The Long and Bloody Weekend (2015) Short Film Review

‘The Long and Bloody Weekend’ (2015) Short Film Review

Director / Writer: BC Furtney

Starring: Jason Winn ‘JB Destiny’ Bareford, Jennifer Blaze, Michael Kolence

Runtime: 14 mins

Production Co.: Weekend Film

‘He thinks he’s hunting a monster…she thinks he’s insane…one of them is right.’

‘The Long and Bloody Weekend’, on limited release in the US last month, tells the story of a cabin-dwelling loner known only as ‘Del’ (Bareford), who appears from the get-go to be frantically nervy about some kind of presence lurking in the surrounding Texan woods. Polishing, cradling, and at times firing his shotgun, and shouting in frustration at the countryside around his house, we are unsure what manner of creature may or may not be haunting him (and indeed possibly feeding on others), but soon local woman Mary is embroiled into his paranoid behaviour and a frantic struggle ensues…

This short was written, directed and co-produced by BC Furtney, whose other work I’m not familiar with (namely last year’s ‘Werewolf Rising’, which he also directed). Having not seen his feature-length offering I was unsure of what to expect here, but sadly on viewing I was ultimately underwhelmed. Starting with the positives, the piece is capably acted, and the camera work delivers some imaginative angles which accentuate Del’s paranoia and obsession with hunting down the vicious creature before it decides to strike again. The prosthetic effects and costume work are also good considering this is a low budget short and the creature seems to be giving an affectionate nod to the familiar inhabitant of the Black Lagoon.

However, the production does suffer firstly from some sound mix issues – the dialogue in the bar scene was hard to hear in particular. Also, the use of a heart beat sound effect isn’t the most original way to heighten tension, even if it achieves that goal. Disappointingly I found there was an aura of leeriness too in it in terms of the female character and how she was filmed – I really fail to understand why we had to see her in bra and knickers for the main part of her screen time, unless we’re to believe the creature itself has stipulated its meals must only be underwear-clad before it can devour them?

Yes, female nudity or semi-nudity is a long-standing trope of the horror genre but I believe we’re past the point now where it can still get away with cropping up gratuitously even for the sake of irony or ‘proud’ tradition. At least she’s a bit feisty and has a good crack at escaping I guess…

Overall, I just feel ‘The Long and Bloody Weekend’ didn’t offer anything original in terms of concept and the characters felt very flat and cardboard cut-out – admittedly it’s harder to develop characters and flesh out absorbing dialogue in a short than it is in a feature-length offering but it is possible (e.g. the weary yet determined Lily in ‘A Stranger Kind’). On the whole I found it to be an offering that’s not terrible but unfortunately just left me pretty cold personally.

4/10

Amphibious (2010) DVD Review

 

AMPHIBIOUS 001AMPHIBIOUS (2010) DVD

Review by: Dave Wain

Stars: Verdi Solaiman, Mohammad Aditya, Steven Baray, Francis Bosco

Written by: San Fu Maltha, John Penney, Brian Yuzna, Somtow Sucharitkul

UK Certification: 15

UK RRP: £12.99

UK DVD Region: 2

Runtime: 83 minutes

Directed by: Brian Yuzna

UK Release Date: 5th May 2014

Distributor: Kaleidoscope Home Entertainment

Not being one for sweeping generalisations, but I’m going to take a stab at the fact that if you’re reading this then you’re into horror movies. If that’s the case then the name Brian Yuzna is one that you’ll be very familiar with. He’s a producer / director whose legacy has perhaps been a little forgotten in recent times despite an output from the mid-80s onwards that heralded some iconic and unforgettable movies. Just a glance at his resume flags up the genius of Re-Animator (1985), From Beyond (1986), Dolls (1987) and Society (1989). He shot the only sequel to Return of the Living Dead that is remotely worth seeing – Part III (1993), and a segment for the overlooked Lovecraft adaptation Necronomicon (also 1993). The 90s saw him as a legend in the home entertainment market with titles such as The Dentist (1996), Progeny (1998) and Faust (2000), but recent years have been less kind… which brings us to Amphibious.

AMPHIBIOUS 002After a short post-credits sequence that sees boyfriend and girlfriend Julie (Elke Salverda – thankfully her only acting credit to date) and Logan (Timo Ottevanger) being killed by an unseen sea creature (with some very decent make-up effects on Logan). The action then switches to Dr. Skylar Shane (Janna Fassaert), a marine biologist who is on a research mission to find some prehistoric fossils aboard a boat captained by the grumpy Jack Bowman (Michael Pare). Whilst on their expedition they run onto some smugglers posing as fisherman including the jovial Irishman Jimmy (Francis Magee).

As Jack sorts out some unfinished business with the leader of the smugglers Boss Harris (Francis Bosco), Skylar begins to chat to Tamal (Monica Sayangbati), an orphan sold into servitude on the fishing platform by her uncle. She takes pity on the girl after hearing her story and having lost a child herself decides to follow her instinct and try to help her any which way she can by informing the police when she gets to the mainland that the girl is being held on the fishing platform. The officer she speaks to takes little interest in what she has to say, but as the night wears on it soon becomes apparent that with Tamal’s knowledge of black magic she has the ability to look after herself just fine… and summon a very big fish.

If you compared the intelligent and lurid social commentary of Society against the hammy creature-feature nature of Amphibious there would be only one winner. However, I think it’s important to analyse films in comparison to their contemporaries, and for this film then that would be specifically the output of SyFy Channel and The Asylum. Against these poor CGI-laden duplicates Amphibious fares pretty damn well. The premise boasts a level of originality, the Indonesian setting gives the movie a different flavour and with the inclusion of some practical effects alongside CGI, the creature effects aren’t too shabby.

AMPHIBIOUS 003That said, some of the acting is pretty woeful – but that’s predominantly due to the casting of a multinational, multilingual cast all working in English. Everyone does their best and no-one phones it in, but some of the dialogue is particularly clunky and the occasional dubbing distracts a wee bit. I mentioned Yuzna’s CV at the start of the review, and it’s fair to say that if Grimmfest ever fancied laying on a Brian Yuzna retrospective I’m pretty sure Amphibious wouldn’t feature! In assessing the movie though, I have to ask myself the question “in the last few years, have I seen a better creature feature?” – staggeringly the answer is probably no.

5 out of 10

 

Blood Glacier (aka The Station) (2013) DVD Review

GLACIER 001BLOOD GLACIER aka THE STATION (2013) DVD

Review by: Dave Wain

Stars: Gerhard Liebmann, Edita Malovcic, Brigitte Kren, Hille Beseler, Peter Knaack

Written by: Benjamin Hessler

UK Certification: 15

UK RRP: £12.99

UK DVD Region: 2

Runtime: 93 minutes

Directed by: Marvin Kren

UK Release Date: 27th January 2014

German Language with English Subtitles

I must admit I’m a sucker for films based in an isolated environment. The confinement, the psychological fragility it imposes and the adverse conditions all tend to add to the atmosphere of the movie. From the original Thing from Another World (1951), to Carpenter’s remake (1982) to Larry Fessenden’s The Last Winter (2006). In Blood Glacier we find ourselves in the German Alps with four technicians and scientists (and a dog) in a research station. We’re told at the start that in 2013 the last sceptics fall silent and that climate disaster is worse than imagined. Antarctica’s ice will be gone within a decade, alpine glaciers will disappear and although the consequences are unclear the idea that life will change forever is certain.

GLACIER 002Janek (Gerhard Liebmann) is the most grizzled of the people at the station. Normally people volunteer to attend the facility in year-long secondments, but Janek is on his fourth stretch. On an exploratory walk to discover why an outlying station is no longer sending a signal, Janek along with a scientist stumble across a mysterious organism which due to the receding ice is now exposed. Baffled at what it is, how it originated and most importantly why it is there, a mood of concerned trepidation washes over the camp.

When late one night a mutated fox complete with mandibles is spotted by Janek he raises the alarm to the others. As he’s the only witness to this gross creature and with him favouring a drop of a little something to ease him to sleep, the scientists are initially very dismissive of his story. With an impending visit from the Health Minister (Brigitte Kren) to think about they figure that they have more important things to concern themselves with. However the discovery the next day of a mutated insect leads the team to retract their cynicism about Janek’s observation, whilst the realisation of what’s actually occurring begins to dawn on everybody.

It’s easy to offer comparisons (as the cover sleeve does) to The Thing and Assault on Precinct 13 in describing Blood Glacier, but I think that’s largely unfair as this film is good enough to stand on its own merits. Underlining its ecological aspects early on gives it a credible narrative, but more important than that is its casting of weathered European actors which distances it from the age obsessed Hollywood botox factory into something far more conceivable.

GLACIER 003The use of largely practical effects is as always a bold decision that works admirably, whilst the setting of this Austrian funded film is enhanced by director Marvin Kren getting the most out of the lush mountainous settings and drool inducing vistas. In a market where the term ‘creature feature’ is something that has been cheapened to the point of mockery with endless CGI infused Mega Shark vs Mutated Sea Bass style film, Blood Glacier grabs the sub-genre by the balls and gives us something very memorable indeed.

7.5 out of 10

Spiders (2013) DVD Review

SPIDERS-001SPIDERS (2013)
Dir. Tibor Takacs                 86 mins
Lionsgate
UK Release: 14th October 2013

Tibor Takacs’ career started with two really cool horror films in The Gate (1987) which featured a young Stephen Dorff, followed by the criminally under seen I, Madman (1989) in which a mad doctor leaps from page to reality and into the life of a bookish Jenny Wright. Recent years have seen Takacs confined to the conveyor belt of SyFy channel creature feature cheese with the forgettable Mansquito (2005) amongst others. While Spiders sees him continue in the nature run amok fold, it’s a film produced by the guys at Nu Image who had a slew of pretty decent creat-feats out at the turn of the century with Tobe Hooper’s Crocodile, Octopus and this films namesake, Spiders (all 2000).

With a whopping (for a film of its ilk) budget of $7million, we begin in outer space aboard a derelict Soviet space station peppered with spider webs and dead astronauts. More concerning is the fact that it’s broken into the earth’s atmosphere and is heading rapidly towards New York City. Observing this impact is subway supervisor Jason (Patrick Muldoon), who jumps into action with the first responders only to find that the initial person on the scene has been bitten and subsequently died– they don’t know that though, and just presume that subway veteran Jimmy has had a brain fart and electrocuted himself.

SPIDERS-002Eager to get his tunnel re-opened, Jason is thwarted by his soon to be ex-wife Rachel (Christa Campbell) who works for the health department and refuses to sign off on the re-opening due to public safety concerns. It’s not long before the real cause of death is established as an insect bite of undetermined origin, and with Jason holding such a high position of authority (!) he’s able to grab a sample of the eggs the insect laid in the deceased and whip them over to Rachel’s apartment for analysis. Oh it’s a creature feature, just run with it.

Obviously Rachel’s analysis – with her presumably being a previous winner of the William Procter Prize for Scientific Achievement – leads her to immediately ascertain that the eggs are of alien origin, and thus begins a batshit crazy storyline that includes secret stealth technology, a crazed Russian scientist, extra-terrestrial DNA and the scramble to save Jason and Rachel’s 12 year old daughter Emily from the clutches of a spiders web.

You either find creature features a guilty pleasure, or you consider them to be a stain on the hallowed science-fiction landscape like some blighted illegitimate child. I’m in the camp of the former I’m proud to say. I saw my first creature feature aged 12 in 1989 – The Attack Of The 50ft Woman. It was part of a brilliant show called Mystery Train that ran for only a few episodes in November of that year. Hosted by Richard O’Brien, each week it would showcase a b-movie from the 50s alongside an episode of Kolchak: The Night Stalker with other curios appearing either side.

SPIDERS-003Spiders manages to harness that 50s b-movie innocence alongside the odd “golly, gee” naivety, coupled with some marvellously stilted dialogue like “Is it Russian?” – “No, it’s from the Soviet Union. It was a different country back then”. If you’re in the mood for a healthy dose of knowingly kooky creature feature enjoyment – several notches above what SyFy are churning out, then Spiders is a good place to look.

5 out of 10

Extras:
•        Web of terror: The making of Spiders 3D
•        Cast & crew interviews