Thursday, April 11, 2013

"The Collection" Movie Review – Better Than the First One

Runtime: 82 minutes
Rating: R
Release Date: November 30, 2012
Director: Marcus Dunstan

Elena wants nothing more than to kick back with her boyfriend and probably watch a movie and have a little nookie. Unfortunately, he decides to be a lying prick and call to tell her that he's stuck at work when he's actually going to an underground club. Her best friend arrives with another friend, and they convince her to spend the night at the same club. After checking her hearing aide, she agrees to go with them, which is a huge mistake.

The club is actually a front for the Collector (Randall Archer), the serial killer from the film of the same name. After the Collector dispatches the people in the club, he turns his attention on the few survivors. Elena finds her way into a small room where she unlocks a chest and out pops Arkin (Josh Stewart) from the first film. Arkin does what he can, but he can't stop the Collector from grabbing Elena and running away.

While in the hospital and recovering from his ordeal, he's approached by Lucello, a man hired by Elena's father. He once pulled her from a burning car after an accident that wrecked her hearing, and he works closely with her dad. They offer Arkin a deal, and he agrees to go back to the abandoned hotel where the Collector takes his victims and help them save Elena.

"The Collection" makes my list of the top five horror films that I've seen in the last year. I absolutely loved the original film, which had one of those truly fucked up endings, and I think I might have enjoyed this one even more. There is literally nothing about this film that I didn't like.

Early in the film, there's a scene that rivals "Blade" for one of the best club scenes. As the dancers shake their asses on the floor, the Collector watches from above. He hits a switch, and suddenly, a large circular blade cuts through the crowd, literally cutting off heads and body parts. Elena's best friend is one of the few survivors who make it off the dance floor, but he isn't done with them. After trapping them, he drops a blade-filled ceiling on them. The ceiling drops slowly, as Elena watches in horror unable to save her friend.

Believe it or not, all of this happens in the first fifteen minutes of the movie, and it just keeps getting better from there! We get some insight into the way the Collector works, including how he kidnaps multiple people and keep them in certain rooms or locked in trunks. Those who perform the best in his little tests wind up as part of his permanent collection, while the rest just wind up dead. When Lucello and his men arrive at the hotel, they face one obstacle over the next, and it's just awesome.

That's not to say that there aren't a few problems with the movie. Early on, we see a news report from a reporter talking about a serial killer on the loose. The reporter makes it clear that people keep disappearing, but since there's no proof that anyone is dead, it's hard to believe that the police would just randomly announce that a serial killer is out there.

There are also a few traps and scenes that seem impossible and hard to believe. Could a woman really survive mounted to the wall like a butterfly? How do these people survive locked in trunks when there's no evidence that he ever fed them or gave them water? Those questions didn't pop up in my head until much later after watching the movie, and I highly doubt that I'll think about that when I remember the movie later. I'll just keep thinking about those great traps and opening scenes.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

"Rise of the Zombies" Movie Review – Even Alcatraz Isn't Safe

Runtime: 89 minutes
Rating: NR
Release Date: October 27, 2012
Director: Nick Lyon

When a zombie apocalypse happens, you tend to want to be somewhere safe. If you're Rick from "The Walking Dead," it seems like a hospital or a prison is your best bet. If you're one of the people in "Rise of the Zombies," it seems like nowhere is actually safe.

This plucky band of survivors, which include LeVar Burton, Mariel Hemingway, Danny Trejo, and Ethan Suplee, decide to live on Alcatraz. You might think that this is the safest place on earth, but the film actually opens with a scene of the zombies making their way onto the island. They keep listening to radio reports from a doctor played by French Stewart, who keeps experimenting in the hopes of finding a cure for the infection. After a zombie attack that leaves some of the group dead, the survivors leave the island behind to track him down.

We saw a trailer/preview for "Rise of the Zombies" on another movie, and between Burton and Suplee, we knew we had to see it. It didn't help that I recently watched the entire run of "My Name is Earl" for the fourth time. Sadly, neither of those actors nor the talented Hemingway can save this film. I love movies from The Asylum because even though the movies are low-budget, they're entertaining enough for my group. This one was just bad.

After it ended, the conversation between me and my boyfriend went something like this:

BF: That wasn't that bad.
ME: Are you kidding me?
BF: What?
ME: That was bad.
BF: Not as bad as some of the shit you make me watch.
ME: That was bad for The Asylum bad.
BF: Fair enough.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

"Dark Feed" Movie Review – I Told You They Weren't Real

Runtime: 86 minutes
Rating: R
Release Date: March 18, 2013
Director: Michael Rasmussen & Shawn Rasmussen

What happens when you stick a bunch of random people in an abandoned mental institution to shoot a new horror film? If it's anything like "Dark Feed," the results won't be good.

"Dark Feed" follows a group of men and women as they work in an old institution to create a new horror movie. Naturally, there's a dark presence in the old hospital that slowly starts infecting people. It can easily and quickly move from one actor to the next, and no one seems to notice that anything odd is happening until it's too late.

The premise of "Dark Feed" is one that horror fans have seen far too many times. I'm fine with films rehashing the same topic, as long as the film introduces something new. We don't get a lot of new stuff with this film, but we do get a few moments that are at least entertaining. The quote listed at the top of this review actually comes from the film. One of the characters gets "infected" by the ghost, which leads to him shaving his head, killing the female actress, and cutting out her implants. He then literally motorboats another man with the implants as he's chained to a chair, letting him know that he told him they weren't real.

While "Dark Feed" wasn't a fantastic horror movie, I did find it entertaining at times. It has a great ending, and even if you feel tempted to turn it off, I recommend that you stop and wait for the very last scene. It's a little gruesome and well worth your time.

Monday, April 8, 2013

"Seeds of Destruction" Movie Review – The Terror Beneath

Runtime: 90 minutes
Rating: PG-13
Release Date: October 8, 2011
Director: Paul Ziller

Kate and Joe (Jesse Moss, "Final Destination 3") are the type of people who I love to hate. They decide to film some people meeting in a mining area, thinking that they're about to drop off toxic waste. Instead, the people actually meet to exchange an odd vine. One of the men removes a leaf from the vine, cuts his hand, places the leaf on top, and it heals him in seconds. When they notice the two watching, all hell breaks loose. While running away, one of the men drops the vial containing a seed, and the seed immediately plants itself in the ground, turning into a huge underground vine that attacks and kills anyone in its path.

"Seeds of Destruction" is the type of film that annoys me because it actually feels like multiple stories wrapped up into one film. There is the first half, which focuses on Kate and Joe trying to escape and hopefully save the world, and then there is the rest of the film. We meet Jocelyn, a sexy scientist who once worked with a famous professor, trying to find ancient plants. When he found something, told her it was nothing, and the immediately fired her, she didn't stop to wonder if there was something else going on. We also meet Jack, the stereotypical alpha male, who thinks he knows everything.

It turns out that the professor she once worked with wanted to create his own Garden of Eden, and he made that happen by tracking down a bunch of ancient plants. The vine is part of that plant system he wants, and it slowly takes over the world.

I try to find a few good moments, but "Seeds of Destruction" didn't have many of those. One of the more interesting scenes that actually has some humor comes when Joe and Kate decide to enlist the help of an older hippie pothead. He manages to help, but the plant comes towards them. They run to his truck, only to have him turn around and run back to his house to save his cat. That one scene was cute and even a little funny, but the rest of the film was just a bad creature feature.

Sunday, April 7, 2013

"Daddy's Girl" Movie Review – Television Quality at Best

Runtime: 95 minutes
Rating: R
Release Date: December 23, 1996
Director: Martin Kitrosser

"Daddy's Girl" is the perfect example of a 1990s horror film that wound up going straight to video. Throughout the whole film, I was convinced that it was a television movie, but nope, this one was a straight-up produced for home video.

Don and Barbara never had children of their own, but they did manage to adopt a twelve-year-old girl named Jody. No one finds it odd that Jody seems particularly enamored of her new daddy or that she goes to great lengths to spend every free moment with him. Don and Barbara are too busy arguing and fighting to worry too much about their new daughter. Barbara became the breadwinner of the family after Don started working on a new toy, and no one knows when he'll ever get back on his feet again.

Jody quickly makes it clear that she dislikes anyone who has a problem with her daddy. As she has trouble fitting in at a new school, the principal suggests that she go away to boarding school. When she learns that she might end up away from her father, she pushes her principal off a chair and breaks her neck. She later targets her own grandmother, shoving her down the stairs. Unfortunately, the woman survives, which just makes Jody even angrier.

There are a few clever moments in "Daddy's Girl," but those moments are few and far between. Jody plants a tape recorder at the bottom of the stairs and plays a recording that makes her grandmother think she seriously hurt herself. When the woman actually tries to find her and help her, Jody pushes her down the stairs. When Jody is bad, the film actually gets a little interesting. The problem is that no one can expect this little red headed girl to carry the whole film on her back. The parents spend too much time on their own problems and denying the fact that they live with a psycho, and when anyone finally notices a problem, Jody kills them.

The film tries to wrap everything up at the end in a nice little package, but it's too much. By the time it explains what happened to Jody, i.e. her history before she wound up with her new family, no one will really care.

Saturday, April 6, 2013

"Tales from the Darkside: The Movie" – Beware of Well-Dressed Women

Runtime: 93 minutes
Rating: R
Release Date: May 4, 1990
Director: John Harrison

Timmy (Matthew Lawrence) makes the mistake of wandering into the kitchen of Betty (Deborah Harry), who just so happens to be in the mood for little boy stew. She gives him a book of fairy tales that are a little dark and twisted to tide him over, and he decides to read her a few to hopefully distract her until he can find a way to escape.

When I was younger, I always loved the "Lot 249" segment, which is the first in the film. The segment stars Steve Buscemi as a graduate student who discovers that his quasai-girlfriend, played by Julianne Moore, cheated on him and tried to steal from him. Her younger brother, played by Christian Slater, saves the day, but not before his sister and her lover die. In the end, Buscemi brings her back from the dead to get revenge on her brother.

"Cat from Hell" is the typical middle story in films like this. It involves an older man, who thinks that a black cat living in his house is evil. He offers a hitman $100,000 to kill the cat. The cat stalks the man all night, and when the older man comes back, he discovers that the cat actually suffocated the hitman by stuffing itself down his throat. In the end, the cat kills the old man too.

My favorite story in the film now is the last one, titled "Lover's Vow." James Remar plays a man who sees a gargoyle kill a man in a dark ally. The gargoyle promises to let him live as long as he never tells anyone what he saw. That same night, he meets Rae Dawn Chong and falls helplessly in love with her. After several years of marriage and having two kids together, he tells her what happened the night that they met. She turns into the gargoyle, kills him, and becomes statues with their kids. Oh and in the end, Timmy traps Betty in her own oven and presumably lives happily ever after.

Friday, April 5, 2013

The Tortured Movie Review – How Far Would You Go?

Runtime: 79 minutes
Rating: R
Release Date: August 28, 2010
Director: Robert Liberman

The Tortured opens with a scene of Craig (Jesse Metcalfe) screaming into a cell phone that someone kidnapped his son. Through flashbacks, we learn that his wife Elise (Erika Christensen) left him in charge of their son Benjamin when she went to work. When he headed inside to find sunscreen, a stranger (Bill Moseley, House of 1,000 Corpses) grabbed his son and took off running. Though the police later find the man, they don't find him before he kills their son.

After the stranger receives a sentence of 25 years to life, the couple decide to kidnap him and inflict the same amount of torture onto him that he gave to their own son. Though the setup of how the two actually manage to find the man and kidnap him is a little unbelievable, the torture scenes make the payoff well worth it.

The Tortured definitely asks viewers to suspend belief for awhile. Craig is a doctor, but he seemingly has knowledge of hundreds of different areas and superhuman strength. After drugging the coffee that the drivers drink when transporting the prisoner, Craig manages to steal the prison van. He drives a little too fast, which leads to an awesome scene where the van careens off the road and flips over multiple times before landing on the roof and crushing in the driver and passenger front. Somehow, Craig climbs right out of the van with only a few scratches on his face.

I'm willing to overlook that minor problem because The Tortured is so dark and disturbing. They immediately grab the stranger and tie him to a table in the basement of a house they find in the middle of nowhere. Since there is no one around for miles, they have no problem inflicting their own form of pain on the man. They place his feet in a vice and twist until bones pop, shove a lit cigar deep into his skin, and in one particularly gruesome scene, Craig places a mask over his face and covers the air vent until the man suffocates. Just as he's about to pass out, Craig gives him access to air again, and the cycle continues.

The Tortured didn't get a lot of good or positive reviews, which is definitely sad because this is one of the best horror films that I've seen lately. Despite originally being released in 2010, the film wasn't widely available until the last few months. I grabbed a copy from Redbox, which was so scratched that it wouldn't play, but I found a copy at a local rental place. It was the type of film that I didn't want to watch because it was so gory at times, but it was also the type of film that I couldn't stop watching. Add it to your list if you haven't yet seen it.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

"Imaginary Friend" Movie Review: Sometimes It's Not All in Your Head

Runtime: 86 minutes
Release Date: June 2, 2012
Rating: PG
Director: Richard Gabai

"Imaginary Friend" opens with a young girl playing outside with her best friend. As they run around the yard and frolic in the grass, it quickly becomes clear that Emma is real but her little friend is a figment of her imagination. After her abusive father kills her mother, the movie jumps to the present day. Emma (Lacey Chabert) now lives with her husband Brad (Ethan Embry, "Vacancy") who seems to act just like her father once did.

Emma inherited a large sum of money from her parents' estate, and Brad has control over everything. There's something about how she spent time in an institution and how she can barely function. She seems content to just stay at home and paint, but after some time, she decides that she's ready to get back into the world again. When Brad discovers that Emma no longer needs his help and that he doesn't have control over her accounts, she suddenly starts seeing visions of her former playmate, who may or may not be real.

I'm not entirely sure, but I'm guessing that "Imaginary Friend" is a Lifetime movie. It just tends to play that way based on the acting and the sets. As someone who appreciates a good television movie, I won't hold that against it. It's actually a fun little movie in fact. I made a comment to my boyfriend about how I wanted it to end, and damn if it didn't actually end that way. It's one of those films that has several endings so there's one twist, then another, and then it has a completely different twist at the very end. I get the feeling that this is one of those films that I’ll see when flipping through the channels and instantly want to stop and watch again.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

"Milo" Movie Review: The Reason Why I Hate Yellow Slickers

Runtime: 91 minutes
Release Date: October 6, 1998
Rating: R
Director: Pascal Franchot

Claire, Abigail, and two of their friends are young girls who witness a brutal murder. While playing a game, they see a slightly older boy named Milo kill one of their classmates. Years pass and most of the girls get over what they saw. When one of the women begins working as a schoolteacher, she's mysteriously killed and Claire (Jennifer Jostyn, "House of 1,000 Corpses") decides to move back to her former hometown and take over her job at the school. Unfortunately for Claire, Milo is still out there and he wants his revenge. When she starts seeing a little boy in a yellow slicker in town, she knows that something is wrong.

When I was a teenager, my brother and I would often rent a bunch of horror movies and watch them together. I'm pretty sure we either rented this one from Kroger, back when it had a rental place, or Blockbuster, back when Dayton actually had Blockbuster stores. It was one of those horror movies that I remembered fondly because we would sometimes joke around when we saw a kid wearing a yellow slicker. I didn't realize how much that image stuck with me until I was out shopping a few weeks ago and saw a kid wearing one of these jackets. The first thing I said was, "hey look! It's Milo," which led to strange looks from my friends.

"Milo" doesn't hold up as well as some of the other bad/cheesy 1990's horror movies. I watched it one night by myself, and I found myself staring off into space or focusing on something else instead of actually watching the movie. Granted the love that I once had for the movie, it was a little sad.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

"The Factory" Movie Review

Runtime: 108 minutes
Release Date: October 20, 2012
Rating: R
Director: Morgan O'Neill

Mike (the ever sexy and ageless John Cusack, "The Raven") is a cop chasing down a serial killer who he's never seen before. That killer Carl (Dallas Roberts, "The Walking Dead") has a nasty habit of bringing women home, forcing them to "marry" him, and disappearing. After another body turns up, Mike and his partner Kelsey (Jennifer Carpenter, "Quarantine") agrees to help him track down the killer.

Everything changes when Carl nabs his next victim: Abby (Mae Whitman), who just so happens to be Mike's teenage daughter. The film jumps between scenes of Mike and Kelsey hunting down and tracking the serial killer and scenes of poor Abby stuck living with Carl and his two women. One of whom is pregnant and one of whom is willing to do anything for him. To top it all off, there's a chance that someone close to Mike might have a dark secret.

"The Factor" is the kind of thriller/horror flick that I like because it seems like something that could actually happen. A serial killer who keeps kidnapping women because he wants to have as many kids as possible? A guy who willingly kills a woman after she gives birth to one of those kids. One of the weirdest scenes in the film actually involves Mike stumbling on a dark room filled with babies in incubators.

Granted, the ending isn't nearly as strong as it should be. It does have an interesting twist that most viewers will see coming, but that twist is surprising to some viewers. Roberts is pretty great in the film, and it's nice to see him playing someone a little creepy after the last season of "The Walking Dead." I'm just surprised that I didn't hear about this movie sooner. I actually stumbled across it in the middle of the rental store, not knowing that Cusack even did this film. It was an interesting film that kept my attention, which is more than I can say for some recent horror flicks.

Monday, April 1, 2013

"The Reeds" Movie Review – Why You Should Always Pay Attention to Signs

Runtime: 86 minutes
Release Date: January 29, 2010
Rating: R
Director: Nick Cohen

I hate starting out with, "a group of friends set off on a weekend trip," but that's exactly how "The Reeds" begins. Celebrating the engagement of two of their friends, Laura, Joe, Mel, Nick, Helen, and Chris decide to rent a boat and spend some time together. While driving to the rental shop, they nearly hit a red-haired girl who runs out in front of their car. No one else really seems to notice her, but she looks Laura directly in the eye before running off into the wilderness.

As soon as they reach the rental shop, they learn that their boat isn't ready to go. They actually have to drive to the water and pick it up there. Once they arrive, they discover a group of teenagers on the boat. None of the teens speak to them, but after some rude comments and gesturing, the teens do leave. Only Laura notices that the red-haired girl from before is on the boat.

After heading onto the water, they notice another boat carefully winding its way through the reeds. Though Laura expresses some doubt, the others decide that it would be a great idea to follow that boat. They get so caught up in the idea that they don't even notice the large sign, warning boaters of No Entry. Naturally, things get weird when the sun sets. They start seeing the same teens running through the reeds, the other boat disappears, and it seems like something wants to kill every single person on board.

"The Reeds" was a surprisingly good horror film. Released in 2010 as part of the After Dark Horror Fest series, it came in the fourth year of that series when it seemed like they were scrapping the bottom of the barrel to find anything good. I've seen a handful of films from that year, and this one comes out at top, or at the very least, it's one of the best from that year.

The only flaw with the film is that things tend to get a little weird towards the end. There's one twist that seems pretty plausible, and this is the twist that people will probably see coming. Then, there's another twist that fits with the opening scenes of the film, but it's still a little odd. As if that wasn't enough, there's a third twist that comes seconds before the credits roll.

"The Reeds" has some spooky elements that I really liked. Who wouldn't freak out if they were on a boat in the middle of the night and saw things moving in the grass right next to the boat? You might convince yourself that it's just a rabbit, but what would you do when you looked back and saw two human eyes staring back at you? Believe it or not, that's actually a major scene in the film.

There is also a fair amount of blood and gore in the film. One man gets a piece of metal driven through his chest after the boat strikes something in the water. The film doesn't pull any punches; it literally shows the metal come through the boat and then through the man's body. To top it off, his friends actually use a rusty old saw that they find on the boat to cut the metal loose from his back and move him to another spot. His screams of pain sound so realistic that I actually winced once or twice.

Another bloody and gory scene comes when the group jumps from the boat after it catches on fire. When the fire spreads to some lantern fuel, it causes a massive fire, which spreads across the water due to the leaking fuel. One of the women discovers that her foot is caught under the water, and she is so scared that she neglects to dive under water like her friends, resulting in disgusting and dripping blood and flesh oozing down her face.

"The Reeds" got some pretty bad reviews when it first came out, but I thought it was a solid flick. It's no longer available on Netflix, but you can pick up copies of all the After Dark Horror Fest flicks pretty cheap.