7.26.2010

There's a zombie watching TV in my living room

It's been a while since I've posted one of my shorts. I recently came across this one and thought you all might enjoy it. It's basically a PSA (public service announcement) I made for a contest. Perhaps they didn't like the message because I most certainly didn't win. Think of it as an homage to the "Kill your TV" ads back in the day...with a zombie!



Want to check out some other videos? Go here to see a comedy involving Steven Seagal and Guitar Hero. You'll like it. Trust me. How about some more zombie action; check out this short I made my first year of film school. If you enjoyed the faux trailers for Grindhouse, look at this trailer.


HorrorBlips: vote it up!

7.22.2010

Check out the Achy Breaky Hearts at Z for Zombies

Don't worry. There's no country music involved...at least not yet anyway. Zach S. from Z for Zombies has put together a blogathon of tear-jerking stories of heartbreak from your favorite bloggers. Tales of sorrow and despair can be found here, as bloggers share some of their biggest film disappointments. Because Zach is an incredibly awesome human being, he asked me to participate. What film did I write my Dear John letter to? Check it out.

And while you're there, find out why Zach is really an awesome human being (it actually has nothing to do with me, I lied). If the banner alone doesn't sell you, I don't know what will! Maybe this uber cute bear....



7.19.2010

Slaughter High (1986): Clever clichés of slasher gold


It took three directors to assemble this collection of slasher stereotypes and archetypes into a single 90 minute film. Everything about Slaughter High screams “typical,” yet it somehow manages to be atypical in the process of presenting creative deaths, nonsensical characters, and bizarre twists. Starring the 36-year-old Caroline Munro from Maniac and scored by Harry Manfredini, this film definitely oozes of campy 80’s slasherama. Perhaps the two most telling trivia details about this film is that it was originally titled April Fool’s Day (only to be changed since Paramount was releasing their film with the same title also in 1986) and that it was produced by the same men who brought us the legendary Pieces.
Marty is jail bait.
When the awkwardly nerdy Marty Rantzen is subjected to a cruel and elaborate April Fool’s Day prank by eight of the cool kids, things inevitably go wrong. Marty ends up the victim of a tragic chemical fire, leaving the popular teens feeling guilty over their dirty secret. Ten years later, they are invited to a class reunion only to find their old high school building abandoned. After breaking into the school and wandering around the cobweb-decorated hallways, they discover that they’ve all been invited to a macabre April Fool’s Day party by Marty himself.
High School: The Best Four Years of Your Life...right
The plot has all the good ol’ slasher elements combined into one: high school prank gone wrong, vengeful nerd chasing the beautiful people, popular kids getting what they deserve, and it all happens to occur on a holiday. Within the story, the writers/directors somehow managed to pack in the smallest details of clichés as well: random nudity, unlikely sex scenes, lots of alcohol/drugs, and the obligatory exploration of abandoned buildings. However, all of these stereotypes seem to be serving a self-referential purpose. It’s not as if the filmmakers were unaware of exactly what type of film they were making and exactly how to please target audiences.
 
SPOILERS: The greatest moments of Slaughter High are the clever death scenes. Ted chugs a beer only to discover its contents have been replaced with an acid that makes his intestines explode. Shirley inadvertently gives herself an acid bath until she becomes a skeleton. While Stella and Frank fornicate, Marty hooks up cables to the metal bed frame, electrocuting them at their climax. And the list goes on…It’s moments like these that make Slaughter High stand out from the entourage of campus slashers--many of which were full of off-screen deaths and had very little personality.

The conclusion of Slaugher High is also what sets it apart. After killing off all of her classmates, Marty chases the Final Girl in the climax of the film. When all hope is lost and she is cornered, you would expect the tables to turn. This is when a character, who we previously thought was dead, would come back and save her. Not in this movie. Instead, she is simply impaled with a javelin. I was honestly a little shocked by the suddenness of it. Then, as Marty revels in the completion of his revenge plot, he awakens in a hospital bed, covered in bandages.
Why soooo campy?

Just like another certain film from 1986, the entire film is one large April Fool’s joke…only this one was a dream, or perhaps a premonition of the killing spree that Marty is sure to inflict after his escape from the hospital. Some may consider this ending a copout, but I enjoyed it, as I did not see it coming. It also made my view of the preceding events more interesting. The archetypes and stereotypes were exaggerated because the entire film was a part of Marty’s revenge fantasy. That’s why Shirley decides to strip completely nude to wash the blood off her face. That’s why Stella and Frank were so eager to have sex after witnessing gruesome deaths. END SPOILERS.

While Slaugher High is in so many ways an ordinary slasher film, it is also a unique version of all the things we’ve seen before. Its hyperboles and ridiculousness begin to make more and more sense as the film goes on. The humor, camp, and gore is all spot on and make it a true classic from a better time. 

7.12.2010

Predators (2010): “Do it, do it now!”



While the plot of the latest entry in the Predator series suggests that the world’s most elite warriors are assembled together for the supreme hunt, it is clearly flawed because this already happened in the first film. Therein lays one of the few flaws of Predators: if a single predator could take down The Body, Apollo Creed, and the Duke, then there’s absolutely no way this hodgepodge of characters could survive the runtime. However, I suppose I am asking a little too much.  All things considered, Predators is a solid entry—modernizing the look of the series, building on the story without damaging it, and providing a fun story in the process.   

A death squad killer from Sierra Leone. A Yukuza armed with a pistol and a tailored suit. An IMF soldier as the token “badass chick.” FBI’s most wanted felon. A sub-machine gun toting cartel member from the Baja. A highly intelligent doctor. And Adrien Brody…I mean a former black ops mercenary who whispers one-liners left and right. Lucky for us, this eclectic mix of killers all happen to speak perfect English. After realizing they’ve been kidnapped and thrown onto a strange planet as game in a large preserve, they must band together to survive, all while learning about one another’s unique differences and cultural backgrounds. Just kidding about that last part.

The action is consistent throughout the film, changing pace with new enemies and building up to a strong conclusion. Even though we all know the score with the way the predators hunt, we still manage to learn more about them as the film goes on. Unlike other sequels (*cough* AVP *cough*), this doesn’t replace Predator lore or alter the world that has been previously created. It only adds. And we can forget all about Predator 2 by the way, because it’s irrelevant to this story. So if you liked it, no hard feelings. And if you didn’t like it, don’t worry.

Sure there are some negatives about Predators. It is the year 2010 after all. Yes, there are a few instances of crappy CG. The opening scene, for example.  As you sit through the awful-looking sight of Adrien Brody free-falling from the fake sky with digital wind rushing by, just remind yourself it’s only temporary and that 90% of the film is full of practical environments and effects. Speaking of effects work, the predator design(s) are pretty good. We are introduced to some new looks for different types of predators. I especially liked how the designers were able to distinguish between different predators by their armor/masks, as they adorned their hunting gear with different trophies. This brought them alive as individual characters, as opposed to just another cyborg-appearing race with dreadlocks and fishnets.


The film is shot well, edited tightly, and generally well-written. Director Nimród Antal didn’t seem to get the best  performances from all of his actors, particularly Danny Trejo. Still, Adiren Brody and Alice Braga managed quite well. Admittedly, I’m not watching Predators for academy-award winni ng performances of cheesy one-liners. Antal handled the tone well, making the movie fun with a little bit of cheese, but mostly played straight. I’m still torn about the score, as it’s basically the same as James Horner’s original music with a little bit of updating (add in some heavy guitar riffs, maybe some bass beats). I loved hearing the amazing score again, but I also wish this film’s music stood on its own more.

Predators is most definitely worth a watch, especially if you’re a fan of the original. Keep count of how many lines are ripped right out of the first film. It’ll be fun. I promise.

7.05.2010

Salvage (Screener): Character-driven study of fear…and some gore too

Tense moments and psychological warfare decorate Salvage’s 79 minutes, even if it is a little rough around its indie edges. The UK film explores fear and paranoia, as military men suddenly quarantine the residents of a suburban cul-de-sac. A divorced mother struggles to find her estranged teenage daughter when the violence erupts, providing a strong emotional thread throughout the story, which could have been rendered in the usual survival horror style. The familial drama, especially the maternal distress, was a refreshing backdrop against a somewhat typical plot.

 Focused on the characters first and foremost, Salvage makes us care about the people on the screen. When it matters the most, the actors are terrific. However, the performances were inconsistent throughout the film. It seemed like the cast strained to act natural during the more casual moments. One cannot be too harsh though since this was such a dialogue-heavy/character-focused film, a lot of scrutinizing attention was placed on performance.

Much like the acting, the violence could also be inconsistent. There are some great gore gags to please any horror fan, but then there are also a couple clumsy deaths here and there. The action is mostly subdued, as the majority of the film stresses the tension of the threat of violence as opposed to actual brutality. I appreciated a lot of this anticipation, as the quarantined characters play off of their own fears without knowing the truth about the dangers outside of their homes. The filmmakers also did a great job of not playing up the paranoia to an unrealistic degree, where characters are literally back-stabbing each other as a result of unsubstantiated suspicions.

I watched Salvage without reading too much about it first; I always prefer to go into a film blind. This really helped with Salvage, as I felt just as clueless as the characters in the film. As the events unraveled, I pieced things together only slightly ahead of the characters, which always makes the viewing experience more fun. For fans of indie horror or paranoia-themed fare, I highly recommend a viewing of Salvage, which comes out on DVD (in the US) this week.

7.04.2010

Proud to be an American...Slasher


As American as apple pie and cheeseburgers.

Don't mess with Texas.

Chucky encourages kids to be safe this holiday.

Remember when Michael defeated the Nazis and defended our freedoms?

Freddy prepares to recite the U.S. Constitution.

Jason never forgets.
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