Saturday, June 18, 2011

Candidate # 25

(August 2010)

Now that was one fun slasher ride.
I imagine two of the reasons why I enjoyed Adam Green’s Hatchet II more than its predecessor are: 1) I already knew what sort of tone to expect given my previous experience with the original; and 2) having seen Spiral and Frozen, I’m assured that Green is capable of more than just delivering over-the-top stalk and slash mayhem.

Whatever some of the other reasons may be, bottom line is, if you remember the ‘80’s slasher heyday with fondness, you’ll doubtless appreciate Hatchet II.
Buckets of fake (and in some cases, unashamedly rude) gore and bloodletting, Tony Todd, AJ Bowen, a bunch of familiar Frozen faces, and a Behind the Mask nod.
Not much more you can ask for in a movie like this…

Parting shot: There are reviews of Hatchet and Behind the Mask: The Rise of Leslie Vernon buried in the Archive, along with ¡Qué Horror! mentions of Spiral and Frozen.

(Hatchet II OS courtesy of

Candidate # 24

(February 2009)

I’ll admit: this was a pleasant surprise.
I went into Måns Mårlind & Björn Stein’s Shelter largely because, a) it sported a fine cast (Julianne Moore, Jonathan Rhys Meyers, Jeffrey DeMunn, and Frances Conroy), and b) I was curious; I may not have been thrilled with Identity-- a title previously penned by Shelter’s writer, Michael Cooney-- but it was nonetheless, an ambitious bit of screenwriting, so I wanted to see what Cooney had come up with here.
Shelter starts off as a psychological thriller with Moore as a self-professed “doctor of science and woman of God,” who looks into Rhys Meyers’ (head)case. The film then unwinds in an interesting and involving manner, and while what it eventually ends up being may not be entirely new and original, it’s still an excellently executed bit of genre that’s worth a look.
And it was definitely a better ride than Identity turned out to be…

(Shelter OS courtesy of

Candidate # 23

(January 2010)

The undead hordes have trudged onto German soil.
Brought to us by director Marvin Kren, from a screenplay written by Benjamin Hessler, Rammbock (alternately known internationally as Siege of the Dead and Berlin Undead) is purportedly the first German zombie film* and if only for the distinction, it’s worth checking out.
At a brief 59 minute running time, it’s approximately as long as an episode of The Walking Dead and plays out much better than some of the TV adaptation’s episodes.

* As opposed to films like
Død Snø or Outpost, which feature Nazi zombies, but were Norwegian and British productions, respectively. (Reviews of both may be found shambling about in the Archive.)

(Rammbock US OS courtesy of

Friday, June 17, 2011

Candidate # 22

(January 2010)

Simon Rumley’s The Living and the Dead made quite the impression on me (unearth the review from the Archive), so much so that when I first got a whiff of Red White & Blue, I kept track of its development and production, knowing I was eventually going to check it out.
And while this is a different sort of cinematic animal from The Living and the Dead, it’s got the same kind of jarring disquiet in its onscreen action, action that also takes place in that viciously desolate wasteland where psychology and tragedy collide. But just as Grant Morrison’s The Invisibles had its volume jacked up in the U.S.-set Volume Two, Rumley’s narrative sensibilities are likewise amped to better reflect the tone and atmosphere of this American tale of love and isolation, of desperation and revenge.
The performances (by Noah Taylor, Amanda Fuller, and Marc Senter) are raw and unpolished, the editing jarring, the narrative’s trajectory and propulsion coloured by its staccato rhythms.
This is sordid stuff and it’s interesting how Rumley and his cast can make an audience involved and invested in a tale whose characters are not especially likable.
Now I’m even more excited to see Rumley’s contribution to the upcoming horror anthology, Little Deaths.

(Red White & Blue OS courtesy of

Candidate # 21

(August 2010)

John V. Soto’s Needle features as its centrepiece the latest in the notorious line of cinematic infernal devices that includes Hellraiser’s Lemarchand’s box (better known as the Lament Configuration) and Oganelli’s titular Cronos device from Guillermo del Toro’s debut feature.
Here in Needle, Soto (and co-writer Anthony Egan) proudly bring you Le Vaudou Mort, a one-stop shop voodoo killing machine: just add picture of intended victim, and voila, gruesome bloodletting ensues.
Basically a variation of the slasher film (in the same way the Final Destination films are), Needle nonetheless boasts some rather good practical effects sequences.
Featuring Michael Dorman (from Triangle, Daybreakers, and Acolytes), Calvin Klein model-turned-Tarzan, Travis Fimmel (seen recently in The Experiment), and V matriarch Jane Badler, Needle may have a third act reveal-- the who and why of it all-- that isn’t anything we haven’t seen before, but that shouldn’t stop you from checking this one out.

(Needle OS courtesy of

Candidate # 20

(September 2009)

Belonging to the school of international slashers-- which includes alumni like Austria’s 3 Tagen Bist Du Tot (Dead in Three Days), Norway’s Fritt Vilt (Cold Prey), and France’s Vertige (High Lane)-- Júlíus Kemp’s Harpoon: Reykjavik Whale Watching Massacre is Iceland’s winning entry in this global film movement which predated international zombie cinema for a good number of years.
Unlike the previous international slashers I’ve seen though (including those I mention above), Harpoon is the first one I’ve encountered that ultimately plays out as more than just a regular slasher with its cultural context and language changed. There’s a lurid ‘70’s horror vibe to it that makes this one an effective exercise in slash ‘n stalk as an international group of whale watchers encounters an unsavoury family of ex-whale hunters.
And I just couldn’t resist a film that has, a) amongst its cast, the original Leatherface, Gunnar Hansen, b) an interesting callback to Romero’s original Night of the Living Dead, and c) two Björk moments, one bizarre yet oddly moving, and the other, simply headbangingly insane.
Not to mention the fact that, in the end credits crawl, Clint Eastwood, Brad Pitt, and Barack Obama are acknowledged.
Not many films can boast that…

Parting shot: A review of 3 Tagen Bist Du Tot can be found in the Archive.

(Harpoon: Reykjavik Whale Watching Massacre DVD cover art courtesy of