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.

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