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Sunday, October 23, 2016

31 DAYS OF HORROR 2016-Day 23: FRIDAY THE 13th (2009)

Here we go again...

It's funny, but just by existing this reboot of the quintessential slasher movie series is automatically far superior to its predecessors, but that's not really saying much.

The never-ending FRIDAY THE 13TH series had its occasional moments, but overall the lot of them were amateurishly made, substituted mostly-tepid gore for actual scares, starred no one of note — unless you count Corey Feldman, so that alone speaks for itself — and repeated almost the exact same "story" in each of its installments, so there was no reason to expect a series relaunch to vary the tried-and-true formula in any significant way. Not surprisingly, the filmmakers did not alter the template that much, but the film does offer a greater degree of cinematic competence than any previous FRIDAY THE 13TH flick, so at least that's a start. But even with that in mind, a FRIDAY THE 13TH movie is more or less review-proof since those who dig them will see them anyway, no matter how much the critics may warn them off, but any film reviewer (or fan, for that matter) who goes to one of these expecting Kurosawa is a fucking idiot.

Since its inception in the summer of 1980, the FRIDAY THE 13TH template has gone a little something like this: a pack of horny/drunk teenagers go to the secluded woodland site of Camp Crystal Lake for a number of perfunctory reasons, always resulting in their gory deaths at the hands of unkillable, silent and murderous juggernaut in a hockey mask Jason Voorhees (or in the case of the first movie, his insane mother). Other than the possible involvement of local yokels, hick cops, cheesy 3-D effects, an outer space setting or Freddy Kreuger, that's all you need to know. It's the classic campfire story about a mad slasher and his escalating body count brought to the screen ad infinitum, so here are the pertinent facts about the new version:
  • If you've seen even one FRIDAY THE 13TH movie, you've pretty much seen 'em all, and that goes for the new one too.
  • Shockingly, filmmakers who are capable of more than merely aiming the lens at some actors are behind the camera, so this counts as the best-made and best-looking FRIDAY entry by a landslide.
  • The cast of unknowns acquit themselves quite well for this kind of thing, especially Travis Van Winkle as Trent, a rich-kid asshole of incredible magnitude. It's not a hard role to pull off, but Van Winkle renders Trent an asshole's asshole and I salute him for it. 
Travis Van Winkle, delivering a tour de assholism performance as the loathsome Trent.
  • A couple of the obligatory topless girls in the film sport what are among the most incredibly fake tits I've ever seen, but luckily there's the stunning Julianna Guill as Bree on hand, who rocks a set of the most mouth-watering all-natural dairies I've ever seen. Needless to say, she gets horribly murdered.
Julinna Guill loses that annoying top. I know her jubblies might look slightly too gravity-defying here, but when she leans over there is no doubt in my mind as to their all-natural status.
  • The screenwriters took the disparate elements of the first three FRIDAY THE 13TH films and fused the aspects of the Jason legend found in those into a coherent whole, the first time that's been done in the whole run of the series. The shit ain't James Joyce or anything, but it's nice to see Jason's origin solidly codified.
  • In the film's opening flashback that kinda/sorta re-stages the ending of the 1980 original film, Jason's mother is firmly convinced that Jason had drowned thanks to counselor negligence, hence her murderous rampage in his name. That's all well and good, but once she's decapitated by the sole surviving camp counselor, we see a young and clearly living Jason living feral on the campgrounds. Whaaa???
  • When we see Jason again as an adult, he's a hulking and silent grownup who resides on the long-abandoned Crystal Lake campgrounds, living off the land and wearing a bag over his head (a la FRIDAY THE 13TH PART 2). The locals all know to leave well enough alone when it comes to Jason's territory, but for some reason there's a hick who lives right next door to Jason and operates some kind of wood-chipping barn where he sells and smokes weed while reading issues of HUSTLER. The weed this guy sells is apparently growing wild in great and potent abundance and not, as some earlier reviewers have noted, because Jason is now a pot-farmer.
  • Legends of that fabulous pot windfall attract five horny teens during the film's first twenty-four minutes, thus providing an excuse for what would have been the events of an entire old school Jason movie to happen before even a half-hour in, so if you choose to give up on it after that you miss nothing (other than Julianna Guill's truly spectacular breasts). 
  • The main plot — Ha! — kicks in six months after the massacre of the aforementioned teens and finds the brother of one of them looking for his missing sister. The paths of that guy and another batch of horny teens intersect first at a local general store and later at the rich asshole kid's folks' luxury cabin near Camp Crystal Lake. You do the math.
  • Jason himself remains the implacable killing-machine he always was, but now his abilities as a hunter make sense (there's an impressive kill made in broad daylight involving Jason's apparently Olympic-level archery skills), although he still comes off as rather superhuman at times. After being quite decisively killed, he of course returns at the end to wreak havoc on the story's survivors (like you didn't know that was coming), so I guess he's still some sort of monster. Who knows?
  • The gore is occasionally creative, but sometimes shot in such a way as to render the action visually confusing. And when compared to the film that started it all twenty-nine years ago, the bloodletting in this one is quite tame. Fuck those pussies at the MPAA!!!
  • There is not one single actual scare or an iota of suspense to be found in the entire film, and since this is supposedly a horror film that's a big problem. While a great deal of attention was paid to actually making a well-crafted and briskly-paced FRIDAY THE 13TH MOVIE, they somehow forgot to bring the fright, and no amount of shameless cribbing from THE TEXAS CHAIN SAW MASSACRE can make one overlook that alarming aspect.
  • The version of the film that I saw was the extended "killer cut" on DVD and it's nine minutes longer than its theatrical incarnation, so at a running time of 106 minutes it's almost twenty minutes over-long by my estimation. It's paced well, but there's just not enough going on here to warrant nearly two hours of any viewer's time, not even that of a die-hard Jason groupie.
The DVD's extras are nothing to write home about but the "making of" documentary proves the entire cast and crew were game and totally aware of exactly what movie they were making, treating it as a lark and not taking themselves too seriously. The deleted scenes are best given a miss since they were deleted for a reason, and as a whole I'd say the DVD was merely passable if not for the novelty of actually seeing one of these movies made by people who genuinely set out to make something good and not just another cash-in/"re-imagining." Not that it turned out all that much different from what came before and "if it ain't broke, don't fix it" and all that, but they certainly get points for not turning out a piece of outright shit.

The last point I'd like to make about this and damned near every other FRIDAY THE 13TH flick is that they are best enjoyed with an audience. Even if the film itself is kinda lame, it can still be enjoyed when seen with people who are easily scared or with moviegoers who are into "audience participation" (aka most inner-city audiences), so in the case of this particular entry I suggest watching it with a roomful of friends and a handy abundance of liquor or illegal pharmaceuticals.

Saturday, October 22, 2016

31 DAYS OF HORROR 2016-Day 22: BAD MOON (1996)

Thor the German Shepherd: this is the face of a true-blue hero.

A few years back, as the TWILIGHT juggernaut rolled on and perpetuated the whole pussified vampires thing, I once more took solace in the werewolf movie genre and got my hands on a copy of BAD MOON, a flick I'd heard of but ignored for a number of reasons. One of those reasons was its rep as yet another of the many low-budget throwaways in the genre, and if there's one thing I should have learned by now it's that you cannot judge a horror movie's quality by it budget or relative lack thereof. The original NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD cost about fifteen bucks to make, even almost fifty years ago, and now it's a bona fide classic. Same for the original THE TEXAS CHAIN SAW MASSACRE. Though not quite within the realm of those exalted landmarks, BAD MOON is a minor gem that does something different with the hoary conventions of the cinematic werewolf yarn.

The film is based on the 1992 novel THOR, by Wayne Smith, a story told from the point of view of the titular faithful German Shepherd who lives with a family of humans that he understandably considers his "pack." In the hierarchy of the pack Thor functions as the very capable protector, and his natural abilities are put to the test when a relative, Uncle Ted, comes to visit the family and only Thor, thanks to his animal senses and intuition, realizes that the guy is a werewolf. I have not yet read the book (I ordered it from Amazon and will review it once I've finished with it), but the movie apparently follows the book's plot basics, only losing the family's husband/dad and two of the kids, leaving Thor to look out for a single mother (Mariel Hemingway), and her young son (Mason Gamble, the kid from the horrid DENNIS THE MENACE movie). Thor proves his worth as a guardian early on, when a con man tries to fleece money out of the mother by provoking Thor to attack him, unaware that the woman is a lawyer who has prosecuted dozens of would-be hustlers just like him, and from that incident onward the audience knows to trust Thor's instincts.

After an expedition to a foreign land where his colleague/girlfriend is savagely killed by a werewolf and he himself is stricken with the curse of lycanthropy while trying to save her, Uncle Ted (Michael Paré) returns to the States and embarks on a quest to find a cure for what has befallen him. Unfortunately, all avenues prove a dead end and Ted moves into a trailer somewhere in the deep backwoods of the Northwest, where his homicidal lunar activities will stand less of a chance of getting out of hand (a plan that doesn't work because his transformations are nightly and he's wracked up a body count of five before the plot even really gets rolling). When he invites his sister and nephew up to visit (with Thor along for the ride), Ted gets it into his head that the company of his family may be just the thing that will curb his rapacious supernatural urges. It is during this daytime visit that Thor is allowed to sniff about freely in the woods, where he picks up strange scents and the remains of a forest surveyor, a trail that leads right back to Uncle Ted. Thor may not be able to articulate what he senses, but he knows Uncle Ted is something very, very dangerous, and from that moment on he holds the man under very close scrutiny.

Creepy Uncle Ted, now a werewolf and safely ensconced within the bosom of his family...

...which puts him within Thor's territory of guardianship, and Thor knows EXACTLY what's up. And he doesn't like it one bit.

Following his latest murder and with the police investigating literally right outside his trailer door, Ted calls his sister and asks if he can stay with her for a while. Once he parks his trailer outside the family home, Thor immediately sets up a vigil to keep an eye on the lupine visitor. Ted, very much aware that Thor has his number, creepily tries to insinuate himself into a position of power within the pack while going out nightly to chain himself to a tree as his transformed self rages without causing harm to anyone.

Uncle Ted, all wolfed-out.

Thor witnesses the chained werewolf and has his worst fears realized, returning to the house and pissing on Uncle Ted's camper as a territorial warning. From that moment, you had better believe it's on, and in no time Thor's seemingly vicious and totally mis-interpreted aggression toward Ted lands him in the pound, leaving his pack very much in harm's way. But never underestimate the power of a boy's love for his dog, or the dog's love of his humans...

The film's low budget is certainly evident, but the story more than makes up for any deficiencies in the department of production values. The movie even has a werewolf that's much better than expected, although the transformation sequence is somewhat-justly maligned. Though low on gore (at least by my standards), the film is a lot of fun thanks to its unusual protagonist and if you're a dog-lover like me, you will root for Thor like you haven't rooted for a hero since Indiana Jones went after the Ark of the Covenant. Played by a pooch named Primo, Thor is a canine hero to be reckoned with and he even takes on the werewolf — a goddamned WEREWOLF!!! — twice, in what can only be called savage, animalistic combat. When stacked up against Thor, Rin Tin Tin, Lassie and Benji are a bunch of pussies and they can each suck it.

If not for a wholly unnecessary sex scene at the film's very beginning, I would recommend this as suitable for all ages, provided the kiddies can take scares that are mild by adult standards. This really is the heroic dog story taken in a different direction and as such it has the potential for great cross-audience appeal. BAD MOON awaits re-discovery and I suggest that you give it a chance. RECOMMENDED.

Cover art for the DVD release.

Friday, October 21, 2016

31 DAYS OF HORROR 2016-Day 21: PIRANHA (2010)

A lovely day at the beach.

Cribbing its title and basic "chew 'em up" thrust from the 1978 cult item of the same name, PIRANHA has nothing on its mind but giving the audience that likes this kind of thing exactly what it wants: a shit-ton of vicious gore spurred by carnivorous fish, accented with copious amounts of buck nekkid tiddies and buttsteak. The beauty of this particular serving of such delights is that it was crafted by people who understood just what kind of movie they were making and were in on the gag.

The story relates the dire events following an earthquake that unleashes a massive number of prehistoric piranha upon the unsuspecting drunk and horny attendees of Spring Break in the fictional town of Lake Victoria, with the plot knowingly eschewing deep character development in favor of sheer fun ultra-gory humor. The principals include the sheriff (Elizabeth Shue), her partner (Ving Rhames), her kids (a teenage son and two pre-teen siblings), a couple of porn stars (I'll get to them presently), and their super-sleazy "girls gone wild"-style boss, a pornographer played to the hilt of amusing loathsomeness by Jerry O'Connell.

Jerry O'Connell primes Riley Steele for tequila body shots.

The plot borrows from several notable films in the "carnivorous fish eat the living shit out of everybody in sight" genre (including a terrific cameo role by Richard Dreyfuss as pretty much Matt Hooper from JAWS) but never once feels like a ripoff because it uses its antecedents as fodder for lampooning that notches the insanity up to "11." You get the water populated by revelers who won't listen to the warnings of the authorities and people being eaten as they engage in assorted aquatic fun (as seen in pretty much every JAWS movie), folks stranded on a dodgy seafaring craft that's only moments away from allowing the hungry fish access to the strandees (think JAWS 2), and crazy set pieces in which bathers are eagerly devoured in glorious displays of arterial spray and mangled carnage, only with said gore and carnage piled on to a ludicrous degree, resulting in a final twenty minutes in which all hell breaks loose (and then some).

Jet skis, shotguns, ravenous fish...sheer bliss.

In other words, a perfect example of this specific genre, a roller coaster of waaaay over the top lunacy that solidly delvers on all counts.

I won't give away the plot particulars because it's all simply a more intelligent and intentionally funny take on stuff we've seen countless times since JAWS hit in 1975 and you could pretty much write most of it yourself, but I will stop to point out one sequence that literally stopped me in my tracks. There's a bit where the pornographer sets off on a yacht to film his two porn star companions performing a nude underwater ballet in swim fins that evokes images of sensuous mermaids performing fluid arabesques unhampered by the constraints of gravity. This moment of stunning gorgeousness is a painstakingly choreographed submerged pas de deux brought to vivid life by British model and actress Kelley Brook and porn actress Riley Steele and it must have been a visual knockout when seen projected in 3-D.

The awe-inspiring "mermaid ballet" sequence: an instant classic moment in world cinema.

While the sequence certainly has its exploitative aspect, it's kind of odd because although it provides loving glimpses of just about every millimeter of the actresses' nubile flesh, the action is tasteful — digital shading eliminated any shots that would have been too gynecological in nature — and the musical accompaniment, the familiar "Lakme-Flower Duet," renders the visual truly compelling. It's a moment of genuine artful beauty in a film otherwise populated with looniness and people being ripped apart by slavering CGI piranha that must have been amazing in its original 3-D version, and I thank French director Alexandre Aja for every frame of it. And yes, I'm being completely sincere.

The simple sensuous beauty of the human female form as seen in action underwater.

And while the blonde of the pair (Steele) is certainly easy on the eyes, it's Kelly Brook whose goddesslike form and face nearly made my peepers fall out of their sockets since there is now little worth seeing after witnessing her at all, much less unabashedly and confidently naked.

The wonder of nature that is Kelly Brook. Jumping Jesus in a basket of honey-glazed chicken...

I'm assuming her Euro upbringing left her without the squeamishness regarding onscreen nudity that most American actresses bear, so she gets extra points for being so game about it all. Then again, if I were a woman and looked like her, I would never wear clothes, simply on general principle. In fact, there should be an internationally-agreed-upon law forbidding Brook from ever being clad, unless it's really cold or something. And adding to this excellence is the fact that she's funny and can act!

Bottom line: PIRANHA is is a ton of fun if you have a taste for this flavor of cinematic excess, and I cannot recommend it highly enough. Its content is about as extreme as it gets for a film with an "R" rating, and I would like to know who was asleep at the usually stringent MPAA ratings board the day this one came up for consideration. (According to the director's commentary, the film was passed without cuts, and if that's true, I'm frankly astounded.) Damn, I wish I'd seen this on the big screen and in 3-D!

Poster from the original theatrical release.

Thursday, October 20, 2016

31 DAYS OF HORROR 2016-Day 20: LET THE RIGHT ONE IN (2008)

A valid question...

In an odd twist of cinematic fate, 2008, the year when the movie version of TWILIGHT hit,  also saw the release of LET THE RIGHT ONE IN, a Swedish take on the “boy meets girl and one of them is a vampire” chaste love story thing, but that film could not be more different from TWILIGHT if it tried to. Whereas TWILIGHT strove to be a pop confection for tweens that worked within the conventions of the relatively family-friendly high school narrative genre, although with fantastic elements thrown into the mix, LET THE RIGHT ONE IN (also based on a novel) is immeasurably more bleak and examines a bond born of desolate loneliness rather than gazing-out-the-window dreaminess.

Taking place near Stockholm in 1982, the story revolves around the relationship between twelve-year-old Oskar (Kare Hedebrant), a quiet and rather solitary boy who is tormented by some cruel schoolmates in an escalating wave of sadistic bullying, and the mysterious Eli (Lina Leandersson), a sad-eyed girl who moves into the apartment next to where Oskar lives. Noting her arrival in the middle of the night with a man we’re meant to think is her dad, Oskar sees the girl move in and notices that Eli’s windows are immediately blocked with cardboard to prevent the sunlight shining in (not-so-subtle clue Number One). The two adolescents meet one dark, frigid night as Oskar sits in his apartment complex’s sparse playground and Eli shows up in attire more appropriate for a spring day rather than the kind of gear necessary for survival in snowbound Sweden. That’s unusual enough, but Eli also displays a physical nimbleness that’s not quite normal, a trait that does not go unnoticed by Oskar, but he doesn’t care so long as he has someone his age to talk to.

When the unnatural collides with soul-deep loneliness.

As soon as Eli moves in, murders begin in which the victims are drained of their blood, first by what looks to be a serial killer and later some kind of wild animal, but it soon becomes apparent that Eli is a vampire and Oskar is at first kind of shocked by that discovery. But he has come to know and care for the sad-eyed girl, valuing her friendship over his understandable fear of her feeding habits. Several complications arise during all of this, but chief among them is the fallout once Oskar heeds Eli’s advice and violently fights back against the leader of his tormentors, an act that snowballs to a conclusion that would have been horrifying even without the presence of a vampire…

LET THE RIGHT ONE IN is less of a horror story than an examination of how two lonely souls find each other in the middle of a literal wasteland, and the two young stars could not have been better cast. Neither kid is a fantasy glamour figure a la a film made here in the States, both looking as ordinary and awkward as kids their age should be, and that factor helps sell the believability of the narrative. While Oskar clearly has feelings for Eli, he is perfectly happy to be with her in a non-sexual way because the connection he experiences with her goes beyond the merely hormonal; it’s a meeting of hearts and minds that is deeply affecting and genuine, unlike anything I saw in TWILIGHT, and the film’s icy location and deliberately slow pacing punctuate the “life” embodied in the relationship of the two kids. Though physically twelve, Eli has been twelve “for a long time,” and the film makes it clear that her un-life has been one long stretch of misery and isolation, constantly moving so she won’t be discovered, so when she befriends Oskar despite her own declaration that it would best for both of them if they were not friends, it has real meaning, and while Eli had her own needs, if ever there was someone who needed a friend, it was Oskar.

One item of particular note is a sequence where Oskar sees Eli changing clothes and catches a brief and innocent glimpse of her crotch, but when I saw the scene I said to myself, “What the hell was that? Is that scarring?” Thanks to the magic of the DVD player’s remote I was able to freeze-frame the shot and given a severe case of the crawlies when I saw clearly that Eli’s female bits appeared to have been mutilated and long healed-over, but no explanation was forthcoming. I did some research and found that in the source novel at some time in the past Eli was the victim of a particularly nasty vampire lord who delighted in cruelty such as manually emasculating young boys… You do the math. That bit of information added a whole new element of tragedy to her story and I wonder why the filmmakers decided to leave it out. Perhaps they not incorrectly assumed a mutilated pubescent pubic area was bad enough and just left it at that… Whatever the case, I’m now interested in reading the book to see what else was excised or changed for the screen.

LET THE RIGHT ONE IN is and excellent film but don’t buy all the review quotes about it being “one of the essential vampire movies” or “one of the best horror films ever made.” As previously stated, the film is more of a character study than anything else and as such it’s great. However, there are no scares to speak of, at least not in the sense that American audiences expect, and the gore is tastefully minimal, being almost totally related to Eli’s feeding, so don’t even think about recommending this to any gorehounds you may know. Well, maybe you should, provided they’re willing to give a chance to a “horror” film that’s all about the slow-paced story allowing the viewer to get to know its characters. BOTTOM LINE: if you're going to choose one of the similarly-themed 2008-releasse suckface romances, go with the Swedish one.

Poster from the U.S. release.

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

31 DAYS OF HORROR 2016-Day 19: TWILIGHT (2008)

Oh, fuck you.

For those who somehow missed it, the TWILIGHT phenomenon hinges on the chaste romance between a teenage girl and a vampire boy, and considering how such stuff could be handled on film I expected a movie that, to paraphrase my dear friend Raven Woman, would make me menstruate. Indeed the film is geared to fuel the fantasies of twelve-to-fourteen-year-old females and I am in no way its target audience, but I was surprised to find myself not hating it for the first hour or so and enjoying it as a kinda/sorta WB-flavored high school yarn. It’s all about pasty-but-pretty Bella (Kristen Stewart) moving in with her dad in some overcast Washington state town and starting over at a new high school while her mom and mom’s baseball-playing hubby move to Florida to facilitate said hubby’s baseball career. Now the new kid in school, Bella falls in with a bunch of generic movie/TV high school kids (about whom the less said, the better) but finds her head turned by hunky and also-pale-as-a-stick-of-chalk-in-a-blizzard Edward (Robert Pattison), who happens to be a vampire, albeit a vamp whose family follow a code of not feeding on humans, thus making him relatively harmless (translation: a big, sensitive pussy, and I don’t mean the kind found in “tenderloin” cinema).

It takes Bella most of the film’s first hour to suss out that Edward’s a revenant suckface and it’s kind of interesting getting to that moment of realization, but once that big reveal takes place the movie loses all interest and careens down the toilet at near superluminal speed. There are endless close-ups of longing gazes and meaningful glances with not even a dry hump to be had, and I can’t speak for the rest of the world, but the girls I knew growing up who were of this film’s target age definitely enjoyed moments of erotic adventuring that were light-years more advanced than this story’s imagined-by-an-eight-year-old (or a Mormon housewife) romantic scenarios. Come to think of it, many of the girls I knew at that age had already graduated to intra-vaginal fingering with eager young bohunks, the kind providing of bare tit and beyond, and most of them were what anyone would consider to be “nice” or “girl next door” archetypes. But those were also the days just before herpes and AIDS, so I guess it was a theoretically more consequence-free era. Keeping that in mind, I had a very hard time buying into TWILIGHT’s post-millennial innocence.

Excluding the film’s dose of narrative Salt Peter, the sequences that turned me against the movie were the annoying “meet the family” moment when Edward brought Bella home to introduce her to his fellow undead, the idiotic bit that explained why the vamps don’t like to be seen in broad daylight — do NOT get me started on vampires being able to walk about in broad daylight at all, let alone what happens when they do.


In fact, that scene is so stupid and awful that it must be seen to be believed — and the incredibly painful bit in which Edward and family bring Bella along for a family game of baseball involving vampiric superpowers. There’s also a subplot involving a trio of suckfaces who merrily feed on human prey, but even their potential to liven things up falls flat and the lone member of the trio who proves to be a direct threat to Bella (in this installment anyway) is really only there to ensure Bella and Edward’s bonding. Thanks, dude. Thanks ever so much.

The film culminates in a fashion that can best be described as “My Vampire Prom Date,” and when all is said and done, TWILIGHT proves to be a cloying abstinence parable that removes the lusty elements that make many vampire stories appealing. But, again, I am not this film’s audience, so my opinion of it is definitely moot. I don’t recommend it for the majority of grownups of either gender or sexual orientation, but that’s merely my opinion. And don’t forget I’ve been known to enjoy “girly” fare quite a bit, such as ENCHANTED, THE CUTTING EDGE, SAVE THE LAST DANCE, EVER AFTER and ELLA ENCHANTED, so I’m not just trying to hate on the femme stuff.

Again, WORD.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016


Yes, you really are seeing this.

In the 1850's a Native American community was massacred in order to make room for white men who were caught up in Gold Rush fever, and their shaman called upon Skookum, their god of vengeance, to settle the score. Skookum unleashed spirit Great White sharks that swam through the snow and devoured their enemies, and now, in the year of 2013, they are back and just as ravenous as ever.

Apparently made to cash in on the already ludicrous SHARKNADO phenomenon, AVALANCHE SHARKS gives us everyone's favorite marine carnivores and moves them to the slopes of a ski resort, where they spend eighty-two minutes munching on twenty-somethings who are obnoxious enough but too old to be the cast of any given FRIDAY THE 13th installment. And while all of that's going on, the filmmakers even manage to rip off JAWS by throwing in a mayor who doesn't want to close the resort because it would curtail seasonal profits.

The vengeance of Skookum.

Now, I've seen some stupid movies in my time, but the idea of sharks rampaging at a ski resort is certainly something new and extra-stupid, so my hat is off to AVALANCHE SHARKS for that, if for no other reason. It's competently made and entertaining enough to hold the viewer's attention, but there's a ton of ultra-boring padding before things get bloody, and when things do get crazy, the gore and mayhem are as cheap and cheesy as possible.

JAWS this ain't. Hell, it ain't even LAST SHARK!

WHILE the SHARKNADO movies entertain because of their towering intentional stupidity, AVALANCHE SHARKS gives it the old college try but only manages to come off as a tepid time-waster. For shark completists only, this is a novel and goofy concept that swiftly fizzles out once one is over the basic setup's joke. You miss little if you skip this one.

Oh, and while there is an avalanche, it really has nothing whatsoever to do with the sharks. It just happens and then is immediately forgotten.

Art from the DVD release.

Monday, October 17, 2016


When you see a publicity photo like this, you know exactly what you're in for.

I thought I'd seen the nadir of derivative genre clonings when I endured the fabtasy confection that was ERAGON (2006) but, boy howdy, was I ever unprepared for NEVER CRY WEREWOLF, an almost impossibly-shameless ripoff/remake of the excellent 1985 vampire classic FRIGHT NIGHT, only minus all of that film's wit and originality, and each instance of vampiric lore replaced with every werewolf trope in the book. In fact, it's such a fucking swipe-job that I laughed out loud throughout its running time and repeatedly uttered "You've gotta be fucking kidding me!' at the screen as the bald-faced knockoff unspooled. In other words, it's almost worth seeing because its shamelessness is hilarious.

Note that I said "almost."

FRIGHT NIGHT told the story of an awkward teenager who realizes his personable new next-door neighbor is actually a vampire, and with the help of his at-first-disbelieving girlfriend and weirdo/dork best friend sets out to stop the supernatural predator before the vampire kills him. During the course of this mishegoss, the kid also enlists the services of a washed-up TV personality to aid in his errand of execution and all hell breaks loose in the finale. Everything you just read in the my FRIGHT NIGHT capsule synopsis occurs in NEVER CRY WEREWOLF, as well as assorted minor plot details such as the teen spying on the monstrous neighbor and witnessing the creature killing a hooker, the washed-up TV celebrity — in this case HERCULES: THE LEGENDARY JOURNEYS' Kevin Sorbo subbing for Roddy McDowall — being confronted with shocking evidence that monsters really do exist and the monster putting the lead's significant other in their hellish thrall, with the only real difference of note being that the monster's a werewolf (who resembles a defective gene-splicing of Gary Sinise and Hugh Jackman) and the protagonist is a girl. The whole damned thing is ridiculous and even though FRIGHT NIGHT successfully trod the often thin and uneven line between comedy and outright horror, NEVER CRY WEREWOLF fails to provide either intentional laughs of legitimate scares, so you, the viewer, lose. TRUST YER WEREWOLF-LOVIN' BUNCHE and give this waste of time and film stock a miss and instead check out a werewolf movie actually worth watching, namely Neil Marshall's instant classic from 2002, the superb DOG SOLDIERS.

And one last thing: exactly how did the makers of this film get away with so flagrantly ripping off FRIGHT NIGHT and not get the living shit sued out of them?

The DVD box art.