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Thursday, May 21, 2009

Les démoniaques (Demoniacs) (1974) Horror

Les démoniaques (Demoniacs) (1974) - "Curse of the Living Dead" Jean Rollin creates a story of revenge but really an exploitation movie designed to show T & A. A group of thug pirates, Tina (Joelle Coeur), Captain (John Rico), Bosco (Willy Braque) and Paul (Paul Bisciglia) set lights on the shore to draw ships to the coast and crash on the rocks. Then they steal the flotsom that washes ashore. On the night of this story two young blonds (Lieva Lone & Patricia Hermenier) stumble to the shore in there night gowns exhausted from surviving the shipwreck. The pirates rape them on the shore before they escape. Making it to a local island that is supposedly haunted the girls meet the devil (Miletic Zevomir) who will help them get revenge. Most of the movie is barely watchable and pretty much there so you can see Tina's body. It is a fine body but the movie is just really poor. The character are bad and the acting and action worse.
Rating (2.2)

Star Trek (2009) Sci-Fi / Action

Star Trek (2009) - Director J. J. Abrams creates an alternate timeline where Star Trek can live without all the baggage of the past while still respecting those past stories. After some origin stories for Kirk and Spock we get into the meat.

In this time travel tale we see an alternate version of how the crew comes together in Star Fleet. All ending up at the academy and then after a crisis calls the cadets to service early to the starship Enterprise. There was plenty of lore for Trekies and a compelling story of revenge to create a good action movie.

In this one I do not need to complain about the certain outcome because frankly I was too occupied with my geeking out about the crew to feel the inevitable success and tidy wrap up of the story. I was taken out a couple time by the silly comedy bits thrown in to break up what was a fairly tense story. First was Kirk getting on the Enterprise with the help of McCoy who injects him with a vaccine that will make him seem sick so McCoy can take him to sickbay. The Mickey Mouse hands and other symptoms were dumb. It happens just when the tension needs to be ramping up and cuts that in a negative way. There is also a sequence when Scotty is transported into a cooling tank and Kirk frantically tries to get him out as he travels the tubes holding his breath. It is played for comedy but I did not like the timing. Nero (Eric Bana ), a Romulan who in the future watched his planet destroyed by a supernova and blames Future Spock for not acting quickly enough to stop it. Both Future Spock and Nero are pull into the impossibly quick to develop Black hole that the Supernova becomes and are transported back in time instead of obliterated by the pressures of entering a black hole. Nero has a plan to destroy Vulcan to punish Spock by making sure he is in a position to watch but not stop it. The story was decent enough and the pacing was excellent a real tribute to Abrams. The cast was very capable and captured the essence of the original characters without over doing it.

Kirk (Chris Pine)- Right on as the younger more rebellious James T Kirk. I loved at the end when he nailed an imitation of the William Shatner Kirk entering the bridge.

Future Spock (Leonard Nemoy) - This is Spock, All Hail Spock!
Currant Spock (Zachary Quinto) - Played nicely with a bit more emotion which is appropriate in the Spock timeline and besides he is banging Uhura, that's bound to illicit some emotion.

Uhura (Zoe Saldana) - More outfront than in the series and well played. I liked that her confrontation of Spock about ship assignment she won with logic very appropriate.

Scotty (Simon Pegg) - Too tiny a role. Real shame.

Bones McCoy (Carl Urban) - The most right on portrayal that was living and breathing McCoy. It was just a joy to watch.

Checkov (Anton Yelchin) - eh, mostly just okay.
Sulu (John Cho) - Okay I guess, did you know Sulu fences?

Rating (8.2)

Hellboy II: The Golden Army (2008) Sci-Fi / Action

Hellboy II: The Golden Army (2008) - Hellboy (Ron Perlman) is back for another go round with his mates, Liz Sherman (Selma Blair), and Abe Sapien (Doug Jones)trying yet again to save the world. In this episode the villian is Prince Nuada (Luke Goss) an underworld elf trying to piece together the three pieces a crown that will give him control of the indestructible mechanical Golden Army. When this happens he plans to take over the world above. Naturally this will not sit well this the Bureau for Paranormal Research and Defense so Hellboy and his friends are sent out to stumble upon the plan. Although I did not dislike this movie I have to say it was much the same as the last. Liz and Hellboy are having relationship problems, there are seemingly unbeatable odds that get beat in the end. Blah blah blah. Still director Guillermo del Toro made a serviceable Sci-Fi action movie and could be worth your time. Unfortunately the action formula does not give the viewer the dread that the hero can fail and thus the impact is dulled.
Rating (7.5)

Monday, May 11, 2009

Altered (2006) Horror/Sci-Fi

Altered (2006) - In this dark little horror film, four guys connected to an alien abduction get back together when three of them capture one of the aliens years later. Trying to survive the repercussions of that capture is what this movie is about. Wyatt (Adam Kaufman) is the abductee that the aliens were afraid of because of his resistance to there experiments. When his friends bring an alien to his door and being followed by scores more Adam is in the position of having to stop running from this horrific past.

All in all this was okay, with the story being somewhat original and the cast doing their jobs well enough. Still in the end though I was not particularly taken with the plot and outcome. I kept having that what are you stupid, reaction to the situation.

Rating (5.1)

Dance of the Dead (2008) Horror

Dance of the Dead (2008) - Ghosthouse fast becoming a "go to" company for inexpensively made but decent horror brings you Dance of the Dead. It is prom night in the small nuclear powered town in middle America. Girls in gowns guys in tuxes get together for that most special of big let downs. Something is happening though in the cemetery near the nuke plant and it is more than kids making out. Somehow the plant has the dead rising from the grave and looking to feast on flesh. Jimmy, Lindsey and a group of Sci-fi geeks first try to save the prom and then destroy the Zombies and in the end maybe find love.

This is a fun little movie with many of the cliche high school stereotypes, but in a way it works. It never takes itself seriously and make a fair comedy/horror movie out of the simple subject matter. There isn't anyone you know here but the movie is fun and passable.

Rating (6.3)

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Lips of Blood (1975) Horror

Lips of Blood (1975) (Lèvres de sang)- Jean Rollin directed this slower story a man seeking to reconnect to his childhood and the vampire he is destined to be reunited to. Frédéric (Jean-Loup Philippe) is haunted by the images of some ruins he visited as a child and starts a journey to find them. Someone is trying to prevent this from happening, who could it be? His over protective Mother (Nathalie Perrey) advice is to forget the past but Frédéric can't do that. His dreaming leads him to a tomb where he releases a group of scantily clad female vampires who seem to aid him and terrorized him in his quest. When he finally finds the vampire from the past, Jennifer (Annie Belle); his mother comes to him and says that she has been protecting him from the Vamps and he must help her put an end to them. She and her friends had long ago trapped the vampires and now wish to burn them. He is assigned to get Jennifer's head for this purpose. He does not bring the real head and instead frees the beautiful Jennifer to be her lover. She turns him and they sail away in a coffin. (not kidding here)
The movie making is standard for the time period with heavy music and blue and red lighting for effect. There are no special effects besides the lovely bodies of the beautiful vamps. The nudity is more casual than pornographic. Subtitled pay attention or you will miss the reveals. Very straight forward compared to some of Rollin's more abstract work.
Rating (6.5)

Monday, May 4, 2009

Hatchetman (2003) Horror

Hatchetman (2003) - This one is about a group of strippers who work and live near each other, who are being picked off by a hatchet killer. Boyfriend of stripper Claudia (Cheryl Renee) and cop Sonny Banner (Jon Briddell)works somewhat in trying to solve the murders before all the strippers are dead. The movie has gratuitous breast shots from attractive stripper actresses. Would loved to see more of the lovely Molly (Nina Tapanin). The plot is thin and if you watch many horror movies like I do you knew who the killer was after about 15 minutes. The acting if you can call it that was dreadful and the gore affects were just awful.
Rating (2.4)

The Zombie Diaries (2006) Horror

The Zombie Diaries (2006) - This is a loosely put together piece made to look somewhat like found footage of a Zombie outbreak in England. Although I get the whole found footage approach the production, sound in particular played against that. If you are sound tracking it why make us put up with shakes and purposely poor camera work to tell the story. You couldn't tell the story and have it look good? Directors Michael Bartlett and Kevin Gates have a decent idea but never fully tell it with the footage they use. Anyway the story jumps around letting us live through the outbreak of the Zombie disease and follow survivors, ending with the really cruel sad ending that left you wondering why they bothered. Since it was done piece meal story wise you never really invest in anyone and often wonder why a camera is running at all. Since some of you may want to see this less than exciting movie I will not give away the mean and useless ending. Let me just say many more zombie movies have been done better and actually told more interesting stories.
Rating (4.7)

Sugar (2008) Drama

Sugar (2008) - Made in 2008, but playing this year Sugar is the story of Miguel "Sugar" Santos (Algenis Perez Soto), a Dominican baseball player in the Kansas City Royals minor league system. The story follows Sugar from his humble roots to an Iowa minor league team and onto NY city. The story was compelling enough relaying the machine that is Dominican baseball. Players are plucked before they graduate high school to attend baseball school. They are worked and worked and if not high enough quality dumped back into the poverty of their home towns. The players see baseball as a way to move their families into a better life and so the players and families see it as a real opportunity.
Sugar raises from the Dominican camp to sign and play in Iowa for a single A team. He is put up with a family, Earl (Richard Bull)and Helen Higgins (Ann Whitney) entering a world where he does not know the language so the simplest things are difficult. The directors Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck do a nice job of showing how alien Iowa is to Sugar. I thought it was a nice touch to stop the subtitling when Sugar was telling Anne Higgins (Ellary Porterfield) the story of his scar in Spanish. We get to share the her disorientation with not knowing the language.
Sugar after some initial success begins to have trouble and at the same time sees how the system chews up and spits out players. His friend Jorge Ramirez (Rayneil Rufino) is cut loose while fighting through an injury. When sugar is injured he decides to leave the team before they cut him. He heads to NY City following Jorge. Again the direction is great here. Since the city has a large Dominican and immigrant population Sugar walks into a world where he fits in. The rest of the movie is about Sugar struggling to find a new balance in NYC. Ending with him playing city baseball with Jorge and many other former minor league players.
The messages about the baseball machine was a bit cliche at times but Sugar's story was compelling and I enjoyed the movie even with its slower pace.
Rating (7.8)