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The Box Set Project

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.


Night train to terror

boxftdnight_train_to_terror_poster_01For some strange reason, I can’t remember anything about this film except the band. I know I’ve seen it in the past, but honestly as I looked at it and was kind of drawing a blank so I thought I’d throw it in for a viewing while I was watching the rest of this collection. I still can’t believe that I just don’t remember any of this! It’s an anthology film with three stories told against the backdrop of a train ride to heaven or hell – we’re not exactly told which. God and the Devil are examining the lives of certain people and bargaining for who is going to go where.

During these framing sequences, we also get treated to an extremely 80s rock band playing the same song over and over again. It’s not aparticularly good or bad tune but it does get stuck in your head.

There’s stories about the devil trying to recruit as well as tales of mad scientists and doctors of using patients… I can’t believe I forgot Richard Moll is in this! He plays two different characters into different segments! I love Richard, I especially love his exploitation and horror work – and I told him that myself by the way. Of all the people from my favorite Sitcom;Night Court, he has by far had the most interesting career. Night Train to Terror is a fun film, it’s very much a product of its time and also very much a direct to video kind of film. The back and forth between God and the Devil – I can’t argue the conceit, but it does come off as cheesy. So does the band. The vignettes are utterly forgettable, indeed, Not only have I forgotten them once… But even as I attempt to write this article the stories are a little fuzzy. It’s a nice quick watch though – and really good fodder for horror hosts (in fact that maybe where I’ve seen this previously), More than anything and I can say for this, is that it is a fun film – and definately a recommend. I’d even go as far as to say this one is a buy. You can usually find it cheap, and considering I can never remember these plots – it’s a great value because I feel like you’re seeing a new movie every time!


The farm

boxftdthe-farm-survive-the-dead-dvd-cover-fsk-18For a low-budget micro production, the farm sure does feel like it’s got some good production values. he film is shot well and the actors are reasonably competent done the problem with the bar, is that it takes itself way too seriously. This wants to be a serious interpersonal drama with musings on mortality and purpose – but it doesn’t earn it.

Moreover it’s a zombie film that forgotten that it’s a zombie film. The monsters are somewhat alluded to – that is, we know there is a thread out there, but we don’t actually see the zombies until we are well past the half way point here.

This is the story of two brothers that have survived a zombie apocalypse on the family farm, when a girl stumbles into their life searching for her sister – a sister that they had just killed moments before she turned up. The story is actually much simpler than that, it’s looking at the wounded younger brother, the protective over older brother, and let’s go get some supplies so that we can actually shoehorn some zombies into this story. I think this film could work better if they attempted to have fun with that. If they injected some core humour… But the film insists on itself, and this makes it come off as way too heavy handed. It wants to be an art film instead of a zombie film, but in doing so it succeeds it being neither.

The greatest care is given to the brothers make up, which is an interesting scarring along with the missing arm – it’s cleverly pulled off, though it’s fairly simple see how it’s been done and the greasepaint doesn’t always match his skin tone. The zombies on the other hand are far simpler – shambling ragged clothes with blood poured over them. I’m a little less impressed by this. In some ways it almost feels like someone wanted to make the walking dead but didn’t want to put in the effort. Really that’s the perfect way to sum up this film – it’s the sort of thing I’d expect to see at a film festival with dozens of other movies, or in a film class where the student is just a little bit too impressed with himself. This one is definitely a pass.


Eaters : Rise of the dead

boxftdeaters__rise_of_the_dead_eaters_dvd_s5_03bEaters : Rise of the dead is a by the number is zombie film.it’s right out of the Romero playbook, zombie outbreak and fall of society. Very standard fare, with a lot of actors who are definitely into horror and genre films. The zombies here are viral, not quite as fast as rage zombies but certainly that same origin done make up is good, the splatter is fun and the filmmakers are trying very hard to make an enjoyable film. They realise this is not art, and there are definately not trying for a high concept piece here.  It’s good bloody fun to throw on and play in the background at a party or will you do something else.it’s exactly the sort of thing that I expect to see a compatible like cinema wasteland done it also exactly the sort of film that I could see myself renting back in my College days. It’s a recommend, but a shaky one. Go in with low expectations and you’ll have fun.


Rabid rage

boxftdindexThis film would be easy to put in a box – standard low-budget zombie fair but it kind of deserves better than that. It’s easy to dismiss it as another shot on tape, micro budget zombie flick – with credits crafted using the latest Windows movie maker plug-in and the trendiest fonts they could find from the free download sites on the internet. It really makes me want to dismiss it, but there IS a story in here somewhere, and it’s a genuinely good idea.

Two couples accompany their friend out to the lake, where they’re planning one last great weekend before he goes in therapy (No one seems to optimistic about his cancer). Army people in that same words, and one of them doesn’t look too well. One of the army men is affected, and discovers a cancer patient infecting him as well.

The clever thing is that while this is a great virus film it’s not a zombie virus. It doesn’t kill you, at least not right away down the range text over in trigger situations, and those bits of rage become more and more frequent. It’s a conciet that works extremely well for a micro budget production with fairly amateur actors stomping around a wooded area. It’s the sort of idea I genuinely like to see developed further and picked up by somebody who can give it a better production than it’s got. The script is smart enough to give include a bit of a twist ending and I honestly left the film feeling pretty satisfied. I’d have been completely okay buying this movie at a convention or at the discount bin – it’s definitely worth the time to watch. Despite the rocky start is more here than meets the eye.