29 June 2016

RETURN OF THE LIVING DEAD III/1993/BRIAN YUZNA

RETURN OF THE LIVING DEAD III/1993
DIRECTOR: Brian Yuzna
WRITER: John Penny
CAST: Kent McCord, Melinda Clarke, J. Trevor Edmund, James T. Callahan, Sarah Douglas

There was a time I was a real zombie movie fan but that fascination has longed waned in the face of the utter drek that is churned out in the name of the flesh eating living dead. I tend to like the bigger budget stuff now and the couple TV shows, The Walking Dead and fear the Walking Dead. The last real zombie movie I got into before my but out began was The Return of the Living Dead III, directed by Brian Yuzna way back in 1993. It and the original 1988 ROTLD are the only two of the series I have ever cared for and I do not think I have even bothered with most of the newer ones. I got depressed seeing Peter Coyote (this guy worked with Spielberg and Polanski for the love of God) degrade himself to pay the rent in the later sequels. The second one was just not entertaining while the original is the classic horror/comedy film it has earned the reputation of being. But the third film seems to have slipped off the radar for most people and that si too bad. It is a well made little film by the often capable Yuzna from back when he was still producing and directing films in America (for all I know he is still making movies in Spain or some place). 

The basic storyline diverges from most zombies films in that it 1) does not focus on some sort of zombie holocaust and a few humans battling hysterically against the apocalypse and each other and 2) it weaves a pretty believable love story, of a Romeo and Juliet variety, into the plot. Young teenager Curt Reynolds (James T. Callahan) and his military father Col. Reynolds (Adam 12’s Kent McCord in a good performance) are struggling with father/son issues and the stress of moving from base to base where the Col. is overseeing the latest experiments with trioxin, the chemical in that reanimates the dead and brings them back as brain hungry zombies. The film makes a departure from the first tow in this department in that bites can now transform people, whereas in the first films only exposure to the trioxin gas made you a zombie. 

Curt is in love with Julie (Melinda Clarke) and after a motorcycle accident kills her he revives her with the trioxin gas, out of love of course, but things start to get a little freaky for Curt and Julie after she starts getting hungry. Snowballs and Twinkies at the local convenient store aren’t going to satisfy her. The film become a series of chases from local pachuko gang members and the military that leads the pair into the infamous underground sewers of LA. If you Google the film and look at the images it is hard to find anything other than the now iconic images of Julie with all manner of pins, and scrap metal and chains and broken glass impaled through her body. The make up for those scenes took no less than six hours to do. The images are impressive and Julie ranks as the sexiest zombie girl in horror history I suppose. If there were a contest for the one zombie chick you’d want to do if you had the chance I would bet Julie would win.

When Yuzna wants to dish out the graphic violence he can and he does in ROTLD III. There aren’t many scenes here of attacking zombies being shot in the heads and most all of the violence has humans on the receiving end. I am sure zombie rights activists will be happy to hear that. The acting and story of star-crossed lovers Curt and Julie keep the narrative moving along, as well as the father and son dysfunction subplot, and even the rivalry between Col. Reynolds and Col. Sinclair (Sarah Douglas) for the best use of the trioxin animated zombies. Sinclair’s zombie driven exoskeleton innovation adds for some freakish effects towards the end of the film. 

I can honestly say this film is one of my guilty pleasures in life and I have seen it a half dozen or more times since I first saw it on VHS. It stands on its own in the series and while a part of the ROTLD franchise it cold have almost been a movie all on its own. In fact I understand Yuzna was not completely happy to have to use the ROTLD title as the film was getting completed. It felt it was too long and felt the film was a bit distinct from the first two films.  But he had in fact agreed to do a sequel in the beginning and so that was that. It is still way beyond all the low budget zombie shit that is being churned out these days in terms of story and atmosphere. If more zombie films had taken this direction I would still be an avid fan of the genre. 






13 June 2016

GIRL HOUSE/2014

GIRL HOUSE/2014
DIRECTOR: Trevor Matthews/Jon Knautz
WRITER: Nick Gordon
CAST: Ali Corbin, Slaine, Adam DiMarco

Girl House is a Canadian produced slasher film that is set in South Carolina. It stars TV actress Ali Corbin as a nice girl who figures it is a god idea to do live sex shows on the online porn site Girl House. Okay, she's paying her way through college, so that makes it okay. On Girl House the girls are followed by live cams all day and night long by their drooling and masturbating followers. This means cams watching them cooking, playing pool, sleeping and even spending time in the bathroom. The house is called the Fort Knox of websites because of its high degree of security. Well, that’s not enough to keep out a relentless psycho called Loverboy (played by white rapper Slaine) who works in the computer tech field. I guess since he has an IT job repairing motherboards and plugging in cables correctly it puts him on a level to hack into any place he wants at a moment’s whim. Those are a couple problems with Girl House –nice girls doing porn and IT guys smarter than security at the CIA or NSA- but they can be easily over looked  as necessary plot devices to just get the ball rolling, and the heads. Girl House is not a bad slasher style flick and while it follows the formulas –in this case the classic slumber party/sorority house massacre type formulas- it does so in a fairly bleak and uncompromising way. The film has a European feel to it really, and for some reason the version I got a hold of even has German text all over the credits and in the shots of the chat logs. I could not find out why it had German as there is, at this point, little about this film online. 

The direction and camera work are pretty good and the script does not get blogged down too much in creating petty squabbles and conflicts between the girls in the house. It moves things along at a steady pace and when the killing begins it is all pretty gruesome and explicit, all done with old school practical effects. Sure, there are plot holes you can drive a truck through but that will always be the case with these types of films. And the film never, in my opinion, becomes some sort of psycho-sexual case study or social, moral message film about the evils of the online porn community.  It is just a slasher film and does not try to be much else. And it succeeds.  Some background to the character Loverboy is given but not enough that the film becomes a story from the killer’s POV. And if you read my last review, Charlie’s Farm, you may recall I felt the Charley character was more comical than menacing because of the lack of a good psycho slasher mask. In Girl House we get the best/worst of both worlds in that we get to see Loverboy sans mask and later with. And it is pretty freaky mask too. It just really would not have worked had we had to see his face. The good direction, good enough dialog, atmosphere and brutality of the killings makes it a worthwhile watch for fans of the genre. And fans of pulsing pumping 80’s style synth will appreciate the effective score by tomandandy, the scoring duo from Texas and Canada. In the end I may have felt the final girl sequence between Loverboy and Kylie (Ali Corbin) was a bit rushed and Loverboy seemed tougher than that to me, but the film ultimately has more going for it than against it. Worth a look if you like porno slasher stalking mayhem. And who the hell doesn’t?







10 June 2016

CHARLIE’S FARM/2014

CHARLIE’S FARM/2014
DIRECTOR: Chris Sun
WRITER: Chris Sun 
CAST:   Tara Reid, Nathan Jones, Kane Hodder, Bill Moseley

I typically like Australian horror and crime movies. Big fan I would say. They tend to be naturally gritty and raw since Australia and its population are gritty and raw.  This formula slasher flick let me down pretty bad as I was hoping for something special. I think after one has seen at least 100 of these types of films he does not expect much and expects the story to follow a certain formula. Like a decent pop song. If it diverges too much from the set rules it get s too unpredictable and more times than not that is not a good thing. How much more paint by the numbers can you get than a band of 20 something friends, two gals and two guys, deciding to venture off into the outback to stay at a deserted house in the remotest area of the wilderness steeped in violent urban lore. It is the farm and house that once belonged to John and Meredith Wilson, and their deformed and retarded offspring Charlie. John, played by Bill Moseley doing the only role he ever does, a quick talking redneck psycho, and Meredith have a hobby of killing backpackers and whoever they can. For a deserted stretch of the Aussie outback they never seem to run out of victims. The locals have had enough and one night take the law into their own hands. Skip to the future. The fact that Charlie was never found flames the local legends of the house and the still disappearing backpackers make the spot a mecca for, well, curious dumb asses like our little group.

The set up almost has to go this way and what makes this type of film entertaining or not at this point is how believable the story unfolds, how likable some of the characters are, how thrilling the killings will be, how well the story is paced and how decent the “must kill time until people start dying” dialog is, and most importantly, how engaging the killer is.  As is typical with these types of films the soon to be victims are mostly all unlikable. One disgusting fat guy farts and talks about bowel movements and yet still almost nails a pretty girl later in the film.  The dialog is not that good at all. People just show up into the story for no other reason than to add extra bodies to the plot. The actual action does not start until far too late and when it does it is pushed along way too fast, just to wrap up the movie and it ends on a very poor note indeed. But in the end the big problem is Charlie himself. I guess write, director Chris Sun wanted to do something out of the box and made Charlie a slasher character without a mask. It was a big mistake since Charlie (played by Australian wrestler Nathan Jones) never comes off as scary or menacing, rather he is sort of comical as he briskly runs after victims and the camera focuses on his grinning face. In one scene he stands in front of actress Tara Reid and tosses his sword like weapon back and forth between his hands, like some Viking. The scene is utterly lame. The death scenes are often intense and in case a girl has her jawbone ripped from her face and tossed away. Definitely worth a replay. But then the fat, farty guy gets his dick cut off and stuffed back down his throat. Simply inane. While not a great flick it does mark my return to blogging here at The Uranium Café. So it has that going for it. And that’s about it. 






14 January 2016

MICHAEL MADSEN... WITH GUNS

I like Michael Madsen in that B-movie sort of way but never thought he had a vast acting range, until I began looking at these posters and stills of him online.  The man has much more acting ability than I gave him credit for, as in some of these pictures he is holding, often pointing directly at the camera, a pistol, while in others, to my shock, he is holding a rifle, often pointing directly at the camera. In one picture he steps way out of his comfort zone and is just pointing his finger, like a gun of course! But then he throws you for a loop and decides not to point directly at the camera. Blew me away. Well, I am eating crow big time now. This guy can act! And I had to rein myself in in terms of what I needed to download and share for this post. There are plenty more where these came from and this may become an ongoing category.



 
 
 
 
 
 
 

 
 
Note: And when you feel like just throwing in the blogging towel, just do a post and let it simmer. Don't stay on the ropes too long.

13 January 2016

WHY CAN'T I FRIGGING BLOG ANYMORE?

The last entry I made here was 2 Nov 15, and that was actually just a repost of of an old post from Necrotic Cinema. I have toyed with the idea of deleting that blog altogether, except that I love the name and the header design so much I cannot bear to part with it yet. I moved almost all posts from there to here at The Uranium Cafe (never sure if I should capitalize the definite article or not so I do just to be safe) as a plan to incorporate newer film reviews in with the old "classic" stuff. I felt maintaining two blogs was too much for me. Seems just maintaining one has become too much. The ordeal is that I want to write. I want to blog. But it just seems futile for some reason. I feel I have so much to say and a unique way to say it in. I am not giving up by the ten finger bones of Crom, but  I have really lost the passion I once had. I do not believe one has to have burning passion in order to continue doing something they like or love. It can be done out of a sense or marginal commitment or interest. I think most things are done that way and passion does not equate to something wonderful. Or to anything at all. I knew a young lady in Seattle who had a burning passion for the bass guitar. She just practically drooled when she talked about the bass and her how she just wanted to play it all the time. In all the time I knew her she never owned a bass guitar.

But it seems I am not just not driven to want to come here and sit and do posts on things any longer. What happened? I have no idea really. It is as if I just no longer care. I get a burst of inspiration and it peters out as quickly as it came. I no longer follow other people's blogs or comment on them. I still watch lots of movies, almost daily. I have considered all manner of things. For example to review more mainstream movies of which I watch many. To write super short reviews of less than one Word Document page in length. To do more photo posts. Podcast more (hell, that is even ore work than writing really). In the end I just feel a lack of interest or motivation in sitting down here and adding something interesting to the site. I keep doing these stupid "why I can't blog" posts over and over. In the end I just wish I could blog and not care about comments or traffic even. I am about to go to India for a couple weeks. When I get back I will see what happens. Either I get back to blogging, or I retire the site. I hope it is the former.

02 November 2015

13 HOURS IN A WAREHOUSE/2008

There are a lot of favorable reviews of this film online really. Most of the praise is that first time director Dav Kaufman took "risks" with his film an did not rely on splatter and gore to achieve his storytelling goals. That was his first mistake. Some people even liked his attempts at Tarantinoesque scenes involving rambling dialogs. That was certainly number two and the list just gets longer. I did not like the film too much though I cannot say avoid if you are a fan of the genre, and that genre being specifically bad horror films. If you enjoy hating a film I can recommend it. The film starts off just too much like Reservoir Dogs to be ignored. A wrong chord was struck in me during the opening scene when the camera "artistically" goes ‘round and ‘round and ‘round in circles around a gang of small time crooks about to pull off the heist of a lifetime. This is an effect that seldom works but seems to happen all the time in newer films. The last time I remember thinking it was pulled of successfully was in Woody Allen’s Hannah and Her Sisters during the tense lunch scene and that lasted a quarter of the time this one did. It is okay to know your limitations as a creator and work from inside those boundaries. Like Reservoir Dogs the actual heist sequence is omitted and we skip from the spinning vortex crime plan scene to the gang arriving at the warehouse where they will hang out and wait for the buyer to show up the next morning.


They have taken a hostage though it is never explained why or what went wrong at the heist. They tie her up with some sort of gag device and lock her in what looks like a boiler room where she is soon visited by a flickering ghost that skips and jumps around the scene like the ghost in The Ring, only more so. While all this is going on the hold up guys sit around and try to do some Tarantino small talk as the camera again circles them. In one horrid sequence they go on and on and on about why Robin Williams is or is not a great actor. It is utter crap, I am sorry. Even Tarantino has a hard time doing Tarantino these days and Dav Kaufman’s dialogs are hardly even homages. It just does not work. The actors for a low budget film like this are not bad but they cannot pull off scenes like this and even if they could the script writing is simply weak.


When the killings at the hands the revenge seeking ghosts begin they are lacking for the most part. The three ghosts are the angry spirits of women who were killed in snuff films by the father of two of the gang members. Mysterious numbers begin appearing on the walls and sides of cars and it is discovered later this is a clue being left by the pissed off ghosts. A room is found as well with five toy sized chairs and five little hangman’s nooses that a rat occupies each time a crook is killed off. This makes little sense really but it freaks the guys out and causes them to distrust each other more than they already should since there are double cross plans afoot. The actors, like I said, are not bad low budget b-movie actors, but there is simply too many scenes requiring them to talk and emote. And in a film like this you need good death scenes. Not necessarily gross out death scenes, but shocking and surprising ones for certain.



The only memorable death scene is when some guy has his nuts ripped off while he is on the toilet from a ghost that winds crawling out of it. What is it with emasculations in horror films lately? The scene is simply corny as far as I am concerned. Really, the ghosts are not bad, but i just got annoyed a little after a while. They flicker like a broken television just too much and one keeps chumping furiously on a horse’s bit and it reminded me of the Cynobite in Hellraiser who was always gnashing his teeth. There is a fat with a plastic bag on her head and for some reason she is not scary at all. Fat ghosts seldom are. All the action takes place in the warehouse and all the tricks are soon exhausted. There was not enough violence really to make the watching worthwhile for me. A couple deaths even occur outside the camera view and we are simply treated to blood splattering on the walls. I got real tired of the stupid attempts at funny dialogs about life's little things like masturbation and Robin Williams. No genuine suspense was ever developed and scenes were blatantly lifted from Reservoir Dogs, The Ring, 8mm, Silence of the Lambs and who knows what else. Sure, there is nothing new under the sun but I hardly see the film taking any risks as was perceived by a couple reviewers.



I just want you to know that if you read some raving reviews online that seem to being saying this is an abrove average low budget horror film then I am telling you go in at your own risk. Maybe you will be one of the ones who in fact liked it and that is great. I will be happy for you. I just felt there could have been more ghosts and blood and less attempts at “cool” crosstalk and flashy camera work that does not work. However, on a positive note, I did like the DVD cover art. That seems to be the thing these days, great Photoshopped covers and posters but weak films. I have to admit I bought the DVD solely based on the impact of the cover art. It really got my hopes way up. When will I ever learn.