As you can see I have a lot of reviews to catch up on!! I wanted to “clear the books,” as it goes, before the new year. This batch of reviews includes a couple of short films. Let’s get to it:
I, FRANKENSTEIN (2014)
Frankenstein’s monster (Aaron Eckhart) finds himself at the center of a battle between two warring clans of immortals in this updated, modernized version of the classic creature.
I don’t even know where to begin with this one. Yes I do … I hated everything and every second of this film. There wasn’t one element I thought was creative, innovative, or interesting. I’m a big fan of Aaron Eckhart, but what the hell was he thinking when he took on this role. This film can be summarized in five words: Frankenstein as an action hero. If these words don’t make you wince then you may be reading the wrong website. Here Frankenstein’s monster is updated as a ripped, buff, handsome, strong, and extremely agile creature. In other words he’s nothing like the classical character he’s based on!! The basic plot is that there’s an immortal clan of evil people and an immortal clan of good people and Franky’s caught between the two. I felt like I was watching a shitty version of UNDERWORLD with Eckhart playing Kate Beckinsale’s role.
Some of the sets are impressive but you quickly forget about them amid all the horrible dialogue, overly complicated plot, and over aggressive CGI. A more accurate title of this movie would be CG-I, FRANKENSTEIN!! The story, directed and co-written by Stuart Beattie, is based on a graphic novel and proves that not all comic books are good (and this is coming from a hardcore comic book lover). I, FRANKENSTEIN is part of the trend to reimagine and update all the classic Universal monsters. Recently Universal announced it will be reimagining their classic creatures more as action films and not horror. Count me out and you should count yourself out of watching I, FRANKENSTEIN. This one is terrible!!
MY SUMMARY OF I, FRANKENSTEIN:
Director: Stuart Beattie (& co-writer)
Plot: 1 out of 5 stars
Gore: 0 out of 10 skulls
Zombie Mayhem: 0 out of 5 brains
12 ROUNDS FOR THE LOADED (2013; 17:34min)
While teaching his son the family business, Logan (Bob Sergi) and his son Junior (Lucas Fleming, Jr.) are ambushed in a bar until a strange man enters to test out his new weapon.
Under the “plot” section on its IMDb page, the question, “Do you know what it’s about,” is a damn good question. I don’t think anyone really knows what this short film is about. My above summary is as good a guess as any!! 12 ROUNDS FOR THE LOADED is more exploitation than straight up horror.
After Logan and his son enter the bar, things go south for them quickly. They are ambushed by a group of bizarre looking characters, tied to chairs, and gutted (and they take a really long time to die). Then all the patrons in bar start killing each other in graphic ways. Then just as you think the weird meter has gone off the charts, an inventor (John Ewing) casually walks into the bar, announces he recently invented a twelve round gun, and then proceeds to shoot everyone in the bar.
What the fuck did I just watch?? I think I just witnessed the first “torture-Western”!! Whatever it was I couldn’t take my eyes off of it. In seventeen minutes there’s more gore than in most full length features. The acting is solid all around but I was confused by the odd characterization of the black bartender, B-Truck (Alex Edwards). This character comes off as an extremely old time, racist stereotype performance. It was odd and confusing. But other than B-Truck and the lack of a coherent plot, 12 ROUNDS FOR THE LOADED is a fun, very gory short. But before you get pissed at me for reviewing yet another short you can’t see, here’s the link on YouTube. You’re welcome!!
Check it out and let me know what you think.
MY SUMMARY OF 12 ROUNDS FOR THE LOADED:
Director: Paul M McAlarney (& writer)
Plot: 2 out of 5 stars
Gore: 8 out of 10 skulls
Zombie Mayhem: 0 out of 5 brains
SCARY OR DIE is the brainchild of filmmaker Michael Emanuel, who directed three of the five stories. Like most anthologies this one is a mixed bag. The opening story, “The Crossing,” starring Bill Oberst, Jr., is a zombie revenge story. Oberst Jr., who puts in another intense performance, is a violent racist who along with two others rounds up Mexicans who illegally entered America and doles out their redneck brand of justice. But this time the racists get their comeuppance. Besides Oberst’s performance, “The Crossing” is a pretty bland and unexciting story. It unfolds exactly as you imagine it would.
The next story, “Taejung’s Lament,” directed by Igor Meglic, is a TWILIGHT ZONE kinda story with a twist at the end. Unfortunately it takes a little too long in the middle to get going and I found myself losing interest. As the end of this story approached it promised to be gory. Unfortunately all the gore and killing was done off screen. Meh. Most of the stories in SCARY OR DIE follow this pattern of having a solid story but aren’t executed very well. That is until we get to “Clowned!!”
“Clowned” makes this entire anthology worth it. It’s the story of Emmett (Corbin Bleu), whose little brother, Andy (Xavier Davis) has a birthday party with a clown. The clown’s behaviour becomes increasingly odd as the party progresses until eventually it bites Emmett. More shocked than injured, Emmett beats the clown and sends it on its way. As the days roll by Emmett starts getting more and more sick while exhibiting odd symptoms. His face begins to break out in clown colors, his hair begins to change to vibrant colors, and he even develops a bright red, bulbous clown nose. But worse of all is his new craving for the flesh of young children.
I know that “Clowned” sounds completely preposterous, but Emanuel has complete control of the story here. It’s a solid story that isn’t played off like a horror-comedy. It’s played straight and I really dug it. I bought into the “were-clown” idea and much of the success of this story is due to the actors. They all do great jobs selling us on the story. There were times when the story became more melodramatic than horrific, but other than that i think Emanuel executed “Clowned” beautifully.
If you were to rent SCARY OR DIE and only watched “Clowned,” you wouldn’t feel ripped off. The other four stories stumble around trying to find their footing while “Clowned” is like a Sherpa effortlessly navigating the rocky terrain of the Himalayas. I’m recommending SCARY OR DIE, but have the remote in hand and fast forward to “Clowned.”
MY SUMMARY OF SCARY OR DIE:
Directors: Michael Emanuel, Bob Badway, Igor Meglic
Plot: 2 out of 5 stars (for overall anthology)
4 out of 5 stars (for “Clowned”)
Gore: 4 out of 10 skulls (for overall anthology)
Zombie Mayhem: 1.5 out of 5 brains (for overall anthology)
I wanted to like this one a lot. I love the first half of the film. Adam (Reggie Peters), Melanie (Gema Calero), and Carla (Daniela Larez) want to set up their friend Jacob (Norbert Velez) on Scary Antics, a reality show where friends set up friends to be scared shitless on TV. Why do they want to scare Jacob? Because he’s a creepy, dark, and gloomy kind of guy and scaring him shitless will, they figure, loosen him up. What could possibly go wrong?? The place the Scary Antics show is using is an abandoned warehouse that was the site of a horrible industrial accident that killed many workers. One of those workers was Jacob’s dad. In fact it was his dad’s death that made Jacob creepy, dark, and gloomy. His friends, the one’s setting him up, know about Jacob’s past and also know the warehouse was where his dad died. Great friends!!
So in summary Jacob’s friends are knowingly setting up their disturbed friend in the exact location where his dad was horribly killed in an industrial accident. No no no … I’m sure everything will turn out great!! Once inside the warehouse it takes Jacob about thirty seconds to snap, throw on a HazMat suit (??), pick up an axe, and start killing everyone. At this point HAZMAT becomes you’re standard stalk n’ slash flick. The acting was all around fair but very uneven and it took to long for writer-director Lou Simon to get to the fun stuff. HAZMAT suffers from too much foreplay and not nearly enough fucking. There’s not even any good gore, or any gore for that matter. All we get are continual axes to the chest kills with very little blood.
In the end HAZMAT is pretty boring with endless scenes of Jacob walking around with an axe while the remaining survivors barricade themselves in a room and bicker and fight with each other. HAZMAT is just too damn predictable, standard, and boring to recommend. Pass!!
MY SUMMARY OF HAZMAT:
Director: Lou Simon (& writer)
Plot: 2 out of 5 stars
Gore: 2.5 out of 10 skulls
Zombie Mayhem: 0 out of 5 brains
The above quote is taken from the description of the movie itself. I obviously have a very different idea of what “horrifically gory” means!! The three stories, “Ripper” (written and directed by Jim Eaves)'”Stitchgirl” (Alan Ronald), and “Vice Day” ( written and directed by Pat Higgins) are loosely (ha!!) connected by all taking place in a bordello. This is an indie anthology and unfortunately it really shows. The stories aren’t too effective and are actually quite forgettable. I watched this one during the summer and if it wasn’t for my notes, I’d have completely forgotten that I even saw it.
The first story, “Ripper,” is the best of the three and is about a guy, Graham (Stuart Gregory) who likes to pick up street whores, bring them back to his house, and then torture them until they die. One day Graham wanders into a bordello run by Madam Raven (Natalie Milner). Graham chooses a girl, but she turns out to be more than he bargained for. “Ripper” was a fun, pulpy story. We get a lot of bright colors and buckets of blood slashing all over the place. The acting was good and the story moved along at a nice pace. The twist at the end was also really fun. Eaves set out to make a gory, fun story and he succeeded.
The last two stories were disappointing. “Stitchgirl,” filmed in black and white, is a complete mess. Dr. Whale visits the same Madam Raven from the first story and asks for a whore with some very specific features. Always wanting to please her clients, the good Madam butchers a bunch of whores and in a completely bloodless scene stitches together all the features Dr. Whale (get it??) asked for. The result is Stitchgirl (Eleanor James) … a slutty version of Frankenstein. We then get what seems like an endless scene of Whale and Stitchgirl chatting on and on about nothing. Then without warning, “Stitchgirl” switches to color, there’s a music video, and then it goes back to black and white. Mercifully the story ends. The soundtrack is terrible in this story and you can barely hear the dialogue (wait … that’s a good thing). And to cap it off, “Stitchgirl” is blood and gore-less. So much for our “horrifically gory” stories!!
I’d like to say BORDELLO DEATH TALES ends on a solid, gory story. But then again I’d also like to say I’m independently wealthy and bang supermodels every night. “Vice Day” is about a politician, Daniel Cain (Cy Henty) who one day a year cuts loose by getting a whore, getting drunk, doing a bunch of blow, and forgetting about his clean-cut image. So on his big “vice day” he calls Destiny (Danielle Laws) who is a sex phone and camgirl. So they sit and talk and he tells her all the naughty things he’s done and likes to do … over the computer!! Fucking shoot me!! Once again, no horrific gore. The dialogue is painful to listen to and the acting is a bit overdone (like cooking a roast to an internal temperature of 400 degrees). I was clapping when this one ended.
BORDELLO DEATH TALES is the bad side of indie films. Poor acting, poorly written stories that are poorly executed, and poor me!! Although the first story, “Ripper” was well done it’s not enough to recommend this entire anthology. Skip it.
MY SUMMARY OF BORDELLO DEATH TALES:
Directors: Jim Eaves, Alan Ronald, & Pat Higgins
Plot: 1.5 out of 5 stars (for entire anthology)
Gore: 2 out of 10 skulls (for entire anthology)
Zombie Mayhem: 0 out of 5 brains
All Films Reviewed by Scott Shoyer