Stormhouse (2011) Review

 

Stormhouse 2011

Dir. Dan Turner – 86 minutes

Starring – Grant Masters ,Patrick Flynn ,Katie Flynn ,Grahame Fox ,Munir Khairdin .

Distribution – Lionsgate

 

Hayley (Katie Flynn) is a psychic , and she has been flown from the USA to a remote UK military base. The reason for her visit is that the British Army have captured and held a supernatural entity and they need Hayley to communicate with it.

 

When Hayley arrives she is immediately confronted by the very unhelpful and overly aggressive British soldiers headed by Major Lester (Grant Masters).

The spirit has been caught and is now trapped in a large wire cage and is being held at bay by an electromagnetic field , and it seems that the army may have ulterior motives in what they want to use the entity for.

 

I think that is about as far of a synopsis as I can do , as the whole story is just ridiculous. From the child-like spirit that can make people in the vicinity sing Frere Jacques and says “play” to everyone to the fact that this is supposedly inspired by real events just 4 months before the invasion of Iraq.

 

The whole military facility is really badly lit and at times in darkness , the sound is poor , the CGI around the entity’s holding pen is bad. There is no character development , and I had no empathy or sympathy with any of the cast.

 

This is just a poor attempt at a haunted house film. It is a shame as the acting is actually very good and there is a good film in there somewhere. But it all falls flat with a poor story , bad effects and to be honest I just didn’t care what happened by the end. 4/10 .

 

The Incident (2011) DVD Review

 

THE INCIDENT (2011)
Dir. Alexandre Courtes         81 mins
Koch Media
UK Release: 13th May 2013

A cursory glance over the IMDB trivia of ‘Asylum Blackout’ (as it’s known in America) informs us that two people fainted during the premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival. The cynical side of me questions the accuracy of such a claim, but that said I prepared my smelling salts regardless. They were not needed.

The film is set in Sans Asylum, Washington State in 1989, and revolves around three of the kitchen staff who also happen to be in a band together, George (Rupert Evans), Max (Kenny Doughty) and Ricky (Joseph Kennedy). We see that the band’s rehearsal time isn’t exactly harmonious and there may be cracks appearing with regard to the commitment of certain members.

George in particular is feeling the stress of the band tensions and he finds it seeping into his attitude in work. After a sleep-deprived night, the following day in work is particularly arduous for him, and on the recommendation of a colleague goes for a nap as that night the band have a gig.

Sadly for George, his peace and quiet doesn’t last long as there is a sudden blackout in the asylum, which means an automatic total lockdown. This happens just as the majority of inmates are having their evening meal, and the guards find themselves in total darkness charged with the task of getting everyone back to their rooms. They see no alternative but to enlist the help of George, Max and Ricky to achieve this.

As the challenge of taking the inmates – all with seemingly heightened states of anxiety – back to their rooms begins, it’s not long before the most dangerous among them break free and become detached from the main group. Before they know it the three band mates find themselves holed up in the dark asylum, effectively the prey for the deranged rabid prisoners that roam the building.

‘The Incident’ is a fairly simple picture, where after the initial brief exposition we get down to a straightforward hunter / prey horror film. What lets it down though is its descent into the predictable territory of the inmates suddenly becoming these unhinged crazed maniacs whilst the good guys remain resolutely calm, focused and seemingly quite unshaken by the developing situation.

 

 

It’s filmed well, the three bandmates are likeable enough, although we discover relatively little about them. Overall it’s just a ‘meh’ horror flick, an 80 minute diversion within which you’re never bored, but you can’t help the nagging frustration that it could have been a very worthy piece had it been just that bit more ambitious.

5 out of 10

The Wicker Man (1973) Review

THE WICKER MAN (1973)

Dir. Robin Hardy

Optimum Releasing

Heres a little confession, before reviewing this classic I hadn’t actually seen it. Yes, I know! 28 years old and I had never seen The Wicker Man before, oh the shame. Now, to the movie itself…

The plot centres around Sergeant Howie (Edward Woodward) as he does the rounds on a small, isloated island named Summerisle looking for a missing girl. He questions all the locals (who fit the stereotype of “We don’t like strangers around these parts” brilliantly) but frustratingly gets no where, even the girls mother doesn’t seem overly concerned.

What Howie discovers is that the residents all take part in odd rituals and seem to worship some form of Pagan god, led by Lord Summerisle (Christopher Lee). As Howie gets closer to the truth, he gets closer to a disturbing encounter with the ritual-happy folk of the island.

The Wicker Man is a film that does not rely on silly over the top scenes to drive home the message that the cult on Summerisle is dangerous. The only real ‘extreme’ bit of worship is the infamous end scene that lends the movie its title. The tension builds as Howie becomes more and more dismayed by the island dwellers lack of a Christian faith to the point he babbles endless prayers as the film ends.

There is something to this, Howie constantly expressing his anger that they do not follow the mainlands beliefs, that suggests director Robin Hardy has used it as a subliminal message for a purpose that isnt quite clear. Is it his attack at the ‘flower power’ hippies of the previous decade? Or is it his genuine views alone that he is putting into his film?

One thing that stands out is the soundtrack. There are some unique hymns and folk music throughout the movie (usually sung by the cult members) that are very catchy and stick in the mind. During the notorious end scene the cult join hands and sing joyfully and it is this display of sheer happiness at the madness they have caused which creates a feeling of real unease. The singing gives the impression that what these people are doing is seen in their eyes as totally acceptable. Some of the songs were written especially for The Wicker Man.

When it comes to acting the stars of the movie are Woodward and Lee. They seem the embodiment of each others beliefs. Howie as the Christian crusader and Lord Summerisle as the pagan cult leader. It seems that both actors know what their character believes in and are genuinely the one in the right.The dialogue exchanged by the two in the end scene is a great example of this. After Lee has explained what is happening and why (mainly to do with the god of the fields) Howie shouts at Lee that he is wrong, telling him his God doesn’t mean anything.

This is a key scene to the religious theme of the movie as Howie is outnumbered by the cult members, whereas in the past they would have been outnumbered if they went to the mainland. In the past they may have been laughed at or ignored for their faith but in Summerisle they are the norm and it is a key moment of empowerment. Woodward’s whole performance is outstanding as he fights a losing battle.

The theme can be applied to the UK of today: a Christian church threatened by other, smaller, beliefs that undermine the long established norm. This could easily be said of the 21st century culture of change, female bishops and same sex marriage, that show faith is not at the centre of society and its once fixed meanings being in disarray.

The Wicker Man is still talked about 40 years on and it is a movie that stays in the viewers memory for more than the obvious reasons.

8 out of 10.

Dead Mine (2012) DVD Review

 

DEAD-MINE-001DEAD MINE (2012)
Dir. Steven Sheil       87 mins
Entertainment One
UK Release: 13th May 2013

Whenever you put a film on, there’s always a number of reassurances that provide me with an element of comfort that I won’t be wasting my time. Admittedly this concept was tested somewhat with ‘Dead Mine’. First up, it’s a movie by Steven Sheil. Have you seen ‘Mum & Dad’ ? If not, stop reading and go directly to your local video store to rent it. Secondly, the first thing to appear on-screen was ‘An HBO Asia Original’. HBO is synonymous with quality so I was hoping this little DTV movie could be a hidden gem.

We begin in the Indonesian jungle in a pre-credits sequence that sees a member of an expedition fall through the ground to his death, hinting at something sinister deep with the vegetation. Post-credits we join a treasure hunting expedition lead by the arrogant Price (Les Loveday), the son of a CEO who has aspirations to be a modern day Allan Quatermain. More down to earth however is Stanley (Sam Hazeldine), an engineer assigned to the expedition to offer an element of expertise. Also travelling are Price’s girlfriend Su-Ling, researcher Rie and four Imperial guards for everyone’s protection.

DEAD-MINE-002It seems the mission is going to plan when early on they discover what appears to be a former Japanese military bunker. As they begin to set up camp though, they find themselves being fired upon and the only place to run for cover is into the deserted mine / bunker. Just as they all get inside, a grenade is detonated close to the entrance causing it to be blocked and trapping everyone inside. At this point Price comes clean as to why this place could is so sought after, and proceeds to let Rie explain the legend of Yamashita’s treasure – which if true could be the biggest treasure haul in over a century.

As they progress deeper inside the mine, they are all filled with the sensation that ‘something’ is with them, and the more time they spend together, the more cracks begin to appear within the group. It’s not long before the eagerness of Price leads to a split. For Stanley and Rie though, they insist on staying behind to cater for the soldier injured by the blast, leaving the others to go searching into the unknown.

DEAD-MINE-003Essentially ‘Dead Mine’ evolves into a kind of underground ‘Outpost’. Despite its great sets and professional make-up, as well as it being very nicely shot it never quite reaches the heights that you wish for. I think this primarily lies with the contentious ending. I’m a great advocate of ambiguity in cinema, but here it’s more a case of the frustration at a lack of an ending rather than one with which at least leaves you something to ponder.

5 out of 10

Shiver (2009) DVD Review

 

SHIVER (2009)
Dir. Brian Feeney        74 mins
New Horizon DVD
UK Release: 13th May 2013

Psychic powers. An oft-used horror movie staple from such films as ‘The Dead Zone’ to ‘The Gift’. Sadly ‘Shiver’ falls quite short of those, but it isn’t without some good points. We begin with a young lady called Rachel who we detect is on the run as she is being hunted down by a quite intimidating woman (Judy Clement) and her two henchmen. They find her and stab her (in potentially the most laughable stabbing I’ve seen committed to film) and proceed to look around her apartment where they find a newspaper clipping of a child which appears to pique their interest.

 

The story then moves to April (Alisha Seaton) who we find in bed bartering with her wife, Casey (Jeannie Bolet) over whose turn it is to take their little girl Sarah (who we see is the same girl from the newspaper clipping) to school. Before they can decide, they are visited by two detectives who want to ask April about her relationship with Rachel.

 

 

She informs them that Rachel drowned over ten years ago but her body was never found. At this point the detectives tell April that she has actually been alive all this time and show her recent CCTV footage to prove it, along with some video evidence of Rachel’s killer – Anne Cassavettes, who is featured on the FBI’s most wanted list.

April’s day doesn’t really get any more normal from here on in as she is visited in work by an associate of Rachel, Yelena Markova (Liliya Czarina) who asks her if Rachel ever told her about the ‘Echo Project’ ? It transpires she didn’t, but April advises Yelena that she should take any information about Rachel and phone the detectives that visited her that morning. Yelena takes her advice, and leaves a message with the detective before embarking on a quite gratuitous shower sequence that naturally leads to much blood being spilled.

Meanwhile, back at April’s place of work she receives a relatively recent letter from Rachel apologising for faking her death and blaming it on the mysterious ‘Echo Project’. Distressed at the days events, she returns home to discuss the issues with Casey. Who is Anne Cassavettes ? Why will nobody tell her what the ‘Echo Project’ is ? In what way does all of this involve their daughter ?

‘Shiver’ (for some reason re-titled from ‘The Echo Project’) is not without its good points. The premise is intriguing and the few twists contained within develop the story quite well. A deep nod of respect is also due for its same sex marriage portrayal – a facet almost invisible from contemporary cinema, let alone the often misogynistic world of the horror film. On the flip side though, the supporting cast is really poor. The henchmen for example are practically laughable, like they’ve been lifted directly from a Scooby Doo cartoon. The same could be said for their boss who I found to be reminiscent of Joan ‘The Freak’ Ferguson from Prisoner Cell Block H.  This and a few other bad turns cast a shadow on what had the potential to be a recommendable low budget horror movie.

4 out of 10

Dr Alien (1989) DVD Review

DrAlien

Dr Alien (1989)

Dir. David DeCoteau – 83 minutes

UK DVD Distribution – 88 Films

Starring Billy Jayne, Judy Landers, Olivia Barash, Stuart Fratkin, Robert Jayne, Linnea Quigley, Ginger Lynn Allen, Troy Donahue.

Wesley (Billy Jayne) is a nerd , he is boring and can’t attract women. His aim in life is to become an accountant and join his father’s firm. But when his biology teacher Dr Ackerman comes to an untimely demise after his car is chased by a spacecraft and the new teacher (the ever-so hot Ms Xenobia – Judy Landers) gets Wesley to take part in a medical test , then things start to change for our young protagonist.

After his first vitamin shot Wesley becomes irresistible to women , especially when his new antenna comes out from the top of his head when he gets aroused. He also has become cool and even talks to the girl of his dreams Leeanne (Olivia Barash) who agrees to go on a date with him.

But why are Xenobia and her sidekick Drax so interested in Wesley , and why is his behaviour becoming ever increasingly strange?

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This is pure 1980’s cheese , it features big hair , awful clothes , topless beauties , aliens, heavy metal and much more.

This is a typical film from the time but still holds up really well. Landers is great as Xenobia and really gives it her all , and the rest of the cast work very well together. It is full of the tropes connected to 80’s teen flicks , you have young unrequited love with awkward moments , but also a teenage college student being well erm screwed by his professor. God bless the Eighties.

But this is just fun ,and with small parts from genre faves like Ginger Lynn & Linnea Quigley you could do a lot worse than watch this and reminisce about just how bloody good that decade was!! This is a true nostalgia fest.

Also on the 88 Films DVD there comes a bonus full feature film Auditions (1978) . I didn’t know this was on here until I went to the features section on the DVD. Auditions is a wonderful mock documentary about the putting together and casting of a porno film.

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This is a great little softcore effort with plenty of nudity and featuring a very young buck naked Linnea Quigley . A fantastic extra which makes the package a must for any fan of flicks from the late 70’s and 80’s .

Well done to 88 films for this great addition to their Grindhouse Collection and keep up all the good work .

Dr Alien 7/10 and the DVD package all together 8/10

Night of the Living Dead : Resurrection (2012) DVD Review

NOTLD-001NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD: RESURRECTION (2012)
Dir. James Plumb        86 mins
4 Digital Media
UK Release: 13th May 2013

When you title your movie ‘Night Of The Living Dead’ – irrespective of any addendum that follows a semicolon, you know you are treading on hallowed ground. When a cursory glance at North Bank Entertainment’s production slate yields forthcoming attractions such as ‘Silent Night, Bloody Night: The Homecoming’ and ‘The Amityville Asylum’, it’s not surprising that a little cynicism enters the fray. Did I say it was shot in Wales? Anyway, snap judgements to one side – it was time to give it a look.

The movie opens outside a Welsh convenience store as a group of underage teenagers cajole a passer-by into going In and buying some booze (super strength!) on their behalf. Seeing no-one behind the counter, he grows impatient and when entering the office discovers a young woman tucking in to a seemingly deceased victim. Carnage ensues before we cut to a car with a lone driver, Ben (Sule Rimi) travelling through the lush isolation of West Wales. Police sirens punctuate the silence, and most radio stations emit only white noise, while those still broadcasting speak of a virus akin to Ebola.

NOTLD-002With the hope of temporary accommodation, Ben comes across a farmhouse in the countryside, but after no reply at the door, a glance through the letterbox reveals a double-barrelled shotgun pointed, then fired directly into his face. Here, we find a family living in fear, bewildered at the beginning of some sort of apocalypse and justifying the murder of their visitor simply by their inability to trust anyone who approaches the house.

The youngest member of the house, Sam (Aaron Bell) begins to feel unwell. Karen (Kathy Saxondale), his mum decides it must just be a temperature and that a cool bath is a suitable remedy. However, as they begin to remove his clothes, they discover a wound on his body – a bite. Convincing themselves its nothing serious, they leave him in the bathroom, but it’s only a matter of time before he becomes one of the living dead, and the family find themselves with an impossible decision to make.

I have to admit, despite my initial (and deep) reservations about this film, I found it incredibly hard to dislike. It has some great humour to it – “apocalypse is trending on Twitter”, some notable nods to genre classics (Rabid Grannies), some very cool zombies (one had my TCM t-shirt on!), and Ben in the car was speaking on the phone to Barbara (a solid nod to Romero).

 

NOTLD-003There’s a great defining scene right in the middle of the picture where the family find themselves calmly sitting down in the living room, cup of tea in hand debating the onset of the pending apocalypse. It’s a satisfyingly British moment, and a stark contrast to the many films that would simply opt for the generic teenage actress running screaming around the wilderness. It’s not perfect, and restrictions that a reputed £20,000 budget entails are occasionally apparent. It is however worthy of its use of the name ‘Night Of The Living Dead’.

6 out of 10

Cinema of the Cannibal God by Marek Zacharkiw

cannibal1

Cannibal films surprisingly come in many various guises but the majority of us horror fans think of one specific niche sub-genre made famous by (primarily) Italian film makers throughout the 1970s and 80s.

Combining gore, adventure, xenophobia and sadly in some cases a dash of animal cruelty these films became notorious and their legend grew but were they actually any good and do they live up to the infamy and hype that has built up over time?

Set in undeveloped Jungle regions such as the Amazon or South East Asia, and highlighting the advanced-primitive, civilised-uncivilised divide, they often employed the almost realistic feel of the previously popular mondo films. In these films, the cannibals were always primitive natives with strange barbaric rituals, a case in point being the famous impaling in Deodato’s Cannibal Holocaust as punishment for the loss of virginity by one tribeswoman, and this audience held perception allowed the directors to indulge in seemingly any form of gratuitous violence they could think of. One could even go as far as to say these were the beginnings of what we now know as torture porn, with the graphic violent set pieces obviously an influence on Eli Roth who would later become synonymous with the sub-genre through Hostel.

manfromdeepriver
The birth of the primitive cannibal sub-genre can arguably be traced back to 1972 with Lenzi’s ‘The man from deep river’; starring Italian film stalwarts Ivan Rassimov and Me Me Lai and followed the great Italian film tradition of replication, in this case the reimagining of the 1970 Richard Harris western ‘A Man called Horse’. What this film did was prove that cinema audiences, although mainly non-Italian, were open to these kinds of films showcasing the exotic and strange cultures that regular people may never get to witness or experience.

Usually once the Italian movie industry find a style that works they go for it, as shown by the burst of spaghetti westerns, gialli and zombie movies throughout specific periods of the past 30-40 years, and so it is surprising perhaps that it would be another five years before the cannibal boom and market saturation occurred. Although we may never know why, one could attribute it to the rise of the gialli during this period and the lack of interest held by Italian audiences in these films increasing the financial risk to film companies if they could not guarantee foreign distribution.

However, times and tastes changed and by 1977 audiences wanted to see white folk getting eaten by supposedly backwards, uncivilised savages and were willing to pay for the privilege. It would be the infamous, Ruggero Deodato with ‘Last Cannibal World’ who kick-started the sub-genre with the standard fish-out-of-water tale as a group of oil prospectors crash-lands into the jungle and run foul of the natives.

cannibal2A lot more brutal than Lenzi’s earlier cannibal effort, Deodato shows us the graphic and sometimes sexualised violence and torture that would become synonymous of the films and, rather regrettably for the director himself even if he did not shoot them, the film continued the burgeoning tradition of scenes of real life animal killings often shot at the producers request in order to boost popularity with the Asian market. Relatively successful all over the world, Deodato would provide the true blueprint and benchmark for others to follow.

Growing in popularity with the people, if not the film critics, soon even big name stars would feel the wrath of cannibal clans, with Stacy Keach and former Bond girl Ursula Andress appearing in journeyman Sergio Martino’s only cannibal film, ‘Prisoner of the Cannibal God’ (1978) which at least added some legitimacy to the sub-genre and may have contributed to the momentum of the cannibal boom.
prisonerofthecannibalgod
However, 1980 proved to be the watershed moment for the sub-genre as Deodato unleashed his second foray into the genre with Cannibal Holocaust which not only raised the bar cinematically but also in terms of controversy due to its graphic and realistic nature, resulting in the director having to go to court to prove the actors were actually still alive!

Splitting critical acclaim and received positively by audiences the film proved a huge success returning far far more than its modest $100,000 budget. What made this film so special wasn’t just the extreme violence but also the cinematography as a large element of the film utilises a found footage technique designed to mimic the mondo films of the early 70s, also we must not do a disservice to the superb plot and the questions it raises regarding our own civility to others and how we perceive other cultures and this is something that makes the film stand out from its peers, whether intentional or not. Although that’s not to say it is all positive, the film features, as had become the normality, several scenes of unnecessary animal cruelty for which the director would be indicted for back in Italy.

Hot on the success of Cannibal Holocaust, would be Lenzi’s return to the sub-genre which he helped create with Eaten Alive (1980) and Cannibal Ferox (1981), both moderate successes with the later highly recommended to fans of Cannibal Holocaust. It even uses a few of the same locations and actors! Of particular note for recommending Cannibal Ferox is the delightful way in which Italian horror star Giovanni Lombardo Radice is dispatched, a truly visceral experience and the punishment faced by his female compatriot, potentially even displaying some influence from Hooper’s ‘The Texas Chainsaw Massacre’ (1974).
cannibal3
Other notable films of this period included the mis-titled ‘Zombie Holocaust’ (1980), Mondo Cannibal (1980) and the unique, well for the sub-genre anyway Antropophagus (1980) which deviates from natives to a shipwrecked insane cannibal.

Unfortunately, Cannibal Ferox marked the decline of the sub-genre in both quality and quantity as tripe such as Massacre in Dinosaur Valley (1985) aka Cannibal Ferox 2 sought to cash in on the home video market disappointing many fans with its attempts to trade off the earlier success of Lenzi’s enjoyable film.

While cannibals still remain on our screens today, albeit through different manifestations and artistic influences (from Hannibal to Wrong Turn) and despite Eli Roth and Quentin Tarantino professing their love for the style, there was around a 20-odd year gap from the last cycle before one jungle cannibal film made it out alive to tell its tale with a major release, in the form of the American 2007 release ‘Welcome to the Jungle’ which sought to almost repackage ‘Cannibal Holocaust’ but lacked both the shock factor and potency of its predecessor and it failed to ignite any further interest in the genre.
CANNIBAL-HOLOCAUST-ORIGINAL
All that might change however with the upcoming release of Eli Roth’s ‘The Green Inferno’ (not to be confused with the 80s Italian Jungle action movie) which is sure to be well marketed and hopefully true to the Italian cannibal film source material. However, will cinema-goers still turn up for this style of film or will it sadly go the way of the giallo and werewolf sub-genres which both failed to kickstart their popularity.

Rise of the Zombies (2012) DVD Review

RISE-001

RISE OF THE ZOMBIES (2012)
Dir. Nick Lyon        89 mins
Anchor Bay
UK Release: 13th May 2013

Ok – so I have to start this with a confession. I own every single Asylum film that’s been released in the UK. Shoot me ! For the uninitiated, The Asylum are renowned for riding on the coattails of studio blockbusters with similarly titled b-movies – Paranormal Entity for example, American Battleship, Snakes On A Train etc. Read any online review of one of their movies and you’ll subject yourself to jaw-dropping levels of hatred. This is normally due to the contributor of said hate falling for the clever marketing trick of The Asylum and taking home the movie presuming it’s the big money box office draw. To me though that’s akin to buying economy cola from the supermarket and taking it back the next day saying you were conned into thinking it was Coke as the label was red. It was also 8p. Take a little notice once in a while!

Anyway, to their latest offering – Rise Of The Zombies. One thing about movies from The Asylum is that you can always expect a worthy cast of genre actors. Here we have the excellent threesome of Danny Trejo, Mariel Hemingway and Ethan Suplee. We start in San Francisco in a gore laden beginning as an SUV tumbles down one of the city’s famously steep streets only for most of the passengers to be pounced on by a baying hoard of zombies. As the camera pans away we see Alcatraz Island where we find Dr. Snyder (Hemingway) busily trying to formulate a vaccine to stop the spread of the zombie virus.

RISE-002

Among the other temporary residents on the island are Caspian (Trejo) and Marshall (Suplee) who in contrast to Dr. Snyder, favour a more survival orientated plan. Following the arrival to the island of some escapees from the mainland, they discover one is bitten which prompts a full scale lockdown – as well as a gore-soaked relentless action sequence. The solution they feel, is that they have to get off the island, but the raft can only carry a certain number of people. Dr. Halpern (LeVar Burton) volunteers to stay, primarily as he feels he has the perfect opportunity to discover the causes of the virus with so many samples to do tests on – one of whom is the zombified body of his daughter.

As the raft arrives back onto the mainland, Snyder is determined to make it into the city where she is sure she can find an already formulated vaccine. Marshall however is vehemently opposed, and says it’s not worth the risk, instead preferring to fight for his own survival by finding food, water and weapons. As the group splits into two, the bets are on as to who will successfully navigate the zombie infested streets of San Francisco to reach their goal.

Now in their 16th year, The Asylum have become gradually more successful, and it seems that they are putting their success back into their films as the look of Rise Of The Zombies is very impressive indeed – specifically the make-up and gore. Nitpickers will always have an agenda with an Asylum movie, and take aim at the CGI (not bad here) or the predictable script or the stilted performances regardless of how good the movie is, and to be honest this really is one of their best.

RISE-003

With the inclusion of actors like Mariel Hemingway and Danny Trejo, Rise Of The Zombies is lifted from a crowded market of DTV living dead flicks that endlessly populate the shelves of your local video store. If you’ve been unfairly put off watching movies made by The Asylum, you could do a lot worse than picking this title to begin your introduction to this budget label.

6 out of 10

Wrath (2011) DVD Review

WRATH-001

WRATH (2011)
Dir. Jonathan Neil Dixon        94 mins
OMG
UK Release: 6th May 2013

A recent trend on the sleeves of genre movies of late has been the absence of the traditional quote from a critic, and in its place a rather misleading banner. For example, on a Mafioso film you’ll see “in the tradition of The Godfather”, and on a romance you may find “for fans of The Notebook”. It’s all a bit ridiculous really as it’s plainly a cheap tactic to get people to focus on the name of the iconic movie they name-check and naively presume that the b-movie they’re about to rent or buy will be of similar quality. We’ve a similar scenario here for ‘Wrath’ with OMG Films cannily adorning the top of the sleeve with (small text) “combines all the elements of” (large text) “Wolf Creek and Red Hill”. I guarantee the weekend will see people in my rental store turn to their partner and say “Hey honey – this is like Wolf Creek!”. Well, potential weekend rental customer, I can honestly tell you it’s not fit to touch the hem of Wolf Creek’s garment.

We begin with Callie (Rebecca Ratcliff), holed up in a motel with her boyfriend Matt (Corey Page) about to set off and waiting for their friends in the adjacent room. The film cuts away at this point to a driver stumbling across a crashed Mercedes just off the main road. Stopping to check her wellbeing, he is shot through the head from distance – the Mercedes driver escaping unharmed. Meanwhile, back at the motel, Matt and Callie are arguing about the durability of their relationship when out of nowhere Callie informs Matt she is pregnant.
WRATH-002
Soon after, the group of four meet in a diner before heading off on their journey. As they share breakfast, the small town / backwoods nature of this place becomes increasingly obvious as they receive inquisitive, lingering stares from the other customers. Leaving the diner, they stop at the local gas station to fill up with fuel and notice on their arrival a car with bloody handprints on its exterior. At the same time the local policeman stops by and proceeds to ask the four travellers if they know anything about it, but just as he begins his enquiry he is shot through the head by an unseen assailant with the garage owner soon meeting the same fate.

Quickly getting back into their car, they are joined by the Mercedes driver from earlier on who was in the back of the garage cleaning herself up. Fleeing from the scene at speed, pursued by someone they suspect to be the shooter, they escape to a local farm where upon stopping, the mysterious woman that joined them runs away taking the car keys with her. Stranded, and each with seemingly different intentions, the four friends must plot their next move.
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Despite an intriguing, multi-faceted set-up, ‘Wrath’ was a frustrating viewing experience as it fell very short of realising its full potential. The first thirty minutes of the movie had me intrigued, but as the battle between hunter and prey developed – or not as the case may be, the film really began to drag. The characters were just so under-developed. We got a slight idea of Matt and Callie’s relationship, but who were the guys they were travelling with? There is even a character at the start of the film that looks to have a pivotal role that we never see again. It’s a shame, especially as the Ozploitation genre has certainly has more hits than misses. Wrath however, falls firmly into the latter of those categories.

4 out of 10