Saturday, October 13, 2012

Demons


  We all have seen countless zombie movies. Dozens. We've seen fresh takes on the concept, over and over. And lest we forget the truly creative ones like Evil Dead II...
But every once in a while it doesn't hurt to try something that manages to be quite fun and creative in it's own right, even if it isn't mind blowing like some of the others.  If anything exceptional can be said about Demons, is that with the aged retro feeling, the raw nostalgia, it trumps glossy hollywood money machines like Resident Evil.  There was almost an art to making gory, jump scare movies back then.  It in itself was creative.  The method to the madness nowadays is all but gone. So is the passion. It's all about the money. Only... about the money.

  Demons has a diverse group of randomly invited people attending the nighttime grand opening of a movie theater in this castle-looking building in the city (I believe it was set in Berlin).  Not one single thing about it isn't dripping with eerieness.  Of course though, something goes wrong and before you know it everyone is trapped in the theater with people being turned into flesh eating zombies. Possesed or something I believe.  It's pretty standard fare mostly. However, plenty of the characters manage to have enough personality to be quite entertaining to watch. Our main quartet though is as cliche as they come. Their saving grace which endeared them to me as the viewer is how they manage to be like and remind me of a bevy of teenage horror heroes and heroines. Scared shitless throughout, but with enough spunk and guts to pull through and throw down.  Intentional or not, it comes across like a slight character homage. It works I suppose.

  The movie may not seem so fresh and original at first, and to be honest, at first, it isn't. But it is done exceedingly competently that it manages to be surprisingly watchable. The gore is a-plentiful and properly icky. People are bitten and ripped apart, and their transformation from person to zombie-thing (they aren't entirely zombies see...? Yeah me neither.) is pretty damn gross. It was a blast to watch.  Also isn't it kinda foreboding to be cocky in a movie like this? Has saying "THESE THINGS WILL NEVER KILL ME!" EVER turned out well for said character in a movie like this? Isn't it kind of begging for filmmakers to inject a bit of irony?  Fear not B-movie mongers, Demons has it's moment of Oh so 'clever' irony. Good job guys. That must've been real difficult yeah?

  I'm not trying to bash this movie. Really. I'm trying, if anything, to get across how damn fun it was.  Anywho. After the halfway mark, shit does indeed get crazy and then especially so towards the end.  The climax is just... awesome. The hero gets ahold of a motorcycle and a samurai sword... and through the halls and aisles of the blood stained movie theater, he rides around chopping zombies to pieces while 80's synth pop music plays awesomely.
You gotta see it to appeciate it...  and appreciate it I did. Warning though... there is a real sick twist right at the end though. And having read this, when you see the movie, you think you'll know what I'm talking about when you see a certain part at the end... but don't unpucker til the credits roll. You'll have seen it by then. It may or may not ruin the whole movie for you. It irked the hell out of me, but I still like the movie. I think it's totally fun. I recommend it entirely.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Class of Nuke 'Em High


  Anyone who knows me, knows that I have a penchant for really bad movies.  This doesn't mean I consider these movies quality cinema, or look for non-existent deep meaning in them. It simply means that gimme something quirky, violent and slimy and I'll be capable of really enjoying it. Class of Nuke 'Em High is one such movie.  It can ocassionally commit the 'bad movie' cardinal sin, which takes it from bad to awful, by simply being boring...
However, this classic Troma gem makes up for it's short stretches of mundane stuff with plenty of outrageous stuff you won't be likely to soon forget.

  The plot focuses around the misadventures of a group of teens who go to a high school which is right next door to a nuclear power plant. This is full of craziness obviously. And clearly the plant is run by idiots. Idiots. But then again, such idiots provide plenty of comic relief. Though it does jack shit for plausibility. Seriously.  There's not much to really say about this movie without addressing Troma films in general.

  They're all low budget schock fests. The comedy in them is always baseline juvenille. You won't find a more wretched hive of scum and fart jokes anywhere in the galaxy.  Seriously.  They're not mature or even intelligent. It appeals to the nasty semi-pervy sense of humor we all develop as teenagers, while also pandering to the inner kid with crazy monsters and lazers and stuff. But at the same time, the gore and nudity ensure that these are adult only outings. Or at least... supposed to be.

  Anyways, in THIS Troma flick, something toxic oozes out of the power plant contaminating the school's water supply.  It turns the honor society into punkish thugs that wouldn't look out of place in a Mad Max sequel and does horrible things to various students and teachers alike.  Our intrepid group of heroes however seem content to repeat "Something strange is going on!" like a mantra from a bad b-movie. (Oh wait...)

  Anyways, it has it's laggy moments of typical high school bullcrap, but eventually some nuclear weed shows up pushing the plot along which subsequently gives us some really cool scenes.  If there is one thing they don't skimp on budget-wise, is gore and such.  A man's fist is crammed into a man's mouth...and down his throat. This is actually a highlight of the movie. If you aren't here to get grossed out and laugh at shit for an hour and a half... why the heck are you here?

  Our heroes are nothing to write home about for the first half of the movie, but then it hits it's stride. Getting comfortable with the weirdest crap ever, our two protagonists excel in how they react to it. The fainting, the screaming, all of it is played with a spot on sense of comedic timing. Especially Janelle Brady. She's just a blast to watch. Sadly, but expectedly, none of the characters ever rise above 80's teen movie archetypes. But thankfully they are likeable enough.

  Also, there is this really cool monster at the end which looks friggin amazing. He looks so cool. It alone is worth seeing the movie for. Clearly 90% of their budget went into making this monster look badass. He's green, and scary, and obviously animatronics, but THAT is my point! He's animatronics! Not just a rubber mask! And it looks so cool, seriously!

  In closing, I have to say this movie is ocassionally boring, and frequently cliche, but, it's really really fun when it hits it's stride. It's gory, slimy, funny and stupid. If that sounds fun to you, go for it. I certainly don't regret it.

Fortress


  Seeing as how I'm a big Christopher Lambert fan from movies like The Hunted, Mortal Kombat, and, of course... Highlander, I'll pretty much get excited over anything with him in it.  More often then not though, I am rather let down.  For a man who's frequently been in the 'A list' he seems to star in enough bombs to knock him back into relative obscurity.  However, there shouldn't be anything obscure about Fortress. Thankfully, with it's slick combination of sci-fi trappings, stylized action, and gadgets galore, Fortress is a hi-tech thriller that doesn't disappoint. The prison escape genre is rarely this much fun.

OldBoy


  No stranger to asian cinema, I certainly cut my teeth on I Saw The Devil, which was amazing in it's own right, but Oldboy definitely stands apart from the crowd as a very brutal and disturbing mystery of a much higher caliber.  The synopsis alone is striking. It's about a man who's locked up and kept prisoner in a private jail for 15 years... without ever being told why. Then, without warning, released. Thus he begins a bloody search for answers that will lead him down a terrible and mysterious path. The results of which will haunt him forever.

  It's not a lightweight movie obviously. It gets progressively disturbing. But it's also impossible to look away. The movie's mystery hooks you with it's atmosphere and raw energy as this man step by step discovers that he's in a game. Someone's sick game. They're playing with him, pushing him to the brink of insanity. An argument could be made he's there already.  Which is the big appeal of this film to me personally. Despite being a big mystery thriller, it's a character drama first and foremost that deals with big themes of trust, loyalty, and most importantly of all... revenge.

   It uses symbolism as much as it does clever and creative camera tricks and angles to bring out and highlight the emotional undertones in each scene. For example, when the main character finds his way into a sushi bar, and orders a live octopus to eat raw... and watching him just bite into this living creature, it seemed like a perfect expression of his anger and frustration.

  The movie is full of unexpected scenes, ranging from shockingly violent, to surprisingly touching. It balanced all it's various tones with ease and expertise.  As the mystery slowly unfolds, you find yourself increasingly engaged, with each new twist and turn, it pulls you in farther. And as everything is revealed, piece by piece, we see the main character go through crazy things, and witness his desperate and often violent behavior.  Its quite stunning to be honest.  Everything from the music, to the framing of each shot, it all heightens the tension and the overall mood. It's an incredibly atmospheric film that also manages to use voice overs to a surprisingly effective degree. Which is pretty rare.

  The end is quite shocking, and the movie is an amazing tale about vengeance and how it can destroy lives. Some may hate the twist, but if you really think about it, there is  no other way to end it which would justify the story. It was perfectly twisted. And it will make or break your opinion of the movie. I for one loved it. As it often escapes words for me, and I'm tip toeing around the meat of what I'd normally review because once you know too much about Oldboy, it will ruin it for you. Let the premise grip you and watch it.

   Not enough movies nowadays provoke their audiences, or even evoke strong emotions. If you hate it, then so be it. If you love it, awesome. But you should see it if it has snagged your intrest. The hype isn't for nothing. It's pretty powerful. Whether you'll like how it gets there, is another story entirely. But it's akin to modern mythology and in broad strokes has the feeling of an old greek fable about revenge.  I loved it.