20 March 2015
07 March 2015
22 January 2015
Rickie returns the next day with a gun toting J.T. who has discovered that the girl is not only not alive but cannot be killed off in her current state. To prove this he pumps a few slugs into her in front of a shocked Rickie. J.T. also used the girl as a punching bag. The next logical step after finding out you have a bound up zombie chick who cannot be killed and who is probably smelling ripe is what? Report it to the cops or a responsible adult? No, you have sex with her. J.T. is soon doing the dead girl and Rickie refuses to participate, earning J.T.’s scorn. After all, what would JoAnn thInk if she knew he was banging a corpse in the basemen of the deserted asylum. Soon another geeky stoner named Wheeler (Eric Podnar) is humping the pathetic dead girl (at $10 a pop going to J.T.). Rickie’s plans to free the girl with bolt cutters is put on hold and he simply is overwhelmed by all that is going on. In a later attempt he manages to cut one iron bracelet with the bolt cutters, with the girl showing kindness by caressing his finger slightly, but is interrupted by J.T. and hides. Later J.T. gets his face clawed by an angry dead girl who obviously has no kind feelings towards her captor and tormentor.
Ricthie is seen gawking secretly over JoAnn in the library by her jocko boyfriend Johnny (Andrew DiPalma) and his sidekick Dwyer (Nolan Gerard Funk) and they meet him and Wheeler and in parking lot and beat the hell out of them both. Dumb ass Wheeler can’t keep his mouth shut and tells the jocks they don’t a girl like JoAnn because they have the pussy (his words not mine) they could ever want. I guess this intrigues the jocks and soon they in the basement looking on the dead girl in amazed disgust as a pimpish looking J.T. eggs them on with challenges and dares. Soon Rickie is pushing the jocks on, betting they have never even had a blowjob before. Well after Dwyer decides to have some of the necro-action Johnny is getting his first ever hummer and his first ever ‘gnawjob’ as the dead girl takes a bite out his manhood. Rickie had a change of heart as he realized the impending danger, but it was a little too late I fear.
A definite prerequisite before sitting through the low budget hick-horror film Albino Farm is a liking for inbred, mutant hillbilly killer movies. I personally like these kinds of films. There is nothing new in Albino Farm and the viewer should also have a tolerance for all things derivative as well. In reading some reviews of Albino Farm I just have to wonder how original horror movie fans want a film to be before they can at least say it was a watchable movie. I too can get a little fed up with the ‘car trouble in the boondocks’ formula but it is simply a workable method of putting unwitting victims (usually snobby city dwellers) into some sort of dangerous situation in an unfamiliar and threatening environment. It may be the castle of a vampire or a hotel managed by psychos or a bunch of hillbillies who have nothing better to do than chop up college kids but the victims need to be put in harms way as soon as possible and then need to start dying off in gruesome fashion quickly with some attempt at character development along the way so you can feel a little bad (or happy) when they get a pick-axe through the eye socket. It is what the film makers do with the formula, not the formula itself, that can become a problem for the viewer. Albino Farm explores no new ground and the familiar territory it does venture into leaves nothing for old horror movie fans like myself to get too excited about but I can give the movie a moderate recommendation. It is in no way as bad as many of the reviews make it out to be. It could have gotten three skulls instead of two and a half had it not been for the fact that most of the action occurs outside the Albino Farm, much of it in a poorly lit cavern with that crappy, shaky camera work I hate. When is that ‘arty trend’ going to end? If the last part of the film had happened in the actual Albino Farm and been the violence been much gorier this would have been a pretty fair horror film.
I do not go into a movie like this expecting miracles but I do at least expect the film to try and live up to its title. Other than a roadside revival albino preacher there are no albinos in the film. The title really evoked some image in my mind that the film never got close to. And if you’re interested the film is based on an actual urban legend of sorts. The real Albino Farm was a turn of the century house and grounds called Springlawn Farms near Springfield Missouri and was an institution for deformed and mentally retarded people. I don’t know if those are the politically correct terms but if you’re reading blogs like this and watching movies like Albino Farm in the first place why get hung up on little social improprieties like that? The residents of Springlawn Farms were fairly isolated and cut off form the communities around them and as one might expect some local tall tales and legends sprang up regarding the people there and what might have been going on beyond the walls. Seems there was possibly a cantankerous albino gardener or caretaker on the premises or maybe even a family of albinos that resided there, perhaps against their wills. The only real source of all these legends seems to be local folklore and school children's campfire stories.
In the film we have four college students traveling the back roads of rural America for some sort of school project on urban legends. The characters are all standard horror movie clichés. The good girl. The bad girl. The jerk. The nerd. Eventually they run into car trouble in the form of a blown tire and wind up at a desolate service station where the jerk Brian (Nick Richey) insults the hillbilly attendant to such a degree that we cannot wait until he gets the comeuppance we know smart ass city slickers like himself will get eventually. They get some information on the local legend called the Albino Farm but not directions. They are warned to stay away but why would they listen to any sound advice like that. They are soon in the small town of Shiloh insulting the locals to no end. They seem to have no luck getting anybody to want to talk about the Albino Farm but eventually Brian and bad girl Stacey (Tammin Sursok) figure out a nifty way to get some local redneck freaks, led by Levi (wrestler Chris Jericho), to give them a lift to the Albino Farm: Brian has Stacey flash her ample hooters at the inbred goof balls in exchange for a ride. Brilliant! While all of this is going on nerdy nice-guy and ethnic Indian Sanjay (Sunkrish Bala) and good girl Melody (Alicia Lagano) visit a local church and find out how amiss things in this little town really are when they get a look at a mutant baby. They freak out and discover Brian and Stacey are gone get help from a mute boy in getting directions to the Albino Farm. There Brian and Stacey have been left stranded by the surprisingly rude local thugs. Don’t these hicks know how to treat asinine city kids who have been insulting you to your face from the word go? Which brings us to an important point; the deal with most all of these backwoods killer films, including as a good example the Texas Chainsaw Massacre franchise, is that in the end you just do not like the spoiled, arrogant city kids that much anyway (except for the virgin heroine) and when they start dying off one by one there is a feeling of relief. I mean, haven’t you ever felt yourself silently rooting for Leatherface? Well, I know I have.
The story finally shifts to the kids at the Albino where they begin to fall prey to the deformed inhabitants who prowl the grounds there, the victims of perhaps genetic experimentation or simply generations of inbreeding. Who knows. It is never explained. In what is considered to be the high point of the film Brian is held captive in some sort of shed and becomes the amorous target of them grotesque ‘Pig-Bitch’ (played by the super sexy looking in real life Bianca Barnett). Luckily for us he spurns her advances and is done in the way any city-boy should be who rejects any Dixie gal with the nickname Pig-Bitch. The others are hunted down by the Farm residents but the action does not occur inside the institution itself, which could have been a boost, but rather quickly shifts to a cave. This was the biggest let down for me in what might have been a great horror film story. We never see any albinos to speak of and we never even see the farm itself in order to get some sense about what has happened to these creatures. Maybe there will be a sequel and if there is I will check it out. The ending is left open as good girl melody staggers shaken and disoriented into the roadside revival tent and perhaps mutant salvation. We do not know for sure.
The direction by Joe Anderson and Sean McEwen is fairly tight overall but the script could have used a little more work. I would guess budget constraints dictated how the film finally looked and a cave with shaky camera work probably cost less than indoor shots of a decrepit old laboratory with a mounted camera and cameraman who was trained in how to do his job. Okay. I am a bit harsh there but overall I thought this could have been a great psycho-hick film if a little more effort had gone into it but I still say it is worth at least one viewing for fans of hillbilly horror.
God knows I have tried to like Dario Argento. His name pops up everywhere in the horror world and yet I have to admit I have cared for very little he has ever done. His sycophantic supporters say that even if his newer work is weak we must acknowledge the genius of his ‘high period’ when he helped to usher in the great giallo films of the late 60’s and early 70’s as well as his unique brand of horror. And that may well be unarguable. Some of his films from the period, that I have seen, are Bird With the Crystal Plumage, Tenebre, Deep Red, Suspiria, and Phenomenon. While these are classics of some sort, I guess, I have to admit that all of these films are some of the most confusing and haphazard movies I have ever sat down to watch. When the killer and her motives is finally revealed in Deep Red (some minor female character who had about two or three minutes of screen time earlier in the film) I was so disappointed. Not to say that that is a reason to pan a film and not see it but I seem to missing something that hordes of other people are getting and don’t know what it is. Why is Deep Red (Profundo Rosso) considered to be one of the great giallo films of the 70’s? It is a mediocre film at best. One defense I have read of Argento (and most Italian giallo and horror in general) is that one must not look for a linear story in the Hollywood fashion and instead you have to let yourself go along with the surreal quality of the film and receive its messages on an almost unconscious level. One is to not watch and analyze the film as a whole but you have look for those special moments that cannot be found in any other genre. I am not sure about all that but as time has gone on I have to admit I have developed a liking for Italian horror and suspense films I did not have when I was younger. I liked Italian post war dramas and pepla and spaghetti westerns for some reason but was confused by Italian horror until I explored Mario Bava’s work. Then I read that Bava was an inspiration for Argento and the men even worked together on some projects at the end of Bava’s career. I decided there had to be something there my Cro-magnon mind could not fathom. Years later I finally concluded some of the stuff is okay after all though I can still be at a loss and typically cannot finish an Italian made horror or crime film in one setting.
Giallo tells the story of a ugly, tormented and more than slightly demented man who suffers from jaundice, ergo the nickname ‘Yellow’ or giallo. The charcter of yellow is played by Byron Deidra. It is also the story of the eccentric and focused cop, Enzo Avolfi (Brody), who is obsessively on the bloody trail of Yellow. Avolfi does things his own way and is left alone by the department for the most part as he has a history of results. The name Byron Deidra happens to be a clever little anagram for Adrien Brody and both Avolfi and Yellow are played by Brody. Some sites have totally panned Brody’s performance but I feel it is pretty good. The lines he is given by writers Jim Agnew, Sean Keller and Argento are the most inspiring and he delivers them in a dead pan fashion that recalls troubles film noir detectives more than the classic giallo style detective who often lacked any dimension at all. Also coming into the mix is the American Linda (Emmanuelle Seigner aka Mrs. Roman Polanski) who is in Milan with her fashion model sister Celine (Brody’s real life fiancée Elsa Pataky) who suddenly vanished the night before. Seems Celine took the wrong taxi, driven by Yellow, and is now held captive in a creepy basement with what is left of Yellows last victim Keiko (Valentina Izumi). There the bitter Yellow engages in his hobby of torturing and disfiguring beautiful women before brutally killing them in various fashions, like pounding a hammer through their foreheads. Celine is a little more resistant than his last victims and eventually causes him a bit of trouble.
Linda seeks the help of the police and is sent to Avolfi’s isolated office in the police head quarter’s basement area. Of course Avolfi is rude and wants to be left alone but soon he drags her into the case and even starts showing her graphic crime scene photos and asking her for her opinions of them. Maybe not the choicest thing to do a woman whose kid sister is being held by the same killer that sort of thing happens a lot in mystery films. Of course a connection forms between Linda and Avolfi and at one point she invites him to spend the night at her place but in true lone wolf fashion he passes on the offer and sulks off into the night to brood over the case more. The violence in the film is pretty graphic, as it is in most all of Argento’s work, and there is a strange scene of Yellow choking his jaundiced chicken while looking at pictures on his laptop of his past victims. He is sucking on a baby pacifier at the same time and you can’t help but wonder what the hell Argento is really like as a gray haired man in his twilight years. There are of course inferences to past giallo flicks and while this film has it flaws I can’t help but hope it inspires a trend in this type of movie making for a while. The film score by Marco Werba is suitable and is an improvement in the type of scores that usually accompany Argento’s films, though I do like Goblin.
I am not saying that this is a great film and many of the criticisms are applicable. But if you go into with the idea that there will be some cheesy moments, perhaps intentionally cheesy for all I know, and that the leads are hamming it up here and there then I don’t think you will be all that disappointed. My wife watched it along with new The Taking of Pelham 123 and said she preferred Giallo of the two movies. I was happily surprised. I will probably give it another watch or two in the future and I feel Argento did well enough here. Definitely an improvement on things like The Phantom of the Opera and Do You Like Hitchcock.
When it comes to watching a horror film the types of films I prefer are the ones about ‘real’ make believe things. I mean, I like monsters and psychos and slashers. I like zombies. I loved zombies long before zombies were cool and two out of three films became simple parodies shot with a video camera. I like space monsters and mutants. I like biological terror and things that ooze around and dissolve people. I like giant insects and spiders or sea monsters and things mad scientists create that they lose control of. What I typically shy away from are films like Paranormal Activity, which is an ‘independent’ film (another type of horror film I shy away from anymore) by first time director/writer Oren Peli. I have never been a huge fan of supernatural thrillers with some exceptions of course. All the Exorcist clones from the 70’s did little for me. In fact I never really freaked out too bad on the Exorcist although I did a little the first time I saw it. It was at a reshowing of the film in theaters in San Antonio Texas in the 80’s. I was the only person in the theater and I was more than a little under the influence of marijuana and some red wine, something common for me in those wild days. Sort of blew my mind but when I have seen it sober (which I how I see all films any more as I have become a cultured tea-tottler these days) I I did not really find it so terrible, though it was a well made film. Sure I like the Sam Rami supernatural stuff and I am able to suspend disbelief and enjoy a film whose premise is based on something I actually may dismiss. I simply cannot really get into some paranormal type films. Films about ghosts, haunted houses, ESP, communicating with the dead and poltergeists really leave me wanting about 75% of the time, but not all the time. Lets be clear abut that. They can be well made and acted and yet I am going into them with a bias already. I admit it.
This 2007 film is about a young couple who move into a first home in San Diego. They suspect that there is something strange going on in the house and are soon using a video camera to record events while they sleep and seeking the advice of a psychic. It is one of those types of films where the story is always being told from the perspective of the person holding the video camera, in this case that is mostly Micah the boyfriend (the couple are not even married). His girl friend Katie appears to be the object of the supernatural events attention and as the movie unfolds we learn she has had a history of such things. It is not the house that is haunted but rather that Katie is the object of some spirit’s obsession. Or something like that. This movie has done well financially and seems to have a following of people who feel it is one of the scariest films in recent history if not in horror film history period. A quote from Horror Film News Site Bloody Disgusting goes: "Peli deserves props for milking the maximum amount of tension out of the spare, modern setting – an ordinary, cookie-cutter tract home in San Diego. It doesn’t sound very scary, but Peli manages to make it terrifying. If you aren’t white-knuckling your armrest at least once or twice while watching it, you probably don’t have a pulse." I guess I lack a pulse then because this was simply one of the most boring films I have seen in a long time. Nothing happens okay. The people are not professional actors and it shows in every scene. You have here a story where 90% of the action is being performed by two people. That can work in a movie when the actors can act. I am not going to take the road that says “oh given the budget and the fact it was the director’s first films and they were not professional actors but tried hard you should give them some “props”. I had heard a lot about this film and it all seemed favorable. I knew I did not usually like ‘supernatural’ thrillers much. I liked Rami’s Drag Me to Hell but was Sam Rami. I am not going to compare Peli to Rami as that would not be fair. But this films fails on the all the points, to me, that most people say it succeeds. Seeing all the scenes filmed inside the same house inside the same house becomes redundant and tedious not claustrophobic. The use of the hand held camera as a documentary tool does for this film what it does for most others that try this technique; gives evidence they cannot frame a shot or mount a camera. Many great film directors try this approach in their films including Steven Spielberg and Woody Allen. But they do it because they choose to do it not because it is all they are capable of. I just cannot stand this style f film making any more and I am not going to be nice about it.
The video camera is set up in the couple’s room to film events will they sleep. We are treated to brief scenes of doors closing, shadows on the door and foot prints appearing in talcum powder or something or Katie standing motionless for a couple hours then not remembering it the next day. These scenes are then followed by the ‘alarmed’ couple watching the tapes the next day and engaging in poorly written or poorly improvised dialog. In either case the acting is such a low level it is not tolerable. It never has the feel of being natural, which I assume is what they are going for here. Real people don’t act and talk like actors in the film. The problem is you need a really good actor to act like he or she is not acting. As the strange activities increase (it takes a long time for them to increase too) they couple stays in the house and still manage to fall off to sleep rather easily. There is not really a shocking moment until the end when Micah is hurled into the camera as it is recording events. Okay, I spoiled the big ending. Man, so what. Who want s to sit through an hour and a half to get one jolt. That scene is followed by a scene of Katie looking into the camera and smiling an evil smile. Maybe some people find this spooky but I forced myself to finish the film and the ending of her appearing to have become possessed was an ending out of the 70’s really. It reminded me of the endings of those Italian supernatural films of the time. There are supposed to be a couple alternative ending but I do not see how those can rescue this plodding, boring piece of tripe. It is not the last couple minutes of the film that is the problem, it is all the minutes before the ending that is the problem. Is the term ‘independent horror’ coming to refer to films only shot with a video camera with a cast of unknowns who recite lifeless dialog? Independent films used to be things that were made outside the studios were done so because the studios did not want to deal with the production and distribution of a film that was too controversial for a big name studio to stick its name on. There is nothing, nothing about this film that a big studio could not have handled and handled better and evenly with more shock and controversy. Paranormal Activity is not shocking or controversial. It is simply boring and poorly made. Don’t listen to me. Check it out. Maybe you’ll like it but I do not see what the hype is around this one at all.
Never a super fan of the Vampirella stories but always liked the randy drawing the character generated over the decades. In reality the whole vampire in a seductive swim suit thing was a bit corny and too preposterous to accept, pushing the character more into some sort of Marvel superhero look really. But I guess, looking back, it was a bit European Fumetti inspired and meant to be more tantalizing in a straightforward lurid way than to offer up something believable character wise. Hell, when I was 16 I didn't think that deeply anyway. I just thought "wow, great knockers and ass, and gory violence too! This is something I need to grow up on!"
This post here at Necrotic Cinema [This is unedited orphaned text from the post as it originally appeared at my now defunct Necrotic Cinema blog...Bill] will mark a slight change in direction for some, though not all, of my reviews here and at The Uranium Café. Up until recently most of my reviews have been pretty much filled to the brim with spoilers and I am going to try and restrain myself from giving away too much of a film’s plot and storyline. It is not that I am adverse to spoiling a film with my reviews but I just want to try and talk about the movie in a new way. Reviews I read go either way but in terms of newer films I think I will try to hold back. Now if someone is going to complain (and I have had no complaints about spoilers) that over at my more ‘classic’ film blog The Uranium Café I spoiled some film like Them, The Blob or The Bride of Frankenstein then I do know what to say. I just assume everyone knows those stories already even if they have never seen the film. But even there I am going to try some new approaches for a while and see where it leads.
So onto the film for this post called Pandorum, directed by Christian Alvart and starring Ben Foster, Dennis Quiad, Cam Gigandet and Antje Trau. I tried again to watch the British zombie film Colin and I am sorry I just could not get into it. Some people see genius in the lack of production values and I simply did not. Anyway, I will not bash Colin here today and will get around to finishing it eventually and reviewing it. But I simply got tired of all these ‘indie’ horror films I had gotten from Demoinoid and Horror Charnel recently. I wanted something with some technical skill to it and some passable acting and a camera that was actually mounted on a tri-pod once in a while and a film where the photography consists of what appears to be a drugged spider monkey running around with a cheap video camera. I had not heard of Pandorum before and took a chance and was pleasantly surprised by the experience. In that horror movie sort of way of course.
The film has gotten some good reviews on the net but of course there are those who just feel the need to see lack of absolute perfection in any horror/sci-fi film that comes out and I wonder why some of these people even run horror/sci-fi blogs in the first place. I wonder if many horror viewers have just become too jaded and cynical. One criticism I read from a couple sites is that the look of the film and storyline are ‘derivative’ of prior great and original horror/sci-fi films like Event Horizon, Alien, Resident Evil and a few others. My response is so what? A student of classic horror will discover that even those great films were inspired or influenced in style or story by films that date back to the 50’s. That’ does not take away from those newer films in the least and how original would a new film have to be so that there is not one malcontent’s declaration it is ‘derivative’. Totally original does not mean good or watchable either. There are reason that rock songs built around simple chord progressions like A, D, E are listenable but ones with way out diminished minor chords are never heard. Okay, I like diminished minor chords and King Crimson but I am trying to create an analogy here. I certainly felt the look of the film was influenced by Event Horizon, Outland and Alien and that school of thought in regards a space ship. That a rusted and dark and a smoky, ill-lit space ship looks cooler than a brand spanking new craft where everything is spit polished and working.
The general story (with minimal spoilers I promise) involves various crews of people aboard an ark type space ship called the Elysium. Most people spend the entire trip to a new world in hyper sleep but the flight crew must be awakened in shifts to run the ship. During one such crew’s watch affairs aboard the Elysium are discovered to be completely out of sorts. Flight crew Bower (Hudson) and Payton (Quiad) are jolted out of hyper-sleep and into amnesia and mayhem. The ships controls are not working properly and the reactor seems on the verge of a melt down. There are other passengers who are awake and surviving on the gigantic space ship by any means they can. Not only is food an issue but there are bands of mutant hunters who are super humanly strong and fast who track down the humans as though they were animals. We are never sure who the mutants are or where they come from despite various conflicting theories. On top of these and other matters is the possibility one could be suffering from a form of space madness called Pandorum and not be aware of it. Bower must make his way to the reactor room and restart the reactor in order to give the ship enough power to be operational and to prevent it from becoming unstable and blowing up. Bower must crawl through claustrophobic passage ways and fend off hostile mutants while trying to decide which freed passengers he can trust and which ones he can’t while trying to regain his memory and make it to the reactor room in one piece.
The film succeeds on all required levels including acting, direction, film score, photography and set designs. Don’t pay attention to reviews that say Ben Foster and Cam Gigandet (James from Twilight) compete with other for ruining the film. They do absolutely fine as does Quaid. Are there some criticisms I might have? Of course. I am a cranky old guy anymore. The whole matter of the space madness, Pandorum for which the film is titled, is not really explored enough. I agree with a couple criticisms that this could have been more a part of the story and the mutants could have been less. The mutants are okay but the photography in those sequences is edited too quickly. The shots are bouncy, dark and rapid, like the shots of the monsters in The Descent or Feast. Or the mutant side could have been explored more. More crew members could have been woken from hyper-sleep and stalked by the mutants and brutally killed off. But I can watch any film, horror or otherwise, and say ‘I wish this and I wish that’. I wish Woody Allen had not broken with Diane Keaton at the end of Annie Hall. But what the hell do I know. I watch movies and I do not make them. That does not mean I have to accept anything I shove into my DVD player either (like Colin) simply because I cannot write or direct a film.
I have been waiting for a film to get me back in the mood of reviewing modern horror films and Pandorum did just that. I read that this film was originally to shot on video in an abandoned paper mill for a budget of about $200,000. I guess if that had happened I would not be praising it now. Luckily it got big studio backing from Impact Pictures. The ending, which I will not spoil and it is a good ending, does leave the door open to a sequel but if there is not one that would be okay. This movies stands on its own as it is now just fine. And see, hardly a spoiler at all.
(NOTE: This post goes so far back in my blogging history that it actually is from a time when I dabbled in giving a rating system to films, using the skulls from Bloody Disgusting as my "stars".)