Thursday, October 25, 2012

Planet of the Vampires

I remember seeing the cover for this movie back when I would troll the video store shelves looking for something horrific to watch. I never ended up getting it though. I don't think the art looked like this, though it was similar. It had more skeletal creatures on it but I remember the face of the space man, I think. It was years ago, so you'll have to forgive me if I get it wrong. It took me about 20 years, but I finally made up for leaving it on the shelf so long ago.

Was it worth it? You bet.

This is classic 60s sci-fi, done by one of the masters of cinema, Mario Bava. It simply oozes style and scares and has a decent story to boot. It follows the story of two space ships that are exploring a distress signal from a mysterious planet. Due to a sudden gravity field disturbance, the ships crash and are separated. Most everyone falls unconscious save for Captain Mark Markary (fantastic name), who guides his ship down and is treated to his ship mates trying to kill each other. After stopping them from doing so and helping them regain their senses, they all decide to look for their companion ship so they can get the hell off of this rock. Unfortunately, what waits for them outside isn't so friendly, as they are picked off one by one by a mysterious foe. Can they find the other ship and get off the planet in one piece? Why are the corpses of dead crew members reanimating? Where can I get one of those cool space suits? All these questions and more are answered, on the PLANET OF THE VAMPIRES!

Ok, maybe not the last question. Still, this is a fun film with an interesting premise and some nifty effects work. The use of color in the film gives it a pulpy feel like we're reading an old EC comic and there's an eerie fog that is put to good use in both hiding the limited sets and creating a spooky atmosphere that holds only danger for our heroes. The cast is good and attack their parts with great gusto. The captain in particular is rather awesome. My only complaint would be that they tend to leave people alone quite a bit when they know something is taking them out, even if they can't see what.

Fun fact that you can read everywhere else: This movie is said to have inspired some parts of Alien, though the screenwriters for that deny ever seeing it. Still, you have a ship investigating a distress signal on a strange planet and they find a strange ship with a gigantic skeleton in it as well. Of course the rest of Alien seems to crib quite a bit from It, the Terror From Beyond Space so they really just mushed the two together. It's just really cool to the elements that they may have used. If the writers didn't see it, maybe the production designers did. Who knows?

If you like the old films and have a hankering for some classic sci-fi/horror, check it out.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Piranha 3D

Got Netflix hooked up on the tv in the basement now so I can watch awesome stuff like this movie while my other watches horrible shows I shall not mention.

I've been a fan of Piranha since I was little. I think I even saw it before I ever saw Jaws. I saw the sequel with the flying fish. I saw the remake with the Greatest American Hero and Punky Brewster. When this new remake came out, I knew I had to see it, though since life intervenes, I didn't manage to do that until last night.

Much like the original, it involves a school of piranha being loosed from their containment into a lake. However, instead of being military grade man-eating fish, these are prehistoric ones that have been locked away for a few million years in an underground lake. When an earthquake hits, they are released and carnage ensues.

And boy, does it. There is no shying away from the blood in this movie. Or the nudity, for that matter, as they have both in copious amounts. People are gnawed to death with great fervor and we see legless people, armless people, people with no skin on their face, thoroughly chewed skeletons and more. The practical effects for these parts are rather amazing too. The CG could use a little work, though that might be due to the 3D process they used as anything CG looked rather apparently so. A few prop fish might have done them some wonders.

In addition to the sheriff trying to close the beach and stop the threat in a homage to Jaws, we also have her son who is out on the lake with a sleazy filmmaker and some ladies he wants to get to know better. Then there's her other kids, who are stranded out on the lake too. So there's drama to go around. Elisabeth Shue plays the sheriff and I don't remember when she went from hot babysitter to hot mom, but now I feel old. Their stories are all entertaining, though the little kids need to be smacked, I think.

A good way to pass an hour and a half.

Check it out.

The Falling

I can't remember where I heard about The Falling, but I kept seeing it pop up in the horror section of Netflix and decided to give it a watch as the copy I have of Night of the Werewolf is apparently all in Spanish with no subs. Fantastic.

The Spanish connection continues in this film as the three main characters are making their way across Spain in a RV. Unfortunately for them, they stop in a small town where alien parasites have started taking over the townsfolk and turning them into zombie-like folk whose heads eventually explode and release the alien. Meanwhile, a NASA investigator is trying to stop the outbreak before it can spread to a more populated area.

It stars a guy from Chariots of Fire and the girl from Ice Castles and is actually pretty decent. There's a bit of a love triangle between the three heroes, as the two guys both have a crush on the girl they are traveling with, though she just wants to keep both of them in the friend zone. The encounters they have in the town get steadily creepier until we're in full blown outbreak territory.

Spoilers ahead.

My only problem with it is the ending. They were given a vaccine that they risked their necks to obtain, but at the end it doesn't work, as illustrated by the drops of blood from Dennis Christopher's nose, which is a telltale sign of infection. I understand that it makes it a bit of a shocker, but it's just so damn hard to tell how you get infected. It isn't limited to this movie either. A lot of these "virus" films pull such shenanigans, where a person at the end is miraculously infected and either spreads the germ or has to be killed. I prefer more precise vectors or at least a situation where it adds to the tension, like in a movie where they're wearing containment suits and one breaches and then you don't know if they're infected but there is certainly a chance.

End spoilers.

Speaking of containment suits, this movie has perhaps the silliest looking scientific equipment in the form of the space suits that the scientist and his friend wear. Nothing says "space age" like motorcycle helmets. Pure awesomeness. I love it when movies do that.

A decent movie and well worth checking out.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Vs. Reality

Vs. Reality (Vs. Reality, #1)Vs. Reality by Blake Northcott
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Checked out this book on a lark as I follow the author on Twitter. It's an enjoyable and fast read that utilizes and interesting take on superheroes. Instead of everyone being powered all the time, they have to activate their abilities in different ways and then they only last for a limited time.

This book focuses on Cole, a boxer who can't win a fight and who finds himself thrust into the world of would-be heroes and a shadowy syndicate of Collectors that want to capture them for their own nefarious reasons. They're a motley crew, but they just might have what it takes.

I found the characters well-rounded and entertaining and I cared for their plight. I think the villains could have used a bit more fleshing out, but they served their purpose and were suitably badass and imposing. This is the first book in a series and I can't wait to check out the next one. You should too.

Good job, Blake!

View all my reviews

Saturday, October 06, 2012

New Year's Evil

You know you're in for an interesting time when a slasher movie has its own them song. Sometimes you have to wait until the end like in My Bloody Valentine. Other times, like in New Year's Evil, you hear it right off the bat. And then several times more thanks to it being a song sung by a band on the tv show in the movie. Just nod along.

Anyhow, I was looking for something horror-related to watch last night and since I taped this off TCM a few months ago, why not clear off my DVR in the process?

It's an entertaining movie, following a killer and spending quite a bit of time with him as he kills people as the New Year hits in different time zones and phones in the recordings he makes to a woman hosting a New Wave New Year's Countdown. He goes through a variety of disguises as he kills, from orderly to cop to priest to porno mustache. Most of the kills are rather bland but the music and total 80s immersion make it worth it. It's such a great slice of what made that decade ridiculous at times.

Plus there's a young Teri Copley as a teenager who is preyed upon by the killer. Also, there's an awesome voice changer that the killer uses when phoning in to the show. And the bizarre son of the tv host who wears her stockings over his face for some of the movie.

Might be something you want to watch closer to the holidays instead of October, but it's worth a look.

Tuesday, October 02, 2012

Bloody Birthday

Sometimes a movie suckers me in with a good premise. Other times it is because of an actor that I want to see. That's what happened with Bloody Birthday, as I was cruising around Netflix and looking for something fun to watch. I saw Michael Dudikoff was in it and I love me some American Ninja.

All I can say is, damn you, Netflix.

In a small California town, three children are born during an eclipse. This is bad, as they grow up a bit wrong, and ten years later these kids are full blow psychos and killing people around town as they gear up for their birthday. Only Timmy and his sister realize the kids are evil after escaping from being killed by the little tykes and its up to them to stop them.

I wasn't that thrilled with the film. I'll tell you why but spoilers will abound, so beware. First of all, it's a killer kid movie. That's not really a spoiler. It's on the damn poster and revealed in the first fifteen minutes or so. Sweet art, by the way. They don't make posters like that anymore, do they? But I digress. I've never been a fan of killer kid movies. Mainly because they usually have the kid win or get off without consequences. So you're rooting for people that ultimately lose or even if they win, the kid is out there to kill again. That's what happens here. They fooled me too, as at one point a girl is sharpening garden shears and I thought for sure they would use them on one of the evil kids, maybe fending off an attack. The most we get to see in terms of justice is the hero kid punching one of them in the face, which is pretty satisfying. And even though two get arrested, one gets away to kill again. Ugh.

On the bright side, we get to see Julie Brown in all her glory, and that ain't too bad. The kills are alright. Nothing crazy but well done. It is rather hilarious that the murders take place and the funerals are the next day. That must have been one busy undertaker. Also, they still have the party for the kids even though the town is being slaughtered by the ruthless kids and one of their own father's is a victim. That would put a bit of a downer on the festivities, I would think.

Not the greatest of films but it'll keep you entertained and it is rather short. I'm just not a huge fan of the sub-genre. They need some comeuppance, damnit.