7.17.2014

ITALIAN HORROR WEEK 2014: Tenebre (1982)

DIRECTED BY
Dario Argento

STARRING
Anthony Franciosa - Peter Neal
John Saxon - Bullmer
Daria Nicolodi - Anne
Veronica Lario - Jane Neal
Giuliano Gemma - Detective Giermani
John Steiner - Christiano Berti
Christiano Borromeo - Gianni


Genre - Horror/Thriller/Mystery/Giallo

Running Time
- 100 Minutes



**Part of Doc Terror's ITALIAN HORROR WEEK 2014**


When it comes to Italian Horror, Dario Argento is the first filmmaker that comes to mind. It was through Argento that I learned what a giallo was, which led me to other films of his - as well as films made by other Italian directors such as Mario Bava and Lucio Fulci. While Argento's most recent fare haven't been so well received - I personally think 1987's OPERA was his last great work - Argento's filmography still manages to make him one of the premier artists in the genre.

Dario Argento really made his mark on audiences through his giallos. Films like THE BIRD WITH THE CRYSTAL PLUMAGE, FOUR FLIES ON GREY VELVET, and DEEP RED really captured audiences, as well as help inspire the American version of the giallo, the slasher film. For a while though, Argento was more focused on supernatural stories, such as SUSPIRIA and its sister-film, INFERNO. But 1982's TENEBRE was Argento's return to the giallo sub-genre, proving to many why he was the master of these certain types of films. Personally, it's not as good as DEEP RED or SUSPIRIA. But it's definitely top 5 material for sure.


PLOT
Peter Neal (Anthony Franciosa) is an American novelist who is known for his controversially sensationalistic stories that have been criticized for their misogyny and violence towards women. He arrives in Rome for a press tour, but his arrival sparks murders within the city that seem to be copying scenes from Peter's latest book, "Tenebre". Peter becomes involved when he starts receiving notes from the killer, taunting him and using his own words against him. Who can the killer be? Is it someone Peter knows? Is it an obsessed fan?


 
REVIEW

TENEBRE is an interesting film in Dario Argento's filmography. For one, TENEBRE was inspired by a stalker who had harassed Argento once he found fame in Italy. Also, it also seems to express criticisms towards Argento's previous works, especially where it concerns supposed misogyny towards women. The Peter Neal character seems to be TENEBRE's representation of its director - a man who just simply wants to entertain, but seems to be blamed for things he didn't intentionally do. These themes drive the story forward, showing that works of art are there to entertain most, but possibly inspire others to do bad things due to their minds not being able to wrap around reality.




Also, TENEBRE seems different from Argento's other gialli in the sense that the narrative is much more coherent than anything that has come before it. The murder mystery is pretty straight forward, leading to a logical conclusion that makes sense once you realize what's going on. I like how Argento attempts to make any character in TENEBRE seem like the killer. They all have something pretty shady about them - some more than others - making you wonder who's a red herring and who is the copycat killer. The story just builds and builds until you're aching to see where it'll end up, and it does not disappoint. I liked how the main characters seemed intelligent when it came to the situation, with some of them acting pretty suspicious about the whole murder deal. With ex-wives, cheating scandals, and other shady stuff going on, you're never sure where the narrative is going to take you, which makes TENEBRE a lot of fun to watch while you're putting the jigsaw puzzle together.



The puzzle is more interesting due to random scenes involving a flashback of a young, beautiful woman in a white dress wearing red pumps. It's obviously from the viewpoint of the killer, but we don't know what this means until the final act. The scenes just come across as surreal and pretty creepy, as you're just left wondering what the hell is going on. Who is this woman and how does she figure into things? And why is she shoving a red heel into a dude's mouth? Pretty strange stuff.



I do feel that the mystery aspect did hinder some of the characterization. Sometimes it's hard to like any of these people because Argento attempts to make each one of them seem suspicious. Also, I felt there were too many characters in the film, taking away the focus from the more major players. It's as if Argento attempted the body count aspect of the slasher film [which was major during this time], while attempting to maintain the aspects of a true giallo. I get what Argento was going for, but I do think it brings TENEBRE down a bit.



The death sequences in TENEBRE are quite memorable, and pretty bloody. The killer either likes to slice people with a blade, axe them to death, or even strangle them in a car from behind. There are a lot of cool death scenes, including one where an axe amputates a character's arm, gushing blood all over the nearby white walls, as the axe impales into her torso for added effect. We also get a great scene involving a dog attacking a character, leading her towards the home of the killer, who decides to make her night quite horrific as she struggles for help. Probably none of the sequences match up to anything from DEEP RED, SUSPIRIA, or even OPERA. But they're very effective and well done.

The direction by Argento is just fantastic. He injects a lot of style into the film. One scene, probably my favorite, involves this really elaborate crane shot that pans and tilts an entire apartment building in one continuous shot, just to set up a classic murder sequence. Apparently doing this caused a lot of headaches during production, but the final result is so worth it. We get some great POV shots from the killer's perspective. There's a lot of attention to detail thanks for cinematographer, Luciano Tovoli, making us pay close mind to any hints that may linger for us to solve the mystery. The tension and suspense is top notch. I do miss the colorful look that Argento is mainly known for, but it probably wouldn't have fit in well with the film's story and tone. TENEBRE is one of Argento's finest achievements as a filmmaker - one I'm sure he's definitely proud of.

The acting is hard to rate since I watched the English dubbed version of the film. Some actors, like Anthony Franciosa and Daria Nicolodi, come across as hammy due to the voice actors. But that's part of the charm, and they both are good actors, so I can't say anything bad about their performances. I really liked Giuliano Gemma as Detective Germani. He just came across as one cool customer, and pretty intelligent as well. We also get a bunch of hot women who are there to be murder victims, and they all run and scream quite well. And John "The Man" Saxon is awesome as the sleazy book agent. Any film he's in is worth watching, in my opinion. 




And I can't end this review without talking about TENEBRE's score. Argento is well known for collaborating with electronic rock group, Goblin, on many of his features during the 1970s. Unfortunately by the time TENEBRE was being produced, Goblin had disbanded. But Argento still managed to get three of the members - Massimo Morante, Claudio Simonetti, and Fabio Pignatelli - to contribute a synth score that would drive the narrative forward towards its tense conclusion. I personally love Goblin, and even parts of the group still manage to make great music. It's not as good as SUSPIRIA or DEEP RED, but the score does fit within the tone of TENEBRE.


 
THE FINAL HOWL

While DEEP RED and SUSPIRIA are still my favorite Dario Argento films, TENEBRE is definitely up there for me as well. It's not a perfect film, but it's still manages to be an entertaining thriller that will keep you invested from beginning to end. I think technical wise, TENEBRE is one of Argento's best, although I do miss the more colorful look of his previous works. If you care about perfect storytelling, then TENEBRE will probably disappoint you. But if you prefer more of a visual experience with good amounts of gore and stylish filmmaking, then TENEBRE is right up your alley. 


SCORE
3.5 Howls Outta 4 
 
 

7.16.2014

Midnight Confessions Ep. 23: "A Buxom Trilogy of Boob-tastic Proportions"





Our Summer Sextravaganza begins! Rev. Phantom, Moronic Mark, and I start the festivities off with a bang with a Russ Meyer triple feature: VIXEN! (1968), SUPERVIXENS (1975), and BENEATH THE VALLEY OF THE ULTRA-VIXENS (1979). Plus the Top 5 Best Boob-tastic Moments in Film.











 


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7.09.2014

Midnight Confessions Ep. 22: "When good animals attack bad people"


New co-host, Moronic Mark, joins Reverend Phantom and I as we review WILD BEASTS (1984) and LONG WEEKEND (1978). Plus a look at the Top 5 Killer Animal Movies. So grab an eagle egg and your favorite ba-ba-ba-ba and enjoy.










 


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The B-Movie Bungalow Presents: Day of the Animals (1977)

DIRECTED BY
William Girdler

STARRING
Christopher George - Steve Buckner
Leslie Nielsen - Paul Jenson
Lynda Day George - Terry Marsh
Richard Jaeckel - Prof. Taylor MacGregor
Michael Ansara - Daniel Santee
Ruth Roman - Mrs. Shirley Goodwyn
Jon Cedar - Frank Young
Walter Barnes - Ranger Tucker
Andrew Stevens - Bob Denning


Running Time - 97 Minutes

Genre - Horror/Thriller/B-Movie/Bad Animals


So it's finally Summer, and as usual, I decided to focus much of the season on those "animal run amok" films we all love so much, whether they're good or truly shitastic. However unlike previous years, I'll save the shark film stuff probably within Shark Week itself this August [unless it's like SHARKNADO 2: THE SECOND ONE, which arrives late July]. This time around, I plan on focusing on all sorts of animals and insects to give the theme a bit of variety.

And there's no better film to start with than 1977's DAY OF THE ANIMALS, which features a bunch of human characters getting outsmarted and terrorized by bears, lions, birds, snakes, wolves, and even dogs! They're probably not as scary as a shirtless Leslie Nielsen attempting to rape women, but I'll get to that shortly. Still, DAY OF THE ANIMALS isn't as classic by any means, but it's sure a fun way to spend 90 minutes.

PLOT
Due to us environmentally conscious folks, the ozone layer has been destroyed and ultraviolet rays are effecting animals in strange, deadly ways. This doesn't seem to bother a mountain tour guide named Steve Buckner (Christopher George), who enjoys showing people the beauty of the wilderness without the use of technology and material things. This tour, however, may be more troublesome than most since it includes a racist advertising executive (Leslie Neilsen), an annoying socialite (Ruth Roman) and her son, couples trying to keep their relationships alive, and more. Besides a hawk following them around everywhere, things go well until wolves and lions start attacking them. The dangerous tour and lack of food is creating strife within the group, which is making this DAY OF THE ANIMALS a very memorable, and cheesy, one.

REVIEW

Ever since JAWS made killer animals popular to moviegoers in 1975, a bunch of these films were made and released ad nauseum. DAY OF THE ANIMALS is one of the better "animal run amok" features to have come out during this era, attempting to create campy entertainment through a serious message about the depleting ozone layer and how it could effect the Earth if it continues. Unlike a film like THE FOOD OF THE GODS or FROGS, you gotta give credit to DAY OF THE ANIMALS for taking itself pretty seriously while unintentionally making us chuckle and laugh through its storytelling and direction.

Let's get this out of the way: the environmental message of the film is just there to give us a reason to watch DAY OF THE ANIMALS. It doesn't tell us how to stop damaging the ozone layer. It doesn't show us how it's damaging the planet. It's just there to give these animals a reason to go crazy and kill humans. And it's not really a bad thing, as it gives an excuse for why things are happening without bogging the story down with expository dialogue or a long winded prologue that's just there to pad time. I have to applaud the film for taking a topic that's still relevant today to base its story on, rather than just using the typical toxic waste, or nuclear bomb deal that would have these animals become more aggressive than usual.

So instead of a film trying to send us an important message, DAY OF THE ANIMALS is nothing more than your standard "animals run amok" flick. We have a group of characters on a mountain tour, many who have trouble getting along for whatever reason. One dude is an angry racist who seems to want to be the leader. We have an annoying Beverly Hills socialite who complains about being a single mom, as she constantly nags at her rebellious teenage son. We have a couple in love and a couple who can't really get along. We have the hero, who doesn't seem to understand why the tour isn't going as smoothly as it usually does. There's also a lost little girl, who is caught in the madness as well. As the humans deal with their own issues, animals stalk them and attack when necessary. Nothing more, nothing less. And some of these characters are so annoying, you'll want the animals to get their way. It's like NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD - just with animals instead of zombies, while it takes place outdoors rather than indoors. It's a B-movie survival film, with cheesy moments that will keep audiences entertained for the most part.


The animal attacks in the film are pretty tense, surprisingly enough. The initial wolf attack while the characters are sleeping is pretty creepy. The lion attack is tense. We get a scene where a man is attacked by a group of rattlesnakes, following by a vicious dog. There's the infamous jumping rat scene, where a group of rats hop on the local police officer, attacking his face. That scene is more funny than anything, but it's surely memorable. And we get the classic Leslie Nielsen fights a grizzly bear in a Death Battle, with no stunt double used amazingly. A lot of these "animal run amok" films have fake looking animal attacks, but DAY OF THE ANIMALS does them convincingly. I was digging it.

The direction by William Girdler, who had also directed 1976's GRIZZLY and unfortunately passed away in 1978 after directing THE MANITOU, does a pretty good job in capturing the film's premise visually. Girdler obviously uses stock footage of the animals roaming and flying through beautiful landscapes, edited quite convincingly with scenes with the actors dealing with nature getting revenge on them. The animal attacks are shot well, and quite amusing to watch. I do wish there was more variety in terms of the attacks, as they do get repetitive after a while, but Girdler gives you what many would expect from a film like this visually. And the one use of green screen is hilarious terrible in every way. What an eye sore. There are some nice moments of tension, and the flow of the film is well done as the movie flies by. Girdler makes sure the audience is never bored, which is why I got some fun out of DAY OF THE ANIMALS. I'm sure many prefer GRIZZLY, but I think this film is slightly better.

The acting is a mixed bag. Christopher George is good as the hero, Steve Buckner. There's nothing really special in terms of his performance, but he's just a likeable presence on film and brings a certain charm. His wife, Lynda Day George, is alright as the stereotypical love interest. Surprisingly, husband-and-wife don't share many scenes together, which is strange. A young Andrew Stevens is okay, probably distracted by the thought of having softcore porn sex with Shannon Tweed down the road. Ruth Roman is really annoying as Shirley Goodwyn, playing the whiny socialite who complains about being a single mom and nagging at her son constantly.


The highlight of the film, without a doubt, is Leslie Nielsen's performance as Paul Jenson. For those expecting comedic Nielsen, ala AIRPLANE! and THE NAKED GUN, will be completely shocked by Nielsen's villainous performance. Nielsen is great as a racist, sexist douche who becomes power hungry once the animals start attacking the group, feeling he knows how to survive the ordeal. Watching him slap women around, choke out children, and even attempt rape on a female character at one point while shirtless just boggles the mind. And the classic Nielsen vs. Grizzly Bear fight scene has to be seen by anyone who has one perception of the actor. I wish Nielsen had done more roles against type before his passing. While he made a lot of money being really funny, he also had great dramatic acting chops that I feel were underused. Nielsen is a great antagonist in DAY OF THE ANIMALS.

THINGS I'VE LEARNED WHILE STAYING GREEN SO ANIMALS DON'T GET MEAN

- Due to fluorocarbon gases seriously damaging the Ozone Layer, this film depicts what could happen in the future if this continues. That explains the popularity of the Jersey Shore, the Kardashians, and those Real Housewives shows. Damn UV rays...

- A curious hawk eavesdropped on a conversation, pinpointing the destination of the trip. With his animal partner, oh what a rush it will be when this Legion of Doom puts these humans in the Doomsday Device.

- Mrs. Shirley Goodwyn complained about being both a mom and dad to her son. If this was South Park, this wouldn't be an issue.

- A sleeping character was attacked by a wolf. Doesn't anyone listen when they're warned, "Keep Clear of the Moors"?

- Paul Jenson is racist towards Native Americans. With that kind of ignorance, it's no wonder he didn't know how to speak Jive up in that plane.

- A bunch of hawks attacked and murdered someone. She must have been on the production team for that BIRDEMIC: SHOCK AND TERROR film and they wanted revenge. Totally justified.

- Rats jumped and scratched Ranger Tucker's face. Like everyone else, rats do like the taste of bacon.

- The characters were attacked by lions. Man, can you feel the love tonight?

- Paul Jenson is a real bastard - hitting women, threatening children, trying to rape women, and even fighting bears. Judging by his behavior, maybe OJ Simpson wasn't the killer...

THE FINAL HOWL
DAY OF THE ANIMALS is a pretty entertaining "Animals Run Amok" flick that uses a message on the destruction of our environment by having random animals attack and kill people due to the Ozone Layer. It's nothing but fluff, with decent use of stock footage and a bad use of green screen. But it's paced really well and the actors are game for whatever, especially a great villainous performance by Leslie Nielsen - which includes him trying to molest women and fight bears. That alone is worthy of a recommendation. Not the best "Animals Run Amok" out there, but it's a harmless 90 minutes that I had more fun with than it probably deserves.



SCORE
3 Howls Outta 4




7.02.2014

Midnight Confessions Ep. 21: "3 Happy Campers"





Rev. Phantom and I review SUMMER CAMP NIGHTMARE (1987) and [in my case, re-review] SLEEPAWAY CAMP II: UNHAPPY CAMPERS (1988) and we are joined by Moronic Mark, B-movie reviewer extraordinaire. Plus a look at the Top 5 Psychotic Women of Film.










 


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6.25.2014

Midnight Confessions Ep. 20: "The bastard children of Jaws are here to entertain you...or not"





Rev. Phantom and I review BLOOD BEACH and HUMANOIDS FROM THE DEEP - two fishy flicks from 1980. Plus a look at the good, bad and the ugly of Aquatic Monster movies.









 


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6.18.2014

Midnight Confessions Ep. 19: "The House that Ted Built"





A very special episode this week. Rev. Phantom interviews Al Carlisle, the author of the book I'M NOT GUILTY: The Case of Ted Bundy. Plus the Rev and I review Ruggero Deodato's classic, HOUSE ON THE EDGE OF THE PARK.








 


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6.15.2014

Indie Horror Spotlight: Beyond the Grave (2010/12)


DIRECTED BY
Davi de Oliveira Pinheiro

STARRING
Rafael Tombini - Officer
Alvaro Rosa Costa - Franco
Ricardo Seffner - Shooter
Amanda Lerias - Nina
Luciana Verch - Adriene
Leandro Lefa - Ashley
Adriano Basegio - The Dark Rider
Tatiana Paganella - The Dark Rider I


Genre - Action/Horror/Western/Zombies

Running Time - 89 Minutes


PLOT
During a zombie apocalypse, an unnamed Officer (Rafael Tombini) is fighting off random zombies, as well as a body-hopping entity known as The Dark Rider. The Dark Rider is hard to kill, with humankind's only chance for survival is by sending this demon entity back through some portal. Officer's mission is to get rid of The Dark Rider, even if it means using his own body as a vessel, killing himself in the process. As Officer hooks up with random strangers to keep them safe, as well as build a crew to confront The Dark Rider, this evil has been stalking Officer, having demonic plans for our hero.

REVIEW
I received a request by Facebook friend/producer Isidoro B. Guggiana to spread some info on a movie he worked on called BEYOND THE GRAVE, which can easily be found on Netflix Instant in the United States. I went one step further and offered to review it, so readers like yourselves could have a better sense of what the film is, in case you may be interested. He was gracious and allowed me to do my thing.

I wasn't sure what to expect with BEYOND THE GRAVE. The only horror film from Brazil I had seen prior to this one was AT MIDNIGHT, I'LL TAKE YOUR SOUL from 1964. And with a title like BEYOND THE GRAVE, I was definitely expecting a zombie film of some sort. Instead, I got an arthouse horror film that's more focused on its characters and main narrative rather than any sort of zombie influence. And I definitely appreciated it, since the zombie deal is so played out at this point - although I'll still watch zombie films without hesitation. But BEYOND THE GRAVE offers its audience something different within the sub-genre, which may be a good or bad thing depending on who you are.

BEYOND THE GRAVE is a mish-mash of many things. It feels like a Spaghetti Western of sorts. It sort of borrows some elements from THE STAND, The Dark Tower, and demon possession films. It has a serial killer film vibe to it as well. And the film never feels like it's ripping off its inspirations, just using them to build something new. While the film takes place during a zombie apocalypse, and it does have zombies walking around and attacking people, the zombies are never the focus. It's mainly on Officer, who is on this dangerous mission to send a parasitic demon back to whence it came. People fight each other over this. People also die because they're never sure who this Dark Rider is at that particular moment in time. It's a really interesting narrative that sounds complicated, but never really is. You care about Officer and his motivations, making you care about the story. That's a great thing in an independent film, especially one as low budgeted as this one is.

I think the problems arise in terms of how the narrative is presented. For one, most of the film is extremely slow in terms of setting things up and providing action. The film starts out pretty strong with some great action involving guns and a Samurai sword. But once that's over, there's a slow burn as we meet other characters and learn about Officer's goal. It's a bit of a challenge at times to sit through, but it's worth it at the end if you manage to be a trooper and stick with BEYOND THE GRAVE. Also, the narrative can be a bit confusing as well. Certain situations happen, making you wonder if what we're watching are happening, or it's just some sort of dream. There's one point in the film where I started questioning the reality within the film. So if you're into linear narratives, this film may not be for you. And if you have ADD, then this film definitely isn't for you. Otherwise, the storytellling is pretty solid.

The direction by Davi de Oliveira Pinheiro is also pretty damn solid. The cinematography is really good, and the editing is great. The pacing is a struggle at times, but at least it's consistent. The action scenes are handled very well, with some pretty violent scenes that look convincing. The special effects were a mixed bag, especially the zombie make-up. But the film is very colorful and feels like an older film instead of one made in 2010.

The acting is also great as well. The real standout is Rafael Tombini, who carries the film as Officer. His voiceovers and monologues are great, and he comes across as a bad ass hero who won't give up on his mission. The supporting actors all bring something to the table, especially Alvaro Rosa Costa as Franco. No real complaints about the actors at all.

THE FINAL HOWL
BEYOND THE GRAVE isn't really a horror film about zombies. It's more like an ambitious action-western about a man trying to get rid of a parasitic demon he can't really kill. And while it's really slow pace and somewhat confusing narrative may turn a lot of audiences away from giving it a chance, I do think it's worth checking out if you want to watch something different and non-Hollywood [this was made in Brazil]. It's not for everyone, but I liked it more than I thought I would. If you want something foreign and artsy to sink your teeth into, then it may be worth spending 89 minutes with BEYOND THE GRAVE. Just know that patience is a virtue with this one.



SCORE
3 Howls Outta 4



6.11.2014

Midnight Confessions Ep. 18: "Next stop...Tromaville!"


Rev. Phantom and I visit Tromaville, NJ! This week, this chemically toxified movie-reviewing duo take a look at RETURN TO NUKE 'EM HIGH VOL. 1 (2013) and FATHER'S DAY (2011). Also a look at the good, the bad and the ugly of Troma's back catalog. Excelsior!







 


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Lunar Cycle #6 [WTF? Edition] - Bikini Girls On Ice (2009)/ 1313: Cougar Cult (2012)/ The Legend of Hercules (2014)/ I, Frankenstein (2014)





This 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!


I have three words for all these films:

WHAT THE FUCK!?



DIRECTED BY
Geoff Klein

STARRING
Cindel Chartrand - Jenna
Danielle Doetsch - Sam
William Jarand - Moe
Suzi Lorraine - Kelly
Christina Sciortino - Lena
Caroline Faille - Brooke


Genre - Horror/Slasher

Running Time - 82 Minutes


PLOT
A group of college students get on a bus and drive down the highway, looking for good spots to have a Bikini Car Wash to raise money for something. During the drive, the bus breaks down near some abandoned gas station. Most of the students take advantage of the location, not knowing that the gas station harbors a crazy mechanic named Moe (William Jarand). Moe, probably bored of just servicing gas, has decided to kill anyone he encounters, putting his victims in an ice box for whatever reason. Guess what happens to these students?



REVIEW
BIKINI GIRLS ON ICE was one of those films I had heard about for a while, catching my interest for the title alone. Here I was, thinking it was about some female ice skaters wearing bikinis, getting slashed one-by-one by some ice skating killer. Instead, I get a really boring, generic slasher with a lame killer, lamer victims, and the lamest fact of them all - no on-screen kills! What the fuck!?

The characters are shallow and you won't care about any of them. You get the standard archetypes, like the Final Girl, the slutty friend, the bitchy friend, the idiot male characters, and so on. None of them have any depth, or are even all that likeable. The killer, Moe, has no motivation in terms of murdering people. He's kind of perverted and seems angry about something, but we never learn about it. Or why he enjoys putting his victims on ice cubes. You'd think with a strange fetish like that, it would somewhat be explained. But nope! It goes on without being explained. I don't need to know everything about the guy. But something about his motives, or why he enjoys ice so much, would have been great.

If you're expecting a ton of nudity and gore in this slasher, you'll be severely disappointed. All the kills are done off-screen, with just blood splatter on walls and such. One scene involves boobs and a sex scene, but all you really get are girls in bikinis. While I can find things more arousing just surfing through Google Image Search, I'll take what I can get with this lemon.

The direction and the acting are pretty amateurish, but not all that bad really. Director Geoff Klein could have used better lighting and more stylish visuals. But he pretty much directs a typical low budget slasher, with random jump scares and all the slasher conventions. The actors aren't memorable really. But none of them were really bad or anything. They were hired for their looks, which is all you really get from them.

THE FINAL HOWL
BIKINI GIRLS ON ICE is a dull slasher film that is very forgettable once it ends. The script stinks, and the acting and direction are bland. But it does have bikini girls on ice, so at least it lives up to the title. A little bit of gore and maybe more T and/or A would have helped the entertainment factor. But if it were up to me, BIKINI GIRLS ON ICE should remain in the freezer for the unforeseeable future.



SCORE
1 Howl Outta 4







DIRECTED BY
David DeCouteau

STARRING
Brinke Stevens - Edwina
Linnea Quigley - Clara
Michelle Bauer - Victoria
Jack Kubacki - Coopersmith
Bryce Durfee - Darwin
Carey James - Henry
Ryan Curry - Rufus


Genre - Horror/Supernatural/B-Movie

Running Time - 73 Minutes


PLOT
Three "nerdy" college students (Ryan Curry, Bryce Durfee, and Jack Kubacki) apply for a dream summer job working at a nice mansion owned by three rich and sexy cougars named Clara (Linnea Quigley), Victoria (Michelle Bauer), and Edwina (Brinke Stevens). While these college "nerds" think they're going to get paid in cash and sex, the three older ladies have other plans in mind. They happen to be witches who can transform into animated cougars who need to eat young male flesh in order to remain immortal.

 


REVIEW
Another year, another bad David DeCouteau B-movie I have to suffer through. It's not like Mr. DeCouteau is a terrible director. He's done some decent-to-good stuff in the past that I have enjoyed, like SORORITY BABES IN THE SLIMEBALL BOWL-O-RAMA and NIGHTMARE SISTERS. But his current films just seem to be focused on the male form rather than entertaining audiences with a decent story. 1313: COUGAR CULT is one of those films that would rather spend two-thirds of the movie ogling on half-naked young men, rather than tell a compelling narrative. It's more disappointing that the film stars a reunion with B-movie Scream Queens Linnea Quigley, Brinke Stevens, and Michelle Bauer. Instead of making them the focus and celebrating that, they feel like secondary characters to their studly male counterparts.

1313: COUGAR CULT isn't a film catered to me. It's mainly for a female and homosexual male audience who enjoy watching guys shower, without soap mind you, or toss and turn in bed in their underwear for five minutes straight respectively. But I doubt even the intended audience would find themselves entertained or aroused by such lazy scenes that last way too long, and don't add to the story at all. There's porn, or even NSFW imagery out there that are more effective than what's being presented here. It doesn't help that these scenes have cheesy background music with car roars playing during their duration. It's more unintentionally funny than anything.

Speaking of unintentional comedy, the transformation sequences are the highlight of this terrible film. Instead of the ladies turning into actual cougars, we watch as cartoon cougar faces are edited on top of the actresses' faces. And the faces don't even move!! I couldn't stop myself from laughing whenever these moments happened. I get DeCouteau and the producers were under budget constraints, but that's just silly as hell. At least it entertained me, unlike anything else in this movie.

Speaking of DeCouteau, he's directed much better films than this one. 1313: COUGAR CULT has the look and feel of a Cinemax softcore porn flick, but without the titillation. Picture quality looks nice, but that's about it. Scenes loop every other 20 minutes. Constant scenes of men wetting themselves with hoses and showers, or writhing in bed touching themselves for way too long. The flow is off. The editing is bizarre. For 75 minutes, the film feels longer. At least the acting is okay, especially by Quigley, Bauer, and Stevens. But even they feel like supporting players in their own movie compared to their male counterparts. Plus, they aren't really given much to do but stand around, caress men, and act like witches. At least they weren't terrible, I guess.

And if you noticed, I haven't even discussed the script. Well that's because there really isn't one. It's like a porn film but with better acting and cheesy effects - and less nudity. Not much to really say about it.

THE FINAL HOWL
1313: COUGAR CULT deserves to be skipped for a generation or two. I watched it for Linnea Quigley, Brinke Stevens, and Michelle Bauer, and they barely have anything to do. So if you're fans of these former B-movie Scream Queens, you'll be severely disappointed. But if you love David DeCouteau and his love for filming young men's torsos, then this is the film for you!



SCORE
0.5 Howls Outta 4







DIRECTED BY
Renny Harlin

STARRING
Kellan Lutz - Hercules/ Alcides
Gaia Weiss - Hebe
Scott Adkins - King Amphitryon
Roxanne McKee - Queen Alcmene
Liam Garrigan - Iphicles
Liam McIntyre - Sotiris


Genre - Action/Adventure/Fantasy/Mythology

Running Time - 99 Minutes


PLOT
When Zeus decides to bang the hot Queen Alcmene (Roxanne McKee), she ends up pregnant and gives birth to a baby that will later grow up into the legendary Hercules (Kellan Lutz). King Amphitryon, pissed that his wife slept with a man he couldn't see, decides to treat Hercules like crap, favoring his oldest son, Iphicles (Liam Garrigan). This favor led to Iphicles being paired with a princess named Hebe (Gaia Weiss) - who is madly in love with Hercules.

One night, Amphitryon sends Hercules and army leader Sotiris (
Liam McIntyre) on a mission, where both men get captured. Now a slave and fighting for his life, Hercules battles people in a stadium and gives the people hope. Realizing that his "father" has made all this happen, he and Sotiris decide to get revenge and create a new peaceful reign in his kingdom.

 


REVIEW
THE LEGEND OF HERCULES is the first of two big-budget films based on the legendary character, with Brett Ratner's adaptation starring The Rock coming out in July. For some reason, THE LEGEND OF HERCULES was released in 3-D, as if it were something special. Unfortunately, THE LEGEND OF HERCULES won't make any history books - at least for being a good movie.

THE LEGEND OF HERCULES is what you get if you put GLADIATOR, IMMORTALS, 300, and the television show Spartacus in a pot and cook them together. And the sum is nowhere as good as its parts. The origin tale is a waste, as most people already know the story of Hercules. Plus, his origin isn't even an interesting one. Why deprive people of Hercules using his powers to have epic battles for the sake of a lame love story and a generic father-son clash? Oh, his brother hates him and they're fighting over the same girl? WHO CARES? This isn't a superhero film. This is a story about Hercules, the son of Zeus. Let him kick some ass and create some epic moments. Instead, it's the CW version of Hercules. Really?

Renny Harlin, best known for CLIFFHANGER and A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET 4: THE DREAM MASTER, tries to inject energy and style to THE LEGEND OF HERCULES. And while some of the action isn't that bad - in fact it's shot well - it looks like the little brother of 300 with slow motion and stops in between the fight scenes. It's been seven years. Let's move on from this craze that has infected every gladiator movie since. At least Harlin paces the film well and gives us CGI scenes that resemble the God of War video game. The film is pretty, that's for sure.

Kellan Lutz may look like Hercules in look and physique, but his acting leaves a lot to desire. Still, he's not all that terrible and holds his own for the most part. His fake accent was pretty funny at times. Scott Adkins is a lot better as the evil king, making me wish he had more to do than play the typical tyrant. The guy is a badass and deserves to have bigger roles in any action movie. Liam McIntyre plays his Spartacus role pretty well, which means he does it well. The acting in general was decent. Too bad they have cliche and generic dialogue to recite.

THE FINAL HOWL
THE LEGEND OF HERCULES needed more Kevin Sorbo and less origin story that's been there and done that. While the performances are a mixed bag and Renny Harlin's direction has style that unfortunately is nothing new within this genre, THE LEGEND OF HERCULES really has no reason to exist other than to showcase Kellan Lutz's torso and good looks. Just a really shallow film that apes better films that came before it.



SCORE

1 Howl Outta 4





DIRECTED BY
Stuart Beattie

STARRING
Aaron Eckhart - Adam
Yvonne Strahovski - Terra
Miranda Otto - Leonore
Bill Nighy - Naberius
Jai Courtney - Gideon


Genre - Horror/Science Fiction/Action/Fantasy/Demons

Running Time - 92 Minutes


PLOT
Adam (Aaron Eckhart) is Frankenstein's monster, surviving his ordeal that many of us had read and heard about. After killing his maker, Adam is caught in a crossfire within a war between gargoyles [Heaven's archangels who must protect Earth] and demons [from Hell who want to rule Earth by destroying humanity]. The Gargoyles seem Adam as the catalyst to saving Earth from evil due to his power. However, the Demons see Adam as a soulless creature who could make his army stronger, since soulless creatures can reanimate dead demons. Which side will Adam fight for?

 


REVIEW
I, FRANKENSTEIN is a film I really knew nothing about before watching it. I never read the graphic novel it was based on, so I have no idea how it compares. The trailers for it looked like another version of UNDERWORLD and VAN HELSING [done by the same producers no less]. It wasn't really a film I was all that interested in. But I dig Frankenstein's Monster and I like Aaron Eckhart as an actor. So I gave it a shot. Yeah, I kind of wish I didn't.

I, FRANKENSTEIN is a film that's more concerned about how it looks rather than what story it's trying to tell. It's pretty much similar to UNDERWORLD. There are two feuding supernatural forces who hate each other, with the main character stuck in the middle of the war. There's a love angle, some CGI-infested action, and a serious main character who could use more personality rather than be stuck brooding. The film really takes itself seriously, probably way too seriously, as it's really a talky affair that hits you over the head as to why Adam is important to all sides of the coin. The demons want him to reanimate demons. The gargoyles and humans see him as a way to create new life through science to rebuild a sense of good. There's a ton of expository dialogue that explains all this, making you realize why Adam is the key to everything in this dark world. It's just too bad Adam isn't an interesting character besides his usefulness from those around him. I think the film could have been more fun with a more animated [no pun intended] protagonist. At least it treats Frankenstein's Monster with some respect to the source material in terms of his motivations, which is a huge plus.

The CGI looks like the CGI we've seen in any of the UNDERWORLD films or VAN HELSING. None of the creatures look particularly real, bringing a sort of cheesy camp that I'm sure is unintentional. The battle stuff between these CGI monsters isn't all that exciting or thrilling, as its been done before. It looks as good as it could, but you'd expect more in 2014. The film was better off focusing more on Adam and his struggle to fit into a world he really wants nothing to do with rather than generic Gargoyle vs. Demon fights that left me kind of bored. Stuart Beattie's direction isn't all that impressive or fresh, but the film isn't an eyesore or anything. A bit too dark in parts, but it's technically fine.

The actors seem to not care, or care way too much by giving over-the-top performances. Aaron Eckhart seems bored most of the time, pretty much feeling like a prop rather than an actual character we can care about. The dude is a great actor and he needed better material. They should have let Adam be a cool badass who kicks monster butt, with dialogue that makes him likeable and personable. Eckhart would have rocked that. Bill Nighy is a bit more melodramatic in his performance as the villain, providing more fun than the script probably provided him. Jai Courtney, who I didn't like all that much in IT'S A GOOD DAY TO DIE HARD, was actually entertaining here as the stereotypical meat head warrior for the Gargoyle Queen. I thought he and Eckhart created some decent tension against each other whenever they interacted. There should have been more of that in this film.

THE FINAL HOWL
I really like the premise on I, FRANKENSTEIN on paper. But on screen, it could have been way better than it was. It felt like a lame version of UNDERWORLD for me, which is unfortunate. The story could have been stronger, the CGI could have been better, and the tone could have been more fun and cheesier. The film takes itself way too seriously. But I'm glad most of the actors tried to have fun with the material. There's some unintentional entertainment with I, FRANKENSTEIN. But not enough of it to reanimate a recommendation.



SCORE

1 Howl Outta 4



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