Tuesday, February 28, 2012

The Lurking Fear (1994)

With each passing H.P. Lovecraft film adaptation I see the fact that Guillermo Del Toro's version of AT THE MOUNTAIN OF MADNESS isn't happening gets a little bit more painful. There have been dozens of adaptations of the reclusive writer's work over the past 50 plus years and while there have been some absolute gems of movies, there have been plenty more turds, and until recently with THE CALL OF CTHULHU (which was made by the HPL Historical Society) there hasn't been one very faithful to the source material. Full Moon has done several adaptations of the celebrated writer's work with mixed results.

John Martense has just been released from prison for a crime he didn't commit and is returning to his childhood home of Leffert's Corner. He visits a mortician who is a fmaily friend and is given an old map from his deceased father. The map leads to a graveyard where his father has hidden a stash of money from a heist. Martense arrives at an abandoned church and is confronted by a young woman named Cathryn (Ashley Laurence of the Hellraiser series) and the town doctor (Jeffrey Combs). Soon after a group of criminals looking for the money that was stolen from them by John's father hold's them up until they get what they're after. All the while some hideous inbred monsters lurk in the underbelly of the church hungry to feed their family with the flesh and blood of the townspeople as they have decades.

When you watch a Full Moon film you're instantly aware of it. It will be a low budget production, and more often than not unintentionally funny at some point. The acting will be tolerable at best aside from the odd cast member that can bring some actual ability to the picture (Jeffrey Combs does this in several Full Moon productions). That is the case with LURKING FEAR. The direction is comparable to any direct-to-video horror movie you've seen from the time period on a shoe string budget. There are some decent sets created to give the film the best look possible and you'll never hear me complain that rubber suits were used for the monsters. Practical effects reign supreme when they're a legitimate option. Almost every character was unlikable or at the very least annoying so that you're secretly hoping the monsters get to devour them in a gruesome manner. It did however have some of that damn Full Moon charm that seems to seep into many of their pictures where it is at least somewhat entertaining in an extremely low rent (even slumlord) kind of way.

As far as a faithful Lovecraft adaptaion goes, LURKING FEAR fails like so many others. It is only loosely based on the story to begin with and all atmosphere and tone that Lovecraft put into his fiction was absent here. As a Full Moon film based on a Lovecraft story it is so so. It has the slight entertainment value to it but isn't very good overall and will forever be overshadowed by the king of Lovecraft adaptations Stuart Gordon's CASTLE FREAK (which is actually quite good).

If you're a lover of Full Moon films I'd recommend this to you. If you're an unforgiving lover of all things Howard Philips Lovecraft you should stay away. As it sits with me, it's just another bad HPL movie with a small amount of very cheap entertainment value.


Monday, February 20, 2012

3 Short Films By Jeremiah Kipp

Several days ago I was approached via email asking if I'd be interested in viewing and possibly doing a review on a few short films. I enjoy doing this, so if anyone out there has shorts, email me and I'll be glad to check them out for potential write-ups.

Jeremiah Kipp was the man who emailed me, we spoke only briefly before I gave the films a watch. Not knowing much about the director of these films I wasn't expecting much, perhaps a glimmer of promise for a future filmmaker. It was quite clear to me after viewing the first short it was more than that. Jeremiah Kipp has been working on films for over a decade, most notably to me as First Assistant Director of the rather entertaining horror comedy I Sell The Dead.

The first of the short films I watched was DROOL. Unlisted on Kipp's IMDB, this was a roughly 4 minute experimental film of naked bodies rolling around in what can only be described as well, drool. Though the drool is obviously a stand in for whatever the viewer wants it to be. A metaphor for whatever emotion the audience is feeling at that moment. DROOL is beautifully filmed with precision direction. The quality of work here made me excited to view the next two.

CRESTFALLEN is a 6 minute drama, dealing with a woman's decision to end her life. This may have been my favorite of the three films. Kipp's direction and use of lighting and shadows during the short duration of this film are simply fantastic. A good performance out of the lead Deneen Melody as well. The soundtrack from Harry Manfredini (Friday The 13th) was icing on the cake.

Finally was CONTACT which really over stayed it's welcome at a rather lengthy 10 minutes. I kid I kid. A horrific and depressing look at a couple of junkies and the effects on the family with a Cronenberg esque feel and featured some fantastic prosthetic effect work from Daniel J. Mazikowski (Ti West's THE ROOST). The black and white photography lends a hand in creating a nasty mood to this film that is like a slap in the face while the film itself is a kick in the gut. It may not be fun, but you'll certainly remember it.

I wasn't aware of Jeremiah Kipp by name before he emailed me, but I am now. His debut feature film THE SADIST, which stars Tom Savini, is in post-production stages and I hope I'm among the first to get a chance to see it.

from The Sadist

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

ASSASSINS - Michael Bonomo

There is an up and coming director by the name of Michael Bonomo that is in the pre-production stages of his debut feature film, ASSASSINS. Michael Bonomo recently launched his website that contains news, updates and everything else you'd ever want to know about his projects along with his music videos, trailers and short films that have played in film festivals throughout the world. The link to the website can be found under the Pages of Interest section to the right, or simply click here.

Like all independent films, funding is necessary and sometimes difficult to come by, ASSASSINS is no different in that fact. ASSASSIN has a donation page at IndieGoGo with some seriously cool perks if you donate certain levels, but anything you can afford is accepted and graciously welcomed. I have no personal investment in this film other than wanting to help out a director with a lot of promise get a project with just as much promise to be the best it can be. Sometimes as horror, cult movies or independent film fans we have to help each other out in getting a project to be all that it can be. This is a personal post about a director I'm excited to see more from, and a film I think can be really great. Even if you can't donate right now, check out the project because it is something I think you will all enjoy.


Synopsis: Life changed for Chris that Thursday evening. The brutal murder of his ex-girlfriend has left him shaken. More than that, he is haunted by the face of a man he doesn’t know, just a stranger Chris saw walking down the street moments before he opened the door to his ex-girlfriend’s apartment. Moments before a large part of his world came crashing down.

And it is not about to get better.

Only a week later, Chris finds himself faced with yet another stranger, a man who claims to know who his ex-girlfriend’s killer is. The stranger’s name is Simon and the explanation he gives to Chris makes his blood run cold. The man who murdered his ex-girlfriend is an extremely dangerous man, a contract killer, and the fact that Chris has seen his face can only mean one thing: he will be coming back around to make sure Chris doesn’t share what he knows.

He will be coming soon to kill him.

Simon, a bounty hunter who has been tracking the mysterious killer for nearly a decade, has a plan. As he has never laid eyes on the killer, Simon will lure him out into the open so that Chris can identify him. Then he will take him down. But Simon might not be as helpful as he appears to be and Chris quickly finds himself becoming a pawn in a very deadly game of retribution between two savage men willing to do whatever it takes to see the other man dead.

Director/Co-Writer: Michael Bonomo
Story By/Co-Writer: Dave Grant
Producer: Ann Nguyen
Cinematographer: Noel Maitland
Composer: Kristen Baum
Sound Designer: Joe Iemola
Make Up Effects: Amber Skowronski
Sound Engineer: Tyler McDonald

Bill Oberst Jr…..Nathan
David Pesta……..Christopher Collins
Andre Tenerelli….Detective Berger/Simon Orano
Dove Benari……..Tommy Collins
Katie Molinaro…..Erin

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

The Woman In Black (2012)

Every nerd (or geek if you prefer) has a bucket list of certain nerdy things to do before they die. For me, one of these things was to see a Hammer film in theaters. I was able to do that as the giant HAMMER logo flashed across the screen.

Arthur Kipps (Daniel Radcliffe) is a young lawyer, looking to prove to his bosses that he wants a future with the firm. He is assigned the case of closing the Drablow estate on a coastal England town. He arranges for his son and the nanny to meet him in a few days for a nice quiet country weekend after his work is finished. When he arrives to the town he meets a friendly wealthy man named Sam Daily who helps him in his days spent around town. Kipps quickly discovers that something isn't quite right with the townspeople as they are deathly afraid of outsiders and anything that isn't in line with their customs. Even Mr. Daily and his nice car (the only in the village) is looked down upon. Kipps arrives at Eel Marsh House, a secluded mansion seemingly in the middle of the ocean with only a dirt/gravel road and it washes out when high tide comes in.

At the house Kipps begins to go through the paperwork of the estate but is haunted by the sound of footsteps and other noises such as disembodied screams. He eventually sees a ghostly figure of a woman dressed in black and reports the sighting at the local police station. While there a pair of brothers rush their sister in for help as she has become deathly ill from drinking Lye. The girl ends up dying in Kipps arms. The townspeople urge the young lawyer to leave town but he insists on staying and completing his work since his job depends on it. Kipps stay reveals a paranoia within the town that could be caused by a supernatural being and a curse.

Right off the bat it is fantastic to see a period horror film again. The set design was rich and looked great. The entire film had a dreary quality to it that fit the setting of a turn of the century coastal English town. The main thing that stuck out positively is that this is a well acted film starting at the top with Daniel Radcliffe, who pushes the young wizard from Hogwarts aside and gives a great adult performance, all the way to the various kids throughout who are convincing in their limited roles. The writing was adequate for a modern day ghost movie. Too little is left to the imagination but there is never a moment in the writing that really made me groan in agony. This film is the 2nd adaptation of the novel with the same name, and it could have taken a page from the 1989 film in which less was more. Radcliffe would have been more than capable of handling the role even if more of the focus was put on him and less on the ghostly activities. Radcliffe could have shouldered the duties and made the film shine.

Director James Watkins (Eden Lake) has mixed results behind the camera. There are some scenes handled with class and talent. Watkins manages to effectively build tension throughout the film but all too often they are ruined with bullshit jump scares. That is the main problem with THE WOMAN IN BLACK, the total reliance on jump scares. This may speak more to modern horror audiences and their general inability to appreciate anything that doesn't scream BOOM right in their face or see the nuances in a finely crafted ghost story, but it is a major mistake on Watkins' part. The other glaring problem is the amount of modern Asian horror ghost story cliches throughout. One mention of films like The Grudge or The Eye and you know what I mean.

THE WOMAN IN BLACK is influenced too much by modern ghost movies and not enough by the Gothic style Hammer films are known for. It really is a shame too because there are plenty of positive things to say about the film but the mistakes are glaring and too big to overlook.


Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Warrior Of The Lost World (1983)

It is always a minor miracle when a shitty movie turns mildly entertaining thanks to beer. That is what happened with Warrior Of The Lost World.

The Warrior rides on his futuristic motorcycle which talks to him quite fluently. and along with his team of outsider friends takes on The Omega and it's Megaweapon, who don't want an organized society to regain any stronghold in the barren world. That is the basic plot of Warrior Of The Lost World. Directed by David Worth, who was the man who did Kickboxer. The movie flows at an adequate yet awkward pace, with random bursts of action happening throughout. There is no doubt in my mind that 90% of the film's budget was spent on helicopter rental, old junked cars, and the use of able vehicles. A single viewing of any ten minute stretch of this movie would make this an obvious fact. That said, Donald Pleasance does add a bit of class to the cast and "The Hammer" Fred Williamson, who is no stranger to these post-apocalyptic cheese fests, adds enough baddassery to carry it through. The lead role played by Robert Ginty was a real stretch and his lines were obviously post-dubbed and were about as convincing as his motorcycle talking, calling the enemies "dorks" and "dickheads". Though, that was entertaining at first, the novelty of the shit talking motorcycle wears off quickly, especially with that voice.

Warrior Of The Lost World isn't something you'll fall in love with, it won't make you appreciate rip-offs of The Road Warrior and it will not make you suddenly appreciate bad movies. It will however mildly entertain you, make you laugh for all the wrong reasons and make you enjoy that beer (or 5) that you decided to drink while watching it.