Friday, 22 October 2010

QUICK FIX: Nightmare Hostel (aka Dr. Rage - 2005)

What the? No, no no no. No thanks. I like crap movies, but this is beyond even me. I picked this up for a quid on a recent DVD spree (God bless halloween discount movies) and it's barely even worth that. The cover is TOTALLY misleading, and whoever wrote that quote on the cover must have been watching something else entirely. It's shot in a gloomy fashion, but that's where the Hostel similarities begin and end. The story? Bah, some crap about experimentation on humans which either sends them mental or turns them into mutants.

It's shot okay, but the acting, script and direction stink. You can really see what thee makers were trying to achieve, but it fails on just about every level. It's passable entertainment for a late night with some beers and something else occupying most of your attention, but to sit down and watch Nightmare Hostel is to waste 90 minutes of your life.

Mind you, there's a trailer on the DVD for a flick called ICE QUEEN, and while the film itself may suck, that trailer is brilliant, and made me feel much happier about losing a quid on Nightmare Hostel. I mean, I could have bought myself some Tizer or something.

Sunday, 17 October 2010

QUICK FIX: AXE (aka The Choke - 2005)

I didn't have high hopes for this film. For one thing, I picked it up with a stack of other discount DVDs that have hit the shelves around town for the Halloween rush, plus it features nobody I've ever heard of. The title on the box is AXE, but after a little research I found out it's supposed to be called The Choke, which makes a bit more sense due to the sheer number of films out there called 'Axe'. The film is a cross between a teen slasher, a rockumentary and a horror comedy, but it has some pretty decent horror scenes and some real tension.

The cast is actually pretty good considering the budget and subject matter, with Brooke Bailey turning in the best performance as moody bassist Beatrice London. A rock band is set to play a gig at a hot underground club, an event that is to be filmed by a friend of the band for a documentary. This allows for the film to slip between traditionally shoot footage and video-camera material, which actually works quite well as the technique is used sparingly.

When the band get trapped in the club after it empties, they find themselves being picked off one by one by and unseen psychopath. You get clues as to who it is, but then you're surprised when the two people you think it is are offed in quite spectacular style. Don't get me wrong, this ain't a masterpiece, but it's an enjoyable piece of schlock cinema with a decent script, a good cast and some really graphic gore shots. It has its cringeworthy moments, but it's entertaining, and as I only paid a quid for it, I think I certainly got my money's worth.

Sunday, 10 October 2010

Diary: Warehouse 13 - The Right Kind Of Cheese

I love Warehouse 13. I think it's a great little show, and while the latest season has seen it get a bit sexier (and a bit more X-Files-y), it still retains the b-movie schtick of the first series. It straddles that fine line between silly and entertaining, and this is a breath of fresh air in an age where a great many TV shows can take themselves rather too seriously.

Yeah, the concept is stolen wholesale from the Friday The 13th TV series (i.e. two well dressed lead actors tracking down cursed/corrupted artifacts), but it's great fun to watch, and hell, it has Saul Rubinek in it, so it's good by default. Saul Rubinek is a great actor, and highly underrated due to the profile of many of the projects he's been part of. I think he's awesome. The whole show is. It's a bit kitsch, a bit dark, a bit Sci-Fi, a bit horror, a bit fantasy, and really quite engrossing.

It's a far cry from being a classic, but the format allows for something of an Outer Limits/Twilight Zone vibe to creep in, and also stops things getting stale as the very basis of the show is that something different is going on with each episode. All of the greats of genre TV have a format that can be twisted and bent and played with (Doctor Who, Star Trek TOS, the modern Battlestar Galactica, etc), and this is something that the makers of Warehouse 13 have paid attention to.

Something I do enjoy about it is the fact that it feels quite small scale and self contained. There's little chance of it getting carried away with the scope of its plots, and that low-key atmosphere to many of the stories is a refreshing change after so many series trying to be epic. It has a strong cast, decent production values, and its tongue planted firmly in its cheek. I do hope it continues to be this much fun, and doesn't burn out or jump the shark. Here's one warehouse I'd be happy to keep on exploring for a good long while yet!

Saturday, 2 October 2010

Spookies (1986)

What the hell is this?! Either the flu I've got is making me hallucinate (again) or this film did actually just pass over my TV. I'd never even heard of this prior to finding it for 50p in the local charity shop (which seems to be getting in a steady stream of very weird forgotten horror films- woohoo!) for the cover alone. Look at that cover. Painted monsters that look like walking open sores! It had to be mine. In fact if I remember rightly I went "Yoink!" when I took it from the shelf. Thankfully the tape plays perfectly despite being 24 years old, but the unfortunate thing is the movie it contains.

After a bit of research (well, visiting the movie's Wikipedia page anyway), I discovered that this glorious mess of a film is actually bits of an unfinished film stitched together with newer footage shot a while after production was shut down on the original. It was going to be called 'Twisted Souls', but I think I like the 'Spookies' title better as it's just plain stupid. Much like the movie.

The plot? Uh... a bunch of random people (who seem to have nothing in common) break into a spooky old house. Weird shit happens, monsters appear, one of them is possessed, and one by one they are attacked by all manner of oddness. This oddness includes the two 'Muck Men' on the cover, which are basically piles of rubber poo that keep farting as they attack the cast! I wonder if Kevin Smith ever saw this before making Dogma.

There's a spooky immortal sorcerer hiding in the house, along with his feral sidekick (a cross between an angry cat and the X-Men's Nightcrawler in a jester suit), who is setting all of the monsters and crap on the poor, unwitting cretins that broke into his house (which is in the middle of a graveyard, of course). There are possessions, a massive Alien-type demon, zombies, severed heads, a thing that looks like the villain from Terrahawks, glowing Reaper demon things, creepy ghost ladies spitting prophecies, a little blue boy with plastic fangs and so much more. It's like a dozen films going on at once in one house.

Watching it gave me even more of a headache, so I'm rocking some more painkillers now. It's a really frustrating film, as it's absolutely, utterly, completely awful, but there are some frankly brilliant effects sequences. In particular I'm a big fan of the zombies, which are almost as much of a mess as the editing. Even if you didn't know this was a half-finished film with other stuff added, you can tell it a mile off. The editing is all over the place, but the effects are just enough to keep you watching until the end.

That is if you can find a copy, as Spookies was so universally hated that it is one of those rare films that still doesn't have a DVD release of it out there (whoops, actually it does- it's on a pound-shop movies label! How fitting!). As it charges towards its muddled climax, the makers throw everything into the pot just to see what boils first. It's ludicrous, gory, cheesy and cheap. I think that's why I loved it. Either that or I've taken the wrong painkillers and am instead off my face on plant food or something. Who can tell? This film is crap, but it's crap in a way that leaves you utterly mesmerized. Well, in my case it left me mesmerized and sweating, but that's probably not from the flick really. Whoa, I think I'm growing roots...

The Trailer:

A collection of the 'best' scenes: