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!
Corey Haim - Marty Coslaw
Megan Follows - Jane Coslaw
Gary Busey - Uncle Red
Everett McGill - Reverend Lowe
Terry O'Quinn - Sheriff Joe Haller
Bill Smitrovich - Andy Fairton
Genre - Horror/Drama/Werewolves
Running Time - 94 Minutes
In 1976, the town of Tarker's Mills is horrified by a series of recent, and really violent murders. Sheriff Joe Haller (Terry O'Quinn) tries to figure out who's behind this, but only makes the townspeople frustrated when no answers are found.
Meanwhile, wheelchair-bound Marty Coslaw (Corey Haim) is enjoying life, especially since his Uncle Red (Gary Busey) has given him a wheelchair that's built with a motor. One night, Marty sneaks out the house to set off some fireworks, only to be attacked by a feral creature. Marty defends himself by firing one of the rockets into the werewolf's eye. After telling his sister Jane (Megan Follows) about the werewolf attack and how it relates to the murders in town, she and Marty begin to do their own investigation - looking for a local with only one eye.
The 1980s were pretty damn kind to lycanthropes in cinema. And while SILVER BULLET, based on Stephen King's novella "Cycle of the Werewolf", isn't as memorable or as good as AN AMERICAN WEREWOLF IN LONDON or THE HOWLING, it's still a decent time.
The story is the film's strongest aspect. The Coslaw Family dynamic grips you. Jane, the older sister, is bitter and frustrated by how the family babies Marty due to his crippled state. Although she feels bad for taking out her anger on him for something he has no control over, the sibling tension is there until the two work together to find the werewolf. The parents worry about Uncle Red's influence on Marty, who is really close to Red. It doesn't help that Red is extremely eccentric, not known for his committment when it comes to relationships, and the fact that he's a bit of an alcoholic. There's some interesting family relationships going on here.
The mystery is also strong, as the murders pile up, making much of the town lose hope in finding the culprit. Once Marty and Jane figure out who it is, things get really tense and suspenseful. One scene in particular, with Marty being chased by the murderer/werewolf on the road and on a bridge, is pretty chilling. The final act is also pretty great too, with the werewolf wanting revenge on Marty and his family at their home. While the werewolf is easy to figure out if you've seen a bunch of these flicks, the journey getting to the revelation and its aftermath is definitely worth it.
The acting is pretty good as well. Corey Haim is great as the young, rebellious Marty, creating a watchable young hero. Gary Busey is just plain fun as the wild Uncle Red, having a blast in the role due to some great dialogue. Everett McGill is pretty intense as Reverend Lowe. And we get some nice short roles from Terry O'Quinn and Bill Smitrovich.
However, the special effects aren't that great. Compared to those in AN AMERICAN WEREWOLF IN LONDON and THE HOWLING, both released in 1981, it's sort of disappointing to see how lame these effects are four years later. The werewolf costume in particular is pretty goofy looking, appearing as just a guy in a really cheap wolf outfit. I'm surprised that Caro Rambaldi, who also did E.T., was behind this aspect. Maybe it was a limited budget or lack of inspiration, but the disappointing wolf effects make SILVER BULLET less scary and more funny.
The direction by Daniel Attias is decent, but not visually memorable in any sort of way. The pacing is great though, and Attias does give the film some nice tension during the chase scene and during the final act of the film. The visuals are nothing special, but still an okay job.
SILVER BULLET, overall, is an entertaining Stephen King adaptation that was hindered by cheap effects and passable visuals. But the story has good characters you'll care about, a mystery that works for the most part, and some great acting by Haim and Busey. Not the greatest werewolf film ever, but definitely one of the better ones and worthy of a look every now and then. SILVER BULLET isn't perfect, but it has heart. That has to count for something.
Ethan Suplee - Marshall
Mariel Hemingway - Lynn Snyder
LeVar Burton - Dr. Dan Halpern
Danny Trejo - Captain Caspian
French Stewart - Dr. Arnold
Chad Lindberg - Kyle
Genre - Horror/Science Fiction/Action/Zombies
Running Time - 89 Minutes
During a zombie apocalypse, a band of survivors are staying on Alcatraz Island in order to defend themselves against a rising army of zombies. However, their shelter is compromised when a group of zombies infiltrate their haven, taking out some of their own. The remaining survivors learn of a scientist (French Stewart), who claims he has discovered a cure for this epidemic. Realizing he's their only hope, they leave Alcatraz to locate him to stop the apocalypse.
RISE OF THE ZOMBIES is an Asylum produced B-movie zombie flick that was a lot better than I was expecting it to be. I'm not saying that it's a great film, or even a good one. But it's a decent enough film that manages to be somewhat watchable, while at the same time being totally forgettable once the film is over.
The biggest appeal to the film, at least for me, was the cast. Danny Trejo being a badass zombie killer. LeVar Burton being a sympathetic scientist who desperately wanted to cure his daughter of the infection. Ethan Suplee is the likeable guy who does good by keeping his fellow survivors safe. Muriel Hemingway is the leader of the group. And French Stewart is a scientist who may, or may not, have a cure. Is the acting great? Oh no, it's not. But just for the fact that these group of actors are in a zombie film together made it somewhat enjoyable for me. And none of these actors are terrible in anyway, as they take their respective roles seriously. Honestly, this cast should have been grouped together in a much better flick. But I'll take what I can get.
I also dig the use of Alcatraz as this refuge during the zombie apocalypse. It's a big enough place to hide and survive against the infection. Plus, it's right next to San Francisco, allowing the director to showcase zombies on the Golden Gate Bridge, hopefully eating the Olsen Twins with some Rice-A-Roni. The story is fairly generic once the survivors leave Alcatraz though, which makes RISE OF THE ZOMBIES more into a "search party" type of film. It really loses its way once that happens. It's just so cliche, you'll see things coming and wish someone new would recreate the zombie genre for a new generation in some way, shape, or form. I can tell when a screenwriter phones it in, which is pretty much the case with this movie.
The CGI is pretty lousy, with CGI blood, fire, and explosions that were obviously done in Adobe After Effects. The audio is shoddy, with levels constantly varying depending on the scene. And the direction isn't all that great, with the standard uses of slow motion, quick cutting, and even speeding up the film to make the visuals less monotomous.
All in all, you'll probably check out RISE OF THE ZOMBIES if you ever wanted to see Danny Trejo face the undead for whatever reason. Otherwise, it's not a film anyone has to go out of their way to see. But for a SyFy/Asylum project, I was expecting worse. But with a capable cast [who unfortunately needed a better script] and an interesting premise within the film's first half, it exceeded my low expectations. But it's not worth rising out of the grave over either. Pretty below average zombie film as a whole.
Sylvester Stallone - Ray Breslin
Arnold Schwarzenegger - Rottmayer
Jim Caviezel - Hobbes
Faran Tahir - Javed
Amy Ryan - Abigail
Sam Neill - Dr. Kyrie
Vincent D'Onofrio - Lester Clark
Vinnie Jones - Drake
Curtis '50 Cent' Jackson - Hush
Genre - Action/Thriller
Running Time - 115 Minutes
Ex-con Ray Breslin (Sylvester Stallone) is an expert in breaking out of high-security prisons. By knowing the layout, observing the routine, and getting internal and external support to the getaway, he's helped make prisons more secure by fixing the flaws. Breslin receives another job, in which he is offered $5 million to break out of a modern technological facility that may be inescapable. Breslin accepts this challenge, but soon learns that he's been double-crossed by his bosses. The prison warden, Hobbes (Jim Caviezel), has a thing for messing with Breslin, making his newest jail time unpleasant as possible. However, Hobbes wasn't counting on another inmate, Rottmayer (Arnold Schwarzenegger), finding a kindred spirit in Breslin and wanting to help him break out. Will they succeed, or are Breslin and Rottmayer stuck in this facility forever?
ESCAPE PLAN was a film on my radar last year, but I missed it for whatever reason. Apparently, so did a lot of people since it didn't do too well at the box office. While it has done well in the home video and digital market, it's pretty surprising that a film that teams both Sylvester Stallone and Arnold Schwarzenegger wasn't more successful. Then again, modern audiences [meaning teens] probably see these two big action stars as fossils, more focused on sparkly vampires and films starring teen idols no one will remember in five years. It's a shame, since ESCAPE PLAN is a pretty good flick.
ESCAPE PLAN is more of a prison break thriller than an actual action film, although the final act of the film definitely plays to that genre. Honestly, I'm okay with that decision because these kind of thrillers aren't done all that much, so it's refreshing to see it get some much needed attention again. Because of this move, it's more of a character focused film, using the main characters to build plot, mystery, and suspense for almost two hours. The characters aren't exactly deep though - more stereotypical than anything - but you know enough about them to care about their situation. The twists and turns the film makes are fairly predictable, I will admit. But at least they work within the context of the story and make sense once things are resolved.
My only real gripe with the narrative is the middle portion of the film. ESCAPE PLAN is probably 15 to 20 minutes longer than it should be, due to a lot of dialogue heavy scenes in the second act. I'm not saying that the dialogue is bad or anything. But I think what needed to be told during this portion could have been done in a much shorter time.
While ESCAPE PLAN isn't a total action movie, the film does come alive once characters start to fight and use weapons against each other. Watching Stallone and Schwarzenegger have a fist fight inside of a prison is pretty damn cool. Watching Jim Caviezel and Vinnie Jones try to stop Swarzenegger and Stallone with fists and weapons is pretty sweet as well. The film's final act is just an 80s action lover's dream, as it's visually entertaining with gunfire and explosions. Can't forget the chopper either, right Schwarzenegger?
DERAILED and 1408 director, Mikael Hafstrom, is an interesting choice for ESCAPE PLAN. While the man knows how to build tension and suspense within the claustrophobic prison setting, his handling of action isn't as strong. Sometimes the lighting is too dark. Or the frame is too close. Even the editing at times is a bit too quick. But Hafstrom is a more than capable director who handles most of the film pretty confidently.
The acting won't win awards. But both Stallone and Schwarzenegger take their roles seriously, bringing their A-game to the material. Their banter and interactions with each other are what make the film as good as it is. It makes you wish they had done films together much sooner prior to THE EXPENDABLES. Jim Caviezel is pretty great as the swarmy villainous warden, chewing the scenery and making his silly dialogue work. 50 Cent, who is usually distracting in some of the films I've seen him in, is pretty good here as the tech wizard. Amy Ryan, Vincent D'Onofrio, Faran Fahir, and Vinnie Jones are good in their smaller roles. And Sam Neill is in this as well! Always loved that dude. Cool cast.
ESCAPE PLAN is just a good time. Yeah, it's a bit long winded at times and the visuals don't always pop as much as they could [especially during the action stuff]. But the prison break script is pretty damn good, helped by Stallone's and Schwarzenegger's strong performances. You can tell the two were having fun making this film, which makes ESCAPE PLAN entertaining for us as well.
Holly Madison - Stephanie
Bridget Marquardt - Eva DeMarco
Sara Jean Underwood - Tracey
Christina Rosenberg - Amber
Najarra Townsend - Brianna
Nicole Zeoli - Roxy
Genre - Horror/Anthology
Running Time - 84 Minutes
Three sorority pledges want to join a cruel sorority full of stuck up girls. In order to get voted in, the pledge must each tell the sorority sisters a scary story. So, three different stories are told - one involving a killer doll, one about a has-been actress looking to keep her career going by doing a horror film about the undead, and one about a dude stalking hot girls. Unfortunately for this sorority, one of the pledges may have a different story than the one she's telling - involving the death of the members of this particular sorority.
I have three words for THE TELLING:
WHAT THE FUCK!?
Seriously, THE TELLING is just terrible in every way possible. You'd figure that a horror film produced by Playboy Magazine and starring two of Hugh Hefner's former girlfriends, Holly Madison and Bridget Marquardt, would be somewhat titilating for 90 minutes. Sure, the story would probably suck. The acting would probably be even worse. But hell, at least I'll get some tits and ass to make up for my suffering! But does anyone get nude here?
Instead, THE TELLING wants the audience to truly believe that these women were hired beyond their looks for their acting skills.
HA HA HA HA HA! EPIC FAIL.
This has to be one of the worst anthology films ever. None of the scary stories are frightening. They're just really poor versions of much better films involving dolls, slashers, and zombies. And this sorority - who in the hell would want to join this so-called "sisterhood"? The girls are slutty and bitchy. They look down on normal looking girls - aka girls who have enough decency not to get breast implants at the age of 18 and want to get that higher learning that college is supposed to be about. And where are the pillow fights? The hot lesbian action? The paddles? The pajama parties? What kind of sorority is this??
And the three stories are just ridiculous. The doll one reminds me of that Krusty the Doll episode from one of those Simpsons' Treehouse of Horror episodes from years ago, but less entertaining and clever. It's really lame, but at least it has blood and dry humping! The zombie story is supposed to be a homage to classic horror, being in black & white and having the villain sound like Bela Lugosi with a sore throat. The twist is so stupid and the scenes in the film look like a really bad softcore porn. And the third one is about a prank call gone wrong, with the prankers hearing someone get killed on the line. For a slasher film, it's really lame and not even worth the trouble.
The direction isn't all that great either. Sure, the picture quality looks okay. And I like that the second story was in black and white to fit the story's tone. But the editing wasn't great. The audio levels during some of the scenes was just jarring. In fact, the music used never went with the scenes they were used in!
I'm not even going to mention the acting. It's a Playboy film. The girls are terrible. But at least they look good.
THE TELLING is one of the worst films I've seen in a while. There's really no point to it even existing. None of the stories are worth anyone's time. And how do you do a Playboy produced film without the one thing you can do well - getting girls naked?? There's nothing to tell about this piece of crap.