Turbo Kid (2015) Review

Sam Kench reviews the 2015 post apocalyptic 80’s throwback Turbo Kid written and directed by François Simard, Anouk Whissell , and Yoann-Karl Whissell, and starring Munro Chambers, Laurence Leboeuf, Aaron Jeffrey, and Michael Ironside.

 

 

If you think Turbo Kid looks like your cup of tea you can find it on Amazon right here

Escape From Tomorrow (2013)

Escape From Tomorrow is made interesting by the very way that it was shot. Escape from Tomorrow is a feature length film shot almost entirely in Disney World/Land without permission from Disney.  Just the fact that they were able to make this is a crazy thought, even more so that it has received such a wide release, even being shown in theaters and added to Netflix. The spectacle of seeing a dark horror movie filmed in Disney World is the reason to watch it, but the question is; Does Escape From Tomorrow have any depth or entertainment value beyond the production gimmick?

Well sadly the answer is; not really.

The story follows Jim, the father in your typical Disney going family. Jim is a sexual deviant who stalks a pair of young french girls around the park and the mother is nagging and annoying. The two children completely lack any traces of character.

Escape From Tomorrow manages to have fairly good cinematography for a large amount of the film which is especially impressive considering how it was shot, with many real people walking around and the general chaos of the park around them. There are some shots that they spent a very long time planning to achieve. The effort is valiant and doesn’t go unnoticed, but then there are particularly awful looking scenes. There are a handful of scenes that would horrible on their own, and are highlighted more so by the overall nice presentation of the rest of the film. More than one scene has the actors very obviously and poorly green screened into B-roll footage of the amusement park and it does not look passable at all.

Escape From Tomorrow is full of really bad acting. The best acting you can find in this film is passable, while the worst actually comes from the lead actor. He is consistently terrible throughout. By the end of the film I had actual become accustomed to the bad acting and stopped being as distracting, but adjusting to the bad does not make it good.

Escape From Tomorrow attempts to be a creepy screwed up horror film, but largely fails. The “scares” are too few and far between and when they do pop up they often fall flat. The closest the film got to be effective from a horror standpoint was actually the opening credits which managed to provide a genuinely surprising moment, but this one solid moment was cheapened when it was revisited later on in the film, to lesser effect.

The film seems very unsure of the tone that it wants to convey. It presents itself as a cerebral horror film, but then it throws comedic elements at you which don’t mix well. In the end both elements miss their mark and what few moments could have been funny, are muddled and ruined by the confused tones of the movie.

The Pacing is dreadful. Escape From Tomorrow has a meandering plot that kills far too much time following the characters as they walk around the park, go on rides, and do absolutely nothing of any importance. The movie wastes time and feels as though much of it was shot without purpose other than stretching out what probably should have been a 20 minute short film into a feature length film. As a 20 minute short this concept may have actually worked better. A more condensed runtime would have helped Escape From Tomorrow as most of the time it will have you waiting for something to happen, and when it does happen, it will likely disappoint. It also doesn’t help that pretty much all of the set pieces and interesting moments are given away in the trailer.

The gimmick is interesting but the film fails to impress beyond the fact that it actually got made and released the way it was produced. I would only recommend it to those who are seriously interested in the concept of a film shot guerrilla style in Disney world, otherwise definitely stay away. The concept is incredibly intriguing, but a much stronger plot and acting would have been needed to stop this film from being a disappointment.

Macabre Month of Horror 2013 #23 – Wolf Creek (2005)

wolf creek

wolf creekI had heard a lot of good things about Wolf Creek. I had heard that it was a very underrated film and that it was one of the best in recent memory. The case had quotes from both Robert Rodriguez and Quentin Tarantino. “As real as horror gets” – Robert Rodriguez and “John Jarratt delivers a performance that is destined to go down as one of the great horror film heavies of the last 25 years.” – Quentin Tarantino. Two statements like that ensured that I would be seeing the movie. It actually took me a while to find a copy of it to review.

After the first few minutes my impression of the film got about as far as: these characters are cliché as hell and this shaky cam is really unnecessary. The movie is filled with really unnecessary shaky cam.

wolf creek girlWhile the characters are not very likable I will say that there is some very realistic dialogue and delivery at times that feels natural. There was some Judd Apatow style improvisation in Wolf Creek.

There is some talk of UFOs and other supernatural stuff, but it feels very out of place. The rest of the movie seems to be heavily grounded in reality and these moments are few and far between so I think it is concept that didn’t go anywhere. The script underwent a lot of re-writes so maybe the supernatural elements panned out better in the original script.

wolf creek itselfThroughout this whole lead up in Wolf Creek I was thoroughly unimpressed. Things started to get much more interesting once John Jarratt entered the scene. John Jarratt plays the antagonist, Mick. Tarantino was right. This guy’s performance and really Goddamn good. He’s the bad guy, but he’s so much fun to watch. You don’t really like his character, you don’t want him to win and kill these people but you can have a good time watching him. He tears up the screen and completely steals the show.

john jarrattNow unfortunately I found John Jarratt’s performance to be the only saving grace of this film. The only reason to watch this is the character of Mick. Yes the film is often criticized for being disgusting and depraved, and yes it’s gory but that doesn’t really bother me. The problem is that it also doesn’t intrigue me. The gore in this film will turn some viewers off and it is not a reason to watch this movie. It’s not THAT gory. Nor is the gore used very effectively. There is one incredibly strong performance and one very effective scene which is right about in the middle of the film. The film peaks early on and I did not find Wolf Creek a fulfilling experience.

Each of the 3 characters escape with relative ease and may or may not be recaptured later on. Due to this the movie is divided into sections. The audience follows one person until they meet their fate and then it jumps to the next person and we’re to believe that they were just sitting there doing nothing this entire time.

I’ve heard Quentin Tarantino say that Australian films are infatuated with car chases, that any movie made in Australia has a car chase somewhere in it no wolf creek carmatter how out of place, and that may very well be true since there is actually a car chase thrown into Wolf Creek.

The characters for the most behave realistically given their circumstances. They don’t do anything too irrational or make dumb cliché decisions aside from one exception. There is a part where two of the escaped girls get a truck and start to drive off. They end up pushing the truck off of a cliff to make Mick think they died. There is no reason why they couldn’t have just driven off in a different direction. that moment really took me out of the movie.

This is one of the movies that is “based on true events” but it really isn’t at all. It’s like the Strangers. Wolf Creek was written as a slasher film and then the writer heard about some backpack murders and incorporated it. If anything Wolf Creek is based off of two separate killers and doesn’t really relate that much to either. The movie also doesn’t do a very good job on convincing you that it is true. SPOILER ALERT the two women die and only the guy gets away. Now the thing is, is that these people were drugged and when they woke up they were in separate locations. The girls find each other and both die, but the guy is in a completely different isolated place and he never sees them or finds their bodies. This means that even if it was a true story and this one guy did get away, everything after they get drugged I.E. most of the movie, would still have to be completely fabricated because the movie also states that the killer and the bodies of the girls were never found, so nothing outside of what the guy goes through (which isn’t very much) would be 100% made up for the film.

Wolf Creek had some good moments, but overall I didn’t find it to be a worthwhile endeavor.

If you want to see for yourself you can get it on Blu-ray by clicking right HERE and keep checking back all October long for a new review everyday with this year’s Macabre Month of Horror.

Macabre Month of Horror 2013 – movie review #22 Maniac (2012)

maniac poster

Maniac is a remake of a film from 1980 with the same title. I have not yet seen the original so this review is purely on the 2012 version.

maniac poster

I knew absolutely nothing about maniac, other than that it was a horror movie starring Elijah Wood. It has gotten some pretty terrible reviews and people have strayed away from the movie, claiming it to be too intense for them. I don’t see that as a reason to avoid a horror movie. The whole point is to be unnerving and intense, so that seems like a compliment to the movie more than anything.

The movie started and I was surprised to learn that the movie is presented in first person. His reflection in the rear view mirror isn’t just a stylistic touch for the poster. You largely only see Elijah wood in his reflection. There are a few shots maniac 3rd personwhere the camera goes to a 3rd person perspective and you do see him, but for the most part it is all POV. You see the events transpiring through the eyes of the killer. This is one incredibly deranged psychopath and the fact that you’re seeing everything he does through his eyes makes everything more intense. Since you’re witnessing it all first person you feel almost like your condoning his actions, like you should be doing something to stop him. That combined with the fact that the movie can get really gory is most likely why audiences are turning away. I thought the first person effect was utilized to its full extent because it serves to actually put you into the mind of a psychopath. I liked the effect but strangely enough I watched this movie after marathoning 3 seasons of Peep Show (a British comedy that is done in first person) so I couldn’t shake the feeling that Mark Corrigan was killing people.

Elijah Wood plays the main lead and his performance is a difficult and complicated one. Since you largely see him only in reflection, Wood had to carry the performance mostly with his voice. He does a very good job. He is convincing as a psychopath, the only little problem I have with his performance is that when he is yelling the quality of his performance seems to dip a little bit.

This movie can be very creepy and maybe even make some viewers uncomfortable. It risks alienating its viewers but doesn’t pull any punches, it’s ballsy but I’m glad they didn’t play it safe. Those who do stick with the film willmaniac probably enjoy it. I thought Maniac was a great film, but it is really not for everybody. The gore be excessive and even unnecessary at times and the effects are also a mixed bag. There are some digital effects that don’t look so great.

One particularly funny moment is when a woman Elijah Wood’s character is on a date with goes to put on some “sexy” music, except she chooses Goodbye Horses AKA the song Buffalo Bill dances to in Silence of the Lambs. The characters also attend a showing of the cabinet of Dr. Caligari so there are plenty of little references for film fans thrown in there.

I enjoyed the story in Maniac. The narrative may not be the strongest but it was presented in a very interesting way and some well timed flashbacks provide enough of a background to fully establish the main character’s motives. Towards the end, the story begins to slip a little bit.

The climax of the film seemed a bit sloppy. Things come to a head and result in a bloody fight and car chase and subsequent car crash. It is all done well, but it doesn’t feel right for this story.maniac mannequines

Overall Maniac really surprised me. I thought it was a terrific film. Be warned it is fairly harrowing and somewhat experimental, but that’s not really a bad thing, that’s kind of the whole point of horror movies of this breed. Maniac is a very good film to watch this October leading up to Halloween.

You can get it on blu-ray by clicking right HERE and keep checking back for the rest of October for a new horror review everyday with this year’s Macabre Month of Horror.

 

Macabre Month of Horror #20 F.E.A.R 3

fear 3

fear 3F.E.A.R 3 was a disappointment. It’s not a terrible game but it certainly didn’t live up to the expectations set by the previous games. The other two fear games are much better. They are scarier and just have all around better quality. I was looking forward to the addition of split screen co-op. The co-op is okay. But it isn’t very much fun playing as fettel. Until you take over a body that is, then he is the same as point man, minus the slo-mo.

The first F.E.A.R game was done by Monolith and Sierra. The second F.E.A.R game still had Monolith, but introduced Warner Brothers for some added polish and a higher budget. The third F.E.A.R game is just Warner Brothers. This is where I think the problem comes from. Without Monolith there was no real passion involved in this project. It just feels a bit lazy and lacking genuine effort. Warner Brothers does not understand how to do horror.

The other 2 F.E.A.R games managed to be scary, this 3rd doesn’t even try to be scary. Instead it focuses on being an action game. The game so rarely even attempts to be scary, and when it does, it fails pretty badly. There are a few cool moments, but for the most part the horror is pretty slim pickens.

The action can be fun, but it shouldn’t be the only passable aspect of the game. The shooting is good and can be a good deal of fun, but surprisingly even the shooting feels worse than in F.E.A.R 2. It’s not as finely tuned or polished.

The entire game actually feels unpolished. The graphics have moved a step backwards which there is no excuse for. All the colors look flat and all the textures look terrible. The visual effects are of lower quality as well. It just looks cheap. This game is also far less gory than it’s predecessors. Actually, that’s not quite true. it tries to be just as gory, but again the effect is cheapened and it does not look good at all.fettell

when you die you are immediately given the menu where you can retry from. The problem is, sometimes you randomly die in this game, and the menu pops up before you even realize you’re dead, and you end up hitting quite game, or restart mission like an idiot. it is rage inducing. The menu is way too sensitive. if you just try to select retry, you’ll probably end up bouncing off the selection down to restart. the menu is way too sensitive to the point of being faulty.

The game has this built in challenge system. you get points and level up from meeting these challenges. some of the challenges are: kill a certain # of enemies with a particular gun, kill from cover a few times, use a hell of a lot of slo-mo, kill without getting hurt, etc. etc. at first you might find these challenges cool little things to do, but I think that they take away from the game. when you are so concerned with meeting these challenges you get distracted or do stupid things to try and complete the challenges, leading to much frustration. It takes you out of the experience of the game and is an unnecessary distraction.

There are some really bad checkpoint placements. Dying can send you back incredibly far or actually jump you ahead other times.

The weapons are a weird sort in this game. The shotgun this time around is terrible. It was awesome in the first game, a little worse in the second game and pathetic in the third one. The pistol is better than in the second game, but you still can’t dual wield them which doesn’t make sense since f3ar shotgunyou are now playing as the same character from the first game. The awesome Hammerhead from the second game has been replaced by the much less interesting HV Penetrator. Each game has a different main submachine gun. It’s weird that the weapon selection completely changes from game to another.

The horror element of the game is just not here. It almost seems as though they forgot they were making a fear game. The story in this game is not good. It’s very convoluted and rather stupid. The second game left off with a promising premise for the next game. Alma is now pregnant, ready to have a demon baby. Too bad the 3rd game squanders that premise. The big payoff for her pregnancy is a hilariously lame boss fight at the end of the game that feels like it’s out of a cartoony platformer that just has a bunch of filters over it. Speaking of filters, they get ridiculous in this game. It’s as if the makers thought that if the screen is flashing or changing colors or pulsating than the gamers will be scared, but that is not the case.

in the cutscenes Fettel is completely invincible and just sort of teleports from place to place. Too bad he sucks when you actually play as him and can’t do any of the things from the cutscenes.

There are some strange glitches in the game. They show up more frequently when playing the split screen. Glitches such as your character deciding to walk incredibly slow, or that he doesn’t want to raise his gun, or he just doesn’t feel like climbing a ladder. These glitches are incredibly annoying and some, such as the ladder, glitch were only resolved by restarting the level, only to have the same glitch happen on the next ladder.

F.E.A.R 3 was not a worthy successor to the previous games. It’s not a terrible game but it doesn’t live up to expectations. I would like to the series get another shot though. I think they could bring it back to glory with another shot, if maybe Monolith comes back or we get a new studio involved.

The Descent (2005) Macabre Month of Horror 2013 #13

"The Descent"

the descentThe basic plot of “The Descent” is as follows. A group of women go on an annual extreme outing. The expedition leads them on a spelunking trip into an unnamed cave. What begins as an incredibly tense and claustrophobic trip through the cave, ends as a blood strewn battle against batlike monsters.

The first section of the film is undoubtedly more effective than the first. The tension building up to the arrival of the monsters has a stronger presence than the monsters themselves. While the monsters may be creepy upon first glance, once you get a good focused look at them they quickly stop being threatening.

the descentThe girls put up a fight and surprisingly do fairly well. Or at least two of them do. They do more damage than these monsters do and are able to evade them without too much effort. That’s not to say the second half is bad, it just takes a different route than the rest of the movie.

Before the monsters show up the film is a taut tension ride that really evokes feelings of doom of woe and after the monsters arrive you can think of the film as an action horror movie.

the descentThe unrated version of the film is fantastically gory and while the second isn’t particularly scary, it is still very dark and the action can be intense. It turns into a fun action horror movie towards the end which does lessen the impact of the horror but it’s not really a bad thing.

The major strength of the film comes from the first half. The tension building cave exploring half. “The Descent” manages to evoke a deep seeded feeling of claustrophobia in the viewers. My favorite part of the movie is actually a sequence in which each girl is crawling through an incredibly small crevice between the rocks. The tension in this sequence is palpable. The effect is even further enhanced through the fantastic direction and camera work.

"The Descent" The cave looks great. I was very surprised to find out that there was not a single real cave in the film. It is 100% sets. That shocked me, The production designer deserves and award for his work on this film. There are very few times when a rock doesn’t seem to have the proper weight, or a large rock wiggles a little bit, but I just attributed that to extra additions. Fake additions within a real cave, for safety purposes, but no, fake cave. Don’t go into the film with that in mind. You can buy the cave as real.

The lighting is superb. Normally lighting isn’t something I feel the need to mention but this is a special case. They took a smart approach to the lighting and mainly just lit the scenes with what the girls had within the scene. They are in pitch black cave and it is often lit only by the character’s headlamps and flashlights, or glow sticks, flares, torches, it’s impressive. It made filming difficult, but it was worth it as you can really get pulled into the atmosphere of the movie.

descent4This is a very dark movie. In terms of lighting as well as subject matter. Many horror films are darkly lit, but The Descent has perhaps the most valid reason to be so.

The exploration through the cave is edge of your seat intense. A strange thing happened when one of the characters fell down a hole. I worried what happened to her. Without my knowing, I grew at least slightly attached to these characters. I cared what happened to them. I cared for their lives, I wanted them to succeed. Most horror movies are unable to accomplish this. While there is not a great deal of character development, there was enough that they each had a personality and enough for me to root for them. Most modern horror films throw subtlety and characters out the window, but “The Descent” managed to have both. I really wanted to see these girls win, and that made the film much more intense.

"The Descent" The Descent is not a perfect film. It has some low budget sensibilities, and the American ending is horrible, but it is a great deal better than the majority of horror films coming out these days, and that’s more than I can say about the sequel.

The American ending is just plain stupid, it ends on a horror cliche that feels completely out of place and contradicts the tone of the movie. While the European ending still has the bad cliche, it extends the ending and ends on a sour note that is much more suitable to the film.

neil marshall

Neil Marshall, the director of “The Descent” , put a lot of time and care into the film. He did a very good job and managed to make a very good horror film that I highly recommend.

You can buy “The Descent  on Blu-ray by clicking right “HERE” and keep checking back all October long for a new horror review every day of the month with this year’s Macabre Month of  Horror.

 

Macabre Month of Horror 2013 movie review #8 ‘The Collection’ (2012)

the collection

MACABRE MONTH OF HORROR REVIEW #5

Quick Disclaimer: “The Collection” is a sequel to “The Collector“, which I have not seen.

the collection“The Collection” is not a good movie by any means, but it is hilarious. This is a very funny movie. The comedy is not intentional most of the time, but it’s funny none the less.

“The Collection” is one of those trashy bad horror movies that you can really have some fun with. This is a great movie to watch during October. It has a real Halloween type vibe. Any other time of year and you can probably pass on this one, but if you’re going for a trashy Halloween horror movie marathon, then this would not be a bad choice.

The premise of “The Collection” is just so absurd that I can’t help but laughing at it. Supposedly this one normal dude in a mask has murdered HUNDREDS and HUNDREDS of people! In Public! And kidnapped hundreds of others! The movie says that he takes one person alive after each slaughtering. But there are a ludicrous amount of people in his collectorhouse. The number of people that The Collector has tortured and killed is just stupid funny. Hell the beginning of the movie is the Collector somehow setting up this ridiculously over complicated trap that basically sends a big piece of farming equipment through a rave with a few hundred people in it. The premise and execution of this film is absolutely rib tickling.

The Collector himself is played by a stunt man which I think is good, because there’s really no need for an actor to play that role. The character is really boring, has no motives or real dialogue, but the biggest problem with him is that he isn’t very threatening. He’s a guy in a mask, I didn’t buy that he could really pull this off.

The cast is mostly boring but there are a couple noteworthy people. First off is Jenny Matrix from VGHS, who get’s her head crushed in the first few minutes, that’s worth watching. The other notable actor is Christopher McDonald. Yeah, shooter McGavin! Tappy Tibbons!  Dennis Spooner? Anyway he’s a great actor, he might be one of those “That Guy” actors, whose name isn’t known by all, but he’s good at what he does. So why he chose to do this role is a mystery to me. The worst part is that they completely fail to utilize him. He doesn’t have anything to work with. He only has a couple of scenes, one of which he’s asleep for.the collection jenny matrix

I don’t understand why the police haven’t taken care of this guy yet. There are a group of mercenary type people who go after the Collector. One of the characters asks why they think they would be able to catch him. He replies “Because we’re willing to do things that the police aren’t” and by that they just mean that they’ll kill the Collector. This guy has killed hundreds of people, I’m pretty sure the police would be okay with killing this guy. He’s all over the news, they know he’s the one doing these things, and they find out where he’s hiding incredibly easily, so why not get some back up, or call the police, or get some snipers, or call the army, or drop a f*cking bomb or something. Their plan for getting this guy is really poorly thought out, it’s just lazy writing.collection gore

“The Collection” goes for gore instead of subtlety. It’s a torture porn movie, which usually I can’t stand and consider one of the lowest forms of film making, but they aren’t usually this funny. The Collector takes a cliche premise and set up and brings it to preposterous levels. The script is full of stupid moments, clichés, and plot holes, it’s a bad movie. But it’s worth watching during the Halloween season with a couple of friends.

You can buy the collection by clicking right “here” and Keep checking back all October long for a new review everyday, with this year’s Macabre Month of Horrorsams macabre skull