Tuesday, October 28, 2014

A review of "Blood Lake: Attack of the Killer Lamprey's"

Confessions of a Film Junkie: A review of “Blood Lake: Attack of the Killer Lamprey’s”

By: Brian Cotnoir

     Hey Folks, it’s time to review another film by The Asylum!  I don’t’ know about the rest of you, but now I get excited whenever I get to review one of the films from the Mock-Buster Kings!  So let’s take a look at one of their latest film releases “Blood Lake: Attack of the Killer Lamprey’s”!             
     So the plot to “Blood Lake” is almost identical to the plot from Steven Speilberg’s “Jaws”, but it was made on (what seems like) 1/8 the budget of Joe Dante’s “Piranha”...and that’s pretty much all this film is...so yeah...now that I’ve covered the plot, let’s talk about other things in the film.                  
    First of all, I fail to see what’s so terrifying about a lamprey. In fact, I’d never heard of lamprey until I’ve saw this film, but from what I gathered it’s a type of river eel that feeds on fish...that’s not really all that frightening.  When you compare that to a shark or a piranha a lamprey just seems like more of a nuisance than a threat.  I mean, at least with a piranha what they lack in size the make up with razor sharp teeth and swarms.  Plus, lamprey doesn’t sound like an intimidating creature name. It sounds more like the name you’d give to a light fairy or pixie then a bloodthirsty killer animal.                        
What are you doing Chris? Trying to pull
a competent performance out of your a$$?
The acting in this film is ranges from poor to desperately poor.  The child and teen actors in this film obviously don’t give anything resembling a competent performance in this film.  I’m assuming they just grabbed the random kids from the town they were filming in and asked if they would like to be in a Horror film, because I don’t think any of them were given any type of audition.  The character Rich has to be one of the Worst and most useless characters I’ve ever seen in a film.  Rich is played by actor Fred Stoller and not only does he give one of the Worst Performances I’ve ever seen in a film, but also the Most Annoying Performance I’ve seen in a film since Michael Jeter in “Drop Zone”. I hated Rich so much that whenever he was on screen I kept saying to myself “Oh God, I hope this character gets killed off at some point in the film!”  That’s how bad a character he truly is!  But don’t worry, “Blood Lake” isn’t just a bunch of no-name and no talented actors on screen, it also features some well-known actors and actresses as well. Actress Shannon Doherty, plays the wife or the films protagonist, and Zack Ward (aka Scut Farkus from “A Christmas Story”) has a small role in the film as well, but the most famous and recognizable character in the film is Christopher Lloyd, who is pretty much playing the same character as the Mayor from “Jaws”: he is more concerned with losing tourist dollars than the risk of losing human life in his towns waters, he ignores the requests to shut down the beaches to try to quell the situation, and offers no additional funding or resources that could stop the situation all together.  But what’s most sad about this is how poorly Christopher Lloyd acts in this film.  Whenever, Christopher Lloyd appears in this film he seems bored, unmotivated, and like he’s not even trying to give a competent performance.  That’s really saying something because it was only couple years earlier he appeared in another Mock-Buster style film “Piranha 3-D” and its sequel “Piranha 3DD”.  Now nobody thought that “Piranha 3-D” was going to be a good film, in fact they only real differences between “Piranha 3-D” and “Blood Lake” that I could notice were “Piranha” had better CG and slightly better actors, and gratuitous amounts of hardcore nudity.  Even though “Piranha 3-D” was a bad film, Christopher Lloyd appeared alert and professional on screen and did his best to give a competent and memorable performance.  When you watch him in “Blood Lake” it’s kind of like watching Bela Lugosi appear in one of Edward D. Wood Jr.’s films.  I was very disappointed with Christopher Lloyd’s performance.             
Terrible!  You're all just terrible!!!
     You shouldn’t be surprised that “Blood Lake” is a terrible film, and I’m not just saying it’s terrible only because it was made and distributed by The Asylum, I’m saying that also because this film was made as a TV movie for Animal Planet!  1.)  Animal Planet isn’t really the go-to channel for Horror movies.  I don’t think they don’t have the same type of audience that is drawn to Horror films like the Syfy Network or AMC 2.)  Who the hell likes Animal Planet that much that they would tune in to watch this crapfest?!  Egad, this is a bad movie that you should avoid entirely, and I think this go without saying that it will most likely be a frontrunner for the Splatter! Award for Worst Film of the Year.  So stay tuned for that to see if it comes true.

Classics: A Review of Corpse Bride By Lauren Ennis

Over the last three decades, director Tim Burton has made a career out of telling unconventional stories. These tales relate unusual perspectives using equally unique methods, which set his films apart from the conformity of mainstream fare. Although as of late many have argued that the director has lost his touch, one of his more recent outings proves that the master of modern chills still has a few tricks at his disposal. 2005’s Corpse Bride is equal parts innovation and nostalgia as Burton returns to his previous success in stop-motion animation to tell a tale that is truly to die for.

Nothing sweeter than young love...triangles
The story begins as the newly wealthy van Dort’s arrange for a marriage between their socially inept son, Victor (Johnny Depp), and the daughter of the prominent but now penniless Everglotts. Unfortunately for the young couple, they do not meet until one day before their planned nuptials and Victor manages to ruin the wedding rehearsal through his nervous clumsiness. Despite his mishaps, however, Victor does manage to win the affection of his intelligent and understanding fiancée, Victoria. Eager to start his marriage off on the right foot, Victor spends his night wandering in the woods and repeating the ceremony vows in an attempt to memorize them. Unbeknownst to him, however, he is repeating his vows not on just any patch of woods, but on the shallow grave of a murdered woman. When he places Victoria’s wedding ring on what appears to be a tree root during his mock ceremony he actually places it upon the murdered woman’s finger, awakening her from the dead. The woman, Emily, spirits Victor away to the world of the dead and eagerly tells her fellow spirits about their ‘marriage’. Trapped in the land of the dead, Victor is forced to look inside himself and find the courage to start truly living for the first time in his life.

Although it was marketed as a family film, Corpse Bride is a film that has something for all ages. On the surface, the film contains all of the requisite elements for a quality kids' film; lively musical numbers, engaging animation, and humor. These entertaining elements may draw viewers in, but it is the sophisticated story that keeps them watching for the film’s duration. While the film contains the macabre atmosphere typical of Burton’s films, it is this same atmosphere that serves to relate the dreariness of a life lived at another’s bidding. In the film’s world, the realm of the dead is full of clubs, bars, and people of all walks of life who are no longer bound by the worries and restrictions of life, and the land of the living remains limited to a grey world of conformity. As the plot gets underway, it become evident that this juxtaposition is meant to do more than merely provide an interesting visual, as the dead do more genuine living than their still breathing counterparts. Through his struggle to return to the world of the living, Victor realizes that he is fighting for more than the chance to return to his old life, and that his quest is actually for the chance to start a new life that is truly his own. More enlightening than the usual ‘chase your dreams’ morals of family films, Corpse Bride’s message is one that instructs us to seize the day by living and appreciating our lives to the fullest extent possible.

You may now...dodge the bride?
Beyond its timeless message of living life to the fullest while you still can, Corpse Bride also tells not one but two love stories. Despite the unusual circumstances that brought them together, Victor is torn between his budding affection for Victoria and his sympathy for and growing attraction to Emily. Unlike other films which make romance a simple and clear affair, Corpse Bride treats both of Victor’s love interests with equal understanding, making his dilemma relatable for viewers. The film also provides Emily with a compelling backstory that makes her a complicated character rather than just the possessive haunt that she at first appears to be. Through Victor’s interactions with both women, the film reveals the ways in which we can learn from our relationships with different people as Victoria's understanding and Emily's vivaciousness  provide Victor with the strength to let out the best qualities in himself.

The equally nuanced animation and acting bring the film’s outlandish world to vibrant life. As in his previous success, The Nightmare Before Christmas, Burton utilized stop-motion animation to create characters to tell his three dimensional tale. Unlike Nightmare, which used industry standard replaceable heads and mouths for its puppets, Corpse Bride relied upon a system of clockwork heads whose movements were adjusted by a series of hidden keys. This process, while painstaking, allowed the crew to bring even greater subtlety to the expressions of the characters than in previous stop-motion animation films, allowing viewers to read the characters’ thoughts as they would with a real actor. The voice cast also imbued each of their characters with fully fleshed personalities and genuine emotion that keeps the fantastic plot grounded in real human drama.

Musical, horror story, romance, and coming of age tale, Corpse Bride is a journey that has appeal for the whole family. Through its exquisite visuals and unusual story the film transports its viewers to a whole other world that they won’t soon forget. Through its by turns humorous and poignant approach to life and love the film’s puppets tell a story that is more human than many more conventional films even attempt to convey. For a whole netherworld of fun this Halloween, look no further than Corpse Bride.
Please tell me you didn't cheat with a corpse

Monday, October 20, 2014

Top 10 Best Movie Villains

Confessions of a Film Junkie: The Top 10 Best Movie Villains

By: Lauren Ennis & Brian Cotnoir

     Wow, I’m surprised that we haven’t done this one sooner: I mean it’ so obvious, but then again I’m kind of a clueless fellow.  So when my friend and co-blogger Miss-E suggested that we do a list counting down the Best Movie Villains, I immediately said Hell Yes!  However, we had to establish some rules for out countdown.  Our rulings were the following: The Villains had to be Humans; No creature selections (so no Dracula, No Frankenstein, No Aliens, No Hal 9000 and No Bruce from Jaws).  Also, No Anti-Heroes (so no Alex DeLarge, No Daniel Plainview, and No Patrick Bateman).  These are the 10 Villains we consider to be the Best, so please enjoy our countdown, and if there’s a villain you felt should have been on the list, please let us know in the comment section.

#10) Samuel Norton (By Brian Cotnoir)

Samuel Norton is the Prison Warden at Shawshank Prison in Maine.  He claims to be the man of the law and of God, but in all actuality is neither.  He is two-faced and the definition of corruption and hypocrisy.  He uses his position of power to start his own business and uses his prisoners as his slave labor.  He also permits his guards to viciously assault and murder the prisoners.  He has one of his prisoners, Andy Dufrense, keep and forge his bank books so that he can have a cushy retirement when he leaves the prison.  However, when Andy goes to the Warden for a favor that could lead to his release from Prison he has the guard’s throw Andy is solitary confinement for 2-months.  After he releases Andy the Warden tells him that if he ever thinks or talks about leaving prison again that he will personally make sure that he suffers for the rest of his life in the walls of Shawshank Prison.   Warden Norton is a man in a great position of power, and instead of upholding his responsibilities and duties to the standards he’s supposed to, he makes his own rules acting as the prisons judge, jury, and even executioner.  He doesn’t care how many lives he has to ruin.  In a facility filled with murderers, rapists, and other criminals, Warden Samuel Norton is actually the worst criminal of them all.

#9) Detective Hank Quinlan (By Lauren Ennis)

Detective Quinlan (Orson Welles) is easily one of the most disconcerting villains on this list because he is also the most relatable. In Touch of Evil, Quinlan is assigned to investigate a car bombing at the US Mexican border which becomes complicated with the involvement of Mexican narcotics officer Miguel ‘Mike’ Vargas (Charleton Heston). While it would be natural for a veteran on any job to feel threatened by outside interference, Quinlan makes it his personal mission to ensure that he solves the case before Vargas. He also dedicates himself to finding the bomber to such an extreme that he even goes so far as to plant evidence on a suspect, Manollo Sanchez (Victor Millan), when he fears that there is not enough evidence to charge the man. It is eventually revealed that Quinlan’s pathological pursuit of ‘justice’ stems from his wife’s murder years earlier and the haunting knowledge that his wife’s killer went free. In order to compensate for his painful loss, he does his best to ensure that no killer will ever go free on his watch; even if it means planting evidence, intimidating witnesses, and forcing confessions. When Vargas eventually learns of his scheme, Quinlan creates an elaborate plot to both shatter Vargas’ credibility and keep the case within his department’s control. In a chilling sequence it is revealed that Quinlan sent a local Mexican crime family to harass Vargas’ wife, Susan (Janet Leigh), and plant heroin on her in a plan that quickly spirals out of control and results in Susan narrowly escaping an attempted rape. Throughout the film, Quinlan remains staunchly devoted to his warped personal code, insisting that although he broke laws by framing suspects he was well within his rights because they were all most likely guilty. By the final showdown, it is revealed that Sanchez really did plant the bomb, but by that point, Quinlan is already a beaten man who is but a shell of the local hero he presented himself as and has lost everything but the moral code that he has gone too far astray to even realize he has defied. Despite the gravity of his crimes, Quinlan acts in accordance with his own sense of justice, committing crimes that many of us have contemplated committing ourselves when faced with injustice, which makes him an all too eerie reminder of the villainy lurking within even our best intentions.

#8) The Coachman (By Brian Cotnoir)

Now Miss-E and I knew we had to include a Disney Villain on this countdown, but the question was which one.  There were so many choices Ursula from “The Little Mermaid”, Maleficent from “Sleeping Beauty”, Chernabog from “Fantasia”, Scar from “Lion King”, and Judge Frollo from “The Hunchback of Notre Dame” all would have been great choices for this spot, but ultimately we decided to go with The Coachman from “Pinocchio”. The reasoning why: how many of the villains mentioned above got away with their crimes?  The Coachman is the only one.  Sure the other Disney Villains do some pretty bad things like murder, kidnapping, and use black magic, but they all get their come-upping’s by the end of the film...all except the Coachman.  He lures groups of young mischievous troublemaking boys to a place called Pleasure Island, where he transforms the boys into donkeys to be sold to the circus and salt mines.  Holy Shnikes, that has to be one of the Most Evil Plans ever!  And I’m not just talking about Evil for Kids film; I think it’s truly evil for any film.  And again, his crimes go TOTALLY unpunished!  Sure there’s a Happy Ending for Pinocchio, but not for his Best Friend.  Lampwick is stuck as donkey, probably sold off for cheap manual labor to some salt mine, his mother has no idea what awful things are happening to him or if she will never see him again.   With his burly figure, and threatening sounding Cockney Accent, the Coachman is easily the Most Terrifying Disney Villain ever.

#7) J.J. Hunsecker (By Lauren Ennis)

The media is often maligned for using and abusing its influence upon society, and was just as guilty of those abuses during the 1950’s as today. In 1957’s Sweet Smell of Success, however, prominent columnist J. J. Hunsecker sways more than just public opinion. Without once having to raise a finger, Hunsecker systematically manipulates those around him in ways that make and break the livelihood of his enemies and allies. Drunk on his own power, J. J. delights in using his position as a weapon against any who defy him, even his own sister, Susan, for whom he holds a fixation that borders on incestuous. When Susan becomes engaged to a local jazz musician, J. J. is unable to withstand the thought of losing complete control of her life and persuades the parasitic press agent, Sidney Falco, to arrange for the couple to break up. Through a series of sleazy maneuvers (including a cringe worthy sequence in which he pimps out his date to J. J.’s rival), Falco manages to have Susan’s fiancée framed as both a drug addict and communist, but the plan only pushes Susan further away from J. J. When Falco discovers Susan contemplating suicide by the window at J. J.’s penthouse, he pulls her back to safety only to have J. J. walk in. J.J.’s becomes enraged at the sight of Falco’s hands on his sister and begins to mercilessly beat the physically weaker Falco, prompting Falco to reveal the truth to Susan. When Falco escapes the penthouse, J.J.’s friends in the police force are already waiting to arrest him on false charges. J.J. Hunsecker is as bitingly edgy a take on the modern media now as he was when he was first introduced to audiences fifty-seven years ago and proves that there’s no need to get your hands dirty when you can pressure and deceive someone else to do it for you.

#6) Annie Wilkes (By Lauren Ennis)

Misery is an unusual horror film in that at its heart it is actually a love story. Instead of a love between the two leads, however, the film chronicles the passionate love of nurse Annie Wilkes (Kathy Bates) for her favorite book series, and the shocking way that she transfers that love to the series’ author, Paul Sheldon (James Caan). After discovering Paul on the side of the road after he injures himself in a car accident, Annie brings him home and tends to his injuries. At first, the story seems set up as a Florence Nightingale tale of the love between a nurse and her patient. In the manner befitting a true master of horror, however, Stephen King quickly turns this convention on its head by revealing that the harmless, childlike, Annie who utters constant endearments, refuses to swear, and remains faithfully devoted to her pet pig and glass animal collection is only one half of the woman in whom Paul is forced to entrust his care. Over the course of the film, Annie reveals herself to be more fearsome than many a grotesque or gruesome horror villain with her innocent exterior only adding to the horror that she matter of factly engages in. What is truly disturbing about Annie is not the horrific actions that she undertakes, but the way that she is able to justify them as an extension of her ‘love’ for Paul and his escapist novels. Perhaps the most twisted aspect of the film, however, is the ultimate realization that Annie’s driving obsession is actually a result of her desperate need for the emotional outlet that she finds in Paul’s novel’s and that her homicidal behavior is her way of ensuring that her fantasy world stays alive. The mere idea of a fan like Annie Wilkes is enough to make even the most idealistic of aspiring artists reconsider if the fame they seek is worth the price after all.

#5) Ruth Chandler (By Brian Cotnoir)

This was actually my original choice for #1.  I said in my review of “Jack Ketchum’s The Girl Next Door” that Ruth Chandler is the Most Evil and Sadistic Character ever created in film or literature, and I stand by that remark.  Ruth Chandler may appear pleasant and well-rounded on the outside, but deep down she has a dark soul and sociopathic tendencies.  She is verbally abusive towards the two girls who have been trusted into her custody; even worst she allows her teenage sons to rape and torture the oldest girl Meg.  Ruth is a truly horrifying and despicable character.  What makes her even more horrifying and despicable is learning that here personality and actions are based off of an actual person!  Author Jack Ketchum based Ruth Chandler and her crimes off of a woman from Indiana named Gertrude Baniszewski.  Baniszewski was found guilty of 1st degree murder for the death of a teenage girl left in her care.  Even more frightening was finding out that she only spent 14-years (of a life sentence) in prison before she was paroled!  I’m just warning you: if you have a weak stomach, then you should probably avoid “Jack Ketchum’s The Girl Next Door”, because I don’t think you can handle her cruelty and sadistic actions.

#4) Rhoda Penmark (By Lauren Ennis)

Like Misery’s Annie Wilkes, The Bad Seed’s Rhoda Penmark is a proverbial book that viewers should beware judging by her cover. At the film’s start, eight year old Rhoda (Patty McCormick) seems to be the perfect little lady that her family jokingly refers to her as. Only her apartment complex’s janitor, the unbalanced LeRoy (Henry Jones), sees her for the manipulative narcissist that she actually is. At a school picnic, her classmate and academic rival drowns after allegedly falling from a dock that the children were forbidden to play near. Rhoda’s mother, Christine (Nancy Kelly), is unnerved by the lack of emotion that her daughter shows at her classmate’s death, and begins to suspect that the death might not have been an accident when she learns that Rhoda was the last person the boy was seen alive with. This portrait of the sociopath as a young girl is particularly disturbing because Rhoda seems to be a 1950’s all-American girl and her parents are as close to the small-town American ideal as is possible. The film’s reveal of her full history is truly shocking as at age eight she is revealed to have murdered three people in increasingly brutal manners. While there is no external trauma to cause her behavior, the film does offer a psychological explanation that leads Christine down a path of self-destruction when she begins to blame herself for Rhoda’s actions. Although children villains have become common fare in horror movies today, The Bad Seed’s release during the 1950’s was nothing short of electrifying for American audiences. Rhoda Penmark did for children what Norman Bates did for showers, all with a sunny smile on her face; one viewing of this film and classrooms and playgrounds will never be the same for you again.

#3) Dr. Hannibal Lecter (By Brian Cotnoir)

Dr. Hannibal Lecter is one of the Most Iconic and Frightening characters in the History film.  Not only is he a cannibalistic serial killer, but he is also a forensic psychiatrist.  So when you combine the danger of him being a sociopathic killer and cannibal with the intelligence and sophistication of a well-educated man, you have a super hybrid killer.  Another reason why he is so frightening and iconic is Dr. Hannibal Lecter appears in multiple films so therefore he’s more developed than most.  He first appears in the film “Manhunter” in 1986 (which is actually based off of the novel Red Dragon) where he is played by Brian Cox; and No disrespect to Brian Cox, but I just feel that Anthony Hopkins was a much better Hannibal Lecter.  I just didn’t find Cox’s portrayal of Dr. Lecter to be particularly frightening; he didn’t seem like an intelligent and dangerous murderer, he just seemed like a nothing special run-of-the-mill killer to me.  Now, Anthony Hopkin’s portrayal is not only more frightening, but it is also more memorable. He’s frightening in “Silence of the Lambs” because he is imprisoned in a high-security correctional facility and has all the time in the world to think; throw in his psychiatric background and you have one dangerous person on your hands.  He picks the brain of anyone who close by who is willing to talk to him.   He’s so good at what does that Government Agents and Investigators often have to consult Dr. Lecter for his expert advice when they’re having difficulty finding or understanding other serial killers.  That’s terrifying when the one person you have to rely on to catch a serial killer is a more evil and more intelligent serial killer.  Whether he’s in “Manhunter”/”Red Dragon” or “Silence of the Lambs”, Dr. Hannibal Lecter is sure to send shivers through your entire body.

#2) Nurse Ratched (By Lauren Ennis)

Health care workers hold a unique place in our society in that people willingly and knowingly entrust their very lives to their care. As such, it is nothing short of terrifying when one considers the ways in which a health care worker can abuse that authority.  In the counter-culture classic One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, Louise Fletcher’s Nurse Ratched reveals just how unhealthy medical care can be. As head nurse, Ratched holds absolute control over the patients who sign themselves over to the care of the psychiatric hospital that she works in. When convict John, ‘Mac’ McMurphy (Jack Nicholson) admits himself to the facility to avoid a jail sentence, he soon learns that he has checked himself into a prison of a different sort. Throughout the film, Ratched ensures that the patients remain completely dependent upon her and thwarts each of Mac’s efforts to provide his fellow patients with independence. Whether it’s his outrageous attempt to bring a party complete with loose women to the ward or his simple plea to watch a baseball game, Ratched denies Mac’s every request with cold efficiency, resulting in a battle of the iron wills between them. When his antics finally begin to have an effect upon the other patients she decides that his subversive influence poses too great a threat to the order of her facility and orders that he undergo a lobotomy. Although horrific healthcare is a staple of horror films and haunted houses, Nurse Ratched’s actions are truly chilling because they are all perfectly legal and within her power as head nurse. As a result, Ratched is more than just a single villain, but a stand in for the ruthlessness of a rigid society that demands conformity at all costs. Armed with just a clipboard and prescription pad, Nurse Ratched manages to inflict more damage upon her patients than most villains can with a firearm or chainsaw.

#1) Norman Bates (By Brian Cotnoir)

None of you should be surprised by this choice.  I mean this is probably the one character in film that both Miss-E and I talk the most about.  Everyone who reads this blog already knows that he is my favorite fictional character, but what really makes Norman Bates so special that he deserves the #1 spot on our Best Movie Villains List.  Well let’s take a look back at film History.  Before the role of Norman Bates in “Psycho” how many films can you name where the killer is just a “regular guy”?  I’m talking not a Human who transforms into a Monster, not a Witch or Warlock, just a regular person; nothing special about him; he’s just a guy who kills people?  There really isn’t any before Norman Bates.  He was the one of the first serial killer character in film.  Nobody had ever had to play a serial killer in a film so actor Anthony Perkins had to set the tone and standard of how to play a serial killer.  The character of Norman Bates was inspired by real life American Serial Killer Ed Gein, so it was a necessary risk for Perkins to get into that mindset to accurately portray the character of Norman Bates. True Rhoda Penmark was killing people 5 years before Norman Bates and at a younger age, but for the time that film was released, the idea of a child killer was more a novelty.  Every actor who plays a serial killer in films owes everything to actor Anthony Perkins and director Alfred Hitchcock for introducing a new villain to fans of horror films that is still in use to this day.  The legacy left by these two men on Horror films is unmatchable, they truly have left a mark that shaped and set the standard for how to make a Horror film.   

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

A review of "Cabin Fever: Patient Zero"

Confessions of a Film Junkie: A review of “Cabin Fever: Patient Zero”

By: Brian Cotnoir

You know since the “Ebola Outbreak” is presently a big deal in the U.S. right now, I figured I’d continue to perpetuate peoples paranoid fears of death and disease by reviewing a Horror film that deals with the subject of deadly virus outbreaks. I am a huge fan of Director Eli Roth.  He is one of my favorite directors and I usually reference him and his films when I try coming up with some creative for one of my horror screenplays.  I will watch anything that has his name on it, and I usually enjoy it.  Want to know what I don’t enjoy?  When somebody takes one of Eli Roth’s films or characters and tries to make their own version.  Eli Roth is a good director and screenwriter, but typically when there is a sequel of one of his films made and he is not involved with it in anyway it tanks horribly like “Cabin Fever 2” or “Hostel III”.  So is this sequel as bad as those.      
Just rub a little Neosporin on that,
it'll be all right.
Even though it’s the third film in the franchise,
“Cabin Fever: Patient Zero” is actually a prequel film.  It opens up with a man named Porter (played by actor Sean Astin) being taken to a top secret island facility in the Dominican Republic, because he appears to be the only person who is immune to a vicious strain of a flesh eating virus.  The man in charge of the facility is named Dr. Edwards and he is bent on finding a cure within Porter’s blood.  Meanwhile, we cut to a separate storyline about a man named Marcus who is about to get married in the Dominican Republic, but before the wedding his best friend Dobbs and his brother Josh decide to throw him a bachelor party on a remote island.  However, the three gentleman end up partying on the island where Porter is being held captive, and to make things even more awkward, Josh invited and brought along his new girlfriend Penny (who used to be Marcus’s f*ck buddy).  The four friends are completely unaware of all the hidden microscopic danger that lurks around the Island.         
Well this is a mood killer
I’ll be honest; I thought this film was going to suck at first glance.   I thought that this film was going to be to “Cabin Fever” what “Beyond Re-Animator” was to “Re-Animator”, but much to my surprise I found it not only to be enjoyable, but also well made.  Even though Eli Roth had nothing to do with this film, it played out like it was one of his films.  It fits the story arch to Roth’s original film nicely, the characters are written in a style similar to the way that Roth writes and portrays his characters, and most importantly it is violent and gory as all hell!  It was wonderful it was fantastic, and I’m just grateful it turned out better than “Cabin Fever 2”.    
I left the Shire for this???
    Now the film isn’t without its flaws, of course.  The most apparent flaw is when they’re stranded out the island and they all pull out their cellphones to try to call for help.  Since the film is a prequel to “Cabin Fever” which was made and released in 2002, and it was a little confusing as to why they had IPhones, which didn’t come out until 2007.  Again, I know it’s a minuet goof, and I’m just nitpicking, but hey it’s what I do.  Also, Sean Astin’s performance didn’t really win me over.  After seeing him in the role of Sam in award winning “Lord of the Rings” films it’s kind of hard to picture him as anything else, and I feel like he was capable of a more competent performance.  I don’t think it’s entirely Astin’s fault, because even though he is the biggest star in the film, he really doesn’t get a lot of screen time until the end.             
   If you’re already seen the film “Cabin Fever” or are familiar with the films plot, you’ll probably be able to figure out the plot to the prequel very easily and that may put a lot of you off to seeing this film, but I still think you should give it a watch.  If you haven’t seen any of the “Cabin Fever” films yet, then I think you could make a fun movie marathon out of all three films.  Just watch “Cabin Fever: Patient Zero” first, then follow that up with the original “Cabin Fever”, and then skip “Cabin Fever 2” entirely and watch something better like “Cabin in the Woods” or “Evil Dead” after that and you have a great night my friends.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

A review of "The Coed and the Zombie Stoner"

Confessions of a Film Junkie: A review of “The Coed and the Zombie Stoner”

By: Brian Cotnoir

     Oh, The Asylum Film Studios.  Your films somehow keep ending up on this blog.  You’re becoming a staple on this blog just like shark movies, John Wayne Gacy references, and Corin Nemec.  Though to be fair, none of you should be surprised that I would watch and review films from the Mock-buster Kings for this blog.  So this week I take a look at the 3rd Film I’ve reviewed this year from The Asylum this year, that film being “The Coed and the Zombie Stoner”.        
I love it when people who arent in the film
are on the DVD cover
So “The Coed and the Zombie Stoner” is the story of a nerdy girl named Chrissy.  Chrissy is as intelligent as she is socially awkward.  She isn’t popular amongst her sorority sisters.  She is dating a fratboy named Brad as a condition of living in her Sorority house.  Brad breaks up with Chrissy to date Bambi (a girl in Chrissy’s sorority), and now Chrissy has 24-hours to find a new fratboy boyfriend or she gets kicked out her sorority (and for some reason loses her scholarship too?).  While poking around the Science Lab, Chrissy opens a storage freezer and discovers a zombie boy named Rigo.  Chrissy finds out through her professor, Dr. Avon, that Rigo was once one of the top Graduate Students at the College in the 1980’s, until one night where he got super high and tried to take a shower in a machine that altered his DNA and turned him into a zombie.  Chrissy also finds out from Dr. Avon that Rigo is able to keep his desire for human flesh in line because he still smokes a ton of weed.  Now, it’s up to Chrissy to get Rigo into a rival Frat House so she can keep her residence and scholarship.    
   Holy Shnikes!  This is one of the Most Ridiculous films I’ve reviewed so far.  I mean it’s so absurd, and yet I still found it to be entertaining.  This film contains gratuitous amounts of hardcore nudity (starting with the opening scene) and it only gets more progressive from that point on, but hey I’m not complaining.   
Oh God we're in a terrible movie
   Want to know what I will complain about: the story!  Okay, I know I shouldn’t expect a great screenplay from a film studio that is known most notoriously for a film about a giant tornado made of sharks.  However, I feel the story of “The Coed and the Zombie Stoner” is even too ridiculous for The Asylum.  It’s very apparent that nobody who worked on this film went to an actual college: The way that college is parodied in “The Coed and the Zombie Stoner” is very unbelievable, and it feels more like it’s more like the Worlds Craziest High School rather than an actual college. It is totally unbelievable.  Also, I honestly do believe that the people whoever wrote and directed this film was completely baked out of their minds.  That’s the only logical explanation for why the plot is so disorganized and confusing.  In all actuality Chrissy’s main objective is completely solved in the first half of the film. I just felt like the last 45 minutes of the film the director pretty much just pointed his camera at a bunch of people and told them that they can do whatever the hell they want!  Again, that was the only logical conclusion I could come up with.   
Yeah, that's about to happen
As for the characters, I’m not going to waste my or your time describing most of them because they are just your generic, run-of-the-mill film stereotypes:  There’s nerdy girl, the popular b!tch girl, the trampy girls, the fratboys, the jocks, the bros, the unattractive nerds, the stoners; literally every single college (and High School) character stereotype is in this film.  The only character, I found of any value in this film was Chrissy’s brother, Spike.  Spike is a DJ, a major stoner, and is pretty much the only comedic part of the film.                        
    So that’s my review of “The Coed and the Zombie Stoner”; it’s a film that’s as disorganized as one of Edward D. Wood, Jr’s films and contains enough full frontal nudity that it borderlines on Soft-Core Porn. So should you see this film?  If you consider yourself to be a film connoisseur then you should avoid this film by all costs necessary.  If you are a teenage boy or an adult male with the mentality and maturity of a teenage boy who just wants to see mindless violence and female nudity then by all means enjoy your Crapfest of a film.  

Classics: Three Shockingly Modern Pre-Code Films By Lauren Ennis

Classic cinema is often dismissed because of its lack of special effects, black and white filming, and conservative subject matter. Prior to the advent of the 1934 Hay’s Code, however, cinema was anything but safe as films were free to explore such adult issues as sex, drugs, and violence without consequences. During this time, Depression era audiences could find an escape from their own troubles without resorting to glossed over fantasies, as a plethora of racy stories and risqué performances found their way to the silver screen. This week I’ll be featuring three of the most notorious pre-code films that remain shocking even by modern standards.
Not so loud, honey, Mommy's on withdrawal right now

THREE ON A MATCH: Sex, drugs, suicide, and child neglect? 1932’s Three On a Match blends these strange elements and more to create a truly sin-tillating story of the lives of three very different childhood friends. Tough gal Mary (Joan Blondell) struggles to make a living as a chorus girl after spending time in reform school, while straight-laced Ruth (Bette Davis) tries to work her way to corporate success as a secretary, and vampish Vivian (Ann Dvorak) marries into wealth. Despite her financial security and seemingly ideal home life with her husband and young son, Vivian remains restless and unsatisfied with her life. She embarks upon an affair with exciting gambler, Michael (Lyle Talbot), and abandons her marriage in favor of life in the fast lane. Unfortunately for Vivian’s husband, Robert (Warren William), she was not prepared to abandon their son (Dickie Moore) and the little boy is hidden at her new apartment where he is exposed to gangsters, belligerent drunks, and his mother’s promiscuity.  By the time that Mary discovers Vivian’s whereabouts, Vivian has already entered a downward spiral of addiction as she is strongly implied to be using both cocaine (her constant rubbing under her nose) and heroin (Michael gestures to her in front of his friends and mimics injecting his left arm), leaving her son to fend for himself as he wanders about the apartment in filthy clothes consuming discarded, half-eaten bits of party snacks to avoid starvation. Perhaps the most shocking aspect of Vivian’s descent is the nonchalant way in which the other characters regard her behavior. Although Mary disapproves of Vivian’s lifestyle, she fails to turn her in to the police for kidnapping or child neglect, which would seem to be the most logical course of action, and leaves Vivian with a mild reprimand before turning her attention to beginning a romance with Vivian’s lonely husband. Mary eventually tells Robert the whereabouts of his son and immediately proceeds to take Vivian’s place as Robert’s live-in girlfriend and Robert Junior’s almost equally neglectful step-mother. Similarly, Ruth seems largely oblivious of anyone else’s actions and gladly takes on a job as governess to Vivian’s son after Mary moves in, only to leave him wandering at the edge of the pond in Central Park while she catches up on her reading. The boy is then kidnapped at the park by a group of gangsters (led by a young Humphrey Bogart) to whom Michael owes money and held for ransom at Vivian’s apartment. The film reaches its climax when Vivian is aroused from her drug-induced haze just long enough to overhear the gangsters plotting to kill her son to prevent them from being tied to the kidnapping and commit an elaborate public suicide in an act of desperate devotion (the suicide alerts the police to investigate the apartment window she threw herself from) that the film leads viewers to believe is her only chance at redemption. This saucy melodrama is far more than the innocent bit of school-day nostalgia it was packaged as and proves that ‘women’s pictures’ had a little something for everyone.
The family that shoots together...

SCARFACE: While it may not feature any mention of a certain ‘little friend’ the original gangland classic contains a virtual gallery of shocking moments involving machine guns, mobster’s molls, and sibling affections that are anything but brotherly. Like its 80’s successor, the story begins with a classic tale of the American Dream that within just a few frames goes brutally wrong. Recent Italian émigré Tony Camonte (Paul Muni) begins his career as an enforcer for a local mob in Chicago and quickly shoots his way through the ranks. With a clever montage of ‘x’ marks displayed across the screen to mark the departure of Tony’s victims, the film soon contains enough corpses to fill a morgue as he conquers opposition on both sides of the law. Along the way, he diverts his spare time between relentlessly pursuing his boss’s moll, the slinky Poppy (Karen Morely), and guarding the long gone virtue of his brazen sister, Francesca (Ann Dvorak). What is particularly striking about this film is the fact that despite his place at the film’s center, Tony is hardly the most callous or brutal character. His best friend, Guino, displays equal ruthlessness as he abandons any semblance of loyalty to their boss and carries out Tony’s orders without question. Similarly, Poppy presents herself as a classy, independent, woman only to later reveal that she is the sort of person who can be bought and sold for the right price. Although the film contains the requisite machine gun happy action of its genre, it is the bizarre relationship between Tony and his sister that is its most shocking element. While it is little surprise that Francesca is as ruthless and amoral as her brother, the way that these shared qualities attract his attention is nothing short of disturbing. Each time that Tony sees Francesca so much as talking to another man he flies into an uncontrollable rage befitting a jealous lover, and when he finds her alone with Guino at Guino’s apartment, he immediately starts shooting. It is only after Guino is dead that Francesca confesses that she and Guino were married but kept their relationship a secret to avoid Tony’s wrath. After she informs on him to police in retaliation, Francesca finds her brother hiding in an abandoned building, but is unable to follow her plan to kill him and instead proceeds to help her husband’s killer in his final shootout with police. For all its excesses, Muni’s performance as Tony is just over the top enough to fit in within the chaotic society on the brink that he is determined to succeed in.

That's one way to take dictation

RED-HEADED WOMAN: Jean Harlow made a successful career out of playing wanton women, but even she had rarely enjoyed a part as seductively scandalous as that of Lillian ‘Lil’ Andrews. In 1932’s Red Headed Woman, Harlow plays Lil as nothing less than a weapon of mass destruction ready to detonate. At the film’s start, Lillian proudly alerts her friend to her plan to seduce her way to the top of the society and by the next scene has already set her plan in motion. She starts by seducing her boss, Bill (Chester Morris), and convincing him to leave his devoted wife (Leila Hyams), only to find that her relationship has brought her material success but left her a social outcast. Ever ambitious, Lil refuses to settle for less than the best and proceeds to seduce one of Bill’s  top clients, Charles (Henry Stephenson), and blackmail him into hosting a soiree in her honor, as she knows that even the most morally rigid members of their social set would not dare to turn down his invitation. Much to her dismay, however, the guests arrive only to leave early for a party at Bill’s ex-wife’s house across the street (the location for their new home was Lil’s vindictive idea). She then lashes out at Bill, blaming him for her ostracism and rightly guessing that he would rather be at Irene’s as well, and runs away to start over in New York City. Meanwhile, Bill discovers heraffair with Charles and hires a private investigator to track her in New York. The investigator proves to be worth every penny as he discovers that Lil is not only continuing her affair with Charles but has also begun to carry on a second liaison with Charles’ chauffer, Albert (a pre-stardom Charles Boyer). Bill alerts Charles to Lil’s antics and both men quickly cut their ties with the scheming seductress. Fortunately for viewers, however, the story doesn’t end there as Lil returns to Bill only to find that he has reunited with his wife. Enraged at her plan’s failure, she shoots Bill in retaliation, but fails to kill him. Rather than prevent Lil from wreaking any more havoc by notifying the police, Bill decides to pretend the shooting never happened in exchange for her quietly divorcing him. Surprisingly, Lil actually takes Bill up on his offer and is last seen on the arm of an elderly Frenchman…whose chauffer is none other than Albert. Not only do Bill, his wife, and Charles refuse to punish Lil for her misdeeds, the film’s screenwriters seem equally smitten with their anti-heroine as she is left free to scam another day at the film’s finish. Pre-code audiences were given the chance to laugh along with Harlow as Lil is given free rein to cheerily go about her sociopathic business with her punishments restricted to a single slap in the face that, in one of the film’s kinkier moments she happily admits she would like more of. Manipulation, moral decay, and plenty of leg are all in a day’s fun in this Depression era rom-com that is anything but romantic.