Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Doomsday Book (2012)

Directors: Kim Ji-woon, Yim Pil-sung
Notable Cast: Ryu Seung-beom, Bong Joon-ho, Kim Kang-woo, Park Hae-il, Jin Ji-hee

South Korea has been home to some of the greatest genre film works in the last ten years. One genre that is still on the fringe of being dominated by the ambitious film makers of this country is science fiction. The directing duo of Kim Ji-woon and Yim Pil-sung are here to set the record straight with an ambitious anthology film that analyzes the end of the world. "Doomsday Book" is a solid science fiction romp that between its three stories will have you laughing, thinking, and (oddly enough for a film about the end of the world) feeling somewhat optimistic about the whole thing.

Three stories intertwine about the end of the world. In one, a awkward young man is given the task of cleaning out the family garbage and what he throws away starts a viral plague that brings the world to a walking dead end. In the second, the world as we know it finds itself shaken when a normal tourist robot becomes enlightened and finds himself in the cross hairs of the paranoid company that built him. Finally, our last story unveils as a strange meteor is about to collide with Earth. A young family looks to survive it in their underground bunker, but their daughter makes a drastic discovery...that the meteor just might be her fault.

A romantic moment set to the Night Of The Living Dead.
Honestly, I'm selling "Doomsday Book" short by only calling it a science fiction. It's much more than that. It has a little bit of horror, a little bit of comedy, and a little bit of drama too. To its benefit, "Doomsday Book" throws a lot of great things into the mix even if the end product comes out a little uneven because of it.

With both of Yim Pil-sung's segments (the first one "The Brave New World" and the last one "Happy Birthday"), the style is laid on very thick. He piles on some significant amounts of dark comedy and societal commentary into his entries that works at times (the news reporters in both portions are hilariously off beat), but often enough despite his flair for visuals and some strong performances his entries lack a little bit of the depth that they needed to really work as well as they could have. Both are extremely fun and off kilter with the zombie apocalypse portion hinting on some great horror moments and "Happy Birthday" coming off with a bit of that 80s charm to its oddities.

You might be enlightened, but Robocop IS justice.
What makes them seem sub par even with their fun and quirky stories is the fact that Kim Ji-woon's segment "Heavenly Creature" is damn near perfect. It's a unique take on the end of the world theme as its not a 'end of the world' so much as it is 'an end to the world as we know it.' The idea that an inanimate object of our creation becomes enlightened to true spiritual paths while the human race struggles continuously makes for some Asimov inspired discussion and Kim Ji-woon's script quickly takes to it with little time to spare. It moves like a laser, despite a lack of extraordinary events, and its impression is left on the viewer for long after it ends. The dialogue is brilliantly written, the performances should be award winning, and its subtle commentaries on human condition shoot this short film right up there with the likes of "Blade Runner" or "2001." I know that's a hell of a statement to be made and I am willing to stand by it for this segment.

Cue 3, 2...1.
As a whole, "Doomday Book" might be uneven in how it presents itself, missing out on some opportunities to really go the distance with its nuances of humor, horror, and depth of character work, but it was still a damn fine viewing experience. It was hilarious at times, deep in its thought, and expertly crafted visually. The performances were all top notch and both directors brought their A-game to their tales. Any self respecting science fiction fan owes it to themselves to own the film even if it's just for one segment.

Written By Matt Reifschneider

If "Doomsday Book" sounds like your kind of read, then you definitely should throw some support out and pre-order the film for its December 11th release in the US. The links below will take you to the place you need to go!

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Tentacles (1977)


Still living the high life off the profits he made with his blatant “Exorcist” rip-off “Beyond the Door”, Italian producer/director Ovidio de Assonitis saw another golden opportunity to make some quick cash when Steven Spielberg’s “Jaws” chomped its way through all the box office records. So he quickly slapped together a script, signed some fading Hollywood stars in need for some dough and set out to make yet another cheap-jack poorly structured Italian knock-off.
The plot is essentially the same as “Jaws” only substituting the giant shark with a giant octopus (or squid as some actors incorrectly call it). In a small coastal community corpses start emerging with all the flesh suckled off the bones. A journalist (John Houston) suspects a local controversial drilling operation holds the key to the deaths but soon the town has to turn to a famed oceanographer (Bo Hopkins) as he discovers a underwater monster is responsible.
The whole plot is a complete mess as Ovidio seems more concerned with loading the screen up with famous actors as opposed to characters the audience can follow. The film starts off as if it’s going to follow the journalist character but halfway through the film shifts gears focusing on the oceanographer with the journalist barely making an appearance. The subplot with Shelly Winters and her son is nothing more than pointless padding and don’t even get me started on the Henry Fonda corporate conspiracy subplot that absolutely goes nowhere.
The special effects can be fair at some moments but overall they are quite laughable, especially with poor minitures and obvious killer whale sock puppets attacking the sea beast at the end. Still the unintentional laugher due to the effects can hold attention over the dull and poorly paced plot structure that jumps all over the place only loosly tied tighter by a silly electronic soundtrack trying desperately to emulate John Williams legendary “Jaws” theme.
There are some enjoyable “Jaws” knock-offs out there, especially Joe Dante’s “Piranha”, but “Tentacles” isn’t one of them. The polished production values and high caliber cast are only a façade to mask its true incompetent nature. It’s good for a few laughes but poor plot structure, padding, character arcs, and overall lack of bloodshed makes this a trying experience for even the most forgiving of Eurotrash fans.
 Written By Eric Reifschneider

Sunday, November 25, 2012

They Call Her... Cleopatra Wong (1978)


AKA "Cleopatra Wong", "Female Big Boss"

"She purrs like a kitten, makes love like a siren. This side of the Pacific, she's the meanest, deadliest, and sexiest secret agent" – Tagline

What do you get when you mix Hong Kong martial arts, James Bond and a pinch of 70’s Blaxploitation? You get a hellacous concoction known as Cleopatra Jones, an entertaining yet poorly made Filopino exploitation film that jumpstarted the career of  star Doris Young (under her stage name Marrie Lee) and paving the way for two sequels.
Cleo Wong is a the world’s best Interpol secret agent and when she’s not busy training or fucking, she’s beating the world’s most diabolical criminals. IN the middle of a love making session, Cleo gets a phone call to stop a counterfeiting ring whose goal is the destabilization of currencies of all southeastern Asian countries. With the help of her martial arts “abilities”, gadgets and sexy looks she infiltrates a catholic church and kills a shit ton of Uzi totting nuns.
Cleopatra Wong defies he law of physcs to escape
Counterfeiting does not sound as provocative as a James Bond plot of a diabolical madman “trying to take over the world” but for a cheesy Filipino exploitation film it will do just fine. The plot is only used to loosely tie together hilarious martial arts sequences. Star Marrie Lee (a stage name created to make a connection to Bruce Lee) obviously had no previous martial arts experience and it shows, as she is TERRIBLE when it comes to fight sequences. Her awful martial arts abilities makes the fight sequences all that more hilarious, especially when she beats three wrestlers single handedly and then leaps over a ten foot wall.
James Bond would be proud
“They Call Her... Cleopatra Wong” is a poorly made espionage exploitation martial arts flick, but like most films that were shit out by the Philippines it totally entertains despite itself. Marrie Lee’s inept martial arts capabilities, hilarious dialogue and absurd situations (I seriously never thought I would see so many men dressed nuns get blown away) makes this a must see for trash connoisseurs. Impossible to locate on home video for years and years, “They Call Her.. Cleopatra Wong” was released in a double feature with “The One-Armed Executioner” thanks to Dark Sky Films. Out of its two sequels, “Devils Three” and “The Return of Bionic Boy” (huh?!), “Devils Three” finally got a DVD release thanks to Code Red.
Written By Eric Reifschneider

Terminal Island (1973)


When going into “Terminal Island” I was expecting an earlier, lower budget, trashier exploitation version of “Escape from New York.” Not only did it deliver on those accounts but it was also a more professionally made example of its ilk and manages to even please fans outside of the trashy exploitation ring.

In the future capital punishment is now against the law. In its place criminals are exiled to a heavily guarded island where they are forced to fend for themselves in order to survival. A women recently sentenced to the island is forced against her will to provide physical labor, of the farming and sexual, kind to a sadistic self-proclaimed dictator (Sean Kenney). Being rescued by fellow prisoners, they band together with brains, bosoms and brawn to bring the psychotic “duke of terminal island” down.
":Move you sexy female oxen!"
Though it can be described as an action-adventure flick, “Terminal Island” at its heart is pure crass exploitation and takes full advantage to show boobies and extreme violence at every opportunity. What makes it rise above other films in the genre is that it actually takes time for character development and some good old fashioned action to appeal to general film fanatics.
"Quiet footstool!"
The cast is extremely strong for this type of film, including early rolls for future Magnum P.I. costars Tom Selleck (as a doctor) and Roger E. Mosley. We are also graced with strong performances by Don Marshall, Sean Kenney and future “Vegas” star Phyllis Davis and director Stephanie Rothman handles her cast and low budget well, learning her trade from her earlier Roger Corman production “The Student Nurses.”
Magnum P.I.... the early years
Though “Terminal Island” today is mostly known as an early exploitation film for future super star Tom Selleck, it is far better than that. Sure it's an exploitation film at heart but it still has enough other elements to please 70s film fans in general with interesting characters and numerous action sequences. I was thoroughly entertained by the film and any self-respecting drive-in cinema fan should be also. Multiple DVDs versions exist but only Code Red’s beautiful widescreen release is fully uncut.
Written By Eric Reifschneider

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Kill 'Em All (2012)

Director: Raimund Huber
Notable Cast: Johnny Messner, Zom Ammara, Tim Man, Joe Lewis, Gordon Liu

Bad movies are a dime a dozen and one's ability to enjoy them is enhanced by the "mood" they are in when they watch them. I must have been in the right mood when I threw in "Kill 'Em All" because this low budget martial arts actioner was just what the doctor ordered. I knew it was bad with its questionable writing and less than reliable acting, but I will be damned if I didn't enjoy the shit out of it with its focus on fighting and over the top moments. "Kill 'Em All" is definitely not a film for everyone as it caters to that low budget audience, but for those who are interested then I highly recommend it.

A slew of the world's best assassins have been kidnapped and placed into a dingy room. These assassins have no idea what is happening or why they were chosen, but a disembodied voice tells them that they have been placed into The Killing Chamber and will be forced to fight one another to the death. As time progresses and the body count rises, the trained killers desperately try to build a plan to escape and punish the man behind all the madness.

Often enough, "Kill 'Em All" feels like a movie based on a video game. So much, in fact, one of the characters even makes a comment about how it feels like a video game. The first portion of the film builds in a "fighting game" style as we have a slew of different style assassins having to fight one another to earn their next round and some weapon prizes. The film desperately tries to build some tension with brief back stories on a few of the more important lead characters, but some very hit or miss acting makes it feel a bit too silly for its own good. Director Raimund Huber adds in enough flair with camera work to keep this portion interesting, but it's the choreography and charm of the fight sequences (despite their initial simplicity) that keeps your attention.

That look says some pretty bad things are going to happen in the next few moments.
Then the film takes a twist for the better and shakes off its "fighting game" mode and goes into "beat em up mode." Like the great beat em up games of the past like "Double Dragon," "Kill 'Em All" kicks into that ideology by having our remaining 'heroes' run around a dilapidated warehouse just kicking the crap out of an endless supply of gang like fighters, working their way up through "bosses" and eventually to the villain who is played with pretty impressive charm by Gordon Liu. The fighting is top notch though and the choreography by Tim Man towards the end of the film is impressive to say the least. It's by the numbers in its narrative, but lightning pacing helps and for action fans the last half is a blast.

The limited budget hurts it occasionally (the guns look cheap with their shooting and the one explosion is damn near hilariously simple) and despite its relatively star studded underground action cast, the film struggles with its script and getting us to really care about the characters. Yet, those can be easily overlooked by the strong choreography and strong sense of relentless fun that "Kill 'Em All" carries. It's a bad movie, but its so damn good at being a bad movie that I had a blast watching it. Highly recommended for fans of B-grade action films!

Written By Matt Reifschneider 

Don't let the rating fool you, you know whether or not this movie is for you. So you might as well make sure you pre-order your copy for its December 11th release in the US. The links below will lead you to your destiny. 

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

House of Usher (1960)


AKA "The Fall of the House of Usher"

Roger Corman has proved time and again how he can make meniscal budgets look like a million bucks and none more than his adaption of “The Fall of the House of Usher, the first of seven adaptions (technically six but that will be explained more in future reviews) of short stories by famed and troubled author Edgar Allen Poe.
The film opens with a handsome young man (Mark Damon) riding through a lifeless and ghastly looking forest that opens up to reveal a dilapidated old mansion. Upon arrival he demands to see his fiancée but her brother Roderick (Vincent Price) proves to be extremely difficult. It seems he doesn’t want her to wed as there is a curse upon the Usher family and if she bares children, the cursed bloodline will continue. Roderick even goes to the trouble of making his lovely sister seem dead and burying her alive in the family crypt, but her lover doesn’t buy it and must frantically try to save her before the Usher curse befalls them both.
For a film with relatively no budget Corman professionally crafts a gothic atmosphere of dread. The entire set from the mansion design, to the family crypt to the paintings of the Usher family members are just downright creepy. To top it off we have a wonderful cast headed by the lovable Vincent Price and a home run performance by Mark Damon, who does such a good job that he even dwarfs the likes of his more famous co-star.
The low budget does show through at moments, especially in some of the special effects mostly consisting of burning buildings. Still the effects for the budget and time are easily forgivable. Corman also doesn’t seem to have enough for a feature length film so he pads out some minutes with an odd dream sequence that serves nothing more as filler. Price’s performance is also far more hammy than usual, and characteristic that would follow him through most of his performances to come. His over-the-top portrayals can rub some horror fans the wrong way but I find it charming.
“House of Usher” is a great Edgar Allan Poe adaption and gothic horror film to boot. It’s just amazing how well Corman adapted the story with only a fistful of dollars and a few cast members. Modern horror audiences who live on gore and violence will no doubt find the film slow, talkative and dated but fans of gothic horrors will find plenty to eat up. “House of Usher” proved to be a big box office draw so Corman and crew forged on with their second Poe adaption “The Pit and the Pendulum”.

Written By Eric Reifschneider

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Death Ship (1980)


 AKA "DeathShip"

Film buffs of a certain age range probably remember the wonderfully eerie box artwork to the obscure Candadian Nazi ghost film “Death Ship” lurking on a shelf at their old mom-and-pop video store. This artwork burned its way into my memory and for years I have been dying to hunt a copy down. More recent horror flicks like “Ghost Ship” that blatantly ripped off the poster artwork and even storyline only wetted my appetite to lay my eyes upon this highly sought after Candadian “classic”. Thanks to Scorpion Releasing, one of the leaders in unleashing highly sought after cult classics on DVD and Blu-Ray, I finally have it in my hands and able to see if the film lives up to its amazing poster artwork.
 The film opens with a luxury cruise liner packed to the brim with rich snobs getting rammed by a ghostly black vessel in the middle of the ocean (though all the sediment in the water proves it was close to the shore). After the vessel sinks only eight people remain alive and are forced to take refuge on the ghastly ship that is ominously overlooking their life raft. It doesn’t take long for them to discover that the old ship is completely deserted yet it seemingly runs by itself. To top it off a series of bizarre events start occur as if the ship wants its new crew to stay with it forever… and ever… and ever.
The plot is simple yet increasingly warped, very “Twlight Zone”-ish in its approach. As the film moves along it gets increasingly unsettling and grisly before coming to a climax that is literally, head on. Most of the film takes place on the rickety vessel and it is an unpleasant setting that feeds the ghostly atmosphere wonderfully. Director Alvin Rakoff, a new-comer to the horror genre, handles the genre well with his raw style utilizing hand held cameras and odd angles to add some well needed manic feel to the situation (especially during a memorable sequence involving a shower of blood).
The slow pacing of the plot however kills many of the scares. Lots of shots of pistons pumping in the engine room aren’t scary; no matter how many times the filmmakers decide to show them in order to pad out the running time. Thankfully the film does eventually build up to an interesting reveal of what went on upon the vessel so many decades before. The film’s obvious low budget shows its flaws when it comes to the ship crashes (consisting of off-putting editing mixed with stock footage) and some silted dialogue. I also was annoyed by the ghostly German voice speaking orders to George Kennedy but thanks to no subtitles the audience has no idea what the ghost is saying (though a special feature on the recent DVD release does reveal this).
“Death Ship” has had a dire reputation over the years but it doesn’t deserve such a bad rap. Sure it has plenty of flaws but for a “haunted house on the ocean” plot it’s not bad at all. The frenetic direction, professional cast (including the Marlon Brando’s of B-movies Richard Crenna and George Kennedy) and dreadlike atmosphere makes “Death Ship” well worth seeing for horror nuts. A special thanks goes out to Scorpion Releasing for making this lost “classic” available for the first time in America on DVD and Blu-ray.
Written By Eric Reifschneider

Immortals (2011)

Director: Tarsem Singh
Notable Cast: Henry Cavill, Mickey Rourke, Stephen Dorff, John Hurt, Luke Evans

As a cult film reviewer, I get to watch my fair share of films that focus on style over substance and often enough there are film makers or whole genres that make a career at it. Just look at Zack Snyder. Films like "Sucker Punch" or "300" easily ooze out style, but beyond their slick look those films crumble under scrutiny. It's the latter film that is to blame for "Immortals" which essentially rips on the Snyder swords and sorcery flick by mixing it with some of the ideas that the remake of "Clash Of The Titans" used previously too. If you want, feel free to click on the hyperlinks to my reviews for both "300" and "Clash Of The Titans" to see how I feel about this style before continuing on. Needless to say, I was hoping for an entertaining flick out of "Immortals" but not much more. I barely got what I expected.

Theseus (Cavill) is somewhat of an outcast in his village spurned by his fatherless life. But an old man (Hurt) teaches him to be a strong and moral man, crafting his fighting skills and giving him a chance at a better future. When King Hyperion (Rourke) makes a very aggressive stance with his military to find the Epirus Bow and release the Titans on the Greek Gods, it is up to Theseus and a few friends to forge their way through the armies to stop Hyperion before his quest is complete.

Be careful who you talk to about your 'magic arrows', okay?
Like the films that it rips off, "Immortals" focuses heavily on style and little on substance. It certainly tries to throw some moral things into the mix with its running themes of free will, revenge, and trust, but its so simplified in the characters and plot that rarely does it make an impact beyond being just another motivation for our characters to do the next sequence. The characters themselves are rather hollow too with far too many being introduced for any of them to have the kind of arc or growth needed for the film to feel like it has depth to its mystical journeys. The actors certainly try with the material that's given to them as both Cavill and Rourke desperately grasp to any little thing they can to make us feel good/bad for their respective roles, but overall the subplots, whether it be romantic, revenge, or the like, feel poorly built and watered down by a focus to cater to a larger audience. I was entertained when the film was playing, but minutes after it ended the imprint it could have left was already gone.

I loved Rourke as the villain here, but I hope he got paid a lot of money for wearing this ridiculous helmet.
Who cares about plot and characters, right? I mean, it's "Immortals" so we want to see fighting! And monsters! And scantily clad women! This is a sword and sorcery flick so we demand it! This is where "Immortals" fails the worst. I expected the story to be overly complicated for its simple structure and I expected the plot to follow the dots. "Immortals" doesn't even really do the action portion well either. Yes, we have a lot of that Zack Snyder inspired slow motion brutality as men impale each other to CGI laden landscapes and we certainly get enough "monsters" here with a Minotaur battle and some God vs Titan throw downs at the end (were they even Titans?..what the hell were those things?). The problem remains that little of it is memorable. Even with Rourke eating up scenery in his ridiculous outfits as a very vicious villain, the whole good vs evil battle moments are too short and not unique enough. Director Tarsem Singh uses his music video style to its full benefit here, but the stunts and fights are just oddly choreographed and rather by the numbers. Not what I wanted at all from this film.

Its a film with magic bows, Gods, and Titans, but they insisted in making the minotaur a man with a giant bull mask?
There are a few shiny moments of inspiration here, mostly with the casting, but in the end "Immortals" is a high budget knock off film that builds on nothing unique or inspirational to tell its brutal tale of men, Gods, and Titans. It's a by the numbers action affair with little depth and less motivation to be better than its predecessors. Only for those with a hard on for digital action and simple stories.

Written By Matt Reifschneider

If you loved "Clash Of The Titans" or "300", then "Immortals" is a film you must have. So feel free to click on the links below to purchase your copy today!

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Wu Dang (2012)

Director: Patrick Leung
Notable Cast: Vincent Zhao, Mi Yang, Siu-Wong Fan, Jiao Xu

Going into "Wu Dang" I was determined to keep an open mind. Never to be one who loves fantasy elements in their martial arts and having the film be directed by the guy that gave us "Blade Of Kings" (aka "Twins Effect 2"), I knew that I was going to have to let my cynicism slide. Keep an open mind. Just run with it. Much to my surprise, the fantasy elements are actually subdued in the film, until the finale that is, and the film contains enough heart to override many of its over the top elements and story progressions. It may not be a perfect film in a lot of ways, but it's certainly entertaining and fun.

When a father (Vincent Zhao) and daughter (Jiao Xu) decide to enter a massive martial arts tournament on Wu Dang mountain, none of the other contestants know that the father's real plan is to use a map to steal seven treasures hidden throughout the area. What he doesn't know is that a fellow contestant (Mi Yang) is also there to steal one of the treasures that rightfully belongs to her family. Now the two must partner up to survive an onslaught of guardian students and put together a fast treasure hunt before they are discovered and forced to leave.

Initially, "Wu Dang" has a few things going for it. Its cast is pretty impressive. Featuring some very impressive new martial artists in its ranks, this film really piles on some charming and fun performances/characters to keep the audience intrigued. The script rarely gives them a whole lot to work with instead catering to a ton of smaller characters with limited growth instead of giving strong arcs to a few main ones. Poor Siu-Wong Fan somewhat gets the shaft as a villager with a big heart and some sort of special "sleeping kung fu" ability which gets brushed to the side in the last act. Yet, the chemistry between Vincent Zhao and Mi Yang is pretty fun and impressive - culminating in a very memorable "dancing" fight sequence in a library. Despite its scripting flaws, it's hard not to fall in love with the quirky characters.

This leads me to the second reason that "Wu Dang" is worth the purchase. The fight choreography is from the elite Corey Yuen. Even non martial arts fans should know the name as he has done plenty of action films like "The Transporter" series or Jet Li's fight sequences in "The Expendables." His high flying wire work and clever use of sets/props is always a delight to see and "Wu Dang" is no different. Wicked weapon use, plenty of exploding walls, and flurries of feet and fists make this film a rather enjoyable experience on an action side. Partnered with some of the visual flair of director Patrick Leung and the fights here are impressive and well staged.

The biggest obstacles that "Wu Dang" must overcome is how the script develops and the finale that it culminates in. Although I was willing to overlook most of its cheesy lines and awkward character developments,  "Wu Dang" does have too many issues with its writing to fully be written off by its 'fantasy' moments. And those fantasy moments certainly add in a layer of ridiculousness to the finale when glowing people and magical marbles start taking hold of the film and push the character growth to the back burner. I was expecting this though so it didn't come as quite the shock as it could have and I was able to have fun with it.

There are two elements that make "Wu Dang" worth if for those of the martial arts ilk with its choreography and strong cast. The film definitely has its shortcomings in its often too cheesy script, oddly developed characters, and really out of place CGI, but it's still an entertaining ride that layers on the ridiculousness as it moves forward. Fans of the fantasy martial arts film will find plenty to love in its goofy moments and strong fighting, but if you are looking for more realistic films...then "Wu Dang" is more of a rental.

Written By Matt Reifschneider

If you are looking for that fantasy ride into ass kicking, then you probably should just go ahead and click on the links below to order "Wu Dang" for its December 4th release date.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Intruders (2011)

Director: Juan Carlos Fresnadillo
Notable Cast: Clive Owen, Ella Purnell, Pilar López de Ayala, Izan Corchero, Carice van Houten

It's usually bad news bears when a film gets kicked from its theatrical release to home video in record setting time. I was stoked about "Intruders" after seeing its initial trailer, but somehow missed it when it came to theaters here (*Note: turns out it only opened in 33 theaters...) and had to wait for its eventual home release - which wasn't too long after. Upon gandering at the psychological thriller/horror film featuring the very underrated Clive Owen, my mixed feelings kept me from writing this review for quite some time. Not particularly because the film was hard to digest, but it was hard for me to dignify my feelings about it. On one hand it's a dramatically executed film with some strong visual direction and some very impressive acting all around. On the other hand, the film tends to be too ambiguous with its plot in the latter half and it comes off a very predictable. Two sides that could lend to a review that leans either way.

After a family man (Owen) working a high stress job doing high rise construction barely saves one of his coworkers from a drastic fall, he finds that his daughter (Purnell) is suffering from vicious nightmares of a cloaked man called Hollowface trying to steal her face. Elsewhere, a young boy (Corchero) and his single mother are fighting the same kind of demon whilst looking for a spiritual reason to the hauntings. Could the two accounts possibly be connected and how will the parents of these children possibly overcome something from imagination?

"I don't think this is "Monsters, Inc.""
As I like to do with my reviews, let's cater to the positives of "Intruders" first. The cast is stunning. Clive Owen still retains a bit of that underground status by doing a Spanish horror/thriller whilst continuing to deliver some strong performances. Even better is some of the supporting cast, including Purnell who delivers some heart wrenching moments as a tormented daughter desperately seeking safety in her family. The entire cast delivers though and the direction of Juan Carlos Fresnadillo only adds to their impact. His stylistic atmosphere and ability to build the tension of a dark corner and oddly lit ally is impeccable here and he shows off why his artistic ability to add depth to horror films makes him a director to watch. The film has a great look to it with surprisingly high production values and the scares can be pretty potent.

Get her out of the Matrix now!
The problems that "Intruders" has to overcome mostly reside in how the film itself plays out. There are two intertwining stories of two Hollowface encounters, but their connection was instantly obvious to me (I have spoken to folks that didn't see the twist of the film coming as easily - so perhaps it was just one of those days where I was firing on all cylinders beyond my normal capacity) and without the impact of the that revelation the film lost a lot of steam after its strong out of the gate sprint. This is only made muddier by a rather confusing ending where the lines of reality, dream, and horror are blurred to a point where I ceased to worry about our characters well being and was trying to figure out just what the hell was going on. As it would happen, a well executed film fall prey to its own cliche elements and oddly anticlimactic ending which just simply derails the whole film.

I do admit that despite my issues with its script and functionality as a horror/thriller, "Intruders" wasn't a half bad film. The execution from Fresnadillo was top notch as were the performances and some of the cleverly shadowed CGI. It was an entertaining film and one that I would recommend for a solid watch, but not one that should have been a must see or must buy for genre fans.

Written By Matt Reifschneider

If you love psychological thrillers, than "Intruders" will be right up your ally...a dark, oddly lit, shadow filled ally. So you should click the links below and get your copy today!

Supernatural Activity (2012)

Director: Derek Lee Nixon
Notable Cast: Andrew Pozza, Liddy Bisanz, Donny Boaz, Joey Oglesby

Spoof films are a dime a dozen any more. Cheap to make. Easy to write. Simple to sell. They just riff on the success of various other films and genres to make it work. The problem is that these films might be easy to sell and make, but they are hard to get right. Occasionally one of these films do come out to surprise with their effectiveness. That would be where "Supernatural Activity" comes into play. A spoof on "found footage" horror (both film and TV), this little indie comedy smacks easily of classic Steve Oedekerk material in how it plays on its own ridiculousness. That does mean it's not for everyone, but it certainly took me by surprise.

A very popular supernatural ghost hunting program is planning their farewell show. So they decide to head out to a rural house to investigate the mysterious Smallsquatch to verify its existence. The shows host and creative force Damon (Pozza), freely admits to the all of it being staged and decides to film how he does it. So his team splits into two groups, one will investigate the "demon" in the house and the other will trek through the woods to find traces of the demon's existence. Will they find the real thing or is the gimmick become something of a joke on them?

This film is very outrageous. I mean, it really takes itself to some awkward places. It still remains within it's concept - it doesn't jump genres like the later "Scary Movie"s did - but it isn't afraid to do some wacky things. It throws in a lot of different films to knock on including "Paranormal Activity", "The Last Exorcism", "Blair Witch Project" and even the TV show "Ghost Hunters." Ironically, it does it with relatively fresh ideas using both quick dialogue and slapstick humor to really pick apart the found footage horror genre. For example, the camera man at one point pukes because he's shaking the camera too much or our fearless host explains how to pile rocks in the way witches would have done with the help of a little girl.

Our host Damon really adds to it too. The before mentioned Steve Oedekerk reference comes into full play here as Pozza really runs with the character both in his complete seriousness and the physical comedy he uses. He owns many of the funniest moments and his physical humor is spot on for the film.

That being said, the film does have its fair amount of cliche spoof moments that don't really work either. Some of the supporting cast is just silly and they try too hard to be funny (which make them not funny) and some of the knock off moments are too forced too. The "Blair Witch" moments are rarely funny, sans the pile of rocks moment which had me on the floor, and some of the jokes are taken too far. The "Paranormal Activity" standing as time flies by starts off hilarious and then just takes way too long to play out.

"Supernatural Activity" was a surprisingly funny spoof affair, but even then it's a rather hit or miss film. When the film is on a roll with the jokes and humor, it's tremendously funny. When it's off, it's achingly off the mark. For those looking for a solid way to waste some time or looking for a film that mocks found footage horror in some really clever ways - I suggest a watch of "Supernatural Activity." If spoof films are not your thing though, then this won't change your mind.

Written By Matt Reifschneider

Spoof films your thing? Perhaps you are looking for a film to finally point out the mediocrity and silliness of "found footage horror?" Then click the link below for your copy of "Supernatural Activity" right now!