[EXPRESSO] The Bunker Game (2022) | Paranazical Activity

Out of the blue a new italian (well, an italo-french production, but still, shot in Italy with italian actors) horror movie sneaked into cinemas here as an event screening.

I will say that this time i’m not so much disappointed or angry but utterly confused as to what they were even trying to do.

The setup is that there’s a LARP set up in a WWII nazi-fascist bunker in Italy, with an alternate history post-apocalyptic scenario, but when security measures break down, they evacuate the place and only the staff decides to remain and investigate to what happened, as the game/scenario creator has gone missing…

Given the title you’d expect the movie turning into either a battle royale, a Saw-style thingie, even a simple slasher, but nope, it goes into supernatural territory…. for reasons.

In the first part you kinda forget – despite the movie stating immediatly it’s a LARP – that’s a farce, a game, and i honestly wonder why it didn’t play the “alt-history Fallout cum Fourth Reich” scenario straight, i mean, the production values are quite good, the costumes too, so it could have been simply a modern nazisploitation flick.

For what it actually is, a horror movie, one where the horror part feels really forced and cliched, there’s some atmosphere due to the setting but no tension as the movie randomly veers into horror, the characters are token, unlikeable or barely have any screen time to be even worthy of adjectives.

The Bunker Game has some good cinematography, decent-to-good acting, but it feels way longer than its 90 minutes runtime, as it meanders about unsure of what the hell it’s even doing or saying, if anything at all.

Still better than In The Trap, but this one frustrated me way more since it had actual potential.

[EXPRESSO] Choose Or Die (2022) | Curse Text Adventure

It was just a matter of time before we got a movie like Choose Or Die, not only due to the rising prominence of videogames in popular culture, but also as a byproduct of the various legends like the Polybius one, and inadvertly of the metacurrent, as i got whiffs of an hypothetical Pony Island X Jumanji reboot crossover (plus references to the Waterworld Atari contest and the likes) from this.

Plus, it has Robert Englund in it. Always nice to see, regardless of the movie.

The plot sees two friends booting up an old 80s videogame, intrigued by the fact there was a competition with money on the line, but nobody ever claim the rewards in the following decades.

To their dismay, they actually enter the game, Curs<r, and will have to survive the surreal world laying before their eyes, as the game it’s actually, literally cursed, and can alter reality with destructive, immediate effect, forcing the player to make horrible binary choices.

It’s a simple premise but it’s novel enough, and the execution it’s surprisingly good, the direction is confindent has quite the bite, taking advantage of the premise (in this case the videogame elements) in a straightforward but also quite interesting and satisfying manner, leading to some really grisly (yet not over the top in terms of graphical violence) setpieces that show off some style to boot.

The likeable characters (especially the main protagonist), and compact runtime round up the package, making Choose Or Die a very nice surprise, overall, especially for Netflix’s often lacking offerings in terms of horror films.

It’s nothing special or deep, and maybe it was a bit longer it could have actually explored in any depth some of its themes, but regardless, a solid, fun, fresh teen horror romp with some pizzaz.

[EXPRESSO] Occhiali Neri/Dark Glasses (2022) | A Knife For The (Blind) Ladies

You know, this movie just existing should be reason enough to celebrate for many invested in horror movies and adiacent cinema grounds, i mean, a new movie from Dario Argento, and one that sounds like a throwback to old giallo thriller-horrors…. sounds promising, doesn’t it?

At least it does if you’re thinking of Suspiria’s Dario Argento, not the one who cursed us with the abysmal shlockfest of Dracula 3D back in 2012, i remember distinctly that one and will always bring it up as a testament that sometimes, yes, you can lose the “touch” (or the “power”) in a dramatically disastrous and disheartening fashion that shits on your entire legacy.

So yeah, i didn’t set myself for unwarranted expectations of competency… and sadly i was right.

Set in a solar eclipsed Rome, the plot of Dark Glasses see a young escort named Diana (Ilenia Pastorelli) being stalked by a serial killer, leading to a tragic car crash which makes her blind and with vague memories of the incident, and also makes orphan a young chinese boy called Chin (Xinyu Zhang). Diana receives help, a guide dog, and tries to make amends to Chin, but the serial killer comes back to finish the job….

I’ll say this: where Dracula 3D was the depressing kind of bad, Dark Glasses is so bad it’s actually laughable, with the trifecta of main characters where the best acting is actually provided by the seeing-eye dog (i’m not kidding, some unbelievably bad acting, especially from the lead actress), a formulaic and ridiculous script filled with embarassing dialogues, questionable editing, and a fuckton of not giving a shit.

Also the old-school practical gore effects by Argento’s regular Sergio Stivaletti are fun, it’s short and the soundtrack genuinely slaps.

Still crap, but better than Dracula 3D, at least.

[EXPRESSO] Seance (2021) | Spooky Slashing Schoolgirls

Late February isn’t exactly the usual “dumping ground” in terms of releasing horror movies that actually came out last year in most english speaking market, but whatever, i’m game.

Didn’t exactly heard much about this one besides being kinda ok… and i’m not gonna tell you it’s this underrated gem mistreated by a cruel and fickle press. I just can’t.

Set in an elite women’s college, Seance tells of the new enlisted student, Camille, able to join after the mysterious death of a student named Kerrie, following a prank at her expenses to try and scare her with the legend of the ghost of Eveldyne, a female student who killed herself there decades ago.

The newcomer gets herself and some of her bitchy asshole classmates in detention by standing up to their bullshit, but they do get spooked and intrigued when they try to make a seance to contact Kerrie… and it seems to work, but things soon get worse as the girls are stalked and killed like flies by someone or something …

Yeah, it’s teen slasher…. a very middling one at that.

It’s not that bad as a first time directing piece by Simon Barrett, who previously produced and penned horror movies such as Frankenfish, You’Re Next, 2016’s Blair Witch… and 2017’s Temple.

Sure, it’s pretty obvious who the culprit is, most of the kills leading to the reveal are very limp…. but it’s short, it redeems itself enough in the final act in terms of both gore and entertainment, helped by a good cast, decent acting and solid production values.

Thought it’s really predictable, and it’s basically the director hodgepotching horror cliches more to see what sticks than using them in service of a precise vision or tone, making for a watchable but forgettable and throwaway flick.

[EXPRESSO] Texas Chainsaw Massacre (2022) | Hostile Makeover

There’s a lot that could be said about the Texas Chainsaw Massacre series, but you won’t hear it from me now since i really didn’t bother with anything aside the original and the delightful spoof sequel Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2. I knew this was gonna be another “Godzilla style” sequel to the original that ignores everything else, so i rewatched that for a refresher before this one released as a Netflix exclusive a couple of days ago, but that’s about it.

Set decades after the events of the original movie, the story focuses on the aged serial killer Leatherface, targeting a group of young entrepreneurs that arrive in the ghost town of Harlow to basically sell it to rich people, and him coming in contact with a veneful survivor of his killings.

Yes, it’s Angela from Sleepaway Camp. Seriously, it’s not like it could be anyone else, and the movie right away it makes no secret that Sally is still alive, but basically handles it’s legacy character in a disappointing fashion, feels like they wanted to avoid a complete mimicry of what Halloween 2018 did… even thought otherwise it’s exactly what they did anyway.

As in, the attempt is pretty clear in intention, the result is more akin to to Halloween Kills, sans the messy baggage (and overburdened script), among other things.

It’s not “good”, but it’s quite entertaining in the same way as that movie was, as in delivers gore, lots of kills and good production values, the modern stuff makes sense, but in terms of story and characters it’s a mostly forgettable wash.

For a direct-to-video sequel it’s “fine”, and since it’s also really short, i say give it a watch if you like the series or slashers in general, just don’t expect much beside some entertaining kills.

[EXPRESSO] The Privilege (2022) | Frozen Daiquiri Horror Of The Chosen

More german teen horror movies via Netflix, this time with The Privilege.

A rich teen and his fittingly rich private school classmates uncover a conspiracy while investigating a series of supernatural elements.

What conspiracy, you may ask? Cannibals? Cultists sacrificing students to Nyarlatothep? Me trying to distract you from the obvious social commentary a horror movie with this title is going for?

Worry not, the movie itself will confuse you quite enough, as it’s admittely bonkers and ambitious, but not in a good way, as it throws too many sub-plots and ideas into the script, resulting in a hodgepotche that’s simply WAY too ambitious for its own good, all made worse by desperate attempts at jumpscares and shallow teen characters.

Demons, parasitic fungi, seances, creepy laboratories with corpse cultures, rites, hauntings, the movie has them all, even if leads to congestion more than fun.

It’s not bad or boring, there are some cool ideas, and it’s kinda unpredictable, but that’s also because there too much on the plate and no focus, so the movie shifts from supernatural horror to psychological thriller and even to science fiction horror, and you keep wondering how the hell this all connects together until the very end… which you will still wonder about, as the clearly rushed finale leads to the “please franchise” cliffhanger, for a movie that otherwise feel quite longer than it actually is, just isn’t scary enough and baffles more than entertains.

I don’t think it’s outright crap, but i will admit i really, really struggled to get all the way to the end of The Privilege, more frustrated and annoyed than spooked or creeped out, a real shame since its well shot, there are some good gore effects, some interesting moments and the german cast it’s quite good.

A real pity.

[EXPRESSO] The House (2022) | Trifecta Triumphant

New stopmotion animation film on Netflix with (also) animal people, you know i’m already in.

Even more since it’s a small anthology of 3 stories, one about a poor family meeting a miraculous proposal, one about an anxious ratman constructor trying to score estate success, and the last about an exhausted landlord, all tied together by revolving about the same house, while taking place in different epochs and with different kind of characters, going from humans to ratman and catmen.

The character models aren’t clay or the odd-papermaciè style seen in Mary Shelley’s Frankhole, but go for a very textured felt-wool look, with a very fuzzy feel juxtaposed to the horror atmosphere and visuals, even though just the first story has actual supernatural horror elements, there’s always a sinister or weird tone to most of the events, with some very stilish visuals to match.

Animation it’s top notch, the character models have very good designs and craft, and it’s a quite good trifecta of stories, with a balanced mix of horror, satire, drama and comedy, quite grabbing as you always wanna see where they’re going in exactly. I think the second one it’s arguably the best, as you never quite sure what direction it’s gonna go, gets weirder and has an even weirder ending.

And stuff like a trip-out insects & maggots musical sequence.

And free-roaming hippie catmen.

Honestly, i don’t really have much to complain about or add in general, if your ears peaked up like a fox at “animated stopmotion anthology film with lots of style and fun substance”, the chances are good you’re gonna like this one, easily. And it comes in a pretty good 90 minutes package, with everything in it feeling as long as it needs to be.

What a really great surprise, too. Excellent.

Shriek of The Mutilated (1974) [REVIEW] | Have you ever had… a Yeti feast?

I teased it a couple of times, so why not, let’s go down deep into the yeti hole by fishing out cult exploitation crapfest Shriek of The Mutilated, a classic go-to for fans of the cinematic abysmal, a common territory for most movies about the legendary humanoid cryptid Bigfoot/Sasquatch/Yeti, as the poor bastard it’s quite popular fodder for bad movies regardless of decade.

This is some primo shlock, coming from Michael Findlay and his wife Roberta Finlay, both infamous exploitation directors and producers behind many erotic and horror films, but i’d wager you most likely know them for the rather infamous Snuff from 1975, aka them riding the rumors around the existence of actual snuff films, marketing Snuff itself as a real snuff movie and making it about non-Charles Manson guiding around his cult followers into a killing spree.

Continua a leggere “Shriek of The Mutilated (1974) [REVIEW] | Have you ever had… a Yeti feast?”

[EXPRESSO] El Paramo (2022) | Thy Patience Consumed

Some really fresh (as in “new”) Netflix content for me and you, El Paramo is set in 19th centhury Spain, where a family living in a remote house is haunted by an entity that feeds on their terror, and it falls upon the young boy Diego to save his mother from the entity… and herself.

…. or so this is premise as Netflix puts in the description. A correct synopsis that doesn’t spoil the experience, i’m not harping on that, i just prefer to describe this movie as “mother simulator”, since the mother not only has to suffer her husband basically disappearing and never coming back most likely due to the wars happening outside their isolated refuge, having to defend herself from a supernatural beast that she thought was just a legend, but also having to put up with her son, one of the most annoying and dumbass child character i’ve seen in a recent horror film.

Stupid, grating and spineless too, just in case the kid wasn’t annoying enough to deal with, even though it eventually leads to his character arc going where you would expect…but until the last act he doesn’t come off as the more sane and kind character he actually is, but as cowardly dumbass that almost makes this movie an accidental “anti-Babadook”, as for most of it i was rooting for the mother to get rid of both “annoyances”, not only the monster, and have some peace.

That said, let me stress that the movie it’s not bad, the setting it’s pretty good, the cinematography it’s also quite nice, the creature’s lore and design are spooky enough and played fairly decently for tension instead of jumpscares, and there are some atmospheric moments, but there’s just not much to it and overall it’s mostly average.

12 Days Of Dino Dicember #10: Legends Of Dinosaurs And Monster Birds/Legends Of The Dinosaurs (1977)

We previously spotlighted the delights of live action tokutatsu monster and superhero anime hybrid with the Dinosaur War Izenborg 4 episodes-to-compilation film “Attack Of The Super Monsters” by Tsuburaya Productions, so let’s talk about an even more obscure kaiju film, this time by Toei, with Legends Of Dinosaurs And Monster Birds, also known as Legend Of The Dinosaurs.

Interestingly, this was a japanese kaiju movie spurred by the international success of Spielberg’s Jaws (release in 1976 in Japan) and a coincidental resurgence of reports of Nessie in Loch Ness, so Toho settled to make it about a geologist who start investing strange reports of fossilized eggs and odd events surrounding the Saiko Lake (one of the Five Fuji Lakes) community, including a headless horse carcass and mysterious disappearances of people in the lake area.

Eventually Takashi puts the clues together and surmises it must be a Plesiosaur doing this, which turns out to be true, as it attacks the lakeside attendants during an event (hi, Jaws parallel), but in japanese monster movie tradition, the creature it’s bound to fight with another monster, a “Rhamphorhynchus” (basically a type of pterosaur like the pteranodon), emerging from a hidden cave in the Aokigahara region (aka the tragically famous “Sea Of Trees”, subject of a very crap Gus Van Sant movie to make things even worse), as accidentally discovered by a young girl.

Continua a leggere “12 Days Of Dino Dicember #10: Legends Of Dinosaurs And Monster Birds/Legends Of The Dinosaurs (1977)”