Friday, October 30, 2009

Halloween Picks 2009 - Splinter (2008)

A lot of horror films are released directly to DVD these days, and most of them are a heaping pile of crap. It's tough to search through all these movies and find one that is remotely well done and worthy of your time, but there are certainly some gems out there that deserve to be found, and last year's Splinter is one of those movies.

Directed by Toby Wilkins, Splinter starts with a sympathetic couple, Seth and and Polly, who are celebrating their anniversary with a camping trip. Since this is a horror movie, you know things have to start going wrong, and they do, when Seth and Polly are carjacked by Dennis and his cokehead girlfriend Lacey. Turns out that being crajacked really ruins the mood, and, obviously, having two armed robbers in your car is enough to disturb your focus on the road. They end up running over a dog. They stop to check on the animal, but what they find is more of a mangled mass of hair and blood, with black splinters sticking out of it. Unfortunately, contact with this dog gets one of them infected with the spikey-like thing (turning into a sort of zombiefied, violent, bloody, walking sea-urchin) and, soon, they have to barricate themselves on a gas station and try to avoid getting infected by the splinters.

The movie starts out pretty slowly, but once it gets going it doesn't stop. Since the story is set mostly in a gas station, with only a handful of characters, it could get pretty boring, but the characters are actually interesting and well developed enough to keep you interested. They also don't make stageringly dumb decisions, like so many horror movie characters: their ideas make sense most of the time, and they really work with all they've got to keep the monster at bay. The setting is also effective, because imagining yourself alone, in a gas station in the middle of nowhere, trying to keep a splinter monster from killing you, is pretty scary.
Effects-wise, the movie is a low budget, but pulls off the gore really well. When a person is infected with the parasite, you'll see bones break, joints bend in ways they weren't meant too, bodies cracking, and it'll make you squirm in your seat. All of that is really well achieved, especially keeping in mind this is an indie, low-budget film.

To sum it up, Splinter is a great indie effort, and deserves its praise. With so many washed up horror remakes coming out these days, it's refreshing to see an original horror movie that, although it has its flaws, manages to present solid characters, a suspenseful story and a disgusting monster. It gets 3.5 out of 5 Splinters from me.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Halloween Picks 2009 - Wild Zero (2000)

Asian cinema is a wonderful thing. When you think you've seen it all, asian cinema comes around and kicks you in the ass with all kinds of weird stuff you never thought you'd see in this lifetime. I've had plenty of "WTF" moments related to asian cinema - notably with Takashi Miike's trilogy Dead or Alive, or with any of Takashi Miike's movies, for that matter - but I don't think any of those were as much fun as Wild Zero.

This movie is just unbelievable from start to finish. It's a rock and roll movie with zombies, aliens and everything else in between. There's no real point in explaining the plot, because that doesn't really matter. Guitar wolf and his band just basically walk around being the coolest, most bad-ass guys ever. Besides, this movie is so over the top that it's not constrained by vague notions of plot. It laughs in the face of good editing and logical continuity. All you need to know is that this movie has loud music, cheesy acting, zombies, aliens, exploding heads, guitar swords and shuriken-like guitar picks. To quote a reviewer from " It honestly doesn’t get better than this! It’s like watching Rock 'n Roll High School if the filmmaker was on acid while directing". It is stupid, yes, but the good kind of stupid. It'll make you laugh and it'll make you wonder just what the hell you're seeing. And that's why I recommend it - while it's not a horror movie, it has horror elements (the main element of the "plot" is a zombie plague, after all) and it's pretty hilarious and crazy, so it's a guaranteed good time. I give it 3.5 out of 5 guitars.


Saturday, October 24, 2009

Halloween Picks 2009 - Demons (1985)

Well, it's that time of the year again. The temperature drops, the leaves fall and you start feeling an uncontrollable urge to watch horror movies. Yes, Halloween steadily approaches, and, seeing as last year my Halloween Picks section was somewhat successful, I decided I'd do it again this year. Except I'll just make one recommendation per post - time is a precious thing, and this days I haven't had a lot of it free to spend blogging. So let's dive right in into the first recommendation, which is...

Dèmoni (in english, Demons) Lamberto Bava's 1985 classic.
The story is quite simple: a group of people go to the cinema to see a movie about a group of young adults that find a tomb and, with it, a prophecy to the end of the world. The catch is that what is happening on screen, soon starts happening in real life, and these people find themselves trapped in the theater, with more and more of them turning into revolting, violent demons (one bite, one scratch was enough to turn anyone into a demon).

Simple enough, and maybe that's why it works. We never get an explanation as to why these people turned into demons in the first place, what's behind the strange mask in the lobby or how exactly they got trapped in the theater in a matter of minutes - but none of that matters. The action on screen is so unrelenting that all this never crosses your mind. It's just craziness on top on more craziness. This is a splatterfest in the best sense of the word, the gore level is crazy: it's a rollercoaster of mutilations and gross-out moments, with pus and blood flying everywhere on screen. This movie preceded some of my favorite humorous gorefests, like Evil Dead 2 and Braindead, and it's easy to see that those movies drew some kind of inspiration from Demons.
The characters are an interesting blend of people: we get the somewhat likeable main characters (the two girls, Cheryl and Kathy, and the two boys they meet at the cinema) , and in addition to them we get such colorful characters as a bickering couple, a blind man and his cheating, shameless wife, and, my favorite, a pimp that I swear is straight out of a grindhouse movie. His acting and his lines were always delivered in such an over the top way that he was incredibly funny and I found myself rooting for him to stick around for longer.

The plot is, of course, sort of ridiculous, but the movie is so repulsive, hilarious and exciting that it doesn't really matter. It's rare this days to see a horror movie so incredibly fun an entertaining (Drag me to Hell is the most recent example that comes to mind, despite it being fairly tame when compared to Demons), so this is a welcomed trip back to the non-sensical hilarity of the 80s.
If you like gore and 80s style horror - look no further. I guarantee Demons will be right up your alley. It gets 4 out of 5 Demons from me.

Thursday, October 08, 2009

(500) Days of Summer

Last weekend me and Cosmic watched a total of 3 movies: Sexy Killer - Morirás por ella on Saturday, (500) Days of Summer on Sunday, and Dragon Wars on Monday. While the first one was a nice little horror/comedy romp from the neighboring country of Spain and the third one was a senseless, ilogical turd with giant snakes and dragons, the middle one was just right. (500) Days of Summer not only immediately won a place in my list of favorites from this year, it is in my permanent list of favorites, period.

In a time where Hollywood craps out counteless vapid, empty and stupid romantic movies a year, it's movies like (500) Days of Summer that remind you that some filmmakers do have a beating heart and actually know how humans act and feel. This movie was funny, moving, and above all, relatable. I think that anyone can see this movie and find something that speaks to them: be it the elation of falling and being in love, the pain of loss and unrequited love, and everything in between (I know this all sounds horribly cheesy and lame, but you couldn't be more wrong). The writing was fantastic, the acting was really good, with great chemistry between the leads (Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Zooey Deschanel), and the non-linear way the movie is "told" works awesomelly well.

I can't talk about this movie without mentioning the soundtrack, that is absolutely brilliant. I haven't stopped listening to it. With a mix of Regina Spektor, The Smiths, Wolfmother, The Temper Trap and Hall & Oates (yes, those Hall & Oates) the soundtrack takes you on a journey through the movie again and again.

This all being said, I needed to do a little drawing of this movie, so I quickly whipped this up.
The likenesses are super-off, but I had to get it out of my system!

All in all, (500) Days of Summer was a beautifully crafted, tender movie about love. I definitely recommend this to everyone, even if you're not convinced by my pseudo-review: this movie deserves to be seen and praised.

And allow me to be cheesy now...
I love you, Cosmic <3 "You make my dreams come true!" :)

Thursday, October 01, 2009


I went to see District 9 last weekend.
The whole hype around the movie made me a little fearful. I thought that it probably wouldn't live up to its expectations and it would just ultimately disappoint. But boy, was I wrong. District 9 turned out to be a fantastic sci-fi movie, with a great story to tell and some of the best action sequences of the last years. More astounding even when you realize this movie was made with "only" 30 million dollars: the special effects are fantastic and really pull you into the movie. You actually get the feeling that these can creatures exist outside the screen, something that rarely happens with something created by CGI. I don't mean to write a full review, just say that I enjoyed it a LOT, and that I definitely recommend it. It was one of the best movies to hit the big screen this year, that's for sure.

Since I liked it so much, I couldn't help to put pencil to the paper and do a little sketch. I know, it's a bit lazy... but it's all I had time for. Enjoy!