Piranhaconda (2012) [REVIEW] | Madsen-baiting

Ah yes, the classic “go-to” choice when you and fellow shlock film makers have done every possible killer animal b-movie… doing another one by straight up mixing animals like Frankenstein if he was that desperate (and bored out of his skull) to bring something from the dead, regardless if it existed or not.

So pretty much like his incarnation in Mary Shelley’s Frankenhole.

Sadly there’s no Moral Orel cameo to be found here, just good old Jym Wynorski doing what he knows best: making cult creature features for SyFy and/or home video releases.

Continua a leggere “Piranhaconda (2012) [REVIEW] | Madsen-baiting”

[EXPRESSO] Studio 666 (2022) | Dave Grohl Made Me Do It

No, this is not a Jojo reference, nor its one of those weird hybrid music video-concert films (see for example Metallica’s Through The Never), this a full on fictionalized affair, and one i’ve been looking forward to since it was announced. Sure, rock and metal superstar bands aren’t new to cinematic experiences about their personas, but the pitch-premise of a comedy horror starring Dave Ghrol and his bandmates as themselves it’s so good it’s hard to ignore.

As the band Foo Fighters it’s struggling to come up with ideas for its tenth studio album, they get recommended a secluded house in Encino, California, where in the 70s a band called Dream Widow went to record an album, ending with the frontman massacring all the band members before killing himself. The band settles in despite the creepy vibes they pick up from the house, but things get progressively out of hand, leading to Dave Grohl being possessed by a demon. Among other things.

It’s a good dang premise, and thankfully the script and direction are up to snuff to make the most of the pitch, having a zany time with horror cliches and the expected “behind the music” stuff, with the band proving to be very good sports in this delightfully ridiculous comedy horror romp, especially Dave Grohl overacting like a champ as he grows progressively more obsessed once he manages to “magically” get over his artistic block.

Yeah, it’s pretty funny, there’s more to the story than expect, and Studio 666 isn’t afraid to be extra cheesy and honestly it’s kinda surprising that the effects are very good, but besides that, i’ve seen horror movies that try to take themselves seriously but ultimately wish they could pull off even half-successfully a random jumpscare this movie uses as a joke.

Recommended!

[EXPRESSO] Black Phone (2021) | The Basement Dead

Time for some fresh meat, as this one will drop in theathers here in a week’s time, but i manage to see this earlier preview screening, and boy i’m glad i did, as i’ve heard of this movie before but kinda forgot when or if it was gonna come out in theathers here.

Based on the short story of the same name by Joe Hill, Black Phone is the new feature from Sinister ‘s (and the 2016’s Doctor Strange, as marketing makes abundantly clear) director Scott Derrickson, telling the story of a serial killer – dubbed “The Grabber” by the community – that in 1978 terrorizes a suburban town in Colorado by kidnapping children, with the sixth being the 13 yo Finny Shaw. While being imprisoned, Finny realizes that the black phone in the basement, despite having the line physically severed, acts a conduit for the Grabber’ previous victims to talk with the boy and hopefully help him escape. At the same time, Finny’s sister begins to have weird dreams, or visions..

You know when the trailer and most of the marking material makes the movie look good and “proper”, you go see it and then it’s actually quite good? Yeah, Black Phone it’s one of those.

Not only the setting it’s good, the presentation excellent at using “low budget tricks” like scenes filmed or edited to feel like era archive footage (which is not surprising given the director), all contributing to avoid the common modern mistake of “overly produced/shiny horror movies”, it’s a pretty creepy slice of that late 70s’ suburban America, with a really good atmosphere, a little bit of well integrated comedy and great characters all around, with the villain being as creepy as he looks.

Pretty good, fairly intense and quite satisfying to boot. Recommended.

[EXPRESSO] Black Parthenope (2022) | ♫ Goin’ Naples Underground ♫

Bringing you more new italian horror movies coverage, the new ones that just kinda “sprout” out of nowhere into the programming schedule of my local cinemas, with no fanfare and almost no national marketing budget to speak of.

And i guess this is the year of smaller italian horror movies like this that frustrate me, as they make good use of distinctive regional italian locations and have some potential, but kinda squander it or are afflicted by fairly big flaws.

Black Parthenope is a horror thriller set in the incredibly extensive set of underground catacombs and tunnels of Naples, the so called “Naples Underground”, where some business people met in order to sell the entire “underground city” to a company that’ll make parking lots out of it, but they get lost and haunted by the neopolitean folklore legend of the “Monaciello” (meaning “small monk”), a wronged soul that was shunned and then killed in the underground tunnels, forever seeking revenge on anyone that walks his haunting grounds.

The Neapolis Underground setting it’s great, some of the scenes manage to create a decent atmosphere, the cast it’s decent and it’s a well produced movie… but it’s almost brought down entirely by how shallow, grating and obnoxious the characters are, to say nothing of the aggressively awful dialogue, and how uneven and often middlesome direction can be, falling back to cliches in a way telling of this being a feature debut for the director in question.

While the final part partially redeems the movie from “proper bad” territory, the first act almost makes you wanna give up on it entirely, but at least you can tell that this movie was always meant to be a thriller-horror movie, unlike the previosly reviewed The Bunker Game.

Even so, it’s definitely not a bad effort!

[EXPRESSO] Doctor Strange in The Multiverse Madness (2022) | Mystics From NY

FIY: I’m one of those that didn’t watch Wandavision before heading into this for many reasons (including not really caring nor intending to pay or use Disney +), and i was right in assuming that i didn’t need to… as they give you just enough info to follow the plot of this movie without spoiling that show or anything. It’s a perfected science of its own at this point.

THAT out of the way, i was honestly looking forward to this one, having liked a lot the first Dr. Strange movie, and having Sam Raimi on board as director for the sequel did please me indeed.

The plot sees Dr. Strange deal further with the concept of the multiverse, as a girl with the power to travel to different parallel universes appears in NY being followed by an eldritch monster, sent by Wanda The Scarlet Witch to kidnap the girl. Helped by his fellow mystics and the new girl, Strange will have to find a way to stop Wanda while traversing various realities in the multiverse…

While it starts a bit ho-hum, it does “gear up” and delivers on the expected package of magic, mystical brawls, multiverse jumping (used for what could or could be not “cameos”, let’s just put it like that), wizard duels, and i’m glad Raimi was allowed – to the extent a Marvel movie will find comfortable – to lean more on the horror elements and how he likes to handle them, which helps this entry in standing out a bit more.

Overall, Dr Strange In The Multiverse Of Madness, does deliver on the title, it’s pretty fun, and it thankfully not bloated as some other Marvel movies in terms of runtime.

Nothing “great”, but i quite liked it.

Mileage might and will vary, as usual.

[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.

Resurrection (1999) [REVIEW] | In Lambert We Trust

You might or might not celebrate the upcoming festivity, be indifferent, but in the spirit of the holiday, let’s take a break of sorts and on this today go away from the non-budgets or the endless parade of director-actor-producer-writer one-man homegrown created film featuring either a giant or man-sized rabbity thing (NOT of Purcellian’s descent) going around killing people.

We already “did” Beaster Day/ The Beaster Bunny, and i will have that as a representative of the “ rabbit horror movies” subgenre, with 90 % of these belonging to the “no budget” category and often more than not just being more about rabbits than Easter, see for example the previously covered Bunnyman trilogy, which at least doesn’t pretend to be themed around the holiday (as it isn’t).

So instead we’ll talk about the 1999 crime thriller Resurrection, about a detective (played by Christopher Lambert) and his partner (Leland Orser) hunting down a serial killer emerging in the weeks preceding Easter, with the blasphemous plan of creating a new Jesus Christ by sawing together body parts taken from his victims, carefully selected by following the canon, literally.

I’m honestly surprised how – aside from the tired zombie jokes – there’s barely anything in terms of actual horror movies using a similar or the same macabre idea of “my very own flesh boy, JC”, or the theme of resurrection that’s the main point and what this holiday celebrates/it’s about.

And for a nice festive surprise, it’s actually a pretty decent detective thriller, and a solid film overall, the horror element is strong, the idea of the “DIY messiah” is quite grisly and unsettling, with some good gore effects, and yes, you get to see the final frankensteined flesh conscruct, quite the thing.

Sure, it ain’t too original in terms of characters (and the flashback of the incident involving the main detective’s son it’s so trite that becomes unintentionally kinda funny, given how cheesy it is), but it’s well acted, it has a recognizable cast with great actors, even David Cronenberg acting as the red herring creepish pastor, and Russell Mulcahy’s direction (with this movie marking his continuining collaboration with Lambert after the first two Highlander movies) it’s fairly gripping, hitting all the expected beats of the detective thriller flick, with the fake outs, the religiously obsessive serial killer leaving fittingly themed Bible references on the victims, supported by the great cinematography of Jonathan Freeman and decent dialogues with a few memorable quotes.

It’s no masterpiece, but it’s a really robust offering, definitely in the decent-to-good tier of detective thrillers, it has a very young looking Christopher Lambert in it, and to seal the deal, it’s most likely streaming on Amazon Prime Video in your neck of the woods too, so if you like the premise and-or don’t want to bother with crappy Easter themed horror movies, this is an easy recommendation.

I don’t have much to say about this, in all honesty, but in this case i’d say it’s a good sign, and i’m not gonna inflate this review for the sake of it.

[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] 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.