLF IN LONDON in 1981). As far as the FX on this film, it's pretty minimal; mainly consisting of the aftermath of gunshot wounds. There's a couple of blood squibs and a spurting neck wound for good measure. The most gruesome effect is when one of the drug runners stomps on a cops face, breaking his cheek open and then proceeds to stab him in the chest a few times with a stiletto (the knife not the high-heel). Another highlight involves the theft of an ice cream truck (I guess they're not too worried about remaining inconspicuous). They end up making their deal in the middle of the desert with a bearded dashiki-wearing hippy dude and his two horny hippy-chick girlfriends. Right on!


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Capable Korean crime thriller

Posted : 9 years, 1 month ago on 15 May 2008 01:35 (A review of Tell Me Something)

I was pretty impressed with this Korean horror crime/thriller. It mines much of the same ground as Se7en and other high profile thrillers, but it's decidedly more gory and grisly (which I certainly appreciate). There seems to be a slight "giallo" influence as well (especially one of the killings, which had an Argento-esque feel to it). The story involves a serial killer terrorizing Seoul and leaving his victims' body parts in garbage bags throughout various public locations in the city. The garbage bags contain different parts from different male victims; and the special investigators task force, led by Detective Cho must piece together the human puzzles to determine the victims' identities. Once the identities are discovered, the task force manages to link all the victims to a former lover, Su-Yeon Chae. Is she a suspect? Or is she the killer's next target? Watch and find out. It's a little slow in places but it does manage to build suspense; and the thriller aspect holds your attention to the end. The cinematography and look of the film is exceptional, and the soundtrack was also memorable. The acting is capable with no real stand-out performances. I only recognized one actor that I've seen in other films, Jung-ah Yum. She played the stepmother in A TALE OF TWO SISTERS, another exceptional Korean film. She also played a small part as the "vampire woman" in the opening scene of Park-Chan Wook's segment of THREE...EXTREMES.


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The Strange Tales of Edogawa Rampo

Posted : 9 years, 1 month ago on 7 May 2008 11:20 (A review of Horror of a Malformed Man )

Here's a somewhat legendary Japanese cult film, that I've been wanting to see, ever since I read a review for it in Phil Hardy's "Encyclopedia of Horror" back in the late '80s. It was apparently banned in some countries, and it's still banned in its native Japan. Although, it is a bizarre ride and a bit disturbing, it's not overly gory. The reason for the ban in Japan is actually simpler than that; it's a matter of political correctness. The Japanese word for 'malformed' is considered extremely derogatory towards the handicapped. This, combined with the film's exploitative use of deformed human beings, is the reason for the ban. It's based on the stories of Edogawa Rampo (the Japanese answer to Edgar Allan Poe). The director, Teruo Ishii, originally started out adapting Rampo's "The Strange Tale of Panorama Island"; but fearing this would be the only chance he would get to direct a film using Rampo's work, he decided to add in bits from other Rampo stories like "Ogre of the Secluded Isle", "The Human Chair", "Walker in the Attic", and "The Twins". This of course makes the plot convoluted and has the effect of making the whole movie disjointed; but this only adds to the surrealistic dream-quality of the film, which actually edges into Jodorowsky territory in some scenes. I'm not going to get into the plot too deeply, because as I stated above it's just too much to try and unravel here. Here's the basics: Hitomi, a man seemingly suffering from amnesia, awakes to find himself trapped in a mental asylum (populated by crazed naked women no less). He tries to figure out why he's there, and he remembers something about an island, and a strange lullaby keeps running through his head. He's attacked by a bald man whom he manages to kill; and then he makes his escape by opening a window (apparently it's not a very secure asylum). Once outside he hears a female street performer humming the same strange lullaby which is familiar to him. He confronts the woman, and just as she's about to reveal the location of the island from his memory, she gets knifed in the back. Hitomi is framed for the murder and has to make an escape. While on a train he sees a picture of a recently deceased man named Genzaburo, that happens to look just like him. Hitomi assumes the dead man's identity, fooling Genzaburo's relatives by making them think his death was misdiagnosed (he even manages to get down and dirty with Genzaburo's wife and mistress). He learns that the island from his memory is just off the coast of Genzaburo's home. He also learns that Genzaburo's father, Jogoro, is living on the island and is trying to transform it into an 'ideal community'. Hitomi (still masquerading as Genzaburo) decides to take a trip to the island....and this is when the movie takes a trip into beloved lunacy. Jogoro's island is basically an extremely surreal and psychedelic version of the island of Dr. Moreau; and his 'ideal community' is populated by hybrid surgical experiments that have transformed people into the 'malformed men' of the title. OK, that's pretty much the basics of the plot, because there's plenty of craziness going on between the scenarios I described above; and I haven't even discussed the ending which is completely absurd (in that good kind of way that only the Japanese can seem to pull off). The crazed doctor, Jogoro, is played by Tatsumi Hijikata who is the founder of butoh (a type of performance-art dance). The director, Teruo Ishii, cast him in the role specifically for his butoh dance movements, which are pretty eerie when he's seen twisting and contorting his body crab-like across the rocky shore of the island. This mixed with Ishii's jump-cut editing of Hijikata's movements makes for a very memorable scene. I highly recommend this movie especially if you're into surrealistic films in the style of Alejandro Jodorowsky, or Edogawa Rampo adaptations like RAMPO NOIR and MOJU.


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Wasted opportunity

Posted : 9 years, 2 months ago on 16 April 2008 01:06 (A review of Catacombs)

It could have been (and should have been) so much better. Set among the underground catacombs of France, it should have at least been able to create a creepy claustrophobic atmosphere (like THE DESCENT), but it fails to generate any suspense or scares. And the twist ending just came off as ridiculous to me. In fact most of these types of horror films with the tacked on twist endings are just becoming too cliched now. Oh yeah, this was made by the producers of the SAW films.


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Influential Metal Classic

Posted : 9 years, 2 months ago on 5 April 2008 11:50 (A review of Morbid Tales)

The "Morbid Tales" EP (1984) was the first release of pioneering first wave black metal band Celtic Frost, following the split up of Hellhammer. The line-up was Tom G. Warrior (guitar/vocals), Martin Eric Ain (bass), and Stephen Priestly (drums). In 1985 their second release was an EP called "Emperor's Return". Stephen Priestly was replaced on drums by Reed St. Mark. This CD combines both EPs. Includes such classic songs as "Into the Crypts of Rays" (with lyrics based on the deeds of the infamous French aristocrat Gilles de Rais), the doom-laden metal masterpiece that is "Procreation (of the Wicked)", and the eerie horror movie atmospherics of "Danse Macabre" (the twisted-sounding lullaby voices in this track remind me of something out of a Dario Argento film). And of course you can't forget tracks like "Circle of the Tyrants" and "Dethroned Emperor". Whether you like doom metal, black metal, thrash metal, or death metal, Celtic Frost was a huge influence on all these emerging genres; and for those not familiar with them, this is the best place to start. An essential addition to any metal collection.


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