Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Lord Of Tears

Recently I was approached by a filmmaker about his soon to be released horror film that is in post production but needs some funding help to finish up the soundtrack and other loose ends. After only a brief discussion with Lawrie Brewster I was immediately aware of his passion for not only his project but creating horror and art on a broader level. And rest assured, this is not a backyard production looking for help so they can burn DVD-Rs on their computer in the basement. No, this is a project filled with talented people that has a gorgeous look to it as is evident in the trailer. The trailer alone is a triumph and is among the most interesting and terrifying I've seen for any horror film in recent memory. This film needs a little bit of help to wrap things up, and I for one had no reservations about posting this to try and spread the word on LORD OF TEARS as I am extremely anxious to check out the final cut. Below is some information and links about the film, thanks for reading.


Thursday, February 21, 2013

Prison (1988)

 Before he was a king named Aragorn in The Lord Of The Rings and before becoming one of David Cronenberg's best go-to actors Viggo Mortensen was a young inmate in Wyoming State Penitentiary named Burke, one of 300 inmates being transferred to the recently reopened prison a couple decades after it was shut down. The prison is in complete disrepair with flooded levels, electrical problems and a decaying interior. Burke rooms with an elderly inmate named Cresus who has been in the system longer than Burke has been alive. The nasty Warden Eaton Sharpe (Lane Smith) assigns the inmates jobs to help fix up the prison and Burke is assigned to knock down a false concrete wall to allow access to the execution chamber. As soon as the wall is breached a powerful force of light blasts through and begins to wreak havoc on everyone inside the walls of the prison.

Katherine Walker is a state worker in charge of overseeing the day to day operations at the prison and making any necessary reports. As she investigates the Warden's shady operations, and all of the strange and violent deaths that are starting to pile up she discovers that one of the inmates helped the Warden cover up a murder decades earlier and pinned the blame on a fellow inmate named Charlie Forsythe, who bares a striking resemblance to Burke. It quickly becomes apparent that the killings will not cease until the spirit of Forsythe gets his revenge on the man responsible for his death.

PRISON has been overlooked for a long time, probably due to its lack of DVD release in the US until very recently. Director Renny Harlin (Nightmare On Elm Street 4, Die Hard 2) gets better performances out his cast, which includes supporting roles from Tommy "Tiny" Lister and Kane Hodder, than I could have expected. Mortensen plays his character with a single note but it works well and Lane Smith is great as Warden Sharpe. The writing is a mess with the Forsythe/Burke angle though. Is Burke the reincarnated spirit of Forsythe? If he is, why wouldn't he just take out the Warden with one of his multiple opportunities. Was he the son or some sort of relative to Forsythe and has strong genes tied with him, explaining the resemblance? I don't know. It's never explained and for a moment that is supposed to drop us on our heads and be the twist to the movie it is handled poorly.

Luckily it is an unnecessary twist to begin with. Whether Burke is or isn't Forsythe reincarnated or whether he has anything to do at all with him really doesn't matter. He's a likable guy that you can relate to and you want him to survive. The kills are simply brutal and filled with blood and gore. The special effects were very effective for the gore pieces. The film was shot on location in an old Wyoming prison and it lends to an authentic feeling for the film that manages to be ridiculously entertaining despite some glaring flaws.


Friday, February 15, 2013

Phantom Of Death (1988)

A female doctor is brutally murdered and the killer is on the loose. Robert Dominici (Michael York) is a successful piano player in love with 2 beautiful women, Susanna and Helene (Edwige Fenech). After Susanna is killed the detective on the case Inspector Datti (Donald Pleasance) begins to suspect Robert. Datti's suspicions run into road blocks over the course of the case that draw the attention away from Robert. After Susanna's death Helene comes onto Robert and he gives in to her temptations, impregnating her in the process. Robert soon learns of a rare disease he has had since childhood that was laying dormant until now and his body begins to rapidly age and his mind and sanity begin to decline. As the bodies pile up and the killer is playing cat and mouse games with the inspector it is only a matter of time before Helene is put in fatal danger and Datti's clues finally come together to solve the case, but is it in time?

Ruggero Deodato (Cannibal Holocaust) directs this giallo that has trouble deciding exactly what style it wants to portray. On one hand the first half hour or so are very much a body count slasher film, filled with blood. The rest is driven by the characters, namely the relationship between Robert and Helene, who longs for him to return to her and become ready to be a father, and Robert and the inspector who has his eye on the pianist. The relationship between Robert and Helene is held together just enough by a few sparse scenes of Helene watching videos of Robert's performances or talking to friend's about her love of him. Datti's suspicions of Robert are fueled by phone calls from the killer taunting him, almost begging to be caught despite the clues leading away from Robert. The interactions between the three leads are interesting it is just a shame there isn't more to them and it feels like we've only scratched the surface on a much bigger picture that lies beneath. The timeline of this movie takes course over a year, the sloppy editing does no favors to this fact and only Robert's declining health and his outward statement to the timeline helps us determine it. Well known and respected composer Pino Donaggio (Carrie,  delivers a largely unremarkable score which is a major let down after seeing his name in the credits and expecting something better.

The alternate title to this film is OFF BALANCE which fits it to a T. Not only is our main character off balance but so is the film itself. An intriguing story is marred by not going far enough in to it and poor editing and weak music. I even felt a bit off balance while gathering my thoughts on PHANTOM OF DEATH, despite the issues within the film, I liked it, but it was hard to determine right away just how much. I feel confident in my thoughts now that it could have used an extra 15-20 minutes so that the violence wasn't so rushed toward the beginning and we could dig deeper into the relationships so that they have more consequence when they finally payoff.

The story is good, but we don't get enough. The violence is extreme but it feels separated from the rest of the movie. Yes dear reader, this film is indeed OFF BALANCE. It is worth checking out though.


Monday, February 4, 2013

The ABCs Of Death (2012)

Anthologies have long been a part of horror and there have been many fantastic films comprised of multiple short films under a single banner. Creepshow, Vault Of Horror, Tales From The Crypt, Tales That Witness Madness, the list goes on and on. During the 90s the horror anthology seemed to fall out of vogue but over the past several years they seem to be regaining their popularity.

THE ABCs OF DEATH is a 26 part horror film with a different director being assigned to a specific letter of the alphabet to represent different ways to die. Each segment runs anywhere from less than two minutes to several minutes. Directors include Ti West, Angela Bettis, Jason Eisener, and Xavier Gens among other contemporary horror film makers working on just a $5,000 budget for each segment. The segments range from the very gory XXL, to the experimental ORGASM and the animated TOILET and KLUTZ. Segments such as GRAVITY are extremely minimal while VAGITUS looks like it spent several times its budget.

The project seemed like it would be a fun romp filled with ridiculous horror but it simply is not. The best segments barely get a rise of positive emotion out of the viewer and the worst seem to drag on far beyond their short runtime. Many of the directors tried to cram too much of an idea into their allotted time but when the idea wasn't good to begin with it turns into really stinky garbage. There is already a sequel in the works so maybe that one will be better but THE ABCs OF DEATH is a waste of time.


Sunday, February 3, 2013

Same Time Every Year (DVD review)

Directed By: Fred J. Lincoln
Written By: Fred J. Lincoln
Starring: Ron Jeremy, Loni Sanders, Paul Thomas
Color/80 Minutes/Not Rated

The Film
A group of lawyers leave their wives to get together every year for a convention that doesn't exist. The lawyers are simply out for a good time away from their wives and getting laid. Unbeknownst to them their wives aren't as stupid as they think and privy to their scheme and have affairs of their own.

That's about it for the plot. A young (and not fat) Ron Jeremy is the chauffeur for the lawyers and he gets some action of his own. With tons of sex and little else, SAME TIME EVERY YEAR doesn't offer much in the way of creativity but it does loads and loads (pun fully intended) of bodily fluid and skin.

The Video
SAME TIME EVERY YEAR has a pretty good looking anamorphic widescreen transfer taken from a source that was in good condition. There is some natural grain and minor speckling and dirt and debris. Colors are represented pretty nicely and aside from a couple of stutters in the frame there is little to complain about.

The Audio
The audio also fares well. The suitably 80s soundtrack comes across clean and clear with no real issues with hissing or popping. The mix is pretty good with a select few instances where dialogue is muddled a bit by a higher soundtrack. 

The Extras

The Bottom Line
There isn't a ton to say about this one, it is an early 80s porno with almost no plot. If you like vintage porn you'll enjoy it. This falls nicely in place in the Impulse Pictures catalog.