Piranha 3DD Trailer Promises Even More Boobs, Blood and Ridiculousness

Here is a trailer for the upcoming Piranha 3DD, courtesy of Shock Till You Drop.

The sequel to the crazy-insane Piranha 3D brings the man-eating fish out of the lake in into the pools (not to mention the water slides and the bathtubs). Why, you ask? Why the fuck not!

Piranha 3DD was written by Patrick Melton and Marcus Dunstan, and was directed by John Gulager (the team behind the Feast series). No release date yet, but hopefully that will be changing soon.

Avengers Poster

The new Avengers poster shows lots of heroes and TONS of mayhem and rubble. Despite the overly-Photoshop-y nature of the poster, I’m still psyched for the film. Marvel has yet to disappoint, and I think they know expectations they have set for themselves.

From My DVD Shelf: Best Worst Movie

I re-watched Best Worst Movie over the weekend, and just had to share my joy. Best Worst Movie is one of my favorite docs. It’s all about the cult that has grown around the legendarily terrible Troll 2.

Troll 2 is bad. Epically bad. Unbelievable, fantastically terrible. It’s awesome.

If you haven’t yet seen Troll 2. Go check it out. I’ll even make it easy. Here’s the link to its Amazon page. Go to it, click a couple of buttons, overnight that bastard (trust me – it’s worth it) and put it into your DVD player immediately. I’ll wait.

…..

All good?

Excellent.

So now that we’re on the same page, let’s talk Best Worst Movie. This is a documentary put together by Michael Stephenson, the dude who is the grown-up version of the kid who starred in Troll 2 way back in 1990. In this doc, Stephenson examines the underground phenomenon that grown out of people’s unfathomable love of watching this horrible horrible film. It’s a cult. Scratch that – it goes beyond cult. This is a party. A family. The greatest joy a Troll 2 fan can experience is sharing the joy and pain of Troll 2 with the uninitiated. Spreading the message.

Now that you’ve watched Troll 2, you know the experience. You know the joy. You may even have shared it with one or two other people. Best Worst Movie offers the opportunity to geek out about this horrid piece of shit that you will GLADLY devote 90 minutes of your life to again and again and again, and to do so with other similar-minded fans. And to see how that love has affected the people who made this steaming pile back in the day. What started as an experience they wished they could forget and a shameful bullet point on their resumes has turned to a level of super-stardom they never imagined. In the regular world, they are sometimes- and former-actors who made a crap movie once upon a time. In a room full of Troll 2 fans, they are gods. They have provided hours of entertainment, and they are thanked, not ridiculed, for the work that they put in and for the joy they have brought to others.

Best Worst Movie celebrates the lightning in the bottle that resulted from a few weeks of film making in Utah in 1990.  It’s funny, it’s charming, it’s heart-warming, and it’s geeky as all hell. You want to check this one out. If you’ve already seen it, check it out again. And if you have made it through this entire article still not having seen Troll 2, you will want to get on that one as quickly as humanly possible. Grab a beer, grab a friend, and prepare to be amazed, appalled, and to fall in love, all at the same time.

Frankenweenie Poster Debuts

The official one-sheet for Tim Burton’s upcoming Frankenweenie hit the Web today. This stop-motion film is an update/feature-length version of a short that Burton did back in 1984.

Growing up, the Disney Channel would air it every Halloween, and I loved the shit out of it. It is seriously one of my favorite things that Burton has ever done. So sweet, dark and creepy all at the same time.

Anyway, here’s the poster for the new film. It’s set for release in October.

From My DVD Shelf: The Dead

British zombie film The Dead finally hid DVD last week. In this film, the zombie outbreak is centered in Africa. Lieutenant Brian Murphy was on one of the last evacuations flights leaving the contaminated area, when the plane went down. The only survivor, he began making his way toward some semblance of civilization in the hopes of finding rescue. Along the way, he meets African soldier Sgt. Daniel Dembele (Prince David Oseia ). They agree to team up, in the hopes of getting Brian to a nearby air field so that he might return home to his family, and to get Daniel to a military base reported to be safe, in the hopes of reuniting with his son.

I had first read about The Dead a couple of months ago, and was psyched. Zombies terrorizing Africa sounded awesome – nobody had done it before, it offered an totally new landscape and aesthetic to the genre – a great backdrop for a hopeless survivor story. And it featured the slow, puttering zombies of old (refreshing!). Unfortunately, The Dead only hit about half of its marks.

As a zombie film, The Dead is fairly solid. The Ford Brothers paid particular attention to the Romero tradition of zombie films, and adhered to all of its rules. We don’t know why the dead are returning to life, the word “zombie” is never uttered, the undead can be taken down by a shot or a blow to the head, and the zombies are slow, shambling remnants of humanity. All of these points are quietly present – the directors never draw attention to them.

The zombies were legitimately creepy, so props to the directors on that. They stagger around quietly, yet steadily, so a couple of them seem harmless at first, but the tension builds as they continue to get closer to our protagonist. The make-up work is good (for the most part), and they don’t cheap out on severed limbs and smashed heads. 

While the horror elements were good, it was in the surrounding story that The Dead faltered. It just didn’t seem to know what it wanted to be. The horror elements were solid, but every attempt to broaden or deepen the story away only made it feel more confused. Again referencing the Romero tradition, The Ford brothers seemed to be trying to make a social statement with their zombie film. What what that statement was, I have no idea. Was this about racial inequality? Poverty? Hunger? World policy? War? AIDS? Take your pick. It seemed to change with every scene, and no specific statements were made. Unless their intention was to leave it purposefully vague in the hopes that the audience would fill in the blanks with whatever struck their fancy (in which case, TOTALLY LAZY). They really tried to hammer the message of “hope” but I’m still not sure what for. Other than “hope for not becoming a zombie,” of course.

The plot tends to get pretty repetitive, as we watch the pair encounter similar obstacles time and time again. Namely, they encounter an obstacle of some sort, get out of the car to take care of said obstacle, are surrounded by the undead as they are working, and must work quicker to alleviate obstacle before eaten alive by zombies. Each individual scene works pretty well on its own, with the extremely slow, yet constant pace of the zombies creating tension, but we get tired of seeing over and over again.

The acting was pretty inconsistent. In the first act, when Murphy is wandering around on his own (and not talking) Rob Freeman does a pretty solid job. These silent scenes are interesting as we watch him get his bearings after the plane crash and attempt to survive on his own. He seems like a pretty solid protagonist. He slides downhill after he meets Daniel, and comes across as a very weak character as a result of his dialogue. There is no strength in anything that he says, he can be a little whiny, and much of his delivery comes off as wooden. Oseia, on the other hand, is a solid actor in the role of Daniel. He is able to convey a lot through his eyes, and does well in the part of the stoic soldier.

Ultimately, The Dead was an interesting idea that sort of lost itself along the way. Political and social statements have long been an important part of the tradition of zombie movies, but we count on the filmmaker to know what those statements are ahead of time, and to be able to convey them in at least a semi-elegant manner. All of the zombie stuff was good, but the story in between just felt hollow. There were some excellent scenes thrown into the mix, but they were not enough to set the tone for the entire film; there was too much empty space in between them.

From My DVD Shelf: Kidnapped

Kidnapped is a Spanish horror film directed by Miguel Ángel Vivas and written by Vivas and Javier García . It covers one terrifying night in the lives one unlucky, upper middle-class family. Jaime (Fernando Cayo), his wife, Marta (Ana Wagener), and their teenage daughter, Isa (Manuela Vellés), have just moved into a new home. Amid the chaos of unpacking, Isa and Marta quarrel, as Isa wants to go out with her boyfriend, and Marta wants the family to spend their first night in their new home together. Before this typical family problem can reach its conclusion, however, three armed, masked men break into the home and hold the family at bay. One of the gunmen drives off with Jaime to empty his bank accounts, and the other two are in charge of guarding the women until the others return. What follows is a terrifying ordeal that tests the boundaries of fear and violence.

Kidnapped is a pretty straightforward Euro Nihilist horror film – very bad, violent, graphic things happen to fairly good people for no real reason. The motives of assailants are never explained (other than they want money), and family (and audience) is never told why they were targeted. And the violence doesn’t slow. This is a very graphic, unwavering film that doesn’t pull its punches.

Vivas borrows heavily from several other films (Funny Games and The Rules of Attraction jump off the screen as obvious influences), but weaves Kidnapped’s pieces together well in order to create an intense piece of suspense. Once the film ratchets up the tension, you rarely get the opportunity to come down again and relax until the credits finally role. While the camera initially cuts back and forth between the events at the house and the events transpiring with Jaime, Vivas eventually goes all de Palma on your ass and split-screens the action, allowing the viewers to focus on both stories simultaneously. The events are perfectly choreographed to allow focal shifts from one story to the other. This tactic also allows both aspects of the plot to peak at the same moment, without cutting away.

I thought that Vivas took a couple of easy outs in this film, but they didn’t ruin the overall experience. I will be very interested in watching this director develop and seeing what else he brings us as he fine-tunes his work. This is a well-crafted piece of suspense that gut-punches you in every way it means to. If you don’t mind your innards getting wound up into a tight stress-ball, pick this one up. 

Review: The Woman in Black

The Woman in Black is a dark, creepy ghost story that relies heavily on atmosphere, rather than on gore (a sharp contrast to director James Watkins’ 2008 film, Eden Lake). The foggy isolation of the England marshes set the stage for a haunting story that creeps in like the fog that hovers over the film’s setting, completely enveloping the audience.

The Woman in Black follows young lawyer Arthur Kipps (Daniel Radcliffe) as he heads to rural England to tie up the estate of his firm’s client, a late widow who has recently passed away. Kipps, who lost his wife in childbirth four years prior, is counting on this case to solidify his place in the firm, so that he may continue to provide for his young son. Upon arriving in town, Kipps discovers that the superstitious locals are reluctant to have anything at all to do with the late widow (reluctant to even speak of her, as a matter of fact), and are anxious for him to conclude his business and to be on his way. As Kipps begins his work at the widow’s house, he soon learns that the home has a past all its own – a past that may be tied to the untimely deaths of many of the village’s children.

Watkins seizes the atmospheric tension and this story and uses it very effectively. For every fright moment that takes center stage, there are about three others that go by so quickly and unassumingly that you might not even have picked up on them. When you do, you begin to realize that there could be (and probably is) something lurking in every shadow and in every dark corner of this creepy old house. And that’s BEFORE you notice all of the creepy little dolls. If you thought your Teddy Ruxpin was scary growing up, be glad you weren’t a kid in turn-of-the-century England. That’s all I’m going to say.

This atmospheric, ghostly, Gothic horror story is something that has been missing from cinema recently. If anyone was going to bring it back and execute it this well, I’m glad that it was Hammer. It’s in their blood, and Watkins was an excellent choice to take it on. Radcliffe handled his role very well, but I do think that his age played against him a little here. He mastered the emotional complexities of a husband and father who has gotten stuck in the grief process, but he just doesn’t look old enough to actually be there. He had the skill to own the role, but his face gave him away. However, if the way he did manage to grasp the role and take it over is any indication, I look forward to seeing the different projects that he takes on in the future.

The Woman in Black is a call out to the horror stories of yore. When all houses and castles were dark and scary, anything could be hiding in the mist, ghosts hovered in every shadow, and the past will absolutely come back to get you. No one is ever safe. This type of story is timeless and well worth the price of admission.