Tuesday, 6 December 2011

How Would You Like Your Post-Apocalyptic Vampire and Frog cooked?

 Nothing like a good mix up, cult or classic, or cult classic. Another wide range of films. First up is Stake Land - is it destined to become a cult classic? Fancy a trip down memory lane with Hell Comes to Frogtown, uncooked classic or over-cooked frogs legs? You decide...

Stake Land (2010)
An orphaned young man is saved by a vampire killer and they head north for salvation.

Stake Land is a simplistic story, it's a rite of passage, mentoring, coming of age movie similar to Zombie Land with a boy being taken under the wing of a seasoned killer, however, director Jim Mickle's offering is opposite in tone –it's realistically grim, hard hitting and bloody.

Refreshingly the two leads played by young Connor Paolo and Nick Damici whether intentionally or not are cold and not very likable. The two most warming characters are a nun played by Kelly McGillis and a pregnant singer Belle, cult star Danielle Harris.
There's plenty atmosphere in this post-apocalyptic world, the on location shoot heightens the authenticity, it cold, damp and dreary reminiscent of The Road (2009) and elements of 30 Days of Night (2007).

There are some interesting set ups notably the imaginative helicopter attack and the girl in the attic. Even though the clue is in the title it's odd, like the sect, the vampires come across as an unnecessary distraction, they could have easily been written as infected people, mutants or something else. Through no fault of the filmmakers the influx of vampire films has cheapened the core idea for whatever reason. Nevertheless, the makeup and effects of the (un)dead are excellent. This coupled with some good solid performances and accompanying music score give credence to what could have been a b-film in any other hands.
Both Nick Damici and Jim Mickle's script isn't scared to kill any one off and while the antagonist twist doesn't come as any surprise Stake Land is more about the characters journeys.

Far from a sub-par film Stake Land is a notable vampire entry and well executed horror road trip.

Hell Comes to Frogtown (1988)

A few fertile men and women exist due to atomic fallout and, as a result, the government places a priority on those that can still breed. One man Sam Hell is sent under watchful eye of a nurse and guard into the wastelands to free a group of women from frog like mutant amphibians.

Hell Comes to Frog Town Is an odd ball post apocalyptic B adventure with Rowdy Rody Piper as one of the last fertile men on earth. Sadly the budget appears to have gone into the surprisingly great makeup effects.

Cheesy dialogue, wooden performances and clunky fights. Although for the most part playing on Hell's sexual prowess there's not enough wit or pace to give directors Donald G. Jackson and R. J. Kizer's Frog Town that cult status. While the concept is fun explosive tracker pants, horny frogs even with the women in control it still comes across for the most part sexist and falls flat.
Piper is his amusing self but is wooden compared to his performance in They Live made the same year. Nurse Spangle is played by stunt woman, Conan star Sandahl Bergman who is in great shape but isn't the best actress especially when put along side guards women Cec Verrell who has little screen-time. Big Bill William Smith appears and steals every scene with his presence.

It's worth checking out to see what the fuss is about but you're unlikely to want to revisit.

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