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The Box Set Project

I eat your Skin

boxdw3c9b0b2b91d8e5c53553610c77561073When it comes to old time voodoo zombies, I’m a fan. From White Zombie to films like this… Although I’ve got to wonder, of all the public domain ones out there why they chose this one? I think i’d actually have liked Mantan moorlands “king of the zombies” netter. I mean, if you’re going to kinda cheat on a box set like this and stick in some public domain stuff, I personally want to go at the best… Maybe it’s the name, the name is quite shocking although I’ve personally always wanted to see this done in a double feature with “I drink your blood ”

Still, this one is nice pick… It’s typical of 50’s B-movie schlock ( i know it was made in the 60’s but it really LOOKS 50’s) and the ping-pong ball eyes are a classic favourite of mine. The story is fairly simple. White man accidentally creates the formula for zombies from snake venom and a dash of voodoo and things go downhill from there.  In the end, this is not a film that I generally seek out, but at the same time I’m not likely to turn it off if it’s going to show up being hosted by my favourite horror hosts. Let’s face it, this one was included on the set for padding and not much else.

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Die-ner

boxdw148-1-lDiner is well acted well put together – the only thing that’s missing here is the story. I was surprised by the serious tone here… They’re very much playing it straight and I’m not sure I get it. With a name like die ner (get it?) it seems like the makers of this film had a self referential sense of humour and I thought that would come through in the movie itself . No such luck – this entire thing is played pretty deadly earnest. We have a killer who has already murdered the cook and waitress in the establishment but patrons come in before he can make it to get away.  . We’re given no explanation for why the dead walk, but they are  standard zombies. Shanbling, flesh eating, nothing to see here. Our killer occasionally pontificates on the meaning of life and our couple is just screamingand freaking out. Like I said, the actors here are all competent – the editing is fine, there’s just no story here. There is no rhyme or reason to anything.  It would fit right in with an  episode of a Walking Dead anthology series, as part of a bigger world but standing alone,it fails to satisfy.


Destined To be Ingested

boxdwdtbdI’m at a complete  loss to figure out what the filmmakers were trying to accomplish with this one. It’s obviously a throwback movie, and there are heavy influences from Fulchi’s Zombie and Wes Craven’s The Hills Have Eyes here (I hear people say Cannibal Holocaust, but I really don’t see it….I think they’re reading too much into the title), with the setting, and the dubbing but beyond that I’m not sure what they were doing. If they were going for horror, they failed. It’s not scary in any real way. If they were going for parody, they also failed there too – it’s not funny or clever. It’s not really an exploitation film. At best it’s a hollow imitation of a grindhouse movie, but without the exploitation elements that keep those interesting.

A group of tourists on a boat end up on a deserted island. Sometimes there are cannibal natives (The whitest, most Caucasian looking barbarians this side of Iowa).  One of the natives takes a shine to one of our characters and about halfway though it turns into a weird cannibal lifetime channel movie… Yes, I realize, this sounds inconceivable. Imagine my disbelief as I watched. Especially when the undead zombies arrive in the last ten minuets.

There’s no character development, and these people don’t really even have the substance of caricatures. The kills are uninspired and uninteresting. I’ve seen student films do far better with far less.

Perhaps the title should have warned me, but I’ve seen plenty of good movies with dumb titles. This isn’t one of them. I’m going to say just flat out skip this one.


River of Darkness

boxdwThis should be awful.

river_of_darkness_filmposterI mean it. The credits started rolling and up comes Kurt Angle’s name. Then Kevin Nash’s.then another wrestler…and another wrestler…. Crap, this is a wrestler movie???

It shouldn’t work, but then again, we don’t watch horror movies for the Oscar worthy performances do we? The wrestlers give a serviceable showing in their roles and are joined by some Romero alumni. I recognized the late Bill Hinzman’s name in the credits ( he was the very first zombie in Night of the Living Dead) and quickly recognized Dawn of the Dead Alumni Joe Shelby and Nick Tallo. We even get a shot of the old crypt and the graveyard from Night of the Living Dead.

I’m surprised at how much  I like this. It’s a nightime movie about a group of wrongfully lynched hicks who return – bearing more of a resemblance to ghosts than zombies. Whatever they are, the monsters have a great look to them and the carnage they wreak is bloody, gory and enormous fun. The film manages to create a spooky atmosphere, very reminsant of the Fog with the monsters reminding me a great deal of the Blind Dead. It’s that kind of movie. The killing and the gore start almost immediately, and it didnt take long before I was totally on board.

River of Darkness was one of the more pleasant discoveries on this box set and a perfect example of why I still buy these things!


Ashes

boxdwashes-movie-poster-elias-matarI’m not sure Ashes shoud really be considered a zombie film…it certanly dosen’t WANT to be one.What it really aspires to is a medical drama with some dire overtones. What it ends up being, is a melodrama with medical overtones and a zombie tmen tacked on to the final ten minuets (and considering this thing is a full hour and a half, that’s a BAD balance).

We have a doctor who comes on a stunnning new cure, but is it really the cure it seems? We have long pontificanting discussions and grim scenes involving microscopes and blood tests. It’s just far too ovverblone with such poor pacing, you’d lose me altogether with a lesser cast.

Our actors are good and the film has a polished professional look. I can see that they are going for more of a “Fear the Walking Dead” type of prequel. Most zombie films leave the origin of the virus a mystery, while this one it’s the entire focus. Sadly, it’s not more engaging. If you have subtitles and fastforeward, this might have some appeal. But know going in, it’s a slow, hammy and there’s no zombies until the very, very end.


Mortuary

boxdwMy first thought when I saw this, was “cool! Denise Crosby is in this! ”

mv5bmtq1mdu3nzy2ov5bml5banbnxkftztcwntuznzizmq-_v1_uy268_cr50182268_al_I wonder if anybody ever asks her about this one? Her inclusion in the movie actually makes it feel a little bit more like pet semetary– and that’s not necessarily a bad thing. I guess Mortuary is basically a stylised zombie story? There is a findish sort of moss that turns people into the walking dead – you don’t necessarily have to be bitten either. I almost feel like we also have a kind of Lovecraft story going on with a vast monster hiding behind the mortuary itself.  This is a solid fun horror film – it’s not going to win any awards and the 90s CG I is actually looking pretty dated, but it’s forgiveable because of the period and because they’re trying to create something that looks otherworldly done kinder in the way that stop motion is forgiveable on monsters because we knows? Maybe that’s just the way they move down there some fun make-up choices here as well – green beans on action faces things that point back to the plant-based nature of this infection doesn’t think kind of the Stephen King segment show. I like this that it’s probably one that upload again or have running at a Halloween party… I’m not convinced that it’s the best offering in this sad, but it certainly one of the highlights.


Autumn

boxdw096009173043On to our next set – also a zombie collection with a very Walking Dead cover.

Autumn has some good ideas. I genuinely like the concept where we see the evolution of the Zombie.

It starts off in urban England which gives it an initial 28 days later feel, but soon moves out to the country and we gt far more of a Night of the Living dead vibe. Forget the cover art by the way, it’s not the sci-fi epic about a plague that the cover would suggest. We don’t really see alot of it, we see more of that first shelter that the survivors are huddled in. We see the first zombies, wandering aimlessly…not eve noticing other people…..not hungry. Not yet.

As the film goes on, we se the zombies start to develop senses, becoming  triggered by sound and light. as time passes, the hunger kicks in and they become the real threat autumn_xlgwe’re used too. The progression is original and fascinating.

If this movie has a real problem, it that it’s too long, and WAY too talky. It’s a melodrama in the extreme and would really benefit from some judicious cutting of some of those dialogue scenes. I understand how we got here, the film is based on a book and there’s a LOT of ground to cover. From everything I’ve heard, it’s really true to the source material. Still I think it could have been streamlined into something a bit better paced. This is definitely one to watch, but you need to be prepared for a long somewhat PBS style zombie film and be in the mood for more philosophy than horror.

 


Fatal Femmes part two

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Time for disc two of this set. *Sigh*, let’s do this.

I was actually looking forward to the Cutting Room. I expected a bit more though. This is one of those micro budget affairs you see at horror cons – the kind of film a bunch of people get together and make just for the love of it. It kicks off with a fun cameo from Lloyd Kauffman, but quickly goes downhill from there. We have a director killing off 0683904660022her cast and crew to make the film infamous. I’ve seen this before (most notably in Amy Lynn Best’s Splatter Movie : The Director’s Cut). After a fairly pornographic solo scene with one of the starlets, the gore begins – and there is plenty of it. These folks revel in the blood and torn flesh, keeping the film fun, despite the dreadful lack of polish.

Next up : The Parasite is probably the most professional looking film in this set. They’ve obviously populated this movie with real actors and quality equipment and staged it in a very authentic looking university set.

We have a professor who is approached by a friend to investigate a psychic/hypnotist. This quickly devolves into a “Basic Instinct” situation when the psychic falls for the professor and uses her mental control to destroy his life. It gets points for a nice twist at the end and for being one of the better produced films in this set, but there’s very little here we haven’t seen before.

Finally there’s Up For Rent. Would you actually believe there’s an anthology film in this set?? (and the only one I could find an image of….) Three stories of murder, loosely tied together by the fact that they are happening in the same apartment at different times. The first is Push, a straightforward “woman scorned” story, as the spurned wife takes an unimaginative and bloody revenge on the cheating vlcsnap-2011-07-30-02h26m23s120husband. The second is Eye to Eye, a simple slasher story with no real plot (sorry, I want to like this, but you have to give me SOMETHING to work with). The final tale, Wannabe Deadly is a satire I hope – the story of an aspiring serial killer.

At the end of the day this is comfort food for me, it makes me feel like I’m in the darkened film rooms of Cinema Wasteland watching trash…but I can’t in all good conscious recommend it. If you see it in a dump bin at a con for a buck or two, and you have a fondness for these kind of movies (the kind some people wouldn’t even dare to call “films”) then you may want to pick it up, but if Best Buy is still foolish enough to have it on thier shelves, pass.


Fatal Femmes

boxff0683904660022So I finished that Fear the Dead box set and thought “Hey! This was fun, do I have any others? “It turns out I still had this vampire looking themed collection that I got ages ago… I was missing Cinema Wasteland and in the mood for those kind of films, it looked like that kind of set. I’d only gotten through a bit though, and did not remember why. Oh boy, I remember now. The movies on the first disc don’t even merit individual discussion, we’re going to lump these all into one artificial.

The first movie, the bewitching, is porn. It’s soft core with a plot, in the misty Mundae tradition, but honestly, that’s it. It’s just porn, wrapped up in a framing sequence about a witch going to Vegas. To be frank, it doesn’t belong in this collection.

Bizarrely, the second film is the polar opposite.it is a Christian horror film – a vampire film actually, though we don’t really discover the vampires in till the end of the film .  mv5bmtiymty3ndawnv5bml5banbnxkftztcwodizmdmzmq-_v1_ux182_cr00182268_al_It’s not in your face with its message, it’s more about the setting – a Christian college, we see Bible studies at some point the main theme here is that wielding a cross against a vampire only works if you have faith in what that cross represents. That’s a philosophy I particularly like, and have enjoyed since I first read into it in Doctor Who. The main problem here is it feels like bunch of college students (at a Christian college at that) who happen to like horror movies, decided to get together and try make one… But really don’t understand filmmaking. All that this should have been was a fun movie kept within their own group friends, because it’s awful – and does nothing to enhance out of their reputations as actors and filmmakers nor does it really benefit the name of Christ out there…

The final movie on this disc is really the only one that feels like what I was looking for. It’s called catholic ghoulgirls – basically catholic school girls fight off a zombie catholic_ghoul_girlsuprising. It’s another one of those where it’s about getting together your friends and a movie camera. Very little in the way professional actors or anything like that, but at least it is self aware enough to not take itself seriously.

This one is in fact, feature length, rather than the short film that precedes it. It’s amusing as a basic trashy hack and slash, perhaps the best thing I can say about it. The movie actually ends with the message “thanks for watching a crappy movie! “Which should tell you just about everything you need to know about this film. It’s the sort of thing I’d expect to see on the festival circuit, but not anywhere else.

That’s it for disk one of this set, I don’t think I ever got to disc two before… And man I am hoping it’s going to be better than this one was.


Slipstream

boxftdslipstream894I saved this one for last, because I knew it was going to be difficult. I’ve had a copy of slipstream for a good long while – it’s on VHS and I’m pleased to be able to replace that videotape with this DVD collection. I tried to watch this movie a couple times – I was initially excited about it, I remember reading about it in Starlog. Still, every attempt that I’ve made to sit through it has been unsuccessful. The first two acts are basically Waterworld with sailplanes instead of boats. I think somebody had a session with these aircraft and decided they had to make a film surrounding it. It’s late 80s Mark Hamill – which gives you an idea of the quality this sci-fi film has. Because we start the film with Hamill, I assume he’s the hero of the piece, not so.  He gets more and more unlikable throughout the film and by the end he is playing the character as a little too hard edge, it’s a bad fit for him.

The real hero of the film is Bill Paxton’s character. Sometimes his “Aw shucks” charm routine works. In here it comes up as mostly annoying. It’s all combining the wrong elements and gets dated quick – it’s 1989 and it really looks like it. The film can’t decide if it’s 80s or 90s – indeed, especially when we get into the third act it certainly attempts to turn into Blade Runner.

They say no one ever intentionally makes a bad film, and usually you don’t realize you’re making a bad film what are you doing it. That’s especially true here as we have a future lawman chasing after the hunter trying to grab the renegade prisoner he has in his custody. Along the way we encounter a hidden society living down in the valleys and clefts of the mountains. It’s a little confusing, I thought we had fewer people alive than this… particularly when we get to this last group – and elegant community with a very upper-crust high society look to their clothing and environment. It’s remarkably out of place. Then out of place seems to be the order of the day. I mean, I really don’t know what this film is doing in this collection of “fear the dead” films. I suppose the post apocalyptic theme lands it here… we’ve got a lot of those kind of films in this collection, but this one is especially sci-fi and not at all horror. It’s possibly the highest profile movie in the collection, but it may well be the worst as well. I’m glad I finally managed to force myself to sit through it – albeit on fast forward, but really, I always suspected that I wouldn’t dig this film and I’ve been proven right. It may get another chance for me… I really want to like this but so far I’ve just not been able to.

This one is an avoid, even if you see it in the dollar bin, the only reason that I’m holding onto it is because it is part of an otherwise really fun collection of films.