Thursday, 16 April 2015

Vampire in the archives

Something's gone bump in the archives! Blood Hunger characters Lucia vs Iliana.

Monday, 6 April 2015

The Lazarus Effect Wilde is back from the dead

*** This review may contain medical research undead spoilers ***

A group of medical researchers develop a serum intended to assist coma patients but it actually can bring the dead back to life.

In the first act a laboratory is closed down just as a team is on the cusp of a new discovery reminiscent of elements Flatliners and Hollow Man and naturally Frankenstein with scientists playing God, it's a paint by numbers affair but stylishly filmed by director David Gelb with its moody lighting, torches and strobe effects in the modern laboratory interiors and it has some computer generated effects to match.

With a small cast ensemble it's finely acted, Sarah Bolger is good as Eva who is documenting the experiments, notable is the creditable Olivia Wilde as Zoe, American Horror Story's Evan Peters shines and there's a cameo from Twin Peaks Ray Wise. The second act takes a turn In direction after an accident and a team member is brought back from the dead allowing them to use 90 percent of their brain with neurological extra sensory powers - telekinesis, enhanced hearing, psychic powers and the like. Just like Deadly Friend and the aforementioned movies you know it's not going to end well but it's entertaining never the less.

With music by Sarah Schachner the base and pulse like score add to mood of Gelb's dark tone. The third act touches on thought projection with the director offering some abstract imagery with A Nightmare on Elm Street style coupled with Event Horizon consequences to the team as they are picked off one by one by Zoe. Gelb even throws in some CCTV footage segments and Ring/Grudge/Shutter chills for good measure.

Written by Luke Dawson and Jeremy Slater they offer some logical convincing scientific dialogue but the story as you can tell from the comparable amount of films mentioned it doesn't scream originality. While the twist in the closing doesn't offer any earth shattering kabooms to those familiar with the genre it's a decent update on an age old interesting subject and really showcases what a talented actor Wilde is proving she can shoulder a film effortlessly. Gelb, Dawson and Slater do give a refreshing nihilistic ending which teases a welcomed sequel debatably  more enticing that its parent.

Overall The Lazarus Effect is a mash-up of ideas with a universal interesting theme in which Bolger and Wilde's performance shine in the darkly lit sets.

Sunday, 29 March 2015

Are you unique or simply the final version?

Check it out. You can also get my top ranking scifi ebook as an independent paperback or free on Kindle unlimited here: The Final Version.

Journey through the history of genetics and be catapulted to a post-apocalyptic future, a conflicted dystopian utopia of cyberpunk, cryogenics and government-conspiracy. 

London... The future, Jan Denton is abducted close to Big Ben Redux and is taken across the Atlantic Tunnel to the Oval Skyscraper, New York. He is accused of various murders of famed figures throughout history. Is Denton really Vasco, the killer of these prominent individuals? How could one person live so long? Time is running out as Denton must try to unravel the mystery before an assassin who knows the truth tracks him down. 

Are you unique or simply the final version?

Saturday, 28 March 2015

Dead Rising Watchtower the Film

When a government vaccine fails to stop another zombie infection a man teams up with an infected woman to escape the quarantined area before a crazy man wanting to be king of the zombies expands the territory.

Sony's Crackle, all streaming online, on-demand in conjunction with Legendary pictures offer an adaptation of Dead Rising Capcom's best
 selling video game. What's clear from director Zach Lipovsky's offering is that it's no cheap cash-in. Opening with a cute cartoon explanation of the zombie anti virus Zombrex, we're the introduced to hordes of the dead, a creepy clown and policeman zombie within the first few minutes flashback. 

With sweeping city scales and tight close ups there's a sense of scale, urgency and panic especially with the impending military action. Jesse Metcalfe's Chase Carter is reminiscent of a mix of D.J, Cotrona and George Clooney's Seth Gecko nonchalant delivery. It's good to see one of the biggest 80's stars Virginia Madsen on the screen in the role of a troubled mother. With plenty of screen presence Meghan Ory is notable as Crystal O'Rourke and Bate's Motel's Keegan Connor Tracy is weighty in a small role as Joran.

Sadly Dead Rising is broken up by satirical Robocop-like news reports and interviews featuring Rob Riggle and TV-like fade outs don't help the pacing. It has a C.S.I crisp look, while not filmatic it doesn't feel like DTV and has some great special effects. With slicing spinning blades, bats used as weapons and gun-play there's plenty of zombie blood and guts on display. The second half during the night time scenes gets a little darker, no pun intended, with eerie dead girl characters, chainsaws, rough raping nomads, shotguns, nose biting, motorbikes and more explosions. 

Even though I've never played Dead Rising its surprising how it captures the feel of at least the posters, clips and game adverts I'd seen and subconsciously locked away with Metcalfe striking poses of Carter in framed angles synonymous with the game series (think Prince of Persia).

Dead Rising a.k.a. Dead Rising: Watchtower is a solid addition to the saturated zombie film market with well executed effects and action stunt set ups. It's main issue by default and through no fault of it's own nor Lipovsky's or writer/producer Tim Carter is that it's all been done before. The game also apparently had a liable suit brought against it in 2008 for its similarities to Dawn of the Dead '78 and 2004. Nevertheless, if Dead Rising the film had been released in 2006 the same year of the game release it may have faired a little better as while it is a good production it feels like it's covering old ground, a little trodden and rotten as zombies in general are not as fresh as they used to be, say in 1985. 

Hopefully it fulfils Dead Rising fans dreams but for the average viewer with nostalgic inducing cult films like Wrymwood and Bloodbath Bombshell injecting new life into the tired genre and big budget outings like The Dawn of the Dead remake and WWZ, Dead Rising feels a little too Resident Evil Apocalypse or TV pilot-like with its expensive C.S.I feel and odd set up for sequel ending. If a TV spin off is to come, Rising's well executed focus on violence would put it above Z Nation and debatably below The Walking Dead.

The Walking Deceased Scott Dow's Walking with the Dead

*** This review may contain spoof zombie spoilers ***

After a zombie apocalypse a band of survivors and a sheriff team up with a thinking zombie to get through the outbreak.

Also known as Walking with the Dead opening with a news reporter giving the possible cause of the outbreak due to people not washing their hands after handling sushi, you know what you're in for. It's surprisingly humorous and entertaining, to get the most out of director Scott Dow's The Walking Deceased you'll mostly likely have to be into beer, over the top lampooning parodies and have a toilet sense of humour. A knowledge of zombie films will help but it's probably essential to have seen The Walking Dead series and the film Warm Bodies.

Dave Sheridan's excellent over emotional mickey take of The Walking Dead's Andrew Lincoln's Rick Grimes is the film's main highlight. Sheridan's Sheriff Lincoln hits all the notes, mimicking some of Grimes finest moments. His shouts for Carl and little speeches will make any viewer familiar with Rick Grimes chuckle. There's plenty of other Walking Dead characters on the chopping spoof board nearly all of which have been killed off in the series.

Yes, it's low budget, lowbrow stuff, from jabs at drugs, crossbows, social media including LinkedIn to stabs at strippers and prayer, you have to be in the right frame of mind. Dow's offering looks grander than it should thanks to some good direction, coupled with some blood and guts effects and Troy Ogletree's Romeo lone zombie is notable giving some amusing undead voiceover lines.

The opening 20 minutes of the spoof is probably the strongest, leave your brain at the door and familiarise yourself with the aforementioned films and you may get a kick out of this Romero send up. Worth seeing for Sheridan's bare butt sheriff using his pointing index finger as a gun alone.

Wednesday, 25 March 2015

Robot Overlords

*** This review may contain large robot spoilers ***

After eleven days the Robots from space took over Earth, three years later a group of youngsters figure out a way to fight back.

There's a handful of dedicated British actors including Tamer Hassan as Wayne and a cameo from Geraldine James. Sir Ben Kingsley appears as a traitor to the human race with a northern accent and Gillian Anderson stars along side the young lead actors who figure out how to defuse their restraining blots that keep them under home arrest.

Writers Jon Wright and Mark Stay borrow elements from classic film and TV science fiction shows, Matrix and Terminator-like flying machines, giant century robots, Borg space cubes and Stars Wars droid restraints to name a few. Even dogfighting spitfires like in ID4 and Robcop's ED-209 countdowns.

Callan McAuliffe is notable as Sean Flynn who with the help of his friends go looking for his Dad Danny played by Steven Mackintosh. The scope sometimes feels BBC kitsch but Wright offers some nice explosions and special effects. There's a beat pounding score with a Brit location and retro feel reminiscent of a mix of Dr. Who and the Daleks (1965), Daleks' Invasion Earth 2150 A.D. (1966), The World's End (2013), Lifeforce and 1984.

Hardened scifi fans may want to skip Wrights' bread and butter addition as its derived from many other science fictions. While not as thought provoking as the recent The Machine, as fun as Attack the Block or as good as World's End, it is nicely put together and worth viewing for fans of old school British scifi who may get a restraining jolt buzz from this production.

Watch this Star Wars cartoon short

Watch this excellent Star Wars Anime style short film Tie Fighter

Paul Johnson's seven minute short movie with an amazing guitar track is a dialogue free battle in space, set a longtime ago in a galaxy far far away, between Imperial and Rebel forces. 

It was made by Johnson over four years worth of weekends. The Tie Fighter is film is packed with dogfighting action, wonderfully drawn and smoothly animated, it impressively captures the original Star War magic I felt as a kid. 

Tuesday, 24 March 2015

Monsters: Dark Continent - War, huh, yeh what is it good for?

*** This review may contain alien monster spoilers ***

An American platoon on a mission to extract four comrades are ambushed by enemy soldiers and they must find their way to the extraction point through the alien infested Middle East.

In keeping with the format of the first film the aliens are a background entity to the main plot. Written by Jay Basu and Tom Green, aside from some tidbits of their off spring this follow up offers no great revelations about the aliens. Monsters: Dark Continent feels more of a sequel to a different alien film than Gareth Edwards first outing.

The effects are great, especially the larger Monsters when on display. The acting is outstanding from the cast. Oozing screen presence is Johnny Harris who is notable as the slowly unhinging Noah. Director Green offers a hard hitting war film that pulls no punches with mines, limbs, madness and pressure on display. Yes the analogies of the worlds conflicts is pushed in your face from outset, American politics, warfare, air strikes and its effects on the local inhabitants and the occupying soldiers. If anything, as the soldiers get picked off one by one it's a little too real, relevant and close to the bone. The bombed school bus of children, torture and mine scenes spring to mind.

The opening sets up the relationships of the characters as they live in the ghetto watching illegal alien-like dog fighting. As the men are deployed, it borrows the voice-over of Platoon, unavoidable elements of Full Metal Jacket, Hurt Locker and Jarhead with Basu's plot reminiscent of Saving Private Ryan. Green gives a gritty documentary feel similar to Battle: Los Angeles and Godzilla. Mix in the Middle East kidnappings and setting of Homeland and Rambo 3 and it should be painting a picture of Dark Continent's palette. Yes, there's every kitchen sink war cliché thrown in but it's well written and handled finely by Green with a gusto realism. It's a long hard slog and you feel you've gone through the mill with the characters.

To Greens credit it stands on its own, it's dusty location setting adds to the tense ominous war atmosphere and Dark Continent shows the grim side of humanity. 

Those who enjoy war films will get a kick but as a sequel to Monsters it's subject matter is a hard viewing experience, evoking all the wrong emotions which is not made any easier by none of the original cast returning.

Sunday, 22 March 2015

Burial Ground Nights of Terror

*** This review may contain weapon wielding spoilers ***

Visitors to a mansion are attacked by the disturbed dead and undead monks of the area.

Here we have Burial Ground, Le Notti del terrore, also known as Nights of Terror and The Zombie Dead. Take the sleaziness of The Blind Dead series, put in the trappings of Fulci's dubbed Zombi 2 and add the set up of the Night of the Living Dead and you're pretty close to your expectations of Burial Ground.

To this shameless perverse horror's credit it has atmosphere and a nihilistic ending. Set in and around the grounds of a European mansion it's surreal day and nights on location shoot gives it some weight as a group of visitors get killed off one by one. Directed by the elusive Andrea Bianchi who has a long list of films to his name and aliases, the gore and makeup are effective for the most part and what you'd expect from an 80's Italian splatter film. The film heats up when the zombie's start tearing, eating flesh, boob biting and ingeniously using a range of weapons including disc cutters and axes as they lay siege on a rural dwellings.

Gino De Rossi provides the special effects on a debatable less budget than Lucio Fulci's Zombi, there's a few similar moments to Fulci's classic including a woman face being pulled close to a shards of glass, worms and maggots falling from the rising dead. The zombies are Romero slow but are reminiscent of the wielding weapon dead in Amando de  Ossorio's The Blind Dead.

The score is a little intrusive at times synonymous with the Italian films, there's gratuitous groping, kissing and overblown crying and hysterics at times. The infamous uncomfortable incest segment between actress Mariangela Giordano and Peter Bark, where the son makes advances to his mother is unnecessarily thrown in for bad taste sake. Possibly simply to out do Romero's classic basement setup where the daughter kills the mother. There's a notable decapitation scene of a maid where her hand is nailed to a window and her head loped off by a scythe. Actress Antonella Antinori is memorable along with Raimondo Barbieri who gets limited screen time as the Professor.

As far as zombie films go this takes its self seriously with plenty of eerie bloody moments and while not as good as the aforementioned films of the same genre it's still a video nasty worth checking out.

Thursday, 12 March 2015

13 Eerie zombie virus horror

** This review may contain eye splinter spoilers **

A group of university students go on a field exam unbeknownst that the island was previously used for biological experiments on life-term prisoners. Lowell Dean director of the recent excellent 1980s throwback WolfCop, made his feature film debut with this little spin on the zombie genre. 13 Eerie is packed with nicely executed gross out effects, chewed off figures, exploding heads, torn neck flesh bites and like. 

While the cast are effective enough it's really Nick Moran's stone head Larry character and Katharine Isabelle as Megan that run the show and leave an impression. The set up mirrors Head Hunters as a group of FBI students go to a secluded island, only here it's a group of six forensic undergrads who examine set up crime scenes with real bodies from the morgue.

The film benefits from an on location shoot, much of it at dusk, as the cadavers come back to life which gives it that required eerie (no pun intended) atmosphere. The score works best when it has the base and beats of the likes of Carpenter and Frizzi. The makeup and special effects are great, Dean offers some moments reminiscent of the music video Thriller as the infected burst through the floorboards and Fulici's Zombi with an extreme eye splinter scene, there's plenty of zombie-like homages as it comes to an action setup closing.

It's a fine debut for the young director Dean with a novel staging for a virus zombie-like flick helping it avoid the usual cliché pitfalls.