Queen Crab (2015) [REVIEW] | Crab Budget Z

It has been a while since we dabbled into the territory of modern Z-grade movies about killer animals, so it’s time to descend into the muk of the ultra cheap features, so cheap that they are barely discernable from freshman cinema assignments shot during the summer break of the past.

An advice for fellow collectors living in Europe: you don’t need to get the german version, there’s a cheaper UK DVD release under the title “Claws”, it’s the same movie, don’t be fooled by the wrong synopsis on the back of the box (and most likely on the Amazon item page as well), clearly written by people that didn’t actually see the damn movie, there are no “space meteor crabs” in Queen Crab.

It’s obvious from the first minute this is indeed a monster movie shot on a microbudget using cheap digital video equipment, but i was interested in it because it promised the giant crab done in stop-motion animation, indeed a tasty promise and a rare sight regardless of budget to any cinephile.

Continua a leggere “Queen Crab (2015) [REVIEW] | Crab Budget Z”

[EXPRESSO] Tom & Jerry (2021) | Featuring Paolo Bonolis from the Paolo Bonolis series

Oddly they decided to release in theathers here as well now, so why not. It’s bound to be more interesting than Cruella or any of the direct-to-video Tom & Jerry movies where they just put the characters in other famous stories, and it could make for a memorable disaster, even more since it’s directed from Tim Story, better remembered for his Fantastic Four movies.

And this is actually the second theathrical movie for the cartoon duo, almost 30 years after the last one, so i was indeed curious.

Plot sees Jerry take refuge into a fancy hotel, which prompts a young employee of the estabilishment to team up with Tom in order to get rid of the mice problem before a big wedding takes place, but eventually they have to put aside their differences to fight the real “villain”, who’s cospiring to ruin the wedding for its own gain.

I wasn’t sure why they eventually went with the hybrid of live action people and computer animated cartoon characters….i guess mostly to enhance the slapstick due to the juxtaposition of cartoon characters (sporting very old school designs too) still adhering to cartoon logic even when interacting with real world people and locations.

Maybe.

This could (and should) easily have been a fully animated feature, but despite the very predictable plot (complete with the “liar’s reveal”) and token human characters, it’s not that bad. At least it has some funny moments (including the by now expected but always welcome Droopy cameo), it keeps Tom and Jerry as a non-talking slapstick duo, the slapstick itself it’s pretty decent, the music is surprinsigly well chosen, and the animation is decent.

To be honest, it’s not good, but it’s arguably a bit better than the 1992’s movie most people from my age have nostalgia for.

Ninja Thunderbolt (1984) [REVIEW] | Rollerskating Jumping Ninjas

Can’t believe that we didn’t cover yet (on this blog, anyway) anything from the masterful editing hands of Godfrey Ho and his empire of multi-colored caucausian ninjas, so time to rectify this with a… random one from the huge ninja pile, Ninja Thunderbolt!

A little introduction for those yet unfamiliar with Godfrey Ho’s legendary style of “cut and paste-kata”, as in he took various unfinished, unreleased or copyright dubious films (often from Hong Kong and Taiwan)…. and edited new footage of caucasian actors acting as ninjas in colorful jumpsuit to make a “new” full lenght movie, redubbing and rewriting the dialogues in order to make a somewhat connected – and sometimes almost coherent – plot tie together all the footage.

Continua a leggere “Ninja Thunderbolt (1984) [REVIEW] | Rollerskating Jumping Ninjas”

[EXPRESSO] Army Of The Dead (2021) | The Uncertain Dead

Zack Snyder has taken a break from superhero movies to come back to the zombie farm for Army Of The Dead, a zombie flick that’s also a heist movie, originally conceived as a spiritual successor of Snyder’s own 2004 Dawn Of The Dead remake, but over time becoming his own distinct thing, while it stewed in development hell until Netflix picked it in 2019.

While Las Vegas is plagued by a zombie epidemic, a group of mercenaries is crazy enough to try pulling the absurd and hugely risky feat of going into the quarantined zone to pulls off the biggest heist ever conceived, and do it before the government drops a nuclear bomb on the area.

This sounds like a great recipe for a bombastic, excessive good time… but it isn’t.

Putting aside that the movie is not so full of action as it marketed and presented, it’s a flawed execution of a good premise, one that’s also very long (2 hours and a half) and totally feels like it, even more as it feels unclear on what exactly it wants to pull off, not helped by the fact there are tonal inconsistencies; figures when it feels so conflicted between almost being Zombieland or a more Romero-style zombie film.

It’s frustrating, because it has some interesting, noteworthy variations and additions to the zombie mythos, it does live up the title in that regard, the actions scenes are quite good, there’s even some decent humour. There’s something to it, but it tries to pack too much stuff in and it never fully “clicks” because of it.

We’ll see more regardless, as Snyder wants to do a sequel, and Netflix already greenlit two prequels, in form of a film and an animated series, so maybe something better could come out of it.

[EXPRESSO] The Unholy (2021) | Cigarettes, Ice Cream, Figurines

Based on the novel “Shrine” by James Herbert, The Unholy is another movie that released just now due to the COVID-19 pandemic effects, and is the first horror movie i’ve seen in theathers before the last lockdown here in Italy (before that i just managed to see The Grudge 2020).

Why i’m talking about my “cinema cronology” instead of the movie itself, and posing fairly obvious retorical questions? You know exactly why, but let’s get to it anyway.

The plot follows a New England hack journalist, Gerry Fenn, once very famous but eventually kicked out as he kept just making shit up all the time, now reduced to do low paying puff pieces about strange phenomena, but he’s as skeptical as cynical, so he keps mostly inventing stories. But when he hears of a young lady named Alice, a deaf-mute miracolously healed after – as she puts it – she saw the Virgin Mary.

Gerry decides to investigate on the matter, leading to discover many dark episodes uncongrously related to Alice’s “miracle”.

It doesn’t sound that interesting, and… it isn’t. But it’s not half bad either, as the spirit/entity isn’t completely generic and the script could be far worse, but it’s also one of those horror movies that almost completely relies on lazy jump scares or noise distractions to keep some attention from the viewers. It’s that kind of mediocre horror film about possessions that at least has a narrative where shit happens at a decent pace, some good actors (it has Cary Elwes, Katie Aselton and Jeffrey Dean “Negan” Morgan in the cast) and quite good production values.

In a way, it’s the perfect blend of mediocre horror flick that’s not annoying, too slow or boring, but it’s also full of cliches, lacking any mystery and immediatly forgettable. Meh.

Arachnoquake (2012) [REVIEW] | Phantom Uses Rollout

In a sense, i’m way overdue for reviewing this, not that i was getting emails about it, but because i realize i should have seen and reviewed this before Lavalantula and the sequel, 2 Lava 2 Lantula, especially the first one, who in hindsight sound a lot like a parody of that one, but featuring the bus driver as lead instead of the washed up celebrity played by Steve Guttenberg (and yes, that movie realized the irony in that casting), just taking place in New Orleans instead of California and this time the spiders are coming out due to an earthquake caused by fracking, instead of being long lost cousins of Phantom incased in magma for millions of years that woke up and started the eruption.

Continua a leggere “Arachnoquake (2012) [REVIEW] | Phantom Uses Rollout”

Fist Of The North Star: Ken’s Rage 2 X360 [REVIEW] | You Should Have Left The Bronx

The first Ken’s Rage sold relatively well, and it’s Koei, so we got a sequel 3 years later.

Which would be fine, until you realize what it actually implies in this case, and i don’t mean it simply being released to coincide with the series 30th anniversary.

That is something else entirely that ultimately condemns Ken’s Rage 2, but the main issue is that you just can’t do what Dynasty Warriors does with Romance Of The Three Kingdoms, as the source material for that leaves it open to the real historical characters being reinvented or changed, on what of the many events (historical or pure fiction like the many uses of magic) focus more the narrative, while keeping focus on the essential battles and significant achievements of the warring factions, and their part in the path to the unification of China after the fall of the Han dynasty.

You can’t just re-imagine Kenshiro, his friends and foes, as they have all distinct personalities, distinct character designs, signature moves and Fist Of The North Star’s popularity never really waned in 30 and plus years, so people still are quite well aware of it. On the other hand, you could hardly justify making a sequel when the first game stopped at the end of the Raoh’s story arc.

Continua a leggere “Fist Of The North Star: Ken’s Rage 2 X360 [REVIEW] | You Should Have Left The Bronx”

[EXPRESSO] Another Round (2020) | ALCOHOL!

I’m just gonna pretend that an “american remake” of this isn’t already in the works.

(glorch)

Despite the Oscars feeling less and less relevant and more “old men row selecta”, they still serve the purpose of spotlighting interesting films like today’s Another Round, from danish director Thomas Vinterberg, set in Denmark and starring many danish actors, most prominently Mads Mikkelsen.

Four teachers, all very unappeased with their lives on both a professional and personal level, decide to test on themselves a theory according to which every human has a little percentual of alcohol and trying to achieve a state of constant inebriation would lead to huge benefits in everyday life.

Even the formal and distant history teacher, Martin (Mads Mikkelsen), joins in, and actually get results by becoming a better teacher and husband, but obviously this is the very definition of a slippery slope experiment. You don’t watch a movie like this waiting for Mads to emerge from black ooze with mascara and leading ghost soldiers, you know where it would realistic go from that premise,but still, the execution is masterful, depicting the tentations of alcoholism, its effects both in a very funny way, even wholesome at time, while also depicting its obvious negative effects, but without getting preachy on the matter or using it as easy scapegoat for deeper issues.

It’s a really funny movie that not afraid to tackle the more dramatic and very mature implications rising (even indirectly) from the odd situation, able to perfect balance both, with very likeable characters. But it’s also a surprisingly, utterly optimistic – not naive, mind you – celebration of life seen through the lens/state of light, happy intoxication, making for a very joyful ride.

In short, it’s very, very, VERY good indeed, and i highly recommend it to everyone.

Anaconda (1997) [REVIEW] | Snek of Darkness

As following decades raised the bar for ridiculousness (quality not so much) in B-movies, newer generations of genre cinema might look back at late 90s/early 2000s killer animals movie and wonder how could people be satisfied with just regular animals like snakes and sharks, why the anaconda doesn’t summon galestorms and unites with other anaconda to become a giant monster bigger than a japanese city… or its “ready to be rampaged on” scale model.

What does get passed for sure is how crappy the effects are, and i can’t honestly sit here and lament the lack of a modern Anaconda reboot (though it’s apparently in the works), as its sequels aren’t exactly.. remembered or discussed as of today, and most of the series’ legacy i feel is the terrible CGI of Anaconda 3… and it eventually crossing over with the Lake Placid franchise, so all in all it did manage to carve its own place in the killer snakes movie niche.

But i’m not here to look at the franchise as a whole, we will eventually get to all the follow-ups, today we’re giving a look at the original Anaconda movie from 1997, directed by Luis Llosa, and see why it’s has become a cult classic b-movie of sorts in time.

Continua a leggere “Anaconda (1997) [REVIEW] | Snek of Darkness”