Archive for » May, 2010 «

Sunday, May 30th, 2010 | Author: Casey Criswell

I have a long history with bad moves. Back in the day, our optimal hangover cure for Sunday afternoons was to head over to the local mom and pop video shop, load up on whatever happened catch our fancy and watch movies for the rest of the day. These movies were generally awful, but we didn’t care. It was a weekly tradition that we never missed for a solid two or three years.

Last night on a holiday visit home I met up with my good friend Chris. Chris was the other key part to those original ‘cheesy movie sundays’. The other players would float i and out of those Sunday afternoon trek into bad cinematic filth; Chris was always there, ever step of the way. He sort of had to be, it was his apartment. But I digress. There is something about this sort of setting that makes even the wost movie morph into something watchable. It’s the sense of comeraderie in the air as you and a friend suffer together through hours of trash. The feeling of knowing you’re not alone on your journey that is tainted with a heavy headache and queasy stomach from a weekens worth of drinking. The string of jokes and one liners that fill the air as the movie unfolds, jokes that are only funny to the people in the room.

This weekend being a holiday weekend, the family and I packed up and headed north to my home town. The weekend plans consisted of cookouts and time spent with friends which is exactly what we did. As Saturday unfolded, I found myself out at Chris’s house once again Saturday night, sans the hangovers. Even though we’re both over half way through our 30′s our minds still think mainly alike, which if you knew the history is quite frightening in fact, and it came time as the evening winded down to decided what we were going to do to cap off a great day. There really wasn’t much thinking involved, we all knew that we’d end up watching some sort of bad movie; it’s what we do. Armed with a stack of DVD’s, we decided on ‘Transylmania’ and set off on a journey of heavy handed satire and a dissapointing lack of femal anatomy.

To put it bluntly, “Transylmania” is not a good movie. The plot makes little sense and feels disjointed by the efforts to cram in as many jokes and site gags as possible. Since the movie is nothing but one ongoing joke after another, they are often rapid fire and low on the intelligence scale. The actors at play here are bog standard as far as budding thespians go with nothing but ham handed-ness and lackluster deliveries. There’s just simply nothing here to leave you impressed or feeling intelligent. The movie does however play directly to the sense of group mentality of a few good friend and many beers which makes this movie an odd little joint indeed. Even though the movie is technically bad, sitting there watching it with my long time brother of bad movie battles, I couldn’t help but to enjoy myself.

“Transylmania” is billed as a horror comedy, much in the vein of other such films like “Scary Movie” and the like. When compared to these other films, “Transylmania” actually rates higher than most. Sure, the jokes are just as stupid, but most seem to contain a bit more meat to them. There is a little more setup which yields just a bit more laughs. They lend themselves well to the group viewing format and to be frank, the cast is pretty as well! For such a film, it was a bit shocking on how much lead up was given to things such as bare breasts what with all the sexual innuendo and things like ‘vampire orgies’ being a plot point, yet they never really showed the boobs. Still, the movie was watchable even though it did feel like it may have destroyed some brain cells in the process.

This isn’t a great film by any means but if you can go into this movie with the right mind set, a group of like minded friends and a lot of beer, you can still have quite a bit of fun. There are moments that are genuinely laugh out loud funny and more that are funny just for the sheer stupidity. All in all; “Transylmania” is a definite rental for a paryt minded vibe.

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Tuesday, May 25th, 2010 | Author: Casey Criswell

As a recent Blu-ray convert, I’ve been wowed by the formats crisp picture and even more astounded by the improvement in sound in nearly every title I’ve bought. Sure, I waited for the format wars to end before I jumped on board but since then, I’ve made an effort in that any new movie I buy, it would be in blu-ray. After seeing “Avatar” in theaters, it’s a logical jump that most everybody would be chomping at the bit to get this sci-fi spectacular at home. It stands to reason that this movie would be a great showcase for the increased resolution and sound, perhaps even a great demonstrator to show off your own home theater setup. Having gotten my hands on it finally, the “Avatar” blu-ray stands up in the technical areas if not exceeding them but does leave a little bit of disappointment in other areas.

As a showcase of presenting a movie in the best possible format at home, the “Avatar” blu-ray has it all. The picture is clear as a bell and stands out well, even on my older 1080i setup. Sure, I may not be running at the top of the line as far as equipment goes, but this disk still manages to look great. The details standout throughout the film and they seem just as breath taking as they did in theaters. Now of key interest here; this current blu-ray release does not include 3D. Sure, the home technology isn’t quite up to par to show off the movie in its full 3D glory so that’s fine. At the moment, our only accessible option for home 3D is the crummy old fashioned blue and red variant and really, a movie such as “Avatar” with Camerons newly developed process in that older format would just be a waste. You can count on there being yet another release of this movie on blu-ray somewhere down the line because you know as well as I do that people will flock to purchase the 3D version once they figure out how they’re going to release it in the home market.

Perhaps my next point lies in the fact that I am running an older 55″ 1080i display but in my home setup, it’s never the picture of blu-ray movies that stand out to me. Instead, it is always the DTS audio tracks that really seem to pop far more than they ever did even on DVD. Small underlying sound details seem to be given much more emphasis and really stand out separately from the mix. This release of “Avatar” is no exception and possibly even stands out as one of my favorites yet. With the multitude of sounds that take place on the forest floor, the movie managed to make my poor pooch Frosty a nervous wreck as he was surrounded by sounds of alien wildlife. He really didn’t know what to make of it!

This iteration of “Avatar” on blu-ray is worth the money, especially since you can find it on sale in most locations, but there is a big caveat. This two disk set comes with absolutely no special features whatsoever. The theatrical version of the movie takes up an entire blu-ray disk with nothing more that two sub-title tracks and corresponding audio tracks. There’s no making of, no behind the scenes or anything of the sort. For myself who is not a big fan of special features, this is fine. You can argue that this allows them to use the entire 50 gb of the disk dedicated to giving us the highest possible resolution and sound quality. Once again, I can appreciate that! Disk two is nothing but the same exact theatrical release, only on DVD. The problem here is that there are many film fans out there that do enjoy the special features and digging into the behind the scenes elements of a movie. For them, there is currently no option. This almost guarantees that there will be a second ‘special edition’ release of “Avatar” in the near future that includes all of these features and more. Could the studio be holding back to add that to the 3D version? It’s hard to say. The only thing you can say for sure is that they will be looking forward to getting your extra money when you wind up buying the same movie several times.

If you absolutely can’t wait to watch “Avatar” another seven times in a row or don’t really care at all about the special features, this release is top notch. The presentation is one of the better ones I’ve seen in blu-ray format and is a treat. It even holds up to at home viewing in boring old 2D! If you need more for your movie enjoyment however, you might want to hold off for the inevitable special edition somewhere down the line.

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Friday, May 21st, 2010 | Author: Casey Criswell

“Human Centipede” has so much hype here as of late. It started back when the first disturbing pictures first hit the news and its been building even more since the film has hit the festival and indie circuits. The most common report seems to be how disgusting the movie is with a healthy dose of ‘disturbing’ thrown in there for good measure. Having gotten the chance to take the movie in today, I sat through the full hour and thirty some minutes still waiting for the super disgusting stuff to kick in, but it never came!

For those of you that haven’t heard anything at all about “The Human Centipede”, the setup is pretty simple. Two young American girls are on a trip to Europe. While traveling to find a club in Germany, their car breaks down in front of the house of Dr. Heiter. With their cell phones out of service they opt to head to the house to see if they could call for help. It all seems pure and innocent until they meet Dr. Heiter. Heiter was a world renown surgeon, his specialty being the separation of conjoined twins. In his retirement, he began to have some more ambitious ideas, that of surgically creating a conjoined creature instead of separating. To the misfortune of our two American club girls, they happened across the good doctor after he finalized his theories on creating his demented creature.

I’ll be the first to admit; I’m a jaded man. I’ve seen many many horror films throughout my years, everything from disgusting zombie films and slow burn thrillers. I love them all. So perhaps from the sheer volume of films I’ve seen in my thirty six years, the ideas of “Human Centipede” fail to strike me as too disturbing. That’s not to say it will affect the average viewer the same way. The concepts at play here are very far out there in left field and for the uninitiated, they could indeed be quite disturbing! As a whole though, we are shown the schematics of Dr. Heiter’s plan and we’re shown the aftermath. There isn’t much in the surgery part that we see which for me, dials down the disturbia. Now, there are moments in the aftermath that do strike even myself as a bit cringe inducing, but director Tom Six shows these moments from a distance and its more the idea of what is going on that will give you shivers as opposed to actually seeing the happenings.

Make no doubt; there is only one big draw to seeing this movie. The human centipede. It is a creature to provide the audience with shock and awe with a pinch of disgust. It can be unsettling. It’s well done and at first blush, it’s a bit hard to watch. Luckily, there is more to the movie. Many times we see when such a creature is focused upon so highly as the center piece, the rest of the film becomes watered down around it. With the help of Dieter Laser who brings Dr. Heiter to life, the movie manages to stay fairly tense from the moment he steps in front of the camera. Right here, we’ll take a brief pause to acknowledge how awesome the name ‘Dieter Laser’ is. Let it sink in.

Okay, let’s continue.

Laser’s performance is by far the highlight of the film and for me, is definitely the most disturbing part. Dr. Heiter is a demented man and it is quite apparent just from him answering the door in his very first film. He has a distant empty stare much like Christopher Walken in villain mode and he keeps it up throughout the film. From his every movement you see details of his obsessive nature and his disconnect from the normal world around him. To further this, the character of Dr. Heiter itself is great in that it is a classic mad scientist type role. He has a creepy laboratory, zero regard for humanity and a single minded pursuit for his own goals. He truly is a great character portrayed in a fine manner by Mr. Laser.

Sorry, I had to throw a Mr. Laser in there, how could I not?

The cast for this film is small but beyond the our main villain, they all do a decent job. Well, a decent job for actors who spend 75% of the film sewn ass to mouth to their partners. The movie is tense as a whole with little to break it up so it maintains an even balance from beginning to end. It isn’t all shock value either. Tom Six makes sure to dedicate a decent amount of time to our character development and even gets in a bit of the classic cat and mouse elements from classic slashers as well.

“The Human Centipede” won’t be for everybody. It is a decent film though. If you consider yourself to be like me, well versed in horror cinema, there’s not a lot here that is truly going to turn your stomach. For shear tension and deplorableness in plot, such a movie as “Inside” will actually leave you a bit sickened where “Human Centipede” will leave you with a feeling of wonder, such as ‘Wow, they actually did that’. For pure disgusting and vomit’s sake, the classic “Dead Alive” is far harder to watch and far more stomach churning. Simply put, “Human Centipede” may not be quite as disgusting as you may have heard.

Go into the film with a healthy expectation and an open mind and you’ll have a lot of fun. In todays age of remakes and reboots, it’s nice to have something wholly new out there. It’s films like this that are decent overall that we need to be sure to support so that we can keep the new blood flowing in the future. Otherwise, we’re looking at a wasteland of unwanted sequels and television ‘originals’. Nobody wants that.

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Wednesday, May 19th, 2010 | Author: Casey Criswell

I’m always on the lookout for what sounds like a spooky retelling of the Lewis Carroll classic. After all, a fantasy world filled with talking creatures and such lends itself well to the idea of some good old fashioned scares. When “Malice in Wonderland” came across my desk I knew I wasn’t in for a straight up horror feature yet I had still hoped for at least a good dark rendition of the story. While Simon Fellow’s version is a bit dark, it sadly only manages to feel plodding and a bit dull. There is some redemption in the form of characters going on; clever remakes of the original talking creatures of the book. They simply don’t add up to much more than set pieces unfortunately.

The star of our odd little drama/thriller/crime retelling is Maggie Grace, the leggy rich brat of the early seasons of “Lost”. Here, Ms. Grace is once again the child of a rich man, this time with a case of amnesia after being hit by a cab. She was running from something but she has no idea what. What she doesn’t know is that the driver of the cab that struck her is none other than Whitey, the fast talking gopher of the Wonderland underworld. He’s late for a party and drags Alice into the belly of Wonderland, a weird dream like version of England. They can’t keep Harry Hunt waiting for his coming out of prison party though; nobody keeps Harry Hunt waiting. Before long, Alice is on a dark trip through the underside where she will find love, the mystery she was running from and more.

“Malice” has a fun setup indeed and I’ll give it credit for an ambitious homage to the classic story. The overall theme of Fellow’s take on Wonderland is a criminal underworld that operates just below the common state of awareness in Northern England. It is a good setting for the bizarre environs of Carroll’s original and the characters fit in great as well. Whitey played by Danny Dyer subs in for the White Rabbit. You have Hattie the madame, owner of Wonderland’s traveling brothel. The pot smoking caterpillar of the original is replaced by a dope smoking pimp named aptly, Caterpillar, with his trusty sidekick Hooker by his side. Finally, you have the local DJ named DJ Felix Chester who drops Alice some words of wisdom during his late night R&B marathons. They’re all quirky and each one of them are brought to life in great fashion by their respective actors. The problem is, nothing really exciting happens with any of them.

The biggest fault that befalls the movie is its slow dream like pace. While I agree that with the films drug themes and such, a dreamlike stroll through Wonderland is generally a safe bet. The picture looks great; it is filled with soft dark colors and a faint haze throughout all of their time in the dark side of England. There simply isn’t a whole lot going on in Wonderland. Most of our great quirky characters are simply standing about and talking and do not really seemed to be involved in a whole lot of action. This is especially noticeable since they are all supposed to be members of the criminal underworld. For a bunch of crooks, I have to wonder if I live a more dangerous life than most of these folks do and the most threatening thing I have to deal with on a daily basis is a 10 year old daughter. This lack of action makes the slow pacing stand out even more and after awhile; it just isn’t that interesting.

“Malice in Wonderland” has great ambition and they made great strides towards this end in some aspects of the film. For an overall package though, it feels slow and limp with little to prop it up. Perhaps the movie is more enjoyable in the right mind set for this type of slow meandering film; it’s possible, there’s really a lot of talent at work here. For me though; it sadly fell short of being labeled as entertaining.

Monday, May 17th, 2010 | Author: Casey Criswell

Hey, would you believe it, I’m actually not promoting my own stuff for a change! No no, today I’m spreading the world on How to Survive the Strange! Put together by Bryan over at Cinema Suicide and John Herman.

What is How to Survive the Strange? Easy! It’s a little web series that promises to prepare you for any kind of monster/slasher/end of the world eventuality by showing you some good solid techniques on how to deal with any of these situations! Here in Episode 1 you’ll learn the many uses of your standard claw hammer in event of a zombie invasion. Good to know, huh?

Be sure to head over to Funny or Die and check out the first ep. It’s worth a few laughs and they’re good people who deserve your votes! To make it even more worth your while, be sure to check out the How to Survive the Strange blog to find out how you can win some nifty prizes by helping spread the word!

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Saturday, May 15th, 2010 | Author: Casey Criswell

This week, I’ll be stepping out from the depths of the The Bloody Good Horror Podcast studios and making a guest appearance on The Dead Dark Hours Podcast with Grey and Derrick!

The Dead Dark Hours is a spinoff show of The Dark Hours Podcast hosted by the most excellent Grey and our joint protege Dead Derrick of Dead Derrick’s Reviews!

We’ll be covering the Dimension Extreme features “Rogue”, “Storm Warning” and “Eden Lake” for your listening pleasure! The show records Sunday night, so if you would like to throw any questions, comments or berate the hosts for choosing me as a guest, feel free to leave a message at 866-362-5588 or email Grey at thedarkhours@mail.com!

Expect the greatness later this week!

Saturday, May 15th, 2010 | Author: Casey Criswell

A couple weeks back I mentioned that I would be branching out a bit on my writing duties. As of this week, it’s now true!

If you head over to Exploitation Retrospect, Dan Taylor’s awesome little journal dedicated to junk culture & fringe media, you’ll be able to see my grand debut for the site!

E.R. started as a great little print zine and has now emerged as a great little website. Keeping the format, they update once a month with all new reviews, features and more. For my debut, be sure to click through to see my reviews of Escape From Darwin, Necrosis and The White Warrior!

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Saturday, May 15th, 2010 | Author: Casey Criswell

I’ve avoided creating a Facebook page for Cinema Fromage for sometime now. Nothing against social media, probably just a case of being afraid nobody will click that little ‘Like’ button! But, seeing that my brother in arms Bryan over at Cinema Suicide recently took the plunge, I figured what the heck. I might as well. More than anything, traffic is always a plus!

So if you like the goings on at Cinema Fromage and happen to be a Facebook type person, be sure to click the like button for the official Cinema Fromage Facebook page and help boost this middle aged nerd’s ego!

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Thursday, May 13th, 2010 | Author: Casey Criswell

Vampires, goth chicks and boobs. Need I say more? Well probably, that would be a pretty boring review.

Starting out in the old west Giovanni, master vampire supreme has fled into hiding in the sparsely populated frontier. Things got a bit heated back home so they decided to duck out. Fear not mere mortals; Longshanks, Britain’s premiere vampire slayer has followed Giovanni on his trek to put an end to the darkness! They meet, they both die, roll opening credits.

Cut to the present; Melissa is your typical college aged goth girl. She has her posse of goth friends and a home life she hates. Like most goth girls, she decides the best way out of the situation is to delve into the dark arts to conjure up a magical cure. Most of her little ceremonies are misguided and never work. That doesn’t keep her from trying though. Soon she lays her hands on a ancient leather tome and inside she finds what proves to be her best hope yet; a spell to call upon the dark forces and turn herself into a vampire! Thankfully, the rest of her gang of goth teens are pretty easy to please and follow along with her to perform the rites. They’re not sure if they want to be vampires or not, but what else do they have going on? Soon Giovanni is returning from the dead to wreak havoc on modern America as well as Melissa and the Emo cheerleader squad. Fear not though, Giovanni’s not the only soul to return from the dead that night…

Shakespeare “Vampegeddon” ain’t, but that doesn’t mean it’s not a good time. Especially in todays ‘vampire’ atmosphere. Its kind of refreshing to have a movie with bite that doesn’t take itself seriously and just wants to make you laugh. Sure, the plot is weak in points as well as the acting, but there is a fun story here to give us some enjoyment. Don’t go looking for vampire canon here either. It’s really not about that. It’s just an excuse to tell a story and show some special effects and… titillate if you catch my drift! I could sit and list off a number of technical problems, but “Vampegeddon” just simply doesn’t need that kind of review. Many folks think that the excuse of a bad movie being one to ‘shut your brain off and just watch a movie’ is lame and lazy. The truth is, this movie really is that type of movie. It is filled with campiness and cheese, just for the sake of being campy. There’s nothing wrong with shutting your brain off and watching a movie just for some mindless entertainment. “Vampegeddon” is the perfect movie for that because it feels apparent from the get go that the feeling is intentional.

Grab a few beers, enjoy some boobs and laughs. Doesn’t it sound like fun? The movie definitely isn’t for everybody. If you hail from someplace like Tromaville however, you’ll enjoy yourself just fine.

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Monday, May 10th, 2010 | Author: Casey Criswell

“Necrosis” is a tough nut to crack. The story line is simple in its setup: a group of 20 somethings head to the mountains for a weekend of fun and skiing at a friends remote cabin. As they settle in for the night, said friend informs them all that the mountain that they are on has a spooky history; it was the sight of the ill fated Donner party. That would be the group of pioneers that became snowed in on the Sierra-Nevada mountains resorting to cannibalism to keep themselves alive. As an unexpected snow storm kicks up around our cozy campers, the front brings with it a host of ghosts to cause problems for their little weekend getaway. Or, it could be a bad case of cabin fever too. Ghosts just sound more exciting though!

I say this movie is a tough one to figure out because all things considered, it should be a pretty fun and watchable flick. The plot is straight forward, the settings play easily into a ghost story and the film makers went to great lengths to make sure they could include a bit of real world history into the story. They even went so far as to cast some well known names such as “Heroes” side kick James Kyson-Lee and everybody’s favorite teen hearth throb, Tiffany! In actuality, the movie comes across as rather boring to sit through, and not even just for us viewers; most of the actors involved seem pretty bored themselves.

Generally, a horror thriller about a group of cannibal ghosts should be a pretty simple formula. Lots of ghouls, plenty of gore and some good old fashioned violence. “Necrosis” includes these elements, but they wait far too long to introduce them into the story. Instead, we watch a group of bored actors reciting lines simply to get it over with in an attempt to setup back story and develop characters. Don’t get me wrong; these elements are important things to have in any movie. When your actors aren’t even interested in delivering them in a fun and entertaining manor, that makes the whole process feel like a chore. Seeing James Kyson-Lee spout out lines in the same manor as the wooden slats in the cabin he’s standing in is not fun to watch. To help spell out the effect that this slow moving monstrosity has; I had to watch the movie twice as I tuned out the first time around. Even after the second viewing, I still can’t tell you what role Tiffany played in the entire ordeal. On a bright note, Michael Berryman makes a cameo appearance here and is easily the most energetic actor involved.

Once our Donner party ghosts show up, “Necrosis” becomes a bit more entertaining. While the plot is still slow and our actors still wooden, the effects at work here help to make up for some of the chore. There’s plenty of blood and guts without going to far over the top and the ghosts are suitably creepy and…ghostly looking. There are some fun effects going on as we see the full twist of the “Necrosis” plot taking effect making for at least 15 minutes of watchable movie. In hindsight, it would seem that our crew of film makers came up with the ideas for some solid horror movie effects and then crafted a loose plot around these ideas. Great for a short film effort, much harder to work into a full length feature film.

In the grand scale of low budget movies out there, you could rank “Necrosis” at a step above the typical Syfy Channel original horror film and far below what one would normally expect for a theatrical release. The acting is phoned in by all parties involved which simply makes the movie a hard one to sit through. If you can power through to the grand finale where we finally get to see the blood and guts you come looking for in a Donner party movie and it becomes more enjoyable. It’s just a long winter expedition across the Sierra-Nevada’s to get there.

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