October Horrorshow: The Pyramid

Sometimes I curse The Blair Witch Project for loosing found footage horror flicks upon the movie-watching public. And I curse Rec, as well, for its creepy night-vision climax that has been used over and over again in just about every one of these ripoffs. There is now a whole pile of these films, and it’s hard to find one that doesn’t default to the techniques and gimmicks of these two films.

The Pyramid, from 2014, saves all of its originality for setting and place, while delivering a film identical in tone to any number of horror flicks where a group of people find themselves lost underground and are being stalked by…something. In fact, this is the fourth such film to be featured in this year’s Horrorshow, after Gonjiam, Derelict, and Creep. It’s a cheap way for filmmakers to use the same darkened hallway or tunnel set in many different shots and scenes, creating the illusion of a vast maze. The only problem with this is, these films very clearly use a small set, so it’s left up to the viewer to pretend that the filmmakers aren’t trying to fool us. Continue readingOctober Horrorshow: The Pyramid”

Empty Balcony: Black Sea

Is Jude Law still famous? I ask because appearing in a film like 2014’s Black Sea is either the sign of a flagging career, or a sign it’s time to find a new agent. Every star eventually ends up doing marginal projects like this. Go ahead and peruse the output of Bruce Willis or Nicolas Cage for a pair of prominent examples. And that’s good for the shitty movie fan. A little talent in a shitty movie can go a long way. Too bad this flick isn’t shitty. It’s just mediocre. Continue readingEmpty Balcony: Black Sea”

Stallone Month: The Expendables 3

90 million bucks. That’s how much it costs to make a shitshow of a movie. A bad film can be made for far less than that, of course, but an unofficial motto of The Expendables films has been ‘go big or go home.’ Those 90 million dollars are about all that’s big about this film, though. Sure, The Expendables 3 looks like a big Hollywood action flick, but pay close attention and one will realize that just about everything in this movie is ersatz — an imitation. Continue readingStallone Month: The Expendables 3″

Empty Balcony: The Raid 2

Despite how much I liked The Raid, my review of the film ended up being a little thin. That’s because, while there was much to recommend, the film was overwhelmed by its violence. It took all the hard work that went into the sets, the music, the costumes, even the acting of the leads, and rendered it subservient to the majesty of the violence. As it turns out, that’s because the only thing to survive writer/director Gareth Evans sprawling vision of crime, police corruption, and kickass martial arts, was the violence, owing to a budget that precluded any grand scope. The success of The Raid opened the taps more for the follow-up, and allowed Evans to explore in-depth themes that were forced to remain on the periphery in the first film. Continue readingEmpty Balcony: The Raid 2″

October Horrorshow: Wyrmwood: Road of the Dead

Wyrmwood: Road of the DeadHere it is, the first zombie flick of this year’s Horrorshow, and it’s a good one.

Wyrmwood: Road of the Dead is an Australian film from 2014, written by Kiah Roache-Turner and Tristan Roache-Turner, and directed by Kiah. Taking place mostly in the middle of nowhere, Roache-Turner used a tried and true method — isolation — to stay within the bounds of a very small budget. But one of the great things about film in the 21st century is that budgetary constraints mean a whole lot less than they used to. Wyrmwood had a budget, as reported on the internet, of only $160,000. That’s extraordinarily small for a feature film, akin to films such as Clerks and Paranormal Activity.

In rural Australia, something is amiss. After a spectacular late night meteor shower, people begin to turn into flesh-eating zombies. But not everyone, of course, otherwise there would be no movie.

The opening scene stakes this flick’s place in the zombie subgenre of horror. Continue readingOctober Horrorshow: Wyrmwood: Road of the Dead”

October Horrorshow: Indigenous

The Darién Gap is one of the more interesting natural locations on earth. It’s an area of forbidding jungle and swampland straddling the border of Panama and Colombia. The terrain of the gap is so treacherous that its expanse marks the only break in the Pan-American Highway’s 19,000-mile length. It’s a land of native tribes and Marxist guerillas (truly a land outside of time — who still wants to be communist?). The Darién Gap is also the setting of today’s film, Indigenous. Continue readingOctober Horrorshow: Indigenous”

October Horrorshow: It Follows, or, The Venereal Demon

Umm...is this film mumblegore? No, it’s not. It Follows is the second feature film from David Robert Mitchell. He’s not one of the crew of filmmakers (Ti West, Adam Wingard, etc.) that have steered much of horror back to a 1970s sense of place, setting, and look and feel, but Mitchell’s film does feel like kin in many ways. I think this has a lot to do with the wider aesthetic that has come to dominate still photography in recent years. Every one of us with a smartphone has participated in it at some point. We’ve had Instagram accounts or the Hipstamatic app or any number of other apps that apply retro filters to our pics. And since everyone in this country seems to have a smartphone, the typical smartphone pics are everywhere, not just on our phones. The aesthetic is so popular that it has invaded advertising — the final indicator of cultural pervasiveness. Continue readingOctober Horrorshow: It Follows, or, The Venereal Demon”

October Horrorshow: Extraterrestrial

A few years ago, I was pleasantly surprised by Grave Encounters, the first feature from the writing/directing team of The Vicious Brothers (Colin Minahan and Stuart Ortiz). They were working with a miniscule budget and an overdone idea, but managed to make a very good little ghost flick. Last year saw them release another film that couldn’t make it past the festival circuit, but, thanks to the internet, is reaching viewers in ways that were impossible even ten years ago. Continue readingOctober Horrorshow: Extraterrestrial”

October Horrorshow: Zombeavers

I can’t believe I watched this movie. Actually, I can. After all, I’ve never met a movie I wouldn’t watch — for at least fifteen minutes, anyway. But not only did I watch Zombeavers, I made it through all 77 minutes. Thank goodness for short runtimes. Are you paying attention, Peter Jackson? Continue readingOctober Horrorshow: Zombeavers”