13 July 2016

05 July 2016

SOMEONE OUTSIDE/ORIGINAL MUSIC


Another recent, sort of, original music piece done under my Arctic Transmissions electronic music project. 

JAMES BOND THEME/THE BENT EIGHTS

IN THE PROCESS OF BEING RE-RECORDED. WILL HAVE A NEW AND BETTER VERSION BACK HERE SOON.



My version of the 007 opening theme song composed by Monty Norman. I play under the title of my fictitious rock band The Bent Eights.  Been a while since I shared anything like this. 

04 July 2016

STARRY EYES/2014

STARRY EYES/2014
DIRECTOR: Kevin Kolsch, Dennis Widmyer
WRITER: Keving Kolsch, Dennis Windmyer
CAST: Alex Essoe, Amanda Fuller, Noah Segan, Nick Simmons, Louis Dezsaran

Here is a sign of a film I tend to like. I live in China and have to download most of the films I watch, unless I can find them online here with one of the streaming apps on my iPad (I tend to watch all movies on my iPad these days) and then they always have Chinese subtitles hard coded into the image, which bums me out. But I tend to have a folder with my recently downloaded films. I may not even watch a lot of them. If I test out a flick for quality and it is looks poorly filmed or acted or is (the worst) a found footage movie it gets deleted before being seen. I may then watch a film and then delete it. But I know I liked a movie a lot if I do not delete it and save for a rewatch in the future, and such was the case with Starry Eyes, a well made Faustian/Satanic themed movie about how far we sometimes go to get the fame and power we crave. 

Sarah (Alex Essoe in a simply great performance and hopefully we will see more of her) is just another pretty face struggling to be an actress in LA. She pays the rent the way all aspiring actresses do by working at as a waitress, in this case at the “classy” Hooters styled eatery known as Big Taters. Sarah struggles with having what it really takes to be a Big Taters girl and her job is now standing in the way of her rise to overnight night stardom as the lad in the movie The Silver Scream. Sarah seemed to get through the auditions, but not because of her acting chops, but because of her high strung emotional peculiarities. Quickly the job requirements from the old and powerful, yet obscure, production company Astraeus Pictures become more demanding than her Big Taters gig. Sarah is soon having conflicts with her circle of friends who are all also aspiring actors or directors. The group are basically stoned slackers who do more dreaming and planning than doing and Sarah feels held down by their small visions and party life styles. But just as things begin to look up for Sarah she begins to fall apart. Emotionally and physically. The producer and staff of Astraeus Pictures are not letting Sarah have her stardom all that easily and there is a huge price to paid fro being offered the lead role in this new production. Does Sarah have what it takes to stop serving burgers and grace the big screen. Well, I felt she did. 

The movie has the feel in places of something the likes Roman Polanski or David Lynch may have thought up. While not near that level of filmmaking the movie works well enough in evoking a dark and oppressive atmosphere that does not let up until the end. The violence is held in check until the last part of the movie and when it happens it is intense and shockingly over the top. One death by barbell is so unnerving and disgusting I had to replay it at least three or four times. The acting is good but Alex Essoe is both fabulous and disturbing, as the determined to get what she wants at any cost Sarah. She struggles with herself but the darkness prevails in the end. Worth a mention is the effective electronic music score Jonathan Snipes and excellent cinematography by Adam Bricker. The practical effects are gory and ultra-violent. You have to wait for them but it is no problem since the film is not about those scenes and they are just a necessary part of a bigger and better and darker mythology the film creates. I will be checking it out again in a couple weeks. 










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.