Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Machete Maidens Unleashed! (Review)

Machete Maidens Unleashed!

Machete Maidens Unleashed (2010)

Directed by Mark Hartley

[part of the NYAFF 2011]

I've been looking forward to checking out Mark Hartley's latest documentary Machete Maidens Unleashed for a while now. After checking out the trailer, I was salivating to see the history of Filipino exploitation films as I was too young to know what these films were and how they were made. Thanks to the New York Asian Film Festival (NYAFF2011) my dream is now a reality. Hartley, who last made Ozploitation a household name (that's Australian exploitation flicks) with Not Quite Hollywood: The Wild, Untold Story of Ozploitation! takes on the world of exploitation films created in the jungle depths of the Philippines and interviews the bejesus out of everybody who ever made one.

Machete Maidens Unleashed is an awesome in depth look into a period of filmmaking history where anything went, labor was cheap, the blood poured and the boobs, well they were real and they were spectacular. Hartley takes the footage, the gimmicks, the taglines and interviews from the likes of Roger Corman, John Landis, legendary Filipino director Eddie Romero and others to tell the story of what it was like to film mutated creatures, hot women in prison, blaxsploitation and rebellious war flicks. It's a fast paced doc, getting a soundbyte here while simultaneously flashing boobs in your face and decapitating an arm.

What you gain is a clear understanding of filmmaking via New World Pictures (Corman's company) and the people under him. It's nostalgic, funny and mesmerizing to watch. And it's clearly one of the best movies of 2011 in my opinion.

Boring Plot-O-Matic

A fast moving odyssey into the subterranean world of the rarely explored province of Filipino genre filmmaking.

Awesome Review-O-Matic

The movie is broken apart via the different genres filmed in the Philippines. These include:
  • Blood Island series of films
  • Women in prison films (eg. The Big Dollhouse, Black Mama, White Mama)
  • War/Revolution films
  • Blaxsploitation films (eg. Savage, TNT Jackson)
  • Hollywood parodies (eg. Weng Weng)
  • Apocalypse Now history
All the sections are really interesting in their own right. The Philippines was a haven for Corman and his directors to shoot low budget films that look like big giant blockbusters. They flew in beautiful actresses including breakout star Pam Grier and just had them kick ass and get naked. With the blessing of dictator Ferdinand Marcos and the Filipino army and stuntmen at their disposal, New World Pictures was able to make popular genre films for what seems like less than a buck and make millions.

It's just crazy interesting to look back at real exploitation films and see how they were made. These days, "exploitation films" via the Robert Rodriguez and Quentin Tarantino are big budget spectaculars. But seeing the original bizarre plots, bad acting, gratuitous nudity and unreal stunts and how it all came to be is something Generation X,Y and Z never really had a chance to experience.

The interviews, though rapidly short are full of one line soundbytes and moments of WTF. Roger Corman gives you accounts of his library of films filmed in these islands. Joe Dante and Allan Arkush give you an insight look into how they cut trailers where the trailers were made to sell the film with gimmicks and non existent plot lines. I loved the interviews with the Filipino directors which included Eddie Romero and Cirio Santiago. They were Filipinos who made American movies. Romero's take on his experience with Corman is one of genuine admiration. He strived to make Grade A movies and never thought he was making B movies. Santiago directed so many classics such as Savage and TNT Jackson. To think a Filipino director made blaxsploitation blows my fuckin mind. Just freakin fascinating.

The film was originally suppose to be Hartley's attempt to profile Weng Weng, the midget who made James Bond spoofs. There is a section here in Machete Maidens Unleashed on Weng Weng and it's also a hoot. We even get an interview with Filipino film historians, critics and other film luminaries about this universe of crazy filmmaking.

But the documentary's proudest moment has gotta be the endless boob shots. The women in prison movies then women in chains turned revenge flicks is the money shot of the documentary. Beautiful women and their breasts are endlessly looped to show you that these may have been the first films where women were leads and played action heroes. Is it total exploitation or a glimpse into 70s feminism? Thinking about it hurts my head. We get interviews with the actresses and it's just absolutely wild to see what they look like now compared to their hotness decades ago. Pam Grier is still freakin hot.

Machete Maidens Unleashed! is a manic albeit short look into the world of guerrilla filmmaking. There have been other docs profiling Corman and his flicks but none gets you sweaty, bloody and stiff like this one does. It's got me checking Netflix to see if I can watch some of these films in their entirety.

We use the term exploitation film so loosely these days. Anything that resembles something that might be a reboot of a genre from the 60s, 70s or 80s is given that label. But true exploitation films are exactly that. They exploited the audience's perceptions and desires. If the audience dug gratuitous nudity, you made a film that had tons of it. If the viewers wanted blood and guts, you cut off an arm. If you wanted to see a naked black woman kick ass with her boobs all bouncy, you made that happen. Those films were true exploitation and we'll never have a "golden" age like that again. Machete Maidens Unleashed! is your chance to see a history of filmmaking that is the epitome of WTF movies.

And also who doesn't like seeing a hot topless girl fire machine guns.




Tons and tons and tons!

WTF moment

I question why I haven't seen more women in prison films

The Jaded Viewer's Final Prognosis

NYAFF 2011 film festival opens on 7/1. I've created a list of films to check out at this year's festival. Machete Maidens Unleashed screens on July 2nd at 7pm and is followed by a showing of Raw Force.

Head over to the official site for more info.

The Vitals

Check out the trailer!

Monday, June 27, 2011

3 Slices of Life (Review)

3 Slices of Life

Slices of Life (2011)

Directed by Anthony G. Sumner

As noted a few weeks back, I questioned whether or not the horror anthology was seeing a resurgence. One of those films that showed evidence of this was Anthony Sumner's 3 Slices of Life which from the cover art and the trailer made it seem like the "IT" film to see in the indie horror circuit. Would it replace Trick R Treat as the reigning horror anthology in the last 5 years?

Now having watched the film, I can safely say Trick R Treat has nothing to worry about. Slices of Life has a solid anthology structure working in an amnesia girl working at a motel bridge while throwing in the titular slices of life. Those being Work Life, Home Life and Sex Life. Clearly if this movie was going to kick ass, 2 of the 3 stories would have to be awesome.

And that's where we fall short. Only 1 story, Sex Life drew my attention to stellar as the other two were mediocre at best. Sometimes that's how it goes. Slices of Life shows flashes of creativity covered in DIY blood and CGI cleverness, but gets ultimately doomed by the predictable stories and inconsistent pacing. I really wanted to like this flick but the more I thought I'd see an edgy piece of indie wickedness, the more it delivered old Twilight Zone-ish plots and old Tales from the Crypt goofiness.

Much of it reminded me of a Drew Daywalt short but without his ingenuity. The premise clearly peaked my expectations to high but somehow the story never followed through. In a nutshell, your slices are a zombie short, a ghost story and a creature feature. The creature feature is the only one that made the inner gorehound in me squeal with delight.

So let's explore all 3 in a breakdown.

Boring Plot-O-Matic

Sexual Parasites, Disembowelment, Zombies, Serial Killers, Demon Children, Violent Vixens, Rabid Office Workers and Angry Embryos all spring to life from the flesh covered sketch books featured in Anthony G. Sumner's (Gallery of Fear) SLICES OF LIFE.

Mira (Kaylee Williams) awakens in front of a seedy roadside motel with amnesia. She searches for clues to her identity in the pages of three bound sketchbooks, in which each book represents a different aspect of everyday life, maybe her life.

WORK LIFE A lowly clerk at a nano technology firm unleashes a deadly virus at the office headquarters, giving new meaning to the term corporate zombie.

HOME LIFE As local girls begin to disappear, a young pregnant woman is haunted by visions of evil demonic children hell bent on stealing her unborn fetus.

SEX LIFE A young brother and sister on the run from a sexually abusive home life, take refuge in a countryside Victorian manor- only to discover the monsters hidden in this house have been looking for a new home. Convinced that the characters from these books are roaming around the motel, Mira's reality begins to crumble. Are these visions real or is she going insane? Desperate, Mira turns to the motel caretakers (Marv Blauvelt and Helene Alter-Dyche), only to discover the true evil bound in the flesh covered books and the destiny they hold for her.

Awesome Review-O-Matic

First up the glue of the anthology revolves around Mira, an amnesiac who works in a motel. With a weirdo owner lady and a handyman, she mans the front desk and reads up on the mysterious slices of life books that appear before her.

It's an interesting glue that holds your attention. The setting of a motel is a bit creepy and Kaylee Williams gives off a positive vibe. The fact that the film drops off paranormal creepiness to give you each short was a bit overboard. The best anthologies are the one's that keep yourself grounded in a "real world" focus. You know each story is gonna be oddly horrific and the balance of semi realism might have helped here. But I digress. Here's a review of each segment.


From the plot above, it's basically Office Space meets Shaun of the Dead. The unnoticed lonely office salaryman unleashes an e-mail virus zombie apocalypse. I was hoping this would be the horror comedy portion of the anthology and at times it is. A few raunchy jokes via a sex Internet cam site seemed to be on the right track but it slowly descends into a straightforward zombie snoozefest.

If this was trying to be the comedy portion, it clearly failed on both the horror and the comedy of the segment. It's not a bad thing to copy the recent classics. Shaun of the Dead, Zombieland, were a few flicks to copy from that worked the zombie comedy well. I would have love to see The Office meets Romero. We know there is going to be heavy duty fuckedupness later, getting the audience to laugh is one way to set them up.

HOME LIFE: Amber Alert

AKA the ghost story of 3 Slices of Life. If there was a segment to go all shaky cam POV this would be it. I liked the fact we followed Vonda, black pregnant woman who starts seeing evil demonic missing children. It's kinda cool to follow a black couple having a Paranormal Activity experience. But somehow this premise is boring and eventually pointless. The "scares" are weak and repetitive. CGI ghost faces, shadows and regurgitated jump scares never even made me wince.

The supposed twist didn't even register a yawn in my book. There are many things a ghost or supernatural story is suppose to do. It's suppose to be dark, devious and deadly. But there was none of that. I felt like it was a total missed opportunity to jolt the audience with some POV scariness.

SEX LIFE: Pink Snapper

Your creature feature segment is part crime grime part Teeth. If you've seen Teeth, you know what I'm talking about. As clearly as you can see yourself in the mirror you can see the twist coming a mile away but Sex Life had all the elements of a solid short. You've got a brother and sister getaway, an old man with a mysterious agenda and a kidnapping or prison victim. Throw in some superb gore and splatter and a wicked ending and it equals applause.

Deneen Melody as Susan, who escapes from the sexual advances of a creepy uncle flees with her brother where they encounter an old man who they found unconscious. Leading them to a super religious house they find a kidnap victim Elizabeth (Judith Lesser) (who's also on the cover of the DVD) and that's where the twists and turns all end in a splatterific conclusion.

Sure it's predictable and full of one dimensional characters, but it works in my opinion. The practical creature gore and effects are brilliant as is the buckets of blood that drip from the walls in the epic conclusion.

The entire film COULD and I stress could have been awesome. A horror comedy that relaxes the viewer, a ghost story that gets them edgy and a creature feature that gives you the sexual willies. But the first 2 never really got into the final story and by the end, you're not expecting much. Slices of Life is an unfired firework, ready to explode but nobody lit the fuse. Instead we're given sparklers and told "Have a good time kids!".

My expectations were super high for Slices of Life and I'm clearly disappointed that I'm waving my sparklers instead of firing off M80s. Sumner and Tinycore Pictures are talented filmmakers with an ambitious film that gets stuck on neutral. They are real indie horror filmmakers and for that I'm super proud of the work they did here.

All I ask is more bottle rockets, more firecracker belts and M80 that will blow us all away.


Gunshot to the face
Slice and dice
Vayjayjay trauma
Intestinal fortitude
Smash to the face
Decomposing awesomeness


The boobs via the mirror in the bathroom

WTF moment

The Pink Snapper comes to life

The Jaded Viewer's Final Prognosis

The DVD has some cool stuff in it including a Sumner short called "Jitters" which I found to be Drew Daywalt-ish. Feature commentary, interviews with the ladies of Slices of Life and some VDX behind the scenes were also interesting.

There will be more horror anthologies to come and Slices of Life has some moments. It's your decision to choose whether or not you want to see all of them. I gave it 2 spinkicks as I liked the overall premise and the last segment. It's sorta a 1 1/2 spinkick or 2 to me. I'm going with the latter.

The Vitals

Here is the trailer.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Watch the awesome movie The Taint for FREE!!!

Director Drew Bolduc dropped me a line to let you all know that you can now watch his and Dan Nelson's flick The Taint for FREE....yes for freakin free...until the end of June.

I reviewed the film earlier this year and I gave it 3 out of 4 spinkicks. You can read my entire review here.

Here's a quote from my review.

"The Taint is the next evolution of the Troma movie. I think Troma has lost touch with it's extreeminess but directors Drew Bolduc and Dan Nelson have spawned a new genre of low budget horror comedy. The American WTF movie. That's what The Taint is. It's got a mild plot, some easily identifiable characters and lots of WTF. I've never seen so much WTF in my movie viewing history. That and a lot of penis. Yes folks, this movie has more penis shots than a Playgirl pictorial."

Watch the entire film below and head over to the official site, Like it on Facebook and follow them on Twitter for more icky goodness.

Now watch the entire film and be prepared for some extra saucy WTF!

The Taint from Dan Nelson on Vimeo.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

NYAFF 2011: Top Movies to Check Out

Summer is upon us and I know you want to head outdoors and enjoy the sun and the grass but starting next month you may want to head indoors to see some awesome Asian flicks courtesy of the New York Asian Film Festival.

They've just released their schedule and it's packed full of choice flicks from love stories to horror flicks to plain old crazy WTF films. Check out the full schedule. Also head over to the official site for more info.

I've perused the list and here are the top flicks that you really need to check out. I haven't seen them all but I've been itching to see the one's below. There are plenty of other flicks on the schedule, so be sure to check out all of them.

Ticket prices this year will be:
  • $13 general / $9 students & seniors / $8 members for Lincoln Center
  • $12 general / $9 members, students & seniors for Japan Society
  • Japan Society will be running a special “buy 5, save $2 off each ticket” deal (in-person or telephone purchases only).
  • Lincoln Center will again offer their Ten Film Pass for $99 general / $79 students & seniors / $69 members.


BUDDHA MOUNTAIN (China, 2010, North American Premiere, 105 minutes) - gobbling up festival awards around the world, Sylvia Chang stars as a suicidal landlady who rents an apartment to three irritating young hipsters in this transcendent drama from Li Yu (LOST IN BEIJING) one of the only female directors working in China. Popular actress, Fan Bingbing (SHAOLIN), stars as one of the hipsters, but it¹s Sylvia Chang, the most important woman in Chinese show business in the 70¹s and 80¹s, who owns this movie.

PUNISHED (Hong Kong, 2011, International Premiere, 94 minutes) - the latest movie produced by Johnnie To, this is a hardcore revenge drama featuring a powerhouse turn by Anthony Wong as a real estate billonaire whose wild child daughter has been kidnapped. Bullet-to-the-head action the way Hong Kong used to do it.

RIKI-OH: THE STORY OF RICKY (Hong Kong, 1991, 91 minutes) - the classic HongKong midnight action movie about prison privatization and monsters who strangle you with their guts. Rarely seen on the big screen, this is a full-on, ridiculously crazy mind-melter full of crucifixion, flaying, classic kung fu combat and prison wardens who keep breath mints in their glass eyeballs.


13 ASSASSINS: DIRECTOR'S CUT (Japan, 2010, 141 minutes, New York Premiere) -
the complete UNCUT version of Takashi Miike¹s samurai masterpiece. With 17 minutes of original footage restored.
***One of the movie¹s stars, Takayuki Yamada, will be at the screening

BATTLE ROYALE (Japan, 2000, 114 minutes) - a celebratory screening of Kinji Fukasaku¹s masterpiece now that it finally - after 10 years!!!! - has a new distributor who wants people to actually see it. Presented with Japan Cuts: Festival of Contemporary Japanese Cinema

KARATE-ROBO ZABORGAR (Japan, 2011, New York Premiere, 106 minutes) ­ Noboru
Iguchi (Robo Geisha) makes his best film yet. Not just that, but this is the best-looking flick from label, Sushi Typhoon, yet. Slick, big budget and almost family friendly, it¹s based on an obscure TV show from the 70¹s about a young, bright-eyed police officer and his karate robot (who transforms into a motorcycle) fighting crime. But in Iguchi¹s version, the two split up and have to reunite years later after middle-age has taken its toll.

NINJA KIDS!!! (Japan, 2011, World Premiere, 100 minutes) -
Centerpiece Presentation. Takashi Miike's latest flick.

Presented with Japan Cuts: Festival of Contemporary Japanese Cinema

VERSUS (Japan, 2000, 120 minutes) - a tenth-anniversary celebration of the Japanese zombie action film that launched a thousand horror/splatter/action flicks.
***Star and action choreographer, Tak Sakaguchi, and writer, Yudai
Yamaguchi, will be at the screening.

YAKUZA WEAPON (Japan, 2011, New York Premiere, 105 minutes) - stuntman-turned-director, Tak Sakaguchi, turns in a high calibre, action-heavy riff on Robocop all about a robot yakuza out to put his fist through the skulls of the bad guys. From Sushi Typhoon, purveyor of movies like Alien vs. Ninja.
***The movie¹s director and star, Tak Sakaguchi, and co-director and writer,
Yudai Yamaguchi, will be at the screening

Presented with Japan Cuts: Festival of Contemporary Japanese Cinema


BEDEVILLED (Korea, 2010, New York Premiere, 115 minutes) - part of Sea of
Revenge focus.


MACHETE MAIDENS UNLEASHED (Australia, 2010, New York Premiere, 84 minutes) -
from the people who made Not Quite Hollywood, comes this definitive documentary about the Filipino exploitation film bonanza that erupted in the 70s and 80s.



BKO: BANGKOK KNOCKOUT (Thailand, 2010, New York Premiere, 105 minutes) -
Tony Jaa¹s mentor, Panna Rittikrai, will school you now. This exploitation stunt-tacular features all his best stuntmen and women unleashing muay thai, capoeira, dirt bike fu, shovel beatdowns, fights on fire, fights in the water, fights under trucks, fights in mid-air, and two back-to-back
climactic smackdowns that have to be seen to be believed.


Ninja Kids and Machete Maidens Unleashed are my top priority. Once I check em out, you'll see my reviews here starting next week.

Are you psyched yet?

Then check out the trailer.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Congrats! You're a Horror what?

As a horror blogger, I've realized that being a blogger is quite different from being a horror journalist. (obviously) I'm pretty sure the guys at Bloody Disgusting, Dread Central and Fangoria get the best perks in the horror world. I'm not shorting the horror blogosphere. We also get some decent perks for being the soldiers in the intertubes horror community.

What I can say is I do enjoy the few perks I do get as a now established horror blog site. I'm sure there are blogs within the horror blogosphere that get tons of cool shit, being bigger than my little old site but I'm thankful everyday I get a few scraps from the horror world. So here are a few things I do get and also a list of things I WISH I could get.

I DO....get access to screeners for lots of indie horror movies.

I DON'T...get access to screeners for big budget Hollywood horror flicks (screw you Lion's Gate)

I DO...get to go to press screenings for some awesome indie horror and cult flicks.

I DON'T...get to go to any press screenings for see any mainstream horror flicks.

I DO...get some free stuff sent to me like books and DVDs.

I DON'T...get crazy novelty items or memorabilia.

I DO...get offered to go to press junkets for indie films.

I DON'T...go because I have no actual camera crew to film me interviewing these celebrities.

I DO...get to see some behind the scenes and trailers early before they get released to the public.

I DON'T...get invited to visit any movie sets or hang out with the filmmakers.

I DO...sometimes get to meet directors and actors/actresses in a non horror fest sorta way.

I DON'T...get to meet the horror scream queens I have huge crushes on.

I DO...get acknowledged by some horror icons via Twitter.

I DON'T....get acknowledged by some horror icons via Twitter.

I DO...get my reviews quoted in a trailer, poster and on official sites.

I DON'T...or should I say never have gotten a quote from one of my reviews on the back of a DVD box.

I DO...get to go to cool haunted houses for free to review them.

I DON'T...get to go to any film festivals because my site isn't big enough to warrant a press pass.

And finally....

I DO...get a few people reading my blog and for that I'm thankful (thanks all!)

I DON'T...seem to win any awards for my Spinkicks Ratings system (ahem LAMB!)


If you want to do your own list...go right ahead. For you new horror bloggers out there, don't fret if you don't have tons of comments (I never do) or get tons of pageviews or whatever. Just focus on your content and write good and funny posts that you're proud of.

Some blogs post everyday, reblogging horror news of the day. What I do is try to make each one of my posts as creative, unique and insightful as I can. And above all, I try to make my fellow jaded viewers laugh.

I'm like the utility player of the horror blogosphere. You may never have heard of me but when you read some of my stuff, it makes an impact. So if your a new and up and coming horror blog, drop me a line and maybe I can get you some mileage on your blog.

Send me a link to your site via Twitter or Facebook or leave a comment and I'll feature your blog in a post. I plan on doing one a week throughout the summer.

As for my fellow horror bloggers, what secret perk do you want that you haven't gotten yet?

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

The Frankenstein Syndrome (Review)

The Frankenstein Syndrome

The Frankenstein Syndrome (2010)

Directed by Sean Tretta

[screener provided by MTI Home Video]

There are preconceived notions when your film stars Tiffany Shepis. You expect lots of screaming and blood from our beautiful scream queen beauty. However surprisingly, The Frankenstein Syndrome tones down all those things.

Don't get me wrong. Tiffany looks hot in hospital scrubs, she screams and she gets blood on her but this film which starts off with Tiffany in a mask detailing her story to two FBI agents got my interest peaked initially. However, it lost me in the middle and then got it back towards the end.

It's an up and down ride for this film by Sean Tretta. Lots of inconsistency abound in this retelling of Mary Shelly's classic novel. But what it lacks in budget and in pacing it gets back in creativity. But at the end of the day it's an average sci-fi turned slasher flick that makes its mark by reworking the classic monster run amok. If you dig that ole story, you'll probably find this film interesting to say the least.

Boring Plot-O-Matic

A group of researchers conducting illegal stem cell research discover a cell anomaly that has the potential to regenerate dead tissue. Unable to conduct legal human trials, the researchers turn to corpses to test their serum.

Awesome Review-O-Matic

Tiffany is Dr. Elizabeth who joins a group of medical doctors who try to evolve stem cell research into ludicrousness. She quickly makes breakthroughs because she's mega smart and the team is resentful but equally impressed. As this is highly illegal research, they are funded by a world re known doc who's hired gangster henchmen to make sure everybody is scared shitless.

When one of their test subjects offs herself, they test the new developed serum to bring her back to life. Later David, one of henchman is sacrificed for the greater good and is also brought back to life with a more improved serum. He quickly heals, has psychic powers and can literally turn water into fruit punch.

But as the medical staff try to poke holes into our new Jesus guinea pig, he has other ideas which lead to chaos at the underground medical center. Dr. Liz is our final girl and has to survive against the new "monster" she's created.

Got all that?

Let's start off with Shepis. She is actually solid in this role, playing the doc with the moral dilemma and struggling to survive. It's a different role for our horror veteran and she makes the most out of it. Dr. Travelle (Patti Tindall), the group leader plays mother to the new more evolved super human David. David (Scott Anthony Leet) is clearly a conflicted monster and Leet does a decent job in this over the top role even reciting Shelly like prose as he passes judgement on the hospital staff.

But as the horror goes, it starts off with some bright ideas but never really follows through. The flick has ideas of what is right and wrong but focuses on going with the wrong and showing us the consequences. There is a lot of conversations that make up a bulk of the middle of the movie. This is where I kinda got bored. Had there been some monster craziness in the middle of the flick, we'd get more conflict from the monster vs the researchers and antagonism between the doctors themselves.

The Gore-ipedia is wicked cool as the red stuff gets sprayed all over. It's precision like beheadings, face-off wickedness but also your standard blood on walls. Coolest effect? Gunshots in the head.

The Frankenstein Syndrome takes the old classic, has it reworked by indie horror and bakes up a decent horror dessert. It's not the best thing you'll see this year but it's not the worst. The ending opens up some possibilities but you'll have to ride a roller coaster to get to it.

If your goal is to see every Tiffany Shepis flick (and boy she's in a lot of flicks) then add this one to the library. It's not your typical Shepis flick and for that it's definitely watchable.


No Shepis nudity...BOOOOOO!

WTF moment

I wish I could turn water into fruit punch

The Jaded Viewer's Final Prognosis

If you think watching this film is the equivalent of reading Mary Shelly's book, you'd be wrong. Very wrong.

The Vitals

Check out the trailer.

Thursday, June 09, 2011

The Anniversary at Shallow Creek (Review)

The Anniversary at Shallow Creek

The Anniversary at Shallow Creek (2010)

Directed by Jon D. Wagner

[screener provided by Breaking Glass Pictures]

"I did not go on vacation to die"

-One of the characters who dies in The Anniversary at Shallow Creek


If the Dharma Initiative dropped horror movies on the Island, this one would be labeled "GENERIC HORROR MOVIE". It's pretty clear from the beginning to the end of The Anniversary at Shallow Creek that we're going to be accosted by horror cliche after horror cliche. And it's a relentless onslaught of cliches. And these aren't BB gun bullets, their armor piercing cliches that are the size of watermelons.

You might be asking what kind of cliches could go through the jaded viewer's bullet proof jadedness? Let's start with the poster's "inspired by true events". C'mon, this plot is to ridiculous to be real. Add in stereotypical cardboard cutout oversexed white kids, a trip to a cabin in the woods (or the desert?) and a masked sniper killer and it's cliche land, where all your horror cliches come true.

Shallow Creek recycles old horror plots, adds a supposed twist and is so predictable you'd start believing your psychic. I tweeted to fellow horror blogger Michael Allen of 28 Days Later Analysis that I was viewing this film (he had already reviewed it) and I guessed the killer 15 minutes in. He totally confirmed my suspicions. It's shit like this that offends us horror bloggers. We're to smart for a film like this and for an uneducated horror viewer, they're bound to probably think it's the next Scream.

Suffice it to say, only a movie like this would make me wish for the lone pseudo innocent kid to die.

Boring Plot-O-Matic

When Sam and Paige decide to escape the stress of medical school for a romantic getaway in the mountains outside L.A., their four best friends end up tagging along and turning it into a weekend of partying. Little does the group know that their beautiful lodge has a dark history: exactly one year before, the house was the scene of a grisly double murder - and the killer was never caught. Now, as night falls and the group drinks beer by the bonfire, a predator hides in the darkness, watching them all through the crosshairs of a sniper rifle. In an instant, the friends' night of partying turns into a bloody fight for survival.

The Anniversary at Shallow Creek is a slick homage to horror classics and a clever update of the genre that never leads where the audience suspects. As the kill count rises, the remaining friends find themselves to be pawns in a horrifying game - one that promises to test their survival skills and the strength of their relationships.

Awesome Review-O-Matic

For this review, I'm going to quiz you on what you would do when faced with an actual horror cliche from this movie. Your job is to pick what the MAIN CHARACTERS chose to do.

Got it? Let's get it on!

1.) You've got to study for your final medical exams, but your girlfriend wants to get freaky at your secluded uncle's cabin in the woods. What do you do?

A.) Invite all your douchebag friends to the your secluded uncle's cabin in the woods
B.) Fuck the cabin, get freaky with your GF in your apartment
C.) Study for your exams ensuring yourself a career and long life
D.) Play Modern Warfare on your XBox 360

The answer is A. The clear cut cabin in the woods formulaic cliche gets this film started. Turns out the locals seem fucked up as well. Did anybody not see Deliverance?

2.) You've heard over the TV that 2 teens got murdered in this neck of the woods a year ago today. At the cabin you meet the suspicious overly friendly neighbor. You're horror spider sense is tingling. What do you do?

A.) Party on!
B.) Head back to civilization
C.) Party on by dropping roofies in the girls drinks
D.) My spider sense is probably on the fritz

The answer is A. Remember, these horny college white kids have a limited brain capacity. Sex and beer (and this is for both males and females). There is actually no depth to these characters. I mean I actually don't remember any of their names. I think their was a blonde, a brunette, a dorky kid. The one redeeming quality is the girls got softcore. I mean no nudity at all in this flick. Just some bra and panties PG-13 crap.

3.) A 11 year old kid shows up and wants to hang with you awesome bro's. Do you....

A.) Let the kid hang out with you, shoot a BB gun and join in on party
B.) Tell the kid to go home
C.) Tell the kid to go the fuck home
D.) Tell the kid to go the fuck home because you plan on getting your freak on

The answer is A. Why is their a fuckin kid dying to hang out with you douchebags? Isn't that all suspicious?

4.) You're sitting at a campfire drinking beer and toasting marshmallows and your friend gets his head blown off by a sniper. Do you....

A.) Head inside, lock the doors and find a cell phone
B.) Make a break to the car and high tail your way out of Dodge
C.) Start freaking out and take cover
D.) See B.

The answer is A. The movie started resembling Kill Theory (which I liked) and its all about survival. Where that film started pitting the characters against each other (plausible) everybody in this film wants to help each other survive (totally not plausible). When faced with a life and death situation, people think about themselves. That's what people do. And it actually makes for a solid horror theme.

5.) The killer is taunting the remaining survivors by strewing the bodies of victims throughout the house. Do you....

A.) Go to an isolated part of the house and lock yourself in
B.) Use the darkness as cover to make a grand escape
C.) Find a weapon to defend yourself
D.) Make a grand stand against your attackers

The answer is A. I have no idea why'd they do this. It's so fuckin stupid.

6.) You're a girl tied up and told to make a decision. Kill your brother or your boyfriend. What do you do?

A.) Kill your brother
B.) Kill your boyfriend
C.) Kill yourself
D.) Once they untie you, reach for the scalpel they gave you and try to stab the killer with it.

I'm not going to give you the answer on this one but here's a hint. She should have totally went with D but she didn't.

Did you get everything right? No? Then you may need to watch more horror films. There is some sort of twist but I'll be damned if it makes any sense. It has something to do with an anniversary. The ending is drawn out as it tries to prove to the viewer how clever the writers were when they made this bullshit up.

The Anniversary at Shallow Creek is full of countless cliches, ranging from 1st person camera creeping in shots to loud BA BOOM! sounds to get you to jump. It didn't have a mirror scare but get this, no cell coverage is replaced with the fact they couldn't even find their cell phones! The acting is atrocious as is the odd montage scenes bridging the last acts together.

It's a muddled mess of nonsense where motive is clearly ambiguous. The double whammy ending made me mad and I almost punched my TV. If they did a double feature of this film and Drew Goddard/Joss Whedon Cabin in the Woods (which hasn't been released yet) you would probably get to see what they were going to make fun of in terms of cliches.

Dammit, when is that film coming out?

Avoid this movie and search out other newly released films from Breaking Glass Pictures. As 28DLA suggested, go with Dawning which was a solid flick.


Blown up cranium
Slice and dice
Neck trauma
Gunshot splatter


There's more nudity in a copy of the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit issue than in this film

WTF moment

The ending after the ending

The Jaded Viewer's Final Prognosis

It's a generic horror movie. You'll have more fun watching your screen saver than this film.

The Vitals

1/2 a

Check out the trailer.

Friday, June 03, 2011

Cropsey (Review)

I'm not going with a long review on Cropsey. I just want to share a few thoughts after watching the film. This documentary by Barbara Brancaccio and Joshua Zeman is a fascinating look into a NYC urban legend I never knew about. Staten Island is usually the lost borough and I've only visited a few times. But to watch the reality of this so called urban legend was clearly fascinating.

Here be the plot:

Realizing the urban legend of their youth has actually come true; two filmmakers delve into the mystery surrounding five missing children and the real-life boogeyman linked to their disappearances.

The documentary sheds good light about the legend of Cropsey as we view the filmmakers touring the old mental institution located in central Staten Island. The real life accused killer is Andre Rand who is serving an existing prison sentence. They do a range of interviews of the families of the kidnapped children, police and known associates of Rand.

The most shocking scene has to be the Geraldo Rivera footage as he exposes the atrocities at Willowbrook mental institute. Just depressing footage of abused handicapped kids. But overall, as they dig deeper into whether or not Rand committed these crimes, I was intrigued to watch NYC history come to life.

If you like those Dateline NBC or 20/20 mystery shows where they detail a brutal crime and the follow up trial, I'd recommend Cropsey to get your fix. It's a sad tale that is equally bizarre and utterly fascinating.

The Vitals


Here's the trailer.

Thursday, June 02, 2011

The Shortround: Grinning Faces (Review)

Well we haven't had The Shortround in a while. But thanks to Noah Tilsen, director of the short Grinning Faces we've solved that problem. It's not often I get a short soaked in blood, sex and is a total mind fuck. But Grinning Faces is a jolt of all that in a packed 30 minutes.

So what's this about?

Enter Hero’s world. Is he living his life, or is someone writing it for him? Dreams and reality bleed into debauched sex, Sadomasochism, violence and murder.

Once you view GRINNING FACES you will be changed. You will want to bathe yourself, but it will only be in vain. The grime herein cannot simply be washed off in a shower, for it permeates underneath the skin, into the psyche and the soul.

the jaded viewer says: Echoing the self awareness of Wes Craven's Scream but more so New Nightmare, Grinning Faces takes a trip into the horror writer's bizarre psyche. The short is introduced like a Herschell Gordon Lewis tale of the macabre. Our boy named Hero is kinda crazy. As he wrestles with violent thoughts he converses with a writer who seemingly is writing the story we are now witnessing. He tells Hero details of his story which Hero acts out.

Later he meets a suicidal girl just as crazy as he is and they begin a relationship filled with sex, violence and overall twisted graphic insanity. A hobo gets thrown in and the viewer is left with an impression that not all is what it seems.

Lots of shorts I get are filled with your standard template of beginning, middle and bloody end. I've never witnessed a short that actually questions the order of those 3. Grinning Faces has moments of WTF with imagery and silly acting intertwined. Clearly this would work well as a black comedy than a straightforward extreme horror-core. But it's not dull and has plenty of gratuitous nudity to keep your eyes wide open.

I kind of saw the short as The Writer conversing with one of his characters. What would that be like? As a writer myself, I'd like to think it would be most enjoyable. Who has the moral compass when evil is done? The man behind the curtain or his soldier on the ground?

The ending goes all ambiguous but Grinning Faces is a sleek tale of the macabre. An indie short that realizes the audience loves to see twisted shit but also likes to question what they've seen.

Want to watch the short? Check it out by GOING TO THE OFFICIAL SITE.

Check out the below for more info.
Check out the trailer.

Grinning Faces -Full Trailer from landosystem on Vimeo.