Archive for » May, 2008 «

Thursday, May 29th, 2008 | Author: Casey Criswell

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I’ve been a gamer for many years, but as for the current generation the only console I own and operate is the Wii. With that in mind, I find myself excited to see that there is yet another horror game inbound in the form of Atari’s newest franchise rebirth Alone in the Dark!

Despite the lackluster showing of Uwe Boll’s former bowel cleansing on screen with the name ‘Alone in the Dark’, the new version looks to be pretty decent.

This week they’ve released a bunch of new game play videos and screen grabs of the monsters contained within, so be sure to check it out. Watch for a review later this summer when the release date draws near!

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Wednesday, May 28th, 2008 | Author: Casey Criswell

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A group of stereotypical young people are in trouble with Johnny Law. Their punishment? They have to camp out in Grizzly Park for a weekend picking up trash with Ranger Bob. As they head out the headlines report a deranged lunatic escaping from the local prison and he’s at large. Now this gaggle of youth is setting off for the wilderness filled with wild animals and a psychopathic killer.

Most movies containing an escaped psychopathic killer are formulaic; there’s a set path of killer on the loose, youth gone wild, and dead teenagers. “Grizzly Park”, which overall is a generic horror flick with mostly standard elements, manages to stay above the board a bit by changing up the formula. The movie is still pretty predictable, but writer/director Tom Skull goes a long ways to throw you some minor twists that keep you guessing a bit which ultimately keeps this one watchable.

The most annoying issue here initially comes from the blatant stereotyping of the young adults in the chain gang. Most are typical; neo-nazi kid, blonde Paris Hilton wannabe, dingy fake breasted bimbo, sassy Latina chick…the list goes on and on. What keeps “Grizzly Park” firmly in the generic zone is our lack of sympathy for any of these youth. However, what keeps us jumping is that throughout the majority of the movie it’s hinted at what each of these kids have done to wind up in work camp, but never fully revealed until much later in the film. The stereotyping early on in the film was actually misleading; as they blurt out a list of crimes and we see the kids acting their bit, you start guessing throughout the remainder of the film as to who did what. It’s briefly mentioned that one was arrested for prostitution; there’s at least three girls in the group that could pass for a prostitute. There are even minor visual clues thrown in to help with this confusion as well which ultimately keeps the moving flowing and vaguely entertaining.

The writing is the highlight in “Grizzly Park”. The acting, while passable, was nothing special yet still manages to transcend most of the direct to video skills that are out there today. What brings us back though is the writing and the fact that they simply do not go where we expect them to go. This still could have been handled better overall, but the movie as a whole is an enjoyable watch. Though it sounds odd, it’s formulaic…but not. Everybody acts as you expect them too, but all have just a minor change to make them stand out.

There are some decent kills here as well as the movie flitters back and forth between a serial killer slasher and a man against nature monster flick. Wolves and Grizzly’s call the state park home of course and they are a definite factor as to what’s going on around here. The gore is handled well, without CG even which says a lot in this day and age. Good old fashioned plaster and food coloring abound and helps to give the movie a familiar feel. (And Grizzly bears are so kewt ^__^!)

Director/writer Tom Skull is one to be watched in the coming years. While “Grizzly Park” is not an award winning movie and it has its faults, it’s the basis of a decent horror flick that you won’t regret watching. This shows that Skull has the chops to make it out there, let’s just see what he does with some experience under his belt and perhaps a bit more money to back him up.

6 hungry bears in search of picinic baskets out of 10

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Tuesday, May 27th, 2008 | Author: Casey Criswell

We finish our French film trifecta this week by reviewing Xavier Gen’s “Frontier(s)”, and in the process, struggle to figure out how this got so many recommendation’s from other horror sites. Also, Mark returns with a Google report and Schnaars has nostalgia related shenanigans. Enjoy.

Check it out!

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Tuesday, May 20th, 2008 | Author: Casey Criswell

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A group of film students from the University of Pitt are shooting a horror movie out in the woods. As they pause for an argument in shooting one of them happens to turn on the news in the background. Much to their shock the airwaves are swamped with reports of the dead coming back to life! Stuck together at the onset of the zombie apocalypse, the students band together as they attempt to journey across Pennsylvania to get home to their parents and loved ones.

Not a perfect movie by any means, “Diary of the Dead” still manages to be a worthy entry into the Romero zombie canon adding a few jumps of its own here and there. My biggest issue with this movie was getting into the frame of mind that this all took place on the same day as the original “Night of the Living Dead”. With the original classic being shoved down us horror fan’s throats so many times, it’s hard to shrug off such an obvious mishandling of the time line. “Night” was in black and white, featured old architecture, cars, etc. etc. (To be honest, I can’t remember if a date was ever given in the original) In “Diary”, this is all thrown to the way side as they begin speaking of the HD cameras, the internet, and the laptops they are using to shoot their film. A relatively minor issue granted, but a glaring one that made it hard to settle into the groove of the film at the on set. Once it hits it’s stride however, “Diary” becomes an interesting little social commentary with dead guys in it.

Romero manages to retain his social awareness throughout even if he does convolute the matter a bit in its delivery. This time around we’re taking a stab at the internet age and sensationalist media as we watch lead film student, Jason, and his obsession for recording the outbreak. It’s shown to us several times and rather heavy handedly that Jason has become come cold and uncaring once he stepped behind the camera. Obsessed one might say with the idea of recording this. Romero shows both sides of the story here; on one hand we are given girlfriend Debbie’s point of view. Debbie sees Jason as a monster, one who fails to see the human plight, fails to fear sadness and fear and is holding out only for fame and the chance at a gruesome shot or two to get people’s tongues wagging. This could easily be seen as commentary on mass media these days with their coverage of the war and us as American’s tendencies to ‘rubberneck’ at an sign of trauma or tragedy. On the other hand Romero also shows us Jason’s point of view in the matter. What Jason sees is the mass media lying to the public, telling them everything will be okay, making it sound not as bad as what it really is. Jason sees his duty as a film maker to show the public the truth, regardless of how gory or terrifying it may be. In the end, this point of view is the winner in Romero’s overall internal commentary argument. As in the original, these little commentary pieces are the root of what makes “Diary of the Dead”, much like “Night of the Living Dead” dealt with racism and other issues. The zombies are there of course, but they are more of an extra as opposed to a key element. They are there primarily as a stage for this social dressing down of the media.

Acting wise there is nothing to get excited about with “Diary of the Dead”. Most of the time the actors feel vaguely bored and relatively forced at times. Despite that, they did not really take away from my overall enjoyment of the flick. Zombie effects here were nice from what we got to see; there are a couple good death scenes contained within. Romero ventured outside of his normal comfort range in this production relying far more heavily on CG effects. In the end product, the CGI moments are pretty obvious but blended in fairly well. There is an excellent zombie kill with a bottle acid that made me smile wide and utter a faint ‘sweet!’ under my breath.

“Diary of the Dead” felt like a solid entry into Romero’s franchise although it felt a bit stale. Nowhere near as ground breaking as the original three, it still felt more like a Romero flick that “Land of the Dead” did.

Ultimately, I give “Diary”…

6 ‘you better watch what you say about bloggers’ out of 5.

As an additional aside, the DVD comes loaded with extras that I’m still culling through. Contained within are commentary, several making of features, and a some character dossiers. Also of note, to coincide with the DVD release of “Diary”, Dimension has also released a new 40th Anniversary edition of “Night of the Living Dead”. Included on this is a new transfer and some brand new special features. These include new commentaries from Romero and cast, “Speak to the Dead” a Q&A with Romero, “One for the Fire”, a new feature length documentary, as well as many others!

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Tuesday, May 20th, 2008 | Author: Casey Criswell

This week’s DVD Release column is up over at Bloody Good Horror!

Be sure to check it out for info on Diary of the Dead, Night of the Living Dead, and many more!

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Monday, May 19th, 2008 | Author: Casey Criswell

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New Teaser posters hit today for “Punisher: War Zone”, the latest in the Punisher franchise. Also out are the first shots of the latest Frank Castle on the block, Ray Stevenson (“Rome”).

Check em out!

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Punisher: War Zone lands on December 5th and promises much in the way of explosions and violence.

Waging his one-man war on the world of organized crime, ruthless vigilante-hero Frank Castle sets his sights on overeager mob boss Billy Russoti. After Russoti is left horribly disfigured by Castle, he sets out for vengeance under his new alias: Jigsaw. With the “Punisher Task Force” hot on his trail and the FBI unable to take Jigsaw in, Frank must stand up to the formidable army that Jigsaw has recruited before more of his evil deeds go unpunished.

Starring Ray Stevenson (HBO’s “Rome”) as Punisher, PUNISHER: WAR ZONE is directed by Lexi Alexander and produced by Gale Anne Hurd and Ari Arad. The film’s executive producers are Kevin Feige, Ogden Gavanski, Oliver Hengst and Jeremy Latcham.

Does Stevenson have big enough feet to fill Thomas Jane’s shoes? Time will tell.

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Monday, May 19th, 2008 | Author: Casey Criswell

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(Soon to be published on PopSyndicate.com)

Xander Ronson is a mercenary, a drunk, a tough guy, and world traveler. A little bit of everything actually. He’s also in danger of being thrown in debtors prison in Mongolia where he’s set root and opened his ‘Ronson Security Services’. Things look down for Ronson until Mr. Chambers, a light in the loafers rich man comes to town in search of security and in search of an ancient relic hidden in the hillsides of Mongolia. Much hard liquor is drunk as Ronson ponders the job offered to him; enough money to pay his debts and to get out of Mongolia all together. Is it really worth the trouble though?

Action movies, especially the low budget variety, are well known for cashing in on the success of bigger budget movies. In “Diamond Dogs”, we see cash in on the likes of “Indiana Jones” and “National Treasure”; much like a VHS tape, it’s apparent from the onset that this copy of a copy has degraded greatly in quality from the original.

As we set off on this long meandering road we are first fronted with typical action adventure movie staples; the scenes are stale, but otherwise handled okay. We’re introduced to Dolph Lundgren as a down on his luck American living in Mongolia. We’re shown his sweaty shirtless fights to prove he’s a tough guy, his run in with the court to show just how desperate he is. Where the problems lie are once the actual adventure begins.

Most action adventure flicks involve a long and convoluted plot filled with dangerous traps and puzzles. The stars are primarily known for the muscles and daring visages, are forced to show an uncommon side; a smart side that gives intelligence to the brawn driving the truck. In “Diamond Dogs”, all the introspective views of Xander Ronson and his past are spent in the first twenty minutes. The remainder of the film is a drawn on road trip as the gather gear on their way to the ‘tomb’ and once they arrive, they are in and out with their treasure within five minutes. There’s one measly trap and it’s a pretty crappy trap at that. For all the posturing and posing given to us by Lundgren throughout, one would hope to see a little ‘action’ and ‘adventure’. “Diamond Dogs” is lacking in both and is frankly pretty boring.

Destined for the Bargain Bin, “Diamond Dogs” is better off saved for a rental if you’re a die hard Lundgren fan. I’ve seen worse movies, but for an action adventure epic, this one was a snoozer all the way through.

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Monday, May 19th, 2008 | Author: Casey Criswell

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(Soon to be published on Popsyndicate.com)

A group of futuristic space mercenaries take on a risky mission transporting a dangerous convict through deep space. In transit they are attacked by a mysterious group of fighter ships and forced to evacuate. Forced to crash land on “the Planet” the soldiers set in to survival mode in hopes that somebody will soon notice they’re missing and come looking for them. In the meantime Mr. Convict is loose on the planet and soon, our mercs learn that there is more going on than meets the eye in the sandy hills surrounding their camp.

The video stores are rife with independent horror flicks these days but indie sci-fi is far rarer of a commodity; so you can imagine that my curiosity was piqued when “The Planet” crossed my desk. I had hopes of an epic story packed with high tech wiz bangs and lots of laser blasts. In the end I got hints towards most of my hopes and a lot of muddled confusion on top of that.

I don’t knock a movie for their low budget. There’s a certain mystique behind the low budget feature that’s shot on handy cam and the hard work put in by the film makers. They’re showing their love of the genre, the art form, and to put something together that’s feature length and packed with CGI graphics, well they’ve got heart. I’ll give them that. The problem comes though when there is so much CGI threaded throughout the movie, some of it so bad that it’s distracting, it begins to take away from the end product. In “The Planet”, they make heavy use of CGI; 3D space maps, high flying space fighters, and flames. The majority appear to come straight out of a mid 2000’s PC game, but over all they were handled well and added to the atmosphere. (Except for the flames, they were bizarre!) Some of the imagery was down right nice; there are many external shots of the planet to drive home the fact of just how isolated these guys were. Which is all well and good except for the fact that this movie is only 1 hour and 9 minutes long…and the external planet shots make up at least a third of the movie; I understand the need for filler, but come on guys.

With the CGI aside coming across a tad distracting and a bit hokey, we then turn to the story itself to help keep the movie interesting, and in that “The Planet” fails. With a high potential for a good old fashioned epic space adventure, the movie becomes disappointing as we get the story in short disjointed bursts in between external shots of the planet from space. This in itself could be forgettable but many of these short bursts are wasted on scenes of soldiers setting up tents, soldiers standing about posing while shooting laser guns, and some bald skinny dude stumbling about the desert. It’s apparent what they were aiming for; they wanted character driven dialogs to convey the story, the back story, and the over all plot. Commendable surely, but when there is no cohesive flow to the plot it becomes a jumbled mess. It doesn’t help that their acting talent is mostly a bunch of new actors who lack the skill to convey any sense of excitement, fear, or…emotion. When the camp was first attached by invisible baddies immune to their laser guns, the majority of the mercenaries looked rather bored aside from the mulleted Scotsman who swore a lot. The only truly memorable role in the movie was that of the captain played by Mike Mitchell, and he was only memorable as he ran around sleeveless the entire time to show off his huge muscles while toting about the biggest gun. (That did no more damage than the rest of the guns.)

What could have made for a fun little action sci-fi romp unfortunately culminated in nothing more than a jumbled and confusing mess. In fact, by the time the big finale came about, I had no clue what the hell was happing; all I knew was that some how we made a turn from a ‘planet that was a doorway to a new universe’ to ‘a big ass monster’ in a matter of seconds. And I really don’t know how, or why.

“The Planet” gets kudos for the effort to put together such a grand vision, but ultimately this one fails to be interesting or vaguely entertaining which is sad because they kept me there for at least half the flick. I just wish they would have followed it through until the end.

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Monday, May 19th, 2008 | Author: Casey Criswell

We talk about the French film “Ils” (known as “Them” in the US) this week, a thinly plotted slasher film that reminded some of us of John Carpenters’ “Halloween”. It’s “inspired by a true story”, the same true story that “The Strangers” is purported to be about. Also, DVD releases and a detailed breakdown of this week’s box office numbers.

Check it out!

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Tuesday, May 13th, 2008 | Author: Casey Criswell

As you may have noticed, things have slow down here a lot at Cinema Fromage. Fear not though, I haven’t forsaken it, or thrown in the towel! As of late, things have grown quite busy over at Bloody Good Horror as it has started to take off, and take off in a big way. In the past couple of weeks, our Bloody Good Podcast has been covered by AMC’s Monster Fest Blog, been contacted by Paramount Home Video and Warner Home Video, and many other things in pipe as well. I feel we got a great thing growing there, so be sure to check it out.

In the meantime, we’re keeping busy behind the scenes and business will return to normal here shortly. I promise!

For today, be sure to check out this week’s DVD Feature for this week at Bloody Good Horror

Bloody Good Podcast Ep 26 where we discuss “Iron Man” and “El Oprhanato”

Midnight Muenster Episode 4 where The First Lady of Fright and myself dive into “One Missed Call” and “Teeth

My quick look at Speed Racer

and later today….

Watch for my debut at Pop Syndicate as I begin to dive into the world of action flicks!

Like I said, I haven’t forgotten you all, I’ve just been busy! I still love you, don’t worry.

As always, feel free to add us at MySpace at http://www.myspace.com/cinemafromage or if you’re really bored, you can follow us on Twitter!

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