Dear God NO! [Grindhouse Cut]: a murderous outlaw biker gang kill their rivals and hide out in the woods, where they meet a crazy scientist and big foot… I think. Yup, here’s another ‘nasty nostalgia’ film with faux grain effect, pops and scratches, heavy saturation, projector sounds, mono/muffled soundtrack, tracking issues, etc, etc. It’s only 81 minutes long, but is crammed with filler: you get 5 minutes straight of up-close ‘mondo’ style topless dancing, a psychedelic heroin dream trip, and a Nazi Dr Frankenstein babe trip – all for no reason other than padding out the runtime (and increasing the shock factor). Made on a shoestring, the film’s packed with bad dialogue, bad acting, bad characters, actor changes, and ‘plot threads’ that make literally no sense. It’s like the director asked a 15 year old boy what he thought was cool – boobs, swearing, drinking, and bad attitudes man – and just rolled with that. We first meet the biker gang the morning after they trash a bus full of nuns and rape/murder them all, and it only goes downhill from there; bottoming out with a snuff scene that goes too far with a double rape and fetus removing/killing. I’ve seen much worse than this and not been as disgusted as this just nasty for nasty’s sake; and I couldn’t believe that there are directors out there that make Rob Zombie look like a proficient filmmaker. I’ve sat through some truly terrible movies in my day, and this is down there with the worst of ‘em. The only good thing about the entire project is it’s old school poster, and the only way I can imagine convincing anyone that this has worked is if you pitch it as a poor-taste no-budget physical effects show reel – or a masterclass in using controversy and a good poster as a get-rich-quick idea. A very very niche and ultra-nasty bikesploitation film.
Zombie Flesh Eaters (AKA Zombie, aka Zombi 2: The Dead are Among Us): after a freak attack a newspaper reporter and missing scientist’s daughter head to a Caribbean island where zombies are rumored to exist. Much like the zombies of this era, the film shuffles forward very slowly taking a long time to go anywhere. For zombie B-movie it’s shot far more stylishly and professionally than other genre pictures with some great low-and-wide shots and zombie close-ups – hands, faces, and torsos glacially emerging from maggoty soil – cheesy, but stone cold classic zombie nostalgia that’s been copied in everything from derivative zom-coms to computer games. The gore is also fantastic… cheeks being bitten off, chunks of flesh ripped down to the bone and tendons, intestines, limb ripping, headshots; and a handful of even more mental moments like a zombie fighting a shark, and flaming zombies!! It’s not all gold though: there’s plenty bad acting, off-putting dubbing, a hammy script, and the story is also fairly weak. A spiritual sequel to Dawn of the Dead (in Italy, where any film can be marketed as a sequel to any other film – WTF Italy?) it succeeds at matching the look and tone, but is missing the social commentary – which is what sets Romero’s films apart from the rest. Despite ending with 30 minutes of non-stop action and top-rated zombie carnage, Zombie Flesh Eaters is dragged down from the ‘best of the best’ shelf by the slow and uneventful first hour.
B-Movie Score: 8/10
“They wouldn’t slash the price, so she slashed them up.”
Dream Home (維多利亞壹號): when property developers bump up the price of her dream house, Cheng Lai goes on a killing spree that should make it more affordable again. The film opens up with the perfect one-sentence setup: ‘the average wage in Hong Kong has gone up 1% since the 1997 handover, in 2007 alone house prices went up by 15%’ – easy to see why the central character’s so frustrated. Although they all take place in one night, the killings are spread throughout the film; and they’re pretty graphic, imaginative, and brutal – blood, guts, gore all in abundance, but seamlessly done and outrageously OTT, although there’s a couple of really nasty deaths that may be too much for fair-weather horror fans. Equally scattered through the film is a very modern, hitting, and relevant commentary on the housing market prices. Most surprisingly for a violent B-movie / horror film, it’s beautifully shot: the entire film looks superb, in particular the shots of the city and it’s buildings are mesmerizing, and brilliantly done. It’s also great to see a strong female wielding the knives for a change in this type of movie. With both a modern social commentary and top-tier gore – Dream House is a total winner in my book, although this film definitely puts the ‘gory’ in ‘Category III‘ films. Great shock/exploitation movie.
B-Movie Score: 8.5/10
“She’d Kill for a harbour view”
Evidence: while shooting a documentary four young campers find themselves in the middle of an increasingly creepy situation. The opening half is front-loaded with the standard box o’ tricks to pull you through the slow, familiar, setup – dead animals, tits, lesbian kissing, howling, mysterious sightings, jumps… no trick is left unused and it’s all a bit ‘meh’. Hand-held found footage documentary style is an instant disability these days for several reasons: 1) it’s a hard sell to viewers. 2) Plenty shaky, out-of-focus or focusing footage. 3) Characters constantly drawing attention to camera. 4) What they go through, nobody would drag a camera around. 5) First person in the woods, just screams Blair Witch… Despite all of this, the second half is where it picks up, the action kicks in, the critters come out to play. No monsters is left unrepresented: critters, ghosts, bigfoot, rabid zombies, lurching aliens (very Attack the Block-y) all chasing after the campers. This section is solid horror, and reminded me most of the first few Resident Evil games – the docu cam also works best here as it plays out like a rapid pace first-person shooter. Technically, the film’s decent given the budget; the picture is sharp when it has to be and the scares / jumps work well. Having a boring setup and killer payoff split the film down the middle, but it is worth sticking to the end of this.
Machete: A betrayed Federale butchers his way through a corrupt syndicate to avenge the death of his wife and child. The full 105 minutes of Machete are just absolutely absurd, from the first fully naked chick pulling out her mobile to intestine misuse and seeing Seagal attempt a latino accent… The grindhouse / shock element is pretty cranked to parody / laughable; although the film relies more on CGI than the inventiveness and real gore that genuine b-movies usually would. In saying that, the action is sweet, bloody and OTT fun – although the editing makes it all seem a bit haphazard. A lot of the story rooted in both sides of a real immigration issue – albeit exaggerated. Action hall-of-famer Danny Trejo finally gets his shot at playing a lead, although the Machete character could be any of his memorable previous roles. Everyone else is effective but pretty forgettable, except for De Niro, whose career just seems to be irretrievable. For the gents in the cast the film’s about 10-20 years too late – there’s nothing really exciting about seeing a fat Seagal and out-of-shape Trejo trying to duel. The deliberately old and retro look and feel to the film works quite well, and Rodriguez is clearly a B-movie/exploitation fan, but with all the CGI – and big names – it does lose the certain appeal of real B-movies. For what it is, and what it’s supposed to be, Machete totally hits the mark. Tongue-in-cheek Mexploitation. Fun, entertaining, over-the-top schlock.