Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Undead (2003)

I've been hearing mixed things about this movie since it came out. Some say it is a fresh and entertaining take on zombies while others say it was a steaming pile of dog shit. I finally got the chance to see it for free and took it.

The Spierig Bros wrote, produced and directed this horror comedy film in their native Australia. They are also the duo behind this year's Daybreakers, which was a successful and pretty entertaining horror thriller about vampires. Unfortunately Undead, which was the duo's first feature film, didn't have the same quality.

The basic plot of Undead isn't all that uncommon for zombie movies, some meteorites fall and turn the town's inhabitants into blood thirsty zombies. The core group is filled with most of the cliches... the gun nut who happened to be abducted by these aliens and let go for whatever reason, the beauty queen, the scared comic relief guy, and so on. Not only is there zombies to deal with but acid rain, contaminated water and food, all the problems one would encounter in a zombie outbreak. Eventually they learn the virus is also air born and they are slowly being infected.

There is the plot in a nutshell. There is plenty of other stupid shit, hooded glowing aliens that look like shittier versions of those from Independence Day and they try to be funny when they talk. For whatever reason when the people die the aliens suspend them in the clouds? Which of course ends up screwing up one of the group when he tries to escape in a plane.

I don't have a whole lot to say about the movie in general. It was bad. Really bad. It was slow and dragged on even though it was under 100 minutes. It was full of face palm moments, misplaced comedy that wasn't even timed well, and moments that just piss you off watching it. One example of that would be when one of the group empties an entire handgun clip into a severed arm because the timer on the watch starts beeping but minutes later, when they're actually under attack they are telling each other to conserve bullets. The actual film making wasn't any better. The direction was amateur, more than likely a result of this being the first feature for the two directors, but it was bad. The writing made me want to cry, and the effects weren't believable. It didn't even have a nice pair of boobs to stare at, which has been a saving grace for countless horror movies.

It wasn't bad in a way that can be entertaining while you're drunk, it just gets under your skin like a little sibling that won't stop poking you. Or when you bite your tongue and it swells up a little bit so you keep on biting it. Or stubbing your toe. Or poking yourself in the eye.

In fact, I'd rather have any of those than to watch this movie again. This movie may be the first time I've ever said "fuck you" at the screen repeatedly as soon as the credits rolled. Yea, it was that bad.

Also, I'm not wasting my time to put up a poster from this movie because it doesn't deserve the effort.

I'd rather be (Un)dead/10

Friday, November 26, 2010

Battletruck (aka Warlords of the 21st Century) (1982)

Battletruck is another Corman produced post-apocalypse action flick that yet again delivers the goods.

This time around it is the Oil Wars of World War III that caused the world wide devastation. Gas and oil are now in extremely short supply and only available to the Government. Society has crumbled and outside of major cities there is no law. Straker (James Wainwright) is a man on a mission. He controls a small army and drives a heavily armored 18 wheeler that is more like a tank than a truck. His only goal is to steal, destroy, control and find more gas.

When Corlie (Annie McEnroe) escapes from Straker's group he sends out a group to find her. Before the group can capture her again a loner on a motorcycle named Hunter (Michael Beck) is able to scoop her up and drive her to the safety of his little compound. Hunter is self sufficient and has the knowledge to turn his chicken's waste in ethanol to fuel his bike. Shortly after arriving he takes Corlie to Clearwater, a village of a few dozen people that Hunter has a small relationship with.

While at Clearwater Corlie is voted in to be accepted into the community. Not long after Straker and his army come barreling through the outer walls, leveling everything in their way. They have no qualms with shooting anyone who speaks out against them or refuses to share information. Straker finds out that Corlie had been staying there, but made her escape before the attack.

This sets up a cat and mouse chase between Straker's army and Corlie & Hunter for the remainder of the movie culminating in a pretty entertaining chase scene between the Battletruck and Hunter in a "battlecar" and his bike.

Filmed on loaction in New Zealand on a modest budget, Battletruck doesn't exactly have epic sets. Most of the film is set in tents/huts or open fields. And on this budget, we don't get crazy special effects, though there is little need for them. There are some nice action sequences with classic explosions. The thing that surprised me most about this film is the performances, everybody does a respectable job with a good performance from Michael Buck and a spot-on performance from James Wainwright.

Will you run out and tell all of you friends about this one? Probably not. Will you be entertained? More than likely. This isn't award winning stuff, but Corman knows how to take what he has to work with and make it worthwhile or even better.


Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Fright Night Part 2 (1988)

Fright Night Part 2 never had a fair chance with me... or many fans for that matter. It is a sequel to a beloved 80s vampire flick that is one of the best examples of horror that decade has to offer. It suffered a very limited theatrical release, the artwork for the movie was bad... really bad and it's sole release on DVD was shoddy at best, quickly went out of print and now goes for exorbitantly high prices. Despite all those factors, now that I've finally had an opportunity to see it, I'm a fan.

Fright Night Part 2 is a direct sequel to the first, reprising their roles as Peter Vincent the fearless vampire killer and Charley Brewster the tormented college student are Roddy McDowall and William Ragsdale. Charley is now seeing a shrink to aid him in ridding his "delusions" of vampires that he experienced with Peter Vincent.

The problem is that their apartment building has some new tenants moving in that are strangely similar to vampires. They play mind games with Charley, they show up everywhere he goes and he only sees them at night. Charley is in the predicament of a man trying to fight for his sanity or dealing with the truth.

As the film heats up and winds down the leader of this new bloodsucking group is Regine (Julie Carmen), a seductive vampiress who has taken Peter Vincents job as the host of the late night movie program called what else but "Fright Night". When Peter, Charley and Charley's girl Alex (Traci Lind) realize that the vampires are real, and it is happening all over again they stock up on all of the vampire killing necessities including but not limited to crosses, wooden stake with guns to shoot them, holy water sprayers and so on. The finale is a pretty well executed showdown in the apartment building that will stand up with the best vampire sequences of this era.

Fright Night Part 2 really has a lot going for it, the acting is on par, the effects and makeup are fantastic, direction from Tommy Lee Wallace is on point. The story is a bit on the "been there, done that" side of things but it works. A few points in developing characters hurt the film. Seeing Regine be the leader and establish her dominance earlier would have made this film stronger. Still, this sequel to Fright Night is more than deserving of whatever fan base it has from being a regular bootleg on convention circuit tables. It sure would be nice to see a proper release of it to the home market because the HD print I watched looked pretty nice.


Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Deathsport (1978)

The return! And what better way to come back than with some Roger Corman action?

Deathsport is a 1978 post-apocalyptic action/sci-fi flick from legendary exploitation producer Roger Corman. The year is 3000 and we are just passed the Great Neutron Wars in a world of desert wastelands and independent city-states that are somewhat futuristic in appearance. The film never goes into detail on what exactly the Great Neutron Wars were, but if in the year 3000 futuristic machines are dirt bikes with aluminum attached to it they must have done some damage.

The late David Carradine (KILL BILL vol 1 & 2) stars as Kaz Oshay, a legendary Range Guide. A Range Guide is pretty much a nomadic, loner that helps statesmen navigate the open wastelands to another location. They are similar to Jedi in this sense, though they don't have the force and their main weapon is a very unwieldy fiberglass sword. Kaz is ambushed and captured by Lord Zirpola's henchmen. Since there are no rules in this post-apocalyptic world Kaz is imprisoned and sentenced to deathsport (deathsport seems to be the only punishment no matter the crime or lack of).

While imprisoned Kaz meets Deneer (Claudia Jennings) another Range Guide. They are paired together during their round of deathsport. Now deathsport is a game, usually between two prisoners, that is a fight to the death. Each inmate is given a hand blaster and one of the futuristic motorcycles and ride around in an arena going at each other until there is only one survivor. The survivor is then freed.

Now you may be thinking this sounds an awful lot like Death Race 2000... that's because it is. Corman decided to cash in on his biggest grossing film up to that point but change out the cars with motorcycles. This is why we love Roger Corman.

As the Range Guides fight for their survival against a handful of statesmen, then a few more, then a few of Zirpola's henchmen they eventually get a break as the endless explosions knock out a force field generator and they escape. The chase and hunt for the escaped warriors (and a couple of imprisoned statesmen as well) is on, led by Ankar Moor (Richard Lynch), Zirpola's second in command and a man who has bloody ties to Kaz.

After Zirpola dies from an unkown illness, Moor takes over and exhausts his resources to tracking down Kaz and Deneer, who seem to getting very close. After a run in with some mutant cannibals who have kidnapped Deneer's daughter and a chase through the refueling depot for the motorcycles which is just another reason for explosions and burnt bodies (not complaining) the group finally makes it to the city of Triton and Kaz and Ankar Moor have a duel with only their swords (Moor never had a sword until the duel began of course).

Does this sound a tad bit confusing and nonsensical? Sure. Does it matter? Not really. Any fan of these types of movie knows to leave your brain at the door. It honestly seemed like they have made up a good bit of this as they went along, but if that was the case it worked out, at least in the case of entertainment value. This isn't Corman's best production nor the most entertaining but it is worthy of my praise and a spot in my collection. While it doesn't seem to have any real plot the cast, which is surprisingly competent for the script they had to work with, which let us be honest, isn't high art.

Grab some beers, turn your brain off and enjoy this mish-mash of elements from Star Wars, Corman's own Death Race 2000 and a desolate future.