Podcast Plug: Midnight Confessions w/ Reverend Phantom

Since I've had less time to really review as much and as frequently as I would like, I'm allowing a couple of more contributors to Full Moon Reviews to keep the content flowing. I will still be reviewing more often than not, but it's also nice to have friends who don't mind sharing their opinions on this blog as a way to help each other out. So like with Mike Huntley's "The Watchtower of Justice" posts, you'll be getting more guest contributors to spread the wealth across Full Moon Reviews.

My good friend, Reverend Phantom, has started a new podcast called "Midnight Confessions" - which was the name of his massively popular YouTube video review series until YouTube decided to be copyright Nazis and limit what Phantom wanted to present. Phantom and I go way back since MySpace [remember that?] and he's always had my back. So I wanted to return the favor. So I will be posting his podcast episodes on Full Moon Reviews from now on. He has a great voice, and great knowledge for all things horror and exploitation - which I'm sure many of you readers are very interested in. And yours truly will probably pop in on the podcast from time to time as well.

So check out Episode 1, which is an introduction to all things Phantom and what he plans to do with this new venture. You can also subscribe to his podcasts on iTunes if that's your thing. Thanks Phantom for allowing me to share your knowledge with my readers. 2014 is going to be a very interesting year for Full Moon Reviews.


The Lunar Cycle: Immortals (2011)/ Severance (2006)/ The Faculty (1998)/ Zombies Vs. Strippers (2012)

This new section of the blog is due to me being lazy, I mean swamped with watching so many films that I want to discuss on this blog. But I don't really have the time, so I decided to quickly [well as much as I can really] to review films I don't really want to focus too much time on. You'll be seeing these more often than not. Time for the reviews!


Tarsem Singh

Henry Cavill - Theseus
Mickey Rourke - King Hyperion
Freida Pinto - Phaedra
Stephen Dorff - Starvos
Luke Evans - Zeus
John Hurt - Old Man
Isabel Lucas - Athena
Kellan Lutz - Poseidon
Corey Sevier - Apollo

Genre - Action/Adventure/Fantasy/Mythology

Running Time - 110 Minutes

Score - 2.5 Howls Outta 4

A power hungry tyrant named King Hyperion (Mickey Rourke) is willing to destroy humanity in his quest to obtain the Epirus Bow. The Epirus Bow is a mythological weapon that will release the Titans, who have been imprisoned in Mount Tartaros after being defeated years ago by the Gods. Even though the Gods know about Hyperion's mission, they're unable to interfere in the affairs of humans.

This changes when Zeus (Luke Evans) notices a strong-willed peasant named Theseus (Henry Cavill), who is driven by revenge after King Hyperion murdered his mother. With the help of a virginal oracle named Phaedra (Freida Pinto) and a thief named Stavros (Stephen Dorff), Theseus plans on getting some vengeance on Hyperion, saving humanity, and helping the Gods maintain order as well.

Taking what Zack Synder did with 2007's 300 and what Louis Leterrier did with 2010's remake of CLASH OF THE TITANS, IMMORTALS takes another mythological/gladiator type of story and turns it into a style over substance affair. Tarsem Singh, who directed the underrated 2000's THE CELL with Jennifer Lopez, gives the film's highlight through his creative and inventive visual presentation. Although a CGI infused film, Singh presents it all so vividly and beautifully, that you can't take your eyes off of the film. The shots have a ton of energy, especially during the well choreographed fight sequences. The way scenes are transitioned are quite creative and well thought out. I also dig "bullet time" moments when it adds to the scenes. Plus, the cinematography is beautiful.

Henry Cavill and Mickey Rourke are good in their respective roles of Theseus and King Hyperion. Cavill plays it more low-key, but he does pull off the heroic look that probably made him ideal for MAN OF STEEL two years later. Rourke plays it pretty over-the-top in a menacing way, which is always alright by me. Cavill and Rourke are the only two actors in the film that come out looking decent out of IMMORTALS.

Unfortunately, the narrative is a mess. Picking and choosing the mythology used, and then twisting it in a way that makes the characters look silly rather than interesting ruins the experience a bit. Besides, none of the characters are all that interesting to follow, especially when their motivations are less than clear most of the time. The storytelling was clumsy and the middle act dragged. And while the final act was pretty good, due to it being more visual than character driven, IMMORTALS tried to be too much like CLASH OF THE TITANS than have its own identity.

Plus, who cast this? Freida Pinto looked great, especially nude, but she was pretty dull besides that. Stephen Dorff - wow, really? Was his character supposed to be within this timeline, because his acting definitely reflected a more modern performance. Plus, he was the only one who didn't try to do an accent, which made him sound awkward as well. Luke Evans as Zeus? Good actor, wrong part. Kellan Lutz as Poseidon - laughable, especially in his silly get up. I don't think I was supposed to laugh as much as I did with these performances.

IMMORTALS - a great piece of eye-candy with two good performances by Cavill and Rourke. Great action and a nice use of CGI. But the story was mundane and the casting was just odd. If you cherish Greek mythology, stay far, far away from this one. Otherwise a decent time-filler, but not even close to what 300 did for this sub-genre.


Christopher Smith


Laura Harris - Maggie
Danny Dyer - Steve
Claudie Blakley - Jull
Toby Stephens - Harris
Andy Nyman - Gordon
Tim McInnerny - Richard
David Gilliam - George
Babou Ceesay - Billy

Genre - Horror/Survival/Comedy

Running Time
- 95 Minutes

Score - 3.5 Howls Outta 4

A big time weapons manufacturing company sends its sales division into the backwoods of Eastern Europe for a weekend for teamwork exercises. With all the members being different stereotypes, they have a hard time getting along for more than a few minutes. Things get worse when they make it to their lodge, realizing that it's nothing but a run-down cabin in the woods that made have been a haven for military patients in a mental asylum. Unfortunately, these patients may still be around, as the team is picked off one-by-one. Only the smart and willing to be team players are going to survive this night.

I've always heard about SEVERANCE, but for some reason never took the time to watch it until a few weeks ago. It's one part horror, another part dry British comedy - yet, like in SHAUN OF THE DEAD, the mix works in the film's favor. But unlike SHAUN OF THE DEAD, SEVERANCE doesn't really poke too much fun itself, taking the story its telling seriously while breaking the tension with some lighthearted moments.

The narrative is fairly generic, as it deals with a group of ex-European soldiers, who have been addicted to war, killing those who enter their "sanctuary". The characters all have a type - the pretty blonde, the guy who gets high, the geek, the clueless boss, the smart lady, the jerk - but they're all interesting and play off each other well. You know where it's all going, but you can't help but watch it all happen because you actually care about this narrative, the characters, and the situation they're in. The comedy bits don't ruin the horror, but sometimes enhance it. The conventions are all there, the dialogue is witty, and the characters aren't annoying. It's just a great time.

The gory moments are well done. The most memorable one is probably the severed foot in a bear trap, that's cringe-worthy and funny at the same time. We also get some severed limbs, and decapitations, and people being tortured somewhat. SEVERANCE doesn't hold back on the blood.

The direction by Christopher Smith has a ton of style. Smith sets a great pace with great energy, building tension and atmosphere throughout. He balances the humor with the scares right, as neither one seems to overshadow the other. SEVERANCE feels mean-spirited, which works due to Smith's visuals. The cast also helps with this, especially Laura Harris as the tough and smart Maggie and Dan Dryer as the hilarious junkie and pervert, Steve. The other cast members also do a bang up job, making their parts work more than they probably ought to.

Any issue? SEVERANCE is probably a bit too generic for many. We've seen this film done so many times, it doesn't look as attractive as something more original would. Plus, SEVERANCE is what it is, never really branching out to do something to make it stand out from other films of this type. What you see is what you get with this one. It would have been nice to see more stuff with the team building that could have led to the deaths. The film has a great premise, but it doesn't really take it further than what's expected on the surface.

SEVERANCE - a great horror/comedy from Britain that deserves more attention than it gets. It's a fun film with a tongue-in-cheek presentation of your standard backwoods horror film with great characters, cool gore, stylish direction, and actors who more than make the roles their own. I wish the script did more with the standard premise to make it less predictable, but it's still a damn good film I would recommend to anyone.


Robert Rodriguez


Elijah Wood - Casey Conner
Clea DuVall - Stokeley
Josh Hartnett - Zeke
Shawn Hatosy - Stan
Laura Harris - Marybeth Louise Hutchinson
Jordana Brewster - Delilah
Robert Patrick - Coach Willis
Piper Laurie - Miss Olsen
Famke Janssen - Miss Burke
Bebe Neuwirth - Principal Drake
Salma Hayek - Nurse Harper
Jon Stewart - Mr. Furlong

Genre - Horror/Science Fiction/Aliens

Running Time - 104 Minutes

Score - 3 Howls Outta 4

In a small town in Ohio, Herrington High School's faculty have quietly been taken over by aliens that possess people internally, wanting to spread their pods to the entire town. The only ones that seem to notice are the outsiders within the school - the geek (Elijah Wood), the football quarterback (Shawn Hatosy), the main cheerleader (Jordana Brewster), the outcast (Clea DuVall), the new girl (Laura Harris), and the smart dealer (Josh Hartnett) - and they want to stop the invasion from spreading any further. The only problem is that they need to find the Queen to do it, as well as wondering if one of them are already infected.

THE FACULTY is one of those late-90s teen horror/sci-fi films that benefited from the massive success of 1996's SCREAM. The writer of that film, Kevin Williamson, also wrote THE FACULTY, bringing in Robert Rodriguez with him to direct. It's obvious both wanted to make a modern B-movie that's a mix of THE INVASION OF THE BODY SNATCHERS, THE THING, and THE BREAKFAST CLUB. While not a great film, THE FACULTY still holds up as a fun time after all these years, mainly due to watching some current big names fifteen years ago when they were anything but.

THE FACULTY is nothing more than it is - a pod movie involving witty teens. It looks and feels like a late 90s film, with Williamson's trademark adult-teen dialogue that plays around the typical THE INVASION OF THE BODY SNATCHERS premise. The characters are all stereotypical, but each have their moments to shine. The banter between the characters, and the tension from the infected faculty keeps the film afloat better than it really should. Adding aspects from THE THING, to figure out who's infected, is pretty clever as well. THE FACULTY is definitely a film made by two fans who wanted to share their love for these inspirations to a then-modern generation.

The CGI is, unfortunately, extremely dated. The aliens look like video game characters and takes away from the fear aspect somewhat. And while Rodriguez does do the right thing and cuts away from the alien beings whenever they're shown, the final act pretty much gives away the dated special effects. But it is what it is. Speaking of Rodriguez, his direction is passable. THE FACULTY is probably one of Rodriguez's less-than-visually-impressive films in terms of direction. But he captures the narrative and tone well. But there really isn't much to really say about the visual presentation of the film. It does what it needs to do.

The cast is fun to watch. Elijah Wood, who was already a star at this point, is pretty believable as the geek. Josh Hartnett plays it cool as the dealer. It's unfortunate his star has dimmed in recent years, as he seemed to be the next big thing at the time. Jordana Brewster is bitchy and cute in one of her earlier roles. It's also cool to see folks like Robert Patrick, Salma Hayek, Piper Laurie, and even Jon Stewart having fun as the faculty. It's a really cool cast that was supposed to highlight the stars of the future, which unfortunately didn't really happen for most of them in the way that the media probably believed in 1998.

THE FACULTY - a good INVASION OF THE BODY SNATCHERS homage for a 90s generation. The cast is great, the script tells a familiar story [but it's done well], and Robert Rodriguez's direction is passable. It's not a perfect film, but it's still very entertaining and fun to watch. You'll never be bored with these pod people. A great cult film to watch every once in a while.


Alex Nicolaou

Circus-Szalewski - Spider
Eve Mauro - Sugar Hills
Victoria Levine - Bambi
Adriana Sephora - Jasmine
Brittany Gael Vaughn - Vanilla
Brad Potts - Red Wings
Adam Brooks - Spike

Genre - Horror/Comedy/B-Movie/Zombies

Running Time - 75 Minutes

Score - 1.5 Howls Outta 4

The Tuff Titty strip club has seen better days. The owner, Spider (Circus-Szalewski), is $5000 in debt and is thinking about selling the club. It doesn't help that his DJ (Tanner Horn) is always stoned, his bouncer (J. Scott) just wants to get laid and paid, and his strippers aren't doing enough to bring in business.

Things could be worse, though. It seems that there's a zombie apocalypse happening outside the Tuff Titty, making the club a hub for survivors who want to keep themselves from being zombie food. When you have zombies against bad ass strippers, I'm not sure who wins. In this film's case, it sure wasn't me.

You'd think a film called ZOMBIES VS. STRIPPERS would be worth one's time. I mean, you have zombies and you have strippers. And they're fighting each other? Sign me up! Hey, I loved ZOMBIE STRIPPERS with Robert Englund and Jenna Jameson. So I was expecting the same with ZOMBIES VS. STRIPPERS. Unfortunately, I was pretty much bored out of my mind until the final half of the film. How in the hell did that happen?

I will give the story this - it does present what the title advertises. Zombies do fight strippers - and bikers, lead guitarists, and sleazy businessmen. But beyond that, there's not much else going in terms of narrative. The characters are bad stereotypes that don't really get much fleshing out. I did like the character of Vanilla, who is the tough African-American who speaks what people would call "ghetto". But I found her charming. And the lead biker, Red Wings, had great dialogue and an interesting character as a religious man who doesn't mind getting down when the time is right. Even the owner, Spider, was a decently written character. But everyone else was just a chore, and having to watch about 40 minutes of these characters just interacting as padding for zombie mayhem right afterwards almost put me to sleep. I'm not expecting intriguing characters or even social commentary in a low budget zombie B-movie. But give me something to work with when no zombies are present!

At least the direction by Alex Nicolaou, son of Full Moon Pictures director/editor Ted Nicolaou, makes the last half of the film [where the zombies begin breaking through into the strip club] feel energetic. Plus the character interactions during this portion are not that bad. There isn't much style to the visual presentation though. It's pretty much point and shoot. And the lighting is a bit dark for most of the film. The special effects are mostly practical and done better than expected, although some cruddy CGI exists. But the pacing is off, making a 75 minute film [8 of that for the credits] seem twice as long.

I won't really get into the acting. Some actors, like Circus-Szalewski, Eve Mauro, Brittany Gael Vaughn, and Brad Potts, were pretty good and I enjoyed watching them. All the actors seemed to be having fun, but the ones mentioned were the best in the film. Plus, most of the actresses reveal their boobs, so it's not too bad.

ZOMBIES VS. STRIPPERS - what should have been a really fun B-movie turns out to be pretty much a disappointing bore. The direction isn't great, the story is bland, and there's just too much time getting to the point of the film. But some of the cast I enjoyed, the special effects were impressive for the film's budget, and the last half of the film was at least watchable. Plus the film has boobs. Nothing wrong with that. But there's definitely something wrong when I'm more titilated by playing Candy Crush Saga than I am watching a film called ZOMBIES VS. STRIPPERS. Oh well.


A Horrible Way To Die (2010)

Adam Wingard

A.J. Bowen - Garrick Turrell
Amy Seimetz - Sarah
Joe Swanberg - Kevin
Brandon Carroll - Rusty
Lane Hughes - Reed

Genre - Horror/Thriller/Drama/Serial Killers

Running Time
- 85 Minutes

A HORRIBLE WAY TO DIE is really two stories that come together into one. The first plot involves a recovering alcoholic named Sarah (Amy Seimetz), who is dealing with some traumatic events that involved her former boyfriend, Garrick Turrell (A.J. Bowen) - a serial killer she helped put away. As she's coping with her sobriety and her past, she meets Kevin (Joe Swanberg), who takes a romantic interest in her.

While this is going on, we have a second plot involving Garrick's escape from prison. We learn of his previous murders, and how Sarah found out. Garrick is on the road, making his way back to Sarah while murdering more people to get there.

+ The storytelling in A HORRIBLE WAY TO DIE is really well done. It's tough writing a single film narrative, let alone two at once. But the way the characters and the situations connect by the film's end makes it worthwhile. The film really allows the viewer to get to know these people through their actions and their feelings on certain situations, to the point where you're entranced by their stories and motivations.

The characters are the driving force of this film. Garrick is a serial killer, but we also see how normal and loving he is towards Sarah during their relationship. And the fact that he hides it from her shows he's somewhat ashamed of his actions, yet can't help but kill people. Sarah is still troubled by her actions in getting Garrick arrested, as well as foolishly dating a murderer - something that most likely drove her to alcoholism. She's afraid to move on in her life and trust people again. She's also worried after learning that Garrick has escaped, knowing he's most likely coming back for her. And Kevin, another alcoholic, tries to rebuild Sarah's trust by a friend she can relate to, and eventually her lover. Sarah wonders if Kevin is too good to be true, which may or may not be the case. Also, we have characters who are adoring fans of Garrick - people who wrote the man letters in prison and want to be just like him. A HORRIBLE WAY TO DIE is really full of addictive personalities that lead them down dangerous paths. It makes the journey towards the end quite alluring, because we know the two plotlines will merge into one that's not going to be all sunshine and flowers.

Speaking of the ending, it's a pretty predictable one - but it makes sense and done very well. I won't spoil anything, but I was somewhat taken aback by it, as well as somewhat expecting the events to go down as they did. I'm glad it wasn't one of those twist, cheap endings that come out of the blue just to shock audiences. Yes, the paths of certain characters take a surprising turn in a way. But there were definitely subtle hints that made you aware of where the film was going to go. I thought the screenplay laid things out really well to tell a smart, interesting character driven tale.

+ The acting in A HORRIBLE WAY TO DIE is great as well. A.J. Bowen, who has become a high profile independent horror actor the last few years, is really fantastic as serial killer Garrick Turrell. Without doing much, he conveys a sense of menace and a fear factor that's both subtle and forceful all at once. His personality is so engaging, it's hard at times to envision this man playing a serial killer. But just by the way he delivers dialogue, or through his body language, Bowen gives the character a deceptively creepy vibe. Amy Seimetz is also great in the role of Sarah. She has a vulnerability that's very appealing, playing an emotionally broken character who happens to involved in a really dangerous situation she didn't sign up for. Seimetz's quiet presence makes you sympathize with her right away. A character like this isn't easy to play. Either the actor/actress is understated, or way over-the-top. Seimetz maintains the right balance throughout, making her one to watch. And Joe Swanberg is good as Kevin, the nice guy that attempts to fix Sarah emotionally through his compassion and understanding. Just wonderful acting throughout this film. I totally believed these actors were the roles they were playing.

+ The direction by Adam Wingard, who made somewhat of a mark in 2013 with the release of YOU'RE NEXT, fits the story perfectly. The soft, bluish hues that tint A HORRIBLE WAY TO DIE really give the film a bleak, depressing feel. The scenes of violence are done in a realistic, visceral way that grips you. The build up towards the eventual confrontation between Sarah and Garrick brings tension and suspense throughout the film. I even liked that many scenes were shot pretty tightly, creating a level of claustrophobia. It feels a bit invasive, as if you're an extra in the scene watching and listening to what's going on with the characters. The handheld style also adds to the effect, feeling as if you're there through it all. It's a film with style, but it never hits you in the face with it. The visuals compliment the script well, keeping your engaged visually as well as narrative wise.

- If I had any issue with A HORRIBLE WAY TO DIE, it's that I felt Wingard used the shaky cam effect a bit too much. Some of the quieter scenes should have felt more steady. Instead, I was distracted by the screen shaking all over the place. I'm not the biggest fan of this trend in terms of directing, but it does prove effective during certain moments where the shakiness reflects the emotions of the characters or situation on screen. But it shouldn't be a full occurrence in a film like this. A HORRIBLE WAY TO DIE, while a horror-thriller, does play out as a drama at times. You shouldn't have the camera shake during dramatic moments where we should be focused on characters rather than the visuals. It didn't hurt the film all that much, but I was still annoyed by it.

A HORRIBLE WAY TO DIE is one of the better horror films I've seen in the 2010's so far. It has great characters, a fantastic narrative, nice direction, an appropriately bleak atmosphere, and actors who are wonderful in their respective roles. I wish there was less shaky cam involved, but it's not a total misstep. A HORRIBLE WAY TO DIE is a great serial killer thriller and a great character driven drama. We need more smart and visceral films like this in the genre.

3.5 Howls Outta 4


The WTF? Worst Films Extravaganza Presents: Street Fighter (1994)

Steven E. de Souza

Jean-Claude Van Damme - Colonel William F. Guile
Raul Julia - General M. Bison
Ming Na Wen - Chun Li Zang
Byron Mann - Ryu Koshi
Damian Chapa - Ken Masters
Wes Studi - Victor Sagat
Kylie Minogue - Lieutenant Cammy
Peter Navy Tuiasosopo - Edmund Honda
Andrew Bryniarski - Zangief
Grand L. Bush - Balrog
Roshan Seth - Dhalsim
Jay Tavare - Vega
Miguel A. Nunez, Jr. - Dee Jay
Robert Mammone - Carlos "Charlie" Blanka

Genre - Action/Science Fiction/Martial Arts/Video Games

Running Time - 101 Minutes

Back when arcade machines were still popular, I don't think I spent more quarters on any game as I did on Street Fighter II. Capcom's premier fighting game was, and still is, an addictive button-mashing fun time. I'm not sure how much money I spent playing Street Fighter II at the arcades. I loved feeling that accomplishment of trying to get to M. Bison, when all of a sudden another player would step in and kick my ass. Bastard. But thankfully, I was able to buy Street Fighter II for the Super Nintendo, as well as Street Fighter II: Championship Edition, as well as Street Fighter II: Turbo. I was kind of obsessed with fighting games in general, but Street Fighter II was my jam. Hell, I still enjoy these games, although I prefer IV over Third Strike and Alpha.

With anything that captures the culture's attention, Hollywood has to stick their unnecessary nose in and try to milk it through some film franchise. We saw it in 1993 with SUPER MARIO BROS. [sigh]. We still see it now with all those RESIDENT EVIL movies [guilty pleasures]. But in the 1990s, the video game film adaptations weren't really known for their quality. To be honest, 1995's MORTAL KOMBAT is probably the only highlight during this era - and sadly, it's still one of the better adaptations out there next to probably 2001's TOMB RAIDER, 2006's SILENT HILL, and maybe a couple of those RESIDENT EVIL films. In 1994, STREET FIGHTER: THE MOVIE was made to capitalize on the fighting game craze by attempting to bring those classic characters to life on the big screen. Unfortunately, the stars were not aligned for this adaptation, probably creating one of the most hated 90s films of all time. And 20 years later, I can honestly say that time has not been kind to this film. But hey, it's better than the game that was created from this, as well as the 2009 reboot STREET FIGHTER: THE LEGEND OF CHUN-LI. So it's got that going for it!

It seems world peace is being threatened by an evil dictator named General M. Bison (Raul Julia). However, there is hope - a military task force led by Colonel William Guile (Jean Claude Van Damme) and his lieutenant Cammy (Kylie Minogue) plan to do whatever it takes to overthrow Bison's tyranny. But things get personal when Bison takes Guile's best friend, Charlie (Robert Mammonne), and others hostage - threatening to kill them if the Allied Nations don't pay him a multi-million dollar ransom. The A.N., fearing what Bison will do, relieve Guile of his duties so they can pay the ransom. But Guile wants to finish what he started. Enlisting Ryu Hoshi (Byron Mann) and Ken Masters (Damian Chapa) to infiltrate Bison's organization by gaining Victor Sagat's (Wes Studi) trust, Guile wants to take out Bison from the inside. With the unwanted help of ace reporter Chun-Li Zang (Ming-Na Wen), Guile and Cammy plan on defeating Bison once and for all.


I have three words for STREET FIGHTER: THE MOVIE:


Seriously, STREET FIGHTER: THE MOVIE is just a bad film on almost every level. While the game itself isn't really deep in terms of story, a decent-to-good movie could have been created out of this successful fighting game franchise. Instead, we get a script that has nothing to do with the game itself besides the character's names. We also get bland direction, strange casting choices, and just an overall feeling of "what in the hell did I just see?" I honestly can't think Capcom had any sort of say in this project. If they did, then I question their sanity. But then again, I'm sure huge sums of money will cure any sort of temporary mental illness.

Out of all the bad things I mentioned, I think it's the story itself that bums me out the most. One of the big reasons for that is that this screenplay was written by the man who directed this film, Steven E. de Souza. While not many may know him for his directing skills, many will know the man for writing some of the best action films out there. This man wrote 1985's COMMANDO, 1987's THE RUNNING MAN, and the first two DIE HARD films (1988 & 1990). He also wrote 1995's JUDGE DREDD, but that's a film I'd like to forget too. Still, how can a man who wrote so many great action flicks write such an insipid piece of crap like STREET FIGHTER: THE MOVIE? Did the studio interfere? Was the budget compromised or something? Or did de Souza only care about a check at this point in his screenwriting career? I honestly can't say, but something just didn't click here.

Now like I said, the Street Fighter games aren't really known for their epic stories. But by playing them, you do know who the characters are, their motivations, and even their backstories when it comes to other characters in the game. MORTAL KOMBAT proved that you could turn a fighting game into a pretty fun film if you research the game enough and manage to at least maintain the essence of the franchise. I'm not expecting the game to exactly play out on film like it would on a console. But when I'm watching a Street Fighter movie, I expect to watch it feeling as if the filmmakers knew exactly what film they were inspired by. Honestly, I think de Souza was given a bad Cliff Note's version of what the game was and decided to write his film based on that.

The fact that the main character here is Guile instead of Ryu is the story's biggest misstep. Guile was most likely picked because he's an American character that represents the military. So obviously, in terms of Hollywood storytelling, he has to be the action hero. And I'm sure many players used Guile since he had the easier move list to use [performing both the Sonic Boom or the Blade Kick didn't hurt on the hands]. But the thing is that Ryu is really the main character of the Street Fighter games. He's been in the franchise since the first Street Fighter and he's probably the most popular of all the characters in the franchise. He's also a more interesting action character than Guile is. Instead of doing the story that de Souza did, why not a BLOODSPORT-type deal where Ryu goes through some sort of tournament where he fights characters in the streets to get to his main adversaries, Sagat and M. Bison? It may not be the most thrilling story, but it would be more faithful to the game than this film turned out to be. Hell, it probably would have been better received as well!

Instead, we have to watch a stereotypical good vs. evil battle where our American hero must defeat a foreign villain who plans on taking over the world. Yawn. But even films of this type can be good and interesting. Instead, de Souza threw a bunch of shit to a wall and decided to connect the stains to write this ridiculous script. I mean, he couldn't even get the backstories right! Chun-Li is a journalist instead of a cop? E. Honda is a TV producer? Balrog is a camera man? Ken and Ryu are ARMS DEALERS??? Who the fuck thought audiences would accept these changes? Don't even get me started on Charlie, or Blanka, or whatever this monstrosity was. Instead of having Blanka be born a monster and create a sympathetic backstory for him, we have Charlie [who is a separate character in the Street Fighter games] be transformed into Blanka through the use of chemicals and a Virtual Boy depicting violent acts to corrupt his brain. Now I know where the inspiration to BATMAN & ROBIN's Bane came from. God, what was de Souza smoking while writing this film? This isn't Street Fighter! Where's the tournament? Where's the fighting? Hell, where are the streets??

It also doesn't help that STREET FIGHTER: THE MOVIE seems to play out like some sort of joke. It's cheesy as hell, with silly one-liners and moments that make you laugh rather than thrill you. It plays out like a cartoon, when it should play out a bit more seriously. Yes, MORTAL KOMBAT had its campy moments as well, but it also had a script that knew when to be serious. This just seems to play out as a spoof to the video game. Sure, the characters are pretty silly if you think about it, but don't insult the fans by making a mockery of their favorite game.

Also, the story is just pretty bland. All the fighting is saved until the last 25 minutes really, and none of it is done in the streets. Hell, we get a GODZILLA moment between E. Honda and Zangief that just made me roll my eyes in embarrassment. But at least that was memorable compared to the dull second act, in which characters just walk around, and blurt out expository dialogue to explain their actions. It's as if this was setting up the film rather than the first act, which at least had some action to kind of keep you somewhat engaged. This whole script was backwards. I don't know what else to really say about it.

Okay, I will say that the dialogue is cheesy enough to make you chuckle. It also helps when you miscast actors for certain characters, making the dialogue stand out more for all the wrong reasons. Jean-Claude Van Damme, in particular, is playing an American character who must recite motivating speeches to his fellow actors. Watching Guile butcher the English language is pure entertainment every time. Seriously, who thought this was a good idea? At least it humored me and made me want more of Guile's hard-to-understand dialogue. And I gotta give credit to de Souza for at least inserting certain dialogue from the video game itself. It's just that the film should have been more of a faithful adaptation of the game - if not in story, at least in essence and feel.

Since the game is known for the characters' special moves, you'd think the $35 million budget would allow for recreations of these moves in live-action form.


I'm sorry. I shouldn't joke like that. You'll barely see any of those moves recreated. Guile does do his Blade Kick. M. Bison does levitate and cannonball himself into people [although the way he does it is cheap - magnetic boots really?]. And I think I barely saw Ryu perform a Whirlwind Kick. And was that weak uppercut Ken's Dragon Punch?

Where did all that money go? Jean-Claude Van Damme's secret bank account for hookers and coke?

Seriously, the characters barely do anything that resembles a Street Fighter game. With a budget that high, we should have seen more than we actually do. Instead of having shit explode and wasting cash on a Virtual Boy, we should have gotten some special effects bonanza with characters beating the crap out of each other. At least MORTAL KOMBAT made it up for us a year later. But STREET FIGHTER: THE MOVIE should have done it first.

The direction by Mr. de Souza is just as bland as they come. There's no real style at all in this film. It's competent for what it is, but it's not exactly a very exciting or thrilling film to watch. In fact, it drags a bit and probably should have been 15 minutes shorter. And the action is pretty bad, not gonna lie. The choreography just wasn't there for me. For a film about fighting, you'll be severely disappointed. I do appreciate that when we see characters bust out their special moves, he doesn't really cut away from it. The film does look pretty nice as well, with some great sets and exteriors that are eye candy. And I love that last shot where the characters do that pose all at once - poses taken right from the game when a character wins a round. The visuals have their moments every now and then, but the direction is pretty uneventful for the most part.

The acting - man, what can I say about the acting? Jean-Claude Van Damme probably ruined his status in America starring in this movie. Surprisingly, I don't really blame him totally for it. Yes, he was terribly miscast as Guile - an actor with an BELGIUM accent playing an AMERICAN character - really? But I'm sure he got a big check for the role, and who wants to turn down money like that - especially in 1990s dollars? Seriously though, Van Damme seems to be going through the motions here. Van Damme is a charismatic guy, but this role worked against him. The dialogue he recites is not only silly, but makes the fact that he's playing a full-blooded American even more ridiculous. His heart just doesn't seem to be totally into it. Maybe he realized the script sucked and just said "fuck it". I'm not really sure. Still, terrible casting.

Raul Julia, in his last film role before his tragic passing, is probably one of the highlights as M. Bison. He may not look like the character all that much in terms of build, but at least Julia seems to be having a ball acting as over-the-top as possible. It's been said that he knew he was really sick, but took the role anyway because his children were fans of the video games. I can't hate on Julia for that, as he wanted to make his kids smile. While the script worked against him, at least Julia tries to make it work and seems to be having fun. Nothing wrong with that. He entertained me.

The other actors are a mixed bag. Ming-Na Wen is actually very good as Chun-Li, seeming to embrace the silliness of the film and making the character somewhat captivating. I think she had the best material to work with as well, which worked for her. Nice to see her still around, as I think she's a pretty good actress in whatever she's in. Pop star Kylie Minogue looks the part as Cammy and has the lovely Australian accent to make her role work. Plus, I can't hate on Kylie. She's hot and I dig her music too. So there. It was kind of funny to see Miguel A. Nunez attempting a Jamaican accent as Dee Jay, as well as Andrew Bryniarski as Zangief [I thought Bryniarski was pretty amusing as the clueless Russian henchman]. Wes Studi looks the part as Sagat. Byron Mann played a character named Ryu with a script not allowing him to actually play that role. Damian Chapa had a better role as Ken Masters, although it could have been better. The other actors did the best they could with the material, I guess. The casting of this movie still makes me scratch my head though.


- Ryu and Ken are involved in the arms trading business with Sagat. I'd like to use a weapon on whoever thought this was the best idea for all three of these characters.

- Vega versus Ryu's cage fight ended before it got started thanks to Guile barging in with a tank to arrest everyone. Unlike the UFC, this fight was not worth breaking your leg over.

- Bison wants to create a super soldier to help him fight the good fight. Steve Rogers is thanking the Stars and Stripes he got his serum decades prior.

- Guile faked his death to trick Bison into lowering his defenses. If only he was able to fake an American accent in the same manner.

- E. Honda feels no pain in being whipped. Neither does Kanye West. #DATASS

- Guile delivered a stirring speech to get his team to fight Bison. Or I think he did. He's still on the advanced class on his Rosetta Stone tapes, so I'm not sure.

- Dhalsim turned Charlie into a green skinned monster who is supposedly Blanka. Lou Ferrigno is laughing his ass off.

- Cammy is an expert marksman. When that bullet hits your brain, you can't get it out of your head.

What more can I really say about STREET FIGHTER: THE MOVIE that hasn't been said? Besides a few silly moments that will make you laugh for all the wrong reasons [an American with a Belgium accent, really?], some actors who try to make the story work, and some attempts to bring the video game to life [if you can get that far into the film before turning it off], this video game adaptation is just terrible. I still have trouble believing the man who wrote COMMANDO and DIE HARD wrote and directed this. I still have trouble figuring out why Jean-Claude Van Damme was hired to played Guile. I'm still wondering where the $35 million budget went [it sure wasn't for the special effects].

Is it the worst video game adaptation? No, not even close. I would rather watch this than that LEGEND OF CHUN-LI reboot from 2009, plus many of those Uwe Boll adaptations. But it's a badly made adaptation no matter how you look at it. STREET FIGHTER: THE MOVIE is not worth performing a Hadouken for. Time has not been kind to this one.

1 Howl Outta 4


Indie Horror Spotlight: Antisocial (2013)

Cody Calahan

Michelle Mylett - Samantha Rezner
Cody Thompson - Mark Archibald
Adam Christie - Jed Erickson
Aria Alic - Kaitlin Cosgrove
Romaine Waite - Steve McDonald
Ry Barrett - Chad Wilson
Laurel Brandes - Tara Ryder
Charlie Hamilton - Dan Hamilton

Genre - Horror/Survival/Technology/Virus

Running Time - 90 Minutes

It's New Year's Eve, and Samantha (Michelle Mylett) is having a terrible end to the year. She and her boyfriend, Dan Hamilton (Charlie Hamilton) have broken up and he's made it public on a social networking site called The Social Redroom. Even though she's upset, she decides to go to a New Year's Eve party held by Mark (Cody Thompson) in order to forget about her problems with the company of good friends. After the partiers bond a bit, they hear and see news on television and the internet about people randomly going crazy and attacking others. The outbreak is so bad, it's recommended that no one goes outside and barricade themselves inside.

When the group start taking the news seriously, unwanted guests attempt to break in. Slowly, some of the partiers begin to bleed from their ear and nose, which is the sign of an infection. The virus begins to spread amongst the group, figuring out that it's being done via subliminal messages and signals through The Social Redroom. The signals cause the brains of users to expand, to the point where the infected become homicidal maniacs.

ANTISOCIAL is a low budget independent horror film that's being distributed by the good folks of Breaking Glass Pictures later in the month. The narrative isn't all that original. It follows the familiar path of a zombie movie. It has some sort of virus that infects people and gives them the urge to kill. It even has a strong message that's not executed as well as it probably could have been. Still, as predictable and unoriginal that ANTISOCIAL is, it's still 90 minutes worth watching.

The screenplay works well for the film's budget. Zombie/Infected films usually don't require a ton of cash, so it was smart of Cody Calahan and Chad Archibald to use this as a premise. It also helps when Calahan and Archibald do a lot of things right in terms of storytelling. We have a handful of characters that we grow to know somewhat, which helps bring about tension when the infection hits closer to home. They're all trapped in a single location, creating claustrophobia and maintaining the focus on where it should be. It's your usual zombie survival flick, but instead of dead people, it's people who are infected by a virus. All the cliches are there, but they're used well. I mean, without the message [that I'll discuss in the next paragraph], this would be a standard zombie film in which the characters do nothing but accuse each other of being infected until there's a single survivor. At least this portion is done well enough to be watchable and somewhat entertaining on its own.

The reason for this film's existence is really the message about social networking. Or in the case of ANTISOCIAL, the evils of being part of a social network. The infection is spread through the use of a Facebook wannabe called The Social Redroom, which seems to be the only network all these characters use, considering how quickly the infection spreads. The company supposed uses subliminal messaging, or signals within the network, to do bad things to users' brains to make them sick until they're hungry for flesh. Now this is nothing new. Films like THE LAWNMOWER MAN, THE SIGNAL, and KAIRO/PULSE, and novels like Stephen King's Cell, have all presented stories of technology spreading disease to those who use it. ANTISOCIAL wants to tell us that social media is like a disease that has infected us all. Most of us have lived our lives through social networking, as well as being part of other's lives through their use of the same network. Characters in the films are constantly on their phones, or on their computers, as a way to communicate with others. There's even talk about sex tapes, in how they're used to make the participants famous rather than keeping the act of intimacy private. I also liked how Samantha's friends look at her oddly when she reveals that she deleted her profile, to which one asks her - "How do you keep in contact with people?" When she replies that she does it in person, it's treated as if it's not a serious response. ANTISOCIAL is telling us that social networking is evil. It's an addiction, like with drugs or sex. We're addicted to revealing our personal information to others - more focused on spending time chatting via text or private messaging rather than doing that in person.

Unfortunately, ANTISOCIAL doesn't take that message as far as it should go. Instead of using the social commentary to drive the film, the script is more focused on the zombie-like aspect of the narrative by the halfway mark. It's not enough to just inform us that social networking is a bad thing. The script hits the viewer over the head with that fact multiple times. But that's all it is - a message that's repeated ad nauseam. There's nothing more to it than that, which is a missed opportunity. It should have been the thing to really drive the story. Instead, it's just there to make the standard zombie story seem a bit more intelligent.

Cody Calahan shows a ton of promise as a horror director to watch. ANTISOCIAL uses it limited budget well by doing some stylish techniques with the camera. I love the hallucination scenes in which the infected characters experience gruesome things happened to them. One pulls out their guts from their mouth. One stabs himself in the eye. The picture quality is more saturated during these scenes, which I thought was cool. Calahan also does well in terms of tension and suspense, especially once the infected start attacking others. I thought the scenes in which the characters watch videos of why the infection is around and how it spreads were done well, but felt ruined a bit of the mystery. At least the explanation was presented better than just through expository dialogue. It has a nice mood and the film looks good. I think Calahan is one to look out for in the near future.

The acting is decent for the most part. Most of the actors have amateurish performances, which is okay since the roles they play are fairly stereotypical. However, Michelle Mylett and Cody Thompson are very good in their roles as Samantha and Mark. Luckily, most of the scenes in the film involve them so the acting is more positive than negative. In particular, I really enjoyed Mylett as a tough, brave girl who happens to be very active and smart when it comes to the horrible situation she's put in. I think we'll be seeing more of her in the future if we're lucky.


While not a perfect film, ANTISOCIAL is still a pretty solid horror film for those who like their zombie/infected monster movies with a bit of a relevant message. The film is tense, stylish for its limited budget, and has a good story that tells its narrative well enough to keep you engaged. And the acting by the leads, Michelle Mylett and Cody Thompson, are good. The idea that social networking is evil is a good one, but I wish ANTISOCIAL had done more with it to really make it stand out. Still, it's worth your 90 minutes of time  - that is if you can stay away from using your phone or computer to update your current status.

3 Howls Outta 4

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