Movie Review – It! The Terror from Beyond Space (1958)

it_the_terror_from_beyond_space_xlgWhen the 1st mission to Mars ends without any word from the crew a 2nd is dispatched to find out what happened.  They find that the only survivor is the commanding officer, Colonel Carruthers.  He claims that something attacked them and killed his crew.  The movie picks up with them on the way back to Earth and Carruthers appointment with a firing squad since everyone believes he killed his crew to conserve supplies to ensure his survival.  But when the monster hitches a ride with them and starts to kill the rescue team they figure maybe he was right.  The rest of the movie is the survivors trying to stop the creature from killing the rest of them.  But how do you stop an indestructible Martian monster?

I love cheesy man in a rubber suit creature features from the ‘50s and ‘60s.  I grew up watching them and even as an adult go back and revisit them often.  It!  The Terror from Beyond Space is one of the better ones.  The story gets going quickly with a bit of exposition at a news conference setting up the story.  Don’t worry though because this one isn’t too talky because next thing you know we (the audience) are on the ship back to Earth.  This gets the movie moving right to the action quickly and it really never stops as the creature takes very Itlittle time to show up (less then five minutes) and get to the fun.  The runtime of just under 70 minutes also helps with the pacing.  How can you not appreciate a movie that knows exactly what it is and gets you to what you want to see that efficiently?

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Anyone recognized the guy on the right?

The filmmakers also don’t shy away from showing us the creature early and often.  The kills are show in the shadows but we get to see the creature prowling around on camera quite a bit.  It works here because the creature looks really good.  I mean yeah it is a guy in a rubber suit, but it is kind of scary.  At least to a younger version of myself it was.  Now as an older and wiser viewer I appreciate craftsmanship and style that went into this sort of practical effects monster.  I’ve seen enough of these kinds of movies to understand how difficult it was to get latex and rubber to be menacing.  They succeed here and take every opportunity to get it on screen.

it3Now sure I might be a bit biased here because of my love for this kind of movie.  There are a lot of fans that just can’t get into this kind of silly old creature feature.  But I would encourage them to check out It! The Terror from Beyond Space.  Because of it’s superior pacing and straightforward story it is very accessible, thus making it a nice way to jump into this kind of movie.  Now if you are a fan of this sort of movie and haven’t seen this one yet I can guarantee you will dig it.  I recommend It!  The Terror from Beyond Space.

 

 

Movie Review – House on Haunted Hill (1959)

 

house_on_haunted_hillThis is one of two great old William Castle movies starring the legendary Vincent Price.  This time out Price plays millionaire Frederick Loren.  Loren offers five strangers ten thousand dollars each to spend the night in a haunted house.  The only person other than Loren that is invited to the party is Loren’s wife Annabelle.  The two of them are at each other’s throats because Frederick believes she has already tried to kill him once for his money, but can’t prove it.  This makes for an interesting evening, especially after Annabelle appears to have been killed by one of the ghosts.  Are the ghosts trying to off them or is it one of the other guests?  Pay attention carefully or you just might miss some of the clues and twists.

I’m a big fan of William Castle and of the gimmicky movies that he directed.  This is one of the stronger and more enjoyable films that he made.  The plot is very tight and wastes no time getting to the good stuff.  All of the twists and turns that it makes are believable, while at the same time silly and fun.  The cast is great with Vincent Price in the lead role of Frederick Loren.  He is both victim and aggressor in this movie and plays both quite convincingly.  Most of Price’s villains are sympathetic in some way and here you will find yourself empathizing with Frederick as he struggles with a beast of a wife.  This makes the ending all the sweeter.  Also pretty good in the movie, though not given much to do, is Elisha Cook.  His character spends the entire movie drinking and telling everyone they are doomed, but still manages to make the character interesting.   eps59-houseonhauntedhill

I don’t think that fans give Castle the credit that he is due for his movies.  House on Haunted Hill is a very well made movie that creates atmosphere and tension thru the skillful use of the camera and lighting.  The sets are light in such a way that there are plenty of shadows, which Castle uses very well.  There are a couple of killer jump scares, including the creepiest old lady I’ve ever seen on camera.  The movie also makes good use of a simple trick to create an illusion of that very same woman floating along the floor (darkly light scene with a platform on rollers!) to add to the overall spooky vibe.  We also get a simple trick with a skeleton that only exists in the movie to tie in with an additional bit of fun that theaters who were showing the movie could toss at the audience.  I also dig the opening of the movie where Castle has the Price character break the fourth wall and address the audience, setting up what is going to happen later on story.

house-on-haunted-hillIf you pay attention here at Screamzine you will notice that I posted some William Castle trailers yesterday.  Of course I couldn’t help but watch them and that gave me an overwhelming urge to watch House on Haunted Hill.  Castle made better movies but this one will always be my personal favorite.  It is the perfect balance of cheese and horror.  Plus it has the amazing Vincent Price in it, so what isn’t to love?  I can’t recommend a movie more than the original House on Haunted Hill.

 

Trailer Tuesday – William Castle Rules!

Hey Zombie vs. Shark here.  I love me some William Castle and since I’ve been left in charge guess what I’m posting for Trailer Tuesday?  Enjoy

 

 

 

 

 

Zombie vs Shark Week

I’m(Aarrgghh) taking a week off to focus on some other things so Zombie Vs Shark is stepping in to take care of all you creeps.

Movie Poster Monday!

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The Butcher

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Lori is coaxed into joining an onl12963709_992927377429681_6141220343886863553_nine dating service by her friend.  Unfortunately she attracts the attention of The Butcher, a serial killer of whom it’s theorized that tortures and kills women as a form of revenge of his childhood abuser who is suspected of being a woman.  Lori is attacked in her own home and kidnapped.  She awakens chained to a wall with two other women in The Butcher’s remote workshop.  The nightmare begins it’s downward spiral as the two other women are eventually tortured and viciously murdered.  When it’s Lori’s time, can she be strong enough to survive?

Extreme horror fans are going to love The Butcher.  It’s rough, creepy, bloody, gory, and downright sick.  The effects are pretty dang good too.  The Butcher’s 12919831_992927284096357_3053041651958279042_nmask reminded me of a cross between Leatherface, Headless, and Cropsy from The Burning.  Although it was a subtle thing, the fact that the scenes in The Butcher’s workshop clearly took place during the day emphasized the remoteness of the location and how alone the victims were.  It also emphasized the hopelessness of any chance the victims had for survival.  The Butcher does bring something new to the extreme horror genre.  Trust me, you will never look at a cheese grater the same way again.13082749_1629687650604035_3856848746797131299_n

The Butcher is the third feature from Buffalo filmmaker Emir Skalonja(Veronica, Fester, and the webseries The Undead(season 1 is currently on The Screamzine Roku Channel, Season 2 is forthcoming)).  The movie is a lot darker than his previous efforts. I would suspect that this one will garner some good attention for Skalonja.  A sequel is in the works to shoot later this year.  The Butcher has been picked up by Legless Corpse Films for release on DVD and Blu-ray.

Movie Review – Zoombie (2016) 

Zoombies-Poster-212x300I’m a sucker for a catchy movie title so when I saw a movie called Zoombie show up in my recommended for you on Netflix I just knew that I had to watch it.  Plus it was from The Asylum, and they only make quality movies!  Well okay maybe not but neither that nor the terribly low rating by other viewers was going to deter me from spending some time with this zombie flick.  I mean all those other viewers could be wrong…

The action starts off with a group of college kids starting their internship at a world famous zoo and wildlife refuge.  Wouldn’t it figure that would also be the day that some endangered monkeys mutate and start to infect the other animals with a sort of zombie virus.  Though the movie explains (kind of) that it is nature’s way of helping the endangered critters survive.  Though since they are dead I’m not sure how that would work.  Any way before you know it the humans are running from all sorts of zombified attractions such as Wart Hogs, Giraffes, and the monkeys to name a few.  Luckily the authorities have the zoo contained, but what if the birds in the aviary get infected?  Time to burn some stuff down!

I didn’t expect much from Zoombie.  I mean it is a silly idea and is a movie from The Asylum so of course I expected it to be dumb.  The movie did have it’s moments.  I mean hiding in the trees only to be chomped on my zombie giraffes was pretty amusing.  Oh and the little girl going up against a zombie Koala Bear was also funny, especially the aftermath.  It was also interesting that maybe the best actor/actress in the movie was the little girl.  She delivered her lines perfectly and had a couple great one liners.  So in some ways Zoombie gave me exactly what I wanted but then there were some issues.

zoombies_apeI don’t hold a movie like this to the same standards that I would a large budget horror movie.  Additionally it wasn’t made to be taken seriously but is supposed to be goofy fun.  Like I said before this was supposed to be a dumb movie and I get that.  Unfortunately I still expect a certain amount of effort to be made and Zoombie fails to do that.  You don’t need a big budget to have a decent script.  The movie starts strong and has some interesting ideas including the reason for the zombie mutation but then ignores it for a lame ending with zombie parrots.  The script also tries to be serious about the story, but they neither have the budget or cast to pull this off.  Instead of embracing the “cheese” like a Sharknado or many other Asylum flicks that are fun to watch they completely missed out.

Speaking of missed opportunities I have to mention the only non CGI critter in the movie, Kifo the gorilla.  While they use CGI for some of Kifo’s screen time they also have a guy in a gorilla suit.  Right from the start of the story it is established that Kifo and the little girl have a special bond and Kifo can communicate with her using sign language.  I immediately thought we were going to get a “hero” gorilla that protects her and saves the day.  That would be pretty cool.  But nope Kifo goes zombie right away and is forgotten in a sea of CGI elephants, lemurs, and others.   Zoombies-Koala

Not all bad movies are just bad.  Some can be entertaining in spite of their limitations.  I had hoped for that with Zoombies.  The movie had some potential but managed to misfire whenever it got close to being fun.  Unless you like Asylum movies or have an obsession with watching every zombie movie that you can I’d recommend passing on this one.  Dammit guys Kifo could have been awesome!

 

 

Empire State of the Dead Bites on to Limited Edition Blu-Ray and DVD

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Empire State of the Dead, an anthology that chronicles the early days of a zombie virus break out in New York State, begins limited edition Blu-Ray and DVD pre-sales as of 5/8. Copies are expected to start shipping right around the movie’s premiere on Saturday May 28th at the Palace Theater in Syracuse, NY. Leftover copies, if any, will be available for sale at the premiere.

“The recently deceased rise, feasting upon the living as a zombie outbreak spreads across the globe. In Central New York, a small Marine patrol, led by Seargent Ritter, tries to keep order. But while battling the living dead they are also faced with roving gangs going unchecked and entire military units defecting. Amid the chaos, a drug lord named Ray sees an opportunity to rule the new world rising, and he is sabotaging rescue centers and military bases to help further break down the Government’s attempts to restore order. Who will survive when Ritter and Ray finally face off?”

Empire State of the Dead consists of 7 short stories produced and set in New York State, all directed by New York State filmmakers. It includes a series of wraparound segments (and one big finale) tying them all together into one epic feature motion picture detailing the early stages of a zombie outbreak. It was produced by Ron Bonk (She Kills, HI-8) and Jonathan Straiton (Night of Something Strange) and includes segments directed by Alexander Bell, Ron Bonk, Chad Foster, Howard Gromero, Chris Irvine, Stephen Long, Geoffrey Orlowski, Andrew Peters, Matthew Peters, Joshua Reale, David Royal and Jamie Storrs.

Blu-Ray, DVD, both with optional Digital Download code, can be purchased at www.srscinema.com/srsstore/.

Trailer Tuesday!

Zombie Death House (1987)

Trailer Tuesday!

Slumber Party Massacre 2 (1987)

 

Trailer Tuesday!

The Curse (1987)

Movie Poster Monday!

Near Dark (1987)

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Movie Review – Time Lapse (2014) 

Time-Lapse-2014-movie-posterSo if you are a frequent reader here at Screamzine you might think that I only watch horror movies, mostly bad ones.  But the truth is I watch all kinds of stuff from documentaries to science fiction in addition to the movies I review.  I get a real kick out of the horror movies which is why as a rule I cover them.  Today I’m going to make an exception and review a neat little science fiction movie.

Time Lapse tells the story of three millennials who share an apartment and are barely getting by.  One of them serves as the handyman/super of the complex where they live.  So when an older tenant disappears it is up to them to check in.  They discover that the scientist has created a camera pointed at their living room that can take pictures in the future.  Of course such an amazing discovery must be used to get the race results so they can clean up at the track!  Eventually their bookie figures it out and things go to hell quickly.  But knowing the future (at least what can be seen in their living room) should give them an advantage towards sorting out what to do.  Shouldn’t it?

I watched this movie a couple of days ago and it has stuck with me.  That is why I’m sitting down to write this review.  Science fiction movies, at least good ones, have to walk a line between being entertaining and smart.  Go too far one way or the other and you can end up with a tedious movie that means well (Star Trek the Motion Picture) or one that is pretty but really dumb (the Star Trek remake/re-imagining).  Time Lapse walks that line perfectly with a plausible situation.  I mean a camera that can somehow punch a hole thru time and take a picture is limited and kind of possible.  It isn’t like anyone is jumping into a phone booth and zipping around the universe, so I can buy it.  While at the same time it uses it’s mundane millennial characters to avoid having to try and explain the science behind it thus saving the audience a bunch of techno-babble.  I heard someone say something clever once and I’m totally going to steal it for this review.  Too much science or too much fiction can ruin a good science fiction movie.  Thankfully that doesn’t happen with Time Lapse. Time-Lapse-races

But as much as I appreciate this it isn’t what made the movie stick with me.  Time Lapse has a story that hits you with twists that will keep you guessing.  The writing is good enough that none of these feel forced or are predictable.  I love a movie that challenges me as a viewer and demands my undivided attention.  I was totally sucked in throughout and shocked by the ending.  And it is that ending which keeps floating around my mind.  I was both disturbed by the actions of one of the characters as well as bugged by the missed opportunity to “fix” things. Damn this is a good movie.

Let me clean up a few other items.  The film-making is very good with lighting, camerawork, and music all adding to the atmosphere.  The entire movie takes place in a couple of locations, but you would never know it.  This is a testament to the writing and of course to the talent in front of the screen delivering the dialogue.  The cast does a fine job with their roles and are able to convey the fear, guilt, and greed that the script requires of them.  Honestly I can’t Time-Lapse-11think of a single thing that the movie doesn’t do well.

Obviously I’m recommending Time Lapse.  But be warned it might hang out in your brain for a while after viewing.  Now if only the characters had…

Dirtbags: Evil Never Felt So Good (2009)

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Dirtbags explores the concept of people who feel that the only way they are going to get ahead is to dick somebody over. Every character in this movie is a dirtbag in some form or another. Where Metalheads went with Metaphysics to cover the usual core subjects of race, religion, drugs, sexism, etc., Dirtbags goers the Psychological route. On the surface, as with most of Bill Zebub’s movies, all of the offensive stuff would seem to have been done just for the sake of doing it. The over the top-ness of it all is done to accentuate the flaws of the characters and express the psychology of why people are assholes. Which everyone is, just about, in the movie.

Peter Steele from Type O Negative plays himself is a funny scene about Bill trying to steal a bass guitar to impress a girlfriend who made his life hell. The Santa speech towards the end in hilarious. It apparently was a real speech that Bill gave in a Public Speaking class. The class laughed at it because they thought Bill had lost his mind and was intentionally trying to fail. He got an A.

Movie Review – Re-Kill (2015) 

Re-KillAnother lower budget zombie movie that I’ve not heard of popped up on Netflix so of course I had to check it out.  Re-Kill ended up being sort of an interesting hybrid of found footage and fake reality show set years after a zombie outbreak.   But before I go any further with the review lets start with a recap of the plot.

The movie opens with a little girl wandering around her house.  From the state of things we can tell immediately that something is horribly wrong.  She can’t find anyone so of course she wanders over to the TV and turns it to the Outbreak network.  This not only acts as the bookends to the movie (we will see her again at the end) but also sets up the way the story is going to be presented.  From here on the action plays out as a reality show that follows the R-Division as it tries to re-kill the reanimates.

After a short sequence where an R-Division squad gets wiped out to almost the last man in New Orleans the action moves to the main story.  Here we follow another squad and their embedded cameramenas they fall into a mystery and try to unravel it.  After stopping a semi truck filled with reanimates and interrogating the driver they learn of the Judas project.  This leads them to entering the “zone”, which is part of New York City that was walled off and never cleared.  Lots of bad stuff happens, a zombie army is discovered, and we see in the wrap around with the little girl that what we were watching happened a while ago and things haven’t gone so well since.

For me Re-Kill was a mixed bag.  There were somethings that I really liked about it.  The production values were a surprise.  I expected a much lower budget effort but they clearly had some money to spend.  There are explosions, practical effects work, actually realistic guns and bullet hits.  These look great on screen and make the action sequences fun to watch for the most part, but more on that later.  I thought that the zombies looked good and you get an occasional one that sticks out as being different.  Nothing worse than watching a zombie movie and have all the zombies look alike.  They were people and we all look different so you know…

R-Division-gunning-truck-zombiesI thought the “gimmick” of it being presented as a television show, complete with commercials would be annoying but it wasn’t.  It does a good job of breaking the tension and adding some humor here and there.  Whether it was advertising medication that claims to help you if you are bitten to the repopulation  commercials encouraging people to get it “on” they were sort of fun.  The wrap around with the little girl also was very clever and gives the movie a sense of scope as it lets you know what you just watched happened in the past in a very clever way.

There were a couple of things that did annoy me.  One is a classic argument and one is a personal pet peeve of mine.  First the classic argumentof fast zombie vs.shambler.  I’m a Romero guy so I want them slow, dumb, and relentless.  The zombies in Re-Kill are the running type and that annoyed the heck out of me.  You know this also reminds me of another thing. When did it become uncool to call a zombie a zombie?  Sure Romero never called them zombies, but I’ll give him a pass.  In 2015 if you are making a zombie movie call them zombies!  And yes I’m annoyed that the Walking Dead doesn’t call them zombies.  Get over yourselves!  Seriously though the above is just personal preference and I wouldn’t not recommend a movie because of these.

rekill5What might be a deal breaker is the camerawork.  Combine fake reality show and fast moving zombies and you end up with nausea inducing shaky cam.  They do a wonderful job with the firefights with the soldiers vs zombies, but half of the time you can’t tell.  The action gets very confusing because of this.  This sucks because I was interested in the characters and story.  After a while I couldn’t tell who was dead and who wasn’t.  Sure I guess this might be more “accurate” in a combat zone but I’m trying to watch a movie!  Plus it’s a zombie movie so I’m not looking for realism here.

I wouldn’t consider this to be a classic or even a movie that I’d have the desire to watch again. There are a lot of zombie movies being made and most of them show up on Netflix eventually so you can be picky and still get your zombie fix. To me this is one that is worth spending your time on.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Trailer Tuesday!

Shock Waves (1977)

Trailer Tuesday!

The Island (1980)

Movie Poster Monday!

The Fog (1980)

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Movie Review – Harbinger Down (2015) 

harbingerdownWell how the hell did this happen?  Seriously I must be losing my touch.  A creature feature starring Lance Henriksen, has a decent budget, and uses practical effects work and I somehow missed it!  Damn…

The setting for this movie is classic.  Henriksen plays Graff, the captain of a crabbing boat that fishes the Bering Sea.  In case you didn’t know that is way up north in the cold.  A group of grad students including his granddaughter join the latest voyage to do some work on global warming and how it effects Beluga whales.  While out they discover the remains of a Russian spacecraft and bring it aboard.  Well this being a creature feature of course that turns out to be a bad idea.  There is an experiment onboard that mutates into a creature that is able to absorb other living creatures and use them to adapt itself.  The rest of the movie is a race to see who if anyone lives and if they can kill the creature(s).
HenriksenOkay I know the first thing that popped into your mind because I had the same thought.  This has a definite Thing vibe to it.  Even the look of the creature reinforces that.  But who really cares.  Most movies steal from what was popular before them.  To me it is all in the execution and Harbinger Down nails it.  The story is solidly written and wastes no time in introducing the characters and getting down to the creepy stuff.  We have a few minutes of tension and then the creature starts knocking people off.  We the audience know something is up, but the way that the characters find out is a bit “Alienish” if you will.  Again I don’t mind them borrowing from an earlier movie if they do it right and they do.  From that point out it is creeping around a spooky boat and characters dying horribly.  Exactly what I want from a movie like this.

creature 2Most of the cast was unfamiliar to me with the exception of Henriksen.  His character anchors (pun not intended because you know the boat setting…) the cast and gives them someone to play off of.  Most of the best scenes involve him and one of the other actors. That was a wise choice on the part of the filmmakers and gives the movie it’s heart.  You actually feel bad about the demise of some of the characters thru him.

I cannot believe and am loving the fact that in 2015 we got a creature feature that used practical effects work!  Sometimes I can pick out certain scenes or creature designs that are practical but there are always CGI “assists” that annoy the crap out of me.  This is old school film making at it’s best.  Ironically most of the kills happen off-screen but that doesn’t stop the cast from getting a healthy dose of bodily fluids spraying on them.  Real stuff on set for them to react to.  What we do see are many different creature designs, model work, and other goodies you never see anymore.

creatureI’ve mentioned that we see some familiar scenes and plot from other movies in Harbinger Down.  Well apparently this was the point.  In addition to the obvious there are so many subtle nods that hardcore horror fans will spot that it makes me want to go back and watch this movie again and again.  Who said you can’t do a practical effects movie like this anymore?  Well I think I might have but thankfully I was wrong.

If you like good horror movies with great special effects, then you need to see Harbinger Down.  If you love CGI then you don’t need to see this movie and can frankly go to hell!  I highly recommend this one.

The Most Offensive Comedy Ever Made (2007)

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The disclaimer says “This was not made in malice. This movie was made as an experiment to see how far we could push the boundaries”. Nothing is safe from race, religion, child molesters, sexual orientation, Nazis, cops, to political views. To a casual viewer this might look like an excuse to just be as offensive as you can and use racism as cheap humor. What’s really going on is a look at what people find offensive and why. If everyone is offensive to everyone what exactly are you being offended by? There are going to be times in the movie when you’ll find yourself saying “That ain’t right” and then there are times when you are going to burst out laughing. The question is why are you laughing. Is it because something offensive was so over the top that it made it funny or something else. The movie was made to both offend those that are easily offended and for those who don’t take themselves too seriously. As an experiment it definitely does test the way you think.

As you would expect from a Bill Zebub movie the script is quick and tight. The soundtrack has some great Metal tunes. There is also a slew of naked women. Wait, was that offensive?